08/31/2012

IT IS OKAY TO BE SAD.

Here’s one perspective on trigger warnings.

And here is my response, not just as a blogger, but as a survivor and a pretty avid reader of potentially triggering web content.

I like trigger warnings. I like having the choice to not read about rape when I’m not in an appropriate place to do so. A trigger warning is about restoring choice, it’s not about creating a safe or even a safe(r) space. I think it’s true that sometimes people get itchy about trigger warnings, and request them in unexpected situations, and that we can’t expect to anticipate peoples’ needs for trigger warnings 100% of the time. But I can prepare and be considerate of the fact that there are are a vast and ever-increasing number of people who become triggered by graphic descriptions of sexual violence and other types of violence, including transphobic violence, police violence, child abuse, etc. Do I have to include a trigger warning? Nope! This is my blog, and I choose to, in part because I want you to do the same for me.

There are days that I wake up shaking from my nightmares, not wanting to leave the house. A lot of those days are in my past, but I can’t guarantee that days of constant anxiety attacks and flashbacks won’t come again, and I know I’m not the only person who has experienced that as my “normal”, my daily reality. A friend recently compared a trigger warning to an NSFW (not safe for work) tag. If I see a trigger warning and I’m already upset for some reason (whether my ongoing PTSD related stuff or because my mom and I just got in a fight), I get to make the choice as to whether or not I can handle that subject matter at that time. Simple as that!

Do I get triggered in other situations? Hell yes! But it’s really nice to be able to pick and choose sometimes, y’know?

The Zombie Thumb

08/26/2012

I had not understood love
is a kind of grief. It was your name on my tongue
cracked the shell of nightmare

-Samuel Green, from Vertebrae: Poems 1978-1994

The zombie thumb has been neatly severed
halfway from the tip again.
I call it the zombie thumb because
once it is whole again, it will wander
senseless and hungry
pitching and rolling in search of warm flesh
while skin peels back from the wound
gaping flakes rasping
against the face it longs to consume
imprint upon sensory memory
the precise scrub of your jaw
or the delicate understory of peach fuzz
that belies the dark wiry hairs at the small of your back.
Sadly, it will be years before the ability returns
and familiarity with your face may not stay the distance between.
The last time I revealed the blood moon of lipid inside
I had not even put your name to my mouth.
I was drunk, a solitary beer on an empty stomach
and the impending doom of a long term relationship crumbling,
brick after brick removed while I held my breath
not yet ready to call the finale Jenga.
I was in the kitchen with my brother
revealing the latest passive aggression
not aware that in a year I’d have pulled the curtain
same as he was telling me I ought to, then.
But how could I have known?
It took another year for the boom to become bust.
That night instead of repairing to silence I came home still bleeding
and had to break the unspoken terms of our childish disagreement
by asking him to dress the wound.
He pressed it with gauze and wound with tape
brows knitted, fingers coolly collected.
The gash ameliorated, we sank into his bed
side by side in the dark
until sometime after midnight
I threw my arm over the freckled crescent of his back
and drew us together, attempting to erase the earlier slight.
Now I have slivered the same scar
and staunched the bleeding on my own.
Tho it took the night and day to close
the watchcap flap is finally fastened
knitting itself to bed
comforted by a single bandage.
The night I gored myself I was alone, and singing
putting up a crock of sauerkraut to feed myself
tart and salt for the month
when the dull knife slipped and twinned the former injury
tho not the pomp or circumstance.
I’ve learned so much in the intervening years.
This time I tamped down tight to slow the bleeding
elevated the foreshortened digit above my heart.
And tho the throbbing in time to pulse tempted,
I swallowed not the blood-thinning aspirin nor pain-nulling narcotics.
After a few hours the pain dulled and the bleeding feathered out
enough to warrant gauze, but certainly no fountain for concern.
Experience tells me there are long months and years of healing ahead
that even after the flesh itself appears repaired from severance
years will come and go before I can
take joy in the sensation of stroking
that thumb along another jaw
tho it will search
until it finds.

editorial note: a revised and expanded version of this post is awaiting publication elsewhere. I’ll link when it appears. whee!

Tattoos? I got em. Scars, too, but we’ll save that for another day. This is written in part as response to this.

My biggest tattoo is a chest piece, depicting in cartoonish allure my first road bike, Vera, as drawn by one of my best friends, with wings sprouting from the bottom bracket shell. Beyond the bike in the foreground is a roadway and the rolling hills of Orcas Island. Birds are silhouetted aloft in the distance over the sky. The whole scene is framed with salmon berry leaves and a banner beneath proclaims JOURNEY, as taken from this poem, Velocipede:

cog teeth willing, speed and
journey.

I hadn’t planned my tattoo as a chest piece at all, but the more we planned the tattoo the more elaborate it became, and the more apparent that the finer details (lugs, etc) would not fit on my upper arm and still remain unblurred over years and healing. So. My chest became the new canvas.

