Saturday, April 19, 2014

A Pesach Kavannah: Reflections on Love, Solidarity, and Mirages

As an act of self-care, I want to express how much I care for you. I recognize that sometimes I come off as abrasive and demagogic It’s something I’ve always with which I’ve always struggled: finding balance. The balance between passion and paternalism; constructive criticism and destructive confrontation.

I spend my life fighting a tidal wave of silence. The only way I've learned to fight it is to scream. The only way I know to resist the sting of rejection is to push against it. But. as I turn 29 this year, I’ve realize how tired I've become as a result of it. I've realized that it’s time to make t’shuvah--to turn around, and to find a new path.

I revel in nuance. I’m wired to always see things beyond the surface. I see hidden meanings of things--the tendons between actions and words; the gaps between silences and broken promises. Lately, though, I’ve realized that that scares a lot of people. And that’s okay. It’s a lot to hold. The challenge I’m facing is: how do I talk about these nuances--especially when it comes to things about oppression and privilege--without pulling people into a space that they’re not ready to be in? How do I prevent myself from forcing them from having their click moment before they’re ready to have it? At the same time, though, I do think that conflict and confrontation can be beneficial. Both have the potential to make us ask questions of ourselves and our positions, and they may make us think in potentially new ways. They act as astringents--purging us of inaccurate assumptions and incongruent realities.

I’m talking about solidarity--of radical empathy. Support and solidarity are complicated, because we’re complicated and we live complicated lives. When it comes to disagreement, activism, coalition building, accountability, etc., the question, I think, isn't: "why are we fighting and not supporting each other?" But: "Can be support each other in multifaceted ways and still hold each other accountable to the ways in which we may still hurt each other? Can we affirm each others hurt, isolation, and truth, even if we don't understand it? Can we admit to ourselves that we may never understand what another person feels, but give them room to feel it, and help them carry it, so that their not suffocating it in the loneliness of it all?"

That, to me, is what activism. It's an act of bearing witness. That's what solidarity is. Because, at its root, solidarity is an act of love. And love, at its root, isn't a warm fuzzy feeling. It isn't always comfortable or safe. It often has sharp, jagged edges--and these edges are necessary for cutting down the barriers that prevent us from having authentic, mutually affirming relationships. It demands truth. It demands justice. But love also requires us, once those barriers are stripped away, to carry each other when we’re tired and weary. It requires us to recognize our limitations, our humanity, our fragility.

It’s Pesach (Passover) right now. The week in which Jews ritually recall the Israelites’ struggle for freedom and liberation from the oppression that they experienced in Egypt. They wandered through the desert, guided by hope and driven by despair, in search for a Promised Land. I so deeply resonate with this sacred story. How many of us experience the blistering heat of homophobia, ableism, poverty, racism, transphobia, depression-anxiety-other mental illnesses, and other forms of hatred and stigma? How many of us are tricked by mirage of normalcy, which promises us false and temporary refuge--at the expense of our unique and profound power and beauty? How many of us have swallowed our truths, forgotten our histories, our connections, to our peoples, and our many selves--all for the sake of an oasis that wasn't ever there in the first place?

Mah tovu ohalecha Ya'akov,mishk'notecha Yisrael.
How goodly are your tents, Jacob, your dwelling places O Israel.

These are the lessons I’ve learned on my journey thus far: 

Keep one side of your tent open. Provide shelter to those who wander through the desert, trying desperately to find a land flowing with milk and honey. Be the hidden well-spring that saved Hagar’s and Ishmael’s lives after they were cast out by their own people. Feed each other’s mind, body, and soul with mana--the essence of your being. Share your truth, your jagged, beautiful edges. Hold each other’s complexities and contradictions gently.

And when the dust storms come, and the inevitable downpours of pain shower down upon you, close your tent and take care of yourself. Learn to say “no” without guilt, or feeling compelled to explain yourself. Learn to say “yes” without guilt, or feeling compelled to explain yourself. Recognize your fragility. Praise your limits. Enter into a sacred covenant with your interior self--go into that secret, holy space that no one can enter but you. Rest there, and come back when you’re ready.

