Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Seven Shades of Eyebrow

Now that I'm finished writing about SCC I can get back to relatively current events.  Relatively being the operative term.

So I'll cover a weekend here.  A simple Friday and Saturday that were anything but simple.  Though it could be argued that I was.

Friday October 18 was a bright and beautiful morning.  I woke up early to put my face on, as I had big plans that day.  Sandy Empanada, Lisa's widow, invited myself, Hayden (from Harrisburg), and Ally from Richmond, Va to her home for the night.  The purpose was to go through Lisa's things and see if we wanted anything.  Lisa and I were the same size, and Ally one size smaller.  In any case, we received the invite because we are family.

Stage one was to pick up Hayden.  He took a train to 30th St station in Philly, where I met him.  He gave me a beautiful flower, so he's the first man ever to do that! 

The trip was uneventful except for a stop at the I-95 rest stop in Delaware.  I went to the ladies room, had finished up and was washing my hands when a fat, short old woman walked up next to me, looked at me and said "Oh My GOD!!"

I looked down at her, and said "I don't like your top either", smiled, and left, head held high.

Smiling at my Bathroom Performance, just after it happened

We arrived in Baltimore around 2.  Hayden and I stopped in White Marsh for lunch.  I suggested Della Roses, as I remembered it being good, and I'd never been there as Sophie. 

Menu Board, Me at Della Roses

The beer came in a chipped glass, the bar was sticky, the service slow... but the food was good.  Hayden didn't like it, but he'd been eating tacos the whole trip down (he picked some up at 30th St Station at Taco Bell.)

We arrived at the Angle Inn at 3:30. 

There were a bunch of older guys there, and the barmaid who served us last time.  She remembered my name and drink, and we told her we were there to keep Sandy company.  She smiled and thanked us. 

We'd been there a few minutes when one of the fat old guys said "FAGGOTS" very loudly, looking at me, as part of his conversation.  The barmaid was standing in front of him (to the side a bit, so all I saw was her back (it's a wrap around bar)) and she looked at him.  I wish I could've seen the look, because that old guy just shrank down in his seat and shut up!

I tipped her extra before leaving.

Ally arrived, and we drank a toast to Lisa.  Then Tiffany arrived, and we went over to the house, where Sandy was waiting.  We sat around talking for a bit, and Sandy gave me some of Lisa's ashes, which I put in a memorial necklace.  She gave me a little extra and asked me to scatter them in two places that she specified, which I will do.  We also watched some phone movies that Tiffany had of Lisa dancing.  In one of them, she speaks briefly.  It was wonderful to hear her voice.  I would've cried if I hadn't promised myself that I wouldn't in front of Sandy.

Sandy, Ally and I then adjourned to the guest room and sorted through Lisa's things.  Sandy and the daughters had already taken what they wanted.  Ally and I divided the rest- some of which I will sell on eBay with every penny going to suicide prevention. 

So, we all then went out to dinner.  Joining us was Sandy's Uncle, whom I will call Jake. We decided we would end up at the Club Hippo, and he knew a good restaurant nearby.  In fact, it was one of Lisa's favorites:  Mount Vernon Stable and Saloon.

We had a fantastic dinner and I had a couple of their specialty drinks which were sooooo gooooood!  We then walked the block to the Hippo.

As I mentioned before, the Hippo has three rooms; a main bar, a back bar where there is karaoke, and a large dance room, where, this night, there was a drag show.  I went to the back bar, and put my name in for a song.  Yes, I'm a bitch like that.  The others sat with me and suffered through my song: "Friend of the Devil." 

Oh No!  Not her again!

And I sang again, "Is She Really Going Out with Him."  Yes, I tend to do the same songs over and over.  I'm told Tiffany filmed this, but I haven't seen it yet.

Who Let her up AGAIN??

Eventually, the others went to the other side for the show.  Jake works for the Hippo as a bouncer, so he sorted out our way over.  We all received hand stamps.  And I drank more.

After a while, I went back to the back bar, and one of the other people asked me to duet with him.  he was an amazing singer.  We finally agreed on a song:  "Under Pressure."

The others arrived when we were halfway through.  He was really singing badly, whether because he was drunk or intentionally.  So I decided to have fun with it.  I was singing the Bowie parts, and I jumped off the stage and started singing to a very pretty woman.  She laughed.  Others hooted and hollered.  I had a blast.

