Post the Hundred-and-Thirty-Second: Friendsgiving

I hope your holiday was swell, Gentle Reader, if you’re American. If you’re not – well, I hope you had a decent Thursday, and hearing all about America’s self-obsession. I also hope you’re not punishing yourself by going out shopping today. I’m not, but by the time you read these words, I’ll be right in the thick of the crowd, travelling by bus to Ms. Capere’s place, Tranquility Base.

Why would I dare such a thing, on this, the most crowded, unpleasant day to be in public? Because of friendship. Friendship is magic, you know.

As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the Friday after Thanksgiving is traditionally Friendsgiving at Ms. Capere’s. It’s exactly what it sounds like, and it’s something I’m rather thankful for, myself. It’s a great way to catch up with those whose busy lives might keep them apart, and to destress, unwind, after a typically fraught family function. Miss Spectacular will be there, and Mr. Darling, and all sorts of old friends. I’m sure I’ll have a story or six to tell by the end of the night. I’d rather celebrate friendship, fidelity, than fiduciary folderol any day, anyway.

Thank you for sticking around, Gentle Reader. I’m glad we’ve gotten to know each other this last year. On this Friends giving, I’m thankful for you.

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Post the Hundred-and-Thirty-First: Last Thanksgiving

It’s no secret, Gentle Reader, that a great deal of my family on both sides is no longer with us. It can be a little rough, at the holidays: my remaining relations are scattered far and wide, and often have their own families and traditions to observe. It’s been a few years since Maman and I’ve been able to have that Norman Rockwell fantasy of a household full of loving family.

My dear Mr. Darling, of course, was aware of this, and invited us both to spend Thanksgiving with his family – his parents, endless uncles and aunts, scores of cousins – reams and reams of people. Maman and I have known the Darlings for years, of course – but we hadn’t seen much of them since the days when C.W.L. and I were in high school, when our parents would constantly confer about the various mischief we got into. We were hesitant about accepting, but honestly – what did we have to lose?

We arrived, bottle of wine in hand – trembling, trepidatious. The door swung open before we rang the bell, and cheery golden light spilled out, and laughter; hugged, ushered in, offered Bill’s signature Thanksgiving cocktail – invited, introduced, inducted.  C.W.L. was bustling in the kitchen; his mother, with a warm happy glow, pressed me into service, while she and Maman caught up. I was happy to help.

His family, overwhelmingly Catholic, uttered a lengthy grace before the meal, unlike the Lutheran prayer in Norwegian we were used to. His family passed things around the table clockwise, while we were used to longstanding jokes about confusion about which direction the plates should go.  One thing that we were used to, they had in spades: love, camaraderie, acceptance.

It was a perfect Thanksgiving, like we hadn’t seen in years, and we were very thankful to share in something that we thought we’d lost.

Rockwell, Thanksgiving.jpg

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Poetic Interlude XXXIV

I found this piece in an old notebook of mine. While I don’t think much of the poem itself, it made me chuckle.

Taxonomy of Morals
 
Locked within my thumping breast
A heart lies beating, bold,
Wanting what it knows is best –
A romance, as of old.
But though a touch makes pulses quicken,
That very touch makes my heart sicken.
 
Desire makes me weak with grief,
But I’ll not be abused –
The flesh may soon receive relief,
Or else the flesh may bruise.
Yes, giving in is often sweet,
Obeying the commands of meat.
 
I know, then, I must separate
Love and Lust and Luck:
A rose, no more the distillate
Of an indifferent fuck.
Yes, quick to meet, and quick to part –
I lock, again, said pounding heart.
 
©2013 by Tyler J. Yoder. All rights reserved
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Post the Hundred-and-Thirtieth: Trusting to Providence

Gentle Reader, this is a post I’ve been wanting to write for a little while. It’s about one of the guiding principles of my life, a creed I’ve always followed, and it’s a little complicated to explain… correctly.  Quite a few people judge me harshly because of it. I can only assume that, since it lifts a lot of the constraints of society, they’re insanely jealous. Or else it sounds lazy and ungrateful and silly, when really, it’s none of those things.

