SO I have officially moved to Los Angeles. Since April 2022, I have been taking pictures with a disposable camera, which my friend, Jordan gave me for my birthday in March. Jordan is also the friend who helped me move down here in the first place; thank you Jordy! It reminds me to take each moment more slowly and to be excited about how these memories will change through the help of the passage of time and the inherent delay of seeing film photographs. A big thank you to Valley Photo in North Hollywood; they did a beautiful job with developing these photos (and they are also total sweeties).
This year has been more than emotionally challenging, it’s been earth-shattering. It’s forced me to have a complete paradigm shift with who I am and what I want. I am letting go of my perfectionism, my obsessive thought patterns, and leaning into trust, not control. Death and its surrounding revelations have led me to understand myself and where I come from on a much deeper level. I am walking with my feet connected to the Earth for what feels like the very first time. It is certainly the first time in the new version of myself that I have grown into. from flower to squash, from earthworm to soil- I meet me exactly where I need to be. I have met my worst version of myself and choose to love him, not fear him.
I have ventured into gardening-the perks of living with a botanist! Gardening has taught me how to look at my brain differently. My brain, just like a garden, is something I need to consistently tend to and choose to not pathologize when things “go wrong”. I don’t see dead leaves and think “that’s a bad thing-GET RID OF IT” that’s simply more food for the worms and thus nutrients for the soil. Some thoughts are weeds and act in a self-destructive and masochistic intention. Some thoughts are bursting with fruit and vegetables to make dinner with. Either way, it’s all green and natural.
Nightlife has been interesting down here. I was NOT prepared for how expensive alcohol is here. I thought I knew how expensive drinks could get after living in the bay area for 8 years but HOLY MOSES THIS IS DIFFERENT. If anything it has encouraged me to not spend time with friends by way of alcohol, and I feel especially encouraged to not go to bars because Covid surges are on and off again so frequently in LA (and frankly, most of the united states). Though I will say, I greatly enjoyed going to my first proper concert in YEARS. I saw Caroline Kinsbury open for Post Animal at Lodge Room. Caroline is an internet friend of mine who I finally met in person for the first time in May at her concert.
I went to the beach for the first time since top surgery, it was a cold day so I did not have my top off for the first time at the beach since surgery (that will be another post). Jude is a new friend I have made who is also a bay area filmmaker who moved down to Los Angeles.
One day, I was in a funk and feeling a bit lost emotionally. I had heard from my roommate we live by a lot of nature and decided to explore Descanso Gardens. It did not disappoint. It made me feel safe and alone even with a lot of visitors in the garden that day. It reminded me that I am able to frequently invite peace into my life I give myself the chance to look for it.
Thank you for reading y’all! I’m excited for this new chapter-no, NEW BOOK of my life that I’m living right now. I’m learning all the ways I get to be Ryan Baker and it’s really fun.
Today, a friend of mine reposted this image of a tweet that resonated with me. I want to share my thoughts on it here:
The same can be said for any person from a historically marginalized group of people. I think often of my Black ancestors who had to flee because of the violent law making in this country (which by the way, anti-Black laws are rising just as high transphobic laws). And when ur Trans and Black, these two experiences overlap so often. It’s almost like transphobia and racism can’t exist without each other 🤨. Even with the limited experiences of anti Blackness I’ve experienced in my life, my white presenting body has quite literally saved my life even during instances of violent transphobia. If I wasn’t read as white, I know the things I have survived would have killed me if I didn’t have this privilege.
As we see more overt transphobic and anti Black laws being passed, we are also witnessing the last cry for help from capitalism and white Cis-hetero patriarchy! They know they are loosing and that the people are winning-they are scared and choosing to be violent .
Now it’s more important than ever to extent outside of yourself and help build communities that are more loving and willing to evolve-communities that prioritize being teachable. I cannot only act on things that only effect me-i need to go outside of myself and my life experience I want to invest in knowledge and praxis that benefits the most vulnerable in our world. I hope u do the same.
I want a future where we don’t need to flee, I want a future where we get the choice to move.
2022 has only been a few months long but it has continually shown me lessons about grief. Grief spills and laps like waves on the shore in moonlight-Dark blues and purples with speckles of light that briefly show what I am truly looking at.
I know grief has been a lesson and an emotion many of us have been learning and feeling for many years, especially since Covid. I am trying to remember that love is to grief what inhaling is to exhaling.
Grandma Mae, you were a survivor and even while you were surviving, you publicly reigned in joy and inclusion all around you. Privately, I knew you had a turbulent rage that you so rarely showed-I hope you have found peace with the trauma you have survived and that it has been released into transformative energy. Thank you for getting us here.
I was so scared that while I was medically transitioning I would be subsequently erasing myself from your memory because of the effects of your dementia. I started hormones just a week before the world shut down and suddenly I wouldn't be able to see you in person for two years. I was scared that as I medically transitioned and wasn’t able to visit you during Covid, I would look like a strange man in place of a granddaughter you knew. Even though you knew me when I came out as gender fluid-HRT is a whole different ballpark. People have a whole different experience of me which turns into me having a complete different experience of the world. You haven't seen me since I was living in my past life.
3 days before top surgery in November 2021 I visited you in person for the first time in two years! I was so nervous- not just about how you would react to seeing me but also how the staff who worked at your nursing home would treat me after I would more than likely be outted due to your dementia. You really valued that I was a little girl, a female-I was scared I would disappoint you now that I appear to you as a man. Especially with how men have treated you in the past.
But you were so brilliant with your intuition and really had a natural gift for tapping into to the spiritual parts of life. You and I exchanged an understanding and everything fell into place. Me and Sean brought you photo albums. You saw a picture of the two of us when I was just a baby in a swimsuit and you said “look at that little boy, look how’s he’s grown”
That felt like magic. Just total understanding. Thank you for your infectious joy that you have passed down to me and so many people in our family. You were a survivor and a courageous person who spoke her mind freely even after living in the south during Jim Crow. Growing up with you was joyous.
I loved how you spoke about funerals in New Orleans-that it was always an emphasis of public joy and celebration rather than a sorrowful hidden pain. It’s very fitting that you died during Mardi Gras. I hope a big band greeted you as you transitioned into becoming an ancestor.
Thank you for getting us here.
February 12th 1933-February 2022