Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oh, LP...there's a fairly large difference...

Loving Pecola has left a new comment on your post "Dykewife, family, necessary distance and reiki...":
I really don’t know how to write what I’m feeling and thinking in ways that do not make assumptions about you. To me it seems writing something from my own point of view only after I filter it through what I think is important, helpful, clearest for, useful, supportive of you, means that I am no longer writing for me- I’m writing for you. I’d like to share space without hurting you, hurling shit, or you having to work to unpack the assumptions. When I look at what I write here, and then I look at dykewife’s (hi dykewife :o) last comment, I am not clear about what’s different besides the length and points of view. I honestly do not understand what is unpacked about her comment. It seems you able to take the words of others at face value, but think mine have several layers of hidden meaning. I’m bringing this up because I want to communicate more clearly in ways that are useful to myself and everyone else here. I don’t want to keep writing and moving “forward” assuming that I’m a contributing usefully... does anyone have any suggestions/insight? I’m going back to the last post I wrote to look at it more critically...
Hi LP, thanks for commenting...even if it isn't specifically about the posts that might more closely have to do with our ongoing conversations...

I should let you know that I "met" dykewife through her husband/male partner Bran who I "met" on the dating site. I could describe her but she's got a blog that speaks more clearly to who she is than someone like me, who has only been in contact with her for a short while, ever could.

When she communicates with me via commenting about family, she does not come with collusion, making my peace with inevitabilities, kowtowing to hierarchies and grumbling about it when elders are not around, hoping that it will be over when they are dead so that no one has to openly challenge them...
By her own words she's an out survivor of sexual abuse. I don't get the impression from what she's written that she makes excuses for stuff that goes on in family or that she believes that outsiders, those who might say, read her blog, should not be privy to information about what has happened inside her family.

She writes a little and writes to the point. When I read her words there is not stuff I need to unpack...yet. There might end up being.

Also, I realize that there are definite places where we differ fairly radically. She writes from her perspective and I write from mine. The writing about blood and croning is a good example. On her blog she also defines as a proud canadian blogger. not.

I have an agenda that I'm realizing as I type, though. In blogland because various groups of bloggers or communities of bloggers are white dominated when a blogger or a handful of bloggers emerges who are of colour or specifically Black, there is a way that white folks who have not actively dealt with their racism and white privilege will turn the words of this handful into gold. They will be the imperial standard for all who come after. Their words will be quoted and re-quoted. They will be blogging gods and goddesses.

I find this to be hugely irresponsible and downright idiotic. I'm coming from a place of having entered blogland and encountered a bunch of well educated, but fairly simple bloggers who had decided that a bunch of mostly academic conservative bloggers of colour, specifically Black bloggers would be the standard according to which I was and still am measured.

FUCKING HELL! God did I ever tantrum. In rad feminist circles there are a couple, in left socialist circles there are a few, in artsy blogging circles there are no doubt a handful, in queer blogging circles also a few...gods and goddesses...really gatekeepers, responsible for keeping the bar fairly low, making sure that discourse about anything under the sun doesn't move beyond a particular point where things can be easily discussed in a fairly surface way.

The white bloggers tend to really feel comfortable dropping their names in blogland conversations and these folks get a lot of hits. They're popular. They offer fast and easy rules through which a white blogger can combat racism and white domination. These bloggers only deal with racism and white domination. In feminist circles they incorporate a rudimentary critique of sexism and patriarchy...knee jerk stuff like sex work bad, porn bad, bdsm bad.

Rules of thumb are fairly easy to follow and swallow because really all that is expected is for folks to just do whatever those who are considered popular do. If they say boycott this company, then just do it. It's safer that way and the others will like you.

Asking questions or presenting alternate points of view that differ from the majority is just asking for trouble...critical thinking directed inside ranks=trouble. :)

I realize that the vast majority of Black bloggers who are well known or respected in different blogging circles are amerikkkan. I understand that they share a common culture in lots of ways. They have dealt with me in ways that show they understand their culture, their family structures, their relationship to Black history, their relationships to christianity, their relationship to amerikkkan settler occupier imperialism, their perceptions of The God King, their shame filled relationship to their bodies, to sex and sexuality, their relationship to crass consumerism and capitalism...that they understand all of this as universally Black.

When I came into blogland, I experienced quite a fair amount of oppressive behaviour from bloggers who understood their perceptions of their own Black identities and cultures as universal. They dealt with my blog in ways that spoke droves about their relationship to power and dominance. There were things that happened, things they did and wrote about me that they did not feel the need to unpack because it was clear that I would of course share the same views and understand why they were behaving in various fucked up ways.

But more importantly I watched white bloggers take their cues from the ways these bloggers of colour and Black bloggers dealt with me. If the popular ones, the ones who dominated were attempting to school me and nudge me and my blog more in line, then they must be "right" and I must be "wrong". They (the melanin pigmented blogland dominants) would deal with "their own". I was Black and was therefore theirs to deal with as they liked.

No one would critique their moves based on their obvious amerikkkan cultural imperialism, biases and limited understandings. No one felt comfortable entering a conversation between someone as clearly bad behaved as me and the law in melanin pigmented parts of blogland.

So the culturally biased and rooted ways of being demonstrated by the bloggers of colour and Black bloggers became the standard by which my words could be heard and engaged with...meaning, my words would not be engaged with and if they were, they would only be seen as "wrong".

LP, it has been clear to me for quite some time that you have come filled with a Black amerikkkan experience you do not critique or fully understand. To live inside it does not necessarily mean fully understanding it.

I remember one of the first few things you wrote to me about months and months back was that there are just some things "we" don't talk about in front of white folks. The assumption being that I held true to that rule. The assumption being that you would not have to understand how that rule, when imposed by some on others ends up meaning that way too much is hidden away from view, way too much is not dealt with. Why? Because without the incentive of onlooking others, many are content to just let sleeping dogs lie.

I am not.

One of the things I do habitually, which you are definitely experiencing, is to make sure that anyone who is looking understands that Blackness...the Black experience...the middle passage is not monolithic. I try to point out that the development of that ideal, the unified front is something that comes out of people being encouraged to follow rather than articulate and pursue their own agendas.

I saw some quote online that is ascribed to Patton. I don't know about hired, mind wiped, trained mass murderers who function as tools of imperialist state governments but...
Basically what they quote said was: if everyone believes the same thing, then some folks aren't thinking.

That's pretty much my standpoint. I am in here, LP. I am engaging critically with my identities, with my Blackness, with my Black history, with my (fairly nonexistent) relationship to community, with my relationship to potential friends and/or allies who are middle passage sibs...
If I was not capable of anything more than falling into line behind the elder wimmin in my family I would be so royally screwed. If I was forced to respond according to what makes them happy, I'd be very quietly, painfully angry. My hair would probably be falling out. I've noticed that among the good Black girls I've known and loved, the ones grounded in family, who work hard to always meet the expectations of their elders no matter how fucked these expectations are, the ones who smile even when they want to rage, the ones who always give care and stretch beyond their limits, the ones who turn away from themselves, allopecia is fairly common. I've known a few patchy balding hair thinning good Black girls.
So, here I am attempting to engage you in open conversation that is intelligent, that allows for difference, that allows space for you to fully articulate who you are in ways that do not assume I will understand or share your point of view.

I remember being told something about writing that has always served me well. When you write, write as if the people who will be reading you don't know you, don't understand a thing about you...write fully...don't assume they will understand your references.

Don't assume I understand your cultural references. Don't assume I understand your culture. Don't even assume I would make the same choices you do. Don't even assume that I will agree with your choices or want to support your choices. Because there are massive chasms of experience that separate your middle passage ways from mine it is fair to assume I'm not at all gonna get you or agree with you most days. :) I might grow to care for you. But that caring will always be grounded in full self disclosure and consciousness on both our parts.

so yeah...
If you feel a littl under my microscope I can see why. I am pouring over everything you write with rapt interest and a critical gaze designed to make our conversation into a messy, layered model of what engagement between two people who might seem similar on the surface but who are really quite distinct, can look like. I'm tired of living and loving and blogging and creating in communities of people where connection is predicated on sameness and on turning away from obvious differences.

Of course, if you were to ask your own self "why?" then I wouldn't have to. If you asked yourself questions about who you are presenting to me and how this differs say...from who you present on your blog, or to your family you might end up engaging with what you believe in ways that offers you more information about yourself.

What else is different about your comments and dykewife's comments, LP?
I've been having versions of this same conversation I am presently having with you for over a year now. My conversation with her is a few weeks old. I know more about you and the various difficult things you've done, participated in and allowed to take root in your life. I know what you've participated in here on this blog. I know what you have failed to challenge, too...Julian.
I engage with you from a layered place that honours and remembers and draws from all the places we've been. You seem to be insisting on dealing in the now, completely disconnected from important bits of consciousness grounded in history.

When you approach I am glad to see you. But I know that because compartmentalization seems to be one of the tools you might use to survive, I will end up being the writer of context. The onus will be on me to locate whatever conversation we are presently having in a broader context. I will be the one who tries to drag us out of the land of amnesia and into a place where full conversation can finally happen.

Of course, I do not succeed. :) It seems to me that you're more than comfortable with your compartments. sigh...but I try. Yep. I do try.

So, dykewife of course comes with several layers of meaning. These are layers I will learn over time. My perimeter alarms go off more easily with your layers unverbalized yet still so clearly there because as a good Black heterosexual young/er woman raised in family raised in a christian context raised to "succeed" raised to equate sexualness with failure, I've by this point encountered more than a few of your sisters...pain. I've had these exact same conversations before. I remember them and draw from them in the hopes that maybe I won't have to so often say goodbye as another one draws near.

