26 November 2014

Embracing Gratitude

i might feel gratitude more deeply this year than i have ever felt it before.

i am so grateful for my family. my given family has played a bigger role than i am used to this year. i have learned a lot about my parents and my brother in the last few months. i have also learned a lot about a few members of my chosen family. levels of trust have deepened.

i am grateful for my co-workers, my colleagues, who want me to be happy and do what is right for me. who are cheering me on while i am doing a very hard thing in my personal life. and for those colleagues who don't know, or at least don't talk about it.

i am grateful for those of you who continue to support me from far away. it truly inspires me that my support network spans oceans.

tomorrow is Peter's birthday. i cried into one of his shirts tonight, caught off-guard while i was choosing outfits. it occurred to me that i am even grateful for the experience of grief. i am always glad to be reminded of the depth of human emotion i can experience, whether it is painful or joyous. i am grateful for the way grief draws us together. it reminded us that we all exist, and we should look out for each other.

Who will raise a PBR with me on December 9? (or 9 Decembre, if you're so inclined).

23 November 2014

Zie is Here.

Leslie.
I cannot speak this sadness over the loss of someone I will never meet.
I read your words cross-legged on the floor
Of the first room that ever showed me community--
This community, our Rainbow.
My heart shattered for Jess,
For you,
Knowing that every word of this novel was true.
My hands wrung the paperback cover curled
As your femme worried your shirt collar:
"How am I ever going to get these stains out?"
I waited for the butch who would come home to me bloodied,
And hoped I would never meet hir.
I swooned at the literary purr of your motorcycle
And waited for my broad back to lean into.
In your words, I saw the first version of myself
That I ever wanted to be:
A fearless protector, who knows she is comfortable as a womyn-loving-womyn.

Leslie, you were the first to paint me a picture of the world I was going to live in,
And you did it with your words.
In a sense, you were the first butch I ever fell for.
You revealed to me that
Butches are there for loving.

I caught myself crying in the bathroom mirror after I heard of your passing.
I felt the surge of an enveloping hug move through me, and I know,
Zie is here.
In every one of us who remembers hir,
Who respects hir,
Who values Leslie's work,
Zie is here.
Zie has an impact as far-reaching as zie could have hoped,
And maybe farther. Certainly farther than I know.
Leslie's influence will never stop living.
Zie is here.

the state of things

It's been too long. I want to write something to you, you two or three members of this public/private literary collective, who have demonstrated interest in each other's inner thoughts and the details of our lives. And anyone else who may be reading. I'm hesitant to say some things on the Internet. Funny how that can change.

I left my husband almost two months ago now. I am moving one step at a time. There's a lot of waiting involved. I am staying in a safe place, and I am so well supported. So well. My support network spans oceans. 

Some decisions take a long time to make. This one took about three months, in its acute phase. Ever since the day in July when he woke up drunk and woke me up groggy and we got into a fight about nothing that ended with him grabbing me around the waist and throwing me out of the house, barefoot, without keys or my wallet or anything. He locked the door behind him. Miraculously, my keys were in the cupholder of one of the chairs on our front porch. I grabbed them and ran, got into the car and drove to the only place I could think of. While I was trying to get someone to go back to the house with me--I know better than to go some places alone--he threatened suicide and stopped answering my calls. I called 911 from the car, sitting in traffic trying not to panic. He was involuntarily committed.

When he was released from the hospital, we agreed that he would stop drinking and we would seek counseling individually and together. We tried it. I felt that I was making progress individually with my therapist, and he felt that he finally found a therapist who understood him. I hope he's still seeing her. Couples counseling progressed very slowly. Scheduling can be a nightmare. Our couples counselor broke up with us three days after I left, at our last appointment, saying that it would be contraindicated for her to continue treating us given the state of things. He tried to fight it. I understood, let my professional clinician intervene, shook her hand, and walked away.

