Thursday, February 14, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 43: Letter from Judy II

Yes, another one that I didn't write.

Judy was concerned.  She didn't know how I felt.  She wasn't the only one because neither did I.

Soon enough, things would take a turn...


Chapter 43: Letter from Judy

Wednesday January 28, 1987 10:40 am

            I am worried about you.  I don’t know how your conversation went with Virginia last night.  I fell asleep before I heard you leave.  I was so tired.  What happened, anything important?  Do you feel better after your talk. 
            Your expression barely changed from when you walked into the apartment until I went to sleep.  I hope you didn’t do anything stupid and discourage Virginia from seeing Chuck again.  She has every right to be excited by someone showing interest in her without you spoiling it for her.  I know you understand this.  I just hope in the heat of frustration and anger you didn’t say anything to persuade her from a decision.  Remember that I care about both of you.
            I am so scared about today.  I don’t know if I can express this to you.  I really am anxious.  I have no idea what to expect.  The fact that I am tired might have an even greater on my emotional state.  I “dunno.”
I gave that day!
            I am in Econ. now and it is very boring.  I have studied for math and now I am writing you.  So excuse me if this sounds jumbled.
            Everything is screwed up for the meeting tonight.  Instead of starting at 7:30 like it was supposed to, I heard it was supposed to start at 6:30 but if I don’t know that means a lot of people don’t know either.  Tracy said she called Virginia and she knew but Tracy said she didn’t think ‘Gin knew what she was talking about.  If the meeting starts at 6:30 then I should be out of there early. 
            Meanwhile I have to go.  Talk to you soon.  Till Then.


Sunday, February 10, 2019

Maid in Dracula

Has it really been two weeks since it ended? Has it really been two weeks since we broke the stage down and went to the cast party? Two whole weeks since I last trod the boards, cleaned up after Lucy, and was seduced by Dracula?  Two weeks since this group parted ways, never to be all together again?

For three weekends, I was in the play Dracula, held at the Forge Theater in Phoenixville. I played a small part- a minor role to be sure- of a Maid.   However, I was also stage crew moving things on and off the stage, and I also created a couple of the props.  Oh, and took a lot of pictures.

In Costume

This whole process began back in September, when I auditioned and got the role.  I was surprised to get it- delightfully surprised.  I remember talking to people at the rehearsal, and thinking that they were all so much better than me at this.   After all I'd only been in one play as Sophie: the Vagina Monologues in 2017. In that one, I wrote my own piece.

But I made it, and I was there from the read-through all the way through the production. During that time, my part changed as I tweaked my performance, and the director gave me some tweaks as well. I had to make some of this role my own. For example, at one part I hummed a song.  I had to research a song popular in 1897, which is when the play takes place.   The song I chose was The Band Played On. I'd heard it before done by orchestras and such, but never knew what it was. I found an old recording on YouTube, and memorized it. When I first did this song, I waltzed around the stage (as it is in waltz time.)  That was a bit much, so the director said no to that.

The director was Suki.  She had previously cast some friends of mine in other plays, and was known for casting gender variant people.   That said, I was the only transgender person in this play, which was fine.  I wonder how many of the cast had previously met a transgender person?  In a way, I was an ambassador.  As usual.

On Stage.  Photo by Dave Richman

We rehearsed for months.  It was a complex play with a lot of sound and lighting affects which I had nothing to do with, but I had to know when my cues were.  Fortunately, I didn't make too many mistakes... well, at least not with my lines.

I could tell so many stories about this experience! I told a couple of them in my TG Forum column a few weeks ago.  What I can say is that the experience was absolutely magical, and I wished it could never end.  But of course, all good things do come to an end, and our final performance was a matinee Sunday two weeks ago.

The matinee was sold out, just like all of our performances.  Yes, we sold out all eight of them, which is a very good record for January (especially for non-musical in that theater.) So I'm told.

Renfield's Chair, which I modified and hand painted.

Props I made/painted.  The words on the bottle mean "Good sh*t" in Mongolian

I met many wonderful people, some of whom had become dear friends.  I must admit that most of them intimidated me from the read through on through most of the production.  Some of them were very talented actors- Theater majors and such.   They had years and so many plays behind them on their resume, and all I had was one.  In particular one woman really intimidated me- one of the stars: Sandy.

Sandy is absolutely drop-dead gorgeous, and an amazing actress.   I was sure that she acted for a living, but as it turns out she doesn't.  I didn't speak much to her, then again I really didn't speak much to anyone, aside from making my usual bad jokes, you know, to cover my nervousness and insecurities, but almost everyone was so nice to me- even knowing I am transgender.   As it turns out, Sandy was as nice as she is beautiful.  I wish I could have spoken up a little earlier and gotten to know her better.

Again, almost all of the cast were extremely nice. The woman playing Mina, Safiyyah, was the youngest person in the cast, and she was so incredibly talented.  I wouldn't have guessed by the way she played that role that she wasn't a graduate of a theater program.  She isn't- in fact she still a college student and not a theater major.

Cast Photo 

They show featured to Dracula's and older version and a younger version both of them were theater veterans and both of them were absolutely fantastic. The younger one, Matt Lake, is also an author. He wrote Weird Pennsylvania.   Loren played the older Dracula, and he was full of fun tales of plays and jobs that he'd had pretty much all over the world, but especially the UK.  As Matt is from Birmingham in the UK, they had a lot to talk about.

