Wednesday, September 23, 2020

From my Old Guy Blog: Blowface

I wrote this piece when I was 40, so 14 years ago (2006-ish).  The book I mention was Men of the Skull.

I'm re-posting it because it's a time capsule so to speak of who I was at that point.  Drinking was one of the most important part of my life.  It was part of my identity, and the cornerstone of my manhood was that I could out-drink almost anyone (German/Scots/Irish genes).

I'll insert comments here and there and they will be italicized

I did a light punctuation/grammar edit, but that aside it's exactly how I originally posted it (I also obscured an identity.)  Also, I'll close the entry by doing a "where is it now?" and such.


As I’m at a writer’s block on the book, I thought to tell you a different albeit similar tale.  It’s really long, so I divided it into three parts.

 Not really- it was only in two parts.  Nice editing (eyeroll.)

The origin of Blowface is shrouded in mystery.  Perhaps it was brought by alien life forms to the ancient Mali Empire.  Is that Blowface depicted on the inside walls of the tomb of Ramesses II?  Most scholars place it in the mid to late 1980s.  I heard of it in 1989.  It was this legendary drinking game with all kinds of strange antics and guaranteed drunken good times; the type that blackmail pictures and denials are made of.

Of course, I had to play it!

                The problem was that no one had one.  The only person who might have one didn’t drink anymore.  I was told that the game boards were disposable, as they often became beer or vomit covered.  Shit.

I still haven't seen any other version, but then again, I haven't looked.

                So, being young, dumb, and full of cum, in 1991  I took it upon myself to make a Blowface game.  I gathered two people, like-minded, to join me.  We’ll call one of them M and the other C.  M had played the original many times.  C was a US Ranger standing by for deployment to Desert Storm.

The Result was a game of Blowface done on a large white poster board.  Previous versions were linear- you rolled dice and followed the path to the bitter end.  I figured it’d last longer (more drinking) if it were a ring, like monopoly.  M remembered many of the original spaces which we included, and we added new ones from our disturbed minds.  We added cards that you did NOT want to draw.  Physical challenges, like dancing.  We had all original artwork, as all three of [us] had some talent with the pencil.  We added fragments from every drinking game we knew, or spaces that had similar effects.  To be safe, I had it laminated.

The cards were "Punisher" cards, most of which involved chugging multiple beers.

It sucked.  No one wanted to play it more than once.  No repeat playability.  I mean, if you land on the “Talk like Mr. Ed and drink 6” space, that’s all you do.  In any case, it was our baby, and we played it once in a while when C wasn’t overseas.  Eventually, we lost interest, I got married, etc.

Jump ahead to 1996.  C is getting married.  Two nights before, M flies in from *************.  And I have a surprise for them- I found the Blowface board- and the pieces and Batman mask that went with it (for the “Bat-Fuck” space.)  So the three of us played.  Below, you see the results.

M is “Bat-fucked.”  C is amused by this turn of events

Yeah, I was first to puke.  I lose!

We agreed that the game was a lot rougher to play at our advanced ages (I was turning 30 the next day) and C had a great idea.  On that same day, twenty years hence we would play the game again.  He was given custody of board and pieces (but not of the Batman mask.  That was fucking expensive.)  I have not seen Blowface since, nor do I expect to.  See, C moves around a lot, and so I’m sure Blowface disappeared into oblivion during one of those moves.

I still have no idea if it still exists.  

Part 2


Years passed.  History became legend.  Legend became myth.  Then, at a company Christmas party in 2002, I talked about the game to some co-workers.  GW was a drinking company then- lots of people from the UK, and we all loved to drink.  Several of them expressed enthusiasm for the game.  So, being stupid, I decided to make Blowface II- my own drinking game.  After all, I worked at a Game company!  I should be able to do this easily!

So I did.  First- what did I NOT like about the last one.  Well, several things. 

One: We made it on white poster board.  This meant that there was a lot of white space (duh).  In fact, it looked like a bunch of scribbles on a big poster board.  It was ugly as hell.  Two:  as three of us worked on it, there were three different styles of handwriting on it, some of which was small and illegible.  Especially when smeared, which it was. Three:  Some of the spaces forced chugs and chugs and chugs.  One space could wipe a person out.  (See picture above).  Four, there wasn’t enough goofy shit.  The reason for drinking games are to 1) prove yourself and 2) laugh a LOT.  Aren't games supposed to be FUN as well?

Ok.  Fix number one: instead of white poster board, I used black.  That would mean that all artwork would have to be attached, which led to Fix number two: create the spaces on the computer to be uniform size and font.  Everything neat and legible.  The art would be painted onto the board or pictures would be drawn (or color photocopied) and attached.  Fix number three:  Simple enough.  Eliminate the really ugly drinking spaces.  Well, most of them.  I kept the deepest pit of Hell.

I wrote out all my possible ideas, made some sketches, and thought of other things.  How to make it more interactive?  Add spaces that involve everyone- but make them special.  Also, I stole from an old GW game (Curse of the Mummy's Tomb) the idea of a piece that everyone moves:  the Chug Monster.

The Chug Monster was simple enough.  If it passes over your piece, you drink.  If it lands in your space, you chug.  If you rolled doubles, you moved the Chug monster. (Talisman Reaper expansion, as well as other games, also use the concept.)

I also added a short cut- the “Bridge of Death.”  (Monty Python reference.  Duh.) This is where the interactive spaces went, and it features the biggest single drinking space on the board- up to 18 drinks.  Still, complete the short cut and you cut off time.

