Friday, April 20, 2018

Fear?

I've written many times about how blog entries happen.  I write a LOT, but only some of the things make it to the blog.  That's because a LOT of what I write is too personal for public consumption- even for this blog.

However, lately I have some topics I'd like to explore, but I'm afraid to do it.

Why?

After all, what secrets could I still have?  I revealed to the world that I'm transgender years ago.  That's a mortal sin to so many.  Being transgender cost me my career, my marriage, friends...  almost everything.  I've revealed my innermost thoughts, fears, triumphs, and heartaches in this blog.  That's why this blog exists.

So what am I afraid of?

As my regular readers know, I am unemployed.  I have been since February 13, 2018.  At 9:06 AM.  But who's counting?  I'm living off my retirement savings.  This means that I'm looking for a new job.


Hire Me!

And everyone says "Scrub your social media!" "Corporations look at your social media before hiring!"  "Erase everything!"  "BLUE MEANIES!"  "BENGHAZI!"

Sorry.  Channeled the GOP there.

Ok, my social media is set for "friends only" and always has been.  Besides, I don't use my legal name online (except linked in.)  I use my nom de plume: Sophie Lynne.  Unless they have super-ultra-can see everything-programs.  Like the Illuminati use.  ;)

Pretty sneaky, sis!

But then there's the blog.  THIS blog.  The only way to "scrub it" would be to take it down entirely.  That's Nine and a Half Years of entries.  That's my entire journey as Sophie: My thoughts, confusion, Pain as I struggled to come to grips with who I am.

So- shall I scrub this as well?


Scrubbing Bubbles to the rescue!

After all, I NEED a job.  The money won't last forever, and I make no money writing this blog.  (The advertising has yet to pay.  I should ditch it.)  Will the blog, with its rawness; its look inside my head- cost me a job?

Maybe it has already.

I mean after all, who would hire someone who needs to write to vent?  Or who has had so many bouts with the Darkness?

Or who is over 50 and Transgender?

Well, so far, the answer has been NOBODY.

Five interviews- four rejections.  The fifth just happened, so no answers there yet, as of this writing.  I have high hopes for this one. 

I'm trying to keep the tone of this entry light, but the fact that I'm being Judged scares me.  There are things I want to write about, but I'm thinking that a prospective employer may frown upon them.  I'm not even employed, and I'm worried what "the company" will say.  How pathetic is that?

The thing is, I was employed by a bookstore for 14 years, and I NEVER mentioned them by name on social media.  Ever.  (Except on pages specifically devoted to that company.)  Nor will I.  I didn't think it would be good form.  Year after I started this blog, I leaned that the company has a "social media policy" that I was following even though I didn't know it existed.  As it was, I still caught hell for some of my posts by managers who read the blog.  One even yelled at me on the sales floor- very unprofessional.  That made me quite angry.

Doesn't matter now.  That job is behind me.

But I'm still jumping at Shadows of corporate power. 

Where is the line drawn? 

Guess I'll find out, because the blog is NOT coming down.  I've had several people tell me it Helps/Helped them.  And that's enough reason for me to keep it posted and available.

I'll keep writing... and sending out resumes. 

Be well.




Sunday, April 15, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 32: Scavenger

This chapter is about another "game."  This was definitely one of the tamest games, and, I think, one of the most fun.

In this one, the brotherhood (Hood) split into smaller groups to carry on a tradition.  For example, if a pledge was selected to be Captain America, he would go with brothers who had also been Captain America.  And so forth.  There was a sense of pride in those groups.

The brothers often remembered their Scavenger fondly, and laughed about it long after graduation.

My last semester there, Captain America was arrested and charged with "desecrating a flag."  I think the Hood paid the fine.

As a Transgender woman who was at that time denying my Truth to myself, as well as the world, the one task sort of stung.  What if I had been selected to be "the Girl?"

First off, the whole exercise was sexist as hell, AND hazing.  But those brothers went to a sorority floor in the dorms (PSU did not and still does not have sorority houses) where the sisters of that sorority joined in the fun.  It was a way of meeting many people at once (and most of them women.)  I have no idea what the sorority girls thought of the exercise, but I'm told they had a LOT of fun with it.

Would that experience have "broken the seal" so to speak, as Halloween 2008 did decades later? 

I'll never know.  But that said, that was the ONLY times I ever envied a pledge- "Scavenger."

