To begin the story at the beginning, read "Part 1: Post 1: Beginning Again," published in January, 2013. To consult a description of the campus, read "Part 1: Post 14: The Greening of Campus," published in March, 2013.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Year 2: Fourth Interlude

Hi, Daniel-of-2014 here.

I've been posting only once a week, and I think I'll continue doing so, but I've just realized that Lammas is TOMORROW and that sticking with once-a-week postings would have me post the interlude on Monday and then the Lammas post the FOLLOWING Monday, a week and a half after the actual holiday. And that seemed no good.

So, I'm doing the interlude now, so I can do the Lammas post on Monday, and return to once a week postings. Of course, by the time I get this posted, Lammas will be today. It will be Friday. So, happy Lammas!

It's strange that I only realized my posting predicament today, given that I've actually been preparing for Lammas for a couple of weeks. But the mind can work on multiple levels at once, and the levels don't always communicate with each other very well. I've been thinking of Lammas as a thing to prepare for, in the world of here-and-now, my every-day life, and when I'm thinking about my social and religious life I'm seldom thinking about my writing or other work commitments--and vice versa. The two don't usually intersect, except from a time management perspective.

Except, this week, they do.

We're planning to get together with the others from the School, of course. So far, I've spent all of the Sabbats that way since the School closed, and I expect I'll continue doing so, circumstances permitting. This way, Carly gets to be a sprout, among other benefits. She's almost old enough now for such things to matter to her, and it already matters to us. Most of her clothes and baby gear are hand-me-downs from other School families.

But for Lammas we're making a special effort to all get together, everybody local, at least all of us with a green ring, anyway. In my Lammas post for last year, I implied all the masters went somewhere together on this day, and in this year's post I'll be sure of it--and, in fact, I was right. Everyone with a green ring who can does get together and do something on this day. But I don't think I'll tell you what it is, yet. I don't know how long I'll do this blog for, but eventually I'll make it a book and either way I kind of want what we do on Lammas to be a surprise.

Not that there's any actual reason for it to be secret. I can say that--we don't do anything nefarious, or even all that unpredictable given who and what we are. But some of the School's secrets have always been like that--apparently for the sake of secrecy alone. And it seems our community is going to maintain the tradition.


I've been pleasantly surprised at the response I've gotten to my introduction of Ebony. No one has commented here, but my editor, Caroline, has forwarded me some compliments from people I don't know--always a pleasant thing. In this case it is doubly pleasing, because it seems Ebony isn't alone in a way she really feared that she was. She is grateful, by the way. I've hidden her real identity pretty well, but she does exist and is still part of our social group. I probably shouldn't say more about that.

What I do want to say more about--I really have no way of introducing the subject without jumping the gun a bit, so I'll just say it.

Ebony considers herself "transabled." I'll explain what that it in a future post, but it is a deliberate echo of the term "transgendered." Transability has nothing to do with gender or sex, it's just that, in a possibly analogous way, her self-identity doesn't match how she inevitably looks to others.

And the thing is that as I got to know her better, as we all did, we went through a phase where we were really exploring the idea of trans-ness of all kinds--because that's what we did at school, explore ideas together. We had these really fantastic conversations about it, mostly that winter, the winter of 2001/2002.

For example, remember how I brought up, last post, that Rick doesn't really identify with other humans? A couple of other people on campus didn't either, though none were...quite as strange-seeming as Rick. I mean, Rick isn't weird in any obvious way, I don't want to over-play this, only that his body-language is slightly off. He stands out, somehow. As far as I know he actually is human, but if an alien came to this planet trying to pass as human, you'd expect them to stand out in the same undefinable way. Rick has never claimed to be not human, and he doesn't get involved with thinking up what else he could be--it just doesn't interest him. But it does interest the others, five or six people who were there on campus that year who identified themselves variously as Otherkin, changelings, or, actually, space aliens.

I don't mean to make it sound silly--I mean, yes, I did think it was silly that Steve thought he was a space alien, and, honestly, so does he, now, but that's not the point. The point is that all these people felt themselves to be different than what the people around them saw them as, and they were trying to explain their experiences within the context of their understandings at the time.

Are these people, then, transspecies? We wondered. We stayed up late into the night that winter, drinking hot-chocolate with wintergreen liquor (a taste that sticks in my memory from that year--we drank it all that winter, almost all of us, but hardly ever before or since) discussing where identity comes from and how it is made and what it means when it becomes paradoxical in some way.

But identity is such a difficult, personal thing. It is the personal thing. And I can imagine so many ways my writing about this could go so very wrong. This is not, after all, campus, where we all knew each other and had a common cultural framework so we knew how much we could risk in telling each other or asking each other whatever we had to say. If we messed up, our mistakes were private and easily amended, not posted on the Internet for all the world to see.

So how much of those conversations do I post? How much do I say, even given that I've hidden my friends' identities pretty well?

For example, there were two transgendered community members on campus that year, Joe, the security man, and a student. The thing is that the student was not publicly "out"--he was openly living as a male, but, except on campus, and sometimes even with some people on campus, he made a point of passing as a cisgendered man--a guy with a Y chromosome, in other words. Like me, I mean. I've hidden everybody's identities pretty well, so his privacy is quite safe, but if I write scenes about him talking about being transgendered, that violates the illusion that I'm a twenty-year-old college student blogging about events as they happen. And I end up making my twenty-year-old self sound like some exhibitionist voyeur, the sort of prick who would go and blog about other people's medical histories and anatomies.

But if I don't write about those conversations, there is a lot that you, as the reader, will not get. You won't get those late-night conversations over wintergreen hot chocolate.

I don't know yet what I'm going to do to resolve this, but I'm going to have to figure it out soon, because the conversations that culminated that winter began in the late summer and fall as I finally started getting up the nerve to talk to Ebony. No matter where I decide to err (and err I'm sure I will) I think it's fair to expect that if this subject comes up in the blog--except in relation to Ebony, who has the advantage of being in on this project--I will write very carefully and that what I write maybe rather more different from the truth than normal--the truth being the original conversations which occurred within the safety of friendship.

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