Episode 5 - Reconnecting: An Interview with Annika Hansen

Episode 5 - Reconnecting: An Interview with Annika Hansen

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Episode 5 - Reconnecting: An Interview with Annika Hansen

Julian welcomes his sister to the show. Although Annika was Coraline’s best friend and the reason Julian met his wife, the two siblings have not talked since Coraline’s death. With Annika now in Seattle, they discuss the day-to-day difficulties of being a transperson, the importance of honoring “dead names", the roles men and women are forced into by society, and the two grieve over the woman they both loved.

Today’s episode was written and performed by Elliott Rose and Seranine Elliot.

To see more of Seranine’s work go to: Seranine.com or to buy her album go to Bandcamp.


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Transcript - Episode 5 - Reconnecting: An Interview with Annika Hansen

Narrator  0:00

Works of love is a RoseCraft production.

Julian Silver  0:04

This is "Works of Love: The Podcast". I'm Julian silver, Works of Love is a meditation on a theme through listener submitted personal essays. That theme? Love, the possession of and lack of it.

Hello and welcome to Works of Love. I'm Julian Silver. In lieu of our usual essay we have Annika Hansen, a film composer. You may have heard her work from the French film "The Disposable Girlfriend"--

Annika Hansen  0:30

"Le Petite Amie Jetable".

Julian Silver  0:31

[laughter] No matter who you are, you are always you. I think that is

Annika Hansen  0:36

Thank you. I appreciate that.

Julian Silver  0:39

So thank you very much. My guest, my sister. She is also a serial accidental trans activist.

Annika Hansen  0:48

Which means that keeps happening and I wish that it wouldn't, but it does

Julian Silver  0:55

Coraline would tell me some stories about--

Annika Hansen  0:57

You have, you have a lot of pictures of her. I just it's I guess it's like a TV stereotype saying it's either like either you have photos everywhere because you're stuck in the past or you have no photos anywhere because it's too traumatic or something. Do you remember to remember "Wargs of Love?"

Julian Silver  1:16

Uhhh

Annika Hansen  1:16

Our Halloween thing.

Julian Silver  1:17

Oh . . .

Annika Hansen  1:18

Right after she started this.

Julian Silver  1:19

When you guys were werewolves?

Annika Hansen  1:21

It wasn't werewolves goddammit.

Julian Silver  1:23

You guys looked like werewolves.

Annika Hansen  1:24

We were, We were wargs! We were wargs!

Julian Silver  1:26

Yeah you guys made that same chant.

Annika Hansen  1:30

Except it was present tense. We were, we were Wargs of Love.

Julian Silver  1:35

Yeah that was your thing right? You mispronounced it

Annika Hansen  1:37

It was because I was originally, I just couldn't say it. I j ust kept forgetting what it was but then she made fun of me.

Julian Silver  1:43

It's so funny. I was thinking about it recently. It's like I wish I wish. There were a lot of different reasons that I wish Coraline were still here but I know that she would have loved it for you to move back to the northwest and us two to be here and all three of us being  together. I was actually--

Annika Hansen  1:59

Right . . .

Julian Silver  2:00

But like when you, you know, because when you came home, you know, that's when you told all of us that, you know, you would always been Annika, right? And, uh

Annika Hansen  2:07

This is a lot of what really is helpful about having having like a friend around who gets you already, you know, because they do so much of that kind of heavy lifting. Like you don't just sit there and have this awkward conversation about like, here are my pronouns, like, do you talk about your pronouns when people don't? You know,when people that you gotta, like, drag them there or something, sometimes they feel like fighting about it.

Julian Silver  2:27

Right.

Annika Hansen  2:28

But if you have someone there who already clearly knows you,

Julian Silver  2:30

Right.

Annika Hansen  2:32

Right. And who was like, on your side, and now in some sense, and it's like, just referring to you a certain way.

Julian Silver  2:39

Julius was never who you were right. And I was like, okay . . . Yeah.

Annika Hansen  2:43

Just so you know, I don't know if you know this. But and it's also it's also not really true for me. For most trans people. The old name, I call it an "old name".

