(Selections from my short-lived blog)
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
For someone who had one of the first private web sites on the Internet back in 1994, I'm pretty late getting into the blogging game. Never really wanted to though. Seemed a waste of time that I could be using to create new videos, write new books, design new products, dabble in new art.
But perhaps the biggest reason I've held back from hosting a blog was my lifelong struggle between the image I wanted to project and my actual self. I recall that Richard Nixon often referred to himself in the third person as in, "Nixon wouldn't do that." I practiced that same schizoid mindset myself, trying to blend into society in my personal life even while stoking a public persona as the Melanie Anne .
The Great Motivator behind this effort was my transgenderism. On the one hand, I am the co-creator of the Dramatica Theory of Story, making me an internationally known "Story Guru." On the other hand, I'm the founder of the world's very first Transgender Support Web Site, and am considered something of a pioneer in the TG community. How do you integrate that?
Oh, I suppose it is easy enough objectively, but consider this - my personal goal was to get myself through transition and then to fit in. But all of my career efforts were public enough to be in complete conflict with excluding my past history as much as if I were running for office.
Sure, I could fly under the radar, but as an artist, it always felt like I was telling a lie in my craft. And when making friends, there comes a point at which you feel you want to share the real you, but I couldn't do that - not an remain just one of the pack. So every post-transition relationship felt hollow and emotionally unconsummated.
For nearly two decades I hid out, being totally up front and open in my professional life, but living a completely different life when I wasn't in the lime light. And then... then I surgically changed my face. And that changed everything.
All those years I hadn't realized that there are some basic subtle structural differences between the skeletal structures of male and female faces. It is those variances of millimeters that lead us to subconsciously get a sense of someone maleness or femaleness.
Consciously we may see someone as a man or a woman, yet subconsciously feel that they are male-ish or female-ish. Though this is at a level far below our awareness, it colors our perceptions so that for virtually all transsexuals, no matter how successful they are at "passing" as women, no matter how perfect their voice, how genuine their mannerisms, there is still something about them that shouts "man" to the subconscious.
It is this collection of subtle features that leads casting directors to select with with strong jaw lines as lawyers and doctors, even if their other features are extremely feminine. It is what gets men with heavy brows cast far more often as villains and men with smooth, brow-less female foreheads cast as vampires.
We all use physical attributes to fashion our first impressions of people. We see "types", expect people to act like the type they appear to be, and are almost startled if they don't. But worst of all, we recognize our own type in the mirror. Due to our assessment of how we ought to act and supported by nearly everyone else expecting us to act the same way based on our physical type, our personalities come to fulfill the role in which we are cast.
For those of us who have come to realize they are transgendered, even after all the usual surgeries and years of living as our preferred gender, those facial markers remain, and give us a nebulous feeling we are unable to escape - a feeling that no matter how well we have integrated, we are somehow incomplete, unreal, or just masquerading.
I thought there was no way out of this feeling until my life partner, Teresa, had feminizing facial surgery (FFS) in 2005. I wrote a book about it. Imagine having someone you have known and loved for eight years (at the time), someone whose ever expression holds deep meaning for you, someone who's countenance is synonymous with "love" to you, suddenly change their face as thoroughly as if she had a face transplant.
Devastating, it was. And then, when I saw the results... I had only met her as a woman, decades after her transition. I had only ever thought of her as a woman. But when she was wheeled into the recovery room after 8 1/2 hours of bone-grinding and grafting I immediately knew she had actually become a woman, while I now realized I was as she had been, a pretty man.
There was a chasm between us and it would have been the end of our soul-mate relationship if I had not followed suit just a year and a week later.
Since that time (almost a year and a half ago) I have crossed that same intangible boundary. On this side, I can see how my efforts to remain "stealth" about my past in my private life was simply a response to my previous feelings of inautheticity. It didn't matter how much I believed in my inner nature, or even in how I knew others conscious saw me. But I came to realize that subconscious I recognized that no one "felt" I was female, even if they thought I was. And if they then had discovered my history, both their conscious and subconscious minds would see me as a surgically altered man. This was abhorrent to me, and so I had to remain secretive.
Now, it is quite the opposite. I know that the features of my face strike everyone as female at that primal brain level. That assessment is so strong that even if I proclaim my previous incarnation from the mountain tops, though people will "know" with their minds, their hearts will belie it. Simply, they cannot help but feel that I am female, even if they know I didn't physically start out that way.
And so, my reasons for holding back, by self-censorship in art, my separation of business career and social roots have all dissolved. And this has left me hungry to express all that I am in one place, under one moniker, and for the first time in my life to feel free to be all that I am.
To that end, I come late to the game of blogging. I don't expect to make a splash or cause a squabble. I am not in it to change the world or even one mind. I am just allowing myself the delicious freedom to be.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Author Needs vs. Audience Demands
John Lennon said, "Just because you like my stuff, doesn't mean I owe you anything." In contrast, Paul McCartney became the world's top box-office concert tour by playing his most popular songs over and over again.
An artist is always tempted to stick with what is most popular and enjoy the adoration of the crowd. In my case, I have two audience bases. One is the community of writers. I co-created the Dramatica theory of story back in 1991-1994. The software based on the theory that I helped develop became the world's best selling story creation product. My other audience base is the transgender community. Though I make very little money from that realm, I get even more positive audience response. My transgender support web site gets 1,500 unique visitors every day. And all they want me to talk about are transgender issues.
In the past, I've tried to keep the two areas separate and to limit my work to those topics. But I'm 55 now, and am just recovering from a scary illness that put the fear of my own mortality in me. Plus, I'm just plain tired of ignoring my music, my art, my sculpture, my entertainment videos.
I've spent a whole lifetime providing useful information to those who might use it. No, I don't intend to stop, but I do intend to start adding more of those activities that truly interest me at this point in my life.
The more authors and artists focus on rehashing the same old material that made them famous, the more they strangle their own Muse until they become derivitive of themselves and cease to innovate at all. That's not going to happen to me.
So, in an effort to keep a healthy balance both for myself and my audience, I won't pander to audience demands, but neither will I focus solely on the author's needs. Rather, I'll put it all out there, as I am just beginning to do with this blog. Neither you nor I may be completely satisfied with this arrangment, but at least we'll both get something out of it.
So pardon me if I don't speak about transgender issues exclusively or talk writing theory all day and all night. And I'll pardon you if you choose to ignore all my other creative endeavors that are so special to me.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Transsexuality? No Such Thing!
Yeah, I know. I'm supposed to be a transsexual. Only I don't believe in transsexuality.
I used to, mind you. But since I had sex reassignment surgery in 1992 I've come to understand that transsexuality doesn't really exist.
Actually, we're all intersexed.
There's a difference between being intersexed mentally and intersexed physically. And both of those are different than just have an affinity for the feminine (or masculine). And none of this has anything at all to do with sexual preference.
There are four parts to human sexuality:
1. Anatomical Sex 2. Mental Sex 3. Gender Identity 4. Sexual Preference
Anatomical sex is more complex than just "male" or "female." Everyone has secondary sexual characteristics, such as body hair, hip width, facial features, etc., that run a range between completely male and completely female. Most people lean heavily to one side, but nearly everyone either has a bit of a mix of features or has at least a few features that aren't all to one end of the sliding scale in and of themselves. And even the notion of what's between your legs is shot out of the water by hermaphrodites. What's more, these things come in all different shapes and sizes.
So, what about chromosomes? Certainly XX and XY speak for themselves! What, then about folks who are XXY? And what if someone is XX but very mannish or XY and extremely pretty and feminine looking? Not so easy, is it! Yet, even if you say, "Hogwash" and just assign an anatomical sex, you've still got Mental Sex, Gender Identity, and Sexual Preference to deal with.
Mental Sex is based on the work I did in co-creating the Dramatica Theory of Story. We discovered our psychological model of a story's structure came in two flavors: Male and Female. In fact, both operating systems are equally powerful in stories, but work as differently as Windows and Macintosh.
Male mental sex leans toward linear, goal-oriented, logical, spatial thinking whereas female mental sex leans toward holistic, journey-oriented, emotional, temporal thinking. But don't think we're generalizing here. There are four "levels" or kinds of processes that concurrently go on in the mind: Conscious, Memory, Subconscious and Preconscious. Preconscious is the only place you'll find built-in hardwired mental sex. The other three levels can employ any of the approaches listed above by choice (in Conscious) by training (in Memory) or by conditioning (in Subconscious).
How is male or female mental sex hard-wired into the preconscious? In the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy there is either a flush of testosterone over the developing fetus or not. Male fetuses are "supposed" to get it, female fetuses aren't.
Part of what that flush does is physical - it causes the gonads to evolve, it alters skeletal development, and so on. Part of what is does affect the brain, and hence, the mind.
The mind is made up of two primary forces - binary thinking in the firing of neurons, and analog thinking in the biochemistry. And these two forces affect one another. So neurons fire from two different kinds of input - Spatial Summation in which a single large stimulus makes the neuron fire and Temporal Summation in which an ongoing series of small stimuli, if large enough and often enough, eventually raise the chemical values surrounding the neuron to the point that it will fire.
That hormone wash before birth affects the brain (among other ways) by biasing the L cells and R cells in the ganglia (the little neural networks that operate within the brain at large). Each ganglia is like a little network of its own, each interconnecting with all the other networks to create the overall processing system of the brain.
The L and R cells create different kinds of neurotransmitters. One kind makes it easier for neurons to fire, and the other makes it harder. The easier it is for neurons to fire, the more binary thinking will occur. The harder it is for neurons to fire, the more analog thinking will occur.
So, even with the Conscious, Memory, and Subconscious all being trained to think according to typical male patterns, some of us have a Preconscious that is hard-wired to think in a female pattern, creating within us a subliminal dissonance.
And that is the angst we feel that drives us to transition.
Because it is all due to the hormone wash, you really can't have someone who is hard-wired way toward one sex mentally without having a great influence on their physical layout as well. So, the more one veers toward one sex mentally, the more physical characteristics will match.
Some of these are very subtle. Some are blatant. Almost any male to female "transsexual" who has that pre-birth bias to the analog in the Preconscious also has female elbows.
Basically, if you let your arms fall by your sides with palms facing front, your lower arms will either go straight down along your hips, or they will angle outward at the elbows at almost a 30 degree angle out to the sides from your hips. Virtually all "normal" men have arms go straight down, and virtually all women angle outward.
Why? Because the angle is needed to hold a baby's head in the proper position to breast feed. Straight arms have far more leverage, however, so men need the straight arms for lifting and strength. That is the real, honest to gosh explanation of why boys throw like boys and girls throw like girls: its the angle of the elbows and no one can do anything about it. You are born with one or the other. "Transsexuals" with female mental sex are almost always born with the female angle as a result of that hormone wash.
But, does that disqualify anyone who doesn't have that trait from being "genuine" as a transsexual? No, it just requires us to come up with new terms to describe it.
Gender Identity is the third aspect of human sexuality. It is cast in the Subconscious, not hard-wired in the Preconscious. Still, once you've got it, your stuck. Gender Identity is fixed in place subconsciously by the time you reach Kindergarten. It is part upbringing, part cultural indoctrination, and part luck of the draw. And, like most everything else about us, it is a range. You might prefer to be masculine or feminine or anywhere in between.
Most of us are even more complex than that! We like to be masculine in some ways and feminine in others. And when you add in all the Conscious and Memory patterns in our lives, it further diversifies us so that, while our basic Gender Identity is cast in place, it is continuously molded and reformed by our situations and interactions.
And finally, we nose up to Sexual Preference. Which sex turns you on? Same, Opposite, Both or Neither/Self? Most of use, yet again, are a combination of all of these, being a little auto-erotic, a little uninterested at times, mostly leaning toward one kind of partner but finding ourselves oddly, and perhaps disturbingly attracted to the other kind under unusual circumstances. After all, studies have shown that nearly 1/3 of adults have actively engaged in same sex experimentation at some point in their lives, though most decide opposite sex relationships are more compelling.
Then you add in various physical traits that lead to fetishes and compulsions and the whole sexual preference issue gets real cloudy real fast.
So what would a real "transsexual" be? Someone who has a mind that is fully one sex and a body that is fully the other. Based on the above, that is virtually impossible!
Then who are these people who have sex change operations or cross-dress or are the fem in a gay relationship, for example? They are simply people like everyone else who, through the luck of the draw, ended up with a mix of traits in all four aspects of human sexuality and all four levels of the mind.
And folks like me - who have physical traits like those elbows, a female mental sex preconscious and an affinity for things female - aren't we "transsexuals?"
Nope. We're just intersexed about as far as you can go without appearing to be a hermaphrodite in the first place. The mental traits drag the physical ones along with them or perhaps, vice versa. So we just have the widest possible gap you can get short of have indeterminate anatomical sex from the get go.
And we spend decades trying to accept it and deal with it and the rest of our lives trying to understand it.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Senior Citizen Melanie
I had my 55th birthday recently. Makes you think. I mean, no one who decides to change sex is driven by the desire to become a 55 year old "lady."
