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Dispatches from Tanganyika

Dispatches from Tanganyika -

Last Build Date: Thu, 27 Aug 2015 07:40:09 GMT


The First Time

Thu, 27 Aug 2015 07:40:09 GMT

Due to going through a depressive episode now, I've been thinking about the first time I ever experienced chemical depression. I remember it very clearly, because it was so unlike anything else I'd ever felt. I was seventeen. I had just survived several terrible years at a school where other students told me daily how ugly, stupid, and worthless I was, but that didn't make me depressed. It made me feel bad, but that unhappiness had a clear cause and a foreseeable end. At seventeen, I had a group of good friends, a boyfriend, and a bunch of projects I was excited about. Things were better than they'd been in years, but every day I seemed to care a little less. Also, it seemed that nobody would help me. The sum total of my boyfriend's advice was "I think you need to get your shit together," but he lived three hours away and was never a big help with anything. When I tried to talk to my friends, they told me to talk to my other friends. Sometimes they said this while physically backing away from me, as if depression were catching (and I guess it may be, especially among teenagers). They still liked me all right at other times, but the moment I tried to tell them how bad I felt for no discernible reason and how scary that was, the conversation was over. I can't blame them; they were just kids trying to figure out their own scary new feelings. My mother sent me to a psychologist who said she would hospitalize me if I kept doing self-destructive things, so I stopped telling her about the self-destructive things I did, but I didn't stop doing them.

Eventually I left school, got more serious about writing, got a better boyfriend, and pulled myself out of that first episode, but depression is something I've struggled with ever since. Sometimes medication helps, sometimes not. Testosterone has helped more than any psychiatric drug, but it is far from a magic bullet, especially when situational factors (poverty, my mom's illness, the hype surrounding the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina) intrude. Right now I should be lighting candles for my clients. Over the past eighteen months, I've built my candle-and-root business out of nothing into a going concern. I'm proud of it and don't want to screw it up, and I don't want to disappoint my clients. But the principle behind setting lights is sympathetic magic, and I worry that depression will contaminate my candles. If I can't get rid of the depression, I need to learn to build barriers to keep that from happening.

I can't see myself starting to keep a regular blog again, at least not at the moment, but I wanted to put this somewhere I could keep track of it. Mostly I like the ephemerality of Facebook, but once in a great while I still want to point to something and say, "Here's what I think about this."

The Art of Asking

Sat, 10 Jan 2015 02:23:09 GMT

I'm reading The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer. She has some amazing talents that don't even relate to music, like the ability to thrive on her own vulnerability. I could no more go to a house party and cuddle a bunch of strangers in a closet while telling stories than I could fly to the top of Mt. Everest. Above all, Amanda encourages us to communicate with our people and ask for help when we need it. So, if you've been thinking about ordering something from my shop,, this would be a fantastic time to do it; December was a banner month, but some unforeseen expenses (mostly my mom's larger-than-expected property tax bill) have cropped up in early January and we're falling further and further behind.

I will also send a small signed pen-and-ink doodle to anyone who donates $1 or more via Paypal in the next two days; my address there is

Thank you XXXOOO


Thu, 04 Dec 2014 09:18:00 GMT

I can't keep up my daily journaling ambitions, but I limp along ...

Back in the fall of 2010, I donated most of my "female" clothes to Goodwill. A week or so later, I had to go back there to find a nice jacket for Neil's 50th birthday party that Chris was catering here in New Orleans. When I walked into the store, several of the nicer items I'd donated were hanging on the racks right up front. It gave me a funny feeling, but not an entirely bad one, because it helped me realize I wasn't going back.

Black (Conjure) Friday

Fri, 28 Nov 2014 02:52:25 GMT

12:01 AM Friday through midnight Sunday, PZBART's Black (Conjure) Friday sale: 20% off everything in the shop! Signed books, authentic Voodoo and hoodoo supplies and spells, original artwork, signed prints of LOST SOULS characters, more. Livejournal special: enter coupon code BLACKFRI at checkout and get an additional 10% off. Don't add to the clusterfuck! Do your holiday shopping online!


