Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Outed

Ok.  take two.  I posted something similar earlier today, thought better of it, deleted it, and edited it.  
Anyway...

Yesterday, someone outed me without my permission.

And the kicker? I never told her I'm Trans.

As you can imagine, I'm quite angry. 

I held my temper, and told her what she should do in similar circumstances in the future. I played it cool, but I was hurting bad inside.

"But Sophie- you are out and proud- so what's the big deal?"


This person decided it was ok to blab about my medical history to a random person.  Imagine if you had, say, Cancer, and someone went around advertising to whomever.  Worse- by outing me, she may have put me in Harm's Way.  I don't have to remind my trans readers of the probability that we could be physically assaulted or worse.

It may or may not be illegal as well.  I don't know... yet.

Said person told me about the interaction, and was she remorseful.  She later apologized.  But the damage was done.  Once one crumbles up a paper, it will never be the same.  


A Better Day

As I said, I played it cool.  I posted the incident on facialbook, where I received many different responses, including a few private messages.  Several of those private messages said, in so many words, 'stop whining and put on your big girl panties.  Live with it.'  

Well, I AM living with it.  What choice do I have?  I'm not going to de-transition, and no one will allow me to go to the Light, so here I am.  

But it doesn't mean I have to like it.  Or just sit there and take it.  

Outing ANY LGBT person is just horrible, but especially so for a Transperson.  It's a Violation of their privacy.  And that's how I feel- Violated.  I am Angry and sad at the same time.  I want to burst into tears.  I want Vengeance.  I want Justice.

I just want the Hate to stop.

In any case, at this point, what's done is done.  I've taken some... steps.  Now, I live with any fallout.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Tales from the Bookstore: The Pornography Lady

As you can imagine from my working in retail as long as I have, and in the service industry before that; I have some pretty crazy stories.  I figure once in a while I'll put one up here.

I will start off by pointing out, that I am Christian, but I don't jam it down people's throats.  My religion is my personal business.  Period.

This one took place back in 2007, before I transitioned- hell before I even re-awakened. Every Sunday after church in older woman would come in.  She had stringy gray hair, was maybe five feet tall, and always wore a long corduroy skirt: either brown or gray.


Gratuitous Sophie Picture

She immediately and determinately walked over to the magazine section specifically to the Men's Interest.  Again, she was not the tallest person, so she needed a step stool to reach what she was looking for: the part of the section that Playboy and Penthouse and such.

She would then take a copy, raise it over her head, and start shouting "PORNOGRAPHY!!!!  This is PORNOGRAPHY!!!"  Back then, the same manager would do the day shift on Sundays.  I'll call him "Bob."  Bob was a younger guy, very liberal, and he wasn't going to put up with disturbances in the store.  He also wasn't going to pander to someone who was more than a little bit crazy.

Every week, this woman came in, grabbed a copy of a magazine, and start shouting "PORNOGRAPHY!"  Every week, Bob would be there, and she would insist that he remove the pornography from the store, that this was "Siiiiinfullll" and she couldn't BELIEVE that we stocked such things and then that we are all going straight to "HELLLLLLL" and what about the Children?

And every week, Bob reminded her of the First Amendment, and pointed out to her that is our choice to stock what sells, and this corporation chooses to stock these magazines.

Every Sunday she made the usual threats- that unless YOU pull these magazines and other Siiiinfullll material from our shelves; that she would do something.  There would be a boycott; a strike; and then, one weekend, she said that if this stuff wasn't removed, she would call the "Po-leeece!."

The following weekend, she came in again now at this time there was a movie out called Grindhouse by Quentin Tarantino.  The two main women from the movie were on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine.  The store was featuring the magazine on a display, mostly because it was Rolling Stone and it sells.   So on this Given Sunday, she came in and didn't even make it to the PORNOGRAPHY section- she made it to the RS display, saw the two women on the cover, grabbed the magazine with both hands, raised it overhead and started shouting "PORRRRRRRNOGRAPHY!  This is PORRRRRRRNOGRAPHY!!"


PORRRRRRRNOGRAPHY!


Bob came over as usual.  She started shouting at Bob; saying that she was going to call the police because we obviously had not followed What SHE and GAWD wanted.  Bob laughed at her and said "Go right ahead! Call the police!"  She's kept shouting "PORRRRRRRNOGRAPHY!" and eventually got into an argument with both Bob and another customer.  This argument escalated until Bob had enough.  I don't know if he banned her from the store or not (the Head Store manager never banned anyone) but, in any case, some heated words were exchanged.  She never came back- not in all these years.  The bookstore still carries magazines of that sort, and we still sell them as much as we used to but the PORRRRRRRNOGRAPHY lady has not come back.  Perhaps she has gone to find a different target to "save."

Oh, and that issue of Rolling Stone she shouted about?  Within two hours, we had sold out of it completely.

I'd like to think it was because of her wonderful advertising.



Monday, July 10, 2017

Arts Festival '87 - "Crest"

This week up at Penn State is the annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, better known as Arts Fest.  To a Penn Stater, Arts Fest is a magical time.  In many ways, it is Summer Homecoming.  It's like a football weekend but without the football.  So many current students and recent alumni come up and crash with friends (as well as older alumni in hotels, etc) that it's a Penn State weekend in mid-summer, which many of the students were pining for.  After all, back home they had jobs and real life, but for a few days, they were back at school with their friends and No Homework!

I know that for myself and most of the Penn Staters of my generation, we couldn't WAIT to get back up to school!  No parents' rules, parties, friends, fun...  


Arts Fest 1988.  I have no pictures from Arts fest '87

As I've mentioned many times before, about ten years ago, I wrote a book about my college years (as yet unpublished.)  The longest chapter in the book is about Arts Fest 1987 (in fact, it was thirty years ago this very night, as of this writing.)  In many ways, it was the "peak" of my time at Penn State.  It was also the night of my first (of many) Grateful Dead show.  So, all of that said, here's that chapter.  I feel a little bad posting chapters here in my blog, as I feel "can't you come up with original content, you loser?"  But this IS original.  I wrote it, and I've never posted it anywhere.  And yes, there's a LOT I'll cut from this if I ever get around to giving this book the strong edit that it needs.

