Embrace simplicity

I’ve embraced spiritualism. Rather than focusing on a particular way of life or religion; I prefer to embrace aspects that bring peace and harmony to my Being.

It is my hope that through my writing Readers will discover peace and harmony within their own Being, discover the now and what they value in the present moment.

I wonder what she means by embracing spiritualism: I thought it meant the religious practice of contacting the dead. Google says spiritualism is also a philosophical concept, that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality. Wikipedia confirms that: spiritualism is the notion, shared by a wide variety of systems of thought, that there is an immaterial reality that cannot be perceived by the senses. Then how do we perceive it? The perception is in my heart, an emotional response, or a sudden conviction- it feels like a communication.

Perhaps she means Spirituality, an openness to such communications. It is openness to reality. I was going to write what Spirituality is not, but then I am not sure it is opposed to anything. Opposed, perhaps, to addictive escapes, such as drugs, overeating, alcohol, cutting, ways of shutting off feelings which are not Peace or oblivion-

but no, those are tools, unless you vanish into them totally so that the escape is all you have. The human seeks respite from the hard work of processing reality, then plunges back into it. Or, in Cutting, relief comes from physically manifesting feelings too painful to access in any other way. (I am attempting to empathise, I have not done it myself, or felt any desire to.)

So I imagine a human being, suddenly becoming conscious, like being introduced to a warm swimming pool by loving hands, or chucked into a cold ocean to struggle even to breathe, and-

What would “harmony” mean? When I started on my Journey of Conscious Spiritual Growth, I wanted to avoid painful feelings like anger and fear. I still do, though not by denying or suppressing them. I want to want to not seek to avoid those painful feelings by avoiding situations which evoke them, though I am not there yet, I am still hiding away. I see intellectually that the feeling is not bad in itself, and that some situations evoking it are worth persisting in

though I was stressed. I was angry and afraid and stressed, and unable to process the stress anger fear before further stressors hit me. Of course I wanted to stop feeling anger and fear.

Perhaps I was projecting onto Natasha my- I was going to say wrong and immature desire. Of course you can’t avoid anger and fear, and the harmony would be dull without it, like harmonising only with triad chords not sevenths and ninths. I have no reason to suppose her concept of harmony lacks richness like that. Mine was not wrong, only incohate and perhaps immature. I want not to be overwhelmed by anger and fear. I want to be able to accept and process them.

Dear Natasha, I was irritated. Two “awards” in two days. These things are chain letters. So I set out to attack your understanding, and found it was only a pedantic attack on two letters at the end of a word. “It was unbearable! It will be unbearable again!”- Yes, the Now is a good way of counteracting that.

You asked, Who inspires you? Too many people to count or name, famous and unknown.

If you could have dinner with anyone, who would they be? What meal would you serve them? What is one question would you ask that person? I would not be doing the cooking. People who might be fascinating, from the past or present, might object to being brought to eat with me, and might clam up or show only an uninterested and affronted public persona- so my answer is, anyone who would open up to me so that we could come to know each other; and then, anyone, famous or unknown, would do.

You asked, Do you have a party trick that is unique to you, and you alone? Yes.

She took this photograph, which I quite like:

Trust VI

I weep watching Youtube, and resent The Guardian, who made the video. It is such a cheap trick- will the couple split, or will their relationship and their understanding of themselves and each other mature and develop?

I love the subtlety and vulnerability of it, turning a political stance into a human reaction, putting Remain v Leave into a human relationship, and after weeping I hate it for a cheap will-they-won’t-they trick. I resent it.

I was weeping at Star Trek: Voyager the other day. In a moment of confusion, unable to believe what she admires and loves could be so monstrous, a character commits a betrayal she regrets for decades after. The set-up is so well done that the betrayal is accomplished with a change of facial expression and a meaningful look in a particular direction.

As I write, I still feel weepy after “Go Home”. I want to persuade you that Voyager could be worth watching, and worth crying over. Or myself. I am persuaded, actually, it was a striking story well told. And I resent crying at “Go Home”, the will-they-won’t-they and the resolution to it.

