Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another Year Gone

As of 12/29, this blog is officially a year old. What a year!

A lot of other blogs I've been reading are loaded down with "Top" and "Best" lists, and even a few "Worsts", but I don't have any of that. We're all grown-ups here, so I'll leave opinions of good and bad to those who want to have them. My personal experience is a seemingly random jumble of good and bad. It was a good year for family and friends, but a bad year for work. I tried to move forward in my transition by coming out at work, but I was whacked on the nose with an employee handbook and forced to take two steps back. Acceptance and tolerance turned into rejection and prejudice.

This year is ending in uncertainty, but I find myself looking forward with longing to next year. Changes are coming, big and small. I've talked a little recently about moving to Florida. For a while, I dreaded the idea of moving again, away from all I know and love, but the prospect of beginning again in a (really) new place has an attraction that I wasn't prepared for. Yeah, I'd be moving away from all my friends, but what is this internet thing for, if not for maintaining contact between friends over long distances? It's not as though I'll be gone forever. For all my love of home, I am also cursed with the urge to wander. I think I'll give this thing a year. If things don't come together to my satisfaction within a year's time, I'll come back.

I Saw Avatar Last Night

You'll find no spoilers here. I've had nearly two weeks to soak up assorted reviews and criticisms, but I set aside all that as I went into the theater. Dismiss it as fluff if you want to, but I enjoyed it. I didn't get to see it in IMAX or 3D, so I think I'll try to save up for another go, but it was a veritable feast for the senses. Thus far, I think I've only dared to say this once, but it's good here: "See this movie!"

Friday, December 25, 2009

Happy Holidays!

I just want to wish everyone a happy holiday. I'll be spending most of mine at home. I get to watch my nephews unwrap gifts (I will take pictures, I promise), then crash till sometime in the evening, when Nate has promised a magnificent feast. Then it's back to work again. I get to work all this weekend and next, so no New Year's parties for me. I'll just have to appreciate what I've got.

Anyway, I hope all of you enjoy your time today.

PS - I was going to write something about religion, based on a quote a friend posted on Facebook, but I'll wait until after the holiday. I'll leave everyone in peace for another twenty-four hours.

Monday, December 21, 2009

RIP: Brittany Murphy

I woke up last night to the news that actress Brittany Murphy had died. In truth, I hadn't seen a lot of her movies, but I always enjoyed seeing her work. She especially caught my attention a couple three years ago when she did vocals for Paul Oakenfold on the track "Faster Kill Pussycat":



I used to put on music while I was putting on my makeup. The summer of 2006, the album that most often went into the CD player was Oakenfold's A Lively Mind, and "Faster" is the first track. So I heard her voice a lot.

A little while ago, I watched her most recently-completed film, a horror picture entitled Deadline, with Thora Birch. I enjoyed it, though the ending threw me off a bit. Wikipedia says it's slated for a 2010 theatrical release, but it's already available to stream on Netflix.

Brittany, we hardly knew ye. You'll be missed.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let It Snow...Not!

The blogosphere has been alive the last couple of days with writings about the nor'easter which churned up the East Coast the last couple of days. Other places got anywhere from three inches to a couple of feet of snow. Here, we got maybe an inch, and as of 0600 this morning, it's hard to tell that it snowed. There are patches and clumps of whiteness in areas that are alee, but most of what fell yesterday appears to be gone, at least around my job. There might be some stuff sticking around when I get home, seeing as it's closer to the river. Time will tell.

I'm going to walkabout the neighborhood after I get home. I'll take my camera. I was hoping there'd be more snow for photographic purposes. We'll see.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Blue Because I Can

I was off on Tuesday, and I had a little extra money left from paying the bills, so I treated myself to the works at my local nail salon: manicure, pedicure and eyebrow wax. I last got a manicure in October, and had my brows done around the same time. My last pedicure was in August, before the flap at work over my nails and my earrings.



The lady who took care of me remembered me from previous visits. She joked with me about how thick my brows had gotten. "This is your fault," she said, as she stripped away all the excess. They were running a special, so I got the "deluxe" pedicure for the same cost as the regular treatment. The pampering felt nice. I haven't worn any color on my toes since sometime in September, so I wanted something different. I picked a China Glaze color called "Rain Storm". You can see it here:



http://sterlingnails.blogspot.com/2009/03/china-glaze-rain-storm.html



Blue isn't really seasonal, but I liked it, and it looks good on my toes. I didn't realize it at the time, but it's almost the same shade as the Na'vi people who appear in the promotions for the movie "Avatar" which opens later this week. I didn't think of it this way myself, but someone else has tried to make this film a transgender issue.



There's another blog, somewhere here on Blogger, which proposes that trans people protest this film, because it's set in the future, but doesn't depict any sort of alternative sexuality or gender expression. Uh, hello? How many other films are out there that depict a future that's more or less just like today, except that there are aliens, or robots, or whatever? There are a lot, too many for this poor blogger to count.

I believe that we have to choose our battles carefully. As i write this, President Obama's big health care reform proposal is circling the drain. ENDA is set to come out of committee sometime after the first of the year, and I'm not as confident as I'd like. If the Republicans, and Conserva-Dems and whoever else manage to torpedo the health bill, they might feel they have carte blanche to block the passage of anything else. These are my biggest concerns beyond my day-to-day life.

I look to film for an escape from everyday cares and woes. At two hours and forty minutes, "Avatar" will make a nice break. I like everything I've seen about "Avatar" impresses me: the actors, the director, the incredible computer-generated effects. Nothing can take that away from me. Not even the off-topic whining of some of my brothers and sisters.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Not the Only One

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/12/my_last_post_at_bilerico.php#more

See, I think I'm onto something here. I've been reading a lot of other people's blogs the last few days, and nearly everywhere I look, I see other people talking about the same things. I've read of others not feeling the community. I've read of people trying to push "others" out of "their" boxes. "You're not like me." "Stop trying to include yourself in my group because you're muddying the issue."

What can we do to fix this? Can it be fixed? Should we even try?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Don't Get Me Wrong

I'm afraid my post this morning might have led to people thinking that I don't like the idea of transgendered people being included in the so-called "GLBT" community. On the contrary, I do, I just haven't had much experience in the true spirit of community. Most of the time it seems like our community is rather a bunch of disparate factions who just seem to be traveling in the same direction. As Ben Franklin put it in "1776", "we must all hang together, or assuredly, we will hang separately".

In response (or rebuttal) to Ronald Gold's "No to Transgender" piece the other day on Bilerico comes this piece by Dr. Jillian T. Weiss about transphobia in the gay community:

http://www.bilerico.com/2009/12/transphobia_in_the_gay_community.php

It's nice to get some historical perspective.

Community? What Community?

I spent yesterday on another day project with De. We always have the most thought-provoking conversations. She asked me if, in my internet travels, I had encountered a spirit of "divisiveness". I have.



I hear a lot of talk about the "GLBT community", and including all under a queer umbrella, but what I see is a lot of factionalism, splinters and groups crying out to be separated from one another. Without naming names, let me cite a few examples I've seen or experienced.

When I was in college, we had a so-called "Gay-Straight Alliance" that didn't have many (or any, at one point) straight people in it. When I first started to get active in things, I met lesbians who didn't want to be "lumped in" with gay men. The support group I used to belong to in Charlotte had its dinner meetings at a popular lesbian hangout. The staff loved us, but sometimes the other customers would act like "Why are they here?" At Charlotte Pride two years ago, there were only six or seven trans people (that's including drag performers) out of the thousands who attended the festival. Earlier this year, I read a story about intersex people not wanting to be grouped with transgender people. Then there are the post-op transwomen who say they're not trans anymore, and go "stealth", and sever their ties to the community. Just yesterday a blogger on the Bilerico Project posted a nasty piece that said there's no such thing as transgender. I was going to write a nasty, underhanded rebuttal to said piece, but the editor there apologized, so I'll abide. It's a shame, though, because I had such nice things to say. ;)

Often I've felt like the "T" in GLBT (or LGBT, according to your preference) was a dangling participle. It often feels like we trans people have thrown our lot in with the gay community because no one else will take us. Don't get me wrong. I've got gay friends, and they're among the best and brightest I know. I just don't always feel like the larger community has my back. ENDA was making in-roads with Congress two years ago, and the bill lost its support when the HRC said they were willing to set aside protections for gender identity and expression if that's what it took to get protection for gays. A few months ago they reversed their position, saying they only backed a trans-inclusive bill. It's been tabled by a House subcommittee, and slated for review when Congress come back from their holiday break. With healthcare reform, the wars and all the other issues, I worry sometimes that we'll be set aside again, but I still have hope.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Workin' for a Livin'

I wrote a little about working with De on Sunday. Yesterday we rolled back out to Kathleen's to finish the work on the dock. Some of you may remember me writing about the storm that rolled through last month. During said storm, tides on the river rose so high that Kathleen's floating pier floated off of its pilings and landed on the dock. We fabricated a superstructure for raising the height of the pilings, so that future flooding won't loose the pier. It's not my usual kind of work. It's kind of ironic. I'm trans, and I got together with a trans friend to do supposedly macho work for another trans friend.