I'll post some thoughts after the piece as well.

***********************************************************

Chapter 2.73:  Crest

Friday, July 10, 1987 North: Probers Saw Shredding

            I never saw anything like it. 
            Color, sound, brightness and happiness despite the thick blue grey clouds drooping in the sky. 
            We parked over in the parking lot by Veterans Stadium because it was the closest spot we could find to the show (and it still cost $5!)  Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead at JFK stadium. 
The stadium itself was a huge stone relic- something from a 1920s gangster movie.  It was old and crumbling, despite the small face lift it received for Live Aid three years prior.  The whole thing was surrounded by this large Addams Family style wrought iron fence. 
Surrounding the stadium, in the park across the street, and in the Vet stadium parking lot as well, was a sea of color.  Vehicles of every description, even several school buses painted like Kesey’s “Further” served as home and party pads for thousands of people of all ages.  There were balloons, kites, and music playing everywhere: Old hippies playing guitars, flutes, mandolins, and harmonicas.  And, of course, boom boxes everywhere playing the Dead. 
            I picked Virginia and Mandy up at 10AM (Mandy stayed over at Virginia’s the night before.)  We all wore tie dyes and shorts.  We made it to the parking lot around noon.  As the show didn’t start until 6 (doors opened at 2), we had some time to kill.  Of course- that meant drinking.  Mandy managed to get a case of Bud cans, which Virginia iced down that morning.  We each cracked one open, toasted to the show, and chugged.  Then we had another.  Then we decided to walk around- and saw this whole new world.
            Everywhere was the smell of pot and grilled cheese sandwiches.  We walked around the parking lot, and people were selling everything from shirts to acid to…grilled cheese sandwiches.  In fact, a cute brunette girl hunched on the ground next to a hot plate said she had the “best fucking grilled cheese in the world.”  I wanted a new tie dye- it would just be cooler to have one from a Dead show. 
            We wandered for an hour, lost in the spectacle.  Part of me wanted to stay- follow the Dead, become part of the Tribe.  Be accepted for who I am.  But some of the older hippies sneered at us- called us “Touch Heads” (referring to the fact that the song “Touch of Grey” attracted so many new people to the concert I guess.)  So it wasn’t all love and acceptance.  Anyway- I still had to finish school.
            Eventually we made it back to the car, where we had more beer and some sandwiches (PBJ- not grilled cheese.)  Some really high guys staggered by and bought beer from us- they offered us $5 a can.  OK!  I guess if we were really in the spirit of things, we would’ve just given them the beers, but we needed the money.  It was going to be a loooong weekend. 
            We wandered back over to JFK around three.  All over the front half of the field was a forest of long thin poles with microphones on the top- the famous “tapers.”  I wondered how they could afford all that equipment! 
The sun broke through and the day became hot.  Really hot.  We found a spot on the grassy field in front of the stage, maybe fifty yards back, and plopped down.  The heat rose in waves from the field. 
            Fortunately, the concert planners were ready for this.  At several places around the grassy infield of the stadium they’d set up impromptu “showers.”  These were elevated pipes with holes on the bottom and a handle on the side to turn them on and off.  I went through it a few times, and it felt great!  When Virginia did it, her tie dye clung tightly to her body, especially when she raised her arms to rinse the water through her hair.  Guys shouted and whistled.  She pretended not to hear, but I think she enjoyed the attention.  They also had fire hoses spray the crowd down occasionally.  I’m sure that the water didn’t make the tapers very happy, what with that expensive equipment getting wet and all.
            The Grateful Dead came out around six.  By then the crowd was hot, tired and sedated.  The band kicked into a spirited version of the song “Iko Iko” which got everyone up and dancing.  People also surged forward toward the stage, which must’ve crushed the people up front a bit. 
After a few songs, guitar player Bob Weir announced "We're going to take a moment and play a game, it's called take a step back.”  Jerry Garcia played a Mexican Hat Dance riff as Bob sang “One-two- take a step back, one- two-take a step back.”  Jerry ended his little riff to cheers, and Bob said "You see what happens, their eyes don't bug out, and they look better.  And if they look better, we play better."  People still passed out from the heat and the crush, and I could see them being passed up to the stage barricades where the security guards lifted them up and over to get medical attention.
They played lots of songs I barely recognized, and a lot I’d never heard.  (Eventually many would become favorites, especially “Terrapin Station”).  They left the stage a little after eight.  The sun was setting, and the heat was dropping.  By this time, we were really hungry, so Mandy went searching for some source of food.  She came back ten minutes later with some wrapped hoagies. 
The band retook the stage around nine, tuned for a moment, and then Bob Dylan walked out on stage, wearing a red jacket and a black beret-like hat.  He looked grim.  What we didn’t know was his friend and “discoverer” John Hammond died that day, and Dylan was devastated.  He still came out though.
