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"Where dreams are the stuff reality is made of"
One of the things that has been occupying my days of late is an exploration into boxes and boxes of old family papers that have been locked up in the garage for decades. In them I am finding letters from many of the women in my family to each other, written at the time I was a small child. These women were my role models. They always seemed to me the emotional center of life, and the men sort of populated the edges of that universe.
Unfortunately, I was never that close to these extraordinary women, as I was supposed to be a member of the other camp. Therefore, although I admired them from afar, I never shared in their community of conversations. In finding untold stacks of these old letters I get the opportunity to fill in some of the gaps in my emotional past and participate in the interplay of these fine hearts and minds that took place at the same time my memories of those women were forming.
I won't be including any of the letters here, as they figure prominently in my latest diary entries which continue now some four years after the portions you will read in this edition of the now venerable Subversive. So why did I bring it up at all? Because in my sorting I discovered another treat which I will share with you now.
Deep in a long buried box, I uncovered a tiny, red book with a padded cover. Written across its cover in white script letters it said, "One Year Diary". Instantly, I recognized the volume as my very first diary, begun in 1962 when I was but nine years old.
In those days, I wasn't a very diligent diarist, I'm afraid, so the entries are rather erratic. I would record my life faithfully for a few pages, then lapse into silence, only to turn up again some weeks or months down the road. When I finally reached the end of the year, I returned to the beginning to fill in the gaps with new entries from the new year. Again, I was consistent for only a brief span, then relapsed and left other pages with nothing at all.
I continued to write in that book alone until 1971, at which time I turned my attention to other forms of self-expression and let my diary lay fallow until I began again in August of 1989 with the words that would become the beginning of "Raised By Wolves".
So, in keeping with my present interest in the past, I offer selected entries from my first diary as a New Year's Evolution, complete with a few "author's notes" penned as I proceed through the transcription. Rather than shuffle the entries into year order, I present them as they appear in the journal, seasonally adjusted but zig-zagging over nearly a decade. Then, immediately following is the next installment of "Boiled In Oil", written nearly a quarter of a century into the future.
January 1, 1965
Happy New Year diary! We are taking care of two of my friends today. We will have a lot of fun. You will see this diary is mixed up. Oh, well. Good bye.
January 2, 1965
We have a lot of things to do. I will be doing something neat. Look to Jan. 4 and you will see what I mean. So long.
January 3, 1965
Tomorrow we go back to school. We have had a two week vacation. Isn't that nice. I am making a schedule for tomorrow. I hope it works. Good bye.
January 4, 1965
Two friends and I are starting a bissness (sic) called Misc., Inc. I am president. It will make everything. We hope it will work out.
*(Nov. 26, 1967) It didn't work
January 5, 1965
Today I went to the dentist. I got a filling. It hurt. now I feel better but my mouth still hurts. bye bye.
January 6, 1970 11:25 P.M.
This entry is made on Jan. 7th. There is a very good reason for this. Really there is! I have decided to finish this diary this year as my New Year's resolution, and I forgot to put in an entry yesterday. My apologies to the reader.
January 7, 1970 11:30 P.M.
Now we get down to the real thing! Today I went to the dentist and he temporarily removed my braces. This is so I may have my teeth successfully X-rayed on Friday. I am about to buy a sound movie camera and when I do I will use film for my diary also.
January 8, 1970 8:05 P.M.
I skipped school today and slept late. I have a cold so I just hung around and did homework and watched TV. Sincerely, the Hunchback of Notre Dame.
January 9, 1970 11:25 P.M.
Right now we are having the first big rainstorm of the winter. I also stayed home today. This morning I paid a visit to the dentist for which he gave me a receipt. (There's a joke there if you look hard enough.) Now, 'tis time for bed. Good-bye.
January 17, 1970 6:22 P.M.
Well, I blew it again! I missed a few entries. Tonight I'm doing make-up homework because I missed school for most of last week. I only need $26 for my $369 camera. After I get it I start saving for a car. Our family is now packing to move to Big Bear.
(1995 NOTE: Back in 1970, my step Dad, Robert H., got religion. He believed God had spoken to him and impressed upon his heart to move our family to Big Bear, a local mountain resort, to open a children's camp. Following God's word, we went to Big Bear and had a real estate agent take us out to look at a property that could be used for such a purpose. It cost somewhere around $100,000 at the time.
My mom and dad looked it over for about an hour, then told the agent, "We'll take it." The agent was very pleased and began talking about the necessary arrangements. It was at that time that my dad told him that we had no money in the bank at all, but would buy it because we were on a mission from God. Needless to say, this poor 17 year old was embarrassed to the max, as we used to say in those days.
The agent got rid of us as soon as possible, but having seen the property and carrying the mantle of the almighty, my dad set us to packing up the household as a demonstration of our faith. Within days everything we owned was stuffed into cardboard boxes, which were labeled and stacked neatly in piles from floor to ceiling in the living room. As I recall, it was several weeks before we gradually unpacked, but we did so by only taking out what we needed and then putting it away back in its place in the house. That way, the fact that either God had lied or my dad had misunderstood His word was never addressed.)
January 18, 1970 11:15 P.M.
My notebook was just cleaned out and my homework is done so I am going to bed to forget it all. Tomorrow is Monday and we have an assembly. Everytime I go to an assembly I sit with my girl friend, Mary M.
(1995 NOTE: NOT the Mary I eventually Married.)
We packed some more today and hope that God will soon let us move.
January 19, 1970 11:25 P.M.
Today was my first day back to school with my braces. My next conquest after buying the camera equipment is to build a car. I am considering a steam model, and electric model, and a gas model. I like the power from gas, but will most likely decide on steam.
January 26, 1968
Two days ago the North Koreans highjacked one of our ships. All we are doing is asking for it back, but we said we will go to any lengths to get back our ship and the 83 crew members.
January 28, 1970
Yesterday I put a down payment on my movie camera. The building in the back of the yard at our house is being torn down for $100 by myself. It is almost finished. The finals at school are over as of today. A week from this Saturday our family is traveling to the snow.
January 28, 1968 - Sunday
Within the past week, a B-52 bomber crashed and lost 4 hydrogen bombs, the North Koreans swiped our intelligence ship (the Pueblo), a submarine from Israel was lost, and so was one from France. Good cheer!
January 30, 1968 - Tuesday
Today I learned how to use a welding torch in School. [My friend] Bill K. threw my apple on the floor, so I shoved my cake in his ear.
February 1, 1968 - Thursday
Yesterday I went to see "The Sound of Music" at the movies. Also, my grandmother on my 1st dad's side died a couple of weeks ago, and she left me $1200.00 in a trust fund. Today I ate lunch in the cafeteria in Luther Burbank Jr. High in Burbank, Calif.
February 7, 1968 - Wednesday
Today I got an idea for having a TV show from 8AM to 7 PM and on it, give away a prize every 2 1/2 minutes. The manufacturers would supply the prize and $10 per word of advertisement. To win... send in a post card, listen for your name to be called, then call in the telecast number within 10 minutes. You would make at least $102,480,000 a year.
(1995 NOTE: Now, if I'd only taken that idea a little farther I could have beaten out QVC and the Home Shopping Network by two decades. Of course, I was only 15 so I don't suppose anyone would have taken me seriously at the time.)
February 13, 1968 - Tuesday
Dear diary, it is 11:16 P.M. and I am not allowed to write in the diary so late, so I won't make an entry tonight.
February 14, 1968 - Wednesday
Today I got the first issue of my subscription to Popular Science [magazine]. For Valentine's Day I got some candy from my grandma and grampa. And from my mom and dad the book: "The Gospel According to Peanuts".
February 15, 1968 - Thursday - 7:17 P.M.
Today we took a test in reading (IBM) and out of 146 questions I only missed 7. The chart that shows what grade level you read in doesn't even go up that far. I read at the 12 1/2 grade level.
(1995 NOTE: I was in 9th grade at the time.)
March 2, 1971 9:58 P.M.
Returned to school after being absent Monday. I am now in a photo class at school, but am making movies instead. Went out for track and had team pictures taken for yearbook today. Hope we move to Pennsylvania in the summer.
(1995 NOTE: After Big Bear fell through, my parents got hold of a "Strout Real Estate" Catalog which advertised rural properties in New England. After leafing through the several hundred page book for weeks as a family - one of our typical evening activities - they settled on Pennsylvania as our destination. Our next job was to scour the catalog for all homes with sufficient acreage and a multi-story home. Of course, we still had no money at all, but in our family, dreams were seen as real hopes, so realistic practicality wasn't even a concern. To this day I still have dreams of retiring to a multi-story home on some acreage in New England. Why fight it?)
