‘Dancing On The Astral Plane’
(04 Jan 18)
Welcome, Yassou, and Wai, Dear Reader.
It’s time for another episode.
This starts with a lead to another brief philosophical comment about how life’s twists and turns can have major and minor effects upon who we are, where we go, and who we bring with us during our lives.
Through all the bad that I have described here at this site, I consider that I had it good and that I made it good. In fact, I thank my lucky stars and accept the blessing from whatever there may be of higher power. There are too many of our community whose families send them out to be abused, to commit suicide, to be murdered. They are the ones I keep in mind in my life and ask you to do the same.
Dear Reader, you have read here at this site that I resided at Greece for two years – 1971 to 1973 during my 10th Grade and 11th Grade. I attended Pinewood International School of Thessaloniki (also known as ‘TIHI’). Pinewood’s main campus when I attended was co-located at Pylaia, Greece, with Anatolia College . Pinewood has since moved to another community in metropolitan Thessaloniki.
Lemme tell you about two neighbouring towns near Pylaia and at the same time share how our English language is filled with wonderfull Greek etymologies.
- Panorama. Yep, so named for its panoramic view of Mount Olympos.
- Hortiatis. Ever hear of the ‘Greek Salad’? How about the ‘Village Salad’ or ‘Hortiatiki Salad’? Yep – so named for its creation at Hortiatis, much as we take for granted the ‘Sandwich’ so named by the Earl of Sandwich.
Anatolia College is a famed Greek school for the best of their nation’s students. Non-local students reside at the school dormitories. They had a pretty good library in both Greek and English language books.
I attended 10th Grade at Pinewood’s Anatolia College campus at Pylaia. My dad, Slim, and I resided at Compton Hall; my dad was the dormitory supervisor for the Pinewood boys.
We Anatolia College campus residents awoke school days hearing the Greek National Anthem harkening the College’s students. My memory is humoured when I recall that next came the sound of an alarm clock ringing through the campus PA system to summon Anatolia students to their First Period classes.
One of Anatolia College’s teachers owned a collection of American silent films; frequently, on Saturday evenings, he gave a showing of them to we dorm and campus residents; this was an opportunity for both the Anatolia and the Pinewood communities to interact with each other. We Anatolia campus students also had a recreation room in the basement of Compton Hall: ping pong, billiards, TV.
My dad and I ate many of our meals at the campus cafeterias. The names of all the Greek foods may have faded from my memory, but oh how I appreciate the great cooks and cafeteria employees as I came to love their fresh home-made Greek cooking. Yum! The cooks made breakfast for us before school, they made lunch mid-day, they served afternoon ‘snack’ to us around 4 pm after school, Greeks eat dinner late – around 8 pm or 9 pm. We campus students ate at either the boys dorm or the girls dorm; that exchange was fun because we Pinewood students got to know all the Greek Anatolia students, we got to learn our languages, we got to learn about each other – both boys and girls.
There were approximately 60-some students attending Pinewood’s high school; there were only eight 12th Grade students that school year.
I took the usual classes including: Physical Science, Geometry, Western History, Physical Education, English, French, Speech and Drama.
Our Speech and Drama teacher produced ‘Blithe Spirit’ for our Spring play. I was under-study for the Dr. Bradford character, played the bird calls, and was the table-tapping; I was also among the stage crew. I made an audio cassette recording of this.
Pinewood otherwise had no formal inter-school sports competitions as are common in American school systems. I played on Pinewood’s basketball team. Our basketball team played groups from the local ‘XAN’ (Greece’s YMCA). No, I was not star player, but I did score a few points during a tournament that our Pinewood team played at Athens (Spring 1972).
As I reported elsewhere at this web-site, Pinewood’s teachers and School Board selected me to participate as a member of our school’s International Model United Nations delegation representing Czechoslovakia during my first school year. Our history teacher and we three students (Dave, Duane, and me) did extra studies after school – we worked on Czech history and politics so that we would be prepared to participate at the IMUN held at den Haag, Nederlands (February 1972).