Dylan strummed his white acoustic guitar for a moment, looked at Jerry, and the Dead kicked in with a muscular shuffling beat.  Then Dylan started to sing “Early one morning the sun was shining.  He was layin’ in bed” and a roar exploded from the crowd.
“Tangled up in Blue.”  My favorite Dylan song, and apparently everyone else’s.  We clapped the time over our heads.  And danced. 
We writhed together: sweaty, primal, tribal.  All of our cares, our lives, abandoned to the music.
“We always did feel the same we just saw it from it different point of viewwwww…  Tangled up in Blue!”
It was near eleven when Dylan and the Dead left the stage.  Mandy, Virginia and I left- hoping to get a jump on traffic.  We had a long night ahead, especially me.  I was driving.
I felt great.  I don’t know if it was a contact high, the music, the moment, or all three, but I’d never been so happy.  Yet the weekend was still just beginning, and we were headed up to school. 
The annual Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts- commonly referred to as “Arts Fest,” was essentially a summer homecoming.  Everyone who could make it went up.  The event was designed for local and national artists to show off and sell their wares, for bands to play, food to be eaten, and people to have a grand old time.  And all those things happened.  And the students partied as well. 
I didn’t realize how much Penn State REALLY meant to me until summer really settled in.  God, I missed it!  We all did!  I couldn’t wait to get back up there. 
As we walked across the parking lot toward the Vet, we heard music again- the familiar riff of “Touch of Grey” the Grateful Dead’s current single.  We couldn’t hear them singing- they were drowned out by the crowd singing for them. “I will get by.  I will get by.  I wi-illl get bah-eye-eye, I wiiiiill sur-vive!”
As we headed up the turnpike, I drank a Coke and had a Vivran.  I had to stay awake obviously, yet I was still drifting asleep.  More Coke.  Stopped at Hardees in Dauphin (along with tons of other people- the pilgrimage was in full swing.)  More Coke and another Vivran.
Mandy and Virginia slept the last hour or so, so I listened to the Who’s “Quadrophenia” to keep me going. 
“I pick up phones and hear my history.  I dream of all the calls I miss.  I try to number those who love me, And find exactly what the trouble iiiiiiiiis”.
By the time I parked at Sutton Court, I had five Cokes and three Vivrans, and that wasn’t counting any stimulants from earlier in the day.  We quickly stashed our gear in the apartment and rushed over to Crow House.  Mandy brought her stuff with her as she was staying at her apartment.
The party was still going, despite the late hour (it was like 3 AM.)  All the lights were ablaze.  State College was buzzing- the Lion purred, awakened from its summer hibernation.
We bumped into Judy and Rich in the living room- both drunk.  Judy looked fantastic in a white collared shirt.  Judy, Rich, Mandy and Virginia were all smiles hugging and greeting their brothers and sisters.  Everyone was so happy to see each other.  I was bored, so I headed down the crowded stairs to the basement. 
It was packed- wall to wall. 
“Wanted!  Waaant-eddd!  Dead or uh-lahhhve!”  Bon Jovi screamed.
I tried to worm my way through the crowd (being skinny had a few advantages!).  A few Crow Lil sisters smiled and waved at me, which made me feel happy.  Accepted.  When I finally managed to reach the bar, it was packed front and back.  All the lights were on, bathing the scene in a strange red glow, and there were even people sitting on other people’s shoulders to fit as many people as possible back there.  Virginia was already there, behind the bar with a full pitcher of beer ready.  Three man and flip a cup were in full swing.  People were shouting the lyrics to the music on the speakers.
“Tainted Love!  Wuh-oh-oh BOMP BOMP Tainted Luh-ove!”  Soft Cell sang somewhere beneath the noise.
I played for a beer or two, then started the long tight trip upstairs.  I made it to the dance floor which was packed- everyone dancing and jumping up and down.  Happy.  People were singing along to Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony” with the “additional” lyrics that were common to shout in time.
“Well you could shake it Mony Mony”
“Hey!  Hey what?  Get laid!  Get fucked!”
“Shot gun dead and I'll come on home yeah”
“Hey!  You’re drunk!  She’s fat!  Go home!”
“Don't stop cookin' 'cause I feel all right now”
“Hey!  Hey what?  Get laid!  Get fucked!”
“Don't stop now come on Mony”
“Hey!  You’re drunk!  She’s fat!  Go home!”
“Come on yeah, I said yeah”
“YEAH!”
“yeah”
“YEAH!”
“yeah”
“YEAH!”
“yeah”
“YEAH!”
“yeah”
“YEAH!”
“'Cause you make me feel”
“FUCKIN’ HORNY!”  (This over a chorus of either “like a pony” or “Mony Mony”)
“So good, so good”
“FUCKIN’ HORNY!”
“Well I feel all right”
“FUCKIN’ HORNY!”
“You're so fine”
“FUCKIN’ HORNY!”
“You’re so fine”
“FUCKIN’ HORNY!”
“You're, and I feel all right!
“I said yeah”
“YEAH!”
“Yeah”
“YEAH!”
“Yeah”
“YEAH!”
“yeah”
“YEAH!”
“yeah”
“YEAH!”
No one ever got tired of this song.  Especially with its group participation chant.
Suddenly I didn’t feel so good.  My stomach ached, my head throbbed, and my hands started to shake uncontrollably.  I stumbled outside for some fresh air.  Leaned against one of the trees separating Crow from Phi Psi.  My hands shook worse, like they were trying to fly off my arms.  The world began to spin in ways it shouldn’t. 
That’s when Virginia found me.  I told her that I felt sick and sat on the ground, hoping that no one had pissed on this particular tree.  My whole body was shaking.
Next thing I knew, Rich and Virginia had my arms around their necks and they helped me back to Sutton Court.  I forced myself to throw up, drank as much water as I could and fell asleep on the usual couch sometime before dawn.


