I’m a bit smashed, in anticipation, but here goes:
Nothing Trump says has relevance to anything before the last tweet he reads or wrote (twats?). Everything he says is only of the moment. Look instead to what he actually does.
His immediate goals will be to disarm and confuse the Left and to re-affirm his apparent commitment to the Right, and thus quell demonstrations that might affect his own or the positions of those he’s appointed. I look for actions regarding either Standing Rock or the ACA, or both, because they are immediately available, and hot.
For Standing Rock he may simply declare that the Native American position is identical to that of the armed protesters in Oregon who briefly took over (and trashed) a Ranger station and tourist shop, and support them both through speech and Executive Orders. Oregon is used to such nonsense, and the pipeline people can re-group while the camper/protesters go home as heroes. This effectively disarms both sides, and brands Trump as decisive, unpredictable, and weird.
For the ACA, he can simply instruct Congress to fold it into Medicare with the promise of making it all (eventually) a single-payer system, and maybe include the VA, too. No skin off his teeth, and the insurance and pharma corporations are beginning to see that things can’t go on as they are.
In the meantime his appointees will battle with the Obama-appointed career civil servants to the same kind of grinding standstill that Obama’s appointees faced with Bush’s career civil servant appointments.
This turmoil and will confuse and distract the ever-starry-eyed Democrats and empower ignorant-but-canny Republicans so that they can establish the Supreme Court it wishes and control bathroom access, which is a real concern for them. None of this affects Trump in the least - it is all finger-flicking distraction and attention control - which allows Trump more cover for looting and pillaging, which is what he does best.
That’s my guess for the immediate future of the Trump administration, as mediated by too much Scotch.
The large protest at the inauguration will be ignored, just as the protest of 6-8 million people world-wide to the start of the 2003 Iraq war was ignored. The hard part for Trump will be keeping his mouth shut, as Bush and Cheney did, and suppressing press coverage.
Trump has no agenda other than his own enrichment and glorification. He will empower those who support these goals, who then pursue their own agendas. This infuriates his opponents who then rally and demonstrate. The wall, blocking immigration, and all his appointment demonstrate this.
When our anger and frustration turns violent or destructive, he then gets to demonstrate his power to suppress and control. Don’t let him do this. Let the violence and destruction stay with his supporters who scream bigotry, burn mosques, and beat up nonviolent protesters, people of color, and the gender variant. Demand that the police deal with these violent people, and do not become one of Trumps unwitting agents.
When obvious bigots and frothing nuts are appointed, or commentary on proposed regulations or rules is requested, jam the phone lines of those agencies and Congressional offices. Exercise your right to opinion and speech. If you don’t use it, you will surely lose it.
WWW.regulations.gov - tells what Trump is trying to do and gives you an opportunity to help block him.
I have a bad habit. I’ve been cultivating it for sixty-plus years, albeit unconsciously. I’ve just become aware of it and I’d like to stop it. Help me if you can, if the opportunity arises. “I’m feeling down. And I’d really appreciate your being ‘round.*
At the age of eight I found that I was a cross-dresser, and a building hacker, and that I had a penis that did amazing things besides pee, and it was all wonderfully exciting and I knew I had to keep it a secret because if they found out they might take it all away from me. Clothing, buildings, and dick. So I kept it a secret -- until I was busted by the cops and confronted by my parents. I was deeply ashamed of course, and they were very angry and more than a little confused. This was in 1950, before it was possible to be young and sexual, especially if they found you raiding the neighbor’s clothes lines and doing nasty things with their undies.
So my parents took the advice of the police and my mother’s shrink and put me in a locked ward where I was given electro-convulsive shock treatments at least once a week for a few months. It didn’t “cure” me -- it’s only now clear that no conversion therapy actually works -- but it did convince me to stay completely in the closet no matter what my dick had to say, and no matter how cool that locked building looked. I learned to leave the family laundry strictly alone. And I learned that I absolutely could not trust my mother or father to not lock me up and have me zapped silly, again.
This was my mother. This was my step-father.
If I couldn’t trust them, who could I trust? Obviously, no one, really.
