Let Me Tell You

I tell you:

October 6, 2000

I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea running through my head. I'm feeling oddly energized at 1:55am. But that's nothing new these days. Having a couple of 11pm to 7am shifts does inspire one to a lot of nighttime wakefulness. Once the mind is queued to being awake at that time, it's difficult to turn it off on other days. So wide awake I am, and considering the question posed by the ''Survivor'' journal group:

Here is the challenge for week one.  I am the last person in the world who
you would want to find your journal.  I just read through the entire
contents of it and have contacted you...furious, hurt, confused and

1.  Who am I?  Why am I the last person you would want to read this journal.

2.  What would you tell me.  How would you explain this perceived act of
distrust, betrayal and hurt?
Odd, or not so odd, this question would be posing itself to me at 2 o'clock in the morning. There's more than one person I can think of for this question. There's nearly my whole birth family with the exception of my Mother, who gets regular journal printouts. Not a one of them was happy when I left for Arizona back in 1987 with Laura. Oh, my Dad sort of understood. I remember, on the day Laura and I pulled on to the road with the small loaded U Haul truck, him saying ''I wish I could do what you're doing.'' Maybe he understood better than I thought he did. But he's dead now.

My Aunt June sure didn't understand. She thought I was betraying the family by up and leaving. Later, when she and Gramma learned more details about the truth of my relationship with Laura, she understood even less. I'm sure she shares the same opinion Gramma hissed one day over the phone, ''What you have with Laura, that isn't a MARRIAGE!! I'd tried to explain Laura's and Julia's transsexuality without much success. The only thing that counts as a marriage in their minds is a union with a 'red blooded MAN'. No 'eunuchs' and females need apply. Sigh.

I suppose I really can't expect the whole lot of those Christian fundamentalists to comprehend. It's just too much for them to grasp. The 'TRIAD' aspect with Julia, that's a whole 'nother can of worms. That doubles their confoundation. Polyamory may even quadruple it. How people may redefine 'family' to include all sorts of friends branching out from them may confuse them. Our friend Serena is more than just 'family' to us. 'Blood' isn't necessarily thicker than water. I am fully understanding that all of this confuses my relatives, so sheltered from 'the world'.

But to go and plaster my life all over the web, so that ANYONE can come and read about its 'seedy little details', I'm sure this in their minds is the very last straw.

But let's assume one of my relatives DID read through the entire contents of my journals. ''How could you do this?'', she would ask. ''Let me explain, I would say:

''From as long as I can remember I've been shy. Words do not come easy to me, and, yes, as you've noted on that Christmas video you made a few years back, as a result, friends do not come easy to me. I have been so long on this island of not really being able to share my feelings and thoughts well with the world, that I am like the ship wrecked hermit. But one day, a bottle arrived to that lonely island. I learned there is a thing called the WRITTEN word. Hopeful, I removed the first message out of the bottle, and placed inside it my first faltering words. Not long after, the bottle returned with AN ANSWER. I gazed at the glass vehicle with wonder and gratitude.

At first the missives were letters, sent to individuals. Yes, indeed, this is how I eventually came to meet a transsexual in Arizona who changed my life. When I am poised in solitude to capture my thoughts, my words now run free and easy. If you don't know what shyness is, you can't imagine the relief this brings to a soul desperately desiring communication, and apart from the written word, feeling so inept.

I have freedom, this glorious freedom to know my own mind and express it. So long as pen or keyboard are before me.

It was five years ago, back in 1995 when we'd been hearing about this new thing called the 'web'. I denounced it as just another 'BBS', not ever to amount to much. But Laura had a feeling about the significance of this new thing. She signed us up for web access, and rather quickly, I learned she was right. I soon was telling everyone I knew about the web.

