not knowing

He recognised the anger and angst that Abigail suffered and fervently hoped that she would be able to love herself. Perhaps he will pray for me. I experienced him, despite his protestations, as hostile, but it is bracing to see oursels as ithers see us.

His career has been successful, and it seems to me our gifts are opposite: he is not terribly bright, though good-hearted, and has been enabled to prosper by self-belief arising from a privileged upbringing. Actually, I make progress on loving myself. I see, intellectually, that I am lovable, and though I more often am frustrated with myself I see the point of nurturing myself, and seek better ways of doing that. Sometimes I even accept emotionally that I am lovable.

Anger and Angst. I thought, Wangst– there I go, pointlessly harsh on myself- but yes, anger, anger is my ground bass. I am sitting in the Quaker meeting thinking of various instances when someone has said, wonderingly, “You’re so angry!” to me. Like that time with the council careers service, keeping me standing outside their door where colleagues passing on their way to work round the corner would see me, rather than letting me in for my appointment. Some irritation was appropriate, possibly not the anger she discerned. The anger I discerned is against myself, mostly, and out of proportion too.

I have been on the edge of deciding that transition is a complete con, that having tried to make a man of myself and failed that trying to make a woman of myself is just the pendulum swinging, as distant as ever from being my natural self, that no-one should transition. And it came to me in meeting that I could not possibly know, because I judge my own decisions so harshly. This was what I wanted more than anything else in the world, and possibly it was just me groping in the dark- from wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves- and possibly I could trust my own decision more. I don’t know if it was the best decision. I can’t. Either I am committed to it, as it has involved such an investment of effort and energy, so I can’t admit to myself it could be wrong, or I despise myself so completely that I cannot admit to myself it could be right. I want to know, I want to understand, I want a world map with which I can navigate my world and make decisions based on accurate prognostication, so it is tempting to plump for one of those opposite positions- worst ever decision or moving forward into fulfilment- to have a position on the question.

I can’t know. I am not equipped to judge, certainly not rationally, and as for how I feel about it, that changes under the influence of other things. Therefore I can’t know I was completely, self-destructively wrong.

I told the person sitting next to me I had had a blessing in meeting, and they said they knew. Not something to minister about, though, just for myself.

New year’s irresolution

I have my life just about perfect, just about how I would want it. How can I make it better in 2017?

Ways which I have imagined would improve it may not. An example: yesterday I went to Mind, the mental health charity. There we were doing a positive psychology craft task, with little difficulty and maximum gentle affirmation, and one of we service users said how sad she was at the change in meaning of the word “gay”. It used to mean joyous or colourful. It has been twisted.

I am quite clear that such a remark should be challenged. It is homophobic. An exact analogy is a racist remark, like, “I hate to walk down that street. It’s as if I am in a foreign country, I’m the only white person there and they’re all speaking foreign.” I understand the distress; yet that is saying to people- you should not be here. To the gay person- You should pretend to be straight. You should act normal. You should not be you.

I deflected. “Yes,” I said. “‘Gay’ now means mediocre or third rate, which is a horrible meaning.” I am pretty sure she meant she disliked ‘gay’ meaning ‘homosexual’. And- they did not challenge her, even though I was there, obviously queer, and the manager is gay, and he was there. The third sector should promote diversity and challenge homophobia, because I should not have to pretend to be someone else so that other people can be comfortable.

Perhaps they did not want to drive away a service user. Stats means Funding, which really matters. So, either she is more important to them than I am, or they think I can cope with homophobia better than she can cope with challenge. The manager was sitting beside me and his underlings fawned on him a bit and none of them said anything. He’s Gay! What were they thinking?

What bothers me in this incident is not that the woman’s homophobia frightens or hurts me, but that

That’s not supposed to happen!

I know the rules! I know how these mental health workers are supposed to respond in these situations, and they just didn’t! Everything’s going along just fine, and then out of the blue- something unexpected happens. And therefore unwelcome.

I might say, how can I improve my life? A little more variety, more human contact, is what I am supposed to want. So says the culture; most people would agree; it makes sense to me; yet when I go somewhere which should be supportive and non-threatening, where I know what to expect, something I did not expect happens!

 ♥♥♥

My life is just as I want it. I have control. A little more money would be nice. I would have the heating on more. But I am not cold, I wrap up in a sleeping bag. Pride, shame and amour propre might have a role here. I am a pig satisfied, and the alternative is not Socrates dissatisfied, but someone houseproud and concerned with appearances dissatisfied. I want to understand, and I continue using my analytical mind to consider whether homophobia should be challenged or what makes my life good.

