News Corp

There was The Sun, lying in the train, so I had a look. I turned two pages, and avoided the page three girl.

Two articles caught my attention. One was two pages, with large photos, of a woman who eats 5000 calories a day, much of it fast food, but remains a size 8- she wants to develop “womanly curves” but cannot put on weight. She wakes in the night with cravings and will eat burgers and chips. The other was a woman who had been burgled, and met her burglar as part of a Restorative Justice programme. She felt she had managed to communicate her distress, and been heard by him, and gained some understanding of his. Now she wants to be a mentor for such criminals, bringing them round to something better. What would you know? It was in The Sun, not quite as disgusting as you might have thought.

-“Do you mind if I have a look?”
-Not at all, I found it there. He leafs through the sports pages: lots and lots on the football, and then more quickly through the front half.
-Ha! Look at that! What kind of story is that?
He passes it to his companion, who also expresses derision. What? Four lines at the bottom of a column say that a “poll” has found a certain percentage of children under 3 have tried curry. Well, interesting enough, worth four lines and a tiny headline, though I could not remember the percentage an hour later.

H was disgusted that I would even read the thing. Well, I would not buy it, but am interested to read it as a cultural artefact. She would not even do that, though the positive piece on restorative justice gained grudging respect: she has enough in her life, and tries to avoid negative things. So I came up with an answer, which felt right at the time:

I also watch “Spartacus: Gods of the Arena” on Pick, the Murdoch channel. I spend most of my time in my living room, and seek to come to accept my own feelings. So having something which disgusts me is useful, as practice feeling the disgust without fear of the feeling. I want to be able to be in touch with feelings, not shut them down. So, say, reading the Sun or watching a sword go through a neck and gouts of red stuff splash about (such detailed special effects it has!) helps me do that.

H herself is irritated by the advert on the Tube which talks of “internetting”. That’s not a word! Well, no, but you understand what it means. And while the old word “web-surfing” means more or less the same thing, originally “surfing” meant moving between websites, perhaps by links, whereas now we spend most of our time on particular social or shopping sites. I myself am irritated by the use of a £ sign to replace an E in a word. It is an L, standing for Liber, as in liber, sestercius, denarius; and by the reversed N in the advertising for UиcLe Vaиya which we went to see. That и is put in to make it look Russian, but is an “I” sound rather than an N. Ignorant, illiterate, wrong. Yes, I too have other things to get angry with.

Vicarious disgust to get used to the feeling, so I may feel it and not shut down; and disgust at something not particularly disgusting, I suppose, and something I certainly may not influence. I try to laugh where before I would get angry with such solecisms, but being an emotional being is difficult, and if I were paid to work I might need to rely on coffee, alcohol and suppression just like everyone else. Suppression is the problem, though: I will do a lot to avoid that. It kills me.


I was getting angry in the office, bursting into tears in my car, not just as a one-off but regularly. I thought it was sick, and I went to see my GP about it. I thought it was caused by an unaccustomed hormonal state.

Weeping while driving is not ideal, nor is screaming- it made my throat sore.  I was probably not giving as much attention to the task as I ought, and while driving I have a responsibility to those I might hurt by my inadvertence. While the office might be fucked up, other people have their own difficulties, and my shouting does not help. Eventually I thumped my car into a crash barrier, damaging it irreparably, and I am relieved I hurt no-one else beyond causing a traffic jam for a bit.

So I have some sympathy with that part of me which says, that is insane. It is sick. Stop it, control yourself, or find some chemical way of doing it if you don’t have the self-control. It is not advancing your interests. But it is entirely wrong. I was- am- expressing what I feel, being conscious of it. It would be better, certainly, to feel my feelings and permit them, be conscious of them, and integrate them- not necessarily show them, but use them constructively rather than suppressing, denying and diverting them destructively. A house with a roof on is better than one without, but the one without is better than a site without the foundations dug.

