This is a photo I took on a trip with Ben to Big Trees in November. It expresses the entire year to me -- the sharp pains and vibrant joys, and most of all the crazy tangled unforseeability of it. And the focus too -- not seeing far behind or much ahead. Oh, what a wild ride.
I dedicated 2009 to risk-taking (since the focus of 2008 became faith-building instead) and I feel that I fully met that goal. I practiced living in the moment, doing things because they feel right without concern for how they might turn sour; being with Viv, going to San Francisco, deciding to end my partnership with [ex], beginning a relationship with Ben, moving in with Ash, hanging out with people I didn't know well and didn't feel miraculously connected to, couchsurfing, driving a rental car. Those are all things I wouldn't have done a year ago out of a habit of thinking "but what if bad stuff happens."
This year brought me the greatest disappointment and the greatest joy I've ever experienced. It's been such a blend, every joy right next to suffering (and vice versa). This is the first year I have had local friends since I was 20, and the first time in my life I've had a sense of community, an actual CIRCLE of people whom I love and feel that I belong with. It used to be so rare that I spent time with friends that every single time was intensely noteworthy and now it has become NORMAL to me! I feel immensely rich. I get hugs at least every single week -- after YEARS of feeling like a leper because no one touched me. I speak and people listen and care and respond -- after years of having no one to talk with in person (well, no one who cared about the same things or was very interested in my thoughts). I am so profoundly grateful. Thank you Deity, thank you universe, thank you localtribe, thank you everyone and everything!
... start off delighted, full of excitement over how wonderful 2008 was.
14th-16th -- I offer tarot readings to my flist, and find the process thrilling. It works so well I hesitate to do it again because what if it's a fluke? (oh, me and my ways)
20th -- I set the goal of becoming more fit (at which I succeed) and buying a Hapi drum (at which I do not (yet)).
27th -- I finally post about my loss of trust in Ava and begin mourning that loss.
... car isn't working and I'm housebound.
6th -- I have the shittiest birthday ever: take bioparent in to a plastic surgery office and have to wait there and feel the attitude of self-loathing that permeates the place, [ex] is grumpy and doesn't celebrate with me, people who are important to me forget my birthday, and bioparent barely acknowledges it.
13th -- I realize that my faith in magic and beauty and love has somehow been completely drained. One of my plants dies despite my best efforts and I can't feel connection in nature. I feel hopeless and disconnected.
23rd -- I write about giving advice vs. sharing experiences
3rd -- I write about how I apologize (empathize, explain, change)
5th -- I write about my feelings on plastic, waste, and recycling
15th -- I write about my feelings on sexually violent language (esp. casual use of the word 'rape' )
17th-23rd -- I write a series of posts on BDSM, developing my thoughts along the way (1, 2, 3) and on equalist sex.
31st -- I go to [ex's parent]'s birthday and realize just how deeply I've been excluded from their family, and for how long.
... Pat moves away without warning and without setting up care for the baby trees which I left in zir care!
5th -- Aurilion and I take a two-week break from talking on the phone.
6th -- [ex] and I head to Atlanta to see the Tut exhibit which elya gave me tickets for, got lost and went to the Botanical Gardens instead where I met their Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar ♥
7th -- I attend my first pagan meeting at Clay Cafe, and meet Kat K, S, Nikki, and Wolf.
... feel very depressed (still) and hurt, feel like I've forgotten how to speak
15th -- I reach out to my LJ friends and express my desire for closer relationships, then don't follow through. :-/
18th -- my first drum circle! I return buzzing with joy.
19th -- [ex] says ze wants to move (for the 2347935872395th time) and I start to get stressed about the idea of moving out of state.
20th-24th -- Aurilion breaks up with me, then changes zir mind and wants to be together again, then cuts contact.
26th -- I realize that I'm finally able to enjoy casual time with people (MAJOR turning point)
... feel stuck, frustrated
5th -- read The Mismeasure of Woman and Myths of Gender, get furious and post a rant: gender is sexism painted over with bad science
9th -- I draw parallels between race stereotypes and sex stereotypes
11th -- I go to my first borderpagans meeting (and meet justben! and Anita! and Saleena! and Brandon and Meg and... I can't remember if anyone else was there that time)
13th -- I post my draws and dealbreakers: my reasons to fight for a relationship and my reasons to end one
23rd -- see Sara play with Novo Luna at the Red Light Cafe
... I keep having anti-lookism dreams, and reflect on how I used to be so self-loathing [[STILL NEED TO RE-DO THAT PROJECT, must remember!]]
... I start being more social, going to the drum circle again and to borderpagans and meet Shel and Ryan in person! and DANCE IN PUBLIC.
... meet someone who is spirit-kin but also extremely sexist and lookist, feel SO TORN between desire and revulsion.
... more anti-lookism dreams
... several dreams about meeting a violet spirit
6th -- see Full Radius Dance perform, feel overwhelmed with the beauty of it and feel more inspired about the power of art.
11th -- see PJ Harvey in concert with Sara
14th -- meet Viv and fall in love upon hugging zir. go to my first cuddle party!