Dayenu. It is enough. It is enough that you got out of bed, got dressed, and left the house. It is enough that you couldn't get out of bed because of pain, anxiety, and depression. It is enough that you exist. In a world that, at every turn, attempts to deny your existence, dignity, and self-worth, the fact that you’re still here--learning, living, loving---is a revolutionary act.

Hineni. Here I am. Learn to accept yourself as who you are and not as what you do. You are made of flesh and bone, of blood and tendon. Your worth is not based upon your career, studies, or being a parent, sibling, or child. Let your soul pull you towards your destination, but recognize that life’s paths are never linear. And realize that no matter where you are on your path, you’re exactly where you need to be. There is no magical “there” where things will be better. There is only “Here.” Love those around you; and understand every choice, action, and inaction you make in this life has both meaning and consequence that ripples out far beyond imagining. But don’t be defined by them. There is only “I am.” “Here. I AM.”

Because, as we journey through the desert together, the winds of change are constant. You will lose everything. Life will break you, over and over. But you’ll realize that you posses a fortitude, a dignity, a grace that you never imagine you had. No experience, no feeling, no perception is final. Learn to treasure your sadness as much as you treasure your joy. Let both pass through you. Let both teach you secret knowledge as they guide you on your way.

Learn to value the inbetweeness of things--the sacred twilight of memory and forgetting, of resisting and resting. There is, in that liminal silence, a beautiful ebb and flow to everything. A chaotic peace--the tethering of connection and alienation. It’s the space between souls--the place where we can bridge the infinite gap between us and finally meet each other as our whole, fragile selves. We are, in fact, islands. But once we do the hard work of bridge-building--a task that requires commitment, love, and authenticity, we finally greet each other for everything we are; and we finally greet G-dess in and through each other.

Lastly, recognize that as we journey through the desert, with all its perils, traps, and turn arounds, no one will ever reach the Promised Land until everyone has. No one will ever find true liberation at another’s expense. Progress, in this sense, is just another mirage that the desert heat tricks us into believing. Queer, class-privileged cis men will never be liberated at the expense of Trans* Women of Color; physically Disabled people will never be liberated at the expense of people who are Cognitively and/or Intellectually Disabled; Jews around the world will never escape anti-Jewish hatred, or the haunting memory of the Shoah, pogroms, and mass expulsions at the expense of Palestinians.

As we (Jews) remember how our ancestors fled Mitzrayyim, the constricted spaces, we must also remember that we've been tasked with the sacred duty of Tikkun Olam (repair of the world) by collecting the the Divine Sparks. Traditionally, we do this by keeping the mitzvot (commandments). But, what if we interpret it in another way?

We (humanity), who are created b’tzelem elohim (in the image of G-dess), are the sparks. The sacred fire that burns within all of us, kept alight by ruach (spirit, breath). How would that change how we treat each other and ourselves? Would we recognize that that fire has the potential to both keep each other warm on cold nights, as well as burn everything in its wake? Would we recognize that we have the potential to snuff out another's fire--their reason and ability to live--as well as breathing renewed ruach into them when they've lost it?

חג פסח שמח

Chag Pesach Sameach
Interpretive version of the Ahavat Olam (G-dess’ Love in the Torah/Universe)
We are loved by an unending love.
We are embraced by arms that find us
even when we are hidden from ourselves.
We are touched by hands that soothe us
even when we are too proud for soothing.
We are counseled by hands that guide us
even when we are too embittered to hear.
We are loved by an unending love.
We are hands that uplift us
even in the midst of the a fall.
We are urged on by eyes that meet us
even when we are too weak for meeting.
We are loved by an unending love.
Embraced, touched, soothed, and counseled…
Ours are the arms, the fingers, the voices;
Ours are the hands, the eyes, the smiles;
We are loved by an ending love.
Blessed are you, Beloved One, who loves your people Israel and the entire universe.
--Rami M. Shapiro (adapted)

To whom do I owe the power behind my voice, what strength I
have become, yeasting up like sudden blood from under the bruised skin's blister?
To whom do I owe the symbols of my survival?

