Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Interviewed! Like a celebrity! Only not.

The divine Mrs. M (can I say that?) was kind enough to ask me five lovely interview questions; now follows my attempt to answer them with equal thoughtfulness.

1. Where does the name of your blog come from? What does it mean to you?

It's from a Dar Williams song with the same title. Here's a link to the song on YouTube; I'm not sure it works, because I'm at work and can't check.

When I was born my parents planned to have another child a few years after me. Being the efficient types, they dressed me in 'non gender-specific' clothing (that is to say, boys' clothes) in case their second child turned out to be male. Well, I have a sister, and she got all the girly clothes one might wish.

I don't tell this tale to say that any gender ambiguity in my part is the 'fault' of my parents actions (though I'll admit I did tease my mother about it quite a bit when she finally told me). I don't think that 'crossdressing your child' will 'make him gay' or any such rot; there's no clothing that's 'inherently' male or female. But it's a funny story.

I think people are born with a physical gender (more or less), and that they're born with a gender they feel is right (more or less), and sometimes the two match, and sometimes they don't. And that's okay. I hang out with people who are firmly their birth gender, people who waffle between one or another (or neither), people who occasionally dress in clothing that's 'inherently' that of the other gender because they think it's hot, people who present as a gender that's not their birth gender because the one they are now feels 'right' and the one they were born with didn't, and people who've gone entirely through transition, including surgery, and are now the gender they feel they should have been born as. And all of these are okay.

Me, I was born female. Sometimes I feel girly. Sometimes I feel like a guy. Sometimes I don't much think about it because the bits don't matter at that moment. Sometimes I wish with desperate intensity that I were physically male (usually, I'll admit, when I have to pee and there's nowhere to go).

This song could have been written about me.

I won't forget when Peter Pan
Came to my house, took my hand
I said I was a boy, I'm glad he didn't check
I learned to fly, I learned to fight
I lived a whole life in one night
We saved each other's lives out on the pirate's deck

I grew up wanting to fly, to fight, to be in the adventure books I read and the movies I saw, not as the damsel in distress or the cute love interest, but as the one doing things.

And I remember that night
When I'm leaving a late night with some friends
And I hear somebody tell me it's not safe
Someone should help me
I need to find a nice man to walk me home

Somehow it's never occured to me that being a woman is somehow less safe than being a man. I mean, I know it, in the way that you know that Zimbabwe is in Africa and that traditional clothing in Germany includes lederhosen, but it never applied to me. I grew up walking my whole rural neighborhood at night; in college I walked Southside Bethlehem alone at all hours, never with a bit of trouble. Once I joined the SCA, people -- and it didn't occur to me to realize that they all happened to be men -- would offer to walk me back to my tent at night. I usually turned them down, since I was already attached to someone and why else would someone wish to do that?

When I was a boy, I scared the pants off of my mom
Climbed what I could climb upon

Still do...

And I don't know how I survived
I guess I knew the tricks that all boys knew

I bounced, like any other kid. And was perhaps a bit sheltered, and a whole lot lucky, and had happened on my own to pick up a lot of the tricks contained in the emails our mothers send us, the ones that say keep your head up and walk quickly and with confidence and always have your keys out before you get to your car.

And you can walk me home, but I was a boy, too

I've learned to accept offers to walk me back to my tent, or to my apartment, with some grace. It's not an expression of my helplessness, especially not from those who know me. It's a courtesy.

Of course, I'm as likely to offer to walk someone else home if they look like they need it. I open doors for people, too. Sometimes they look surprised. *shrugs* It's a courtesy.

I was a kid that you would like
Just a small boy on her bike
Riding topless, yeah, I never cared who saw
My neighbor come outside to say
"Get your shirt," I said "No way
It's the last time I'm not breaking any law"

I remember the last time I got to run around the house topless. I guess I was eight or so. It was the middle of summer and a thousand degrees, for some reason I was inside but moving at full speed. My mom reached out and stopped me, and told me to go put on a shirt. I didn't want to, but it was that tone of voice so I did. I hated it. I'll still run around naked at near any opportunity.

