Tuesday, March 23, 2010

We've moved--again!

Most lovely ducks! And readers of a non-anatidean persuasion!

At long last I've moved to my own url and completely updated the look of the blog--I hope you like it!

You can now find me at www.thesecondawakening.com.

Thanks for following me so long, and hope to see you at the new place!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mass Resistance Made Me Mad Enough To Vomit

In the spirit of spring training, I am apparently having an Away week, as all most posts so far have originated elsewhere!

Today's offering appears at Shakesville:
First Event is an annual conference held in January by the Tiffany Club of New England, a transgender support group. Like any conference, it consists of workshops, cocktail parties, and banquets with awards ceremonies and occasionally pompous keynote addresses. About the only difference between it and, say, a Linux convention is that there will be slightly more trans people at First Event. (There may also be more computer engineers, for that matter.)

But that's not all. According to Southern Poverty Law Center-certified hate group Mass Resistance, First Event is what America will look like in the horrifying post-Homosexual Agenda world soon to be imposed upon the honest, godfearing citizens of These United.

And to prove their point, they made a video....
 Fight the power!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And Now In GaGa Studies...

Hey, I have a post up at Tiger Beatdown about Lady GaGa! It's about the 11 things I learned from watching the "Telephone" video...many of which weren't all that useful, actually.

Monday, March 15, 2010

All I Ever Needed to Know* I Learned From "Sex in the City"

* for the set {being a woman, being a writer, living in New York, things that are totally inaccurate}
  1. It is possible to rent a large one-bedroom apartment on the Upper East Side as a writer whose only paid gig is a column for a newspaper that is a) free b) more annoying than the free morning paper they hand out in subway stations and c) couldn’t beat the Village Voice’s circulation even when you had to pay for the Voice.
  2. In addition, you will be able to afford a closet full of designer dresses and shoes.
  3. And also only take cabs to places, because real New Yorkers don’t ride the subway.
  4. The worst thing that will happen to you in a mugging is that the mugger will take your shoes.
  5. Writers only take their inspiration from the messed up lives of their friends.
  6. The most likely person for a highly-motivated, highly-overworked, and highly-educated lawyer to end up with is a bartender.
  7. Who will make her move to Brooklyn.
  8. And be the primary caretaker of his ailing mother.
  9. Every woman needs a gay friend to have a truly complete life.
  10. Gay friends come in two flavors: nebbishly queeny, and outrageously queeny.
  11. There’s a third type, the incredibly hot underwear model, but within a few years that character type will be straight anyway.
  12. Female friendships are all-consuming, have no boundaries of time, subject, or privacy, and absolutely necessary for life because your girlfriends will support you no matter what.
  13. They will also, however, mock your grooming habits and sexual partners.
  14. Women need to be strong, self-actualized, and firm in their knowledge of who they are.
  15. However, they should also change their lives completely for a man. Such changes include but are not limited to: changing your boro of residence, changing your city of residence, changing your religion.
  16. You will start out by declaring your sexual freedom from the past. You will plan to enact this by having the same soul-less, commitment-less relationships of the douchiest of guys.
  17. You will then spend the next several years doing completely the opposite.
  18. A gentle, caring man who is a committed artist, interested in you and your career, and supportive of your friends and life-choices will enter your life. You must reject this person.
  19. A man who alternates between a creepy sexual obsession with you and treating you like an afterthought to his social calendar will enter your life. He will specialize in sending mixed signals. He will ignore your needs and career. He will break up with you, get married, and only then declare his love for you. He will enter and exit your life with a total disregard for your feelings, and refuse to ever discuss any of these points and how they relate to your relationship. He will, in short, treat you as an amusing accessory. You must cling to this man like a drowning sailor to a life preserver.
  20. There will be a television show about four female friends who engage in frank discussions about their sex lives. Often these discussions will take place during a meal. A frequent subject will be the difficulties of dating at their age. In the 1980s that age will be the late 50s. A decade later, the age will be the mid-30s. This will be considered progress.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

In Reality

Oh, yeah, you know what time it is...time for REALITY TELEVISION:
OK, I'm dense: but "I Want to Work For Diddy" wasn't on my radar two years ago, and anyway, having a trans person on a reality show isn't that big a deal anymore; we're like the gay folks in the "Real World" reruns from the '90s, only with a lot less flannel shirts and Hole albums in the background.

So I don't know much about Ms. Cox, except I admire her for her success and for turning her 15 minutes of fame into a full half-hour. Kudos, ma'am, kudos.

But: is it good for teh Tranz?
You go, person of any gender!

Monday, March 8, 2010

What It Means


Today is Blog for International Woman's Day. It is also about two years since I started living as a woman fulltime, and one year since I made my body finally align with my head.

It is hard, to come to grips with what that all means. It is hard, to talk about what being a woman means. Not just for me, but for all women. But I do know this, and it is something that bonds me with all other women: I sure have a lot of people willing to tell me what I should think it means.

In a lot of ways, I can really not remember ever not being a woman. The things that I did, that happened to me, before transtion: a lot of the time they feel like things that happened to some one else, some one I once knew but isn't around anymore.

I cannot describe how good that feels.

Other times, I am conscious of all the differences between me and the great majority of women out there; I am reminded that I am a woman who was never a girl, and that there is a great gulf between me and the other women of my background, one that I'll never fill. That no matter what I do, I'll always be an outsider.

But. There is this too: I know that I am a woman, and a feminist woman. I know that I struggle against the same oppression as any other woman. I know that I have many, many sisters throughout the world, and their struggle is, should be, must be, will always be mine. I know what it feels to look out upon my culture and see no place for me, for what I feel, for my desires and needs and thoughts. I know what it feels like to be ignored, commodified, boxed in, defined, talked to, talked down to, talked to not at all. To be unheard, unnoticed, unregarded. To be only seen for what I look like, to be only heard when I say what they want me to say, to only be expected to know what they want me to know.

I've stood in a bookstore and been deafened by the volumes of men's voices around me, all the books and books and words words words written by men, and so few thoughts by women.

I've despaired at the billions of women history forget, ignored, suppressed, oppressed, killed, raped.

I've feared the same for me.

I fight against that. For me. For my sisters. For our daughters, nieces, mothers, grandmothers, granddaughters. Because I must.

Because I am a woman.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Listen, Sister....

Hey, did you know that I am kinda sorta now on the Tumblr? And that it is also a good place to get your daily Sady Doyle fix on those days she is not conquering the internet in other places?

