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Friday, 23 July 2021

Now We are Six

 Now we are Six

Or so an email today from Tumblr informs me.

Who remembers – or still uses - Tumblr these days? But apparently it still remembers me, enough to send a birthday message at least. And a reminder to update or verify my account.

Tumblr must have been my first attempt at a blog, or least until I got bored with posting badly photoshopped pictures of Susie and used it for posting bits of artwork instead, and then abandoned it in favour of Blogger where I had more control (theoretically, anyway) over the mixture layout pictures and words. And there on and off (sometimes for quite long periods) I have remained.

But Susie is six? At least as far as her appearance in the blogosphere is concerned. My first Blogger post is dated 19 July 2015 . Perhaps there should be cake, and candles. (Actually, there should always be cake., although I’m prepared to forego the trifle.)

And I wonder if some of those early posts will prove just as embarrassing as seeing your baby photos when looked back on from the grown-up perspective of being six.

 ***

All change!

Feel your body melt
Mum to mud to mad to dad”

 [points to anyone who identifies the quote.]

The Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu (Zhuang Zhou) once dreamed  he was a butterfly, and when he awoke suddenly he wondered if he was now Chuang Tzu who had just dreamed of being a butterfly or a butterfly now dreaming he was a man called Chuang Tzu.

While I wouldn’t go so far as to describe Susie as a butterfly, except perhaps in her flightier moments, or her rare, fleeting appearances in the garden, I think I sometimes know how Chuang Tzu must have at that moment of feeling still suspended between two different states: that of a light carefree butterfly and the solid reality of mundane existence.

It’s a feeling that lingers in that hour or so when the last traces of Susie have been packed safely away out of sight after receiving a phone call from L saying she’s on her way home, and before she comes in through the door, bursting to tell me all the news of her day out. In that state I am neither completely one thing nor another. I am no longer Susie, and I’m just starting to miss her – especially the feeling of hair against the back of my neck once more, but I have not yet fully adjusted to being boring old S again. 

(For myself, I will not be asked about how my own day was, or what I did, unless the answer contains no reference to spending the best part of it as Susie. While her existence is acknowledged in this house, it is not open to discussion.)

That context switch from being Susie back into mundane life can sometimes prove difficult, especially when you’re busy editing your answers before you speak.  This is something that came up in an LGBT+ Ally discussion at work. Self-editing your responses when your boss or colleague asks about your weekend because you’re not comfortable being out at work  takes a lot of mental effort that is basically wasted - and constant non-committal answers have the danger of making you seem aloof, distant or stand-offish. That wasted mental effort, and the strain it imposes, is part of the reason the company I work for has a strong Pride LGBT+ network and encourages and supports people who want to be out and open at work. It’s not totally altruistic: All that wasted mental effort, they judge, could be better used thinking about work and contributing to company goals. But it is a move towards a win-win situation. (That is, if you actually like your work.)  

Although here I perhaps ought to confess that despite being on my workplace’s Pride committee, I am not out myself as trans / bi-gender, even to fellow members of that committee. That time may still come, but it still seems a big and potentially irrevocable step to take, despite all the reassurances about diversity and inclusion, after 40 years of being in hiding.

4 comments:

  1. Funny how some platforms grow and become popular, whereas others seem not to. I did look at Tumblr a few years after it launched, but I think the security (I think it had something to do with Yahoo at one point) put me off. Mind you, having been on Blogger for a while, it took a few incidents with my Google account to make me want to jump ship. 🙂

    Yeah, commenting did seem tricky and I'm not sure any single platform had got it 100% yet. Blogger seems to use OpenID and anon, whereas WordPress seems different. 'Out of the box' both seem to need a little help to keep comment spam at bay.

    Re the ally programme, on a recent course, the organisers (Stonewall) ran an icebreaker in which we were asked to talk about our weekend. Here's the catch, you had to swap the genders and names of people, plus not mention the venue. That was an interesting experience seeing colleagues have to do what a number of closeted folk do on a daily basis.

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    1. Hmm. Google seems to be messing about with comments 😁

      ProTip: keep your comment on the clipboard before posting, that way you can try again. 🙂

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    2. That Stonewall exercise could have proved very boring in lockdown. But the idea is sound. It introduces people to having to improvise and monitor their answers before talking. Outside the gender aspect you could do the same thing by telling them they were not allowed to use specific use words. (I would ban anyone under 30 from using 'like' to mean anything but 'approve of'. L would want to ban anyone starting a sentence with 'So,'.) So of course, I do it all the time -at least in writing though not in her hearing. :-)

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    3. So, like, that's just really, uh, yeah, right? 😁

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