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

Chapter 32: Scavenger
Sunday, December 7, 1986 Reagan Says ‘Mistakes’ Made
“Scavenger Hunt!”  Ernie the Iota said. 
            “Yeah!” 
                        “Woohoo!”
            “And like all games at Skull House, there are a few rules!”  Ernie said.
            “A FEW RULES!” the brothers leaned in to shout into the pledges ears.
            “First rule: No talking!”  Ernie shouted.
            “NO TALKING!”
            “Second rule!  Stand and wait until you are called!”

            Each pledge was taken by a group of guys to a different part of the house.

            I sat in with the group back in the TV room.  Maple had a book of patriotic songs, a case of beer, and a bottle.  We all did shots but Steel, the pledge, most of all.  Maple talked about love of country, about being proud to be an American, and we sang patriotic songs.  After twenty minutes, Steel was given his name: Captain America.  His mission was to put on his costume (an American flag worn as a cape) and spread the Patriotic gospel of America at three different restaurants by jumping on a table and rousing the crowd to song.
            One brother would be at each of the first two locations.  The rest of the people who drank with Captain America (all of whom except me were former Captain Americas) waited at the last location: Roy Rogers on College Ave.
            So off Steel went- drunk and full of patriotism.  We went to Roy’s to wait.  Other brothers joined us until there were four of us in a large booth drinking cokes.  Now, Roy’s was very quiet as people were doing homework and studying.  Pretty much on schedule, this big dude wearing a torn blue muscle shirt and an American flag cape burst through the door and jumped up on the only empty table in the place (coincidentally right next to us.)
From Friday, December 5, 1986 Collegian

            “May I have your att-ten-attention!  Who here is proud to be a fuckin’ Ammmmmmerican?” he shouted.
            Two Asian students near him looked at each other, confused.
            “I said- who is proud to be a fuckin’ Amm- merican?”
            A small cheer.  The brothers cheered the loudest.
            “If you’re a proud Amerrrrican, then prove it by, by, by singing with me!”  He staggered and almost fell off the table.  We all surrounded his table to cheer him on and to catch him if he fell.
            “God bless Uh-mere-ca!  Land that I luvvvv!”
            We encouraged everyone to sing and many did.
            Steel finished the song, jumped off the table, and ran heroically toward the back entrance.  The brothers and I followed, cheering.
           
            Back at the house, several of the pledges had returned from their missions.  They were in their various rooms, isolated.  When the last of them returned, the Hood reassembled in the foyer and the siren sounded.  The pledges emerged from wherever they were.  You could tell some of them thought it was all funny.  Their laughter echoed down the steps as they met.  Well it WAS funny!

            Pledge one was assigned to find a used tampon.  A fresh one.

            Two was taken to the Tri Delt floor, where the girls gave him a makeover, a dress, shoes, and did his hair.  He was then to find two handfuls of tuna salad.  The tuna salad oozed between his fingers.

            Three smelled very bad.  He coated himself with limburger cheese and rolled around in some dumpsters.

            Four was Captain America, smiling drunkenly.
           