After the pier was finished, we hauled a chair from Kathleen's house to Bud's apartment in Norfolk. Bud has the cutest long-haired cat, a critter named "Monkey". Monkey was a little skittish around strangers, but I am an instinctive cat person, and we hit it off almost immediately. I forgot how therapeutic stroking a long-haired cat could be. Monkey liked it. I liked it. I had a hard time walking away. The endorphin rush was HUGE. It left me breathless.

(Yes, I realize I've made petting a cat sound like sex, but I couldn't help myself.)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

That Was the Week That Was

It's been a long, long week. Long and stressful. The hotel is as slack as I have ever seen it, even going into a holiday season. The owner's a tight-fisted bastard, so they've been steadily cutting everyone's hours. A month ago, I was working forty-hour weeks. Then they cut me down to thirty-nine hours, so I couldn't get any overtime. I could live with that. Thirty-nine hours became thirty-six, then thirty-four. I came into work two nights ago and found the schedule posted for next week. They'd cut me down to three nights and twenty-two hours. There's no way I can pay my bills on those kind of hours, so the job search has begun anew. While my bosses were looking for ways to save, our business picked up next week, in a big way, so I got another night and about ten hours back, but my days with this place are numbered.

On the positive side of things, I spent Monday helping De move some furniture for some friends, and I picked up some extra cash along the way. The friends live in Norfolk over by the base, so in between loads I was treated to flybys by E-2 Hawkeyes, C-2 Greyhounds and assorted fast movers. Towards the end of the day, De dropped a closet on the back of my head, but I'm okay now.

The rest of the week is a blur to me. Work sucked, and I whiled away my down-time on the net, or reading, and slept a lot. I'm reading Tanith Lee's Piratica , which is a delightful fantasy. Bioware churned out a couple new videos promoting Mass Effect 2, which can't come out soon enough (January 26, 2010, if anyone's counting).

Saturday was my GEM meeting. I haven't been for a couple of months, and once again, there were some new faces. It's always nice to see new people. We had a potluck dinner, and Kathleen did the most awesome chicken legs.

Today I was back at Kathleen's with De working on a floating pier. There was no airshow on this outing, but the display of waterfowl was stunning. There were ducks, geese, cormorants, gulls, a pelican and a number of snowy egrets.

Now I'm watching Robin Williams on HBO and preparing for bed. I'm going back to Kathleen's tomorrow to help De finish the pier modifications.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Uncertainty

I've been kicking around a column for the last few days. It's another of those where I go through draft after draft, and end up discarding them all. Then something happens out in the world that casts my own thoughts on to the back burner.

Mike Penner was a sports writer for the Los Angeles Times. He made headlines in 2007 when he came out as transgendered. He was taking a vacation, and when he returned, it would be as Christine Daniels. Christine continued to write for the Times, and she wrote a blog for the paper wherein she recounted her ongoing transformation. In November of last year, she wrote that she was stopping her transition, and she went back to using the name Mike Penner. There was a story in USA Today about this, and what they called "reverse transitioning".

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-02-24-transgender-penner_N.htm

I even did a post about it. It was one of the first relevant news items I remember posting. I remember concluding that I did not want to reverse my changes. I have hardly begun to transition in any meaningful sense. I could not then see any reason to stop, or to go back. "The only way for me is forward," I said.

That is still true, though I have come to recognize some of the obstacles in my way. Just a week ago we were memorializing the victims of hate and violence on the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It seems we forgot to look out for those who fall to their own doubts. Mike Penner was found dead yesterday, apparently of suicide. I lost track of him after the USA Today story. I am subject to the same sort of internet-derived short attention span as everyone else. I suppose it didn't help that I'm not much of a sports fan.

This isn't the time to wallow in uncertainty. I've got to go on. More than that, I need to support my friends. Every time I hear about a suicide, I wonder who that person didn't talk to. Who didn't offer them a friendly ear, a supporting shoulder? If there's anyone out there who feels like this, please talk to me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Power of Memory

This is one of those times when I don't have to worry about writing the same sorts of things as other bloggers, because we're all writing about the same things.

Thursday was Thankgiving Day. I won't waste any wordage here about the historical significance of the day, or the revisionism, or any of that dreck. Nor will I recount the contents of the feast (though it was fine), or reminisce of dinners past. No, I just want to say that I woke up this afternoon to the aromas of a traditional dinner, and for a moment, I was twenty, and ten, and five, and I took a deep breath, and all was right with the world.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Another Year

Last night my friends and I marked the eleventh Transgender Day of Remembrance. We marched down Brambleton Avenue in Norfolk from Scope down to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (an obelisk), carrying the signs we made Wednesday. My friend Tracy and a lady named Vega read off the names of the fallen, then we walked back to Scope and adjourned to TACT for refreshments.


There weren't any ugly incidents while we were out. There was an old homeless man we encountered on the way back. I think he wanted to get to know some of us better, but he eventually went on his way. I did get a couple of nice complements on my outfit. I wore my purple sweater from Dots with a grey plaid skirt and purple tights, with a pair of black l.e.i. boots I scored at a thrift store in Churchland last year.


I got lost a couple of times heading to TACT. For some reason, I thought it might be reasonably close to where we marched. It was way, way down Granby Street, almost in Ocean View. I got there just in time for a quick snack and a sit-down with Julian and LLLLL before they kicked us out. I went home and changed for work. Nate had cooked while I was out: barbecue chicken and rice. And he baked brownies! I had one before I came to work, and it was incredible.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Preparing to Remember

Last night I drove over to Norfolk to help put together signs for our TDOR march on Friday. Most of the signs show the names of everyone who has died since this time last year. The names and their stories come from this website:

http://www.transgenderdor.org/


There are a lot of names. I wish I could say I was surprised. What did surprise me was how many of the fallen are unidentified, especially in Central and South America. It's like without names, these people didn't exist. That hurts as much as their dying. There was another murder this past weekend in Puerto Rico. The suspect went looking for a "date" in the red light district, picked up the victim, then flipped out when he discovered she was male. He then proceeded to decapitate her and chop off her limbs. When the case first came to light over the weekend, a detective in PR was quoted as saying

"Someone like that, who does those kind of things, and goes out in public, knows full well that this might happen to him."


Makes it sound like she was asking for it. I've been lucky. I haven't seen a whole lot of violence in my life, and haven't experienced anything worse than name-calling when I was out as myself. I wish there was something I could do about it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

As Long as I'm Flogging Other People's Stuff

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vL5u2xi6mNQ

This is the new trailer for Mass Effect 2. I can barely contain my excitement about this game. Lucky for me, I only have to wait until January. I like this "Legion" character. So far it's got the best lines.

"We do not experience fear, but we understand how it affects you. Organics do not choose to fear us; it is a function of your hardware."

Ooooh. Scary monsters.

Thank you for your consideration, I think


I took a walk through Olde Towne this afternoon. I had to drop a couple of pieces into the mail (model parts for friends in England and Wales), and decided to trek through the neighborhood on the way home. I spotted this sign in front of a Baptist church/private school I attended when I was a child.

Their spelling is atrocious, but I suppose it's the thought that counts.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Freaky Deaky! (New Lady Gaga Video)

This is the new Lady Gaga video. It premiered about four days ago. It's got intricate makeup, elaborate costumes, and freaky shoes (courtesy of Alexander McQueen). Drag artists all over the planet are no doubt choreographing numbers based on it. I might've even found a costume for next Halloween. I love it!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MsthwTUTylQ

Monday, November 9, 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance


November 20th is the next Transgender Day of Remembrance. Attending a TDOR event last year is how I connected with my support group. The practice started in 1999 to commemorate the death in 1998 of Rita Hester, a transwoman in Boston, MA. As we make strides toward a better future, it's important to remember those who came before us.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Self Publishing Gone Hideously Awry

I saw this posted in a hobby forum under the title "Self Publishing Gone Hideously Awry". If you click through the title, it takes you to an Amazon page for a woman selling her own self-published religious tome.

What do customers ultimately buy after viewing this item?

"Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now With Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Button, Button

There's a movie coming out today entitled The Box, with Cameron Diaz and James Marsden. They play a couple with money troubles. Out of the blue, a box appears on their doorstep, featuring a big red button under a glass dome. Later, a man arrives, telling them that if they press the button, a stranger will die, but they will be paid $1,000,000.

The film is based on a 1970 Richard Matheson short story, "Button, Button". I guess after the huge financial success of I Am Legend, someone in Hollywood decided Matheson was bankable again.

I'm not greedy or anything, but if said box landed on my porch, I'd press the button as many times as they'd let me. A million dollars would be enough to pay all my debts, cover all of my near-future expenses (moving, hormones, et al) and leave me a nice little nest egg. Who knows, maybe I could finance my own lobby and buy a couple Congress-critters. Get 'em to ram ENDA through both houses and onto the President's desk.

Yeah, a Senate sub-committee held the first hearing on a trans-inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act since 2002. Oddly enough, no trans people were at the hearing.