Dracula's brides were the Vixens, and there were four of them.  I had to say that I think I became closest to two of those Vixens maybe because I saw myself in them.  Also because they chatted with me.  A third vixen, Lauren, was not only incredibly beautiful, but she was also a lawyer and a dancer.  Her Vixen danced ballet, and was absolutely incredible to watch.  I watched her a lot at practice, and I could not believe that anybody could be so flexible! I saw a video of her doing the piece on stage while wearing a long gown.  You see, I have never seen this play.  Not the completed version anyway.  No, I saw just what I could see through curtains as I waited to move things around, and some parts I couldn't see at all- like the Vixens.

Lauren during rehearsals

 As I said, the Vixens reminded me a lot of myself.  They all had incredible strength, which I wish I had.  I don't think they realize their own strength.  Two are authors; one writes Gothic horror, and she looks the part.  She's slim, pale, and beautiful.  If you were going to picture a Goth chick, you would picture her.   The other was more metal, and she rocked a corset!  She was extremely outgoing.  She also wrote a children's book.

 A couple of the cast members are gamers.  I've tried to set up a game, but it hasn't happened yet.  One is actually hypnotist!  Others do other jobs.  Most of them have found roles in other productions, and are already in rehearsal for those.

I auditioned for another role, but did not get it.  I think that, for me, the experience is over- at least for a while.

In a way, I'm still processing what it all meant to me.  I know that, for that time, I felt part of something- something fun.  A group of strangers became like a family to me (albeit dysfunctional and full of characters.)  I knew that I'd find Kristin on the stairs to the dressing room, reading a book.  Or that Joe "warmed up" wearing headphones and dancing.  That Alexis would be at the makeup table, and that Jay would always be late.  That everyone would be glued to their phones during down time while still laughing and gossiping.  Robyn would be obsessing over the baby mixture, and the beautiful Kimmie would need help with her corset.  There was a serene familiarity to it all.

And one thing I DO know... is that I miss it.

Be well.

Matt Lake as Dracula during rehearsals

Friday, February 1, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 42: We Talk

After Judy gave me the letter in the previous chapter, I really wanted to sit down and speak with her.  However, I couldn't that night, as the Fraternity had a Chapter Meeting.   So I had to wait a full day.

Luck smiled on me, though.  Virginia had a date that night, so she wanted their apartment to herself.  That meant Judy was free to do whatever without raising suspicion.

So it was that Judy and I went to the Roy Rogers on College Ave to do homework.  If things went well, we'd move on from there.

Things went well.  At first.

What happened next, I attribute to my being very inexperienced in matters of the heart.  I didn't understand my emotions, so controlling them was out of the question.  Of course, back then I thought I was very grown up and experienced.  The Delusion of Youth.

That night changed the course of my life, but I didn't know it then.  I would soon though.


Chapter 42:  We Talk

Tuesday, January 27, 1987 Coup Attempted in Phillippines

            The Roy Rogers on College Ave was THE place to study.  First of all, it was huge!  There were lots of big tables to spread out all your books and papers.  There was food.  But the most important part- refills on large drinks were free- that was KEY!  Still, it was a bit weird walking into a fast food place on a weeknight and having it as quiet as a library.  Still, I loved their chicken nuggets!  During finals week, tables were impossible to find.  Judy was already there when I arrived, her books and notes spread out in a booth near the front windows.  We could watch the cars and people go by through the slush and light snow. 

            She smiled when she saw me.  Maybe this whole thing wasn’t unsalvageable.  Maybe.

            She was wearing her white angora sweater which clung tightly to her breasts.  Me?  My Police “Synchronicity’ concert shirt.  It was still early in the semester but we both were buried by homework.  I sat across from her and pulled some notebooks from my book bag.  In one of them was the letter she’d given me the previous day. 

            Tonight was the night.  Tonight Virginia was going out with Chuck, the Phi Tau.
Collegian Tues Jan 27, 1987

            “So what are you studying?”  I asked.
            “Health Policy Issues.  Yuk!  And you?”
            “I have to write a story for my writing class, but I figured we could talk about your letter.”
            “Do you think that this is the right time and place to do that?” she asked.
            “Why not?  Being here will force us to keep our voices down and our emotions under control.”
            She shrugged slightly.  “Ok, well what do you want to know?”
            I gulped down some Coke to steady myself.  Why was I nervous? 
            “Well, if I read this correctly” I said while pulling out the letter, “you’re still, um, interested.”
            Judy smiled slightly.  “Maybe.  I don’t know for sure.”
            “Well, what are OUR options?”
            “Are you still interested?” she asked.
            Oh Jeee-zus!
            “I thought I made that very clear.  I’m very interested.”  Mistake!  Idiot!
            “I think I am.  I’m so confused.”  She leaned back and stretched, showing off her beautiful breasts.  Several guys nearby watched and smiled briefly.  I got a few “what’s she doing with him?” looks.
            “You still haven’t answered the question” I said.
            “One option is that we forget it and just be friends,” she said.
            “Another option is that we forget it and go our separate ways.”
            “That is an option.  I wouldn’t like that though” she said.
            “Another option is that we can give it a try” I said.  “We could give us a shot and try to make it work.”
            “I’m not sure that’s the right thing to do.  It wouldn’t be fair to Richard.”
            “Sorry, I don’t care about that part.  I care about you.  Are you being fair to yourself?”
            “Why do you ask?  Because you’re here and Richard isn’t?” she said, crossing her arms over her breasts, pushing them up slightly.
            “Something like that.  You said yourself that you were lonely during the week.  We could keep it quiet.  No one needs to know about you and me.”
            “I also said that I’m not dissatisfied with Richard.”
            I leaned back and sighed.  “So why are we even having this conversation?  Why did you write what you did in that letter?”
            “I told you!  I’m very confused.  I don’t know what to do!”
            “Well I can’t wait forever.”
            “I know.  Would you prefer if I said ‘no’ right now?”
            I leaned forward and put the letter back into a notebook.  “That’s completely up to you.”
            We sat looking at each other for a moment.  My whole world sat right in front of me.  I saw nothing else.
            Then she smiled and unfolded her arms.
            “Why don’t we just see what happens?” she said.  “If things happen, they happen.”
            I smiled.  It was a start- maybe more.