            Five stood dressed in a black graduation robe.  When spoken to, he responded only with “Rhe-ee-ee.”  He looked and smelled high as a kite.  Several brothers also wore black robes and giggled to each other.
            “Did you enjoy that game?”  Brother File asked the lined up pledges.
            “Sir yes sir!” “Rhe-ee-ee!” 
            “Stories!”
                                                “Stories.
                        “Stories!”
                                                                                    “Stories!”
            The Hood said quietly, but getting louder as the requests went on.
            Their Iota told the pledges to sit, which they did.
            “Who wants to go first?”  Ernie asked them.
            “Sir, we all do sir!”  “Rhe-ee-ee!” 
            “Number one!”  Ernie said.  He was sitting above them up on the Iota stand.
            “Um, well I had…” Number one said.
            “Stand up you fuck!”
                                                “Stand up!”
                                    “What’s your fuckin’ problem?”
                                                                                    “Asshole”
            He stood.
            “I, um, had to find a used tampon.  My girlfriend isn’t on the rag but I asked her is anyone on her dorm floor was.  There were a couple and she helped me um get one.”
            “Boring!” someone shouted.
            “Anyone catch you?”  Brother File asked.
            “Some chick walked into the girl’s bathroom while we were there but my girlfriend pretended that she was helping me cuz I was pukin’.  Then we quickly left.”
            “Show us the tampon!”
            He held it up like it was the Golden Fleece or the Holy Grail.  It was red and gross.
            “Lick it!”
                                    “Lick it!”
                                                                                    “Lick it!”
                        “Lick it!”
            Pledge One licked it.
            “Ohh fuckin’ rude!”
                        “Shit man!”
                                                “Gross!”
            “Number two!” the Iota said.  One sat down.  Two had a hard time standing in his heels.  He was totally smashed.
            “She’s hot!”
                                    Yeah!”
                        “Woooo!”
                                                            “Show us your tits!”
            “I, um,went to the Tri Delt floor where they uhhh did thhhis to me,” Two said.
            “Is that all?” 
            “Ummmm yeah,” Two said.
            “Did you have to get something?”
            Two held out his hands and showed the tuna salad which by now had oozed all over his hands and forearms.
            I had, had, had to go to Bubbas (a local sandwich chain, now long gone) drrressed like this and ask fffor tuna salad.  Guy looked at me really funny.  I thought he was goona call the cops.”
            “Probably wanted a date.”
                                    “Who wouldn’t?”
            “Did he call the cops?”  King asked.
            “N-n-no,” Two said.
            “Pose for us!”
                                    “Show us your tits!”
            Two posed, then fell over.
            “Three!”  Ernie said.
            Three stood.  “I…”
            “Oh God you fuckin’ stink!”
                                    “You smell like VD’s ass!”
                        “Fuck you!”
            “Siddown!”
            “Four!”  Ernie said.
            Steel stood, barely, and told his story.
            “Five!”
            “Rhe-ee-ee!”
            “Did you enjoy yourself?” King asked.
            “Rhe-ee-ee!”
            “What are the objects?” Saint asked.
            “Rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee rhe-ee-ee.”
            The brothers laughed their asses off.
            The siren sounded just a little, and the pledges turned and bunched up under the Iota stand to look up at their Iota.
            “Did you have fun?” Ernie asked.
            “Sir yes sir!” “Rhe-ee-ee!”
            “Do you want to do it again?”
            “Sir yes sir!” “Rhe-ee-ee!”
            The pledges around Three tried to edge away from him.
            “Get out of here guys.  Shower if you need it,” Ernie said.
            Off they went, back up to the Pledge room.  Three was given new pants and a shirt for the night.  Two was helped into the shower.  He ate most of the tuna salad.  The rest was in One’s hair.
            Five disappeared again with the Rhee-ee-ee’s.
           
            For the rest of us?  Just another night at Skull.
           
Next Chapter









Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Dead Dancing

On Sunday, April 8, I attended a benefit concert at Ardmore Music Hall.  Glenn Fest 2018 was a benefit.

The bands are all donating their time to this great cause. The cost is only $5.00 to cover expenses add to a scholarship to help young, aspiring, local, original bands/musicians have a chance to make it. We believe that Glenn would really dig this! (from facialbook)


Going to the show

I never met Glenn Abrams.  However, someone whose opinion matters to me loved this guy.  And the fact that SO many people were there was testament to how Good this person was.  Also, there were bands.  Live music.  I haven't had enough live music in my life in years.

I met many people there (sorry I'm horrible with names.)  One of them was a guy from Belarus who barely spoke English.  He had long hair and a goatee, and seemed nice enough.  I'm told he was a sniper in the Russian military.


Paul Shannon

There were four bands: Paul Shannon, The Grizz Band, Walking Dead, Sammy Vile and Vilebred.  Paul Shannon played an acoustic thing, then Grizz Band came on.  They are a local band who Glenn loved.  They were a fun combination of covers and originals.  The guitar player had some fun guitar faces.  :)


Grizz Band

Then came on Walking Dead.  They are a Grateful Dead cover band, and who I came to see.

I've mentioned several time in the blog and on facialbook that I'm a MAJOR Deadhead.  I went to many shows, but none since Jerry Garcia died in 1995.  I got into the Dead when I was at PSU, and I remember going to see a cover band called "Crazy Daze" many times.


Walking Dead

I used to dance a little at these shows, but, as a "guy" I felt I couldn't REALLY dance.  Guys didn't dance.  I would shuffle and maybe wave a little.  Some guys CAN dance, and dance well.  I've never been one of them.  I always felt that if I danced how I wanted, people would see my hidden female side, and that simply could NOT happen.

And so, I rarely danced.  (Unless I was really drunk.)

And now, here I was at a show with a Dead cover band for the first time as a woman.