Sesame Street

I used to watch Sesame Street, when I was little. This week is the fortieth anniversary of the show, and to commemorate that, the last three days Google has featured characters from the show in their header. Wednesday the "L" in Google was Big Bird's legs. The day after, Cookie Monster had his mouth all over the top, like he was "Nom, nom, nom"-ing the search box. Today it's Bert and Ernie, television's first socially acceptable gay couple. Ba-doom boom.

Thank you. Thank you. I'll be here all week. Please don't forget to tip your waitresses.

Sorry. It's been a long, stressful week, and I thought a little levity would lighten the atmosphere.

EDIT: Yes. Yes! I KNOW Bert and Ernie are not really gay. That's one of those horrible urban legends, dating back to the early 90s, at least. It was meant as a joke. One in poor taste, perhaps, but a joke all the same.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Conservatives shop sex ops ban to GOP

From Politico:
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1109/29164.html

Apparently, the conservative culture warriors are trying to hobble the proposed reforms to the American healthcare system. No provision has been made in any version of the bill to specifically cover sex reassignment or other procedures, but someone has already drafted language for an amendment which would specifically prohibit the government from paying for such procedures. From what I understand, it's hard enough to get private insurance companies to support anything related to being trans. Preventing the Feds from providing support would make it that much harder.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Fitting Memorial

A couple of days ago, Nate was going through a box of our family recipes when he happened upon Mom's recipe for chicken casserole. It's simple - chicken, rice, stuffing mix, cream of mushroom soup, so he went to the store and got the missing ingredients.

I'm having it for dinner as I type this. Nate's a pretty decent cook, and he's done the recipe justice. We were talking about that just now, when he asked if I remembered what day it is. Mom died two years ago today. I think it would warm her heart to know we're eating her casserole today. It warms mine.

One more from Halloween


I promised I'd post another photo as soon as I could find them. I hereby nominate myself for "Girl Most in Need of a Waist-cincher".

But for the witch hat, the entire outfit came out of my closet. The corset top, black lace tank and the boots are from Torrid. The skirt and stockings are from Hot Topic.

Jesus, Queen of Heaven

It seems the producers of this play in the UK are getting blasted for daring to portray Jesus as a transsexual.

http://www.tron.co.uk/event/jesus_queen_of_heaven/

Cheesing off the religious establishment? That's my game all over. Such a shame it's not playing on this side of the pond.

Naturally, when I saw this, I thought of Tori Amos. From Boys for Pele, the song "Mohammed, My Friend":

"Mohammed, my friend/It's time to tell the world/We both know it was a girl/Back in Bethlehem"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Epilogue


I wasn't able to get online at all yesterday after I left work, and I only had a few minutes to check my email at home, so this post comes twenty-four hours late, so I've had time for a little more analysis than I might've posted in a raw recap.


Friday wiped me out. Between sitting up all morning waiting to get paid, then running around all afternoon paying bills and stuff, then getting too little sleep before going back to work, I was exhausted. I had my Halloween costume assembled, but I had to put a few finishing touches on myself. I'd made a half-hearted effort to shave my legs Friday night, but my heart wasn't in it, so I resolved to wear black tights with my costume.


Getting ready Saturday evening, I remembered that I had a pair of black-and-white striped thigh-highs that I picked up at Hot Topic a couple of years ago. I think they're meant to stay up on their own, but I wore a garter belt anyway, just because. I had trouble fastening the rear set of tabs, so I enlisted Nate in hooking me up. I told him he could scratch an item off his bucket list. The expression on his face was priceless.


I ditched the "Eris" makeup in favor of something I thought was Halloweeny, a Revlon palette of smoky greys and green. The polish I bought turned out to be more of metallic onyx, but it worked with my outfit, and it matched the tone of my star earrings almost perfectly.


By the time I was ready to go, Nate had our neighbors all psyched up to see me in costume, so I strolled across the street for a photo op before rolling out. Because I forgot to bring along my camera, the only photos of me from this excursion were taken by other people. A few of them have appeared on Facebook and elsewhere, so I'll try to find one or two to post here for everyone's edification and entertainment.


The party at Mike & Mark's was great. I am not a party person, in the usual sense. I like to meet and hang out with people, and maybe have a drink or two, but that's all. That's the main reason why I don't spend a lot of times in bars. That, and I can only put up with so much cigarette smoke. This party was different, somehow. I only knew a couple of the people there, but the others I met were very friendly. There was dance music playing on Sirius. There was a big cooler outside filled with beer and wine coolers, and the fixings for assorted mixed drinks in the kitchen. There was food - I've seen wedding receptions that had smaller spreads.

I think I was the only trans person there, though I wasn't the only one in a female costume. There were three fellows from the Hampton Roads Men's Chorus, dressed as the Golden Girls (they had a female friend dressed as Rose to fill out the set). Towards the end a carload of friends showed up dressed as assorted dead people, including a guy dressed as Jackie Kennedy on November 22 (a pink Chanel suit covered in blood) and another dressed as Anna Nicole Smith (wearing stripper shoes that looked impossible to walk in).

Towards the end of the party, I was talking to a woman dressed as a fairy. I think she was a little drunk. She asked me what I was dressed as. I asked, "The hat doesn't give it away?" She told me she loved my costume, but I should ditch the witch hat and tell people I was a hooker. OH NO SHE DIDN'T!!!

I tried to explain how demeaning that was, both to me and to women in general. I told her about the people I have known who turned to sex work because they couldn't find regular employment. I told her telling folks I was a prostitute could get me arrested. She would not be dissuaded. I broke off the conversation and found someone else to talk to.

The picture above shows me, Tiffany and her girlfriend Danni.




Saturday, October 31, 2009

Son of a Witch!

When I posted yesterday morning, I was suffering from a definite lack of imagination. I needed a different perspective.

My plans for Friday were blown out of the water when it was revealed that the president of our company was out of town Thursday, so our pay checks weren't signed. He was expected to return to work sometime Friday morning, and the checks were expected to be available by noon. I got my check about 1330, zipped back to Olde Town to the credit union, then hoofed it around the corner to pay the water bill. On my way to the credit union, I passed a little group of women in Friday business casual. One of them was carrying a fancy witch's hat. Eureka!

After I paid the water bill, I swung by my neighborhood WalMart, and found a selection of different hats for $8.00-10.00. At one end of the spectrum was a simple hat with black tulle draped around the crown, while at the other, they had one covered in glittery sequins. In the middle, I found a simple black hat, trimmed around the brim with black marabou feathers. Perfectamundo!

I also grabbed a set of lush fake eyelashes. I've had mixed luck with these in the past, but I figured I'll give them a shot. I normally wouldn't wear them, but this is a costume. I also grabbed another bottle of 60-second nail polish. A traditionalist would wear black, or maybe blood red, but not me. I went with a glossy indigo.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Nothing to Wear

Well, not exactly. Halloween is tomorrow. It's generally recognized as the one day out of the year that trans folks can dress any way they please and not get pounded just for being who they are. I've dressed up for Halloween before, but most of those occasions I just wore womens' clothes. Back in those days it was such a thrill just getting out of doors in a skirt that it never occurred to me to wear any sort of costume. If I did think of it, I couldn't afford what I wanted.

My stints in the Ren faire business sort-of spoiled me on costumes. A couple of years ago, when I was a few pounds lighter (and less self-conscious about what I was carrying), I had my heart set on this sexy pirate costume I found in a catalog. My three months out of work killed that dream, and I moved home to live with my parents, to boot, which put a crimp in dressing up for about six months.

Last year, I worked. This year, I decided I needed a release. Unfortunately, my current finances won't support any kind of a fancy costume. I get paid today, sometime, but the funds in this week's check are almost all spoken for. So I'm having to improvise. I was thinking of one of my Purgatory outfits, a corset top with a pleather mini, and boots. Because of the minimist outfit, I'll have to turn the makeup up a notch or two. I was thinking of something like this:

http://www.abrilliantbrunette.com/2009/06/eris-goddess-of-strife.html

I could even use that name, "Eris, Goddess of Strife". That sounded like a winner until I did some reading. Eris is associated with a pseudo-religious philosophy called Discordianism. She even has a symbol, rendered like so:

-)(-

or

-><-

It's called the "Hand of Eris". If I had a little more time and money, I'd try to run down some earrings like that. I still might, sometime down the line. Maybe my thinking's too elaborate. I've got a plaid skirt, and some patent heels... If I can run down a white blouse. Wear one of my longer hair pieces (the strawberry blond, maybe), with the back pulled into pigtails. I've never thought of rocking the naughty schoolgirl look. I am awfully conscious of my size when I wear anything revealing. I'll think of something.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Floating Along...

All around me, at least on the net, I see people in transition. At least two people I know have had SRS in the last couple of weeks. Others are at various stations on the road to transition. A genderqueer friend of mine was voted the Junior class Homecoming Queen at the College of William and Mary last week. All very cool. All very depressing.

As for me, I am stuck in idle. This feeling of being trapped in my male identity is gnawing away at my being. I get out en femme every chance I get, but not being out all the time is chafing. Not moving forward is chafing. Feeling like I have to set everything aside while I deal with one crisis or another is driving me crazy. Feeling like I'm the only one who knows I'm trans...