A Litany For Survival
For those of us who live at the shoreline
standing upon the constant edges of decision
crucial and alone
for those of us who cannot indulge
the passing dreams of choice
who love in doorways coming and going
in the hours between dawns
looking inward and outward
at once before and after
seeking a now that can breed futures
like bread in our children's mouths
so their dreams will not reflect
the death of ours:
For those of us
who were imprinted with fear
like a faint line in the center of our foreheads
learning to be afraid with our mother's milk
for by this weapon
this illusion of some safety to be found
the heavy-footed hoped to silence us
For all of us
this instant and this triumph
We were never meant to survive.
And when the sun rises we are afraid
it might not remain
when the sun sets we are afraid
it might not rise in the morning
when our stomachs are full we are afraid
of indigestion
when our stomachs are empty we are afraid
we may never eat again
when we are loved we are afraid
love will vanish
when we are alone we are afraid
love will never return
and when we speak we are afraid
our words will not be heard
nor welcomed
but when we are silent
we are still afraid
So it is better to speak
we were never meant to survive.

What are the words you do not yet have? What are the tyrannies you swallow day by day and attempt to make your own, until you will sicken and die of them, still in silence? We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language….And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had. And you will lose some friends and lovers, and realize you don't miss them. And new ones will find you and cherish you. And you will still flirt and paint your nails, dress up and party, because, as I think Emma Goldman said, "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." And at last you'll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.
-- All by Audre Lorde

All that you touch
You Change.
All that you Change
Changes you.
The only lasting truth
Is Change.
God Is Change. - Octavia Butler

I am looking for friends and allies, for communities where the gawking, gaping, staring finally turns to something else, something true to the bone. Places where strength gets to be softened and tempered, love honed and stretched. Where gender is known as more than a simple binary. Where we encourage each other swish and swagger, limp and roll, and learn the language of pride. Places where our bodies begin to become home - Eli Clare

Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes - Anaïs Nin
So stretch your practiced strengths between two contradictions.
For the g-d[ess] within you wishes to consult. - Rainer Maria Rilke 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

On Judaism, Change, and Reconstitution.

I think one of the reasons why I’m feeling so many things so intensely right now—especially with regards to my gender—is the time of year and what it means to me. This month, on the Jewish calender, is Elul. It’s the last month of the Jewish year, during which time we ask for forgiveness from those we’ve hurt (including ourselves, I think). In Judaism, this process of of repenting is called t’shuvah—which means “return” or “turn around.”

 But what happens when you’re going in circles? Where do you turn, and how? Perhaps  moments of clarity come in a flash of an instant. But I find that most of mine comes in a nagging whisper that I try to ignore for the sake of my convenience, fear, and emotional/physical exhaustion. I’ve been feeling a lot of things for a long time—things I don’t really know how to process. Things that feel way too big for me to piece apart. Add that to the fact that I get completely flustered when I feel like I’m comprehending something completely (but really, who completely understands something as complex as gender[s]?).

 There’s a profound pain in making t’shuvah—if it’s sincere, anyway. One has to accept their own inability to be everything they wish they could be (or at least maintain) To keep every promise they wish they could. The promise to be uncompromisingly true to oneself; to never ingest silence when things need to be spoken, expressed, made known.  It’s the moment of twilight when you see/feel two or distinct realities: The one you live now, which has outlived its purpose and is starting to feel tight around and within you, and the new one(s) in other directions, full of excitement and fear and unknowable things. At the end of things, the only thing to which you’re returning is the maelstrom of boundless chance. To the fundamentals of what makes you: you—the swarms of stardust churning, sifting, and shifting—all to give birth to a new and glorious creature. 

It’s not just the shedding of skin. No. It’s something much deeper. Something much, much more profound. You know it only when language and metaphor can no longer hold it in its tendrils. 

