Subject: Ruminations (this is long, though of course I think you should read it, but I’m biased…I wrote it)
Date: Tuesday 6/27/06 4:23:00 AM
Tags: blog: edit me,blog: tag me,writings: ruminations
I’ve often heard women whom I know say that they “believe in bisexuality for girls,” but that bisexuality in men “can’t possibly exist” (of course, that’s not a direct quote, I’m paraphrasing here from numerous people and numerous quotes) and I don’t often bother to correct them because what’s the point?
When someones closed that portion of their mind off to any possibilities other than their own experience it’s senseless to argue with them because they view themselves as ‘uncorrectable’ and short of a life experience (either being publicly humiliated, or loosing a friend because of it, they’re loathe to change their mind). However, every now and then a crack of light can get in…and it’s wonderful when you see someone you know move beyond the box of “Male” and “Female.”
Because when you begin to break down those rigidly defined gender boundaries and you can begin to accept bi-sexuality as not only a possibility but as a reality for others (while it may not be a reality for you) you can begin what can only accurately be described as a journey on which you become an ambassador. You begin to be exposed to wonderful ideas (and you don’t have to travel far for them, another issue I’ll address in a second, because I’ve been thinking about it for awhile). Once you’re on that road you’ll meet wonderful people who dress not ‘weird’ though certainly different from you and they won’t give two pence what you have to say about their outfit, because who are you to them? And once you see that the honest expression of how they view themselves is to be cherished instead of mocked you can then start to really understand what it means to be a traveler. Then once you accept that there’s more than your own sexuality, or the sexualities that are currently cosmopolitan or widely known and accepted and you start to understand what it means to be Transgender you begin to open even more doors.
And after a while you understand that people don’t care if you can ever accept their sexuality as your own, but if you can accept it as theirs then you’re finally getting somewhere and once you can understand that people can be more than the shells of their body and travel freely between the two planes of masculine and feminine at whim eventually when someone comes up to you and says that they’re Trans-species you won’t say “that’s weird” or “that doesn’t exist” (because while it may not exist for you, it certainly has the possibility of existing for someone else) you’ll respond with “Oh, how nice. What species would you like me to refer to you as, and what pronoun would you like me to use, I really do apologize for the shortcomings of our language…” because you’ll start seeing people for their soul. Once you can adjust your thinking to let these people into your life and realize (like it took me over twenty years to) that you’re not that big; you become a traveler on a really wild journey. It’s amazing what you can do when you open your mind. You don’t have to accept it as your own, you just have to accept the idea as that of others.
Of course psychologists and psychiatrists will say it’s ‘dysphoria’ or ‘wrong’ or ‘unacceptable’ but for me, I find it much more simple and more humane to go “then what pro-noun would you like me to refer to you as, I apologize for the boundaries of our language” as I said earlier; and to be quite level about the whole thing, It’s a simple matter of respect to refer to someone how they want to be referred to. Isn’t that what we should strive for? Instead of ‘curing’ some things that don’t need a ‘cure’ (like differences in sexual orientation) to just accept parts of humanity that have no bearing on our life, as completely valid because how does it hurt you to do something as noble as accept another being? Wouldn’t it be really awesome if people would just ask – not in an attempt to embarrass or shame someone – but in a true attempt to understand that person, how they wished to be called? Wouldn’t it be great that if they replied to you “I don’t know” to understand how hard it was for that person to say those three, humbling words, to you to and then to further understand that you shouldn’t mock them for not understanding their own sexuality because clearly their sexuality is more complex than yours. All you have to do, to do the right thing is to say “then together let’s walk for a bit and see if we can work it all out, and if not get it all today…maybe make some headway…and if you don’t want to talk, that’s Okay…it’s lovely weather out today…”
I remember the day that i had a fundamental shift in my religion. I was sixteen and on a field trip to the Museum of Natural History in New York City (a wonderful museum) and I saw one of those movies on the really big, 3-d globe type screen. In full motion and living color I saw the actual footage of a rebirth of a star…and I sat and stared at the screen. I felt like I was hit with a ton of bricks as the narrator said “we are all space dust…each of us are all made of the same thing…we’re space dust” and with that echoing through my head and replaying the rebirth of the star…a baby sun…over in my mind (and I said to myself “This…this is God…this is what it’s all about” and like any teenager I questioned religion…but the only answer I ever came back too is that “I don’t know…and if I don’t know, why should I worry as long as I do the right thing?”
Am I Jewish?…Yes. Once you’re in the Jewish Tribe you’re in for life…and I’ve had people ask me if I’m sure I’m in the right faith, looking for a challenge and I say “of course not, I may be pretentious at times but I hope to God I never get so pretentious that I can say I categorically know that my god and my faith is the correct one and you’re faith is wrong.”