Collegian Jan 27, 1987

            A few hours later, Judy and I headed back to Beaver Hill.  It was still snowing lightly, just enough to coat State College in a thin layer of white and wet.  We arrived back at my apartment and shook off our coats and boots.  It was already past eleven and Mark was in bed. 
Judy lay on the couch.  We kept the light on the kitchen but that was all. 
So I started giving her the back rub I promised.  I kept my hands over her sweater as they were cold as ice cubes.  Every once in a while she would groan just a little.  Her back was very tight and I rubbed and kneaded it for a while.
Eventually I thought my hands were warm enough, so I snaked them under her sweater to caress her soft skin.  She sighed in approval. 
As I massaged her back I unclasped her bra.  She didn’t object.  I rubbed Judy’s back for quite some time.  Eventually my hands tired.  I stretched out on the couch next to her.  We wrapped our arms around each other.  Her soft lips were so close I could taste her breath.
“So what now?”  Judy asked.
I started running my fingers through her soft raven black hair.
“Well, I have some ideas” I said.
            “Like what?” she asked.
            I kissed her lightly.  I didn’t know what to expect.
            She kissed me back.  Tenderly.
            We kissed for a while.  I slid my hands under her white sweater again, and rubbed her back and stomach.  I slowly ran my hand over her left breast.  Judy looked at me with half closed eyes.  “Please don’t do that” she said quietly.
            “Why not?”
            “Because you’ll make me want more” she said, almost moaning.
            As lame as I was, even I caught that invitation!
            I kissed her again, starting tenderly and slowly kissing her harder, deeper.  I caressed her breast gently.  Judy moaned quietly then grabbed my head with both hands and kissed me passionately. 
            This was it!  This was the night!  Finally!
            We kissed and touched.  I nibbled on her neck.  She slid her hand under my shirt and rubbed my chest.
            I wanted 
            To stay in
This moment
            I began to work Judy’s sweater upwards- trying to pull it slowly over her head.  She responded by kissing my neck and ear.  She nibbled my earlobe and whispered my name gently. 
            RRRRRRRRING!!!  The fucking phone rang.
            We looked at each other- the moment ruined.
            “It’s probably Virginia” Judy said.
            I stood and headed over to answer the phone.  Judy lay propped up on her elbow.
            “Hi!  Is Judy there?”  It was Virginia.
            I looked over at Judy.  She rolled her eyes, nodded, and collapsed on the couch, staring at the ceiling.
            “Yeah.  She’s indisposed at the moment, though.”
            “Bathroom?”  Virginia asked.
            “Ok.  Chuck just left so I just wanted her to know that it’s safe to come back to the apartment if she wants.”
            “OK, I’ll tell her.”
            “Are you coming over?”  Virginia asked. 
            “Maybe.  We’ll see.” 

            By the time I hung up, Judy had reassembled herself and stood.
            “I should go back to the apartment?” she asked.
            I walked over and put my arms around her.  She looked up into my eyes. 
            “No.  You don’t” I said.
            “If I don’t, Virginia will get suspicious.”
            Damn!  She was right.  Besides the mood was gone.
            We walked through the light snow down to Sutton Court.  When we arrived, Virginia was sitting on the couch reading her sign language textbook.  She smiled broadly at us when we entered the living room.  I’d seen that smile before.
            I wasn’t in a great mood.  I mean, Virginia just interrupted my best chance yet with Judy.  And something else- a deep anger and pain.  Why did I feel that?  Was it because of another missed opportunity?  Or was I actually… jealous?

The Police Shirt, being worn 20 years later by Wife at Police concert (2007)

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 41: Letter from Judy

Here's another "cheat" chapter.  I didn't write this.  At all.  This was, word for word, spelling and grammar errors intact, written by "Judy."  I still have the original handwritten letter.  I'm a sentimental person- I always have been.  I have every personal letter ever sent to me from high school onwards, some almost forty years old.  Some of the writers are long dead.  Almost all have been gone from my life for years.

But not Judy.  While we communicate infrequently, we keep up with each other's lives.

Why keep the letters?  After all, they were, for the most part, written long ago to a person who was a shell: a Lie.  Well, because at one point, someone cared enough about me to set pen (or pencil) to paper to let me into their mind, or even their heart.  I think that's one thing that's missing today.  It's easy enough to type out a tweet or a message or even an email... but no one takes the time to write out their thoughts and feelings and Truths onto paper. And while one can print out an email...

A letter is forever.

Chapter 41: Letter from Judy

January 26, 1987

Dear Lance,
            No, I am not writing this in a horizontal position.  I might fall asleep.  Not good.  Anyway, getting what I did off my chest on the phone helped you from receiving a hostile letter.
            I really understand your confusion as to who you can trust.  Often I wonder that myself.  The difference between you and me was is that I am very trusting because I don’t think people would want to hurt me.  However, when they break my trust I have a harder time trusting those people again.  With you it was different.  Although you had betrayed my trust, I still think I can trust you with what I revealed to you last night.  Here is one way in which you can win my trust back.

