Wednesday, March 30, 2005

did you know DeLay once dropped the euthanasia hammer on his own father?

I don't want to take the seriousness of right-to-die and related personal family issues lightly, but yup - you heard it right. The king of political duplicity and corruption has once again proven just how shallow some of the religious rights' so called "values" are - in this instance concerning Terri Schiavo and the oft-intoned "culture of life."

A recent Slate article exposes how DeLay and his family, 16 years ago, faced a dilemna similar to that of Schiavo's. Seems that Tom-boy's father was in a vegatative state and he had no written instructions about this, yet he and his family, acting in his stead in what they thought would be his wishes, decided to pull the plug. Get the full account of this episode and the hypocrasy of DeLay's recent actions and speeches in the article itself here:

Monday, March 28, 2005

do the limbo

I've been contemplating the concept of "middleness" a lot lately. In my view it's what makes life so wildly addictive and so maddenly unknowable at the same time. I've altered my definition of the term as a result: "to be as unconsciously comfortable and consciously aware of the chaos and the wonder of the world around us as possible without actually breaking apart with too many questions or too few ambitions."

A girl in my position (and ready to hear it), is everyday confronted with the enigma of grey shades; with the certainty of never being able to quite fit in. From my perspective, though, I look at that in a positive light; not being limited by the confines of the unimaginative mass mindset. Not able to be easily labeled or categorized (this was a hard one for me since I am a librarian, and we do like to categorize and organize).

At the same time, it is very hard and occasionally confusing living in this gender limbo, between the extremes of accepted societal definitions. Having already lived a lengthy life steeped in fear and lies and male overcompensation because I wanted to adhere to these false labels, I just don't want to wait or go through the proper channels in order to feel whole. I want my instant gender gratification now, dammit! A part of me is chafed by the fact that we have to jump through so many legal and medical hoops to achieve balance and peace. It's my fucking body, my fucking mind...

And yet another part of me is glad these automatic brakes on impulsive action are there. They are there for valid mental and physical health reasons. That certainly doesn't make waiting any easier though! I have certainly flirted with the upper limit for safe dosages of hormones, although I have not suffered any discernible major ill effects and just recently got a clean bill of health from my doctor (and yes - she knows about the hormones). Still, I have just yesterday decided to cut back my estrogen intake by 2 mg, mostly in the hope that it will ease my food cravings a little as well as ease the impact on my purse!

But back to the concept of "middleness." I'm not a religious girl by any stretch, if fact you could say my general slant is anti-organized religion. But of all the religious sects I have read a little about (or experienced, in the case of Catholicism), Buddhism seems the best fit for me, if I were to start believing in some greater controlling power (which I don't at present). But I have nothing against religions in theory (it is always in we humans' implementation that things turn to shit) and in fact I think there are probably very powerful and useful nuggets of information contained in all of them, even for a heathen like me :-)

It was the idea of the "middle path" that first caught my eye. In the words of the Buddha: "the middle path...avoiding the extremes, gives vision and knowledge and leads to calm, realization, enlightenment, and Nirvana." [].That's as deep into religious thought as I want to go today, but what this made me think about is how in most, but not all cases, extremes of belief and extremes of action lead to negative outcomes.

Having said that, it sometimes takes extreme beliefs and actions (at least from the perspective of someone looking in from the outside) to break away from the confines of the unimaginative mass mindset I mentioned earlier. I want to be as close as possible to the middle space between extremes on average, but never directly in that space (and unable to get out!), and I strive to be willing to radically swerve away from that nebulous line when necessary to achieve my goals.

Beyond all that chaos, ambition and swerving however - because where you are on that continuum will constantly change, is the most important thing in my mind: relish, explore, interact with and smile at as much of this wondrous scenery around us as possible...