I am not so "hip" as these modern kids with their facey-spaces, but Tumblr  has been amusing me of late--and this was too good to miss:

Monday, March 1, 2010

Old Home Week

Thank you all for your very nice anniversary messages. It isn't exactly a Big Day for me--I watched the dreary "Assassination of Richard Nixon," bought a Barbara Ehrenreich book and the "Diary of Anne Frank," and had some leftover butter chicken for dinner.

But on the other hand it's kind of a big deal, which I think my post conveyed.

I'm going to try and revisit some topics of note this week on the blog. But not tonight; I'm beat. However, in the meantime, if you've ever wondered, why isn't C.L. on Facebook? Well, now she is. Drop on by and become a fan, if you're so inclined.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Me and My Vagina, Special Anniversary Edition: Part II of an Infinitely Reductive Series

Today is the anniversary of my surgery. In fact, as I type this now, I am about a year removed from my first full day of having a vagina--Thailand being twelve hours ahead of my local time, and the six or more hours of my surgery having started at noon Bangkok time. (I don't remember how long the surgery lasted, as I slept through it and for a long time afterwards, only waking up for a brief moment to say goodnight to my significant other of variable and often fabulous gender.)

In fact, there's almost a week of time that I have very little recollection of--the five days I had to stay immobile in bed, according to my surgeon's regimen. Not everyone does this; had I gone to the Canadian surgeon I first considered, I'd have been up and walking around after about a day or so. Everybody does things differently. But I'm somewhat glad for being immobile; during that five days I only moved once, and that was because I'd thrown up on myself the first day after my surgery--juice boxes and opiates don't agree all that well. The only way to get me clean sheets was to move me to an entirely new bed. Which meant I had to crab walk over to it. Now, even under normal circumstances, that would be both uncomfortable and ungraceful; but I had to not only contend with the pain from my brand-new down there, with the attendant catheter and surgical drains, but since I'd also opted to have my boobs done at the same time, I could barely move my arms; the surgeon went in under my armpits, and to be honest that pain was more omnipresent and inconveniencing than the other.

But other than that, and my SOOVAOFG saying goodbye to me to fly home--we'd spent ten days together bumping around India and Cambodia prior to my surgery, and vacation time is precious nowadays--I really don't remember much. I slept a lot; I was too out of it to even watch TV. Every so often, they'd bring me a thick creamy soup and some juice boxes to eat and drink. I rarely ate the soup, but I drank the juice. (As an aside, Thai sweets of all kinds tend to be sweeter than American sweets--probably because they use real sugar.) I've come to realize that it wasn't so much that I was drugged out of my head--Thais don't practice American pain management, and I didn't even have a morphine drip--but because nothing changed. There was me; my bed; my room with the blinds drawn; and the occasional ministrations of kind Thai nurses who spoke little English. (My Thai was suspect at its best and no match for my pain and grogginess.)

But eventually they packed me up and sent me home, after giving me a huge, cumbersome, old-fashioned bra. It was trimmed with lace and looked like something from the "18-hour bra" commercials I'd seen as a kid. And then I was dumped back in my hotel room, just me and my catheter bag--they didn't take the catheter out until the next day, which was a little scary and gross. On the other hand, it was pretty convenient for lying in bed and drinking stuff, which was about all I was up for.

But it's surprising how quickly you can heal. I was moving around the hotel room that, night, had enough energy to make breakfast the next day, and even hosted a pizza party for some of the other patients of my surgeon a day or so after that. (We had a couple of these affairs. They were interesting; we'd have a great time for about an hour, and then everyone would be in too much pain to continue. But they were fun while they lasted.)

That was all a year ago.

Things have changed. For one thing, I now only have to dilate once a day for about 30 minutes. That will mean I can actually get up at the same time but still get to work earlier, which will help me have more time and energy to write in the evening. I've had sex, by which I mean--this being America and all--PIV sex, so now I know how much I've been missing. My recovery has been remarkably hassle free, even with the UTI I developed a month after getting home.

There's more, of course, much more. But how can I put it all in words? There are days when I forget that I never had a vagina, and there are days when I forget for a second that I do. There are many days when I am astonished by the miracle of it all, and many more days when I simply take it for granted. And most of all, I feel like what I am supposed to be. I feel like a woman.

And I felt that way before. I am not going to play pussy politics with you and engage in zero-sum games about the proper anatomy a woman needs. It's reductive, and cruel, and ignores the economic reality of far too many trans women.

But there's no question that I like myself better this way, that I feel a peace with my body I never felt before. That I had to wound myself to heal.

Not that I'm completely healed. None of us, I suppose, ever really can be--and I'm not just talking about trans people. If we measure lives by ideals, then we're all a little broken, all in need of some kind of healing. And I've come so very far.

But there are still times when I resent that passage; when I resent all the things that were taken from me, all the things that I never had--even the bad things, even the things that in a sense I was fortunate enough to miss: if I feel the omnipresent judgment of every damn TV commercial on how I should look, act, think, and feel simply because of my gender, can I really long to have had that drummed into my head from the moment it poked into our world? Do I really feel sorry for myself for not having spent three and a half decades as a victim of sexism?

No. Not really. But I do regret the necessity of it all, the long slow struggle to find out who I am, the summoning up of awful reserves of energy just to survive each day, and then the ultimate effort to make myself into the person I desperately needed to be. And so I regret that passage; but I am grateful, oh so very grateful, to have survived it.

And you could say, maybe, that my vagina is a symbol of that: a physical manifestation of not just my womanhood, but my struggle to achieve that womanhood, a signpost showing how far I've come and how much I had to undergo to reach it. I suppose that would be fine; I'd hardly be the first woman to eulogize my vagina, and I doubt I'll be the last, cis or trans.

But I don't really do that much. Because most of the time it's just a vagina. And believe me, that is more than enough. In fact, it's perfect.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is YOUR Muffin Bluffin'

What's that? Yes, ducks, we are still a going concern, though lately that seems to be...going away!

(Thank you, I'll be here all week.)

The truth is that the day job from hell--currently consuming 50+ hours of my week every week--while allowing me to do useful stuff like eat and pay off both my credit cards in a year, is Not Conducive for the whole writing thing, especially when I don't get any sleep.

That said, I still do try and do stuff, and I'm hoping to pick up the pace at Tiger Beatdown, at least, where Sady and I have been talking about stuff of late! Some of it will even be cool!