Did that make a difference?  Well, yes- otherwise I wouldn't be writing about it!  First off, I wore a dress with a skirt that had some "sway" to it.  I have some "hippie" skirts, but they are heavy, and don't have the movement I wanted.


Accordion Skirt Dress

So I wore a swaying skirt dress, and made it to the Ardmore Music Hall.  There I met my friend Elayne and her crew.  Paul Shannon was up first, and he was quite good.  Then the Grizz Band, who were wonderful.  I didn't dance to either of their music.

Then came Walking Dead.  I danced near my table a bit- but like I never danced before.

I felt Free.

I could dance the way I felt.  I felt the skirt flowing around my legs as I swayed my hips.  I let my arms reach up and hands do what the music desired.  I felt completely as one with the music in a way I never had.  I could express who I Really am, and how the music made me feel.

I could dance like the woman I was born to be.

The music was wonderful!  The band played mostly Grateful Dead songs, but also played some other groups.  By the end, I was in front of the stage with many others.

I was totally at ease and not self-conscious.  I allowed myself to bare my soul.

And I danced.




Friday, April 6, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 31: King's Story

This is a short chapter.  This story is as exactly as "King" told it... that I remember.  (I wrote it down hours later.)

The House was built in the 1920s, so it's almost a century old now.

Do I believe the story? 

I think it may be SLIGHTLY embellished, but...

Yes.


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


Chapter 31: King’s Story
Tuesday, December 1, 1986 GOP leaders urge special Iran probe
            The brothers were sitting around the lunch tables on a cold day having a strange discussion- was the house haunted?  It seems Stoneman’s girlfriend says she’s sensitive to ghosts and she said that there were three in the house- two male and one female.  These ghosts kept her from walking the hallway near the Pope Suite.
            As you can imagine, some of the guys were giving Stoneman a lot of shit.
            That’s when King spoke up.
            “This house is definitely fucking haunted.  I’ve seen it,” he said.
            “A couple summers ago, I was living in the house with a few of the guys.  You still could back then.  A bunch of us decided to take a road trip to shore.  One guy stayed behind ‘cuz he had to work and shit.  So off we go- all of us except him


The Curving Staircase on the right is the "Brotherhood (Hood) Steps."

            He figured he’d get himself a beer.  We was always on tap then too.  So he’s in the Party room when he hears somebody coming down the Hood steps.  He figured someone else must’ve stayed behind.  Then he heard the footsteps coming down the steps to the party room.  So he taps a second beer for whoever that is.
            Looks around the corner from the bar, and sees wet footprints appearing outta nowhere headed toward the bar.  He fuckin’ bolted outta there!
            He calls the place we’re staying, tells us what’s up.  He’s scared shitless. So we come back and go into the house, and there was footprints.  Weren’t big, but there they were.  Started up by the Squirrel Shack, down the steps there, down the hall...” he pointed as he spoke, “down the Hood Steps, around to the Party room steps and they stopped at the bar.  The two beers he left on the bar?  Fuckin’, empty, man.  I saw it with my own eyes.”
            “They probably just evaporated, asshole,” Saint said.
            “Beer don’t evaporate that fast, fuckhead!”  King said.  Anyway, the guy wasn’t the type to make shit up.  I saw it and I believe it.  Wouldn’t be surprised if that ain’t the real reason the house is closed in the summer now.”
           
            Half the Hood made fun of the idea, bunch of guys said it could be, and still others said nothing.

            House like this?  Why wouldn’t it be haunted?




 Ooo!  Spooky!





Monday, April 2, 2018

State of April

It's now April 2018.  And yet, this morning we received several inches of snow.  It melted away as the day went on, but it was odd.

I've been recovering from some kind of ick.  Maybe it was flu.  Maybe it was pneumonia.  Maybe it was bubonic plague.  I don't know, but it's hung on for almost two weeks.  It's made breathing a chore (which really sucks when working out- but maybe I'll come back to that.)  It's meant a constant headache as well as my mouth feeling pasty and having a horrible taste.  Food is bland, no matter how much I try to spice it. 


Job Interview last week

I'm three weeks into a Six Week Workout Challenge.  I go three times a week, and the trainers kick the shit out of me and maybe six other people over 50.  Still, I've managed to lose seven pounds in three weeks.  I'd hoped for more, but every little bit counts I guess.  The whole point of the thing is not to give up- to keep attending. 

