Self-respect VII

The dentist advised against filling my wisdom tooth: normally they would just whip it out. It was too far back for root canal work and they would not bother with an implant. I don’t want mutilated, so two days later I was lying back, relaxing so as to be as comfortable as possible, while a man drilled away inside my mouth producing the smell of burning. “Try to breathe through your nose as much as possible,” he said, and I mentally kicked myself. Breathing through my nose made me more comfortable. “You’re doing very well, Miss Flourish,” he said. The relaxation technique I learned for electrolysis was working.

When I was learning to drive I noticed that nothing made me make mistakes so much as praise. If the instructor said I had done something well, I would almost immediately make a stupid mistake. That made no sense to me. I suppose it could reinforce my arrogance so that I was careless, or it could have increased my nervousness. Later I decided I was either restoring my view that I was useless, or self-punishing. I thought of that in the dentist’s chair, and saw that I did not immediately tense up or start to gag. I am not doing it any more.

In order to keep your hand in an ice bucket for longer (psychological researchers get people to do the oddest things) it helps to swear continually. Swearing stiffens the sinews. I found I was doing it to get out of bed, but not at myself any more, not cursing myself as useless, but trying to toughen up and gather the energy.

If I lie in bed and do not get up, I am not always the best person to ask why. It could be because I am lazy and useless, and the old self-punishing self would use that to prove it. But that’s also a reassuring belief: I could get up if I really wanted to. I am not depressed, which means sick, which means the neuro-transmitters are not there to get up. It’s just I don’t want to.

It is very tempting to think I am capable of more than I do. I would be OK, somehow, if I were capable, it’s just that I haven’t seen it yet. So when asked what I can’t do for the purpose of benefit assessment that creates a difficulty. If I cling to the false belief that I can do more than I do, I lose benefits. If I state what I actually do, feeling a loss of energy and motivation in the afternoon, not getting up in the morning, I might get the benefit. Telling the truth about my capacity is painful because I don’t want to admit that truth, it’s too frightening.

But then, what do I do? There were things I might have done today (Friday) and what I actually did was a blog post on JK Rowling‘s comments on Maya Forstater. My post on the latter got a lot more views than my posts usually get, I had for once touched the zeitgeist. If my response to seeing how many views I get resembles addictive behaviour, should I just give it up? This is the thing I actually like!

The Lonely Transsexual

The Lonely Transsexual is a fascinating blog. Some of her/his writing makes me want to punch the air and shout YES! Some simply misses the point. She gets herself in some sad fights, though.

Pronouns- I will use “she”, as she has a diagnosis of gender identity disorder and transitioned, was a husband, and identifies as transsexual. However she also says she is a man. When she says she is gay I interpret that as attracted to men.

She thinks pronouns should refer to sex not gender. She is happy to be called “she” as long as it is not coerced. She is a man and does not object to “he” though it reminds her of her medical condition, gender dysphoria, so hurts. I see no difficulty in calling gender variant AMAB people who transition “she”. That does not mean that you can’t make assumptions with other gender variant people. Generally, it’s courteous to use the pronoun people choose, and while someone might have suggested the pronouns on her list from xe to per, most people seem to use he she or singular they.

She learned to hate herself as an Evangelical Christian, but has now found an accepting church.

What I like, first. Being trans is about a mismatch between gender identity and biological sex… Biological sex should not determine gender roles and stereotypes however right now it does.

Well, yes. There are gender variant people. Some of us express ourselves using gender stereotypes of the opposite sex. Some assert our sex but resist or subvert the stereotypes. Some resent the term “gender variant”, saying concepts of gender are incoherent and without meaning or value.

However I disagree with her when she says transvestites have legitimised themselves by coopting transsexualism and intersex, and what was a fetish has become an identity. I am sure there are still men who dress wholly or partly in women’s clothes and would not transition. My friend was sick of cross-dressing all the time after a week. He used women’s loos when dressed female but would not use a refuge.