I resent the Guardian for making me cry, and I resent myself for being so soft that I cry at that. And I resent my washed out feeling two hours later. It is my own stupid fault, of course, for transitioning and fouling up my endocrine system.

(Never mind that transition was my route to freedom and self-acceptance. It is still my fault.)

You know that Sunday evening feeling? Oh God, I have to go to work tomorrow. Under stress, that expanded for me, so that on Friday evening I was thinking It’s the Weekend!- but I’ll have to go to work on Monday. I felt trapped. So, what? That was 25 years ago. I am- useless? Mentally ill? Traumatised? -for ruminating on that now.

Not useless. I am never useless.

I don’t trust, and the Tory-controlled Bureaucracy may take away my income because I am not doing enough to find work which I don’t want and can’t imagine doing or finding bearable. So the answer is of course a leap of faith, trusting in myself and the world to go once more into the breach except that the last time in the breach was pretty ghastly.

Should I cycle to Swanston to shop? I consult my unconscious by deliberately bringing myself into the Moment- touch that surface, bring the senses alive, and Know what I decide to do. Oddly enough, this time the conscious brain is saying that I do not need to, I have enough food in today, and the unconscious decides to go. It was lovely cycling in light rain, which cooled me as the warm air warmed me, lovely and comfortable.

Getting to Yes

The very least you can do in your life is to figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance, but live right in it, under its roof.

– Barbara Kingsolver, Animal Dreams

My “No” has been good for me, and it is not enough for a life. Rejecting what is poisonous to me is all very well, but I wish to find and delight in what nourishes me. My No has protected me when I needed to protect myself, but it has also restricted and inhibited me where there is no threat.

So I wish to examine my No, and restrict it to actual threat. Where does it come from? Is it an overreaction? And examine my Yes, and nurture it. I am Yes to life and experience- find where, or where I might be.

In part my No comes from upbringing, the sins of the fathers. It is my oldest habit, older than me. I hide away without any real clue of what I hide from, because that is the default, unthinking mode, and so that is the most useless and damaging part of it, the unexamined reflex no, no to something which I have no reason to suppose is harmful.

Otherwise, No can only come from history. No, trying to be “normal” does not work. Then, finding a way to fit in which seemed sort of acceptable in society also does not work. What is left?

Being completely and uncompromisingly Myself

whatever that might mean
does it not work if it is self-conscious?

comes to mind, and I don’t know what that looks like. That Giacometti quote- the broader I wanted to make them, the narrower they got- could be conscious and unconscious at war, and conscious shellshocked, rather than a “Don’t Question My Art” or a paradox.

Therefore the first part of Yes has to be Yes to unknowing. Plans only look like the past, always include some unknowing as the past does not repeat itself, and, well, make a virtue of that.

I am too beautiful and generous not to share Myself with the world.

Yes to generalising from good experiences. Quakers are mostly, though not all, pleasant people and friendly enough. Then, ooh look, so are the Green Party. And now, the Labour party. Fourteen of us went out for curry on Friday night. The blether was quite fun, though I don’t understand these strange English folk: I think there was a class divide.

Generalise- human beings are mostly OK, not particularly caring about the things I want desperately to hide from them. This goes completely against my Primordial, habitual No, so needs a lot of repetition before it can become habit.

Recognise my Yeses, in the past and as they happen. Every Yes is a win.

My New Age friend said, human consciousness affects ones reality, as shown by the Double Slit experiment. If you imagine a positive future, and experience it with gratitude and joy, you bring it into existence. As you manifest heaven within, you create it without. Well, she was looking for questions, so I took the opportunity of asking.

Bringing to consciousness what I want may be useful too.

Testosterone overdose

Men in the US increasingly take testosterone supplements. This can lead to impulsive decision making. Hypo-gonadism, causing low T levels, can make a man fatigued, and uninterested in sex, which can be cured with T; but men with ordinary T levels are taking T. What is the effect?

Men and women were given the Cognitive Reflection test, which is a series of maths or logic puzzles with an intuitive, wrong answer and a need to think carefully to get the right answer. Eg, a bat and ball cost $1.10, the bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost? Not 10c.