You develop habits and values in your children by modeling the desired behavior. They modeled punishment. (Negative reinforcement is entirely different.) Zapping my brain, essentially erasing my knowledge of being, and who I was, until gradually, after an unknown period of time, piece by piece, memory by memory, I came back. And then I was zapped again.
And then I was zapped again.
After that summer and for years afterwards, I was never quite sure who I was, never quite believed that my memories were real, and especially and above all, that my parents or loved ones could be trusted to not hurt me.
That’s what they modeled, and eventually that’s what I began to do to my friends and to those I loved. I was just this kinda nice guy, fun to be around, except that periodically I’d be a real asshole or do something so out of bounds that you just had to go away and leave me the fuck alone. I was periodically and unexpectedly toxic. You couldn’t trust me. So you didn’t.
It’s easy to blame one’s parents for one’s own character flaws. It’s harder to unlearn their lessons. I’m trying to do that now. You can help me.
If you see me doing shit, or if I do or say shit to you, If you see me doing shit, or if I do or say shit to you, call me on it. Please. I’ve pretty much dealt with my cross-dressing, my building hacking, and my dick. So you can’t help with that. But you can help me to stop being an asshole and to unlearn the lessons my parents taught me, whenever I act like one. Thank you.
No, the media is not lying. It is distracted and confused by a delusional President who cannot distinguish his desires and prejudices from his duties, a national security system and a military who have their own agendas, a Congress which does not mediate or negotiate among its factions, by State governments largely operated for the benefit of their lobbyist's employers, by a populace radically divided by wealth and handicapped by an unresolved 400 year festering sore of racial bigotry and privilege, and seemingly helpless before the indiscriminate and perpetual genocide carried out by its military and local police.
There's more, but the essential point is that the nation has succumbed to the fate of all bureaucracies which do not periodically review themselves and their mission, and it now acts to subvert and undermine the very principles on and for which it was founded. We, its citizens, have not corrected it when it lost its compass, so we have lost our country to the whim and greed of the most powerful, and occupy ourselves only with the care of our own families and interests, just as they do.
We cannot regain our country for it never existedas we were told in myth and patriotic propaganda. We can, however, use similar templates of democratic form and constitution to build anew. But this time continually striving toward the ideals we originally held, and actively work toward, not perfection but balance, not only in power but in equity. We must resist oligarchy and fascism, and fight, nonviolently whenever possible, for a return to sanity, and democracy.
Every woman alive today has shared a public bathroom or a gym locker room with someone wearing clothing not congruent with the sex they were assigned at birth. Yet there is no record of any woman ever being attacked or abused in such a place by someone disguised as a woman. None.
It did not happen. It has never happened. It does not happen now.
So, why is there an attempt to make laws to protect women from something that has never happened? Who are the people who propose and enact these laws. What other things do they fear will happen for which they have no evidence?
How can we be less afraid if we keep imagining new things that are not true?
No one told me the rules for calming the panicked, the traumatized, the abused. So I learned slowly. I’m not done learning, but here’s what I’ve gathered so far.
Women want to be listened to. To be heard and understood. And men don’t listen very well. They’re too busy solving problems they think they hear, so they interrupt and explain and solve when they really should just listen.
Because they are interrupted so often, women tend to save up these unmet needs and hopes and complaints and vent them all at once. Men see this as “sandbagging,” as a bitch-fest where women are more interested in complaining than in having any of their problems solved. (And sometimes this is true.)
Men hear a vent as an appeal to “fix” things, to “make it all better” - as if a pat on the head or correctly labeling a wound would instantly heal it. They interrupt with their “solutions,” before the vent is finished. Sometimes before it’s barely begun, and miss the real point, never recognizing that a “solution” was not wanted or even needed. People (even women!) can solve their own problems. But only if allowed to do so.
So, wait before responding. In fact, while she’s venting don’t even look at her - focus on a spot on the wall or the floor, and simply listen. Before you respond, repeat what was said in your mind until you are sure you have it right. Then wait until the vent is done before responding -- there may be a dozen more things on her mind, and you won’t remember them all. Concentrate on the ones that seem most important to her.