I’ve found some interesting parallels between those who are traveled and those who have mastered a language; those who travel are apt to assume that they’re more cultured than those who haven’t (and this is often times not the case, or at least so I’ve found) and the second assumption is that those who haven’t traveled to the same places they have are missing out. This has always confused me. I’ve had the blessing to go to every U.S. State that I’ve wanted to go to (with the Exception of Georgia, Washington State and California which are new on my list as I’ve made friends who grew up in those states or who live in those states that I’d like to meet one day). I rode horse back in the Teton Wilderness eight hours on my horse (at the time), Shawnee, to the point farthest from any road in the USA. truly away from all that troubled me (I was 14 and still trying to address my own sexuality) and it was a religious experience to see the sun rise over the mountains and the water fall off of a backwoods waterfall…knowing that maybe only a few hundred people ever saw that out of the way waterfall (a few hundred at most!) and that I was part of them.
I’ve never had an interest in Europe, it’s just never been a draw for me so I’ve never sought out ways to get there…whether by begging my parents or saving for it (until I got to college I consistently worked two jobs starting at the age of 14) because it just wasn’t (and isn’t an interest)….with the exception of two places. Auschwitz, so I can pray at my family’s ‘burial’ site (can one call a mass grave a ‘burial site’ ?) and Austria so I can see where my family came from because I want to see the history of my family and because I’ve always held a piece of Austria in my heart as what I view my families homeland to be…mostly because my hero, my Grandfather, came from there and whenever I’ve been scared, whether as a young adult or as a Sophomore in college about to confront Neo-Nazi’s on the high holy days all I’ve had to do is say “Grandpa became a man at thirteen, saw his – our – family rounded up on Kristallnacht; jumped from a moving train, made his way to Caracas and eventually saved a Torah from a wandering tribe and brought it to the US…all I have to do is stand up for what I know is right” it really puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? If he can do all that at thirteen than I should have no problem doing what I have to do. It also shows us Just how easy many of us have it.
But unlike most of my friends, my draw has always been the sands of the Middle East. Since I was a child I’ve had a wonderful love affair with tombs and mummies and pyramids. It was great to show Steve (stevivor) the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when he came to NYC and I got to play Tour Guide, and of course to show him the graffiti from the Roman kids and say “see…our demographic misbehaves in every generation” and for some reason like those who have been ‘well traveled’ (well traveled a contentious definition because who decides what constitutes ‘well’, really?) those who are already fluent in languages that people study consistently go “YOU KNOW THE LANGUAGE IS HARD!!!” as a statement, instead of as a question or “IT’S GOING TO TAKE YOU YEARS TO LEARN IT!” (defeatist, much?) and I’ve always found this weird (of course not all people do this, some are incredibly humble, such as nir1 who constantly encourages me). Of course learning a language like Arabic is hard…that’s why it’s fun. If the NY Times Crossword was easy my bus rides to camp as a precocious and pretentious thirteen year old would have been unbearable (for me and those poor souls who would have had to listen to me). Of course it’s going to take time; that’s why it’s fun. It’s a process and you can see yourself in each stage and see how you’ve grown, to see what you now understand and where you’ve come from and where you’ve been until you finally get to your destination of ‘fluency’ and then realize that – thankfully – there’s still more for you to learn.
There’s a note with a time and date stamp in my Arabic book which says “I FINALLY GET IT!” when I overcame the problem I was having understanding the material and I finally got the clue that locked the material together and then there’s a date written in my book where I took off and began to soar (I haven’t received a date for landing yet, I think it’s probably in about another six years). So just because you’ve traveled somewhere doesn’t mean someone wants to follow the footsteps you left in the sand (as the snowshoe company who makes my snowshoes says “make your own tracks” and just because some of us choose to take the slower route in life doesn’t mean we’re indigent, or less educated or less worldly…it just means we like to do each thing one step at a time, on our own terms, and savor the moment, let the taste last. I’m happy, because I’ve socked away three and a half grand that’s just waiting to buy plane tickets as soon as I get my diploma. and It’s been well worth the wait so as I plan to get my tickets and visas together so I can finally meet my family in Caracas, Venezuela (I’d love to go to some Sephardic Services) and then make a stop in Austria (carrie01 and I need to party ) and then head to the Middle East I look back (as I’m now on the tail end of my undergraduate career and only the beginnings of what will be my graduate education) on these past few years and I wouldn’t change a thing. There’s no regrets…I’ve learned from all of the mistakes that I was blessed to make. And I’m glad I’ve made them.
It’s times like this that I revisit the idea of going to rabbinical school; I’ve talked about it with Ali (lilali) a few times on and off…but first my Masters, then my Ph.D…then we’ll see…and if you made it through this entire post…next time I see you, and I have a cookie to spare…I’ll share with you.