Men and women given a testosterone boost are less likely to analyse carefully. They care less about what other people would think. They are more likely to think they outperform others. In simulated asset trading, they were more likely to overprice assets, and slower to recognise that prices were falling.

I got all that from the NYT, and recall a factlet from something I read some time- after watching a football match, fans of the winning team had increased T levels, and fans of the losing team had decreased T levels.

More impulsive decision making could be worthwhile in a leader. Where are the mammoths we need to hunt? If our best way of working it out is magic with mammoth bones, it’s better to just guess. We need a decision and it almost does not matter what that decision is. Other people will be grateful for leadership.

In the more complex modern world, good decision making takes account of a wide variety of expertise, and a testosterone-inspired random plumping may be sub-optimal. The problem is, only the women notice.

If high-T males rampage through life damaging things, and women trail in their wake, fixing the mess, the man might never realise he had made any false steps. However the research does not prove that high-T is a bad thing, just that a sudden change in hormone levels can discombobulate a person. I knew that already.

I am the Monkey-mind

It seems to me that I am conscious and rational, and that I make decisions. The illusion is so perfect, it is hard to see how anyone ever sees through it. You want to believe, and can rationalise almost any evidence against, after the fact.

So, I became aware of the emotional being underneath this conscious self, and still thought I could make the decisions. I just have to cajole it a bit. I am, after all, the adult. Rather than telling it what to do, so that it goes in a huff, I would persuade it, show it why, and it would come round.

It’s like riding an elephant, except I don’t know if I am the Mahout, fully in control most of the time except when the elephant gets Really Annoyed and stops responding to the reins, or just riding along. Like a child in Mummy’s car, with a toy steering-wheel, imagining I was driving the car.

Or the elephant is God. Sometimes it deigns to explain things to me, and sometimes it just expects me to work things out, and does nothing about it when I fail, because I will work it out eventually. Forty years later I begin to work it out, and it welcomes me; because it could not give me any clues, just will me to succeed. It was doing its best to look after me.

I am still planning and scheming. It will do what I want, I know it will, there must be some magic reins or steering wheel that actually work, I have the brains and the intelligence and the silver tongue and the command of language and the persuasiveness and the sane ideas of what it ought to want so that I can get it to DO MY WILLLLL

Possibly, it is in control and gets me to think something through occasionally. That could be my purpose. Here am I “thinking”, all the time, much of it just rehashed stuff from before and irrelevant stuff about all those bits of the world I know about but will never see or affect, or imagining future heavens or hells which have not the slightest chance of coming to be or connection to reality, and then it wants some Slow Thinking done, and it gets me to do it. Or that is all subconscious too, and the words in my mind are just the echoes of it.

I am the monkey-mind! I am as much use as a pet monkey?

Which part, conscious or subconscious, is the Writer? I like to hope it is both of us.

Men and women communicating

Men talk to men, and women talk to women, she said. She meant on facebook, but it is true IRL as well, with parties sometimes dividing between men’s groups and women’s groups. Of course it is not a hard and fast rule, but there are ways people communicate, illustrated there.

I tend to get far more Likes and comments from women than men. I asked for reassurance- “Am I charismatic?” The seven likes, and eight of the comments, were from women, all affirming. The man who commented challenged me: “Unusual Quaker enquiry,” he said, then changed the conversation- There used to be an Essex based religious movement called the Perculiar People. Maybe a case for revival. He refuses then blocks the reassurance I crave.

I shared, Too hot inside to sleep, so I went to recline outside and watch the stars come out. I think the two brightest were wandering stars. Then the Bear appeared. But I could not relax enough to sleep there, so came in. That got no response from men, seven likes and ten responses from women, including one tip- sleep in a wet sarong. Previously she had only had to do that in India.

I share on politics, and one on Brexit had more men commenting than women. Two men directly challenged me: You’ve just backed Brexit by campaigning and voting Labour; and, Does lack of seats, or more accurately your desire to be on a winning side interfere with your thinking in terms of right and wrong? I responded to this accusation of immoral behaviour circumspectly- I said I don’t think so, and have reasons for my decision. It might be masculine to just reject it as an insult. I find men more confrontational, women more co-operative.