At some point I'd like to not have to say goodbye. It would be nice to have a conscious politicized grounded open honest brave verbal sexual defiant Black sista friend. I haven't had one of those. I've met lots of wimmin who believed they were. The struggles, as I attempted to invite them to present as who they were and to move from there into understanding how they had been raised and what this had done to them and their possibilities for actually forging powerful alliances with me...were epic.

There are some wimmin who have fit me in different ways at different times. But even these wimmin I know keep at a distance. It's so painful to talk with them, even wimmin who had taught me at different difficult to see see their eyes dart away and dart back...

I'm not sure why I try every now and then.

LP, I realize you may not understand what I'm after or what I'm on about. Even if we can't quite get a friendship off the ground this can also be a learning growing place for you. It has been one for me in some ways.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A little story...

It's about how different values can be between us Black wimmin. It's also about what happens when folks attempt to define me or relate to me according to their own values rather than understand that they have yet to take a walk in my shoes.

In my twenties hung out for a little bit with a Black dyke who had a habit of hanging out with Black hetero wimmin who didn't have much analysis or experience. I think they got street cred and she got...well, she got to be associated with privileged hetero folks who dominate Black community.

This was just after a particularly nasty and awful break up with a very unbalanced lover who I had nonetheless bonded with and stayed with for quite a long while.

One day my friend invited me to walk with her over to her friend's house. There were a few Black wimmin there. None were openly defined as dykes. My friend's friend had actually just come out of a divorce. She had one child. A girl.

That day it was hot. So I was wearing something sleeveless. My tattoos were clearly visible. The one on my arm, which had/has the name of my former girlfriend and top was clearly visible.

Bear in mind that I don't expect everyone to like tattoos. I like them and I like words. I like names. They ground me in particular experiences past and present. So words and names in my tats make sense for me.

This woman took one look at my tattoo and asked me about the tattoo. Once I explained the genesis of the tattoo, in a very judgemental tone she said: "You mean to tell me that you got a woman's name on your arm and now you're not going out with her? Wow! I would never put someone's name on my body."

I took one look at her heterosexual self and her child conceived and birthed within the confines of a state sanctioned patriarchally infused union and said: "You mean to tell me that you went so far as to have a child with a man and now you can't even stand the sight of him? Wow! That wasn't very smart." Then I smiled at her. Check mate.

Her mouth dropped open. As did the mouths of the wimmin, including my "friend" who stared at me and attempted to chastise me for not being nice to a woman who had just gotten a divorce...while that woman, who had clearly been cruel to a dyke who had just gotten out of a relationship that was a few years long, had been allowed to go unchastised.

She had made assumptions about the primacy and normalcy of her words and in the dominance of her existence that led to her believe that I would receive her words with forbearance and understanding.

The other wimmin shared her understanding and acted in unison when I did not assume the position - prone and subjugated.

When I communicated to her in ways that mirrored what she had offered me, taking her iconic verbalness so chock filled oppressive meaning, tweaked it a little and then offered it back to her, she and the other wimmin experienced my words as an attack. Basically the same words she had uttered which they had thought of as meaningful and sensible, just telling it like it is, when offered back to her by me, by someone who did not share her world view, were considered intolerably hurtful...which was how I had experienced her words to begin with.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I assume that the vast majority of my interactions will be with people who I know do not have the same world view or value systems I do. I expect this because I realize that my views are...specialized. As someone who experiences domination in a multitude of ways I just expect people's shite to hit my fan on a fairly regular basis. I have learned to move with care and to not assume that anyone, even dykes, Black folks, feminists, rad feminists or lefty activists, share my understandings of shite bout shite bout shite.

On the other hand people who approach me having never questioned or deeply examined how they were raised and how this rearing impacts the ways they interact with others they encounter assume a kind of universality, a kind of kinship, that permits them all sorts of privileged leeway. This leeway is dangerous and harmful. It's just that because these people do not usually see or register the impact of their words and because they are not accustomed to being held accountable, they very rarely get to witness how they harm people who do not have the same relationships to systemic power and dominance as they do.

When I see people with uncritiqued privilege claiming leeway without critical consciousness but with full, confident voice or with typed words, if what they do is actively oppressive in the moment or if what they do invites me to support their world view, I will act. I will speak. I will show them how little their world view has to do with me.

I will jar them. I will shake them. I will attempt to playfully or not so playfully or aggressively turn their worlds upside down...I guess my approach depends on how much affection I have for them and how off their comment or action was. I try not to fire bomb people. But when people have spent most of their lives not having their privileged points of view challenged or their actions critiqued, any sort of challenge posed feels like a fire bombing. :)

In any case the wimmin I was with that day tried to reason me back into a place where I would participate in my own domination, where I would help them smooth things my expense. They tried to school me, to show me the light. I understood that their light would burn me to a crisp and that none of them would be able to see or smell the smoke as I burned.

I turned walked away.

Friday, January 23, 2009

LP, I'm glad you decided to come...

Loving Pecola has left a new comment on your post "Alone with my thoughts...":
I'm here, and staying.

I'm working on my introduction, and will let you know when I'm ready to publish it. (It will be this weekend, probably tonight if I can stay focused.)

Hi everybody!

There are a good few threads of conversation happening here that I think touch on some of the places where we've struggled. I'm looking forward to your introduction. Jump in at will.

When people ask how I'm doing I usually tell them I'm all over the place...

I woke up feeling a combination of things this morning but mostly insane. I helped Stinkapee clean her room and thought about going back to bed. sigh...but I have to function...which means walking around the house with my eyes open, getting dressed.

Since the weekend I've had a massive pain in my jaw. It doesn't feel like a tooth ache. There is no swelling of the glands, no heat, no discomfort when I brush. I suspect it may be grief related.

Last night I started taking aconite, rescue remedy and applying oregano oil topically to soothe the area. Today I will try to find the motivation to get dressed and leave the house to find a doctor to have a look at it.

But I realize that for those unaccustomed to dealing with strong emotion without fear me seemingly descending into the pit of emotional hell and bring back kicking screaming
Cthulhu babies is probably horrifying if not a little discomfitting. I can only continue to ground bravely with whatever comes is the only way possible for me regardless of who watches or how they react.

I decided to do some reasearch on the stages of grieving even as I realize that no one's chart could actually adequately describe the emotional boomeranging I've been experiencing, I thought I'd still take a look to see what people are saying about what it means to fully experience emotions at this time...


We've all experienced grief. We've all felt those intense rolling waves of emotion. But, do we all experience the same feelings each time we lose a loved one?

What Are The Stages of Grief?

Many people have tried to explain what grief is; some have even identified certain stages of grief.

Probably the most well-known of these might be from Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' book, "On Death and Dying." In it, she identified five stages that a dying patient experiences when informed of their terminal prognosis.

The stages Kubler-Ross identified are:

  • Denial (this isn't happening to me!)
  • Anger (why is this happening to me?)
  • Bargaining (I promise I'll be a better person if...)
  • Depression (I don't care anymore)
  • Acceptance (I'm ready for whatever comes)

Many people believe that these stages of grief are also experienced by others when they have lost a loved one.

Personally, I think of these definitions as emotional behaviors rather than stages, per se. I believe we may certainly experience some of these behaviors. But, I believe just as strongly, that there is no script for grief; that we cannot expect to feel any of our emotions in a particular set pattern. I do agree that acceptance is probably the last emotion felt, and in some instances it may be the only one.

A lesser known definition of the stages of grief is described by Dr. Roberta Temes in the book, "Living With An Empty Chair - a guide through grief." Temes describes three particular types of behavior exhibited by those suffering from grief and loss. They are:

  • Numbness (mechanical functioning and social insulation)
  • Disorganization (intensely painful feelings of loss)
  • Reorganization (re-entry into a more 'normal' social life.)

I am better able to relate to this definition as it seems to more accurately reflect the types of behavior I have experienced and observed. Within these types of behavior might well be most of the feelings described in Kubler-Ross' writings as well.

Which List Is Right?

In my opinion, both of these lists, and many others that we've all seen, are all descriptive of some of the emotions and functions we go through when we lose a loved one.

I believe that grief, like so many other things in our complex lives, can't be reduced to a neat list with absolute definitions, timelines, strategies, goals, and completion dates. Would that it were so easy

Grief is as individual as those of us who feel it, and as varied as the circumstances of death which occur.

Will I Go Through Every Stage?

If a 98-year old grandfather died in his sleep I think there would be different stages of grief and loss experienced than if a two-year old child were run over by a car and killed.

If a person has had a long life, death is somewhat expected as the natural scheme of things. There will be emotions of grief and loss but they might be more for what we will miss.

If a young life is cut short unexpectedly, there may well be feelings of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and in some cases acceptance.

Just as we have different emotional reactions to anything that happens in our lives, so too, will we experience grief and loss in different ways. I think the important thing to remember is that there is a wide range of emotions that may be experienced; to expect to feel some of them and to know that we cannot completely control the process.

When Will I Be Through Grieving?

Grieving used to be much more ritualistic than it is today. In generations past there were set periods of time when certain customs must be observed:

  • Widows wore all black clothing for one year and drab colors forever after.
  • Mourners could not attend social gatherings for months.
  • Laughter and gaiety were discouraged for weeks or months.

