Jesus is a Party Crasher
The night before the January 21st Evolver Long Beach Spore, I had this dream:
I have started working in a treatment center for disturbed children. The first work I do with a child is observed by another counselor. The child and I are trying to do an activity with some cards that are like the Tarot. He makes an obnoxious remark about the cards. I gently mirror him. Suddenly seeing his obnoxiousness for the first time, he gets up from our table and walks a few steps away, and is crying, lamenting, “I’m so sarcastic.”
When I was male, my peers and I used sarcasm and irony as standard social currency, even social armor. I used it so habitually that it leached into my being, into my inner-child -- the one in the dream. As a female, I unlearn the social currency and armor of my male self, engendering a range of expression that would have been impossible for him. Social situations for me now can feel like going to the store without money, into battle without money.
Though my world-partner, Coyote Marie, and another friend accompanied me to the Spore, I was apprehensive -- as I have been around unfamiliar people ever since I can remember. This dream from the night before the Spore dates my socio-existential anxiety to August 1969, when I was 20 months old:
There is a video of astronauts returning from the moon, landing in the water by a beach. There I am sitting on a sandy precipice, my legs dangling over it. Everyone around me is very tall. Dad has me focus on items and patterns. They begin coming at me more quickly than feels ok, and it is scaring me. I get upset, whimpering, unable to keep watching. One of the very tall people -- a man -- bends down close to my face and says, “It’s ok. It’s for people with DS.” DS? “Yeah, for people who are scared of people.” I try to hold on, but I don’t like it.
At the Spore, a lot of items, patterns and people were all around me. Afraid to move much, I perched on a tall, rickety stool, watching. Eye contact with strangers felt warm, and there were children there, whose presence is calming for me.
There was a spread of food -- including Coyote Marie’s purple casserole: beets, cauliflower walnuts and goat cheese -- but I could not bring myself to leave my perch, anticipating there would be something I wouldn’t see or understand about how to get the food, making me seem incompetent to others and thence negatively judged. This happens so often -- particularly in queues -- that I dream about it. This characteristic dream is from 1/4/10:
I am in a high school cafeteria lunch line and everything goes completely haywire: I go for a slice of apple pie, which is under slices of cherry and blueberry pie, and I accidentally pull about 20 slices onto my tray. I clumsily return them, and they end up glommed together.
Then I see a hot chocolate dispenser – mmm. I try it, but it doesn’t work.
I think that fries would be good. I go to the place where they are set out for the students, but they are still being prepared. I can’t wait there for them because it would hold up the line.
I think that the green tray I have isn’t mine, but it actually is. Then I am given a new tray, this one made of transparent plastic. This is worrisome because it is very possible that I won’t be able see it.
After I bend down and stand up, my skirt gets caught up in my underpants. After I work out that embarrassment, the bodysuit I am wearing is not on right -- it’s half inside-out and my breasts are hanging out. I am totally confused about how to make it right. Finally, I deal with it by closing my eyes and feeling how it is supposed to go.
Seeing what a mess I am, female workers come out to help. I am just on the verge of getting the body suit rightside-out, but they take over before I can do it myself.
There are three main reasons why I am like this: 1) uncorrectable eyesight so poor I cannot get a driver’s license. 2) My mind & body never learned to work together because, as a child, my ultra-sensitive nature was underappreciated. I disappeared into my mind -- into my dreams -- and have not fully come out. 3) I have multiple scleroses, which hinders my balance.
Half of the time I am in line -- food lines, checkout lines, boarding lines, social services lines -- I screw something up. For example, a few weeks ago, after waiting two hours in a crowded social services office, my name was finally called to a window. When I reached it, and had face-to-face contact with the friendly clerk, it was not long before I was crying. “I’m sorry,” I said, “Crowded places make me very anxious.”
The clerk said I would have to wait for my name to be called a second time. Still crying as I returned to my seat, I squatted into a crouch to regain myself. I really needed to stay there, holding myself together for a minute, but a cop came and told me I could not. I had to take a seat.
If I spend any significant time in a crowd -- say, more than a half hour -- when I lie down to sleep that night, I feel people moving through my body, as if I am a fishbowl and they are fish.
The Spore was called “Give it Up” -- its theme: giving. From my spot on the stool, I listened to a talk about Time Banks; a cool idea for facilitating moneyless exchanges of services: one hour of giving credits you for one hour of receiving. I signed up for it, offering myself as a dream interpreter and dominatrix, seeking, in exchange, massage and electrolysis.
I slipped through the crowd to a second spot, where there was ample room, close to a screen where slides were projected. I sat on the floor, on the pillow organizers advised we bring -- mine bright red with a neon orange & green lizard printed on it. A few feet away, I noticed a woman peer at me tentatively, and a moment later she struck up conversation.
I learned that she had been to Burning Man once, by herself. It was a spiritual and emotional challenge to be alone there for her. She could have gone with a certain friend, but she decided against it because the friend was sickly, and her illness always ended up being the focus of group situations.