Anyway, if it's Wednesday Thurday, it must be Below The Belt! This week, I write about one "Lady GaGa," whom, I hear, is all the rage with the kids these days!
I am almost terminally unhip when it comes to popular music. It's not that I have snobbish pretensions, or at least I try not to--I'm a firm believer in Duke Ellington's maxim, "if it sounds good, it is good," and there's room for both Mozart and Garbage on my iPod, Radiohead and John Coltrane, Bjork and Kanye "I'm going to interrupt this playlist" West. But the fact is, I don't watch MTV--not that they have much to do with music nowadays, but I'm dinosaur enough to remember when they did--or listen to much top 40 radio, so I almost never have any idea of what those kids, thesadays, are listening to. (And they need to get off my lawn, too.)

It's so bad that about the only way I hear popular songs is when they're background music for a TV show. (When my ex made me watch "Smallville" or "The O.C." with her, I used to parody the way that they would have a constant churn of hot bands: "Hey, I hear {BAND_OF_THE_WEEK} is playing at the club tonight! I love {BAND_OF_THE_WEEK}." Of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer is immune from my scorn, since a) it's awesome and b) all of those bands are safely a decade behind us.)

But even a pathetic stick in the mud like transfeminist has heard of every queer's new best friend, The Lady Gaga. 
 Ba-ba Lo Lo Lo Bel Bel Below the Belt!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Songs of Love and Hate, and Mascara

Sady at Tiger Beatdown has been running guest posts on breakup songs in honor of Valentines Day, and was kind enough to ask me to write one. So I did, and it's over here. I wrote it on Leonard Cohen, who you might have guessed is my favorite songwriter, but of course I touched on other stuff. Trans stuff! (I know, I know, jeez lady can't you ever not talk about that?) But it was an interesting assignment and I ended up getting personal in a way I don't always do even over here, so you might find it good reading. Meanwhile I'll hang out here muttering the "Dress Rehearsal Rag" to myself.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Many Returns, Happily Confused

Who dat saying they going to beat Below The Belt? Who dat? Who dat?
I had my birthday last week, which beyond the reminder that I am a) one milestone closer to ultimate mortality and b) so much older than so many of my internet comrades, was a true blast: I took the day for myself, finally caught "The Hurt Locker," and had dinner with the hardest core of my friends. And friend gave me "Leonard Cohen: Live From London," which takes me back every time I listen to it (which is constantly) to the concert of his we both had the good luck to be blown away by last year.

So, hey, yay for transfeminist. Pass you some nachos and maybe you'll care, right?

But wait, things are going to get complicated.

On y va, cherie!

Hiram Monserrate Watch: Then Fall Caesar Edition

In our ongoing quest to track the downfall of New York State's douchiest public servant,* this story brings a smile to us:
The State Senate on Tuesday expelled a senator convicted of domestic assault, the first time in nearly a century that the Legislature has forced a member from office.

The Senate voted 53-to-8 to immediately oust the senator, Hiram Monserrate, a Queens Democrat convicted last fall of a misdemeanor for dragging his companion down the hallway of his apartment building.
Monserrate has vowed to fight the expulsion, and his lawyers are expected to file a restraining order today, if they can make it through the snow. Sadly, one of them is Norman Siegel, past head of the New York Civil Liberties Union and candidate for Public Advocate; a guy, in fact, that I voted for. Not so happy to see his name there.

Still, the Senate voting to expel somebody for a misdemeanor--normally in Albany, you get a mulligan on your first five or six of those--is a welcome change, and the fact that it was mainly because of the specific crime he was convicted for--battering a woman--is an even more welcome change. This being Albany, however, who knows how this will end. Probably with the Monster Rat as majority leader.

*At the state level. There's a lot of competition above and below him.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Dilemma Of Having a Long Tail

Now, ducks, before you think that I mean that my surgeon had some, er, interesting ideas about anatomy, by a long tail I just mean: I have a past. It was not particularly unaccomplished, although--duh--it wasn't exactly fulfilled. But I did some cool things, was on (syndicated) TV a few times, got married, got divorced, wrote a couple dozen books, learned to speak French, even learned a little aikido.

Oh, the books? Yeah, you might have guessed that's what I wanted to talk about.

Now, before you search the ISBN catalog (and begin speculation that I am actually John Irving, finally over his castration issues), let me hasten to say: as writing goes, this was pretty assembly-line stuff. I wrote, mostly as work-for-hire, not-quite-textbooks. For 8th graders.

I say not-quite textbooks because they weren't text books: that is, you wouldn't teach a class using them. Instead, these were the books you'd read to do a book report on, say, Gold. (I didn't write one on gold, but I kinda wish I had--it was more interesting than some of the stuff I did write about.)

Now, I'm telling you all this because a few months ago I got something from my publisher. I was rather astonished--it couldn't be a royalty check, those dried up years ago. But I was even more surprised when I read what was inside:

Fan mail.

It seems that a young boy had read my book about a famous sports figure of the previous century, and written me a letter.

Well, not me exactly.

Me, just before. The other me. The...aw, you get the picture.

So, I've been trying to figure out what to do with this: it was a nice letter, though it asks some interesting questions (did I play football as a boy, for example), and rather charmingly lets me know how cool it would be for an author to write back to him.

But--and this is the dilemma of me and my tail--how on earth do I go about this? Write back using my old name? No offense, but I hate having to do that; I still have a few accounts under my old name and I never call their customer service anymore, because I'd have to....it's too gruesome to contemplate.

Or do I write back and say that Old Name was a pseudonym (not exactly a lie) and I'd be happy to correspond but I am, you know, a girl. Not super honest, but maybe more palatable.

Or do I do evangelism? Say, hey kid, here's an update about me: and maybe open his mind up to queer and other possibilities? Is that too heavy to dump on a kid? Sheesh, I don't even know how old he is!

(Hmm, maybe I could write to his parents. Hadn't thought of that.)

Anyway, I've been going back and forth about this; I've kept the letter pegged to my apartment door, so I see it every time I leave. And it was a nice letter, and maybe deserves a response.

Then I realized: hey, I have a smart readership. Small, but smart: you guys are like the elite core of my future dominance of a tiny little corner of the trans internet! So, I thought I'd ask you all to weigh in, ducks: I put it up as a poll at the upper right. Or answer in the comments. Or ignore the question--trust me, I sympathize.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Room of One's Own: ID Required For Admission

Well, ducks! It's been a week since I did my little UK stomp and kicked over a fair-sized, even by Guardian standards, ant hill! Such fun!