 So, here I am. On the precipice of that change. Looking down into the glittering darkness of be-coming—with all my fear and exhaustion. Waiting to fall into oblivion.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Choked Voices and Dampened Fires

I write this not because I was to have a pity party. This is why I dipped out of the blogosphere for so long. It’s also the first time I’m writing any of this down. So, part of it’s for me.
You cannot, cannot use someone else fire. You can only use your own. But first, you must be willing to believe that you possess it.”- Audre Lorde

 I’ve never been one to hold back. I’ve always, always spoken my mind, even when it’s gotten me into trouble. I’ve learned, through strained relationships, how to tone it down, but I’ve always refused to be silenced. I had to. Words, my voice, were my fists. I grew up a physically disabled kid in a house with physically and emotionally abusive parents, a younger brother who tortured and teased me for as long as I could remember, and I had no one to talk to. So, I screamed. I screamed as loud as I could.

I moved to Atlanta in 2006. Atlanta. The city I’ll always love. The place where I learned that I was capable of being loved and loving in return—the place where I fell in love. The place where I learned to love myself. Love myself as the queer, disabled, chronically ill, trans* femme almost-Jew that I am. The place where I finally understood my white privilege and how I uphold white supremacy; how I live on colonized land; how I benefit directly from transnational slave labor. The place where I learned to hold all this shit together, at times barely.

 Like in 2010. My mom died a very painful death because of a very, very rare genetic lung disease. I became very close to  her after I became sick. She and I shared an language that no one else in my life did--even other crip folk without chronic illnesses, or so I thinkfeel. I was shattered. I was evicted from my apartment in a fucked up way two weeks later. Because Medicaid kept denying me, even after a massive kidney infection. I was lost. My lover at the time stopped talking to me without an explanation. I was numb. I was taken in by some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met. People who held me when I was at the lowest I’ve ever been. They held space for me in my rage and sadness. And I’m sure I was emotionally draining. I left Atlanta for Maryland with a heavy heart—from exhaustion and regret.

A couple of weeks after I left Atlanta, I received an email from someone I loved very much. Someone I trusted without hesitation. In it, they said that they had talked to mutual friends and the consensus was that I talked about ableism too much, that I didn’t respect other people’s opinions, and other things I can’t remember. This was like a punch in the gut. Especially because I had defined my activism as emotional care giving ever since I gotten sick. I always tried my best to carry people emotionally in whatever they could. Yes, I can be intense at times. Sometimes I don't know how to control my fire. And sometimes I don't have a language for things that I'm feeling or experiencing so it comes out as pure rage. And at other times I refuse to be silent and refuse to sugar coat to make it palatable. After my mom died, I made a promise to myself that I would never again live (or die) on anyone else's terms. But still. Isolation is isolation. As Mia Mingus says:

I have watched ableism tear apart relationships with people I love.  I have seen access be too much of a barrier for people to be in relationship with each other.  I have made excuses for inaccessibility because I loved people and didn’t want to lose relationship with them.  I have excused racism, sexism, violence, homophobia because I didn’t want to, couldn’t afford to, lose access.  I have asked for access or raised ableism in relationships, only to have those relationships end abruptly. I have stayed in relationships for access and I have been too afraid to enter into relationships because of access. I have had access held over my head, leveraged for able-bodied supremacist means, or treated like a reward for good behavior.  I have had access made invisible or belittled by loved ones; I have had to make access happen so the person providing access didn’t know they were.  I have kept parts of myself from people I love because I was afraid to, didn’t know how to, be whole and complex in the context of needing access.
This is the cruelty of ableism: it robs us from each other.  This is the weight of access.  This is what gets said in whispers, not on the microphone and at the panel.  This is what gets shared in a fleeting glance between us, disabled, sick, crip folks; a recognition, a silent sigh, an unfocused stare.  This is what we don’t share, don’t know how to share, because it is so instinctual, so ground-level, so what’s-the-point-it’s-never-going-to-change.  This is the air I’ve breathed since I can remember, as a disabled child, never knowing it could be any different—never having been able bodied.
The weight of inaccessibility is not logistical.  It is not just about ramps, ASL interpreters, straws and elevators.  It is a shifting, changing wall—an ocean—between you and I.  It is just as much feeling and trauma as it is material and concrete.  It is something felt, not just talked about.  It is made up of isolation from another night at home while everyone else goes to the party.  The fear of being left by the people you love and who are supposed to love you.  The pain of staring or passing, the sting of disappointment, the exhaustion of having the same conversations over and over again.  The throbbing foolishness of getting your hopes up and the shrinking of yourself in order to maintain.  It is an echoing loneliness; part shame, part guilt, part constant apology and thank you.  It is knowing that no matter how the conditions around me change, my body will still not be able to do certain things—it will still need other people, it will still signal dependence, it will still be disabled.