I felt on Friday at Tim’s 5Rhythms that my war was in balance, that the two parts of me which each consider the other insane were at stalemate, and I feel now, Monday 26th, that I should go with the emotional rather than the conventional bit. The conventional bit has worked out the rules, more or less- don’t burst into tears while driving, for example, a good rule and worthy of all acceptation- and wants to keep them and survive, and sees the emotional bit as just trouble. On Friday, I felt that each part knew the other to be insane, and I could not choose between them, and now-

 I want to get the roof on.

I want to go with the emotional bit, wherever it leads. To extend the metaphor, it may not be a house I can afford, and I have no idea what living in it would be like, but putting the roof on- plastering the walls, getting some furniture, perhaps some nice art work for the walls to make it really comfortable- is what I Choose to devote myself to, now.

Hell and depravity

Here is a gay man who believes gay sex is sinful. He has “turned to Christ”, but does not believe that will alter his desires.

He has selectively read the Bible, and found the complete depravity of humanity. We all deserve Hell, he thinks, but he has accepted Jesus as his saviour and lord so hopes he will escape it. His Christian journey now is to grow in faith struggling with his temptations, which will always recur- not just same sex attraction, but all kinds of vileness.

I believe that is false. With a few, diseased exceptions, human beings are born loving, social beings. We all do our best under difficult circumstances. This is observable. And, given that only a tiny number are Christian in Matt Moore’s sense, how is it that anyone creates beautiful things, or acts well? It is not even the sole Biblical view: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”, “Your works are wonderful, and I know it well”, “God saw what God had made, and behold it was very good” are just three quotes which spring immediately to mind. Also, imagining that human beings are so entirely perverted is to give far too much power to the Devil. We are Christians, not Zoroastrians.

So, his belief that his homosexuality is sinful perverts all his Christianity. He is in Hell now: he sees himself in continual temptation to wrong, with no power of his own to counteract it. He needs to exert eternal control, and his control will never be enough.

Similarly, a heterosexual Christian who believes homosexual behaviour is sinful is caught in the same trap. He has no reason to believe himself any better than the gay man. He too is born Wrong, all his aims and drives are against God’s will, and he must resist doggedly. He can only rely on God’s forgiveness, and never on any good in himself.

The belief that homosexuality is wrong is not just a trivial error. It vitiates Christianity, turning it from a view of human beings with God which gives life and health to a view of us which makes all of life a miserable struggle, with endless grovelling to idols. Thank God it is dying away.

The Saudi border authority has a new service. Women are not allowed to travel outside the country without the permission of their male “guardian”, and now when one does, the border authority sends a text message to that guardian. Initially the guardian had to opt in- the woman had no choice in the matter- but now it is automatic.

Infantilisation of women is not good religion. Unfortunately it shows how extremist religion tends, whether Salafist or the nuttier extremes of Evangelicalism: it is impossible to be Pure, and the fuckwits get the idea that greater extremism is more “pure”. So Complementarianism ends with women unable to work. I must be a better Christian than I was before, they think, because I take it More Seriously. It is but a short step from there to denying the Christianity of others.

Three women you take the job, if we offered it?
-That’s the first time I have seen you smile!

Oh, Fuck you. Really. Fuck off and die. I did not say that to the woman, of course. I can do the job, to a high standard, including sympathising and winning the trust of and making the client comfortable, which one man last year thought I would have problems with. Too distant, he said, as if my reserve in a job interview, with its particular power structure, has any relation to my Acceptance of a client. Where I have the power, I share it. I don’t have the power, here.

I am crying about it now (Th 22nd). I was crying repeatedly the day after (Tu 13th). So when I tell myself I should be getting out and getting a job and supporting myself, I can’t hide away for ever, I see that is not as easy as it seems. Just possibly the little activity I muster really is doing my best at that.

Thursday morning (15th) to see Nicola. That bucked me up a bit, though I have not done anything about her Behavioural Activation techniques. I should have planned one extra activity each day last week, and two a day this week, and the sense of achievement I get from that will make me feel good and motivate me to continue. Oh. I did think of keeping a record of what I did- two hours of Solitaire, checking the stats page just in case anyone has looked at my blog, whatever- but have not done that. It was not quite Carl Rogers’ “Unconditional positive regard”, but a refusal to be negative about any of my whining a toned down infant teacher’s enthusiasm for the task she proposed.