Which segues neatly into this bit.  My dear friend Sabrina Pandora wrote this on Facialbook on March 31 (Transgender Day of Visibility.)  In the piece, she describes different people she knows.  I reprint it here unedited with her kind permission.


Over there is my sister the struggling writer, who so honestly chronicles her foibles and faults, along with her triumphs and victories, sharing her misadventures as she works to find a publisher and her place in the world. She is still seeking her own way, but part of her victory is that she's not taken the coward's way out, and she is still here. She refuses to give up, and she refuses stoop to the level of a world that is often less than kind to her. I hold out hope that she'll make some realizations and maybe catch a break or two, and maybe things might just fall into place for her.


And yes, I confirmed she was talking about me.

I don't give up easily.  In fact I'm a bit obnoxious in my tenaciousness.  (That's libril book-lernin' tawk fer "stubborn.")  Why else would I have stayed at a job where I was insulted almost every day I went in, and was paid below poverty wages?  I needed the job, and those jerks were NOT going to scare me off. 

I've been unemployed almost two months.  I have only been on a handful of interviews despite the hundreds of resumes I've submitted.  Obviously, I haven't found a job yet.  I submit resumes daily, but it does wear on me.  The constant rejection...

I need to feel useful.  I need to feel I'm doing my share.  I've held a job since I was 11.  Right now feels like an extended vacation in some ways, but in others...

There are days when the Darkness is so very strong.  When I feel that any effort I make is useless. 

Tonight, my roomie and bestie Linda made dinner- Hamburger Helper.  And as I ate, I thought of the futility of it.  Of eating.  Why bother?  I mean, what was the point?  It tasted like paste due to my cold.  And I was going to die anyway.  So, why not just end it now? 

Yeah, that was maybe three hours ago.

And it's every night, lying in bed staring at the ceiling.  Why should someone so fucking useless even take up space? 

Yet, here I am.  I can't go anywhere yet.  There are still things that need to be finished.  People that rely on me.  My Daughter. 

As I said.  Stubborn. 

Perhaps Sabrina is right- maybe all I need is to catch a break.  Or two.  I know what I WANT to be- a mentor.  An educator.  I want to make the world a better place for my Daughter.  I want to make it easier for the transgender kids who aren't even born yet, so they don't have to suffer as their elders have. 

I want to make a Difference again. 

And so I stay.  Here.  Trying.

Obnoxious in my tenaciousness.

Be well.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Men of the Skull Chapter 30: Pepper Race

Eagle eyed readers may notice that I've skipped forward a bit on the narrative. Couple reasons for that, really.

The first is that I noticed that people really didn't care as much about the chapters which were more "personal," as in about developing romances and such.  How did I know?  Well, those chapters would get only a few hundred hits vs the ones about more general University and/or Fraternity events, whose hits would number in the thousands.

So, here's a summary of what got skipped:  I completely screwed up one romance, all but wrecked another, and may or may not begun a third maybe.  Also during that time, I made one of the stupidest mistakes of my life.  Oh, and the football team is still undefeated.  And the 'Hood decided I could start attending pledge meetings.

A LOT can happen in three weeks at Penn State.  (If you'd like to read the missing chapters, let me know.)  Especially since we didn't have "Fall Break" back then.  (Seriously?  Fall break?  Toughen up kids!)

In any case, here we have the first "Game."  This happened exactly as I wrote it.  The years have lent me perspective on this.  Back then, I didn't see the harm- after all, I had pledged as well.  The more I thought about it, the more I read, the more I understood how events affect people; I realized this for what it was.

Hazing.

No one got hurt, really.  But this was Hazing.  Games were not really discussed, except among brothers, and not often then.  They were traditions, handed down from class to class- never written down, but never changed.  Almost sacred.  Always performed in the same order during a pledging period.  I'll admit- only one of the games ever bothered me, and it comes much later in the narrative:  Cracker Race.  That makes me a participant in the hazing.  We all were.  It would've taken someone braver than myself to say "stop! This is wrong!'  I just wanted to fit in- be accepted.

Fortunately, several years later, enough of the brothers (and alumni) DID say "Stop."  The games were abolished.  The Skull pledge program no longer has "games" of this sort.  I ought to know- I helped write it.  Since the House was re-established about a decade ago, it has done so with a more positive pledge program.

There's no Glory in winning if the contest is rigged in your favor.  And there were no real "winners."

The events which I chronicle are now over thirty years ago.  We were DAMN lucky- no one was ever seriously physically hurt.  I can't speak for psychological scars though.

