Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Some Other Martin Luther King, Jr. Speeches Worth Considering

In light of the 50th Anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington For Jobs and Freedom highlighted by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech, I decided to post some of my favourite speeches and interviews which have proven to be even more timely of late.

How Long? Not Long! (Rally at the end of the Selma March, in Montgomery, Alabama, 1965)

Interviews during the Selma Voting Rights Movement, 1965.

Antiwar speeches, 1967.

Memphis Sanitation Workers Strike, 1968

Last Speech: "I've Been To The Mountaintop" (Memphis, April 3, 1968)

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Adieu, Rhizome Cafe!

Perhaps, I should have wrote this post as one of the many love letters to the much loved, an now closed, Rhizome Cafe back during their open house night in June. But tonight, over twenty-four hours after their final night open is when I find myself typing away my own short, sweet eulogy.

I first heard about the Rhizome several years ago. There had been several restaurants and cafe in that East Broadway space beforehand, but this time the friend/s who suggested meeting there did so with much insistence; they said it was an awesome space, with great vegetarian/vegan food, amazing desserts and awesome chai. It was also an incredibly relaxed, open-minded, progressive space. And so dinner with friends it was. That evening and every other time I was there up until this past Thursday night was everything my friends had said it was ... and more.

It was where I performed my last gig as Miss Penny in 2008, and where I began coming out to friends as trans; it was where friends and I got together for rounds of Christmas holiday cheer, where I grabbed a quick bite while passing through the neighbourhood (I'll never forget the miso and tofu rice bowl and the vegan orange cake with a very rich white frosting), where I attended a going away party for a friend who was moving to Ottawa and where I recently attended a board game night.

There were also many events that I wished I had gone to: queer salsa classes, various speakers, poetry nights, mini film festivals (though I did go to the Trans Film Festival there in 2010) and countless music shows featuring local artists.

And tonight, on my bus ride home from the movies, I saw that the space formerly known as the Rhizome Cafe had been cleared of its tables, chairs and couches, all of the art on the walls gone. Soon, there will be a new community hub/cafe in its place which will try to revive the best that the old place had to offer. But, no doubt, some things cannot be replaced.

Adieu, Rhizome! Thanks for being there!

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Steppin' Out With the 2013 Vancouver Trans* and Genderqueer Liberation and Celebration March

Here's a video that a friend of mine made of this year's Trans* and Genderqueer March, in East Vancouver. I'm interviewed in it for a couple of seconds.

And here's some footage of the Pride Parade on Sunday; you can kind of see me near the beginning holding half of the Trans Alliance Society of BC banner.

This Post Has 7 Days ... My Week, or so, Between Worlds

"Shhhh! She is traveling between worlds right now. You can see her holding the tension of not knowing ~ she is simply breathing into her unanswered questions. Sometimes she drinks her coffee with quaking hands, not knowing where her relationship or her bank account is going. But this time, she is holding onto the tension of not knowing, and is not willing to hit the panic button. She is unlearning thousands of years of conditioning. She is not being split between the opposing forces of fight and flight. She is neither naïve nor ignorant. She is a frontier woman, paving new roads & making new choices. She is willing to make a new transcendent possibility emerge. You may see her now ~ standing at thresholds, or at crossroads ~ breathing into her body ~ intently listening for inner signals. She's learning new navigation skills as she arrives at a most magical moment of her life."  ~ Sukhvinder Sircar


This post may find you late, but such was my whirlwind week that was. The "week" actually started on the last Sunday of July when I attended and informal discussion group about transwomen in relationships; very enlightening. Then, that evening, there was the wrap party for The Switch. The almost entirely new cast and crew had just finished filming the series pilot. Indeed I had not seen many of the crew and management in months. It was upbeat event for a Sunday evening. It was very flattering to be complimented for the writing I had contributed to the series.

The next evening I saw many of the same people at a meet-and-greet for the Catherine White Holman Centre in my neighbourhood park; a low-key picnic event to raise awareness about the east side transgender health outreach clinic. As Pride week began, I craved more connection with the community, and this event hit the spot.

The next big event that week was the Trans* and Genderqueer March on the first Friday in August which would be in my own neighbourhood for the first time. I had booked the day off as vacation. But, there was another reason I was looking forward to the long weekend.

About two weeks earlier, the day before my electrologist's celebration of life, I had a fortuitous evening. I just gotten home from an appointment with my new electrologist, having spent nearly two hours locked in their stairwell because another overzealous merchant in the same mall had locked the main exit early. Only by happenstance did the building manager's daughter, who lived upstairs, find me and let me out. Relieved, but still on a lot of adrenalin, I hurried home. After dinner, I went on line and checked my email: routine for me. A few months earlier, I had set up a profile on a dating site feeling that it was time to start fishing (my Valentine's Day post inspired me to do so). I disclosed my trans status on my profile and put together one of the most clear, honest descriptions of myself, my life, interests and preferences in a (male) partner that I had ever made.