Most people who would transition want some surgery and hormones. There has not been some great takeover by “transvestites”. Possibly more gender variant AMAB people are transitioning because they think it is more acceptable.

“The” Lonely Transsexual? So many of us are lonely. It is a difficult path. We distrust cis people and do not get on well with other trans women, because they reflect our insecurity and difficulty back to us.

She writes of her hatred of her penis. She could not consider sex. I don’t think that puts her in a separate category. Some people hate the thought of infertility or body alteration. You can be trans, even “transsexual” according to doctors’ definitions, and not want surgery.

A transwoman is no more a woman than a seahorse is a horse. Sigh. Arguably. But we exist, and if we are harmless making an exception and allowing us in women’s spaces seems worthwhile, so that gender variant people may find our way of being variant.

She doesn’t pass, and has stopped trying to. She uses makeup to express herself, and is fine that no woman would use it like that. This is brave. No longer worrying about fooling people into believing she is a cis woman allows her better to be herself. I’m not doing it for you! Today I am sporting a two color eye makeup in blue and purple, blue eye liner and blue lipstick! It’s my look and style and I like it. This attracts hatred: she was standing at a crossing and a middle aged woman hissed “pervert” at her.

I love the bravery. She is not fitting in. She has found a new way to be gender variant.

Yes AMAB people get sexually aroused by dressing female. But if you see one so dressed in the street they are probably not aroused. It makes tucking difficult. They probably do it too much to be aroused all the time.

She is read as TERF. A commenter writes, I recognize the risks that you and the high profile women’s rights advocates are running in this fight. They run no risk beyond being despised for the exclusion they preach, but incipient martyrdom is so much a part of their identity. I feel Lonely TS could be more challenging to such commenters. Being stuck in the binary with the trans-excluders is a waste.

Is she British? She knows the gender marker on the UK driving licence, and goes into some detail on the Gender Recognition Act, but does not know the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 was superseded by the Equality Act 2010 and uses US spellings- color, license. I find this odd. An American might be glad to hear of the GRA but not want to go into the minutiae. And I would expect most churches over here to accept a trans woman, except the most extreme Evangelicals.

I wanted to find out whether she uses men’s, women’s or disabled loos, but don’t need to know. I am sure she feels guilty and conflicted or frightened whichever she uses, and that is a shame. She is concerned for the rights and feelings of others, and I wish she knew she has a right to exist, in her unique way.

Trans blogs

Who is blogging on trans?

Here is Dee, who is early on in her coming out. Her sister, niece and nephew know and are supportive, and she has told four friends. It is lovely to read her new year post expressing her delight in that support and her explorations. She will explore further, and share it.

I went to the WordPress tag “trans” to find what people would see there, apart from me. I was so put off by the first post that I went to the tag transgender to see if it were any better. Michael Coward claims that Christians are doing a great deal of damage. He has a long screed arguing that the Bible does not condemn LGB people to a life of celibacy, and reporting trans suicide attempt statistics. God, it’s depressing. He explains that “Evolution is not a theory in crisis” and links to an earnest site arguing that, but also saying that Christian leaders challenging the theory may be “well-intentioned”. I don’t believe that. Christians should have a respect for truth, and natural selection is clearly evidenced. Those Creationists are denying the truth. In the same way, when Michael challenges the assertion that LGB people should be celibate, I no longer care. Yes there are Christians who believe that, and he describes conversations with them, showing how closed-minded they can be. I have mostly given up debating with the sickos who condemn us. I used to visit their blogs, and even made friends there, but now can’t be bothered. There’s only so much stupid one can take.

According to this blog, wherever the writer is, “Chakka”, meaning transgender, is a playground insult. He likens it to Muslims being called terrorists. Still, I learned something:  मादरचोद is Hindi for “Motherfucker”, pronounced maadarachod. Someone who confesses to being “conservative”– never a good sign- says the “transgender cult” is pushing women out of women’s sports. everyone outside of brainwashed gender studies professors knows these scientific facts. I could of course rip this to shreds, but can’t be bothered.