April 12, 1967
As of Feb. 20 I am 14. I have joined [Boy Scout] troop 14. My bedroom is now all fixed up. I am in the 8th grade at Luther Burbank. The 3 Apollo astronauts died a few weeks ago. Viet Nam war still going on. I will try to write sooner.
April 20 , 1968 - Saturday
Today our [family] friends came over. We went to see the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Peace talks in Vietnam are being arranged.
May 2, 1968 - Thursday
7:19 and 40 seconds P.M.
I am a patrol leader in troop 214. I lead the "Space" patrol. I wish I had a girl friend because I am lonely every day having no one to be mine. I hope to find a girl friend. It's so lonely.
May 15, 1964
Dear diary, today is Friday. I went to school today and I have a cold. It is now 4:00 and I am cleaning my room. The last time I wrote was almost two years ago. I am 11 and I am in fifth grade in Mrs. Joyce's class, rm. 2.
June 5, 1968 - Wednesday
Shortly after 12:00 last night Robert Kennedy was shot by a young man from Jordan. Kennedy was running for president in the California primary. I will run for president in 1988, no matter what the danger.
June 8, 1968 - Saturday
On June 6 Kennedy died. Today Don Driesdale pitched his 58 2/3 consecutive shut out inning. I heard it happen on the radio. We had a Scout Fair today. Our patrol showed movies on space.
June 10, 1965
Today I graduated from elementary school.
June 24, 1962
I went to Balboa Beach and went in water 3 ft. deep and the under toe was very strong. It made me fall down.
June 30, 1962
I went swimming in my pool.
July 3, 1962
The Beginning of My Trip.
I got up at 5:30 in the morning and left on my trip.
July 4, 1962
I saw fireworks and I saw them in the state of Nevada.
July 5, 1962
I saw very pretty farm land and I swam in a salt lake and the salt in it made you float and you couldn't sink.
July 20, 1969
This is written on September 12, 1969 about the 20th of July. I just wanted people to know that I watched the live TV pictures of the first men on the moon. If space travel continues in your time this must sound silly. If not you must think it's pretty good.
July 21, 1967
Summer Vacation is here! Next year I will go into 9th grade. I have formed the organization S.T.A.R.L.I.G.H.T. (see memo page 6) Tomorrow my cousins arrive for a week. I have a Girl Friend named Debbie D. Signing off, David H.
(1995 NOTE: Here is the entry from memo page 6...
"Space Travelers Associated for the Revelation of Lunar Investigation and Galactic Hydrodrive Transportation")
August 1, 1965
Today is Sunday. I am on summer vacation. We will go to Boy Scout summer camp on Aug. 15. I am starting a secret agent game. I am bowling and shooting. I am 12 years old and going to Jr. High.
(1995 NOTE: Twenty-four years later on this day, I began both hormone therapy and my transition diary which was to become "Raised By Wolves".)
August 4, 1967 - Friday 11:20 P.M.
Today my Great Uncle died. Also, my Great Aunt Laura and Uncle William flew in from Chicago. Our dog, Flop (Phloppe) had a hysterectomy and almost died. My grandmother (Gertrude L.) ran the car into a telephone pole and our friend Pavo got hit by a car and was hurled 68 feet through the air.
August 11, 1971 - Wednesday
Started my job at McDonald's. $1.65 an hour cooking French Fries.
August 29, 1968 - Thursday
Gramma and Grampa bought a pool table. They live on the same street as us so I get to use it. I am reading books on war. I went to summer camp on the 18th - 24th of this month. I had 8 boys under my leadership day and night. This being my first contact with large scale leadership I would like to make a comment - It is hard.
August 31, 1967
We have cleaned up our yard and the house. I made myself a workshop in the garage and I will try to build scale models of my inventions. In order to further my desires, I will devote much thinking to the problems of money.
September 11, 1969 12:20 P.M.
Today I was corralled into getting some new clothes. Also, I am right now watching an eclipse of the sun. I now have $95.20 and I am saving up for a good movie camera.
September 12, 1969 5:38:20 P.M.
Dear nosey; mind your own business.
September 13, 1964
Yesterday I went to the beach. I made a map of the way to the beach.
September 14, 1964
Today I met Mrs. Muck [my sixth grade teacher]. I saw Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and No Time For Sergeants [on TV].
September 15, 1964
I did some chores and decided to make a rollercoaster.
September 17, 1964
I have a Scout meeting tonight. My dad is Scoutmaster.
September 19, 1964
Today I went to the L.A. County Fair with the Scouts. Gerald, Mark, Charles, and Greg got into a lot of trouble. Todd and I didn't. Greg socked me in the eye and if we weren't in the car he would have had it.
September 23, 1964
I'm trying to think of something to say, but all there is, is nothing.
September 30, 1964
Today I stayed home because I had a cold. I wrote 4 letters to Ringo and 1 to my Uncle Don.
October 2, 1964
Today I wrote 3 more letters to Ringo. I am about to eat dinner and write some more letters to Ringo.
October 5, 1964
Dear Diary, Today I went Beatle crazy. I have to have Beatle things. I'm just one big hunk of Beatles fan. I can't stand it.
October 6, 1964
Dear Diary, Today I am mad because my dad won't do something I want him to. He still won't. Good night.
October 7, 1964
Today we are going to watch the Beatles on TV. I can hardly wait.
October 8, 1964
Today we had a substitute teacher. She was the worst teacher I ever had. She is a fink! Fink! Fink! Fink! I hate her. I had a piano lesson today. Bye.
October 14, 1968
The first TV pictures live from space.
October 23, 1964
I hope you remember President Kennedy, the best of all of them. I will try to make a diary of home movies. Bye.
October 24, 1964
I went with my first dad to get my costume for Halloween. I will be wolf man.
October 25, 1964
I am writing this diary so if and when I become famous, people will be able to look and see what I did way back in 1964.
November 12, 1967 - Sunday
I have formed an organization called S.T.A.R.L.I.G.H.T. We will try to be the first private company in space. I will be 15 years old in February. Whoever may be reading this, I'm writing it for you.
November 21, 1967
Today Stanley asked to resign from Starlight on the grounds that we were acting illogical. Also, a girl who I've been trying to make friends with since 7th grade stood me up again.
November 22, 1965
I am now in a [Man From] U.N.C.L.E. club. It is a secret agent club. I am 12 years old. It is raining today. It is the worst storm in 100 years.
November 25, 1967
This is written on the 26th for the 25th. I had a Starlight meeting and only one person (Stanley) came. I taught him how to play chess.
November 27, 1967
I am beginning to write a book called "Lullaby in Black". I am on page 6 of it. I decided to be a science teacher.
December 5, 1967
Today in Scouts we had a father-son dinner. I am on page 9 of my book, "Lullaby in Black".
December 7, 1967
We had a Starlight meeting and formally welcomed 4 active departments. Drafting, Aerodynamics, Time Space and Dimensions, and Exo Biology. Our teacher read my English paper to the whole class.
December 10, 1967 - Sunday
I have read 2 books over the weekend, "Time is the Simplest Thing" and "Builders of the Universe".
December 14, 1967
Today it was announced that scientists had created life in a test tube (a virus that is capable of multiplying itself). It is only a few days since the first successful human heart transplant.
December 15, 1967
Today we got a Christmas tree. Star Trek was on TV.
December 25, 1964 and every year
Merry Christmas! I had a lot of fun. I got a lot of presents. It has been wonderful, so good bye.
December 31, 1969 4:22 P.M.
This entry is written just about at the turn of the decade. I am going to leave a space for me to put January 1, 1970 as it happens. Also, I will make a recording of the change as it happens. For those interested, there are several time capsules buried in the back yard of 1411 N. California Street, Burbank, Calif.
It is now 1970.
Memos from the back of the Diary...
1964 - My dog's name is Flop. I like to read. I am an "A" student. I'm best in math. I can play any instrument by ear and like to write. I can make poems, stories, and make up songs.
1965 - a poem: Beautiful Dream
Once upon a beautiful dream,
I pictured myself by a sunny stream,
with fluffy clouds as white as cream,
and it was so real it will never seem,
just like a thought in a beautiful dream.
a poem: The Stream
The stream rolled by,
thrashing and dashing.
. It heaved a sigh,
crashing and smashing.
It glided over stones and pebbles.
It sprayed out over rocks.
It reflected the sun while twisting and turning,
like a length of golden locks.
It carried off a lily pad,
upon which sat a frog.
This made the creature very mad,
so he leaped onto a log.
He scampered under a nearby rock,
which was shaped just like a dome.
This is not unusual,
for you see, this was his home.
December 14, 1967
If you are descendants of mine or if you are not related to me, I want to leave something of my life in this diary so I won't be forgotten in the future. I wish I could know who you are, but I probably won't.