Today we are unfettered by these restrictions and might even be confused about when we should be done grieving.

Actually, we'll probably never be done.

We'll never forget the person we grieve for. Our feelings may be tempered more with good memories than sadness as time passes, but that isn't to say that waves of raw emotion won't overcome us way after we thing we should be done.

I think the trick here is to understand that the feelings will occur, try to keep them in perspective, try to understand why you feel a certain way, and if there are any unresolved issues that cause particular emotional pain, forgive yourself and others and if necessary talk with someone about it.

There is no completion date to grieving...let your emotions flow through the stages of grief.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Part of me is really angry with him...and with myself...

I subtly dominate hospital staff. I enter with power and corporate hierarchies in mind. I walk with a knowledge of the ways allopathic medicine makes a fucking mess of healing. I'm a conscientized consumer of their "services". I don't ever leave with bad outcomes. It just doesn't fucking happen! I'M so FUCKing angry with him for not calling me FIRST, before he went to the hospital, before he chose that fucking nasty hospital designed to give mediocre care to working class and poor people, before he lay down in their bed, before he decided he knew what was best, before they decided they knew what was best. I wish he'd fucking let me handle it. But our relationship in his mind was hierarchical. Parent/child. Man/woman. Elder/yout'. Expereinced/naive. Teacher/student. His belief in these binaries are part of what killed him. And I'm so FUCKing angry about that.

I protect my own. I protect my family by standing consciously and powerfully in between them and the minions of systems of domination who would do them harm without even realizing it. I protect my OWN from the not so tender ministrations of the hospital corporation even as I utilize their staff, their tools and their limited insights to try and keep us all safe, to get to the root of what a g'won.

I don't EVER, EVER walk through their doors unprepared, not clearly having outlined an agenda. I'm FUCKiug pissed at him for giving himself to them without a plan of attack, without me to protect him.



I keep thinking that won't happen to me. Not having to go to the hospital. No, I can't predict that. I'm talking about having to go to the hospital knowing what they do, without knowing the power structures they maintain but unable to fully advocate on my own behalf or have someone who I have carefully conscientized to do it for me.

My father's secretiveness, his thoroughly patriarchal refusal to communicate fully EVER left me and him without protection, without a plan in the face of a structure that thrives off the disempowerment of its clients. Strip the clothes, strip the identity, strip the power, strip the spirit, do as they will which they describe as healing and saving lives. I have no doubt that in acute care situations they do save lives. But I also understand that despite the oath they've taken, they are more than capable of doing worlds of harm.

Powerless. Lacking control.
When I walked in their doors I felt stripped. I felt as if all I had was my middle class performance. Under there I knew I had nothing, no trusting relationship with him where I could speak to him and get him to hear me, no insider knowledge of what had actually been happening with his health.

I entered their doors without knowledge, agenda or plan. I FUCKing HATE that!

He did not have to die. He died because he rightly did not trust them, but wrongly did not understand how to utilize them. He gave his body to them but ended up just laying in their bed dying because he would not let me fully advocate on his behalf in the ways I know how.

He raised me in this place. I survived in this FUCKing place. I learned how to move around safely in this place. But when it came down to it he would not let me use what I'd learned here on his behalf...not even to save his fucking life!

bastard. ignorant idiot. stubborn fool. damn you! DAMN YOU!
now i'm screaming and crying again...
gotta go...
here, read this...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

The shmolian's trip to hospital...

Shmolee woke up screaming on Sunday morning. He was inconsolable and in obvious pain. This child's major hobby is eating and breastfeeding and he would not eat or drink.

So we took him off to the medi corp, waited for six hours to see an allopathic practitioner. Shmolee was already on the road to recovery during this time period. He moved from being a screaming baby with big eyes open wide as if to say: "Somebody help me" to a gurgly, feverish yet once more interactive and giggly baby.

Nonetheless, we waited. Of course we filled out paper work...sort'a. They have their release forms and, of course, I have my ideas about how things should go. So, I took their form which basically has the parent do an umbrella sign off of any procedure the allopathic practitioners should want to do, and I doctored it. Crossed out a sentence here, added a sentence there, inserted n/a when they inquired after a paediatrician, inserted homeopath.

This is the second child and we've been to this big medi corp for children before. So, they don't blink anymore when I start editing. Though they used to.

I remember the one time when they tried to get us to believe that a fever Stinkapee had, which we figured had to do with teething, but just wanted to make sure of, was actually a urinary tract infection. Of course Stinkapee wouldn't pee in their bag on demand. They wanted to catheterize her. I said nope. Why would I want someone to penetrate my black two year old girl child's urethra?

They "regaled" me and papi with stories of her possibly having a rampant infection that could spread through her body, cause massive organ shut down leading to DEATH. And I sat and heard them out, packed up Stinkapee, took their rattid plastic peeing bag and went home while they followed me with glares that screamed: "CHILD ABUSER!" Now, how's that for irony?

If memory serves me correctly, Stinkapee did not die of a massive systems shut down a few days later. Though, she may have brought in a new tooth.

So, we met with a student practitioner by the name of Ravi. He was a chubby, smiling probably mid to late twenty something brown man who nearly walked back out of the individual family waiting area we were occupying when he saw my breast...I was BREASTFEEDING.

That "shock" to his system out of the way, things actually went smoothly. He asked us a bunch of questions about Shmoles, we answered, joked with him to keep him at ease and willing to give good care.

He asked about Shmolee's birth. So, I told him a mini version of the tale. He seemed awestruck when he put together the fact that I'd homebirthed Shmoles with the fact that Shmolee emerged weighing ten pounds six ounces. I just told the student practioner the same thing I tell anyone who looks amazed at the lack of surgical instruments, forceps, vacuum and epidural: I was really dedicated. Followed by a fierce smile.

Like an outmoded computer on star trek, he could not compute the information I had offered. He shoke his head, muttered to himself, shot us querying glances and talked about footballs...or was it...watermelons? We tried to soothe him so his lack of health care knowledge, crossing our fingers that he wouldn't be too traumatized, become angry or immobile. We just wanted him to help us figure out what the fuck was up with the Shmolian. :)

Turns out, Shmolee, who was getting more back to his usual self every minute we were there, had a slight infection, probably viral. The student was amazingly respectful of our choice not to vaccinate, to use a homeopath instead of a paediatrician. By the time we got around to reassuring him that we didn't need anyone to "do" anything, just wanted the facts, he had a clear picture.

A really present, meaning, she looked us in the eye, gave her first name and heard our first names. (Did I mention that the intake staff keep trying to refer to us as "Mom" and "Dad"? I'm not a "mom" and Paps isn't a "Dad") (Oh, and they gave us these parent stickers for our clothes that were pure geekishness. We left them in the giant clearinghouse were they keep all the INFECTIOUS parents and children who come in to get "care") white woman doctor came to see us after another wait.

She talked about the different kinds of viral and bacterial infections the children were coming in with and their causes. I explained that I'd heard about them from doing parenting research. I also let her know that I knew that viruses can't be "cured". And so, since they pretty much agreed that Shmolee had a virus, we didn't expect them to give him an anti-biotic. We also shared that no one in our house takes anti-biotics and that neither Stinkapee or Shmolee have ever had a course.

This fully acredited medi corp practioner did a nasal swab, just to be sure and then agreed to send the results to our homeopath so that she can tell us what remedies to use.

I had a telephone consult with her yesterday and we've got some Pulsatilla for the Shmolian which I'm also giving to Stinkapee because their symptoms are the same...less the screaming.

But, there's something else I've got to vomit here...
I can feel the tears coming...
While we were at the hospital, we saw a young black woman there with a child and an older woman. The child looked really new because we could barely see it in the carrier what with all the blankets. sigh...deep breath.
The young woman was seen by the intake workers at which point we started to hear loud pitched meowing sounds, shaky, fragile, high pitched. The child was in pain. pain...deep breath.
I went in to fill out paper work and for Shmolee to get his temperature (alien...anal space probe, he was fine, giggled through the whole thing) taken.

I saw the older black woman who had accompanied the mother. It turned out this was the baby's grandmother. I asked how old the child was. Four days.

I asked what was wrong. What could possibly be wrong at four days?

The grandmother explained to me in furious tones, her eyes flashing with rage that the doctor who had delivered her grandchild had broken the baby's arm before it even emerged from it's mother. She had broken this little black child's arm. She obviously knew she had majorly fucked up because she immediately left, would not speak to the grandmother. Other medi corps workers put a tiny splint on this tiny Black child and discharged it and its mother. When the grandmother called the next day to get more information, the medi corp (a different facility than the one we were presently in) would not give her any information.

The meow's we were hearing were screams of pain from a being too young to know what had happened. Pain, this black child's first powerful experience on this side.

The grandmother says if she had been in Jamaica (meaning dealing with a Black caribbean hospital worker), she would have hit the person who broke her granchild's arm. But since They're black and probably working class, she'll have to content herself with going to an member of the affluent ruling class who will decide what is "fair" -- she's suing the hospital. But without power and hierarchy on her side, I don't know how far she'll get.

A black male child, birthed in two and a half hours at ten pounds six ounces born at home? Yeah, I was fiercely determined.

I am still trying to figure out how to track down my half sister...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Human (interaction) Project...Run sibling transmission/communication...

---- Original Message ----

From: J.
To: darkdaughta
Sent: Saturday, July 21, 2007 8:02:56 PM
Subject: Hello from -------------------
Hi Tonia,

I'm J, your half sister. I've often wondered about you and was happy to come across your blog a little while back.

