Stop Pulling Down Statues!

Disclosure:

I am a white woman whose father fled Cuba in 1959, so I have Latinx in me, but I grew up in a white culture. I acknowledge my white privilege and welcome others’ comments about this topic. Question: Does my being white completely discount my thoughts? Curious.

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While I despise many of the men (and they are all men so far) who are depicted in the statues being removed and what they have done to Indigenous People, Blacks, migrants, etc., I believe there is another way to handle this besides getting rid of them.

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History is Watching

From the beginning of time, when one culture takes over another, the new folks pillage and destroy the other people’s libraries, churches/mosques/temples/etc., statues, buildings and sometimes, whole civilizations.

Then a few hundred or thousand years go by and those looking back wonder what was in their heads that they destroyed these beautiful icons. How could someone throw that exquisite vase down? Why would all the stained glass have to be broken? What was the point of burning the books? Did they really have to bomb the thousand-year old building?

Navelgazing Writer
Bundesarchiv Bild 102 4597, Berlin, Opernplatz, Bücherverbrennung

Reasoning

While it seems a good idea at the time, to force people to change and teach them a lesson,  is it always right to force people to adhere to one religion, one belief system, one mindset? Eons of civilizations seem to believe it is.

I asked a history buff friend of mine how people can justify forcing others to convert, asking if they got bonus God points for nearly killing someone until they “confessed” and “converted.” How can that even count towards God being happy? Wouldn’t you want people to voluntarily change their religion/minds? Why not just let the heathens go to hell and suffer for their original religion? He told me many religions find it meritorious to have converts, no matter how they get there.

But I have to ask, don’t they know the “converts” are faking it to stay alive? I mean, if they were forced to convert themselves, they would hide their own true religion, practicing in darkness, wouldn’t they? How can they not think others are doing the same thing?

Navelgazing Writer
Spanish Inquisition (1478–1834)

History Comes Around Again

When I was in Humanities classes, looking at drawings of buildings that were destroyed by war and/or hate, it seemed absurd to have destroyed so much beauty.

And now, with the statues of Confederate soldiers, Presidents, Christopher Columbus and others being pulled down and destroyed, who will be looking back in 300 years wondering where the history went to. Did we totally ignore the Civil War? Why are there no markers of that tumultuous time?

Navelgazing Writer
Conventry Cathedral in England, built in 14-15th century, bombed on November 14th, 1940.

Alternatives to Destruction and Removal

I’ve wondered why we can’t leave the statues and have markers or co-statues that share the new attitudes of the day. New York City is doing just that:

For the Columbus statue, the city would add historical markers and commission a new monument to honor indigenous people. Other markers would be added elsewhere to give additional context for other statues and monuments.”

Art

Isn’t art all about the reaction to it? Loved or hated, art has had its share of controversy. Robert Mapplethorpe‘s works freaked plenty of folks out as he unveiled his X Portfolio male nudes and BDSM photos. When Michelangelo‘s Pietà was attacked with a hammer in 1972, controversy surrounded the decision to restore it.

After the attack, some art historians and restorers wanted the statue to remain as it was damaged as a sign of the violent times. Others said it should be restored but with clear marks delineating the damaged parts as a historical testament.”

Pieta Navelgazing Writer

The decision was made to restore the statue.

Artists

So what of the artists’ who created the statues being defaced and/or pulled down? Are we censoring their art? Aren’t we all about not censoring, but allowing freedom of expression?

Why isn’t this discussion more prevalent as the atmosphere becomes more politicized and beautiful works of art disappearing? Shouldn’t we be reminded of our history through statues? Can’t we find ways to honor both sides of the anger?

What happens when a George Floyd statue is erected and the winds of change are Trumpian 100 years from now. Should that statue be removed? Of course not! But there are people who would find it extremely controversial and offensive to be erected.

Which statues do we fight for?

BLM statue

 

 

 

 

“Why Should I Watch Hamilton July 3?”

I have swooned and oo’d and ah’d over Hamilton: An American Musical for a couple of years now (I know, I was late to the game). Now that it is streaming on Disney+ July 3, 2020, I have been asked why someone should watch the show.

I am not a critical writer. I am not writing this like a critic would at all. I will share the parts that are fascinating to me that I’ve learned through reading the back stories of the writer, director, and lyricist, Pulitzer Prize winner, Tony and Grammy Award winner… and more, all for Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Alex Lacamoire, a musician, arranger, conductor, musical director, music copyist, and orchestrator, doing many of those duties with Hamilton, as well. There are a dozen more I have poked around learning about, but the show itself is what I will focus on.

Onward!