Try to make this diary like a chain letter. Record in it your life and time. Keep your diary and mine together and encourage your descendants to add theirs to ours for the benefit of future generations.
Yours Sincerely, David P.
I've been reading these entries for the first time in decades as I transcribed them. Now that I've gotten to the end I ask myself, "What's changed?" I still like to do the same things. I still long for the same things. I still feel pretty much the same as I did a third of a century ago. Physically I'm different. I have more knowledge, but no more ability to learn than I used to. All things considered, the world looks more or less as it did back then.
Here I am, still writing diaries, poems, and songs. Still playing around with science (especially math models), and still leaving record of silly details in case someday they might be deemed important because I ended up famous. You know, the funny thing is, I might just end up famous because of the diary I wrote in case I became famous! There is a warped poetic justice in that, which really tickles my sardonic side.
Oh, well, I suppose it is time to move on from diary entries of long ago to diary entries of not so long ago. So, without further delay, I present the next installment of:
From Journeys & Transitions by
March 6, 1992
I've been all tied up at work (lotsa late hours) so I just haven't felt up to writing at the end of a long day. But, here I am again!
Things are going pretty well here. I am struggling to keep from going into job burnout at work. I have never worked at the same activity for more than 14 months in my life, and here it is 8 months and climbing! I'm already getting the heebee jeebees.
It's a frustrating thing for me. On every other "pie in the sky" project I have ever worked on, I've gotten terribly burned. I put in superhuman effort, worked myself sick for dirt wages on the promise of the Big Payoff, only to see the project lay fallow, dormant, or turn to ashes as soon as it ignited.
I honestly don't believe I can put that kind of effort into anything again. SO THIS TIME BETTER DAMN WELL WORK OUT!!!!!!
The word is out about our impending software. FILM AND VIDEO magazine has already heard about it and wants to do an article. Fame is just around the corner. And yet, I find myself depressed: partly by the lack of spending money and the long lead time to get some. Also, I feel lonely.
Mary is taking an interest in men, not like I do for intimacy only, but rather for male companionship. Not that I blame her, but it tears me apart anyway.
I had two needs in my life: to be female and to have an emotional commitment to someone for ever and ever, a la fairy tale ending. I worked hard to have both. It seemed like I did. But when I come home depressed by the tough day at work and Mary comes home late, puts her arms around me in a warm hug and says, "I'm sorry I'm late, David G. wanted to talk", I get teary-eyed.
Then, later, when she decides to cheer me up, she plays a little chasing game around the house, and we laugh and I'm just feeling good - we sit down on the back steps - I still look depressed, she starts to put her arms around me and just as I am about to release my hurt to her warm embrace she says, "You're not going to cry are you? It's embarrassing." I couldn't even bear to have her touch me. I came to the computer and cried there.
Sure, it's part hormones, and job stress, and too long without a vacation. But it is also the need to let loose and be comforted, and to have someone who will love me enough to let me cry in their arms.
I'm feeling a bit down today, because Mary is indicating that she needs the company of a man in emotional ways. This hurt because I have been trying to keep my outside relationships only as physical sex, and having my heart at home. But although Mary and I are still cheerful and playful, at least from my perspective, there is a growing hollow quality to it.
Can I live like this? I try to. But the hurt grows. God, I love her so much! WE have grown in the same garden for so long. But I fear I have pealed the death knell for our future. The relationship may already be dead, but too full of inertia to fall over.
And yet, this is all based on conjecture and circumstance and hormones and "feelings" and may be just the rumblings of an unbalanced endocrine system.
March 3, 1992
The way we feel is not because we are being treated like women, but because we are thinking like women. You and I keep neglecting the effect on our very thought processes brought on by the long-term use of hormones. And after surgery, the effect is logarithmically greater.
We are trying to measure ourselves from the very platform we are standing on to take the measurement - never considering that the platform itself is moving. So we leave that part out of the equation, not because we're stupid, because we're human.
When guys to that, they do it logically and turn into insensitive bastards. When we do it, we do it with feelings and turn into emotional bitches. The key is to be aware that your standard of measurement has changed as well as what you are measuring.
In Mental Relativity, Chris and I have two terms we use a lot: "Evaluation" and "Re-evaluation". There is a very important difference. In Evaluation, you look at all the factors involved in a consideration and come to a decision based upon all you know at the moment. In Re-evaluation, you have some aspect of the situation that you had established earlier, and now do not consider when weighing the current situation. In other words, you hold some part of the equation constant.
For example, if someone asks you to go shopping, you might Evaluate by looking at your bank account, the weather report, the type of store she suggested, if there is a sale on, and so on. You would decide on the potentials of the current situation. But if you considered that the last time you went, her conversation bored you, that you always spend more than you want to, that she will then expect a return invitation next week and you don't want to obligate yourself, then you are Re-Evaluating. Evaluation deals with the decision at hand, Re-evaluation deals with the ramifications.
Re-evaluation has its place. It allows us to take into consideration our past experiences and future desires, but CONSTANT Re-evaluation leads to the typical female moodiness - the tendency toward constant Re-evaluation is hormonally based.
Re-evaluation is important, however, because it allows one to consider the effects of working toward a goal, and keeps one from being like a lot of the men we know. But it also needs to be tempered. For women, we have to force ourselves not to Re-evaluate constantly on the big issues. Rather, whenever we feel things are going wrong or worse, we should train ourselves to have that feeling trigger a response. The response would be to make our conscious mind put on the brakes and say, "Whoa!" We stop, we look at how we feel and determine not to continue examining our feelings about that subject until after dinner.
Since feelings are largely a biochemical event, if you feel bad about one thing, that filter will affect everything else you look at, even if it is not pertinent to the issue at hand. So, by not considering the offensive issue until a set time later, we avoid the depression while still, eventually, addressing the problem.
That is the first step: delaying consideration of emotional issues until a later time. But the real key to immediate ability to handle the problem is to learn to Evaluate, rather than Re-evaluate.
That means that if your boss comes in and says, "I want you to do X." And if "X" is some degrading, junior level thing, you might normally let it eat at you all day. Even though you do it, you snap at your co-workers, serve your mate a frozen dinner, and go to bed without reading a chapter in your favorite new book. All these things because of one little event.
But if you Evaluate instead, you say to yourself, "Okay, I REALLY don't like being asked to do this. Now, right NOW, what am I going to do about it?" You might decide to tell your boss you think it is degrading and junior-level and see what he says. You might decide to do it without comment, since it is the first time in six months he has come up with a winner like this. You might decide to draft a letter this weekend to explain your feelings. Or, your might find a co-worker friend who will do it for you, especially if you explain how it makes YOU feel. That might even strengthen the bonds of a friendship.
Whatever you decide, you have based your decision on the potentials of the moment, not on how this moment fits into an ongoing pattern. In one sense it is the difference between making a decision based on most recent data or on a weighted average over time.
Guys need to learn to do just the reverse, but that is THEIR problem, not ours, so I won't even bother with it here.
Evaluation and Re-evaluation: both are necessary to a complete view of our situation. So we, who are biased toward feeling at the sub-conscious level, must balance that view by thinking logically at the conscious. This gives us the most accurate base for decisions available to the female of the species.
March 15, 1995
My response to a letter from Ben, a cyber friend who was hurt by his inability to fully empathize with the emotional subtext in my letters to him. In fact, he completely misread my intent several times as a result of the differences in male and female thinking. He wrote me a long note explaining his pain and trying to define and describe the errors in our communication. The following is how I responded.
It is difficult to decide on the format of my reply. Your letter was so deep and lengthy, and you covered so many points, that my initial inclination was to keep it before me and respond to your comments and topics one by one. But that would lead not only to a very formal and stilted approach, but would also simply Xerox the content you had spoken to me.
What you had to say was and is very important, and I hate to think of missing or ignoring any of these thoughts that elicit such a definitive response in me. So, I considered responding to the subjects you addressed in more general terms. But that, again, would not break new ground.
In fact, any of these (including this rather austere preface) is more a business-like or sterilely antiseptic treatise than a note from a friend. But to me, it is important that you know your comments are deeply considered and your subjects well appreciated.
That having been said, I have chosen to write a letter of my own: influenced by what you have written, but not tied to it. I won't be editing what I write here: you will get it as I thought it. And I won't be quoting directly from your letter, which I so far have only read once and have folded before me. So I guess this will be sort of "off the cuff" and straight from the heart.
Now, the only problem is: what do I want to say? Well, let's see... Okay. Once a month I get PMS. Up until I switched my hormone cycle after surgery, it was REALLY intense for 2 to 3 days each month. 8 out of 10 times, I would find myself falling into a deep depression, hair-trigger tears, and the inability to see things as they are.