Saturday, July 11, 1987 North Says Covert Fund Plotted

Virginia shook me awake.
“Wake up sleepy head!  We’re going to the Waffle Shop!”
I yawned and stretched.  “Do I have time for a shower?”  I felt sticky and gross, and smelled worse.
“No time.  Judy and Rich are waiting for us outside.  Come on!  Let’s go!”
“Judy and Rich are outside waiting?”
“Yes!  Let’s go!”  She was starting to get angry.
I pulled her down on top of me and kissed her deeply, groping her ass. 
She grunted in momentary surprise and then kissed back.
“Ick!”  She said.  “Brush your teeth first!”

The line at the Waffle Shop was huge as expected, but eventually we got in.  The four of us chatted politely, but it was Rich and Virginia doing most of the talking.  Judy didn’t say much.  Neither did I- I was very tired.
After breakfast, Judy and Rich went back to Crow house while Virginia and I, after a quick stop at McClanahans for some necessities (aspirin, soda, and the new Rolling Stone magazine) went back to the apartment.  I was still woozy from my caffeine hangover, and the bright sun hurt my eyes.
After we made it to the apartment, I went into the bathroom and stripped, desperately wanting a shower.  Virginia walked in.  Naked.
“Wanna get dirty before we get clean?” she asked innocently. 
She pinned me to the wall with a deep kiss before I could answer, her hands exploring.
Eventually we showered and I took a short nap.  Virginia read the Rolling Stone magazine we picked up.  The summer double issue: it had a Grateful Dead double cover and a huge article on the band.
She woke me around three with a kiss on my forehead.  I opened my eyes and saw her face over mine, smiling- eyes so clear.
“Come on, lazy!  I want to go downtown!”
The sky was a perfect blue, not a single cloud.  We walked through the sizzling State College streets past the colorful exhibits, flags, and yellow canvas roofed booths of artists selling their work.  Everywhere people were playing guitars, flutes, and harmonicas.  It was as alive as the Grateful Dead parking lot scene.  Virginia and I held hands, smiled, and talked as we slowly moved through the crowds.
How could it ever be better than this?  I was home at Penn State on a beautiful summer day, walking with a girl I loved.  I was Young, Healthy, and in College.  As we walked up on campus past Old Main passing more insanely colorful booths, I pulled Virginia to me and hugged her.
It would Never be better than This.  This finally was happiness, wasn’t it?  All of my troubles were left behind: Parents, work, money, Judy- all of my cares meant nothing.  Nothing meant anything but now.
Now was an incredible moment, and I was sharing it with thousands of others, bound by a mutual Love of where we were, and all that we cared for there.  “We are- PENN STATE!”
Virginia kissed my neck and held me tighter.  Someone shouted “Get a room!”
We smiled at each other then kept walking around the flower covered campus, holding hands and talking about nothing at all.

We stopped to get some spaghetti and other things for dinner.  Judy and Virginia figured it’d be cheaper if we made dinner instead of eating out- and besides, everyplace was going to be packed.  When we arrived back at the apartment, Judy and Rich were there, slightly disheveled.  We showed them what we’d bought, and Rich went out to get some wine.  Judy put the Queen album on the stereo.
“Keep yourself alive!  Keep yourself alive!”
Virginia went to the bathroom while I picked up the Rolling Stone.  Judy sat on the other side of the couch, her legs folded beneath her. 
“So” she said.
“So.  How’s summer really been?”  I asked.
“I’m bored” she replied.  I can’t wait for school to start again.”
“Same here.”
“How are things with you and Virginia?” she asked flatly.
I paused and looked up from the magazine at her.
“Good!  We don’t see much of each other due to work, but things are good. How about you and Rich?”
“Great!  Why wouldn’t it be?” she answered, still flat.
We looked at each other for a moment. 
Then Virginia came out of the bathroom.
“So what’s the plan for tonight?”  I asked.
“The house is having a party” Judy said.  “Rich and I are going there.  What about you?  Is your house doing anything?”
“I’m sure they are.  Maybe I’ll stop in.  I’m just so popular there.  They probably can’t wait to see me.”
“We’ll probably end up at the house later.  Mandy told me she’s hosting Little Sister happies at her place” said Virginia.  “I’m going there first.  Wanna come?”
“Sure!  That sounds like fun!”  Judy answered.
While those two went to happies, Rich went to Crow house, leaving me alone in the apartment.  I went into the bedroom, plopped down on Virginia’s bed, and slept.

I woke up a few hours later, and turned on the light.  Virginia walked into the room with a goofy smile. 
“So, how were happies?”  I asked.
“They worked!  I’m happy!”  She said, throwing up her hands.  “I came to get your lame ass out to the party!”
She jumped onto me, knocking me back onto the bed.  Straddling me, she pulled off her Crow Bowl T-shirt. 
“Unless there’s something else you’d rather do” she added. 
“What if I wanted to head over to my house?”  I asked, innocently.
She unclasped her bra- a beige front loader.
“Why would you want to go there?”
“Y’know, say hi to the brothers, drink beer.  The usual.”
“Yeah, whatever” she sneered as she took my hands and put them on her naked breasts, which I started caressing.
“I’m horny.  Get undressed.  Now!”
“I can’t.”
“Why not?”
“You’re sitting on me.”
She hit me in the chest and stood up.

An hour later, we arrived at Crow.  They replaced the usual porch lights with red bulbs.  People sat on the porch roof, drinking, talking, shouting, posing.  The front yard was already strewn with red plastic cups.  Across the street, Beta Sig was all lit up and partying, as was “Pink Elephant.”  Next door, Phi Psi had a reggae band, the Earthtones I think.
As I signed in on the guest list, Virginia walked over to a guy passed out on the porch and propped him up against the wall.  Someone already wrote “LOSER” across his forehead, as well as other doodles on his cheeks, arms, and legs. 
The house was crowded as usual but it smelled worse and was hellishly hot.  My feet stuck to the floor (normally that wouldn’t happen until after two AM.)  It looked like the party never stopped from the night before.  I had to watch where I was walking to avoid puddles of vomit- some dry- and it was only ten o’clock.
It didn’t take long for me to be covered in beer, muck, and sweat.  This party was different from the other Crow parties I’d been to- everyone was drinking, dancing, kissing, shouting with abandon.  As if this were the last party ever and tomorrow they’d have to grow up to be responsible, mature citizens of a colorless bland society.  And maybe this was true.
For the moment, I was just glad to play Three Man with people who knew the rules.
“Bin a long time since ah Rahk an rolled!” screamed Robert Plant from the speaker next to my ear.
Virginia was behind the bar, as drunk as I’d ever seen her.  She smiled at me and did the “I love you” sign.

Sunday, July 12, 1987 In four short days, North turned the tables

Sunday morning dawned as hot and bright as the day before.  Virginia and I went to the Waffle Shop again- me with a filmy hangover.  Judy and Rich remained locked and sleeping in the bedroom.  Virginia slept on the couch next to me. 
When we returned to the apartment, Judy and Rich were gone.  Mandy had slipped a note under the door saying she’d be waiting at Crow.
We loaded up the Mustang, picked up Mandy, and joined the long line of traffic headed reluctantly southeast on Rte 322.  Back to Spring City.  Away from home.
Mandy was asleep in minutes.  Virginia put Simon and Garfunkel’s Greatest Hits in the tape player.  Weird- I thought she hated that tape.
But all my words come back to me, In shades of mediocrity.  Like emptiness in harmony, I need someone to comfort me.  Homeward bound.  I wish I wa-uh-uz- Homeward bound

            Behind us, the Lion stretched and fell back asleep, purring.