But for most trans people, the "old name" is called the "dead name" and you never speak it. Just so, you know.

Julian Silver  3:01

Okay, that's good to know.

Annika Hansen  3:01

Just generally speaking. For me personally, I'm, you know, I was I was a girl named Julius. I mean, like now now I've inhabited this long enough that I that I get it, but like, it's part of the it's part of the thing like why why for me personally, it's I never quite, um, I think because I don't experience the kind of abuse in the same way like I don't grow up in a household where like, I'm openly, defiantly trans and I'm like, my name is Annika. And my parents are like, no, Julius like, I don't have that.

Julian Silver  3:34

Right.

Annika Hansen  3:34

Right. So for a lot of trans people, there's that version of that experience where it is a device that's used to punish them, rather than just a sort of ill fitting piece of clothing.

Julian Silver  3:43

There was a weird memory I have and I'm trying to see if you remember it. We went to, I think Olympia? Yeah, it was in Olympia. We went to Olympia and we went to a club, I think. It wasn't a club, but it was a club. It was like one of those things

Annika Hansen  4:00

[laughter] It was the club . . .  but in Olympia.

Julian Silver  4:04

And so we go in and, and so we're all on the balcony looking down, and I'm noticing the people dancing, and I turned to you guys. And I say, "You know, there's a lot of, there's a lot of men dancing with men, and a lot of women dancing with women. Are we going to win a gay bar? Or a gay club?" And I remember you and her looked at me like I was the stupidest person because I might have been at that moment. And you said, "Yeah. Look behind you." And I turned around, and there was a pride flag right behind my head. Oh, yeah. And then also the hand stamps, I think were unicorns.

And it was so weird because like you and Coraline, like synchronized showing, you know, the hand stamps to me. I was like, Oh, am I am I that dumb? But then I was thinking about it. It isn't that I'm that dumb.

Annika Hansen  4:46

[Laughter]

[Laughter] Wait, wait, how can I back up?

Julian Silver  5:02

No, no, I'm actually going to I'm going to pay I'm going to talk about something that I some benefit that I have that a lot of other people don't.

Annika Hansen  5:10

Okay.

Julian Silver  5:10

Which is I can be ignorant to my surroundings because I'm a cis-het man, right?

Annika Hansen  5:16

That's true.

Like when I go if I park and you know if I park and it's a dark alleyway I don't have to be cognizant of everything. I can just like oh, there's my car, go to the car. I need I have a different awareness level at all times because just the way that I am as compared to like, what you and Coraline and women by large have to deal with.

Well, I mean there's there's what the there's like what the role sort of prescribes or defines then but then there's also just sort of like your nature like I'm usually the one to miss all the obvious stuff, right? I'm the one running around with my phone for half an hour like looking stuff up on it while I frantically you know, like chatting people on my phone like where I can't find my phone, right? So, certainly I miss plenty of stuff, right? But there's also this sense of like, not doing the work of trying to pretend to be a guy anymore. I mean, my experience of trying to pretend to be a guy is sort of like can't there's there's gotta be a sci fi movie like there's something where someone someone who's it's like it's like a dog trying to pilot a one of these giant robots or something right? It's like this gets so it's like wrong on four levels, like nothing makes sense. The creature inside doesn't understand how to even make the thing do anything.It's such a it's so it's so funny how like how like, obviously, like, like, physically coated this stuff is how like how like oriented around genitals it is. It's like, girls carry purses so that you can visually identify from from any distance, that the person who's got a giant bag is the person who's got this pocket in their body.

