Getting up to date

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Our time at IDA came to an end a bit early, but Lucky and I got some more time in TN as we spent a couple of weeks with my mother and sister in Martin and I got to hang out with my nieces and nephews for a short while before we left for my older brother’s wedding in New Jersey.  Much of our time in Martin was fairly uneventful – for the most part, there were lots of children running around and lots of bullshit family drama which I refuse to participate in on principle.

We drove to New Jersey from West TN with my mother and two older sisters (I have five siblings).  In an attempt to make our time confined in a vehicle with three volatile personalities (fifteen hours), Lucky and I slept most of the way (or tried to).  Lucky and I shared a room in the hotel with my sisters once we got to Jersey which might have been pleasant if they weren’t constantly at each others’ throats, but thankfully they got over their differences long enough to have a good time with my brother, David, the groom.  The first night after we got to the hotel, the whole family got together for dinner with David and his bride-to-be, Kristy at a bar nearby called Pick-a-Lilly Inn.  It was pretty fucking awesome.  I finally got to meet Kristy, and my whole family with all of my siblings was together for the first time in nearly 10 years.  I had chicken parmigiana and Lucky had shrimp, there was all kinds of awesome seafood – one of our appetizers was cheesy crab bread.  It was an awesome night after such a long ride.

The wedding itself was beautiful.  David and Kristy got married at the Smithville Mansion outside in the gardens.  They wrote their own vows and the wedding was fairly progressive, but mostly it was just sweet – Kristy’s vows were super cute and super funny.  Personally, I’ve never been fond of the concept of marriage, but I do love celebrations and this was a good one.  At the reception, we got drunk on wine, ate some badass food (almost every dish had bacon) and danced to some great music played by a live band.  Of course, some shit had to go down – my cousin Jennifer got cut off because she vomited in the beer cooler and then made a huge scene when the caterers told her she was too drunk, but other than that, shit went alright.  The after party was held at our hotel in the lobby (as if my family actually needed more alcohol), and we pretty much continued what we’d started at the reception until last call.

Lucky and I had intended to continue our travels after the wedding, heading to New York to check out whatever things are being done there, but Lucky realized she was running low on hormones and we needed to head back to place the next order so we caught a ride with my little brother, Alex and his friend Marie who would be passing by our town to drop us off on their way home.  We left at 7am, prepared for a 21-hour ride south which, despite the length of the drive, was way more pleasant than the trip from TN, that is, until some shit went down.

Every Floridian knows Georgia as the unofficial toll road between the “Sunshine State”, and literally everyplace else.  That said, to make it through Georgia without a ticket, or at least without being pulled over, is a damn near impossible task, particularly if you’re driving with FL tags.  On their way up to Jersey, the Georgia highway patrol missed my brother and his companion, but they were not going to let it happen a second time.  Marie got stopped by a uniformed gang member on mile marker 1.  Exactly one mile from the Florida border.  Officer Friendly only wanted to let us know that the tag light was out and the tag was mutilated except, oops, no they weren’t, my mistake but I do have to arrest your friend because she was driving unknowingly with a suspended license.  See, initially he had stopped us for a bullshit problem that wasn’t actually a problem but was enough of an excuse for him to check us out and see if there was anything else he could get us for – and he found it.  So he kidnapped and ransomed our friend for $700 and she had to spend a night in jail because we obviously didn’t just have that in our pocket.  Alex came and stayed with Lucky and me so that he wouldn’t be too far away when he needed to turn around pick Marie up from the jail the next day, and literally made himself sick with worry but shit got figured out and they finally made it home safely, albeit indebted to a bail bonds agent.

Now, we are back home and our trip has come to an early end, but there will be more adventures and crazier trips to come.

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Day 4, Last day at IDA June 8th – My Mom is a Dick

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Our last day at IDA was largely spent attempting to get a ride out and dealing with crazy communication problems and general chaos as the festival was still in full swing.  Lucky and I had not initially planned on leaving so early, but after getting a hold of my sister finally on Thursday, we were under the impression that we would be able to get a ride from Nashville on Saturday and that that would be the most convenient and ideal for my family.  This information turned out to be false.

I will spare the details of waiting around the camp with our gear packed while we waited for a ride and asked around, hoping and praying we’d be able to get to Nashville in time to be picked up and just skip to the part where we got a ride from a cool trans guy named Auggie who dropped us off at the Greyhound station where we said our goodbyes and wandered off on our merry way.  As we made our way downtown, we found out that we had come to Nashville in the middle of the CMA music festival, meaning that we had just walked into white redneck heaven.  Thankfully, we found shelter at a Panera bread where we could charge our phone, get some food and call my mom.  We had hoped to camp out there and wait for my sister to come give us a ride after she got off work, but our hopes were too high.

