Sunday, March 25, 2007

come see us: Hedwig shadowcast at IFC

Come to the IFC in 3 weeks and see Jenn as the sexy Yitzak and the rest of the talented Midnight Checkout Queens (including moi as drag Yitzak) perform a shadowcast of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. For the uninitiated, think Rocky Horror experience, except way better music and you get to see John Cameron Mitchell up close and ask him questions!

Friday, March 23, 2007

I'm gifted afterall

Ah-fucking-ha all you headbanger-haters out there! Looks like all us "metalheads" ain't so dumb afterall (thanks to my bright star, Jenn for this link):
"Heavy metal 'a comfort for the bright child'"

Ahhh, the sweet taste of vindication once again...

addiction log #1

Some current, recurring habits of mine:

  • Reduced Fat Devil Dogs - the devil hi'self must'a made these chunks o choco-cream heaven, me thinks...
  • Lost - I'm a sucker for a mystery-puzzle to solve, even though I know the writers of this groundbreaking "weird" show are just making it up as they go...
  • Regina Spektor - perfect voice, perfect words, awesome, eclectic music, not to mention hot!
  • Fray - Joss Whedon's first and brilliant futuristic, Buffy-verse comic series. My head has been buried in this graphic novel version for the last couple days of reading and rereading. The combination of graphics, storyline and dialogue is breathtaking for a just-returning to the fold, old-hand comic fan like me.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

rip montreal

In lieu of posting any of the pictures from Montreal in which I look even more horrid than normal, I'm just going to post this beautiful Hedwig-like graffiti (we think it's Hedwig but can't verify that guess) Jenn located a few blocks from her hotel while we were up there. The facial expression and the feeling of being ripped in two pretty much sums up my immediate post-surgical experience from a physical perspective. If only I had lips like hers though...

Friday, March 16, 2007

[insert placeholder name here] teaser

Crudely carved deeply into the surface of my high school-era wood desk (which currently sits in my basement wedged between the far wall and 2 utility closet doors and serves on the rare occasion as a beer-setting table during impromptu pool matches) is a 3" x 10" name: Johnny Shmoe.

I'm no forestry expert and so have no idea what kind of wood this antiquated piece of furniture is made of, but it's far more sturdy and long-lasting than the cardboard shit they make furniture out of these days. Or at least the furniture I could even dream of affording, and if I actually had an urge to own good stuff rather than the mostly 70's-era, side of the street on garbage day crap I've always had free access to.

The deep burnt rust with a swirl of truer browns-tinted desk pretty much looks the same as it did so many years ago. I was an anguished teen who felt a need to destroy things as creatively as I was then capable. I mostly used a screwdriver and a bit of one of those foldy boyscout knives, if memory serves.

On the remaining lacquered surface, peppered randomly around the iconic placeholder name are scratched the monikers of an even dozen of my then fave metal bands; Judas Priest, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Aerosmith, Motley Crue, Triumph, Dio, Dokken and Krokus (what? the FUCK? was I thinking?? Eat the Rich I guess...).

Ok, ok, I know what your muttering to yourself under your breath right now, thinking past the Krokus mention: fuck that, let's get to the real crux of this mystery name, shall we mutherfucker?

Short answer: I have 'nary a clue.

This Harvey-figure name staring up at me from my past with no past itself vaguely disturbs me. Was this some lost to the sands of time demi-god of my patchy imaginary past? Perhaps my childhood chum Tim could (or more likely not) shed some light on the origins of the hero of this name game, I don't know (and we've lost touch for the most part, as I have with all my pre-freedom friends coincidentally, as is apt to happen anyways when you live in different cities, different states, different cultural realities, regardless of one or the other side's gender choices).

I remember this specific name, and not one of the more common ones such as Joe Blow, as my favorite D&D character - the one I fought the hardest to keep alive over the length of my multi-year fling with escapist fantasy games, the one with the deepest personality, in the imaginary dungeons of my mind. I remember him as the title character of several shorter-than-punk-length instrumental ballad-hums I often used to settle myself in quiet, alone moments. As a side bit of oral history, I still find myself humming these machine-gun, action-movie-dramatic sonic patterns. It is only just this moment that I ever made a connection between these child-like musical outbursts and my actual childhood.

Who is this still unformed figure from my past? What did he mean to me back then when I was spending hours obsessively defacing the aged wood into symbols of my uncomfortable reality?

Getting fucking old myself moment # 23: I have no fucking idea.