Thursday afternoon to see Lizette. She is from Lima. She volunteers at the CAB, where she was very friendly, and her friendliness included frequent touch. I love touch, I get far too little, and still I was uncomfortable. I cycled to meet her at a coffee shop in Zhuzhkov. I thought that I did not need my saddle-bags and then realised when I got there that the lock was in the saddle-bags. I was early, and wandered up and down the high street- bank, butcher’s, clothes shops, pubs- and a man admired my bicycle so I chatted with him briefly. I love these rural towns for that.

I was a little nervous, but propped the bike at the stands the other side of the street from the shop; a little distracted, I was looking at it when we chatted. When four people congregated round it, she noticed I was studying them and went out to talk to them. They drifted off. It could still be a friendship. It might be worth the work. I was reserved, keeping to shallow talk, but that is OK.

Illustrated with Renoir, not for the relevance but the beauty.

A cure for lesbianism? to William and his “Strange side effects” blog. I followed the source to the LA Times. If a mother at risk of her child having congenital adrenal hyperplasia takes steroids during her pregnancy, it may make the child less likely to be lesbian.

CAH has various effects, including retention of male hormones in the foetus, so that a girl’s genitals may be made ambiguous. Once a woman has had a daughter with such ambiguous genitals, she might be offered steroids during subsequent pregnancies, which will treat that particular symptom, but not the CAH itself. And the steroids have to be administered before the child’s sex may be detected, when there is a one in eight chance of a girl with CAH.

There are no long term studies showing this treatment produces fewer lesbians. There is a study showing that women with CAH are more likely to be lesbian, and one showing that treated girls are more feminine. We don’t know. That lesbians are always more masculine is demonstrably false.

The choices are, leave the child at risk of ambiguous genitalia, give surgery, or give steroids. Even if the child has CAH, the enlargement of the clitoris may be slight. DSD advocates oppose genital surgery on infants- it should be the informed choice of the adult woman- but if human diversity is a, this treatment may make one aspect of it go away. My political view is that human diversity in general, including ambiguous genitals, is not a problem, it is society’s reaction which is the problem- but while society has that problem, I can sympathise with a mother seeking to avoid her child being a non-voluntary pioneer in breaking down that intolerance. Even if the child has CAH, the enlargement of the clitoris may be slight.

Dr John Grohol‘s political view is that doctors and patients should be able to decide together to take whatever action they might wish. No. Professional bodies and government will always have a say, and while I cheer on brave doctors who have pioneered sex change treatments because those increase the freedom of the patient, this treatment changes the child, not necessarily for her good, because of the parent’s desire.

Alice Dreger (see the LA Times article) is concerned that the risk the parent might seek to avoid is not an enlarged clitoris, but homosexuality. Homosexuality may be affected by the intra-uterine environment, as well as by genes. She wants to prevent the treatment because of that. There must be no attempt to cure homosexuality, in anyone. I think society would lose out if diversity is reduced, and the idea of getting people to conform to a norm so others can feel less uncomfortable repels me, but-

I admit the possibility that heterosexuality might be preferred to homosexuality, if there is a completely free choice. I am not certain. This is separate from whether gay people are of equal value with straights (we are) or are immoral per se (we are not). In a society purged from kyriarchy, if there were a completely free choice I might prefer to be androphile. What about you?

The Chicago Code

Is the risk worth taking?

The Chicago Code is a cop drama which made  thirteen episodes in 2010, now being shown on Pick TV, the Murdoch channel freely available in the UK. Misnamed Pick is filled with worthless, £1000 an hour “reality TV” but is worth checking occasionally, for things like “Spartacus” (Thud! Splat! Phwoar! Ew!) and the surpisingly watchable Stargate Universe, which made two full seasons in 2010.

The Chicago Code is Feelgood. The good guys win, always at the end of the episode, and repeatedly, but with the slight edge that the bad guys win sometimes too, for example the successful jury nobbling in episode 10. There is an ongoing story and some soapish elements around certain characters, but each episode has one or two stories which can be followed without previous knowledge of the show, and here the undercover cop is shown early, talking to bad guys and his handler, so that new viewers get the idea.