I liked the look of Geansworld on “New Years Joy!”. Gean is an intersex woman. I don’t know why she tagged transgender, but enjoyed reading of her adopting a cat.

Tomcat has been on disability for months, after his transgender surgery, but the pain of being in a body that does not match his brain is a lot less. He’s feeling better and rebuilding his life. I wish him well. He writes, We’re all surviving, one way or another, with what we have right now. Some of us are fighting to survive in ways others will never see or understand. 

Charlotte, from North Carolina, has a trans daughter called Heather and another daughter called Abby. She gives thanks, for she has found friendship and support when she had feared losing friends when they found out about Heather. It’s the same theme as Tomcat for the new year: survival, and slight surprise.

Scroll a little further. Another fool blogging endlessly about LGBT from an American Family Values perspective, without any comments or likes at all and perhaps no readers but me. This is why you should find your trans blogs on T-Central, which lists dozens of trans blogs and news sites.

Life questions

MaryMary has more questions: Do you think all negatives have a positive somewhere?

No. If your leg is crushed in an accident, you may discover great reserves of grit and determination in learning to walk again, but I would rather find those reserves some other way. “You have climbed a mountain,” said a woman, admiringly, three years after I started to live full time, and I thought but did not say, no, I have climbed out of a pit: it has taken a great deal of my energy, and the result is that I am mostly tolerated. Society should make it far easier for people to find ourselves and be ourselves: far better in play and exploration as a child than years of tortured psychotherapy as an adult.

And yet, in those blackest moments, it may be most important to find the positives, to find anything which will keep you keeping on. Where is your motivation?

Rather than “all negatives have a positive”, as a bromide to encourage myself I prefer “Life is change”- you may experience it as a series of losses, but there are new delights, always, and nothing lasts for ever.

What is your most valued keepsake?

I don’t particularly value things. There is a photo of my parents’ wedding. Mum told me Dad had just told a joke, but in the picture he looks as if he has won at life, and she looks at him- not transported, as he is, but pleased at his happiness. Or so it appears to me. It shows them at their best, so is a good way to remember them. The image could live on in my mind if I lost the photo, or even lost all copies including digital copies. It is a symbol of the relationship and the people, not the people themselves.

I have a chess-board in which pieces, slivers of ivory, are anchored into slits in a leather board, folded flat into a case so you can pause mid-game- ideal if orders come in to go over the top, for a relative took it to the Great War trenches- but I don’t know the name of the relative, so it was valued for a long time, but its personal nature is at one remove for me. Folded, it is slightly thinner than a phone.

What’s most important in life?

Surely that is different for everyone, and will change throughout life. Positively, a sense of purpose and being valued, and negatively a sense of freedom from threat. A sense of threat can invigorate, unless it gets too much and I am merely terrified. Not having much of a sense of purpose I am compensating by valuing myself, seeing my gifts and talents. Life is a process. I will find uses for those talents, I have found some use for them, and should value that. So, being able to see the positives is good.

What’s the best childhood memory you have?

Working very hard to learn the Pathetique sonata, then thundering up and down the keyboard with it. Or, possibly, this memory of danger and triumph.

A blogger’s questions

I don’t pass on “blogging awards”, but I do like the questions. MarymaryOhMy asked, “Is music universal?” and “What is Love?”