Friday, March 25, 2005

Capital Chaos, lowercase lamented leaving (part 3 of 3)

The day started rather crazily with a 10 am knock at my door. I faintly heard a heavily accented voice say something about service. Standing on the other side of the thick door in painted toes, panties, cami and no makeup, I was not about to let the Guatemalan maid turn down my sheets! I kindly refused the offer and contemplated how to ease my way into an early spring saturday. I settled on some cable tv to start, a luxury for me as I have not had cable in more than a dozen years! Luckily, an old episode of my fav Joss Whedon show "Angel" was on, and I climbed back under the covers to enjoy an hour of the sublime sweetness that is David Boreanaz with fangs...

After a couple hours of doing some consulting research for my friend Bob, I underwent the sometimes arduous but always fun process of picking out an outfit. I settled on my cute little blue plaid mini, my new black cami and mesh overlay, along with my trusty black leather boots. An order of pizza and a few sets of pics later and I was ready to face the night once again! This time I taxied it over to the club, which is actually only about 1-2 miles from my hotel. I misremembered the address (ditz! I was just there last night..) but only had to hoof it 2 blocks after getting out of the taxi. On the way into Chaos, which is underground by the way, a couple of snooty drag queens were poking some harmless fun at the way I descended the stairs. I responded with a hardy "hiya!" and dove in, not knowing if anyone that I knew or that knew me would be there or not. Luckily, lovely Marisa had told her devious partner in crime, Jenna, that I was coming and she plucked me from the clutches of the seedy looking men at the bar almost immediately and took me back towards their reserved booth area.

She had actually orchestrated a large tg gathering that night and it was sooo awesome meeting and, when possible between the blaring house music and drag shows, chatting with them! They all made me feel welcome, for which I owe a great deal of gratitude to Marisa and Jenna, along with everyone else there that night.

The rest of the night mostly consisted of the drag performances (with the same mc as the night - but still very entertaining - she was mostly ad-libbing it), lots of dancing, and some picture taking. Before the drag shows I got a boost of confidence out on the floor dancing when a couple of girls from a bachelorette party asked to have their picture taken with me! I know, I'm a pure vanity whore...:-)

When the drag show started, this older, creepy guy kept staring and winking at me from a couple tables away, but I ignored him until he came over and rudely stood in front of our group in a pathetic attempt to get closer to us or something. We all gave him dirty looks until he went away. After the show, the dancing began in earnest...

Once again I subjected my fellow sisters to a humbling display of dancing prowess....NOT! But I don't give a fuck to be honest - I have fun doing it regardless (even though I might not always be smiling because I'm concentrating dammit!) . And I need the practice. "Sway your hips more, NOT your knees, dumb bitch!" - haha! Towards the end of the night, after fending off a couple of drunken but harmless men that tried to get a bit too close to me, I realized just how sweaty I had gotten. And wouldn't you know it - thats when we started snapping pics!~ You can see the best outcome of that in the picture below...

During our little pics session, a super-skinny cute boy was flirting a little with a couple of us. The girls took to calling him the FYC boy, because he looked a lot like the singer for Fine Young Cannibals. He even took a couple pics of us, the pic below one of them. We also hammed it up for the camera together, touching tongues and kissing briefly (that pic is in my T-girl Yahoo group). On my way out, we kissed again and he asked if he could date me. Alas, I said, unless you can get up to NY it just won't be possible...sigh :-)

Before going our separate ways, a couple of us accepted Marisa's gracious invitation for some after-hours conversation and wine at her place, where we waxed philosphically on a wide variety of topics, including vital tg issues like the genius (or lack thereof) of Thomas Dolby, and the pros and cons of selling used panties on the net. This took place between Marisa, Jenna and I, while Kelly, who was not feeling well, was conked out on a recliner, occasionally putting her two cents into the conversation in the form of light snoring sounds (sorry Kel - I couldn't help myself with that!).