I shared a puzzle: I want to make a three dimensional jigsaw of arrangements of 1cc cubes, which has two solutions: one solid cube, and one larger hollow cube with the faces each 1cm thick, with no 1cc cubes left over. Is this possible? This appealed more to men, following the stereotype: unusually, more men commented, though women got the answer. (I may reveal the answer and reason in the comments, if you attempt the puzzle.) They went quite deeply into the mathematics, and introduced me to Wolfram Alpha. Women got it right first, though.

One share on equal marriage had 24 cis folk liking, and only comments from trans women, but that might just mean that most of my queer fbfnds are trans.

A fbfnd from Texas shares a lot on US politics, from the Left. I am not doing research, this is mostly anecdotal, but she seems to have more female responses than male, and the confrontational responses are from men. A man from Corby who shares jokes and political stuff has both men and women commenting.

I feel you can tell the difference between men’s and women’s comments, though this could be because of nature or inculturation. Here is a test: I chose a way to find five comments from men on my posts and five from women, so that I did not choose any particular comment, as that might have biased the responses. I have randomised them. Can you identify which come from men, and which from women? I think you can tell the difference, even though some are quite difficult. What do you think? Comment below.

1. I like “who cares wins”!
2. this is us today, campaigning for Sophie Cook.
3. Was that through a letter box ?
4. Fantastic Abigail and thank you!!
5. Love it ( apart from hate tyrants…let’s learn to love everyone)….
6. Hate tyranny.
7. !
8. Yes, it will be very interesting to see what happens if Labour manages to win the majority. I can’t imagine that Corbyn wants to have anything to do with The Donald at all.
9. Dog must have seen red
10. Ouch xxx

Here am I, being charismatic. Three people hang on my every word. The exception is the radical feminist, who was alive to how men speak and women listen, and felt it still applied to me.

Who I am now

I am not a vegetarian. I know factory farming and the meat trade are cruel to animals and to people made to inflict cruelty on them, and do environmental damage, greater than that from arable farming; and I recognise that it is good to reduce demand for meat, and that I can do that. I craved meat after eating vegetarian meals, before, and that may be something to do with being accustomed to it, or to the balance of the meal- more recently, I have not craved meat. I know some people become revolted by meat, and that is possible for me. I like the taste and other sensations of eating meat.

I would need to do more work to become vegetarian. I would need to learn new recipes, and probably some information on balanced diets which I have not really looked in to. The omnivorous ape can get by on all sorts of weird diets.

I am not aspiring to be a vegetarian. That is a moral position which I judge would involve greater work towards it than I am doing now. It seems to me that I make decisions other than by such conscious means. Consciously, I might say that I want to be a vegetarian- but then, why am I not already? Because I see problems with it. I may never advance any further towards that goal. As I do not know whether I will advance further, I cannot say that I aspire to vegetarianism. However last year I started buying filled pasta without meat, rather than filled pasta with meat, and this year I started frying mushrooms more. I have two or three meat free days a week, except when I don’t. I may eat more meat in the winter.

I love the word “velleity”- it is a desire so weak you never act on it. I never got round to hang gliding, and probably never will.

I am not a writer. I might be writing my book, right now- I pour out words, I refine ideas, and I have written over a million words here, but I might never distil them down to 70,000 for a book, or have any way of organising them into a coherent argument or narrative. I don’t really have a conception that I like or accept of what that might look like. So I am left with something like Casaubon’s notes for his Key to all Mythologies.

I have a small pile of magazines in a book case, which have words by me in them.

Your transition may be going something like this. Your dress sense and makeup skills get better, you go out regularly as your true self, but you have not yet gone round a supermarket dressed female. You are experimenting with telling people, but have not told anyone at work. You know what you must do and possibly at some time you will do it, but you have not yet. You could make a timetable for yourself, perhaps. What about starting beard removal? Have you seen a psychiatrist yet?

It would be reassuring to make stories about these things, but all I have is the evidence of what I have done, and the failure of stories I had before. I am not the adventurous hang-glider. Or, I could hold contrasting stories in my mind- “I aspire to being vegetarian”. “I am aware of difficulties in being vegetarian, and with other difficulties in my life and my way of approaching difficulties I am not working on them right now.” Or possibilities- I may reduce meat consumption, I could explore other meals I could enjoy. Who am I now? I don’t know, or not in the way of these reassuring word-pictures, which disappoint so when they turn out to be wrong.