I am houseproud only vestigially. Sometimes I act, because it seems possible I could make things better. I take pleasure, yesterday, in having bought a sink plunger and unblocked my bathroom basin, clogged with soap and used toothpaste, with it. The basin now drains quickly. It might stay clean longer after I clean it, so I may muster the motivation to clean it. I have been thinking about this for ages, resenting how it was blocked, and messing about with boiling water. Will a plunger not just shift a blockage further down the pipes, causing worse problems later?

I like analysis. I have spent a happy hour pacing the floor, agonising over all this, before starting to write. I am happy now, writing. I knew sink plungers unblock sinks, yet analysed and cogitated for weeks.

So I might say,

Taking action is the solution!

But what if something went wrong, or what I expected did not happen?

Or,

Letting go of control is the solution!

But why, if that can make me so unhappy?

 ♥♥♥

I have seen worse, in home visits, or in student flats- one had half full coffee cups, which after a week developed a mouldy scum- but those are the kind of home visits we use for stories. There were fish and chip wrappers left on the floor!

Ew!

My house is not that bad, but-

I have control! I feel some boredom and frustration, but little anger or fear. I have limited human contact, little motivation. If I tidy my house it will only get untidy again.

I am dissatisfied because I am thinking about it, and in that sense I am closer to Socrates than the pig- and Socrates had Diotima and slaves to do the housework.

Never mind how or why that homophobic incident upsets me, it does. It is an example of so much human interaction, from the rare to the quotidian, from my oral hearing before the Social Security Commissioner to those who-shall-give-way dances as we walk along the street. So- retreat! Avoid those interactions, and you avoid distress!

I will not go out because the culture tells me, or I imagine, that I ought to want to. You see! I did what I was supposed to want to do, and it was Awful! I met a homophobe! And yet, I am frustrated and bored. Something better may be possible.

Two more thoughts on pleasure and desire. I ate a plum just now. I gave it my attention, and it was beautiful; yet I do not want to be eating all the time. And, I had a vaginoplasty because it was what I wanted, more than anything else in the world. Now I regret it, thinking a penis might have its uses. Desire is not a reliable guide to satisfaction.

My life is as I have made it, and it is good, right now. It pleases me. And my mind is at work: could it please me better?

breslau-la-toilette

Being Bad

A job application.
What? 50% more than I ever earned, after six years unemployed?
Why not?

Self confidence has value in some situations. “She never felt guilty about what she needed to do to survive.” If what is stopping me gaining something is my own feeling that I cannot get it, or do not deserve it, or do not fit here, how does that benefit me? Chutzpah. Or, social blindness: there really are sanctions. Yet disapproval is not one of them, only an act, not a feeling, matters.

I thought of myself as “selfish”. It is a terrifying thought. I have sought self-acceptance in the idea of myself as a “good” person, which Selfishness dents. Or, I am safe from the sanctions of the terrifying Others if I am “good”. Yet it could be liberating, freeing me to take action for my good which I could not otherwise.

My refuge, my place where I sought Safety, is not safe and costs too much. The ideal of Goodness restricts me.

I am good enough, generous or altruistic enough. You can sometimes gain an attribute if you deny it. If you berate yourself for laziness every time you rest, that will make you a hard worker. You won’t get the benefit of enjoying imagining yourself as a hard worker, but you will get the benefits of being one.

Roll it round the mouth, like alcohol- no-one really likes the taste, but they like the effects. Or like a particularly strong cheese I have never tasted before. I am surprised people like this, but perhaps I notice that it will do me no harm. This sensation is highly stimulating. I value stimulation rather than just pleasure- it is freedom, it creates possibility, it gives options.

Am I really potentially violent? I experience myself as “sad” rather than angry, but this is no defence: angry could get violent, but Sad could get violent, and self-righteous about it. No. I am not. Violence in me is wrapped round with taboos. I would go tense but quiet, like an isometric exercise, working in two directions, still. I am “Angry”. Ah. It is hot in me. I need not lash out to let myself know how angry I am, I can use the energy better than that. What would it be good to do?

There is a difference between anger, even rage, and violence.