Let me be serious. For a change. A surprise! A first! C.L. serious on her own blog!

I want to talk about one of those very tricky things that come up when trans folks, and most especially trans women, get talked about. Pretty universally, I should hasten to add, when cis folks talk about trans folks; but then I said people, and don't we all know that people means cis people? Silly ducks.

The bugbear in the room is, of course, "women-only spaces." In its most extreme form, this resolves to the old "bathroom libel": the idea that, say, allowing trans people to use the rest rooms that match their gender presentation will open a flood of rapists donning drag in order to rape unsuspecting women. That no trans person has ever done this, and that women get raped in women's rooms by men not wearing dresses, never seems to make a dent in this argument; but then it's held by only the most set in their way anti-trans folks.

Sadly, this includes a large number of otherwise noteworthy feminists. Google it; I'll wait.

A less extreme version of the "women's spaces exclusion" doesn't have a problem with trans folk in the ladies', (perhaps because being booted from your stall for looking too masculine can happen to cis women too), but still make an exception for other spaces: women's spiritual circles, social groups, and, most--notoriously isn't the right word, but bear with me for a second--rape crisis centers.

Yes, that's right--I'm bringing Kimberley Nixon into this again.

For those of you who don't know, a precis: Ms. Nixon is a trans woman who lived in Vancouver. She applied for a volunteer counseling position at Vancouver Rape Relief, and passed their initial phone interview. When she showed up for training, however, she was read as trans and told that she could not be a counselor because of VRR's woman-only policy. Ms. Nixon eventually sued the center, won one trial, but the decision was overturned on appeal.

That's the basics. VRR claimed that the legal fees put them in danger of closing. Julie Bindel and many other trans-exclusionary feminists castigated Ms. Nixon.

But when you go deeper, it gets a whole lot more complicated.

For starters, Ms. Nixon herself had been raped and battered by her male partner. After receiving help from a different group for battered women, she entered their counseling training course, and did very well; she would later be described as a "superior" counselor. But the first group wanted her to wait a year to heal before she became a counselor, which led her to VRR.

Now hearken with me to the little lower layer. Above, I linked to an article about a butch cis woman who was unceremoniously tossed from a restaurant bathroom for looking too masculine. This is precisely what happened to Ms. Nixon. Yet Ms. Farmer would be allowed to counsel for VRR, and Ms. Nixon wouldn't. Even though they both looked "masculine."

Ponder that one in light of feminist principles, if you will.

Dig even deeper: it is a misconception that Ms. Nixon was demanding a spot as a counselor for VRR; what she wanted was the chance to prove herself on her own merits, and not be judged by her appearance. Furthermore, VRR claimed that her presence might traumatize other women, who might harbor fear or resentment or hatred towards men. Fair enough, I suppose, though one would think that this could apply to very butch cis women as well. But the thing is, we'll never know if Ms. Nixon would traumatize people; we'll never know if she could have fit in, if she could have provided healing services to women. We'll never know, because she never got the chance.

And neither did any of the women who might use the shelter; VRR made the decision for them.

I don't think there's any way to slice this that doesn't come up as prejudice. They could have done any number of things; had her help in the office and get training from the counselors, so that even if she didn't work out there, she would gain experience; have her act as a liaison to the trans community (one would assume that VRR would also turn away trans women who were the victims of rape as well); any number of things.

But instead they said, you look like a man. You are a man. You cannot come here.

Now, it may surprise you to know that I am ambivalent--very--about these situations. I can see many sides to these issues, and they're always tricky. And I do not dispute for a second that there is a very real difference in the background of trans and cis women, especially trans women who transition after, say, their twenties (present company included.) We, I, don't have the experience of growing up female; we don't have the same bodily experiences as the majority of cis women. (This is why I will never be teaching a class on Your Period and You.)

But--and this is so important that in needs to be said, again and again--the question remains: is that condition unredemediable? Is it so impossible to think that a trans woman who has spent 25 years living as a woman might have insight into women's lives approaching that of a 25-year old cis woman? Think on this: you could transition as soon as you were of age, have been on hormone blockers so you never experienced male puberty, spent your teens and twenties living as a woman, majored in women's studies, gone on to become a social worker specializing in the problems of battered women and rape victims, worked for ten years in public health--and you will be less qualified, in the eyes of VRR, than a high school drop out who happens to be cis.

That is to say, that not judging a person on her merits is discriminatory. Unless, of course, you're trans. Then it's totes feminist.

Next: I'll take this to Tiger Beatdown and do some feminism and gender analysis.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Where In The World Is C.L. Minou?

Well, for once, back here.

I do apologize, ducks. This has been a slightly weird week: I mean, I was in the Guardian, and the Carnival, and also work was busy (I was doing stuff at 10 pm on Tuesday) and oh yeah it was my birthday yesterday and so I had to go out and have drinks with my girlfriends (and one of their boyfriends: he was our Designated Boy.) And then back to work but oh yeah, my enormous cat, Fafhrd, the Grey Mouser, has been sick and I had to take him to the vet, which will set back my primary financial mission for 2010, the Payinge Off Of Ye Ginormous Credite Carde Debte.

So: I know! Wild!

The other thing is my job. I'm glad I have it and it's mostly not particularly hard (even if they're paying me a lot less than I'm used to), and it's cool to be able to work from home--but after spending over ten hours at my desk, I tend to be a little too burned out to sit down and write. At least this week. I think that will sort out eventually.

But there will be more stuff, eventually! Here and at Tiger Beatdown. I have some thoughts about the whole Bindel thing and Second Wave radical feminism that ties into kyriarchy nicely. And I will eventually write something about "Heathers." Also, Sophie had a really good comment that tied into my post on Mary Daly and I just want you to know, Sophie, that I noticed! And have been thinking about it! And will, one of these days, write about it!

So, stay tuned, you who tune in. And if you're not tuning in, why not try? Although, given that you're not tuning in, I'm not so sure how it is you'll hear me ask you to tune in. But it all comes out in the wash.

Monday, February 1, 2010

In Unexpected Delights

Hey, the takedown of that London Times article I did over at Tiger Beatdown got included in the 13th Carnival of Feminists! Drop by to read the other stuff, you know it's good!

And in other unexpected pleasures, I haven't been flayed to pieces in the comments section at the Guardian. And Julie Bindel replied to me! And I replied back! Wow!