To quote Home Simpson, "Yet here we are."
Nonetheless, it kinda sucks.
So, what now? Now that I absolutely know I'll never look good in a bikini again, never have that Parisian romance, and never more fit with the 30-something crowd, how do I give up the dream? How to I come to terms with the undeniable fact that I'm way the hell past my prime and never coming back?
That old saying, "Better to be a has-been than a never-was," keeps coming to mind. So I have to take stock - what did I experience that I have now permanently lost, what will I never be able to experience, and what experiences still lay before me?
You know, when I first started transition in 1989 the biggest motivation factor was knowing that if I didn't try this life path I'd lay on my death bed feeling that I had blown my opportunity to know what it was like to be a woman. I couldn't abide that scenario, and so I set out to find out. I figured, no matter how it turned out, at least I'd know. And so I do.
Some folks transition in their 20's and get all that cool interaction with other youngsters, doing the "masters of the world" thing (and never realizing until years later how fleeting those days are and how the memories fade if you don't work like a demon to stoke 'em).
Some folks never transition at all, and clearly I see them as worse off than me by a hefty margin. Even if they eventually get around to it (and some have done it in their mid-70's), there's so much they've missed that it must be frustrating as all hell.
Me, I've always been a wallflower. On the Internet or teaching a class, I deal well with crowds, being the center of attention. But put me in a room with twenty people who don't know who I am, and I have no idea how to act. It's not a gender thing, but a social-ineptitude thing.
And that is why, though I can imagine myself being as I am today back in my youth, and I can imagine being involved in all kinds of activities, I have to wonder if I'd really get involved or just hung out in the shadows all the same.
What would I be today if I had been born female? Probably a social activist photographer - travelling the world to all the hot spots of cultural ferment and capturing it in pictures. My actual career was mostly in the movie industry as a writer/director/producer/editor of low budget movies, high budget industrials, and local television commercials. Sort of the same, but not really. And though it involved some travel and I saw some things I'd never have gazed on otherwise, after fifteen years in the biz and not getting that big break I threw in the towel and called it quits.
But if I'd been female, would that big break have come? If people hadn't expected me to have a male mind-set to match the apparent outward gender, would they have found me more inventive, more driven, more acceptable, and therefore networked and hired me on and elevated my opportunities? No way to tell.
I do know that transition hasn't changed my insecurities in dealing with people one on one - not because I think they might figure out about my past - hardly! - but rather that I just don't have any social skills of which I am aware.
The one thing that has helped was having feminizing facial surgery about seventeen months ago. That alteration of my skull structure has so foundationally altered the way people react to me at a subliminal level that it has taken down all the barriers I used to feel between me and others - especially other women. Still, even with the barriers down and the road clear, I have no idea where to go on it! That's my social ineptitude, something I've never been able to remedy.
Facial surgery has also completely changed my self image. It has made me feel integrated, rather than a fragmented hodgepodge. My body image finally matches my internal self-image. Even when I look in the mirror myself I now get that subliminal certainty that it is a woman staring back at me - something I used to think I had until I realized (after facial surgery) that previously, no matter now "pretty" I looked, I still gave off bone-structure vibes that just reek of being female. Only now can I see it, so the facial surgery was really a last-ditch leap-of-faith with no way to fathom just how much it would change my sense of integration in this life.
Gosh, I wish I could share this feeling with those of you who haven't had FFS but are living a feminine life. It's like the blind seeing for the first time, or the deaf hearing. Suddenly you perceive a positive change in your Chakra that you couldn't even see before when it was negative.
And that brings up the notion - what about someone who goes blind after knowing sight for the first part of their life? As a kid, I used to wonder who it was that had the worst life of all the people who had ever lived. First I determined he or she would have needed to have lived a very long life so they could suffer the most years.
And then I considered that they also must have had some wonderful good fortune in their lives to the loss of it would be so much more devastating. You can't miss what you've never experienced, though you can long for it. But if you have it and lose it, yeah, that's got to be a lot worse. Or is it?
Is it worse to be a has-been than a never-was? Is it worse to be a have-not?
As kid I speculated that it didn't matter how many years you lived, you'd never be any more ready to die. I'm not sure that's true. Sometimes I do feel "full of days," and don't fear death at all. But that's a trap. I shouldn't be thinking about it all winding up - I should be focusing on the road right in front of me, as if I had all the time in the world.
Still, if you don't reminisce at all, you carry no underlying mood that defines your feelings, a wealth of emotion that grows with you every year - and you tend it by choosing what to recall and what to let fade in a vapor trail of forgetfulness behind you. You prune your memories and try to fashion them so they form the foundation of an ever cheerier tomorrow.
So how do you deal with those experiences you'll never have - never can have - yet still long for?
After facial surgery, I bought all kinds of clothes in the "juniors" section and went around town in tight tops and slacks with rhinestones. People looked at me kinda funny - not "reading" me, by any stretch of the imagination (that all stopped immediately after facial surgery - but rather, looking at me as this middle-aged woman, dressing and acting like a teenager.
I have this theory that transgendered people "freeze" their emotional growth at around kindergarten age and put it into a box to protect it. See, we can't show who we really are or that delicate inner self gets ravaged.
Even when we transition, we don't take it out, still afraid but unsure why. We think we are now being ourselves but are left feeling cold, "Is this all there is?" But after facial surgery, then you realize you've been holding back because the skeletal vibes just don't support acting as delicate as we are inside.
But once you have facial surgery, you can do it! You can pull out all the stops without fear and just BE. And though (if you have FFS at my age) people will look at you like you're cracked, they see an old WOMAN acting like a kid (visions of Delta Dawn) - and that's appropriately nuts, rather than inapproiately so.
And the advantage to this? You get to build up emotional experiences you never had in your youth, acting and talking like you we're 20 again (only the right gender this time), finally, FINALLY, as if you were actually born this way, and FEELING that you were!
Great thing about emotions is they can't think. Doesn't matter if you look silly at this age, your emotions just feel in concert with the young woman you are inside. And with each experience you have, you get exactly the same emotional memories you would have had as a young woman. You actually fill in the holes, the gaps, the missing years of emotional growth - years in which you never really developed any emotional memories because you had your heart on hold as male.
Life was pale, empty, tasteless, and now those spaces, like empty slots, are becoming filled with emotional experiences as real as if they had happened years ago when they should have.
So here I am, becoming a whole person at 55. Taking the Swiss cheese of my emotional growth and making it strong, solid, unbroken, and complete. It may be to late to live these things for real, but it is never to late to live the fantasy. And to our emotions, fantasy is just as real as actuality. That's why we cry at movies. It's how we can laugh at life.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Fanning The Spark
Do you feel the spark? You know - that burning energy within yourself that makes life feel fresh and new and exciting - an adventure unfolding around you in an unending cascade like a roller coaster ride.
I've always had that spark, but lately I've begun to see it go out in long time friends from my youth.
Around Christmas a year ago, I was living in Northern California and I drove down to the L.A. area to attend a friend's annual White Elephant party. (At a White Elephant party, everybody brings an elegantly wrapped useless or kitchy gift, and has to open and walk away with one somebody else brought).
Sounds like a hoot - and it used to be, twenty years ago when he started it. But in those two decades, nothing changed in the format, and most of the faces attending were just older versions of the same ones that were there at the first one.
I hadn't been there for about five years and was looking forward to seeing many friends from my college days that I hadn't encountered in ages. But as I ran into them, one by one over the course of the evening, I became increasingly distressed. These people I remember as virtually glowing with creative energy had dimmed and slowed to the point they seemed like any other member of the grey masses who punch their time cards and hold their weekend barbecues.
There was Mark - my old film partner from USC cinema - he had dreams of making grand stop-motion-animation movies like his hero, Ray Harryhausen had done in Jason and the Argonauts. This youthful and hopeful spirit, driven by the love of his craft had now been replaced by a hunched over, grey-haired shell of a man who had done his time in the movie biz to the point that everything he knew was obsolete, and worse, to the point his spirit had been broken and his spark had gone out.
He had worked on some major pictures, and sure, he still did a few creative things - like a book he just published on the history of special effects in movies. Based only on what he was still producing, he was the same old guy - except... except that his hopefulness, his expectation of a wondrous and shining future had been exchanged for a fatalistic outlook focused more on making his remaining years comfortable than on embarking on new adventures. The spark was gone.
Tom was there too. He had worked on both feature films I had directed and also on commercials and industrials I had made. He was mostly a sound-man and had worked on a number big pictures as well. But several years ago, he finally got fed up with the biz and the lack of work for older filmmakers and dropped out. For a while he just did a little scuba diving, but then went back to school to learn how to be a tech at a medical lab and also did a stint in chef school. (Thank God he didn't try to combine them!)
But he gave up on those as well, not really being interested, and has been content to hang out at home and get by on his savings and the rent from a house on the back of his property. His spark had gone out as well.
Tony worked for the Cousteau Society for a while as their chief librarian and assistant editor for their U.S. operations. But when the company decided to move all their operations back to France after Cousteau died, he was left behind. He took a few electronic editing classes in the early days of the technology, but eventually settled for a job as a cashier for a local college bookstore.
Sandy was my young assistant well before my transition, back when I was the up and coming film and video director of the group. He was sharp and inventive, with boundless energy. Eventually, he left the film industry and went to work at Paramount running their Star Trek web site. He was there at the party too, and hadn't changed a bit. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that he hadn't expanded either. He was still doing the same things he had years ago, just on a larger scale. And though he still had the little power station inside, pumping him full of energy, he was applying it to an ongoing routine rather than chasing after the next new thing.
And my dear friend Chris, my partner in creating Dramatica and the host of the party had made his fortune years ago by selling off part of the company her formed to provide software for the entertainment industry. He used to make animated films that grabbed you by the guts and wouldn't let go. He worked on IMAX pictures, doing special effects. He's travelled the world from Australia to Vietnam. Yet he seems trapped in a routine, yearning for a way out.
He's still extremely active in Dramatica, moderating an email list of hard-core users, podcasting audio programs from classes and seminars he gives. In short, he does a lot of the same things I do. But somehow he seems almost a servant to his creations, rather than the master of them. It is as if he is the Head Priest to the theories we developed, rather than the Great Creator of new worlds of thought.
Remember Crick and Watson - the guys who discovered the double-helix structure of DNA? Watson spent his last creative years working with young people, trying to discover the physiologic seat of consciousness, but he was really trying to recover the thrill of the spark he felt as a young scientist chasing down the shape of the building blocks of life.
Sylvester Stallone had just done Rocky (and I think Rambo too) when he made an extraordinary film entitled "F.I.S.T" about the early days of American unions, loosely based on the story of Jimmy Hoffa. It was a powerful dramatic statement, reminding me of Citizen Kane - a masterful work that I believe he wrote and directed as well as taking one of the pivotal roles.
But the film was a bomb at the box office. Audiences wanted that action movie guy - not a thoughtful, philosophic social commentator. Stallone was interviewed a few weeks later and was asked about what he intended to do next. He replied that he wanted to keep making films, so if the audience wanted the big, dumb, action guy - then that's the kind of movies he'd make from then on. And that is the moment his spark died.
Last September, we moved to Salem, Oregon. I'd never lived anywhere outside of California before. At first I enjoyed the slower pace of life, the pleasant friendly people who grew up in an agriculture-based society. There were some decent restaurants and several movie theaters. I felt as if I had stepped back in time, to the 60's perhaps, as they were in Burbank where I grew up. In fact, the local stores place 60's music in the background!
I wasn't quite a year past my feminizing facial surgery and had a lot of healing still to go. But, I knew that for the first time in my life, I actually stood a chance of fitting in - not just getting by, but actually blending into the crowd as just one of the women of Salem.
I joined a local writer's group and chit-chatted with clerks and receptionists. It was so refreshing to finally be like everyone else. But then, I began to feel something was lacking. I started getting sick and having no energy for any activities. I got depressed and moped around the house. I thought is was just S.A.D. due to the short Winter days here, and the many days of rain. But then I went to my latest writer's group meeting.
In this session, we were required to break into groups of five or six and collectively develop a proposal for a magazine article. The other groups muddled along and in our group, there was one mundane suggestion after another. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore and started jotting down my own notes, based on more creative spins of the ideas everyone else was suggesting and getting nowhere with.
There was about one minute left of our twenty allotted minutes when I presented my short synopsis to the group. The were all pleased we had something to read when the clock ran out. I did the reading (we were the last group heard from) and our proposal pretty much blew everyone else out of the running.
All the other proposals (based on a topic about "Vacationing In Oregon") were touting the fishing and hiking and waterfalls, and one even got inventive enough to mention Big Foot. But ours was about "Taking a Green Vacation" in Oregon. We talked about how these days when we go on vacation we burn gas, burn time, burn money, and get burned out by the end of our vacations. But in Oregon, the land of conservation, you can save gas, time, and money, and recycle your energy. Hey, its not great, but compared to, "Vacationing in Oregon's Natural Wonders"... well, make your own opinion.
