Jörg Shidmann News Bulletin

23/07/2023 Tisha B'Av and Saint Panteleimon/Άγιος Παντελεήμων. Compline/Απόδειπνον - I have no fingers, and I must blog. But I don't know what about, because basically every five minutes over the past several days I have thought about one thing or another "I really need to blog about this". The following is a tasting menu of just a few of my various neuroses from the past few days. Enjoy.

Baptismal Cross - today, for the first time since I was a literal infant, I wore my baptismal cross. In the Orthodox Church, the mysteries of baptism and chrismation happen together in one single ceremony, thereby initiating the infant into the communion of the Church as a full member. This is in contrast to the Catholic approach, for example, in which a person is baptised as an infant and then only once they have reached a certain age and a certain amount of religious education do they undergo chrismation, known in Catholicism as confirmation. So when an Orthodox baby is baptised, they are given what is called a baptismal cross, a cross necklace blessed by the priest which they are to supposed to wear all the time once they're old enough to not be strangled by it. It's basically a symbol of belonging to God and being fully given to Him in more church buzzwords etc etc etc. And so, it's very common to wear one - look at this dripped out photo of my late grandmother Kallistheni sporting a fire fit with her cross featured prominently. When I, personally, was baptised, my parents took my baptismal cross and stuck it in the safe deposit box at the bank along with birth certificates and insurance policies and jewellry and stuff. I would go with my mum or dad about per year to swap out papers and things and every time I would take out my cross and look at it and REALLY want to take it home, but never said anything out of fear of judgement from my reddit atheist parents. As they've grown older they've grown slightly softer on this front, and I've grown to care less what they think about me - after all, once you've come out as a tranny, there really isn't much worse you can tell them - and so I resolved to ask them if I could finally have it.
And so this morning my mum and I went to the safe deposit box and got the crucifix out. And as over the moon with joy as I am to finally have my cross back, I have discovered something disconcerting. All day, over 12 hours, I have been trying desperately to wear it, and every time I put it on, I am overcome with this great sense of guilt and disturbance and most of all just a very strong feeling that I should NOT be wearing this thing. I can't figure out why that is. I have a few options in my mind however. The most spiritually oriented explanation would be that this is a symbol of faith and covenant, and I feel guilty for not really being a believer in the strictest sense of the word (see my award winning blog post on my crisis of faith for more information). However, I think neither my spiritual convictions nor my respect for tradition run deep enough to cause so visceral a reaction, and plus, if the issue was that I don't really actually 'believe', then surely wearing the cross anyway wouldn't cause me any distress, because why would it if I didn't believe in the thing behind it? Then could it perhaps be possible that my parents' tendency to be anti-religious and shit on religion have got to me, and now my conditioned behaviour is clashing with my desire to wear the cross? Maybe. After all I grew up in an environment in which basically everyone really drank the kool-aid on the whole idea that there's a binary opposition between religious faith and reason. It would stand to reason that growing up in that kind of environment would make me feel weird aobut it. But I've gone to church on my own and with friends in recent times and not felt weird about it. I've prayed and not felt weird about it. It would seem weird to me that the line gets drawn at a silly little piece of jewellry.

So those are the potential causes that come from inside of me. But what about the external stuff? Could it be fear of my parents' judgement? Maybe, but then I continued to feel weird when out in public, or alone in my room - places where they are not. Same issue with the idea that it could just be fear for looking like a Jesus freak in front of the general public - if that was the problem, then why do I feel weird about it still when I'm alone at home? Plus also, it really is not at all uncommon to see Catholics wearing their crucifixes here in Paris, and people don't look at them like weird religious freaks, they're just seen as normal. So this wouldn't be any different and I don't think I'm even afraid of that. It could also be because the cross has sat in a bank safe for my entire life along with all of our most important documents. Maybe wearing it around my neck and treating it like a normal thing feels weird because I'm used to the idea that this is something very valuable that needs to be locked up at the bank. Suffice to say, something is going on and I don't know what. Maybe it's just a matter of routine and wearing it every day for a while will get me used to it and get rid of the weirdness. We'll see when I get back to Montréal - I don't want my parents to know I'm wearing the cross!

Barbie Toxic Masculinity - I saw the other day on tiktok, someone commented that they were watching Barbie in theatres and a group of teenage boys was behind them. At the end, one of them cried, and all the others ruthlessly made fun of him, which according to this poster is "exactly what the movie was warning about". I haven't seen the movie but this anecdote was like a punch to my sternum. It brought me back immediately to those days, some of the worst days there have been. Good God, I forgot about the cruelty of children. For showing even the slightest amount of some sort of sensitivity, this poor boy was tormented ruthlessly by his peers. It reminded me of so many incidents from my childhood. Being forced to play football (soccer for u fucking freaks) and being shoved down to the ground many times during practice, trying desparately to wipe away my tears so I could see well enough to chase the kid who did it while 15 pubescent sadists laughed, and laughed. Being mocked and jeered at when I would even just answer a question in class. The time two kids smashed the little elephant statuette I had so carefully and lovingly spent the whole morning sculpting out of putty-like wax, just to see me cry and flip out.

The verbal stuff, the mocking torment, was way more damanging on me long term than any of the physical stuff I had happen to me. It was way more dehumanising. I felt way more powerless. And just like the kid at Barbie, I got it the worst when I showed any sort of a sensitive side. I often am wont to feel a very ugly, bitter kind of envy for the young queer kids today - they benefit from such an excellent amount of awareness of queer kids in their schools and communities. They have access to words and concepts that would have changed my life if I had known of them at that age. They have representation, role models who help them to figure themselves out and go beyond that to show them that it is POSSIBLE to live the way that they want. But that one little tiktok comment showed me that as much as things have changed, it would still be hell on earth for a little boy who cannot help but be a girl. And as envious as I am of the kids who have it better, seeing things stay the same feels much, much worse.