Well. I am flattered. I am a dilettante, interested in all sorts of things, and with opinions on most. Everyone sings, and stone age cave sites contain flutes made with stone tools. Music is ubiquitous, and important to almost everyone. The pentatonic scale is in Scottish folk music such as the Skye Boat Song and in the Raag Bhimpalsi of India as well as Chinese and Mongolian music (yeah, I thought I would just reply from my own knowledge but I looked that bit up). And, western music with its thirteenth chords in Mahler and in jazz follows specific rules. You don’t need to be able to describe the rules in words- you don’t need to know what a plagal cadence, a tierce de Picardie, or Sonata form is- but if you have heard a lot of such music, especially from childhood, it will move you as it pushes the boundaries of those rules, and if you are unfamiliar with the tradition some of it will bore you. I am unfamiliar with Indian and Chinese music, and do not get the subtleties, though much of it moves me on a visceral level. Music is universal on a basic level, but worth getting to know, even studying in depth.

What is Love, in your own words?

In the air. An open door. Patient. Blind. A battlefield. What will survive of us.

Love is a second-hand emotion
always moving and changing
not an hour-hand emotion
seeming still.

Oh, OK. My own words. Love is the leap of my heart when someone walks into a room- even the first time I saw her; a steady commitment between two people; an inescapable part of being human; a great blessing, even when most painful; something we need, just as we need food and oxygen. For further reading may I recommend Plato’s Symposium.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?

I would make myself rich. Seriously. With one wish, I would rid myself of my most draining worries, and increase my influence. Stopping war or famine would be nice, but call me shallow and selfish. I would use my influence for Good once I had it.

Your biggest pet peeve?

Not being rich. The World should recognise my talents!

Is it Black and White or simply Gray?

Complexly grey, I would say. Just as there are 254 tones of grey between pure white and black on this blog with hex codes even if there is no admixture of colour, there is very little pure evil or good in the world, and many mixtures, from fatal flaws to mild imperfections. Every situation may be made darker or lighter. You may think it is unrelieved black, only to see how much worse it can get.

What makes a real man or woman?

Oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, calcium, and phosphorus, mostly; a little potassium, sulfur, sodium, chlorine, and magnesium. Those account for 99.85%. A fictional person can be “real” in that they can live in others’ minds, and influence them: George Eliot has moved and changed me with Dorothea Brooke, who is now part of me; but any moral judgment of what makes a “real man”- never wears pink shirts, according to one woman- is ridiculous and damaging. Same with “real woman”.

Favourite comfort food?

Spaghetti Carbonara. I am just off to make one now.

Ah. That’s better. I love the ritual of preparation, as well. I quite enjoy frying up leftover haggis with mushroom and onion, and dousing it in cider which I boil off- it produces a greyish sludge which I have been spooning into me since I was a student, with great pleasure- but a carbonara is my favourite.

You can learn something about people with this game. Perhaps I will address her other questions later. If you have your own answers to these questions, please share them below.

Truth and narrative

“True story” is an oxymoron.

I phoned the Tax Credits helpline for advisers, and got nowhere. “You’re being very condensating,” said the man I was referred to, and after half an hour my brain was so cabbaged that I knew he meant something else, but did not know the word for it. Thank you, you don’t need to say it now, I worked it out for myself later.

In the nineties I knew a man, still the most boring man I have ever met. I can’t remember his name, but it ended in an í sound, a contemptuous diminutive, Nicky or Ricky or Donny or something- anyway, he got very drunk on whisky, and ever thereafter could not drink it. He found a sip nauseating. Dismissively contemptuous, Neil said he probably had had no head for it anyway, he got drunk on a couple of glasses.

I associated those stories. “Condensating” was the moment I got nowhere with the benefits authorities, that I could not take any more. I cannot bear it. I could not bear another such conversation, it nauseates me.

Another myth. Margaret saw me as Clare for the first time, and said, “It’s as if you are acting when you’re Stephen, just you when you’re Clare”. Aha, I am a woman really, I am right to transition. The story becomes my conclusive evidence that I am right, the judgment of another person which I cling to, and take out for reassurance from time to time. It is my self-image: I know who I am, and “you’re just you when you’re Clare” is part of it.

