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I Need to Vent  
09:21am 28/05/2010

I know this blog is deader than Monty Python's parrot, but I need somewhere to vent.

I'm drinking my morning coffee and surfing the web, brain waking up, shields down, and one of my first stops is The Huffington Post. It's not exactly a personal touchstone, but they usually have one or two things I want to click on. I scroll down the page, feelers out, only to bang into a headline that screams, ALEXIS HOUSTON, MATT LAUER'S NON-MISTRESS, WAS A MAN! That is, some woman in a celebrity sex scandal I haven't been following is trans. Then, when you open the story, and this is what gets me, most of the page is this gigantic full-length blow-up of Ms. Houston standing at her press conference or outside the courthouse or wherever, and it's three times as tall as my monitor, so you have to scroll to get from her face all the way down to her toes, and I flash that this weird display is to accomodate all those people who have to scrutinize the trans body: an objective correlative of that analytical scan we all know so well.

I put it out of my mind and hit the Onion's AV Club and settle down to read that, mouse ball rolling, feelers twitching, when, bang, I hit their copy for the new Dan Savage column, which blares, WHERE TO FIND THE AMATEUR TRANNIES! The actual syndicated column isn't the problem, I should add. The questioner, "Lonely Tranny Lover," wants to know, "Where can a straight guy find a transsexual woman who is NOT a hooker and just wants to be friends (with benefits)?", explaining, "I know of one club where they hang, but they are mostly hookers there," but Dan gently nudges him towards the idea that what he's talking about is a relationship with a woman, albeit an atypical woman, and, beyond that, even a human being. But that copy! Amateur trannies! Meaning transwomen who aren't prostitutes! That is just so twisted I don't even know where to start. Sometimes it's all I can do to finish my coffee and not climb back into bed.

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Monday Night  
11:39pm 15/12/2008
Hey, Arcade Fire is really good.
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Sunday Night  
11:22pm 14/12/2008

For dinner I made two packets of chile-flavored ramen noodles and added a can of chile without beans for chile mac or, as I like to call it, My Dog Has Worms.

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Saturday Night  
11:19pm 13/12/2008
Eek! It's almost midnight and I just realized I hadn't written a post for today.

I've been looking all over my place for more CDs for my Christmas project and not finding them. ADD sucks.
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Friday Night  
11:06pm 12/12/2008

Music: Lou Reed's Sally Can't Dance. That's something that drifts in and out of my awareness without ever catching hold, those slots in the LiveJournal template where you input supplementary details like "Music" and "Current Mood." I tend to ignore LJ's formal possibilities, writing little self-contained essays that aren't much different from the text I produced for my personal zine back in the '80s. It can make you feel stuck in the past, just like when I listen to this 1974 Lou Reed album.

Sally Can't Dance isn't considered good Lou Reed. The story behind it is, Reed struck a bargain with his label, RCA, where if they let him record an uncommercial personal project, Berlin, he'd pay them back by recording a bunch of commercial albums. His popular live album Rock n Roll Animal was one of these. The last and most commercially successful -- it even went top ten! -- was Sally Can't Dance. Reed was passive-aggressive at the sessions, refusing any role whatsoever beyond providing the basic songs and overdubbing his vocals when each track was done, letting the producer do anything he wanted to make the product slicker. "It was produced in the slimiest way possible," he admitted to Lester Bangs afterwards. His next album would be Metal Machine Music, a two-disc set of uninterrupted amplifier noise that was his way of smashing a career he felt trapped in. So it's not impressive to admit that Sally Can't Dance is my favorite Lou Reed album. I like it so much I even bought the new remastered edition from Amazon, though not before the price had fallen below ten bucks.

I never heard the LP, never saw it out of its shrink-wrap, which is strange because I was a glam rock-obsessed high school student when it came out. Instead, I discovered it on CD years later. The CD packaging was minimal, just the iconic front-cover, a painting of Reed with bleached hair, shades, and a leather jacket, and some crude type set in RCA's default font. The new edition recreates the whole LP package, in that fancy reissue way, and there's this other matching painting from the inner sleeve or the back cover or something, and it's, I dunno, is that Rachel? Rachel, Lou Reed's famous transgender girlfriend of the '70s, the Coney Island Baby herself, and looking quite cool too, with a cigarette dangling from her painted lips. What a surprise. Wow.

Damn, that just happened, as if by itself. I had been so happy to be writing a post that wasn't trans this and trans that. But you've got to understand, it's kind of a big thing to process. I'm sure I'll calm down later on.