Pain Scale

Tue, 04 Nov 2014 02:17:12 GMT

What is even the pain scale? How are you supposed to pick a number? Is 10 equivalent to, like, being burned alive at the stake? It's not supposed to be the worst pain you've ever felt, but the worst you can imagine. Well, I can imagine a lot. They don't know they're dealing with the guy who wrote the infamous screwdriver scene. So if I say I'm feeling a 7, that's pretty damn bad.

Sorry, I am delirious with pain and for once it's not my damn back, but my damn teeth, which have been plaguing me. Help is on the way, though.

Happy Halloween!

Sat, 01 Nov 2014 01:51:57 GMT



Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:31:35 GMT

This sleep experiment has some interesting effects. This morning at Wal-Mart, I felt like Ralph Roberts with his balloon-strings. I couldn't quite see them coming out the tops of people's heads, but everyone was suddenly very vivid and gorgeously colored, just regular people going about their regular business, and yet star stuff.

(When I told Grey everyone at Wal-Mart was beautiful, he said, "Yep, we need to get you to bed.")

I Am Here

Mon, 27 Oct 2014 20:06:33 GMT

Did I miss a day already? I don't know anymore, because we don't have the usual number of sleeps and waking periods; I'm just endeavoring to write in here every 24 hours or so. Tonight I was lighting a candle, and I thought, I am here; I am in this place because I have chosen to be, and I do what I choose, not what anyone else wants me to do, and I do my best to take care of the ones I love, and most of the time I can, and that is a good life.

Noodle & Pie

Sun, 26 Oct 2014 00:17:45 GMT

People seem to have taken my previous entry as an exhortation, when it was really only a personal resolution -- but if it gets more folks back to LJ, I suppose that's good. I know this is no longer a fashionable blogging platform, but the things that are popular, like Instagram, I don't understand. Old fogies of the Internet, unite.

Today we had lunch at Noodle & Pie, Eman Loubier's ramen joint on Magazine Street. Both the noodles and the pie were excellent. Grey was very game about eating ramen, though he poked dubiously at his soft-boiled egg and gave me the hairy eyeball for having told him nori was "a kind of flavoring" when he could see that it was, in fact, seaweed.


Sat, 25 Oct 2014 09:10:50 GMT

Help revive Livejournal. Write something here every day. Don't just post stuff for sale or reposts from Facebook. Don't worry about whether it is crappy or embarrassing. Today's thought is about how we are attempting to emulate the sleep patterns of our cats. We sleep in short stretches when we feel like it, work when we are awake. So far, Grey is more productive than ever. Myself, I'm not sure about yet, but I seem to be doing OK. Not so much art, but lots of Voodoo/hoodoo work for people. I seem to be specializing in honey jars.

Mignon Faget Fleur de Lis

Tue, 02 Sep 2014 20:40:50 GMT

I am selling my 14-karat gold Mignon Faget fleur de lis pendant. This pendant has traveled all over the world with me, including two book tours, and has been blessed by a Catholic priest and a Voodoo houngan. A symbol of New Orleans' resiliency and a piece that lived close to my heart for a long time.


If You Were A Man

Sun, 13 Jul 2014 20:02:29 GMT

I'm due for a testosterone shot today, but I won't be having one because my latest doctor apparently cares more about covering his ass than he does about his patients' well-being. I thought we got along well at my first visit several months ago; he admitted he didn't know much about trans health care, but seemed willing to learn. He also sent me for some pricey blood work, but when you see a new doctor, that's to be expected. I got the blood work, got my T prescription, and was fine until it ran out last month, at which point I called his office to see if I needed to come in or could just get a refill. Here is my best attempt at paraphrasing his return call.

DR: Is this Ms. Brite?

ME: Uh, this is MISTER Brite.