The night ended around 5am and I managed to sneak in a good 5 hours of sleep before frantically packing up and departing for the long drive back north. I was definitely thankful that I only had a couple beers the previous night, otherwise the drive would have been even longer. All in all, a fab adventure. I can't thank Marisa and Jenna and the rest of the DC/B'more gang enough for their hospitality and grace - hope to see you all again soon. If you ever find yerself yearning for some country air...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

DC drag & chaos (part 2 of 3)

Surprisingly, on thursday, the Irish day of hedonistic revelry, I only went out briefly to a pub for lunch and watched some basketball. Truth be told, I just didn't feel like drinking that much, and the prospect of going out solo was even more of a negative. So I got my beauty sleep and awoke the next day ready for the festivities to begin. I did attend 2 short conference sessions, but I was back in my hotel room with some take-out greek by noon.

That would give me plenty of time to get ready at a leisurely pace and take a few piccies in several outfits all before I was to meet my friend Bob around 7. As usual, I took a while picking out my outfit. I started with several lingerie or bra and panty ensembles for pics and then settled on a classy, "uptown girl" look with just a sprig of flirt thrown in. This consisted of my brown plaid flippy miniskirt, tight green halter top, strappy beige, 4-inch wedge sandals, and a dirty blonde-brunette wig. It all came together quite nicely, I must admit.

Around 6:30 Bob came over. Bob is a true friend, although this was the first time we had ever met! We had been chatting and having superb converations on a regular basis for more than a year and it was great to finally meet him. We opened a bottle of cheap wine that I had gotten and then headed out into the mean (and confusing) streets of DC. Our first destination was the Chaos club for a quiet dinner. After only a few wrong turns and having to call my friend Marisa to find out exactly where the place was ("hey - we're on 17th and O sts - where the hell is it?" D'oh! 17th and Q - got it - thanks!"). We parked about 3 blocks away and passed by several crowded outdoor bar patio areas chock full of college kids. I got a couple compliments, but nothing derogitory. Dinner at Chaos was actually quite good, despite the fact that food was just an afterthought there and they started banging out the rhythms on the speakers before we finished)! I got Salmon and Bob got the rockfish (mine was better! :-). The place was dead, but I could tell it would be a cool club once it got hopping (the plan was to go there with Marisa and some of her friends the next night).

After dinner and some more conversation, we headed to Marisa's place a couple miles away. We were a little late getting to her place and she wasn't ready yet - typical vanity girls on the run, right? Next destination was Zeigfields, located down by the waterfront. It was a bit of a comic routine getting us there. I was driving and had absolutely no idea where we were going, while Bob and Marisa, espousing often contradictory directions, managed to get us almost completely off course. But they finally collaborated and get us back on track with only a minor 15 minute detour ("I swear, I had complete faith you guys would get us there eventually..").

The place was in a very shady part of town (I imagine drag clubs aren't very welcome in most neighborhoods). Once inside, I was actually amazed at how small the place was! Lots of mirrors, of course, and the whole place oriented around the stage, which also doubled as the dance floor. This was your typical drag place: populated with admirers and lots of asian t-girl prostitutes. There were a couple other non-prostitute tgs there as well as some regular gay boys. The performances were quite good (although I have to admit, not as good as Monteal) and it was definately a bonus that the MC was speaking english instead of french (I could understand all the jokes and straight-guy put-downs)!

Marisa and I were both propositioned at some point in the night. For her, an older gentleman tried to offer $20 for some unnamed favor - I think she laughed in his face right there! Although it turned out later that guy was a real sweety named Jimmy who is just a hard-up t-girl admirer. On my end, I was dancing amongst the crowd by myself, as usual looking like Elaine in that Seinfeld episode where it's revealed she can't dance a lick, when this guy sidles up to me with a sly grin on his face, and starts getting all grabby. At first I was fine with it - whatever, but then the reality hit me of just how creepy, in a possible serial-killer way, this guy was. He wasn't saying a word and was staring at me unblinkingly as he kept pushing himself gently into me as I tried to dance. I first asked (shouted to) him if he could even speak, but he said nothing, so I got sick of that, telling him to "back the fuck off!" so I could continue my uncoordinated gyrations alone. The guy finally got the message but returned at the end of the night to wisper in my ear an invitation to go back to his hotel room. Now it was my turn to laugh in someone's face!

