[[Simple math]]
So maybe I will create a poetry friends group for anyone who is interested?

Simple math               
He turned the lions loose, they say.
Eight bears, an old baboon,
eighteen endangered tigers.
A monkey is still missing,
swinging through the elm trees,
or already consumed by this sudden suburban jungle.

They lament with strident urgency
the paltry four tranquilizer guns
and their three-minute delay,
a seven-mile roadblock,
the sudden fall of night.
It's simple math:
fifty-six of them,
families to protect, and children,
locked car windows,
and 9-1-1 calls.

Desperate to explain the leaden carcasses of
thirty-five great cats,
the former zoo-keeper's death is a 22-caliber footnote
in the real news of the day.

I am still working on this one...


you come back to me in a memory
of frantic morning primping,
a hurricane of flat-ironed hair and unironed pants.
the bathroom mirror still fogged
by your shower and breath as you squintingly apply eyeliner, shouting
"time check!" every few minutes.

you are always late.

it takes some time to trace the memories
of women i have loved and not deserved
before i get to your name and face,
two words instead mean the essence of you.

i     have never been good with time.
i     have never been good with months or years.
i     looked after those hands with unblinking dedication.

sleepless tuesday mornings, i wonder
who it is that now attends
to the ticking of your clocks.

Writer's Block: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue
Where is one new place you’d like to visit?

I cannot believe they just juxtaposed Columbus and "visiting." How about: "It's Columbus Day. What lies did your teacher tell you?"

(no subject)
Okay, so I had therapy with E again and paid attention to the noises again and I think that what she is doing when she makes them is thinking. She makes them especially when trying to figure out how to phrase something. Which is fine, and I appreciate her being careful about her words. But the times when she does them end up feeling like "tsssst, how do I not tell this crazy person that they are crazy? How awkward for me."

I'm taking two classes on poetry right now, and one of them is making me to free-writes, and that is really weird for me. I haven't really written poetry for at least five years. I probably stopped around the time I started transitioning. The two are probably related. And I'm finding also how flat things are for me, how few of my senses are involved in my life, how few experiences I have, and how little emotional connection I have to them. And that is the stuff that poetry is made out of. So poetry feels really mechanical to me right now, but I am working on it.

Here is a poem I wrote the other day:

[[and so]]

even now,
my body eats my words
like it ate my stomach lining and my muscles,
the apples from my cheeks,
the words from the insides of my skull:
my own all-consuming shame
sucking indecently on the greasy fingertips of memories
until this machine learned to
metabolize self-hatred into glucose,
distill fear into a dirty fuel--
until everything i say feels like it starts in the middle,
and finds itself too tired to reach the end

(no subject)
People keep asking me why I stopped testosterone. I don't really have one concrete answer. I have a lot of answers and also no answers.

The first thing I should say is that it was not a choice that I made. I did not announce "this will be the last time I introduce synthetic testosterone into my body." It very well might not be. I did it one day, and then a few weeks later, I didn't do it. I haven't done it again since then. I should probably also state that I wasn't very good about doing my shots consistently, for many reasons, a lot of them having to do with laziness (read: depression).

The most important reasons are probably that it was becoming more physically difficult to do it (all of my thighs and a good amount of my butt are scar tissue) and it didn't make sense to me to do something that caused physical pain and discomfort when I was, at the same time, feeling pretty ambivalent about it. But where did the ambivalence come from?

I was (and am) concerned about how to be a queer feminist activist when accepting male privilege and my gender was becoming more fluid so that the ability to be read as a man, at that time, around 95% of the time was uncomfortable both personally and politically. I was really exploring activism for the first time, and I missed that (probably mostly-imagined) feeling of camaraderie with women and queers, both categories having been incredibly important to my development, women more so, and whom I felt I was losing. But I missed being LEGIBLE, which is a key word to my life. I missed being read in accurate and nuanced ways. I became uncomfortable with being read as cisgender and having to fight to make people understand why that didn't work for me. I realized I was letting even people I liked and trusted read me as cissexual, and that in doing so, I was losing this huge chunk of myself.

I had also been in a good relationship that taught me a lot of respect for my body, and which had recently ended in a bad break-up that began with my ex saying that she was scared that her dad would "find out" ("that I have a vagina?" I asked. She agreed).

So for a lot of reasons, I needed to do what I could with the body I have.

I was relatively happy with where I was physically. Sometimes I still am, sometimes I want more facial hair or less, sometimes I like my chest, other times I wish it was still T-soft and more easily bound. Going off T made it much firmer, rounder, and pretty much impossible to bind effectively. So I hardly bother. That has informed my gender all by itself, as has being consistently gendered differently by different people at the same instant, which hasn't happened since I was a kid.

