Used to be that the seasons governed what one did. Till, plant weed, harvest, store, till. It's seasonal, and while you work your tail off for long hours and days, when it's done, it's done. Waiting until the next season of work begins - often by celebrating.
Against this there is the continuous work that must be done daily. Cleaning, putting things away, repairing, replacing, making meals, cleaning up and putting away.
Work tends to fall into cycles of either burst or continuous activity. Traditional work tends to be continuous, broken into 9-to-5 patterns with breaks for meals and snacks. Modern work tends to fall into bursts of activities where the clock is forgotten because the goal must be achieved by a certain time. And then we begin the next burst of activity. There is no slack time other than that short period before the next burst.
That's corporate IT work. It sucks. Worse, it kills.
Don't do it.
April 1st is the day of the Fool, The tarot image of the unbalanced wanderer,
one foot on the path and the other poised over the abyss, his heels nipped at
by a noisy little dog incapable of causing significant damage
but which might trip him to his death.
The Fool speaks truth to power and does not know it. He offers good will
and gentle humor to all, even as he reveals their deepest secrets and shame.
His most serious confidence and confession is received with ridicule;
his lighthearted jests are seen as dire threat and mortal insult.
You know him. You have been him. He is the Fool.
It really does take all kinds.
For me? No.
For some cross-dressers, transvestites, and people in the many stages of sexual or gender transition, yes, of course. And it's important for everyone who has transitioned to full-time life as whomever they feel themselves to be, male, female, genderless, furry, lizard, lycanthrope, alien creature -- I've known people who've firmly had these exact beliefs about themselves. (And only one of them was a circus/side-show performer.)
I am who I've always been, regardless of dress or presentation. The labels are not me; the labels are what others supply.
Sometimes I like to look pretty. Sometimes to look handsome. I've achieved both to my own satisfaction. I don't much need to fool, or be accepted by others, or to "pass." I also don't need to convince others that I'm intelligent, or accomplished. I'm satisfied to be who I am at the seventy-five years of age I am.
Would I like to be able to pass as a woman when I wanted to? Yes. Similarly I've wanted to be able to "be" a street performer, an impresario of cultural events, a publisher of diagnostic texts, a writer of essays, a U.S. Marine, an organizer of mass political rallies, a child in the back of a classroom who didn't want to be noticed. A designer of business forms, a husband, a father, someone whom a robber or a pickpocket would not want to bother with. All of these things at various times. So, yes. I've wanted to "pass," and have at various time have "passed" as each of them. But I also "was" them.
Each role has been important to me at one time or another, and each for a different reason. The accumulation of them has slowly made me confident in myself and my abilities, but not (usually) overconfident. I am also at home with my limitations as I know them, (though I do regret not being able to do what I could when I was younger).
I am not a woman, but with the right accessories and in the care of a competent makeup artist, I can appear to be one to others, for a while. Eventually I'll speak or move in a way that shows I am not wholly what I appear to be, and I have no motivation to learn how to overcome that. Would I like to "be" a woman? No.
However, I can project a feeling into my own mind that is what I think a woman might feel herself to be like, even what I might feel like were I a woman. At times I have done this, and I assume that if maintained that feeling for any length of time, I might even feel alienated from my actual body, so much so that I'd want to change my body to conform to the image I have of myself. It would be a form of dysphoria, though probably not what others might describe as their own dysphoria. But even though that's me, I respect each of your own feelings about yourselves. It's taken me a long time to fully do so -- I've lost friends and alienated more than a few people in getting to where I am now.
I am not about to argue that my viewpoint about passing is right or correct, or that yours is wrong. This is simply mine.
I don't know what it's like, really like, to be a woman. I don't think anyone does, including women! We, each of us, only know what it's like to be ourselves. We can imagine what it's like to be someone other than ourselves, but we can never know. We can study and try to project what we know and imagine to be true about another person, but we can never know. As a great British actress said when asked about her method of portraying a character, "I pretend."
So, sometimes, for a while, I pretend.
Yes, I'm familiar with brain studies, family histories, cultural roles, etc., and some combination of these things may apply to me. But I don't know, and I never expect to know if they are true. Like Popeye, "I yam whats I yam." And like Popeye, that's good enough for me.
You make plans, and God laughs.