Providence1

I trust to Providence to look after me. When I don’t just blithely trust the universe, that’s when I have the hardest time getting by, making it from day-to-day. When I do trust the universe, then incredible, amazing things fall into my lap.

These incredible, amazing things can be things like a job – every job I’ve ever had was the result of random happenstance rather than diligent searching – or friends who are willing to support me while I try to put my life back together – or else they can be actual things, like vintage silk kimonos, a set of amethyst crystal goblets, jewelry, a chaise longue. Frequently, it includes tobacco and wine.

Providence2

That’s where people take this in the wrong way – people seem to think that I think that I can just laze about and everything will be alright. Nothing could be farther from the truth! Trusting to Providence really only works if you’re working your ass off. It might not be at a traditional job, or indeed, for money – but I’ve always found that if I do my best to accomplish whatever I’m trying to accomplish, sooner or later, then it will happen.

It also helps if you give freely of whatever little you have. Usually, in some form, this will come back to you, and help you when you need help in return.

People also seem to think that because I just blindly trust and plunge forward in this giddy, uncanny, uncertain world that I don’t appreciate the things that are given to me, or the individuals who give them. Again, nothing could be farther from the truth. I am very lucky, and very grateful to everyone who has helped me over the years, to the point that I get teary-eyed over it. I appreciate each and every stroke of luck, and every gift freely given. I am deeply indebted to the residents of Teaberry, who have put a roof over my head for the last year and more. Just because I trust people, the world, to be kind, doesn’t mean that each example doesn’t strike me to the core.

Each little gig, each little side-job, each purchase of my book – I am deeply thankful for. I am thankful for the little luxuries that people and life throw my way. I am ridiculously thankful for the opportunities that have come my way, my friends who are making them possible, and my grand, mysterious, ridiculous family tree who have made me who I am and charged me to carry on their legacy.I am thankful for the Internet which has made so many deep friendships possible, and I am thankful for you, Gentle Reader.

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Post the Hundred-and-Twenty-Ninth: Transgender Day Of Remembrance

Today is the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Gentle Reader, during which we remember and mourn the hundreds of human beings who were brutally murdered for being true to themselves. This violence occurs daily, and death is frequently the result.

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It’s frequently asserted that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals ignore the transgender in LGBT. It’s true, too – and worse than just ignoring our allies, a lot of the hate directed at transfolk comes from the L, G, and B. It’s appalling – only this year, in America, was transgender included in the wording of ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which has continually failed since it was first introduced, years ago. Not being fired is an important right, and I’m glad that folks in the community are starting to grudgingly pay attention to our transgender friends, but I’m pretty sure that not living in fear of being brutally murdered is something that should also be addressed.

A lot of cisgender† people are confused about the very concept of being transgender; I have to admit that, being cis myself, I can’t answer that question with any degree of authority or accuracy. I’ve never had those experiences; I don’t know what that struggle is like. All I can do is empathize, based on my own experiences, and do my best to be a good ally – to take what the trans community says at face value, treat them with respect, and try to be a good ally. This doesn’t mean that I won’t get things wrong – I know for a fact that I will – but I can do my best to get things right, and apologize when I fuck up. Sometimes, though, that isn’t good enough.

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For example, in my most recent relationship, my partner came out to me as trans. I was taken by surprise, and I tried to be supportive – but I know I frequently misgendered her during the process. There were some other issues going on with the relationship, but I can see now that while I was being supportive, I was going about it in entirely the wrong way. I was still trying to impose my worldview on hers. I’m sorry, my dear; I’ve educated myself since then.

Or there’s the time when my cousin M. came to an art show that I had a piece in. She had come out to the family as trans* after Grandpa passed – I was so proud of her! At this point, I had educated myself quite a bit more about the trans* community and deemed myself a better ally. Nevertheless, despite M. presenting as female, and my knowledge and respect of her journey, I still slipped up a few times, misgendering her as well. She calmly corrected me, with a smile, and waved it away with a flick of her wrist, but I know that it’s something she has to deal with every day, and if I, a purported ally, still slip up, what hope is there? Sorry, darling, and thank you for understanding.

