05 January 2009


I'm somewhere between having a cold and the flu. Except that I'm not supposed to get the flu: I got the shot. I let my doctor talk me into it, although I'm not convinced of their efficacy. Oh well. Maybe my sinuses will turn into a toxic waste site, and researchers will learn about...something or another related to the environment and public health. Maybe not.

So I'm feeling rather tired and not particularly peppy or sexy. But today I've had men--all kinds--looking my way and smiling at me. On the subway, three different men said "Happy New Year" in cooing, even seductive voices. Were they playing with me? Or...what were they doing?

And then, during the class I taught tonight, I mentioned that I didn't even touch a computer until I was 41 years old. After class, a student stayed to ask me a question. After I answered it, she exclaimed, "I was surprised that you said you didn't use a computer until you were 41."

"Well, if you saw me using a computer..."

"I wasn't thinking about that. What surprised me is when you said, 'when I was 41.' I didn't even think you were that old."

"Really. Oh, thank you!"

"I thought you were in your mid-30's or so."

"Oh...Thaank you! You get an 'A'"

We both giggled. I think it forestalled a little bit of aging for both of us.

I haven't taken any meds--just my hormones. So the experience I described wasn't a hallucination. Last night, I told Mike that's how my time in Florida felt. It was raining and sleeting when I got on the plane, warm and sunny when I got off. When I boarded the plane to come home, it was cool and breezy, but not unpleasant: rather like an early May day in New York. But when the plane landed in Newark, the temperature was 20 F, and the 30-MPH winds whipped snow about.

Now, one thing is seeming less and less like an illusion. I'm talking about my impending surgery, of course. Celeste, another faculty member, asked about it. "Counting days?," she wondered. "All 183 of them," I nodded.

"Nervous about it?"

"I'm starting to feel that way. It seems more real, less of an abstraction. Yet, in some ways, it's harder to imagine what will follow."


"It's as if my feelings have reversed: A few months ago, I could fairly easily imagine life after the surgery, but the prospect of the surgery didn't seem quite real."

These feelings seem to have something to do with another phenomenon: Now, when people say, "You're going to be a real woman" (or simply a woman), I don't correct them. I have always felt that I'm a woman, whether or not my body expressed it. And I told myself that the surgery, whenever I had it, wouldn't "make" me a woman (save in the eyes of the law); rather, it would be an affirmation of the most basic fact of my being. Deep down, I feel that way. So why don't I argue with those people who say that I'm going to "become" a woman?

I guess you could say that I have been a woman in exile, if you will: in the foreign country of a male body. So you might also say that in undergoing the operation, I am coming home. Another woman I know said as much. When you're going home at the end of a day's work, you more or less know what you're going home to. But when you've been away for a long time, or if it's a home where you've never been before (sort of like Jacobo Timerman's Israel), you're going back to a memory or other image of it. When you're on your way to a home you haven't been away from for very long, you're in-between only as long as you're in transit. But when you're going to a home of memory--whether recent and corporeal, or a kind of karmic deja vu--you're between the reality of being home and your memory or imagining of it until you live in that home, and the life it allows and proscribes, by its terms if on your terms.

I guess sometimes in-between is where you need to be, at least for the moment.