Saturday morning my wonderful, sexy, brilliant, young wife inexplicably died in her sleep. I came to bed 15 minutes after her and found she'd stopped breathing and had no heartbeat. CPR and hard slaps and shaking and screaming at her brought no response. Called 911, the EMRs got a flat line, and it stayed that way despite everything done to and for her.
We expected her to outlive me by at least the 29 years of difference in our ages. I'd encouraged her to look forward to becoming a cougar and a crazy cat lady, living on the California Lost Coast, overlooking the sea. I encouraged her to fantasize about pool boys and silver foxes (like me, heh) rather than dwell on being alone and a young widow.
Well, gee! That didn't happen.
It may be marginally easier to find someone now so at ease with my CD than it was before. But I doubt I'll find someone I can be so much in love with, and she with me, that we're convinced we have been lovers in previous and future lives - soul mates for all time. (And I'm a hard-headed realist and atheist with no belief in an afterlife, with this one exception.)
Cremation tomorrow. But in the morning I'll take pictures of the tattoo around her waist, hiding the scars from her vertical tube gastrectomy, tuck and breast reductions, and loss of over 120 pounds, to make herself anew. It was of her interpretation of a vine gracing the cover of Le Mort d'Arthur, by Aubrey Beardsley. Someone described them as the Lilies of Life. I recognized them instantly, and later that evening we were in a hot tub, and then a bed, together. Long legs, short torso, flaming red hair, a Bode's Broad delight. I felt she had made herself over, just for me. A screamer and a squirter, who I could bring to orgasm as many times as she would allow. The woman I would have been.
I told her about my life and work, and the only thing that gave her pause was my having been a Marine. My CD was a feature, not a bug. Her daughter only asked if I was a good CD (she was a Ru Paul fan, but we worked that out.) Beth wanted to care for me for the rest of my life, believing that my contributions as a peace organizer, teacher, and writer was payment in full for her love and a comfortable retirement.
Now, while everyone in her family wants to honor her wishes, the means of realizing them is not clear. Beth and her uncle were the only trustees of her parent's estate. Now the MILs brother is in complete control and I'll see how that works out. (Louisiana is the only State with law based on Napoleonic code, so who the fuck knows?) His priories are for his sister first, then Beth's daughter, then me - none of which I object to, but it leaves my future unclear, and I would like very much not to have to revive my businesses of editing and publishing and circus arts instruction. Fifty-five years of work is enough. But while the concept of "blood kin" is culturally recognized, legalkin takes precedence. Whatever. I'll find out in the next few weeks.
I plan to move back to the west coast.
When my second wife, of forty years, died I felt I'd lost half my life. Now I feel I've lost half my "other" half - my real life, so newly found. But I know where it is, so I think I can find it again. And if not, I'll meet her somewhere, in some other life, and once again we will be one.
(I believe that is the proper form of address, the vocative.)
I need homes for two excellent cats. They've always lived together, but needs must because their human Moma (and my wife) died last Saturday, and I must leave them soon.
Both male, fixed, friendly, and healthy, with very recent shots and exams. Each with their own Facebook page and following:
Inky Dinkadoo (https://www.facebook.com/inky.dinkadoo?fref=ts) is about 8 years old and is Halloween black, shy but loving. Good with well-behaved dogs. An indoor cat, definitely.
Elvis Purrsley (https://www.facebook.com/elvis.purrsley.3?fref=ts) is a 9yo tabby (miniature Maine Coon), and very, very friendly. Was a rescue, and evidently once had a bad dog encounter, but has made friends with several since then. An indoor cat, but dreams of wild encounters in the woods.
They have always lived together, but will quickly learn to deal with what comes - I'd just like it to be nice wherever that is, and in a loving home. They've been good friends of mine for five years now, and Beth's friends all their lives. Now that she's gone they need more attention than I can give.
We are in the Hammond LA area.
Post to me here (Eric Bagai), or to my email email@example.com for an interview.
"Irrelevant that the tiger has leapt,
is even now at midpoint
in an arc that will certainly end in your destruction.
So it is for all the ten thousand created things.
Of relevance only is the curious fact that
at this present instant you are alive."
Attributed to Lao-Tsu, by Chan in "The Last Six Million Seconds,"
and by Sonchai Jitpleecheep in "Bangkok 8,"
both fictitious characters created by John Burdett.
I am this.