C.L. vs Julie Bindel

Where in the world is C.L. today?
Over on the Guardian's CIFA!
I don't much care for Julie Bindel, unlike Beatrix Campbell, who defended her on this site yesterday. That does not mean I don't admire her. As a feminist whose radicalism would probably surprise her, I appreciate Ms Bindel's advocacy and the genuine good that has come for her work against violence directed at women. Yet in her long, lonely crusade against transsexuals she contradicts three of her own three feminist principles:
 Yes, I get to take on Julie Bindel and her belief that I have not been, and never will be, a woman! Comments should be fun!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

BTB: P.O.'d

If it's Wednesday, then it must be Belgium. Wait! No! Below the Belt:
Something interesting happened recently in the Michigan Secretary of State election race.

Now, before you tell me that the word "interesting" and the phrase "Michigan Secretary of State" syntactically can't be in the same sentence together, bear with me, and let me introduce you to Representative Paul Scott:

Seems a charming enough fellow! Step right up, sir, and let us know what you're planning to do for the people of the great Wolverine State! Let's see, I have his website right here...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Secret Lives of Married Men--Now With Bingo Cards

Where am I again? Why, Tiger Beatdown:
I have not, temporally speaking, been doing this here ladybusiness for all that long. (Some would draw a facetious comparison, in fact, to the amount of time I have in fact been a lady, but as that number would vary between never and 37 years depending on whether you asked Germaine Greer or Kate Bornstein, I’ll just move on.)
Yet even that short time, the depressing amount of material that exists out in the lady-hating or lady-indifferent or just lady, get me a beer world can drag you down. Why, you say to yourself as you labor over your blog in a hot kitchen (well, I’m baking cookies, see…) should I address another MRA apologia, tear apart another straw-feminist, or deal with this week’s Exciting Variation on the Tone Argument. (I solve those by getting louder.)
But then, as Sady herself discovered, you come across something absolutely stunning in its bold sweep, all-encompassing douchery, and just plain ol’ damnfoolishness.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Later That Same Evening

I'm not much for the late night talk shows--I don't even watch Jon Stewart when he comes on, preferring to let my DVR work its magic. (Not to mention that there have been more occasions than I care to discuss where Jon was--there's no gentle way to say this--a bit of a douche.)

So I really haven't cared too much about the Leno-O'Brien freeforall on NBC; I have better things to worry about than which middle-aged white guy is going to bore me at 11:35 PM. I haven't watched Conan O'Brien since I was in college, and Letterman since I was in high school--and the odd times I have caught Dave since then have just proved that what played well to my 15-year old, kinda-sorta guy self is pretty crappy nowadays.

And as for Leno, his show has always been an unwatchable piece of trash--he turned hard into the gutter back in 1995 with the Lance Ito dancers and has gleefully wallowed there ever since.

But one thing that I have noticed about this whole fiasco is how often the principals have descended to lady-hating and other associated misogynies. I said noticed, not "surprised at": Leno has frequently been a public prick about women, and Dave...well, Dave built a frakking bedroom over his set so that he could not-quite coerce his not-quite interns with not-quite threats about very, very realistically killing any chance of a career in the business.

So no surprise as well, as Liss noted, that Leno is a contemptible misogynistic jerk:
He takes a swipe at Letterman's marriage that, in trying to hit Letterman, sprays collateral buckshot all over Regina Lasko, who is married to Letterman. And that's not a bug of the joke; it's a feature. Leno's the kind of nasty bully who will take aim at another guy in a way that hits his wife, too.

It's a construction that treats Lasko like Letterman's property, which is why this jibe has the same cowardly feel as a guy who keys another guy's car in the dark parking lot of a bar, instead of taking a swing at him.
 But wait! It's not just the principals in this mess, it's also the feakin' commentators:

Now, Seth Myers has always been pretty douchetastic; it's his shtick, and it has been ever since he started co-hosting Weekend Update with Amy Poehler. But for fuck's sake, comparing hosting a TV show to being married to a woman, and the process of changing hosts to divorce...and...and...the whole way it just assumes that women are commodities to be traded, is special even for him, and a further sign of SNL's two-decade decline into pointless wankitude. To think: this was the show that started out with Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, and Laraine Newman, launched the career of Julia Sweeney, and gave as Tina Fey as well as the aforementioned Amy...well, sigh.

Of course, it's a woman's fault to begin with, because a woman fucked up the Tonight Show 17 years ago.

That woman was the late Helen Kushnick, the woman who had discovered Leno, served as his manager and personal friend for his entire career, and engineered his takeover of Johnny Carson's well worn seat. And right away there were nasty stories about her: she was most notorious for her vindictive policies of shitlisting guests who had dared to appear on Arsenio instead of The Tonight Show. NBC, tired of her bullying ways, fired her after a few months of heading up the gabfest, and Leno sadly had to let his friend go before she destroyed the career she had built.

Or wait! Maybe that's not what happened, mostly because Leno is a huge douche and misogyny is a recreational sport in Hollywood. To wit, from a 1996 EW profile:
Kushnick's story is well-known to those who follow the late-night TV wars. She was portrayed as an abusive tyrant in The Late Shift, Bill Carter's 1994 book about Leno and Letterman, and in last February's HBO movie; and the image was no exaggeration. In the end, many who had been her supporters, like former client Jimmie Walker, and even NBC executives, found her impossible to deal with. Her stepdaughter, Beth Kushnick, 35, still calls her a ''ghastly monster.'' Even her only sibling, Joseph Gorman, 48, had been estranged from her until shortly before her death at age 51.

But what is not so well-known is the story of Kushnick's final years — years spent out of the media eye, years that ended in a kind of redemption and, for her daughter, Sara, 16, in a reconciliation with Leno. ''Maybe she did have to be a bitch to get where she did,'' says Sara, Sam's surviving twin. ''But when she started out, women were supposed to be secretaries. She did things with anger because it was the only way she knew how.''