I told them with rather a lot of enthusiasm, as one perserved letter from that year proves:

Dear Paul and Dan,                           October 29,  1995

     Hello!  How are you?  Happy Halloween!  We are having a good
weekend.  For yesterday, the three of us experienced a historic
     We went up on the Internet!  Yes, our small computer connected
with computers all over the country and in the world.  What an
experience.  Our newspaper is available on line on a program
called StarNet.  This links to the internet, world wide web and
all that stuff.  You read a news article and below are
'footnotes' that  you can click on to read other related items.
Those are the items that originate all over the world.  We
were in Chicago, we were in Turkey, etc.!

It wasn't long before Laura had a website of our very own up. She encouraged me to put up a brief bio and some of my poems. I didn't know anything about html, the language needed to put things on the web. I typed out these drafts in Word Perfect, and Laura did the work from there. But how I loved exploring the web. I found several websites of other transsexuals. One was of a doctor, who posted a one year journal concerning her transition from 'male to female'. The 'real life' test it's called. That year was behind her then, and she'd since had good roots in her new life. But it inspired me. Many years ago, I used to keep a journal. While faithful for short periods of time, I hadn't had much consistency. What if I began one and put it on the web? At first I made the entries in pen to a spiral notebook, as I'd done in the past. From there, I'd type them in Word Perfect. Laura got the job of posting them to the web.

Then one day I ditched the pen efforts and just typed entries. Then another day, I got curious about html. ''Print out a copy of my journal, with all the coding in it,'' I asked Laura. It wasn't long before I was 'going and doing likewise' regarding that code.

It will be four years come the 31st of October that those first efforts began. A letter to the world, how could I resist?

Who all would read, I didn't know, but how fascinating to imagine the wide sorts of varied people who might come upon it. That imagination is one powerful but healthy drug, I'm hooked, for certain.

That YOU would be one of those 'varied people' occasionally occurred to me. Perhaps you might understand me better, I thought to myself. Well, you now have found these pages, and instead, you just feel hurt and angry.

READ THE WORDS, I never meant to hurt you! I just wanted to live my own life. All my life when growing up, you kept having these ideas of the way it should be. But they were YOUR ideas, NOT MINE!

How could I ever tell you ANYthing of what was going on in my life? Not when, I so clearly remember that Christmas gathering, you said you'd quit going to McDonalds, not because the food was greasy and unhealthy, but because the man who played the Ronald McDonald mascot was GAY? You do remember that, Renée?

How could I ever tell you of the feelings I was so newly discovering within myself? No, it was becoming quite clear to me, there was this uncrossable gulf between you and I that was only going to get bigger. I didn't know what to do about it. It drove me quite to despair. You may speak of the torments of the literal hell you believe in, but let me tell you, the agonies of depression and anxiety burn the soul deep. I've been there and I've been back.

I don't want to go there again. If you learn ONE THING from all your brave explorations of these pages, it is this: I am a real person, with real feelings and real hopes and dreams. I am still carved out of that same genetic strain that you are. I would like that your fear of things you believe Biblically proscribed not keep you from those realizations. I really AM still the girl you used to believe in and have such hopes for. I really wish you could see that.

Oh, how can I make you see that? Perhaps, though I have some strength in this area, I still do not have the skill with words to make you see that. Perhaps I haven't shown the dailyness and commonness of our lives here, though otherwise differently 'lifestyled'. Perhaps I haven't illuminated my raw fears and my fierce joys well enough. Have I not shown how well all the people I love here, who call me family, are meeting the trials which life has placed before them? Maybe it is due to the vagueness of my own delineations that you can not see this.

But how I am trying to do this! It is only with practice that this writing skill can grow. Maybe in the future I shall create some new combinations of words that will make it all blindingly clear for you.

I hope this, and will continue in my efforts. Maybe something might resonate within you, that will call back a memory of that young girl, and you won't think she is hopelessly lost. I will wrestle these words with every muscle I have. Maybe SOME of them might reach you. To that end, I won't give up.

© Joan Ann Lansberry
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