So, for a long time, I felt as though the people in Atlanta—who I had grown to love so much—secretly resented me. I still don’t know what to think of it. Perhaps I still do.  So here I am. Exhausted. I don’t have the fire I once did. I shrug off the most of the fucked up shit people say to me anymore simply because I don’t have the energy to explain, to lecture, to educate. And a big part of me simply doesn’t care. What’s that mean, though. Am I, as Audre says, choosing to swallow tyranny? And what kind of relationship, friendship or otherwise, is it if it’s predicated upon my silence?

 While I may not be able to use other people’s fires, I think I can stay warm by them. And I offer mine to you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thoughts on San Fran's anti-circumcision ballot.

So, Russell Crowe--who I tend to think of as a bit of a douchesnozzle--recently went on a twitter tirade about circumcision, and after recieving "blacklash" from Jewish followers, he tweeted a ~joke~ to a Jewish friend, Eli Roth, who quickly defended him:
"I love my Jewish friends, I love the apples and the honey and the funny little hats but stop cutting yr babies  - Source.
Great. So glad you like our "apples and honey" and "funny hats," the first being a symbol for one of our holiest days (Rosh HaShanah) and the other being a sign of humility and respect. Again. Douchesnozzle.

But let's get to the meat of this, shall we (kosher meat, of course).

I'm a disabled Jew against circumcision. I've gotten a lot of flack for it, since I'm a convert and my Jew-card is constantly being revoked when I question conventional Jewish thought.  I'm against it because I'm Jewish and disabled and had no choice about the numerous surgeries I had to "fix" me when I was a kid--and I have to learn to love the scars despite/because of the rage they often invoke. So, I take bodily consent--especially when it comes to permanent alterations to someone's body very seriously. Non-disabled Jews rarely engage me on this, but I refuse to give up all other parts of myself to be consumed into a monolithic expectation of what it means to be Jewish. Another post, perhaps.

Having said all of this, I'm outspokenly against San Fran's anti-circumcision ballot and the shit Crowe and others spewed. And it's part of something much bigger than circumcision as a single issue. When Crowe thinks he "knows what God really wants," and defines Judaism only as a religion and nothing else, his missing something crucial about what's going on here. Namely: Judaism isn't just a religion. It's a complicated mix of several cultures, histories, languages, and ritual practices. This whole thing is especially problematic because as long as world Jewry have been in diaspora (and I don't equate israel as the solution to that--though we can't have a critical conversation about Zionism/Jewish nationalism without talking about global and/or systemic anti-Jewish hatred), there has always been non-Jewish authorities telling Jews how to live--sometimes at the cost of mass expulsions, eradication, pogroms, and coercive cultural changes (i.e. the Anglicization of Jewish surnames). Add this to the historical, and often present realities, that Jews are often seen as security threats. These range from things like The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, to the ludicrousness idea that Jews caused 9/11 to blood libels that accused Jews of using Christian babies' blood to make matzah for Pesach. The "Monster Mohel" comic has to be understood as the perpetuation of this, because we miss key aspects of it when we treat it as a solitary issue.