But here's the thing. No one in that room had the spark. And the fact that I pushed the limits to get a truly creative concept completed in the time limit isolated me from the others in the group (three women and one man). They didn't want something new or off-the-wall. They were actually disappointed that we didn't have a more ordinary proposal that would fit right in with all the other groups.
And after we finished, though it was suggested by the others in my group that I actually write that article for a magazine, they turned to each other to discuss the mundane details of their mundane lives, and I was left sitting there alone, again, in the writer's group I had joined in order to fit in.
And then it struck me. None of my old friends lost their spark because they were beaten down by life - they lost it by extinguishing it themselves! In their desire to fit in, they sacrificed those qualities of themselves that make them special. And here in Salem, Oregon, having just done a magnificent thing with my radical facial surgery, I was trying to kill my spark as well and fit into the grey masses like most everyone else I know.
I thought of "Cool Hand Luke", of "Pappion'"of Patrick Magoohan in "The Prisoner". I remember the hero's journey in which one overcomes adversity only to become mired in the swamps of mediocrity, lured in by the Sirens who shower us with such comforts and pleasures that we forget we were ever on a quest in the first place. Like Bootstrap Bill in "Pirates of the Caribbean" we become part of the ship, losing our identity, becoming one of the floor boards of society so that we have a place, a purpose, and the comfort of knowing others see us as part of the system.
And when I thought these things, the spark flared up inside me. In outrage I railed against the lure to become comfortably numb. And that is when I started this blog.
Apparently my subconscious was already in on this trap, as I had started uploading videos on You Tube about a month ago. And then I had decided to re-do a number of the products in my online store. And I got my keyboards out and we got our guitars fixed (one of which has had a broken bridge for two years).
Most important, I realized that the reason I had so few friends as a child was not because I had gender issues I hadn't yet seen, but that I had that spark from the get go, while almost everyone else in school was just another worker drone, trying to make a comfortable nest.
So even though I can now fit in completely with all the other women (due to my facial surgery), I find I simply don't want to. I love my spark - it is what make me unique, in its color, its radiance, and the rhythm of its flicker.
I'm not going to be lured into those doldrums and turn into one of the walking dead. No... that road only leads to a fatalistic fascination with death looming like a locomotive headlong toward us, knowing that death will bring only and end to the monotony in which we wallow - a release from the ordinary days of our lives.
So, I'm not going to go running around with a placard proclaiming my transsexualism or searching out ways to make counter-culture statements or appear eccentric. But if something in my past, my thoughts, my attitude, or my memory is in conflict with appearing to be part of the heard I won't be filtering it out anymore.
I'm not going to hold back; I'm not going tone it down. I'm going to make each and every day a celebration of all that I can see, all that I can be. I would rather fulfill my potential each and every moment and stand out than sell out for even an instant in order to blend in.
No, the spark still burns brightly within me, and I will never again compromise it and risk losing my identity.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Absinthe and Training Wheels for the Soul
Teresa and I live together 24/7. We make our living from my web site for writers at http://storymind.com/ (shameless plug). So, we are seldom apart from each other at all.
Normal morning routine is to get up around 8-ish and have coffee for her and tea for me. About 10 a.m. I make our breakfast - usually bacon, melon, and perhaps some granola or toast.
And over breakfast we discuss just about everything - philosophy, politics, history, society, culture, art, spiritual issues, and so on.
From these conversations creative ideas oft spring, which are later put into play as project to share or products for sale. In fact, there are so many fresh concepts that rise out of these discussions that there is certainly no time to even casually pursue them all.
So I started thinking that at least I might share some of notions we ponder her on the ol' blog - give 'em the light of day, as it were. Some will be long-ish articles and other may just be a line or two - the bare bones of a half-baked idea (to mix metaphors of which I'm not directly aware).
Today's phrase is a title: "Training Wheels for the Soul"
Here's how it came about... Whenever I get creatively stuck - once every few months - I have a glass of Absinthe just before bed. Brings really strange dreams, but for the next two weeks I wake up each day with solutions to business problems, personal issues, and whole new outlooks. All of this without getting dopped up by pot (I hate pot).
The sensation of Absinthe is a little like times in my youth when I would get high by skipping a night's sleep, then drinking copious cups of coffee and eating one Snickers bar after another. About midnight of the second night, I could sit alone in my office and watch the wood-grain patterns on the walls come to life and move - and all without "drugs" in the traditional sense. Probably a lot harder on my system than if I'd actually done drugs (which I always avoided because all I had was my identity and I didn't want to have it changed outside my will to do so and maybe get stuck in some new place).
But, since moving to Salem, OR, I've been sick for four months straight. I got nauseous when visiting my daughter in California. A week later, and herbal capsule (fenegreek - a spice used in curry) got stuck in my throat for half an hour. Trying to wash it down with hot tea, the capsule ruptured and spread that curry spice all over the back of my tongue and throat!
Tongue swelled up so much I could hardly breathe. For weeks I hardly slept, fearing I would suffocate in repose. My daughter came up to visit me near Christmas last, and it was so bad I had to go to the hospital on Saturday night.
They couldn't figure it out and sent me home to talke Prilosec in case it was a by product of acid reflux. Two days later, into urgent care with the same problem. Then I saw two different doctors. No idea what it was - strep, negative - yeast infection, negative, nothing visibly wrong.
Food started getting stuck in my throat, even little pieces. Swallowing got painful and difficult to do and made a weird clicking sound. Glands swelled up. In short, after sever months of this I was pretty convinced I might have something seriously wrong with me.
But, there was one more thing I could try at home. Absinthe was originally used by the Romans as an anti-parasite, andi-fungal treatment for the intestines. It's active ingredient is Thujon, better known as Wormwood. They called it Wormwood because it actually kills intestinal worms.
So, I thought perhaps if I had Absinthe for a few days straight, one glass per night, it might kill whatever was lurking in my throat (if that was the kind of problem it was). Worth a try, anyway.
So, I had my glass each evening for five days. Got some relief, though it didn't cure the problem. But, the after effects were staggering! It was like having my creative insight thrown into hyper-drive!
All the conclusions I've recently come to about no longer trying to fit in - to give up the dream of being "just one of the girls" because though I now can fit in, even at a subliminal level due to my feminizing facial surgery, I will never fit in because I'm just too off-the-wall and inventive. I like these folks, these simple souls, who speak of everyday issues and go days between having a truly new or inventive thought.
Yes, those people are so genuine, so earthy, so seeminly care-free. I've always aspired to join them in their simple grounded lives. But, five days of Absinthe have given me insight even into places I really didn't want to look. And one of them was that no matter how much I might want to be part of the flock, my nature is to always stray from the herd, chasing after some new idea or experience that all the rest see as of no value, a waste of time, or at the very least peculiar.
Yep, Absinthe did that to me, and thank God it did. I've spent years lopping pieces off my mind when I interacted with others so that I wouldn't step outside the bounds in which they felt comfortable. Oh, yeah! You can fit in like that, but do you really want to? Thought I did, but damn! What a way to live! For them, I'm sure it fits like a glove. For me it was like self-lobtomizing every time I entered into a public conversation.
Well, I finished up the fifth day of Absinthe about two weeks ago. Usually by this time, my thoughts have returned to the mundane, making it easier to try and blend in. But so far, there is no downturn in the mile-a-minute cascading avalanche of creativity I've been experiencing.
Perhaps I've really done it this time. Perhaps I've permanently opened the dimensional gateway to my creative center and may never be able to closs the rift again. Can you imagine the intense pressure caused by a continuous flow of creative notions every waking moment? Gotta find release, is what I gotta do!
And hence, this cursed blog - my best and easiest outlet for the never-ending cavalcade of insights and innovations that is blossoming in my brain like a field of sweet-smelling cancerous flowers. They eat you alive, but you love it while its happening.
So, this morning over breakfast, I was discussing this with Teresa. And she said, "Perhaps it is like in the movie "Independence Day" when they are in the room with the alien craft in area 51. They government man tries to diminish Jeff Goldblum's plan for attacking the aliens by pointing at the craft and snidley quipping, "You don't even know if it will fly!"
Then, Goldblum motions to his assistant and the supports that have been holding the craft up are removed. The space ship just sits there floating, suspended on its own power.
So Teresa says, "Maybe this is how you've been all your life, floating but thinking you needed the supports. Maybe your mind always worked at this speed but you attributed it to other things. Now that you are just being yourself and not trying to fit in, you've pulled away the supports and discovered you actually float on your own."
I thought about it - spiritual growth held up by supports that weren't really needed anymore. And that is when I uttered the phrase, "Training Wheels for the Soul."
And like most of these kinds of ideas I have, I know that it is a great book title. After the success of Chicken Soup for the Soul, such a title as mine would make people stop in a book store and look at the back cover to see what it is all about.
Certainly the title suggests something of the nature of the content it ought to hold. But I know for a fact I'll never write that book any more than I'll write a similarly titled book I thought of a couple years ago: Botox for the Soul.
No, this book will never get written. So, what do I do with the creative idea of the title? Let it die? Let it fade from memory and have no one else ever see it?
Naw, I'm sick of doing that. So many tens of thousands of ideas have already been thrown away like that in my life so far. But no more!
Nope, this time I just threw it in as the title of this blog and wrote a meandering article about how I came to think of it. And so, for better or worse, for usefulness or waste of time, you have participated in giving this one creative idea life.
Now, just try to forget it!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Together or Separate?
One thing I've grappled with lately was whether to present all my creative work as a teacher of story, transgender guru, artist, poet, composer/performer, and so on in a single forum or to separate them into distinct realms in which no audience member from one realm is aware of my other endeavors.
On my story theory web site at http://storymind.com I only have story stuff. On my transgender support site at http://heartcorps.com/journeys I have only transgender stuff. But I just started posting on You Tube, and that has re-opened this whole issue.
I created one You Tube account for my story theory videos, and created another under my own name. I was linking from the story site to the story account on You Tube, and so I started using the personal account on You Tube to post my TG material and linked to it from my TG support site.
But then I started to think - the personal site is about expressing myself, not about promoting just one issue. And I began to feel confined by putting only TG stuff up on my personal You Tube site. I wanted to put up some of my music videos, some poetry readings, some of my best story theory stuff, and so on.
You see, when I do business at http://storymindcom , it is about reaching a particular audience, just like my tg support site. But when I am expressing myself, it doesn't matter if there is an audience or not. What is important is to present what's important to me, regardless of what the audience thinks - regardless of whether or not there is an audience - AND regardless of whether I lose a part of my audience.
I've grown tired of shielding the bulk of myself from this group and shielding a different majority of myself from another. I just want to express the totality of me as a lifestyle - as a way of living the artistic life.
So, with utter disregard for any ramifications or financial considerations, I decided today to start posting all of my interests both on You Tube and on my home page. From now on, these two venues of personal expression won't be geared to one realm or another but simply to whatever my interests may be at the time.
Now, you will notice that I'm not putting up a TG specific account on You Tube to match the one I have for story theory only. Here's why - I'm not going to be using the story theory You Tube account any more. Everything will go through the one personal You Tube account.
I won't be linking to the You Tube site from my story theory web site because I think the TG videos that will also be there would be bad for business. So, while I don' visitors to my TG web site finding out about my other endeavors, I really don't want customers to my story theory site finding out about anything other than story.
I also won't (and never have) posted my poetry, art, or music on my story theory site - you just don't open a store for one thing and then pile a bunch of other stuff into it that gets in the way of the sale. So, its not like I'm excluding only TG stuff from the story theory site - I'm just focusing on business there.
Then, when it comes to issues of personal importance (like the TG support site and my You Tube Site) - that's the place to pull it all together.
All right - long way around to explain this, but I've been wrestling with it for a long time, and finally arrived at how I want it to be just this morning.
My dream is that by showing all the different areas, but each with the same artist's approach, it will center attention on sharing and teaching that approach, not on the person behind it. We'll see, and hopefully, so will you!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Book Title - "Satan Has an Air Force"
Every once in a while, Teresa or I will utter a phrase that is perfect for a book title - you know, the kind that if you saw in a book store you'd just have to stop and read the back jacket to see what such a thing could be about.
So, that's the latest (this time from Teresa over breakfast). Came out of nowhere, it did, while we were munching bacon. We were talking about something complete tangent to this title, which she just blurted out in the middle of a mouthful:
"Satan Has an Air Force."
Now, I don't know about you, but I'd love to read that book! What could it be about? Makes the mind go into high gear just to figure out what the subject matter could be. Is it a horror story, a sci-fi? Could it be something about World War Two, or might it be a political comentary against the goold ol' USA using high tech air power to pummel little countries into submission?
Whatever it might be, I know I'll never actually write such a book, so I just save 'em up and then use them in passing reference in books I DO write. For example, I might throw it in as an introduction to a character being interviewed on TV - "Our next guest is B. L. Z. Bubb, best-selling author of Satan Has an Air Force." Or, I might just throw it out in a character's description, i.e. "He was independently wealthy, having made his fortune from his book, Satan Has an Air Force."
