Picture me last night. 11 p.m. I’m in my pajamas, kneeling piously by my bedside, my hands steepled in front of my face, eyes shut tight, brow furrowed in concentration. “Dear Mr. Jesus. It’s about tomorrow. I am seriously PMS-ing. Like, really bad. I’m at the end of my hormonal rope. Tomorrow, if my day is perfectly balanced and everything goes right, I will not go off the deep end. I don’t want to go off the deep end, Jesus. Help me.” Now picture Jesus laughing His Ass off, because he knows that the script is already written, and he’s read the fucking ridiculous scenes. Also he knows I don’t actually pray, so he’s like, “screw you, you’re making this up for your blog.”
Now picture me asleep. Now, go here to read the completely jacked-up dream I had last night, that lay the foundation for my jacked-up day.
OK, you’ve read the dream. Now picture Willie Nelson. “Lonely nights I cannot sleep, I just lie awake and weep…” That’s the alarm that wakes me up from aforementioned jacked-up dream.
I go about my day, the real one, but like I’m still sort of in the jacked-up dream. Everything’s off balance. I manage to get myself up, dressed and fed. I manage to get Ry up, dressed and fed. I have to force myself to interact with her, to play our car-ride game. This morning it’s the one called “the Crazy Mix-Up” and I have to remember all the characters: Viola, Melissa, Rosita, Green, Phoebe, the Puffball, Oatmeal and Blue Velvet the magic horses, Ginger the wild unicorn and Shadowfire the elderly one-eyed pegasus. I manage all that without getting into an accident. I get her to school five minutes late. I get to work ten minutes late and go straight into a session without stopping to pee or breathe. If I could had a quiet session, with someone who soaks up the massage, I could maybe right my day, balance myself out; it happens that way a lot. It’s like meditation. But no. It’s the one client whose religious, political and social perspective is most utterly opposite my own, and she’s loud, and she argues with me the entire hour, despite the fact that I do not say anything, somehow she still argues. When I do quietly contribute, it’s just fuel for her ceaseless, offensive ranting. At the end of the hour I’m depleted. I’ve gone flat as month-old Moxie.
I do the best I can for the rest of my workday. I pull it together for my clients. I love them. I love Argue Woman too, for the record. On another day, after a dreamless sleep, when I don’t have PMS and rotator cuff pain and broken-arm weakness, I can let her words roll away and still sink my mind into my work, and come out of the hour feeling good. It’s just that it’s today.
I pick up Rocky at school. We go home. Her friend comes over for dinner. Then a bunch of things hit me at once. I’m exhausted. I’m in pain, probably because of the exhaustion (my biomechanics go to shit when I’m tired). I have a virtual (online) run-in with someone of very little consequence who still triggers the crap out of me. It seems that she, gone from my little world, is back in my world, and back in a very big way. I am, despite my best efforts to calm my brain, panicking. It is at this point that I have to stop myself from doing very impulsive things, like writing crazy paranoid emails. I write an email, and I (thank you, Mr. Jesus) do NOT send it. You have to remember, I have recently discovered that I have ADD. I am seriously impulsive. This “controlling your impulses” is a very new skill that I’m still mastering. For the rest of the day, I struggle mightily to control the impulse to post “OMG FUCK THIS SHIT” on my Facebook page for all my friends, coworkers, relatives, and young nieces and nephews to see.
Then, the coup de grace. I am informed that despite the fact that I actually did it, the state didn’t record the license renewal process I slogged through in December. My massage license expires on 3/26/13. Do you recognize that date? Yes, as a matter of fact. That is today. Right now. Today is the very last day that I can legally practice my trade, my moneymaking skill, here in the state of Kentucky, or anywhere in the grand ole’ U S of A. At this point I am cooking dinner for two hungry children, feeding my dogs, calling the Kentucky State Board of Licensure for Massage Therapy and Private Investigators, writing a screaming text to Mo, leaving a desperate voicemail for Mom, and hyperventilating all at the same time. Doomed, and multitasking.
Jesus, I’ve gone off the deep end.
And just as I begin to crumple, broken, to the ground, a deep, long moan of utter despair issuing from my slack-jawed, drooling mouth, about to give in to the completeness of my suffering, everything gets better.
