Norethisterone II

I am on my period. Sort of, anyway…

For some years a trans woman I met put a rubber bladder inside her knickers for five days each month, filled with a red concoction of the consistency of menstrual blood, which would leak out into a sanitary towel. I thought this entirely bizarre, but she wanted to have part of the experience of menstruating. Of course, her period was generally in her control.

I seem to have greater emotional lability when on Norethisterone acetate, twelve days in 28. The moments which most embarrass me over the last three months have taken place on the green pills. But then I started them on Tuesday last week, and have felt good. Planning my trip to Luton from Richmond was a pain: will I find three separate entrances to public transport, in streets I do not know, in five minutes? Will any of them be late so that I have less time? Even on the bus, I was stressed.

I keep thinking of an archetypal human conflict with the woman on the bus. She sat beside me holding the bar in front, so I had to ask her to let me out, twice. When I got off she caught my eye, standing in the street- she got off, she had time, I had no need to get up so quickly. Or, I have a right to get up early if it makes me feel better. Each irritated the other, and she caught my eye and pulled a face at me. Of such minor triumphs good morale is made.

Meeting a friend. She texted, don’t be angry that I am late. Oh, Darling, I thought, I expected you to be late, I am quite mellow. The food was poor: edible but dry and boring, in small quantities. Now, I have a letter about my last meeting with Stuart Lorimer of Charing Cross GIC, and I am not reading it. I glance at it, read a sentence, get worked up about what it says, leave it. Perhaps I will sit down with it, it says nothing I do not know, though the differences between his understanding and mine irk me.

Flirting with the woman at the station ticket office. I have noticed her, either butch lesbian or possibly a woman who likes to “wear the trousers” with sissy men; and on Friday she said “That’s ÂŁ9.60, Honey”. Ooh. Yesterday she admired my necklace, so I took off a matching earring to show her.

With that friend, I got to the theatre just before the lights went down: not bad seats, actually, and quite on time.

So I do need to manage stress, or I could be a stress monster. But the risk of shouting at someone might be worth it, if I could enjoy the heightened sensibility the rest of the time.

Ingres, Venus Diomede

Gentleness

I matter. While happiness simply for its own sake may not be the best primary goal, all other things being equal I am better happy. My happiness matters. It is so good for me to be reminded of this today, because it is not my conscious understanding, a lot of the time.

I imagine there are some people who feel the opposite- pebbles rather than clods– for whom it would be salutary to be reminded to take consideration of the feelings of others, from time to time. I know which I am. Knowing I am a clod, and being Blake’s clod is what I wish to be, what I respect, whereas being a pebble I find repellent and hard to imagine, I approach this Dalai Lama quote which I found on Alaina Mabaso’s lovely blog. I don’t know whether the Dalai Lama said it, either, but bestdalailamaquotes alleges he did:

When you think everything is someone else’s fault, you will suffer a lot. When you realize that everything springs only from yourself, you will learn both peace and joy.

Perhaps from Buddhism I could learn enlightenment, but not from facebook memes even if they quote the wisest man in the world. Sometimes other people are thoughtless and careless, and put me out. Even Ingres, Venus Anadyomene- rising from the seaif they should not have been so careless, it may be easier just to sort the situation than to persuade that person s/he is wrong and should make amends. This is part of accurately seeing what one can change and having the courage to change it. At the CAB, I dreaded hearing “It’s the principle of the thing” or that it was not for herself the client was concerned, but for all the others who might suffer similar injustice: because in both cases I thought the client was deluding themself. I was never as cynical as my lecturer who said “Principles are to be encouraged, because they make money for lawyers”.

I am not saying Alaina is wrong, merely riffing on the subject because I had nothing else to blog about, thinking as I type. On her second quote,

If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves rather than a statement about your value as a person, then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all.” ~ Yogi Bhajan

it may just be a semantic point that it is better to respond in conscious awareness rather than to react emotionally, especially in a potential conflict situation. Etty Hillesum- I keep thinking of this story– having no way of responding to the anger of the shouting man, pitied him. Sometimes there are “things we cannot change”, though temperamentally you may be more likely to think that, or more likely to hurl yourself against every immovable object, or chaotically to get it wrong both ways. While “Think it possible you may be mistaken” is good advice, some people do that too much too. Virtue is the golden mean.

