My Fantasy Holiday

Thoreau decided he’d had enough of things and moved out to the woods to escape from society. However, it turns out that Walden Pond is not a long stroll from the town he fled. He went to see his mum every weekend. With that in mind, this is what I’d like to spend a month doing this summer or in the autumn or sometime…
I want to stay in a cabin in the forest, next to hot spring, which I would go sit in for a bit at night. The nights would be very quiet and free of city lights. The cabin is stocked with a load of fresh veg and has a good library and some very comfy chairs. The bed is big and comfortable. All the rooms have nice windows. One of them has a couple of good monitor speakers a way to record and my synthesiser.
The internet is only connected between 11am – noon.
Every evening, a friend or two come around to visit and we have dinner, talk and jam or play board games or just talk.
I stay there for one month. At the end, I’m expected to have an LP.
So yes, even in my fantasy holidays, I’m still working…
The only thing I can imagine doing without working is a cycle holiday. And If I were planning one now, I’d probably try to arrange gigs along the route, alas. I’m feeling very motivated to be productive lately and also my anxiety is on the upswing and these are probably related. However, getting a lot done has been good for me in the past, but I wouldn’t mind a day or two in a hot spring or even a ot tub.

Now that I’m 34

I’m going to eat my vegetables; I’m going to go to bed and get up at a reasonable time; I’m going to finish my damn degree and graduate and find a job.
Birthdays don’t really feel like milestones anymore, just an excuse to go to the pub with friends. Or sometimes they feel like a yardstick, like by the time my parents were my age, they were actually kind of in the same sort of space I’m in now, so I guess that’s ok. Still, no PhD, no tenure track post, no CDs out. I might not be the young hot shot I thought I was.
My laptop has been broken for almost 3 weeks. Apple support in Europe really bites. I have borrowed a laptop running Ubuntu Stdio, which is very nice. But I miss having RAM. Also, I’m somewhat shocked to discover that the phone in my pocket is probably as powerful as the laptop I had before the current, broken one. It’s certainly more powerful than the one I’m borrowing. So I’m trying to compile SuperCollider on it. It’s very strange to be installing developer tools on my phone. I keep stopping with an overwhelming, “oh my god, it’s the future” feeling. And since the Brit police actually used a hovering drone thing to arrest some poor sod last week, it’s not the Asmiov future I’d wanted.
I’m sometimes kind of amazed by the date, like, holy shit, it’s 2010. I’m too young to be old. And yet.
The time is coming soon when I will have a 3rd date with a non-queer straight cis woman and need to disclose and I still have not figured out what to say. “Have you heard of Buck Angel?” seems like a poor opening gambit. So does invoking the pregnant man. I don’t know how well people here have heard of Chaz Bono.
I’m entirely assuming that people are cis though. I remember when I came out as gay to my highschool boyfriend. I agonized about it for some time. How to tell him? Would he be hurt by this revelation? I called him up. “I need to tell you something.” I said, and hemmed and hawed and finally, “I’m gay.” In a casual voice, he said, “Oh, me too.”
It’s probably somewhat more unlikely that disclosing my trans status will lead to a ‘me too,’ alas.

. . .

When my dad was 34, he married my mom. He asked her to marry him on the first date. She said yes on the third. I seem to remember that he told me that she had decided she was going to say yes even before he’d asked. They knew each other already, through a group for Catholic singles. Everyone in the group coupled off, which was, of course, the point. But in the mean time, there was group socializing, camping trips, bike trips, going places, doing things. The days before OkCupid seem like they were a bit more fun, or at least more likely to lead to lifelong friendships.