Collegian, Jan 26, 1987

            You, on the other hand, trust hardly anyone and I am sorry if I gave you reason to distrust me.  I can’t blame you.  If I can betray someone elses trust, what’s to stop me from betraying yours.  I promise that I will always keep what you have told me to myself.  It is a promise I plan to live by.  You can take me up on it if you so choose, and if you don’t remember, if you should ever choose to later, that I will be there.  I care about you a great deal and I hate to see you hurt.  If I can, I would like to be able to help you.
            You have done a lot for me and I hope one day I will be able to repay you.  You have helped me in a lot more ways then you probably realize.  You have given me a renewed interest in myself.  I have never really liked myself, never thought myself as pretty, smart, basically any of that stuff.  You have made me realize that I have something special to offer this world.  You may be asking- “Doesn’t Richard make you feel special?”  The answer is yes, he does (very much so.)  You make me feel unique in a different way.  I don’t know if I can explain it to you.  You have been a great help to me recently when I have doubted my capabilities.  You always seemed to have faith in me.  Then again, I am my worst enemy!  To get to the point; you asked me once if you make me feel special.  I hope this answers that.
            I can really understand your doubt.  If you understand the above I give you credit because it explains my own confusion.  I am trying to straighten thing out.  It is a long process.  You may think it is too long.  You might be saying “You can’t make up your mind and I can’t wait around forever.”  I can’t blame you for saying this nor can I expect or ask you to.  As for me, I don’t think it has been too long.  I think I have made a great deal of progress and I am proud of myself.  I think I have come a long way since I came here but I still have a long way to go.  I am trying my hardest not to hurt people along the way.  I am extremely insecure and many times I will cling to anyone who will let me.  I don’t want to “cling” to you in that way and I don’t think you want me to, anyway. 

Collegian, Jan 26, 1987

            To tell you the truth, I am glad that you are still interested but I couldn’t blame you if you started seeing someone else.  In fact I am sure it would be good for you so you wouldn’t feel lonely but I realize you don’t think so anyway.  In fact sometimes I feel you “pull a Virginia” when you say – yeh but you could never understand how lonely I am or I am so much more lonely than you.  That may be so, but you don’t really know that, do you?  Often I am lonely when I am by myself; left to do things on my own; or even sometimes when I am with Rich and he just doesn’t understand me (be it religion or other.)
            You say I haven’t shown any interest in you since Thanksgiving and that has been true.  I have tried my hardest and frankly I have become accustomed to that.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t get touched when you give a kind word or feel stimulated when you touch me gently.  I still think of being intimate with you from time to time (Often when you look me in the eye and smile gently at me.)  Sometimes I think I let my guard down and you can see right through me (But I guess not.)
            It bothers me that you feel lonely and that you need someone.  I don’t think anyone understands that more than myself.  I seriously couldn’t live without someone to share my life with.  I’ve tried once but I really don’t call what I did living and if you would have known me then I think would have felt the same.  I had so much yearning but it was all stored up inside of me.  Now I am learning how to live.  I admire you because you face reality and you have a grip on life.  You probably don’t think so but you should look at yourself from my point one day and you would be surprised.  I look up to your kind of strength.
            Which brings me to another point: You mentioned in your letter that you are “terribly insecure” in the romantic sense.  That you need an “anchor” but you “need someone who won’t crumble if (you) lean on them.  Ergo, I can’t start with Virginia.”  Do you think I am any more secure than she?  Well, let me phrase it differently.  (2) Do you think you can lean on me and be that “anchor” your so desperately yearning or should I say seeking?
            Now I do admit when it comes to relationships I give them my all and I often gain my strength from them.  I feel that I am my most secure when I am “involved.”  It would be easy for me to get involved with you now but would it be the right thing?  Would it help me ease my problems or create new ones?  Believe me I have given that one much thought.  I am afraid that if I got involved with you it would be running away from my problems at this particular point.  I am really too mixed up to answer these questions!  I have so many thoughts running through my mind and yes, I have taken the time to sort them out and up to this point I have been unsuccessful.  It’s true what you said “things do change every week.”  I really don’t blame you for saying “Hell with it.”  Sometimes I think that would be the best for both of us- but will it?  And will I lose your friendship as well.  I would not be able to handle that.
            If you really don’t think you can win not here, not now, you are probably right but who is to say- me? You? – who?  I really don’t know.  Guess what, I am frustrated also and growing more so.  Ahhh!  I don’t think I can take this now!
            You put that if you found someone somewhere it will mean an end to things as we know them now.  I know that.  I would be upset that I wouldn’t see you that often anymore but if you are happy I guess I would have to stand by you.  Only I do ask that you don’t lose touch with me; that we would get together every now and then and maybe we- referring to you- your girlfriend and I would be able to go out from time to time.  It may cause problems but I don’t think it would cause “major” problems as you put it and you can and will win some time- KEEP THE FAITH!
            Yes, I do think it is time to start looking for yourself.  Maybe not 10 yrs, that’s a little too long but you should begin now.  It might be a good idea.
            Do you really think that if things start again that they will help you?  Are you just hoping it will.  If all you need is someone to ease the loneliness I may be the solution.  (Because if kept quiet it might hurt the least amount of people.)  Is this what you wanted me to answer?  Do you want to keep it hidden?  Do I?  (I will have to ponder that if you give me the answer to the questions above.)  As you said what else can you do?  (Maybe it can be for a time until you find someone else- who knows?) maybe.
            Meanwhile why don’t we sit down and talk over our options.  What do you think?  Sound good?           
            In the meantime we’ll talk, see how things sound.  O.K?
            Sorry if this letter sounds like much ado about nothing but you wanted to know what I am thinking- Here it is.  What do you have to say now?