All of my net friends know I'm trans. All of the people I've met through my support group know. A teeny handful of people outside of those circles have at least seen me dressed up. The rest of the world doesn't see. When I'm out of doors in my male garb, most people only see my pierced ears, or my nails. Some notice my waxed eyebrows. Most write me off as gay, or metrosexual. I'm not sure which hurts worse, being taken for something I'm not, or being written off because of it.

Halloween is Saturday. I'm planning to dress up and go to a party. This coincides with the pagan day Samhain. It's a day of endings and beginnings, of changes and transitions. Decision time is coming. Maybe by Sunday morning I can make up my mind, cast the stones, figure out where I'm going and what I'm doing.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ready to Be Fired

Actually, I don't know that it's going to happen, but it seems a distinct possibility. Since my write-up in August, I have done my level best to maintain a low profile. I've tried to keep my interaction with management professional, when I have to interact with them at all. I've done all my work to the best of my ability, whether it's the paperwork or guest service.

A gentleman came up to the desk a little while ago and asked if it was possible to change the channel on the TV during breakfast. I told him that we could put the TV on whatever channel he wanted. Yesterday morning, it was tuned to MSNBC. He told me he prefers Fox, because he likes to hear "the truth". All I said was, "If you say so." I didn't defend MSNBC. I didn't blather on about my own liberal views, or all the negative press Fox have garnered over the years. I didn't call the channel "Fixed News" or "Fox Noise" or anything. I certainly didn't say anything about their blowhard hosts. No, I just said, "If you say so."

The gentleman went out to his car. When he returned a few minutes later, he thanked me for "the information" and went upstairs. I have little doubt that's going to come back to bite me on the ass when the gentleman fills out his guest satisfaction survey. It might amount to nothing, but I have to be prepared for the possibility.

When I'm working, I'm not supposed to have opinions about things, but I'm having ever more trouble suppressing my need to be, and express, who I am.

A couple of weeks back, a big sedan rolled up to the front of the hotel around 0400. A nattily-dressed gentleman climbed out, and I was all set to sell him a room. As it happened, he came in and handed me the latest issue of The Watchtower, a publication of the Jehovah's Witnesses. We were standing under a sign on the wall which prohibits solicitation or "distribution of printed materials...by non-employees". I smiled and told him, "No, thank you." He started to say something about preparing me for "the End Times". Again I said, "No, thank you," and added, "I'm an atheist." The gentleman gaped for a moment before composing himself. He then asked if I didn't want to read it "for entertainment". I said, "No!" He took the hint and departed.

I half-expected that incident to generate some negative feedback, but nothing came of it, and maybe it won't this time, either. I'm just tired of pretending to be someone I'm not. It wouldn't be so hard, I think, if my employers had been a little more understanding about me transitioning. My search for another job continues to be thwarted. There are five hotels within five minutes of my apartment, and none of them are hiring. There are another six in the general vicinity of my current job, but four of them are owned by my employer. There are jobs at the Beach, but I'd eat up a good chunk of my wages driving back and forth to the Oceanfront. So I toil on.

EDIT: 0505 here. I switched the lobby TV over to Fox in order to head off any potential hooha. As I speak, they're showing a repeat of the Glenn Beck program. I've seen bits and pieces of his material on Countdown, but I've never watched it raw and unfiltered like this. The man is scary. Eeeeeeeee...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pictures of Mom, Part 2


This one dates from about 1982. Coincidentally, Mom is now (in the photo) about the same age as Granny in the previous photo (and I was ten or thereabouts, too). She's sitting at the teeny table in Granny's kitchen. You can see that infamous hostility towards the photographer. I'd like to think I look half so evil when someone rubs me the wrong way.


I never thought of it this way before, but Mom could have used a little pressed powder. Her face is too shiny. If anyone reading this thinks I'm being too harsh on my late mother, the first time she saw a photo of me en femme, she told me my lipstick was too red. And I was wearing a berry shade!
Anyway, Mom is often in my thoughts. Much of the time I see her as she was at the end. It's nice to refresh my memories of happier times.

Pictures of Mom, Part 1


I was sorting through some things this morning when I found a couple of photos I thought I'd lost forever. When Mom died two years ago, there was a mad scramble amongst my cousins and other relatives to divvy up the family photo albums. Dad kept a few that had pictures of their wedding and early married life. In with some things I wasn't interested in, I found a couple of Mom.


Photos of Mom are rare, because she didn't like being photographed. She treated anyone (even relatives) with cameras like celebs treat the paparazzi. I lost an entire box of photos during my move from Charlotte to Virginia. Thus I only have a few I took in the months before she died, and these two from out of the family trove.


This photo is from April of 1959. Mom was a couple of months shy of her tenth birthday. Her mother, my Granny, stands behind her. (It's hard to think of anyone so young and vital as "Granny" isn't it?). Mom was a cute little girl, wasn't she?

Hurry Up and Sign the Damn Bill!

In case you've been living in a cave for the last twenty-four hours and didn't hear, the Senate voted to approve the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes amendment that was tacked onto the defense appropriations bill. The President said he'd sign it. He'd better.

In a couple of the news stories I've read, the conservative backlash has been a little stiff. The Religious Right are saying that they're afraid that including gays and trans folk in a "protected class" will limit others' religious freedom. They're just upset because no one will be able to gay-bash and then say that God told them to do it.

This legislation is long overdue, but knowing it's (nearly) done is a nice feeling.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Up to Nothing

Saturday morning saw the end of my nine-night stretch and the beginning of my mini-vacation. I had a standing invite to come visit some friends, but I elected to stay here, because I had plans. I went home, did my nails (Rimmel 60 Seconds in Torrid) and went to bed for a bit. I got up late and spent an hour doing my best headless chicken impression trying to get ready to go to Ericka and Linda's to watch a movie. I wore my new sweater dress with black tights and ankle boots.

Sunday morning I rose early and drove out to NAS Oceana for the air show. I don't remember if I said anything before, but the weather this past weekend was nasty, cold and rainy. The Sunday forecast was only cloudy, with a40% chance of rain, but it was pouring by the time I reached the base. Turnout was poor, and a lot of the flying didn't happen, but what I did see was thrilling, and I got a few good photos. Because of the low attendance, a lot of the tee shirt vendors were selling their products cheap, so I got one for myself and one for my roommate. I went straight home and crashed. I didn't rise again until about 0300 this morning.

It was sunny today, but still not very warm, so I stayed in and camped out with Netflix over XBox Live. I watched Underword: Rise of the Lycans, Vanishing Point(1971) and a couple of episodes of Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex. I got a carry-out pizza from the Hut, and am about to turn in for the night.

Somewhere in the middle, Nate called to tell me that he won't be back until Wednesday. That means I get one more whole day to myself. I'm trying to work out an outing for myself that won't cost me much, but nothing's forthcoming. Part of me is eating up the solitude, but I'd set that aside for someone to hold. Mr. Sock is cool, but he's not much of a sub for a warm body.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

I Love Dots!

It's Google's fault, really. You know how in Gmail, if you're reading a message, you can read little ads on related topics in the header or the margins? I was reading an email from Newport News one day when I noticed a little ad for Dots. I don't remember the wording, but the words "affordable prices" were particularly eye-catching. About the only time I can afford to shop at Newport News is when things are on clearance, and by then, they often don't have my size.

I used to shop a lot at Torrid. When I lived in Charlotte, I used to hit one location or the other every other week. Of course, I was making $12/hour then, and I could pay all my bills and splurge on clothes too. Now I'm plugging along with a lot less, so I've been on the lookout for something more affordable. I've occasionally shopped at Cato, and their prices are pretty reasonable, but I don't always like their styles.

I clicked through the link to dots.com. I loved the clothes I saw. Their size range was appealing too. "Sizes 0-24," it says on the door. I signed up for their email list. They always seem to have good sales, but moeny was tight almost all summer, so I never managed to get out to one of their stores. I decided to change that today. I made sure to print out this week's email coupon before I left: $10 off any purchase of $30 or more.

The weather left a little to be desired, cool and rainy, but it wasn't horrible. I wore a couple of layered tops (a pink and black striped top over a black Tactel tank) with jeans and a pair of Tommy Hilfiger ankle boots with a black sweater jacket. Other than the boots, my whole outfit was built out of things I purchased at Torrid.

Upon arriving at the store, I was immediately greeted by a salesperson (always a good sign). I told her that this was my first time in the store, and she gave me a little tour, pointed me at a few items that she thought would look good with my colors, then turned me loose. I was determined to not spend more than $40, but I must tell you, I could have spent the rent! In another time, I would've spent $300 in there without blinking.

Not to demean Dots, but it was like walking into a Torrid where everything was 50% or more off. They had all the same styles, at the same quality, but at dramatically lower prices. Dresses for $18. Jeans for $12. Ever since I saw The Devil Wears Prada a couple of years ago, I have wanted a pair of over-the-knee boots. Dots has 'em, for 26 dollars!!!

Like I said, I could have gone crazy in there, but I restrained myself. I bought a red, black and grey sweater dress, a purple sweater/tunic and purple argyle tights, plus a handful of little spring-loaded bangle bracelets. With my coupon, I got out of there for $39 and change. Mission accomplished!

