- How did you learn Japanese? Was it as hard as I think it would be?
Strictly speaking, I haven't -- I've just been watching an awful lot of anime, and listening to a lot of anime music and J-Pop/J-Rock (especially "Fire Bomber" from Macross 7), and I keep picking up little insights about the language from matching the subtitles to the dialogue, or song translations to the songs that keep running through my head. I'm slowly supplementing this with some self-teaching out of an actual Japanese textbook, and have taught myself to read Hiragana; if I ever get enough time to start slogging through my manga collection, that should help even more.
- When did you know that transitioning wasn't just an option for you, but
a necessity? What was the decision-making process like?
Ooo, that's a really good one. I can remember the moment vividly -- all three of them, actually, at three different points, but you probably meant the third and final one.
It was about a month after my divorce became final. I was living with a friend in Penn Hills, and Halloween was coming up again, and I started thinking about how I'd been avoiding dealing with trans issues since my first abortive attempt at transition had fizzled out. I assumed that I was unable to successfully transition because of how hard it had been. The divorce started to let the whole trans question back out of the bottle again, and I had been mulling over exploring the possibility that maybe if I wasn't transsexual, then I was a crossdresser, and perhaps Halloween would be a good time to explore that.
That got me thinking about why it was that my transition had failed. It wasn't that I had any particular attachment to being a guy -- in fact, I hated it and felt kind of wistful around female friends and when I ran across web pages from other trans women. Realizing that it was a matter of logistics rather than desire was the first important realization -- and then I imagined myself five years down the road. It had been about five years since my first transition, and if I imagined myself as a guy five years from then (which would've been almost two years ago now!), I still would have been depressed, miserable, and gray. If, however, I put my head down, resigned myself to the intervening five years completely sucking, and imagined myself having gotten all the way through transition at that point, to live as female thereafter -- well, that would make even my worst fears be well worth it.
Within a few months, my transition was on, for good. None of my fears ever materialized: I didn't lose my family, my job, or my friends -- and I made many new ones, found love (repeatedly :-)), my career took off, and I'm now happily settled down with a life partner I never otherwise would have met. It's been pretty much the best thing that's ever happened to me.
- What are your core spiritual beliefs?
I'm a huge believer in immanent divinity -- that still small voice deep inside that speaks into your heart. It spoke very loudly when I first transitioned, and has kept speaking ever since, but I've heard it at other points in my life, too. battakes happened to be there when it really piped up, which led to a lengthy conversation that drew us both into rediscovering ancient Metroac spirituality, which we use as a focus to help other transpeople find that same spark within themselves.
I get along very well with other traditions that look within and honor personal experience with the numinous. Before I transitioned and became a priestess of Cybele, I was a Son Buddhist, and the Quakers have always seemed like kindred spirits as well, though they're a bit too explicitly Christian in focus for me to feel at home there. Bringing Quaker or Zen practice into a Metroac (or more generally Pagan) setting might be nice to try, ritually -- and in a way, that's just what we do, as every time I've tried to be a High Church EpiscoPagan, I've never finished writing the liturgy in time for the ritual, and have always just winged it.
I recently discovered that the CUUPS chapter at our local UU church has gone dormant. I may try to revive that as a way of getting enough of a critical mass for monthly full moon rituals. But my real spiritual home is in the Catskills or down at the Serpent Mound with battakes, catskillmarina, and the rest of the wonderful group we've buit. Or in the mountains of North Carolina with another group of kindred spirits.
- If you could have any Halloween costume you wanted (a fabulous pro job),
what would you pick? Why?
I'm torn between Utena Tenjou (from Shoujo Kakumei Utena -- especially if I could wangle a matching Rose Bride costume for linuxspice) and Honor Harrington. But what would be really cool would be a full 15th Century white harness (armor), with a visored burgeonet (helmet), falchion (sword), heater shield, and surcoat -- essentially, any of the succession of Paladins I've played in various D&D campaigns. Why? Because it would also let me get involved with our local SCA group and fight heavy....
- If you were going to be stranded for a year (with all basic necessitites)
in one of the following places, which would you pick? Deep in a forest, a
mountaintop or a desert island?
The island would only be fun with a boat to explore other nearby islands, so being "stranded" there is out. How about a mountaintop deep in a forest? (Or a "hilltop" if you're from out west where the mountains are Real Mountains, not the short, rounded-off ones that we have on this side of the Mississippi.) I go to a spiritual retreat in the mountains of North Carolina every August that includes an extremely powerful ritual circle atop Max Patch Mountain, which is a grassy "bald" on the Appalachian Trail with stunning views in every direction. There's a particularly nice shelter (Overmountain) near another such bald (Roan Mountain) not far away; park me at Overmountain for a year, and that would be really neat. Or among the ponies at Grayson Highlands near Mount Rogers.
On the gripping hand, since I do long-distance hiking, any "stranding" on a continent would have to be voluntary -- i.e. agreeing to stay put at Overmountain, or intentionally wanting to go off to the hills for a while to read or think or build a boat or because I'm pissed off at the world. If you genuinely want to "strand" me, I guess it would have to be the island. Perhaps a mountain in a forest on an island? :-)