Then about a year ago, I took off my wig and put on my cycle helmet, appearing androgynous, but continued talking, and H said “You have this lovely male energy”. Her beliefs, her politics, or her individual judgment of me need have no bearing on me, but have had. I could if I wanted call that comment on Wednesday 2 March 2016 the decisive moment

where my lies came apart
where my truth was undermined

Several times I have picked on particular dates where all changed, changed utterly for me. H has changed my view of the world. I am not sure if I have ever been entirely sure that I am a woman- I joked “I don’t know, and neither does my psychiatrist”, and said “I’m both and neither and in between”. Her word “lovely” just makes the blade sharper.

Either it is liberating- yes, I am a man, I need no longer assert a falsehood that I am a woman- or terrifying and destructuring, and I try to piece together the shards of my framework, world map, understanding which lets me navigate the world. “I am a man, but transition was the best I could do,” I say. “Bad things happen to good people.”

Or I create a new narrative. “I am a trans woman”. I have the right to be this way.

Brexit and Trump, and possibly this year Fillon and AfD, change my comforting narrative, one which is probably yours too. It is a debased Whig version of history: just as the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485 was a decisive moment of progress, which changed the way of doing politics in England from battles to individual murders, a clear improvement, so Obergefell v Hodges was a step into the light, which could not be reversed. A Tory version of history, that there are random events with no broader significance, is reasserted, so that Trump’s Muslim ban is not a pathetic attempt by the failing forces of reaction, but a random event of quite as much significance as Obergefell.

We need to change our stories. Since 2016, our stories have not been the Truth, but a comforting lie to help us get through the day without collapsing on the floor, screaming. The words “male energy” are a stake through their heart, as is the Muslim ban. “Do your duty, Republicans,” says the New York Times. “Prosecute him!” Trump meanwhile promises a new Muslim ban which will be less vulnerable to judicial scrutiny.

I have been reading of stories. Here’s Rachel Cusk in the NYT:

In psychoanalysis, events are reconstructed in the knowledge of their outcome: The therapeutic properties of narrative lie in its capacity to ascribe meaning to sufferings that at the time seemed to have no purpose. The liberal elite are in shock; they fall upon the notion of the victors’ regret as a palliative for their mental distress, but because the referendum result is irreversible, this narrative must adopt the form of tragedy.

And, writing of her mother

She didn’t care what she said, or rather, she exacted from words the licentious pleasures of misuse; in so doing, she took my weapon and broke it before my eyes. She made fun of me for the words I used, and I couldn’t respond by threatening her with death. I couldn’t say “I could kill you” because it wasn’t true, and in language I had staked everything on telling the truth. I have had that experience debating Creationists: I try to persuade, using truth, they simply assert their Beliefs. “It cannot be so, because of Genesis.” It was bad enough debating a blogger on the other side of the world- how much more terrifying, to face your own mother’s assertions?

Thus saith the LORD.

There is no answer to that. Tim built an impenetrable wall of language to shield him from- the truth? Or just, my understanding of the World? The defeated liberal is abashed, so less confidently assertive.

Anna Blundy, in a completely different essay- a short column not a hefty work like Rachel Cusk’s- also addressed making sense of truth with words. Language distances us from our real thoughts and feelings in an almost defensive way (the fact that it makes us feel better to have named something, perhaps is even indicative of that)… we’re trying to repackage something into a digestible form that will make the symptom of the sufferer more bearable.

Surely it is better to face the unvarnished truth? This essay says that news broadcasts and advertising alike end up telling stories… the mastery of danger, the satisfaction of desires and the ultimate restoration of morality. But here, an effort is made to lead people to believe that the story accurately depicts people and events. As a result, all end up profoundly falsifying what they portray, once again mixing faithful and manipulated images, and fact and fiction in seamless ways so that it can be hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. The attack is mitigated by the fact that the essay itself has a similarly comforting structure, where the restoration of morality is us all becoming more sceptical about the media.

