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So, since the 14th, I've not been keeping a daily journal. I have more time than I did before. But I'm not sure I'm getting any more work done (though, that may never have been the point). Anyway, I am making an entry today. Because I want to, that's all. Well, no. That's never all, is it? Regardless, you ought comment, kittens. It might encourage me to make more entries. Yeah. Okay. That was a tease. Or a taunt.

ONE


My thanks to Marisa Sandlin, for recently introducing me to Stars, a wonderful, wonderful band from Toronto (now based in Montreal), fronted by Torquil Campbell and Amy Millan. Yesterday, we drove down to Warwick, to Newbury Comics, and I got two of their more recent albums, The Five Ghosts and Set Yourself on Fire, and I've been listening to nothing else since. Anyway, before I proceed, watch this video. Note that it's not fucking "work safe." It contains female nudity. Very splendid female nudity. Though, if your employer has a problem with that, you need to tell them to fuck off, then find a saner job. Anyway, this is a prologue to my very short little tail...um, tale. Just watch that video. It'll all make sense soon (but isn't that what They always say?). Oh, my thanks to kiaduran for finding this uncensored version of the video for me yesterday:

Stars - Changes (Uncensored) from Stars on Vimeo.



Yeah, a fucking beautiful, brilliant video. Be sure to have watched it before proceeding to the next section (though, assholes will, here, do as they please, which is their loss).

TWO


This won't be the first time I've told the world I was born with a tail. I sort of wish it were the first time, but it's not. Also, I may have said – can't recall – that my vignette "Pas-en-arrière," was, in large part, about my lost tail. Yes, lost, because it was routinely amputated when I was born, which is a matter of course in "civilised" nations when a baby is born with so unsightly a thing as a tail. I was also born with a caul and a layer of black skin on my face, but those are others tails...er, tales.

I had no idea that I'd been born with a tail. I did know, as a small child, that I had a tiny spur of cartilage just above the cleft of my buttocks. I had no inkling what it was. Sometimes, it itched. Sometimes, it even got sore. But I didn't give it much thought. I never spoke to anyone about it (I already knew about the caul and the black facial skin things, by the way).

It wasn't until 1989, when I was in college, that I learned I'd been born with a tail. I had a physical (my most recent full physical exam, by the way). I'd hurt my lower back lifting something or another at the museum, and an x-ray was taken to see if I'd done any genuine damage. I hadn't. But the doctor discovered the internal remains of a cartilaginous "soft tail" branching off my coccyx. No extra caudal vertebrae (the human coccyx is composed of four fused tail vertebrae; birds have an analogous feature, called the pygostyle), just a sort of cartilaginous shaft tucked into the musculature, rising from the base of my spine. The tiny spur, I was told, was all that remained of what would have been the external portion of the "soft tail," which, I was told, was robust enough it would have been snipped at birth. The doctor told me that, based on what he could see, it would likely have been about two or three inches long, maybe a quarter of an inch in circumference.

And that's how I lost my tail. And then discovered I'd lost my tail. My atavism. Oh, atavism. You may, or may not, have read Stephen Jay Gould's essay on atavistic characters, "Hen's Teeth and Horse's Toes." Anyway, to quote Wikipedia:

Evolutionarily, traits that have disappeared phenotypically do not necessarily disappear from an orgcnism's DNA. The gene sequence often remains, but is inactive. Mathematically, such an unused gene has a reasonable probability of remaining in the genome in a functional state for around 6 million years, but after 10 million years it is almost certain that the gene will no longer function. As long as the gene remains intact, a fault in the genetic control suppressing the gene can lead to it being expressed again. Sometimes, dormant genes can be induced to be expressed by supplying the stimuli artificially.

So, on rare occasions horses are born with "extra" toes, evidence of the ancestral five-toed amniote/tetrapod pes (hindfoot). Or a human may be born with a bit of a tail, harkening back to earlier primate ancestors.