And I matter. Oh Christ, thank God for the reminders of it!

Iris Murdoch

To repent of egoism: is autobiography the best method? Possibly. If I attempt honesty, I am confronted with questions, inconsistencies, things done wrong and done to others’ harm, which once you took for exercise of virtue… unconscious acts, whose motivation may never come to light; and can only attain truth if I surrender the need not to be repulsed by it; and then Love it.

By being willing to accept the demons and gods and goddesses as they are, Milarepa transmuted them. They became dakinis, or the energies of life.

So far, so clear. This is my spiritual understanding- teach me to care and not to care etc.

I read almost all of Iris Murdoch’s novels about ten years ago, struggling through some, loving moments from them- like that first sentence has caught me now, from The Sea The Sea. At first it seems ridiculous, then the contrast becomes richer and more ambiguous as I contemplate it. I remember Mor cycling home, always wanting to pedal to the top of the hill, always getting off at the same point. I thought at the time that The Green Knight was wonderfully ambiguous: one could see a character as an angel, intervening for Good, or as a series of accidents. Both interpretations worked, I remember it seemed, though I cannot remember any of the plot to argue this. I remembered Julius King, a destructive force playing on people’s illusions to make them suffer, purely for the fun of it, and Tallis, who cares, and seeks to do the right thing- who knows it better than anyone- yet who fails. Tallis’ house is disgusting: there are loving descriptions of half-empty milk bottles with horrid things inside, newspaper laid on the damp floor still there and black days later, of vermin. What are we to make of Julius cleaning Tallis’ kitchen?

I started The Sea The Sea in 2000, before deciding to transition, and could not get anywhere with it. I saw a character I could not admire, doing foolish, embarrassing things, which might endanger him, deluded, and gave up after hardly beginning. I could tolerate a character having a hard time, but not someone so pointlessly disgusting. I liked my novels to be elevating and cheering, of good people overcoming difficulty.

A man called Emma in a swimming pool, in the heating system, which somehow seems to be vast, over many storeys’ height: being trapped there in the dark and falling through it could kill him. I have a vague idea he attained Enlightenment, as did the man who fell down a drain like a flume and rode the stinking black water, without hope, until it disgorged him. Now, possibly, I think only the death of hope can bring enlightenment- and my despair is not the same thing. Hope and despair dance, both linked to illusory concepts of how something ought to be. I have a few confused memories of the novels- the man in the West of Ireland sinking into a peat bog like quicksand, there’s another-

having reread A Fairly Honourable Defeat and enjoyed it, I now turn to TS,TS. I will allow it to be what it is. Or not, and stop.

Ingres, Belle ZĂ©lie

Another strong personality

Someone called me an idiot. I don’t mind. God protect me from people who think they know what’s going on.

Tim, an utterly sweet gay man with a great love and knowledge of Manchester- he was passionate about the restoration of the Victoria Baths– told me that he had had relationships where he was Top, and others where he was Bottom, and he found the erogenous zones on his body changing between the two. We change to fit other people. One highly empathetic woman, a life-long carer, told me that she had had a series of dreadful relationships because she liked dominant men and they overwhelmed her: they were the centre of their Universe, and became the centre of hers. She felt the same way they did. So now she has a partner who respects her and, aware she can change like this, they both guard against it.

The hierarchy in any organisation can set the tone of that organisation. This is how things are done, how we see things. This is how we all feel. There is great pleasure in feeling the same way as another: we feel together, so we feel closer. It is hard to change it from below.

Don’t do that to me. You attempt to exert the force of personality to change mine, my feelings, my opinions. That took me aback, actually. Is that what I am doing? It was more than disagreement- some shock, some distress. I thought, after, it might be evolved primate behaviour, just the way we are with everyone, influencing or being influenced. But I can engage my conscious mind to prevent it. Your freedom is important to me. You are far more beautiful, free, than anything I could control you into.

I distressed myself completely falling into what I imagine might be another’s mind set. It seems to me I can choose my feelings. So, man tells of triumphs from decades before. I can choose to see this as boring or pathetic, or I can share his joy in the triumph, however old it is. How lovely of him, to share with me something which still delights him!

