16 March 2013

Objects and Objections: Irish Soda Bread Revenants

Sing with me, to the tune of Greensleeves:

What slime is this, quite chauvinist,
into my lap is creeping?
Whom cannot bear what is not square
nor suffer sable clothing?
This, this is vileness
no tolerance for difference.
Haste, haste to breed them out
this slime, this fear of others.

I know some lovely people.

I know some really fucking lovely people.

After four times being objectified for my gender identity since leaving high school, I don’t stay silent. What do I mean by objectified? Oh, I mean where in a relationship of power, I am used (notice the passive voice) as a psychological specimen, and most-dear-to-me aspects of my being are picked apart because they are—le gasp—not mainstream.

Yes, readers, it was a very bad first date ever with a male. I am smart enough not to sour on the concept of dating, though it is a foreign one to this ace individual. A curse-reversing date with the proper partner would be nice but is not necessary to reset.

As my mentor and IIN buddy Linda says, “Are you gonna be a victim, or a victor?”

A victor! Besides the date, had some not-so-lovely exchanges this week, and by golly, what’s the social ill that underlies a good deal of them?

As my friend Potter said, “What the hell happened to compassion?”

Compassion dissolved in others’ desire to put themselves above others, to rate their needs as highest. News flash, in my worldview, we cannot be the arbiters of our own desires. Judging others is not our job. It’s the job of the universe, karma, God, random chance. Having faith that things will work out, that everyone will get their just desserts, keeps me going.

So how do we become more compassionate? We start with ourselves. By asking myself, “What do I need?” and truly honestly listening to myself as I would a loved one, I begin to notice how I can better take care of myself. I learn that I do have answers to my own problems—if I listen well through meditation and yoga and doing what I love. I am then able to better listen to others and consider how I would feel in their shoes, and then act appropriately.

I have not the time and space to write a treatise on compassion here; I highly recommend Buddhaghosa’s teachings on it.

Shifting gears to a more earthly matter…what most often gets picked over by other folk is my being androgynous. Yes, it’s not mainstream. Were it an actual choice, why in the hell would I choose such a difficult path of walking between genders?

Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, NRSV).

For in my experience thus far, being like mainstream society, conforming to social norms is mindless and self-destructive. It is a consciousness-raising, fully alive experience of the world I have when I don’t think about gender and just be me. Be Q the Q[ueer] that I am. I don’t give a whit whether it’s popular. I am what I am.

If I wear a skirt one day? So what; it fits, I wear it. I may be female-bodied, but that doesn’t mean I have to wear skirts and be demure. Sometimes I wear kilts—menswear!—and I think a man in a kilt is a man and a half! As this blog tells, I enjoy domestic pursuits—cookery, handicrafts—but that does not make me feminine and limit me to the domestic sphere. I can also sit and study Jewish mystic texts, wash my car, cook dinner on the grill, run, and do other masculine things. Having freedom of choice in this country, day, and age allows me to choose and move between traditionally-defined spheres of activity. I’m not home in either one; I’m home between them. To believe that one must be either-or is too narrow-minded for me to bother with. The road is hard that leads to life; not all things worth getting, not all things worth being, are easy to obtain or attain.

Irish Soda Bread returns as muffins, this year. The American bread is sweet and fancy; traditional ISB is plain, chemically-leavened wholemeal bread. My version walks the line between them and goes very well with cranberry-walnut cream cheeze.

Irish Soda Bread Muffinx
Modified from King Arthur Flour

3 tablespoons warm water
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened soymilk)
1 teaspoon vinegar (I used apple cider vinegar)

3/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup millet flour
3/4 cup GF oat flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon Sucanat

5 tablespoons canola oil, plus more for pan

1 cup raisins
2 tablespoons caraway seeds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Oil or paper a 12-well muffin tin.

In a small measuring cup, combine the water and flaxseed and set aside.

In another small measuring cup, combine the vinegar and non-dairy milk and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, leavening, salt, and Sucanat.  Stir the flaxseed mixture and oil into the non-dairy milk mixture. Then add the wet ingredients to the dry, fold in the caraway seeds and raisins, and mix until combined. Divide amongst the wells (I made about 9 muffins because I’m used to seeing big muffins like at work). Fill any empty wells about 2/3 full with water to prevent the pan from scorching. Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the muffins immediately from the pan so they don’t get soggy and cool on a rack. Store in a covered container in the fridge when completely cool.

Muffins and pie

Conveniently, I will be a panelist on the Words Made Flesh: The Intersections of Sexuality, Gender Identity, and Spirituality panel at Princeton’s Every Voice LGBT conference in April. In the past, I’ve been afforded the opportunity to stand up for what I am soon after my identity has been interrogated; the Great Creator generously provided another opportunity.

In order to be a victor and seek support to keep being me, I reached out to my family of friends this time. I’m not staying silent. In reaching out, I found more loving hands than I dared hope, and I am so grateful.

This one means the most to me
Stays here for eternity
A ship that always stays the course
An anchor for my every choice
A rose that shines down from above
I signed and sealed these words in blood
I heard them once, sung in a song
It played again and we sang along

--Dropkick Murphys, “Rose Tattoo”
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