Sally Can't Dance has a real period sound, intensely evocative, with a horn section and a turgid rhythm section and the slimy-sounding funky clavinet and the guitar parts phased and filtered like big city buildings airbrushed a cigarette-smoke blue by '70s smog. I wax poetic. Sorry. I will now attempt to wane. It's just that I love albums with that sound: Goats Head Soup, Futuristic Dragon, The Royal Scam, Desolation Boulevard.... Current Mood: Nostalgic. 

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11:15pm 11/12/2008

I had a good time down in the city last night. The topic of the meeting was relationships. I talked for a change, the same bleak confessional stuff I've occasionally used here. That felt good. Afterwards, in the diner, the seating got disrupted, and I sat with different people than usual. My friend Barbara accused me of sitting at the cool table, but I think it's more that there weren't enough cool table regulars for the cool table to form. Then some of us walked up Fourteenth Street to a bar on the other side of town where we took over the pool table and the jukebox. I got into dancing and got some other women to dance with me. It's weird how I could never dance as a male but I like to dance as a female. I recognized one of the songs as being from Emperor Tomato Ketchup by Stereolab, "Les Yper-Sound," which was weird too. That one was fun to dance to, actually. I did a modified pogo that made my tits bounce.

I had to go home that night because my parking space would turn illegal in the morning. I was in the same situation last week, and I got a ticket. I took the 1:00 train, an agonizingly slow local, and arrived around three. Then I had insomnia for two more hours, which is why I didn't write a real post today.

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It's a Rainy Day  
11:09am 10/12/2008

It's raining out. I can see a block of grey sky though the sliding door and the tree branches, and I hear the tires zipping through water on the road. Wednesday is my day to go down to the city, and I am so not into it. My umbrella is broken, trashed by a windy storm last month, and it's not even my umbrella, but borrowed from Angie Cruz, Kung fu Angie, from group. Sorry, Angie. I hate it when my backpack gets soaked and the things inside get wet, like my spiral notebook with the purple cover. I was a comics fan when I was a kid and I like everything to be in mint condition. Well, talk about attachment to the things of the world causing unhappiness.

I planned to write another post about sex, but there's too much I have to do right now. For example, shaving, which I hate. My feminized skin is so tender. When I'm in guy mode I just let the stubble grow, which is slowed down by the 'mones anyway. Or making lunch. That stands before me like Mount Everest. Typing the next sentence. Standing up when I finish this post. I can't imagine it, but I suppose it will happen. I will get into female mode and drive to the station. I will be with people and cheer up. I can't imagine that either, but I know from past experience that it will happen.

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A Desire Called Trans  
11:59am 09/12/2008
I've always been obsessed with women's bodies. I'd stare at them openly while my guts tied themselves in knots with desire. I thought it was sexual desire. I thought I was attracted to women.

I wasn't.

But gender dysphoria is physically and emotionally loud, and it drowned my sexuality out. I thought I was a heterosexual male. I pursued women. Occasionally there'd be a relationship. In bed I'd merge with my lover and imagine that her body was mine, thatI was the one getting fucked. Then I'd wonder why I was so unsatisfied, why my desire was completely untouched, as painful as ever.

I had few relationships. The droughts between lasted two years, four years, six years. The last one ended a little more than ten years ago.

Everyone perceived me as gay, of course. My friends would hint that there was something I needed to deal with. The guys at school laughed when they saw me holding hands with a girl. Straight co-workers were careful not to get too friendly.

And I was attracted to men. I just couldn't feel it. One time, in my early 30s, I got naked with a gay male friend. I'd never been so hard in my life. I freaked out before we could have sex. I didn't understand, didn't want to understand, what was scaring me, what further issue, so big and frightening, had been buried and broken loose. Didn't ask the question, if it wasn't sexual desire that tortured me every day, what was it?

Instead I lived in a fantasy world where I was always a woman. And I knew better than to take daydreams seriously. 

Once I realized that I was transsexual, I recognized what my desire was. In fact, the two processes were identical. But it wasn't until I started hormones in late '07, with the inner thaw, the uncanny process of self-discovery, they bring, that I mentally separated my sexuality from my other desires and perceived it for what it was. I was attracted to men, and always had been. I wanted cock. At night, I'd close my eyes and become Annabel Chong spread-eagled on her crazy porn altar. My feminized body stirred with a new sensuality.