It goes dark. Darkest moment today, a man is shot in the head, and blood spatters undercover cop’s face.

Fortune moves like the wind, and we see the pretty cop chasing the bad guy. But he is staying ahead, and the shot changes: from a shot in sunlight to one in shade. Will he turn on her? Whoosh, in comes a car with more cops. Snap, snap, snap, new shot, new idea.

Is the risk worth taking? Handler’s brother was an undercover cop, shot by the bad guys. Now, undercover cop is close to the head of the mob. Should he be pulled out? Is the handler’s opinion affected by the death of his brother, years ago? Undercover cop is to be searched, in case he has a “wire”. He has. In this programme, he could not actually die but that is not always obvious.

They take the risk, and it pays off, very well. The story is not over: it is time to move in on the big fish. The episode is over, though. How do I feel now? I have had a strong vicarious emotional workout- elation, amusement, dread, shock flickering around my limbic system rapidly in succession. Back to real life. My retreat to my living room is stressful: my thigh muscle has started to twitch, near the knee. This is better than the facial tics I have had in the past. Ah. I am stressed. Notice that. And now, at the end of the episode, I feel- a downer. I want another.

I believe my retreat is useful, that I am gaining self-acceptance and self-awareness, and recovering from internalised self-hatred and past hurts. I pass the time, not just with Contemplation. I know my addiction to Solitaire is harmful: 1300 “games” since August, and I do not go to bed, just “playing” again, and I have twice got wired on it, hyper, reacting quickly and not necessarily well, and it makes me sleep poorly. So I have removed the shortcuts to it. I could find it again, but that would take digging, I am not quite sure how.

I am passing the time, as well as healing and contemplating. This telly is addictive, an escape from reality. I need to retreat: that job interview in Bedford last week really upset me, and I did not get the job. I can retreat, I have a little more money to disperse. I think the telly is probably OK: have an experience, react to it, see the reaction, learn- and also pass some time.

Rather than watching another recording, I kneel in my ritual space, and contemplate for a bit. Then I start thinking of blogging it.


That hurt me more than anything else in the past year. Am I over it? Can I find any good in it? This is an essential exercise for me, as I move from my old habitual negativity into gratitude and appreciation. And I seek to move from magical thinking towards perceiving reality, and from withdrawal back to courageous living.

Am I over it? I uncover the wound, and probe it. I can think of it without crying. The pang I get from looking at her photograph is less than it was. I can permit myself some resentment, she did not treat me well, and I no longer have wild unreasoning hatred. Oh I have been totally numb, and strong emotion frightens me, so I have to test this. Not, how would I like it to be, but how is it? Mmm.

I am scared of how I became. I was overwhelmed, and I was terrified of seeing her last December, vomiting with fear. This does not happen often. I was obsessed. I was hurt in January, and I could not see her in July without weeping. I was so hurt. It is my own reaction, the strength of it, and how long lasting it was, that frightens me. And- it is less strong now.

I had hoped for human companionship. This is a Need, a hunger, as primates are social animals. I behaved ignorantly, seeking it. I hope I have learned from the experience. And- it may be possible that another could find me attractive. Possibly I need not be acting, all the time. I learn more about who I am, and tolerate myself more, a virtuous spiral.

I develop some resentment. I heard of the concept of “dating down”- you date someone of a lower social cachet, and so have all the power- and had instant recognition. Mmm. Not OK.

I have not cried, writing this. That is an improvement. I could not illustrate this with anything relevant- so here is something beautiful.

Added: I wrote this ages ago about someone else, and hope that it fits here, more or less:

You are not mine
against my wishes
you are my friend, when I once hoped for something more
Now I see you
altered, lessened
You’ve lost the beauty which I saw in you before
Mildly pretty when you had seemed so much more


I want to withdraw.

I read the Holstee Life-manifesto, and think, yeah, right. It ranges from what I see as good advice- “open your mind arms and heart to new things and people,” say- to the “You can do anything you want” stuff which I have heard is the kind of vicious lie we have to try to believe, but is very far from my experience. Though when I whined something similar on her site, Lynne made a gracious reply.