And now I'm in a clothing store
And the sign says, "Less is More"
More that's tight means more to see
More for them, not more for me
That can't help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat

My fashion sense? I know a lot about the clothing of France in 1405 or so...

And don't get me started on the fashion industry and the way they've warped the perception of the human body.

When I was a boy, see that picture, that was me
Grass-stained shirt and dusty knees
And I know things have gotta change
They got pills to sell, they've got implants to put in
They've got implants to remove
But I am not forgetting
That I was a boy too

I think she's still talking about the things people do to make themselves 'look right' these days, but this verse always reminds me of my transsexual friends, and all the pills and shots and surgeries they've gone through to make their bodies be right. I'm grateful that I'm comfortable enough in my body that I haven't had to go through all of that.

And like the woods where I would creep
It's a secret I can keep
Except when I'm tired, except when I'm being caught off guard
I've had a lonesome awful day
The conversation finds its way
To catching fire-flies out in the backyard

And I tell the man I'm with
About the other life I lived
And I say now you're top gun
I have lost and you have won
And he says, "Oh no, no, can't you see

When I was a girl, my mom and I we always talked
And I picked flowers everywhere that I walked
And I could always cry, now even when I'm alone I seldom do
And I have lost some kindness
But I was a girl too
And you were just like me, and I was just like you

I've rarely been shy about expressing myself like she is, here. I don't necessarily say 'bigendered' or 'gender ambiguity' or anything like that but I'll happily talk about what I do and don't like to wear, about climbing trees and falling out of them. It's an easier age for that kind of thing than most. I get a few odd looks when I show up to a wedding in a suit, but no more than that. I'm grateful for that, too.

And that guy? I know him. I know a lot of him. I bet you do, too.

When I started this blog I intended it as a place to discuss sexuality and gender, LGBT topics, some pretty edgy stuff. The place has gone in entirely different directions while my life has done the same, but I keep the name -- it's still who I am, and everything I was going to talk about still applies.

2. Where do you find God most easily?

In nature. In my friends. In the Eucharist. In what I write in my blog. In my cats. In my lovers. In a number of books, only a few of which are overtly religious, or even nonfiction. In a good meal, or a good conversation.

3. If you could write a perfect-for-you job description, what would it include?

Funnily enough, this is a question I've been agonising over for quite a while now...

When I was a senior and getting ready to go to college, my parents asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, so that I could decide on a major. I had no idea. Somehow I thought that everyone else did, and that I was the only one questioning what I wanted to do.

I think most people my age have at least an idea of what they want to be when they grow up. I think a lot of the ones who think they know have simply settled into something that works. I think that some of the ones who think they know are right, and are either incredibly lucky if they're actually doing that, or very unhappy if for some reason they can't be doing what they're meant to.

I'm still not sure. I know I want to make things -- real things. Almost nobody these days actually creates things as part of their job (or even at all); most jobs make naught more than ones and zeroes of one sort or another. That's all mine does.

I want to make food, to make bath salts and other herbal concoctions; I want to make good sturdy comfortable clothing and rag rugs and hats and socks. I want to make furniture and cat trees. I want to build houses like my father did. I want to make trophies, like I did when I was a kid, and when I worked for my mother as an adult. I want to make new, beautiful, useful, well-made things.

I want to minister to people. I want to listen to them when they have something to say, to hold them when they're upset or feeling alone. I want to be with them when they're giving birth, hold them when they're sick, be with them when they're dying. I want to help them realize how very much God loves them. I want to feed them, give them places to live, make them clothing. I want to help them learn how best to be themselves.

I want to learn about the Earth. I want to climb up into the mountains, to walk along highway cuttings, to crawl down into tunnels and see how the rock goes and figure out why it does that. This is both the oldest and most newly rediscovered of the things I want to do when I grow up, so it's not a lot more specific than that, but let's just say that Rocks Friends.