  • Lin-Manuel Miranda came across Ron Chernow’s book Hamilton in the airport on the way to a vacation. Within 2 chapters, still on the plane, the musical began formulating in Miranda’s brain.
  • Alexander Hamilton struggled to climb the ladder from poverty, through education, aching for recognition and a sustainable income for his family. He had many obstacles in his way and Miranda felt his path was similar to many Black and Latinx folks in the United States today. He felt Hamilton’s story was still our story.
  • There was never a question of the diversity of the cast. Miranda had already done In the Heights, another (mostly Latinx) diverse show that won him 3 Tony Awards in 2008. It seemed natural to create a cast that looked like America does now. In 1775, blacks were slaves; whites ruled and were soldiers (for the most part). In 2015 while blacks were (are) in too many ways still enslaved, the face of America has changed from primarily white to more brown and black.
  • Therefore, if your children are not white, this can be an eye-opening experience to see people of their color in an amazing award-winning production. Even 5 years ago, the theater and Broadway were blandly white. Thankfully, that is changing and Miranda leads the charge.
  • The music is the music of today. Hip-Hop, Rhythm & Blues, but also shades of jazz, British pop music and gods bless the Schuyler sisters and their Destiny’s Child sound.
  • I have heard the album at least 200 times and I am still catching puns, humorous connections and overtones of lyrics and music that run as threads through the show. The complexity of wit, rhyme, storytelling and musical history all combined really is genius.
  • Which makes the realization that “My Shot” took an entire year for Miranda to write. A. Year. One song. The entire show took 6 years. One song took one year.
  • When Alexander Hamilton talks about not throwing away his shot, he comes across many choices and is always wanting to move up the ladder. It is also double entendre for his final dual with Aaron Burr that (not giving away anything since more than 200 years have passed already) when Hamilton did, in fact, throw away his shot (pointing his gun upward) allowing Burr’s shot to kill him. The only shot he seemed to have tossed.
  • Costume Designer Paul Tazewell made a brilliant decision to have the costumes as traditional clothes of the time, but has asked the actors to wear their faces and hair however they want during the show.
  • History repeats itself. Again and again. Perhaps not with a duel, but with the arguments that, at that moment, seem life and death (and often are), but so far, our country has bounced back and learned new ways to function (and codified them in the laws) or have fallen back onto the Constitution of the United States.
  • Alexander Hamilton is not seen as perfect. He is a human being with odd foibles considering the man most likely had hypergraphia or a lot of mania in Bipolar Disorder. “Why do you write like you’re running out of time” is a thread throughout the musical (“Non-Stop“). Writers use this phrase as incentive to keep writing even when it is challenging. Write like you’re running out of time! WRITE!

Hamilton Navelgazing Writer

  • Dilemma for those with younger folks: I know an lot of younger kids who love Hamilton and can sing every word, even the F-word. Disney is deciding still what to do with the show… edit? or not edit with warnings. I am hoping they offer 2 choices; hope someone thinks of that. The F-word is said a couple of times, but there is a love affair with Maria Reynolds (pronounced Mariah), a brief side-step that leads to a great deal of strife that eventually rules Hamilton out of being a President in our history.
  • Schools are using the show as a backdrop to bring history to life. I will say I thought all that Constitution stuff was dry as toast. Until now. Once I learned the music, I read Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton, then his Washington: A Life (which I actually loved more than Hamilton!) and that period in history is now ALIVE for me! I can “see” the war, I can “feel” the conflicts, I can “experience” a life I never would have been able to before. History has come to life for students with Hamilton! ALL of history should be taught this way!
  • Tickets to Hamilton have been so expensive, but Lin-Manuel Miranda has a serious need to serve and saves seats for students, some of whom pay $10 for what would go as a several hundred dollar seat on the open market. (I bought my mom a ticket for the Opening Night of the Orlando cast at $490.)
  • EduHam is a class Miranda has helped create that is free through August in response to the Pandemic at hand. It teaches this part of history in a way students can understand… recommended for grades 6-12, but clearly many younger folks participate. Watching kids singing, dancing, creating plays around Hamilton are magnificent teachers.

Wrap Up

All of this sounds so boring compared to the experience of Hamilton: An American Musical! The musical is picked apart in YouTube, high schools sing for us there, 3-year olds are singing “MY SHOT!”, the poetry of rap is examined as if we were looking at a miraculous artifact.

Which it is. All of it.

Even if you only watch it once, please watch it once. Open heart. Open mind. With joy for how our country was made.

We are amazing.

TW: Group Therapy Sucked

I am in emotional pain. Certainly not as much as so many others, but I am hurting. I bargained my way out of being admitted to the psych hospital by agreeing to attend an Intensive Outpatient Program online. I ended up going for 8 days and then left because it was causing more distress than healing.

Group Therapy Navelgazing Writer

This is my Farewell Letter with minor distinguishing factors left out:

There was a time when I loved Group Therapy. I was in several at a time sometimes. Knowing myself now, it was 1) because I loved to talk about me and my issues 2) because it was voyeuristic hearing others talk about their issues 3) because, eventually (after 30 years or so), I knew enough to help others.

I cannot do any more group therapy.

I am meticulous with what goes into my brain. My tipping point for my Bipolar and Depression (and now PTSD) issues are low. I cannot watch the news, scary movies, hear scary stories… you get the gist. The world is filled with terrible things and I can only help in fractions of fractions of fractions of .000001%. The feeling of helplessness is a constant low hum in my existence.

In Group, I did not have control over the input into my brain and psyche. The PTSD trigger, we already talked about. But yesterday, the group was talking about someone who had been “Baker Acted”… as if she was some ‘thing’ to be acted upon instead of “helping her get treatment.” And when I asked that we not talk about someone who was not in the room, I was chastised that 1) it was not HIPAA non-compliant (which was not why I requested they stop) 2) that I “need to get used to these kinds of discussions because that’s life.” When that second statement was used was when the group had informally begun to discuss suicide and ways it can be done. I had to log out. That comment was also said to me when I had the PTSD trigger last week. No, I do not have to get used to people talking about exploding body parts or the terrors of war or looking at meat in the freezer and seeing their friend’s thigh.

I do not need to get used to these kinds of discussions because they do not happen in regular life. When someone talks about killing themselves, action occurs. If someone is put in the hospital for their safety, they are not “A Baker Act,” they are a human being in pain who needs help. The issue was not HIPAA, but kindness and understanding for a person unable to defend themselves in the room at the moment. When someone talks about the horror of war, I can find them some help to be in a safe place to unpack those memories. These topics are not in my every day world.

I talked to my therapist last night as well as my adult girls about what I should do and they all agreed with my self-assessment, that I would do better alone.

Therefore, I am withdrawing from the Program and will work on my own to heal. I will do SMART Recovery (which I love… that program helped me detox from opiates 5 years ago) and read… in the rotation right now is The Mindful Way Through Anxiety. Mindfulness and meditation have also been crucial in my substance abuse issues as well as pain relief, mental stability and finding joy in sad situations. I say this paragraph so you know I have a plan. I am not just going to drink or fall into a hole of incapacity. I am strong and power-full and intelligent. I can do this.