It is not at all reassuring to say that I can’t bear another phone conversation with the benefits authorities. I could say, well I had hundreds before, many of them successful, or simply that I should eschew predictions of the future, which may just be paranoia, and concentrate on the actual task. I know what the task involves. Fear of what bad things will happen and how I will respond when I fail just get in the way.

This is my two thousandth post, on a blog about me, truth, trans, the world, and everything that interests me. I do it to be read, and achieve less of that than I would like. Joanna wrote a short post recommending one of mine, and I am grateful for the recommendation, because my post got more than three times the views from it, than 75% of my posts get from all sources. This is my least worthwhile goal, to see that I have had more views. Writing of Donald Trump stretches my writing, but gets fewer views, as most of my readers come from a Trans site, so I restrict my choice of subjects to get more views. Posting daily gets more views. I get a tiny dopamine hit when I see my page-view numbers have increased- nearly 198,000 views in five and a half years.

I might be better to write longer essays. I could develop an ability to analyse an idea in greater depth. This is not that: I have quoted undigested screeds from three essays and some of my own thoughts on truth, rather than explained the essays, created a satisfying narrative argument in my own words, and polished it. Writing around 500 words a day is good practice, but I want to edit and structure something more satisfying than these short pieces. I have published just one 2000 word article. I love Rachel Cusk’s essay- how I would love to write something like that!

I blog to tease out my understanding, as well. It is psychoanalysis for me, repackaging reality into that digestible form. So I have written how transition or surgery was the best thing I could have done, and the worst, in separate pieces, and wonder how to unite them.

St Clare

Tom MacMaster

Five years after the biggest thing to happen in her life, she still can’t get over it. A lot of trans women could relate to that. She knows exactly how to get under the skin of a trans woman- it takes one to know one. And if you touch a nerve she reacts in rage and misery. She creeps about, hiding away, trying to achieve her goals by stealth and stratagem. And- she repeatedly expresses herself as a woman. There is no doubt: Tom MacMaster is trans.

Tom MacMaster is the hoaxer behind A Gay Girl in Damascus, a blog which achieved notoriety five years ago when he pretended to be a Syrian lesbian in Damascus, arrested by the Assad regime. Because he claimed “Amina” was an American citizen, the State Department was briefly involved. It soon emerged she was a hoax.

The blog is dreadfully written, but if you believe in the character it is very moving. MacMaster took it down, but it has been cached here (a zip file). On 12 April 2011, he posted about a demonstration at the University: I started getting nervous; I could see that the pro-government demonstration was almost all male and had a lot of ‘tough’ looking guys whom I’d guess had military training in it… I watched a young man, a good-looking guy who, one could imagine, had a promising future ahead of him as a doctor or an engineer and who, when he won a place at the university, had been the pride of his family. He fell to the ground. He twitched slightly and I knew he was dead, shot as a martyr to freedom. This reads as an account of real bravery and a description of seeing a man murdered. Who could not be moved? Yet, as it was written in safety in Edinburgh, it is very poor. MacMaster attempts to imagine a real life for the victim, perhaps because he is incapable of describing the scene, but can only produce tediously obvious details.

On 19 April, he posted his dreadful poetry.

Battles lost and battles won
yet nothing changes but the names
of martyred sons and widows newly made.

But what is this? A dream? Try to ignore the Mcgonagall scansion and excess of commas-

I learn her name, her age, her place
And, so knowing, become ever more bewitched
And, now, cannot let go of any chance
That dreams and life might yet be switched

He wants to be her!!

He has hung round here before, googling his own name. Why is he so fascinated by a trans woman’s blog? It can’t just be that I commented on him:  he kept coming back.

Professor MacMaster, now 45, has a moderate list of publications, and some good anonymous feedback from students- Great professor. Great lectures. TAKE HIM– though that could be him, playing his internet games again; but he behaves like a spoiled child. He tried to delete passages from the Wikipedia article he did not like, using the handle LothianLiz (another lesbian) in 2011, and again in 2016 he is at the same game. I reverted his edits both times. He damaged the cause of LGBT folk and Syrian rebels by his narcissistic, controlling actions.