I'm living in (city name unimportant) now, and will hopefully be coming to Toronto for a wedding in August (looks like August 2nd-6th).

I think it would be great to meet in person- would you be interested?

Looking forward to hearing from you,


From: darkdaughta
To: J.
Subject: Picking my jaw up off the ground...
Date: Sat, 21 Jul 2007 17:41:50 -0700 (PDT)

So, the last time I saw you, you were four...I's hazy.

I have thought about (good stepmother) and you often. I'm glad you emailed.
Please give my love and greetings to
(good stepmother). EEk! Nothing particularly mature to say. Are you annoyed with me? Our father's not my fault. :) And yes, please! Visit away!

I would like to at least update my mind's eye picture of you and to find out more about your and good stepmother's life since she had to leave. My home telephone number is (blah, blah, blah) blah, blah, blah - blah, blah, blah, blah. Where is your wedding
happening? darkdaughta


From: J.
To: darkdaughta
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2007 2:15:52 AM
Subject: RE: Picking my jaw up off the ground...

Wow, thrilled to hear back from you so quickly :-)

I'll definitely pass on your best wishes to mom.

The weddings are Friday and Sunday- how about if I give you a call when I get in and see if you're free on Saturday? I'm staying in (city name unimportant) (the weddings are somewhere around there, not exactly sure...) but I can definitely get into the city.

I'm looking forward to seeing you!



From: darkdaughta
To: j.
Subject: Re: Picking my jaw up off the ground...
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2007 02:22:22 -0700 (PDT)

Second layer down... :)

You never mentioned how you came across my blog.

I ask because after I responded to your email I realized that there wasn't anything in your email that a stranger couldn't find out.

But, I also had an anxiety attack of sorts. :) I wondered, if you actually are my sister after all these years, have you met our father? Have you been in contact with any of our Barbadian family? And if so who? I'm interested because I started asking myself where a meeting or conversations with you could lead given that I don't see any of my family with the exception of my father and that's because we live in the same city...I wondered if this would open up avenues for engagement with other family members that I might not welcome...

Then I jumped back to: What if you're a stranger?

I'm pretty certain you're not. Of course this is hinged on one tiny thing, that small letter "m" in the email address which I remember should stand for your middle name which a stranger wouldn't necessarily know...but...can you tell me more about yourself that would make the picture seem a bit more solid?

Also, your first email had the last name (not necessary for the purposes of this blog post) attached. In the most recent one it has (our family's last name). Is there a reason for the change?

Hoping that my questions which are completely about my own security and ensuring my privacy (I get a lot of mail from strangers) don't offend...too deeply. ;)


From: J.
To: darkdaughta
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2007 1:10:41 PM
Subject: Hello take two :-)

No worries and absolutely no offense taken :-) The questions you asked were great- I think I have a bit of an advantage because I've been able to look at your blog, otherwise I'd be asking exactly the same things. Here's the super-long follow-up e-mail!

I didn't believe it was really you until I saw your picture and read that you remembered mom and me. I thought maybe you'd wonder if was actually me or not when I e-mailed.

Maybe these bits and pieces of info will help: My middle name is
(M---), like my mom's. Her maiden name was (----------). She and our father met in Barbados. She's a retired teacher, but worked in a business of some sort when she was in Toronto. I was born (------) 1978 in Toronto. My picture's at the bottom of this e-mail so you can see what I look like now. My grandmother came to visit after I was born.

At least one of my aunts came up at some point as well and as teens thought our father's friends were music superstars (I remember them saying they'd ooed and ahhed about (a fairly well known musician from out east) being in the apartment). I was just two when we left, you would have been 12 I think. Our father's middle name is (O------). He has a brother named (-------------) and another named (------------). His father's name is the same as his, and his mother's name is (--------------). He's two years older than my mom, his birthday's in June.

I completely understand if you need a bit more time to kind of digest things, it's got to be pretty bizarre to hear from me after all these years and for me to ask to get together in just a couple of weeks. I'm just happy to have heard from you. If you'd rather meet further down the road that's completely ok or if you're not comfortable meeting at all I understand. I gave myself a month from the time I realized it was really you to e-mail- I know there can be a lot to think about.

You're the first person from the other side of the family I've had any contact with. I've seen pictures of when we were in Toronto and heard about you. I've always wondered if you would remember me and if you'd have any interest in getting in touch. At some point I'll probably meet our father (the last time I remember speaking with him was on the phone when I was about 3 or 4), but right now I'm more interested in getting in touch with you.

I grew up in Newfoundland with my mom and my grandparents. My family was pretty close, my aunts and uncles were always nearby. My grandfather really took on a father role for me; he died 11 years ago. My mom didn't have any other kids after me, but I think my older cousins kept me from developing too much of an only child complex :-)

After highschool I moved to Nova Scotia, then Ontario for university. I lived for a while near (streets in downtown T.O.), then off (other streets in the downtown core), and sang downtown with a band called (--------------) (they'restill playing but mostly around Waterloo).

I got married a couple of years ago and changed my name, so pretty much everything now is under J. (=========) (except for my hotmail address and some other odds and ends). I'm in med school now with a little less than a year to go. We have no idea where we're going to be living next- maybe staying here, maybe going to Ottawa or Vancouver, really wherever I can find a residency spot. My husband's a graphic designer/ filmmaker which means that with me in school we're often broke but we're happy. We have two cats but no kids of our own yet.

A few years back I came across an article written by someone with your name in a publication at the Bay Birth Control Centre. Thought wouldn't it be great it that was you but didn't pursue it and thought the name was probably a coincidence. Every now and then I'd google you but never came up with much. A month ago I googled you again and came across your original blog (no idea why I hadn't before), thought this was probably you but realized the blog was out of date and had no idea if I'd be able to contact you through it or not. Got to your current blog and knew that this was definitely you, and that you remembered a half-sister named (---------------). I laughed when I saw on your blog that you're a sci-fi fan like me (I led a petition to keep star trek TNG on our local cable channel when I was in junior high and I may or may not still have the klingon dictionary on my bookshelf ;-)

Bottom line is I'm happy to have found you and to know that you're doing well. I'd love to hear from you again,



From: darkdaughta
To: J.
Subject: Re: Hello take two :-)
Date: Sun, 22 Jul 2007 14:19:05 -0700 (PDT)

Thanks for the additional information. I think I mostly had an anxiety attack after I emailed you. I started having all these thoughts and wondering...well, what I emailed you in my second email.

I'm excited and happy that you emailed. I would like to meet you...again. I only have pictures of you as a child. I show them to my friends and chosen family. So, thanks for updated photo. I recognized you. :)

Thanks for the additional info about our family. The rest are a really closed mouth bunch. Sure, they'll gossip. But in terms of actually exchanging hard factual information? Forget it. I think my website, writings and blog are pretty much a giant tantrum in total reaction to the silence.

Like, you probably don't realize that I didn't know the names of our father's
parents. He doesn't mention them much and definitely doesn't call their names. I remember meeting his mother once as a child. She seemed like a hard woman. She died of kidney disease a few years later.

I don't see any of his family. I mostly grew up at least knowing of my mother's family. But, I grew up alone and after a while of them making some half hearted overtures and mostly expecting me to extend to them and understand them more than them extending to me and understanding me, I think I'm well on the path at almost forty to reconciling with the lack of biological family ties. I think this informs my obsessive breeding which my partner Papi goes along with. So far we have two children. Stinkapee is five. Shmolee is one. I'd like two more. Having grown up so alone, I don't think I'd wish it on them. I'd like them to have an actual clan of sibs who know them and care about them. :)

Weird for years I've been wondering what other family twists and turns would come my way. I thought about, but didn't expect you to soon. I don't feel ready....didn't feel ready. I knew you'd come. It's weird being the eldest of mother had another daughter named (-----------). The others refer to me, when they email...or call...when I communicate with them as some version of "Big Sister". It feels weighty, like they're looking for explanations from me that would help everybody understand the actions and choices of the various parental pairings.

I don't have one.

I have me trying to understand who I am. There's no wisdom here that can even begin to explain what happened for/between anyone.

There are also no coping strategies to help tolerate, unpack or fix anything any of us are experiencing as we continue to deal with the assorted parental couplings.

I've mostly chosen, after trying really hard to build relationships with our father and my mother in my twenties, and realizing they had little to share to help me understand them and their actions and that they understood little about who I was/ try to do my personal work through going to counselling, writing...a lot, trying to create chosen family ties and giving birth to a family I can try to not fuck up too badly.

J., do you know what you're looking to gain from meeting me? Is there something you're seeking beyond the experience of getting to know a sibling who was separated from you so early on?

Are there things about meeting that you're worried about or want to ask about?

I think I'd like to meet you when you come to town and then perhaps for you to meet my family if that's okay with you.

I'm thinking this through as I write. So, sorry for the verbal diarrhea. Hope some of this makes sense.

Oh, I'm going to be forty in January on the 4th. How old will you be? If you're January (-------------), would that make you a capricorn, too? My parents are both geminis and from what you're saying your mother is too. Too much gemini energy I think. They can be odd people. I've never met a gemini I got along with. Probably because of that first relationship with my parents, I figure. :)

Shmolee's crying out for me to give him some more cheese chunks. Gotta run...


From: J.
To: darkdaughta
Sent: Sunday, July 22, 2007 7:34:31 PM
Subject: Re: Hello take two :-)

Hi again :-)

I'm so relieved that you're happy about all this. And thrilled that you
actually recognized me in the photo like I recognized you. I've attached
another below. I'm going to be thirty the same month you're turning forty.