People don’t hear women, especially men-people, who need to fix things. Many things can’t be fixed, or explained, or kissed all better. But you can show compassion, and share in their pain and turmoil, simply by listening accurately. Don’t think or plot or plan, be in the moment of their words. Listen. Take notes!
When the venting is completely done, wait a bit and ask if you can tell her what you heard. Then say or paraphrase the most important thing you heard her say, and ask if you got it right. Do Not offer a solution. Keep paraphrasing until she is satisfied you got it right. Then go on to the next most important thing you remember, and ask if you got that right. Tell her you know there was more, but you lost track, and that if they are still important she can say them again, another time.
Don’t offer solutions. Ask if a hug would be okay.
Think of Heinlein’s Valentine Michael Smith here, the human boy raised by Martians, and why his hug or kiss was so wonderful: “When he kissed you, he wasn’t doing anything else.” So when you hug, don’t do anything else but hug. Don’t take it anywhere, just hug.
I was born “Baby Parr,” because at the time, my mother was not married and my father was not available. But the Social Security administration wouldn’t accept that, so I became Pauli Allen Parr (Allen, after my maternal grandfather). And when my parents finally married, I became Eric Pauli Kovach (Pauli after my paternal grandfather,, and when my mother divorced and re-married, I became Eric Paul Bagai. I have no idea where ‘Eric’ came from.
Much later, I discovered that ‘Pauli’ was my paternal grandfather’s pseudonym when he wrote propaganda for the infamous Hungarian dictator Bela Kuhn, and my paternal grandparents, Anya and Josip Feldman, took the name ‘Kovach’ when they escaped from Budapest after the Kuhn government fell. ‘Bagai’ is my stepfather’s family name, which is actually a Persian patronymic traditionally given to orphans of unknown parentage, and who, though born in India (in that part which is now Pakistan), was actually raised by a German family in Palo Alto. (I have no idea what their name was.)
Got that? Good! But there’s more!
As a performer and writer (same thing, really) I’ve billed myself as Paulo the Gypsy, Zoltan Carpathian, and Eric the Occasional, among others. And after sixty years in the closet, I have come out to friends, family, and on Facebook as a rather private cross dresser who, when on-line as a trans woman, is known as Paulette.
So who am I, really? And what should you call me? Obviously, my name is mutable, changeable with the role I’m performing, the props I’m using, and the clothes I’m wearing. My name matches the role, and sometimes for a few moments I can believe that I actually am the role I’m playing: a juggler, a jester, a magician, a woman. And it’s true, I have been all these things, and responded to all these labels. But throughout it all, and regardless of the label, I remain myself -- just as you remain yourself regardless of what others call you, and regardless of pronouns.
I was never a very good juggler, though I’m a good teacher of juggling. So I can imagine myself being a woman, or being Zoltan Carpathian. But while I can imagine what it’s like, I can never actually know what it’s like to be someone or something else. Can anyone really know what it’s like to be someone else? Something else? What, after all, is it like to be a bat?
I suppose that if I pretended long enough and practiced hard enough I could think of myself as female . But it would not be the same as someone who’s grown up thinking of herself that way, being seen and addressed as female, being subject to the prejudices and expectations of men and women and her peers. And it’s not the same thing as dysphoria. I’ve got seventy-five years of equity, of practice, in being a man. I do it fairly well and I like it, and really don’t want to give it up. Guarantee me another seventy-five years and I’ll consider transition. So sometimes I pretend. But it’s still me pretending. The label is only a label, not the person.
I do not speak for anyone but myself. As a friend says, “when you’ve met one cross dresser, you’ve met one cross dresser.” That’s true for jugglers and jesters, publishers and magicians, and butchers and bakers as well. We all do the best we can.
As Eddie Izzard says, I don’t wear woman’s clothes. They’re my clothes -- I bought them.
So, as Popeye says, “I yam what’s I yam; an dats all what’s I yam: I’m Popeye, Popeye, Popeye the Sailor Man.”