So he misgendered me, using the pronoun “his” and projecting onto me his “vindictive tantrum”. When I objected, he set up another wikipedia account and wrote, Fuck Macmaster and his transphobic bullshit. Wikipedia is NOT a safe space for cishet whiteboys and their hatespeech. Fuck these nasty boys and stop the hate! Let’s show him for the transphobe he is! He also edited the article to accuse himself of transphobia. That edit was quickly reverted too, as Wikipedians watch out for that sort of vandalism. He knows exactly how to hurt most trans women- it would have hurt me very badly, two years ago- and immediately reacted, without thinking, to do that. He is so emotionally involved.

Posing as a lesbian, he flirted with a woman, a cruel, manipulative game now the subject of a documentary, and also with another man posing as a lesbian.

He is obsessed! He can’t let this go! He spends hours on line in his feminine persona, flirting, writing love poetry, talking about clothes-

He’s a trans woman! Hey Tom, when will you have the courage to transition? When will you have the balls to have an orchiectomy?

On 15 December, he posted to the Wikipedia Help desk, This is a plea for assistance made by a newly created anonymous account. My real identity appears in a wikipedia article that contains numerous factual errors and semi-slanderous things. A few years ago, I complained to the wiki foundation abt this and was told to create an account and correct it. Done. Anyway, one of the wikipedia editors has some sort of vendetta against me and is, I believe, mentally unstable. Having forced me to connect my wiki account to my real world identity, they have continued to attack me. Within the past 48 hours, that editor (who has been cyberstalking me) has posted on their non-wiki blog attacks on my person along with graphic Notsafeonwikipedia (talk) 15:16, 15 December 2016 (UTC)and explicit calls for violence against my person. I would like to know how to go about having this person banned from wikipedia but I would also like to learn that without revealing myself as I am concerned for my safety. Oh gosh! I think he means me, who else would bother blogging about him? Calls for violence? Er, where? Someone answered that he could go to the Arbitration committee, but I don’t think he has yet.

Fun with pedantry

“It was their/there/they’re yesterday”. I found this facebook grammar test so insultingly simple that I decided to subvert it: “I phoned my friends in Australia this morning- it was their yesterday”. R pointed to the feedback form for the tea-shop, which had a greengrocers apostrophe, and expressed-

Disgust? Derision? Anger?

What of this one? “A room of one’s/ones own”. He picked “one’s”, and most people would, but the reason the possessive has the apostrophe is that in origin it was like this: “John Smith his book” becomes “John Smith’s book”. The apostrophe indicates a contraction, as in “it’s”. “One his book” makes no sense. I will carry on using ones.

Reading someone’s writing, their they’re or there for “their” is evidence, but not proof, of poor education and even less conclusive about poor intelligence. It may just be a hurried mistype. Also we should “bear one another up with a tender hand”- it is rarely relevant to point it out.

That anger- the world is not as it ought to be, and not safe, so the anger may indicate fear. I am in control of so little that clear grammatical rules give me a precious sense of safety in a small part of my life. It is as consoling as rocking or cutting might be. Or, objection can be a way of excluding those who are not “people like us”, a fragile way of finding someone to look down upon. (Great writers have been using prepositions to end a sentence with since Chaucer.) Or a safe channel for anger against other things. All these are unhealthy.

We disagree on TTIP, as well. How could it work without ISDS? Well, Mr Corbyn as Prime Minister might relax the Working Time Regulations because he had no other option. R finds the thought appalling, and so do I; but I see no point in anger against it. I would do what I can against TTIP, but must accept the things I cannot change.