Of course I desire to be vegetarian. I would not be writing about it here if I did not, or even if I thought there was no chance of it. Nothing is certain.


Four people in a circle, chatting. Across the circle, we are not facing each other, but turned towards one of the group- three people are an audience to Her. It’s not just when she is speaking, and anyway in groups like that you tend to turn your head, not your whole body, to pay attention. It is that she is completely fascinating. That may be part of the strong hostility expressed about her by another woman. I have noticed this more than once with this woman, and in my own response to her. I want to spend time with her.

I fear I may have that quality myself. Charisma. People notice in others the qualities, good and bad, that we share. It can be a way of getting to know the Shadow.

I fear it because I also have this strong motivation to hide in the shadows away from scrutiny. Such as I have an understanding of myself which includes charisma, it is that charismatic behaviour was strongly discouraged when I was young. So I am self-conscious and second-guessing when I use it, and I do not have the experience to use it properly. And my presentation is not consistent- successfully charismatic persons tend to dress better than I can afford. People are used to a particular set of signals together, and one without the other surprises and feels wrong.

Charisma without other qualities backing it up is a problem. Rather than just being I think about how I may be.

Or, I have a delight in showing off without necessarily much to show off.

I spoke in a dominant (so objectionable) way. H suggested that people objected because they saw me as a woman. Women interrupt less, are interrupted more, and are objected to when they show dominant traits as they are supposed to be conciliatory. It is such a pain- I am only “treated like” or “seen as” a woman when that’s a bad thing for me!

Yet- fear it? It is a gift. It is beautiful. It is something to learn to use. As with anything else, suppressing it only creates malaise.

It is only possible, not certain, to me that I am charismatic. And it is a way of conceptualising my responses as Good independent of their effect. A person does not like my manner or what I say, and I say they are wrong, rather than my manner was ineffective. Or I should learn to better use that Gift rather than restrain that offensive trait. Tomorrow- how I am “ingratiating”.

I asked facebook, and friends reassured: “Am I charismatic, do you think?”
Ooh yes 🙂
Blimey not half!
Not half
Yes very
Uniquely so
Er, yes!
In a quirky way

This is the only Evelyn de Morgan I can recall seeing the original- now at “Queer British Art 1861-1967” at Tate Britain.

Weaponising “autogynephilia”

“Autogynephilia” is a discredited theory. “Female embodiment fantasies” fits how people think and feel so much better. Yet the idea of autogynephilia is still used to attack trans women, sometimes by other trans women.

Go to Urban Dictionary and vote down the third definition, which imagines two kinds of trans women: homosexual transsexuals, and autogynephiliacs. “Ashley has randomly transitioned from male to female despite being age 55. I think she’s autogynephilic.” “Rose just spent her children’s university savings on sexual reassignment. She’s in the throes of autogynephilia.” “I just danced all over Ally last night, and didn’t even know she used to be male. Her movements and voice are so femme. I don’t think she’s autogynephilic.”

It creates a complete dichotomy. No homosexual transsexual transitions over age 25. All gynephile trans women are autogynephiliac. Most laughs in the Urban Dictionary are snark, but even by their standards this is a strong attack. I wonder if the statistic that 90% of trans women are gynephile has any basis in reality. Most cis people are straight, so that could just mean that the proportions of gynephile and androphile trans women are the same as in cis men.

It seems to me that more people transition without GRS, and this is out of a desire not to be mutilated. Why should you have your genitals altered? What good does it do? People talk of wanting the “poison glands” taken away, and orchiectomy means you don’t need testosterone suppressants- it is less invasive in the long run- but possibly we are altered because of social pressure. We desire a woman’s role, and everyone said that required body modification. Or, possibly we gynephiles are sexually passive, and that means we feel greater dislike for male organs. Anyway, gender dysphoria was popularly understood to mean body alteration, and now many trans folk don’t seek that.