DR: Yes, well, I got the results of your blood work here and ... I don't know how to read it. You've seen those commercials about the dangers of testosterone? I mean, if you were a man, these results would be normal, but ... I just don't know about this stuff. I need you to have your previous doctor send me your blood levels.

Those italics are mine, and yes, he really said "if you were a man." At our visit, I was very clear about my gender identity. I realize that many doctors are biological essentialists, but in my opinion, that doesn't exempt them from acting like decent human beings. I'm not even going to get into his apparent inability to educate himself, or to maybe, you know, fucking ADMIT TO ME THAT HE WASN'T GOING TO before having me spend $250 on useless lab work.

I have an appointment with a new doctor, a GP who is reportedly educated on and sympathetic to trans issues, but not until next week. In the meantime, I have Internet-ordered testosterone that cost twice as much as my regular prescription coming from Slovakia, but it's not here yet.

A few months ago, I made this shadowbox titled "It Costs $10,000 To Be A Man." I was thinking of surgery, but by the time I die, I wouldn't be surprised if I've spent that much just on doctor appointments.


Shark's Tooth & Sea Glass Pendant

Sat, 12 Jul 2014 00:40:53 GMT

Here is a popular piece from my shop, a pendant made from green sea glass, a real shark's tooth, and a tiny shark charm. I currently have two of these available, and more (with a slightly different bead) coming soon.


It's $24 and comes on a 30" black silk cord, or can go on your own chain. This seems like a good time to post a reminder that all my jewelry comes with a lifetime guarantee; if your piece breaks in the course of normal wear or use, please return it to me and I'll repair it at no cost to you.

Strange Memories

Thu, 10 Jul 2014 09:41:52 GMT

Strange memories on this nervous night in Las Vegas. Five years later? Six? It seems like a lifetime, or at least a Main Era -- the kind of peak that never comes again. San Francisco in the middle sixties was a very special time and place to be a part of. Maybe it meant something. Maybe not, in the long run ... but no explanation, no mix of words or music or memories can touch that sense of knowing that you were there and alive in that corner of time and the world. - Hunter S. Thompson

This quote from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas runs over and over through my head tonight, a near-perfect expression of being homesick for a place or a time or both. For me, it's always Amsterdam; I dream many times a week of being there, and try to imagine a scenario that would ever allow me to return, but it's hard to do that when even the purchase of a new pair of sandals from Wal-Mart wreaks enough budgetary havoc to give me pause. In some ways, my life was awful four or five years ago compared to now, because there was no love in it. In some other ways, though, I wish I'd appreciated how good I had it back then.

Strangely, my dream-Amsterdam contains several places that, though they do not exist in the actual city, remain consistent from dream to dream: an amusement park; an arcade full of tiny, authentic Asian restaurants; a wooden museum surrounded by lush tropical foliage. I also spend a lot of dream-time in the coffeeshops, though, and all of those are real.


Fri, 04 Jul 2014 19:48:31 GMT

I wrote this on Facebook the other day:

"One of the reasons I seldom use Livejournal anymore is that I have become fond of ephemerality. I'd never delete my LJ, as that would be dishonest and destructive, but sometimes I cringe to think all my angst and foolishness and tilting at windmills is still out there for anyone to read. There's a lot to hate about Facebook, but I do like the out-of-sight, out-of-mind quality of it."

A love of ephemerality is not necessarily good; taken to extremes, it causes me to live something of a fly-by-night life. Expired driver's licenses and such. It's also freeing, though, not to give a damn about one's own words. Yesterday, for the first time in maybe two years, I was in a Barnes & Noble. (Due to poverty and poor book-buying impulse control, I try not to go to bookstores anymore unless there is a particular book I want, and then I usually patronize one of the local independents. For everything else, I have rediscovered the wonders of the public library.) I always used to check bookstores to see if they had any of my books, and if they didn't, it would invariably annoy me. But I had been browsing in this Barnes & Noble for twenty minutes before it occurred to me that I could check. And then I realized that I didn't really give a damn if they had them or not, so I never did look. (I did buy The Babylon Rite by Tom Knox, who has the best tortures of any suspense writer I've ever read.)