*******************************************

For a few years, I considered this the Greatest days of my life.  It was eventually surpassed by a weekend in Washington DC, when I attended a friend's graduation party with the woman who eventually became my Wife.  Then there was an incredible day in August 2013...



While putting this entry together, I re-read it for the first time in years, and the memories came flooding back.  And I thought about the Times and People we somehow take for granted.  As a twenty year old, I knew that college would end, yes, but I didn't think about it.  Wife and I are still married, but separated, because of... well, you know.  And Lisa?  Died six weeks later.

But the memories live inside of me.  That's something right?

Be well.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Tara's Challenge: The Letter

One of my co-workers gave me a writing challenge:  Write a letter from your future self 500 word minimum.

Events of late have put me in a dark mood, so this is the result.  I know that the few conservatives that read this blog will take issue with this piece.  To them I say- it's FICTION (I hope.)

******************************************************************

Sophie,

I don’t know if you’ll read this- in fact I doubt it.  This guy says he has way of sending paper back through time.  He tried to explain it, but I was so tired.  Please excuse the paper and the black dust too.  The guy is one of the guards.  He is a “citizen” and has the Trump logo tattooed on his forehead like all “good patriots.”  However, I think he has a hard on for transwomen, because he’s always promising us extra rations for blowjobs.  I won’t tell you what price I’m paying to have this sent.


I hope you do read this, and that you read it before it’s too late.  I’m writing you from the February 2020.  I’m told the weather outside today is cloudy and 75 degrees, which is typical winter weather now.  Last summer, the average was the mid-90s.  So you can guess what happened.


However that doesn’t matter to people like us.  I work in a coal mine- I’m told in north-central Pa.  The mine has 4 shafts, each deeper than the one before it.  Shaft 1 is the one they show reporters, and those are the people that are free to come and go, and get paid.  They are almost all white, with an occasional black guy so the administration can say there’s racial “equality.”  Shaft 2 is mostly people who have a chance of actually leaving here alive- like republicans that didn’t vote for 45. 


I work in Shaft 3 with all of the other “perverts and freaks.”  LGBT, liberals- that sort.  They rounded us up at night, took us by trucks to holding pens somewhere out by Boyertown, then had us all form up in lines and we were separated into groups.  I was in an LGBT group.  We were marched outside for some time into a field and told to count off by threes.  I was a “three.”  Linda was a “two.”  We were led away from the others, and maybe five minutes later, we heard all kinds of gunfire- automatic weapons, pistols, then it got quiet, followed by an occasional pistol shot.  We eventually were loaded onto old school buses and taken to this mine.  I haven’t seen the sky since.


We work constantly.  Occasionally, if you work hard, they let you rest a bit, maybe even sleep.  They feed us energy drinks from time to time.  I’ve lost over 100 pounds.  Many others have died already.  If you do anything they perceive as wrong, or refuse an order, you’re sent to Shaft 4.  No one comes back from Shaft 4.


How could this happen?  Simple.  Trump won the election.  The beginning was rocky, but after “terrorists” bombed the New York Times and Washington Post, he declared Martial law, and the roundups began.  The Democratic Party was outlawed as was any news source aside from the brand new “trump Network.”  We were set to leave the following day- Linda and I were going to flee north to Canada, but we never got the chance.  They came for us that very night.
I’m hoping you get this before November 2016.  I know you’ll think this is fake.  There’s no real way to prove I’m really you.  Well, I’ll say something only you know: chicken add sickness.  I hope that convinces you.


Even if you get this in time (I have no idea how precise the method is for sending this back) I don’t know what you can do.  If you tell people about this, they’ll call you crazy and paranoid.  But all I have to say is this- you must do anything to keep that maniac from being elected- Anything.


By my own guess, I have only a few units of time left before I drop.  (Those who drop are also sent to Shaft 4, if not shot outright.  The guards get bonuses for shooting “trouble makers” but still have production quotas to meet, so…)  Time has no meaning here in the dark, but we all measure it by guard shifts.  We guess they work 8 hours at a time. 


Sophie, do something!  For all those you love, do SOMETHING!


Better Days



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Inspirations: Linda Lewis

This is the second in an occasional series about women who inspired me over the years, and continue to inspire me.  The first was Kimberly Huddle.

I often write about Linda Lewis in my blog and on my facialbook.  I often refer to her as the "Internet Sensation" and other things like that.  How do I know Linda, and who is she really?


The Gorgeous Linda Lewis, June 2017

Well, I guess it should start back when I found out about her. My femme side resurfaced in 2008- that is true- but I knew about trans sites before that. Around 2001, I was doing an internet search for fiction sites so I could post my work, and Fictionmania came up.  For those who don't know, Fictionmania is a transgender site.  I remember starting to read a story there and I was hooked.  I couldn't believe that there was a site that had stories such as these- stories that spoke to something that I had long buried.  From there, I started looking up other transgender sites, and very quickly after I found Linda Lewis.

Linda ran two websites at the time- one with just regular Linda pictures and her interviews from various magazines like Ladylike, and there was another one that specialized in pictures of her with very big boobs.  (She took most of those on a Super Bowl Sunday, though I forget which one.)  In any case, she also has a Flickr page, where she has all these fans. She was amazing, gorgeous, and untouchable: she was an Icon.  And she still is.



Heck she even appeared in ads when I came out in 2008 reawaken not came out I started looking for things that would improve my figure etc.  One of the places I found was classic curves they make scientifically designed hip pads for Trans people called Classic Curves.   A new one had just come out the Veronica 4, and there on the ad was Linda Lewis- sitting on a stool in a red dress looking absolutely stunning.  Later in my search, I found a site which sold breast prosthetics.  It was an British site called Proactive Prosthetics, and there she was again modeling the breast prosthetics.  I was like "this woman is everywhere!" and again I thought she was some kind of Royalty.  I put her up there with several other icons such as Heidi Phox, DonnaKelli, Kimberly Huddle, and just so many others.