I am selfish, and that is a good thing. I am also generous, loving, great-hearted, whatever; I like other people to be happy, and work to that end, for it gives me pleasure; and “Selfish” should no longer be a barrier to action or an emotional tension making me uncertain, equivocal, vacillating. “Self-indulgent” has been one of my strongest condemnations, when I do something anyway and feel really guilty about it. This is such a long journey. It stopped me completely, before, but I am breaking through it.

I am Clare, and I am selfish. I want my survival, prospering, flourishing. Ideally I would have found these thoughts in teenage, but then I started doing teenage in my thirties. I may finish it some day.

Tina said, “It’s not you, it’s me”. It is not anything about how I am, other people react for their own reasons and I might not be the most important thing in others’ calculations! She sees no selfishness in me. Some care for onesself is acceptable. You are safe from that cruel word. I would rather take the word which has tortured me, and drain its power. I am ‘selfish’- and I am still alive! She sees no solipsism in me either, which really surprises me, sometimes I think the only thing I ever look at is my navel. Who’d have thought it?

She sees my deep sadness. Yes. I do too. It is not hunting me, now. It chased me through the woods and the ruins, and I never gained distance on it however fast I ran; yet when I pause, it stops too, and we look at each other.

Anger, truth and politics

Why would anyone create pizzagate memes, anyway? How can we respond?

I had not heard of John Podesta before the RussiLeaks email dump. Some of his emails concerned domestic trivia like getting pizza. Pizza was seen as a code for child sex, and the links between them endlessly elaborated on 4Chan. Why?

Message boards members like attention. Creativity, originality, clever expression and even playfulness bring Attention. Members flock with like minds in echo chambers and hugboxes. Manosphere people, white nationalists and others who hate Mrs Clinton, congregate. If you do not feel you get sufficient respect yourself, you may resent moral injunctions to respect others. Unsuccessful millennial males resent being told to check their privilege.

The hatred and anger is enough. Accusations of child abuse and child murder express that anger- they are proportionate to the levels of anger felt. If no expression of anger is acceptable, then any may erupt. It does not need to be true. So Michael Flynn junior tweets, Until pizzagate proven to be false, it’ll remain a story. Well, Birtherism, never credible, rumbles on. Pizzagate expresses rage against the “liberal elite”, who the 4Chanists think are so horrible to them (for ignoring or lecturing them): it is as bad as if they were child-sex-cannibals.

Michael Flynn senior tweeted U decide- NYPD blows whistle on new Hillary emails- money laundering, sex crimes w children etc, though that tweet was about false stories connecting Mrs Clinton to Jeffrey Epstein, not “Pizzagate”. The general is a disastrous choice for National Security Adviser, a prolific source of conspiracy theories known as “Flynn facts”, but not a 4chan addict.

The President-Elect expresses such anger. He claims stories of Russia working to influence the election in his favour are valueless, the product of Democrat sore losers: These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. That derision is music to the ears of the 4Chanists. Derision is the opposite of respect. Feeling derided, they deride back.

If we feel we have something in common, then we will show respect and listen to the other side. Trump can whip up his own side, with derision and anger, accentuating the divides in society. He is not a fool. He uses it as a weapon to build political support. Lies are his tools to build resentment, rage, and derision, so he may destroy as he wishes, and profit from it.

It is tempting to use anger in response. Certainly, anger can give energy. Charles M. Blow writes, Angry yet? Yes. Good!…This is the reason I write, to remind people of honor and courage; to tell them that their cause isn’t lost, that their destiny is victory. Maybe I am confined by my craft, pumping out polemics that, it is my great hope, help to stiffen the spines and lift the spirits of those determined to stare down the threat. However, I fear that such angry confrontation may make the gulf between us worse.

Can we use truth to overcome Trump’s weapons?

I am a critical realist. I believe there is a “Real world” where we interact and where there is objective truth- but it is too complex for human beings to grasp. It is worth the attempt. The closer we get to understanding truth, the better we respond- but perhaps (thinking it through now) there is an optimum level of truth, for each individual. After a certain approximation, greater effort to be more certain of the truth will not yield proportionate returns. If the truth seems to be that you have no hope, denial and lies may be comforting.

People see things differently. Nietzsche did not say, And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music, though he came close. For Nietzsche, accusations of sickness go both ways:

Even in the German Middle Ages, under the same power of Dionysus, constantly growing hordes thronged from place to place, singing and dancing…. There are people who, from a lack of experience or out of apathy, turn mockingly or pityingly away from such phenomena as from a “sickness of the people,” with a sense of their own health. These poor people naturally do not have any sense of how deathly and ghost-like this very “health” of theirs sounds, when the glowing life of the Dionysian throng roars past them.