Over the next little while, I got a lot of unwanted attention: chasers, shady young men with no profiles or, more benignly, people passing through complimenting my profile and wishing me luck. Then, nothing for a stretch: until that Saturday night when I checked my email. While I had been trapped in a stairwell, I had received a message from an older man who, having read my profile and seen our high compatibility rating, was interested in chatting and possibly meeting with me. Intrigued, I replied through the site, introduced myself and said that I was free to chat online the following evening. The following evening, after the celebration of life, I went online to the dating site and sent a message that I was free to chat. A couple of minutes later, he came online and we chatted for a while. He had already sent me his phone number, but after what seemed like a very pleasant chat, I decided to send him mine. He called me. Our phone conversation went even better. We seemed to click immediately, he seemed fascinated by the kind of life I led, diverse and with many goals and activities and I was drawn to how warm, friendly and considerate he sounded. He was recently divorced and going through a messy custody battle; he also seemed ready to start his life over. We spoke again the following evening and the one after that. Then, we decided to Skype; I wanted to see him in real time (he lived in another city, but was preparing to move to Vancouver the first week of August to be closer to his young son). Our Skype dates went even better as I learned more about him and he about me; we became Facebook friends and I invited to read my blog to learn more about me. I was also the first transwoman he had known and that concerned me.

I disclosed as much about myself as I could. He did the same. We became closer, sharing openly with each other and becoming smitten. I told a few coworkers about him. I looked forward to him moving into town. I offered to help him unpack on the first day he was here. We made tentative plans, very tentative as he had plans with his son that same weekend and I certainly did not want to interfere. That day would be the Friday of Pride weekend.

As it turned out, his son arrived at his new apartment early, so we rescheduled to the holiday Monday instead. In the meantime, I marched in the Trans* and Genderqueer March.

The march had a couple of hundred people in it and went very well. I headed home afterwards. A subtext for Pride weekend was that I was getting older and feeling more easily fatigued; late nights were no longer for me. The same for the following evening when I DJ'ed a trans community dance which, for many reasons, wound up being a bust wrapping up at just past nine o'clock. The following day, I was in the Pride Parade with Trans Alliance Society of BC, carrying the banner then whole distance. But, I sat out the community dance that night as well, feeling a bit guilty for doing so. My self-care was a big theme in part because of my friend and electrologist's death, but also because of the precarious health of a former coworker suffering from leukemia who I had visited at Vancouver General Hospital the afternoon before my DJ gig. I contemplated a quieter, healthier life. I also looked forward to the holiday Monday when I finally meet the man I had been online dating for a couple of weeks.

I met him at a nearby cafe during the late afternoon on Monday, after he had brought his son back to his ex's. In person, we were both even more smitten and decided to go for dinner. We bought dessert and took it back to my house where I made tea and we hung out for a while becoming very affectionate. We made plans to get together again the next weekend. The next day, I practically floated to work.

We continued to phone, message and Skype that week. In a few different ways, we supported each other; I listened when he spoke with his heartbreaking custody situation and his anxiety about his future and he listened as I spoke about my hopes and fears about my transition and life in general. By Wednesday of that week, we clearly wanted to meet up again before the weekend and so made plans for dinner the next night. He picked me up at work and we went out for pizza in my neighbourhood. Afterwards, we went back to my house. He seemed really distracted that day; I knew the issues weighing on him and tried to be there for him. We talked a long while before, near midnight, he made to leave. We had made plans to go to the Saturday Farmer's Market a few blocks away at Trout Lake Park, then have a picnic with what we bought and then, later that day go back to his new apartment where I would stay over and make us breakfast on Sunday morning.

I am typing this now, on Sunday afternoon. There was no picnic or pancake breakfast. I went to market myself after spending yesterday morning crying and, after the market, spent the afternoon and evening with good friends, all the while numb. We broke up yesterday morning; what I had sensed, that our budding relationship was too much, too soon for him, was true despite some early assurances that it would be okay. Crushed would be an understatement. My Facebook status went back to single and I tried to remember what it was like to not have a special someone to look forward to, something that was the default for most of my adult life. I have spent more time single then coupled, perhaps this was simply my lot. All I knew was that I would miss my guy painfully. For a few lovely weeks, my daydreams had been sunny snapshots of picnics, movie nights at the Rio, window shopping, interesting and offbeat restaurants, and days at the beach, our hands intertwined, walking hand-in-hand, him lifting me up at the beach to dunk me in playfully and me squealing like a young girl. All of these hopeful images faded. Had any of this happened at all? During the last boardgame night with friends at the Rhizome Cafe last night (more on one of my favourite venues which will be closing soon in a later post) my mind often drifted over towards translucent scenes from my couple of nights with my now ex-boyfriend. Miraculously, I was still able to enjoy the games and the company around me. But last night and this morning, were predictably, sad and tearful.


And so this post, written piecemeal over the last several days, as a journalist would write an article in progress, arrives late, but here anyway. Several days, actually a few weeks, possibly longer, spent almost there and no longer here. This was true with relationships, social functions, ailing and departed friends, and me. During this time, the quote at the beginning of this post landed on my screen and so I included it first. My hands, and my heart, have had plenty of opportunity to quake this year. And I wonder which step to take next. Perhaps, my natural state, finally discovered, is to be in a permanent instability and anxiety of not knowing, but always envisioning and hoping anyway. Living the rest of my years in mid-step.