As a male, I always wondered how women could be so stupid. All they had to do was realize that they were having PMS and then they could compensate, right? Not! I can tell you for a fact, that you don't realize at the time that your thinking is a little wanky or even way off base. It's only a couple hours later (usually after a nap) that you look back and say, "How could I be so stupid!" And this type of hormonal effect is not confined to 3 days a month. It is around all the time in varying degrees.
I was out around the roses today, and I was thinking about how I came home the other night and saw Keith's (my son) bike in the middle of the yard. I called him out and told him to lock it up, as I just had a feeling it might get stolen that night.
AS I stood by the roses today, I wondered what triggered that memory at that time. And then I wondered what made me feel the bike would be stolen. I looked around at the street and the trees and the sky, and the hills, and understood. When I saw the bike, it was dark, and there was a quiet in the air like when all the animals in the forest go still because something is coming. Also, the way the porchlight hit the bike, it highlighted the edges against the dark house. And, there were no people out on the street. Also the weather was shirt sleeve, and the dog had been lethargic all day.
So, as I stood by the roses, I realized that all these observations, most of which did not directly relate to Keith's bike being possibly stolen, each of them had a small element that could affect the likelihood of it being stolen.
This made me reflect on the conversations I have had with my new girlfriends of late. I tried desperately to remember how I used to relate to other men as a male. And I called back the logical progression of my interactions and conversations. As a male, I tried to make each point lead to the next until the subject was covered. Now it was different. Now it was like if I started a conversation about a black dress, then mentioned my black dog, then the cat down the street, the street sweeping schedule, the city budget... well, you get the idea. Each element was connotatively connected, but not the next logical step.
This is the difference I have felt in conversations with my girlfriends: we ALL talk that way among ourselves. But each and every one of us makes an attempt to "stay logical" when we talk to men. We even joke about it. In fact, the way men "just don't get it" comes up at some time in almost any conversation of length between women.
Guys talk about the same things when with other guys or with women. They just clean up the act a little. But women talk about completely different things when with each other than when with men.
Now I am just beginning to understand that men "just don't get it." My girlfriends learned THAT one at an early age.
For me, I never expected my mind to change as a result of transition. Stupid oversight perhaps, but one I truly made. I always knew I thought differently than the other boys, but never realized that the hormones would enhance that. So, now I know. And I also know that I think female. I empath with my girlfriends in ways unimaginable to a man. I certainly never imagined it.
In fact, I honestly (and I'm not saying this for effect) truly don't believe a man can ever learn to communicate that way. What it is that men can see that women cannot, I do not know. How could I? And yet, I've been spoiled a lot. My writing partner of 15 years, Chris, has spent the last two years working with me every day on our exploration of the psychology of story structure. And in so doing, we have learned much of each other. He and I have found some kind of "middle ground" where we can "almost" see eye to eye. So when I express myself to him about the deepest feelings I have, he finds some degree of value and understanding in it, although not quite as I mean it. But he is an exception in a unique situation. He has been by my side during every moment of my transition, and knew me for 12 years before that.
The point of all this being that as I look (right at this moment) back across the times I have tried to share my feelings with men, he is the only one with a clue. The rest "just don't get it." and yet, I can meet a woman for the first time and connect with her at the deepest emotional level almost instantly, and find a true two-way understanding there.
And this is why I don't address the point in your letter. Because I could talk till my tongue fell out and never convey my feelings. Because no matter how sensitive a man is, he does not, CANNOT share those feelings. I am learning that I have lived a rare life, seeing things and learning manners of thought that will forever set me apart from being like men or like other women. Part is biology, part biochemistry, part experience, and part is simply the things that I know and can compare from personal experiences on both sides of the fence.
I have been looking to men for the kind of empathy I can only get from other women. And since we, as you have said, both communicate verbally so well, I have focused much of my attempt to share feelings with you. And what has happened is that the "white knight" thing got all snarled up with it until the whole thing was just one big jumbled mess.
I want to start fresh now. I want to save my feelings for my girlfriends, even Mary, since we all "tune in" so easily. And for us, you and me, and me an other men, I want to share the "things" that happen in my life. Events of interest and meaning AND feelings, but without trying to empath the feeling. It is enough to say, "I was so exited!" to you, rather than saying it as I would with my girlfriends, exploring the nuance of the feeling.
I hope this all makes some sense to you. If it does, then we can just talk about what's going on and share the basic joys and sorrows, and be the best of friends. And I think we can be the best friends that men and women can be.
March 28, 1992
I have been really busy this past week. Our classes on story theory have been getting to be a major drain of time and energy. The class sizes are up to ten people at a time. Chris and I speak in "tag team" for about 4 to 5 hours, then ANOTHER couple of hours with all the chit chat and questions from those who remained after the classes. Each class is a learning experience for us in how to convey a concept so revolutionary that it is completely foreign to any of the familiar ways of approaching story.
Both Chris and I are learning much about our own deep hurts and feelings as a result of our story theory work, as it is based on Mental Relativity. Yesterday I cried at work when something we learned had a special meaning for me. Today, he called up to say HE had cried at home in a major catharsis because MY scene yesterday showed him where HIS similar problem lay. Powerful stuff. Tough and dangerous work. Nifty program.
Over the past several months, I have received and responded to a number of interesting notes. Here are a few of the more intriguing ones.
Reader #1: Do you believe that there is any correlation of the ever increasing amount of environmental estrogens that have lead men wanting to change their gender?
Melanie: Absolutely! Environmental pollutants (not just estrogen receptor attractors, but also androgens and progesterones) have an enormous impact on prenatal chemistry. It is the wash of testosterone or estrogen over the brain of the developing fetus that determines mental sex, which is the dynamic pattern of the mind to favor spatial or temporal appreciations. This mechanism is easily effected by environmental considerations.
Reader #1:There has been quite a lot of documented studies in Canadian waters where compounds such as nonylphenol had feminized the male fishes. I know that humans and fish are far apart in the genomic make up, but animals are animals and I think that both could be affected the same way.
Reader #1:Hormones are the back bone of our sexual identity. Prior to deciding the path that you chose, did you investigate your chromosome pattern to see if you were XXY or XY ?
Melanie: No I did not. Chromosomes primarily determine the physical make-up of an individual, and, all other things being equal will trigger a particular prenatal hormone bath appropriate to the anatomical sex. Mental sex, however, can be independent of chromosomal influences, which is the principal cause of "true" transsexualism. Since there is currently no way to determine the dynamic foundation of self-awareness as being either SBOS (Spatial Brain Operating System) or TBOS (Temporal Brain Operating System), investigations into definitive information as to the causes or functioning of one's mental sex cannot be accomplished externally. One must simply come to know themselves well enough to sense which approach to the organization of consciousness is running around in their heads.
Reader #1:Upon the estrogen therapy, in the initial phase, what sensations did you encounter that was different from perspective of emotions, appetite, physical sensations etc.
Melanie: Most notably, I went through four stages of mental shifting. Each one was precipitous of a subtle sensory change, accompanied by compatible emotional changes. The most notable sensory change was the first one in which I was fidgety for three days, had trouble sleeping, and had an uncomfortable feeling in the small of my back. I took a long sleep in the middle of the day, and when I awoke, all the colors looks like someone had turned up the chroma too far. It was like Ted Turner colorized my life. Apparently, while I slept, some sensory trigger shifted from Testosterone based to Estrogen based, and the Estrogen version is more sensitive to colors. It took me weeks to acclimate to the new intensity of color. Now, it all seems quite normal, however I still have enough memory left of the way it was to conjure up the old level of appreciation of color and note how truly vibrant things are now by comparison.
Reader #1:How rapid was testicular atrophy and did you develop and signs of tumor growth in the testicles ?
Melanie: I never much paid attention to that, focused as it were more intently on the emotional issues. I don't recall any sign of tumor growth, however. Though I was aware just before surgery that testicular atrophy had occurred, it was a slow process over almost three years, so I really never noticed any changes from day to day.
Reader #1:Along with the testicular atrophy, erections must have become difficult, but could you still be aroused ? Also, I am aware that for the genotypic female, testosterone acts as an aphrodisiac, that is in minor minor doses, what about in your case ?
Melanie: Erection was definitely affected, even by my initial small doses of estrogen. In contrast, orgasm was possible and not with particular difficulty even the night before surgery. As they say, erection is physical, but orgasm is all in the mind. I had been blessed with the advice from a post-op that I should self-stimulate at least once a day or I would lose the ability to orgasm after surgery. I threw myself into that pleasurable task and have counted my blessings often since reassignment.
Reader #1:What is the supposed mechanism for libido in your situation ?