Deadly Sin

I'd like to think I'm a good person.

I volunteered as a paramedic while still in high school.  I forsook big money in Engineering, and decided to become a teacher instead.  I wanted to help kids be ready for the future.  I volunteer with organizations as much as I can.  Even if I have little, I will give what I have to someone who has less (to the chagrin of Wife and others.)  I drove a friend to the airport at three o'clock this morning, not expecting compensation (She paid me over my objections) because that is what friends do.

Is it to make up for my Dark side?  All the drinking and fighting I did?  My inability to cope with the Woman inside of me?  Standing by and watching bad things happen and not standing up for what was Right?  My encyclopedia of faults as a person?

I don't have an answer to any of that.  I wish I did.

Very recently, I spent my day in a waiting room in a Philadelphia hospital with the wife of a fellow transgender woman who was getting Gender Confirmation Surgery.  It wasn't the first time I'd done this.  It won't be the last.  I was asked, and I was glad to help. Her wife and I had a pleasant few hours sharing stories and maybe some secrets, before we went up to the room where the transgender woman would be for the next week.  I said "hello" and left, as I didn't want to intrude on that couple's moment.

Whiz Comics #1, art by CC.Beck

There was another reason I left, though.

I like to think I'm a good person (is there an echo in here?)  I have many faults.  One of them is... sometimes I get Jealous.

That's not a revelation to my Wife.  She is quite aware of it.  As are past girlfriends.  I'm nowhere near as bad as I used to be, though.  I've developed a Zen attitude to it- that good things happen to others and not to me because They deserve it and I don't.

But every once in a while... yes, I get jealous.  And I am jealous of everyone that can afford Gender Confirmation Surgery.  I'm jealous of people who have a spouse who will sit in the waiting room while getting that surgery- who stay through thick and thin.

I don't blame my Wife for how she feels.  Far from it.  But that doesn't mean I don't get jealous.

I'm VERY happy for my sisters who get the surgery.  I truly am.  I am glad SOMEONE in this life gets to be happy.  But that doesn't mean I don't wish it were me.

Wanna know what's worse?  I feel REALLY bad that, at my age, I still feel that emotion.  In some ways, I've tried to purge emotions, as they have brought me nothing but Pain.  No, I'm not going for Kolinahr.  But jealousy is an emotion I've done my best to eliminate.  I try to replace it with being happy for that person's success.  For being happy that said person found someone.  Happy that other people jump effortlessly from high paying job to higher paying job while I can't get hired at Burger King, and am standing by to be homeless.

Here's me: smiling for their success- success that THEY DESERVE.  Yay them!

That doesn't mean I don't feel like a total asshole for wishing that just once, it were me.

Because I do.

Monday, January 21, 2019

I've Seen this Face Before

I initially posted this last night on facialbook after a long day.  I think I should develop it a little further.  Because I have nothing else to do after sending out a bunch of resumes.

By now, most Americans have seen his face.  His name is Nick Sandmann. He's in 11th grade at Covington Catholic High School.  I'd link to the school, but they've taken down their web page.  Can't imagine why.

Why does this hit me so deeply? Because I've seen this spoiled kid's smirk all of my life.

This is the face of every bully who picked on me as a kid, knowing he'd suffer no consequences for his actions. It's the smile of a person who enjoys hurting others.  I've written about my bullies, and how they affected my life.

It's the smile of a kid who knows that, no matter what happens, he will lead a charmed life. This is the smile of people like Kavanagh and his ilk, knowing that they could rape a woman at will.  (Anyone remember Stanford rapist Brock Turner, who got a slap on the wrist?)

This is a kid who knows that he has tacit permission to be racist from his president- he absolutely believes he is superior to any non-White.

Now, predictably, he is crying "victim" (because that's what being a Republican in the US is about today- claiming that their white superiority is the victim of the big, bad Left Wing Conspiracy.)  I won't link to his excuse.  Find it yourself.

America's Indigenous people have dealt with this for centuries.  MAGAts will say "we conquered them- get over it."  Again, if a person in non-white, they are not human to the far right.

Native American Journalist Association president Tristan Ahtone wrote:

“In terms of education on Indigenous peoples and history in the U.S., it’s designed to erase us,” he said. “I think back to my high school and I sometimes wonder if I shouldn’t just file a lawsuit against the place, for some of the stuff they were teaching. Not only was it offensive, but it was wrong, incredibly wrong. It should be criminally negligent to teach kids some of this stuff.”

Oh, and Central Americans are descendants of Indigenous people as well: Aztecs, Maya, Olmec, etc.  Another reason for the MAGA people to hate them, aside from skin color.

The man facing this hate?  Nathan Phillips, Native American Elder and Vietnam veteran.  Think he's scared of punk like this after combat experience?

More about the kid, lest I get sidetracked.

He is there to tell women what they can/cannot do with their own body. Because he is superior to any woman.  He, and his classmates were bussed there BY THE SCHOOL to participate in a "Right to life" rally.  As in "we care about the unborn until they're born, then who cares" rally.  Also known as "We white men want to tell women what they can/cannot do with their own body" as I wrote above.  He is a right winger by definition, and, by wearing the symbol of racism and hate, is a 45 cultist.