With the beautiful Ally

Oh, and I drank more. 

We then took a group picture outside.  I look pregnant.

Front (L to R) Tiffany, Sandy.  Back (L to Right) Me, Ally, Jack, Hayden

I plopped into Tiffany's car.  The next thing I remember is waking up face down on the guest room bed.  Ummm... yeah.

So.  I'm told that Tiffany and I had a deep discussion in the car.  I'm told we went back to the Angle, where I bought a round of Jack Daniels shots for our group.  I'm told I made it back to the house unassisted.  Then I plopped onto the couch, and attempted to participate in the conversation.  At one point, I somehow lapsed into discussing what Lisa and I discussed at SCC about makeup, but I couldn't quite get it right.  I said "Seven Shades of Eyebrows."

Apparently, my tuck failed.  When someone brought it up, I said "It's big because I'm a Scot!"

I apparently spent some time with my porcelain friend as well.

In any case, I was a bit hung-over in the morning.  More than a little.

I slept in.  Go figure.  Showered and packed.  Ally was supposed to stay in the guest room as well, but stayed on the couch.  I'm guessing it had something to do with vomit breath or whatever.  In any case, I apologized to all for any missteps.  They laughed.

Ally and I packed at the same time, as she was leaving before I was.  We talked.  I won't say exactly what she told me, as it was private, but what she told me warmed my heart, especially since it was her saying it.  I admire her greatly, and I am proud to call her friend.

The drive back seemed eternal.  Hayden and I spoke of various things, but not much, as we were both exhausted.  I dropped him off in Harrisburg and made it back to my room.  There I took a brief nap.

Why only brief?  Well, it was Renaissance meeting night, as well as Angela's Laptop Lounge.  It was the Halloween party for both, but I didn't have my costume ready yet.  (I still don't.  Wait until you see it!)

I wore one of the dresses I inherited from Lisa.  Also her boots.  The Clover necklace.  And the Memorial necklace.  I did my own makeup, and tried something different with my eyes.

After I arrived and paid my money, I went to get a soda, and was greeted by a new face.  She had black hair, heavy makeup and a very pleasant smile.  Her name was Tammy.  This was her first time at Renaissance.  She introduced herself and was very complimentary.  Apparently, she has followed me on flickr for four years, and also reads this blog.  (Hi Tammy!)

She was telling me about how much she loves the blog, the pictures, and how I was such an inspiration to her.  I was a bit taken aback. I'm not used to people telling me positive things.  I just don't think I'm worth it.  Oh, don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the praise... I just didn't know how to react to it.  This was the second time this happened to me, and I was just as humbled this time as I was the last.

I gave her one of my Sophie business cards and she was extremely excited.  Like I was a rock star or something.  It really stroked my ego, yes, but... well as I said above.  I'm just a fat chick trying to make her way in this world.

That night, Laptop was at a different place: the Almaz CafĂ©.  It was a large place, with a beautiful bar and great service.  As an Ethiopian bar, the clientele tended to be African American.  How do I know?  Many of the usual clientele came in, and the clientele wasn't told that there was going to be a TG Halloween Party there, and the looks of the patrons were priceless! 

Loitering about on the Stairs

I didn't stay at Laptop long.  I was tired, and still feeling a bit woozy from the previous night.  I said my goodbyes and walked off into the rainy night.  I was really exhausted.

I drove back to the house, and went up to my room.  Took off the dress and boots, and looked in the mirror. 

A Woman looked back at me. 

She smiled.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Southern Comfort Odyssey III: Galas and Goodbyes

If you haven't read the previous bits, they are linked below:

Part 1

Part 2

Friday I slept in a little bit.  Conferences are tiring.  What with all the walking around, chatting with people, drinking... ok I'm not exactly making my case.  The tiring part is because I feel I have to be "on" all the time or no one will want to meet me.  Yes, I know that doesn't make sense.  Yes, I know I should just be myself.  No, I can't believe it's not butter.

Anyway, sleep was nice.  I needed it.  And Friday was a swirl of speaking with people, food and fun.  Am I being vague on purpose?  No.  The fact is that I didn't keep notes on SCC like I do with Keystone, as I assumed I would be writing about it immediately while the memories were still fresh.  But I couldn't.  So my thoughts on Friday are a blur.