And, he wrote, ‘You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist’. That is called “Perspectivism”.

I was fascinated by Jack Maden’s To Be Frank magazine article on the quote, aimed at Millennials. It addresses a complex philosophical question in a simple way. It starts by asking its readers to digest and unpack the meaning of the quote, fearful that they will merely see it, declare it deep, and move on to click-bait, forgetting it; because their attention spans are hurling some real angry, sustained abuse my way: ‘BORED. THIS IS BORING’. Maden summarises Nietzsche: there is a multitude of differing perspectives that are subject to cultural, societal and biological limitations. It is only through combining these different views that we can begin to appreciate a broader understanding of the universe we live in. Against that, he pits scientific investigators, patiently accumulating data and mathematical theorising to create objective explanations. (My answer there- Newton was a genius, explaining the observations through his theory of gravity, and Newton was wrong. 19th century observations demonstrated that.) All human observations are subjective, and have different meanings for each of us. Metaphor dances beyond objectivity.

How do the denizens of 4Chan or Reddit view truth? Their attention spans might not be long enough to consider evidence, preferring the quick hit of a witty allusion- These are the same people that said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It mocks The Enemy, and encourages Our Own Side. Your resentment and anger are Right! You are the Good People! Let me smite your enemies- those who tell you what to do, the Liberal Metropolitan Elites- for you!

They follow the leaders of the Right. No-one says that voter suppression is necessary because they don’t want people of colour to vote, they say it is necessary because of fraudulent voting. Disregard for truth did not start with Trump, it has been happening all this century.

I am glad when people speak up for truth. I hope that people can be taught to value truth, and to see that seeking the truth is worth the effort- but that is not an easy lesson for people in despair, who enjoy the buzz they get from anger. What good will truth do them? Why should they listen to you?

The antidote to derision is respect. The antidote to anger is Love. Love can still be derided, called patronising, and portrayed as weakness, but it is the only way. In the world of Trump and Farage, where centre-right Conservatism bows to the Nationalists, we have a long way to go.

The Charles M Blow article is illustrated with a protestor holding up a banner- THE FUTURE IS NASTY. Women have adopted Trump’s arrogant dismissal of Mrs Clinton as a “Nasty woman”- no more deference! Self-respect is necessary; but the energy of anger must not give rise to an angry reaction, but a loving response.

From Common Prayer- a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals:

Peace is not just about the absence of conflict; it’s also about the presence of justice.  …  A counterfeit peace exists when people are pacified or distracted or so beat up and tired of fighting that all seems calm. But true peace does not exist until there is justice, restoration, forgiveness. Peacemaking doesn’t mean passivity. It is the act of interrupting injustice without mirroring injustice, the act of disarming evil without destroying the evildoer, the act of finding a third way that is neither fight nor flight but the careful, arduous pursuit of reconciliation and justice. It is about a revolution of love that is big enough to set both the oppressed and the oppressors free.

Then-

The chaos. The id. Perhaps I could explore it with The Samaritans, but when I phone I can say nothing. I want to set ground rules.

-Do you mind if I swear?
-Not at all, he says. He knows it is not personal.

I feel that he will disapprove of how I express myself, but I am projecting. I want to get worked up, but can say nothing. My own reasonable arguments against what I want to say stop me from saying it. It is merely foolish. Yet he is entirely reasonable when I say I cannot speak. He knows the time needs to be right for me. He should not be this understanding!

When I was living with H- actually, all our seven years together- we never rowed. I am aware that some couples shout and scream at each other and that this can be problematic, but possibly not doing that is bad too. I always felt she was caring for me, looking after me.

Richard irritated me three times this morning. He wanted to tell me how dreadful Mr Trump will be. Actually, I don’t want to condole, I want to look for any brightness at all in the gloom, and I want to understand- what is he like, behind that mask? What are his voters like? I am aware it is bad.

Then he said “Yessuh”. This has been on the trans facebook group. It’s just a sound people make, we are being too sensitive, misinterpreting, no they are not all misgendering us. They are not saying “Yes, sir” (Ooh, aren’t I clever, I read you!) just “Yes”, with some inarticulate sound on the end which really means nothing, or emphasising the “s”. No, Richard said, he said yes sir though he did not articulate it.