Beth and I read many of her books together and wondered how she knew us so well. Her depictions of strong but wounded people, growing up among adults who didn’t and couldn’t understand. Today I began once again to read the first of her Mary Russel books: The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, Or On the Segregation of the Queen. I was crying before I finished the introductions.
It’s not simply that King is a brilliant writer. She is. But how she folds the experience of her characters into each novel, and brings out the nature of their trauma and how they try to overcome its effects, and how those efforts warp and strengthen them beyond what is expected or thought possible. She writes of heroes and heroines, artists and madmen, gay and straight in all their complexity, and does them justice.
In this way she illuminated my own past as well as Beth’s. Not completely, but well enough for us to see with greater clarity, and perhaps to better understand what we so loved in each other.
The first I wrote and edited forty or fifty times. With a month or more between sessions. The second punctuated by Beth’s death. Perhaps there’s more. I’ll have to look.
Recordings of her shows with Sturgeon are now safely digitized and accessible from the special collections library at the University of Kansas at Lawrence. Now I just have to get her own poems on line and maybe in the Flaming Sparrow site, along with my Fire Safety bit. The Ordinal Scales are now published by Liz, at zilprint.com (no worse than Foreworks, I suppose.)
I can fill up my own space with the best of my Notes. The little almost-poems. Somewhere there is a video of my only Standing O performance, with Jeremy Faludi: “Los Dos Superpendejos.” I doubt that’s recoverable. The “Glow Ball Warming” bit was fun, too.
I’m sorry I couldn’t help you realize your dreams, Judy, and that I was so opaque and forbidding a second-rate alpha to you. You deserved better. So many years I wasted, yours and mine. You were so far beyond me, and I was a poor publicist and agent.
Yes, Beth. We have always been lovers, and will be again, for all time. I hope I can help you better next time. You helped me so very much. I love every aspect and degree of you. Always.
Art can only ennoble the beholder, not the artist.
The artist can only be satisfied by the completion of the vision, and only thus is ennobled.
Knowing the sins or greatness of the artist does not change the art or its value. It may change our view of the artist. But it simply shows the complexity of the life and times in which it was created, and thereby adds to the possibility of our own lives being enriched by it.
I believe that all men are predators, confessed or not, accused or not, whether they know it or not. This is what we do, what we've always done to each other, to women, to children. We are our own prey. So we shrink from danger. Even from knowledge. We freeze in hopes that by not being noticed, we might survive. Me too.
Rather, we should acknowledge and try to overcome these qualities in ourselves, and resist them in others. Is this not what civilization is for: learning about our own natures and rising above the worst of them? Perhaps it is what we are for. Perhaps we have no other purpose.
In theories of moral development, how one comes to know what's right or wrong is though example and punishment, empathy and modeling.
If a child sees that there are no negative consequences to using force to achieve the ends sought, he will feel free to use greater and greater force until stopped. If the child finds that tantrums, screaming and kicking, achieve a desired result, then tantrums, etc., will become a means to that end.
If on the other hand he observes (and learns) that kindness, respect, reciprocity, patience and negotiation will do the trick, then he will learn and prefer those means.
A lack of positive models and effective consequences leave children with a warped moral compass, and eventually produces an adult who is manipulative and cruel. Such children learn to be effective bullies, cheats, thieves, liars, con artists, etc., and will develop these skills to the best of their abilities, and practice them as adults.
We encourage girls to "play nice," to co-operate; and boys “to be boys." Yes, we all know it's wrong to force ourselves on others, but many of us, mostly men, have learned how to get what we want regardless of the wishes of others.
A Power-Point lecture will not change this for adults; for them it will require public exposure of their wrong-doing and the wrong-doing of others. It will require public displays of consequences, and public atonement.
For children it will require a change in parenting practices, and better and more consistent behavior management in the home and in the schools.
Think who he might be now if Donald Trump, as a child, had been closely monitored for his lying, bullying, cheating, and stealing? If he had been shown swift and consistent consequences for such behavior, by parents, teachers, and by even playmates.
Imagine if instead, he had seen fair play, sharing, and co-operation as an approved means to achieve desired ends, and equitable justice meted out by the caregivers and adults in his world.