No matter, it will be used somewhere. Oh, wait a minute... I just used it here, as an excuse to write a blog entry. What's more, I can post this on my Story Theory web site as a tip for writers. Wow. Now I can knock off for the day, having made my fortune as the best-selling author of "Satan Has an Air Force."
Monday, April 7, 2008
Twenty Years of Change
Next year I'll reach the 20th anniversary of the beginning of my transition from male to female. Sure, there are a lot of areas of exploration and growth that occurred before the actual "start" date, but it was at the end of August in 1989 that I began hormone therapy with the clear purpose of having sex reassignment surgery as soon as possible.
It was then I began making moves to live full-time in my preferred gender role, and also was the moment I wrote the first entry in my transition diary. By the time I had finished my journey, I had written twelve hundred pages in that chronicle. I had published it on the Internet, and (even today) get hundreds of people reading it every week.
As I approach the twenty-year mark, it has occurred to me that while that multi-year document is a richly detailed record of what it is like to make this trip, moment to moment, it lacks one thing: perspective. Perspective is gained by creating parallax through two points of view, rather than one.
My entire diary was written as I looked forward to the future. But now, in reflecting on those initial entries, I look back at the origins of those embryonic attempts at self-discover with the eye of experience and, hopefully, some modicum of wisdom gained along the way.
As I considered this, it struck me that an opportunity exists - a chance to do something that can be extremely useful, perhaps even enlightening, both to my readers and to myself as well. So, I am announcing today my intention to record a Twentieth Anniversary reading of my diary (on video), replete with annotations and commentary gleaned from all that I have experienced since.
In the movie, "West Side Story," the proprietor of the local soda shop begins a comment to a young delinquent with "When I was your age...." The teenage hoodlum cuts him off with the quip, "Pops, you was never my age!"
In today's world, many of the experiences I had during transition are no longer valid. Society is far more accepting that it was even a decade ago, much less two. The opportunities for self-expression in an open manner are wide and varied, ranging from sanctioned on-campus support groups to video diaries on YouTube.
The requirements for surgery have changed, children in elementary school are being diagnosed and treated, rather than boxed-in and ridiculed. And even logistic elements are no longer what they were. My SRS surgeon, for example, died a few years back. And Facial Feminization Surgery, unknown in my early days, is now a real option for anyone in transition to consider.
Still, though the specifics may have altered considerably, the emotions invovled in risking friends, family and career in the effort to truly know and actualize oneself have not changed at all. Each of us who undertakes this journey does it at her own peril, and yet are will to risk it all for the chance to feel whole.
So, while today's transitioners may say (in reading my diary), "Moms, you was never my age!" There are also common human feelings that are shared across the generations, regardless of how things may have altered logistically. And it is those human truths that bind us all together as being of one spirit.
In that context, I hope to offer something which, to my knowledge, has never been done before - a study of my own transition in the last century told both in the first person as it happened, tempered and enriched by the first person commentary of the old-hand looking back.
In this way I hope to strip away the incidentals to expose the timeless truths buried in the rush of the moment, thereby providing a sense of purpose and direction to those just starting and to provide an understanding and foundation to myself.
So, look for the first of these programs to appear soon, right here, or on a web site near you.
Friday, April 11, 2008
More Lessons from the Kiwi
Yesterday, I posted a link to an animated video called "Kiwi" (on You Tube) in which the small, cute, flightless bird seeks fulfillment to his life by nailing trees perpendicularly to the side of a cliff so he can throw himself down past them and experiencing the sensation of flight. He knows it is a one-way trip to the rocks below, but for one glorious moment, he can feel he has transcended his limitations to achieve a sense of completion.
Teresa also posted the Kiwi video to her transgender support message boards to see what comments it might engender.
Some folks identified with Kiwi, feeling themselves to be physically incomplete and unfulfilled. They also saw transition as a make-believe trip to approximate the experience of being female without ever really being able to achieve it.
Others felt Kiwi had just thrown himself to his death, and didn't grasp the significance of making a choice to taste freedom, even if it is but for a moment, even if the result is your certain demise.
Some tried to sidestep the issue by proposing a number of ways in which Kiwi might have survived the fall, endings to the story that might have occurred just below the fog where we lose track of him in the original animation.
I went back to You Tube and discovered a number of people had posted their own animated alternative endings , trying to dispel the bitter sweet feelings the original had fostered in them.
Some took the opposite approach on You Tube and presented gruesome graphic renditions of what a broken and impaled Kiwi might look like on the rocks below the fog.
Perhaps the most inventive was a scene that showed Kiwi dying as expected, but then rising up as a spirit Kiwi, ascending to heaven on wings of his own.
No matter, each of the alternatives, like the original dealt with the death of the original Kiwi.
Last night, it occurred to me there was another way that side-stepped both death and the tragedy of Kiwi's life.... The Kiwi plunges down the cliff to gain his transient glimpse of a normal life, disappears in the fog to a splat sound, all as in the original. But the continuation show that the splat sound was just the beginning of a clap of thunder as the Kiwi emerges from the fog to discover himself transformed completely into a normal bird of a wholly different species, flying on wings of his own. What's more, he is no longer pummeling down a cliff, but is, in reality, flying above the trees.
Is it a miracle or an after-death dream or a lucid fantasy before the lights finally go out? We don't know, we can't tell.
When we feel that life has sold us short and we must either live without ever experiencing what we feel we "should" have had or to throw ourselves to our doom for just a brief taste of it, there is an alternative.
In transition, we choose to hurl ourselves down the cliff. We know we can never change our genetic code. We know we can't erase the past. Deep in our hearts we know that the rest of our lives will be filled with heartache and fantasy in order to avoid the reality that we have done nothing more that altered ourselves to approximate being women.
Yet, in our hearts and minds we believe ourselves to be truly female, creating a nightmarish conflict, much as would be experienced by a woman who was studying to be a ballerina but lost her legs in a car accident. No matter what she does, she will never truly fulfill her dream.
How does one accept this? Is the only course to pretend it is not so, to lose oneself in a made-up world? Or must we accept it and forever feel denied and stunted?
What are we to do?
For me, the answer is to follow the suggestion I offered above for an alternate ending to Kiwi's story.
What if the legless ballerina had never painted with oils? What if she discovered it was so much more fulfilling to her than ballet ever was? What if she became so taken with this new means of expression that she seldom thought of ballet and never felt hobbled by her injury?
Would she have not then become transformed into a different creature than she was?
For me, I have had many surgeries and twenty years of hormone use. I have altered body, face, and biochemistry. And though I may be indistinguishable from any other woman, I can never pretend that I started out that way.
I have always struggled to find a way to integrate my real past with my apparent present, both in presentations of my artistic work and history and also in my own heart and mind. To that end I have ceaselessly grappled with whether or not I should hide from my past and go "stealth" to live as full a life as is possible. But I kept running up against the undeniable fact that you can't go "stealth" from yourself. And the more you are on guard to not let any of the "truth" of your past leak out, the more you are thinking about that past and perpetuating it in your own mind. You "out" yourself continually in your own head, even while you are "passing" perfectly with others.
No, stealth is not an acceptable solution for me.
Another option is to 'fess up. Let people know right up front about your past and then hope they accept you as you are, and if not, they can just go away as far as you are concerned.
That sounds sort of an integrated self on the surface, but it has two major flaws: One, you are constantly confronted by people with whom you must divulge for the first time, thereby keeping the whole issue of your unusual nature alive in your mind and, Two, first impressions set the stage for how someone will think of a person forever. By including your past as part of your first impression, you forever surround yourself with people who think of you as a man who became a woman, rather than as a woman who used to be a man.
A final option is to have the past in a balanced place in your life, as a healthy part of your everyday existence, coming up as it would for anyone when they happen to speak, from time to time, of their days in high-school or experiences in scouting, or their first marriage.
Yet even this is unacceptable to me, for as long as the past is still in my head on a regular basis, as part of my ongoing life - integrated or not - I feel I am polluted by it, tainted, and forever stuck with one foot in the male gender.
But Kiwi has suggested to me an answer, in the form of my alternative ending - a true transformation of self that allows one to transcend the past.
In my case, this transformation is not external, for that has already been done. And it doesn't involve denying the past, either to others or even to myself. Rather, like the ballerina, I am choosing to discover that new interest, that new focus in life that so centers and consumes me that transgender issues simply don't come to mind, or at least to heart.
For me, this new realm is to engage in an old interest I have put on hold since transition began - my music. I am centering my new life around my life-long interest in expressing myself through music.
Since I was nine I have composed and recorded music, just for myself, mostly. In my late twenties and mid-thirties, I began recording an occasional song, first with a four-track tape recorder, later on computer in full-multi-tracking.
Still, I engaged in this far less than one would do with even a casual hobby, focusing instead on building a fifteen year career in the movie biz as a writer/producer/director/editor. After that career, I immediately segued into developing a whole new theory of story structure, software to implement it, and then began teaching the theory - the vocation by which I make my living still today.
In the midst of all this I went through transition and nineteen years of living in my "preferred gender role." During all of this time, I occasionally bemoaned not having the time or equipment to play with my music, then got the equipment and continued to complain I didn't have the time.
I had facial surgery about 18 months ago. This changed my appearance so much that it was like becoming a different person. I felt disassociated from the obligations and routines of my past. I felt free to step into a new life. And yet, I could not let go of the old.
I was proud of what I had accomplished, both professionally and personally, and I wanted to continue to be considered the person who did all that as my means of defining myself. But this was a dead end since the maintaining of all that material fresh in my mind squeezed out any motivations I might have had to finally junk it all and embrace my music as the primary focus of my life.
About 7 months ago, I left California where I had spent my entire life and moved to Oregon. Teresa and I made commitments to each other at the time that once we arrived, we would start new lives, her as an artist and me as a musician/composer. We figured this was our one big chance to start over.
But, as we worked to get the house in order, then establish a routine, and deal with the finances, our plan for a new beginning fell by the wayside. Soon it was business as usual, with a focus on all kinds of things that had ties to the past, and remaining locked in our identities that we had established and maintained for all these years.
Nonetheless, being treated differently by everyone I encountered, due to the results of my facial surgery, which still continues to settle into its final results, I began to become dissatisfied with my life and found myself increasingly unable to put nose to grindstone and do what was expedient, whether I liked it or not.
Desperately I looked for some new kinds of activities that might capture my interest. I tried re-doing my extensive web sites - both the one I have for writers of fiction and also my transgender support web site as well. But there was no real satisfaction in this: just another distraction from the continued emptiness of my existence.
Then, I thought that perhaps if I started posting videos on You Tube from seminars in fiction writing I had taught in 1999, I might find some fulfillment. I thought that perhaps this would be a perfect answer - a chance to work in the visual media again, which I've missed since I left the career, and also something that could promote my products to a whole new market with free advertising at that!
I must admit, there is some degree of pleasure in doing this. And yet, it fell short of a true feeling of being happy with my life and my activities of the day. So, I set up a second You Tube account where I could post anything I wanted that was pertinent to my life - not just informational programs that might sell product.
At first, I uploaded only some transgender-oriented informational videos I had also recorded in 1999. But again, it did not hit the mark and make me feel whole, though I was glad to have a venue for my work.
I made another attempt to find some inner purpose by transferring old recordings of my music, both before and after transition, to video and posting it to You Tube on my personal account as well.
Many of these videos on all these subjects are embedded in the pages of this blog, the blog being yet another means of self-expression I undertook about a month ago, hoping to discover some spark that might center my life and give it meaning.
Again, all this fell short. Increasingly desperate, almost frantic for a solution, I violated my own decades-long rule of keeping my transgender history separated from my fiction writing business endeavors, I posted duplicate copies of my writing class videos on my personal You Tube account, right next to my TG and music videos. This, I thought, must surely allow me to fully integrate and thereby reach some sort of minor Nirvana. But, I was wrong again.
I became more and more wound up, feeling there was no other direction I might look, no other path I might try in my attempt to justify my own existence to myself. I stopped working on my business altogether. I set myself in front of the television and ignored all that ought to be done. And, I worked all day and all night preparing and posting more videos, squeezing them out as fast as I could, hoping that perhaps volume of output would overcome my problems. But, all of this was to no avail.
And then, in showing a video I had enjoyed on You Tube, Teresa stumbled across her old friend Kiwi once again. And when I saw it, I became so saddened that the inside of me burned black. I went back to you tube and found another version of the same animation with a different soundtrack that was so much more depressing that when I showed it to Teresa I began to sob uncontrollably. "Is this all there is?" I asked her, paraphrasing both Carole King from her Tapestry album and Jack Nicholson from "As Good As It Gets."
I had now almost given up hope that any true and lasting happiness would ever be available to me in this life. Oh, sure, I've had moments of joy, and periods of glee, but it was always short-lived and equally superficial, serving only to obscure the darker emotions that surrounded my heart.
