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Dream: 2.2.15

February 3, 2015

As the dream begins, I’m conscious that I waited for months to hear from AROHO (and never did), but suddenly I am at the place where the retreat will be held (with no memory of how I got there, or the acceptance that must have happened, or anything else).

I’m sitting on the bare wooden floor, in a corner of a large room, amidst a growing circle of women.

We are waiting for the opening ceremonies to start.

There are a great many (empty) chairs in a different part of the room, and a stage. People bustle about, getting ready. I overhear someone saying (many) people are late, and briefly wonder what will happen if our circle remains the only attendees.

In the circle, Ruth Thompson is the only woman I recognize. People in the circle begin conversing. Everyone is happy to be there, including me. I say, “I was so worried ‘the first time’ that I wouldn’t get along with people, that I’d feel trapped there for a week, ‘like camp’, but I turned out to have a great time!” I have the feeling as I’m saying this that I was at 2 previous retreats, 2011 and 2013. Someone else in the group says she was also there in 2011 and 2013, but she isn’t familiar to me at all.

Finally people enter the large room — people of all genders. I recognize a celebrity swimmer, male — maybe he’ll be a guest speaker?

I, unlike everyone else, now have a pile of books and notebooks and pens and a purse that I’m trying to keep track of, at my seat.

Later on, I’m among a different circle of women, near a water cooler, which I’m having trouble operating. One of the other women is taking care of a fussy baby. I feel out of place. I wander off, in search of cake. I find one, get a piece, and come back with my plate. But my books and stuff have been moved away from my seat, and I don’t see them anywhere else either. I’m distressed.

Later, I’m wandering among a large display room with all sorts of dead (possibly taxidermied) animals on display. I want to write down which ones I see, as they are not animals I would’ve thought would be native to this area, but I haven’t located my pen or notebook.

{The only specific ones I remember now were really big grasshoppers, and ptarmigan. But there were a lot more.}

The opening ceremonies are elaborate, taking place on several stages; people in coordinated costumes do complicated choreographed dances, signifying the roles they perform for AROHO. During one number, where all the women wear long white dresses embellished with silver threads, one of the women grabs my arm and pulls me up onto the stage and into the dance. Conscious that there’s an audience, I try to go along, despite having no idea which group this is or what function they serve. I hope I’m not giving anyone the impression that I actually am staff.

Off stage, I look around, noticing there are other transpeople there, and no one blinks.


Nothing about the setting suggested Ghost Ranch or New Mexico. Now that I think about it, it was more like how I imagined Stowe, Vermont, was, when I read about the von Trapp Family Singers performing there, in the 1940s or so. (I owned a biography of the family, as a teen.)

Although I follow a bunch of AROHO women on Twitter, only Ruth was in the dream (and she’s not on Twitter very often). Possibly she popped up because we had an exchange a week or so ago. {Mostly when I RT tweets by or about AROHO women, they don’t respond at all.}

The ‘camp’ I was thinking of during the dream wasn’t the only camp I ever attended, it was someplace else. I never actually worried that I’d feel “trapped there for a week”.

Why a male swimmer?


I’ve been thinking a lot about AROHO in the last few weeks, and about New Mexico. So the dream could actually be about that, but that seems too easy and obvious. Also, I was not there in 2011; I did not even discover AROHO existed until October 2012.

What stuff did I do in 2011 and 2013? I wrote my first poem in 2011. I submitted my first poems in 2013.

So could dream-AROHO symbolize a community of poets? If so, though, the gender thing is weird — on Twitter, I spend probably more time with male and nonbinary poets than women poets. On the other hand, the only “community of writers and poets” that I have any experience being part of is AROHO, so maybe the dream version, including people of various genders, signifies that I really do belong?

I haven’t written much poetry lately, and I miss doing so. Could the presence of the notebooks and pens (that keep disappearing) be a function of anxiety about not writing? Feeling like a beginner amongst more-accomplished writers? Because I think all of my Twitter-poet-friends have now been published at least once, but I haven’t. Submissions to a bunch of journals we all like opened up on 2/1, but I don’t have anything that’s ready to go out. Feeling some anxiety about that.


“Opening ceremonies” of something, to me, does not suggest cake being served, and this was a special occasion cake. So what was the occasion?

I don’t think I’ve even visited a place where ptarmigan are native [tundra]. The giant grasshoppers looked sort of like weta, which are native to New Zealand. Wikipedia informs me that ptarmigan have been introduced into New Zealand, but I didn’t know that before now. I know something that connects New Zealand with poetry! I got 2 issues of a NZ poetry journal last year, and it was one of the better poetry journals I’ve read. They don’t publish a lot of poems by US poets, though, and I didn’t think my stuff was good enough yet to submit to them.

Odd that I wasn’t more nervous at getting pulled up onto the stage, during the dance. The worry that someone might mistake me for staff — a fear related to impostor syndrome?

I haven’t been calling myself trans, because to me, that still implies someone who’s part of the gender binary, which I’m not. But I’ve been considering the idea of it lately. To say “I am transgender”, though, when in most non-QUILTBAG people’s minds that implies something that I’m not actually saying . . . it’s a scary prospect. I want a label that clarifies, not obfuscates. If I have to explain in great detail, I’ve already lost: no one will listen long enough to figure out what I’m saying. They’ll talk over me, telling me I’m wrong about my own life. (Happened.)


I’ve only had a couple of dreams in my entire life that seemed to be prescient. This probably isn’t one of them. I remain deeply ambivalent about the real AROHO Retreat — if I admit how much I want to return, and they reject me as ineligible now that I’ve ‘come out’ as nonbinary, part of me fears I’ll feel ‘unmade’ (in the sense of dismantled) somehow. As if AROHO has the power to obliterate me. It shouldn’t, of course. But if it were thought to be acting in loco parentis? Because I’m pretty sure my parents, were I speaking to them, would pitch a fit about me being transgender/nonbinary/whatever.

In my personal life, I’m as ‘out’ as I can be. Spouse, of course, knows. All my Twitter-friends. My doctor, my ex-therapist. A place I volunteered with 2 years ago. My father-in-law, for pete’s sake, knows.

And yet. . . my brother won’t call me my legal name or any variant. (Which might just be one of his stupid power plays.) But . . . I ‘came out’ to a cousin I thought I’d gotten friendly with, 2 years ago, and she never responded at all.

Do I even exist to my relatives? Never mind my gender for a moment. Am I a real person? Or just an inconvenient figment of someone’s imagination? I don’t know, I don’t know.

I don’t want to feel this way: that other people can obliterate me. But I don’t know how to ‘fix’ the feeling. Maybe at least expressing it will help.

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