At the time I went off T, I was also having some problems with medical access. I needed another doctor's appointment; I didn't want another doctor's appointment because doctor's appointments make me feel fundamentally guilty and broken. He would make comments about how he hadn't seen me for a while, he would ask how I had been getting my T, and I would mutter something about not really doing it every two weeks or on any kind of schedule and he would cluck his tongue and ask if I wanted to speak to the person who runs their trans program. So I saved that final dose of T and still have it in my bedside table, just in case I need it and can't get it. Money was tight, so paying for both the actual appointment and the T were concerning enough to put it off, and especially not to pay to feel bummed out about myself and how I care for myself.

(Lately, I have also be considering my extremely strong self-destructive streak and the role it probably played. This was probably clear to the outside reader early on in this narrative, but is only slowly coming into focus for me.

Important also, the reflective reader may suspect, is my relationship with inertia [again, read depression], where it is so much easier to just keep doing whatever you are or are not doing than it is to make choices that might turn out to be wrong.)

I think also that the question as to why I went off T comes with a LOT of judgment, a lot more judgment than asking why I stopped taking the dozen other medications I have stopped taking in my life. You mean, why did I stop jamming a piece of metal into my thigh every couple of weeks? Because I thought that was the sort of thing I was supposed to be learning how not to do. Also, because fuck you. Because I don't feel the need right now to have an "easy" body or an easy gender, by which I mean mostly a binary/scrutable/cohesive/(mis)understandable one. Because it's hard to be on it and hard to be off, and being off is cheaper. Because it's my body and people don't get to dictate to me how to do maleness. Because I felt better and didn't need it anymore. Because I (wondered if I) missed an estrogen-dominated system.

When people ask why I went off T, what I'm pretty sure they are asking is "which was the mistake: going on, or going off?" Neither was the mistake. I'm 98% sure I would have killed myself if I had not made some major life-reclaiming changes at that point in my life, chief of which was deciding what my body would look like and how people would relate to it. I've made some peace with my body and have also changed the way I view and relate to it. And for various reasons, I wanted to try not being on that medication anymore. That question assumes a particularly static idea of identity.

At the same time, I also know that a lot of the time they are really just saying "that's a difficult choice not many people make. Why did you make it?"

I made it because it felt right.

(no subject)
very mild Harry Potter spoilerCollapse )

(no subject)
"Black and Third World people are expected to educate white people as to our humanity. Women are expected to educate men. Lesbians and gay men are expected to educate the heterosexual world. The oppressors maintain their position and evade their responsibility for their own actions. There is a constant drain of energy which might be better used in redefining ourselves and devising realistic scenarios for altering the present and constructing the future."
--Audre Lorde

That is all. Except:
Oh Audre.

(no subject)
Matthew asked me my old name. It makes me feel very far away when people do that. That name hurt me a lot. He was very nice about it. He has a friend who just came out as trans and is trying to find a new name. He wanted to know how people get new names. He said "what did your name used to be, if you don't mind me asking?" I shook my head very tightly and he said that he was sorry and it's okay. Another roommate asked me who was the first person to call me Eli or when I started using that and I explained a little*. That is an okay question to me, because it is about me and now and the choices I made.

I don't really understand why I am crying. Something just hurts a lot right now.

*My old name started with an L. When I was trying to figure things out, I used el, because it's the same sound, then e, then eli, then Eli/Elijah.

(no subject)
Trigger warning: cissexism, violence, rape jokes, bullshit

References to a transwoman in a McDonald's getting the shit kicked out of her so badly she seized while a number of McDonald's workers looked on/filmed it are making the rounds. I posted a link on my Facebook and I wanted to say something like "please, if you are not trans and/or not a violence survivor, please watch this. You owe us being a witness to this." But that seemed pushy, and I don't know what everyone's triggers are, so I didn't say it.

A few minutes later, my sister commented to say "Just reading about the video made me feel sick. I could never watch it , but I like to think I would have stopped it, had I been there." And my first thought was how? how? Please tell me, because I wish I knew. because if I were there, I would have been too scard to stop it. I would run away or shut down, pretend not to see it, maybe scream, maybe call the police, maybe appeal to the people who were watching, but I don't think I would have known how to stop it.

My second thought was "how do I tell my own sister that she owes it to me to watch this? That if this woman could get her head kicked in, the least we can do is be witnesses to that?"

I took a shower and the thought came into my head, the thought around which I think a lot of my reaction to this event was centered:

How can they expect me to leave my house tomorrow?

But then:

I was talking with my roommates today, before I saw the video. I have had a few days off, and I am starting to feel human because I have barely left my house. Andthey were making rape jokes. And I kept thinking, how do I make this stop? What can I say to them that doesn't give them too much of myself? But which is still enough that they won't debate me. I came up with nothing, and so I was silent until explictly asked my opinion about the "cis men can't be raped by cis women" thing, when I pointed out that we are having the Wrong Fucking Discussion

After my shower, I was trying to figure out what to do about my facial hair situation. I keep getting she'd and "person"ed, purposely not gendered. Which doesn't bother me, but bemuses me. Pretty much any gender people give me these days bemuses me. All I can think is "is that what you're getting from me right now?" I like to have some facial hair, because otherwise the "she" is too easy, and I don't want it to be too easy for people right now. I am enjoying my body and enjoying my femininity and I don't want that to be too easy for people, because it's not easy for me.