Thank you all for trying. I am just not a good fit for Group Therapies anymore and will be aware of that in the future.

Lastly, thank you for being there for those that need your knowledge and support. It is hard, hard work… being a therapist. Thank you.

Please be safe, stay healthy, wear your masks… and know you are all amazing.

As I write this, I am waiting to explain to my psychiatrist why I left and why I no longer feel I need to be hospitalized. It seems standing up for myself had a positive impact.

Solo therapy for me is it from now on.

Therapy Navelgazing Writer

Cops: Friend or Foe?

Repost from 10/29/18

It’s been an inner conflict for awhile, but especially uncomfortable since the Pulse Shooting on June 12, 2016.

Love Cops

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Of course, like many/most White Americans, I have been socialized to love the police. Growing up, they came to school to talk about the good things they did in the community, when we saw them out eating somewhere, my family always bought them dinner and I was raised to say “Thank you,” to any law enforcement person I saw up close.

Then when I was with Zack in San Diego, he was a Deputy Sheriff, so I lived with a cop for about 8 years (he was in for 10). Living with the uniform was vastly different than seeing one on the street.

You see, I was molested by my step-grandfather when I was under 10; he was a motorcycle cop. An alcoholic motorcycle cop. I was molested while he was in uniform once. So when I was with Zack, for the first part of our relationship, he changed clothes at the station in the locker room, taking care of my fear of The Uniform.

In 1998, I was arrested and jailed for a total of 21 days in two jails (in Orlando and extradited to San Diego). (Story to come.) I was very fat, but was treated kindly (enough), but I also didn’t fight or buck the System at all. Compliant to the core.

Even still, I have been someone who goes out of her way to be kind to law enforcement officers.

Especially since the Pulse shooting.

The Police and Sheriffs were fucking amazing during the stand-off at Pulse. A couple of weeks after the shooting, I wrote an extensive Thank You to all those who worked to save lives and comfort the dying that horrific night, with special call-outs to law enforcement.

– The entire Orlando Police Department who risked their lives, over and over again, to save as many people as possible. I am filled with so much gratitude, my heart overflows with tears streaming down my cheeks.

– Everyone at the Orlando Sheriff’s Department who also risked their lives multiple times and kept communications between the different agencies running smoothly. I also weep with gratitude for your agency.

– Orlando’s amazing SWAT Team who found ways to get into the building to save people and then removed that evil animal from this earth. You all are incredible.

Since Pulse, I go out of my way to thank Policefolks, Sheriffs as well as all the EMS personnel. Not only thanking them, but buying the breakfast, lunch or dinner… even if it is a full table of them.

Hate Cops

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Baton Rouge, Louisiana

And then I look around and as I read and learn more about the Black Lives Matter Movement, I have realized how ingrained it is in the Black community to not have good feelings for, dislike, and even out and out hate law enforcement. (How have I missed this before? White Privilege & ignorance. I do know how.)

Of course, it makes perfect sense considering the incessant harassment and massacre Blacks experience on a daily basis.

One of the best memes I’ve seen talked about the feeling white Hillary Clinton supporters are having after the election, that feeling of being betrayed, let down, disbelief that so much hate and bigotry has been around them all this time and has now been released into the light of day… the meme essentially said: WELCOME TO THE BLACK PERSON’S WORLD EVERY FUCKING DAY OF OUR LIVES. This was very impactful.

I’m reading a lot, keeping my mouth (but not my pen) shut and learning what I can. I search different words, different terms (the most recent new word for me is “woke“) and explore threads on my Facebook (not as integrated as I would like it to be) and I am trying to learn as much as I can.

This came from my Tumblr feed:

If you work with Black, Latino, Native, or any youth of color, I feel it is incredibly irresponsible to put them in spaces with police, or to grant police any sort of access to these youth that builds positive public image for an institution created from – and vested in – white supremacy. That’s institutional gaslighting.

This was just wow for me. And I see the Truth in it for sure.

I have two brown kids and one white one. I wonder how I would teach them if they were young today. Taking a little dip from each belief system isn’t even possible; it is all of one OR all of the other.

Even though the kids are grown and gone, I find myself wrestling with this today.

Leaning more on the #BLM side, to be honest, even though I am White.

We’ll see where I tip eventually. Lots of unlearning to do. Lots and lots.

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Checking My White Privilege

Repost from 10/29/18

My inner-racist/classist/transphobic/homophobic

(etc.)

Disclosure:

Even though I am a fat Latinx who has mental illness, am physically disabled and a sex worker on the LGBTQI spectrum, I have a massive slew of inner (and outer) work still to do. I was raised in the American-Anglo world… the middle-class, English-speaking, able-bodied, white world… with white privilege.check-privilege-gif

I so want to be helpful in the various “causes” going on in our world, around the world.

I do not want to be hurtful.

Not here in my Navelgazing Writer blog.

Not in my Tumblr blog…

And most especially, not in my life.

Where I know I still need work (and I acknowledge I surely have blind spots yet to be discovered):

(in no particular order)

#Black Lives Matter

I speak up for #BlackLivesMatter often, as often as I can in as many places as possible. I believe in the Movement with all my heart. I follow along, watching the debates between #AllLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and even the dissension between the ranks about the Movement itself. I write about #BLM where I can, use the hashtags, engage family and friends and am seriously considering a #BLM tattoo. Yet it still isn’t remotely enough. I know that. I want to do something. Do something more. I keep looking for where I could be of more use. I will explore that here.

blm

Islamophobia

I have a really good friend who is Muslim. I am struggling with Islam in ways that make me cringe and hold my head in utter confusion. As an atheist, all religions are confounding to me, but at the moment, Islam stands front and center of my inner conflict. Separating Islam from Muslims seems daunting, as much as separating Islam from cultural beliefs that are Islamic. I am just beginning to figure this stuff out.