Not much of a job description, is it? Not one you'll find in the classifieds (believe me, I've looked). But that's what I want to do when I grow up.

4. Tell us about a time you felt deeply loved or cherished.

The first five things I thought of I really couldn't post.

Then I thought of my sister. And was a little surprised. We never got along well as children. She was tall, attractive, athletic; I was short, a little dumpy, geeky. She tried, intermittently, to help me be more popular, that being all she knew how to do. This involved her doing my hair and putting makeup on me, at which point I would go and look in the mirror, declare that I looked like a clown, and wash my face. Needless to say, this didn't go over well.

She's always been very protective of our mother, especially after Dad died. At times this manifested itself in anger at me, for not talking to Mom enough, for getting into fights with her -- stuff like that. But she was never protective of me, or so I thought, until I left my ex.

She told him over the phone that I wasn't there when he called my mom's place. She argued with him over IM, telling him that he'd frightened me and really ought to apologize for that. She told me to stand up to him, called him crude names to make me laugh. And when I had to go up to the house that he and I used to share to pick up a last few items, she insisted on coming along, offered to drive on the way home if I needed her to, and was so visibly protective of me while I was there that Lewis later said that he'd been worried she would beat him up.

This isn't as amusing a scenario as you might think. My sister is six foot three and played field hockey and lacross in high school. She probably could.

It felt really good to have my sister there keeping an eye on me. She did have to drive home, too, because I was crying too hard to do it. It occured to me, sometime between then and now, that she was trying to do the same thing in high school, in the only way she knew how. I haven't thanked her for that yet, but I really need to.

5. Tell us about the outfit (clothes) that make you feel most like you.

Old comfortable torn-up bluejeans. A t-shirt of mine, swirly tie-dyed blue, with the silhouette of a howling wolf against the moon. My father's old flannel shirt, navy blue and soft from years of wear. Good sturdy sneakers. Hair up in a ponytail out of my way.

Clothing, you'll note, for cooler weather. I don't like hot; I don't much like the summer. Fall and spring are my favourite seasons.

The moon and the wolf, of course. The wolf is me, the moon is when I'm out and about.

Clothing, as Dar Williams would say, which would help me climb a tree in ten seconds flat. That's comfortable and doesn't get in my way. Has pockets. Doesn't get hung up on things. Easy to take off the flannel if it's warm, or add more layers if it's cold.

Does it make me look good? I don't know, but it makes me look like me.


Thank you, Mrs. M! You made me think; I love that.

Anyone out there bored? Want to talk about yourself? We all like doing that, don't we? Well, I've gone on about myself long enough and it's only fair to give someone else a chance. So here are the rules.

1. If you are interested in being interviewed, leave me a comment saying "Interview me."

2. I will respond by posting five questions for you. I get to pick the questions.

3. You will update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


Waya said...

Me! I like doing these. They always make me think.

RevDrKate said...

Kate, That was so thoughtful and honest....I really enjoyed reading it. Thank you.

Kate said...


1) What religion were you raised in, and how has this informed your current spirituality?

2) I know you're doing the Weight Watchers thing, and it's working very well for you. How has it helped you work through your issues with food?

3) I know how you and Misty met. How did you and J-chan get together?

4) What's your favourite thing to make for dinner?

5) How did you discover/reconcile yourself to the genderqueer aspects of yourself?


Kate said...

RevDrKate, thank you! I enjoyed doing it, too, and it did make me think.

HilbertAstronaut said...

Those song lyrics great -- very meaningful for me too. I also like how you split them up with narrative in the post.

Ha, I'm literally a maker of ones and zeros ;-P I guess I've learned to embrace that I'm making nothing permanent. Or rather, what I'm making is (hopefully) _knowledge_. It comforts me to know that a lot of the things I learn about and discover myself could be useful even if "computers" were people wielding abaci. Of course, then we would have an incredibly efficient barrier implementation: just shout "hey folks, coffee break!" ;-P

You're welcome to interview me too, if you like. I don't normally do those sorts of blog things but your post inspired me :-)

Gyszel said...