I'd liked the idea of being lesbian. It was a standing refutation of the dumb stereotype that transwomen changed their sex because that made it easier to get guys. Now I became fascinated by the bad girls in my support group, the chicks who dressed sexy and hung out in bars. I decided they were the coolest people in the world. My new role models.

So far it's all been fantasy. I've yet to have sex with a guy. I'm old, and out of shape, and pretty bad at the woman thing, but that's not really it. I've been hesitant about my transition, and no more so than with this. It's scary. I don't know what to do, and so many bad things can happen. In a sense I'm a virgin, a frightened virgin.

But I'm going to do it.
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It's Anxiety Attack Monday  
03:36pm 08/12/2008
So to celebrate finishing the first week of OBloPoMo, I will have an anxiety attack and crawl under my shell.

I'm not sure why I'm a wreck, actually. The apartment was freezing when I got up, and that physical discomfort, that feeling of exposure, somehow seeped through me and became my emotional, psychological state as well. In other words, a day when I wanted to stay in bed under my blanket.

Today I planned to start writing about sex, so that may be it. Or just a growing conviction that I'm doing the whole Livejournal thing wrong. A growing conviction that I'm doing everything wrong.

Thursday night I got home from two days in the city, and I've been in male mode since. The two days were only supposed to be one day. I took the train down the Hudson early Wednesday evening to go to my support group. Afterwards I hung out in the diner and then in the bar, dancing to the jukebox with a bunch of other transwomen. The next day, Thursday, I had an appointment at Callen-Lorde and had promised Alison Grillo I would come to her show at a comedy club. I meant to take the train back that night, and come down again the next day, but when Alison offered to let me crash at her place that made a lot more sense.

Thursday I wrote my post, "A Place at the Cool Table," in a spiral notebook at a Starbuck's on First Avenue and typed it into LJ through Alison's computer. Wandering around Manhattan in female mode for two days got weird. On the way to the club, Alison and I stopped for a slice of pizza, and a ciswoman waiting for an order couldn't stop staring at me. Strangely, that didn't bother me. Then, the club was nearly empty, fewer than twenty people, so there was no hiding from comedians working the room. Inevitably one schmuck with a mike got around to me. He pointed at me and said, "What's up with all that hair?"

"I'm supposed to be a girl," I said. "I'm changing my sex."

He mumbled something about how that was okay and stumbled back into his act.

That didn't bother me either.

The weirdest thing is, I was becoming more female in my own mind. It came out in my voice and my body language, or so it seemed to me. Riding the subway, my reflection in the window, pale and blurry, looked like a woman. I began to like what I saw.

So maybe the present bummer is compensation -- punishment, really -- inflicted on me by my psychic economy, the bust following a boom. Whatever it is, I ended up writing a post in spite of it, so, anyway, I'm hopeful.
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A Girlhood Memory  
01:36pm 07/12/2008
My family had a summer house. I was reminded of it recently when a big chunk of a toenail broke off. I've been letting the coppery nailpolish wear off my feet since the weather turned too cold for open-toed shoes, and the worn flecks of metallic glitter still on the pearlescent grey nail made it look exactly like a sand dollar. Immediately, unexpectedly, I flashed back on the hours I used to spend wandering alone on the beach.

I didn't have dolls, of course. My father always had time to police my activites for signs of femininity. I wasn't allowed to play with G.I. Joe or Major Matt Mason or anything else that struck him as a doll. I'd have to visit my friends for that. None of them had this problem. Then again, they were boys. I did once buy some alien figurines, but as soon as my parents thought my childish attention had moved on to something else they disappeared. I remember one time I and a friend were playing with them, and the door to my room cracked open so my father could make an inspection. When he saw us, he snarled, "You're playing with dolls!," with all the scorn and contempt he could muster, as if to shame us out of it. My friend could only look at me with a face that said, What the fuck?

But I was an imaginative girl, so I got to play with dolls anyway. On the beach I looked for especially flat, round pebbles. I had a set, all different sizes and colors. I used a magic marker to bring them to life, drawing little eye dots, like smiley faces without the mouth, and giving each an identifying mark, like a green line around the circumference, so I could keep track of their names and identities. One was named Sasha, just like the Brat.

I'd play with them in the sandy backyard. I was very afraid of losing one. They blended in so well that I might forget one, and it would be reclaimed by the landscape that had given it to me. So I played under a specter of loss and sadness, navigating the tensions between letting them loose enough to do things but not so loose they broke away to leave me forever. When it was time to go back in, I'd always have the feeling I had forgotten one. I never did, though.
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