See, the reason we left early instead of staying at IDA the full five days is that my sister had told me that her friend, Mandy, was in Nashville that week and would be leaving on Saturday to go back to Martin where she and my mother live.  She also said that, though she worked that day, she would still find a way to get us home from Nashville (but she did not tell me when she was supposed to go to work, which matters to this story).  So, when we got into Nashville at 5:30pm despite our initial plan to be there by 1:00 or 2 at the latest, we were pretty peeved to find out that not only had Mandy left for Martin the night before, but that Kimmy, my sister, would be at work until 9:00.  Of course, there was nothing to be done about that, so we just waited at the Panera Bread and charged our phones, now and then talking to my mom and trying to figure out our next move.

Over the phone, my mother told me that Kimmy probably wouldn’t want to come get us so late after work being tired and all this, but I held out hope until Kimmy got home at which point, I learned that the second she stepped in the door, my mom took her car (the only available car) and went to her new boyfriend’s house where she stayed all night.  Kimmy expressed to me her fear of driving at night and falling asleep at the wheel as an excuse not to come get me after her car was returned (mom was supposed to only take an hour) and I expressed to her my anger at the fact that regardless of whether she intended to come get me, the only available car was taken for the night because our mom is selfish.  Essentially, Lucky and I were stranded.

After some wandering, we found a spot out of the way from the main roads so as not to attract unwanted attention and slept for a couple of hours underneath a tree.  Our initial plan as per Kimmy’s suggestion was to try sleeping at the Greyhound station because “hey, people do it all the time,” but the security pig there wouldn’t even let us in without a ticket – our packs made us an immediate target of pig attention while we were meandering about the city.  All the same, we made it through the night without much difficulty and the next day, Kimmy eventually came to get us (it took her six hours to make what is supposed to be a two hour drive at most because of a huge wreck on I-40) and I spent the next couple of weeks punishing mom by smoking all of her cigarettes.

Day 3 of IDA, June 7th – There Are No Things About Things…

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Lucky and I went back to the waterfall on acid – we had brought some with us and spent the first two days exploring to find an ideal place and time to take it. We could not have chosen a better place, the waterfall is absolutely amazing, and mystical and awesome (in the literal sense of inspiring awe). I had a mud bath and, instead of washing it off in the waterfall, I spent the rest of the day with my breasts bare and covered in a layer of clay – as it turns out, that was a great idea. The clay protected me from sunburn, bug bites and even, at one point, helped my breast heal after having been attacked by a thorny branch on the way back to the trail. I didn’t even notice the scratch until a couple of hours later, right under my nipple, and by then it was completely healed and the clay had kept it from getting irritated or infected.

Speaking of infection, remember that toothache I mentioned in the first post? And the root canal I refilled? See, my gums had been swollen for days since then and I was taking Ibuprofen to bring down the swelling because it’s an anti-inflammatory (also a blood-thinner, but we’ll get to that in a second) and I had no access to antibiotics (well, I did but the first person I talked to in the med tent didn’t offer me any, another thing we’ll get to in a second). Well, during lunchtime, about mid-trip, my gums busted open and I began bleeding rather profusely from my mouth. It only lasted about a minute or two and it wasn’t painful at all, just a bit bothersome but I went to the med tent and my fears were essentially put to rest. Turns out, I had had an infection in my gums, most likely from having had an open cavity. When I refilled that cavity without first treating the infection, it got trapped and my body had to find a way to expel it, which it could only do by bleeding the infection out, a reaction made easier by the Ibuprofen I had been taking for the swelling. I’m pretty proud of myself for having been able to take this all in and react well to profuse mouth bleeding on acid, honestly. But anyway, med tent person whose name I don’t recall obtaining gave me an herbal mouth wash; prickly ash, I think it was; which helped to disinfect the area and also to close up the tissue so that the bleeding would stop. If you’ve never used a prickly ash wash, it is not pleasant in the mouth hole. It actually felt like my tongue was swelling and bleeding out through my taste buds or something, it got really cool and, actually, felt pretty fucking prickly. My tongue tingled for a good few minutes after I took it, but it did help; the bleeding stopped and my face seemed to go back to normal, the swelling was gone pretty much the second the bleeding had started in the first place and all that was left to do was to keep up with basic dental hygiene with the addition of a salt water rinse at least three times a day for a week or two or however long it might take for the infection to go away and stay gone. I can happily say now that my teeth and gums are as good as they were before, despite the gingivitis I’ve probably had for years.