I am the accumulation of all my memories of myself, remembering myself, revised each time by what’s been forgotten, retold somewhat differently, an unknown number of times. Nothing more, or less.
I am that space behind my eyes, the infinity of barbershop mirrors, the sound of the knuckle of my finger, cracking. And now I’m remembering that sound, and everything I have ever thought or done or experienced or was that makes up my memory of my memory of that sound.
I am that, and all things that have gone before that, and nothing more or less.
At our age we have loved many people, and they us. It is a wonderful and terrible privilege to see loved ones through the end of their lives. The grieving process becomes much more than saying goodbye -- we acquire an obligation to carry their memories with us and make their spirit present in the rest of our lives. The weight of it grounds and centers us, and the lightness of our love sets our spirits free, to fly with theirs.
Though she was the principal trustee of her father’s and her Alzheimer’s-inflicted mother’s estate, Beth left no will of her own, only the instructions that I “be taken care of for the rest of my life,” and that her remains be disposed of in as natural a way as possible. Her often-stated preference was that her body be left naked and high in a tree for birds and forest creatures to feed on. In Louisiana that’s not legally possible, so two days after her death she was cremated. The following Friday a sort of wake was held at the funeral home. Her family and friends gathered to offer their condolences to me and to her mother.
I had asked the funeral director that her ashes be divided among three containers: one for the cemetery plot where her father’s and eventually her mother’s ashes will be, near SELU. In that container I also placed what she and I considered her true marriage ring - a bracelet of glass beads the color of her hair when we met, which I wore until the day she died.
I have taken the other two containers of ashes with me to California, where a simple ceremony (planned for February 20th, 2016) with local friends and family will see that one container is buried at the base of a tree, perhaps at the Children’s Theater where she first performed, perhaps somewhere on the grounds of Palo Alto High School, perhaps at the rental house we so loved that we called it “Haven House,” after the name we had planned to adopt together as our own.
The third container will be buried some place in the woods, or on the beach near Eureka California, where we’d hoped to live one day. I still have the floor plans she drew of the house we might have built there. I plan to drive there next year, in the Spring or early Summer.
These are all places she loved, and though she had never been there a friend had sent pictures of Eureka, and Beth spent hours looking at them.
She would sometimes spend her birthdays in the nearest cemetery because she found them peaceful and restful (as did the character Maude, in the movie “Harold and Maud.”) I hope others will find her resting places peaceful and restful as well.
Have you noticed that we don’t have family bomb shelters anymore, or even community bomb shelters? The key to understanding why was the discovery that, once they had a bomb shelter, formerly peaceable families became more aggressive. Much more aggressive. In fact they often became Hawks where they had previously been Doves: their family was ready for war because they were safe. So, in fear of creating a nation of Hawks eager for war. the US government stopped subsidizing bomb shelters and holding city-wide atomic bomb drills.
It was only after we stopped the bomb drills and stopped building bomb shelters that we were able to de-escalate the manufacture of bombs. At the same time the word got out that shelters didn’t really protect us and that the so-called defense of Mutually Assured Destruction only assured that we’d all be destroyed. and that those who survived would not find much to live for. Only then were we able to limit the number of atomic bombs throughout the world, thus truly making all of our families safer.
The key to this change was the discovery that, once people had a bomb shelter, and thought they could survive an atomic war, Doves became Hawks.
The same thing happens with guns.
People buy guns for protection because they are afraid and because they believe that having a gun can make them safe, or safer. This belief is not true, and all good research shows it to be false: If you have a gun you are several times more likely to harm yourself, a family member, or a friend than to deter anyone from harming you, your family, or your friends.
Guns do not make you safer, they make you less safe.
The epidemic of gun violence in America can be stopped. But it requires that we stop believing that guns make us safer. And then it will be possible to stop easy access to guns, and only then can gun ownership be regulated.
That would mean that a gun owner would have to buy personal liability insurance for any accident or misuse of their gun. That their guns must be registered and traceable to their owners. That their guns meet all current safety standards. And that gun owners must be able show certification of physical and mental competence. We demand this of automobile owners. Can we ask any less of gun owners?
So first we need to understand that we cannot become safe by having a gun just as we cannot become safe by having atomic bombs. Mutually Assured Destruction, by bomb or gun, is not a defense. It’s a plan.