My last post was about loosing faith in “fate,” an idea I left undefined. It wasn’t a bearded sky god, passing judgement. But more like an intuitive, uninformed impression of the “Higher Power” of AA. Some sort of thing larger than myself. An idea that things would be ok in the long run. That’s all crap.
Ok, obviously all of humanity is larger than myself. And the movement of chance and the actions of others are all out of my control, which is part of the idea I had. So the idea of serenity is still valid. But other ideas are impacted.
Let’s imagine a metaphorical compass. The red side of the needle points at moral actions. You’re walking through the woods of life and are trying to follow the compass direction, but taking into account local circumstances, including things like cliffs, trees in the way, streams, etc. And the terrain itself has a lot of magnetic rock, which makes the needle direction really unclear sometimes. But there is, out there, a set of right actions, which are handed down from someplace outside of ourselves. But that view of morality is crap.
Foes of prop 8 angrily insist that we can’t put people’s rights up for a vote. But, in effect, that’s all we ever do regarding people’s rights. People have rights because we’ve all agreed they do. Because of our human emotions and logic and ideas like the golden rule. Actions aren’t moral or immoral because they adhere to some imaginary Platonic form, but because the people involved all pretty much agree on the action. One person leaving a comment on my last post called this “freeing.” There’s not one way to be good.
But, still, more questions. A lot of morality and especially the application of justice is configured such that “crimes” are what poor people can do to rich people. And morally-neutral actions are what rich people can do to poor people. This is crap. Are poor people less human?
Also, what the hell does humanness matter? If we’re not created in god’s image, what makes us better than battery chickens in cages laying eggs all day, unable to move with their beaks torn off? Aside from us having all the power and them having none?
All morality seems deeply vested in power relations. Deists think something is good because God demands it and he’s got more power than us. Atheists think something is good because they want to preserve their position in life and understand this relies on mutual cooperation. The golden rule isn’t just a good idea because it helps use empathy to figure out right actions, it is also the test condition and justification for right actions. And we can’t imagine being chickens, and there’s no danger of being reincarnated as one because none of that actually exists, so who cares about them? And in these circles of “us” and “them” and powers to enforce, we decide right and wrong. Can we see ourselves in an out group? Then they’re in. Otherwise, they stay out.
Which is what it’s been all along. And knowing that might be freeing because we’re free to negotiate our relationships with others however the people in them want. And we take whatever life has handed us and try our best with it. Or not. And it won’t turn out fine in the long run. In the long run, we’re dead. And either other people stop caring or it all becomes somebody else’s problem. And they might not solve it either.
So let’s say you wanted to have faith because somebody told you it was a good idea. You want to put it somewhere. Where? You can’t put it in god, because he doesn’t exist. You can’t put it in a happy future because that doesn’t exist either. You can’t put in humanity because they could very easily decide that ‘personhood’ no longer applies to queers or some other group you think it should. You could put in your friends, but in the short term, they might not be up to it. In the long term, one by one, they’ll die or leave and then, you die. Despite that, you could have it in yourself, which would be a nice heartwarming thing to do, but what is that but the idea of fate and happier future? That’s crap. So fuck faith. Drown your faith like an unwanted kitten.
I don’t know if it’s freeing, but I can live with it. What choice do I have?
I do feel better, though.