I choose that feeling which most brings us together. I want that togetherness, here, now. How lovely of him.

And- I am myself. I will see the world your way only for the moment, then I am otherwise, for I am myself. I too am a strong personality.

Ingres, Louise de Broglie

Spider sex

In the night I watched two spiders having sex. The larger one sent out two questing, tentacular legs towards the smaller, and the smaller approached then retreated, and this foreplay lasted over half an hour (Oh! The joys of insomnia!) Then the smaller dashed in, and the larger opened to him, pushing her legs back, while he jabbed at her underside repeatedly. Then suddenly he dashed away, and they sat a few inches apart, smoking a cigarette. I thought she was coming for him to eat him, but then I thought she was just repairing damage to her web. In the morning I saw three husks the size and shape of the smaller spider in her web, before I swept it away: she ran below my bed, and may yet lay eggs there.

In the pub, two dogs met: a Jack Russell and a spaniel perhaps twice its height at the shoulder. They sniffed each other’s bottoms, then the Jack Russell put its forepaws around the other’s neck. The other, distressed, was restrained by the man with its lead. The woman put the lead of the other round the leg of a chair, which the smaller dog proceeded to pull across the floor, and went away to chat. Then I saw the small dog with its forepaws on the other’s haunches.

“Is it trying to bugger it?” wondered a man. Then we saw its hips moving. “He likes dogs which have been spayed” the woman had said earlier, but I had not thought she meant that, as “spayed” usually means oopherectomy rather than castration. Later I saw the spaniel on its owner’s lap, while the Jack Russell, sitting on his haunches, batted up at its muzzle with his forepaws. I wondered how she would have responded had the spaniel’s owner complained, but doubt she would have had difficulty.

Nice pacifist Quakers don’t have conflict? “I need twenty”, I emailed to one, and he replied “You can have eight”. “I need twenty!” I emailed back, immediately, definitely. It does not matter what they were, as long as you realise that twenty is easier for me, more difficult for him, and considerably better. And he gave in, just like that.

I wrote before of the lawyers of Engrenages, and then wrote “But that is not me”. Possibly, it might be. I see such people, and think, yeah, that might work. What is it like? Here is Edward Burrough on the Quaker business meeting: do read the whole thing. When I read it before business meeting I missed out the bit about “hot contests”, a decision I regret, because we are strong personalities, who can be difficult. Proper business method leading to Unity requires us not to suppress our difficulties and differences, but to transcend them. My old, “Oh, why can’t we just get along?” does not work.

Ingres, Françoise Poncelle

Everything

I know some people listening are thinking, “That’s a bit sad”, and- some people are thinking, “Yes. Mmmmmm….”

I heard the first bit, and thought, he is projecting. He thinks his own interest in the ZX Spectrum computer, with its 48 kilobyte memory- it could barely hold that Rich Text File I just emailed- is a “bit sad”. And then he says something positive. Is he projecting then, too?

There will be people who dismiss his interest as a foolish failure to interact with the real world, and there will be people who sympathise- all kinds of human reactions- and all these reactions are in him. Even though he is interested, he judges his interest, and finds it wanting. All those reactions are in me- so I can feel with the man who rejects, and with the man who affirms. Actually, the phrase “that’s a bit sad” was the words used by the man on the radio this morning, but I have not quite remembered the words he used after. They were affirming, but “Yes. Mmmmmm….” is my expression, I think slightly different from his- though I am not sure quite how. Like trying as an adult to make a sound in a foreign language, Japanese or German, or even a different English accent such as Scouse. Others can hear a difference I cannot.

Or it is the way I want to recall it.

In my ritual space, after hearing this, before putting on my gi, I feel playful. Yes, I could channel Qi to my chakras, but that is not the mood I am in, now. Such a wide range of human emotion and reaction in me, that I may relate to so many different humans. Yet with my own accent or idiolect; some seen and recalled, some seen at a slightly different angle. And- of that wide range which I can be in my ritual space, some I can recognise and welcome, some feels strange or frightening- conditioning, it seems.

The All is in me, or its Emanations, with a distinct Clare flavour. So beautiful, when I can bear to look at it.