I remember ending the night in the Vanity Club suite with maybe a dozen sisters, drinking wine.  It was very relaxed and informal.  I discovered that Ana Christina Garcia's heels caused her a bit of foot damage, and I applied first aid (yay paramedic training!) for which she was very grateful.  I hadn't felt this welcome and accepted since my first Renaissance meeting.  I made the right choice in accepting their invitation to join.

Late night

Saturday, however, is a different story.  No blur.

I had breakfast downstairs in the restaurant.  The buffet was far faster than the table service (which always seemed to crawl) and the food was good.  I then went to the bar and attempted to finish reading the book for my TG Forum article.  I sat facing the entrance, as I usually do. 

I was reading along nicely in the sun-lit, quiet bar (that wasn't open yet technically) when an older woman came in.  Let's call her Jackie.  She was in her late 70s, and she sat at my table and started talking.  She was very nice, and had stories of what life as a TG was like in the 1950s and 60s. 

Then Linda Lewis came in, and invited her and her friend to join us, which she did.

Then, over her shoulder, I saw a MAJOR surprise.

Standing at the entrance to the bar, suitcase on the floor beside her, was Lisa Empanada.  She was waving at me.  My jaw dropped and my spirit soared!  She had told me she wouldn't be making this conference!  I excused myself from the table, headed over and hugged Lisa.

"Surprise!" she said.

We briefly discussed her trip and I invited her to sit at my table, which she did.  I introduced her to Linda and the others.  Then my "Big Sister" Mel with Donna Rose came in.  Then more.  Suddenly there were ten or so people in a bar that wasn't open, and the Nook I'd borrowed was sitting unused. 

Lisa in her Travelling Clothes

After a little bit, Lisa left to check in.  Linda had lunch plans, so Mel, Donna and I went to lunch in the big room.  There were some empty tables, and the three of us sat at one. 

Soon a large, beautiful African American woman asked to join us, and we happily invited her to do so.  I'll call her Bernadette.  She was at least 6'6" and very muscular.  I figured her for an athlete.  She hinted that she was a former pro athlete, but didn't say the sport.  By her build, I guessed football.  She was extremely pleasant and she and Donna discussed athletics as a transwoman. 

After lunch, I finally finished the book, and started writing my review in my writing notebook.  I wouldn't finish it by deadline, but my editor Angela was forgiving.

As part of "payment" for bringing her down to Atlanta, Linda was going to give me a makeover on Saturday.  She wasn't going to accept my money as a gift, which I understood.  However, I decided to cancel said makeover.  My thinking was that would give her more time to herself and to enjoy the conference.   What I HADN'T figured was that Linda genuinely WANTED to do the makeover for me.  And that my cancellation hurt her. 

Great job Soph.  Meet one of your inspirations and piss her off.  Bravo.

The thought never occurred to me that Linda Lewis, icon of the community, would actually WANT to make me look better and to teach insignificant me some makeup tips along the way.  And of course, I didn't find any of this out until later.

Saturday night was the gala.  It was also the Vanity Club "group picture" where everyone is in gowns and their best finery.  So the photographer set those who were there up and snapped a few pics... but not everyone was there.  Linda was absent.  Turns out she was helping Devrah with her makeup.

I wore my red sheath dress, as my cocktail dress still needed cleaning (go figure.) 

With Stephanie

Lisa sat with me at the gala, and looked amazing as always.  We talked about many topics:  makeup (she thought I should spruce up my makeup with more colors- seven in fact- and drew me a diagram that I can't find); her weight (she felt she was getting huge); and Vanity Club (she hated clubs and jokingly called me a "snob.") 

A Toast

She also told me that I wasn't allowed to buy any drinks that night.  As the previous week was so viciously bad, she was going to buy ALL my drinks that night.  Which she did.  And I bought hers, despite her objections. 

After dinner, I saw Linda who wondered if the VC photo would be taken soon.  I told her that it already has and she was so angry.  And that's when she told me she was upset at me as well.  I apologized profusely.  And I decided to make it up to her.  After speaking to the VC VP, I ran about re-gathering the Sisters to retake the picture WITH the missing people.  It took a few minutes, but I managed to find most of them, and the pictures were re-taken, this time with Linda and others.  I said I would photoshop the two together, and I will.  As soon as I can find them.