Melanie: There's nothing supposed about it. I am in heat virtually 24 hours a day - just that warm feeling men get before an erection actually begins. Stimulation of the clitoris that was fashioned from the erectile tissue, or stimulation of the prostrate which is left in place by Biber, leads to orgasm. Each kind of orgasm feels a bit different - they are both very pleasurable and can be timed to happen together. Now that IS something!
Reader #1:I hope the following further questions will not be too personal.
Prior to surgery, (I'm assume your post-op) where you fully aware what procedures were going to be performed ?
Melanie: I hadn't the foggiest idea. I really didn't know what had been done to me until some months later when I saw a slide show on the procedure that had been transferred to video tape.
Reader #1:And, what exactly do they do to construct the necessary components in your case. I am aware that the penis is inverted, but do they slice from the bottom or the top to remove the soft tissue. Also, during the process, aren't the majority of the nerves required for sensation damaged or destroyed. What parts of the penis are used for the construction of the vagina, clitoris etc ? Considering that the first 2 inches of the penis is the most sensitive, what happens to that part?
Melanie: Most of these questions I STILL don't know the answer to. You seem to have a pretty good grasp of the over-all procedure, and that's about all I have as well. All I know is, it looks good, feels good, and everything works. I have no motivation to know more. The more I would know, the more I would be aware of physical differences, and I don't think that would be productive to my sense of just being me.
Reader #1:You obviously are quite familiar to orgasms as a male, considering that you have a son. What are they like now as a female and how is the sensation different and how, if you can describe it ? Would your orgasms be more intense than before or different ?
Melanie: Different is the word. They are not as intense (although on the rare occasion it can approach that) but more, how can I say... more "keeping you on the edge." The feeling you get as a man just before you orgasm - the one you can't really hold onto for very long or you will either orgasm or lose it entirely? Well, that is the ongoing feeling for the duration of stimulation. So the intensity of being "kept on the edge" grows steadily the longer it lingers. Orgasm is the relief of that feeling - and end to anticipation. So, whereas for a man, all the preliminary stuff is prelude and requirement to the big event where all the pleasure is, for a woman, the pleasure IS the prelude and the big event is being let off the hook, so to speak.
Reader #1:Like a genotypic female, is it possible to have multiple orgasms and can >you reach climax through clitoral stimulation ?
Melanie: Yes, multiple orgasms are possible, though I've only achieved that once and it was only two in a row. In truth, multiples don't seem to offer that much more in personal satisfaction. More is not better, just more.
Clitoral stimulation alone? Sure, that is one way. Also through stimulation near the position of the prostrate, and also both together. Any thing goes. It's more dependent on what color you want to wear that day, or what's on TV than on picking one over the other based on their intrinsic attributes.
Reader #1:After the surgery and after totally recovering, describe the sensation or feeling having sex for the very first time as a women ?
Reader #1: Did you feel that during the time of your gender questioning that by perhaps exogenous testosterone supplementation it would be an alternative solution to your situation ?
Melanie: Never thought that. I had plenty of Testosterone and plenty of sex drive. The issue was not lack of ability, but lack of desire. Or perhaps, more accurately, it was desire of something else: another direction for my life.
Reader #1:Or did you felt that pursuing your life as a male was perpetuating a lie that you could no longer handle ?
Melanie: No, I never felt my life as a male was a lie either. I did that quite well, actually. All that I was as a male is still a part of me. its just that there were some parts of me that couldn't be expressed in that role. In fact, there are some parts of me that can't be expressed in THIS role either, but more of me can come out as a woman than as a man in our society. So, in addition to wanting the physical changes, the nature of our society makes this role a better choice (though still limiting in some ways).
Reader #1:During the time of your marriage, was your wife understanding of the problem that you were facing ?
Melanie: Understanding? Well, I'd say she understood it all right. But did she approve? No. Did she support me? Yes. Did she like it? No. Did she still want me rather than splitting up? Yes. Is she lesbian or bi? No. Does she still like to cuddle and kiss me good-bye when going to work? Yes. Go figger.
Reader #1:Out of norm, did you and your wife ever have role reversals during sex or was that out of the question ?
Melanie: Absolutely out of the question. Not of interest to her or me. And though we tried sex a couple times after surgery, we both found it unfulfilling. I always found sex as a male unfulfilling - more like I was doing a chore than having fun. Sex as a woman has always been fulfilling, though never physically as "strong" as when male.
Reader #1:Also, how did you view your relation to your wife during sex, women to women or something in between ?
Melanie: Hmmm... I never really thought about her. I mean the physical part was the farthest thing from my mind. I was thinking about being close and sharing closeness and empathy, and all that kind of cozy stuff.
Reader #1:I have read Kate's comments and she stated that during climax, there is a bit of ejaculation that comes out ? Do you experience the same also ?
Melanie: Not at the time of sex, but a few hours later, there is a little "semen" that comes from the clitoris. That's because Biber leaves the prostrate in place, which leads to more sexual sensation.
Reader #1:Also, I can't believe that you would say that "sex" for the first time as a woman was "ordinary" ? How could it be ordinary when I imagine you who used to be male "had to do all the work," and now as a female you are now on the receiving end, sort of speak ?
Melanie: Even when on the receiving end you still have to do a lot of work. You need to play off the guy's rhythm, make sure he stays in place, catch on to what he's trying to do, move your hips - heck, its a LOT more work having sex as a woman. Can you imagine a guy getting all turned on by a woman who just lays there??? Well, some guys, I suppose, but not the one's I've been with.
And, the reason it was ordinary, is that now my body feels like it is supposed to pretty much, so sex the first time was just the next time I had sex. The only difference being that now all the equipment seemed more appropriate.
Reader #1:Also, like most women that become aroused, can you yourself become "wet" and if so where does this liquid come from, the prostate perhaps ?
Melanie: Not really. I use KY. The KY stays in there for quite a while though, so you get "wet" when it all heats up due to excitement.
Reader #1:Is there also a limit in the length and size of a penis that your new vagina can accommodate ?
Melanie: Haven't encountered one yet. I have about 6" of depth, which is (imagine that) just about what I had in inverse at the time of surgery. Strange how that works! ;)
Reader #1:As I mentioned previously, you look and sound great and not knowing your background, I would never have guessed your previous gender. However, there are many TS that don't look genuinely female and still have a bit of maleness about them, they don't look as convincing as perhaps Jahna Steele. Had your change not given you such great results and you still appeared as a "man in drag" would you have any regrets about the transition?
Melanie: Absolutely. I'm sure I would regret it for the rest of my life!
Reader #1:Also, why is it the case that some TS still look like men ?
Melanie: Why is it that dogs have fur?
Reader #1:Did you also have some removal of the Adam's apple in the throat region ?
Melanie: Nope, just lucky under the chin.
Doyle: I have wondered what it would feel like to be a woman and experience the other side of a part of life that actually exists within me (all of us). You have crossed that line and probably have first hand knowledge of the feelings...some good and some I assume not so good. What is it like to have the appearance and body of a woman? Excuse the personal nature of the question, but how is it sexually with men? Do the men you've been with know about your transition? Do you and Mary have any form of a sexual relationship? What about the kids?
Melanie: What is it like to have the appearance and body of a woman? Well, it's not woman enough to the degree I wanted yet, and I may be too old to get what I wanted. Surgery comes in two stages: the internal work and then some follow-up cosmetic work called a "labiaplasty". I had the first stage (all the tough and important stuff) 3 1/2 years ago, but haven't had the labiaplasty yet. So, although I can go to a women-only gym and walk around in the nude, if you look close you know things aren't quite what they ought to be yet. Until that is completed, I can't quite feel all woman.
Also, I always wanted a reasonable bustline - nothing outlandish, mind you, just reasonable. But I didn't get that either - not yet anyway. I'm just barely an A cup (on a good day!) I've been checking into various doctors for enhancement surgery, but I really always wanted it to be natural, and so even if I have surgery I suspect I'll never have the feeling I wanted of being a "natural woman" to the "extent" I wanted. Maybe I'll feel differently after surgery. That's one reason I'm looking into getting the underarm incision style surgery. If I can't really see the scar on the breast itself, then I can pretend the underarm scar is from something else and fool my emotions into thinking its all me.
I'm 42, and starting to get some major crow's feet. The idea of being an eighteen year old beach bunny, poured into a bikini, is rapidly fading. I look young for 42, granted, but I don't look 18!!! Now, MOST women never look like that anyway, but that ideal is part of why I did this, and I might not get it.
So, to wrap up on that question, it's great to be a woman, I never worry about anyone knowing from any physical tell-tale sign, I'm much more comfortable with my body than before, but I am still largely unfulfilled and working quickly, almost frantically, to get a taste of some of that before time runs out on me.
Now, onto the sex-oriented questions...