''They called her a bitch,'' says Mitzi Shore, owner of L.A.'s Comedy Store, ''but if she were a man, she wouldn't be called a bitch. There are managers in town who are 10 times worse than she was and they don't call them bastards.''
 And if you needed any more confirmation about Leno's jerkiness, consider this from the same piece, about  Kushnick's daughter:
She grew up with Leno, called him Uncle Jay, considered his parents her grandparents. ''He came over for dinner the weekend after my mom got fired,'' she says. ''We had chicken wings — we always had chicken wings. I sat on his lap and he said everything would be okay. That was the last time I saw him.''
 And there's another way to look at the Kushnick story, as Rudy Panucci explains in a sweetly vitriolic piece on the whole late night mess:
Kushnick was dying of cancer while Leno was explaining that he had to fire her and ban her from the studio lot because he was shocked, shocked, to discover that she had lied to him about planting the rumors that hounded Carson into early retirement. The truth is, Leno threw his long-time manager and personal friend under the bus when it became clear that The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was a poorly-produced, barely-watchable disaster. After eighteen months of coming in second to Letterman, even though NBC had a strong prime-time line-up, Leno’s manager took the fall, and then the large-chinned wonder let NBC revamp the show to rescue it from cancellation.
So there you have it, folks--the kyriarchy in a nutshell, brought to you by a bunch of rich white guys who are barely even funny. I think I'll just go to bed early.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Purloined Girlhood Part 1a: Wild at Heart

Hey, where am I today? Over at Tiger Beatdown!
I saw “Where the Wild Things Are” this weekend, ducks. (One of the advantages of living in the Great American Metropolis is that movies tend to hang around a surprising length of time.)

I saw it because of Spike Jonze, and because I am just old enough to have grown up in the Golden Age of Maurice Sendak — that hazy, golden late afternoon in America when Sesame Street had become established, the children raised by Dr. Spock were raising their own children, and Sendak and Shel Silverstein dominated the bookcases of every “with it” parent. (I was too young to say things like “with it,” of course, but I had teenaged cousins, and was vaguely aware of things like The Disco… we are talking about that point in history when The Captain and Teneille had their own TV show, people.) It was an age brought to you by CTW.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How To Tell You've Transitioned, Part II

I had a kinda frantic day today--spent all day trying to get some SQL to behave correctly, even though the task should have been pretty easy to do. Plus I was late for my therapy appointment--even with catching a cab.

As I was coming up out of the subway, a panhandler asked me for some money; and as I was walking away, he said "You have a nice day ma'am--sir--ma'am." (I'm assuming he saw either my boobs or my lipstick and that pushed him over the edge.)

I wasn't particularly happy to hear that, but I wasn't terrifically surprised either. I was dressed for work, when you work from home: a black tee, jeans, and sneakers. As I was walking away, I thought to myself, you've forgotten how to be a girl.

I am much less enlightened in the dark recesses of my mind than I am in print.

But there has been a change in how I present myself over the two years of my fulltime life; there was a time when I always wore eye makeup when I went out, and gave much careful thought to what I was going to wear. Nowadays, not so much; I've even gone out without wearing any lipstick, something I'd been avoiding ever since I got read when not wearing it.

A little of this is the weight I've put on, and being too broke to buy new clothes and too unmotivated to try and lose weight. But a lot more is simply that I've reached a new point of stability with my life; that my acceptance of myself as a woman means that I need fewer and fewer reinforcements via the trappings of femininity. (That, and a year of pounding concrete sidewalks; that gets you out of heels really quick.)

Three years ago, in the middle of my dark winter of discontent when I began to seriously consider the idea of transitioning, I would sometimes ask myself (as a way to not transition) what the difference was between hanging around my apartment in my PJ bottoms and a tee as a man and doing the same as a woman; the idea being that my life would be the same whether or not I transitioned, so why transition? I think I know that answer better now; it's because now I'm free of the doubts about whether I should transition, the doubts about whether or not I really was a woman, the awful amount of psychic energy I dumped into worrying about that problem. And a lot of those issues are gone now, and overall (when I'm not fighting off major depressive crises), I have a lot more energy to think and do things--case in point, this blog, started a year after I transitioned. Even if I have forgotten how to be "a girl," however it was that I construed living inside the public tokens of femininity.

Being a woman--a person--is a lot more satisfying anyway.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Hiram Monserrate Watch

Sometimes, you get a win:
The political fate of State Senator Hiram Monserrate, a Queens Democrat convicted of assault in a dispute that left his companion with a gash on her face, grew uncertain on Thursday as a special committee recommended that the Senate vote soon on a motion to expel him.[...]

The special committee formed after the trial concluded that Mr. Monserrate lied about the dispute and demonstrated “a lack of fitness to serve in this body.”

The report says that he recklessly put his interests above the safety of Ms. Giraldo and was insincere in his apology. “Whether the senator was worried for his political future or not, the evidence demonstrates both recklessness and callousness,” the committee wrote.

“Accordingly,” the report said, “the select committee recommends that Senator Monserrate be sanctioned by the full Senate, and that the Senate vote to impose one of two punishments: Expulsion, or in the alternative, censure with revocation of privileges.”
 Now, the New York State Senate is the most useless legislature since the steering committee of th Mesopotamian Pot-Washer's Guild tried to formalize which pots they would, in fact, wash, and the most corrupt legislature since...well...since ever, I think.

What I'm saying is that if these guys think you can't sit with them, you really have to be an asshole.

Like Monster Rat QED.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BTB: Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

It's Below the Belt time again!
I call myself transfeminist, because I identify as trans (with a little help from our wonderful society which does so much to keep me from forgetting it) and feminist. Usually this isn't a problem: I identify as a woman, and  feminism is about furthering the causes and rights of women, and I am. so. there.

But at the same time it has to be acknowledged that feminism and transgender activism often have found themselves in at best an uneasy alliance, and at worst completely divorced from each other. A certain strain of radical feminism (see: Heart, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and my friends at AROOO) maintain a richly transphobic tradition of never seeing trans women as women (or trans men as men, for that matter; that's why so many trans men have had no problem getting into MWMF), using such all-time hits as "mutilated men," "colonizers," and still number one with a bullet, "rapists." (I always like that one. I once went looking for statistics on how many trans women get raped a year. The numbers proved very elusive--it seems most trans victims are either killed instead of being raped, or killed right after being raped.)
 Mach schnell!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Patriarchy Doesn't Exist And Other Comforting Fictions For Hard Times

It's comforting to tell ourselves that a lot of the battles that feminists have fought are finally over, and we're in the mop up stage. It seems undeniable that attitudes have indeed improved since the days of the pre-Second Wave; one sees more and more female executives, attorneys, and doctors (though not nearly enough) than ever nowadays, and even my D&D book uses the female pronoun as often as the male pronoun in the text.

When D&D hops the equality train, that's progress.