The objective of the game remained the same: collect Golden Chair passes.  To go to the bathroom, you’d have to use a pass.  The new version made it easier with the short cut and two other possible spaces.  Like the old game, there is a section called Hell, but it’s not as bad (no “chug 1d6 beers”).  To balance it, the opposite corner is Heaven.  Mr. Ed stayed in the game, as did Captain Kirk, but those spaces were adapted to provide more variety.  Instead of everyone who lands on that space doing the same silly voice, a die roll would determine what voice the person would do.  (similar to TalismanThere are three of those spaces.  I also added spaces that I stole from another GW game- places to “explore” by rolling a die for various possible effects. (Talisman, again.)

I decorated the board with copies of pictures that I had of friends and other stuff.  In the end, the whole thing looked like this:

Colorful, isn’t it?  The shine you see in the pic is lamination.  I didn’t want it getting ruined.

The lamination and color photocopy cost me $50!!  I did the color photocopy so I'd have a backup copy, and to make it look "smoother."

Here’s a close up of Hell.

Heaven and hell were hand lettered.  Flames, arrows, and that thing in the corner (“Deepest Pit of Hell”) are all hand painted using acrylics. The devils were coworkers at the time, from Halloween parties.

Here’s Heaven:

Same thing: hand painted acrylics.  Photocopies of pictures.  The angel is the wife of a co-worker.  In any case, you can see what some of the spaces are like.

Here are the cards I made:

So- I had the board, I had cards, what next?  Playing pieces!  Working for a miniatures company, I figured that everyone who played would be co-workers and expect some miniatures as gaming pieces.  So I modified a few models to be holding Beer Mugs and painted them.  I then cobbled together a Chug Monster.  However, after a few games, people complained that the Chug Monster didn’t stand out- it just blended into the background.  It was a Chug Wuss.  So, in response to that I made a New & Improved Chug Monster.

Above (L-R): Pirate with Beer Mug, Chug Wuss, Chug Monster

Rear view, in case you like Chug Monster Ass

So then I tested it.  I called a gathering of souls to my house and we played a few times.  It was a LOT of fun, but still needed tweaking.  One person suggested I sell the idea.  Ok.  But what would Joe/Jane College think of the game? 

I tried to set up a group of Penn State students to test it, but after I arrived they all bailed out.  So, sitting alone in a bar with my game, I spied a group of four students eating and drinking.  A little bribe (free beer) later and they played.  They LOVED it!  (They suggested the same tweaks that the other group did.)  I still have their written suggestions for the game.

So the game floated around Maryland for a while.  I brought it to parties where it was played with much enthusiasm.  At one party, someone made a rule that everyone drinks double the amount prescribed.  That killed the game in a hurry.  Then, quietly, it was stored away as I moved back to Pa.  It’s been played once.

That therefore is the story of Blowface II: my drinking game.  I’m now 40 years old.  Would I still play it?  Is it something I should grow out of?  Well, HELL YEAH and maybe.  I’m sure that playing it would crush me for several days, as I don’t recover as gracefully as I used to even a few years ago.

I still have this game.  The board is in storage; the cards and minis are here in my apartment.   Would I play it now?  I really don't know.  I KNOW that I would be sick for days after.  Besides, at my age, who would play?  I could bring it over to the fraternity house, but I'm sure I'd get side-eye and laughed at. I keep it because it cost me so much to make, and because it's a relic of a time in my life long passed.  

The person who made that game was so different to who I am now.  I no longer have to "prove my manhood."  I also don't drink to deaden the howling Pain of my life.   My DUI has a lot to do with that as well.

Still, it LOOKS like fun...

Monday, September 14, 2020


 Dearest Lisa,

It's September again, and the now familiar sorrow intensifies.  As I write this, it's the day before my birthday.  I will be 54- two years older than you were.  I wonder if you would even recognize me now- so many changes.

I wonder what you would think of the times we live in now.  Knowing you, you'd probably have a mask to match every outfit.  Aside from that, I'm not sure.  I guess you'd be railing against the evil of the GOP (your former party) for destroying itself by aligning with a mad man.  You'd be out there on the protest line like a few of us.  I assume that after seven years you would've gone full time some years back.  Knowing you, you would've already had the surgeries you considered.  Or not.  Definitely a boob job. 

Dancing at Angela's Laptop Lounge, August 6, 2012.  

Seven Years.  Seven whole fucking years since that horrible day.  Seven years since you left Sandy alone- left your children without you.  Left the trans community behind.  Left all the unbearable Pain that you suffered and surrendered to the Darkness.  You left after promising me that you wouldn't. 

You left me wondering how I didn't see it coming, and how I was going to get through this Darkness without you.  Yes, I see you in my dreams when you visit, and I know you're watching out for Sandy.  Yet, you can't speak to us anymore.  We can't see your smile except in pictures that are becoming old. 

There are so many "new" girls who never got to hear you laugh, yet know of you from the stories that I and others who were blessed to know you tell.  I sent a message to someone who never got the chance to meet you.  I said "She [you] was a phenomenon.  She was so strong in so many ways, yet so fragile.  That was, in a way, her glory, and it was her end." 

The last message

In seven years, the world changed.  We now have a world-wide pandemic, which in this country was made worse by the lack of precautions and actions from leadership.  Tens of thousands died because the mad man lied.  Nearly 200,000 Americans dead.  Life completely changed. 

As for me, I still have the same dead eyes I've had since you died.  Thanks to inactivity due to quarantine and depression, I've gained thirty pounds.  I look like a globby parody of a person.  I'm still here at Penn State, doing my best to continue with my studies.  I rarely doll up or go out anymore.  Linda is too busy with work, and I'm far older than everyone in my school cohort.  Besides, not many places remain open.  And I just can't muster the desire.