Anyway, since that day, I have mourned the loss of my tail. And when I saw the video for Stars' "Changes," the mourning became as poignant as it has ever been (oh, and great opening Sam Harris quote). That sense of having been robbed of a part of me by doctors seeking the perfect infant. One of the many things that caused me to fall so hard for Karen Dunn's Geek Love was Miranda's tail. But, anyway (again, and, so, redundant). Below, behind the cut, is a photograph that Spooky took last night, which I present here as proof of my amputated atavism, the translucent stub of my tail. Complete with tiny white/black butt hairs and aging flesh, Spooky's fingerprint and the proximal terminus of my ass crack. Not entirely pretty, and maybe not "work safe" (that phrase almost always gives me the giggles).







So, there you go. One of my several anatomical sob stories. I would have kept my tail, had I been given the chance. It was a part of me.

Bobbed,
Aunt Beast

Comments

( 52 comments — Have your say! )
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ex_kaz_maho
Feb. 20th, 2012 07:19 pm (UTC)
Commenting!

There. Does that mean more entries?

(Nice photo, by the way. Not entirely sure that 'nice' is the right word, but my brain is fried this evening.)
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)

There. Does that mean more entries?

The future is an infinity of unrealized realities. Plus, comments that are mostly comments for the sake of comments, not sure those count as genuine comments.

Edited at 2012-02-20 07:22 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - ex_kaz_maho - Feb. 20th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
vulpine137
Feb. 20th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
I've known about people with tails, but you're the first person I've 'encountered' (in an internet sense) to have had one. That plus a caul kind of explains a lot about your writing. Definitely in a good way.

Also, I for one, have missed your daily posts. I like the little glimpses into your life. I hope they continue as you have time and tails, err tales to tell.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 07:23 pm (UTC)

That plus a caul kind of explains a lot about your writing. Definitely in a good way.

I'm superstitious about it, though my family clearly was.

Also, I for one, have missed your daily posts. I like the little glimpses into your life. I hope they continue as you have time and tails, err tales to tell.

Problem is, you can end of spending more time relating your life than living it.
ministry_victim
Feb. 20th, 2012 07:25 pm (UTC)
I loved that video when you put it on facebook. I'll probably end up sharing it with my fiance later on today when she gets home from her daily capitalist gulag. Also, I don't know what it is about facebook, but the new format's been really bothering me. I don't put enough personal information on there to really care about what they see, but the data mining and the other forms of digital surveillance have been really getting to me lately. I think it's that the timeline function actually serves as a visual reminder of just how insidious and evil Mark Zuckerberg's little data-collection empire really is.

Do you know if livejournal is any different?
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 07:42 pm (UTC)

I loved that video when you put it on facebook.

It's exquisite.

Also, I don't know what it is about facebook, but the new format's been really bothering me. I don't put enough personal information on there to really care about what they see, but the data mining and the other forms of digital surveillance have been really getting to me lately. I think it's that the timeline function actually serves as a visual reminder of just how insidious and evil Mark Zuckerberg's little data-collection empire really is.

Facebook is shit, and a blatant scam. But...I use it, so I am just another of the sheeple.

Do you know if livejournal is any different?

Hell if I know.
aarontbc
Feb. 20th, 2012 07:57 pm (UTC)
Lovely video, thanks for posting.

Can't really say why, but it reminded me of Spike Jonze's video for Fatboy Slim's "Weapon Of Choice".
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC)

Hmmm. I can almost (but not quite) see that.
Marisa Sandlin
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:00 pm (UTC)
So glad you liked them! Stars is vastly underrated. Of course, most of the good stuff seems to slip under the radar these days....
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:07 pm (UTC)

So glad you liked them! Stars is vastly underrated. Of course, most of the good stuff seems to slip under the radar these days....

Yes, and yes.
willow_kat
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:02 pm (UTC)
I was born with an extra thumb - I don't remember having it, but there are pictures, and I (extremely vaguely) remember being in the hospital to have it removed.

For years, other children would ask why I had a scar on my hand, and it was something I saw as freakish and didn't want to talk about. Now I consider it interesting.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:08 pm (UTC)

I was born with an extra thumb - I don't remember having it, but there are pictures, and I (extremely vaguely) remember being in the hospital to have it removed.

