Whenever something pops up in my life related to trans* rights or issues I click on it.
It’s been good for me.
It’s part of this thing of one time when man oh woman did I not understand anything anything at all about being transgender, and I got called on it hard, & since then I’ve been opening myself up to learning about it. Our shop is pretty steeped in queer culture so we have good talks sometimes. I’m trying in my own little way to reach out & learn. It’s sometimes rough because it seems to me that the penalties for not using the right terminology are high: you’re seen as close-minded when what you are is just ill-informed, which is a pretty shitty thing to be for sure, but maybe we can all give each other a little leeway.
Year of endless gray days is continuing.
I’m trying to move my brain to new spaces in order to jostle it away from all the gray. Learn stuff. Do you know this magazine, make/shift? It’s real good. Kate mocked me so much for still reading Bust that she got me a subscription to make/shift in December & it’s so much better. Not that one can only read one feminist magazine, just that I can only read one feminist magazine because, ya know, I have all those New Yorkers piled up. How I will learn about new “vintage style” dresses made in sweatshops I could be buying without Bust I have no idea.
Right now a cat I’ve known since I was 13 is being put to sleep, faraway in Chicago, with my mom watching over him.
He’s the last of the childhood cats. One day this cat came down from our roof and into our house. She sure looked pregnant. She sure looked tiny. The vet said she was less than a year old, but not pregnant. A few weeks later she had five kittens in my closet. It was the last day of sixth grade. My mom and I stayed up all night helping her along. Whenever my mom left her side she limped after her, a kitten hanging out of her, mewing for her to come back. She was incredibly tiny, and so many kittens came out of her. I went to school with kitten-eyes, came home with kitten-eyes, that entire summer was kittens. My dad was passed out or whatever, my brother was smashing windows or whatever, it was my mom and me and five kittens. We kept them all, we were already a/r activists, we knew we weren’t going to have many kittens in our future (though now my mom’s life is full of kittens, because she volunteers at an animal shelter and spends hours a day in the kitten room).
So we already had Yonkers, the wild dog, and Jellybean and Panther, black wild outdoor tomcats, and Mr., my Persian baby, and now we had Athena, Zeus, Growler, Hondas, Grizabella, and Champagne. When my mom moved to Chicago a few years later Jellybean and Panther had run away, but she took all the rest on the plane with her.
That’s my mom, yup.
So the past ten years have been a steady stream of putting cats to sleep.
They all lasted more than twenty years. Amazing. Now—for the next half hour or so—my mom has Hondas and this feral cat, Angel, she rescued from Chicago winters over four years of cautiously putting bits of food out to her in ever-closer increments, while watching as her ears almost froze but she still wouldn’t let her come near her & was too smart for any trap. I’ve never seen Angel. Only my mother has. Around her she’ll come out and play and eat and purr, but she lives in a kitchen cabinet whenever anyone else is around. Only my mom could tame a feral cat.
So, Hondas. Probably being injected with things to stop his heart as I type this.
I named him Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi because I was real obsessed with Gandhi. Today he’s 23 and today is also his last day on earth. He was always sweet, but never gentle. He fought viciously with his brother, Zeus (my mom named him) until the day Zeus died two years ago this month. Of course it makes sense to put him to sleep, he’s deaf and wobbles everywhere, sometimes blood comes out of every orifice for no discernible reason, but when you’ve lived with a cat for 23 years, like my mom has, it’s still rough. Poor little man.
I’ll just keep typing here until my mom calls me to tell me it’s been done, OK?
Guess I only write blog posts when I’m in a rage or unbearably sad, but as Mary Oliver said, “Who ever made music of a mild day?”
Lucy gave me that poem. Sigh.
Jacob’s been home from tour for almost three months now. It’s been bizarre, actually. He started touring after we’d been together about three years, so fourteen years ago. For fourteen years we’ve been hoarding time together. Time we’re together is the most sacred time we have, we drop everything to revel in it. When we’re together the machine of my business and our lives runs so much better, we can talk shit out unmediated by Skype and FaceTime and any other made-up words. It’s profoundly healthy.
But here’s a thing: we never learned, like most couples do, to be alone together. We’re both great at being alone. And we’re both great at being together. We know how to do both, deeply. But the combination of the two is so odd to us. We’ve lasted about four and a half months. Pretty good. But for about two weeks we’ve been picking away at each other. Talking about it, that we’re good at. We’ll talk about how odd it is, how we need to learn this couples-skill after so long. We’ll talk and talk and talk and then we’ll go to work together come home together make food together watch a movie together go to sleep together go to work together come home together. And pick and snipe and grump.
That’s how you figure things out though, right?
So hard to cut the cord. So foreign to be apart while he’s in the same town.