Seven years, Lisa.  What you could've accomplished- for yourself, for Sandy, for the community... I guess we'll never know.  All I see is who and what you left behind.  I get it.  I know that Pain that is so incredibly intense that living each second is agony.  Each breath is a regret.  Yes, I understand, and you know I do. 

So all I can do is write letters you will never see, and speak to people you never knew in places you never saw- and have them wonder why I still hold that torch of your memory.

You know why.  I say it every year.  Every fucking year for seven years now, and I'll say it as long as I suffer on this Dark world. 

I love you; I miss you; and I always will.



Sunday, September 6, 2020

Working on...

Disclosure:  An earlier draft of this piece was posted on TGForum a week ago.  

Some months ago, I was emailing back and forth with a new friend.  Nora Simone is a writer among many other things, and she wrote something that really made me think.  I reproduce it here with her kind permission. 

Sophie Lynne - At this point in my life, I am working on my obituary, not my resume. I want to be thought of, and remembered for having the right priorities, few regrets, and helping others. 


I thought about that.  For days.  Months.  

And I think I arrived at a revelation.  Yes, me.

Maybe my employment problems, and by that I mean my whole life. are because I've ALWAYS worked on my Obituary instead of my Resume.

Let's look at this, shall we, dear reader?  

As I've written many times, I've always felt a compulsion to help others.  I also have an massive death wish.  This doesn't look good on a resume.  

I've always wanted to help others, because I see their lives as having far more value than my own.  As I've written (too) many times, that's why I chose education as a path.  "I touch the future- I teach" Christa McAuliffe said.  

I've always figured that I'd be forgotten within days after death.  I still believe that.  But if I am remembered for anything, I would want to be remembered for trying to make the world a better place.  

I figured if I had a tombstone, it would read "She failed" because by definition, if the world isn't better (and right now it's FAR worse than when I came into it in 1966.) I think the best I could ask at this point is "She tried."  Then again, it won't be up to me, will it?  I won't be there to see it through.

At this point- nearly 54 years in- my resume sucks.  My masters degree was an impediment.  Working the same retail job for 14 years is fine... if one is a manager.  If not, there are questions about your competence (which I've had asked of me.)  

Still, in the end, what lasts longer- a resume or an obituary.  In many ways, an obit is the "last word" on a person, unless some historian starts digging around for dirt.  Kind of like an epitaph.

F. Scott Fitzgerald used a line from his book The Great Gatsby as his (and Zelda's as they're buried together) “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”  Al Capone has "My Jesus, Mercy."  And of course, Lester Moore has “Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a 44, no Les, no more.”  Maybe an appropriate one (if I earned it) would be “Pertransit benefaciendo.”

Or, more accurately, "She hated life, and is happy it's finally over."  

In any case, I'm here studying for my PhD while the country disintegrates under a tyrant's rule.  Poor timing.  Maybe I should go where the trouble is and earn that epitaph.  

Be well.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

The Point (Political)

I grew up in a tiny, dying, conservative town.  Most people there are 45 supporters.  

What I've noticed when engaging with 45 supporters, both online and in person, is that the Cruelty is the point.  They want REVENGE for what they see as "liberal dominance" and the erosion of white privilege, which they blame for (fill in the blank.).    What they love about 45 is that he is cruel.  

Toxic Masculinity writ large.

Last weekend, I went to a farmer's market neat Quakertown (SEPa), where there was an entire booth dedicated to 45 merchandise: "Red Zone."  On several flags, shirts, etc, read "Trump 2020: Finally a president with balls!", and on others "No more bullsh*t."  (A quick examination of five items showed that all were made in China...)
Ask a 45 supporter about that and you'll hear about "illegal immigrants" (brown people, not white), BLM (black people), and AntiFa (umm... so you SUPPORT fascism?).  45 will crack down on them all.  Ask about that, and I have, they'll get vague.  Kids in camps?  "Obama's fault."  Or "they shouldn't have come here."  But they're toddlers.  "Parents shouldn't have broken the law."  So they lose their kids forever (few are reunited) over a MISDEMEANOR?  (Doubt me?  I linked to the law there.)  
Some 45 supporters come out and say it- "kill them all."  They are a minority, yes, but that minority has 45's ear. (Steven Miller anyone?)  Then you see all the Black people being gunned down by armored police in the streets.

As a liberal transgender woman (intersectionality of three things 45 hates), me and mine are square in the sights of that hate.  

We live in Dark times, dear reader, but it's not like there isn't any precedent.  My country (USA) was founded upon Intolerance, Hate, and Genocide.

Intolerance: the puritans who settled in Massachusetts were SO right wing and intolerant that they were thrown out of every country in Europe.  They claim they came to the US for "religious freedom" (sound familiar?) which was just their code for their hate.  If not for the Wampanoag people, they would've died that first winter.  They thanked the Wampanoag by stealing their land and decimating their tribe.

Hate: Slavery.  The belief that white people are superior to black, so it's fine to enslave them.  I've heard so many white people blame the Africans for this, or Northerners, or (fill in the blank) for slavery that it's sickening.  Every confederate state mentioned white superiority and continuing slavery as the reason for leaving the union.  The South is the hotbed of 45's base.  Nuff said.

Genocide: The people indigenous to this country were massacred wholesale, either by disease, poverty, or by the US Army.   We'll never know how many died.  I've seen estimates reaching 114,000,000.

I've said many times that I don't expect to survive 45's reign.  He won't go quietly- and his cultists are fanatics willing to kill or die for him. 