As we were heading back to my car, passing several sports cars full of very dangerous looking boys, Marisa was behind Bob and I (she was wearing impossibly high heels by the way and so was lagging behind) getting shadowed by a silent black guy. He handed her a little card and then went on his way. As we headed back to the Capitol area to drop Bob off to catch the metro, Marisa discovered the card was a fuzzy picture of a penis in the middle of spewing! Ewwwwwwww!!!

That was the end of the night. Saturday the plan was to head back to Chaos alone and meet up wth some of Marisa's DC/B'more gang and then later marisa for more drag shows and dancing. That night will be detailed in part 3...stay turned!

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

At DC's Chaos after a night of dancing... Posted by Hello

new friends and chaos in our nation's capital (part 1)

After a quick thumbs up from my doctor on all physical counts and test scores on Monday morning I hopped into my sterling silver Chevy Prizm, loaded with kick-ass tunes, a six pick of iced down diet pepsi, and a large bag of Skittles and headed south. Sol was smiling brightly down on us high up in the sky and a slight waft of spring air was just creeping into the area as I departed for a casual week amid the warmer climes and battleground sites of the nineteenth century north-south borderlands.

Eight hours later, after having survived the grueling maze-like construction zones of Harrisburg, a lightning quick excursion into a shady-looking Germantown Taco Bell, and a by then roiling stomachful of sugar-soaked candy, I idled into my aunt's NW DC abode. After taking my aunt out for some Thai food in appreciation for hosting a majority of my visit, I slept with the angels until a 7 am alarm to start a long week of library conference workshops and presentations. Uuuuggghhhh! Actually, I learned a great deal at the conference, but 4 days was waaaaayyyyyy to long!

On a side note, on Tuesday, after taking part in an 8 hour workshop, I got a somewhat close-up view of Washington-style security. Seems the GOP was around and the grand ayatollah of the right, GW, was to make a speech just down the hall from us. As I wondered for a moment about the newly set-up metal detectors and burly looking men around them wearing tinted glasses indoors, all set to forge ahead because it was the only way out of the conference center I knew about, I was politely taken aside by a pretty young girl wearing a hotel employee tag and told that my present course was not possible. She shuffled me hurriedly up a flight of stairs with no other directions about finding an exit. I was tempted to lounge around to see if I could catch a glimpse of our proud american monarch, but fatigue got the better of me and I snaked my way through distant corridors to an exit. As a reminder of how ditzy (and lucky) can be, I arrived at my car into the underground garage to discover that I had stupidly left my driver's side window completely open the entire day! I was smart enough, however, not to leave anything actually in the car, and the stereo is just a cheap radio, so nothing to tempt a thief anyways...

On Tuesday night I managed to blurt out to my rather stunned, tired, but still supportive aunt the details of my transsexualism. It went well as I suspected it would, although she followed the same trend as the rest of my family, except my mom, in showing little interest in talking about it in much detail. But she is an awesome woman and its great to have a growing body of my relatives know about and support me!

On Wednesday, after a long day of tech sessions and Q&A, we had a little mini-family gathering at my aunt's. My cousin (my aunt's son) and my uncle (my aunt's brother) and his three kids got together for a delicious meal and brownie sundays afterwards. My aunt, by the way, is one of my cooking idols! She always makes mouth-watering dishes. I had wanted to tell my uncle about the new self, but the occasion did not present itself with the kids around. My cousin stayed after the kid pack left (3 super-fun and smart, but typically hyperactive kids, age 3, 6 and 8 - I have no idea how my uncle and aunt do it!) and I did manage to tell him (he is younger than me, and a very cool kid). Again, he was generally supportive, but I could tell he was not comfortable talking about it, which is ok.

On thursday I moved myself into my reserved hotel room across the street from the conference, the splendor of the place obviously one or two steps below what was being offered at the conference hotel (but costing far beyond what my employer would shell out for lodging). But it still had valet parking, which I briefly thought might be a problem later when I needed to retrieve my auto while dressed in full femme regalia...Details of my night time adventures in the clubs of DC will be coming in Part 2 soon. Stay tuned!