Will there be consequences?  Are you kidding?  (Again, see "Turner, Brock") Bet this kid already has a lawyer and an agent for the multi-million dollar book deal he'll sign.  MAGAts around the country will raise millions more for him.  He'll go to a religious school or University of Kentucky, and never pay a cent.  I'm sure Fox News has already booked him.  After all, he is a hero to racists everywhere.

Still, that smile... that superior shit-eating grin...

I've seen this face all my life, but never more than since 2016.  I wonder why?

(That's sarcasm.)

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

An Old Story

This is an old story goes back to spring of 1990.  I think it was April.  (The journal that has that month and year in it has been in storage for a long time and I have no idea which box it's in.)  In any case, it was night and my girlfriend of the time (GF) was visiting.  I was living still at my parents house at the time, and we were both going to head down to her place to hang out for a little while.  She lived in Wayne.  We were each driving in our own cars.

Accident area circled

We were heading east on route 422, right around the Oaks exit, when I noticed a pretty serious car accident in the opposite lane.  At least two cars were involved, and there were a lot of other cars and trucks stopped in the area, but no Emergency Equipment yet.  GF was ahead of me in her car, but I pulled over- knowing that she knew that I was going to stop.  After all, I was still a paramedic at that point.

I ran across the grassy median, and went to the closest car.  The driver was a young woman- I found out later she was a college student, but I'll get back to that.  She was still alive.  In the back seat was someone I knew named Shannon, who who graduated from my high school.  As it turns, out she had some first aid training and stabilized the victim.

Knowing that she was there, I then went to the other car, where there were two Burly men doing their best to pull the door open using a crowbar.  That car was in far worse shape.  I looked inside and there, through the broken driver side window, and I saw one woman laying on the front seat with no seat belt.  Her body was pretty banged up.  I told them to stop for a second.  I reached in and took a pulse from her neck- carotid artery.

There was no pulse, and the body was already getting cold.  I couldn't declare anyone dead, but in this case, it was triage.  I understood that I should focus my efforts on the living, so I told those two men not to bother and instead focus on traffic control. I gave them directions what and where they should move their big rigs, which were blocking the entire Road.  It was my thought that help may be coming from that direction.  They moved their Rigs and began directing traffic around on the median.

I went back to the other car.  The victim was wearing a Drexel University jacket.  I figured she was around 20 years old, and the impact, even though she been secured by the seat belt, had caused both of her eyes to pop out of their sockets and rest on her cheeks.  I'd seen this before, and it's never pretty.  I did not have the equipment to do anything about that.  With Shannon's help, I finished stabilizing  the woman's knee injuries and did my best to stop the bleeding.

It seemed like an eternity that we were in there.

It's funny how you see someone who you haven't seen in years, and I was there in front of a person who's literally dying, and we were chatting about high school. What else could we talk about?  I mean, there was nothing we could do for the victim at that point.

As I said it seemed like an eternity, but eventually help came.  One of the paramedics with whatever fire company had come came to this car, and I explained to them the situation, gave the vitals as I had them, and they took over.  Shannon came out of the back seat.

The Drexel woman died the next day.

The cause of the accident was that the one car came up the exit ramp driving the wrong way at high speed.  She quickly found a target.  She left a suicide note at her house.

In this case, neither survived. Due to one person wanting to commit suicide, another innocent person died.  This girl who was around twenty years old at the time would now be around 47.  She would be a mother or maybe even a grandmother- but she's dead.

I never really considered that at the time, because she was only a couple years younger than me. I was 23, so I didn't have the perspective that I do now.

That November was my first suicide attempt.  If I could've given my life to that girl in the car so she could finish college, have a family, experience life, I would've happily done it.  I still would.  I still believe her life was more important than mine.

I still see her face at times, especially at night when I try to sleep- eyes on her cheeks.

I had a conversation with one of my dearest friends the other day.  I mentioned that my reward for being a volunteer paramedic was PTSD, bad hearing, and a bad back. 

Meanwhile, people who never worked or volunteered a day in their life make more money in an hour than I'll ever see in a lifetime. 

I hope my Pain has earned me Heaven.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 40: Peso Run

Yes, this actually happened.  I witnessed it twice. 

This chapter is Pure 80s misogyny.  Guys assumed that women WANTED to see their junk, and some showed it off.  The brutal truth is- some of the girls responded positively.  They WANTED what they saw.

There was and is a "rape culture" on campuses.  Usually, the more conservative (or "rich") the campus is, then the worse it is.  At PSU, usually 1-3 rapes were reported in my time there.  Figure ten times that went unreported.  All one needs to do is look at the Brett Kavanaugh hearings to see the Entitled feeling of privileged guys who saw women only as recreation.  I knew MANY guys like this in college... and after.  I'm sad to say some of them were my fraternity brothers. 

And what did I do about it?  Nothing.  If I'd seen attack happening, I would've stepped in, of course, but mostly these happened behind closed doors.  However, one attack happened behind our fraternity house, near the dumpster, which was ten feet from the window of the room I occupied at that time.  I heard nothing- probably because of drunken sleep.

Not speaking out was Cowardice, pure and simple.  I was so different from my brothers, and so desperately wanted to fit in, that I didn't speak up. 

Yes, the 80s were fun.  But, in some ways, they were a FAR darker time.