These opinions are my own and do not represent any organization or whatever.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

What now? (School edition)

Yesterday I learned that my best chance for a Graduate Assistant position slipped away.  I didn't get the job.  I got the usual platitudes "tough decision" etc.  This was for the "Center for Sexual and Gender Equality" here on campus.  I applied, and was interviewed. 

They already knew me, as I volunteered for the place last year- many hours speaking, mentoring.  I'm good enough for that, but not for a job.

Was it because I'm too old?  Not "passing" enough?  Too fat?

Yesterday- no makeup

Those are the reasons I usually get when rejected for a job. 

I can hear you now.  "Stop whining!"  "Get moving!"  "Be positive!' 

I've said many times in my life (and on this blog): if you hit someone in the head with a baseball bat enough times, they WILL go down.

I'm looking for alternate ways of survival.  Hell, I'm too old and fat even for prostitution.

Hope your life is better than mine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Touch of Grey

I tend to avoid mirrors, as I keep seeing a guy staring back.  However, a little while ago (June 1) I noticed something different.  I noticed that my hair was graying at the temples.

Back before I rediscovered myself, I said I'd go bald and gray with dignity.  For one, treatments would be expensive.  And for two, I didn't care about how I looked.  Then there's the fact that I never thought I'd live long enough for it to be an issue.

Well, I have.  

Old lady

Wife has been going gray for years- her grandmother had snow white hair at 30.  Also, being married to me is enough to make anyone age prematurely.  Add in that she lives with MIL and is raising Daughter... I'm surprised she hasn't gone bald from pulling out her hair.

I've been taking finasteride for hair loss since 2013.  That's hard core Propecia and it REALLY works!  However, guys wouldn't like the side effects- shrinkage below and boobs above.  For me, that's a bonus!

I'm still not going to color my hair.  I'll go grey.  However, as a thought exercise, I went to the Revlon site to try different hair colors.  Y'know, for shits and giggles.

These are the results.

A close relative used to die her hair orange.  It wasn't supposed to be, but it was.  So here's that look as well.

What do you think?

My fave would be the dark brown, edging out the red... barely.  My hair is auburn in the summer, so I could've done that, but... nah.  I must admit though- the purple is intriguing.  

There you have it.  I'm 53 (as of this writing) and look it.  I'll never fool anyone into thinking I'm in my 20s or 30s again (or even my 40s!) so I'll just accept what comes hair color wise.  Of course, changing her mind is a woman's prerogative.

Oh well, a touch of grey kind of suits me anyway. That is all I have to say and, it's all right.

I will survive.

Be well.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Dreams of Old Revisited

On November 20, 2016, I posted a blog entry called Dreams of Old, which was about things I dreamed of eventually doing.  I thought it may be fun to revisit it, almost four years later.  Below is the original text.  I've added new comments in italics, and some small corrections to spelling.  Oh, and changed some pictures.


Dreams.  I write about them a lot.  I talk about them.  Everyone has them supposedly.  I was speaking with a friend about childhood dreams.

I have stated many times that my dreams are Dead.  But are they?  (Yes.) What dreams have I had in this life?

So, I decided to make a list.  What are all the dreams for my life that I remember having?  And what happened to them?  I put these in order the best I could.

Firefighter:  One of my earliest dreams.  I lived across the street from the firehouse, and would see the volunteers sprint to it when the whistle blew.  I would then see the large firetrucks (Gray first, then Yellow) leave the firehouse, sirens blaring!  I wanted to help as well!

I'm on the left

Status:  I became an EMT in 1984, and went on to be a paramedic until the early 1990s.  So, I'd say I fulfilled that one.  (I did.  The cost was PTSD and feeling I've accomplished nothing since.)

Another early dream.  One of my earliest memories was watching the moon landing on TV.  And, like so many people, I would look at the night sky and wish that I could explore the stars.  Having been born nearly the same day as Star Trek helped that a lot!  When I was a child, NASA launched several moon missions, and I was glued to the TV for them.

Status:  When I was in third grade, I had to get glasses.  Back then, to be an astronaut, you had to have 20/20 uncorrected vision.  So my dreams of flight were dashed, leaving me with really ugly horn rimmed glasses.

A Day of Peace and Quiet:
Sounds unusual for a kid, right?  Well, I was an odd kid.  Whenever my brother got bored, he would come pick on me, causing a fight.  And I would get in trouble (sometimes he would too.)  I remember wishing for a day when I could just do whatever without being picked on or yelled at.  I could just sit and read or whatever.

Status:  When I started working at Burger King, my parents no longer required me to go on family vacations, as I was working.  My brother usually still went, because he liked fishing, etc.  So, I would have the house to myself, and I would take care of the family dog.  Just me.  It was then that I started "crossdressing."  I remember the hot summer days, walking Sabre by the river, reading, watching MTV (which my parents forbade), and going to work for a few hours.  It was heaven for my tortured teenage soul.  So yes, that one was fulfilled.

Becoming A Girl:
The dream of so many transgender people- to magically wake up in the body which you should've been born with.  I used to take long walks when I was a teen (see: Peace and Quiet, above) to sort out my head.  Hormones were rushing, causing changes I didn't want.  The girls were becoming women, and, due to delayed adolescence, I was still me.  It wasn't fair!  In any case, I didn't WANT the changes that were coming my way.  But, come they did, and there was nothing I could do about it.  All the wishes in the world weren't going to prevent it.

Status: Well, there was no magical solution.  Now I'm on HRT and living as a woman.  I'd say that this one, due to its nature and timing, didn't come true. (And never will.)

Yearbook pic: 1984.  See below.