I then went upstairs to call home.  I wanted to talk to Wife and daughter.  And so I did.  Daughter sounded a bit down, and I asked her if she would be ok.  She said "I'll be ok when you come home, daddy.  Come home, please?'

And Wife took the phone from her just in time... as I absolutely lost it in a flood of tears.  I shook with sobs and told Wife I would call back.  I then curled up in a ball on the bed and cried my eyes our for I don't know how long.  When I managed to pull myself together, I called Wife back, then looked in the mirror.  Well, the dress had tears and mascara all over it.  So I changed to a t-shirt and shorts. 

But my mood had changed as well.  My daughter had ripped out my heart.  I felt melancholy as I headed back downstairs

I found Lisa near one of the bars.  She'd changed clothes as well.  She saw my mood, and we sat one a stone ledge in the lobby and talked.  And drank a bit. 

We discussed being a good parent.  She hadn't liked my idea of getting them a house.  And she felt that the only way to be the best possible parent to my daughter was to be a complete person. 

To transition.

I cried on her shoulder.  She also suggested that I be myself for the long drive home the following day. 

We hugged, and she held me closer than ever.  We parted ways, as I headed back to my room for some much needed sleep.  I turned and waved to her.  She waved back, smiling.

It was the last time I saw her alive.

Gala Dinner- Lisa in an unguarded moment: Dreaming

The next morning, I woke early and finished packing.  I told Mel I was going to drive as Sophie, as it wasn't like I could choose to turn of my gender once I'm full time.  Mel didn't like that idea.  I pointed out that she does it.  She said "I have an F as a gender marker and my legal name is feminine.  I have a vagina.  You have none of those things.  This is the deep south, so you're asking for trouble."

Mel and I waited for the elevator to the parking area, and there was a guy wearing a baseball cap there as well.  Looked like he was dressed for a fun afternoon of driving with a white shirt and shorts.  He looked at Mel and I and said "Oh, hi Sophie! I'm [one of my influences I met that week.]"  Then he smiled a very familiar smile.  My mouth dropped open.  No freaking way was this guy the amazing woman I met!  WOW!  And there is no WAY that anyone would ever suspect she and he were the same person- ever.

I drove in drab.  Thirteen long hours.  I arrived at my place after dark, and with my leg in pain from sitting.

Bikers at a South Carolina rest stop.

My first Southern Comfort experience ended quietly.

So.  A Week away.  A full week that happened days after a major trauma, and a week before another.  What lessons did I learn?  What experiences helped me grow?  Was it worth all the time and money?

Yes, it absolutely WAS worth the time and money.  I met so many of my influences and heroines.  I learned many things and expanded my horizons as a woman. 

Of all the lessons I learned, there were a few that stood out.

1)  Back before my fem side re-emerged, I learned of some of the people who would become my influences.  I learned from their words, pictures, and admired them for their courage in doing something that I couldn't: look like a beautiful woman.  I put them on pedestals.  I've met many of my influences over the years and none have disappointed me.  However, I never met so many at one place.  And I learned something I shouldn't have taken for granted:  That these women are people just like me- that the life they show us in their pictures is only a part of who they are.  I always thought that BECAUSE they were so beautiful and accomplished at this, then they HAD to be happy, right?  Well, not always.

Some of these women are cross dressers and are happy slipping between roles.  Others are full time or fully transitioned.  All have concerns, emotions, and problems.  And they can be hurt.  But they keep going- keep plowing forward.  And while now I consider them friends, I still am influenced by them.  By their compassion, courage, and their openness. 

2) Take NO ONE for granted.  When I last saw Lisa, I assumed I'd see her again in a couple of weeks.  We texted each other daily until near the end.  And I DID see her in a couple of weeks- but she was in drab and lifeless in a coffin.  As a paramedic, I learned of life's fragility and in how many ways it could end.  But being TG, I learned about the resilience of the human spirit.  I took it for granted that Lisa and I would continue our lives and friendship as we moved toward transition. 

And now she's gone. 