I felt like giving up, going bankrupt, staring at the television all day, and sleeping whenever there wasn't anything good to watch. In other words, I just wanted to numb up, drop out, and wait for death.
I fought the good fight - I did the transition thing - I supported my family - I created concepts that have helped literally thousands. Was I not owed the right to curl up and wait to die if I wanted to?
Then, this morning when I first awoke, that alternative ending for the Kiwi story popped right into my head. I realized that I had already made the physical transition that I wished for the Kiwi in my proposed conclusion for his flight. But I had not yet accepted the physical changes I had made.
I was still basing my sense of my own identity on music I had written before transition, on theories of story structure I had created after surgery but when I was still living in a persona as fake as my pre-transition one.
You see, after surgery, I knew I was capable of appearing to be so completely feminine that I built up a whole new set of false behaviorisms to replace the set I had used to fit in as a male. The only difference was the gender, but the dishonesty of how I portrayed myself was just as great.
Only after facial surgery was I finally confident enough that my true heart could now be expressed without appearing ridiculous. Yet even then, I held on to my accomplishments of the past as the seat of my self-worth, my self-image.
Yesterday morning I had tried something I've never done before. I have always over-produced my music, putting echo on my voice and multi-tracking many instruments so that the arrangement would cover what I felt was my awful presentation as a singer and a musician.
I've always believed my music and lyrics are quite extraordinary, but I have equally believed (with some merit) that my singing and musical performance are, well, god-awful. No, I don't just believe that, I know they are.
So I've worked hard to cover all that up so that the words and music might shine through. But this was not just putting my best foot forward - it was trying to establish my worth to others and thereby enhance my sense of worth within myself.
How far away all that is from the plain and simple expression of my music.
Harry Chapin once wrote a song about a man who worked in a warehouse or some such and always sang as he toiled. His friends all told him he ought to sing as a profession, but he declined, happy in his work.
After years of their persistence, he began to imagine that he might actually be able to make it as a singer professionally, so he took his savings, hired a hall, paid for promotion, and opened to a packed house.
The critics were not kind, suggesting that though he had heart, he lacked the depth and polish of a true professional and would never amount to more than an enthusiastic amateur, not up to professional standards.
At the end of Harry's song, the man returns to his job and is never heard singing again. Though, says Harry, late at night when no one is around, passersby might stop for a moment near the warehouse, thinking they hear singing softly inside.
And that is why I over-produced my recordings - something I could control so I wouldn't be torn apart inside in regard to the activity that means the most to my heart. I dared not define myself as a musician, so even after facial surgery and even after the move to Oregon, I guess I found every excuse to not pursue the dream I've always had, lest I be hurt more deeply than I could stand.
I used to love making movies, but the industry killed that joy. I used to like writing, but I've done that as a profession for far too long. The one creative pleasure (and the greatest) that I have that has never been prostituted for money or bastardized as a vocation is my music.
And so, I have protected that last refuge of my soul and refused to use it as the core of my self-image. To call myself a musician or composer, even only to myself, would be more risk that I could tolerate. Yet, there was little else to try.
So, yesterday morning, while Teresa ran some errands, I found myself alone in the house. This rarely happens as we both work out of the house and are together pretty much 24/7. Given this gift of solo time, I decided to do something I had not ever done. I would record myself singing one of my old songs unplugged, just me on the guitar in front of the video camera with no embellishment, no multi-tracked harmonies, no reverb, no synthesized background tracks.
After several takes, I transferred the tape to my computer for editing. Though I thought my singing was pretty rotten, it was also very honest. Though my voice was rather grating and uncertain, it completely matched my new face.
To be wholly honest, I've been afraid to video tape myself since facial surgery. Before facial surgery, I knew how to adjust the lighting and the angle to make myself appear very young and pretty and feminine. But now, now that the bone structure had been changed and I hadn't had a face-lift to pick up the sagging skin left by the procedure, and never having seen myself in motion under natural light, I was terrified that I would find myself to look oddly mis-shapen, still male-ish in bone structure, or hideously old (as I sometimes do in the mirror if I don't turn on the make-up lights and just let the side-light from the window illuminate me).
In reviewing the videos I was totally surprised to find that I looked to myself like a pretty middle-aged woman whose voice was appropriate to her, whose singing was atrocious, whose guitar playing was horrible, but whose song was actually pretty good!
All day yesterday I thought about whether I had the guts to put it up on my personal You Tube channel or on my personal web site. It was such a contrast to my earlier musical efforts. I thought, "What will potential customers from the writing community think if they come to my You Tube site, discover my transgender background, and then hear this drek as well?!"
I struggled with that decision all night, while I slept, and until 4 a.m. when I awoke this morning. It was then that I realized that good or bad, my music was where my heart truly lived. It was the center of how I wanted to think of myself - not as a story theorist or teacher, not as a pioneer in the transgender community - no, I wanted all those other things to fade away. I wanted to think of myself as nothing more than a composer and musician, even if I was horrible at it and even if I was wonderful at all the old avocations I have pursued successfully for years.
If I was to start over, I thought, I needed a new identity that reflected who I've always wanted to be. So I took a name from one of the songs I've previously written - one that I wrote from my heart, not from my gender, not from my profession.
I edited the videos I'd recorded yesterday and used my new stage name on them in the titles. I created a whole new You Tube account, and uploaded three takes of the same song just to see what comments I might receive, if any.
I see now that I have remained a Kiwi by my own hand in continuing to define myself by my accomplishments of the past. I don't intend to simply stop producing new products for my writing tools company, nor do I intend to stop posting videos of my seminars from 1999. I also have other projects worth doing for the transgender community - for example, I have planned to do a 20th anniversay reading of my transition diary (all 1200 pages of it) over the next few years, recorded on video, uploaded to You Tube. Each chapter will be both the direct reading of the existing text, and also off-hand commentary from the perspective of two decades of experience looking back.
But, unlike before, these things do not define who I am, they only describe what I do. Who I am is music, and photography, and trips to the beach, and backpacking, and drawing watercolors and oil painting with primary colors, and travel, and cooking, and eating, and science fiction and action and heist movies, and DVDs with special features.
These are the things that I really am. This is how I will finally have an identity - a self image that truly reflects my self, rather than just creating a persona.
Like the legless balerina, like the wingless Kiwi, I will not wither and I will not die. I will live as a transformed being, leaving behind the person I tried to be, the person I thought I was, and embracing the heart of myself. And, in time, I'm sure my interest and activity in previous areas will wane as these new areas of old interests capture and hold me, squeezing out the old routines.
I will not hide the past, but neither will I seek to perpetuate it. If portions of it are still of interest, even in comparison to my new involvements, then I'm sure they will remain part of my life in appropriate proportion. But I must look ahead, beyond the fog to those things that draw me, for ultimately, a person is not so much defined by who they have been as by who they hope to become.
You'll see none of my new music posted here. You'll find none of it on my old web site, which will more than likely be abandoned. One can redefine oneself, one's sense of self, but you must be willing to let go of everything and take a vow of poverty in regard to the riches of your former life. You can't carry anything with you unless it has a place in the life of who you would be, if you could be.
Are all those old accomplishments who you really are? Are they who you might become? Or are they just ballast that prevents you from truly flying, that hold you back from the completion of what you started, that box you into the old and never let you become the new?
Embrace the new and let the old fall along the wayside of its own weight. Let go, be, become.
My new identity will be all consuming for it is wholly who I am. I will live the rest of myself as myself and stop trying to justify my existence by holding on to the protections, dodges, comforts, and successes of the past.
If I were moving to a new country, I would never fully assimilate until I had forgotten how to speak my native tongue.
I won't stop here. I won't settle for having everyone I meet know me as the woman I am, and treat me as the woman I am while I stubbornly refuse to let go of elements of my male persona of the past.
I do myself the greatest disservice. After all I have achieved with twenty years of effort to shift my life, my body, my mind and my thoughts from male model to female model, simply because I knew myself to have a female soul, what a travesty it would be to stop just short because I can't let go of what I have built, can't put my compensatory pleasures behind me to build a new life for the woman I have always been, the person I have always been but can now, post facial surgery, post twenty years of self-therapy, finally truly express.
I will beat this system. I will have the courage to be my true self to the excusion of all that is not true. I will be her. I will be me.
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Man, I'm growing tired
Again, I've been up since 4 a.m. Bounced around the web a bit, tried to do some work, but I keep coming back to the same circles in my head.
I'm sick of supporting the creations of my past like some sort of software company with a program that's no longer in production.
Story Theory, Psychology Theory, TG support - I've been ridiculously prolific in those areas for decades. But has it brought me one moment of peace, pleasure, or pride. No. Not a lick.
Ever since I had to hide my sensitive side as a kid, I used a mental technique I could at least live with. I didn't hide my feelings from myself - that would have been impossible as my emotional side is just too frickin' strong. So I chose to intellectualize it instead.
No matter what I felt, I considered it analytically. Every plan I made was based on a logical appraisal of my emotional life.
Look at Dramatica - the revolutionary construct describing for the first times the psychological inner workings of the Story Mind - the psychology of the story itself.... Brilliant! But wholly unfulfilling.
I spent years co-creating it and nearly two decades refining it. Software based on it became the best-selling story develop product in the world and provided me with a modest royalty every year. But has that damn theory ever made me feel better about my life, emotionally? Has it ever made a flower more colorful or enhanced the fragrance even a little? No. Not at all.
I've lost myself in intellectual pursuits. The psychology theory that grew out of the story theory is equally brilliant. It offers insights into the working of the mind such as have never been seen before. But does all of my experience and work with that theory brighten one day or make a lazy Sunday morning any more cozy? No. Never.
And all of my TG support work - devising another new revolutionary technique - how to develop a truly authentic female speaking voice. It has helped thousands, and my TG Support web site and now all the videos I'm posting on You Tube are helping thousands more. But has it given my heart any fulfillment in this life? No. Nothing.
I get the emails, I read the comments, I know how many people are positively affected by my work in all these areas. I know how lives have been changed. I know it is probably my calling to have done all this work. But for me, personally, it is like being a disembodied brain hooked up to a machine - a calculating machine that squeezes insights out of me for the benefit of others while my own identity withers and dies without sustenance of its own.
I'm not blaming those who have gained from what I have offered. And I recognize the privilege of being an instrument of so much innovation and public service.
But, man, I'm growing tired.
I finally get this facial surgery that allows me, for the first time in my 55 year old life, to express my true heart without looking somewhere between laughable and pathetic or at best inappropriate.
For twenty years since transition I've thrown myself into my work even more than I did before in my male life. Why? Because the pain was actually greater in my new gender role than in the old. And why that? Because I had come so far, sacrificed so much, and risked so much more just to be able to finally express myself that when I discovered my true nature didn't "play" for others, even as a woman - well, that was just too much to bear.
So, being the kind that always tries to find the best in a bad situation, I set myself as a role model, a poster girl for transformation, a self-proclaimed guru of story theory, psychology theory and transgender support.
What of my gentle side, like those television commercials of my very earliest years when girls in gossamer gowns shampooed their hair in waterfalls surrounded by fields of flowers? I believed in those commercials as a child.
Just like guys ask "Where is my flying car? They promised me a flying car!" I lament, "Where is my waterfall? They promised me a waterfall!"
All I've ever wanted was to experience the emotions that must be present at such a moment - no sense of obligation or responsibility - like a vacation without a schedule, and one in which you don't have to keep thinking about how much every diversion is costing.
I do remember emotional glimpses of those feelings from my pre-teenage, pre-puberty years. There were days when I knew nothing of money and finance and the Summer was lazy. I didn't have any friends, but neither did I know I was supposed to feel lonely. So I would watch the clouds drift across the sky, or follow the water from a sprinkler down the gutter along our street as it gently pooled, then broke free of its own surface tension to rush another three inches to the next depression in the asphalt where it began to pool again.
There have been some sunsets like that, and perhaps thirty seconds here and there where I look up to see the warm yellow sun lightly dapple through lace curtains that are gently swaying in a Summer's breeze.
But if I total up all the time I've felt like that in my entire adult life, it probably amounts to scant hours - not even a day, and certainly not a week.
No, my refuge in taking the dispassionate route, in remaining aloof to expressing my emotions openly, in staying distant from any direct emotional outpouring in my life - my refuge has kept me safe from hurt, but also robbed me of any joy.
I have thrown myself into my work for so long that I grow weary. I desperately grasp for some form of meaning in my life. And yet, that I continue to produce new "product" - even this blog entry itself, is beyond all reason or understanding.
The greatest laugh at my expense is that now that I have spent my life always trying to do what I thought was right and ethical, and truly believing that if I kept a pure and noble heart I would someday be rewarded - now, after the facial surgery that might have made all things possible in my youth - I find myself 55 years old.
Women are my peers now that I am post-facial surgery. I could not say that at any other time in my post-transition life. But though I may now truly, at a subliminal level, be part of that clan for the very first time, I am excluded from a camaraderie as an equal with teenage girls, women of child-bearing years, even those who are "thirty-something".