So, this seems basic, especially if you look at Maslow.  I even put it in my yearbook- all I wanted to be was Happy.  It seems so easy, yet is so hard to achieve.  I have come to believe that Happiness is something you are born with.  You either are or you aren't.  Others say it's a choice.  I'll entertain that argument, but I don't believe it.

Maslow's Hierarchy Source:

Status:  Unfulfilled now and forever

Go to College:
College.  Higher education.  Back when I was growing up, I was always told that College was the gateway to a better life.  That if I worked hard at school, and went to college, my future would be set.  And going to college was by no means assured.  But that is what I wanted.  Long story short, I worked hard and made it to college.  Then a Masters.  Then Unemployment.  Now, going for PhD.

Status:  This dream came true.

A Girlfriend:
I always figured that people could see right through me- that my "secret" was no secret at all.  In any case, I was a late bloomer, so I was undersized and looked like a little boy while my classmates were shaving daily.  So of course, the girls wanted them, not me.  Yet, I dreamed of finding someone who would see ME, not just a runt.  And of course, my dating someone would cure me of my insane need to be female.  Right?  It took a while, but in January of my senior year, I finally did start dating someone seriously.  We lasted two years before she cheated.  I mean, after all, I was off at college and all, so DUH, but I didn't see it that way at the time.  Then a college girlfriend.  Then another major relationship.  Then another- whom I married...  See below.

Status:  This dream came true.  Be careful what you wish for...

Go to a College that wasn't an Urban Hell:
So I went to Drexel University, located in a not great part of Philadelphia.  I figured that the BIG CITY would be the answer to my prayers, and I'd become a City person- cultured and urbane.  Nope.  I hated it.  I got mugged four times in two years.  A classmate was murdered.  Then that whole MOVE thing.  In fall 1985, I visited my childhood best friend, Dr. Dave, at Penn State.  And I was hooked.  Penn State was everything I'd ever dreamed college should be.  But, transferring?  That's a major change.  Would I have the courage?  As it turns out, I did.

Status:  This Dream came true.  One of the best decisions I ever made.  Absolutely true.  I still think this.

Graduate College:
So there I was at Penn State!  I met people, and partied... and did my damnedest to be the Man I was expected to be.  But- what did that mean?  And could I live up to what I felt I should accomplish?  Well, no.  I didn't adjust well at first.  And my drinking was out of control.  But I was determined- I WOULD graduate!  I WOULD make a great life for myself and make a difference!  And THEN I'd be Happy, right?  Wrong.

Status:  I graduated from Penn State in 1989.  Dream fulfilled.  For all the good it did me.

Find a Job:
Great- now I had a degree!  My teaching career came to a screeching halt.  Now what?  I searched and searched.  I found a couple temporary jobs, but nothing stable.  I went back to the restaurant business- waiting tables and bar tending.  I felt I'd be trapped there forever.  I wasn't, yet, when I have "work dreams," they're either about TGI Fridays or Games Workshop or a horrible amalgam of the two.

At Fridays, 1990

Status:  See below.

Find a girl who wouldn't cheat on me:
It seemed that every woman I could find to date me ended up cheating on me.  I guess I wasn't Manly enough.  Many women told me that they saw me as "one of the girls" or "didn't see me THAT way" and, of course, the dreaded "Let's just be friends."  I would meet Wife in April 1991.

Status:  Dream fulfilled.  I'm sure she regrets that...

So.  I couldn't find a real job.  I was drinking far too much.  I was lonely.  Depressed.  Couldn't get a date.  Then the woman who I thought was the answer to my prayers cheated on me.  It all became a whirling vortex, which, when added to complete bitter self- hatred, was lethal.  I wanted to die- badly.  I started driving without a seat belt, knowing full well that I could be killed.  I wrote about this time period HERE.

Status:  Failed.  Still alive.

Find a Real job:
In April 1991, I was still working at Fridays.  I met Wife.  I was miserable in the food service business.  I wanted More.  I felt I could do more.  This was during the first Bush recession and jobs were scarce.  That July, we went to a gaming convention in Baltimore, where I met people who worked for Chessex Game Distributors.  After a couple more months, they hired me.  I worked there for three years, before quitting (before I was fired) and going to Games Workshop.

Status:  Fulfilled for a time.

Me at work: Games Workshop. 1999.

Buy a house:
Ok, so I had this steady job in Baltimore.  And I hated apartment living.  Wife kept saying how she wanted a House.  And she got me wanting one as well.  It seemed like an eternity, but yes, we did finally buy a house in Owings Mills, MD, that we owned for five years before we left Maryland.

Status:  Dream came true.  I loved that house.

Figure out why I am so miserable:
I had a job.  I had a wonderful wife.  I had a dog.  A circle of friends.  So why was I so angry and full of self-hatred?  There HAD to be a reason.  So I thought about it.  The last time I felt the closest to Happy was in college, so the root must be there.  My brilliant solution- write a book about my college experience and research the HELL out of it.  And I did.  It took seven years, but I did it!  But the answers weren't in those pages.  I finished the book in early 2008.  I didn't know that my Answers would be coming soon...

Status: I finally did figure this out, so I'd have to say fulfilled.

Restore my marriage:
When I moved back to Pennsylvania, my marriage was on VERY shaky ground.  Without going into detail, I was deeply depressed to the point I could barely function.  Wife lost her patience with this.  I remember crying into my pillow often, just wishing I could have my happy marriage back.  (I'm tearing up even thinking about that.)  Yes, still tearing up about it.

Status:  We worked through the trouble.  Then my female side re-emerged, destroying everything.