3) Maybe, just maybe, I am worth something in this world.  People seemed to want me around- didn't push me away.  I sat with people I admire, and they accepted me as an equal.  I even had someone tell me I was an influence!  To some I come across as brash, but the fact is that I'm still just a scared little girl inside.  It's so easy to be overwhelmed by life WITHOUT transition... then add in the additional stress of the changes... 

My whole life I had zero self worth.  Recognizing my femininity has put me on the road to repairing that.  Meeting and hanging out with people like Donna Rose, Linda Lewis, Lana Moore, and so many, many others and NOT feeling like an annoyance was such an affirming experience.  I AM a better person as a woman than I ever was as a guy.  I have a lifetime of self-hatred to overcome.  But thanks to the friendship and generosity of others, I know I will do just that. 

And become the True and Complete Person I was born to be. 

Maybe someday I'll even be...


Lunch on Wednesday


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A Month Ago Now.

One month ago, my life irrevocably changed.

One Month ago, right now, my sister Lisa Empanada was ending her life.

I can't believe it's been a month. I still expect a goofy text from her, or a call to tell me of a wonderful event in her life.

Secrets with my Sister, August 2012

 She once told me that she felt people would simply get over her suicide and get on with their lives.

I wish she were here to see how wrong she was. I wish she knew how many people loved her. I wish I could hear her groan at one of my bad puns.

Above all, I wish she were here at Sandra Newell's side, where she belongs.

But wishing will not bring her back to us. Nothing ever will. And so we grieve.

Someday I will be able to remember the short time we spent together fondly, and not cry when I think of her. Someday I will be able to smile and welcome others into my life as she once welcomed me into hers.

But today... today I need to find Strength. I need to be strong. I need to be strong for Sandy and her family. And for others who, like me, are fighting the Darkness that claimed Lisa.

And in that Strength, seek Hope.
Through Hope, find Healing.
And through Healing, someday, find Happiness.


Monday, October 14, 2013

Southern Comfort Odyssey Part II: Meeting Icons

Tuesday I had some things to do. 

After my "Big Sister" Mel and I checked into the hotel, we got our luggage from my car.  On our way in, I bumped into three women, one of whom was Ana Christina Garcia.  I was star struck!  She was more beautiful in person than in her pictures!  I said "hi" but I was in drab so she had no idea who I was.  (We are Facebook friends.)

After getting set up in the room, Mel and I went to the bar and had some lunch.  Mel introduced me to the two bartenders who have been there for years.  I then went upstairs and put on my face and some casual clothes.  After all, I wanted to get a pedicure. 

So I went to Classic Nails and had a wonderful relaxing time.  Then, I made a decision.  I'd been thrown out of my house.  Who did I have to hide from anymore?  I went to the mall, to one of those places that do eyebrows with strings.  One of the thinks I've always hated about my face were my huge eyebrows.  I didn't cut them down to keep up a semi male appearance.  Well, not any more. 

My eyebrows are now feminine.  By the way, those strings?  HURT!

I returned to the hotel, and I went upstairs to change.  It was my first night in Atlanta, and I wanted to have fun!

New Brows and Ready for Fun!

So I threw on my favorite rockabilly dress, and headed downstairs for karaoke.  First, I stopped at the bar where I bumped into my friend Olivia Loren.  She was being hit on by a local who wasn't the brightest bulb.  She and I looked at each other and smiled- a silent agreement to screw with this guy's head.  he offered to buy me a drink, which I accepted.  Soon Mel joined us and I suggested we go to the Italian Restaurant for dinner.  The Four Star Expensive One: La Grotta.  I invited Olivia and the Cletus the Slack jawed Yokel to join us.  He walked downstairs with us, but saw the menu posted at the door and stopped.  He explained to Olivia that he couldn't afford the place and so he couldn't join us...

...exactly as I suspected.  So Olivia, Mel and I had a wonderful dinner and two bottles of wine.  Then I went to the bar and had some more to drink.  What's that I hear?  Singing?  Oh right!  Karaoke!  So downstairs I went... listing slightly to starboard.  The guy didn't have any of my usual songs, so I tried things out of my range.  As if I could find the right key with a map at that point!

While there, I met some wonderful people... who bought me drinks.  So I sang some more...

And someone took a video... and I drank more...

It didn't end well.

In any case, I fell asleep next to a very good porcelain friend on a nice cool tile floor.