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Transphobia

I will write about this extensively, surely over a several year period, but it has to come out. My former partner of (then) 25 years, came out transgender, medically and surgically transitioning from female to male. From announcement to phalloplasty was a little over 3 years. About 6 months after the phalloplasty, we separated, then divorced. So very much to say about the myriad of emotions that transpired during our transition time together.

no-feminism

Internalized Homophobia

Even though I initially came out lesbian when I was 18-years old and then again when I was 25, dating only women… and being in (what I thought was) a long-term lovership/marriage (off and on) with a (then presenting) woman for 28 years, I know there are still stereotypes and -isms I need to look at and work through.

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Racism

This topic is so broad, it will take many different posts to work through. Even my own inner-Racism as a Latinx will need to be worked through. But the stereotypes of different races and cultures jump to the forefront of my mind when I least expect it… and that shit needs to stop.

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Xenophobia

Interestingly, I don’t feel I have a lot of xenophobia, but I could be deluding myself and need to work on it as well. I just don’t have issues with migrants, immigrants or refugees. I’ve worked with migrant Hispanic women (at the Farmworker Association of Florida and at Planned Parenthood as well as in midwifery school in El Paso, Texas), but that is a specific group of folks, leaving hundreds of other cultures and countries still mentally untouched.

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Fetishizing

Ugh. This one is going to be fucking difficult to work with since I am a sex worker who often creates scenarios and writes pornographic stories that specifically fetishize men and women… both cis and trans. I struggle with the line between attraction and fetishizing in my own mind. I adore black and Asian men. Love “Big Black Cock” and speak and write about it a lot. What are my values and am I contributing to the degradation of oppressed people by having my own desires and, more specifically, fetishizing it in my job.

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Reevaluating Law Enforcement

There have been police officers and Deputy Sheriffs in my family and friends since I was born. My disgusting police officer step-grandfather molested me (several times), in uniform once. My former partner was a Deputy Sheriff for 10 years of our relationship. I have been arrested and jailed twice, including being extradited back to San Diego, California from Orlando, Florida. Yet, my attitude towards law enforcement has generally remained one of a positive viewpoint.

And now, watching the videos of black men being killed for zero reason has jarred me into reevaluating my beliefs. And the really sucky part is until videos started being shown, I barely took notice of the mass of killings of black men, women and children. Even the mass incarceration of People of Color went over my head. I am horribly ashamed of this, but it’s the truth. This really, really is fucked up.

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Sex Workers

My sister was a dancer. I have several close friends and family members who were dancers as well. I am a Phone Sex Operator. One of my family members and I have discussed the inner confusion between feminism and sex work several times. I love what I do, but there are degrading moments that make me feel like I want to wash my mouth out with soap sometimes. Lots to think about.

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BDSM vs. Physical Abuse

I’ve been in the BDSM Scene since 1995, mostly as a submissive to my former partner Zack and now as a Domme in my sex work job. I consider myself somewhat of a pain slut, do bottom to others; much of my life is taken up in the Scene.

In 1990 or so, I wrote a piece in the San Diego Lesbian Press about how BDSM is nothing but a pretense for allowing/encouraging physical and mental abuse to vulnerable women (that was the angle; today I would say “people.”) For anyone following the Scene, this is a common argument and one I’ve considered (and reconsidered) over the years. There is ongoing inner discussion.

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Visible Dis-Abilities/Challenges/Differences

I have mobility issues because of being fat (a separate obstacle all on its own) and having brittle bones. As I write, I can think of about 20 preconceived thoughts about physically challenged folks that need to be purged. And not just my own.

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Mental Health

I have Bipolar Disorder 1 with omnipresent hallucinations, more depression than (hypo)mania and have had other psychiatric issues (anxiety & agoraphobia) fluctuate over the years. I honestly think this will be the area where I have the fewest concerns to work with/through. Being in therapy since I was 18 and starting on medication not long after that, I left the stigmatizing beliefs behind long ago.

mental-health

Size-ism & Fat Phobia

This will, most assuredly, lead to the most emotional posts of all (that I can predict at the moment). Having been fat my whole life, a gastric bypass in 2001 that initially was awesome, but now 15 years later is fucking with my body’s health and continues fucking with my head. Once in the Fat Activist Movement and still believing in a fat positive outlook, I also believe much of today’s Fat Positive representatives are deluding themselves about the long-term effects of being fat. Lots and lots to say about this.

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Cultural Appropriation

I was a Japanese Geisha Girl for Halloween growing up. I wore cornrows in the 70’s. I wore a medicine bag with crystals and sage around my neck in the mid-80’s. I did mendhi in the early 2000’s. I’ve participated in Blessingways over 30 years as a midwife. I’ve made flower crowns, worn harem pants and love Disney movies.

All of this before I learned what Cultural Appropriation was. It mortifies me seeing how disrespectful I was to so many people over the years. I look around and wonder what I am doing now that I’ll recognize in 5, 10, 15 years that will equally mortify me.

Know better, do better.

My Plan for Continued Inner Work

judgement2

I will continue reading articles, books and essays by people of different races, religions, cultures, socio-economic statuses, genders, abilities, sizes, etc. I will believe what they say even if what they say is different from what I know, what my experiences are and what I learned in school and/or in my white culture.

I will delve more into the histories of the people I am not familiar with, learning the things I did not learn in school. Actually, un-learning the things I learned in school.

