Good Omens

Living a genderqueer life

Something old, something new

It’s two and a half years since I ended this blog. A lot has happened since – so much in fact, that I started a new one yesterday. New stuff, old stuff, the same old myself. Visit me there if you like!

Hope you’re all doing fine ❤

Advertisements

An ending

This is the last post in this blog.

When I started the blog in 2012, my life was totally different from today. I was starting to come to terms with my then newfound gender identity (or lack thereof), learning what it meant to be genderqueer or transgender in a society that denies the existence of other genders than the Two. I didn’t know I knew people who I knew would share my experience, and so, I had nobody to speak to about what it felt like, who could really know what I meant. So, I started to write about it, which turned out to be really, really good for me.

And gradually, things have changed. Today, meeting other non-binary people, gender doesn’t always have to be on the list. I’m finishing a master’s thesis about genderqueer people, and I’m starting out on another adventure, that of tackling the Trans Unit in order to reach… well, I don’t even know yet! But anyway, there’s loads and loads of thinking of gender in my life right now, so much, that writing about it in my free time just doesn’t feel as important anymore.

And as I sit in a comfy chair at therapy, finding out so much about myself that isn’t the way it seems to have been, my non-normative gender identity (usually) isn’t a problem to be solved any more. It’s a part of myself that I already know rather well, from having thought about it so much – and as such, it is (in its flowing, fluctuating way) a rather stable part of me, around which I can position my new findings about myself. For a change, it feels good to be genderqueer, and it feels good to be me.

Thank you, everybody, for reading and commenting, for the support and love. All the best,

Enne

A new direction

Today, I called a doctor for a referral to the trans unit at the Helsinki University Hospital.

Resolutions

The first tune that I heard on the radio this morning – and so, this year – was Toto’s Africa. In the heard-them-a thousand-times lyrics, there were three lines I think would be a perfect motto for this year. 

Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies

Studying music isn’t what I thought it would be. It turned out not to be (only) about learning to do what others have done before; this first autumn has, for me, been mostly about learning who I am. There’s a lot inside me that I haven’t known the value of, or even realized it’s there. My teachers have encouraged me to look not only to others, but also to myself for inspiration. The tradition of music, unaccompanied unison singing, that I’ve grown up in, is for my teachers not something to be a little ashamed of, or to put aside for to be able to learn “real” music. For them, that is what I already am, and so, there’s little need to become anything.

Like one of my teachers said one day, when you are inside the music, there is no evaluating, no better of worse choices. There’s really not even a choice – just a path leading deeper. Zen and the art of double bass?

I know that I must do what’s right

Growing up has meant, for me, trying to see other colors besides black and white. I’ve been forced to face my fear of losing my idealism and becoming too comfortable to want to change the world any more. But maybe the two aren’t mutually exclusive. If there isn’t a solid, definite “right” and “wrong” in the world, and everything depends on our what we value in life – why should it mean that we can’t work for a world that would be better in our eyes?

Maybe – really, maybe – admitting that all we can build on are values and not objective truths, will make us see that that’s what other people are doing too. If there’s no right and wrong, then there’s no good and evil. And that means there doesn’t have to be us and them. Even those people whose life choices I really can’t understand, they’re just people. Patriarchy would have us think that those people, they are our enemies. We can’t have that, if we want a better world.

Gonna take some time to do the things we never have

This new year’s day, I’m about to start a new life. It’s a life without the safety of knowing what a person will say and do in nearly any situation, because that person always works the same way.

That person is myself.

Last year, and the year before that, have been full of big, big changes in my life. That’s not about to end, even though it would be so much easier that way. But what’s different is that now I know there will be unexpected stuff coming to me, things I can’t, I really can’t prepare myself for. I’ve tried to hide from change. I’ve been like a child that tries to protect a sand castle from the waves when it’s really built too near the water. This year, instead of shouting angrily at the sea, I’ll try my best to enjoy the waves as they come.

An infinite November

This must be the slowest November ever. It’s never taken so long for a day to go by, even though I feel like sleeping at eight every evening. Right now I feel I don’t have any routines left, no timetables, just watching the dreary rain, trying and repeatedly failing to write my thesis or play the bass (it’s so hard to start, even though I know that I’ll like it when I manage to).

I’ll be moving to a flat by myself next month. So will R and K, to their respective new homes. Living together didn’t go as well as I’d hoped. We were too tired all the time, exhausted by our own troubles, to be able to lend a figurative or sometimes even a physical hand, so it all went downhill when negative feelings started gathering momentum. There were lovely, lovely moments and periods, and I think I’ve learned so much, it’s easy not to have any regrets about trying. Now that we’ll have our own places, we can figure out ourselves, our relationships to each other and our shared history.