I participated in our annual Pinewood field day; I placed among top three in two long-distance track events: 2nd Place in the 1500 meter run and 3rd Place in the 800 meter run.
We played softball during PE throughout our Spring season. Many of our non-American Pinewood students enjoyed the sport, some played quite well.
I attended 11th Grade at the Dasahori campus.
Or at least I shall use that word ‘campus’ loosely – affectionately – about Dasahori. Our Dasahori school was located at the now former Voice of America transmitter site at Dasahori. Greece – midway between Thessaloniki, Greece, and Istanbul, Turkey. That Google Maps satellite view is Dasahori. The Greek village is to the right, what remains of the VOA site’s residences is to the upper left, that clearing just below was the location of our school inside the VOA warehouse.
Our Dasahori main school room was a partitioned corner of the VOA warehouse. One space was our classroom. Another space was our recreation room to use when the weather was cold – we had a ping pong table, we made up our own rules for ‘Twister’, we listened to tapes of VOA’s music shows.
Our Dasahori campus also had two travel trailers: one was used for a second classroom and the other was our ‘Library’. We older students – 5th grade through 8th Grade and me of 11th Grade – did most of our schooling at the warehouse classroom; my father was the primary teacher for we older students. The younger students used one trailer as their primary classroom; they had their own teacher. We mixed things up during the day when we older students attended Greek and French lessons after lunch break. Our Greek ‘alfaveterion’ textbook was much the same as the American ‘Dick and Jane’ reading books (I still have mine – it’s in storage).
My 11th Grade curriculum came from the University of Nebraska’s home schooling program and was locally supervised by both my dad and Pinewood’s High School teachers. Among my classes were: Chemistry, American History, Algebra, English, French, Greek, Photography, Psychology. I travelled to the main Pinewood campus at the end of each school quarter to meet with the teachers, take exams, socialise with the older high school students.
I made friends with Brad, Keith, Dave, Brendan at Dasaori that school year. Brendan lived at Xanthi (the relatively ‘big city’ about a 30 minutes drive to the North of Dasahori), so I usually saw him only during the school day. We others frequently found ‘boys’ stuff’ to do after school: explore the area, go to the beach, ride bicycles (Dave let me ride his ‘chopper’ bicycle), dig ‘fort’ holes and tunnels. Brad and I listened to BBC on the short wave radio; Kathy brought Mexican food to share dinner between our two families.
Brad’s father was my Photography teacher that school year. He taught photographic skills and styles and darkroom techniques to me. I still have my developing tank, though I have not used it since the late-1970s.
The Pinewood teachers and School Board again selected me to attend the school year’s International Model United Nations at den Haag, Nederlands. Randy and I represented Sri Lanka; other groups of Pinewood students represented India and Italy, if I recall correctly.
I attended Pinewood’s Prom (May 1973). Though I invited LeeAnne F as my date, she wanted to hang out with other school-mates. That was good for me because I got to spend my time with Mary G, my Prom date from the previous school year. Mary and I caught up on old times.
My Dasahori school-mate Brad recently created a great Facebook site for we ‘Dasahori Kids’.
Pinewood also recently began a new alum site for we former Pinewood and Dasahori school students.
I have led a not quite perfect life. Some of us are able to put their disruptions aside; maybe not me. My family and my personal quagmire overwhelmed my ability to consider much else. Yet, for me, this inter-sexed transsexual element of my life has been quite a learning experience.
My memory is far more clogged with my messy adolescent life. In it, I have many fond recollections of my two years at Greece.
My 11th Grade Psychology course spent one week teaching us that transsexualism is a ‘perversion’. I knew that I am not a ‘pervert’, but that was the accepted ‘fact’ in 1973; those were the times as were also my family’s attitude about me.