Finally, there's a growing number of Jews who are deciding not to circumcise their amab chidlren (amab = assigned male at birth). They're replacing the Brit Milah (Covenant of Circumcision) with Brit Shalom (Covenant of Peace). It's definitely not part of more orthodox parts of the tradition, and I don't see that changing any time soon since brit milah is such a huge part of it. Either way, I think it's important for Jews to have the space so that we can have this tough conversations in the context of our own lives and traditions.

Edited to add:

I x-posted this on my tumbr, and I got an ask. I want to add the ask here with my response, because it gives other details.

The reader asks:

I read your thoughts on the San Francisco circumcision ballot, and I understand what you're saying, but don't you think that every person should have the right to choose which religion they're part of? Let's saying you're born into a Jewish family and circumcised as an infant. Then as an adult you decide you're an Atheist. You're now forever scared from that religion. It just doesn't make any sense. Your religion should end where another person's body beings. Your religion should not give you the right to harm your child.

This is my response:

I appreciate your imput, but I think you missed my point. Like I said in the post, Judaism isn’t just a religion. It’s much more complex than that. You can be a Jewish Atheist/Agnostic, although theistic Jews would obviously say otherwise. See Humanitic Judaism and historical Jewish intellectual intellectual movements like the Haskalah. I personally find the latter troubling, but’s part of [European] Jewish history and set the stage for liberal forms of religious/observant Judaism. I should also say flat out that by “Jewish history” people usually mean Ashkenazi Jewish history; there is no Reform branch in Sefardic Judaism, for example. That’s why I always say that Judaism is composed of many cultures—a good book on this is Melanie Kay/Kantrowitz's The Colors of Jews: Jewish Politics and Radical Diasporism.

Anyway, the clear delineation between religious identity and a non-religious identity comes largely from a Christian idea (I would say an American/European Protestant idea). I’ve known many self-identified Atheist Jews who still keep Shabbat, have Passover Seders, etc. That’s not to say that there are Jews who are born into Jewish families who grow up not to identify as Jewish at all, which is perfectly fine, too.

Your second point is more complicated and it’s the crux of my post. There are Jews, and Jewish organizations, who are engaging in critical conversations about this stuff. And it’s their/our work to do that. Not non-Jews, or ballot measures that create overarching laws that dictate ethics across all cultures. Because the reality is that as much as correctly reject that the US is a "Judeo-Christian” (barf) country/colonialist project, there IS a Christian supremacy intact here. And Judaism has had a really precarious (to put it mildly) relationship with Christianity and the constant enforcement of Christian mores for centuries. I recognize that it isn’t a Jewish/Christian divide here, necessarily, but I would say that people who grow up in Christian traditions don’t always understand that Jewish ethics and cultures are profoundly different—no matter how those people identify now (i.e. someone who grew up in a Protestant household and is now an Atheist who still tends to see everything as between “me and not-god,” rather than being “amongst me, my people, and (not-) god.”)

Lastly, ballots like this simply don’t work. We’ve seen it when abortion is illegal, and we see it with the “war on drugs.” While coercive anti-circ laws might be on a smaller scale, it’s dictating ethics to communities in which everything is taken out of context and ignored. If this passes (which even if it did, I have a feeling it’d be overturned on constitutional grounds), ritual circumcision will just “go undergound” into really unsafe spaces.

Friday, June 10, 2011

On "Life."

It's narrated by one of my favorite biologists/scientists, David Attenborough. He's kind of like Carl Sagan for me, with a biological focus. The cinematography is absolutely stunning, and it shows an incredible variety of species across all kingdoms. The only thing that bothers me (of course you know I was going to talk about this) is the normative, heterosexist and binarist explanations of gender, sex, and reproduction. There's been no mention (so far) of the gender, sex and sexual diversity in non-human life forms. It often recapitulates the coy female waiting for the aggressive male fighting to the death in order to mate (which the female doesn't mind, since ze wants the "strongest genes." There's a slight exception with the female damselfly, who actively searches out a mate in really dangerous (close to predators) territory. And when male and female mate, they form a heart:

[image: close up of two Azure damselflies (Coenagrion puella)==insects that look very similar to dragonflies. The male is holding on to a blade of grass and the end of its long tale is attached behind the neck of the female damselfly, whose tail is attached to the bottom of the males abdomen. Together, there bodies form something that looks like a drawn heart.]