Chapter 40: Peso Run
Thursday, January 22, 1987 Shultz says Iran talks continued
            The party was fucking packed!  We had a social right before with Chi Omega so there were lots of hot girls.  I was in the foyer talking with Garbo when he said “Watch this” and pointed to the Brotherhood Steps.
            Down the steps came running one of the brothers- Peso.  He was Italian throughout: olive skin, black hair, dark eyes.  Even I could tell he was a good looking guy.  And if I could tell, the women must’ve drooled over him.  And they did.
            Peso came running down the Brotherhood stairs naked as the day he was born.  He jumped the rope at the bottom, ran a loop around the foyer, then ran back up the stairs.  He stopped at the landing, raised his arms as in victory, then ran the rest of the way up.  Totally naked.  Being naked, one couldn’t help but notice his dick.  It was huge.  He was extremely well hung.  I was envious.
            So he disappeared and the room broke out into cheers, gasps, and applause.  The girls looked wide eyed at each other, talking.  Some looked stunned.  A few stomped out the door.

            I looked at Garbo
            “Does he do that a lot?”  I said.
            “He does it at the beginning of a semester.  See, that way all the girls get talking about him.”
            “And his dick.”
            “Exactly.  He gets all the tail he wants, when he wants it,” Garbo said.
            “Pretty smart,” I said.
            “Yeah.  My pledge brother,” he said, and refilled my beer from the pitcher he held.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Reply to an Anonymous Comment

On December 29, 2018, at 10:15 PM, an anonymous commenter posted the following on a previous entry:

I know it’s completely outside of the narrative here...but how about I suggest an idea? I suggest this knowing I might be wrong. However it’s worth bringing up. I’m betting you don’t hear this often but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a voice inside of you? How about if the whole Trans thing is bullshit? How about if you walked away from it your life and hope within it improves? Just sayin...cuz I think that totally rubs you wrong. Cuz you’re SO invested in this notion. But...what if you’re wrong?

What if you went back to Lance? Could you get support? Could you re-engage with “wife” and daughter? Could they be receptive? Could you get a job then? Could you have hope then? Maybe being a man wouldn’t actually make you suicidal? I only say this because it’s worth’s it going doing it the other way? Sounds like it sucks to me? There’s millions of men who don’t appreciate the roles our culture forces us into...maybe that’s you? Why is this such a bogus suggestion? You really don’t need or deserve to live like you are. It’s self imposed. You’re really better than your circumstances.

I replied to the comment saying I'd answer it in a separate entry.  And here it is.

There's a lot to unpack here.  First let me say that this isn't the first time I've heard this.  Or the 42nd.  Or... you get the idea.  When I first transitioned, I heard this sort of thing a LOT- mostly from "friends" who would soon either disappear immediately or fade away.  Actually, from the syntax, etc, I have a fair idea of the identity of "Anonymous."

And, actually, NO this isn't a voice inside of me.  I'll come back to this.

I'll tackle this by discussing Anonymous' (henceforth 'A') points separately-ish.

How about if the whole Trans thing is bullshit? 

Science says differently.  I could post MANY pieces about how being Transgender is BIOLOGICAL not psychological.  I'll just post this one from Harvard.  Or Michigan.  Or something a little less complex. 

Of course, I could IGNORE the mountains of scientific evidence and listen to the one or two evangelical doctors who deny the science, but that would make me a republican.

Many transgender people have mental issues, true, as do many cisgender people.  Usually, for transgender people, it's because many of us were bullied during our youth, and when we come out... well we get beaten, murdered, insulted (I've been called everything except "Child of God,") and so forth.  Not to mention the GOP doing their best to legislate us out of existence.

How about if you walked away from it your life and hope within it improves?  [edit] But...what if you’re wrong?

I can no more walk away from this than a black man can walk away from his skin color.  It's part of my biology.  As for being wrong, see above.

What if you went back to Lance? Could you get support? Could you re-engage with “wife” and daughter? Could they be receptive? 

Ok.  Let's say I wanted to do so.  Say tomorrow I declare to the world that I'm going back to being Lance.  First off, everyone who knew me before would still shun me, because I transitioned in the first place.  That genie never goes back in the bottle to use the cliche.  I'd have to change my name back, assuming I could find a judge who would do so, given that I changed it only a couple years ago.  That would be around $600.  Then there's the matter of the all-natural DD breasts I have.  They would have to go, leaving large scars.  That's around $24,000.  (Did I mention I love my boobs?  I mean, I only waited my whole life for them...) Then there's the matter of "down below."

Would Wife and daughter have me back?  As they live with MIL, the answer is "NO."  I've written so many times about that situation and I really don't feel like rehashing it.  MIL is the one who tossed me out in August 2013, not Wife.  Her opinions about LGBT have only hardened with the coming of 45.

Could you get a job then? 

I'm 52 years old.  I have no idea.  I WOULD regain my male privilege, which is a major advantage.

Could you have hope then? 

Hope for what?  Being male almost killed me, because I simply wasn't one.  Which leads to...

Maybe being a man wouldn’t actually make you suicidal? 

Ah, and here's the crux of it, isn't it?  I WAS suicidal as a guy.  (I never considered myself a "man" as I didn't think I met the criteria I set for that title.)  In December 2013, I had a choice- transition or blow my head off with a shotgun.  I borrowed a shotgun (loaded) and was on my way to my death when I decided I couldn't do that to my (then) five year old daughter.  I decided to transition.  As I've written before, I don't think I made the right choice.

I only say this because it’s worth’s it going doing it the other way? Sounds like it sucks to me? 

Big style.  Know why?  Because so many people HATE people like me just for existing.  They fear that which is different, and that fear leads directly to hatred.  Mostly it's guys who give me the most grief- they're worried about people judging them for being civil to someone they think is "gay" or "trying to trick them."

There’s millions of men who don’t appreciate the roles our culture forces us into...maybe that’s you? Why is this such a bogus suggestion? 