I think I've mentioned before that people have usually been pretty tolerant on my shopping excursions. This was no exception. A few people gave me "the eye", and one fellow I passed on the sidewalk laughed, but there were no unpleasant encounters. There was a customer in Dots who looked like she wanted to say something, so I said, "If you want to say 'Boo', go ahead." She said, "No. I like your hair." I thanked her, and everything was okay after that.

After Dots, I trekked across the shopping center to a wig shop to look for new hair. My favorite red piece is looking a little ratty, but I didn't see anything that was in my price range.

On the way home, I zipped through the Wendy's drive-thru and went home. I tried on my purchases and hung them up, cleaned off my makeup, ate, then crashed. Now I'm back at work, on the last night of nine. This was a good day, and I think I've found my new favorite store.

Before I forget, the title has a link to their website.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Long Weekend

I mentioned a couple of days ago that I was going to be off this weekend, Saturday and Sunday. Well, I discovered last night that this has been extended. Due to scheduling difficulties with my relief, I've been given Monday and Tuesday as well. That's a four-day weekend! If I had known of it a little sooner, I could've made plans for something more involved than what I was already looking towards, like a road trip or something.

Did I mention I'm going to be all alone this weekend? Yeah. Nate's getting on a train in a couple of hours and running down to Florida for Nick's seventh birthday. He's going with Eddie, our nice neighbor who watched the boys over the summer when Nate was working and I was sleeping. They won't be back until sometime Tuesday evening. What am I going to do with myself?

I'm going to try to get in a little shopping this morning after I pay a couple of bills, then off to bed. My "vacation" doesn't start till tomorrow. After work tomorrow, I'll crash for a bit, then off to Movie Night in Virginia Beach. No idea what the movie will be, but it'll be nice to hang out with friends.

Sunday's the air show. The weather is predicted to be crappy again, but both the Blue Angels and Snowbirds say they can work with ceilings as low as 1000 feet, and most of the rest of the performers won't notice the lack of altitude. Sunday night, if I'm not completely wiped, I might check out the Hershee. They have karaoke on Sundays. What? Don't look at me like that.

Monday and Tuesday, though. What am I gonna do? On the one hand, I've got two extra days to be myself 24/7, so no running about in drab unless I want to. I can even paint my nails if I want! Take that, Boss!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Technical Difficulties

I wish the IT people who reguate my company's internet access would make up their minds. From the end of last year until the middle of July, I had free access to Blogger to create and update this blog. Then, all of a sudden, I either got "The page can not be displayed" messages, or "Generally Blocked" blockpage messages from the company's proxy system. That prompted my "End of an Era" post, and marked the beginning of a slowdown in the writing of this blog.

Over the weekend, I was reading one of the blogs I follow, and I wanted to comment. Without thinking, I hit the little Google account button to log in so I could post the comment, and next thing I know, I'm logged into Blogger: full dashboard access and the works. It's worked every night since.

I wasn't able to get online at home today, so when I arrived at work tonight, I logged into my Gmail account, then Googled Blogger from there. I got a "Streaming Media" blockpage. A little bit later, I was able to log in by going through the long way, but when I try to view my blog, I still get the "Streaming Media" blockpage. I even disabled the Imeem media player that was embedded in the top right, to no avail. Because of this, I'll have to look at my comments later.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

News, Part Two

I almost forgot: Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. That's an accomplishment in itself, but I really wish they'd waited until he actually accomplished something important, like, i don't know, ending the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan, or brokering a lasting peace in the Middle East. Something momentous like that. It's like they've given the award in anticipation of things to come. He called the award "a call to action", and it is. Get your ass in gear, Mr. President! Show me I didn't vote for you for nothing.

News

None from me, sorry. It just occurred to me that it's been weeks since I commented on anything that's happened out in the world. I did a little blurb when Patrick Swayze died, but nothing else.



I wrote to my friend Chrissie weeks ago asking about the UK's United Healthcare system. I wanted something to compare to when I wrote about the ongoing debate here in the States about the proposed reforms to our healthcare system. I never got around to writing the piece, and the big Senate vote is supposed to take place tomorrow. I hope they pass a plan that includes a public option, but I'm not holding my breath.



Supposedly different bills are making their way through both houses of Congress regarding ENDA, but I haven't heard anything new on that front. To be completely honest, I'd rather have ENDA than public healthcare, but the public option would make my future life easier in the event that ENDA passes.



The President talked to the HRC this past weekend, but once again, he made no promises. I'm beginning to wonder what I saw in that man...



Roman Polanski is currently sitting in jail waiting to hear if he'll be extradited to the US. At first, I was in the "Free Polanski" crowd, but then I went back and researched his case. The whole incident makes my skin crawl. It makes me feel vaguely skeezy because I enjoyed some of his movies. Now I hope they throw him down a hole he can never crawl out of.



There's a story in the latest issue of Esquire about the ongoing story of John Demjanjuk. Mr. Demjanjuk is a Ukrainian immigrant who was a German POW during WWII, and may or may not have worked as a collaborator at one of the German death camps. His arrest in the 80s made international headlines, because the authorities said he was "Ivan the Terrible", a camp guard at Treblinka who inflicted all manner of horrors against the people who were being herded into the gas chambers. He was extradited to Israel, where the high profile trial found him guilty, convicted him and sentenced him to death by hanging. Then a piece of evidence appeared that proved conclusively that he wasn't at Treblinka at all, and he went free. Now he's sitting in a prison in Germany, awaiting trial as an accessory to the deaths of 27,900 people at Sobibor, where he may or may not have been one of the Wachmanner, some sort of a collaborator. He's 89, and his health is failing. He, I think, should go free.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Movie Review: Zerophilia

Zerophilia (2005)

Director/writer: Martin Curland

Starring: Taylor Handley, Kyle Schmid, Rebecca Mozo, Marieh Delfino

Zerophilia is a fantasy movie that posits the existence of rare humans with a third "Z" chromosome. These individuals are capable of changing their sex at will, but the ability doesn't manifest itself until they become sexually active.

Luke (Handley) is a college student. He's out camping alone in the woods when he's nearly crushed in his tent by a Jeep with camper barreling through the woods. The driver is Kelly LeBrock, and to make up for nearly killing him, they have sex. It's Luke's first time.

A little later, Luke meets Michelle. Michelle is smart, funny, and gorgeous to boot. They hit it right off, but when they go out to dinner, Luke gets a little aroused, and starts to grow breasts. What follows from there is a classic comedy of errors.

I first learned about this film a couple of years ago on a Yahoo TG Fiction mailing list. The writer/director joined the list to promote his movie, and he even credits a couple of known TG fiction writers in the credits.

It's an indie film with a limited budget, but I thought it very well made. The script is good, the actors all give solid performances, and the plot flows pretty evenly with no awkward spots. I got the movie via Netflix when it first came out, but it debuted last night on Showtime 2, and I watched it before coming to work. It'll be on again on the regular Showtime channel sometime over the next two nights, so set your DVR. I promise it's worth the effort.

Fleet Week

We now return to our regularly scheduled blog, already in progress.

Today marked the beginning of Norfolk's Fleet Week. Norfolk is a big Navy town, and I've always felt like it's Fleet Week all the time, but this is the first time I've noted the actual event. I suppose they've had it before; I just never noticed.

As part of the festivities, there's a guided missile destroyer tied up at the Nauticus Pier, the USS Nitze (DDG-94), and they're offering free tours. I have a lot of friends who are interested in naval subjects, but live far away from major bodies of water, so I took it upon myself to catch the ferry over and take pictures for their benefit. I'm a military hardware geek myself, so it wasn't any hardship. For anyone here who's interested, I'll have the best shots up in a gallery tomorrow, and I'll put up a link.

The event concludes next weekend with the Air Show at NAS Oceana. By some miracle of scheduling, I managed to get next weekend off, so I'll be able to go. The Blue Angels will be there, as well as Canada's Snowbirds and a number of other performers and static displays. I will most likely attend in my male guise, because it's safer that way.

Thinking of You

Yes, I'm thinking about you, and it's driving me crazy. So crazy, in fact, that I'm having trouble hammering this out. But I promised I'd write about it in the blog, and here it is.

I'm flattered by your attention, and flustered by it all at the same time. I've got friends, but no one I've met in a long time has been so fascinated with me. It's an ego booster, but it makes me insecure at the same time. I feel like everyone is looking at me, even if it's only one person. I'm accustomed to being something of a spectacle out in public, but it's different feeling that way behind closed doors, with the person who's looking at me 200 and some miles away.

There's more I want to say, but I can't articulate it right now, not with my mind in such disarray. There'll be more when I can compose myself better.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Quick Movie Review: Powder Blue

Powder Blue, 2008

Director: Timothy Lin Bui
Starring: Jessica Biel, Ray Liotta, Forest Whitaker

I pulled this from Netflix last week because the site suggested it to fans of Beautiful Daughters, which was GEM's movie selection last month. When I read the description online, it didn't sound familiar, but I like indie movies with A-list actors, so I added it to my queue.