And I think oh fuck I should be over this he should not misgender me if my friend misgenders me everyone will it is rude and offensive it should not get to me I have to live with it oh its all a lie everyone sees me as a man I am a man I see myself as a man I am deluding myself I had my balls cut off for nothing…

So, yeah. “Sir” really hurts, even now.

And then he welcomed the Supreme Court ruling against the “Bedroom tax”. I loathe the way lefties and bleeding hearts and the Labour Party and all the fuck get riled against cutting the housing benefit of people in social housing, and don’t say a thing. Not a thing. Not a fucking squeak, about cutting the housing benefit of people in private rented housing. About my housing benefit. Oh, and he took great pains to make the largest possible pool of egg yolk from his cooked breakfast on his plate, while working very hard at the most ineffectual ways to convey it to his mouth.

I wonder if pills might improve things, but I still would have to confront my current situation.

In the supermarket, for the first time this year I hear fucking Perry Como. All from one to ninety two. I hear the sick grimace in his voice and I want to dig him up and smash his fucking simpering skull in. Will we have this fucking shit all the fucking time for nearly two months? The next track is almost as inane, but at least not Shitmas related. I pause, put my basket down, and contemplate my emotions.

It was good to see the lesbian couple, not holding hands but repeatedly touching hands as they walked round together.

I need to get home. I need to keep warm enough for cycling home but I’d really rather not get all sweaty. Well, I got a bit sweaty, I felt hot, and now I feel really cold wrapped in this sleeping bag. I can’t afford heating either, or not as much as I’d like.

So the anger will come out, a bit. It seemed I could get angry but I am angry with myself, perhaps I could say that, you’re fucking stupid, you just don’t make the connections, you make all the wrong fucking choices, you have this huge sense of entitlement and you want to be fucking rescued and you don’t do anything for yourself and you passive-aggressively resist by hiding away and doing nothing and you are miserable but do nothing about it and fucking get on with it…

But I could not say that to the Samaritans bloke either. This is where I am. No idea where I will feel tomorrow, whether there is any sort of improvement possible. I would have said I cling to the hope that this leads to some sort of improvement but I don’t know what improvement would look like so I can’t.

This is where I am now. Toe in the water…

I am grateful to Sibilant Fricative for this quote from Notes from the Underground by Dostoevsky:

“Oh, absurdity of absurdities! How much better it is to understand it all, to recognise it all, all the impossibilities and the stone wall; not to be reconciled to one of those impossibilities and stone walls if it disgusts you to be reconciled to it; by the way of the most inevitable, logical combinations to reach the most revolting conclusions on the everlasting theme, that even for the stone wall you are yourself somehow to blame, though again it is as clear as day you are not to blame in the least, and therefore grinding your teeth in silent impotence to sink into luxurious inertia, brooding on the fact that there is no one even for you to feel vindictive against, that you have not, and perhaps never will have, an object for your spite, that it is a sleight of hand, a bit of juggling, a card-sharper’s trick, that it is simply a mess, no knowing what and no knowing who, but in spite of all these uncertainties and jugglings, still there is an ache in you, and the more you do not know, the worse the ache.”

Niagara and Vesuvius

I wait for R at the bus stop. A woman at the end of the shelter says, loudly, “No heating or hot water! How are we going to live without heating and hot water?”

I thought, I can tell you this, and got out pen and paper to take notes. The man near her seems to be phoning quietly to sort the matter, but she, despairing and angry, cries out in response to his quiet tone, inaudible to me. Then she takes the phone and harangues the other, possibly her mother.

It’s because I am racist. It’s because I am fucking English. We cannot judge the depth of wickedness of her racism, but clearly she does not know words to mitigate or conceal it, and possibly does not understand the charge. She listens a moment. I told them all that! I can’t have the baby there. She [social worker? Landlord’s rep? Housing officer?] says they want us out. I don’t know why they’re doing this. They wrote down all I said and I signed it. I don’t know what I signed. They reported us to the landlord before. They said we didn’t share the fridge. They make up bullshit and report us for nothing. They smoke in the room! £480 a month for that one room! No heating and hot water as well. They have come in to Swanston in an attempt to sort things out but apparently it has not worked. He takes her by the hand and pulls her away, along Church St. She does not seem to be resisting, only dilly-dallying.