I could relate to that. My eyesight, allergies, ineptitude, and lack of stamina (due to MS) have made me a similar figure. In 11th grade, my friends left me behind when they went to beachweek because they said I would get lost.
Being so socially misfit lent itself to the 11 years in solitude I spent transforming into a new self -- from 1998 -- October 2009. In October I moved to California to stay with Coyote Marie. She has escorted my new self to the world, giving me guidance, moral support and helping me process the myriad challenges I face.
An announcement asked us to place the items we had brought for the Spore’s gift exchange on the “altar,” a low round two-tiered table, the upper tier smaller than the lower. Then we were called in alphabetical order -- e.g., “names beginning with A, B, and C” -- to come and select a gift. Though many of the gifts resonated with me personally, I selected one out of need. I really needed low-level lighting in the studio I moved to in mid-December, so I chose a handsome, handmade lamp, its body a cylinder of rough, unvarnished wood.
For the next step of the gift-exchange, we were to seek out the person whose offering we had selected, and to share our reasons for choosing it. My lamp-maker was a stocky European man in his mid-forties, who seemed like he could not wait to get away from me. Perhaps he had read my transsexuality and was repelled by it. Later, he took a special interest in Coyote Marie’s breasts, making more eye contact with her nipples than pupils. Maybe my tiny teats turned him off.
After returning to my new spot, with my lamp, I took a seat on an ergonomic chair -- which was amazing. I knelt on it, and bounced gently, flowing with the music that was playing from my loins all the way to my fingertips. The music was accompanied by a mind-blowing slideshow of Alex Grey's Chapel of Sacred Mirrors; mystifying images of the human spirit-body. A few feet from me, two women began dancing together in front of the slideshow -- one had made eye contact with me just after we arrived; looking into me sharply, like a child can when it is not afraid.
She was wearing a knit hat that had the ears and face of an animal, with long flaps that hung down, which could be wrapped like a scarf. Her body moved like a dancer’s, self-aware, spirit & flesh known to each other. As she and the other woman danced I looked back & forth between the image of their shadows on the screen and their actual bodies.
Their dance evolved into gestures of mutual adoration, bowing to each other, posturing for each other like prostrate Muslims, and then they were on the floor, and the animal-woman was wildly kissing the other’s feet. They were laughing. I was laughing. They noticed me laughing. I saw them notice me laughing.
I acknowledged to myself that I felt right in my body, in a way I wanted to in every social situation, without any need to engage anyone, but letting myself be engaged; not trying, not pressuring myself; just being and feeling. I acknowledged that I can’t try to interact how I think people expect me to, even if it alienates them. The best I can do is to dance in my private and safe corner, waiting to dance with the world, like the dancers were with each other.
Next singer-songwriter Alyssandra Nighswonger sang beautifully, performing sweet, lovely tunes with her guitar. Then there were readings of excellent poetry by three poets. As the third stepped up, an image of Christ’s flayed flesh from Chapel of Sacred Mirrors was projecting on the screen -- and the poet’s name: JC. He was wearing a wine-colored high-school athletics jacket, and had darkly-hued skin and a Dali moustache. He improvised, without making use of the microphone, rhyming to the end of the known universe and back, into the secret chambers of the heart, again and again and again, flowing with hardly a pause for at least ten minutes. The audience collectively gasped every couple minutes, wondering how he could possibly go on at that pace. He did as unremittingly as a river, his magical moustache like open tent flaps from under which the circus of the soul announced itself through his pearly whites. After the vibration of his final rhyme faded out, a roar went up from the audience. I howled like a coyote.
A dream I had the night before pre-echoed his performance, and the whole wonderful evening:
In 15 minutes I have to leave for the airport to fly home. Tons of family bearing gifts have come to see me off. It’s a special time. Music begins spilling into the room where we are, and I start singing with it, moving with it. I cannot avoid touching the others because the room is so cramped, but it’s ok. I wish such close contact was always ok. We sway as one and my song gets more and more intense. I feel the music in each person’s body and it informs my song. The song becomes operatic, my voice reaching a final crescendo, and I raise up my head and sing all my life and power into a final note. Everyone flows into it with me, feeling the energy; all us reaching as one toward the sky.
I was beginning to feel asthmatic -- a lot of the people there must have had cat dander on their clothing. After I got some air, I came back inside and conferred with Coyote Marie about how great JC had been. I told her that the Spore was a church service. She said, “Jesus is a party-crasher.” I said I wanted to hug JC. She did, too.
We mulled toward him. He was amidst an ecstatic conversation with another man, so we hung back.
Uneaten food was being packed up. There was a half-eaten German chocolate cake standing a foot high. All the plates were dirty, so I stuffed a cup with the cake and ate with a plastic spoon.
Coyote Marie touched my arm, and I turned to see JC, gazing at me like a lover I had not seen since my last life, his face glistening, flushed with the feeling pulsing in him. We held long in embrace, saying with our bodies that it was an honor to exist in the same world -- before we had ever spoken a word to each other.
The Spore raised $207 for Doctors without Borders.Tweet