I want to withdraw. But that is completely nutty. I have twice seen an NHS CBT worker about “behavioural activation” which is getting me to do stuff, there is lots of stuff I need to do to advance my interests, and Withdrawal- sitting doing nothing- is not doing that. Then again: “Do what you love, and do it often”. “Live your dream and share your passion.” Mmm. Well, here am I doing nothing, and telling you about it.

I want to withdraw, and that is indeed strange and wrong- arguably- though looking at some other wants:

I want not to have to think
I want to be looked after
I want to be told what to do

-even though if ever someone tells me what to do and that is not what I want to do in that moment I have a resistance, and do not do it. Vide Behavioural Activation. Oops, that is not a proper sentence. Looking at my other wants, life is too much for me, all I have imagined I needed to do does not fit my desires, and I can’t think it through- “Stop over-analysing” says Holstee- so withdrawing makes sense.

I do not always resist. “Go and see what the next dance is” said S, and I went off to look at the list stuck to the wall, surprising F who thought me over biddable. Arguably. Gosh, that’s er, must be 25 years ago. Just wafts into my mind then.

I withdrew as far as I can- after breakfast I went back to bed- and the grinding tool or drill screamed into my consciousness and I am not in control, even here. Tears. After reading for a while I went to shower, and- getting into the bath, that routine movement, the planned thing I must do- more tears. Presence. Consciousness. The feel of the water, the heat.

I could do X and dress for that, or wear jeans to slob around the house, and I really want to wear that skirt. So I do. That “per una” skirt- it is years old, I have worn it twice this Autumn and been told how beautiful it is each time. And it is. And this blouse.

-Tranny crap. Fantasist, worrying about clothes for fuck sake, not real life-

Maxine did not like the word “blouse”, which seems less in use, preferring “shirt”. I love the softness of the fabric, the subtle floral design, the fussiness of the shape…

My living room is tidy, after S visited. I light a candle. Beautiful. I read a bit.

I kneel in my ritual space, and am overwhelmed by sensation: the wig I never wear, real hair, moves on my cheek if I move my head, the silk slip, the soft opaque tights- and I come to an end, just as the timer does. Then I play the piano, starting Giorni Dispari but moving quickly to free improvisation, the spontaneous interaction of rhythm and harmony.

I am being spontaneous, doing what I want to do, against the Rules inculcated, against the Common Sense which consciously runs through my mind. This is unaccustomed. I am so, so guarded, that spontaneity with another person seems too much, too difficult, this sitting doing almost nothing is all the spontaneity I can manage-

That beautiful, sensitive man- seen as Mentally Ill, looked after (managed) by his younger brother, last time I saw him he was SUPPRESSED by anti-psychotics

Just sitting here, with that candle, its flame so steady, so beautiful- just sitting here feels so dangerous-

If you have read this far, please leave a comment. A reaction would be good, but a comma in the comment box is a good enough “I was here” for me-

I do not trust myself, and I want to be heard. Then again, I grow, just a little, in trust of myself. Withdrawing is definitely good for me today.

Written 20 November.

Misery Memoir Hillesum was murdered in Auschwitz in 1943. Her diary of life in Amsterdam before then has been published. She looked down at a Gestapo officer behind a desk, who was shouting, finding reasons to be angry- “Take your hands out of your pockets!”- and saw what he was doing, saw how he was feeling, felt sympathy for the man even as he shouted. He told her to stop smirking. He saw the anger was not having any effect, needed her fear of him, and mistook sympathy for disrespect.

I heard that programme about her yesterday (17th- inspiring, recommended) and then saw I had a “Like” from onethousandsingledays. I popped over to have a look at her blog.

This first post I saw is arresting. She has a wonderful metaphor, the War, the Bunker, the collapse of the pillars, and some actual experience of abusive relationships to relate. With all the writing people do, on blogs or diaries or unpublished manuscripts, this may be my Holy Grail, writing one could actually get paid for. I can imagine a public buying this as a book, publishers, editors, critics and publicists seeing this and acting as middlemen. It is about Overcoming Adversity, Being Yourself, and Making your way in the World. Universal concerns.