Ad for Classic Curves

In 2009, that I sent Linda a flickr message, asking her about the breast prosthetics and about the Veronica.  She kindly responded, and I felt I'd been touched by the hand of God.  I ended up purchasing both of those items over time.  They were expensive, but I had to specific idea of how I wanted "Sophie" to look.  I wanted her to have beautiful hips and big boobs.  I figured these would offset my very large shoulders.  I reasoned that if I had big boobs, nobody would be looking at my face.  That rationale continues to this day.  Fortunately, my genetics gave them to me.

Years later, Linda posted something on Facialbook.  I forget exactly what it was, but she seemed very down.  She had a health scare of some kind, which I later found out was a collapsed lung.  She needed financial help.  I sent what I could.  It was then that she and I started chat.  I found out that we had a lot of movies and music in common.  One day when I was trying to send her a DVD, I managed to call her.  I was so nervous!  I couldn't believe that I would be calling Linda Lewis! I left her a message, and she called back.  A tenuous friendship began.

Eventually, I was asked to join Vanity Club.  I spoke to Linda a lot about this.  Although she is not my "Big Sister," she did coach me a lot, and I am grateful.

I decided that I was going to go to the Southern Comfort Conference.  I was talking to my dear friend Stephanie Shostak about Linda.  She had also helped Linda financially a little.  Now this is saying something because Linda is a very proud person, and doesn't like asking for help.  Between us, we figured we were going to get Linda Lewis to Southern Comfort as well.  We figured out a way to get her a hotel room- she would room with a friend I knew, and between us we paid for her transportation.  I didn't realize when this started that by the time Southern Comfort came around, my life would have completely turned upside down.


1984

I've written before about how at SCC I pissed Linda off, and it made me think about how she was not an icon- that she's just a human being like the rest of us.  And God knows I've pissed her off several times since then, just as she's made me angry.  That's what happens when you know someone well.  In any case, after SCC we parted ways and she went back to Michigan.

A couple months later, she was supposed to move down to Florida.  The details there are personal, and I will not speak of them.  However, she was delayed- she couldn't move down to Florida, but her lease was up in Michigan.  She had nowhere to go.  I asked my dear friend M, with whom I was staying, if she could put Linda up for a couple weeks.  She readily agreed, because she is the kind of person who Helps.  So it was that in late December 2013, I met Linda Lewis in her drab mode at State College, Pennsylvania, where had we agreed to meet.  Only a week before, I was headed this way to blow my head off, but I turned around.  It was a rainy, snowy, messy day, and she followed me from there back to the house where we would both stay for another six months. I lived on the second floor, while she lived in the basement, but it was during that time that I got to know the woman behind the Legend.  I thought she would just be there for a few weeks.  However that was not the case, as she kept getting delayed through no fault of her own.

Eventually she gave up on Florida, and we decided to get an apartment in Pennsylvania.  So we moved out, found a third roommate Zoey (without whom we would have been on the street- and we will be forever in her debt.)  We lived there for a year, and then moved to our current place.


Road Trip- July 2014

Linda and I are best friends. We are not romantic at all, because, One: I'm not her type, and Two: I'm married.  However, I would die for her, and I hope she knows that.  There aren't many people for whom I would take a bullet- less than a handful- but she is one of them.  I promised her that as long as there is breath in my body, she will never be alone.

So we will go through the rest of our lives, hopefully, as best friends and companions through this Whirlwind that is transition.  She is on the cusp of going full-time herself, as the hormones are doing their work, and soon she will be unable to hide her femininity.  I look forward to that time, and I know she does as well.

There are so many things that make up a transition, and Linda has been instrumental. I could not have done it without her; she was there that first day when I declared myself full-time.  She was there my first day of work as a woman, and she has been with me every step of the way.  She has done her best to help me when the Darkness has me firmly in its grip.  Linda is one of the wisest people I know (and her knowledge of the Space program puts some Phd's to shame!)  

She is my Bestie, and I love her.

Linda is a legend- even if she doesn't think she is.  She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

She is Linda Lewis.


Saturday, June 24, 2017

Old dream

It's an old dream, but I still remember it very clearly.  I think it was from around 1976 or 77, because of who is in it.  That would mean I was somewhere between 9 and 11 years old.  This also means that it was 40 years ago.  It's amazing how memory works, isn't it?

In this dream, I have been sent to an island, and the only way to access this island is a small, short tunnel. It's possible that this island was in another dimension.  The tunnel was like a large log that you could walk into- it was maybe six feet high and about the same width; oval in shape and dark brown.  Maybe 20 feet long.  One could see through to the other side, and it was a green paradise.

My parents had come to see me, although I think they were there to "rescue" me, I don't remember that part precisely however when I was summoned to come off the island and meet them I walked through the tunnel and I was a woman in fact I looked like Jessica Lange as she appeared in King Kong- the 1976 version (which is how I date this.)



They were surprised to say the least.  I mean to have your 10 year old son suddenly be walking in front of you as a mature woman... I remember my mom burst into tears, and my dad was absolutely disgusted.  He yelled something, but I don't remember exactly what.  It wasn't nice, whatever it was.  I remember saying "I don't understand why you're upset! I'm happy! I'm finally happy!"  I then turned and walked back through the tunnel, and I remember still hearing my mom crying and my dad shouting.

That was the whole dream that I can remember, but the part is still clear as day is standing there as a beautiful woman saying "I'm finally happy! I'm finally happy!"

The crying and the shouting.

I think about this dream occasionally.  It wasn't the first Dream in which I was a woman, and far from the last.  Now, occasionally, I still dream that I am a guy.  I hate those dreams.  They are becoming rarer though.

Now my dreams have been centering around the same themes: I'm lost; I can't find something; I'm haven't finished something, usually school work; I'm using trying to get somewhere, but every time I try to travel I end up going the wrong direction and being further away much further away.  These dreams usually take place in a grotesquely huge version pf Penn State main campus which is miles wide, and has a very urban part.

But in that old dream, I was exactly where I needed to be, doing exactly what I needed to do.  I was a woman, and I was happy.