Julian Silver  7:00

Hmm

Annika Hansen  7:01

Right, it's an external visual cue. And if you don't put pockets in their clothes, they've got to carry it more often. There's just this role based stuff of like, of like, men go out and explore and conquer and run wild and free and blah, blah, blah, and women like stay at home inside and internal and all, you know, it's very, it's veryprojected and presumptuous around these kinds of structures. But what it means is that increasingly, if you're brought up to be a boy,even if they're like, hey, help out around the house, you kind of are given this conflicting constant buzz in the background that the culture is saying that "it's not very manly to do that, dude." [laughter] You know what I mean? This dull roar and there's a whole laundry list of shit. That is just basic human behavior that is cut out of this right like, "it's not very manly to experience most of your emotions, dude." So don't. And it ends up meaning that all the things, all the senses that that you need to have available to you to be able to care about what's really happening right right here at home. Right right immediately around you. What is the cost of your ambition and kind of stuff right your great projects, you're going out and conquering in a manly way thing. Those abilities are all atrophied those senses are all taught into into you know, nothingness.

Julian Silver  8:43

I should have mentioned up top that you were the very first guest for "Works of Love".

Annika Hansen  8:50

Way back when . . .

Julian Silver  8:50

Do you remember what you talked about  what your love was?

Annika Hansen  8:57

I'm gonna say that I don't and that way, I can just avoid all the parts that you don't remember [laughter].

Julian Silver  9:08

So what you talked about loving, was yourself. And it was because I think you were like fairly, fairly new to being able to be yourself. You know, without that without having to like pilot that weird machine, right?And I was listening to it andI was thinking back, I was thinking like what it must have been like with you and Coraline back in the day. And you mentioned it briefly about like, how you were so fortunate to have somebody who immediately bought in so that she could like, kind of act as a guide to other people about how to interact with you.

Annika Hansen  9:12

It ends up being this passive thing. It's like the name thing, right? It's a really, it's a loud, clear signal. who this person is.

Julian Silver  9:52

Right. I've been trying to figure out something which is, I don't know if you know, like, I'm sorry, we didn't we didn't talk, I mean I gave you the news? When Coraline fell ill and passed. I never got to really talk to you about like how you experienced it because I was, you know, lost in my own grief is, like what? Like if I had called you up? Like what what,what could I have possibly have said to like make anything better for you? Right?

Annika Hansen  10:20

That's the point. That's the point right there is that that's not the point.

Julian Silver  10:26

The point is that it isn't the point?

Annika Hansen  10:28

The point is, is role construction. Look at what you just said. Like, what could I, what could I say to make it better? It's not about what you say to make it better. It's that you're there. That makes it better. That's how it works.

Julian Silver  10:45

But like, okay, who did you--

Annika Hansen  10:46

And yet.

Julian Silver  10:47

But who did you turn to? Right? Like, I wasn't your first thought. Right?

Annika Hansen  10:53

It's, it's because guys are taught that emotions aren't real. So yeah, I reach out to I mean, it's it's practice, right? It's the same thing as its connection atrophies from this and I don't reach out to guys in my life for emotional support. They don't know how to do it.

Julian Silver  11:09

Yeah, I've been I've been seeing a therapist I'm I know that you told me that I should go see a therapist a long, long time ago. And I'm like, "Oh, that's just that's just an older sister thing to say."

Annika Hansen  11:18

I said you should let the therapist see you.

Julian Silver  11:19

[laughter]

Annika Hansen  11:21

(In Obama imitation) Let me be clear.

Julian Silver  11:26

And so I recently started seeing one. She said that she said that I don't experience emotions. I experienced the experience of emotions.

Annika Hansen  11:38

For those of you unable to see me at home, my head just cocked like the RCA dog. Cuz I also do not understand yet.

Julian Silver  11:47

I think what she was saying was that if you expose me to something emotional or some that should, by rights make me emotional. I won't really have a reaction because my first thought is like, Okay, what are the basics that need to be covered, right? Because immediately as soon as soon as she passed, my immediate thought were, "How can I be useful here?" Right? And so the way that I could be useful is I could get her plot and I could notify everybody that was important to her, and, you know, take care of the things that nobody wants to take care of when they lose someone they love. When my therapist would ask me like, How are you feeling? I wouldn't talk about the feeling I would talk about the actions that I was taking. Right. And so the only the only thing that I could reflect back to her like emotionally was like, it hurts to see so many people so sad. Right?

Annika Hansen  12:43

Wow. How recent is this? The conversation with a therapist, I mean.

Julian Silver  12:50

It was about a month ago.