Find a Real Job:
So there I was, back in Pennsylvania.  After a couple months, I found a job as holiday staff at a chain bookstore.  It didn't pay much, but it was income.  However, it wasn't enough for Wife and I to get a house and move out of MIL's place.  After the holidays, the bookstore kept me on.  Thirteen years later, I'm still there.  I lasted 14 years and 3 months to the day before being fired, along with every other Head Cashier in the chain.  I've kept looking for better, full time work, and occasionally found work (like at Vanguard) but I stayed with the bookstore just in case.  Smart move.  The other jobs always petered out.

Status:  See below.

Get my Masters Degree:
One of the goals I had when moving back to Pennsylvania was to earn my Masters degree in Education.  I did my due diligence, and decided to enroll at Penn State Great Valley campus.  I needed loans.  I got them.  It took years (due to financial considerations) but I finally received my Masters degree in 2007.

Status:  Fulfilled.

Get a Real Real Job:
I had my Masters degree, so it was time to really make a living, right?  WRONG!  I graduated during the Bush II depression.  There were no jobs to be had in my field, and those that WERE available, I'd "priced myself out of the marketplace" simply by having the degree.  I put out ten resumes a day, every day, for seven years (that's 25,560 resumes- including 10 for Leap day the one year.)  Not a bite.  In all that time, one or two calls.  One interview.  I stopped doing that when I transitioned, figuring I'd start again after my name change.  I started again, and got exactly 3 interviews.  No call backs.  One of the interviewers didn't bother to hide their anti-trans bias.

Status:  Unfulfilled, probably forever.

Determine Who I am really:
As I've written MANY times, my feminine self reawakened on Halloween 2008.  That led to a lot of soul searching and Pain.  I knew that Sophie was part of my life permanently.  I dreamed of figuring out my Truth, and how to live with it.  I prayed for it.  I NEEDED it.  My Myspace blogs are chock full of my trying to figure this out.

Status:  Fulfilled.  I figured out who I am: Sophie.

Start HRT:
Having determined who I truly was, the time came to start integrating my feminine side into my life.  I dreamed of being more feminine- of the day I didn't need pads in my bra or to wear a wig. Wife and I talked, and we decided I should start HRT, if only to keep me from going completely crazy.  What neither of us expected was how my body would react to the hormones, or the inevitability of her mother finding out my secret.

Status:  Fulfilled

Transition to Full Time alongside Lisa:
In August of 2013, I attended an amazing party.  Soon after, my dearest friend Lisa Empanada and made a promise to each other- that we would Transition to our True selves together, supporting each other every step of the way: "Transition Sisters."

Lisa and I at Southern Comfort- our last night.

Not long after that, I was thrown out of the house.  And, a couple weeks later, Lisa broke all her promises by killing herself.  I have written a TON on how this affected me, and the community.  I still hurt.

Status:  Failed.  Will never come true.

Lisa's death sent me into a nose dive towards suicide.  My whole life disintegrated.  Within three weeks, I'd lost my home, my marriage, and my best friend.  I seriously have NO idea how I survived September 2013.  But I did.  I STILL don't know how I survived it.  Even after years of reflection.

And so I made a plan, and December 2013, I was headed toward Penn State to execute the plan: suicide behind the Nittany Lion shrine.  Obviously, it didn't happen.

Nor did my extensively plotted plan to end my life on my fiftieth birthday last September.

The Darkness is still with me.  I fight it EVERY DAY.   Lisa once said she was "one bad day away from ending it."  I understand that completely.  Every night, I lay in bed and contemplate ending it all.  And usually, I smile.  Yet every morning, I awaken, and, somehow, find the strength to get out of bed and face another day.  In this fight, I have amazing allies, like my roomie and bestie, Linda Lewis.  I will fight this battle all the days of my life.

Status:  Hasn't come true.  Will someday.  As it will for everyone.

With my life in ruins, I pushed ahead with my plan to transition- to live my Truth.  On March 25, 2014, I started living as my True Self: a Woman.  In the years that have followed, I've chipped away at the necessities of name change, gender markers, etc.  It's still a work in process.

Status: Came True.  At great cost.  Was it worth the cost?  In my case: no.

Now I start going into what would be considered "current" dreams.  If I had them.  Which I don't.  In any case, I live my Truth every day.  I would LOVE to finish the process, and be a Complete Woman.  As for FFS, I'd love to see a feminine face gazing back from me from the mirror instead of a Neanderthal.  However, as each costs more money than I make in a decade, neither will be happening.  So, I don't even dream of them anymore.  Why keep hurting myself?  (See: "Death" above)

Status:  Yeah right.

June 2020.  Still the same mug- just older.

I have always had the smallest flicker of a dream that I would someday be a PhD.  My dear friend Dr. Dave has two of them!  However, getting my Masters degree saddled me with a ton of student loan debt that won't be paid off in my lifetime.  Also, if just getting a Masters priced me out of the marketplace, a Doctorate would kill all possibility of work.

Then there's the question of topic.  Education?  I'd rather get one in American Studies, or History, or Gender Studies.  But then I'd need to go back and get masters in these topics first, which, again, I can't afford.  Also, I can't take the time off work to pursue these degrees.  So I don't even dare dream of this either.  Why keep hurting myself?  (See: "Death" above)

Status:  Yeah right.  This one is now in process.  I've completed my first year of work toward a PhD in Lifelong Learning and Adult Education.  It's been a rough ride, especially with the pandemic, but... it's not over yet.  I do one day at a time.  That's all.