I’m probably sharing too much

(Note: I posted this and then decided I was perhaps being too dramatic and took it back down, but in the mean time, it got syndicated and a bunch of people saw it anyway, so here it is again.)
When I was in my first semester at Wesleyan, I used to worry I would start crying in class. The reason for this worry was that my mother had died less than a year previously. I knew that my friend Angela was planning on playing some music from the Brother Where Art Thou sound track and some Hank Williams and I had played these things by my mother’s bedside because they seemed to give her some comfort. But, by the time it was Angela’s term to give a presentation, I was on more solid ground.
Two years later, when I moved to Paris, I worried I would start screaming on the metro. I had anxiety, from several factors including gender, being foreign, normativity, etc etc etc and I didn’t know that people with anxiety do not actually just start screaming. Nor do we die from our chests pounding. I just wait and it passes. So I never did scream.
I don’t know what I’m worried about now, exactly, but lately, I often find I’ve been holding my breath. I feel dizzy more than is typical. I’ve always had a tendency to not quite be in my body, but now I sort of feel like I’m not quite in my head and that things might turn very white and blank. Which is similar to thinking I might pass out, sort of. But I think that this too will pass without coming to pass.
Reality or whatever seems to be something like a string or a thread, but I don’t think it’s something I could let go of. I think it’s tied to my wrist like a balloon on a child at the zoo. So I’m not worried like I was in Connecticut or France. But when people ask me how I’m doing and I say, “ok,” I’m not entirely certain if that’s actually the truth. But it might be. In time, it will be.
. . .
I realized two things recently. One is that I’ll always be crazy. I’m not screaming-on-the-metro crazy, but this tendency or whatever I’ve got is something I can manage, but not something that will evaporate away.
I was learning to deal with it by trying to acknowledge and even share my emotions instead of trying not to have them. And then, after that, trusting to fate. But there is no fate. Things don’t happen for any kind of reason. We live until we die and that’s it. There’s no plan. There’s no meaning. You just carry on until you don’t anymore. Everything we have to sort of smooth over the abyss and make it seem nice is just a human invention. There’s no soul. There’s no god. There’s no plan. It’s just suffering with the occasional respite. And that’s all.
I’d like to carry on as long as possible, but the emptiness of it all . . . is kind of a lot. It’s a large realisation to get used to.


The year that I lived in Paris, a thousand cars were set ablaze in a single weekend. The cops there had chased a couple of youth, who hid in an electrical substation and got electrocuted and died. The people in the poor suburbs of Paris had enough of police harassment, and so there were riots. Cars were mostly burned out in the suburbs, but some were also set aflame in the area around my flat and, I think, on my street, although it’s possible that the broken glass and scorch marks I saw were unrelated.
Shortly after that died down, an unpopular change to employment law passed. It changed the terms of contracts that could be given to people in their early 20s. There were large marches and people at the end of these marches tended to break windows and cause a mess. Then was the Mohammed cartoon in the Danish newspaper, which, as you may recall, was reprinted in France Soir and caused further unrest.
By the end of the year, French folks were getting kind of concerned about the level of unrest. But not so concerned that they didn’t go ahead and elect Sarkozy, who helped spawn the initial batch of riots.
So I’m a little blasé about riots now. They happen. They’re a way that a minority signals that it’s really really pissed off with the way things are going politically. They’re a protest turned destructive. They happen. And sometimes it’s a good thing that they do happen.
Stonewall, which many regard to be the foundational moment in the modern queer rights movement, was a riot. People fought with the police. They broke stuff. They broke stuff that didn’t belong to either them or the police and just happened to be there. For two nights, they rioted and broke stuff. They weren’t going to take it anymore. The police had been attacking them for years and they were finally fighting back.
If you look not just at the latest BART police shooting, but also at incarceration rates in California, it’s clear that poor and POC communities are under attack by the police. And when people feel rage at that, when they feel anger, when they take destructive mob action in spontaneous response, it’s just as justified now as it ever has been for anyone. Oppression is not quiet or polite and it’s end isn’t either.
However, the news media would do well to learn, that attacking a car is not “violent.” Shooting an unarmed man in the back while he lies face down, surrounded by cops is violent. Breaking a car? Not so much.