This is why work by people like Joan Roughgarden is so important. She's a trans woman ecologist who challenges essentialist fundamentals of darwinian thought: natural selection, mate selection, ethology (study of animal behavior), etc.

Also, not all animals have sex only for reproductive purposes. Dolphins, Bonobos, some species of antelope (often female-female sexual pairings), and others have sex for what what could be considered pleasure by human standards. Also, several marine mammals engage in massive orgies.

Chinstrap penguins have been known to form long term, monogamous relationship which they raise young. One-fourth of black swan sygnets are reared by homosexual (male-male) couplings.

And some animals, like the blacktip shark, have been observed to reproduce asexually (more specifically, parthenogenesis - the absence of the male gamete)
Lyretail anthias (Anthias squamipinnis) undergo chromosomal sex changes when necessary.

In the protozoan Paramecium bursaria there are eight sexes.

Life is beautiful and complex. And for every rule or axiom, there is always an exception or important nuance.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Can I be real with y'all?

I feel really sick right now. I'm achey all over. My joints are screaming at me. I'm vomiting and dry heaving. My eyesight is blurry and I'm getting these odd flashes of light in the edges of my vision. I'm afraid that my cortisol is dangerously low again. I'm scared that I'm having another bout of renal failure. I feel alone and all I want to do is curl into someone and cry. But I'm thinking being touched will make the physical pain worse. But I'm sure it would be worth it. I'm feeling really disphoric. I don't know if I want to hormonally transition, and if I do, I don't know where it's coming from. Is that how I want my body to look, or am I internalizing binarism, and do I have to reconcile those things? And even though I'm feeling dysphoric, I abolutely refuse to frame it as body-hate. I spent damn near all my life hating my body. Hating the spasms, the scrawny crip legs, the gnarled gimp toes. The leathery scars left by non-disabled white cis male doctors who cut me open and filled me with shame. I've learned to love my body by being around beautiful crip/queer/trans*/perverts. But fuck it. Let's be real. This hot mess of a body is hard to love all the time, and sometimes I feel deeply betrayed by it. Love isn't always easy, and I can't do it myself. I need to be touched and loved and caressed and fucked when I feel like I want it. I want to feel connected to something again. I want warm, cllamy skin against mine. I'm angry that my non-disabled friends couldn't hold my anger--that they sometimes caused it and silenced me when I called them out on it. I'm ashamed that I made them feel like they weren't good enough, even when they tried their damndest to support me and love me. This is what's underneath those scars I lovehate so much. Confusion, desire, revulsion, serenity, pride, passion, love, patience, anger. I feel really broken. And I'm trying to learn that I don't need to be whole to be beautiful.

Monday, October 18, 2010

For Mama.

You, of mud and ruach
daughter of thunder and justice
mother sister lover
of life.

I first lived in your womb and was impatient
to be in your arms
to hear you and to know you
beyond the walls of blood cells and membranes.

And even when I came to you unannounced and unready
you signed contracts in contractions of blood
to love me--even as it pained you
and in my infantile foolishness
I tasted freedom between gasps of air in underdeveloped lungs
after they cut the cord that binded us.

And now that you're mud and ruach and thunder again
I'm trying to find my way out from under the weight of your absence
tracing my way back through my scars on body and soul
back to the place where we shared the same lifeblood
before you named our difference by naming me.

But all I have now are the phantoms of distant dreams of that place
of that connection too early lived to keep as memory
and my heart is heavy with regrets of trying to rid myself of that cord
from the space I now call
my belly button.

For Julie Gaither. October 23, 1963 - September 26, 2010
Your memory is a blessing.