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My Daughter,

These are the things I want to say to you. The things I want you to truly hear. When I decided to conceive you, I changed my life. I studied. I gave up alcohol, cigarettes, caffeine, sugar, processed foods, etc. I exercised, drank lots of water, attended to getting good sleep. You see, I wanted to give you the healthiest foundation possible. And you were born this perfect, achingly beautiful little being. A girl. My girl. I’ve tried to think of ways to refer to my children that don’t use possessive language, but now I realize that’s not helpful. You are my child. And Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, aka ROGD, doesn’t happen in a vacuum. 

For the first two years of your life, we co-slept and you nursed. We cuddled through the night in a mother/baby dance that bonded us forever. I rejected all the advice to put you in a crib, to let you “cry it out”, to give you formula. Instead, when you were upset and needed comfort, I put you to my breast. I always came to you when you cried. I knew through instinct that I was your lifeline and you wouldn’t learn to trust if I didn’t respond to your cries. Child development experts would say we became “attached.” 

It was hard. I convinced myself I wasn’t cut out to be a stay-at-home-mom. It was easier to think about a career and live the typical lifestyle that those around me had embraced. Dad got laid off, and I went back to work. In my tendency to get absorbed by my career, I became distracted from our bond. I wasn’t paying close enough attention to the influences in your life. I saw you spending time on the internet teaching yourself artistic skills, to play instruments, to develop imaginative characters. I saw you and your friends bonding over shared interests like Anime, and…well, Anime. And your preteen angst seemed normal. When you told me you were anxious and depressed, I offered alternative framing and solutions instead of truly listening. 

And now here we are. It guts me to know you’re binding the once healthy breasts needed to nurture your own future babies. My heart aches to think you want to have them removed and to take medicine that will sterilize you. I feel deep rage when I think of a culture that has groomed you to believe that your perfect, female form is somehow wrong, and that the self-harm you’re engaged in is somehow manifesting your “authentic self.” I am stunned by how our government, schools, media, and other institutions are fully captured by these misogynistic lies. 

But, I have to also say that I am so very grateful. I had no idea our culture was being transformed by these poisonous ideas. That the safeguarding of women and children would be so easily sacrificed for the whims of a few powerful men. You brought this insidious movement into my awareness and now I feel compelled to be a soldier in the fight to stop it.

I also have to say that I understand. Since you opened up this world to me, I see the misogyny I truly didn’t realize existed. I see how scary it must be to imagine inhabiting womanhood. It makes perfect sense that, when given the opportunity, you would choose to opt out of the perceived horrors of being an adult human female in the fucked up world the internet has shown you. I also appreciate the allure of having full control over how you present yourself to the world, to be able to recreate yourself as a less vulnerable being, an avatar to shield your heart. I get it. I still see you. You can’t hide from me, but if you need to keep hiding from everyone else, I understand.

I also think you recognize and are intimidated by, even terrified of, the incredible power of the blossoming woman inside you. These entitled men see that power too. They recognize an elusive and beautiful state of being that their insatiable greed demands they conquer for themselves. It must be intolerable to know that a weak impersonation of womanhood is all they can ever accomplish. And so they’ve convinced themselves and others that they are victims and appeal to the generous nature of the hearts of women. They paint themselves as the “oppressed” because it gets them just a little closer to the experience they covet. These billionaires who throw their might around. They aggressively threaten to rape and kill us because they want us to shut up and stop reminding them they will never be women. Their testosterone shows. We see it. Some of us. Others are trying so hard to be virtuous. To be inclusive. To be good. And they’re so deep in it now, they can’t allow themselves to see what’s really happening. They’ll have to double-down because it will be too painful to realize the devastation that has spread because they allowed themselves to be groomed. Too painful to realize that they’ve participated in the grooming. She/her/hers. He/him/his. Beep/boop/bop. 