On a positive side, I feel that I’ve reached a point in my life, where my queer gender is the least of my troubles. In therapy, in the wearisome process of digging up old things and trying to deal with them, my re-phrasing of my (non)gender experience seems to have been the start of everything getting better.

PS One of the reasons this month feels so slow is that I’m growing a Movember moustache, in the spirit of “it’s not only men who can grow one”. It’s more like the first whiskers of a teenager than moustache, but there it is. I’m looking forward to 1st of December.

A tiny piece of metal

I had my nose pierced recently. It was the first piercing I’ve had (excluding those on my earlobes), and I was a bit nervous beforehand.

But oh! What a feeling! In some inexplicable way, the tiny stud going through my skin above the left nostril made me feel more connected to my body than ever before. It was like an axle around which my (previously a little wobbly) self could start spinning. Something undeniably stable and safe.

 

Just miss the ground

I’ve started going to a psychotherapist once a week. With everything that happened when I had a chance to rest, I finally decided it would be great to fix the inside of my head. And so I’ve spent three quarters of an hour every Friday afternoon sitting in a suitably comfy chair in South Helsinki, reaching back in time.

There’s a memory I found on one of these Fridays, one that hasn’t left me alone since. I’m a child of four, maybe five, we live in a house on a hill, and our back yard is the side of the hill, growing trees, oaks maybe, or maples. And I’m running down the hill, sure-footed, not afraid of falling and hurting myself. Just running.

When I found this memory, one of living so totally in the present, so long ago – the same started to become easier for me again. With my attention completely centered on the here-and-now, letting go of everything else has become like flying in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker series: you just have to throw yourself at the ground and miss. It’s not something to do – rather, “[y]ou have to have your attention suddenly distracted by something else when you’re halfway there, so that you are no longer thinking about falling, or about the ground, or about how much it’s going to hurt if you fail to miss it.”

There have been more and more of these ground-missing moments since I found the memory. Cycling to school on a crisp autumn morning, crossing the Ilmala railway yard with the scent of tar and iron of the brigde filling my nose; in the folk dance lesson, with R leading and me following, she’s become so good at it since we last danced together; in the bass practice room at school, I’m starting my journey toward learning archaic music, minimalist and literally long play, ten minutes to the four-bar tune and the music is starting to take control instead of me.

With these moments, now, come tears; and like Sting sings, “I’m so happy I can’t stop crying.”

(I’m so happy that) Every teardrop isn’t a waterfall

Before this morning, I don’t remember the last time I cried. I mean, cried without a specific situation. I always cry at weddings and funerals. (And in April this year, I did cry one night, when I’d had two beers and sauna’d for hours, and there was somebody there that I trust.)

I cried from shock a few years ago, after a (not serious) car crash that the other party blamed on me, and I couldn’t say I knew it was their fault. I remember crying when I was maybe ten, it was in a school break, a child from a parallel class pushed me into a staircase railing so my teeth hit the iron. When I was eight, a new kid came to our class; during lunch, I had the habit of saying a little prayer before starting to eat. The new kid noticed it and said loudly, “So you’re some kind of believer?” And I knew I couldn’t pray in public any more, and after school, I may have cried, and I certainly stopped praying at all. I think I cried a lot as a kid, when I was lost or hurt. What happened then?

This and last year have been a time of my becoming aware of myself. Of gender things and sexuality things, and those are what this blog was to be about when I began it nearly a year ago. But also of weaknesses and limitations, of strengths, and of things that make me happy. This summer, I found that I couldn’t cry. I would get to a point where I wanted nothing more than to let go, but even when I thought of it, I pulled back. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t not control myself. It’s maybe two months since I realized this.

And, like so often, with becoming aware of the problem, the solution is already there. When I let myself admit it, the first step was taken. Not very long after, there started to be tears. Just a few, with no apparent reason. When I noticed them, I tried to loosen my control and still couldn’t.

When I first realized that it’s hard for me to let go, I started hoping for a storm of cleansing tears, like the climax of a film where the protagonist finally is freed from themself. I waited for it, tried to get my thoughts in a shape that could fit such a change… And while I was waiting, slowly, the tears fell, a couple of them at a time. One day, I found the corners of my mouth twitching downward, then staying there for minutes at a time; last week I sat on a bus on the way home looking like a sad smiley without knowing it, and that was good, I wouldn’t have dared to if I had. I had rediscovered an expression I had forgotten even existed.

On a discussion forum I read every now and then, there’s a quote in somebody’s signature: A water drop hollows a stone. I’d thought of it as a good reminder to work steadily at whatever I do. Now, I have another meaning for it.

Three weeks = ∞ ?