16th -- go skinnydipping with Viv, confess my enchantment, kisses and kisses and kisses, I say I love you.
17th -- serendipitously find a fair and go with Viv! more enchantment and giddiness
20th -- Viv and I talk and ze tells me ze wants to be just friends. I'm massively crushed.
21st -- Ash gets married to Stuart and then we all go to Amicalola Falls. Anna comes along and I finally get to meet zir!
22nd -- Ash and Alivia and I go to see Viv perform in a drag pageant
26th -- I help Viv make a tutu for pride prom and take photos of zir.
29th -- Aurilion calls me seemingly out of the blue and says ze wants to be with me again. I later learn that this was because lil sis mentioned Viv. :-/
30th -- still in pain over not being with Viv and not knowing if I'm important to Viv, but enjoying the experience of how being around Viv opens me up.
3rd -- go tubing in Helen with Sara and Shel and Ryan and a huge crowd of Shel'n'Ryan's friends.
4th -- I write a long rambling post about trans identities and my feelings on sex and gender
... I realize I don't want to be partners with [ex] (or anyone else for that matter), though I still want to be lovers.
9th -- Viv tells me ze feels ready to be in a romantic relationship with me.
... feel like my relationships are too easy even when they're hard -- feel like there's a new step that I don't know how to take but need to.
11th -- go to Paradise Valley nudist resort to participate in World Record Skinny Dip, get there just barely too late for the countdown but have tons of fun anyway. Meet Nicole! (I thiiink that was the first time, can't remember if ze came to a borderpagans meeting I attended before that) Talk and cuddle with Ben ;-)
20th -- [ex] and I discuss whether or not to stay in any relationship, ze says ze wants to learn to give
25th -- [ex] goes to a borderpagans meeting with me, the first time ze's willingly explored something that was solely my interest.
... I spend a ton of time with Viv and lil sis and Ash and S
6th -- I meet up with eviltwin for the first time in ages and we have a frank talk and open the possibility of friendship
7th -- I get drunk for the first time ever and dance with strangers for the first time ever
13th -- Paul gives me a tarot reading which clarifies a lot for me regarding [ex] and the path to take regarding zir.
... get my hair cut in a 'hawk and dyed green and violet!
17th -- go to see Bat For Lashes and Other Lives with Viv, fall in love with music again.
22nd -- go out with Anita, Saleena, Ash, Brigit, Seressia; dance and get drunk again!
26th-27th -- go to Hilton Head with [ex] and spend time with lil sis, bioparents, and an uncle and aunt I hadn't seen in 8 years. Attempt to reconnect sexually/emotionally with [ex], failure.
30th -- go to Rebecca's baby shower and hold Ariana for the first time.
2nd -- fly to San Francisco! it's my first time going alone to a place where I have no 'home base' and I'm terrified but excited. I ride the BART to my hostel and settle in nervously.
3rd -- I meet NEA (!!!) and zir friend Pekka at Cafe Chanta, this gorgeous little hookah bar. We share a hookah and sip on wine and coffee, then go walking to the docks to see the sea lions. It's dark when we get there but the walk is fun. We head back and I have Indian food for the first time (YUM!).
4th -- In the morning I walk to Borders (a very cool one with three stories) and buy a paper journal and write for the first time in years. Later I meet up with Nea and Pekka and we head to the Castro where we drink and talk and wander a bit (and I spot the street that Noe Venable was named for!). We take lots of photos! (flocked at Nea's preference)
5th -- I get my rental car and then go to Cafe Chanta, intending to see the bellydancer but ze doesn't get there until I leave. I smoke a hookah and wriiiiiiiiiiite.
6th -- meet Cara in San Jose, we wander around a street festival and I buy a silver serpent ear cuff!
7th -- Cara and Doug and I drive up to Muir Woods and I take photos of the redwoods
8th -- I drive down to Big Sur (on a highway along a cliff above the ocean!), but by the time I arrive it's already getting dark and I don't get to see much of it because I'm nervous about driving to my hotel in the dark :-/ That night I cry myself to sleep, desperately lonely and raw from the realizations I'd been experiencing already.
9th -- I head to meet up with shadowlily and get MASSIVELY lost on the way. We have coffee and dinner and explore a few shops together. Ze's got this enchanting way of moving that I never would have guessed from photos -- like ze's always dancing!
10th -- back with Cara, I take zir out to dinner for zir birthday and we have a fabulous time ;-)
11th -- I drive back to San Francisco and go to the Museum of Modern Art, where they have fascinating pieces and a ton of portraits by Richard Avedon, including one of Marilyn Monroe that almost made me burst out crying. I want to do with color what ze did with black and white. After that I have my first couchsurfing experience! Max and Theo graciously host me at the last minute and we talk about everything from queerness to porn to economic prejudice (and lots more but I can't remember it all), absolutely FASCINATING conversation. We also play Kill The Hippies which is a hilarious card game.
12th -- fly back to GA
... Viv tells me ze's planning to move to Seattle at the end of September.
