April 3, 2012

In Which I Wax Poetic

Lately I've been telling a lot of people about my favourite poem. Lucky you, I'm gonna tell you too! My favourite poem is by Williams Carlos Williams:

This Is Just To Say
I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

For me, this is a poem about not having regrets. He says "Forgive me," but he doesn't say "I'm sorry"-- he says, "they were delicious." For me, this poem is about not apologizing when I'm not sorry. It's about being able to acknowledge the collateral damage of my choices without ever forgetting why I made those choices. It's about choosing the things that I actually want, instead of the things that will result in the least resistance from others. So it's a very soothing poem for me; I've had this poem memorized for years, and I like to turn it over in my mind, like a worrystone, reminding myself of its shape.

Regret has played a huge role in my life thus far. I have regretted pretty much every life decision I've ever made, ever. I regret both of my serious girlfriends, each in their own way. I regret coming to Duke. I regret leaving Duke to go on medical leave. I really regret coming back. I have regretted every purchase and every joke I have ever made. I regret 90% of my social interactions-- and I definitely regret every time I've gotten drunk.

I don't always regret these things-- in fact, most of the time, I'm okay with the decisions I make, or at least I'm able to move on. It's just the awful social anxiety that makes me replay everything in my head, late at night when I'm trying to sleep, and everything I do seems so much stupider-- it's only in those moments that I regret. Well, and then in the morning I regret spending so much time focusing on my regrets.

But this is changing. More and more, I'm able to remember why I made the choices I did-- and more importantly, I'm able to remember the positive outcomes of those choices, and not just the negative ones. My regrets are more fleeting and less heartfelt, and they never keep me awake any more.

And, I now have two major life decisions under my belt which I have never regretted, not even for a moment. The first is my decision to write a thesis. For the first time, I allowed myself no excuses. I turned in a project that was the very best I can do. This is honestly pretty scary, because it means that if my advisor says it isn't any good, I can't blame something else-- it'll mean that I'm not very good at what I do. But that would be better than failing because I'd never even tried. Even then, I wouldn't regret.

The second thing I never regret: starting testosterone. It's been a little over five months; people have been commenting that they can see changes-- a little fuzz on my cheeks, a different shape to my face, a deeper voice. I don't see any of it, but I do feel... different. More solid. More okay.

I don't think I could have written my thesis, without testosterone. For one thing, T cured my writer's block! I hadn't even realised how hard writing had gotten until it was suddenly easy again. But more than that, being on hormones, and therefore making progress on the path I want to live-- it allows me to just not think about all my personal shit all the goddamn time, so I can think about Romantic-era novels instead.

I still waffle a little about some parts of transitioning-- I really love the middle name Isaac, for example, because I like the name and I like the homage to Isaac Asimov, but it makes my initials LIE, and LIE is even worse than LEG. But testosterone-- every single day I feel more at home in my body, more content with the direction of my life. I've been having a hard time, lately, explaining How I Know that I'm trans, since I don't fit a "typical" trans narrative, and I didn't Know until pretty recently. But the answer is-- I never regret a single step that I take toward transition. On testosterone, I feel more like myself. And for the first time, I also feel happy about being myself. I can actually imagine a future in which I don't regret anything. It's a remarkable new outlook.

So these days, when people ask me how I'm doing, I say I'm fine, or I even say I'm great-- but inside, I'm always thinking, delicious.


  1. For whatever reason, every time I see William Carlos Williams' name I think of Wendy Carlos. Her versions of classical music turned me on to both classical music and electronic music (which is a pretty good feat) and her story seems appropriate for this post. http://www.wendycarlos.com, and especially http://www.wendycarlos.com/pruri.html, which has some of the best lines I have ever read.

    Also - if you like Isaac but worry about the letters, take two middle names. Isaac Victor or Isaac Frederick or Isaac Kristopher make for some excellent initials for who you are!

  2. Isaac Asimov = Win. Also, I just want to say that I adore your posts. Of course, I may just be biased because you like QI/Stephen Fry :-P

  3. I really loved being able to pick my own middle name. My first name I was trying to find something that would be just for me, but my middle name could be an homage. And then... I couldn't think of any men! I just kept thinking of female authors who shaped my childhood, including (hilariously) the author my parents originally named me after. And then when I thought of Asimov, I knew I was done looking. Asimov's short stories fundamentally created my views of science (good) and humanity (inclusive).

    This is a roundabout way of responding to both of you-- Dr. G, I love the idea of adding another middle name to spell out something awesome, but I don't think I can find something personal enough! And Kyle, heck yeah Asimov is amazing. As is Stephen Fry; I loved your post on him. It's nice to talk about queer role models who are a little outside the typical mold.

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