I did not have facial feminisation surgery, but have known gynephile trans women who did. It involves grinding away the bones of the skull. I find the idea horrible, but again it could be that there is not the same social pressure. You will pass better after FFS, and that makes life easier, however much we assert that people should be treated differently according to other criteria, and not whether they pass or whether they are beautiful. Passing privilege and attractiveness privilege exist. A trans woman with a clear eye to her own interest might have FFS rather than GRS.

The writer hedges his/her bets with the words “common” and “generally”. All generalisations are wrong; but either the dichotomy is real, or it isn’t. There is no rational basis to this hostility- if it comes from anywhere, it is the idea that we make them look bad, that people would accept androphile trans women if the gynephiles weren’t messing it all up by being so revolting. But no-one who is intolerant of trans women would think the difference mattered at all.

What of this assertion? Generally, the two types of trans women don’t associate with each other in any way. If you are an androphile trans woman, please leave a comment. I find that trans women do not associate with each other generally, whatever their orientation, particularly after transition.

Courage II

If you were not unemployed, would you have a car? Would you maintain the simple lifestyle?

“A simple lifestyle freely chosen is a source of strength.” We value living simply. “Oh, no, no, no, not at all,” I said. I would have a car, I would spend my income. I do not like claiming virtues. Would I hit anyone? No, but not for restraint or pacifism- for cowardice or confusion.

And yet now I am having more meat-free days, even three a week, as I experiment with various combinations of mushrooms, peppers, onion, tinned or fresh tomatoes with rice or spaghetti. It matters to me that factory farming is cruel, and abattoirs are cruel to the animals and to the people, too, who are paid little and desensitised to their heavy, stinking work; and meat uses more acres per calorie than arable crops. Not enough to make me vegetarian, says the inner critic, and I say, well, I am working towards it, I have to relearn to cook and to balance a diet. And I am not even thinking of giving up dairy.

I have craved a bacon roll after a veggie lunch with the Quakers, but I find that if I use a lot of olive oil I don’t need meat. I will proceed cautiously, as always, not identifying as vegetarian, perhaps as aspiring to being vegetarian. We discussed this in the Labour party campaign office- we are nice people, so we want to be vegetarian. One tells me you can do lovely curries with lentils. Well, I will get on to lentils soon enough.

It is not a question, for me, of how I am seen, but how I am. I do not like to be part of this system of cruelty to animals, so I am reducing my impact on them. I am doing it slowly and carefully, for that is my way.

Sometimes people say to trans women, “Oh, you’re so brave!” And we tend to deny it. It was what I had to do to survive. I would still say that, no matter how much I feel it would be better to live as a soft man, a pansy, than bother with all the effort of transition. It was the best course I could see at the time to be myself in the world, when my play-acting was becoming insupportable. Faced with two unbearable choices, I choose the less unbearable, and then work hard to make it work.

It would not have been brave to kill myself. It would have been a matter of icy self-control, against disgust and the survival instinct. And transition was brave.

I have tenacity. I keep thinking of getting that doctor sacked. It is one of the things I am most proud of. It took months. It took a lot of effort, and continuing through setbacks. Then the second one I did not proceed with, and I wonder about that, but what with transition and other stuff I was broken by the pressure. I kept on until everything was too much for me. I don’t give up until I am dangling on the end of a rope. In Cardinal, Canadian police drama, the sergeant observes that when told to stop investigating a missing girl, one officer will go home, kiss his wife, have a beer, come in the next day and work on something else; but Cardinal will chew on it and obsess over it for months. And, repeatedly, people say the conventional consoling thing, and the other dismisses it contemptuously- how can it be consoling if it is not True? In the end the woman sits with her son in hospital, and she is not full of gratitude to the police officer who saved him, but resentment that he did not catch the killer after his previous victim. The world is an unforgiving place.

My courage, tenacity and commitment to doing the right thing may not be enough. My understanding is great, and not always enough. And I have these qualities. I have achieved a great deal, considering the obstacles I have had to overcome. I will celebrate my beauty, and my every achievement.

Have a good solstice. In London, the day is seven seconds longer than yesterday.

Hero awaiting the return of Leander