Another Bruised Violet

A post or two ago I wrote about an exchange I had with someone – ghost305 – in the comments section under a Babes In Toyland video. I thought that was the end of it, but today, when I went out to poach internet because I can’t afford to have it at the house, she – I’m guessing ghost305 is a “she” – had responded, so then I responded again. So now I’m writing this and tomorrow I’ll go find a coffee shop that’s open and post it. And I’ll invite ghost305 to come to this site because it seems weird that we’re hashing things out under a video.

First, I’m so used to the “comments” section being the place for trolls to pick fights that I just assumed that’s what ghost305 was doing. I may’ve been mistaken.

Next, I am a confused mass of contradictory elements and identities. It all seems to fit together in my head when I’m home with nobody but the orange kitten, but it is dang nigh impossible to get anybody else to understand. I mean, I have the kinda body anybody would describe as “male”, but I feel like a “female”, or what I guess females feel like based on my observations. I never really gave any thought to surgically changing my body to be more like one that other people would describe as “female” because surgery would not give me the experience that I would want and that would seem worth the trouble, which would include menstruation, not that I don’t think people who do have surgery are “really” what they have surgery to become, because I do, but surgery wouldn’t give me what I would want, so I never really wanted it, although if it were possible to switch bodies with a woman who was about the same age and who wanted to be male, sorta like Freaky Friday, I would seriously consider doing that. But then again, that would still be, in some way, reacting to the society I live in – and that is what I would want to change. I genuinely hate the pigeonhole I get put in when people see me as a white male of a certain age (50). And I’m just as likely to be stereotyped by young people who know all about diversity and make a big production of displaying how open-minded they are as anybody. Actually, those are the people who do it the most. There is definitely a reason I enjoy hanging out with lesbians who grew up in the rural south with PTSD and anxiety disorders. Them’s my people. (I got to hang out with Katy and Tori t’other day and we agreed that cranky old rednecks who cuss about everything are a lot easier to get along with than politically correct college kids.) So, yes, I would prefer to have the wider hips, boobs and internal organs of a woman, but it isn’t that problematic for me. I accept the body I have – the specifically male parts and the weak chin and the extra wide feet. It’s a good body. It allows me to do a lot of fun stuff and my immune system is so strong that I ain’t worried about COVID19 or COVID20 or any of the COVIDs.

I just don’t like the assumptions. I think one reason none of my relationships lasted is that the women I got involved with expected a man. I know that I frequently found myself feeling like none of them understood me, that they were treating me like someone I wasn’t. I see that I failed to communicate who I was. That certainly had something to do with how I was socialized, because I was raised to be male and taught to act a certain way and it’s been a long slog unlearning that.

Of course, all this about my confus(ing/ed) gender identity is just part of the picture. There’s also the alcoholism, the traumatic childhood, the abusive relationships, the various mental disorders, and the fact that the society I live in is all fuct up. All this mess swirls around in my brain and I kinda get it because I’m used to it and I know all the backstory, but communicating it to anybody is such a daunting task that I don’t even want to try. The kitten doesn’t care.

Oh, I forgot to mention that I’m also a Christian, of the Lutheran persuasion, but I wouldn’t be one of those if God hadn’t specifically told me to become a Lutheran minister, which shows how little I know because the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is definitely the spiritual home that I was looking for for twenty years and didn’t even know it. It seems really easy to be a Christian with all those other things. I find it really easy to just lean into the Father, Son and Holy Spirit and ignore what the politically correct college kids I used to work with think a Christian is. Actually, there’s a whole heckuva lotta people whose idea of what a Christian is differs wildly from my own – and a lot of them are Christians. It’d be fine for me to just show up to church, get my bread and grape juice and go about my business, but there’s that thing about becoming a minister. I’ma have to learn how to communicate with people to do that.