I don't know if any of the family info I sent upset you, I'm very sorry if
it did, that's the last thing I want. I can't imagine how odd it must be to
be hearing those names for the first time from me of all people.

Congratulations on your two little ones and the family you're building. I
would love to meet them once you're comfortable with that. (my husband) and I are very much hoping to have children of our own, just not quite yet :-) We'd
very much like to have at least two children so they get to grow up with a sibling (not sure we'll make it all the way to four though!)

In the month I took before e-mailing you I spent time thinking about what I
was hoping for in getting in touch with you. I don't know whether we'll get
along or not or what kind of relationship we might be able to build, but I
am excited to find out. My mom (libra not gemini, so there's hope :-) and I
are very close. She's never talked much about her time with our father but I'm
satisfied with what I know. I've never really had a strong desire to delve
into much family stuff on the other family's in general, but with you it's
different, we really were sisters for those two years, (even if it was
before I remember) and I've always wondered about you.

Sure there have been things I've been anxious about in getting in touch with
you, but that doesn't seem to be weighing down my excitement any! I wonder
what we'll think of each other, where do we even start the conversation.
Hopefully we'll be able to find things in common and build on them. I'm sure
there are things you're concerned about- if you have any questions about me
that I could answer to make you more comfortable about meeting, ask away
(again, I feel like I have the advantage with your blog).

So, I'd love to meet you when I'm in TO, but again I'm ok with whatever
you're comfortable with.

Looking forward to hearing from you again,

p.s. what do I call you? Do you go by t.j. or is that just on-line?


sent by me this morning...
subject: Deeper

I have to find those pictures of you I have so that I can show them to you. Oh, you mind if I paste a lightly edited version of our emailed transmissions into my blog? I could take out anything you're not comfortable with. I pretty much put everything that some form on my you've probably noticed. Let me know what you think...I won't proceed without your permission.

And no, the family info you sent didn't upset me. It simply reinforced my understanding of life with my father, who was an extremely uncommunicative and shut down parent who didn't have a game plan where raising a child was concerned.

If I haven't said it before, although I missed her and you when you were both gone, I do strongly believe that your mother was right to leave our father. He's a deeply scarred person haunted by ghosts from his own past that he doesn't have the language or understanding to deal with. He pretty much covers it all, the pain, the confusion, the rage with jokes, bravado and a strongly authoritarian way of dealing.

I speak to him off an on. Papi and I just went through a pretty intense period of dealing with him brought on my us being really stretched for money after we moved into our present house. He offered to "help", but mostly he disrupted the our day-to-day lives while trying to explain to us how to better run our lives. Right now we're not seeing him much. It's better that way. He calls or offers some money. But he's not actually capable of participating in the life of our family without causing damage. I travel back and forth between feeling sorry for him (for the little boy in him who is so plainly hurt...) and feeling angry with him for being such a stunted parent. I've parented myself mostly.

Your mother was a good stepmother. She was kind and caring and I told Papi's mother Ophelia this morning that your mother represented the only stability I've known since I left Barbados. I think she was stressed and upset towards the end. I assume that our father was being himself...a jackass and being mean to her. I think she tried, but didn't really have the tools to deal with him and his stuff. No one should have to deal with another human being so, so...confused and obnoxious...

She left me pads when she left. This is important for me. No one bothered to check to see when my period came. She was the only one who thought about it. I'm thankful. :)

I remember the letter she left me when she left. I still have it somewhere around here...I think. I think she was the only person who spoke to me as if my opinions or feelings, unaltered and uninfluenced by the needs of the adults around me, mattered. I appreciate that, too.

This is difficult. I feel as if the emotions I couldn't give myself permission to feel as a child are pouring out of me. tears...I'll be back...


From: darkdaughta
To: J.
Subject: Re: Hello take two :-)
Date: Mon, 23 Jul 2007 09:28:48 -0700 (PDT)

Hi J. ... :)
You asked at some point if I had any questions?
I wanted to ask you how you felt about our father and your mother, about their failed relationship, his fault, not hers and about her having to leave him and move home? How do you feel about this? How do you feel about growing up with your mother's father as parent, but knowing that your biological progenitor (I don't use parent or father, because our father chose not to function as parent to you...) was not a part of your life and that your mother had to leave him...(for reasons she hasn't specified?...did she say, but just doesn't talk about it much? or did she not get into detail?...I worry I'm treading on ground I know nothing about here with you...)

(I'm not sure how my sister identifies. Her mother, my stepmother, is a white woman. My sister has light skin and curly, not kinky, dark hair.)

How do you feel about having a collection of Black relatives (I don't say "family" because we're actually not a family, but a collection of biologically linked, disparate solitudes, more than an intentional grouping of people who have agreed to love and work together...but then again, I'm not sure how many of those kinds of families I've encountered...)

Do you think about Blackness? Do you think about yourself as a Black woman? What was your childhood growing up in Newfoundland like in relation to Blackness from your point of view or from the point of view of those around

Are you okay with me asking these questions? I'd like to meet you regardless...I'm mostly just trying to get an idea...perhaps your idea of what you're coming with in terms of stuff that will no doubt engage/interact with/intermingle with/bounce off of my stuff. We're human. Even when they don't know each other very well, even when they aren't biologically connected, human beings bounce off each other's emotional, familial, social baggage. I think it's something about how we're built...we're sponges and mirrors for each other's stuff.

So, this is me having a glimmering of an idea about my own emotional/social/ familial stuff... as you've read on my blog asking you where you're at with piecing together yours...

I'm just wondering what sort of dance of intimacy/connection/ anger/ confusion/ excitment/ unfamiliarity/ curiosity/ sadness/happiness/fear/resentment/love we'll do when we meet. :)

Oh, and..I'm not sure what you should call me. Biological family members all call me Tonia. I don't call myself that anymore...probably because of all the "stuff" that comes with the name. I mostly introduce myself as T.J.. Papi calls me T.J.. So, I guess T.J. is fine. Are you okay with being called J.? Or is there something you prefer better?

Getting together next week still sounds fine. Was there a day or a time you were thinking of? Who's getting married?

Thanks for the photos of you and of your partner. You both look very happy. That's good.


From: J.
To: darkdaughta
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 5:13:02 PM
Subject: Re: Hello take two :-)


Ack, my computer just ate my last message, not sure if got to you or not so
here goes again :-)

It's been great e-mailing with you, I'm really looking forward to talking
with you in person. Thanks for all the kind things you've written about my
mom- really means a lot to me that you remember her that way.

Absolutely include anything you like in the blog. The only thing I'd ask is
if you'd keep out id stuff for my mom (her first name's already in there,
but not her maiden name) and for my husband you can use the nickname I have for him - zauber - if you'd like to use that).

I love that you jumped into the meaty questions. Definitely lots of things
I've worked on over the years and am still working on. I'd like to put a bit
of time into writing you about them, so there'll be more to come soon.

J. (pretty much everyone calls me J. so that would be fine :-)


darkdaughta wrote:

Thanks for the permission. I went back through the post about my family stuff and took out all the names, I think. That post dates from a time when I thought no one who mattered was looking or cared. I took out the names because they're really not important to what I'm saying. Although I'm glad the inclusions of the identifiers helped you locate me. :)

I'm hoping that the questions I'm asking don't seem too invasive. I realize that asking questions won't give me a sense of who you are at your core. They'll just give me hints about what you're coming with, is all. Thanks for being understanding. :)

I'm looking forward to reading your answers/thoughts.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Sisters: The underwhelming/overwhelming denouement...

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In literature, a dénouement (IPA: /dɛɪnumɛ̃/) consists of a series of events that follow a dramatic or narrative's climax, thus serving as the conclusion of the story. Conflicts are resolved, creating normality for the characters and a sense of catharsis, or release of tension and anxiety, for the reader. Etymologically, the French word dénouement is derived from the Old French word denoer, "to untie", from nodus, Latin for "knot." Simply put, a dénouement is the unraveling or untying of the complexities of a plot.

Also, the dénou Action"]] occur. Though similar, "Falling Action" is a completely different topic.

A classic example of dénouement is the final scene of Shakespeare’s comedy As You Like It: couples marry, an evildoer repents, two disguised characters are revealed for all to see, and a ruler is restored to power.

There are works which have no dénouement, mainly due to a quick surprise ending (such as Lord of the Flies).

As with most of my life experiences there's no place else to put this moment linked to so much I'm still trying to unpack. So, I put it here, not to contain it or to contain the feelings that are making themselves known...but instead to make space outside my head and if to say: I experienced this, felt it as fully as I was capable, mindfully moved through it, bringing everything I had to the :)

From: darkdaughta
To: J.
Sent: Monday, July 23, 2007 5:58:21 PM
Subject: Re: Hello

Thanks for the permission. I went back through the post about my family stuff and took out all the names I think. That post dates from a time when I thought no one was looking or cared. I took out the names because they're really not important to what I'm saying. Although I'm glad the inclusions of the identifiers helped you locate me. :)

I'm hoping that the questions I'm asking don't seem too invasive. I realize that asking questions won't give me a sense of who you are at your core. They'll just give me hints about what you're coming with, is all. Thanks for being understanding. :)

I'm looking forward to reading your answers/thoughts.


From: J.
To: darkdaughta
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 4:05:17 PM
Subject: on being black and white :-)

Hi darkdaughta

Hope you're doing well- Thanks so much for taking out the id bits in the
e-mails before posting them, I appreciate it.