Annika Hansen  12:53

Interesting.

Julian Silver  12:54

Why?

Annika Hansen  13:00

Not to project too hard, but it feels role construction stuff. I mean, almost, you know, of course I see this kind of maybe I'm maybe I'm overly sensitive to it, right. But I see this everywhere. I feel like a lot of how guys are constructed to not practice feeling their emotions is that they're taught that whenever anything happens, not that this is not sort of a big deal or crisis type of situation or sort of unusual thing, but kind of that when anything happens that it is this like, it's this like, mode, right? It's like get, y'know, "next step, next step, do the next thing be useful thing." And it's always this external work. It's the kind of stuff I was talking about a little bit earlier, that it is that it is more masculine to do this external stuff, to not think about internal stuff at all until all the external stuff is tended to but there's always external stuff. There's always internal stuff to, it turns out.But it's like war footing, right? It's like It's like your whole life turns into, "There will be a time to mourn these losses. But it is not this time there will be a day to . . ." You know? But we're not at war and yet we have in our society roughly half of the people being taught to just sort of constantly behave as if we are. It's the world war two model just like playing out forever that that we have someone at home kind of taking care of stuff. And there's sort of a soldier out fighting kind of thing, right? We're we go to convenience stores to get we would call these rations if we were paying attention.Who's the convenience for? It's not for me.

Julian Silver  14:43

Hmm

Annika Hansen  14:44

It's to speed up the part of your life that you would ordinarily be living but it's part of the role to stay busy out in the world. Right, to slow down and examine yourself more. That's kind of feminine.That's a little too soft.

Julian Silver  14:58

Yeah, I can see that.

Annika Hansen  15:00

This is interpersonal relationships you know what we're women are saying constantly?

Julian Silver  15:03

Hmm?

Annika Hansen  15:04

I wish he would just listen.

I try to tell him how I feel and he says well you shouldn't feel that because of this or you know maybe I can do blah blah, like dude just give me a hug! Be a human being for six seconds stop being a man and be a human being and hold me while I cry because I need to just feel that someone's here with me. But they're not taught to do that. It's not part of the role, it's to solve the problems out in the world, right? Not the into the into the emotional ones are sort of for men constructed to not really exist or be women's domain like guys are brutalized into this horribly like if you do not constantly proved to enough that you're a guy. Just you know, how you dress how you are any of this kind of stuff. If you don't constantly demonstrate it enough, you're gonna get corrected it and it's gonna be violent. And so there's a lot of guys who are just like not really guys, but they're just kind of like sure I'll just, you know, dress like this and whatever. And it's not that they're it's not that they're girls or anything like that. It's just that they're not that they're not that role. You remember Do you remember it's awkward isn't it Rom?

Julian Silver  16:18

Rom?

Annika Hansen  16:19

Quark's, brother. The Ferengi.

Julian Silver  16:21

Yes.

Annika Hansen  16:22

The Ferengi who can't really be a Ferengi.

Julian Silver  16:23

Yes, yes.

Annika Hansen  16:24

Right. I feel like most of Ferengi are really like that in the way that I feel like most guys trying to play this hard-charging, you know, bar-owning you know, like money money, I almost want to say "swilling", I'll go with that, money-swilling, you know, whatever, that they don't feel like that. But have got an entire structure around them that says, "you gotta be that and if you're not that, you're nothing," right? Which is why you get a lot of these guys will like, you know, very violent, very loudly homophobic, scientifically speaking, generally are pretty gay. Right, they had their compensating for this actual facet of themselves. This is a science on this do you not do not read about this?

Julian Silver  17:08

No no it just reminds me of like, it reminds me of like this memory that I have of the two of us.

Annika Hansen  17:15

[laughter] You realize that when you say that I'm sitting here thinking what the science of this and the science of this is? Yeah, they're like watching these guys reactions to porn and like they've got stuff hooked up to measure blood flow to their genitals and stuff and you're like, "this reminds me of a memory of the two of us," and I'm like all right! [laughter]

Julian Silver  17:30

Okay, that's a hard, okay, let's see if you remember this like there was--

Annika Hansen  17:34

[Laughter] You're just going to--just I mean to be fair, where else could you go then just let's move ahead from this.