The next morning I just wasn't feeling my best.  Go figure.  A nice shower and a LOT of water later, I threw on my face and went to the lobby.  I bumped into some people and hugs ensued.  Then I saw my friend Stephanie from Canada.  She was going full time at work when she arrived home, and she was GLOWING!  We hugged, and I looked around.  You see, I knew with whom she was travelling.

There I saw Linda Lewis

Linda was one of my earliest inspirations.  I found her website before I re-emerged and I remember thinking "Wow, she's gorgeous!  And so very happy looking!  And courageous!"  (I read her interviews she posted on her site.)  I saw her pictures on Flickr wearing her cleavage top from Proactive prosthetics and thinking "they look perfect!"  So I ordered them.  I sent her an email asking about her Veronica 5 as well, and she answered!  I was so impressed that she did that! 

Anyway, years later, we started messaging each other on Facialbook.  And we became friends.  I couldn't believe how friendly and down to Earth she was!  She's been having some money issues related to her lack of a job, so Stephanie and I paid her way to SCC.  More Stephanie than me, but still- we got her there. 

And there she was!

We hugged. 

She then went to find Devrah, with whom she was staying (and who was paying for Linda's part of the room as well.  Many thanks to her for her generosity!)

I went downstairs to eat, as I was starving and dehydrated.  Eventually, Stephanie and Linda joined me. 

Shopping with Linda

After breakfast, Devrah, Linda and I went shopping!  First to a makeup store so Linda could help Devrah select a palate for herself, then to the mall... and Victoria's Secret!  Linda was fitted for a bra, and I bought a few myself.  Devrah wasn't feeling good, so we cut this trip short and went back to the hotel. 

Later that same day, I sat in the bar with Big Sister Mel. She was joined by Donna Rose and two women I didn’t know. Mel seemed very excited to see them, which is saying something, as she is very even-keeled. I knew that Donna was one of Mel’s “Big Sisters” and I had heard of her other one — Sarah. Well, one of these women was Sarah, who Mel hadn’t seen in a while and wasn’t expecting. Sarah projected a Zen-like calm. Seriously! Just being in her presence was comforting. We were joined by another of my heroes, Lana Moore, who is a firefighter from Ohio who transitioned on the job. I was speechless — sitting with people I admire and being welcomed as an equal.  Or not being rejected outright anyway.

Skip forward a few hours.  A year earlier, when I was going to attend SCC in 2012, I scheduled a makeup session with the beautiful Monica Prata.  Well, I didn't go.  We moved it to keystone.  She couldn't make it.  So we moved it to that night.  I was all made up and ready for dinner.  Dinner at Maggianos, and I was in a sparkly cocktail dress.  A bit overdressed?  Well normally, yes.  But not this night.

This night I would be "pinned in" as a sister of Vanity Club

The event was held upstairs, and there was a bar there.  I had drinks with many of the women who inspired me.  I felt like a jabbering fan girl.  Of course, there were cameras everywhere. 

I sat in a table at the back of the room with Linda and Stephanie.

Drinking with Linda

Before the ceremony, everyone stood and introduced themselves.  Eventually it was my turn, and I introduced myself to everyone.  I was so nervous!  I think I attempted some lame humor.

Dinner was wonderful, and afterwards I lined up with the others receiving their pins that night.  I was elected with one other person, but she couldn't make it to SCC.  So it was me and ten other women, all of them stunning, receiving or VC pins that night.  Mine was pinned on me by my sponsor, B'Ellana. 

My Pin

There were so many pictures taken!  And people were so friendly!  I'll discuss the whole Vanity Club thing: who, what, when, how, and why in a later entry.

During the night, I went downstairs to the main bar to get a round using my credit card as the upstairs bar was cash only.)  A few guys clocked me, and giggled, but nothing more.

The night ended and we all walked out into the sultry late summer night. 

By the time I reached the hotel, I was soaked in sweat.  Oh that dress needed cleaning!  Many of us headed to the bar.  I hung around for a while, talking to people, and I had a few drinks.  Mel was in the bar, and we hung out for a while.  Donna Rose also showed up, and we spoke for a bit.

Eventually, I went to the bed.  The next day I needed to be up early for a seminar.