I wrote out huge answers to your questions last night, but I'd much rather
talk about most of that in person. Here's a bit about how I think of myself
in terms of race though.

There's an excellent book called "Black Berry, Sweet Juice: On Being Black
and White in Canada" that really spoke to me. I also came across a bill of
rights for mixed race people that I took bits and pieces of for myself.
Really the key for me is that I feel I have the freedom to change how I
define myself (in terms of most things, including race) which I'm grateful
for. The travelling I've had the chance to do has influenced how I see
myself in terms of race as well. Right now I'm really embracing the term
mixie, but sometimes I identify more as black.

I often get the question "where are you from" and I know that 99% of the
time my answer of newfoundland won't do. A lot of people have trouble not
being able to easily identify my race and really want me to explain why I
look the way I do. There's a kind of odd anxiety when people can't fit you
into the racial categories they know. It still irks me but now it's become a
bit of a joke (I call it "the question").

Anyway, that's me as a mixie in a nutshell... :-)

Can't believe it's only a week and a bit until we can actually have a
conversation face to face. I was thinking of Saturday (the 4th), does that
work for you? The weddings are Friday and Sunday. Where would you like to
meet, I can get a drive to pretty much wherever.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon,


From: darkdaughta
To: J.
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 7:31:28 PM
Subject: Re: on being black and white in (another part of kkkanada) :-)

Hi J.,
Saturday the 4th sounds fine. Would you be interested in coming to my house for a visit? I find that my house serves the same purpose in real time as my blog does in blogland. People who come to visit enter into a space that really reflects who I am in a way that allows them to immediately absorb an understanding that functions mostly through the senses rather than through words...which can be so inadequate, anyways.

I wondered what would happen with the questions I asked about Blackness. I want to assure you that I didn't ask the questions to off put or to subtly notify you that I was going to define you or your experience.

What I was after was literally what I asked, given what you understand of yourself, how you were raised, how people see you, how you see yourself, what does being genetically related to a grouping of (mostly) dark-skinned people who identify as Black (there was a typo in the original transmission and I left the word "mean? " off the end of the sentence) What will it mean for you, situated and identifying however you do, to come face to face with me. When I say "me" this is loaded with me not wanting or needing to be understood as iconically representative of Blackness, hoping to not serve as emotional/psychological stand in for the abandoning/neglectful/lost family of Black West Indians, trying desperately to be seen as myself mixie in my own right even as my dark skin codes me in the eyes of others in all sorts of ways I have no control over.

So when I ask about Blackness, this is me really asking do you understand or think about how you will (choose to) see me, read me, pursue intimacy with me because of or despite this darkness linked to you, but so tangibly absent from your everyday existence since you were a child?

This is me asking if there is pain or other emotions, me asking if there are assumptions about how you as a light-skinned woman will be treated or mistreated by me - a dark skinned woman biologically related to you?

This is another approach to my original set of questions about safety and security. I'm speaking from a place of having tussled on many different occasions with many different mixies, mestizas, mixed raced, biracial Black wimmin carrying stuff that they unwittingly offered me when their stuff and social location bucked up against my dark skin. They assumed hatred on my part. They assumed discomfort on my part. They assumed a certain painting over of who they were, an oversimplification of their locations...something they had encountered with other dark/er skinned people time and time again.

I don't come ever having asked a light skinned woman where she was from. After I had a few really thick conversations/arguments with lighter skinned wimmin I barely knew where I sort of thought: "Wow, what just happened? She was talking in my direction, but I don't think that conversation and that rage was for or about me..." I started reading. Books I've read include but aren't limited to Borderlands/La Frontera, Half and Half, Miscegenation Blues...But also work by light-skinned Black wimmin like Rozena Maart, Michelle Cliff...oh god, who else?...there are so many writing about uneasy yet powerful relationships to Blackness on their own terms...

I'm not sure how much these writings actually change everyday interactions between Black people of different skin shades forcibly positioned at different points along continuums of shade in relation to constructs of whiteness and blackness...there's been so much pitting, so much divide and conquer, so much misunderstanding, so much silence...the theoretical writings don't seem to travel very far...I worry that the wheel gets reinvented, recycled, revamped without ever being traded in for a completely overhauled design. Maybe people are waiting for someone who is a (light skinned) mixie to come with a whole other approach, to set another kind of example or to draw a template...I dunno, I'm a dark-skinned mixie, so my issues are really different. :)

In anycase these days I come looking closely and understanding that most people of colour are mixed raced and mixed cultured. I come understanding that affiliating with criminalized, racialized (I forgot to mention - sexualized) dark-skinned people can be uncomfortable and undesirable and that if there is a choice to not visually or verbally affiliate it's always made sense and continues to make sense for many to simply morph and shift location choosing when to surface as fully identifiable in whatever way they choose.

Another reason I asked about how you understand yourself as pertaining to Blackness is that I'd like our visit to not be sidelined by the subtextual uncomfortably nonverbal reality of our different positionings, you and I.

If I know where you stand...since you already, hopefully from reading my blog, have a general idea of how I stay, then we can choose to concentrate on getting to know each other as human beings rather than as social constructs...we can feel whatever parental, familial related pangs need to be felt and not have to do that polite frozen smile, covering everything way of relating that blocks so much that could be more genuine when people meet and come together.

So, I guess this is me saying, I'm suspecting that my questions may have been difficult to explore and even more difficult to share with a stranger. That communication isn't something I need to post on my blog. But I would like to have some more meat. Can you offer some more of you, please? I'm enjoying the unveiling even as it's been difficult emotionally.


P.S. I'd like to post my part of this transmission. But I'm not going to assume that you feel as comfortable with my EdTV approach to processing familial stuff as I am. So, if you'd prefer not, I can leave off your latest communication without any ire on my part. Just let me know, okay? :)


----- Original Message ----
From: darkdaughta
To: J.
Sent: Tuesday, July 24, 2007 10:24:47 PM
Subject: Tiny addition...Re: on being black and white in (another location in kkkanada) :-)

Hi! It's me again,
Trying to contextualize what I'm after...
You've mentioned off and on over the course of these emails that you actually have the benefit of my writings to give you a fairly clear view of the emotional, social baggage I'm carrying and the political framework I'm working with.

This is an advantage in that you have a picture of what the inside of my spirit looks like. I have no such view of you. My questions are specifically designed to make sure that, in terms of mutual knowledge and information shared, our interaction is more equitable.

I'm sure that you understand how uncomfortable my meeting with you may end up being if you hold a set of cards offering information about me to which I have no corresponding set for you...I'm sure your intent in trying to meet with me is not to keep an unnecessary and unfair advantage that may foster resentment or hurt for one or both of us.

Trying to create a basis for equitable, fruitful, hearty, happy, loving, open engagement...


From: J.
To: darkdaughta
Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 3:23:15 PM
Subject: RE: Tiny addition...Re: on being black and white in..... :-)

Hi darkdaughta,

I'm sitting in my livingroom, about to watch Annie Liebowitz on Oprah,
post-call after no sleep during a crazy night in the hospital, snacking on a
piece of toast, encouraging one of our cats to use the new scratching post
rather than the futon. I usually have an afternoon off post-call, so today,
being too wound up to sleep, this afternoon zauber and I are going to go play
tennis and grab some ice cream at a little corner store down the road. I've
played tennis a total of 11 times and I think this afternoon we'll actually
start keeping score :-)

What I got from your blog is that you write about things important to you.
What you hope for your kids, how you feel about justice and our position in
the historical scheme of things, the people you've come across who have
influenced you.

I'm a very private person in a lot of ways. Much of what you're asking for
I've never talked about with even friends I've known for years. I'm glad
that you've been comfortable creating your blog and that I was able to use
it to get in touch with you. I'll give you what I can for your questions and
I hope it's enough. I'll throw in a bit of day to day- I think that will
probably tell you more about me.

I get excited about things often and am always trying out new things or new
approaches (right now, I'm reading about negotiation skills and getting
ready to run a 10k, my last passion was basket-weaving, go figure). Zauber
and I are constantly negotiating how we get along, what our roles are, what
our hopes for the future are. I often struggle with how I think of the role
of wife, trying to find what that means for me. Preparing to be a doctor is
huge part of my life. The reality of it is just around the corner, which
every now and then petrifies me.

Going back to your questions. It's an interesting situation, being half
black and having no connection to black relatives. That's something that
I've definitely made peace with, but was a real struggle growing up. I
remember the first time I heard the n word and being called a picaninny.
My home's a great place, but everywhere has its jerks. I had no idea
what those words meant (I mean really, at first I didn't even had a clue
they had negative connotations) or how to respond. I felt I had no one who
could help me navigate those kinds of situations. I learned what I needed to
on my own, but it was a difficult process. And then there's my hair... :-)
Curly, not kinky, but still very confusing to many hairdressers. I
discovered braiding only in my twenties and loved that I could have hair as
long I liked.

I identify mostly as a mixie because that best reflects my experiences. When
I do identify as black, it's loosely because I feel like I don't have a lot
to back that up with. I don't have ties to any black community, I don't know
a whole lot about the middle passage other than the term (and how it may
relate to hypertension, but I'm still waiting for the data on that :-) It's
silly but I'm a little concerned that our meeting is going to be a quiz of
some sorts and I really don't want it to be that way. I know you feel that I
have an advantage over you, but really I just want to meet you and get to
know you.