Be well.




Monday, June 19, 2017

PSU Hazing Death Backlash

So Penn State has imposed new rules for Fraternities and Sororities.


New measures include:

-University control of the fraternity and sorority organizational misconduct and adjudication process.
-Hazing that involves alcohol, physical abuse, or any behavior that puts a student’s mental or physical health at risk will result in swift permanent revocation of University recognition for the chapter involved.
-Transition to deferred recruitment/rush process for fraternities and sororities.
-Strict social restrictions.
-Monitoring of social events by University staff members.
-Relationship statement signed by all fraternity and sorority members that clarifies the respective rights and responsibilities of the University, the chapters and their respective members.
-Further parent education: availability of report card, messages to reinforce with their students.
-Capitation fee for support of extra services, spot-checkers/monitors, and educational activities.


The Penn State Panhellenic Council sent a letter in reply.  (read that HERE)  They are of the opinion that they are being unfairly targeted, as they had nothing to do with any of the recent controversies.  They have a point.

As I have written many times in this blog, I was a brother in a Fraternity in college.  I joined Phi Kappa Sigma (Skull) while at Drexel in May 1985.  When I transferred to PSU, my membership transferred with me.  I even wrote a book about my college days, which is yet unpublished (I have posted some chapters in this blog from time to time.)


Fraternity Anniversary, November 2015

I've been thinking a LOT about the fraternity sanctions since I read them.  I wanted to think them through before posting my opinion.

My fraternity at PSU got physical with the pledges.  No doubt.  It was hazing.  Lots of pushups, etc.  And we played drinking games WITH them.  If they were drinking, we were drinking.  And they were never asked to do something that the classes before hadn't done.  That said, each class seemed to... increase the intensity.  Like their memories of what they endured warped, or that they remembered it being far worse than it was.  As "House Paramedic" (and I was) if a pledge got hurt, I would evaluate, treat, and if needed, the pledge would get further care.  The worst we ever had in my time was a broken rib.  Our chapter re-chartered about ten years ago.  Everything has changed.  Stupid hazing is a thing of the past (it better be- I helped re-write the pledge program.)  And the chapter is better for it.


Me bartending at a fraternity event, 1987

Fast forward to this year.  A Penn State student is dead.  The kids who allowed this to happen refused to help him- refused to help someone they said they WANTED to be their BROTHER.  And when people tried to help, they were threatened.

The fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, has been "permanently banned."  Charges have been filed.  A grand jury says that Piazza died from "the direct result of encouraged reckless conduct."  Pearls have been clutched.  Old white guys have harrumphed.

Call me a cynic- but Beta was a rich boy house.  Families with a LOT of money.  Rich and Powerful alumni.  I really wonder how long "permanent" will be.  Five years?  Ten?  Does Beta own the house and grounds?  If so, what then?  Will judges,etc, be bought?  After all, this is Trump's America, where Money talks louder than ever.


Beta (image: Google maps)

Will the Piazzas EVER have justice for the death of their son?

I hope so.  Desperately.

Seriously.

These rich kids not only let the kid die, but prevented anyone from helping him.  And why didn't someone simply take that cellphone they ALWAYS carry, walk outside, and call 911?  Oh right, they'd been drinking, and that kid would be all right.  After all, he's not just a Man... he's Beta material!

And, they are all young and Invincible.  Death is for lesser beings.

So.  This is all territory I've gone over before.

The University has placed these new sanctions.  TKE has said they are closing for the 17/18 year because their brothers keep destroying the house among other things.  (I wasn't aware they were back after that drunk driving death in the 90s.)

The tragic and avoidable death of Timothy Piazza has forced the University's hand.  What do I think as a Greek alum?


What would I thought then?


Then?  That it was over-reach.  But I would've been outraged that fellow Greeks allowed such a thing to happen.  That said... I was only 19-22 then.  Now, I'm 50.

I loved being in a fraternity.  I made friends with whom I still keep in contact after 30 years.  Some of whom I consider my dearest friends.  A couple of my brothers were my biggest supporters when I transitioned back in 2014.

The Fraternity brothers (hereafter Bros) across the PSU Greek system has had many opportunities over the years to police themselves.  I was on the IFC Community Relations committee in 1988, so I saw this first hand.  During my years, we had several houses busted for underage drinking, several Bros arrested for selling drugs, and one house condemned because it was falling apart.  We had one death due to drinking- a Pink Elephant brother fell off the roof of his house after a night of partying. Number of rapes and sexual assaults I couldn't find statistics.  Anyone care to help?

In the almost thirty years since I've graduated, there have been multiple deaths, fires, hazing incidents, underage drinking citations, and I won't even count the suicides.


Timothy Piazza, Rest in Peace

Hell, even AFTER stricter measures were in place, SAM violated almost every single one of them.  They were suspended but when I visited campus, days after that happened.  I saw MANY bros wearing SAM gear.

Obviously, something has gone wrong- either in the system, in the parenting, in society, or any combination of those.  As the University is ultimately responsible for the safety of its students, they MUST act.  And so they have.

Do I LIKE what the University is doing?  No.  But I don't see any other alternative aside from disbanding the entire Greek system.  If bros in even ONE house are sociopaths (and I contend Beta was) that's too many.  But according to the stories, the police reports, and statistics, Beta WASN'T an outlier- not for Bros.  Maybe not even for that entire generation.  Am I painting with too broad a brush?  A boy is DEAD.  You tell me.  Please, I beg you, please prove me wrong.  Yes, PSU has Thon.  But what is done every other weekend of the school year?

Penn State has acted.  The Bros know what they need to do.  If they care ONE bit about the letters they wear, the University they attend, and the Brothers they supposedly care for, they will do it.

My letters meant a LOT to me in my Penn State days.  They still do.  I am PROUD to be a Penn State Alumni, and a member of Phi Kappa Sigma.  I will be both until the day I die.


Be well.





Friday, June 9, 2017

Big Mistake

I made a HUGE mistake the other day and its results hit today.

Hard.