I was unreasonably delighted to have page views last week from Iran and Uzbekistan. This means the largest territories uncoloured on my map outside Africa are Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

geoviews Iran

I would like the DRC, Chad, Niger and Somalia too, but the dopamine surge I got from Iran was huge.

I object more to the “nākd. strawberry crunch” bar. “Raw fruit crunchies and nut bar simply yummy” it insists. “Join the wholefoods revolution! Replace over-processed foods with nourishing wholefoods and get ready to be happy. This satisfying slice of simple goodness is a great place to start. Hope you love it as much as we do! Nature is nice.” It has a picture of some strawberries and another of a cuddly-looking bee.

Bah! Humbug!

Blogging questions

Amruta has questions:

Why did you think of starting a blog?

I felt I had made a great advance in my spiritual life. I thought I had pupated. I said so in my first post, and revisited this here. I continue, because I explore my spiritual life and growth, making the unconscious conscious, seeing behind the blind spots; or I treat it as therapy, sending messages to the ether rather than in a counselling room or in prayer. It is useful to me to try to make sense of things by explaining them to another. Blogging delights me: I could not have anticipated all the delight I get from it.

What is the one most boring thing about blogging according to you?

I do this entirely for fun. I write notes on long articles I read, like an undergraduate seeking understanding. My blog is my diary, recording and considering my experiences.

Do you think you can ever criticize or disagree with somebody’s blog or post? Of course respectfully.

Why respectfully? I use disgust contumely and derision when I seek out blogs saying LGBT is wrong and unChristian. I tell these people to turn to Christ. Why should I treat them with respect? I want their lies to be challenged, so it does not matter if my comment is moderated: they will see it. And the thing I enjoy most in blogging is establishing a relationship, reading and commenting over years. There I feel free to disagree, and explain my disagreement.

How did you choose the name of your blog?

My middle name is Claire, meaning Light, which I love. I felt I was flourishing. This blog is me: if you read the whole thing, 1683 posts now, 10,667 comments, you would know me well.

What will be your tips to new bloggers?

Have fun. Explore, and try new things. If you want to be a major power in the blogosphere, you will have to delete your first blog and start again; so you don’t even need to know, now, what you want from a blog: find what you like! If you write about a particular experience in a moving, touching and amusing way, you may build up a huge following and get a book deal: but I have no idea how to make that happen, or it would be me.

Describe yourself as a person.

This is me.

What is your biggest addiction in life?

Blogging, actually. Checking the dashboard gives me that addictive stimulus. My biggest delight is warm, passionate, funny conversation.

What is your philosophy/ideology of blogging? for e.g – I follow ‘Write what you Feel’

I write what I want to write. I post almost every day: my last break was in August last year. I share my experience here, and might feel I do not want to write when there is something I do not want to face. It is worth facing it.

And, Nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known.  Therefore whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be proclaimed from the housetops. I feel I am living on the edge, with nothing to lose from complete openness: for what I hide from others, I hide from myself. I need to know myself.

There is a huge amount of hatred and fear of trans people. I want cis people to read and see my humanity, my pain, my gifts and value; to be cuddly, not the Terrifying Unknown.

How much of your time is spent on writing new posts versus promoting on social media?

I do almost no promoting. I find new blogs I like, and comment, and there is always a tincture of “Come see my blog!” in that, but more it is showing appreciation and making a brief connection. I hate it when I comment on a blog new to me, and the response is just a “like” for my comment without a reply: I feel spurned.

What do you think of my blog and any suggestions for improvement?

Excellent question. Your pictures are lovely. That was the first post I saw. I scrolled down a bit through older posts, and thought, this is sweet but not really my thing. I had not been back since. Now I see your disagreement post, and find it different from my expectations.

You can’t please everyone. I had not followed, because when I follow I read a lot and comment. You might consider splitting your blog, one for whimsy- “Doggie bloggie” made me expect whimsy, which can be really sweet- and one for longer, reasoned argument, debate and serious questions. But these things can go together.

Arcimboldo, library