I don't know that there's any way to make meeting feel completely safe- it's
a pretty exciting situation. I think meeting at your place is a great idea,
I'll call on Thursday when I get in and you can tell me where for Saturday.

I've been writing this e-mail for 2 hours. I'm tired... I think maybe you're
in on a plot with Zauber to tucker me out so I'll go easy on him on the
tennis court :-)

Looking forward to talking with you in person,


From: J.
To: darkdaughta
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2007 12:17:58 PM
Subject: Toronto pictures

Hi darkdaughta

I've attached a few photos from when I was in Toronto. I read your blog
today. I think you're an amazing writer and doing a lot of good work. Having
had contact with you over e-mail I feel a bit odd looking at your blog now
though, so I won't be reading it again.

I feel that you need to know more than I'm willing to share with someone I
haven't met yet. I know that you've been able to have a lot of discussion
about things important to you in public on your blog, but that's really not
me. I'm a private person and save those conversations for the people closest
to me. I would very much have liked to get to know you before starting to
have those talks.

I was hoping that we could meet, see how we get along and go from there. I'm
discouraged by how things have been so far, and saddened that we could have
such strong misunderstandings over e-mail.

I think you're a very brave woman and I admire what you've done with your
life and how much you care for those around you.

I feel that this isn't the time to get in touch, I imagine that if we met
we'd just continue to have more confusion and misunderstanding which would
be a shame. Maybe I should have just telephoned after the first couple of
e-mails and that would have been better, impossible to know now though.

I'm glad that we did get in touch for a little while. I hope that this
wasn't all bad for you, it certainly was a good experience for me.

If you'd like to get in touch with me further down the road, I'd be thrilled
to hear from you. You know my new last name and the work I do so I won't be
hard to track down.

Bye for now,


From: darkdaughta
To: J.
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2007 4:56:14 PM
Subject: Re: Toronto pictures

Thanks for the pictures, J.. I think you made the best choice for both of us given...well, given that communication started being realistically muddied, reflecting our lived experiences as individuals from the same blood line, raised apart. There's no simplifying the mess we were both born into, no way to simply get in touch without touching layers of stuff we both carry. I had hoped that you would have absorbed that coming to terms with the mess and not glazing it over even in day to day conversation has been part of my life's work for quite some time now. In any case, the attempt at communication with you, coming as you were with issues linked to mine, regardless of what you've been able to yourself unpack, was telling as it offered me a lot of information I had been attempting to submerge. I appreciate that. Thanks for the heads up that you're still in the world. And yes, perhaps at another point, perhaps when you're in your forties and I'm in my fifties, it will make sense for us to meet at another place for a reckoning...of sorts. (I usually don't bother saying this, given that it mostly resonates with pure cheese. But it seems so appropriate here...) Blessings, J., Tonia.

When I didn't have Shmolee's naming ceremony last summer I realized that this was only a piece of what I needed to do...

Monday, February 04, 2008

I've been fed...I didn't realize it...but I've been fed...

Frustrated and feeling isolated as a Black woman with patriarchal analysis, a critique of compulsory heterosexuality and sexual conservatism which are universal concepts which also function inside Black communities, I went to touch things that were/are crucial to the formation of the ideas I hold so dear.

I sat and remembered all the wise wimmin whose writings taught me. Touching their words left me space to speak directly, not obliquely, not secretly, not worried about who will hear or who will decide that my words are self hating or indicative of a profound hatred of Black people, or of Black men...

I'm seeking people who can listen to songs, who can view videos, who can watch television shows and movies, who can examine billboards and trace their own social conditioning under various systems of domination.

Being able to understand racism without having an analysis of power, control and domination which allows space for us to apply understanding to any dominant system hobbles us, our children, our families and our communities...profoundly.

Without templates we can use at will, we get stuck in cycles, following charismatic leaders, following con man politicians who we hope will have some sort of magical answer, who we hope will explain to us without too much detail in words we can understand what exactly is happening and what we should do about it.

Without having political frameworks grounded in ourselves, political frameworks which keep us from living too deeply in denial, we are controllable. Controllable by white people, controllable by corporations, controllable by church clergy, controllable by the government, controllable by doctors, controllable by the media.

We are easily controlled not just as Black people, but also as Black wimmin who are taught to direct their affections and attractions in the direction of men, who are taught to crave the cock without being conscious of what it means to actually choose the cock rather than be trained in girlhood...yes, from love the cock.

It's not the same thing...loving the cock when all you've been taught is to love the cock. It's not free will. It's just doing as you've told.

Without being able to see the conditioning, without being able to deconstruct the inefficacy of free will in a society completely predicated on control, there is no choice, no free will.

Being raised in denial and taught to maintain systems of domination by crafting particular rote learned responses and offering them to those who challenge, those who critique, those who ask you to open your eyes and look without allowing what you see to be filtered through what you've been taught is not free will. It's internalized control.


I still hope that I might be able to find allies and deep conversation predicated on challenging status quos inside and outside Black communities that will allow me to function in spaces away from the radical feminists of color who I mostly try to avoid because there's something distinctly off about how they move, regardless of how tight their politics are...

But, I think I'm gonna end up hanging my own self in the company of heterosexual Black wimmin. :) See? Here's the noose. Now watch me put it around my own neck and YANK it tight. ;) I'm gonna start turning purple in a sec. Purple really is a good colour for me. I've got purple eyeshadow, purple lipstick, a flowing purple suit I made for myself when I was a dyke. I really like purple. I think that me and purple are gonna become really....good....friENDs!

Okay. Maybe the noose idea isn't gonna fly. It was starting to chaff...almost as much as the conversations where people decide to try and problematize critical analysis rather than what they were raised to believe.

Last night I had this light bulb moment that was so sweet. :)

Can I share?

I was talking to Papi about how fruitless the conversations end up seeming whenever I invite the Black wimmin bloggers who visit to engage with their own heterosexuality, with their patriarchal understandings, with their silences filled out so nicely with words I don't think they realize they're talking around things not about them. :) I'm smiling, but really I just feel like crying.

It's difficult to see that people will come and visit, will come and try to have conversation...but that I'm not getting the kind of support I need. So even the out of order way that Julian behaved has now been reduced down to oblique comments about protecting "our" men, invitations to secret sites where I understand that people are trying to offer support, but that their support ends up taking the form of them framing my interactions with him as primarily about heterosexual relationship.

I was talking to Ophelia, Papi's mama on Saturday night. It was such a relief. She called to check in because she hadn't heard from us. I started talking to her about the fall out from my extended birthday "party". She already knew about my crush, about the conversation back and forth...about the hopes for some sort of alliance that seemed less possible as time went on...

I explained to her about the sorts of comments Julian had made about me as he realized I was not going to take care of him. I told her of his upset over me attempting to get him and Papi to have conversations as two Black male patriarchs. I told her about how he decided to stop engaging with me but that he kept visiting my blog and reading even as he had written some awful things about who he saw me to be.

She was shocked. Her response? "So, he cracked?" I said: "Yeah, he cracked."

He cracked. What does that mean? It means that when confronted with the work he'd have to do to increase his consciousness, to create space to continue interacting with me in ways that would not do me harm, in ways that would allow us to improve the chances of building alliance, he became enraged, impatient and left. He cracked under the weight of what I brought with me, under the weight of what I had tried to explain I was bringing with me.

Ophelia understood what I had tried to invite Julian to build. She expressed support for what I had tried to do with Julian. I pointed out to her that his response hadn't been that different from the response of her eldest son who also has difficulties with Black wimmin who ask questions and don't do as they're told.

I said that I felt sad because I had hoped to make a new friend, a new confidante, but that Julian's own words and lack of analysis kept jerking me right back out of the happy place I had been in when he emerged as one of the most consistently brave, wordy, interactive and present fellow bloggers who had come my way...EVER.

I got something precious from Ophelia.

I got commiseration. She understood that I was depressed about the loss. I got space to be who I am. We talked about my engaging with him in ways that were not just cerebral, not just political, not just supportive...even if he didn't get it..but also in ways that were sexual. I told her that I liked exchanging loaded comments with him. But I also told her that because of who I am as a queer woman and because of what I believe about the stagnance of male/female sexual relationships as defined by heterocentrism under patriarchy, I had to present as deviant in ways I found comforting because they disturb widely held ideas about attraction, desire, male/female interaction. I had to fuck with the picture, fuck with his picture and hope he'd get it and realize what I was on about. sigh...

I also got critical conversation from Ophelia. We discussed the ways that Black men expect care from Black wimmin. How they react when they do not get it. How Black wimmin are trained to offer it. We talked about the ways that Black men are offered large amounts of privilege and permissive space in Black community, in Black spaces and about how this stands in stark contrast to how very little privilege many of them can access in the white world.

She agreed that the offering of patriarchal privilege is nonverbally understood as their due in community. We agreed that Black men, what they do, the ways they behave are hidden away by the wimmin who share space with them. It's understood that we need to do this to protect our communities.

What a whack ass load of crapping crapulation. Estupido!

It was good talking to Ophelia about what had happened with Julian, because I didn't need to educate her about patriarchy in Black community, about heterosexuality and how it is understood as compulsory even in Black community so that I could get support from her.

I could just talk. I appreciated that.

Yesterday, when I saw that video with Kelis, I told Papster that I felt sad. I was conscious of mourning something, a loss. sigh...