We had the same conversation over and over for months. He did most of the talking. I shouldered all of the blame. In September, I found myself sitting with my back against the inside of the guest room door, trying to maintain a safe space for myself. He berated me through the closed door for what could have been half an hour about how selfish I am, and it finally occurred to me:

I deserve better than this.

It took four more days. He picked me up from work and started another fight in the car on the way home about how everything is my fault. It continued once we arrived at the house. There was a moment when he looked at me and said, "I just can't win with you." I responded, "Not right now, no." He asked, "Then why are you still here?" I realized there was no reason remaining, so I grabbed my things and I left.

Part of me is afraid to tell my story, because I have seen him telling his side to others. I am worried about the friends I may lose. He lies. This is a sad truth I am finally learning, the kind of lesson that makes you wonder if anything you ever knew was right. He lies. This is my round Earth, my solar-centric system. My entire life for the last four years may have been a fairtyale--the original Grimm, not adapted for Disney's gentle audience. Part of me is afraid to tell my story because I am afraid he will find it and somehow use it against me. He cannot cause me any more harm.

As I drove away and paused to catch my breath, I found myself for a moment and I smiled. I do not have to put up with this anymore.

I know it is important to tell my truth.

08 October 2014

horoscope

Driving home into the rising full moon tonight felt like being welcomed back to a place I'd forgotten I belong.

I am going to be just fine.

16 July 2014

setting an example

"Are you both boys?"
"What do you think?"
"No"
"Then why did you ask?"

21 June 2014

Dyke Trans March

Went to my first Dyke Trans March today. That seems like it really should have happened already! I made a spur-of-the-moment sign that said "Ze" and marched along my way. Originally I thought to stay with C and the truck, but he was passing out candy and I wasn't feeling outgoing. I wound my way through the back half of the parade, enjoying all the different genders and colors and shapes of people, outfits and accessories and banners. 

The elderly of Bloomfield seemed confused but curious. Lots of cars drove by in the opposite lane on Liberty and honked, drivers flashing peace signs. When we reached the end of the march at Friendship Park, there was a potluck and everybody sat around talking. Some people burned incense in the cracks of the sidewalk. I felt community: let's break bread together. 

Low point: The police in our escort decided that the right moment to idle their motorcycles and circle the park was when a queer woman of color spoke to the crowd.
Favorite signs: "FUCK TERFs" "Are you a boy or a girl? NO"
Favorite part of the parade: Being near the marching band!

I love that there is a part of the community where I can go to share an emphasis on simple visibility. I felt like it didn't matter that I was not reaching out to people or starting conversations. I was there, authentic in my body and my personhood, and that was enough.

05 June 2014

Open letter to Jane Doe CT

June 2, 2014

Dear Jane,

I want you to know that I am proud of you and I believe in you. You are surviving, and that is incredible. What some people are doing to you is wrong, and there are many, many people in the world who love you even though we have not met you, and who want to see you freed. 

Love & hope,
K

10 May 2014

Meditations on gender while mowing the lawn

AFAB is something that happened to me, something over which I had no control. I can control my response to it. AFAB could, in some frameworks, be considered an act of victimization. Females are unfairly disadvantaged in many, if not most, current cultures. Therefore, to assign a person femaleness is to exert power over them, and to declare that they will be oppressed.

What if we stop assigning gender at birth?

Just the other day I told a friend, "I don't mind not being a boy when there are boy chores." It's truer for some chores than others. "I take out the trash!" This morning I got up earlyish and mowed the lawn. Most of it, anyway. Then it started to rain. And as soon as I stopped moving for a couple of minutes, I realized I was going to beg off the rest of the yard for menstrual cramps. Ugh.

I tamed the jungle! I feel proud.

Sweat and deep breathing and grass and sticks and an old-style push-mower. I moved those blades under the power of my own body only, and that feels good. I flipped it over and pulled clots out to unstick the blades more times than I cared to count. It feels good to use my body to influence my environment. Baseball cap and basketball shorts and hairy legs and all. I think I'll try on being a cap-wearing dyke this summer. That sounds like fun.