I have lunch with R, then go to get the bus home. I am to talk to Tina at 4, but the bus does not come at 3, nor at 3.30, and though it should go the other way from the same stop, it does not. So I go for a taxi, which costs £11.50 plus 50p tip. I am pleased with this. My increasing frustration with a little anger moves me to solve my problem. I can afford the occasional taxi. I treated myself to the bus because when I cycled yesterday I was really cold, and this morning it was drizzling. I get the only taxi at the rank; another comes just after, and is taken almost immediately.

The frustration moved me to sort my problem out, making a clear judgment of the situation- no bus will come in time- but anger is pointless. At whom? It is not the driver’s fault. There is nowhere to express it and no fight or flight to use it on.

And then I talk to Tina and it seems pointless. I cannot see a way of bettering my situation. The standard ways- get a job, get voluntary work to give me something worthwhile to do, repulse me. I like writing for my blog, with minimal editing, minimal judgment. I cannot see a way of bettering my situation. I do not want to write for publication elsewhere. At the bus stop frustration drove me to action but my frustration now makes me miserable without action. I beat myself up- I should be able to find something better- but forgive myself as well. I am miserable and inactive. Is it a “sense of entitlement”?

I had a moment of joy, seeing trees through the taxi window.

I quote Modern Love XXXIV by George Meredith.

Madam would speak with me. So, now it comes:
The Deluge or else Fire! She’s well, she thanks
My husbandship. Our chain on silence clanks.
Time leers between, above his twiddling thumbs.
Am I quite well? Most excellent in health!
The journals, too, I diligently peruse.
Vesuvius is expected to give news:
Niagara is no noisier. By stealth
Our eyes dart scrutinizing snakes. She’s glad
I’m happy, says her quivering under-lip.
“And are not you?” “How can I be?” “Take ship!
For happiness is somewhere to be had.”
“Nowhere for me!” Her voice is barely heard.
I am not melted, and make no pretence.
With commonplace I freeze her, tongue and sense.
Niagara or Vesuvius is deferred.

I am both these characters, locked together in my misery. Rage and flooding tears are alike useless.

-Can you remember when you first felt these things?

I can remember first being conscious of them, but not of first feeling them, presumably in childhood. So I say, No.

-Can we just stop and fix another time?
-Certainly.

-Then, tell me more about the dark side. “Contradictory chaos” sounds human. Not managing feeling but allowing it. I know you strive for gentleness.

So, what? Gentleness is not who I am? Not all I am, or not me at all (so being trans, “feminine”, is illusion)? I hear, strive for gentleness and think of ways in which that could be a bad thing.

 ♥♥♥

I do not want to be judged
because I cannot imagine myself not being found wanting
Even though others say things like, you have been a breath of fresh air and I realise the difficulties that you have faced and overcome.thomas-lawrence-mary-anne-bloxam

Politics, anger, non-action

Tao Te Ching 48:

In pursuit of knowledge,
every day something is added.
In the practice of the Tao,
every day something is dropped.
Less and less do you need to force things,
until finally you arrive at non-action.
When nothing is done,
nothing is left undone.

True mastery can be gained
by letting things go their own way.
It can’t be gained by interfering.

Non-action. I think that is something to do with presence or mindfulness. Rather than consciously thinking about what I do, I can just do it. Washing up can be like this. It is a simple task. Often I would switch off and think of something else while doing it, but I can pay full attention to the task itself. Several times in the day I wash my hands: I can stop conscious verbal thought, and notice the scents, feelings, the look of it as my hands simply move. A novice golfer is thinking of their position and movement, a professional just does the stroke.

Politics is horrible now. What the BNP did to get votes fifteen years ago, and UKIP last year, the Conservative party is doing now, after the Brexit vote: as well as working to destroy the NHS, by depriving it of staff and funding, and privatising it. I hear of housing costs and my hackles start to rise, and if the speaker is angry I am likely to go off on one. Of course there has been extremism in the Tory party before; I may still have somewhere The Sectarian Song-book, written by young men deliberately trying to shock:

Burn the broad Left in their middle-class homes
Crush Wedgwood-Benn and make glue from his bones

Oh we’re saying goodbye to the Left
As safe in their graveyards they rest
[can’t remember, diDada diDada]…a regular army
the boot-boys of FCS.

The Federation of Conservative Students was replaced by the Conservative Collegiate Forum in a purge of leadership by the party hierarchy, before I joined.

Mrs Clinton’s record of lying is a disgrace. Politifact puts her at 10% false, 2% “pants on fire”. It is not enough that it is not as bad as Mr Trump’s. So, on politics:

I will tell the truth as best I know it.