However…

im-so-teribly-confused

Where I have an issue with exploring/learning on one’s own, is it requires some skills some/many people might not have or have access to:

  • Internet access
  • Ability to read
  • Ability to read English
  • Advanced English comprehension

I think there needs to be some alternative plans in place for those who need in-person learning/education of these social phenomena, especially when they are asked for.

Where I Struggle

strengh

Where I do struggle, however, is in how to learn from the communities and cultures themselves. I absolutely understand the reasoning behind not asking the oppressed to educate me/us about their issues/concerns/struggles. I do promise to do my best in educating myself, but the reality is, with some of the exploited/misunderstood/unheard people’s problems/concerns, I am clueless where to even begin.

And then the black holes. Even as I research, digging deeper and deeper into subjects, learning new words to Google and building on my knowledge, there are still going to be gaping black holes I won’t even see until someone points them out to me.

Are there whites that I should ask instead? Isn’t that similar to playing telephone, getting the information second-hand? Wouldn’t speaking to the actual source be more appropriate? Wouldn’t I learn more hearing it directly? I will keep looking for the answer to this puzzle.

bullshit-meter

If you see my bullshit, don’t hesitate to re-orient/correct/challenge me. (Without my expecting a lesson from you of any kind. I will be sure to research on my own and try again.)

I need to be more conscious. I promise to work on it every day.

if-it-doesnt

I Didn’t Go Anywhere Today

I ended up staying home and making telehealth appointments where I could and changing the dates to the 2 in-person appointments until mid-June.

telehealth Navelgazing Writer

When I talked to my psychiatrist a couple of weeks ago, he recommended I talk to a therapist. When she called and did the intake, she felt I needed some really intense group therapy.

That group therapy coordinator called and with my extensive history with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy, a group that incorporates those would be good. I thought, yeah, a refresher is certainly something I could use.

empty room Navelgazing Writer

It is telehealth, which is good and the groups are geared towards continuing care after being hospitalized for clinical mental issues. I had to double check and make sure I was not being hospitalized and she said no no, but they had talked about if I should be except there is a pandemic going on. Great. I got out of being in a mental hospital because of Coronavirus.

I have my first group meeting tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how group therapy works in Zoom! The length of the course is 6 months. So I have to stay alive for at least another 6 months. (My mind keeps thinking like this. Hamilton comes out July 3, so I have to stay alive for 51 more days.)

Is it good to have goals? Possibly.

alive Navelgazing Writer

Scared to Leave the House Post Quarantine

I went out the other day, in Uber, riding with my mask and gloves, all the windows open,  the 1-mile to the pharmacy drive-through and then the 1-mile back home.

It had been 9 weeks and 5 days since I had gone beyond the front and back porches. It was really scary, but it was a short trip.

Today’s Appointment

I have an appointment today to see the Infectious Disease doctor, a required in-person visit for my chronic yeast infections and intertrigo ( a new word for me).

intertrigo Navelgazing Writer

But, I am terrified to go. I will not have a car to sit in while I wait for their calling me into a room. I will have to sit in the waiting room. With a flimsy face mask and gloves. How will I really be protected?

My Hair Navelgazing Writer
Pointing to my growing hair, but the gloves and mask are protecting me… in my room.

An aside, how the holy hell can anyone think a mask and gloves is enough to protect a first responder/doctor/nurse/respiratory technician/etc. is beyond me.

Riding a Bike

When I had the gastric bypass in 2001 and lost a million pounds, Zack and I got bikes to ride. He for exercise for me… me for fun. When I got on the bike, I reached for my seat belt.

bike seat belt Navelgazing Writer

Of course that was ridiculous, but it was a habit and whenever I was riding, I felt totally exposed and like I could lose my life at any moment.

This feels like that.

Where is My Armor?

I want to be inside a bubble of protection. Not a metaphorical one, but a real one.

Bubble Navelgazing Writer

If I knew where to get one of these, I would.

And Another Appointment, Too

I have a Dermatologist appointment on Friday. I don’t know if I can go to that one either. It has been 6 months since my last cancer check. I felt like why bother when, if I had it, they wouldn’t do surgery on me anyway during the pandemic, but now that they are starting to do “elective” surgeries again (as if cancer surgery is elective), I would have to have it removed.

I Can’t Do It

Writing this, I am so filled with anxiety, I have cried throughout.

I cant do it Navelgazing Writer

I cannot possibly be alone feeling this, can I?

A Brighter Day

May 1, 2020 was a much brighter day.

Spilling My Words

Navelgazing Writer

I just think I needed to get the fears out there and that took a lot of the energy out of the feelings.

Clearly, sharing helps. I need to remember that.

The feelings build slowly, then get more distressing until I am feeling that train heading closer and closer. I feel like I am going to fall under the train, then write here and suddenly feel immense relief.

Not Being Alone

crowded Navelgazing Writer

I know I am not alone in all this distress. That helps in some ways and makes me feel so sad in others. I wish I could take the pain from those that hurt, too, but my shield of protection is tight around me right now. Selfishly, it is me first at the moment.

Therapy Plans

group therapy Navelgazing Writer

I had my intake with the new counselor whatever day it was ago and she said she has 2 groups she also wants me in. You know you are on the downside when you are being recommended for several days a week of therapy. I look forward to it. I need some guidance and while I have done every kind of post-mental hospital support groups, it never hurts to have some reminders and maybe learn new skills.

The groups will be online and I look forward to seeing how they do them. Zoom? Some other way? Should be interesting.

I Quit

sad news Navelgazing Writer

… anymore.

Anxiety Riddled

I have not written, continuously hoping I would not have to write about anxiety anymore. Now, I am thinking maybe anxiety is exactly what I need to write about… trying to quell the intense pain in my belly and chest from the horrible fears I feel.

anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

If the pain didn’t go away with relaxation and meditation, I would think something was seriously wrong, but if I can make it go away, then it is not a medical problem, but a psych one.