So we can tell ourselves that women are finally (at least in the West) moving out of the shadow of men, begin to truly have autonomy: that what Elizabeth Gilbert says below is indeed happening, and more than that, is being successful:
...Gilbert says, we're still in the midst of a radical new social experiment.
"And the radical, unprecedented new social experiment is: What happens if we give women autonomy, education, finances, you know, control over their sexual biology?" she says. "What happens if we give you all this freedom? What are you going to do with it? … And we're all still sort of puzzling it out in a very intense way."
 And then you open your browser or flip through a newspaper and all that comes crashing down around you, and you see it for the papier-mâché construct it truly is. Like when you read this:
Before the first juror is selected or witness called, a decision allowing a confessed killer to argue he believes the slaying of one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers was a justified act aimed at saving unborn children has upended what most expected to be an open-and-shut case.

Some abortion opponents are pleasantly stunned and eager to watch Scott Roeder tell a jury his slaying of Wichita doctor George Tiller was voluntary manslaughter. Tiller's colleagues and abortion rights advocates are outraged and fear the court's actions give a more than tacit approval to further acts of violence.

''This judge has basically announced a death sentence for all of us who help women,'' said Dr. Warren Hern of Boulder, Colo., a longtime friend of Tiller who also performs late-term abortions. ''That is the effect of the ruling.''
Just so that we're really clear on this, just so that everybody gets on the same footing, just so we can skip past the language issues of calling fetuses "unborn children," understand this: Roeder's defense, basically, is that he had the right to kill someone based on his right to control what another human being does with her body.

He had the right to control you. And if you asserted that control (which is due to you, one would hope, as a member of the human race--at least the male half is supposed to have bodily autonomy) and enlisted the help of a medical professional, he had the right to kill that professional in order to remove your autonomy.

Of course, "yours" only if you're female. Which still seems to be a quasi-legal status.

Think of other cases where bodily autonomy might be involved, and wonder to yourselves if they would be able to be entered as legal justifications: But your Honor, I had to kill that abolitionist, she was helping my slave to escape.

If somebody had killed Dr. Kevorkian, would the court allow a justification defense? Even though it would be a lot more warranted than one in the case of the murder of a physician, a man who helped save the lives of many women?

Jill at Feministe has a good explanation of what's happening, though it hasn't quite gotten me off the ledge:
I will write more about this later as time allows, but the judge in the Scott Roeder case — Roeder is the man who shot abortion provider George Tiller at Tiller’s church — has ruled that Roeder may present a case for voluntary manslaughter instead of murder. Voluntary manslaughter is a less serious crime than murder, and subject to softer penalties. This doesn’t mean that Roeder is only being charged with voluntary manslaughter; my best guess based on the judge’s comments here is that he doesn’t want this case to be overturned on appeal, and so he’s allowing the jury to consider voluntary manslaughter as a lesser-included offense. Which makes sense.

Except that there are, of course, bigger issues at play. The judge at least rejected Roeder’s proposed “necessity” defense, but a jury will still have the option of giving Roeder a lighter sentence if the defense makes the case that Roeder had an “unreasonable but honest belief that circumstances existed that justified deadly force.” If the jury does buy that defense — and you can bet that Roeder’s team will make the trial about Dr. Tiller and abortion — it lessens the disincentives for other would-be terrorists to take out abortion providers.

So there is no patriarchy, and justice is for all. Just not the all that includes you.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The View From My Kitchen Window

Greetings Ducks, from the home office! Which isn't even really an office, but it is in my home. My kitchen, actually: space here in The Great American Metropolis is at a premium, let me tell you!

Lately it has become an actual office of sorts, because of that gig I mentioned last week, which I do from the comfort of home. Well, relative comfort: while I'm no longer unemployed, I am underemployed; I need to do about 50 hours a week at my current rate to make my monthly expenses. I'm not really complaining...well, I am a bit, because this is way below my former rate, alas.

That's the economy, folks.

I do have a view from my window, of sorts--it's on the air shaft between my building and the one next door. Now, this was supposed to be an improvement, way back in the 19th century, over just having buildings cheek-by-jowl; but the reality is that they don't help all that much. The shafts let in almost no light (in the spring, I sometimes get some light in through the shaft in the afternoon) and they have no draw whatsoever, so you don't get much in the way of cross-ventilation. And my view is a brick wall.

Still, it's nice to have an office with a window.

Working from home doesn't particularly bother me--writer, remember?--though it is a drag to be chained to my chair all day long without being able to run out for a while (I'm on a timeclock, and I'd have to punch out if I was up from my keyboard for too long.) It's a bit ironic that I should end up with this gig, though (and not just because my brother used to work for them, something I didn't know until I applied for the job.) Ironic because a lot of trans people end up either wanting a job like this, or having to take a job like this because it's the only job they can safely do.

Trans folks come in all shapes and sizes; and sometimes those shapes, for whatever reason (most often because the person is still in the middle of transition), are harder for cis people to "peg" as one gender or another. This causes enormous discomfort on the part of the cis person (see unboxedqueer's groovy post about this today at Below the Belt), which they immediately pass along to the trans person. Because, that's like the totally fair thing to do, right? I mean, it's the freak's, I mean, your problem, right? Right?


So a lot of trans people have to look for work that doesn't involve interaction with other poeple. (And yeah, the phone often counts, if you're MtF--phone voice is the hardest voice to manage.) I'm fortunate enough to have a skill that lets' me do this and still survive; many other folks aren't. But it must be their fault, right?


Back around Halloween a lot of folks like this Onion bit about finding costumes for your effeminate boy. I wasn't one of them, though--to me, the bit ultimately felt pretty cruel and lost the point of laughing at the bigoted announcers in favor of indulging in some cruelty towards the kids. You know, like...holding people up to your own standards of gender presentation? Which never ever hurts anybody, or makes it hard for them to get a job? Yeah. I much preferred this SNL bit instead:

Until you come around.

Friday, January 8, 2010

And Other Stories in Transphobia (Yawn)

Hey, I haven't said anything about David Letterman yet!

I mean, not that there's often much to say about David Letterman, besides he's mostly a jerk. It's, you know, what he's famous for.

But I guess you might have heard about this...

Yeah. OK. Wow, a show hosted by a known jerk (of the douchey, cheating on his wife with interns in a bedroom he had built at the studio just for that purpose kind of way) engages in some cheap-shot transphobia. Yawn. Hand me the remote...