I will be a soldier in this army. This is what I want to model for you. That womanhood is SO precious that I will fight for it. I will fight for your birthright to it even as you reject it. I will stand against this movement that is calling for the mutilation and sterilization of our children for the lie of “transgender.” I will not be shut up. I will not surrender women’s sports or safe places. I will not rest until the surgeons profiting from cutting healthy breasts off of teenage girls are held accountable. I will call for the dismantling of professional organizations that have shut down scientific inquiry that would illuminate their complicity in this monstrous movement. 

I am also grateful for the call back to intentional motherhood. Your pain and your rejection of your female form has reflected back to me the work I still need to do. Nurturing our connection and being an example of a powerful woman who flows through Life’s exhilarating highs and tragic lows with as much grace as possible while also finding pleasure in the mundane. These are my priorities now. It’s a tall order, one that I know I fall far short of. But that’s it too, isn’t it? Modeling being an imperfect human with her own feelings and needs. You inspire me to continue to learn, and practice, and make mistakes, and ask for feedback and get defensive, and then come to believe that I failed you again, and feel the feelings that go with all of that because that’s what life is. It’s ALL OF THAT and so much joy and so much pain, and it’s the most amazing experience when you embrace the richness of it all instead of avoiding life’s intensity. I found ways to hide when I was your age too. Adolescence is precarious for the divergent thinkers; disintegration is inevitable.

Yet, I believe in the foundation I gave you. My therapist reminded me once, “She’s your daughter.” We are enmeshed whether you like it or not. When you harm your otherwise healthy body, it strikes me at such a deep level, it cannot be explained to someone who has not known what it’s like to nurture another human in her womb. I know you need to individuate. I also know our connection is deeper and stronger than the messages coming at you from a broken civilization. I know the intensity of your determination. I recognize strength and courage in you and I trust in your intellect. Will you break free of the cognitive dissonance that’s exhausting you before you “consent” to further harm your body? God, I hope so, but I don’t know. I know you will one day look back and see through all the bullshit and I hope you will not be too hard on yourself. You were a vulnerable teenage girl trying to shield your heart. I’m sorry I didn’t see it coming. I’m sorry I didn’t know you’d need me to teach you and keep reminding you what was always just obvious, basic knowledge throughout time. The difference between a boy and a girl. I’m sorry I didn’t know to protect you from the lies. There’s part of me that is sorry I can’t lie now. 

We will both be forged in this fire. 

Hey folks,

Reaching the mighty 45 today, and still mostly enjoying life.  There is life after separation from one’s partner.  It is different, the weird pangs one experiences with the absence of a well worn rituals remind me of what once was.  Not really painful anymore the only ones left are the kind of feelings that make you pause for a bit of remembrance and introspection.

We are our past. It’s been a bit of a struggle to get properly contextualize past events.  Steps in the process, so I’m told.  Only through the passage of time can one frame the traumatic incidents in a more forgiving and positive light.  A big thanks to all of you for being a welcome distraction when time in meatspace wasn’t really a hospitable place to be.  Know that you’ve helped and I appreciate most everyone who takes the time to share this little corner of the internet with me.

We’ll see if we can get a more indepth this upcoming year and tackle some of the topics that continue to put angry bees in my bonnet.  Take care folks, and be well. :)

 

Have to reshare my current musical labour.

Et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis:

And on earth peace, goodwill to all people

 

Vivaldi captures some of what the tapestry of life is like.  The text is celebratory, yet the music is mostly sombre with majestic swells and delicious tension and harmonies if you listen for them.  Life isn’t always happy, but rather, complex and should be celebrated as such.

 

(Edited one this morning, already.  If anyone wants to be my copy editor let me know….sheesh. 😊)

The answer for many people, including myself would be:  Not Soon Enough!

The usual regrets aside, my descent into critical thinking, strangely enough, started after University as it was only then that I had enough time to really start powering through the books that I had been accumulating while working on my degree.  All that stuff that I was ‘responsible’ for learning was still there, but my curiosity led me down the path toward a greater understanding of the mechanics of how our society works.  I owe a great deal to Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn and Ronald Wright for fuelling my intellectual growth and move toward a more nuanced understanding of how history and society works and access to a larger context background that helped(s) make sense of world events as they unfolded.