Backing up a notch, before the bleeding out of my mouth incident, Lucky and I had a good long tent trip. After getting back from the waterfall, we were ready to lie down and rest and be naked and alone. As wonderful as IDA is, tripping around large groups of people, even in a setting where it is completely accepted, can be very stressful and Lucky and I both experience social anxiety from time to time (theirs is a bit more severe and consistent than mine, but on acid, social situations are probably the most stressful thing we could imagine). That said, before wandering out into the common areas where people were and things were happening, we had to prepare ourselves so we hid in our tent for a while, undressed because naked is the official uniform of hallucinogens and began writing out ideas for how to create a new world in the shell of the old. We discussed the patriarchy of histories and the need for new histories – those of the oppressed, ignored and hidden third gender to the challenge the binary enforced under patriarchy. We came to recognize how all forms of oppression are connected to the patriarchy as the patriarchy is connected to them (it’s cyclical). We spent our time realizing things we knew but hadn’t been able to articulate in the same way – hierarchy begins with gender imbalances and the balance is needed back. All cultures have been affected/destroyed/appropriated in the name of dominance and expansion, structural characteristics of a patriarchal society. Basically, shit be fucked up and we aim to fix it.

On a slightly different note, Lucky and I attended a workshop about Queer herbs after the whole gum-bleeding incident which was a nice way to take my mind off of my teeth. Queer herbs refers to herbalism for gender transition and it was a very loose workshop, open to anybody with an interest and, while there wasn’t a great deal of information available, we were able to learn some things which we had not known before. For instance, I was initially under the impression that kudzu is just a shitty invasive species running rampant throughout Georgia, Tennessee and Kentucky but, as it turns out, on top of being a hugely invasive species, it is also a fairly powerful phytoestrogen as well as a useful treatment for alcohol addiction because drinking alcohol with this plant will make you physically ill (in fact, I’m fairly certain this is true with most medicinal herbs and with quite a lot of Queer herbs, but perhaps not to the same extent). Another phytoestrogen is black cohosh, best paired with wild yam, according to several trans* fem people in the workshop, as the latter is heavy in progesterone. We focused quite a lot of femininizing herbs for transition because there is very limited info on that in general – most of the info I have found on herbal transition is for masculanization and while I’m sure their is a patriarchal reason for that, I also imagine it has something to do with how much harder “feminine” transition is as opposed to “masculine,” particularly since nobody seems to know of any natural anti-androgen (testosterone blockers), without which, physical changes are improbable at best and, if any do occur, they will be too slight to matter to any person who wishes for a full physical transition. Without anti-androgens, phytoestrogen supplements can only do so much, causing mostly psychological effects, but if the supplement is strong enough, it might also work for softening skin and facial features, but full breast growth might require a progesterone supplement and cannot be accomplished (at least not easily or quickly) without an anti-androgen. Lucky is suspicious of this lack of natural anti-androgens and has been doing further research on the subject in hopes of finding something promising – initially, she believed that chaste berries might have this effect because they were once used by monks to wipe out the sex drive and render themselves sterile, but they are incredibly dangerous in large doses and in small doses have the exact opposite effect. Lucky and I will be looking more into herbal transition for AMABs so that they can grow and harvest their own treatment instead of having to rely on shadily obtained pharmaceuticals.

As for my own transitional needs, I learned that pine pollen is pure testosterone. I have a feeling this might apply to most pollens, but I could be wrong and I’ve heard this about pine pollen specifically before. There are also a good number of mushrooms and fungi with high testosterone levels but I can’t remember many of the names. At some point during the workshop discussion, I started getting distracted by bugs and fractiles and things (lest we forget I was still trippin’ pretty hard) and once we started getting into AFAB transition, the discussion became a little difficult to follow because there were so many people pitching in so much different information and I, having forgotten my notebook, could no longer keep track. Anyway, I felt it would be more useful for me to remember as much of the AMAB stuff as possible because it is harder to find reliable information on that than it is to find things for AFAB transition. The most important thing I think I learned was that none of this has been studied and that any and all information about herbal gender transition has been and must be obtained through personal experience and (safe) experimentation. That said, if anybody knows anything more on the subject of herbalism and, particularly Queer herbs, or if I have said some things which are incorrect, please comment and let me know what more there is to know 🙂

Also, for those interested in herbal transition or who have experience with it, the person who facilitated the Queer herbs workshop has a mailing list at queerherbs@gmail.com for anybody interested in sharing their experiences or getting advice/information for their own experimentation.