As an aside, I've got to say that Netflix added to Xbox Live is a winning combination. Netflix by itself (getting movies by mail) is great. When they added streaming video from the site at no extra cost, it was a nice bonus. Streaming movies directly over the TV from an Xbox 360 is the piece de resistance. When the feature was first added, all you could do was watch. Now you can browse through thousands of titles, rate them, and even watch movies with a party of your friends, over the Live network. Sometimes they add programs that haven't come out on DVD yet. I'm currently working my way through the first season of Legend of the Seeker, and it doesn't hit DVD for a week or two. Anyway, back to the movie.

Powder Blue tells the story of the intersection between a handful of characters in the days before Christmas. Ray Liotta is Jack, just released after a long prison sentence. Jessica Biel is Rose, an exotic dancer with a comatose child. Forest Whitaker is a former priest mourning the loss of his wife. Kris Kristofferson, Lisa Kudrow and the late Patrick Swayze all play supporting parts. Injected into the middle somewhere is Alejandro Romero as Lexus, a transgendered prostitute.

I read a handful of reviews both before and after watching the movie, they all compare this film unfavorably with Crash, which I am embarrassed not to have seen. The pacing is a little awkward. Ray Liotta and Jessica Biel's story arcs intersect fairly early, and their story then connects with a third arc. Forest Whitaker's story, which involves Lexus, takes place almost in another film. Those two characters never interact with the rest. I kept waiting for the "Aha" moment which would connect it all, but it never came.

Afterwards, I remembered this film being promoted over the winter as the "Jessica Biel stripper movie". There were some videos shown of her dancing for the film, and I'll admit, her scenes on stage are pretty hot. If only the rest of the film was that good. I gave the film three stars on Netflix, but only because there's no option for "Meh". Needless to say I will not be recommending this one for Movie Night.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What a Weekend!

I told y'all in my next-to-last post that I lucked into a weekend off. I put said weekend to good use. Friday I rested, then stayed up to watch the premiere of Stargate: Universe and Real Time with Bill Maher.

Saturday morning, I cruised through the monthly neighborhood flea market and bumped into an old, old friend. The flea market itself yielded a mother lode of teeny, tiny model airplanes, which will soon be winging their way around the world to various friends who collect them.

Saturday evening I attended my second consecutive GEM (Gender Expression Movement). I like the new name. Before going to the meeting, I checked out the nail salon in my neighborhood, and got them to wax my eyebrows. They're now higher and more prominently arched than they've ever been before. The meeting was a little different, from previous, in that LLLLL presided over the meeting, instead of De. We spent a couple of hours going around the room talking about everyone's perceptions of sex and gender. By the time my turn came up, I felt like everything I feel had already been said (a cop-out, I know).

Sunday I was set to go back to work, but Athens Boys Choir were performing at the Hershee Bar in Norfolk, and I had to go. The show was awesome! On top of that, I saw some old friends, met some new people and had a good time.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Good Enough

I'm behind the times, I know. No MP3 player here. I still buy CDs, if only intermittently. I don't even listen to the radio all that much anymore, so I tend to be behind the curve when it comes to discovering new music. Leave it to me to fall in love with a song that came out two years ago. I was watching a Sheryl Crow video on YouTube yesterday, and this popped up as a suggestion. How did I miss this?

As an experiment, I added the song in an Imeem player on the right side of the screen.

The lyrics have me a little twisted inside. The submissive in me knows how it feels, while the liberated indie in me wants to know "WTF?"

Under your spell again
I can't say no to you
Crave my heart and it's bleeding in your hand
I can't say no to you...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Another Dispatch

I've been away from my computer at home since Monday, and I've only snuck into the business center at work for a quick update, in case anyone thought I'd fallen down a well or something.

Monday afternoon Nate was in a car accident. His job was ending this week (yesterday in fact) and his boss decided to treat his employees to lunch. Nate was in the back seat of one of two vehicles on the way to said lunch. Turning into the restaurant parking lot, their vehicle was struck by a car trying to beat the traffic signal. Their car was flipped around 180 degrees or so and slammed into a concrete signpost. Nate dislocated his left shoulder and suffered a torn ACL in his left knee. Fortunately, the other driver's insurance will cover it all. Nate was okay, just a little shaken.

Tuesday Nate was off, and Wednesday he was laid off.

On the positive side of things, my supervisor is trying to be more accomodating at work, and she scheduled me off Friday and Saturday this weekend. This means I can attend my support group meeting for the second month in a row! I'm also going to try to attend the Athens Boys Choir show at the Hershee on Sunday before work, so it should be a fun weekend.

Note: I'll be sticking with pants for my outing this weekend. ;)

Friday, September 25, 2009

Dispatches from the Front


It's been almost a week since my last post. I've wanted to post, but I've been experiencing a whole lot of nothing. I'm still fighting a summer cold, or it might be the flu. I wanted to get out for a bit when I was off this week, but I've felt like crap the whole time.


I broke down and gave Spot a bath this afternoon. He needed it, badly. After the bath, I administered some flea medicine, so hopefully he'll be feeling better soon.
I've been thinking about getting a tattoo, something similar to the photo above. Please to comment, one way or another.
Work is work. I returned last night after two days off to discover that they've taken away my MOD (Manager On Duty) sign. Is this (pardon me) a sign? The search for another job has so far not been fruitful, and I am extremely reluctant to leave this one until I find another. Nate just found out that his job runs out the middle of next week, so it's back to money being tight.
I think I'll go back to bed.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not really trans news

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article6836190.ece

Two friends made a pact. Whichever one of them died first, the other agreed to wear a dress to his funeral. Well, one of the lads was a private in the Black Watch, and he died in Afghanistan. I can't fault the courage of either man, but did the dress have to be bright GREEN??? I'd have at least toed the line of respectability, and worn a tasteful Little Black Dress. And tights. And heels. And...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

RIP: Patrick Swayze

Patrick Swayze died yesterday after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. He wasn't transgendered, but he did play a drag performer in To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. I thought he and his costars, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo, were horribly miscast (maybe not Leguizamo), but they played their parts with grace and panache. I think that stands pretty well for everything Swayze acted in, from The Outsiders and Red Dawn to Dirty Dancing and Ghost on to lower-brow fare like Roadhouse and Next of Kin. I especially enjoyed his turn in A & E's The Beast which aired last spring after he recovered from his last bout in the hospital. I thought he had kicked the cancer's tail, and I am sorry to be wrong.

Patrick Swayze was the first man-crush I would admit to, and I will miss him.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I Sleep With a Monkey


That's the horrible confession which has been eating at my insides for months. I'm not kidding. How many adults do you know who sleep with stuffed animals?

It's partly my ex's fault. She collected stuffed animals, mostly bunnies, though she had a few bears. When we parted ways, she insisted on dividing the collection evenly, leaving me with a moving box full of unpleasant memories. I gave them all to Goodwill. Actually, I found a couple that I had missed when I was packing up to leave Charlotte. They went straight into the dumpster.

A few months before that, I bought my monkey. It was May, and I was out spending my tax refund. I had just bought a few things at Torrid in South Park Mall, and was on my way out, when I came upon a kiosk selling "make your own" stuffed animals, like a knock-off Build-a-Bear Workshop. They were having a sale. I decided I wanted one.

They had several different animals on offer, not just bears and rabbits but assorted barnyard and "jungle" animals. I picked out a monkey, just because I liked the way it looked. The vendor let me choose how much stuffing to fill it with, and offered me a selection of hats and clothes. I thought that was a little much.

On the way home, I remembered having a sock monkey when I was little. Its name was Monkey. Yeah, I was an imaginative child. Anyway, to honor the toy I had when I was younger, and make light of my youthful naming conventions, I christened the little fellow "Mr. Sock". Naming it somehow made it more touchable. I hugged the little thing. It felt good. A few days later I found myself holding it while I tried to fall asleep one morning.

That was two years ago. I've found that I can sleep without Mr. Sock, but I don't like to. It's not like anyone else is clamoring to share my bed.

I'm Back On!

I'm blogging from work again! This might be a short-lived return, but I'll take it for all it's worth. This long night might not be so long after all. It's Friday night (Saturday morning, really), the weekend after Labor Day, and the hotel is DEAD. I just finished the USA Today weekend edition crossword puzzle, and all I had left to me was the next few chapters of Sam Harris' The End of Faith: Religion, Terror and the Future of Reason. It's a good, good book, but it's dry material.

Anyway, on with the blogging.

Edit: It was indeed short-lived. I forgot that there's a window of twenty minutes or so when the network resets itself. During that twenty minutes, the Internet connection doesn't interface with WebSense, and anything goes. Or it did.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Did a Little Shopping

I was going to go out yesterday. It was my day off, but I felt rotten, and ended up sleeping through most of the day. I did wake up in time to see the President's address on health care reform. I got to see that buffoon from South Carolina make an arse of himself on national television. I nodded off watching Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves on Netflix via my Xbox. Eventually I crawled back into bed and resolved to go out today.

I wanted to dress up, but the weather was grey and gloomy, and I still wasn't feeling 100%, so I schlepped out in jeans and a tee with a hoodie. I walked down to the river and caught the ferry to Norfolk, then walked the few blocks over to the MacArthur Center Mall. I wasn't shopping with a purpose. Indeed, I was hoping to get in and out without spending any money. Hah!