That woman of little consequence who triggers the crap out of me is not, after all, back in my world. That was some weird mistake. Melissa says, “Baby, look in your files for your renewal receipt.” Oh. Right. I have evidence. My boss says, You know how there’s only one person in charge of license renewal for every single massage therapist and private investigator in the entire state of Kentucky? If the State moved any slower with the license processing it’d be going backward. Don’t worry about it.
And that’s that.
The children are fed. The friend goes home. Mom returns my call. At 7:30, Mo comes home and hugs me. I read the story of John Muir and his dog to Rocky. At the end of the book, when Muir and his dog Stickeen, who looks exactly like Sunny, are separated forever – that’s when I finally lose it.
“Until the canoe passed from sight *SOB* … Stickeen leaned out of … of the boat, calling to … *SOB, SOB* to the man *SOB* who had become both his hero and … and his *SOB SOB SOB SOB* and his friend -”
Rocky, used to me, says calmly, “Mama, just keep going.”
And so I do.
Blue’s Journal of Jacked-Up Dreams: More Tornadoes, a Fiery SUV, and the Dress Rehearsal That Is My Life
Picture me asleep. Take a little astral projection walk, right into my brain. This is the jacked up pre-dawn dream that started my day:
It’s another crazy tornado dream. I get separated from Mo and Ry, and the sirens start going off, and I go down into the carpeted, florescent-lit, furnished basement of a building in some upscale, futuristic downtown Louisville. I’m not scared this time, though. I’m looking out the window (I’m still somehow above ground, maybe 4th story, despite being “in the basement”). A charcoal gray bank of storm cloud stretches over the city skyline, like a dramatic watercolor-and-charcoal drawing, and dozens of small funnel clouds are sprouting from the underside of the cloud bank, only a few stories above my eye level. They’re descending from the bank, spinning, moving, receding, forming, spinning, scattering into mist. It’s profoundly beautiful. I can’t see any that have actually formed and touched down. The skyscape is sizzling with crazy vibrant nature energy, all black and white and wet. There’s a man beside me, also looking out the window. He’s a thick man, wearing a light blue button down shirt and a purple tie. Suddenly we see an SUV on the roof of the building next to us explode and go up in flames. The driver of the car is crouching, taking cover away from the blaze. The flames are gorgeous against the grey dark of the sky.
Then I’m reunited with Mo and Ry. We’re in a room in another building. It turns out this is not my actual life, just a play, and I’m not even actually in the play. I’m just a musician in the band. It’s a small-scale, alternative play with a Middle Eastern theme. I’m playing some kind of long, thin recorder. We finish a song and the small audience applauds. I see a fellow artist from my community, Chen, in the audience. She’s strikingly beautiful and solidly familiar, the features of her face, the color and cut of her hair, the style of her clothes, so incredibly detailed and sharp and accurate. I say to her, “that is the strangest dress rehearsal I’ve ever been in.”
Then I hear Willie Nelson. “Lonely nights I cannot sleep, I just lie awake and weep…” It’s my alarm. I’m awake. It’s time to get up.
Go here to see what happens next.
So here’s a post that I’ve been scared to write for a while now. Transgender issues. I don’t have much of a vocabulary for it; I know how I feel, and I can describe that, but I didn’t take gender studies in college and I’m not much good at heady conversations anyway, so if anyone wanted to debate me I’d lose pretty much instantly. I have friends who are transgender, who I feel very protective of, and I have friends who are not so comfortable with trans folks, and I love them too, and I really, really don’t want to bring them together in a conversation. I’m going to take the risk anyway and hope that everybody is nice to each other. And be nice to me. This is hard to talk about. Feel free to add your cents. Nicely. So.
15 years or so ago, I stood up at a conference on gender and identified myself, based on the standards offered, as transgender. I never “came out” again, but it’s come up in conversation lately, and I’ve gotten to thinking about it. Only my outward appearance has changed since then, to what by societal norms would be considered more feminine. How I feel, and how I’ve always felt, is exactly in the middle between male and female – or, more precisely, solidly both. That conference was the only setting I’ve been in where “transgender” included me. Conventional wisdom holds that the transgender experience is one of male to female or female to male – a girl “trapped” in a boy’s body, or vice versa. (I know that even for an already-simplified definition, that’s dreadfully simplified. But I plow onward.) By that definition I’m not transgender. I wouldn’t dream of saying I identify with that experience. Any problems I’ve had associated with my gender have been because I’m a woman. I don’t know how my level of privilege compares to that of a transgender person whose appearance/voice doesn’t quite fit “the mold”, but I imagine they’ve had it worse.