Is my perspective different because of my Truth- that I was actually female?  No.  Older and wiser.  And I know a LOT of the Brothers of my time agree with me.  Because yes, NOW we talk about games- and almost always with regret.  At least among the Brothers I know.

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


Chapter 30: Pepper Race

Wednesday, November 19, 1986 Iran aid effort outlined

            My first pledge meeting!  I was really excited!  They were accepting me! 
            I arrived around 10:45 for the 11 PM pre-meeting.  The pledges were hanging out in the dining room, dressed in t-shirts and scruffy jeans.  They didn’t seem nervous or anything.  At about five of eleven they went up the back “pledge” stairs all the way to the third floor (from the sound of things).  Double D put something between the bars of the landing railing on the Brotherhood steps: a siren?
            I asked one of the brothers whose name I couldn’t remember. 
            “Where’d the siren come from?”
            “Off some World War II destroyer.  We’ve had it for years.”
            “What’s it for?”  I asked.
            “You’ll see,” he said.
           
            Double D called the meeting to order.
            “Ok, this week the pledges were pretty much on time and they’re getting better at cleaning…”
            “They fuckin’ suck!  The third floor bathroom wasn’t cleaned all fuckin’ weekend!” one of the guys shouted.           
            “Ok, you want to tell them that?”  Double D said, writing something on a small pad. 
            “Yeah, yeah I will,” the voice said.
            “Maybe you shouldn’ta shit on the floor if you wanted it so fuckin’ spotless!” another brother said.
            “Fuck you!” the first brother said.
            “Anyone else?”  Double D said loudly to cut off the argument.
            “Slow getting beers to the brothers in the Commissary at parties.  Not just once, either,” said another brother.  I think his name was Bill- a senior.
            “You want that speech?”
            “Sure” he said, sounding resigned.
            “Ok, I need someone to give the “make sure you keep up with your studies” speech.  Is Clit here?”
            “No,” someone said.  “At the library.”
            “Shit.  How about you, Bean?”
            “Yeah, I got it” said someone I’d never even seen before.  Very tall.  Balding with a thin face and big chin.
            “Do you know how it goes?  Keep up with your studies; don’t wanna lose you to grades and all that shit?”  Double D asked.
            “Heard it a million times” Bean said.
            “Ok.  We have the speeches lined up.  I wanted them to do Pepper Race tonight.  Can enough of you guys stick around?”
            Several “yes’s” and “yeah’s.”
            “Ok.  Pepper it is.  I’m gonna ring the siren in a minute, so get ready.”
            Double D saw me standing in the back.  He walked over to me.
            “What you see doesn’t happen.  Never happened.  Got that?” he said.
            “Of course.  Third rule.”
            Right,” he said, and headed up the Brotherhood Steps to the landing.
            The carpet in the foyer was pulled back a couple of feet from the steps and the brothers lined up on the edge of it.  Double D put his foot on the siren to keep it in place and used both hands to crank it.  It was loud!
            RRR-RRRRR-RRRRRR-RROOOOWWWWWWWWWWW-RRRRRRRRRRR!

The Siren.  It eventually fell apart.