I have become a middle-aged woman, a "lady" or a "ma'am" as the young clerks in the stores would have it. If I am to finally make friends with equals, I am expected to cut my hair into a nice conservative style, wear clothes that avoid any hint of sexiness, and act grandmotherly. I would then be accepted in associations with other grandmotherly types, doing other grandmotherly things.
That might be a future a young girl would look forward to as part of her overall life. But she wouldn't want to fall into a coma at age twelve and wake up forty-three years later looking such that everyone she meets expects her to act like a grandmother.
No! She would want to run and play, to have teenage crushes, to join cliques in high school, dating, the prom - to have the college experience, be part of that energy, plan a career, find a mate, grow a family and then watch your own children follow suit.
Only since my facial surgery have I waken from my coma. And I want all those same experiences I have just described. But they are forever lost to me in this life. So what lies ahead? Joining a gardening club, helping with the refreshments at a church social, sitting on a group tour bus on the way to a scheduled stop at a safe shopping location in Paris?
I want to do the bicycle tour of Europe - to be in my late teens or early twenties and to have to fixed destination - just a sunny day, a backpack with some wine, cheese, and bread, a travelling companion and the open road ahead.
I just got a new bike. Teresa bought it for me with some of the money her dad sent her for her birthday. I love my bike. But I know I look silly riding it. Women my age shouldn't do such things. And Teresa gets problems with her knees and shoulder when she rides. Looks like that European cycling trip will never happen. Just like the skydiving, just like the trip down the Amazon, just like going to college shaped like I should have been at the age I should have been.
It seems that now that I'm finally ready to interact with life emotionally in ways I never could before, those ways are closed to me because of my age, either due to the reactions of others that work counter to the experiences I desire or the physical toll of an aging body.
So what do I do? I've set up my new You Tube site to put up videos of me performing my music - the one endeavor I've protected from over-intellectualizing (though all my old music is still far too calculated). And with soft indirect lighting from the window, I look about thirty. So I can live vicariously through my video avatar in a virtual world and pretend to be a young composer/performer with her life ahead of her.
Or, I can throw myself back into my work, continue to refine and organize the intellectual models and constructs I have created, putting my emotions back in a box rather than showing them the promised land only to be told they can never enter it.
Is there a third choice? I don't yet see it, but I know me. I won't stop looking. Yet I still can't help feeling a little like that Kiwi from my last post - knowing the end is coming, knowing the pleasure one takes in the progress of one's life is transient and artificial.
I feel in my guts that most everybody feels like this. Yet even these words are written in a vacuum. Is anybody out there? Does anybody care?
Where are those who feel like I do - who are still filled with the spark of life and just need a few more like themselves to combine their energies into an inferno of living?
Is it truly too late? Is there a way to have those experiences I've always wanted from the television commercials to the early years as that young girl I'll never be? Is there a way to fully embrace life, even at this late stage without being the subject of awe and amazement, like the sixty-year-old woman on the network news the other day who was notable solely because she is attending college and also joined the women's tennis team?
There are two dozen other girls on that team, all of them going to college, but none of them attracted the news. Nope , just the sixty-year old.
That's not the context in which I want to live my life. And yet, I do it to others, even to my dad. I tell folks all the time, my dad is almost 82 and he still runs a mile three times a week. In fact, he ran 5 miles on his 81st birthday!
And I say this partly in disbelief that anyone his age could do such a thing, partly because I don't want to end up in a home and I can pretend that I'll be in just as good shape if I reach that age, and partly because if I am amazed at what he does at his age, it makes me feel as if he's the only one who's old here - as if I'm still the young one looking at the old person. What a crock.
Lastly, you have to think - I've had sex reassignment surgery, bust surgery, facial surgery. I've been on hormones for twenty years. What is my life expectancy? My grandparents on my mom's side died in their mid eighties, but they weren't in very good condition much past seventy five. My mom died at 62. Though my dad is doing well, his dad died in his fifties and his mom in her sixties.
So where does that leave me? At best, notwithstanding my dad's exception, I might expect possibly a life of healthy quality for perhaps another twenty years. Twenty Years! I remember almost three times that behind me! Twenty years is NOTHING - my kids are pushing thirty!
And every week I hear about this celebrity or that well-known figure who died at 54 or 57, or 52 from "natural causes." If I died right now at 55, I'm pretty sure my last thoughts wouldn't be, "well isn't this natural!"
No, time is running out, the best years of my life are behind me, and squandered, and wasted, and in a form I just couldn't use. Not that others aren't far worse off than me. Heck, I recently read a story about the most severely injured casualty from the Iraq war. He is 22. His brain is fully functional. He can't move any part of his body, can't even move his eyes to blink. The expect him to live to a ripe old age, due to the "miracles" of modern medical science. He can't even frickin' swallow!
Now, THAT guy is worse off that me. Would I trade places with him? NO WAY! But does that really make my situation better, just because someone else's is worse. No, not unless you lie to yourself to try and feel better about something that is bad in its own right.
For me, the one saving grace, which is also the best part of the curse, is that I just don't have it within me to give up. Not now, not ever, NEVER! I don't have that gene. No matter how bad it gets, I just keep sticking it out. (Though I'm glad I live in a state that allows assisted suicide for terminally ill patients!)
So I won't be throwing in any towels, and I won't be curing up to die. Nonetheless, I still can't see the road to happiness, and I don't expect things to change.
No, I'll keep on keepin' on, doing the best I can, keeping the heart noble and pure. I'll struggle every day, one foot in front of the other, taking each obstacle as it comes, each trial as it presents itself.
Man, I'm growing tired....
Saturday, April 12, 2008
The Last Blog Entry
Okay, so here's the deal. I'm ending this blog. I'm tired of perpetuating the Melanie Anne persona. I don't want to keep working on the story theory (Dramatica) that I co-created. I don't want to keep working on the psychology theory (Mental Relativity) that I co-created. And, I don't want to keep adding new material to the Transgender Support web site that I founded.
Melanie Anne was always a construct as much as David was before transition. She's not real. She's me trying to find a way out, a way to express herself, but held back by fears and the inability to let go.
I'm ready now to let go.
So, I'm going to start dismantling the false constructs of my past to free me to evolve into my future.
I'm not a fool, so this will be in stages.
The idea is that I don't care if copies of my writings, videos, and creations continue to exist around the word. I just don't want to be actively supporting, distributing, or perpetuating that material anymore. It has no place in my current life as who I really am, and every minute I spend maintaining or presenting this information is one more minute I'm actively involved in being someone other than myself.
That has taken too much of a toll.
Sure my TG web site and especially my 1,200 page diary have helped literally thousands to find their true selves. It has even saved a few lives (so people have written to tell me) by giving them hope. But when I started the diary, there was no other diary on the Internet. When I started the TG Support Web site in 1994, it was the very first one in the world.
Though the site still gets 1,500 unique visitors per day, it is no longer unique. Hundreds if not thousands of TG diaries are all over the Internet, not even counting the scores of video transition diaries on You Tube.
If my site vanished off the map this instant, there'd be no end of other places people would find for support at least as good as and probably more relevant and timely than mine.
For a long time I needed the glory of what I had created - being first, being the best, being the biggest. But as my interest waned, I simply put less and less time into updating and maintaining these materials, and they have fallen hopelessly out of date.
Even if I dig as deep as I can, I just don't have anything left within me when it comes to TG issues. Not that I don't still ponder them, and perhaps always will. Simply that I'm tired of posting my life on the Internet. And not because I want to go stealth or anything. No, that's never been a problem - all my openness has NEVER come back to bite me in my personal life - no one knows where I currently live.
No, the reason I don't want to do it anymore is that until I stop maintaining this stuff it is still a part of me. Only when I don't have the knowledge in the back of my mind at all times that I still have a web site up attracting new people who are introduced to me as I was will I not be as I was. I don't care if thousands have saved and printed out my diary (which is probably the way it is). What I do care about is that I'm still showing it to people on the Internet as if I were proud of it, as if it were an accomplishment I still wanted to be known for, as if it was a current part of who I am or that I was seeking to perpetuate the aura of open TG author as part of my present persona.
God, I just can't seem to say this the way I'm thinking it. It isn't that people know about the past that bugs me - I don't have to track down and destroy every copy of my work in the world. No, it is that by continuing to present it, I am making a statement that I still want to be known for it - that it is still a part of me, or at least that I am effectively telling people to think of me as that person, like a high school football star who keeps his game-winning ball on his desk at work, even though he's 52.
Somebody wins the Super Bowl, they proudly wear their ring for the rest of their lives , pro-actively seeking to have others think of them as the former champion, which is how they think of themselves.
But I'm tired of thinking of myself as "the former transsexual." I'm not ashamed of any of it. In fact, I'm proud of it. But that is the past, and if I hadn't been actively perpetuating it for the glory of being a former champion "look what I accomplished!" then I wouldn't still be trying to get TG stuff out of my head even today.
So, the TG site has to eventually go. And so does my story theory site and my psychology theory site, and everything I ever did as Dave or Melanie Anne .
All these things were dodges, distractions, to take me away from my inability to express my true self for fear of being hurt. They were all substitute lives. They representing thinking about my feelings instead of experiencing them. They represent the dispassionate approach, rather than the passionate one.
They are from an era. Its time has gone. But if I don't stop stoking those fires, as long as I keep that football on my desk, I'll never be able to let them fade away.
First, I'll be removing links from my TG support web site to this blog as soon as I post this last entry. Then, I'll remove whatever videos I have on You Tube that deal with transgender issues and I'll remove the links from the TG site to those videos.
Now, I make some of my money from the TG web site selling videos on how to make your voice sound truly female. I can't afford to not have that income. So, I'll be continuing with that web site until I can find a substitute source of income to replace it. Then, the whole TG site is coming down.
I make most of my money from my fiction writing web site. Lately, Ive been uploading videos on that subject on You Tube. I have to keep that up for a while because it is free advertising. But as soon as I can afford to, those come down from You Tube.
I have an extensive site for writers. I make most of my money there. I've taught story writing for twenty years now. I hate it. I can tell you I'll never do another seminar again.
I tried to be a big story guru, and my name is known world-wide in the writing community. But I just don't have the business savvy to turn it all into a big business. In fact, I hate business - it was just another protection to take control of my life, rather than working for others at their mercy.
The story theory stuff is really useful, but I can tell you now that with all the hundreds of hours of classes I've had recorded on video and the thousands of pages of text I've written on the subject, I never enjoyed doing it.
It was just a way of proving to others I had value, just as the TG site was a means of justifying what I had done with my life.
Well, I no longer need external validation, and I no longer have the need to justify myself to anyone. I value myself and I'm okay with what I've done. Continuing these web sites, as useful as they are, is just forcing myself to keep doing things I hate, and to keep things fresh in my mind that I don't even want to think about any more.
So, when I can afford it, the writing web site goes down as well.
I never was the person who created those things. They're just things I did. They have nothing to do with who I really was, and it was all work, no fun, doing them.
I've already lived most of my life and have precious few active years left. I'd kind of like to spend them doing things I really enjoy, surrounding myself with an environment that lifts my spirits, rather than dragging them down.
I want wind chimes and crystals and music and travel. I want friends and bike rides and boating and movies. Some of that stuff I haven't done in decades. Some I've never done. All of it crowded out by come cockamamie sense of destiny or obligation to disseminate my work.
"My" work. My "work". "My Work." No matter how you say it, it still sucks. It was all a way of coping, never a labor of love. I'd pull the plug on it all today if not for the financial needs, including consideration of those who depend on me.
But there are parts of it that don't make money, and those can go right now. There are parts that are just up for show, and I'll have them down by the end of the week.
Step by step, inch by inch, it will be disassembled and carted away.
You know, I'd like, just once, to start a blog or diary entry with, "Today I saw a pretty bird outside my window," instead of the usual, "I just had another startling epiphany about life and transgender issues that has a great bearing on everyone's psychology and can be used to write better stories, wax your floors, and as a dessert topping."
I hope the diary survives. I suppose, if it could make a buck, I'd even consider publishing it under the name of Melanie Anne - just as long as I don't have to go on tour, and just as long as I don't have to use that name in my personal life - EVER AGAIN!
I don't know why, but if it made an equal amount of money either way, I'd rather have the book published than on the web site. Why? Because somehow a book is a record of what was, but a web site is an ongoing presentation of what is. In one case, you close the topic and move on to the next book. In the other, you keep the topic an open one.
I wish I could say it more clearly. I still haven't worded it as I feel - not to my satisfaction.
I ask myself, how would I feel if somebody else had all this stuff on a web site? I'd still feel like it was being broadcast live and of the moment.
I think that is the real key. Web sites are more like newspapers than books or movies. They are more like news broadcasts. They are constantly being updated, continually changing.
Even if you don't change a web site and just leave it there, it carries the aura of changeability. Whereas, once a book is written, its set in stone. Though other editions or updates may be published, they are books in their own right, not really continuances of the same book.