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The founder of the Transgender Day of Remembrance, Gwendolyn Ann Smith, wrote an article today, which was featured on the Huffington Post. She has this to say:

“Anyone can potentially fall victim to anti-transgender violence. Transgender-identified people and others whose gender identity or expression does not fit the typical binary are who you may think of first, but anyone who is perceived as not being “masculine” or “feminine” enough for their attackers is at risk.

Cases of anti-transgender violence have affected people of all ages, from newborn to elderly, and go across all sexual identities, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. There’s no “magical” way to be protected from anti-transgender violence.”

Members of the Gay, Lesbian and Transgen

I’m not sure what I think about that. At face value, I think that it’s absolutely true, that cisgender people suffer anti-trans* violence, in the same way a young straight boy who lisps will probably suffer anti-gay violence. Despite the fact that I can absolutely see her point as true, I worry that she only mentions this because the rest of the community largely doesn’t care what happens to transfolk. She’s casting her net more widely, telling us that it can happen to us, to get our attention piqued. That’s my fear, anyway.

Gentle Reader, we all need to be there for each other, and support equality for all. I know this post is long-winded and a little disjointed, but I hope I’ve made you question yourself, or the world, just a little. Let’s take a moment to contemplate the deaths of all those who died such tragic, unnecessary, deaths, and to try to make the world a more understanding place.

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*A special note, here, G.R. – the term “trans*” typically includes an asterisk at the end, so for purposes of this post, the asterisk does not refer to a footnote. Well, except for this. Damn. You get the idea.

†Cisgender is the state of having your genitals match your identity. I should note that Cis and Trans* are not opposite poles of a binary system, or even goalposts on a spectrum, they’re just two of the more common gender markers.

Also, the cute drawing about pronouns comes from here, and I don’t own it. NSFW, probably.

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Poetic Interlude XXXIII

It was a foundation, and also a word, in the wickedest man I know,
A few drinks in the story of its birth.
I am far too small for answers, for an embrace,
For Art is white and cold, and will be many others,
Most lucid at playing the ancient games.

Lord, I remember the bartender,
The institutionalized uncle’s affair,
Our sordid lives that summer.
The kiss was blurry, on the fifth,
Less tidy than murder.

The flaws aren’t soft
When I am assaulted by forty years.
I am seething, waiting for jail.
I am looking for a month,
Or a love affair tres sérieux.

©2013 by Tyler J. Yoder. All rights reserved

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Post the Hundred-and-Twenty-Eighth: Absinthe

Shortly before I left for Alaska, Gentle Reader, Miss Ward began diving into the fín-de-siécle demi-monde of the famous absinthe drinkers. She was fascinated by the ritual and mystery, naturally, and the romantic air that surrounds the period. Her enthusiasm kindled a similar interest in me. As it was still illegal in the States, I was surprised and pleased to receive a clandestine package that Christmas, containing a sampler pack of the more popular commercial absinthes. Not knowing any better, I’m sorry to say that I lit it on fire*.

While I was in Alaska, I ordered a very special package of dish soap from Czechoslovakia. I arrived in Washington; that was the same day my grandmother passed away. I was privileged to see her one more time before she passed. A month later, I still hadn’t cried for her. I couldn’t bring myself to the point of crisis, catharsis.

The absinthe arrived.

Miss Ward was visiting from Bellingham, and came over to offer her sympathies. She, Maman, and I sat around with Francois Guy and White Fairy, in smoky, perfumed, candlelight. We began an exquisite corpse†, and this time, we did the ritual right: drops of water, excruciatingly slow, turned the sugar to decanted diamonds plunging into green floral oils waiting below. The truest thing that people say about absinthe is that it opens the senses, sensitivity. In that small circle, I was able to mourn.

A few months later, Miss Ward, her young man at the time, and I joined a secret society devoted to educating people about absinthe, and attended a number of sampling parties. We learned a lot, and made some excellent, deep, friendships. With such love and libations, such clarity, creativity, we truly felt part of the Bohemian world of yore.

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*Friends don’t let friends light absinthe on fire. The so-called “Czech Ritual” was invented in the Nineties to sell movies and an inferior minty absinthe called Hills.

†An Exquisite Corpse is a delightful tradition where you write a line or two of a story, then pass it to the next person, who can only see the last sentence you wrote. With the right people, you can come up with some truly beautiful pieces.

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