Val - I hung out with my friend Val for a couple of days while he was here. Val and I go back about 6 years, we met in Grade 10 at our school here in Paris. Neither of us had transitioned at this point. We got along really well but we weren't terribly close, and he moved away after a year. But then, a year later, his childhood friend Michi moved to Paris and I became their friend, and through that I became closer to Val again. We hung out a ton last summer, for like a month, while we were both in Paris. I had just started HRT, and he would only go on to start T in January of this year.

Seeing him felt wonderful. I forgot how fun it was to hang out with him! We queened out at our favourite queer bar, La Mutinerie. We drank and chatted about gender and parents and religion and music and languages and more, we talked shit about the people we used to know and did a lot of "what ever happened to so and so?" And it really felt like a real full circle moment. For the first time we were hanging out while both on HRT. I look a world's difference from what I did last year. His voice has dropped an insane amount, his jawline sharpened, his facial hair come in fuller; suddenly, he's the spitting image of his older brother. We've both certainly got a very long way to go, but thinking about what we were like when we first met, and how our respective individual journeys have played out over the past six years, I get very very emotional. I'm proud of us.

Thinking about the excommunicated - being back here I've been remembering my former friends who came to visit me over the summer in Paris last year. These are the same people with whom I founded Ensemble B. (not saying name so this website doesn't show up on Google if they search the ensemble or whatever), with whom I toiled for nearly a year to do all the work for the production of the opera we put on - research, reconstruction, admin, advertising, communcations, rehearsal and coaching, and actually playing in the thing. Enough work for a thesis I swear. In the end I hit them with a big speech à la J'Accuse...! and stormed out, removing myself voluntarily from both the social circle and the ensemble. So one would be forgiven to think that I have no right to be upset at them continuing to use the same name and branding for the ensemble that we three founded together, that they continue to hold performances and do projects as that ensemble, despite my departure. But without going into too much detail, they were being cruel to me and I was left with no choice. All the same, I ALMOST miss them - I miss what I got out of our friendship, but I do not miss them personally. They are terrible people. Anyways, feels weird to be thinking about them again.

Paris and her shitty coffee - Scholars will know that I am a slut for coffee. I have many times bemoaned the lack of a proper café with really good coffee in Paris. People have the erroneous misconception that Paris has incredible coffee for some reason. It doesn't. Most places will serve you overextracted lavazza machine shots with acidity enough to melt through your stomach lining. But finally when I came back here in December I heard about a new place that had opened up near by, a torrefacteur and café called Noir, and it seemed promising - third wave-style place by all appearances. When I went in to try it out for the first time the other day things looked good. Decent decor, obnoxious clientele but that's just how it is in my neighbourhood. Maybe the only masc lesbian or otherwise visibly queer person that I have literally ever seen in my neighbourhood, other than myself, was working the counter. When I ordered espresso they gave me a choice between their two espressos of the day, an Ethiopian and a Colombian. I was impressed, and excited to taste. Unfortunately the coffee was FUCKING PISS. Overextracted to all FUCK, so acidic that half the espresso court was enough to give me acid reflux for the next two hours. I ate through half a box of tums to no avail. Fucked up and bad.

Miscellaneous - I've been eating a ton of tomatoes recently. Tomates à l'ancienne in France are better than any other tomatoes anywhere else. It's been humid as balls and that has made me miserable. I'm set to see my friend Lavi on Saturday, very exciting. I think we should make a bar for people who want to drink and not talk to anyone outside the group of people they came with. I went to my favourite little trinket store Moshi Moshi the other day and the owner, who is a guy who is a babygirl sweetheart, remembered me even though it's been half a year since I had last been, and was very happy to see me. One of the big advantages of being a tranny is that you stand out in people's memory and tend to benefit from regular status at restaurants, cafés, and stores with more ease than the average cissoid. I want to go get soup dumplings at an incredible tiny dingy restaurant in Chinatown my friend Poetica put me onto a few years ago, but I accidentally left my loyalty card to that place in Montreal. This means I am unlikely to have my 30% off noodles any time soon. For the very first time since I've lived here, I have gone nearly a week without running into a single person I knew from high school. This is good but also slightly melancholy - everyone I knew is slowly moving on. I'm feeling the effects of this, going slightly insane without anyone to queen out with. But I've plenty of experience going insane in Paris. Last summer it got so bad one day that I snapped and went to a public park and for 30 minutes allowed myself to pace back and forth and rave and rant and scream and throw things like an actual certifiable crazy person. People stared, looked very concerned, gave me a wide berth, but I felt so fucking free. After my allotted half hour elapsed, I gathered my things back into my tote bag from where I had thrown them on the ground or against trees and things, and went home. They don't want you to know that you can just scream and rant in the street and nothing will happen to you. Most cathartic experience of my life. I've gotten into about six shouting matches with drivers and cyclists at crosswalks, proving once again that my death is likely to eventually come as a result of road raging at the wrong french dude. I regard the coming school year with some trepidation. I feel like I'm in a crisis of faith about my career. Music theory and composition have gone from being 24/7 obsessions in 2020 to barely crossing my mind most days. I'm capable, I'm a scholarship student and very good at what I do, IF I can get myself to do it. But the question is will I be miserable for the rest of my life if I continue on this path? this will need a more thorough blog post.


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