How is it with men? Well, sex as a woman is good physically, but sex as a male is much more intense. Still, the personal psychological fulfillment of having a man inside me is FAR superior than being inside a woman.
In my checkered journey, I've had sex with a man as a man (though thinking of myself as a woman), with a woman as a man, with man as a woman, and with a woman as a woman. Did I leave anything out? I've never done animals or children and absolutely don't intend to!
Having sex with a man is more an emotional joy at being fondled and held and desired. It gives me a sense of self worth that I wish I experienced more often, and have the opportunity to, but I find most men quite boring - so much so that I can't abide their pettiness long enough even to let them lead me to the sack.
As for sex with Mary, we tried that a few times after surgery, but we never had much of a physical attraction for each other in the old life and it hasn't really changed now at all. So, we don't do that no more! We just kiss each other hello and good-bye, hug from time to time, and that's about it.
I suspect in the next couple of years I'll get even more promiscuous and travel the world meeting new men (and occasionally women, though men are my preference) and seeing what it all feels like and what the experience means.
As for the kids - they are about as stable and positively motivated as one could imagine a kid could be with a dad who became a woman and still lives with their mom! We wrestle around on the floor in play, go all kinds of places together, get into tickling matches, do the school routine, homework, driving them places...
You know, that's part of my angst is that I went through all this and my life didn't change at all!!!
I'm sure I look and act quite different to everyone else, but they all look the same to me, treat me the same, and I'm living in the same place and working with the same people! What's changed for me?
Just my insides. Now I don't live in fear of people finding out how I really feel. But still, sometimes I wish the outside world would look a little different to me, just so I could feel some progress I didn't have to grow from within.
Douglas: What kind of Fade Cream do you suggest. I'll try to get your brand around here.
Also, you make great wallpaper. A real role model. Thanks.
Melanie: Always wanted to be wallpaper! I guess I just like the thought of someone licking my backside! Whoa! Did I say that! Well anyway, thanks for the compliment!
As for fade cream, I tried Esoterica, which seemed to work well, but I found I was allergic to it and had to stop. It gave me trouble breathing. Maybe that's due to the quinine that all the fade creams are based on, or maybe not, but I don't use it for that reason.
Scott: Hi I have a question to ask you if you don't mind. If you do mind tuff I'm asking anyway....:) I have a wife and 2 kids. The kids are a 5 year old boy and a 2 month old girl. my wife knows of my crossdressing. And is sort of semi-supportive. I wanted to begin transition 4 or 5 years ago. But in all the yelling cursing and swearing at each other when I told my wife what I wanted to do. We some how made up. I then decide to find help and go to a shrink thinking I was some sort of nut for feeling the way I did. Out of 2 shrinks and there ungodly bills. One told me to find a support group and see what they could do for me. They couldn't help me for they really knew nothing about the problem I had. So I found a group called IOWA ARTISTRY. In witch I am currently vice-president of. and the last 4 years have been great...Now for the question....I have a great deal of love for my family and wouldn't want to do a thing to hurt them. My wife knows of my appointment to a doctor for to start getting hormonal treatment. How can I break the news again that I am not happy as a man. and that I wish to change? Without hurting them.....
Melanie: Well, the quick answer is that you CAN'T break that news and NOT hurt them. That is the transsexual's dilemma. Looking for a way to make them happy or even just neutral about it is fruitless. What positive things could they possibly find in what you are doing from THEIR point of view.
You care about these people. They care about you. But as in any relationship, there are costs paid along the way, and pet peeves, and irritations. The reason a relationship stays together is because 1) the benefits outweigh the costs, and 2) no better cost to benefit ratio is easily available elsewhere, and 3) to quote Shakespeare, "It is better to bear those ills we have than to flee to others we know not of."
For a transsexual, all these issues will come into question during the effort to begin and follow through with transition. What determines whether or not a person will go that far, is how much they are willing to put themselves ahead of the others they love. It is truly a selfish choice, but that does not mean it is the wrong choice. Is it worth living one's life with daily frustration and pain because one can't be the way one wants, just so others can be happy? Maybe, if you think changing yourself would cause them more pain that it would save you. From that perspective, it is simply an objective decision: which way would cause the most pain overall, regardless of who gets it.
But that selfish side is just as real: Is it proper for an individual to suffer so that others won't? Sounds noble, but what if the individual's suffering is great and the others' suffering would be mild? Then the answer becomes less clear.
I have seen people hurt by transition, and other couples have the time of their lives with it. There are wives that walk out with the kids at the first mention, and others that say, "Hey, this is great!" Everybody's situation is unique, even though we are all dealing with the same things.
The only advice I can give is to look into your own heart and weigh things completely from your perspective. How much will you be hurt by not progressing for one more day vs. how much will you be hurt if your wife cries and leaves you and your kids lose all respect. It's kind of the "worst case scenario" way of making the decision. It is a choice between the relief you seek (for transsexualism is not driven by desire but by anxiety) or the consequences of potentially losing everything dear to you in order to be true to yourself.
It comes down to this: "Right now I love the relationship between me and my family AND I love THEM, independently of the relationship. Also, I am hurting daily and suffer pain. So, my life is filled with love and pain. To stop the pain, I must risk giving up what I love, because if I change, the relationship will change, and those I love may no longer be near where I can daily appreciate them. So, I must balance them in my mind, determine whether the pain I expect I would feel by the loss of those I love would give me more or less pain than I am suffering now. This pain would be gone, to be replaced by the other. Which would be more? Then, would I find anyone else to love if I lost them? How much love would I feel daily, if I didn't have theirs? Could it be more, nearly as much, or would it be none, ever again?
"Now, I take stock: I lose my pain and potentially gain pain. I potentially lose those I love, but potentially gain others that I love. The only surety is that I will lose the particular pain I have suffered for so long. All the rest are only potentials.
"So, I cannot make this decision by my reason, for reason cannot get enough information, and because reason makes a poor tool for making decisions about the heart. As a result, I will ask my heart each day, "Is it time?", and my heart will answer me each day, "Yes," or "No". When it is "No", I will do nothing. When it is "Yes", I will move forward. But I will not move forward all at once, but only the smallest step I can take at one time. In this way, the results of my actions need not come down as the fullest degree of all the potential all at once, but only as an indicator of they way things stand.
"I will then have a better idea, each step of the way, what the real costs will be. And each step, therefore, makes the next step more clear. I will also keep in mind that people change. Although I don't expect I will change my mind about wanting to make a transition, it could happen. But even more likely, those I love will change, for if each of my steps is small enough, and their love for me is big enough, they will adapt and get used to each new plateau so that each step is only a minor hurt, easily handled.
"I may find frustration in this path at not proceeding quickly enough down the path I am choosing, but by this method, I will also be allowing my loved ones time to grow rather than to break. In this manner, I may eventually reach my goal, or I may eventually reach a moment of truth where I must choose my loved ones or myself. Either way, I will know at that time that all other options were explored and there was nothing else I could have done.
"In this, even if I do not find complete fulfillment, I will at least find satisfaction, and in that, I will have more than I did when I started."
Well, take that as a transsexual's prayer, if you will, though it is more of a commitment to oneself. I hope this helps. If anything, always keep in mind that no matter how bad the situation may look at the moment, situations change. Even if there is no way out now, there may be a way out tomorrow or next week. So never give up hope. As long as you breathe, opportunity my still come to roost on your door.
Subject: Voice help- "Melanie Speaks" video
Date: Sat, 19 Aug 1995 09:34:15 GMT
> Looking for successes with "Melanie Speaks" video- had it for awhile >and have not been able to "get it"- all help appreciated! Nikki
At the risk of being thought a doubter, this is just like faith healing: the cure is real insofar as the patient is healthy _now_, but the _original_disease_ is unproven.
If Melanie can overcome her emotional blocks and demonstrate that she still _can_ speak in her former male voice, (that she did not in fact have voice surgery), then she'll have _demonstrated_ that she has a technique which certainly had merit for her, and may for others...assuming other uncertainties like she wasn't born with structural anomalies in her vocal apparatus.
You see, so MUCH about this is so vague, and she does little to resolve that vagueness. Melanie is a show business person whose industry is making tapes and software supporting the entertainment industry. She is not a doctor, nor a speech therapist, and may well not understand her own condition. She certainly doesn't explain it making reference to even those parts of the vocal apparatus I had to learn as a foreign language major(!) Now, it's possible that she is _able_ to do something which she doesn't _understand_...look at Tesla. But assuming that, it must be proven that she _is_ _doing_ it... and unaided by surgery or drugs. This proof must be that she can alternate between voices at will. Nothing less is proof.
Of course, many people don't require proof to believe.