So, there it is- a tour through the ashes of my desires.  Yes, some Dreams came True, usually through a combination of hard work and dumb luck.  Some of these dreams left deep scars that will never heal.  That's the danger of dreaming- even daring to do so can cause intense pain.

But sometimes...

"Is a Dream a Lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse..."
Bruce Springsteen The River


2020 Coda:  In re-reading this, it's amazing what has changed (no longer employed; now at PSU) and how much hasn't (Depression, failure.)  Each day, I do what needs to be done, and try to help others.  Since the original post, times have become FAR more dangerous for people like me- as was expected.  Transgender people are now denied healthcare, shelter, military service, and basic recognition of our existence.  There's supposed to be an election in a few months, but I doubt it will happen.  And even if it does, the results will be falsified to keep 45 in power. 

Dreams?  I don't have them.  The GOP have outlawed dreams for people like me.  But they didn't have to do that- I stopping dreaming... and hoping... long ago.

Just existing.  Day by day.

Seeing Two Ways

A while back, I went to lunch at the recently re-opened Cafe 210 West with my roomie and bestie Linda.  I had some wonderful wings and a pitcher of their signature Long Island Iced Tea (small pitcher.)  Many of the tables were missing, as they are on "social distancing footing."  Still, every table outside on the patio was full as people drank and watched people go by on College Ave (a fave PSU pass time.)

Cafe 210 view

I finished my wings and was almost done my drink, when something occurred to me.  In the photo above, the table by the window is empty, but by this time two guys about my age were seated there.  Alumni- and they hadn't been here for a while.  I know this because one of them took a picture of a Joe Paterno poster on the wall that was relatively recent. 

I thought about what the bar used to look like during my undergrad days when I came here (late 87- Dec 88.)  It's actually not all that different.  A few things are different, like the phone charging station (cell phones didn't exist back then.)  

Then it occurred to me... one of the few benefits of aging is the ability to see things as they ARE, now in the present, and seeing them as they WERE in the past.  It's a strange ability, to be sure.  While walking on the Penn State campus, I remember buildings demolished and replaced by the new ones currently standing in their place.  That bar was once a game store.  That clothing store was an arcade.  In Phoenixville, that Mexican place was once the Trio restaurant.  That parking lot was once a department store.  In Royersford, that shopping mall was once an amusement park.  That McMansion farm used to be a cornfield.  

It's not just here, and, obviously, I'm not alone.  What do the elderly see when encountering a place they knew well?

Obviously, time changes everything.

State College Bars of the 80's, now gone

In some ways this is a good thing- if you love history as I do.  I see how things change.  I see what was, and what is.  And, sometimes, what will be (especially with all the construction here in State College.)

Still, it's a reminder that I'm getting older.  Yes, things change, sometimes for the better (like the aforementioned phone charging stations.)  Sometimes not- (pandemic.)  As I've written somewhere before, all the tears in the world will not slow or stop time.  Each second is as long as the last, and so on.

This afternoon, I walked by the Cafe again.  All of the patio tables were full, mostly with young couples.  One couple in particular caught my eye- probably still undergrads, each with a solo pitcher of beverage in front of them (like the one I had.)  They were engaged in deep conversation, with nothing else in the world mattering but the moment and each other's smiles.  I thought about snapping a quick picture, but I didn't.  I would be intruding.

I tried to remember what it was like being that age- about the summer I spent in State College in 1988; about having my whole life unwritten before me, and full of promise, instead of the weight of decades of failure, regret, and mistakes aging me beyond my years.  

I thought about it, and kept walking.

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Transgender Healthcare Protections Eliminated- commentary by Charlotte Clymer

Trump has stripped health care protections from transgender Americans.  I've expected this since the election, and wonder what took them so long.  I have so many thoughts on this, but not articulated as well as what I've already read.

Despite what 45 would have you think, I'm human, As are transgender people all over the world.  We are frail and mortal, just like everyone else.  And like everyone else, we sometimes need medical help.  

The following was written by the great Charlotte Clymer on twitter, and is reproduced here with her kind permission.  My occasional comments will be italicized.  


If you don't quite understand what horror the Trump administration inflicted today on transgender and non-binary people seeking medical care and why we're scared, let me tell you a quick story. 

[TW: transphobia, trans death]

On the morning of August 7, 1995, 24 year-old Tyra Hunter was on her way to work as a passenger in a friend's car when it collided at an intersection in D.C. -- she and her friend were pulled from the wreckage, and paramedics were called.

Tyra Hunter was nearly incapacitated on the ground when paramedics arrived and began treating the injured. A male fireman cut open her pants consistent with protocol and upon discovering she had a penis, stopped treating her and began ruthlessly mocking and misgendering her.

The firefighter, Adrian Williams, joked with other department personnel while Tyra Hunter continued to struggle for breath. All refused to treat her. Bystanders pleaded with them, one saying (and misgendering): "It don't make any difference, he's a person, he's a human being."

The firefighters--who were also EMS personnel--continued to joke, one reportedly saying: "Look, it's a cock and balls". Her treatment was delayed as none would approach begin to triage, watching her die and laughing. Finally, a supervisor arrived and administered first aid.

Tyra Hunter

Tyra Hunter's battered body was taken to D.C. General Hospital, where she was bizarrely--and mysteriously--neglected. Blood was ordered but not taken. Tests were supposedly taken w/ results strangely lost.

She was admitted as: "combative transgendered 'John Doe' with breasts and male genitalia, makeup and female clothes". Later analysis showed obvious symptoms of being in hypovolemic shock, and yet, what should have been a direct treatment seemed to be intentionally obfuscated.