The difference in taking courses before and after my degree was quite startling as learning because you ‘have to’ versus because you ‘want to’.

The challenge now is to continue the journey and start reading again seriously. With the rise of the siren song of social media and video games maintaining an intellectual focus is quite challenging.  Getting back into the reading for comprehension and understanding groove is quite difficult.  I’m thinking that hitting the University for some courses may be the tonic to this particular problem.

We’ll have to see what’s in the cards and hope to heck there is something interesting to take this upcoming spring/summer. :)

 

 

Dress rehearsal tonight, been practising like a mad fool.  We have a full line up. Starting with Rheinberger’s lovely Stabat Mater:

Then a Schubert Mass :

Some Mendelssohn:

And some Mozart :

It is going to be a great concert. :)

So no history, political analysis, or radical feminism today.  Today is for highlighting my semi-annual consternation with the limitations of ‘acceptable’ men’s bottom wear.

Spring is tentatively arriving in Canada’s northern-most provincial capital.  We are slowly emerging from the long dark of winter (no thanks to daylight savings time, as it is dark as of today, *again* when I wake up) and temperature are, ever so slowly, beginning to creep toward not hurting your face levels.  For instance, today the high will be a balmy +2 degrees centigrade.

The hell that is winter-weather enforced trouser wearing is almost over.  But at the same time, I would like to avoid situations like this:

   Well not really, but that cartoon is too good not to share. :) Blinding people with the pale luminescence of my legs is secondary however to the comfort concerns involved. Daily spring temperatures in edmonton The Great White North have an exceedingly wide temperature range depending on whether the sun happens to be out or not.  Exhibit A:

Yeah, so a high of plus 4, but then -12 as a low, then +2 as high then -8 as low.  Climactic variability is quite problematic, as +4 degrees centigrade is clearly shorts weather, but -12 degrees centigrade clearly, is not (stop laughing/cringing right now equatorial friends this is warm weather).

So what is one to do while locked into the strict trouser/shorts binary?  I’m more than ready to give the heave ho to long pants, but I’m also a big fan of not freezing my tuckus off in the cold mornings that typify the Edmonton spring cycle.

The 3/4 pant are not part yet a part of the mainstream male lexicon, and the tights + shorts option seems to be in a very specific context of people who enjoy torturing themselves by running at obscenely early in the morning, but not something one would want to teach in outside a of non physical education setting.

My usual solution, is to dress for the expected high temperature and let things fall as they may.  But I can’t help but think that there must be a more elegant solution to my conundrum.

 

    The first rule of focus groups or research groups is quite simply this.  If you say yes to one, then you shall forever be on the call list of every research company that has ever existed.  And they do call quite often.  Extrapolating from the frequency that I receive offers, people who are willing to participate in studies and opinion groups are few and far between.

The call I received was from a company doing research on for the federal government of Canada.  I thought to myself, woo-whee, the Feds want to know my opinion?  How could I say no to that (well that and the included honourarium)?   We were not told the details of what the discussion was going to be about beforehand.  It turned out to be a rather mundane discussion on the tax system in Canada and what our opinions and thoughts were on it, along with other issues such as debt, sources of debt, and how well off we defined ourselves vis a vis other generations.

Fascinating (ish) stuff.  What tweaked my interest was my fellow attendee’s lack of knowledge about Canadian fiscal and tax policy.  Like the fact that Canada’s corporate tax rate is miserly 15%, among the lowest, if not the lowest in the G7.  People seemed genuinely surprised when I suggested that we should be raising that tax rate significantly and that in the past the tax rate had been significantly higher (around 40% in the 60’s) .

Similar experiences when mentioning terms like neo-liberal (a la Nafta and the TPP) economic policy and trickle-down economics.  None of the other people in my research cohort used terminology and concepts that named the economic features we were talking about.  There was a good deal of, “oh I agree with what he said,” but none articulated the theoretical features or aspects of the features we were talking about.