Three weeks on holiday, and I feel like it’s been a year since I left home on the early morning train to Tampere. I normally wouldn’t do this, but let’s go chronological.

Week #1, Monday

The train leaves Helsinki at 8 am, by 10 am I’m at Tampere, meet my favorite wolf for picnic at the Tammerkoski park, we go food shopping at the local Stockmann and end up stealing plastic spoons from yoghurt cans, to spread the hummus. I’ve missed the wolf, it’s so good to be near him.

The next train leaves at noon, R and the dog meet me at the station, they’ve been visiting her parents in Northern Carelia. The train is old and noisy, we travel to the west coast to meet K and spend a week at their cabin. I play the viola at the back of the train, the low rumbling makes a comforting ambience that hides the out-of-tune music, or so I hope.

We step off the train somewhere I’ve never been, our one-third is waiting for us, this is the place where their parent lives, we drive north along the coast to arrive at the country’s official Slow City. Seeing the place, it’s easy to understand why.

We empty the town’s supermarket and drive to 200 meters from the cabin. The rest of the way we carry the stuff, along a pathless forest path, the ground was shaped by the last ice age and left there to grow moss. Then suddenly the trees fade away and we see the sea, and the cabin. Time stops.

Tuesday to Friday

A holiday, why do I need a holiday? I’m fine, I’m not tired at all, see? I just can’t stop doing things, but that’s nothing new is it? Still, I switch off the mobile phone. It feels good to be out of touch.

After a few days, breakdown.

I lie on the rocks, I’m weak as a kitten, there’s nothing in the future, there can be no future, I’ll never get up, why did I end up like this again?

I’m in bed, read John Irving’s In One Person, immerse myself in the life story of a fictitious character, a while back I called Finnish Student Health Service, said I’m not okay, not at all okay, they gave me a date with a psychologist in two weeks. Until then, stay alive.

The sea is icy, but I swim anyway, or at least dip myself in the water, the dog whines and tries to understand what I’m doing, she doesn’t like people swimming. When the cold gets too tight a grip on me, I crawl to the rocks like a blind Gollum looking for my glasses, and towel myself off, I do feel alive.

Then we go home. I don’t stay there for long, just enough for some laundry. But it’s not good at home now, too many things waiting to be done, needing me to do them. It’s time be off again.

Week #2

R stays home, K joins me and the dog for a while at my grandparents’ place. Grandpa isn’t home, of course, so the place is very quiet.

When K has to go back to town, after three hours alone I’m bored, in six, desperate, then I go to sleep. Every day, I’m more and more comfortamble by myself. If last week was rainy and unstable, this is a heat wave, we don’t want to go out too much. I finish the Irving and turn to Conan Doyle, gulp down the Hound of the Baskervilles, I’m alone in a big dark house and the heat of the day comes crashing down in an endless thunderstorm, they’d left a kilo of chocolate in the fridge, well there’s not much left of it now.

This place is a perfect hideout for me, a place of rest. I don’t pick any berries, I pick myself up from the ground, sweep the floors for pieces of me, take time to settle them in a new order. Here, a year ago, I tried on the new name; here, in the darkness of the tiny sauna at the back of the yard, I am reborn time and time again from the womb of my becoming-aware. I need this place to be there for me – I need this place to be me.

On Thursday, I head home. A week and a half of holiday still left!

On holiday

Tomorrow morning, I’ll take my suitcase and my viola and head for the railway station, off to my summer holidays. The first week I’ll spend at a cabin on the seaside in Western Finland, together with my chosen family, just the three of us and the dog. On the second week, I’ve planned to go to my grandparent’s place, to pick the remaining blackcurrants and basically do nothing after that. At the beginning of the third week, I might turn on the phone again.

This is what I’ll try to leave home:

– my master’s thesis and anything to do with studying

– gender worries and saving the world

– most if not all “shoulds”, “oughts” and “coulds”

– perfectionism (which is why I’m taking the viola)

Instead of these, I’ll try to take with me a deep thought expressed in this song. “Jos voisin joskus olla niin kuin hän jota rakastan – – katsoisin järvenselkää ilman kynää ja paperia.”*

Every waking moment doesn’t need to be productive. Every action doesn’t have to lead somewhere. Every choice doesn’t have to affect my whole life. It is like the Preacher says, in the Old Testament: “I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.” (Ecc. 3:12)

While we live – not before living, longing for a future that always slips from our grasp, and certainly not after we’ve lived. If I keep saving my present time in hope of enjoying its fruit in the future, I’ll end up losing my whole life, making it a chain of pasts left to spoil. 

 

* Rough translation: “If sometime I could be like the one I love, — I’d watch the lake without a pen and paper.”