As long as the Harry Potter series hadn't finished, the creation of it was live. Only when the last book was published was it all a done deal.
Can you feel the difference? Can you sense how a television series that is still being produced has the potential to alter the characters, and how each episode adds to what has already happened, part of the same gestalt?
Yet when a television series is over, the actors move on to other projects. They are no longer those characters and will likely never portray them again.
Every time I update my web sites either for look and feel or content, every time I pay the bill, I feel like the television series hasn't ended.
Perhaps it is just because the potential to change things, to add, to update is within a moment's grasp. It means I'm keeping my options open. And that I could continue that role whenever I like. That means to me that I am not prepared to let it go, to burn my bridges, to put it to bed. And THAT sends a message to myself (and others) that I am not done, still in process, still portraying that which has already been established.
I need a clean break. An actor from a series that was cancelled cannot go back on a whim and alter his character.
I must move on and I can't do it as long as even the potential exists to casually add another blog entry like this one.
I only started this blog a month ago. Never had one before. And yet, it has a history of transgender issues, story theory, and old music. Even in a new medium for me like this one I have drawn the past into the endeavor, defining it as a continuation of my ongoing history of evolution.
Oh, I know that evolution will never stop, but at some point you have to move from act one to act two. You just can't keep thinking back on act one or you'll never be able to live in act two.
You see, I never wanted to be that person. But I have to admit I was that person. Yet as long as I don't close the book, I'm still writing about that person.
Only when I close that book and start another will I have a chance of finally becoming who I do want to be.
Teresa awoke just a few minutes ago and asked what I was writing. I paraphrased. She commented, "So, you are saying that Melanie Anne was your pen name." I replied that wasn't it at all. Melanie Anne was just a construct. She then suggested, "Ah, so Melanie Anne was not only your pen name, but also the character you created."
I think that says it best. I was writing a fiction in the first person - describing true events but couching them from a point of view that was unreal, contrived, just as the narrator of any first-person book is speaking as the author, but is not the author, rather, is just another character in the play. In order to end the series and move on, I have to end the character as well as the books.
Like the actor in the television series, I can acknowledge having been that character. But I do not have to acknowledge ever really having actually been that character in real life, in my real heart. Of course, an actor is not an actor unless he is portraying a role, just as a person is not a person without a persona. The point is not to put acting behind me. No, it is nothing more than the desire to put that role behind and assume a new role in a new play. Otherwise, how would I ever be able to grow as an actor? Otherwise, how can an actor every grow as a person?
I want to have the choice, every day, what is part of my current life and what is not. Until these web sites are down and that work is concluded, that choice is not available to me. It is pre-cast by the weight of the material from the past that serves as the foundation to my current efforts, intertwining with them, polluting them, removing the purity, tarnishing the experience, locking me in, shackling me to a life I never wanted in the first place.
In the end, it is no more than this: I want to run free.
And so, in whatever form, manner, or extent it all eventually unfolds, I now conclude this final blog entry as a first step toward the future.
A Few Days Later....
The Beginning of the End
I've re-written what you are about to read a dozen times or more. Still, I just can't seem to get it right.
You see, since I ended the blog, I've done a lot of thinking and even more feeling. And through this process I've gained an insight of the heart - a mood in which everything comes together, in which it all makes emotional sense. This is no casual shift in attitude. It is the Holy Grail I've been looking for all these years - a change of heart so fundamental, so complete that I feel as if my life is divided in two with all that came before in one world and all that is to come in another.
Yet when I try to describe what I'm experiencing, I can't get a grip on it. The words comes out dry and logical, analytical, lifeless.
But that is what all my previous writing looks like to me now, from here, from this new perspective. As energetic and potent as my diary has been, all the words that precede these come from a place of intellect, not a place of passion. Though the focus of my writings has always been the evolution of the heart, I have cataloged my feelings, compared them and explained them, but never simply lived them. That is my author's voice - the point of view from which I have observed and reported on my own life as it unfolded before me. It is the voice of Melanie Anne - the character I created to be the narrator of my story.
When I began my diary nearly twenty years ago, it was for the singular purpose of documenting my transition. As a professional writer, I saw my journey as a unique opportunity to make a record of every step along the way, much as a botanist might describe a newly discovered species. In keeping with this neat and orderly approach, I always expected the tale would arrive at a clear conclusion that would tie it all up in epic style. Even more, I believed that once the tome was written, I would be able to close the book on transition once and for all, and thereby put it behind me. Along these lines, when I finished that volume I did so on a hopeful note as I arrived home from sex reassignment surgery, ready to begin a new life.
But after surgery, I discovered I was still growing, still learning more about who I was and who I wanted to be. I found I had much more to say. And so, I re-purposed the work to cover not only my transition, but my transformation as well - my complete assimilation into society as a woman. Again, I took the dispassionate approach, keeping myself distanced from my own transfiguration, an interested observer rather than a participant.
This expanded project concluded four years later and resulted in a combined trilogy of books covering surgery, post-surgery, and the establishment of a new reality. This time, sensing the magnitude of the ground I had covered, I finished up with a lofty epilog that elevated the meaning of my journey beyond gender to the status of a road map for any life-changing transition.
Again, I thought that was all I had to say on the topic - that I had finally fully realized myself as an actualized person. For almost ten years I lived in this fantasy as I stepped away from transgender issues and wrote not a single additional entry in my diary, focusing instead on the typical issues of life - finances, family, friends, and fantasies. Yet true personal happiness seemed to allude me.
Over the years, I sometimes fretted that perhaps my diary was proffering false hope, since all of my experiences had not yet led me to a place of true contentment, though my written words had inferred otherwise. But I was convinced my inner journey was over and therefore my emptiness and malaise were not due to gender issues but perhaps to some congenital depressive tendencies. So I consoled myself with the mistaken belief that my diary was complete, and therefore I had provided a path to happiness for others, even if I were to be denied such peace myself.
This uneasy truce with myself was finally broken when my life partner, Teresa, underwent Feminizing Facial Surgery. I was completely against it, as I knew (from pictures of others I had seen) that this would completely alter her countenance, and I was afraid it would change her personality and I would lose the woman I loved. More than that, I came to feel that she might become so pretty and so confident in the person she would become that men would be drawn to her like never before, and in time she would gravitate toward them until I was no longer part of the picture.
But as strong as my concerns were, they were really justifications, excuses for an inner fear I had that was simply too terrible for me to face. There was a truth I dared not contemplate, a place within myself that even I had not the courage to explore. The actual results of her surgery would turn out to be even more devastating than I had imagined, and in an unexpected way that shook the very foundations of my life, then changed it forever.
As a writer, I do what I always do in time of strong emotions - I put words on paper. It helps me work through my feelings, gain inner clarity, and then rid myself of unwanted considerations so I can move on to new thoughts and thereby grow. So, as Teresa's surgery had approached, I began a new addition to my diary - an ongoing chronicle of my premonition of losing her and my observations of the changes the surgery made in her, both externally and internally.
Yet again, I distanced myself from my passions in what I was writing. I spoke through Melanie Anne , and she shielded me from the full force of the pain. It is my time-tested defense mechanism that blunts the impact of the hurt enough to allow me to cope. Ultimately, this effort resulted in a fourth book on the subject of transgenderism, and once more I thought I could escape at last from the transition trap. But there was yet one more book to write.
The instant Teresa was out of surgery I saw something I had not expected. The subtle changes made in the bones of her face had shifted the subconscious aura she projected from male energy to female energy. You cannot understand the primal power of this unless you see it happen to someone you know. It was if she had been replaced with her sister, or with a clone that had been grown from XX chromosomes, rather than XY. In that moment I realized that she had actually become a real woman in a way I had hitherto not thought possible, and I now saw myself as a man.
It doesn't matter what is on the inside - be a person completely womanly of spirit or more of a transgendered soul or even a male mind who just wants to live in a female body. Once the facial surgery is performed, the face itself, independent of its occupant, puts out a different energy signature. No matter how pretty or feminine one may have been before, the subliminal signal of the face is shifted by surgery from broadcasting a male signal to female one in fundamental ways that affect one so far below the conscious mind that one cannot truly understand the difference. And yet, it is clear, like a clarion call, and one cannot help but feel that this person is a real woman like any other, whereas anyone who has not had surgery, no matter how pretty, still sends a male signal out to the world.
This shocked me in such a jolting manner that it turned my life inside out and upside down. My transition was not over after all. Not by a long shot. In looking at Teresa, I could feel the gap between us. She was a woman now, and I was still a transsexual, sending out male skeletal energy into my world and to all I encountered. And as her thought patterns and mannerisms became ever more feminine, I became horribly depressed, even while finally realizing why I had not found peace after the conclusion of my diary. It was so simple. I had stopped short of crossing the gender line and had merely convinced myself I had won the race.
It was a simple, inescapable truth - all the physical and emotional pain and suffering I had endured, had brought upon myself in order to proceed with transition, obtain surgery and embark on a new life was for naught. To everyone whose path I crossed, I still felt like a man. Worse yet, I understood that for all of those years, underneath it all, I had felt like a man to myself, every time I looked in a mirror.
Suddenly, I could not avoid the notion that I was just in costume as a woman, that no matter the legitimacy of the female nature of my brain/mind, I was looking through a glass at the world of women, and had not really become one. And I knew, though I did not want to admit it to myself, that I must also have this magical procedure that truly transformed one from male to female in a manner so complete that it seemed genetic, right down the the DNA.
When, at long last, I committed to having the surgery myself, I started a fifth and final volume of my diary to provide the counterpoint to the previous tome. In book four, I had described this "energy-signature-changing surgery" from the outside looking in, now I described it from the inside looking out. A rare opportunity for any writer. Combined, these two works would constitute the final installment of a mega-trilogy carrying transition in part one through transformation in part two to transcendence in part three, when I could move beyond transgender issues and embrace the purity of life as a new being.
As always, I adopted my clinical manner and presented my experiences as if I were writing a doctoral thesis, rather than engaging in the most traumatic and wonderful alteration of my life. It was my belief that once I had physically healed from the procedure and emotionally adjusted to what amounts to a transfiguration of the soul or perhaps a Karma transplant, this fifth and final volume would wrap up with an absolute, undeniable stopping point, tying all five books together in a grand story of classic elegance in structure.
Again, I was wrong. Rather than lowering the curtain and turning up the house lights, I kept finding more insights, more self-illumination, as I came to see the roots of the psychological protection mechanisms I had built within myself over the span of decades, and then discovered how to dismantle them, one by one. Each epiphany was like an additional encore. As more internal walls collapsed and new mental territory opened itself to me for the first time, I documented what I saw. But the toll upon me was growing. The sense that I was stuck in transition became smothering.
I desperately wanted to leave my diary behind, for I knew that I would never be free of transition until it was done. Yet the diary refused to die, becoming more like a series of curtain calls, drawing the stubborn thing on and on like a car crash stutter-skidding off the road in slow motion in search of a tree to bring things to a definable halt. It seems I could not end my story until it was truly over. But when would that be? How would I know?
The blog was my latest attempt to wrap it all up - this time by trying to integrate my entire life into my current identity. But what I discovered was that I had changed so fully, so drastically that my personas of the past shared no elements at all with my true self of the present. So how could I integrate? To do so would be like a step backward, bringing back into myself that which I had struggled so hard and so long to shed.
I became terribly depressed. Why wasn't it over? What had I done wrong? What had I not yet done? When would it end?
Now at this point I must so something unique in my writings. I must explain what happened next in two completely different ways.
First, the way I originally wrote it as I was still speaking through the analytical voice of Melanie Anne ....
And then it struck me. It had already ended and I just hadn't noticed.
I hadn't read my own most recent writings. In them, I had not spoken of growing in my female self. Rather, it was all about making a break with the past. My words were not about self-discovery but about purging myself of that which no longer was a part of me.
I had finished my journey, I just hadn't stopped walking.
Finally, I understood. The transgender experience has two parts:
1. The changes we go through physically and mentally.
2. The impact those changes have on our lives.
The changes eventually come to an end. The impact never does.
When we embark on transition, we lump both parts together. We motivate ourselves by believing that once we have completed the effort we will have normal female lives. This is inherently wrong. It is an impossibility. Yes, we can ultimately become normal females, but our lives will never be normal. Yet that is the dream. So as long as we must continue to deal with the ramifications of transition, we feel as if we haven't completed transition.
Still, at some point along the line, we have altered out bodies so that no aspect remains outside the bounds of that which might be considered normal female. We have adjusted to these changes and, emboldened by them, dropped our defenses, protections, and all manner of mental mechanisms we had previously used to mimic a male mind and come to express our true selves as the women we are.
For all intents and purposes; by any standard of the naked eye or the inner eye, we have, in fact, become women. But the story doesn't end there. The journey is not really complete until you realize you have reached your destination. And so, my diary could not be concluded until I had become aware that it was over.