So I was trimming and shaving and thinking:

There is so much of my life that I cannot explain to [straight people, cis people, non-mentally ill people].

And I understood in a new way the need for woman-only spaces, people of color-only-spaces. But where do I go? Where are my spaces?

(no subject)
My campus was doing Take Back the Night tonight. I've never been and wanted to go, but I had to go to a lecture that went long and I didn't know where people would be. The lecture put me in a bad head-space. The lecturer was talking about actual, physical blindness, as well as metaphorical blindness, but managed not to talk about impairment or disability, which I found sort of puzzling. She talked about what she called geographic privilege, which she discussed as the privilege not to see something. Her examples were a DC Congressman who claimed to see no evidmence of the slave trade in DC in 1847, when right across the river in Alexandria, VA was the HUB of the coastwise slave trade. She also talked about Bertha in "Jane Eyre" (she didn't make this first point exactly, but in order to make Bertha stop existing, Rochester has to stop seeing her. He deals with the pain of colonial money and white racism by stopping seeing this Creole woman whose money gives him the privilege not to deal with colonialism. He stops seeing her by locking her in the attic.) She was making a lot of interesting points about how blindness creates a rupture in "Jane Eyre" and EDEN Southworth's "Retribution," EDEN Southworth having gone blind (temporarily) as a child, and in that Congressman's life, but she wasn't talking about disability or real bodies. At least I don't think so. But it was sort of hard for me to tell all the time because, ha-ha, I'm losing my hearing, and I'm losing my mind, so tracking a complex aural argument is sort of hard.

So I had a lot of things I wanted to talk about in the little reception afterwards, but I couldn't think how to say them other than "how can you give a lecture about blindness and colonialism and gender without it being about bodies?" Which seemed pretty rude, so I didn't. And anyway, it's the same question I have wanted to ask after every lecture for the past two years.

I started walking to the bus stop and half a block off, I heard screaming and chanting. It was Take Back the Night. And it scared the shit out of me, like tears-instantly-in-my-eyes, how-do-I-get-away-from-this, trapped-rabbit scared. Because I couldn't understand anything they were saying, and it was fucking loud and that is not a safe combo in my head.

And that felt really lonely to me. A couple nights ago, I was waiting for the bus at about a quarter of midnight when a guy came up to me where I was sitting. He gestured to my legs, which were tucked under me and said that he thought I was "an invalid." I didn't like that, but I didn't know what to do, so I just said no and went back to reading. He asked me a question I couldn't hear, so I made a "no" sound. Then he said that he was gay, and I figured he was trying to cruise me so again I sort of made a discouraging sound. And he said "so you must be a lesbian, right?" And I was surprised because I hadn't shaved for a couple days, but also not surprised, and didn't like any of the options this dude had given me in the conversation, and didn't want to have a discussion, and also figured that, yeah, as far as he was concerned, I'm a lesbian. I said something like "uhhh. Who can really say?" He said "I can. I'm gay. You can tell from a mile away." And I sort of just sat there, too bothered to even understand.

I haven't done testosterone since September and my face is definitely feminizing, and my chest is getting more solid and more difficult to bind and I also don't really give a shit about binding too much right now. And as a result, I'm starting to get nervous again when I am walking home late at night (I work until midnight and take two buses home around 12:30/1am four days a week). A few weeks ago, it was dusk and i was walking to a bus stop past a guy who was leaning against a building and thought "oh shit. he's going to say something about my body now."

All of this to say that it felt so lonely not to feel safe with Take Back the Night-- but I didn't.

At the bus stop the night the guy was talking to me, a woman had also been trying to chat with me. I just was not in the mood, though she seemed friendly enough. After the guy walked away, she said "people always ask me questions about my accent, but I can't imagine the kinds of questions you get." I just wanted no one to speak to me (because why to people always need to speak to me when I almost always just want for them to be quiet?) and I wanted a minute to think about how I felt about what he was asking, and why I disliked it so much, so I didn't really respond to her (I said it was "mostly confusing") but in retrospect (how  form 90% of my emotions), I really appreciated her saying SOMETHING to acknowledge that his questions were invasive and not okay.

There's the word! Invasive! I felt his words on my body, and I did not like any of them. I did not like the options he was giving me for talking about my body and my experiences. He asked questions like he knew the answer, and the way he asked them made my participation unnecessary. I did not like their shouts being in my head without me being able to understand them, I did not like the lecturer talking about people's bodies without talking about people.

All of this is so clearly what I need to be writing my thesis on, but where to even begin. Here's my intro:

I have some thoughts about bodies, and silence, and legibility, (and MY body and MY silence and MY legibility) and I need you to sit there and listen with an open heart while I try to untangle them for you.


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