Her pulse and blood pressure fell as she lay on a gurney, ignored by the attending physician and other medical staff. She was paralyzed by a muscle relaxant and an expert physician would later testify in court that she would have experienced "sheer terror" in that state.

She had arrived at the E.R. at 4:10pm and died at 5:20pm, virtually alone in a busy room, suffocating from a lack of oxygen in her blood. Post-death CPR and heart massage were administered, by that point seeming like boxes to be checked for paperwork. This was preventable.

At trial, medical experts testified that Tyra Hunter would have had an 86% chance of survival with appropriate medical treatment. A jury awarded her mother $2.9 million in damages for D.C. fire personnel violating the D.C. Human Rights Law and medical malpractice by D.C. General.

This is arguably the most infamous case of anti-transgender discrimination by medical providers. It led to a revolution in transgender rights in the D.C. metropolitan area and became a rallying cry for LGBTQ patients in general.

Because here's the thing: discrimination of this kind is not rare. We don't know how many LGBTQ people have died for being refused treatment on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity, but we know discrimination that can potentially enable death is common.  [It's happened to me more than once.  And to many that I know.]

A study by Lambda Legal found 56% of LGB and 70% of transgender patients have experienced discrimination from health care providers, commonly being turned away or refused medically-necessary care because of the medical provider's personal or religious beliefs.

This is already a scary environment for LGBTQ patients, so imagine how it felt last year when Trump and Pence announced through the Dept. of Health and Human Services proposed this regulation stripping out protections for transgender people in the Affordable Care Act.

And not just trans people. All LGBTQ people, folks who are pregnant, and other marginalized communities can be denied ALL forms of medical care by providers if the provider feels treating that patient would go against their personal or religious beliefs. This is all real.  [for example, a doctor could refuse to help a Muslim if they wish.]

The regulation put into effect today by Trump and Pence is meant to pander to religious extremists who feel doctors, nurses--even hospital receptionists--should be able to refuse recognizing transgender patients, even for life-saving care. Heart attacks, cancer, anything.

The rule essentially guts Sec. 1557 of the Affordable Care Act -- the part that says discrimination on the basis of "sex" should include gender identity and sex stereotyping. What is "sex stereotyping"? It's discrimination because you don't "look the right way" for your gender.

A woman who wears more masculine clothing or man who is even a little effeminate. A child who paints his nails or a girl that has a really short haircut. All these people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, violate conformity society expects for gender.  [say, a woman wearing pants for example]

In theory, ANYONE is vulnerable under this rule, even if they're not transgender, even if they're heterosexual. But folks who are transgender? We will suffer because of this. That's not theoretical. That's not a guess. That's reality, a reality that's now government-sanctioned.  

That this is done during a pandemic--during Pride--cannot help but feel intentionally cruel. It is a signal by Trump and Pence that they seek to wipe out trans people from the public square. If they can convince the public we don't deserve medical care, all else is on the table.   [on the anniversary of the Pulse massacre- an extra twist of the knife]

They want to allow doctors and nurses and other medical personnel to look a trans patient and say: "Treating this person goes against my beliefs, and I will not."

This rule attempts to make that legal.

Trump and Pence will not stop with health care. This is just the start. Other protections are being stripped away. They are coming after trans people with everything they've got. And when they've convinced the public this is all fine, they'll come for others, too. Guaranteed.  [who's next?  Muslims?  Latino children are already in camps.]

This election in November is not theoretical on any level for transgender and non-binary people. Our future--every bit of it--is on the ballot. We have to defeat Trump, and we have to take back the Senate.

So, you're a cis person asking what you can do? The following:

1. Register to vote. Now. Don't wait.
2. Support pro-equality candidates who believe health care should be available to all people. Vote for Biden. Vote for Democrats. Don't play around with this.
3. Support trans advocacy orgs, esp. for Black trans folks  [emphasis mine]

I am scared. Trans and non-binary people are scared today. LGBTQ folks are generally scared today. We need you to step up and realize that lives are literally on the line in this election. They want you to be distracted and forget and become complacent. Don't.


Thank you Charlotte.  

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Sophie Dolls Up

I haven't felt feminine in a long time.  I decided to do my makeup and do the best I could.  I also decided to take pictures as I did it for the sheer hell of it. 

So here they are, all of Sophie's makeup secrets!

Step One.  I've showered, shaved and dried my hair.  This is what I look like after I do all that.  I still see a guy in the mirror.  

Step Two:  I've used a curling iron, and done my best to get some VOLUME in my very fine hair.  meh.

Step Three: Ok, some blue blocker and eye shadow (I used pinks.)

Step Four: Eye liner and foundation around muzzle

Step Five: Eyebrow work and mascara.  I tried false eyelashes again and failed miserably.

Step Six: Coverup around eye sockets, then some white in the corner to "bring it out" since my eyes are very deep set.

Step Seven: Some subtle contouring around the oval of the face, either side of my schnoz and cheeks.

Step Eight: Even with big boobs, some make up contouring can be fun.  I should've blended it more.  Not that anyone is looking.

Step Nine: Dress time!  I always put on whatever I'm wearing before doing my lippie.

Step Ten: Ok, so red lipstick isn't subtle, but since my eyes are, why not?

Step Eleven: Jewelry and a smile completes the look.

So, what do you think?

It's funny.  I still see a guy in the mirror most of the time.  Yet, after I doll up, sometimes I see a woman in the picture, and I can't believe she's really me.

So I had a little fun with photoshop after doing these.  I'm trying to get back into practice with it.

Took off a LOT of weight, half my forehead, and the scar.

So, there it is dear reader.  My day so far.  I feel much better than when I woke up.  I just need to feel like a woman sometimes.