If she can't to demonstrate that what she is claiming is in fact a _technique_, (i.e., that she has control over it) and instead just plays that old tape of her as a male actor, she has only made an assertion. My friend Mary's voice now is dramatically different from what it was...before her surgery. Changing the geometry of an acoustical chamber and oscillator changes the pitch and other qualities of the sound. Of course, you can leave the instrument alone and _play_ it differently, you can over-blow a recorder and go up an octave. If someone claims to be able to do this with the voice, we need to know how it works...and that it won't produce polyps on their larynx from overstraining, which is a possibility.
I bought and listened to her tape, and tried her technique with no result, but it is entirely possible that my voice is permanently damaged from over two decades in martial arts, where we are able to use the voice as a weapon of sorts, rather like throwing sand in the eyes, so my experience is inconclusive.
Melanie's method may work, but there is little explanation on the tape, and no explanation grounded in structural theories of sound production. It's a subjective presentation talking about trying to make different parts of your throat vibrate when you talk, and leaving the BIG question: "How?" totally unanswered, even to herself. In other words: it's witchcraft. Maybe it works. Witches could produce abortions using certain fungi. Sometimes. But they did _not_ understand what they did, nor did they try to. And sometimes they killed, because they could neither understand nor control what they used.
We abandoned that way of operating because we found something much better in the scientific method. But in our time, people seem ready to suspect science because it fails to provide the certainty of religion and similar superstitions...but that is not its function. Doubt is the foundation of science and doubt is a virtue, not some kind of dirty word. I am +very+ suspicious when someone who is making money from an unknown technique or product can't explain it. I always catch the cloying odor of snake oil. Judging a person's claims by their personal attributes is a logical fallacy, and I know this...but I have to remember that the entertainment industry exists to sell illusion, and bearing that in mind when dealing with entertainment people isn't an insult to them...if they're honest.
The gender community is full of desperate souls. Where there is desperation, the kind of desperation which will snatch at _any_ promise, it would be easy to convince myself that I could really "help" people, even if I didn't know what I was doing...even if I was selling snake oil.
If Melanie wanted to reach the greatest number of people with an absolutely unimpeachable rep, all she need do is submit her method to examination by certified speech pathologists and reputable ear nose and throat people, let them film her with Xray or ultrasound or MRI as she varies her sound production. If she's really discovered something, she'd be famous. If she hasn't...or if what she does is the result of her own special anatomy, or if she carries the scars of surgery on her larynx, she'd return to obscurity and no one would buy her tapes or invite her to speak.
The cost of the tape isn't going to break anybody. If you're curious, it's rarely a waste of money to satisfy your curiosity. Now, if only _I_ had a captive audience of _desperate_ people who could be counted on, almost to a man (woman) to pony up a moderate amount of cash to satisfy that curiosity, I could make a tidy packet...all cash, too....
People want to believe, and there begins all the heartbreak. Melanie should provide _proof_. Not because I want it...she's already got my $25. But because the only morally right course is to share information with those who can develop it further, otherwise there is no progress, only the bacterial action of commerce. If what she has _works_ there is almost certainly a way to develop it beyond its present primitive beginnings, so perhaps _you_ would get the results you failed to get, and so might I. And if it's a lie, then a lot of desperate people can be saved tears and disappointment they don't need.
There are, of course, several reasons for not _caring_ what people like me think, and chief among them is that skeptical people are so few in number that losing _our_ business is no impediment to success in these New Middle Ages.
Reader #2: I think my point in all of this is that, like you, after a certain period of comparing who I am to who I was, I now only think of who I am. I still very much like being female, but the pleasure does not derive from once being "male", it simply is a measure of who I am.
Melanie: Things continue to change in my self-view, but then I suppose that is the nature of life. These days I am much more comfortable with my male energy, so I find myself just acting however I feel and thrilling when I can surprise or shock someone. Not because I'm doing it for that reason, but because it helps make me feel unique or special.
I think each one of us wants to define ourselves so that we stand alone, and yet wish to accomplish that without being isolated from the "group". I think the key is that just like the various pieces of a puzzle, you don't have to be the same to fit in. In fact, if you are the same as anyone else, one of you is redundant! The group feeling is simply knowing you are part of the same picture, rather than being a piece for another puzzle altogether.
Reader #3: Now that you're a woman is art still possible? I always wondered the connection between the two.
Melanie: Woman IS art. Men just make feeble attempts to describe it.
Reader #3: Could ask you a million questions on the subject. And listening to the chat lines and stuff it seems that almost all TG's have some artistic ability.
Melanie: Getting in touch with oneself is the essence of art, and so the connection is not surprising.
Reader #3: Thanks again. I'm no longer alone.
Melanie: There's tons of us! Alone? Sometimes I think we're actually the majority!
Jim: Hello Melanie.
I was seeing what was on the WWW via Netscape & the Yahoo directory listings and was intrigued by the transgender section. Through that, I saw your homepage and read a little of the Subversive. Very interesting and thought provoking. I've never had any contact with a transsexual person, where I was aware of it, and the only real exposure I've had is from watching some of the talk shows, and that I don't count as being accurate portrayals.
Melanie: Thanks for the positive vibes! It's funny, but I thought of transsexuals as either weird or special, and certainly exotic for most of my life. Then, I found I wanted to take that path myself. Somewhere along the line, that image vanished like a mirage. I would still like to meet the weird, special, and exotic transsexuals I had been fascinated with. Instead, all I've encountered are ordinary people with ordinary problems working them out in an ordinary fashion. Somehow I feel cheated! I love mystique, and it never showed up! Oh well, I guess we're really all the same after all.
From Austria, Reader # 4: I just saw you are developing SW FOR story tellers, right? Or better you already sell it! I'm really surprised - the technology is developing very very fast, and of course such a tool can be quite helpful. On the other hand I am a little bit afraid - I am thinking of that in the near(?) future maybe no humans won't be needed at all and stories will be generated by machines. Imagine our children listening to talking robots ... what do you think about it? But as far as I understood your tool helps the author keeping consistency in his story - it creates a framework, right?!
Melanie: What makes our model of story different is that there is no framework that we offer as a guide for creating a story. Rather, we have created a model of dramatic connections that asks an authors to choose how they want the elements of their stories related. As choices are made, the connections narrow the remaining options until the author has "firmed up" the relationships until they congeal into a framework unique to his story.
Every story must have a fixed framework, but it will be specific to that story and will not apply to many other stories.
Mike/Michelle: Hi! I know you don't even know me, but I'm seeking advice. I'm new to all of the info avail, and I know... I don't even know you either, Right? Well, I'm pretty bummed and I don't know who and or how to tell anyone what I need to say.
My girlfriend, best friend and lover is really upset about my TV situation. I came out to her about a year ago and all went well; however, lately she has shied away from my other side. This weekend I approached the issue to her and asked what was wrong. Actually, she asked me what was up after being very frustrated... and I told her. When I first told her I was really, I mean really scared. We discussed the matter and she accepted me. But, that was then, this is now. She has become wary of my alternative habits. I almost thought she was going to walk out on me.
She is the only one other than me, and of course the supreme being(s) who know about my other side... Oh yeah, you too ( sorry). Anyway, I really love her, and I think she loves me too. She explains that she doesn't want to be a lesbian. I guess it would be hard if I were in her shoes. (OOPS, BAD EXPRESSION) With that point, she seems jealous that I look as well as I do. I'm no pro, however, I can do a pretty good job in a size 12 dress with accessories and make-up. She hates me using her stuff, but it's the only access I really have. That is except for the semi confiscated lingerie. Well, that's about it. I don't know what to do or who to turn to for advice. If we break up I'm afraid she'll ruin my career. If we stay together, how can I make it easier for her?? Are there references?? Please, I need help!
Thanks, Mike / Michelle
Melanie: Okay, here's a few quick tips. Purely from a female perspective, which is where your girlfriend is certainly coming from:
1. Never use anything of hers. It's one thing for you to have your own stuff, but her stuff is HER stuff!!! Using it is the equivalent of a wife going out to a husband's workshop and messing around with his tools. You violate her personal space every time you do that. Get your own things, one way or another.
2. Don't feel you have to share this with her. What in the world would she want to her about this stuff for? It can't ADD anything to her life! Be satisfied that she gives her tacit approval and allows you to do it on your own. This can be part of you, from her point of view, but she is not likely to want it to be part of your relationship. If you need to share this, go to a support group once a month or once a week. She'll look at that as your "night out" and it won't impact the territory between you.
3. Tell her, and then never bring it up again, that you are NOT transsexual and will NEVER have a sex change or live all the time as a woman. Tell her you are happy being a man, and especially happy being HER man. Say that the male world is so stiff and inflexible, you just need a little time to get in touch with your feminine side. Tell her all these things even if it is a lie. As long as you can live up to what you have said, she will be happy and your relationship will grow strong, if it is meant to be at all.