The biggest point of fate to me was how my family and I were entrenched in our own positions. My father made me ‘present’ to the world as Nick, a boy, while I was Sharon, a girl. Maybe they did not know what to do with their teen-aged ‘boy’ whose anatomy was developing into female. I made my life and social contacts on that imposed male role, rather than my innate female persona. I knew what I needed.
I write as point of comparison that my peers at Pinewood and Dasahori tended to socialise and explore. I tend to be introverted, keep to myself, limit my external opportunities.
My Pinewood and Dasahori school-mates recall their abundant experiences and memories of Greece; many school-mates also knew the locals. I was there one year at Pylaia and one year at Dasahori, I lived my daily life among my school-mates, yet I barely knew them as well as they knew their school-mates and each other.
I as Nick made male friends rather than as Sharon making female friends.
My first friend when my dad and I arrived at Thessaloniki was our landlord’s daughter at our Harilau apartment – I apologise for my failure to recall your name. She and I are the same age, she spoke English well enough for us to get to know each other those first couple weeks, we shared listening to Rock music. Had my dad and I remained there and not moved to the Pinewood / Anatolia campus, how different would we have become friends had I been ‘presenting’ as a girl rather than as a boy?
Moving to the Pinewood campus, there became even the simple difference of who I befriended at the boys’ dorm rather than at the girls’ dorm:
- I as Nick would have been out of place had I spent my social time at the girls’ dorm.
- I as Sharon would have been out of place had I spent my social time at the boys’ dorm.
My first friend at the dorm was Eddie. We did things our first few weeks that no teen boy and girl would have done together at our age. Would we have become friends had I appeared presenting to him as a girl rather than as a boy?
As a boy at Pinewood, I made friends with Eddie, Miro, Jack, Anthony, Tom, Tim, Randy rather than as a girl with Mamiko, Mary G, Mary C, Maria, Liliarty.
As a boy at Dasahori, Nick knew Brad, Dave, Keith, Brendan. Sharon would have known Susie, Angelina, Sarah, Toni, Jenny, Beth.
I withdrew from knowing my Maggana ‘Upper Form’ Greek peers who attended school weekdays at Xanthi. Steffi (our landlord’s eldest daughter) and I are the same age, but we had no friendship as did my sister Kathy with Steffi. Would Steffi and I have made a friendship if I were Sharon, not Nick?
Can you see where I’m going with my theoretical philosophy?
I’ve come to learn that there are other Trans people who also fill with this ‘What if’ had we lived differently.
We – my school-mates from Pinewood and Dasahori – may not have known much of each other in the same ways had I been Sharon, instead of Nick, at Pinewood and Dasahori. We would have missed the events that we shared – playing softball, participating in school plays, digging holes, riding bikes, listening to music, going to movies, dancing at the disco.
- Would I have played on the Pinewood basketball team?
- Would I have played softball with my Pinewood male classmates?
- Would I have played Dr. Bradford in ‘Blithe Spirit’?
- Would I have been selected to the IMUN either year let alone both years? How would I have been partnered both years?
No complaints here, that’s the way it was as I accept it, then and now.
This quandary barely skims the surface. This accounts for only two teen years of my younger age. As I wrote in my earlier essay about the people in my life (‘In My Life …’ 19 Apr 2016), I likely would have had friendships with the girls had I been Sharon, rather than with the boys as I was as Nick. But the full story means that I would have missed the wonderfull life experiences with the boys as they were in my actual life.
I make no presumptions about any one else’s life experiences. I am expressing for myself. Maybe you got all your friendships and no looking back to wonder any ‘What ifs’. I have so many. Oh, I do not stay awake every night stressed by every little event. I merely allow my thoughts to wander where they please at this life lived – for better, for worse.
Through all the bad, I had it good and made it good.
What is the solution?
Why need there be any?
Why couldn’t I have befriended both girls and boys equally?
I want to consider that I would have had better friendships without this messy transsexual and inter-sex thing that complicated my life.
Do you think that I awoke one morning at age 3 and said to myself:
- ‘Gee, I wanna grow up and be inter-sex and transsexual, I wanna endure all the hardship and pain.’?