It hurt like hell, some of it–but it also hurt good. I like getting tattooed. I like the process of planning, inking, and healing. It feels cathartic.

Does that make me dangerous? Maybe. Maybe it does, because I know the power of my body to heal, again and again. Healing is a transitory point, a place of great vulnerability and great power.

When I show someone my tattoo, I also expose my chest to them. I was reminded of this as a friend was peering at it yesterday as we sat on the porch. She gestured to the rest of my chest (breasts, if you wish–tits to me). “They’re nice!”

And I came up with what I always do. “Cheaper than top surgery.”

***

I’ve been binding for the last year or two, and for the first time acquired a “real binder earlier this year, which pancakes my tits to my ribcage. It leaves a little to be desired in presentation (there are hilarious bulges near my armpit region, for instance) and comfort, but my clothes finally fit right, and I feel so much less self conscious. Less self conscious getting dressed, less self conscious being out and about in the world.

Will I get top surgery? I get asked this a lot by a select number of people who seem to be very invested in how my gender transition will play out. A couple of those people are people with whom I have had sexual and romantic relationships, and a couple of them aren’t. I don’t know why they’re so invested in my body (yo, it’s mine!), I just know that they are.

Top surgery is expensive. Top surgery is invasive. Top surgery has the potential to remove sensation from my nipples, something that would be sexually…un-gratifying. And I’m still on the fence about “to babies or not to babies”, and if I become a carrying-parent, I want to retain the option of breastfeeding. That last one feels particularly pertinent to my current romantic relationship, which is with a person who definitely wants to babies, and does not have carrying (uterine) capacity.

I’m not particularly invested in “passing” as a man, my gender is more complicated than man/woman or male/female. It does feels disrespectful and it makes me itch when people call me by the wrong pronouns (she/her). It feels schizophrenic* when I have to use my legal name (a name I no longer use, otherwise) to access emergency medical care, my bank accounts, or even to fill out paperwork, though thankfully my new and temporary employer still calls me by my preferred name–I haven’t talked about pronouns with them. Instead our customers seems to call me by whatever pronouns are handy, which seems to work okay for now, though I expect it to create complications eventually. At least there’s a safe place to pee!

My whole life I’ve been told that I must be a dyke because of my gender. Even my mother thought so. As it turns out, the people I’m most often attracted to are people who are also masculine-presenting in some way. Is that a result of internalized misogyny/sexism? I don’t know–I think that I’m still working on the part of myself that has learned to dismiss femininity out of hand, but I also had the example of my mother, a strong, capable hard femme, to deter me from internalizing at least some of that shit. I can break open societal expectations about gender and sexuality simply by holding hands with my handsome bearded sweetheart while crossing the street.

I live in an in-between place. A journey is an in-between place, but it is a powerful one. My sight lines constantly expand and contract as I travel. I am constantly in motion, even when sitting still. The journey is the point, not the endpoint.

*I have mixed feelings about using this word in this context but have failed to come up with something more appropriate. Feedback, if you have any?

08/23/2012

reading Audre Lorde’s Zami: a new spelling of my name, thinking about my mother, my gender identity, our lives and experiences and identities and claims and denials. passing, not passing–gender and race.

trying to recover from getting doored going downhill on my bike. sprains, strains, and bruises, but no head wounds or fractures or lacerations. canceling and no-showing a lot as a result.

settling into the new job, grease creased around my nails for the season.

curling up into the arms of my sweet, striking sparks off of one another’s bodies in dark or light. multiplying kisses and kindnesses.

feeling isolated because of [reasons].

filling up my fountain pen with purple ink over and over and feeling satisfied, even if most of what i write is just journal entries on the day-to-day of wrenching and emoting.

trying to envision the future and coming up blank beyond limping through the next few months.

 

08/10/2012

Working on a travelogue pome (excerpt):

These weeks of summer
my limbs are hammered a hot gold
taped with pale evocations
accessories that shun the midday glare.

But sun can blister even thru morning fog
and it does, molten pronouncements
on the tips of my ears,
soon to scab and scar in sheets
immolated for the sake of foolish pride.

Oh reader, I know content has been fucking scarce these past few months, but I just bartered myself a new-to-me computer and I’ve got a hell of a lot of things to say. Just you wait. Just you wait and read.

xoxo,

RD

Re-reading The …

08/04/2012

Re-reading The Tyranny of Structurelessness with an eye to recent events is…telling. I think my bitter laugh has other places to be right now, but god and damn.

HELLOOO:

Thus structurelessness becomes a way of masking power, and within the women’s movement is usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful (whether they are conscious of their power or not). As long as the structure of the group is informal, the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness of power is limited to those who know the rules. Those who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion, or suffer from paranoid delusions that something is happening of which they are not quite aware.

from here.