The portrait of that shy, reclusive boy is mostly faded to near obscurity to me. What I can't figure out, and that's certainly to my mind more important than the original quest for a hero origin story, is whether this current memory-fade-affliction is due more to the simple and natural passage of time, drug and alcohol over-use, or even some instinctual mental defense mechanism to protect the integrity of the still-forming and finally-free me?

blank-stare contest with the universe

As I enter the final stages of my "transition" I find myself somewhat at a loss for blog fodder to fill the gap that will be left by the absence of this formative stage in my life which has so dominated these pages the last few years. It's been a life-changing and mind-expanding journey, no doubt, but the question remains: what next now that I've achieved what not so long ago I considered an unconquerable dream?

Now I must face up to life without the safety-crutch of blaming things that seem wrong around and inside of me on the cruel fates for cursing me with the wrong body. That has for the most part been rectified to my satisfaction. Certainly there are scars left from this 30-odd year process, both physical and mental, that I will continue to struggle with and document on these pages.

I feel like I've crossed some major milestone in my life and the world before me has suddenly opened up beautifully like a flower in bloom; like I've been marching diligently down the middle of a valley my whole life and the two sides of that valley were what I thought was the whole world, but suddenly I find myself atop one side of that valley and I can see expanses of farmlands and towns and lakes for miles and miles beyond.

I realize that this is both scary and exciting. Possibilities and paths to explore have multiplied, but so has my understanding of all that I don't know, that I have yet to learn. Fear may creep in sometimes going forward, but overall this is a wonderful thing - I can move on with my life and find and achieve new goals. I feel like nothing can compare to the fears I somehow overcame as a shy, maladjusted, alcoholic boy who couldn't share any part of her secret dreams with anyone lest she become an outcast.

To this day I have no real idea how I overcame those paralyzing fears. I guess I was somehow able to realize that being a slave to those fears was worse than anything that could ever happen to me by fighting them. So I did and am here to tell anyone else out there like me that it can be done - even by a lazy, self-centered, self-immolating, irresponsible dreamer-dolt like me. But no one can force you to take those fateful steps into battle - you have to do that completely on your own and with enough self-confidence to sustain you for a long period of struggle and hop to it soldier!

Why, then the world ’s mine oyster,
Which I with sword will open.
-The Merry Wives of Windsor. Act ii. Sc. 2

Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt.
-Measure for Measure. Act i. Sc. 4.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

my constant post-surgical companions

For the uninitiated, this is a brief primer on the processes and tools that have been my constant companions for the last couple months since my surgery:

  • Antibacterial Soap: any cleaning product to which purportedly antibacterial chemicals have been added. These chemicals are thought to kill bacteria. They do not kill viruses, but they do kill skin cells at an accelerated rate. My hands have already tried to strangle me a couple times in the middle of the night in a desperate attempt to stop the constant onslaught of this evil, skin-cracking substance. When I got home from Montreal, I had to go out and buy about 8 gallons of this goo at walmart. I'll need to go back for more very soon.
  • Dilating: gradual stretching and enlargement of a hollow structure or opening by the repeated (and repeated again and again) insertion of incrementally larger vaginal stents (see below) over time. This normally refers to childbirth, but even thinking about a woman's ability to pass a small bowling ball-sized object through there seems to me the most amazing feat of all time. Luckily for me on that count, my new plumbing does not give me that procreation option.
  • Douching: the use of fluids to irrigate the vagina. In my case that involves the use of a cold vinegar and water solution via an uncomfortably contoured, re-used disposable douche bag twice a day.
  • Sitz Bath: a 15 minute immersion via a small plastic tub allowing me to place my new plumbing in a few inches of warm, antibacterial-sudsy water twice a day so as to reduce the chance of infection. I call it "a demi-dousing of the derriere" in honor of its french origins.
  • Vaginal Stents: a set of hard plastic tubes of varying diameters that are inserted into a hollow structure of the body to keep it open; i.e., my newly minted vaginal cavity. And no, it doesn't vibrate or even remotely give me any pleasure. At present (the quantity decreases slowly over time) I must jam 3 of these heavily-lubed torture devices into my body three times a day for 3, 5 and 15 minutes consecutively. Some days that seems to add up to like every waking moment - taken together with all of the above, it represents about 25 hours a day of hard labor...

Thank the gods I get to end 1,3 and 4 in about 2 weeks!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Stealth Fighter

For some reason I've put off writing in detail about the surgery and my time in Montreal. I can't really pinpoint why this is. My guess at the moment is that perhaps there is a part of me that would rather keep that time blurry and let it fade into the mists of forgetful time. It certainly wasn't a pleasant time physical-wise, but that can't just be it because the process outcome - the pièce de résistance of my physical transformation was and is wonderful and necessary.