I will permit my anger, but not get overwhelmed by it; to be calm and loving in action and demeanour.

I will hear the arguments of my opponents, and address them, rather than only my own side.

I will think of other things beyond politics. However I cycled to Swanston to the Independent Socialists meeting to hear Derek Wall and get his book Economics after Capitalism: A guide to the ruins and a road to the future. I may even read it!

The British drama 1990 has dated but its title sequence remains evocative. The world is beautiful and strange, and may be seen through a glass darkly.

dew-on-the-web

National Pantsuit Day

These women are angry.

There are stories of buying cars. A woman tells that she went with her husband to the car showroom. The salesman asked her husband how he could help.

-My wife is here to buy a car.
-How nice. (To the husband) What kind of car is she looking for?

-Nothing here, it seems, she said, and walked out.

Not just cars, but sledgehammers- “What size is he looking for?” the assistant asks the lone woman; drills- “Is it a gift?” “No, it’s for me”; and jack posts to raise up floor joists, to work in the crawl space: her husband told the clerk, “Hey, ask her. It’s her project, I have no idea.”

There are stories of pantsuits. (Trouser suits, in case you didn’t know.) A woman’s boss asked her to wear skirts to work. She said her trousers are more expensive, more fashionable and more professional than the skirts in the office.

There are stories of sexual harassment. In some cases, the man could have ruined the woman’s career, like the judge who wrote a scathing, clearly personal opinion about a prosecutor in a legal proceeding, which might have led her to appear before the bar council, because she had resisted his advances. She had sat beside him on a plane for five hours, while he insisted on talking, and repeatedly asked her out.

There are work discrimination stories- getting lower paid jobs than male graduates with poorer degrees, asked “Can you type?” and being given admin tasks, being called by the husband’s name- “Mrs John Doe”!-  why should a woman change her name?

One woman has been working with a therapist for two years to recognise and allow her anger. She saw a Trump sign in her street, and felt extreme rage towards it, like her anger in her marriage. Trump is the archetypal narcissistic abusive male, but she says your anger may be inspired by others. Women here are supportive: one quotes “Now is your time to lean”, to turn to those who love you and will support you. “You deserve to be loved and respected.” It’s good to recognise and express that anger: men’s anger is allowed to transform, but women’s anger is repressed, one says. It turns inward and becomes depression, and women can struggle with anger and depression for years. (As do I.) Anger at Trump helped one to connect to her anger at her husband, who quoted St Paul to demand her obedience. Recognising the necessity of repression frees her from self-judgment.

Trump, despicable himself, is a symbol for women of their outrage at male abusers. This is the obverse of voting for the qualified, committed, principled woman likely to become president. One says this abominable man could bring women together to express our anger at how we have been treated all our lives.

Pantsuit Day is 8 November. I hope it will be pantsuit day on 9th November too, and thereafter.

Anger and depression I know well, and would like to get beyond them. In the fifth circle of Dante’s Inferno, At the surface of the foul Stygian marsh, Dorothy L. Sayers writes, “the active hatreds rend and snarl at one another; at the bottom, the sullen hatreds lie gurgling, unable even to express themselves for the rage that chokes them.”

Right now I am choked like that.

It is not a good way to be.

Unwelcome advances

I was writing the email in my head. “I’m not coming because your flirting creeps me out.” I am not used to men making passes, and I was angry and upset: I cycled like the wind because my anger physically invigorated me.

I have said I am not interested, clearly. “I am gynephile”, I said, and proceeded to explain that. And he keeps doing it, and yet again as a trans woman I am learning things cis women learn in their teens. It was so enlightening talking to Mhairi.

Mhairi told me of ceilidhs in Steòrnabhagh. There were the young men, who you wanted to dance with, and the old men- say, 35 or over- who wanted to dance with you. Some you might do Strip the Willow with, but not a St Bernard’s Waltz as a ballroom hold would be fatal. You would set a boundary, but even if they crossed it you would take pains to care for their feelings: you find an excuse to stop dancing. You need to keep the peace. You will need to socialise with them later.  Some men could be vindictive, feeling insulted if you would not give yourself to them and finding ways to punish you. It is your responsibility to extricate yourself, and let them down as gently as possible.

So I can’t punch him on the nose, then. That is a man’s reaction.