            As the siren quieted slowly, thunder rumbled.  No- not thunder: the frenzied stampede of feet charging down the back steps.
            Suddenly all of the brothers started shouting, yelling and stomping their feet.
            “Get the fuck down here!”
“Run motherfuckers!”
“Why aren’t you here yet you lazy fucks!”
“The gross national product of China is six billion yen!”
“Move it you assholes!”
            The pledges opened the side door (the one that leads to the kitchen, party room, and outside) and spilled out into a line in front of the brothers.  They were all dressed in white t-shirts and blue jeans.
            “Count off!” the brothers shouted.  I smiled.  This count off shit must be universal.
            “One!”  “Two!”  “Three!”  “Four!”  “Five!”  “Six!”  “Seven!”  “Eight!”  “Nine!”
            “Backwards!” the brothers yelled.
 “Nine!”  “Eight”  “Seven!”  “Six!”  “Five!”  “Four!”  “Three!”  “Two!”  “One!”
“Inside out!” the brothers yelled.
“Five!”  “Four!”  “Six!”  “Three”  “Seven!”  “Two!”  “Eight!”  “Nine!”  “One!”
“Outside in!” the brothers yelled.
“One!”  “Nine!”  “Two!”  “Eight!”  “Three!”  “Seven!”  “Four!”  “Six!”  “Five!”
“What’s the greatest fraternity in the world!?”
“Skull, sir!”
“What?”
“SKULL, sir!”
“Louder!”
“SKULL, SIR!”
“Fuck off!  “You guys suck!”  “Damn right!”  “Blah blah blah!”
The brothers all stepped back a little as one brother slid through the line.  I’d seen him around, but not much.  He had a very early Eighties style haircut which seemed very out of place with the rest of the brothers who had fairly conservative lids.
“Listen, you fucking worms.  Why can’t you get fucking anything right?”
He paused and looked at them for a moment.
“Answer me!” he shouted.
            “What’s your fucking problem?”
“He asked you a question, shitheads!”
                                                            Fucking graduating senior!”
The pledges all answered “Sir!  We don’t know sir!”
“That’s fucking right you don’t know!”  Haircut said.  “Why wasn’t the third floor bathroom cleaned ALL FUCKING WEEKEND?  IT SMELLED SO BAD I HAD TO TAKE A SHIT DOWNSTAIRS!”
                        “What the fuck!”
            “Second floor shits!”
“Listen up, assholes.  By tomorrow morning I want that shitter standing tall and so clean your mom could suck my dick off it!  Got me?”
“Sir yes sir!”  The pledges were trying not to laugh.
“WHAT?”
“SIR YES SIR!”
Bathroom brother gave them a dirty look and faded back into the group.  As he did, Bill stepped forward.  He paced back and forth one, silently looking each of the pledges in the eye.
“What’s my fucking rundown?” he said.
“Sir, William Lazarus the Third.  Senior, Marketing.  Towanda, Pa.  Don’t take anything seriously.  Sir!”
“Oh, so you know who I am?”  William Lazarus the Third said with mock surprise.
“Sir yes sir!”
“And I’m a brother?”
“Sir yes sir!”
Then why CAN’T I GET A FUCKING BEER AT MY OWN FUCKING PARTY?  CAN YOU ANSWER THAT YOU TOOLS?”
“Sir no sir!”
“I was in the Commissary with the fucking President of IFC!  I.F. fucking C!  And I couldn’t get us beers!  Were you too busy serving the cracks to get a brother a beer?  ANSWER ME!”
“Sir no sir!”
“If I, or any other fucking brother in the fucking Commissary have to wait for a beer at our own fucking party, I will personally come around and rip those pins right off your chests!  Do you understand?”
“Sir yes sir!”
“WHAT?”
“SIR YES SIR!”
William Lazarus the Third disappeared back into the crowd.  He walked past me (I stood in the back behind everyone) and went out the front door with a couple of brothers.  I guess they were going to the bars.  As William Lazarus the Third stepped away, Ted stepped out of the group.
“I want you guys to listen very closely to what I have to say” he said.
“Graduating senior!” someone shouted followed by an “Ow!” after the guy next to the shouter slapped him offside the head.
Ted ignored all the commotion.  “We are all here at Penn State for one reason.  It isn’t to get drunk, get laid, do coke or any of that.  All of us are here to get an education:  To study and to learn.  If you don’t study You-Will-FAIL.  If you fail, they throw you out of Penn State, which means out of here.  Now you guys may be rock headed morons, but we took a long time selecting you, and we don’t want to lose you, especially to something as stupid as flunking out.  Now look at all these guys.”
He pointed at the brothers.
“Every one of the guys is here to help you.  Chances are there are at least two brothers here in your major.  Ask for help if you need it.  Use the study hours and test library we provide.  We want you here.  With all of us behind you, if you fail it’s your own fucking fault.”
Ted stepped off to the side and Double D sounded the siren just a little.
“Turn around you fucks!”
                        Pay attention to your Iota!”
The pledges huddled up tight as they could under the stair landing.  Someone turned on the lights for the stairwell so that the pledges would stare up into them unless they focused on Double D.
Double D stood on the landing, bent over the rail.
“Did you enjoy that meeting you little worms?” he shouted down at them.  One of the pledges blinked as a bit of spit hit him in the face.  He didn’t wipe it off.
“Sir yes sir!”  The pledges shouted.
“WHAT?!?!?!  Basics!  Basics basics basics!”  Double D yelled as e slammed his hand on the rail for emphasis.
“If you can’t even fucking get the basics right, we’ll just have to find a way to fix you!”
“Games!” a voice said from the crowd.
“Games!  GAMES!” the chant was joined by all the brothers, then it became synchronized.  “GAMES!  GAMES!  GAMES!” as the brothers clapped and stomped their feet.
Double D held up his hands, and the brothers silenced.  He must’ve felt like Godly powerful.
“Games!” he shouted.
            Then one brother shouted “Elephant walk!”
            Another shouted “Cracker!”
            Then from all through the crowd:
“Ceiling tiles!”
                                                                                                “Hide the banana!”
            “Man O War!”
                                                            “Goat Ride!”
                                    “Pepper Race!”
                                                                                    “Pepper Race!”
            They all started chanting “Pep-per Race!  Pep-per Race!  Pep-per Race!  Hey!  Pep-per Race!  Hey!  Pep-per Race!”
            Double D held up his hands again.  Silence. 
            “Pepper Race!”  He shouted down at the pledges.
            The brothers cheered.
             “And like all games at Skull House, there are a few rules!”
            “A FEW RULES!” the brothers leaned in to shout into the pledges ears.
            “First rule: No talking!”  Double D shouted.
            “NO TALKING!”
            “Second rule!  Line up and each of you chooses the brother you hate the most!”
They lined back up in order.  One by one, the pledges shouted the name of a brother.  The brothers would shout stuff like “Bad choice!  He’s the best at this!  “You’re fucked!”  Then the pledges were sent running back up to wherever they came from as the brothers set up the game.
            Several brothers found push brooms and removed the handles.  Another brother produced a jar of hot green peppers and some spoons. 
            The game was simple- it was a relay race.  The racer would walk from “start” (where the foyer joined the clubroom) to the other side, where the foyer met the dining room and back.  That was maybe twenty feet each way.  They would do this with a spoon clenched in their teeth.  The business end of the spoon held a hot green pepper.  Drop the pepper, eat the pepper.  Then the person received a fresh pepper and kept going until everyone made it through the course.  Sounds easy?  That’s where the broom handles come in. 
            Ever do “the Limbo?”
            Participants would have to go under poles held by the brothers at varying heights.
            Of course, the House was on tap for this, as nothing goes better than volcanically hot green peppers than a cold beer.  Of course, some beer was “accidentally” spilled on the course as well, making it quite slick.  Oops!
            That was Pepper Race.
            So the pledges came back downstairs, the lights were turned on, salsa music played, and lots of beer was drunk.  The pledges ate many peppers.  The brothers didn’t eat a single one.  Why?  Was it because they were pros?
            Hell no!  Their spoons had a small coating of peanut butter beneath the pepper.  It may as well have been glue.  As long as the brothers didn’t flaunt it, the pledges would never suspect. 
Anyway, when it was over the pledges learned once again an important lesson about fraternity life and pledging: the Hood (brotherhood) always wins.
            Then, after the game was over, the pledges went upstairs, drunk, tired and with stinging mouths, to clean the third floor bathroom.