I knew my friend Tracy worked at Coach, but I didn't realize she worked at the Coach store in that mall. I ducked in for a moment to say hello, then ducked out again because she had a customer. A little further along, I found a Payless store. I've been looking at a particular pair of their shoes for work, and they just happened to have a pair in my size. I got them. That's actually the second pair of shoes I've bought this week. I found a pair of l.e.i. heels on clearance at Walmart the other day. I'd lusted after them all summer, but never had the money to spare. At $11.00, I decided I could spare it.

By the time I made it back to Waterside to meet the ferry, it had begun to rain again, but it subsided when I reached the dock in Portsmouth. On my many trips through the neighborhood, I've walked many times by a little store called the Eklectik Funk Boutique. I decided to check the place out. The owner told me a bunch of things were on sale, 50-75% off, so I felt like I had to buy something, though I wasn't sure from looking at the racks that anything would fit me. To my surprise, I found a top which turned out to be a dress. That is, the shop receipt says it's a dress. I will probably wear it with jeans or leggings. I also picked out a pair of earrings designed by the owner. The "dress" was 50% off, and the earrings 25% off, so I thought I did well.

On the way home, it began to rain again, in earnest. I got some KFC on the way home and here I am again.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Going to a Meeting

It took some pleading with my supervisor, but I have Saturday off, so I'm going to attend this month's meeting of GEM, my support group. I just got off the phone with my friend Becky, and she's going to give me a ride. I'm feeling jazzed, that I'll get to see some of my friends again. I'll also have an opportunity to vent about my recent troubles to anyone who doesn't read this blog.

I think I'm going to wear a dress tomorrow, or more likely a skirt with a top. It's still warm and sticky hereabouts, but I like the feeling of the breeze on my bare legs. Speaking of which, I need to shave again.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Whip It



I just caught this on Youtube. I so want to see it. I actually wanted to do this when I was in Charlotte, but I was easily twice the size of any of the roller girls, and they said I was a guy, so...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feeling a Little Better

After my post of this morning, I needed to hear a friendly voice. I called my friend De, and she was nice enough to come over to my place to hang out and chat. I love this blog and all of the friends I have made here, but it's always nice to talk to someone in person. The hug before she left was great, too.

On a lighter note, when I returned home this morning, Nate informed me that I wouldn't believe what he found in the bathroom. I went in expecting to find an exotic bug or other alien life form, but what I did find beggars my senses.


http://i78.photobucket.com/albums/j94/MsJaye/shroom003.jpg

Growing up through the caulk around the edge of the tub. WTF?

How It Is, Part II

When I rolled into work Tuesday night, I tore the office apart looking for my write-up, to no avail. The GM was out of the office all day yesterday, so I couldn't see it until this morning. I now have a copy of the document, and I am angry. I pulled out my copy of the new Employee Handbook, and it details a "Progressive Discipline Program". I won't reprint the whole thing here, but it basically outlines a progressive, positive system for identifying and correcting problems.

WRITTEN WARNING

Issuing a written warning is a serious action taken by the manager only when a previous discussion (commitment to correct) had not been effective or due to the severity of the inappropriate behavior. An employee can be terminated under progressive discipline if he/she has two written warnings and a third one happens within a twelve month period... Hourly employees will be dismissed after 3 written warnings if the disciplinary action is not a critical item.
Okay, then. The "commitment to correct" is a situation where the employee is given a verbal warning, and advised on how to correct the situation before it escalates to a written warning. I have never been given a verbal warning, as such.

The write-up was hand-written onto a pre-printed "Second Warning Notice", but the word "Second" was marked through with a pen and replaced with the word "Final". The Violation is marked Other, with the comment, "Improper dress". Under Action Taken, it reads, "Earrings in both Ears". In the Additional Remarks section it reads, "2nd Warning Jason has been informed this is not allowed and signed the handbook." Underneath is a reiteration of the "final warning" and the notice that "further violations may lead to immediate dismissal without further notice".

To wit, the Employee Handbook does, in fact, say that "For males earrings are not allowed." I asked about this the afternoon the handbooks were handed out. There were a lot of questions that afternoon, because there's a stipulation that female employees can not wear large earrings, and one that specifies no visible tattoos, and another that stipulates that hair must be a color "that is natural to your ethnicity". Examples of all of these were present at the meeting, and we were told by the VP of Operations, that such things would be "grandfathered in" implying that anyone already working there was exempt from such provisions. I asked my supervisor, the front office manager, and she told me not to worry.

There's nothing in the handbook about nail polish, save for the line that "nails should be in a neutral color".

I'm not an attorney, but it seems like I'm being sold something here. I've been called on the carpet for a violation of the Employee Handbook, but it seems like the procedure from said handbook isn't being followed. If I'm reading it right, the correct procedure would have been for the manager to pull me aside and tell me to stop wearing my earrings to work. I wouldn't have liked it, but I would have done it. No written warning necessary. No second or final warnings necessary. Instead, my reading of the handbook is counted as my verbal AND first written warning, and the rest proceeds from there.

I've been doing some reading since Tuesday. LLLLL was nice enough to point out to me the NCTE site, and I had a read through some of their resources. I asked previously about transitioning on the job, and the GM told me that I can't change the way I dress if my ID has a male name on it. It seems that I can't change my ID until I legally change my name and begin living and working 24/7. I think I've been flying solo on this ride too long. I need to knuckle down and find a doctor to talk to, and never mind the expense. I'm already in hock up to my eyeballs, so what's another debt?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So That's How It Is

Back in July, I wrote that I had had "the discussion" with my boss about being transgendered. I did not have high hopes, but at least I had all of my issues on the table, and I felt like she (my manager) had my back. This morning I discovered that this is no longer the case.

Last night, I got a message from the woman I relieved that the GM wanted to meet with me about something. The message said that she needed to talk to me about something, and I was not to leave before we talked. I could not imagine what she wanted from me, so naturally I began to fear the worst. There have been a lot of terminations lately. I wrote about my write-up of a few weeks ago, and I thought that perhaps the pendulum had swung in my direction. Whatever it was, there wasn't anything I could do about it, so I took a deep breath and resolved to get through my shift. I did everything by the book last night, so they couldn't say that I wasn't doing my job.

At the end of shift, my manager was fifteen minutes early. This is notable, because her message to me said that she would be running late. She gave me no inkling of what she wanted to talk about. When my relief arrived, I went back to her office, and this is what I learned.

The hotel received what she said was a very serious complaint against me. A guest wrote in to complain that she was put into the awkward position of trying to explain to her seven year-old daughter why a man was wearing "pink" nail polish and stud earrings. She asked me if I was wearing pink nail polish. I held up my hand, back out, so she could see my manicure. The color I chose last week is sort of an iridescent clear, with a slight pink tone. I have worn it before. I have worn other sheer colors many times. I always get compliments, usually from women, about the appearance of my nails. Never has anyone said anything negative.

The GM held up a copy of the latest employee handbook, and told me the incident was being written up as a dress code violation. She told me that I can no longer wear nail polish to work, nor my earrings. I've only ever worn neutral, usually sheer colors, and she said that did not exempt me. She went on to say that she remembered our discussion, but as long as my identification says I am male, that is the "unambiguous" image I must present. The incident was written up as a "final warning", because I was advised of the new policy at a staff meeting six weeks or so ago. That final warning means that if the issue arises again, I can be terminated "for cause". Due to Virginia's employment laws, if that happens, I can't file for unemployment. If I end up out of work, if I can't immediately find other employment, I'll be up the creek.

I'm sitting here in front of the computer with a bottle of polish remover and a pack of cotton pads. I've got to remove this polish now, while I'm thinking about it, or else I might forget. Remember how happy I was that I got to go to the salon last week and get a manicure at last? I'm sitting here, not crying, but that's how I feel. I wish I could afford to not go back to work. In the space of that five-minute meeting, my work environment turned hostile. I love the work, but I don't know how much longer I can work there, or that I want to. What can I do?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Writing Assignment #2

Speaking of things up in the air, I've been meaning to put up the second of my "writing assignments", furnished by the participants in my first "contest". If and when I get 'round to having another one, I promise to make the questions a little less obscure. I'll try to, anyway.

Chrissie gave me this:

Dreams of Flight

For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with flight. I've spent a goodly chunk of my life gazing into the sky, at whatever was cruising above my head. It started with birds, but grew into flying machines. One of my oldest vivid memories is from when I was 7. My parents had just gotten involved with the local Little League machine, and I found my uncoordinated self on a tee-ball team. I wasn't really interested in sports then, no more than I am now, and I found myself consigned to the distant outfield, where no one ever hit a ball.

I was at a practice, way way out in right field, and I remember that the world filled with sound. There was an ominous roar, and four F-14 Tomcats (in a diamond formation) cruised low over the ball field and disappeared over the horizon. Looked sort of like this:


Except that they were lower. Almost tree-top height. I'm almost sorry to say that I lost all interest in baseball at that moment. I've been obsessed with flying things ever since.