Polydactyly. Neat. A shame it was stolen.
rarelytame
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
Shortly after I gave birth to my son, I discovered I had two fully-functional extra nipples. 23-years-old and I had no idea they existed, really, until they began to leak. To say I was alarmed is an understatement. (Particularly given that I had chosen not to breast feed.) They are incredibly tiny and easily mistaken for unshapely, slightly raised freckles or moles.

I think a tail is far more interesting and cool, though.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:09 pm (UTC)

I think a tail is far more interesting and cool, though.

I don't know. Four nipples (especially since they're functional and you still have them), is pretty bow tie.
numisma
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:05 pm (UTC)
The tail tip is somehow a lot smaller than I expected.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:10 pm (UTC)

The tail tip is somehow a lot smaller than I expected.

The bastards were thorough. Then again, expectations are usually bad news.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:35 pm (UTC)

Personally, I always wanted to have a tail, a prehensile, useful one, like a monkey's. My mother hastened to assure me, despite her experience, that she would have had it removed at once.

This is the way of the world. Sadly.

And, alas, humans are never born with prehensile tails. That trait was lost too many millions of years ago to resurface as an atavism.
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:39 pm (UTC)

Did finding out that you'd been born with a tail explain something to you that you'd already sensed, perhaps a feeling that something was now missing?

No, though it did create that feeling.

And, also, my life is marked by a sense that many features of my morphology are wrong and/or missing. This only added to the problem.
(no subject) - whiskeychick - Feb. 21st, 2012 12:10 am (UTC) - Expand
papersteven
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for telling us about Stars! I'm diggin' it.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:41 pm (UTC)

They're very diggable.
(no subject) - ashlyme - Feb. 20th, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC) - Expand
r_darkstorm
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC)
The video was, to say the least, engrossing and fascinating. Likewise, the picture of what remains of your tail was fascinating (for lack of a better word). It also prompted a discussion between my girlfriend and myself about what to do if potential future children had a tail, or extra fingers, toes, et cetera.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:37 pm (UTC)

It also prompted a discussion between my girlfriend and myself about what to do if potential future children had a tail, or extra fingers, toes, et cetera.

If there were choices people could consider, and if those different children would not be considered freaks (which seems unlikely).
alumiere
Feb. 20th, 2012 08:54 pm (UTC)
The video and song is very bow tie. Tales of tails would make a good title for something.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:38 pm (UTC)

Tales of tails would make a good title for something.

Well...there's my chapbook Tails of Tales of Pain and Wonder.
(no subject) - alumiere - Feb. 21st, 2012 11:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
oldfossil59
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
Thank You, for your "Tale of your Tail", I'm sorry it was snipped.

And Thank you(and thank you Marisa Sandlin) for the music recommendation, Stars are truly bow-tie. Maybe a couple more cds will show up at your doorstep.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:40 pm (UTC)

Maybe a couple more cds will show up at your doorstep.

That would be very kind. But, note that I have The Five Ghosts and Set Yourself On Fire.
(no subject) - oldfossil59 - Feb. 20th, 2012 09:52 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - greygirlbeast - Feb. 20th, 2012 10:30 pm (UTC) - Expand
dipsomaniac
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:34 pm (UTC)
I've heard being born with a veil/caul is a sign of good luck and having the gift of second sight. I don't recall ever hearing you talk about such gifts though.
greygirlbeast
Feb. 20th, 2012 09:42 pm (UTC)

I've heard being born with a veil/caul is a sign of good luck and having the gift of second sight. I don't recall ever hearing you talk about such gifts though.

The superstitions related to cauls vary quite a bit from culture to culture. At least a few members of my family took it as an ill omen. For my part, I don't believe in such "gifts," so can't claim to have them as a result of the caul. It's just a neat peculiarity of my birth.

Edited at 2012-02-20 09:42 pm (UTC)
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( 52 comments — Have your say! )