Vistaril

Last I wrote, I was waiting to talk to my psychiatrist about the anxiety, hoping for benzos to take the anxiety away. He did not prescribe them, but instead prescribed Vistaril, a “cousin of Benadryl” is how he described it. I take it once a day. It doesn’t do squat for the anxiety. I took a Vistaril last night (my anxiety is much worse as the sun goes down) and was awakened several times with horrid stomach pains. I just took a Benadryl and thought that might chill things out. We’ll see.

Meditation

I am sure you all are sick of my talking about meditating, but I really am finding it to be soothing enough to allow me to catch my breath when things are really bad. I learned that Alexa has a new Guided Meditation each day when I asked for a Guided Meditation this morning. Cool! I will utilize that for sure. Apparently she has several if I want more.

guided meditation anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

I’m able to do regular meditation usually, but now, during the coronavirus terror (as I think of it), I can’t let go enough to stay for more than a second or two. Guided Meditations are much easier for me to follow than just my breath. YouTube has about 8 million of them and many now are geared for the anxiety of the coronavirus. I find those the most helpful.

Therapy

Psychotherapy anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

I had a great therapy session with my therapist the other night. She is amazing and I am so thankful to have her. I felt great after the session, but the tension crept in again soon after. My psych wants me to see a therapist in this office and I have an intake appointment online this afternoon. One can never have enough therapists, right?

The News

coronavirus art anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

If I could stay away from the news I might lose some of the anxiety. I watch like how my mom has to follow an ambulance… “just to see” what is going on. The statistics are the worst, the stories excruciatingly sad (and getting sadder). I honestly don’t know what more I can learn from the news than I already know.

HGTV

HGTV anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

I saw an OpEd piece a couple of days ago about a guy who is now addicted to HGTV since being home. I used to love HGTV even though I would never even lift a hammer. I changed my channel from the news to HGTV last night and am keeping those images in the background instead of the news always being on. I have the TV on mute, but still, the images are there.

Reading

reading coronavirus anxiety pain Navelgazing Writer

I am flowing through books at an astounding rate. I have started several, but returned them to Audible. Thank gods they have that return policy or I would be stuck with dozens of books I’ve hated. I always buy and read new ones, so guess they are kind to me and let me return knowing I will just get new ones.

I started a new series yesterday, the Plantagenet and Tudor Novels by Philippa Gregory. I stumbled across her looking for “Books like Mists of Avalon.” I guess I am the last person in the world to know of the books since I have mentioned them in several places and people say, “Oh! There are TV series’ on them!” When I read down the series titles and saw The Other Boleyn Girl, I loved that because the movie was delicious.

So I started Lady of the Rivers yesterday and am loving it so much!

Writing?

Anxiety Navelgazing Writer
Exercise Through Art by T.Z. Barry

I am thinking I should write more, too. Why that didn’t dawn on me is beyond my comprehension. But here I am. Writing. Still feeling terribly anxious.

But I’ll keep writing.

I am 59-Years Old Today

How fucking cool is that?

I had another Birth Day! WOO HOO!

Happy Birthday

Mama…

…called me and sang to me (as I do to all my kids, too) and I told her how cool it is that I have known her longer than anyone else on earth. I thanked her for having me and what a FUN time we have had together.

What Does This Year Hold?

No telling anymore!

I am just determined to have EACH day be beautiful and let everyone I know that I love them.

Every. Single. Day.

Birthday Julia Watkins
Moon Dancer by Julia Watkins

“Gender Critical” Conversation

Is there such a thing as a Gender Critical discussion without resorting to name-calling and real life attacks?

I would sure like to try.

This started to be about Male to Female TransAthletes (because I have questions and thoughts below), but seems to have morphed into a post about how I have come to question MtF TransAthletes in the first place.

Of course, I feel I need to start with explanations that may sound like apologies in advance, but here goes anyway. I feel compelled to justify where I am coming from since you do not know me; background is crucial.

My Life with Transfolks

  • My former partner is FtM transgender and I was with him for 28 years, 3 of which as he transitioned medically. He remains my Beloved.
  • In my life in online Sex Work, I spend hours a day with people on the Trans Spectrum, always in a supportive capacity, helping to remove shame and self-hate and replace that with ways to understand society is the one that is weird or freaky, not them.
  • I would never align myself with Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists/ run of the mill Gender Critical folks because I know transfolks are who they say they are. I know that. Believe it with all my heart.
  • In not aligning with TERFs/GC people, I believe transwomen have a right to be in women’s prisons, homeless shelters, bathrooms and everywhere else women are wandering in and out of.
  • I would never want a transperson discriminated for being trans (non-binary). They have every right to work, dress, live as the gender they know they are.
  • I understand trans-hatred and weep at the violence, suicides and murders that transpeople suffer through every single day. The discrimination is abhorrent to me.
  • I do not believe anyone has to pass in order to be the gender they know they are.
  • While I do not understand it as much, I do not have any negative thoughts about being trans without gender dysphoria.
  • And lastly, I freely admit my own cis-bias and that I do not have ALL the information in the world about this (I do not believe anyone else does, either). I do not consider myself a spokesperson for anyone but myself. These are my thoughts; no one has given them to me.

A Bit About My History

I came out in the Second Wave of Feminism in 1987 and the groups I attended were extremely Pro-Separatist. I knew a woman who gave her boy child up for adoption because she was a Lesbian Separatist. I was not permitted in some areas with my children because I had my son with me. I was not permitted in some spaces simply because I had a son, with me or not. I wrote about my experience with the San Diego Lesbian Press and their Separatist ideals that eventually folded the paper because they would not accept money from men.

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer

I am much more aligned with the Third Wave of Feminism, but embrace the Fourth Wave‘s ideals as well.