For all my interest, I didn't ever get an opportunity to fly until I was 33. Neither of my parents liked to fly. Dad would do it for work, but Mom wouldn't get into an airplane for money. None of the numerous long-distance trips we took when I was a child were by air. We always drove, even if the destination was New York or Ohio.

I've only been up three times. Two of those were commercial flights, up to Dulles, VA from Charlotte, NC and back. Taking off was the best part, feeling the tug of gravity as the plane climbed, followed by the gentle release as the plane clawed its way into the sky. The flying itself was almost exactly like riding a bus, down to the bumps of turbulence as we passed through a thunderstorm on the way back to CLT.

The third and so far last flight was a recreational hop in a vintage warbird. I think I've mentioned here before that I volunteered at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte. Four years ago, a friend loaned me the money to pay for a 45-minute ride in an OV-1 Mohawk, a Vietnam War-era Army observation plane. It looks like a big grey bug. THAT was flying. The Mohawk is no bus. Plus, we got to formate with a restored B-17 Flying Fortress, and I got my first ever air-to-air photos. It was a lot of fun for an airplane geek like me.

Anyway, how all this ties into my being transgendered is the feeling of being trapped in my own skin. Who wouldn't want to fly away from all this?

I did have an actual dream involving flight this week. I very rarely remember my dreams anymore, so this was noteworthy. I dreamed I was riding in the back of a little pickup truck. I say it was little, because my feet were dangling out over the open tailgate. I was riding along a road, when suddenly the truck flew up into the air. Next we're flying over a winding river, with sparse woods on either side, dotted with what looked like junk or repair yards on either side. Every so often, I would see the tail of an airplane poking up out of the trees. After a few minutes of this, I woke up.

Don't ask me what it means.

Changes Coming

Nate (my brother/roommate, for anyone just coming in) presented me with a prospect for the future a couple of days ago. Last week his sons (my nephews) returned to Florida with their mother after visiting for most of the summer. They came up at the end of May, and were only supposed to be with us for about six weeks. While they were here, their mother had some unexpected surgery, and asked us to watch them for another month or so. Since they moved to Florida, Nate's only seen them a few times, usually for a week, so he did not have a problem with that. They were here a total of eleven weeks, almost, and having them here became routine, normal. Nate got used to being a father again, and it hurt almost as much as it felt good, because he knew they'd be leaving again, and they won't be back until Thanksgiving.

After they left, Nate talked to his ex for a good bit, and she has started looking at inexpensive rental properties in their part of Florida. Nate's talking about moving south to be closer to the boys. Whatever happens, he's going to Florida. My own situation is what's up in the air right now. Should I move with him? Should I stay here? If I stay, I definitely won't be keeping this place. It's too much apartment for one person, and not really economical for two, unless both are making beaucoup money. On the one hand, Florida would be a nice place to make another attempt at a clean start. They have a HUGE hotel market, so it's not like work would be a problem, not with my resume. On the other hand, they don't offer anymore protection for trans workers in Florida than Virginia does. I'd be better off moving out West (NV, CA) or up North (ME, NY) than running further south. Plus, I've spent the last two years here trying to build a life, and I've got friends and activities and stuff. The internet is great for maintaining friendships and acquaintances long distance, but I'm not looking forward to starting all over again, again.

Nate hasn't completely made up his mind, and won't decide until late September or early October. That gives us some time to plan.

Cured at Last!

Manicured and pedicured, that is. Unfortunately, I got a nail tech who had never done me before, and she cut off all my fingernails. I asked her to trim them. She countered with, "You want short and round, yes?" I told her no, but by the time she realized what I wanted, it was too late. She cut them so that they're barely longer than my fingertips. She did a great job on my toes, though. I had her do my fingers in OPI Who Needs a Prince, and my toes in OPI Plugged-In Plum, which is an electric purple. I feel a little more like myself again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another Week Goes By

I'm still here.

I was away for a couple of days, and I return to find that I have still more followers. I must continue to crank out quality material, if I want to keep them.

There isn't much going on here at the moment. The truck is still running, if reluctantly. Work has calmed down a bit (I got a raise!). Nate and I put our heads together about paying rent and our other bills. I just got our gas, electric and satellite caught up, and I still have some money left to play with. I don't know whether I want to treat myself to the long-denied mani/pedi or try to find myself some new clothes. I want the pampering, but they've got some cool sales at Dots...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Writing Assignment #1

I promised the respondents to my "contest" posts that I'd write something on whatever topics they chose. I've had the first topic for about a week, and I must confess that I'm somewhat stumped.

Caroline wrote to me:

Lets be predictable and combine two subjects which interest us:-

"The Movies which got Transgender right"


I must confess: I haven't seen a lot of movies that get us. There haven't been a lot of mainstream movies that talk frankly about us, and too often TG characters are victims of hate crimes or serve at the butt of jokes.

I've heard a lot about Transamerica, starring Felicity Huffman, but I heard lots of negative reviews from assorted trans friends, so I refuse to watch it. I might have to break down and give it a look, just in case I'm wrong.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0407265/

There's Boys Don't Cry,

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0171804/

(I am currently experiencing difficulties with my Italics button)



the story of Brandon Teena. I'm MTF, not the other way around, but I found it to be very real. Gut-wrenchingly so.

I've only seen a few other movies that depict trans characters in a believable fashion. The oldest one would be The World According to Garp, which isn't about a trans person, but one figures big in the story. Roberta Muldoon, played by John Lithgow, was the first transwoman I remember seeing in a film. I enjoyed the novel more than the film, but I saw the movie when I was ten, but read the book when I was twenty.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084917/

Another grim one I've seen is Princesa

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0281094/

The title character is Fernanda, a trans teenager who travels from Brazil to Italy to work as a prostitute in order to finance her SRS. She has some rough experiences, but she finds a sugar daddy. I don't want to give away the ending, but it's not a happy story.


One light-hearted movie I've seen is Different for Girls

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116102/

Back in the 70s, the two characters were best friends in school. Flash forward to the 90s, and one of them has transitioned and is trying to build a new life for herself. She finds herself falling for her old friend, but things don't always work out the way we hope they do.

That's all I've got for now. I apologize if it seems half-arsed, but I confess to feeling underprepared for this one. If anyone could suggest some decent trans-themed films to watch, I'll be happy to Netflix 'em and post my thoughts.


C
oming soon: Assignment #2, from Chrissie, "Dreams of Flight".

Has It Really Been a Week?

Not being to access Blogger from work is killing me. I can't write. I can read other people's blogs, but only if I pull them up by name, or by typing the URLs. I can't comment or anything. I have to compete with Nate for time on the laptop, because technically it is his property.

What a week it was, too. I'm still having trouble with the truck. It's old, a 1990. It's been rear-ended, front-ended, T-boned, shot, and driven over 143,000 miles of bad road. I talked to Nate yesterday about visiting one of those "Your job is your credit" dealerships to see about getting a newer used car. Now that we're both working again, and he's got a shot at being picked up full-time, maybe we can get something. We're not looking for anything fancy. A Saturn, or an older Focus; we'd like something in the 30mpg range.

On top of my vehicular troubles, work has taken a turn for the strange. I got written up for something that didn't happen at all the way it's described in the write-up. I was told that if a similar situation occurs in the future, I'll be terminated for cause. The GM's wrath has not been limited to me. There are angry memos posted in every staff space: the front office, the staff break area, the kitchen, laundry room. Every free space has a tirade devoted to whatever department it's posted in. Our manager has been harsh since she arrived. She warned us that she would be stern, but fair. In the last few weeks, fair has taken a holiday.

I got a call from a friend, and in the course of conversation I realized that I haven't been out en femme since May. There hasn't been any further discussion regarding my transition, and in the current climate, I'm not sure I should discuss it. I find myself regretting that I told the GM that transgendered employees aren't covered by current EEOC guidelines.

Monday, July 27, 2009

For the Record

I ended my unofficial contest last week. No one correctly guessed either of my movie quotes (thus showing my geekiness), but I decided to reward the people who did respond to the threads with the promised writing projects. As soon as they get them to me. Caroline, I'm going to give yours my all, but I need to do some research first.

I Miss Keith Olbermann!

I've mentioned here a few times that I am a fan of "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on MSNBC. I love the show, but it isn't the same without him, and it's been without him for a couple of weeks now. David Shuster had it for about a week, then Richard Wolfe. Lawrence O'Donnell's got it tonight, followed by a two-night run by former governor Howard Dean, then two more nights with Wolfe. KO's supposed to come back next week.

The man is entitled to take a vacation, I suppose, but look at all the news that he's missed: the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11, the passing of Walter Cronkite, the Henry Lewis Gates incident, and now the resignation of Sarah Palin. I can snark on the news as well as anyone, but I miss hearing his voice.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Looking Forward

I am a geek, and I am unashamed. I like movies and video games especially, and the next six months to a year are going to be very exciting to fans of both. On the movie front, I really like the looks of

9
Sherlock Holmes
Iron Man 2
Tron Legacy

As for games, there are not one, but two Halo games coming out for the Xbox 360. What's really gotten my games nerves jangling is Mass Effect 2. Check it out:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBRo7JWy744

In a couple of the cutscenes, you can see a woman with short red hair. That's the default female version of Commander Shepard, and the character I usually play as.