Today I took a two-hour long bath (make/shift, NYer, etc). Monday. Last Monday before Valentine’s kicks in for real. Snowstorm outside. We’d had a hard night. At work until 1:30 am, squabbled about how best to clean Selmi, came home quiet, that bad kind. He came in when I was taking a bath, sat on the toilet, we talked it out. Talk talk talk talk. It felt better.
I decided to walk to work. Maresa hadn’t been able to drive in because of the snow and I couldn’t resist the allure of a day completely to myself at work. The rarest of unicorns in this solitary-craving heart of mine: my very own shop, all to myself. 1.7 miles of blizzard-walking later and here I am, secretly snacking on pretzels from the employee food bin (I guess there are a lot of foods out there that you’d never buy but can’t not eat if they’re around, and pretzels are mine. Someday I’m going to make Erin a batch of homemade pretzels, with lye and all, but until then I better remember to being her a replacement bag tomorrow), listening to Mood Swings real loud, going to make some stuff when my head’s fixed up, ship out 20 or so boxes Marena got all ready yesterday. Go back out there, haul ‘em to the PO.
Tonight he’ll pick me up, we’ll go to Dumplings. Talk about our days. It feels weird I wonder what he’s doing, but this is how you grow and here I go or whatever.
When I was walking on the rail trail here I forced myself to take strong steps, not the baby waddle I wanted to do. I’ve got a winter paranoia that’s something else, let me tell you. No one likes cold, I tell myself often. But the weird thing is that some people do!
It’s beautiful, sure. I like all that slanty hard light. But I don’t know if anyone who grew up in the heart of The Hot State will ever be comfortable with frozen toes & all that.
I’m bad with winter for another reason, too: not having health insurance and having a business that was wholly dependent on my own body working right for ten years meant that any minor bodily breakdown was just not possible. You have period cramps? You want to pay your mortgage? Pick one. Get outta bed, girl.
Everyone talks about self-care these days, we in the sensitive hipster artist feminist community with our heavily curated Instagrams posting arty shots of our painted toes in our Lush-scented bathtubs #selfcare #dayoff #pampering #mentalhealthday it’s all nice and wonderful but when you run a small business you better get fucking OK with taking a goddamn aspirin and getting to work. I pretend to be all into honoring my body, I take Lush-ified baths too!, but the truth is that though I love my body I mostly love it because of what it does for me.
This body’s carried me across the country and straight up the economic ladder, period cramps and headaches ignored and now this drug dealer felon’s daughter is solidly middle-class so fuck you, self-care. My ability to get up and go to work every single day—not my brilliant brain or my gorgeous tits, only my ability to just pound away at a job, tired or not—is what’s got me here, in a building with my name on it, I am convinced of this though intellectually I know it’s probably false.
So my tendency is to not go outside in winter because who knows: you break your leg and that’s it. Your life is over. It’s a real hard lesson for me to learn, that there are all these people here who would work and life in chocolate-land would continue.
I don’t take risks. I’m one foot after another, not a sprinter. I was whining about this today to Jacob, how stale it gets, and he said, “yeah but the risks have been our lives.” & he’s right, always, & of course. We’ve always staked it all & risked a lot to get our house or this building or the business or the Selmi. No safety net, just how fast I can make my hands work. & he’s the same in his job.
(Do only upper class people with good health insurance do winter sports?)
But just like I’m teaching myself that this business can run without me, I’m also finding ways to give myself safety nets.
For the first time in fourteen years, I have health insurance. & like I’ve been learning about trans stuffs, I’ve been reading more about Obama. I know I’ve said so much shit about him in the past. I still stand by all the shit. He’s middle-of-the-road, he’s not a radical, he’s barely a liberal. But you know what? He never said he was any of these things, even a liberal. And I respect, in a fucked-up way, that he’s stood by that. He’s trudging down the Middle Path. There’s something to be said for that. As much as I want him to stand up for the things I believe in, he will not because he doesn’t believe in most of them. But we both believe in health care, and he made it easier for me to have it. & that’s not nothing.
& now I’ve got a little health thing. How handy! Weird pap smear blah blah. Minor surgery. I’m scared out of all proportion. I’ve never had a health scare. Except for that time as a kid I kicked concrete in a rage and ended up in the emergency room and that other time I fell on tour in Australia & rebroke the same foot. & those times don’t count because I didn’t do anything to fix them. Just limping. But this one involves, like stuff. Doctor-stuff. Blood & guts. Disgusting sickening weakness. How I can aggregate that into what I know of myself, how I can somehow glom it onto who I am as a person—it seems overwhelming.
There’s my mom calling. Gotta cut this short.
Sweet Hondas, goodbye, my love.