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Alcohol and the changing of I

I find myself solo in a somewhat unfamiliar city (DC) on St. Patty's and a part of me still yearns to hit the bars and do the traditional drunkfest thing. Beyond the financial issues however, in general, as I've been transitioning myself mentally and physically, the need to ingest copious amount of alcohol has diminished greatly from what I have done in the past. I'm sure a major part of this change is that I am simply happier, now that the secret and alienating burden of my feminine-self and the shame that came with it has been lifted. But I also think it goes deeper than that.

I think my increasing success in reducing my previously dominant harmful habits such as heavy drinking is only partly related to my emerging feminine self, is also because my own sense of self-confidence and self-acceptance has risen sharply in the last few years. And indeed it was only when I was able to improve that basic, gender-neutral part of myself that I was able to face my transsexual issues head on. Excessive drinking as a mechanism of coping with those deeper issues was no longer needed. By the way, I think definitions of what is excessive differs greatly from person to person, based on physical AND mental factors, and I think general limits and definitions as mentioned in laws and medical and psychological diagnosis schemes for such labels as alcoholism are mostly useless.

But the point I want to make is that I don't think it was really my recent coming to terms with my femme self that enabled this self-improvement; in fact it was the other way around. My reason for discussing this is that I get the sense in chatting with some closeted tgs that they might look at the ability to transition as a method for solving all their problems. I'm not saying, however, that it can't work other ways because as I've stated elsewhere, everyone must find their own path, and those paths will always differ. What I am saying in the hope that it may is some tiny way help others out there , is that

Thursday, March 10, 2005

her mind seemed to shatter right in front of us

Preface: this describes a recent incident involving Alzheimer's in detail. It is meant as a discussion and self-discovery tool mostly for myself, but also as a tribute to my grandmother in the only way I know how at the moment...

My grandmother wanted to take us all out to dinner and she chose a new, somewhat fancy local joint. The restaurant itself was a major letdown. Not only was the place dead (it was the middle of the week in winter) and they still had all the tables packed like sardines, but they were also out of two of their main dishes (my grandmothers first 2 choices and my first choice as well!). That just isn't a good thing when you only have a dozen or so entrees to choose from. On top of that they screwed up my grandmother's order, sending out mussels instead of scallops! The dish I did finally get, pork chops, was excellent though. But this isn't about the restaurant, it's about my grandmother...

A little background on my grandmother: she is on my mom's side, had 4 children, was the wife of a long-time airforce colonel and professional poker player. She came from very rural Minnesota, but has lived all over the world, following my grandfather's stations in such places as Texas, Thailand and Germany. My grandfather, her husband of 50+ years died in 1991 and then her dearest, eldest son died only a couple years later. They were both fighters (my uncle was in the marines) and that was how they approached their deaths in my view - never giving in to despair and never loosing their grip on life until the very end. She took those deaths very, very hard, but she comes from tough rural stock and so has been able to keep on.

She is now 83 years old. In recent years she has lost most of her balance and upright motor ability and relies on a helping hand or a cane to get around in slow-motion most of the time. But she still, despite the family's best efforts to dissuade her, occassionally drives her car around the neighborhood. She got in a fender-bender a few months ago and never told us until several weeks after it happened! Amazingly, she did not lose her license. I think her car represents the last thing she can cling to to stave off the growing sense of helplessness and isolation thats comes with aging. She is most certainly a proud woman, but also the most loving and caring woman, besides perhaps my mom, I know. I think she really dreads having to go into a nursing home and losing the last threads of communication with her family.

I met her at her apartment beforehand and had a beer while she downed some scotch and water. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but that was probably the catalyst that caused the whole thing. We met my parents soon thereafter and we went over to the restaurant. All was going well, despite the menu snafus.

Then, just before the apps were served, my grandmother started mumbling a bit, which isn't unusual when she drinks or is tired. But then I think her grip on reality sort of snapped. She all of a sudden thought we were in the middle of a hearts card game! It took a couple times for it to sink in for us, but she was saying she had led with a spade and was waiting for the next person (me) to follow suit...