14th -- talk with Hannah for the first time in aaaages ♥
15th -- Apply to be part of the 2010 Equality Ride
16th -- [ex] tells me ze 'disagrees' with me on pretty much everything that matters to me, essentially confessing that ze's been living a lie for years. This marks the true end of our partnership and sends me into a spiral of doubting everyone and everything.
17th -- Go out with the Thursday night pagan group and over dinner ask justben if ze will hold my hand (because I'm hurting and craving kind contact); ze does, happily ;-)
19th -- go to a cuddle party, cuddle with Ben a lot and we confess mutual crushes :D also cuddle with Nicole ♥ and two strangers.
21st -- after the borderpagans meeting Ben and I kiss for the first time -- and a long time :D :D :D
22nd -- I decide on my 'front' name, James, and post about why (flocked because it contains my to-be-legal last name)
24th -- go with Viv to see Sara play a solo show at Smith's Olde Bar.
25th -- go to an erotic poetry reading with Ben and Nicole, have awesome conversation afterward.
27th -- I realize I finally have local community, after yearning for it for years.
28th -- more unbelievably intense bliss with Ben ♥
29th -- Viv and I discuss our relationship in the context of zir planning to move to Seattle, decide that we don't want a long-distance relationship and officially become platonic.
1st -- I visit Big Trees alone for the first time.
2nd -- dealing with [ex]'s emotional betrayal, realizing just how false our relationship was.
5th -- I realize I have a heart and soul connection with Ben, and am overwhelmed by the beauty and intensity and purity of it.
7th -- I help Ash move into zir new place and go on my first date with Ben :D
9th -- I move in with Ash
14th -- find out I'm not going on the Equality Ride in 2010, sad :-(
... sharing music with Ben = bliss!
16th -- go to Hope Sandoval concert with Ben, live and breathe the music together, oh ecstasy!
17th -- go to Shel's surprise birthday party and wander through a corn maze, then hang out with eviltwin and Ash, then experience a powerful spiritual connection with Ash
18th -- wandered the Chastain Arts Festival with Ash & Ben, had dinner with Ash & Ben & Nicole, then Ben & I had dinner and discussed communicating in nonjudgemental ways and what makes good poetry -- during which I think of a poem that exemplifies simple imagery and Ben thinks of the exact same poem!
... experience the presence of Aphrodite several times, make offerings to zir.
23rd -- Viv comes over for the weekend, breaks Ash's and my trust. Ze stops being in contact after I express my feelings about it to zir.
25th -- Ben and I go to the Big Trees Forest Preserve together -- ohhh incredible, I see it in a whole new way.
3rd -- Kanika comes home with me.
8th -- go to the Polyamory Southeast meeting with Ash & Tali -- it's the first time I really get to chat with Tali, who is awesome.
11th -- I do a photoshoot of Sara at ORM park!!! Ze loves the photos and uses one as the cover for zir album, making me a published photographer, hee hee!
12th -- I realize I have a fear of joy/pleasure and tend to close off to it after a certain point. I make a decision to practice opening to joy and being aware of my reactions to it.
13th -- Ash and I have a flat-warming party where awesome people flood our flat and paint on our walls!!!
14th -- I am the happiest I've ever been, after practicing openness during the party and then during sex with Ben and then during a visit to Big Trees Forest Preserve with Ben, where we offered a libation to Ares.
17th -- see Kate Havnevik and Levi Weaver with Sara!
19th -- more pain over [ex]; ze seems to have suddenly become who I always hoped ze would be with me -- with zir new girlfriend.
... SAD starts to affect me as it gets colder. :-/
21st -- go to eviltwin's graduation party
22nd-28th -- lil sis visits! and asks intensely personal questions of strangers :D
... Ben and I have interesting, constructive arguments ;-)
26th -- Ash & lil sis & I go to see Ash's Nanny and then to visit my bioaunts and have a surprisingly fun time both places.
27th -- Ash & lil sis & Ben & I go to Scarlett's chosen-family thanksgiving party (my second time meeting Scarlett) where EVERYONE is wonderful and I share cuddles with Ben & Scarlett :D
28th -- Ben and I go to Big Trees again :D
... -- stressed about money because [ex] is reluctant to keep zir promise to support me and I have no means of supporting myself.
4th -- I get terribly sick and have my first day of work. I miss seeing Full Radius Dance perform :-(
7th -- meet Chase, Alex, and Emma at borderpagans.
... I realize I'm entrenched in a habit of self-censoring (for [ex]'s sake) and need to get back to communicating more freely.
7th-14th -- dreadful week, bad sickness, [ex] issues, feel lonely and deeply hurt and unsafe, depressed about no ability to give Christmas presents :-(
16th -- I realize that among all the stress, illness, pain, and winter, I have still been able to open to joy and haven't shut down in depression!
19th-27th -- lil sis visits ♥
23rd -- Ash & S orchestrate a Christmas surprise for me ♥ ♥ ♥
25th -- spend the day deeply hurt and angry over [ex].
29th -- I write about my relationship with lil sis
31st -- spend the afternoon with Ben & Nicole, first at dinner with Ben's other girlfriends and their significant others (and THEIR significant others, hee), and then at Tyme and Elizabeth's NYE party. I have my first New Year's kiss, hee ;-)