When I showered, I shaved my legs for the first time since October. I was considering letting this be the summer I just don't do it. Ultimately, and with all politics aside, I like my legs better bare. Leg hair makes for interesting gender play, though.

03 May 2014

Realization:

I am ready for whatever happens next. I trust that it will be mostly good. 

01 May 2014

The problem with the Internet

The entire wealth of human knowledge is available at my fingertips, and I'm bored with everything.

29 April 2014

On being the good wife

Yesterday morning when I got out of the shower, C was uncharacteristically sitting upright in bed. He complained of what felt like a pulled muscle in his back, told me to drive myself to work, and set himself up on the couch with a heating pad and ibuprofen. When I had a break around 10:00, I texted him to see how he was doing, and he replied that he was on his way to the emergency room with his brother B.

"Do you want me?"
"I'm fine."

So of course I went immediately to my supervisors and said, "My husband is in the emergency room. I feel like I should be there too." They completely agreed.

Certain combinations of words carry so much weight.

Given twelve hours in the emergency room, I had the opportunity to practice a lot of good skills:
  • Patience.
  • Putting C's needs before everything else.
  • Not taking others' crankiness personally.
  • Holding my tongue when I'm frustrated/impatient/hungry/tired and feel like lashing out.
I can't say enough about the support of our chosen family. B picked C up, brought him to the hospital, and stayed with us as long as he could, then came back later with his wife and food and help to get home. This is exactly why we moved back to Pittsburgh: our people are here. We have support here, as soon as we ask for it and often when we don't. We've gotten messages from so many people offering anything we need. Sharing the responsibility for taking care of each other is another important lesson.

We finally got to go home after spending 4 hours thinking he was going to be admitted to the hospital. I don't think I've ever been so relieved to be here together and to be able to care for my husband at home.


For those who are medically inclined: The neurosurgeon's working diagnosis is an irritated/compressed nerve root affecting the muscles in his right upper body, rather than the spinal compression we were concerned was going to require immediate surgery. C is still experiencing muscle twitches on his right side and numbness in the first three fingers of his right hand. He has a bunch of medicines to take over the next week, when he will follow up with the neurosurgeon.

25 April 2014

An Open Letter to You

Dear You,

Welcome home! We are so excited for you to join us, and we can't wait to help you grow. You have grown so much already, and we are very proud of you. We can see the progress you have made on a lot of fronts and how ready you are to move forward.

I know we all talked, together, on Skype with faces and voices. And I know, too, how sometimes things aren't real for you until you see them in print. So I want to take a written opportunity to say this again:

We want our home to become your home. You are family to us. We love you, and we are so excited that we are able to support you on this next step! We want you to succeed, and we want to do what we can to help you succeed. We want you to feel comfortable in Pittsburgh before you feel the need to make any more changes. You are welcome with us.

Recognizing that relationships sometimes change in unexpected ways, we all know and have acknowledged that this is up for reevaluation as necessary. We all need to stay in touch with ourselves and each other--this is a big change for all of us. I am optimistic that we will maintain the open channels of communication that have gotten us this far.

I really think this is a great opportunity for all of us to learn a lot and grow as people. I think we're gonna have a lot of fun, too! Keep breathing, and get here in one piece.

Love,
K

10 April 2014

Letter, part n

I still haven't written you a letter. Not a whole one, anyway. If you are anything like all of the other people I have loved, I will write you one long, continuous letter, in many stages, over the course of my life. Why not begin.

I have already written to you privately, and I will continue to do so. You know how some things must be shared. I hope you understand how grief is one of those things. Even if you don't, you're certainly getting to witness enough of it now.

That's what I really don't understand. How could you not have known the effect this would have? How could you not believe how deeply how many people would miss you? How did you not know how big an impact you made, and on how many lives?

I am determined to let this change me for the better, because if I do not, then it will all have been worthless. I owe you better than that.