He hints to me that he can get me what I want- even, financial security, though that seems mere fantasy. The more I think about it, the more impossible it seems. Something less, though, but still something I really want: he hints to me that I could be useful, that I could do something worthwhile. Increasingly, though, I don’t see that is possible either. He wants to tell me I am beautiful, to hold my hand, possibly to hold more of me. He has discussed an “open relationship” with his wife, he tells me. She is very friendly to me. She knows how to manage him, I suppose, knows his faults and foibles and how to get what she wants, what she mun put up with. The relationship might be happily co-operative, or a constant striving for mastery- I find it harder to understand how the latter could appeal to anyone, but it appears that it does to some.

It worries me that it turned me on, a bit; but Mhairi is only as sympathetic as she reasonably can be. That too is for me to deal with.

My self-concept is involved. “I am not the kind of person who-” In that imagined email, I got on my high horse. “Even if a woman was positively delighted that her husband had found another woman,” I expatiated, sententiously, “because it stopped him bothering her, and put a spring in his step-

I would still not want to be that other woman.” That might be moral disapproval, or a feeling of being dishonoured, or otherwise completely unrelated to reality. We are civilised beings, and we are animals. I wrote that my No, my tendency to withdraw and hide, is far too strong- but I really can’t see any other way to deal with this.

Later- I had agreed to go over again, and I have not. What happened? He took my hand, lightly enough that I could pull away but not actually letting go. I did not pull away, did not particularly indicate discomfort that I felt. I then went home and felt so enraged that I wanted to tell everyone what a vile pervert he is. Now I just withdraw from the situation. None of this is satisfactory to me. Perhaps I might learn and find better ways of responding, but right now I just want to hide away: hiding is the best way I have found of managing my feelings. Though when I was engaged with X I realised after that I had not been obsessively thinking about Y, which was a relief; and practice, rather than analysis, might be a better way of finding my way forward.

Aubrey Beardsley, illustration for the Oscar Wilde play Salome

Feeling good

It was definitely my right of way on the roundabout. That car should have given way to me. It was approaching quickly, but it would slow down- however perhaps the driver did not see me at first, and I looked to my left seeing it bearing down on me. Had he not slowed down, he might have clipped my back wheel- as it was I escaped unscathed. I considered sharing my feelings with the pedestrian just beyond the roundabout- relief, anger, fear, bewilderment- but he did not look the empathetic type, so I did not.

Then I got home, glistening all over with sweat in the heat, and felt Wonderful. It could have been the weather, exercise, narrow escape from injury or anticipating lunch with Liz.

I have been feeling down. It could be the bitterness and falsehood of the Referendum campaign- neither leave nor remain feel like powerful choices. I was thinking of my job interview on Thursday:

-Do you want the job?
-No, you B*****ds, f*** you, give it to someone else, see if I care

-caring too much-

when I switched on my phone, and picked up the voicemail message from yesterday. The interview panel wanted to know where I was. I had checked how to get to Birmingham this morning, looked at Helen’s email to find where it was. I looked at the email again: it clearly says the interview is Tuesday (yesterday) not Thursday. I don’t know how I made that mistake. I feel utterly miserable. I am in a dreadful situation and cannot trust myself with the simplest thing to improve it. I cried.

I call the Samaritans. “I wanted someone to talk to.” “We’re not a chat-line,” Eve said. And I feel anger and resentment and I say something sarky,

and amazingly I feel energised, really good. Wow. What is that? Anger at you energises me- “Correlation is not causation, as they say”. I don’t know that it is that which causes it-

She would not say that. She has not heard it before. Well, some say post hoc ergo propter hoc. It should really be post hoc non ergo propter hoc.

What is causing this buzzing on the landline? To me it sounds loud, she hardly hears it. The landline has been buzzing for weeks. It could be the adsl filter, I unplug the modem-

and the buzzing continues. And I feel dreadful again. I cannot even deal with this!

The heart of my depression is lack of motivation. I cannot improve my situation: anything I attempt I will just do badly and fail. Not judging myself so harshly might do some good; so might behavioural activation. I have cleaned off some of the ingrained grime from my bathroom floor, which I have not properly cleaned for years. And I scrub at the wee black spots on the linoleum, and think, It is an improvement. Value all the improvement. It does not need to be perfect. And I do a bit, then stop, then go back to it. I have swept the hallway too.

And now I have phoned BT about the landline. There is a fault on the line, and they will deal with it. How last century, to have a BT landline! Well, I find it useful, for some things-

Signac, 1890