I think I played the song about twelve times. But every time I played it, I realized that although the melody pinged something in me that I'm still working on, working out, working through...I kept getting tossed right back out of my emotional viewing and listening place because, as with all pop songs about love...unless they're by Melissa Etheridge or Tracey Chapman...they end up being indoctrination songs about HETEROSEXUALITY that support wimmin's patriarchal conditioning leaving the obvious evidence hidden in plain sight.

The message is passed through the music and the lyrics. When we're talking video, the added component is that indoctrination is also passed through images which is even more insidious because we're not even as clear about critiquing what we see as we are what we hear. We don't tend to ask questions about what our eyes take in at really deep levels. We just take it in. We may voice some mild discontent. But images enter straight into our brains and lodge themselves there, forming at least part of how we filter the world. So, video is intense.

So, I'm watching this video and feeling, feeling, feeling, crying, crying, crying. Stuff is emptying out of me and this is good. Every little bit helps, even if I have to do it mostly on my own.

But while I'm crying, tears literally streaming down my face, heart thumping and stumbling along, I realize that I need to vent the stuff about the song and the video that's kicking my ass and not allowing me to feel clearly. So I type out what's off, what's bugging me, press publish and go back to crying.

(insert: but darkdaughta...why didn't you just write about your feelings and ask for support about your pain? Because my feelings, uncontextualized would get me the support due to an unconscious heterosexual woman who is not feminist who is not queer who centralizes men, who is taught to protect Black men from consciousness of themselves who blames herself for the ways she is dominated rather than examine how systems are perpetuated around her which force her to occupy particular power based hierarchies that are slowly destroying her...because any support given from that place would feel like a slap not an embrace, it would be insufficient not because it wasn't well meant, but because it would only have been useful had my identity and my comprehension of who I am in the world been completely different.)

I actually didn't expect responses back. But I guess I also didn't expect responses that would be about unpacking not our conditioning, but any intelligent critique of that conditioning. That...was...a little jarring. :)

But, then, like I said, I ended up talking to Papster late last night. I had this bright light go off in my brain.

The Shmolian.
I'm the mother to a Black male child.
I've got this precious little Black baby boy, who's actually a baby boy in that his level of maturity lines up with his chronological age.

This means I've got some time. I've always had time. But I didn't know what I was going to do. I you realize...did I mention that Shmolee hasn't had his naming ceremony yet? He's almost two years old and he hasn't been officially named and welcomed.

Stinkapee had hers at six months on Summer Solstice. My experience as a Black woman, as a Black queer woman, as a Black feminist woman who resists erotic domination who chose to give birth was so extreme, so potent, so telling, that I had lots and lots to say when it came time to name Stinkapee. I had lots to say about who I wanted her family to be. I had lots to say about how I wanted to raise her. I had lots to say about what I understood as my mandate...
There were people I thought of, people who angered me, people who were ignorant, people who were supportive, but not clear, people who had been present, people I was interested in being present.

I invited all of them so that they could understand my expectations as the mother of Stinkapee who I was going to be guiding.

I invited enemies and friends. I invited Kunle's family, though I really only like(d) and had spent time with his mother. I invited lesbians and straight people. I invited Black people, people of color, white people...

I think Stinkapee's naming ceremony came from a clear place because I knew what I was trying to craft in that moment, but also for her specifically. I knew what I had to do.

With Shmolee, things were different, things have been different.

I wanted another girl and for a good portion of my pregnancy I lived in denial of the fact that I had a boy. :)

I was raised by a Black man and I'm partnered to a Black man, but I can't honestly say I understand Black men. I haven't met m/any who understand themselves deeply. So, this makes it hard to connect with them in such a way that would allow for the experience to come clear. Sad.

As a feminist reader/thinker who has feelings, I have hoped to encounter Black men who were voluntarily, independently linking their politics to their thought processes to their emotions in ways that would radicalize them and my relationships to them.

When I gave birth to Shmolee I realized that I had no templates for raising a Black man that I understood as useful. I didn't have a map. Vague ideas about protecting him from the racism of the white world do not a parenting strategy make. That's fer sure. I knew I didn't have enough.

So, why am I talking about this now?

Well, as I've had the conversations with people who have come, a picture has formed of what politicos and everyday people understand and expect from Black men.

It's limited and limiting.

Black men are being limited, allowed to not grow into their fullest, most whole selves. They understand those who allow them to stand stagnant and ignorant as those who love them, care for them, support them. Sad. Painful.

I'm getting a really solid idea of what the expectations are for me as a Black woman, a Black feminist, a Black lefty, a Black conscious person, a Black mama and as a loving human being are if I expect to ever form and ultimately keep relationships with Black men. I'm realizing how many of the expectations I'm not fucking good with maintaining. No, not happy about it at all.

I understand what will be expected of Shmolee in the outside world. But I also understand how well meaning men and wimmin inside Black community will attempt to limit his consciousness of himself, will attempt to limit how far his thoughts can soar, will attempt to let him hide from consciousness, intentionality and responsibility through the offering of patriarchal privilege that will have him feel comfortable, real comfortable, too comfortable leaning on Black wimmin and draining their energies once his body is fully matured...I put body because being physically grown isn't the same thing as being mature.

Last night as I climbed into bed with Shmolee, Stinkapee woke up happy to see him. He was happy to see her, too. Their relationship is old. She was one of the first few people to touch him. She cut his umbilical cord, she separated him from me, she gave him his first taste of air.

He doesn't have a lot of words. He can stutter out something that sounds like her name. But since he understands her as a profound and loved presence in his life, he also calls her "Mama". I'm gonna have to watch that. Have to watch to make sure he understands that not every Black female he meets will be Mama. That he only has one Mama and that the rest, no matter how much he adores them or feels loved by them can never be Mama, should not be forced into the role of Mama.

As I lay there watching them hug and kiss and stroke each other's sleepy faces, eventually falling asleep in each other's arms, I thought about Papi and how he was raised by a Black feminist and is in relationship with a Black feminist and how this still really isn't enough support for him to combat his patriarchal understandings on the daily.

I looked down on Mr. Fatty...that's what we call Shmolee cuz he's got legs that are nice an' phat an' juicy an'' fat bum... :) I looked down on Mr. Fatty and thought: You will have Nana Ophelia, Mama and Stinkapee to keep you anchored and on track.

I don't know if it'll be enough.

I steeled myself for the time up ahead when he will meet Black wimmin, wimmin of color and/or white wimmin who have not been taught to critique patriarchy, who have been taught to make their peace with compulsory heterosexuality, who have been trained to position the cock as central focus...who have been taught that there is something particular about being oppressed as a Black man that necessitates strict avoidance of posing any critically analytical challenges to Black male patriarchs...

I thought about what I will have to do when/if wimmin, colonized deeply by patriarchy, willing to support it even as it crushes the life out of them come...
I thought about the sorts of conversations I've had with Papi, who spent years with no one bothering to explain patriarchal relations and how they impact heterosexual relationships between men and wimmin...
I thought about the kinds of conversations I will have to have with Shmolee and with any wimmin he encounters in order to strip away denial about how they move, how this society is constructed, how people are taught to understand themselves and each other, how this is linked to the ways they underestimate and therefore choose to not challenge Black men and how they will attempt to underestimate Mr. Fatty when he's no longer Mr. Fatty Baby but another hunted Black man, made to feel insecure and less than due to white domination, as he craves and is offered opportunities in Black communities where he can access relative patriarchal power via the submission of us Blck wimmin even as he is encouraged to expect Black wimmin's care and indulgence...indulgence being very different than "love"..

I thought about my writing. I thought about my defiance. I thought about the work of consciously and intentionally raising Black children who are brave, critical, intelligent, emotional, focussed and cherished.

I thought about my son. I thought about the kind of Black man I want to raise. I thought about how, because of white domination and because of patriarchal relations inside Black community combined with the reality of compulsory heterosexuality, my odds of succeeding are fucking shit.

I know that even with all my book learnin', practicing and planning, there is a very good chance that I will not succeed in raising an anti-patriarchal Black man.

I thought about naming Shmolee and welcoming him to this crazy world with a purpose and with a plan.

I thought about Papi and Julian and my brother and my father and his father and his fathers right back on through time.

I thought about the hobbling of Black men, the clipping of their Achilles' tendons by the white dominated world, by white men, who because of patriarchy, can lie to Black men and tell them that we it is we Black wimmin, not the white world, who are out for their blood. That we are harpies and bitches, the harsh, unloving wimmin who should not be allowed to draw breath freely because we pose a danger to Black men.

I thought about the gift I was offered last month as I invited some people into shared space with me and about what I discovered, what I realized. I was gifted with so much useful information.

I had been waiting. I have been waiting for some sort of sign, some set of words to flow that would tell me where to head with Shmolee and his naming. I knew that time had been slipping away but I had to wait for something that would allow his naming ceremony to be something more than just an empty ritual dressed up with mud cloth and an altar representing earth, wind, fire and air...

I just wanted to say thanks for being in the difficult conversations with me. They ended up being useful in ways I wasn't willing to admit because it hurt so much. The pain distracted me for a bit, but then it focussed me, drew me close and whispered in my ear so that eventually I was able to see and understand the lesson and receive the information.

I am grateful. I have been fed. :)

Now, I have to think about how much time I have between today and Summer Solstice..about guests and invitations and who will do the naming. yipPEE!
I didn't know any men, though. I invited wimmin...who mostly couldn't come. Now I know lots of men who are questioning masculinity in different days who I could think about inviting. Most days I think they'll make better family for Papster and Shmolee than they will make lovers for me. Maybe I don't have to be quite so binary about possible applications. :)