It is a stroke of irony that while my personal evolution had ended some time ago, the story I have written to document it would not be complete without including the tale of my own final groping steps toward this personal illumination which I now share with you. My diary, then, is really four parts, not three: Transition, Transformation, Transcendence, and Enlightenment
This particular saga can now draw to a natural conclusion because my transition is over, and that was the subject of the work. That issue has been fully explored and ultimately resolved, and there really is nothing left to say on the subject because that journey has come to an end. The gender angst I suffered all of my life until transition began - an angst I still could not shake even decades later, vanished somewhere along the way very recently as I finally came into my self both physically and emotionally.
So, the after effects of transition on my life continue. Currently, I am vexed by many of the issues I have described in my blog - aging, having missed experiences in my youth that it is too late to have, wanting to become lost in a new identity as if the past never happened yet unable to give up possession of my previous accomplishments.
But, that's another story....
That is how my entire diary was to conclude in the first version. It's clever. It's cutely worded. And it is accurate, partly, in a way. Yet it still manages to miss the entire point. As I re-read it over and over again, it felt just as hollow and incomplete as every previous ending I had attempted over the years. It doesn't come off as upbeat or fulfilling. In fact, it feels insincere. It feels as if I were lying so that I'd have an excuse to get the hell out and be done with the thing, reader be damned. And in fact, I suppose that's exactly what I was trying to do, subconsciously - driven by desperation, by frustration, by exhaustion.
But the real truth of the matter is not one that can be told in ones and zeros. It the way the whole world looks to a new person whose heart has completely changed.
Yeah, I know what you're thinking. It sounds like a "born again" come-on or some sort of cockamamie spiel from a half-baked guru. Actually, it does, doesn't it? Well, it ain't, anyway.
Do you know the television show "Sliders"? It was a series in which each episode the principal characters jumped through a vortex to another dimension - a parallel world that was almost like their own except for a few differences, sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant.
Now imagine an inverted Sliders in which each week the characters remain in the same world, they look the same, but internally they become a different person in some manner, small or large. That is what transition has been. And now I find myself lingering in this one inner world - not at all the mindscape I started with, yet it persists as my new reality.
That's one way of it, but sadly it only conveys a small fraction of what makes me feel that I can finally bring this "Great Work" to an honest conclusion. Let me try to send you another part.
I've actually been happy for the last few days. I don't mean ecstatic, head over heels, giddy happy, but like a little kid on Summer vacation with nothing to do who still isn't bored. Life is pleasant. And the best part of being that kid was that you never worried about money or relationships or nuthin'. Nope, unless the school year was creeping up on you, the lazy days of Summer were just the most pleasant, easy-going, laid back interesting days of your life. I used to remember them. Now I'm living them again.
So that explains a bit of what it feels like - to look forward to each day instead of dreading it - to spend the hours without once fearing some conceptual thing that is hanging over your head - to know that work is done and it is time to play and you don't have to feel guilty about it.
Now here's about as analytical as I intend to get in this version of a closing for my diary. What I think happened was that I retreated into that dispassionate logical manner of thinking as a child in order to shield my emotions which were under attack. I had a girl's heart, a girl's soul, a girl's sensitivity. But the world expected me to be a rough and tumble boy.
Some girls are a lot stronger emotionally than I am. A lot of transsexuals who transition are stronger emotionally. Teresa is a fine example. She left home at eighteen and got on hormones at nineteen. I waited to begin transition until I was thirty-eight because I didn't want to disappoint anyone; I didn't want to hurt those I loved, so I sold myself short an martyred myself for decades.
Who of the two of us was right in how we handled things? We both were. She was right for the kind of woman she is, I was right for the kind I am. The heart-on-the-sleeve overly sensitive kind.
Being as I was, it simply hurt too much to feel as I did but be expected to act as I looked. So I put my intellect between me and my emotions. I focused on reason and what made sense. And if I addressed my feelings at all, it was second-hand, through the barrier of analysis, thinking about how I felt, never simply experiencing the emotion directly.
This approach got me through life, it got me through transition, and it got me through all the years afterward until I had facial surgery. But then a magical process began that has taken about a year and a half to this point. It was a very slow thing - so slow I didn't notice it was happening.
As my face gradually healed (it takes over two years after surgery for all the subtle changes to occur), people began to treat me differently. This wasn't a binary thing like flipping on a light, but like a dimmer switch on a light that doesn't just turn it on and off, but gently increases the intensity from total darkness to full illumination.
Before I go on, I need to clarify something. The moment I came out of surgery I gave off female facial energy instead of male, just like Teresa had. This was binary, being wholly one thing when I was wheeled into surgery, and being something completely different when I woke up eight hours later.
Yet there are female faces and female faces, as they say. In other words, all women are treated like women because of those subliminal facial skeletal vibes. But as my face healed, the kind of woman I appeared to be continued to evolve and still does to this day and for perhaps another year into the future. This ongoing morphing of my energy signature is fine tuning my wave-length, my frequency, so that I am undergoing an almost imperceptible progressive shift in the type of woman I project, and therefore in the way people respond.
We all live in a world in which our social feedback is fluidly shifting in long-waves over many years as we are treated as children, then teenagers, young adults, mature adults, middle-aged, senior citizens, and eventually the elderly. We also experience short-wave changes such as graduation from college, discharge from military service, starting a new job, or moving to a new town.
Each of these changes us through social feedback based on all kinds of elements from our looks to our income to our social status. We adapt to these external forces and have two kinds of reactions. If we find our new image in concert with our true identity, we conform to the gentle subconscious pressures put upon us for they represent a desired shift in our position, in our self-image. But if we find our new image in conflict with our true identity we buck at the alterations in our social interaction and bristle to the point we either break out into a better emotional environment or succumb to depression.
For the first thirty-eight years of my life, I bristled. When I started transition, it was an attempt to break free. But due to the male energy signature to my face, though there was some improvement in my emotional environment, it fell far short of what I had hoped for and dreamed of. I had found myself in limbo, having taken a leap of faith only to find out that I had neither succeeded nor failed but was stuck between worlds in some kind of social purgatory. And worst of all, that's the feeling I got when I looked in the mirror as well - progress had been made, but I still didn't see a woman in the mirror.
For years I strained under the burden of this and responded as most of us do, by convincing myself I looked more "real" than I did. I took pictures from time to time, deleted all the ones in which I looked even a little bit mannish, then posted the others on my web site. I used this stacked deck as my personal feedback to bolster my self-image so I could feel good enough about myself to continue in life without buckling under the pain of the truth.
It was a fantasy world that I maintained right up until Teresa's facial surgery. And then I saw what was possible and my self-deceptions were shattered.
If not for my ability to hide behind logic through the analytical writings of the character, Melanie Anne , I might have given up on life. But she shielded my raw heart from the worst of it, and protected my gentle core. I hid behind her skirts through my book on Teresa's surgery, and through the book about mine, and even through all the blog entries above. In essence the city walls around my heart that I had built in my youth had never been breeched.
Okay, I ended there last night at one in the morning. Now it is nine a.m. I had stopped because everything I tried to write past this point seemed wrong. I can't tell you how many eloquent paragraphs I erased before I gave up and went to bed.
As I slept, I was still writing in my dreams - and still erasing. All night long I toiled over what should come next, recognizing (even in my repose) that we are very near the end, though I still had no idea how to get there.
This morning I lay in bed for hours, letting my mind wander, hoping for a clear vision of the last leg of this twenty-year race. As so often happens in times of passionate confusion, clarity comes both suddenly and subtly. One must be vigilant to see it and latch on before that momentary materialization of understanding evaporates once more into the ether of ignorance.
In time, I was rewarded for my diligence. In the span of a few seconds, the last pieces of the puzzle assembled themselves almost so solidly that it seemed as if I were actually watching the sections tumble into place like a computer generated television commercial in which an explosion of parts congeal into an integrated product with mathematical grace not unlike a ballet.
I see the picture fully now. And though I know that vision will never fade, the fresh emotions that accompany it are nearly ready to be replaced with others of a more familiar nature. So I will make no more preludes, and shall proceed before the intensity of the moment is lost to us both.
As transsexuals, our minds are completely female from birth and always on. But due to the reactions of others when we express ourselves as we are, we limit those forms of expression more and more until we have compressed ourselves down to a tiny core, not unlike a blazing star that withers into a dark black hole.
Another analogy would be to stand in a huge arena that is our emotion self and gradually switch off the stadium lights, bank at a time, until we stand in the center of a small spotlight, unable to see our own feelings outside that tiny circle of illumination.
That larger emotional self always exists, and it is always female, but in time we forget the lay of the land and it becomes territory as unknown to us as the inside of someone else's head.
But we cannot live without a mind, and with the lights out on our emotions, we construct a pseudo-self built of logic to fill the void. Less eloquently, we live in our intellect and cut off contact with our feelings.
When we begin transition, it is because even that small bright spot in the middle of our hearts can no longer stand an existence in which all that happens and all that we do is contrary to the tiny bit of our nature of which we are still aware. Yet, since we don't even know there is more to us, and abiding our analytical personas, we focus on external changes, like surgeries, hormones, and learning to drop our learned masculine behaviorisms.
This is no small task and it fully occupies us. We have to think about every movement, every stance. We consciously re-train ourselves to walk this way, stand that way, hold the steering wheel in such a manner.
To complete this phase takes some years. And complicit in the process is the necessity to learn how to speak differently, even insofar as to totally alter how we use our vocal muscles so that we might change the very resonance of our voices to a more female timbre.
When all of this has been completed, when our bodies and our faces have been recast in a womanly form, our logic tells us that we must truly be done, for it can see no further discrepancies between how we are and who we are.
Now here's where it gets dicey and I must be wholly on my game to get the last of this stated just as I have seen it....
Logic cannot see feeling. Independently, intellect and emotion each have what appears to them to be a complete view of the world, like looking through polarized sun glasses. But when they try to view each other, the polarization doesn't line up, and all each sees of the other is a dark void.
Because we have constructed our whole persona around a network of clinical analytic processes, we believe that the little spark of our hearts that remains accessible to us is all that there is.
Though illumination occurs inside oneself, it cannot be generated from within. We would remain ignorant of the vastness of our spirit forever if it were not for our social environment changing around us as our faces continue to heal from surgery. Gradually, as we encounter situations in which we are now treated differently than we ever were before, the actions of others cast a light upon small portions of our hidden selves.
Like tiny flames ignited by members of the audience in a darkened stadium during a concert, the glow from each little spark generated by our daily interchange with others grows until we get a sense there is something more to ourselves. We cannot see it clearly yet, but we become curious, intrigued. And so we take a chance and switch on one bank of stadium lights to see what might be there.
What we discover is a rich tapestry of feeling, woven in colors we had never even imagined, could not imagine until we saw them, perhaps for the very first time, with our inner eye.
Encouraged by this magnificent find, we flip on another bank of lights and another until (within a surprisingly sort period of time) we are sure that soon the entire stadium will be blazingly bright and we will look out upon the full extent of our passion in all its delicate glory.
But there is not enough room in the stadium for both our constructed self and our true self. So, with no effort required on our part, section by section, piece by piece, the persona that served and protected us so well for so many year is dismantled. And as each part falls and is removed, another bank of lights snaps on to reveal the virgin ground that had always been covered by that cognitive construction.
We all need logic and feeling, intellect and emotion, but in balance, working in concert. All of the excess processes we had used to fill the void and distract us from the apparent smallness of ourselves must be expurgated, but only to the point of balance - that much and no more. Otherwise, we would become awash in passion without the stabilizing influence of Reason.
And so, dear reader, we finally arrive at that point where I am able provide the final lynch-pin that explains why this diary must now end.
I have gone through all the phases and stages described above. I am on the verge of dismantling the very last of the protective logical processes that must go in order to bring myself into complete inner balance and harmony. And it turns out that this one remaining mindset to be removed is the one I have employed all these years in the writing of the diary itself.
Whenever I describe my feelings as analytically as I do here, I step away from the immediate experiencing of them. And more.... Even emotional moments that are real and true are robbed of their purity, drained of their color, by drawing them through this much intellectual processing.
In a classic "Catch-22" the diary could not end until the story of my transition was complete. Yet my transition could not take that final step to completion until the diary had ended.
With all my abortive efforts to bring things to a conclusion prematurely, remove this burden from my self, and fully embrace my passionate side, I simply could not abandon you in the darkness, at the edge of illumination, without at least waving a final light to show the way out of this convoluted maze we call our transgendered lives.
Many of you have been my traveling companions from the very start of my twenty year journey. Others have joined me along the way, and made me part of their own expeditions. We have become friends and grown together as family, though most of us have never met. But as family, we bear a responsibility to one another, an obligation not to leave each other behind, even in order to save ourselves.
Now you see the whole picture. How we each get into this mess and how we can find our way out.
It has been my honor and my privilege to be graced with your company in this adventure.
May your own journey be as satisfying, your own destination as fulfilling.
But the time has come for me to take that final step on my own and say "Goodbye."
Will the last one here please turn on the lights?
The End of the Beginning