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer

2nd wave Navelgazing Writer
4th Wave Feminism, still under debate

So My Question Is…

…can’t someone like me also have questions? Where are the discussions… they all are so polarized. I would love to explore my thoughts and beliefs, but find if I step to the left I am in quicksand and if I step to the right I am bludgeoned. I know I am not alone and if I, a really pro-trans person can’t ask questions, how is the run-of-the-mill person supposed to learn? How can we shift perceptions if there is nothing but anger filling the air? And if the discussion moves to transphobia, how can there be honest interchange between people. The conversation has shifted from the focus to the picture’s whole when sometimes, looking right at the subject can be crucial for definition’s purposes.

Where do I fit in?

Now, the MtF TransAthletes

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Laurel Hubbard

And then I get to Male to Female transwomen and I come to a halt. Mind you, I am confused about it all… will give you that much… but if a MtF transwoman has the same abilities as a ciswoman, why are they excelling in almost all sports where they compete together? And it happens when the transwoman begins in the sport immediately. It isn’t a gradual increase in speed or strength. It is as sudden as when they sign up for the competition.

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Gabrielle Ludwig is the tall woman.

I know many of the arguments about measuring testosterone, some requirements for hormone suppression or for requiring surgeries before they are permitted to compete. I know the International Olympic Committee is struggling to create a trans rule book because, it has “proved far more difficult than expected because this is such a tricky political and emotive issue.”

Transgender Olympics Navelgazing Writer

Not Convinced; Still Questioning

Yet, I am not convinced a MtF transwoman doesn’t have an advantage over a ciswoman.

And why aren’t there Female to Male transmen winning body building, wrestling or weight lifting competitions? Why is it that FtM transmen in sports are in weight restrictive sports like boxing, which involves speed as much as guts.

transgender sports Navelgazing Writer
Patricio Manuel

So, What I Want to Know…

Can someone explain to me, without resorting to “TRANSPHOBE” (because I am not), what I am not seeing? (And yes, I know it is my responsibility to learn, but there has to be a way for those seeking answers to find them beyond Googling. I prefer person to person connections… cis/transgender or otherwise.

Is there anyone willing to help? Is there anybody out there?

trans floyd Navelgazing Writer

Asthma? Really?!

I’ve been wheezing for almost a year now, but thought it was just because I was so fat. HA!

I was in the ER on Thanksgiving with my breathing sounding like I was playing a harmonica. After a couple of visits, they finally said it was an Upper Respiratory Infection. None of the breathing treatments there helped, but they gave me an Albuteral inhaler that did nothing for me. I just had to wait the URI out and my coughing finally left around New Year’s.

asthma navelgazing writer

But the wheezing has continued. The ER also gave me referrals to a Pulmonologist and a Cardiologist… for the wheezing and I have an enlarged heart.

I went to the Pulmonologist last Monday and after the battery of breathing tests, told me I had moderate asthma. Huh?! I was shocked. I really did think my inability to catch my breath when I walked (even to the bathroom) was because of my weight. Apparently not!

I was prescribed Symbacort, but it isn’t doing much and I am waiting for insurance approval to get some Spiriva.

Now that I know what it is, I am able to put symptoms together. My mom has had severe asthma since I was a kid, so I’m used to her asthma. Mine, not severe, still has similar symptoms I overlooked. My wheezing is like a whistle, not the gasping kind of breathing I have seen in her. When I walk, it does get louder and more musical, but generally, sitting, I just whistle.

asthma navelgazing writer

The feeling I get when walking is really odd. I feel like I can take half a breath and then something clamps over my lungs and I am unable to inhale any more than that half-breath. I lean over trying to breathe, catch my breath with that clamped down feeling. It does not go away until I am sitting again for a few minutes. Then back to the open breathing and whistling.

asthma navelgazing writer

I go to the Cardiologist March 26th. It will be interesting to see what the deal is with my heart, too.

I’ll write what I learn as I go along.

I Am Depressed (Again)

I am terribly depressed.

Life circumstances, work being really slow, being diagnosed with new issues that require care and attention and, worst of all, my weight has hit an all-time high… all have combined to submerge me into the waters of depression.

depression navelgazing writer

Fat is Weighing Me Down

I am distraught mostly about my weight. I had an RNY Gastric Bypass, for fuck’s sake. Granted it was 19 years ago, but still. You know it’s bad when the Pulmonologist, who has just diagnosed asthma and sleep apnea, then prescribed several inhalers and a CPAP machine, asks, “Can you do the gastric bypass again?”

hate my fat navelgazing writer

Bring on the Psych Meds

I see the psychiatrist on the 12th and it cannot come soon enough. He changed the meds slightly last time, but I have fallen deeper and I am in that place of just not caring if I get out of bed, if I work, if I write. I just don’t care.

And I hate that I don’t care because I know it is depression and not me.

Diabetes Crap, Too

While my Hemoglobin A1c is a not bad 6.4, it is up from 5.8 a few months ago. The Lantus was upped again, to 85u daily, but about 4 hours after I injected it into my fat belly this morning, my Blood Glucose went down to a 38, the lowest I have ever seen it. I thought I was going to have to call 911, and probably should have, but I kept slamming juice pouches until it hit 60 and I began feeling… feeling… again. I ate a PBJ with very little J and my BGs have been better this afternoon… around 100.

And yes, I do know insulin causes weight gain.

It’s just overwhelming sometimes.

Reading Good Books, Though!

I love Audible so much I could cry. I listen to books for several hours a day and am plowing through piles of them.

Newer books I love:

The Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.

originals navelgazing writer

By far the best “self-help” book I have ever read. My entire mental process has shifted and when I write, am writing without the self-judgement I was giving myself. Many, many other incredibly valuable pieces of information are in the book, from parenthood to dying. It’s just beautiful.