A Reply from Melanie to Martin in Germany:
There are four aspects to Human Sexuality. They are:
1. Anatomical (physical) sex
2. Sexual preference
3. Gender Identity
4. Mental Sex
I'll briefly describe each one, hoping to clarify the Mental Sex concept. Mental sex is the one are unique to Mental Relativity: it is what we have added to this list that most people see as only having the first three items.
1. Anatomical sex is simply what body you are in: male or female. But it is really not all that simple. There are hairy women and very slender men. Facial features can range from more "male" to more "female" regardless of what's between one's legs. In addition, there is the chromosomal nature of being XX, XY, or even XXY. On top of that, we have hermaphrodites. So, all things considered, each and everyone of use cannot truly be seen as simply male or female physically, but truly occupy a range on a spectrum. And, such things as body building can alter the overall physical impact we have, meaning that we can alter our physical sexually characteristics (short or long hair, nose jobs, sex change surgery) so that the line blurs even more. True, most people gravitate to one end of the scale that the other, which creates an inverse "bell curve". However, the line from one side to the other is truly unbroken, with more that a few people right in the middle.
2. Sexual preference. This one comes in four flavors: same, opposite, both, or neither. Regardless of anatomical sex, any individual might be any one of these four. What's more, most people find their sexual preferences depend on context and may shift depending on the situation or the person. For example, a man who sees himself as attracted to the opposite sex might not be at all attracted to a female body builder. If he were honest with himself, he would probably find some level of attraction to a very pretty boy. It is the cultural training we have that leads us deny and not even experience the capacity to shift our perspectives here.
In addition, people change over time as well as in different contexts. Some start out being hetero, then shift to bi, then to same sex, then give up altogether and then jump back in somewhere else. With the spatial and temporal flexibility in this area, each of us is fluid. But in the range of people as a whole, regardless of where you fall on the anatomical sex scale, any individual might at any time have any one of the four sexual preferences.
So, since anatomical sex does not determine sexual preference, the two factors are independent and can be multiplied together to determine the range of human sexuality on these two points alone. Already we can see there are a tremendous number of combinations!
3. Gender Identity describes where on the scale of masculine and feminine behavior an individual falls. Clearly this is a range. What's more, each of us changes in context as well. Men who are very macho on the weekend playing tackle football with friends might be very demure during the week at their job as a bank teller. And, over time, we all change. Most men start out more masculine than they end up at age 80.
Gender identity four any one of us ranges in a segment of the masculine/feminine line. Which segment we define depends on our conditioning as a child and "locks in" somewhere between age 3 and 5. Then, for most of our lives, we move up and down that segment, feeling uneasy if we get close to one of the ends of our personal range.
Now, since masculine or feminine is a range and does not depend on sexual preference or anatomical sex (we all know masculine women and feminine men) then we can multiply that in as well and create an ENORMOUS number of combinations of human sexuality.
4. Mental Sex. Finally, we get down to the nitty gritty. Mental Sex is the only one of the four aspects of human sexuality that is truly binary. Here is how it comes to be that way:
In the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy, a developing fetus will get a wash of hormones over its brain. Boy babies get a flush of testosterone, girl babies get a flush of estrogen. Testosterone has a direct impact on the level of the neurotransmitter Seratonin in the brain. As Testosterone goes up, Seratonin production goes up.
Seratonin is an "exciter" which stimulates the firing of the neurons. When they fire, the neurological activity of the brain takes center stage, and the biochemical aspect of the brain steps a bit into the shadows.
Let's stop for a moment to describe four aspects of the Brain:
1. Networks of neurons in the "ganglia"
2. Neurons connecting the ganglia
3. The biochemistry within the ganglia
4. The biochemistry between the ganglia
Ganglia are little groups of perhaps 4,000 neurons, connected together in a tight pack. The neurons in this group communicate with each other much more frequently that with other ganglia. Other neurons carry communications from one ganglion to another.
Inside each ganglion is a "micro-climate zone" of biochemistry that is a "density" of chemical interactions. The specific chemistry of each ganglion "leaks out" into the biochemistry of the brain as a whole, interacting with all the other ganglia's biochemistry, creating an interference pattern of currents and eddies in biochemical composition and density.
So, there are four different aspects of the brain, from which our capacity to sense Mass, Energy, Space and Time, are created.
When Testosterone is present for that 2 week period before birth, the neurology is favored and that affects the "focus" of energy in the brain to favor the spatial view.
When Dopamine is the hormone wash over the brain of the developing fetus, neurological activity is suppressed, focusing the energy in the brain toward favoring the temporal view.
After two weeks, the hormone wash recedes, leaving behind no physical trace, but instead a "dynamic" impact that forms a bias which is the foundation of self-awareness.
Before the wash of hormones, the brain neither favors space nor time. As a result, information coming in through the senses is equally handled and distributed by both sides, leading to an unbiased "view". But without bias, there is no "point" of view, and hence, no mind.
The hormone wash acts as an ocean wave on the shore, wiping out all existing information, and then receding, leaving a clean slate in its wake. But during that two week period, there is a biochemical bias toward the neurology or the biochemistry which then allows for an orderly handling and distribution of information, favoring either space or time. Once the wave recedes, the biochemical bias is gone, but the dynamic bias caused by "choosing" one method of organizing data over the other remains, forming the foundation of consciousness.
So, there are two kinds of consciousness on this planet: those of a spatial foundation and those of a temporal foundation. They are as unlike as two alien species.
Spatial thinkers look outward and first see things in terms of their arrangement and where it leads. Temporal things first look inward and see things in terms of what they mean and how they are going.
If that's all there was to the human mind, men (the spatially biased thinkers) and women (the temporally biased thinkers) would find no common ground for communication. But, Mental sex is only one aspect of the mind.
Let me draw an "L" shaped image here:
1. Anatomical Sex
2. Sexual Preference
3. Gender Identity
4. Mental Sex
That forms the vertical arm of the L.
Now, at the same point as Mental sex, let us create a horizontal arm for the L, as if we were using the X and Y axes of a geometric graph.
1. Pre-conscious 2. Subconscious 3. Memory 4. Consciousness
Mental Sex is only found in the Preconscious. It is the PRE conscious because that spatial or temporal bias filter everything else that follows.
If we are spatial thinkers, no matter how much we try to get into our emotions, we will always have some aspect of logic blended in. We can't help analyzing, even when we aren't aware of it. If we are temporal thinkers, no matter how much we try to be logical, we will always have some aspect of emotion blended in. We can't get rid of our passion, even when we think we are being absolutely reasonable. Beginning to sound like men and women to you?
But on top of that Pre-conscious are three other aspects of the mind.
The Subconscious is made up of the "mean average" of all of our experiences. We cannot see in it specific images, but only feel the pull of attractions and repulsions it engenders. Suppose we observe with our consciousness a set of vertical parallel lines. We file that away in our memory, then observe a set of horizontal parallel lines. We file that in memory. Consciousness has observed it, memory has stored it. Whenever we want to access it, we can call upon our memory and "pull up" either the vertical or horizontal lines, whichever we want.
But the subconscious gets the "drift down" from the memory. First it experienced the vertical parallel lines. Next it experienced the horizontal parallel lines. The two images are blended rather than being held separate as in memory. So, the subconscious is most affects by the points at which the two sets of lines intersect, creating a "double dose" of exposure at the four points where the lines intersect.
The subconscious, then, will be more sensitized to any observation involving four points, even though four points were never observed in reality. This is where creative thought happens.
The point here, is that the subconscious, through the averaging of personal experience (though exposure to parents, peers, and the media) can end up more "pulled" toward the spatial or the temporal, regardless of Mental Sex. Similarly, specific training or memories may make the responses we have more geared toward the spatial or temporal. And finally, at any moment, each of us can decide that it is best to view things either by how they are, or how they are going.
So, Mental Sex itself is only a bias, not a black and white either/or situation. On top of that, our specific life experience may result in a bias more toward spatial or temporal attractions in our subconscious. Our training and conditioning may lead our memories to be more "triggered" by and more fluent in spatial or temporal imagery, and our momentary situation may bend our consciousness more toward the spatial (logistic) or temporal (emotional).
Emotions are just as accurate for temporal issues as Logic is for spatial issues. Male and Female Mental Sex determines which one is most clear to any individual. The other three levels of the mind my match or mismatch that bias, creating, level by level, as complex a mental process as the four levels of human sexuality create in our relationships with one another.
There is much, much more to this part of the theory, but knowing your interest, I wanted to at least scratch the surface. Hope you find this useful in tapping in to that aspect of the story theory.
The Subversive #27
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