           

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Truth for Four

Today is March 25, 2018.  Four years ago today was my first day of living my Truth.  I would never again be "Lance."  I began my life as Sophie.

What am I doing today to celebrate?  Nothing.

I've had a bad cold the past few days.  And my roomie/bestie Linda has to be up at 2AM to go to work, so that scrubs any dinner plans, unless I go by myself.

Which I still might.

That means take Linda to work at 4, and my workout is at 6:30.  I can do that.

What has four years taught me?  I mean, after all, four years is enough to get a University degree!


Then and Now.  This was also my last day wearing a wig constantly as Sophie.



Four years has taught me who my Friends are.  I mean Really Are.  90% of my friends from my male days are gone.  They just... disappeared.  As expected.  After all, I'm playing for the other team now, right? 

Trans friends have come and gone as well, but I still have a solid core of friends, without whom, I would've been dead long ago.  So blame them that I'm still here bothering you.

Above all, I have had reinforced how truly awful this world can be.  When I transitioned, there was Hope for transgender people.  There were adults in the White House who recognized us as human beings.  We were starting to win against the forces of Hate.

That has all changed.  Hate has swept into all nooks of American government.  To uproot it will cost lives.  I have said this many times- I will not survive this regime.  They will come for me.  I hope that my country survives it.  I have my doubts.

Today, as I have the past few days, I feel sick as a dog.  Nasty cold?  Flu?  No idea.  But right now, I feel very down.  All I want to do is nap.  I may still go out later, but not right now. 

Maybe I'll feel better later, after a nap.

Be well.