But what's that you say? Speak up, Straw-Reader-I-am-making-up-for-this-piece! Are you saying that Dave at least sort of respectable towards Ms. Sampson? And that the joke is really on sidekick douchebag Kalter? That I should not, you know, get my panties all in a twist about things, you hysterical trann--sorry, you like to be called a transgenderdamajig now, right?

Sorry, Straw Reader, you're wrong! A transgendamajig is a drink, not a gender identity, one of the many fascinating cocktails I dreamed up while vacationing on painkillers in Thailand! But you're also wrong about the joke.

Sure, true to his straightdouche persona, Dave didn't say anything spiteful about Ms. Sanders. (He also called her a transgendered person, not woman. Asshole.) But the joke wasn't on Kalter--it was decidedly on Ms. Sampson.

Because, you see, at heart this was a gay joke. (Amazing! Letterman homophobic too? Whodathunkit?) Kalter is upset because he slept with a "man," not a transgendered woman. At heart, this bit was calling Ms. Sanders a man.

Which is pretty much the definition of transphobia.

I of course, don't watch any of the talk shows myself--I really could care less about the latest vapid anecdote or stupid plug a celebrity comes on to talk about. (And even The Daily Show is wearing thin on me these days.) Instead, when not reading Russian novels in French or French movies in Russian, I watch Monty Python reruns. Because our world is so surreal nowadays that they seem positively normal.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Now Let Us Praise Complicated Women, And Condemn Them While We're At It

So Mary Daly died.

(You might have heard about it.)

I don't have much to say about Mary Daly, really. I haven't read anything by her (because I am a bad feminist, or at least a lazy one, or at least somebody made very theory-adverse thanks to my graduate studies in English.) I'm not really sure if I'd heard her name before she died (because I am a bad...oh, you know.)

But I was utterly unsurprised to find out that she was a Second Wave radical feminist who, you know, hated me.

(Well, one thing surprised me: she was Janice Raymond's thesis adviser. Janice Raymond! And no, I'm not going to link to anything about her--if you're here, you should know about her; if you don't, use the bloody Google.)

As I said over at the ol' Tiger Beatdown today, it's clear that Mary Daly gave a lot of women a new way of looking at the world; that in a very real sense, she liberated them. And the glowing testimonials of people who knew her--about how generous she was with her time, how she helped other women writers and feminists, how she created, in the truest sense of the word, sisterhood with her fellow women.

But I just can't be all that happy about it, because she also wanted to deny me all those things; because to Mary Daly, I would never have been woman or even feminist enough.

And this doesn't even touch on the criticisms Audre Lorde leveled at her of ignoring the voices of women of color except as anecdotes, a bit of "color" for a chapter mostly about white women--something Daly never publicly cleared up, at least not while Lorde was alive--or her belief that the male of the species should be reverse decimated (leave one in ten alive) and those secluded in zoos.

And yet a lot of women I admire got their start in feminism with her.

And yet she thought I was a monster.

And yet she was dismissive towards women of color.

And....and what? There was a lot of good Mary Daly did. There was a lot of bad as well. How do we sort this out? How can you honor the legacy of people who were noble in some ways, and wicked in others?

How do you make sense of human lives?

Me, I dunno; like I said, I never read her. But her fame should not expunge her failings.

(And if you want a balanced, no-nonsense appraisal of her good and bad, Sady has it.)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Bonne Année

Greetings, ducks, and Happy New Year. It's been a while, I know. And I'm fine, mostly, now. But I wasn't before.

We don't like to talk about depression much as a culture, although to some degree we've destigmatized it: I mean, here in the Great American Metropolis, everyone jokes about being in therapy or on antidepressants. Jokes are made; sticom plots revolve around a character's mental health; and we wonder if Ziggy had some Prozac if his life would improve and he'd finally buy some pants.

But we don't talk about it, or when we do, when we really sit down and talk about it, all the old stigmas come back. People will whisper about someone being really depressed; there's an uneasiness around the whole subject, a certain trepidation about approaching them, a certain, well, fear: of driving them to suicide? Of catching it yourself? I don't know.

What happened to me is that the chronic low-grade depression I've carried with me since before puberty flared up, as it does sometimes: but first it just gradually began to increase, helped along, no doubt, by my decision to go off antidepressants over the summer. Sure, I got worse, but gradually, gradually, and I couldn't tell how badly I was slipping, until I came back from San Francisco without a steady source of income for the first time in something like six years. And even then, I was doing OK, because I had a line on a job that wasn't ideal but would hold me while I retrenched. And I really thought I was going to get the job. Until I went up and had a horrible series of interviews.

And then I decidedly wasn't OK anymore.

Some of what happened next you no doubt can glean from my BTB post last week: I went to the psych ER, after a series of humiliations I got some meds that my insurance will actually cover, and if I'm not out of the woods, I can at least see the trees thinning out. And tomorrow I start a gig that while not ideal, will at least hold me while I retrench. (And keep working from home.)

But I was going to talk about my depression...and that's just it. It's so hard to talk about: if you don't have it, it's hard to understand. It's nothing like being sad, except when it is; it's nothing like feeling listless, except when it is; it's nothing like feeling hopeless, except when it is--and most of the time you feel at least some of those symptoms all at once. William Styron called it a "brain storm" and that comes close, except in my case there isn't a feeling of storm like violence: just a hopelessness, a feeling that everything I do is futile, that everything is just too hard for me to accomplish and that if I were lucky, I'd just not wake up in the morning. And sometimes, sometimes you just want the pain and hopelessness to go away so badly that you think about making sure you won't wake up in the morning.

I think until you can contemplate the idea of destroying yourself--of making a permanent end to all your problems--and think it a good thing, a sensible thing, to no longer care about the pain you would inflict on others, just so long as your own would go away--until you've hit that point, then no, you don't know what depression really feels like. I've had some sort of suicidal ideation around once a month since I was at least ten years old. And I almost never think seriously about it; when I do, when I get really serious in my own mind, that's when I know to go down to a doctor and do something about it. And I'm lucky: most of the time, there is something to be done, and something I can access to help me. Not everyone is so lucky.

Yet strangely enough, I don't want this post itself to be depressing. Dawn is breaking on my battered mental landscape; my Significant Other of Variable and Often Fabulous Gender spent the weekend with me, and cheered me up. I have a source of income again, and believe it or not, a line on some more interviews.

I'm writing again. And that's a light all of its own.