You see, the other day I called Wife's insurance company about changing my name and gender on the policy.  (Wife has graciously allowed me to remain on her policy.)  They told me they can't do it- she has to.  Fair enough.

I then asked about Transgender coverage, and received a nice surprise.  Wife's insurance from her employer now covers GCS. I just have to find someone who accepts BC/BS. It may/may not cover FFS. In any case, preauthorization is required.



So I emailed the doctors that I had researched; asking if any of them accepts BC/BS.

Unanimous:  NO.

This isn't even a case of "in network/ out of network."  It's NO.


So, what was my mistake?

I did something I swore I'd never ever do again:  I allowed myself to Hope.  I thought that maybe, just MAYBE, something would break my way for a change.

NO.

And so, the Hope crashes, ripping yet another hole in my soul.  It Hurts.  (And please spare me the "big girl panties" remarks.)

Yet again, the lesson is reinforced:   Hope Lies.

Be well.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Boston

It was pouring rain the morning of Tuesday May 30th 2017.  My roommate and bestie, Linda, had to work at 4 a.m, so I took her to work, then came back to the apartment. I climbed back into bed for a couple hours, but then I had to get ready.  I was taking a trip.

I had taken off a couple days of work after working six in a row.  I was going to Boston, Massachusetts. Why Boston?  Well, I had a couple reasons, but the main reason was that I was going to a consultation with Dr. Spiegel.


Road Trip!

Dr. Spiegel had performed FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery) on several of my friends, and I love the results.  You see, I have determined a couple things: first is that I will never retire.  Working retail, I will never make enough to retire, so I will work until I drop.

(Oh, how did I pay for this trip?  Prostitution.  No, actually I sold a few things on ebay, and had been paying down my credit cards, so there was room.)

I have enough in my 401k to afford one surgery and only one. I already know how much GCS (Gender Confirmation Surgery) will cost, both with Dr. Christine McGinn and Dr. Toby Meltzer.  I also know how much Dr. Meltzer charges for FFS.  I got that consultation a few years back at the Keystone conference.

So now I was going to see Dr. Spiegel to find out how much he costs.  Then I will have to make a decision. I can afford only one surgery, so do I get FFS or GCS?

That is the question.  Both are Dreams come true:  The face of a woman or the "parts" of a woman.

The way I see it if I get the FFS, I may be able to find a better job, and then later maybe be able to afford GCS- if you can follow that logic.  I know it's a bit convoluted.

And it would be wonderful to look into a mirror and see a feminine face instead of Neanderthal man.  I still don't see a girl when I look at myself in the mirror- even if I'm topless and can see my breasts.  I know a lot of people can see a girl when they look in the mirror, and I envy them.

Essentially, I've grown tired of walking between the genders.  I would love to be able to afford to get it all done; be done with surgeries.  Heck, I still haven't even had electrolysis yet, so I still have that ahead of me.

It took over six hours to drive up to Boston.  I was meeting an old friend for dinner.  My GPS took me on a merry chase through the city, especially in a series of winding tunnels.  Several times, people almost took off one of my bumpers or worse.  As my friend calls them:  "Massholes."


Kim Moore: "Is that the Bunker Hill monument, or is Boston just glad to see you?"

During my travels, I passed Fenway Park, so I saw the legendary ballpark with my own eyes.  It is impressive.

After dinner in a sports bar, I found the hotel.  It was in a VERY nice part of Boston, near Boston University (my "Big Sister's" alma mater.)  I changed clothes, rested a bit, then touched up my makeup and went down to the bar for a glass of pinot grigio.  I was exhausted.  The bar was fairly empty- just me and a couple of business-looking men, neither of whom gave me a second look.


Cheers!


The next day, I met a dear friend and fellow Vanity Club sister Cheryl Katon for lunch.  She came in guy mode, looking very sharp in a suit.  We ate at the Cheesecake Factory (I had a chicken sandwich) and we talked about transition, being trans, and life walking in both worlds.  She is very successful in her line of work, and many people know about her feminine side, but she doesn't want to go full time.  She is happy where she is.  Lucky her.  Also, she picked up the check.  Thanks again, Cheryl!!!

After lunch, it was time for my appointment.  I made it to Dr. Spiegel's office in plenty of time.  I was efficiently checked in by Dr. Spiegel's staff.  His patient Care Coordinator, Carole, led me back to an examination room, but first- pictures!  These will be the "Before" I assume.   Carole is a very nice woman with auburn hair and wearing green eye makeup.  She smiled easily.

When I was settled in Exam Room 3, she started asking me questions about what I wanted.  She said I had a soft, feminine look already.  I smiled and thanked her.   She took down my answers to the questions, then left.  And then I waited.  And waited.

Dr. Spiegel finally arrived.  He asked questions, examined my face, and asked more questions. He asked what my main area of concern was.  I put my hand across my neck and said "from here up."

So, in his opinion, I need a forehead reshaping, a brow lift, cheek implants, rhinoplasty, and jaw shave.  So, essentially I was right- everything from the neck up.  I asked him a few questions, then waited a bit more after he left.  Carole then took me to her office and we looked at numbers.  BIG numbers.  Bigger than I have.

I was messaging with one of my dearest friends, Ally, and she suggested looking overseas.  She went to a surgeon in Mexico, and she looks spectacular.  He charges less than half of any other quote I've seen.  But then there's plane fare.  And I don't have a passport, currently.


Ally is simply stunning!



So, back to the Question:  which Dream do I choose?

I am 50.  Looks fade.  And what if the job is botched?  I'll look even worse.  Having female parts is til death do we part.  Do I attempt to blend as much as I can?  Or not have to tuck anymore?  After all, it's not like I'll USE those female parts.  Is dilating so enticing?  With a female face, maybe the misgendering will stop, or at least become uncommon.

A lot to think about.

I left the office, and headed directly home.  I arrived at 9 PM, tired as hell.





On the way back through Connecticut, I kept driving through clouds of milkweed sparkling in the sunlight.  They looked like snow falling.  It was so beautiful.  And the clouds above seemed like Heaven.  For a time, I had no cares, absorbed in the splendor.


I have a decision to make.


Be well.