We futilely tried to explain that we were in a restaurant and getting ready to eat, but nothing sank in at that time. When the apps came, she kept asking the same questions over and over; "what's that" pointing to the salmon toast in front of me or the other items in front of us all. And strangley enough she ate everything in front of her (granted the place had small portions). Normally, she eats very little, just nibbling at her food. Now however, she was eating the large scallops whole (we kept trying to tell her to cut them in half!). But she was eating at half speed, as if every for every movement she had to think about it, will it for a second.

She seemed in her own little world, suddenly and without warning cut off from the honed instincts, balance and knowledge that comes with living and aging in this world. We talked in a low tone among ourselves about what was happening, how this was by far the worst we had ever seen her, and what to do about it. My advice was to just play along as best we could and try to enjoy the meal, which we ended up doing. There was nothing to be done about it at that moment, so no use stressing about it, right?

Anyways, as we were leaving she started coming out of it, which was a relief to us all. I just wonder and worry about the struggle that must be going on in her mind - a fight to the death for control between the person built up over 80+ years of life experience, and the tabula rasa demon that is Alzheimer's. I don't normally pray (I don't believe in organized religion, but I do not discount the existence of some kind of superior being or beings), but I found myself comforted in the knowledge that my grandmother could at least meet this deadly enemy with dignity and pride in how she has lived her life and with the help of those of us around her who love her dearly.

Friday, March 04, 2005

tgs and the fight for gender-neutral restrooms

Interesting article from the New York Times (free registration req'd):
A Quest for a Restroom That's Neither Men's Room Nor Women's Room:

Luckily for me, when I do transition here at work, there are already several gender-neutral single-use bathrooms. As long as I can make the transition (which I intend to try within a year hopefully) without getting fired (granted a much larger and more important issue), I'll be all set... :-)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

gazing deep into the wispy clouds of my own heart

Early this morn, having humbly observed a 16 hour fast, I found myself lying horizontal on a narrow, hard bed, shirt off, light low, stomach covered in a warm aqua-green goo, with an Asian woman's hand pressing a cool, sleek gizmo gently into my sternum. The ultrasound technology was amazing - the same stuff used to gaze into the confines of a womb or pinpoint the location of a tumor. There on the screen right next to my face was a fuzzy pulsing, beating pair of hands, clapping rather violently together in a rhythmic collision of aortic valve parts.

They call it an "echocardiogram." An echo of my heart. I had never come face to face with such technology before, truth be told, especially not when aimed at my own innards. The technician gently slid the gadget around atop the gelatinous goo, changing the angle to get a different view of my heart. At the same time she was speedily scanning through varying menus of complex numbers and color schemes which were laid atop the display; one view looked like that from the wolf creatures' perspective in the classic horror flick, Wolfen (starring the always awesome Albert Finney - 1981 - if you've never seen it) . What struck me as the hand gently moved around my chest and stomach, politely seeking new angles of view, was how easy it was to peer into our own bodies and expose the most basic physical constructions. And also just how amazing the human body is.

Right there on the screen was THE central physical mechanism that allows me to live, to breathe, to act, to think; and all I could think of still was that pair of clapping hands, perhaps drawn by a graphic artist channeling the darkened dreamscape vision of Van Gough and the vibrant, jerky-genius animation methods from the "Waking Life" film. And no matter how intricate and miniaturized and bio-engineered we made our own engineering feats, they would never match the simple, sublime togetherness of nature's evolutionary creations. Chaos harnessed, inextricably meshed, into the sparks of life itself.

Whew - just read what I wrote above - getting a bit too out-there-metaphysical-like, huh?! But anyways, from some perspectives (not the fun ones!), just a boring visit to a hospital for a routine medical procedure. From a different perspective - which I choose to embrace whenever I can - another close encounter with the endless wonders in every swirling atom stirring around us. And in a way, I suppose, that's what being a thinking social creature is - having and enjoying your own unique perspective on life...