[ETA: If you want to friend or follow me on Facebook, go here, or look up Billy Martin of New Orleans. All are welcome.]

3D Beatles

Sun, 13 Apr 2014 20:35:32 GMT

I'm reluctantly selling this gorgeous vintage 3D Beatles pendant necklace. Opening bid is $50.


This Week's Sale

Mon, 07 Apr 2014 21:20:40 GMT

PZBART sale this week: 25% off signed books. Lots of titles available, and many rarities.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth. Comment here or there, as you will.

Jewelry Repairs

Fri, 04 Apr 2014 01:18:32 GMT

Since I'm fixing a piece right now, I thought I'd post a reminder that all my handmade jewelry comes with a lifetime guarantee. If your piece breaks in the course of normal wear or use, please return it to me and I'll repair it at no cost to you.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth. Comment here or there, as you will.

Night Owls & Early Birds

Mon, 31 Mar 2014 08:27:09 GMT

We've had a lot of scary and unexpected medical expenses recently, so I am having Night Owl/Early Bird Sale: 3 AM today (3-31-14) through the stroke of midnight, 50% off all Nola Jewels (my handmade jewelry) and paintings on canvas. The jewelry ships free worldwide with purchase of any other item in shop.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth. Comment here or there, as you will.

Testosterone Book Sale

Tue, 18 Mar 2014 21:44:43 GMT

Hear ye, hear ye! Now announcing the OOPS MY TESTOSTERONE-LEVEL BLOOD TEST COST $226 BOOK SALE! I'm offering first-edition, out-of-print hardcovers of GUILTY BUT INSANE, THE VALUE OF X, and THE DEVIL YOU KNOW for $15 each with free U.S. shipping. As always, books are signed and can be personalized.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth. Comment here or there, as you will.

March Madness

Wed, 05 Mar 2014 21:08:48 GMT

March Madness sale: 30% off signed books (which can be personalized); 20% off original paintings. I'm still offering copies of the post-LOST SOULS Steve & Ghost story, "Stay Awake."

Crossposted at Dreamwidth. Comment here or there, as you will.

Mine (Slenderman 3)

Fri, 21 Feb 2014 08:29:45 GMT


"Mine (Slenderman 3)," acrylic on stretched canvas, 11" x 14", $80.

New Voodoo

Tue, 18 Feb 2014 10:03:27 GMT

Grey and I have had a hell of a time getting over this flu, but we soldier on, and PZBART is open again with a bunch of new voodoo products including wormwood, sweet gum seed balls, alum, saltpeter, cloves, hot peppers, cinnamon bark, and powdered selenite, all in decorative glass bottles with tiny adorable skull beads.


I also listed an iolite & pyrite skull choker with a wire-wrapped pyrite pendant. I haven't been able to make much jewelry lately because of tendonitis in my right arm that's aggravated by beading, but I'd been looking for the right thing to do with this pendant, and when I found these pyrite skulls, I knew they had to go together.

And we send a get-well shout-out to Chris, who had knee replacement surgery yesterday morning.

Getting Caught Up

Sat, 08 Feb 2014 19:57:36 GMT

Just now coming up for air after several hallucinatory days spent flat on my back with the flu. Grey has it too, a couple of days behind me. I have 23 outstanding Etsy orders and am going to have to leave my PZBART shop on vacation mode until I get caught up a bit. Fortunately, almost everyone has been very patient and understanding. I'll be getting into the studio tonight and trying to get back on top of my game.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth. Comment here or there, as you will.

Sick Leave

Thu, 06 Feb 2014 20:57:13 GMT

I've had to put PZBART (my Etsy shop) on vacation mode because I've come down with a bad case of the flu. I will endeavor to get all outstanding orders shipped in a timely fashion, and will be back soon with new products and artwork.

Crossposted at Dreamwidth. Comment here or there, as you will.