Thinking about Pagans

The folks who were hexed have been caught by police, and, indeed, one of them had his family involved in his turning himself in, just as predicted by the head-hexer. However, I think a double-blind study is needed before I’m willing to concede anything about the general efficacy of hexing. I’m not sure such a study is really possible. What coven would be willing to participate in calling up such negative energy in order to prove something to skeptics?
I wrote something about how I hadn’t been to any pagan rites since university and that’s so untrue I don’t know what I was thinking. My friend Jean does something called “Burning Bowl” every New Years Day which has something to do with making resolutions, only not really. And, of course, Paul’s memorial last year was pagan, and even more emotionally charged than the most recent thing I went to. These things, though, were familiar. Drinking cider with friends. Or a memorial service. They don’t see outside of ordinary experience. And so they slipped my mind when I was writing about an extraordinary thing.
I spoke to a few people about the use of the Virgin of Guadalupe in the hexing. Apparently, pagans are practical and will use the goddess or god most likely to get things done for them. Because some of the suspects were described as Hispanic, the pagans decided to use their goddess against them. This, of course, relies on making some assumptions. Protestant churches are growing dramatically in the Americas, but let’s put that aside for a moment and go with the assumption that the Virgin Mary has meaning to the Hispanic men in question and specifically, her appearance in Mexico is something connected to them. Something about this strikes me as problematic. The pagans are using the symbols of a person’s religion against them. And it’s a minority religion which has faced past discrimination. (Of course, pagans would argue they were in the same boat, there.) This is troubling to me. I was at the ritual, in retrospect, more or less as a tourist, as it didn’t have meaning for me, so maybe there’s an argument there that a hexing is just going to be troubling because it’s a troubling thing to do in the first place and maybe religious rites are outside of arguments relating to axes of privilege. And maybe Mary of Guadalupe is a goddess figure subsumed into Catholicism and therefore belongs to all womyn. I don’t know.
My friend in London is from Somerset, where the farmers still do pagan stuff that their ancestors did. She was describing some of the rituals to me. They seem to all involve drinking a lot of beer and did not seem to be womyn-centered. I think that some feminists look to this as a source mostly motivated by the myth of matriarchy. This is a cross-cultural phenomenon, where there is a myth that once upon a time, women held political power. Everything was backwards in this time: the moon was better than the sun, etc. Fortunately, (the myth goes) men wrested power away and saved us from such foolishness. For example, Eve briefly lead Adam in Eden and look where that got us. Still, the idea of some ancient time when women had power is obviously attractive to women now. Alas, it’s all mythical, but it attracts them to old myths and old religions. And so a bunch of drunken, ribbon-wearing (male) farmers chasing a cheese wheel down a steep, rocky incline becomes a feminist religious inspiration, once separated by an ocean. Of course, they’re probably not drawing on that particular ritual and the information has been mediated by books or Hollywood or expectations and turns into it’s own thing. And just like the rituals in Somerset carry the cultural baggage of that region, and affirm power relations and privilege in that community, neo-pagans bring their own baggage to the circle.

Life, Dating

What would I say in a personal ad?

I’m looking for a poorly defined poly relationship or 12 with bad boundaries and low emotional investment.

He or she is between the ages of 25 – 50, can pay their own way, enjoys snogging, is politically progressive, musically adventurous, some interest in technology.

I’m an FTM from California, aquarius, vegetarian, messy, needy, prone to anxiety and depression, but have a cute dog and can offer mixed messages, sex, sex, and sex, plus will demand hugs and try to drag hir to free improv shows. I may also email hir inexplicable mp3s and/or try to get feedback on musical works in progress.

Let’s have something extremely short term followed by weeks of awkwardness!
Location: London

. . . .
My shrink told me to “calm down” today. I’ve traveled enough to know that baggage around people’s accents or languages is mostly silly. But her accent makes her sound so competent. It was like ebing told by the BBC to remain calm and carry on. Ok, I can do that.
Um, on other news, I think that I’m going back to injecting once every 3 weeks, as this last week has been crap. Also, I’m kind of tired of being tranzilla. I’m like super trannie. I go to trans bars. I go to trans community events. I talk to gender queer people. I worry about injections. It’s all trans all the time. If I were just coming out as gay, I would be wearing rainbow-striped jumpers at this point, with this level of involvement.
So, um, other things. I’m writing music with samples of a trans rights rally I went to. . .. And I decided that what it needed was a good bassline. And the way to make a good bass line is to analyze tuning ratios and figure out what’s consonant in an arbitrary scale and then do stepwise motion around consonant pitches. Samples will be forthcoming in a future post.
(Please note that I am not referencing any real people in this post aside from myself and my shrink.)