Why I don’t say I’m transgender:
Reason #1: I have been kept from wanting to claim transgender for myself based on the feeling that I may have, compared to aforementioned trans folks, experienced a certain kind of gender privilege.
Reason #2: I have also avoided it because, lets face it, I’m pretty femme-looking. If I told people I was part guy, they’d laugh in my lipsticked face. Right?
Reason #3: Does feeling equally male and female really make you transgender? According to the people who study these kinds of things, it does, if you feel it does. I feel it does, deep in my bones, just as I always have. However, according to the mainstream, the bulk of which does not ever question gender, much less study it, it does not. I live in Kentucky, people. I love Louisville. If I didn’t I wouldn’t live here. But I don’t hear a lot of people talking about this kind of stuff in Kentucky. Please refer back to the “laughing in my lipsticked face” section above. Except instead of laughing, insert a blank stare, followed by a change of subject to horse racing or, I don’t know, bluegrass, or something.
Reason #3.5: And what the hell is that, anyway, this “feeling” of being male and female? How do you quantify that? Is it that I like chainsaws and tractors and also baking a nice apple crisp? That I like shaving my legs AND my head? That I graduated college in a three piece suit and lipstick? This line of thought is also deepened (or wonderfully complicated?) by the fact that my family, the one I was raised in, has tended to buck traditional gender roles all the way back to my grandparents. My mom was the tough one with the crew cut and my father was the gentle, pushover hippie. You all right, I learned it by watching you! [If you missed the reference, watch this now. Ah, the artistry of the 80s PSA.]
Reason #4, and perhaps the most compelling reason for not talking about it: I’m just scared of it. I’m scared to be more different, outwardly, than I already am. It’s not easy, already, being a) a woman, b) poor, c) queer, d) an artist, and e) a pill-poppin’ mental case. Also, the woman I married is brown. Obviously the racism directed at Mo is a shit-ton worse than any flak I get from it. But in some settings, being in an “interracial” relationship is almost as unsafe as being a dyke.
William Shakespeare once said to me, “To thine own self be true.” I made that my motto, my code to live by, when I was a teenager. I was determined to stick to it, come thick or thin. It’s not as easy as you might think.
[illustration is from the Hudson Valley LGBTQ Community Center website: http://lgbtqcenter.org/taq-group-22013/ and which way is it to the Hudson Valley?]
Miss Fuzz was quite a pleasant woman. Miss Skin was quite a pleasant woman. Miss Fuzz thought Miss Skin seemed gay, and gay she was, and they were gay together. After the second date they moved to a place to be gay together. They stayed there and were gay there, most regularly gay there, and being gay together there made them regularly gayer there than how gay they’d been before there.
Miss Fuzz was gay there, and Miss Skin was gay there, and they were gay together there, and they were gay to be gay together there, together gaily there together being gay. It was all so gay.
There were pleasant men there being gay there, where Miss Fuzz and Miss Skin were being gay. They were all being pleasant and gay there together there, sitting there together there. The men there were gay there. Miss Skin and Miss Fuzz would sit with them, the pleasant men, all gay men, and they were all gay there together. When they weren’t sitting with Miss Fuzz and Miss Skin the men were inclined to cook and clean, which made them very gay indeed, and this suited Miss Fuzz well, for Miss Fuzz was gay to fix engines and this suited Miss Skin well, for Miss Skin was gay to watch football, and the pleasant men were gay to cook and clean there with Miss Fuzz and Miss Skin, who were gay.
They were regularly gay, Miss Fuzz and Miss Skin, gay by night and gay by day. One night they were gay with a man there, and he was gay with Miss Fuzz and Miss Skin, very gay there together there, and they were all gay together, all night long they were gay. And they were all very gay, except were they really gay? They found many pleasant ways to be gay, quite irregularly gay, irregularly gay by night and regularly gay by day. They were very pleasantly gay together there, gayer and gayer together there, and the more gay they were together there the less gay they were there, and they were always so gay there, gay gay gay there. They were gay, so gay, very gay, and pleasant, and though they got tired of being so fucking pleasant all the time, they were gay, for real gay, and oh my god were they gay. Gay, I tell you, gay.