Which roles do they resent?  Acting like human beings?  Treating other people, like women and LGBT, with respect?  Men are still top of the heap.  Stop whining for f**k's sake!  ;)

You really don’t need or deserve to live like you are. 

I agree.  Maybe if there were no GOP or faux Evangelicals, people would keep their noses out of my life and let me just Live.  Can't have that, can we?  Nope- because fear and hate generate votes and money for their churches and parties.  That means power.

It’s self-imposed. 

No, it isn't.  No more than skin color or genetics are self-imposed.  The only thing I did was to start living my Truth instead of lying to myself and the world.

You’re really better than your circumstances.

Thank you- that's kind of you to say.  That begs the question "do the circumstances make the person?"  Would Superman still be super if he never faced a crisis?  "Hero's journey" and all that?

I could write on this topic for years.  In fact, I have.  Between this blog, TG Forum, New York Times, scholarly journals, talks I've done... wow.  Guess I should get a life!

Oh wait- I already did.  It isn't easy ("Being trans is life on 'hard mode'" I once heard) but at least I'm living my Truth instead of the lie.

I hope I've answered your questions.  Be well!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Men of the Skull Chapter 39: Lies

This chapter was painful to write. It's not like I had problems with the details- because I didn't.  I remember this with crystal clarity.

It isn't every day when a person compromises everything they believe in- the very foundation of their self... to someone they really care about.

I flat out lied to her.  I lied to her face.  And she knew it.

Over the decades, I became quite adept at lying.  After all, I lied to myself my whole life, and lied to everyone else until I started admitting my Truth to myself, my Wife, and, in march 2014, to the rest of the world.

Lies have consequences.  They eat at one's soul.

I absolutely believe that even if I lost everything (and I have), I'd still have my Word.  I held that as sacred.

And, on that miserable evening, I looked into the gray eyes of a woman I really cared about, who I wanted to be with... and lied.

I never forgave myself for that.  I don't think she's forgiven me either.  I know she didn't while we were still in college.  We're still friends now, and a lifetime has passed- she may even have forgotten it.

I never did.

So, here it is- another moment where I'm an absolute a**hole.  Not the last either.  I became very adept at that over the years as well.

Chapter 39: Lies

Thursday, January 15, 1987 Scientists say trash-to-steam safety not automatic

            “We need to talk,” Judy said.
            Shit.  I’d already figured out that those words meant nothing but bad was coming my way.
            It had been a strange up and down kinda two days.  The day before, Mark got a call from Rich.  Rich said he wasn’t coming back.  He’d continue paying his part of the rent, though.  Now the tiny apartment was just two of us, and it seemed so much bigger.  As a bonus, Rich wasn’t going to reclaim his desk until the end of the semester.
            So Mark was out at the gym when Judy arrived, bundled against the cloudy cold State College dusk.  I was typing homework on the Mac when she showed.
            “We need to talk” she said as she removed her jacket.
            “Ok.  What’s wrong?”
            “Can we sit down?”
Jan. 15, 87 Collegian.  The "Den" was, at the time, the "greek" hangout.

            I pointed to the couch and love seat but she shook her head ‘no.’ So, I pulled the chair in from the kitchen.  I sat at the one in front of the desk.  The kitchen light was the only light on in the place, so it was as dim as the cloudy sky outside.
            Once we were settled, I asked again. 
            “So what’s up?”
            “Did you have sex with Virginia again?”  Judy asked with the cold tone I’ve heard too often.
            I felt that familiar ache in my chest, like everything was crashing down and finished.  Virginia and I talked after the last time and promised each other never to mention it to other people and deny it ever happened if asked.  This was mainly because I still wanted Judy, but I didn’t tell Virginia that.  I couldn’t lie to Judy.  I mean, after all that had happened, and I was hoping that everything was going to start coming together…
You don’t have a choice.  If she finds out, you’ll lose her forever.
            I cannot lie to her!  She’s…she’s
She’s gone if you tell the truth.
            Shit.  So what did I say?
            “No,” I said.
            I lied to her.
I looked straight into those beautiful gray eyes and lied.  I felt terrible.
            “Are you sure?”  Judy said.
            “I think I would know it if I got laid,” I said.  “Why?”
            “She’s been acting very strange.  Sometimes she’s very happy, sometimes very difficult.  The last time she acted this way was after the two of you hooked up.”
Jan 15, 87 Collegian

            “Oh.  Wow.  I didn’t notice.”
            “Are you sure you didn’t have sex with her again, Lance?  I won’t be angry.”
            Bullshit!  I remember the last time.
            “Yes, Judy, I’m sure.  I’m not about to make that same mistake twice.”
            “Do you think being with her was a mistake?”
            “We talked about this.  It hurt you.  I never want to see you hurt.”  I felt bad enough already.
            She looked at me for a moment.  She must’ve known I was full of shit.
            “Would you like to come down for dinner tonight?” she asked.
            “Sure!  I need to finish this bit of homework first though.  It’ll take me maybe twenty minutes.  Wanna wait?”
            “No.  I’ll go ahead.”  She stood and went to the closet for her coat.  I watched her ass for a moment, and then followed.  She turned to look at me.  Her eyes were cold- cold as that night at the Lion. 
            “I’ll be there in about an hour I guess” I said. 
            She left without saying a word.
            I felt absolutely horrible.  I just lied to the person who meant more to me than, well more than anyone in the world.  Lied to her face.  I felt sick.  I wanted to puke- no shit.
            I felt hollow.  The familiar plastic dummy hollow… no it was worse.  I wasn’t plastic.  I was hollow…