Strangely, this has helped me on my own journey of mental health. I took your mother's advice and took my medicine. It helped me get out of the hole. I will always wonder if things would have been different if, that Saturday, we had acknowledged how deeply we were both there. I understand how you could have found yourself on that cusp so suddenly. I understand that we were one choice apart from each other. What an enormous rift.

29 March 2014

Pitt Drag Show.

Wow. fragmented thoughts. incomplete thinking. moving by sense. everything just happened.

dressing room with strangers and some friends. coloring a sign on the floor, signing a waiver not to fall off the stage, so many things have changed and so many are still the same. I had to keep reminding myself: "This is not my job."

Putting on face. Binding my breasts with Gorilla Tape. Borrowing a packer from my husband (what?). I couldn't keep the smile off my face when I listened to my song for the last time, backstage while Marsha began to introduce the show.

My brain was so disorganized. I kept putting things down and then losing them when they were right in front of me. I got cranky with C and that's not fair. I pulled it together.

Watching baby queens and "try anything once" kings and my brothers asked me to join them on stage. Not gonna lie, it felt really good to be the first person who appeared on stage as Marsha announced "Hot Metal Hardware." The boys who put that number together did an incredible job. I experienced a new side of each of five kings I know, some of whom I've known for a long time. It was an honor to be included.

I can't wait to see the video.

I'm not sure how to write about my number. There's a very pretty page in a very playful new journal about it. I don't think I want to give you the plot summary, or talk about how it went, because some of you will see it and I want you to experience it the way you need to, without my bias. I am proud of what I made, and so grateful to the people who helped me make it. This was a life-changing performance for me.

Oh, and I really enjoyed being in drag and not being an asshole. This new Christopher Crash might just work out.

13 February 2014

coming out for mental health


My Valentine's Day will be the same as my one month of taking antidepressants. Let's talk about positive change.

I can think about my emotions now, something I didn't realize I'd lost the ability to do. I can think rationally about reactions as I'm having them (sometimes). I'm working on de-escalation strategies. Learning how to relax, which is far more difficult than seems fair. Working on doing one thing at a time. I'm building confidence at work and starting to take initiative when things need to be done. I'm interested in reaching out to people, and sometimes I remember to do it.

I'm starting to feel enthusiasm for things again.

This feels like the sort of thing it's important to be open about, because you never know who might need to talk about it.

04 January 2014

2013

2013 was supposed to be our year. And it was, in many ways. 2013 was the year we became us, or started becoming us. I probably won't know which is true for a long time.

2013 started with a journey from Boston to Florida for C's top surgery. That was an incredibly powerful experience, on so many levels. I feel as if that trip was the first big life thing we did together, bigger than moving and buying furniture and getting engaged. It affirmed him, and because we did it together, it affirmed us.

In February, we got the news that we could move back to Pittsburgh. Three weeks later, in early March, we left Boston and arrived back home. It's been a rocky adjustment period, and one that I don't feel is complete. There are still occasionally days that I find myself confused to be here.

Three months after moving, in June, we got married. We had a beautiful day, surrounded by close family & friends who made sure we didn't need to worry about a thing. We had deeply spiritual moments, and deeply silly moments, and about as perfect a wedding as we could have hoped for. We finally hung the prayer flags on which our guests wrote their hopes for our marriage, and it feels empowering to have their positive energies present in our home.

I struggled during summer vacation. The lack of routine was very difficult for me, which contributed to the summer being challenging for us. When I went back to work in August, I was faced with a lot of work-related stress, which is slowly starting to improve as I get more comfortable with my role and my caseload.

At the beginning of December, my best friend died in a car crash. 2013 ended in the most acute grief I have ever experienced. It's been interesting to learn through the experience of grief. What a strange thing human emotions are.

I spent much of 2013 in a relatively dark place. We have experienced a lot of change, and a lot of big changes, in the past year, and I have not adjusted well to most of them. I'm trying to find resolve to make 2014 so much better.