More navel gazing

For a while now, I’ve secretly wished not to have any emotions at all. (It was a very secret wish: even I was not informed.) I want to run around doing exciting things, but I want to dispassionately observe them at a distance. I want to watch myself on the telly. I want to be a perpetual tourist in my own life. I want an off switch on my emotion chip like the silly Star Trek android, Data.
On the other hand, I’ve been feeling more or less depressed recently, which I hadn’t felt for a quite a while . . . and I have had virtually no anxiety. Are my choices anxiety or mild depression? It’s much nicer to be sad for no reason than to be panicked for no reason.
I don’t have data, but I suspect that it’s very difficult to write music while striving to not feel anything. Which may also explain why it’s been so hard.
Why try not to feel? Well, it often kind of sucks. A few years ago, when I used to sometimes get depressed or stressed or whatever, I had a feeling like I was at the bottom of a long shaft, like a smokestack of an abandoned factory. And on my shoulders, there was a flat, large board that fit perfectly inside the shaft, like the floor of an elevator car. I was holding it on my shoulders to keep from getting crushed while more and more things got dropped on to it. But this image is no longer current.
Now, I feel like a bag of parts. Like a cloth sack wrapped around something porcelain, that got smashed in shipping. I feel broken. But mending. Like Frankenstein’s monster, the parts re-assembled, slightly misjoined, ringed by scars. Still in the midst of loose bits, nothing in quite the right place. Misshapen, ugly, absorbed in myself.
I want to go out and live and make mistakes and recover from them and have excitement, novelty, adventure, etc, but not feel it. I want pain without hurting.
Sophie says that I clearly hate myself. I want her to be wrong.

From Last Week

Nicole left very early yesterday morning, alas. By the time I post this, she will (hopefully) be in California. I spent all yesterday morning feeling sorry for myself, but eventually roused myself into action, at least to answer the door when my last delivery of boxes arrived.

My next door neighbor came over while I chatted with the delivery guy and Xena ran around loose. The neighbor chastised me because he had found dog shit on his driveway the day previous. “It wasn’t my dog.” I said, which was true as that the first and only time Xena has ever been allowed off leash on the street. It was like he didn’t hear me, so I repeated it. He clearly thought I was lying. He wanted an apology. meh.

I set up my bedroom studio and it looks pretty good, but during shipping, the bolts came unscrewed in one of my synthesizer cases and the modules got slightly battered by bouncing and the loose screws. My favorite module, the MOTM 440 low pass filter, suffered visible damage. One of the knobs had come loose and the back cover of it broke off and now it catches when I turn it. I took it to school and asked the lab assistant about it. He lent me some tools and I re-tightened it and he told me to take it home and see if it worked. I screwed it back into the case, but I still haven’t tried turning it on as I have fears of it suddenly catching fire or something equally unlikely. The moral of this story is to use the correct mounting brackets and not try to fake it with just bolts and washers. Or if you do try to fake it, tighten them before you ship. And then tighten them again before you strap them to your bike and pedal them home. And don’t put it on a rack where it will bounce around a lot, but in the trailer.

Speaking of which, my trailer is also broken. I think it’s from running into stuff and not from carrying around my synthesizer. It’s wide and it sticks out on one side and lord knows i’ve bashed it into things a bunch of times. Anyway, it has a spring attaching the hitch part to the main part, so the spring lets it swivel some. the spring, however, is sprung. I think this is easily fixable. By somebody with tools.

My supervisor and all of my colleagues are off in Copenhagen, putting on a concert with an array of 80 speakers. They call this system BEAST. Apparently, I’m going to be a part of BEAST in the future, but for now, the only people I know in town are my housemates. They’re nice people. But I have no friends here except for my dog, who is nice, but doesn’t talk much and has a disturbing tendency to roll in horrible things she finds in the park.