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

daisy jones navelgazing writer

Besides the intricate personalities between band members and their intertwined stories, I listened to this thinking what an amazing writer Reid is. She has multiple characters and speaks as them in first person and each character sounds exactly as they should and so so different from the others in the book. Listening, you get different people speaking the parts whereas reading, you “hear” them in your head. I believe this would be one time when Audible is far preferable to reading it.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett & Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Yes, I’m reading children’s books I missed growing up. My grandkids have read them, now it’s my turn.

I’ve seen several incarnations of The Secret Garden in movies (and a new one comes out April 10, 2020), but the book was so different than any of them and so filled with magic and the love of the earth, I was mesmerized with every syllable. Pure poetry.

secret garden navelgazing writer

Black Beauty is the horse’s autobiography, told by Black Beauty himself. Clever, wondrous idea! How did Ms. Sewell ever conceive of this is beyond me. And that this was the only book she every wrote! She began writing it when she was 51 and finished when she was 57, dying 5 months after its publication. I’ve not been into horses like a lot of my friends, but I can see why after reading this… a fantastic book.

black beauty navelgazing writer

Perk Me Up

Writing about the books helped. I don’t feel so desperate and alone with them.

I’ll go read now.

Watching St. Elsewhere

I looovvveeed St. Elsewhere on its first go ’round from 1982 until 1988. Now, here I am watching it in 2020 on HULU and it is stunning how much different medical care is now from the then-state-of-the-art care.

stelsewhere

  • St. Eligius did not have a CT Scan, there was only one in the city.
  • The doctors and nurses wore no gloves except in surgery. This was right before AIDS became a household word and they did wear gloves in the AIDS episode, but otherwise, none in the ER or with patients.
  • Needles! Needles and syringes were handed around like licorice instead of potential needle sticks. I mean, NEEDLES 6 inches long. I can only imagine how many times they were poked just making the show. Universal Precautions were not even created until 1985.
  • People walked around with bloody gowns (especially Ehrlich who was played by Ed Begley Jr.).
  • People serving food licked their fingers. ACK!
  • Issues like the The Troubles in Northern Ireland were prevalent.
  • Ism’s abounded! Sexism (women were smacked on the bottom all the time… nurses, candy stripers, doctors, all), Ableism (show about a deaf man and patient demonstrated how easy it was to discriminate against people who were different at that time), Homophobia, Classism, Racism of all kinds… just stunning how blatant it was not so long ago.
  • Babies of the doctors (Jack Morrison, played by David Morse) were in playpens on the patient floors, back in nurses’ stations, but still.
  • Phillip Chandler (Denzel Washington in one of his first roles), stopped for Running While Black. Sadly, still an issue today.
  • Breast cancer was just getting traction in the news, a major storyline on the show.
  • Mark Harmon (Bobby Caldwell) was yummy as ever, even after he was attacked by razor blades.
  • In the AIDS episode, the patient was put in an isolation ward and Dr. White (Terence Knox) was permitted to not take care of the guy because he was married and had kids. That would never happen today.
  • Howie Mandel (Wayne Fiscus) represented a new wave of doctors that were amusing, kind and not always professional. Docs swung that way for awhile, but then it went to far and it is seriously in the professionalism quadrant now.
  • The shows that discussed rape were archaic compared to how rape cases are treated now. However, I will tell you even today’s care could use a serious upgrade.

I just started Season 3, so am sure I will write more as I watch more.

After St. Elsewhere, it is on to ER! I can hardly wait!

ER

NaNoWriMo Again!

National Novel Writing Month begins at midnight tonight… November 1, 2019. I did NaNo last year and wrote around 30,000 words. Not the 50,000 word goal, but not bad.

1_r0GNYc6_Ye-SI73aKSv1WA

Yes, 50,000 words in a month. That’s the purpose of NaNo. That is 1667 words a day. If I am being prolific, I can do around 700 a day, sometimes up to 1000. But consistently? Not so much.

I have 4 Works in Progress… 3 Memoirs and 1 Psychological Thriller. The one I am working on for NaNo is (working title) In the Bushes: Gay Life before AIDS. I spent a lot of time in the gay community from 1978-1982 and have fabulous stories to share about those crazy times before my friends started to die around me. I’ve already begun, have just over 7000 words so far, and the book is unfolding beautifully. My goal for November is to write those 50,000 words.

NaNo-2019-Writer-Web-Badge-1

The NaNoWriMo community is amazingly supportive. Tons of forums… many serious, others completely frivolous. I closed my Facebook for the month, but must stay out of the NaNo forums until my daily numbers are met.

nov02-2012

And so I am off to write. Wish me well!

MDBlkQ4

Forgiveness

I have a Rubik’s Cube in my hand… the hand in my mind… working it working it working it, trying to figure out how to change things I have done in my life, how to correct them, make better decisions, hurt fewer people. If I can just figure out the right way to get the colors lined up, my life would not be filled with so many regrets.

s-l300

I have apologized to those around me, including my children, many, many times, yet I still feel horribly guilty for my transgressions. I’ve confessed my sins in therapy for 30 years now, yet continue enduring the weight of guilt, it often weighing me down into depression.

And then I heard, in a book* I am listening to, “How long is the sentence for these crimes you committed in your 20s, 30s and 40s? What is a fair sentence for your crime?”

I am 58 and believe my sentence is now over.

In this decision, I thought, “Does carrying others’ pain lessen their own misery?” It does not. I also do not believe my children want me to suffer anymore.

Pain

I am here to answer the questions people in my life have. I am here to apologize for things I am responsible for, but I will not wear the yoke of guilt any longer. I release my Self from my shame, my pain, my sadness and my grief for the things not done or that I did wrong.

Therefore, I shall make amends… and forgive my Self.

* Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

therapist