Julian Silver  17:38

No, no, just follow me here. Follow me here.

Annika Hansen  17:41

I'm doing my best.

Julian Silver  17:42

Follow me. There was a time when you were you want to watch I forget what it was you want to watch, but I didn't want to watch it. Right. And you were my you were my older sister. And I just I got really angry because I had been trying to get the remote so that I could watch, I think it was like, "Aaahh! Real Monsters" or something. And so you just kept denying it to me. And so like, I walked away and I said, You know, I would never say this now. But I said, You know, I called you a bundle of sticks.

Annika Hansen  18:16

[laughter] And then you got your ass beat. This is before though.

Julian Silver  18:20

Yeah, this was before.

Annika Hansen  18:22

So  everybody thinks I'm your big brother.

Julian Silver  18:25

And so you just, you know, you beat the hell out of me for it, you know? So,yeah, just makes me like was I that--

Annika Hansen  18:32

You know what that feels like on the inside?

Julian Silver  18:33

Hmm?

Annika Hansen  18:33

Here's what it is, is you can picture the upside down dog trying to drive the tank? There's a proximity alarm [laughter] and the dog is frantically just mashing shit inside there. Her little paws are going crazy. She's peeing on herself. Right? But the machine is this is the end of Iron Giant [makes punching noises] come beat the hell out of you for you know, because it's a threat. Right is early enough? I understand if I'm outed, cause I'm not gay, well, I'm pretty gay. But in that sense, right? If I understand on some level that if people know I'm a girl, like I'm done for, because my kind of girl doesn't exist. Right, which means if you call me anything other than what I'm constructed to be, people might realize that you're right. Even if it's not that they might realize that I'm not what I'm constructed to be, they might start looking closer. So I better make sure I put on a good show, right? This is also nonsense, because the roles are all nonsense. The roles are all just an idea of how someone ought to be. But if it conflicts with how I actually am, it doesn't mean that I'm sort of, for example, I can't think of a specific thing, but if there's something that I do that is not constructed as traditionally feminine or not ladylike or whatever, not like a girl, and someone says, "That's not very ladylike" meaning it is not the thing that a lady would do. Well, I'm a lady and I just did it. So the definition of ladylike has expanded. It's not the other way around, because it's a description of what's really there and not a prescription of how it must be.

Julian Silver  20:17

So now that I finally have you here

Annika Hansen  20:19

[Laughter]

Julian Silver  20:21

So there was a trip that you and Coraline took in 2003 right before we both moved to we both moved to Seattle to start start our master's program. Right. And she she just said, "I want to have I want to have one last crazy night with Annika," and she goes "The only thing that I ask of you is that you don't ask me what happens."

Annika Hansen  20:44

[Laughter]

Julian Silver  20:46

And you know I was head over heels and still am head over heels over Coraline and I, I made the promise that I wouldn't ask her even though you know that I'm a journalist and it is my nature to ask questions. But now that you're here.

Annika Hansen  21:00

[Laughter]

Julian Silver  21:00

I didn't I didn't. I didn't agree not to ask you the question.

Annika Hansen  21:05

Um-hmm.

Julian Silver  21:06

What happened in 2003? No, I'm sorry, that wasn't 2003 that was 2001. My bad 2003 is when--

Annika Hansen  21:15

I'm going to answer your original question. [laughs]

Julian Silver  21:21

2003 was when--

Annika Hansen  21:22

2003 was a good year.

Julian Silver  21:23

2003 is when I interviewed Kofi Annan.

Annika Hansen  21:25

God damn it.

Julian Silver  21:27

You love it.

Annika Hansen  21:27

It was the spring. There it sat on the shelves of every borders bookstore, which still existed for it was 2000.

Julian Silver  21:39

I guess more than anything.

Annika Hansen  21:41

I'm just beaming over here because it's funny to me.

Julian Silver  21:44

More than anything, I guess. I just want to ask Was it an unforgettable night?