Day 2 of IDA, June 6th: Waterfalls and Pigs

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Image     On our second day at IDA, Lucky and I thought it might be nice to see this super awesome waterfall we’ve been hearing everybody talk about, so we took the main trail as far up as it would go until it ended in the dry creek bed and we realized we’d have to hike the whole way up along the creek.  It took us a good half hour from where the trail ended and it was worth every wobbly murder-rock on the way.  Fucking beautiful.  We bathed naked under the freezing cold water and waded in the pool below.  There were people trekking up to the lower cliff for mud baths and right as we walked up, somebody had begun playing music.  The whole experience gave us a good rush.  We decided it’d be a great place to trip.
     After the waterfall, our friends from the night before, V and Frog, took us into Watertown for beer and such.  On the way back, V got pulled over by a drug pig – we know that’s what he was because he drove an undercover vehicle and, though he initially stopped us for speeding, he was more interested in whether everyone was of an age to drink alcohol, had clean records and literally asked if we had marijuana in the car with us.  Like, for real dude?  How fucking mad would we have to be?  “Yes, officer, I’ve got an ounce under my seat.  Would you like to buy some?”  “I’ve had a warrant out for my arrest for two years and I just bought three 12-packs of PBR with a fake – I’m really only 19.”  It worked out though, V played the innocent white girl card and got out of that ticket he was thoroughly disinterested in writing her and, best of all, we got to go back to camp, drink and “smoke drugs” (as the kids say these days).

Idapalooza and other such nonsense

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No grazing sign in front of the greenhouse outside of the med tent.

No grazing sign in front of the greenhouse outside of the med tent.

So, because IDA is out in the middle of nowhere hidden in a valley an hour from Nashville, there was little to no service which, among other things, made interaction with the internet world impossible and caused Lucky’s and my phones to kill themselves because the sheer effort of trying to find a signal was simply too much for them. So, instead I kept a written journal of my experiences at this magical queer gathering which I will transcribe here.

Day 1 of IDA, June 5th: Intense Intents In Tents
     The ride from FL was long and crowded but we made it. We left Gainesville in our friend Nova’s janky ass minivan in the middle of the night – there were seven of us crowded in with everyone’s camping supplies and traveling packs with an initial ETA of 10am, but we didn’t make it there until around noon central time because organizing a car full of crazy Queers is like herding cats. All the same, we were just in time for lunch and a good bit of exploration through the valley.
     After eating some badass food, Lucky and I set up our tent and began wandering around to aquaint ourselves with the whole beautiful community we found ourselves in – the extensive horticulture, med and self-help tents, the general scenery really. There is a creek which flows through the valley which Lucky and I followed as far up stream as we could manage. While there, we found a very sweet and much more agile cat who joined us on our barefoot adventure up the creek, running ahead and leaping from one bank to the next, clinging to trees and stepping gracefully around the running water, now and then stopping to wait for us to catch up.
     After the creek adventure with the cat, we made friends with another couple, a trans woman, V, and her boyfriend, Frog who offered to smoke with us and chill. we hung out with them for a few hours and helped them move their tents from the sober camp where they had set up, mistaking the sober space for an ironic joke. We finished with this task just in time for the dinner conch to blow and migrated toward the kitchen for some badass food grown right on location.
     Lucky and I turned in early for some naked cuddle time which quickly turned into sexy tent time long before the rest of the camp.  I suppose we were just impatient – had we waited an hour or two longer, we could have been having sex with everyone else in the camp.  But really, that’s no matter, even as I was writing this, somebody was fucking in the next tent over 😉
     I’m so happy to have come here.  This is my vision of the world as it ought to be – as we wish to make it.  The people here are open, helpful, hard-working, hard-loving and hard-playing.  There is a sense of authenticity in this environment.  The world outside these woods is made of plastic.

First Day of a Long Journey

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Today, I started out on what is to be my first great adventure with my partner.  I plan on keeping a journal of everything that happens along the way. In general, we hope to gain a new perspective from this adventure and to make our way into the world we wish to create while still managing to get to Idapalooza, my brother’s wedding and then as far west as we can make it before the summer ends.

We were picked up from St. Agony by a friend of ours and taken to Gainesville for a quick pit stop on our way to Idapalooza in TN.  At first I was frightened that I might have to stay back and see a dentist because one of my teeth is rotting right the fuck out of my face thanks to an old root canal that never got crowned because I’m poor.  Thankfully, we managed to find and liberate some shit from a CVS along the way that can help (apparently, you can just refill cavities yourself which I did in a Walmart bathroom just a little while ago).

We’ll be leaving tonight at 2am with a couple of other awesome Queer friends and maybe I’ll have more interesting things to share.  For now, though, we’ve only taken our first step of many away from the illusions of comfort which come with dependance on money and consumer culture as a whole.