When did you, Dear Reader, decide during your childhood that you are a girl? Are a boy? During your adulthood that you are a woman? Are a man?
For me, I made no decision; my childhood self-identity knew that I am a girl since the beginning of my memory at age 3; I knew that I am a woman as I reached my adult years.
My family forced this girl to be raised as Nickie / Nick and to live as a boy even when I began female puberty during 9th Grade and filled out bras naturally. I was not Kathy’s weird brother trying to wear her clothes; it turns out that I was a girl trying, wanting to be her younger sister.
Did you watch the 1970s TV show ‘Soap’? It aired on ABC network beginning September 1977.
I have made scattered references to that show here at this web-site.
One of the characters of ‘Soap’ was Jody Dallas (played by Billy Crystal). Jody was introduced as a homosexual Gay man wanting a sex change operation to be female for his boyfriend. That was quite an extreme character for those days.
I do not know what knowledge those story writers had of transsexualism in 1977 as they developed that plot-line. As for Crystal’s character Jody Dallas:
- What did Crystal know about Transsexualism?
- What did he learn?
I knew then in 1977 that they were so wrong about it – whether they realised that fact or not – that they were perpetuating an egregious error about transsexualism:
- No gay man wants a sex change operation that eliminates his manhood.
But there they were, a large segment of American psychiatry and psychology of that time into the 1970s who persisted that transsexuals were homosexual males who had a desire to conform to society, to be in a monogamous heterosexual relationship with their male partner, to not live as an outcast in a scandalous homosexual relationship.
I had to make my own insistence to my counselors throughout my years:
- that I am not a Gay male,
- that their theory is bogus.
I surely had the nerve! Not ‘balls’, mine were ovaries.
It is better common understanding nowadays that no Gay male wants to remove his penis – the anatomical organ that provides sexual pleasure for himself and his Gay partner.
‘What Sex Am I’ (cablecast on HBO – April 1985) delves into this serious error of the medical profession of that time.
The people from both Stanford and Janus who managed the heart of my transition – the people I knew – were among the production and advisory personnel to that documentary working to set things correctly:
- it goes against it all to administer a sex change for a Gay male.
Who says that channel surfing is a waste of time? It pays off for me.
I discovered by randomly surfing that ‘Soap’ is making the syndication rounds again. I caught it early Tuesday morning while browsing (Antenna TV – 2 am MST here at Arizona, check local listings).
It seems, as I recall of the series, that I missed the first episode in this current syndication re-play.
Episode #2 was when Jody told his parents that he wants his sex change operation.
Antenna TV probably began running it on Monday night; I found ‘Soap’ also airing at 8.30 pm (again – MST Arizona time, check your local listings).
If you can’t watch it at their broadcast times, well then, ‘use your brain’ as Kathy writes and set your VCR, DVR, or whatever you can.
Another sign of my 40th Anniversary.
I can’t express in words what this show means to me – the memories that it triggers of my past. I know that you know, Dear Reader, those who travel this journey: You ‘get it’. We all ‘get it’.
My dad had fits when I watched ‘Soap’. He had nothing good to say about it. He, in fact, participated in the Catholic Church’s efforts to ban ‘Soap’ from TV.
When I moved to Utah (October 1980), I learned that the ABC affiliate station refused to broadcast ‘Soap’ during the prior three seasons; the 1980 season was their first time that they would carry it. They delayed its broadcast to run at midnight (yes, I stayed up late to watch each episode).
Curious. When ‘Soap’ went into syndication in 1983, the local network affiliate station ran full episodes after their 10 pm newscast. No one from the TV viewership complained. I seem to recall that it got higher ratings than the late network shows – ‘Nightline’ and ‘Tonight Show’.
So there! So much for that Catholic Church boycott. What hypocrites!
Looks like I had another one in me, eh.
Thank you to the web-sites that provided their references to make this essay
Thank you, Valerie June, for today’s music:
Thank you for visiting, Dear Reader.
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