I did another volunteer overnight gig with the local low-barrier homeless shelter t’other night. This time, the shelter was located in the dining hall at a Brethren church in Briery Branch, which is the corner of the county where they still make moonshine the old fashioned way. There’s a lot of good hiking spots down there. I really like being part of the shelter system. I’m hoping to get hired on when they start hiring again. The homeless are easy to get along with. I have a little more trouble conversating with the other volunteers who generally seem like “normal” church people. Ya know what I mean. The kind of minister I’m headed toward is “deacon” as opposed to “pastor”, which, in the ELCA, means I’d be ministering to people in the world, as opposed to in the church. Deacons and pastors minister to people anywhere, of course, but generally the person you see up at the front of the church on Sunday, preaching and proclaiming forgiveness, is a pastor. I’m not really interested in doing that. On Sunday morning, I’d rather sit in a pew and take it in. What I wanna do is serve people in the world, especially the people who generally get the shit end of the stick, which from where I’m sitting looks like alcoholics, addicts, people with mental disorders – all of whom make up a large percentage of the homeless – and the LGBTQ+ community – who are disproportionately represented among the homeless – so working with the homeless is a really good place for me to get experience and make connections. When I say “serve” I mean provide them with food, shelter, clothing and a bit of dignity. I’d be happy to talk with any of ‘em about how I got clean and sober, how I found ways to deal with the troublesome things my brain tells me occasionally, and how much peace and joy I get from having a relationship with God, but I don’t feel like I have to change them. That was a problem back when I was getting my Associates degree and doing internships – I really wanted to change people and was bummed when I couldn’t.

Jesus said “Care for the poor”. He did not say “Care for thepoor and convince them that they should change in the same way you changed so they become what you think they should be.” And that’s what I was trying to do. I no longer have that problem. Now I’m happy just caring for the poor, talking with ‘em a bit, and going outside to smoke.

I was gonna write more in response to ghost305 and then I started free associating. Hm. I guess that’s fine. The reason she and me got off to a bad start is that I said something and she doesn’t know me so she took it the way she did based on her assumptions and then I did about the same thing right back at her. The solution seems to be to kick out the assumptions and get real. As I said, I’d rather live in a world where everybody did that all the time, including me.

What else would I tell her? I use “Luther” because I’m Lutheran. “Von Wolfen” means “of wolves” or “from wolves”, a reference to being metaphorically raised by wolves and taking on some of their characteristics, which I’m currently sussing out and letting go. I have the typical punk rock attitude about “selling out” and I learned a long time ago to spot one before it happened, which is why I saw Hole going in a direction I wasn’t gonna like when I heard their first full-length. I did like L7 for their guitar noise and throaty vocals, at first. Their lyrics were too dumb to really keep my attention and they got up to some really gross shit later. I haven’t loved everything Kathleen Hanna did after Bikini Kill, but I don’t think she betrayed the spirit of Riot Grrrl or anything. Team Dresch contributed to the Butchies who are good, though not as much for me as Team Dresch. 7 Year Bitch took some hard blows, and I don’t know what they’re up to these days. Babes In Toyland have been on and off since the 90’s, and Kat Bjelland is also the front for Katastrophy Wife. I’m a huge fan of Kat’s voice which I tried to describe to Katy and Tori as “a female Tom Waits screaming bloody murder and giving full throttle to everything that misogynists hate about women’s voices” or something like that. She’s deep, raspy, shrieking, shrill, incoherent and terrifying like some kinda warty, one-eyed banshee hag with teeth in her bloody vagina. I fuckin’ love that voice.

Yes, intersectional feminism is very complex and requires nuanced and thoughtful actions, but occasionally I just wanna hear an angry female shred her vocal cords. And I totally envy her ability to just let it go – even to embrace the awfulness, like on the Babes’ cover of “All By Myself”. My own bad singing voice was another reason for my parents to belittle me when I was little and I have not yet gotten over it enough to sing as freely and badly as Bjelland does there. I was not surprised to read that she’s schizo-affective. Also, she’s hot. I really dig those eyes.

See – there are people who would be offended that I said she was “hot”. As if feminism meant I couldn’t acknowledge that I find Kat Bjelland very pleasant to look at. There are other people who would say that a Christian shouldn’t say such things. I find both positions ridiculous. I wasn’t objectifying Ms. Bjelland or reducing her to nothing but her appearance. God knows that I find women attractive and I don’t think He minds if I mention it – ain’t like I went off on a big rant about her body like I did about her voice. If I did sin, well, He knows I’m going to. That’s been taken care of.

Okay. I’ma go read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Maybe the kitten wants to play fetch.

Bless you, too.


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