Interview me, too please! I love these things. :)

Kate said...

Hilbert, I figured you'd appreciate the song! And I had to add the commentary -- the lyrics apply so well I had to explain it.

As to the ones and zeroes? There's a difference between making knowledge and making data entry. :/

As for the interview...

1) How does your programmer's logical mindset interact with your spiritual life?

2) Tell me about a time when you felt that you had to express anger in prayer, and what it felt like to be able to do that.

3) What outfit of yours makes you feel most like yourself, and why?

4) Paper or plastic?

5) Why did you choose that name for your blog, and what does it say about you?


Kate said...

Gyszel! Wow, everyone's showing up now.

1) How did you and Maeryk decide that it made more sense for him to be the one to stay home with the kids, and how do you think this will affect them growing up?

2) Why did the two of you wind up in PA where he's from, instead of Canada (and I can't remember specifically where, my bad!) where you're from?

3) I find your quest to improve your money situation fascinating and inspiring. What resources have you found the most useful?

4) Why did you choose those names in particular for your children?

5) What outfit of yours makes you feel most like yourself, and why?

I look forward to reading your answers!

eileen said...

Kate - Very honest and thought provoking.

Do me too! (Um, I mean, erm, interview me too! LOL)

Jenne said...

What I love about reading your blog is finding out about who you are now, and how you've changed since I first met you.

P.s. interview me?

Grandmère Mimi said...

Kate, I was never bored while reading this post. Not for one minute.

It's beautifully written, obviously with a lot of thought behind it.

I don't want to do the interview - at least not now - because it seems like hard work.

The song seems to fit you like a glove.

Kate said...

It was pretty hard work, Grandmère. I enjoyed it, though! And I'm glad you did, too.

Eileen, ooh, baby! I'll be glad to do ya! Er. :)

Jenne, sometimes I have to stop and look back just to see how much I've changed. It's a little frightening.

I'll get to you two in a day or two, probably. It's been, er. Yeah. :P

Mrs. M said...

Darn it!!! I've tried to respond half a dozen times, and it keeps getting eaten. I thought today would be different, but no dice.

THANK YOU. I loved your replied. (Days ago, when I first started trying to respond.) I love the song (though "Flinty Women" is my own Dar song...).

I love your job description. You're quite a "maker." Very neat.

Kate said...

Eileen dahling!

1) What's the worst job you ever had?

2) Tell me about a time you felt particularly cherished.

3) What outfit of yours makes you feel the most you, and why?

4) What situation/environment/music/people helps you feel closer to God?

5) Are you doing okay, hun?

Kate said...

Heya Mrs. M! Glad Blogger finally decided to cooperate. :)

I loves me some Dar. Should dig up 'Christiand and Pagans' for a laugh, since the last time I listened to it I was pagan. Been a bit. :)

I do enjoy making things. Wish I could really find a job where that'd happen. :/

Kate said...


1) You know, I don't know if I've ever heard the whole story about how you became pagan. Tell?

2) How has becoming a Laurel in the SCA affected your mundane life, if at all?

3) What clothing makes you feel the most you, and why?

4) Whatcha reading these days?

5) Tell me about a time you felt particularly loved and cherished.


Rev. Sharon said...

One of the things I love so dearly about you is your ability to be honest without being mean. That is a rare, rare gift. {{{hugs}}}

If you're still interested, please interview me? :)


eileen said...

Kate - I finished my interview finally.


Kate said...

There's no use in being mean. Blunt, sometimes, yeah; but not mean, so why do it?

(Yeah, I know it's not so easy for some...)

Rev. Sharon, here, if'n you wish, are your questions:

1) In your most recent post you mention your Dark Night of the Soul. Is that the season, or something else? (If it's the season, I'm not much for the heat either...)

2) Tell me about the horses?

3) How did you come to Independent Catholocism, and your calling as a priest?

4) Tell me about a time you felt especially loved or cherished.

5) How's the writing going? Can I buy your stuff anywhere?