I read Fingersmith last night. It’s a thick book by Sarah Waters. It has a really good plot twist in it. And unlike the last book by her that I read, the lesbians don’t die in the end. The book is kind of sexy, actually. So I woke up this morning feeling even more sorry for myself than yesterday.

I’ve read a lot of fiction lately, after a long run of none at all. The downside to this is that after I read a lot and sit by myself, I start narrating my life to myself in my head (c’mon, you know you do it too, sometimes) and as I’ve read two novels placed in the Victorian era recently and I’m in England, I’ve begun narrating to myself as if I were some sort of bloody Victorian (you see that “bloody” there? alas). I guess as long as I keep it to myself, it’s not a big deal, but as you can see, it’s sprung out and effected my blog, and thus yourselves, dear readers. . . . (Are those crickets I hear? Damn.)

The weather has been sunny the last two days, and thus at odds with my disposition, which is for the best. I need to find a book shelf, I think. I went to two charity shops today. I thought this term “charity shop” meant something like the Goodwill store in the US, and there is a passing resemblance in that they both seem to involve used clothes. But either I went to the wrong two shops or the similarity sort of runs out there. The “charity” part seems to just refer to the owners of the shop. The might sell a lot of new stuff. And the people working there seem to be normal shop keepers or maybe volunteers, I don’t know, but they’re not getting the sort of job training that folks at Goodwill are getting. No scent of lisol. No air of poverty. Maybe I went to the wrong shops.

The locals here are friendly and are getting gradually more intelligible. I’ve been talking with other dog owners in the park. And when I was strapping horrible, cheap dollar-store plastic junk to my bike, a bicycle enthusiast approached me to talk about old fashioned delivery bikes and the hilliness of Birmingham. When you look around you from where you’re standing, it looks flat. But there are valleys everywhere. There is a nice, light Danish city bike that I want, but can’t presently afford, nor do I have parking space for it. I’ve been daydreaming of putting a bike rack in the driveway. I’ve got myself convinced that it’s a great idea.

Now, however, it’s a great idea to stop typing and go do something else.


55a Frederick Rd
Selly Oak
B29 6NX
Great Britain

Actually, I’m, alas, uncertain about the last line there. Should it say “England?” “United Kingdom?” Or what? I live in England, and I know it’s a small part of the whole country, much like Holland is but two provinces of the Netherlands. But what is the name of the country in which I live? What’s the difference between “United Kingdom” and “Great Britain?
While I’m on these sorts of questions: What’s a licenced restaurant? What’s an off-licence shop? Does “going around with your dog” mean brining her to the country or just to that particular establishment? How did I end up in a city with even worse weather than The Hague? Why are posh british accents like nails on a chalkboard? It doesn’t matter if they look out the window and just say, “oh, it’s raining again” I want to bash them with my laptop and shout “shut up, you insufferable twit!” but maybe that’s what comes of eating tiny, cheap jelly donuts for breakfast and the resultant sugar crash.
In other news, my dog is a health and safety violation. Um, because she’s rabid and will rip your throat out. And she covers floors with all sorts of dirt and germs that could not have found it’s way indoors through any other means, especially not shoe bottoms.
I’m so dumb. Never ask permission! Just do it and when somebody tells you that it’s not allowed say that you’ve already been doing it for weeks with no problem.
This country is extremely paranoid. I mean, I’m glad to finally live someplace where they’ve heard of smoke alarms. But the sheer number of fire regulations here . . . all explained to me in detail. I had to ask if the building burst into flame every tuesday. They act as if EVERYTHING is a ticking time bomb. The building will burn to the ground any moment now. the dog will go mad an attack. The kids will go mad and attack (why else are there so many stupid surveillance cameras in the student lounge?)