Annika Hansen  21:50

No, of course.

Julian Silver  21:52

Then I'm glad that she had it. Yeah.

Annika Hansen  21:58

I miss her . . .

Julian Silver  22:01

Do you do you want to go see her after this? Just go to the uhh, to the

Annika Hansen  22:09

Hey, Google, what's that? You don't have the thing? I don't have the thing. I was gonna say what's the weather? I you know, I, I'll say this. I feel like she's not going anywhere. I'm not in a rush. You know, when I also, I also (beat) I don't feel like I need to go somewhere to see her if that makes sense.

Julian Silver  22:38

You know what? You know, I realized like the first episode of this show that ever went up, you were talking about how much you loved yourself. And then the time that you're back.

Annika Hansen  22:46

It wasn't that I loved. I didn't want to talk. There's nothing I love myself. It's that I loved that I was able to be myself and just get to know who I was at all in the first place is that I loved that I didn't have to keep trying to be something.

Julian Silver  23:01

Right.

Annika Hansen  23:02

And it's funny because I, you know, I was like I just talked about like, I'm still trying to I was at the time trying to like be a girl like I was trying to like, learn the role and--

Julian Silver  23:10

Yeah, I don't know, I feel like it's a good. I feel like it's a kind of a good that journey started off on you loving the idea of exploring or being able to explore you, you right? And now we get to have you back on and we get to talk about you know, the woman that we both loved, right?

Annika Hansen  23:33

Yeah.

Julian Silver  23:36

So I know that you don't listen

Annika Hansen  23:41

[Laughter] Is this a general comment?

Julian Silver  23:43

[Laughter] But we usually end the episode by telling the listeners we wish them something that was in the essay, I figured for your reappearance. We should actually give it to you. What would you like to wish the listeners?

Annika Hansen  24:00

Oh gosh, hmm, wow, I'm really like, I can hear the clock ticking and everything. What would I wish for them? If there's something I would like for people listening it is for them to really be where they are.And really be aware of who is there with them. Like, it's not this like, you know, heavy mournful thing. It's just recognizing that that's, that's what we wish we would have done more when we can't anymore.

Julian Silver  24:38

I think that's a good way to. I think that's a good wish. Well, thank you for being on the show, Annika . It was good to see you.

Annika Hansen  24:46

Thank you for having me. Do I maybe I should have said this at the top but people usually just call me Nika.

Julian Silver  24:51

Oh

Annika Hansen  24:51

"Annika" is more of a, it's like my resume. And my and my professional. You know, it's like, "Annika Hansen, Composer" but like it just kind of happened. I don't know gradually that just you know people in my in my in my closer spheres generally call me Nika.

Julian Silver  25:15

Yeah cause  this is the first time I think you've told me to call you Nika.

Annika Hansen  25:19

It's . . . yeah. I've come home.

Julian Silver  25:24

Well, for Nika.

Annika Hansen  25:27

[giggles]

Julian Silver  25:27

And for Julian, this has been "Works of Love."

Annika Hansen  25:29

Be safe.

Julian Silver  25:34

Today's episode of "Works of Love" was written and performed by Elliott Rose and Seranine Elliot. Seranine e is a community supported autistic transgender artist. Get to know her at Seranine.com that's s e r a n i n e.com or support her on Patreon at linguisticautistic.com. Also, Seranine has recently released her debut album "Signs of a Struggle" available on bandcamp.com It is only $7 but worth so much more. Please consider buying it at Seranine.bandcamp.com.

Music by Ross Bugden licensed through Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license. To find more of Ross's music, go to soundcloud.com/Ross Bugden. If you have any thoughts about today's essay, please feel free to reach out to us on Twitter. We're at works of love pod by email at worksoflovepodcast@gmail. com or go to our website at Wolpod. com.

Also, we're having a contest. If you like the show and you want to support us please leave an iTunes review. You will be automatically entered to win a copy of Zen pencils, cartoon quotes from inspirational folks by Gavin Aung Than. The winners will be announced during Episode 11. This has been works of love. Thank you for listening

Transcribed by https://otter.ai