Hers was a “like” which does not “like” my blog at all. It is a tap on the shoulder, saying, come and have a look at me, like Cristian Mihai’s are. I left a comment about Etty Hillesum and her wonderful empathy, saying that I might engage if she came to my blog and commented. She did not publish my comment. This is her excuse for not even replying to most comments. do actually want to write my spiritual autobiography, or a novel showing my wonderful insight into humanity, or something. I veer between imagining that I know nothing of this, of other people, or of myself, and can say nothing interesting, and imagining that I am doing important spiritual work and that I can record it in a worthwhile way.

I do not want to disparage her work. Well, I do, as my post title shows: I resent her success and want to do it down as flashy and shallow, merely communicating pain and a trite response to it whereas I have the Insight to communicate Reality and a deep, spiritual, worthwhile response- but I must resist that temptation, and learn what I can from her. Technical things, like how to develop a metaphor and an idea while bringing in experience, showing different facets of the jewel in an ordered way to communicate knowledge of the whole thing.

The way to achieve anything is patient effort. Unfortunately there are also computer games- Solitaire is mine- which gives a brief illusory hit of false-achievement and so is addictive, and TV through which I can get excitement and intense feeling vicariously.

And- right now, my desires and drives are in conflict, so that I am practically inert. Perhaps “The darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing” but it is not, yet, as far as I can see. If it were, and it were possible, that would be worth communicating in writing.

PS: On “Likes”, Cristian Mihai duly “liked” this post as well, even though I mentioned him rather unflatteringly. This is because he “likes” every post. I have commented on his blog, drawing his attention to the face, and “await moderation”. I think he will refuse my comment, and delete his “like” from this post. He does not want his hypocrisy unmasked.


Insofar as I know anything of myself, I know I want to belong.

The usual procedure to join Quakers is this. The applicant writes to the area meeting, which appoints two visitors to report on the application. Then the AM considers the application, and decides on it. Some meetings are experimenting with other ways, which the rule book says are equally valid, but when we considered a meeting for clearness instead, my AM decided to do the thing we have always done. For the first time, I was one of the visitors.

I thought of my own membership application. I was granted membership in February 2002, just before I decided I had to transition, as soon as possible. I was feeling frightened and alone at the time, and it seemed to me so strongly yesterday that being granted membership, being accepted within this group, gave me the confidence I needed to decide finally to go for transition, at a time I felt so frightened and alone.

I want to belong. I want a social group where I fit. Quakers is perfect for that, having the practice of worship without the belief in dogma: respect for others and belief in equality. I can be me.

This desire has been unconscious in me, moving my conscious acts. Now, it feels a very high priority, I want to know what it means; before I would have taken it for granted.

I don’t feel I do. Belong, I mean. The questions, what do people want of me, what do they expect, how can I give it, is X upset or angry with me- are so important. That may be my greatest source of fear, and the perceived non-acceptance my greatest source of anger.

So here’s this conscious bit of me, patiently working things out. I want to feel I am doing something useful. I want not to feel fear or anger. I want to belong. Underneath it seems there are conflicting desires and emotions.

I want to work this all out.

Whether that “I” is the conscious bit, or the whole of me, or some peculiarly dominant part of the unconscious, I want to work this all out. So, paradoxically, I am not at the Quaker this morning (18th) while I work it out. Or I am testing the boundaries: will I be accepted even if I do not go to the meetings? Will someone contact me for a chat? That would be nice. Yes, I want to test the boundaries, the tension between Being Me- feminine, intuitive- and fitting into some social group. I had thought I could not possibly Belong and Be Me, so I tried to make a rational/intellectual man of myself. Then that became impossible, my desire to express myself was too great: I will not suppress myself in order to conform, I liberate my intuitive self-

and I want to belong.

This is the human dilemma, being yourself and fitting in, which we explore as toddlers and teens and which has restricted me to Contemplation rather than action since April last year.