Perhaps there is a part of me that craves the comfort of stealth; of not having to acknowledge my pre-transition past; of not having to deal with the possibility of being seen as a freak. But my logical mind resists that temptation. A big part of the reason I was able to get to where I am now (and ultra-happy about it) is that I realized the burden of carrying such a big secret was destroying me. I don't think there is anyway I could live that kind of life ever again; one ruled by fear of being found out. And while I certainly won't wear a sign around my neck saying "Look at me folks, I'm a post-op transsexual!", I also will not shy away from that part of me, take undue measures to hide it, or be unwilling to discuss it just because someone may be uncomfortable with the issue. I'm proud of who I am. Being transsexual is only a minor facet of me, but it's a part I'm proud of.

I refuse to live in the shadows and so I remain your faithful stealth fighter.


My beautiful, sexy, smart soul mate just got offered a job up in Albany. Fuckin'A YAY!!! Now we can see each other way more often starting in early April! This is a huge step for us and I am as always so grateful to have her in my life. Looks like my move down to NYC will be put off for now, although I suspect the big city may draw us back there at some point.

Next step: find her an apartment and then sell my house and move down to Albany with her. Anyone in the market for an affordable country home with 3 acres of land?...

ps: is it redundant to put an exclamation point on the end of the title?

Friday, March 02, 2007

Bitch storm

Last night I risked life and limb to drive down to Albany to see Bitch and the Exciting Conclusion and Jay Brannan (both of whom appeared in the excellent John Cameron Mitchell film, Short Bus). The show was on the upper level of a dive bar called Valentines.

The weather forecasts were calling for a major snow/ice/sleet storm to hit sometime later in the night and since the show was billed as starting at 7 I figured I'd be somewhat safe on the long drive back north. However, I should have known that the show would be running late (it didn't get going until about 9) and so I had to sit in the downstairs bar for and hour and a half by myself sipping Amstel Lights and reading every line and ad in the Albany Metro paper.

I wasn't really in the mood to socialize so I didn't strike up any conversations with the loose gaggle of younger lesbians around me also waiting. They were all busy in their small cliques anyway. And truth be told it's been a while since I've gone to show solo and my self-confidence in such situations is a tad low at present. So I buried my head in the paper and donned a light beer buzz, which was made abundantly necessary by the fact that the bar temperature was hovering somewhere around 50.

When they finally let us upstairs, that area was even more of a dump than the downstairs. But since there were only about 50 people attending the show, that didn't matter much anyways except for one important thing: you could clearly hear the downstairs band through the floor, especially the bass. This was not a good mix for a mostly acoustic set, and both musicians were obviously a bit perturbed by it.

Jay Brannan took the stage quietly and unobtrusively, wearing a simple pair of jeans and t-shirt, along with a shaved head, which contrasted sharply with my image of his Ken doll-like doo in Short Bus. Anyways, the younger lesbians all stood back from the stage a bit for his brief performance (he only played like 4 or 5 songs) while myself and this older guy, a hairdresser named Dave, who had just come to see Jay and left after he was done, stood right up front, where we had been sitting and chatting briefly just prior.

Jay launched into his beautiful finger-picking acoustic set. He commented sarcastically about the cold and about the thumping bass reverberating solidly beneath our feet - both of which I think put him off his game a bit and made it hard for both him and us to concentrate on his delicate guitar playing and singing. That may have played a part in why he launched into a great rendition of N.W.A.'s "Straight Outta Compton." It was both comical and brilliant hearing this skinny, flamboyantly gay white boy sing lyrics like this:

"Straight outta Compton, crazy motherfucker named Ice Cube
From the gang called Niggaz With Attitudes
When I'm called off, I got a sawed off
Squeeze the trigger, and bodies are hauled off"

Damn that boy is good! But alas he only played about 5 songs, including his sweet "Soda Shop" tune from the Short Bus soundtrack.

Bitch (with backing drummer and keyboardist) came on with a lot more energy and enthusiasm, although sadly sans her soul and band mate, The L Word's Daniela Sea. Her show was a good mixture of ripping folksy-post-femme punk songs, spoken-word and stories, and improvisational crowd repartee. And of course the loud, bass-heavy band down below distracted and annoyed her as well, but she played it off well with jokes and a challenge to play louder.

At one point during a song, a loud-mouthed girl standing front and center (she had been sitting next to me downstairs for a while and never did shut up) was screaming into her cell-phone, and everyone, including Bitch could hear her. So this penultimate performer stopped and politely admonished the girl with some light-hearted ribbing and peppered in some harmless digs at her a couple times later in the show as well. Despite the distractions, Bitch was very entertaining and funny and talented - she got some pipes for sure!

When the show got out, the storm had already started. There was a half-inch think layer of slush covering the streets but luckily it was too warm for it freeze and so the drive back, while a bit nerve-wracking, was tolerable. I got to bed around 2 am and had to get up for work at 5, but I survived!


What else is love but understanding and rejoicing in the fact that another person lives, acts, and experiences otherwise than we do?
-Friedrich Nietzsche