The notion of ‘progressive taxation’ seemed to throw a few of my peers for a slight loop, even thought the Canadian tax system is nominally progressive in nature.   I boggled inwardly at that, but we all got on the same page eventually when it came to nailing down the concept.

I’m worried though, I am by stretch of the imagination an economist or policy-wonk, but the amount of time spent getting people up to speed on basic economic features and concepts made me take pause.  I get the feeling that many people just don’t have the time or the inclination to get the basic facts necessary to have an informed opinion on key features of our tax system and economics in general.  Taxes affect everyone in society and not having a base level of knowledge about them and how government policy can change the way taxes work, seems like a glaring oversight in one’s life education.

Ignorance aside, 7 out of the 8 of us present agreed with the legalization of marijuana in Canada so the Feds will at least have positive affirmation that making pot legal makes most of us happy (representative samply-speaking).

   I’m not buying into the idea that there is some sort of perfect way of living one’s life – some ways are better than others, and those various ways appeal to different people…and so on and so forth.  We’re not here talking about *your* choices and and preferences, but rather mine.

I’m getting old.  Not super old yet, like JZ  [:)], but old enough to start seeing a few patterns and beginning to see how choices fit together.  One motif that crops up frequently is the notion of standards (being cut from the Teacher cloth and what not).  Standards are fucking important in my line of work, I need to set them high and demonstrate them on a daily basis so students can see why they are important.

There is a life lesson right there – Show, Do, Demonstrate, as your ‘go to’ plan – talking about issues and concepts is important, but doing the thing is so much more important that pontificating about it.  Is critical thinking important in your classroom?  Then show how it is done every day with your students (and friends outside of school an academia) so often that the people around you have to learn, if by nothing else, osmosis. (The world is filled with dull people, help them, please.)

The osmosis strategy works for music as well, and the related life-concept of perfect practice makes perfect.  Can you make those four boring quarter notes into a phrase?  Demonstrate it, practice doing it, everyday.  Make it a thing that just becomes automatic.  The practice list is long, and ever increasing, of the musical qualities and practices that need to become second nature, and not requiring conscious thought (looking at you vocal resonance *grrr*) to enact.

I think the wisdom that can sometimes come with age kicks in when you realize the standards you hold dear informs your perceptions and how you take on life.  It is very easy to become your chosen ‘standards’ and stop thinking about how to interact with the turbulent flow of life around you.  Sticking to your version of what is correct is necessary to certain extent, as being the leaf in the wind isn’t exactly my idea of an ideal life state.  But life, as much as we try to manage it, will gleefully toss monkey poop filled situations at you that will force you to make decisions that call into question the frameworks you’ve built for dealing with the world.

The problem with monkey poop (and most poop really) is that its sticky and tends to foul up the most carefully constructed frameworks and ideas you have about the world.  Borrowing a phrase from Gordan Ramsey, you often find yourself to be ‘in the shit’ – so what do you do?  For a good portion of my existence, the answer has been to soldier on, head down, pushing back against the shit and working it and reworking it with the tools at hand until the situation has become tolerable (a nice loamy compost, after all is said and done).  Confidence in my structures has been unfailing.

But what if my structures and methods are wrong?  Yeah, its thoughts like these that gets the monkeys (of the anxiety and doubt kind) agitated and a-chattering.  When do you step back from the ramparts and reconsider the stand(s) you’ve taken and reexamine the thought process that brought you to your current state?

It is said that it takes courage to stand by your convictions – I’m calling bullshit on that – standing tall on the fortifications of your beliefs is easy-peasy, made in shade, level of challenge.  Taking a step back, reevaluating your convictions and realizing that they aren’t serving you as they once did, and then changing them – that friends, takes courage.  Because with change comes vulnerability and instability, the rebuilding your convictions – what makes you -“you”.

Relax, I haven’t found jebus, or allah or drank the libertarian kool-aid, I’m still the pinko-lefty rad fem ally you all know and love.  Rather, I’m just in a slightly different theoretical spot having taken a small reflective step back and have begun looking at my structures and ideology and how they shape my perception of life.

Good, if somewhat unsettling, times. :)

 

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