Thursday was another hot and humid Southern day.  I showered and put on my face.  I've gotten so much faster with this lately.  I went downstairs to get a diet Coke and headed down to the only seminar I planned in advance to attend:  Donna Rose discussing writing a blog.

Yeah, you might say that I had an interest in that topic. 

I was headed to the room where the seminar was being held, when someone walked toward me and called my name.  Her name was Emma. She reads my blog and we’ve communicated on Facebook as well. She’d never been out in public en femme before this very day. And there she was! She introduced herself and we hugged. She wrote to me that she was coming to the conference to meet one of her “heroes:” Me.

I never had anyone call me that before.

Well maybe back in my paramedic days, but that was the job.

She said my words have helped her. That my being a woman and discussing my struggles have inspired her. I can’t describe how that made me feel. A bit self conscious? Happy? Validated? I’d said similar things to a few people myself, and meant them. But they? They were icons of the community. They are people who are activists, voices of the community: Heroines. I’m just me. In the end, I guess the word I’m grasping for is: Humbled. The fact that someone read my words and had them affect her life — in some ways that’s a Dream come true. After all, it’s why I write. But to actually have it happen? To have that particular dream bear fruit?

It’s humbling.

The Power of the Written Word.

The Wonder of it All.

Donna's seminar was rather informal, and quite good.  She pointed out that once a person's words are posted on the internet, they're out there for all to see.  She said there was danger to this, that of discovery.  She mentioned that we could be outed to employers, to friends, to FAMILY.  When she said "family" she said it with particular emphasis and looked directly at me.

In the Q&A part of the seminar, she asked me to relate the results of my MIL discovering my blog- of being thrown out.  Of my family sundered.  And several people had questions.

With one of my inspirations and my friend, Donna Rose

After the seminar, a woman stopped me in the hall.  She'd been in the seminar as well.  She was quite pretty, and had very short hair.  She said she was a grad student at UMass, and was doing her doctoral thesis on LGBT parenting.  She asked if she could interview me about this.  I agreed, and we headed for the empty bar for a quiet place to talk. 

She had many very good questions, and I cried more than once.  After maybe an hour, Mel joined us.  I explained to her what the woman and I were discussing, and I asked Mel if she would also talk about her experiences as a parent who fully transitioned.  She agreed and they talked.

While they did so, I walked around to stretch my legs, and I happened upon a group of my Vanity Club sisters posing for pictures.  I volunteered to take some for them.  And a two of them graciously agreed to pose with me as well.  Again, I was thrilled as both were early inspirations as well.  And here I was speaking with them!  Oh I am SUCH a fangirl!

With Ana Christina Garcia

Oh I looked like hell!  But I didn't mind. 

I went back to the bar, where Mel was finishing her discussion.  She invited me to lunch.  We ended up at PF Changs.  I'd never been there before, and loved it.  The waiter was very nice, and "maam"ed me several times.  I get a thrill when that happens!

After lunch I headed back to the hotel.  First I slipped into Kristin Beck's seminar, and was enthralled by her no-nonsense presence (and I LOVED her red dress!)  She even answered one of my questions!  A little later I spoke to her briefly.  She was very nice, if a bit rushed.  She had "handlers" spiriting her here and there. 

Kristin Beck

Then I read a bit of my "assigned reading" for my TG Forum book review.  As I was sitting in the bar, people popped in and out.  Eventually the bar opened and more people trickled in, including Linda.  We talked for a little while, when the UMass person walked back into the bar.  I invited her to join us.

Eventually, she and I went to dinner at the Italian place (Linda had a previous engagement.)  It was a wonderful time, and I learned a LOT about her.  She is a very driven woman, and for all the right reasons.  I know she will make her mark on the world. 

After dinner, she took her leave, as she was staying with friends nearby.  I went upstairs and changed into something more appropriate for the night. I then returned to the bar, where the action was in full swing. I drank with familiar faces and went to bed relatively early, as I simply needed sleep.

To be concluded

Part 1 is HERE.

Part 3 is HERE


Friday, October 4, 2013

Helping Lisa Empanada's Wife

If you've  followed my blog recently, you've read about my sister Lisa Emapanda's suicide.

Her wife, Sandy, had to front the funeral home expenses in cash.  That was a lot of money.  Money the family really doesn't have.  Remember, insurance companies don't pay out for suicide.

Keystone Conference 2013

Someone had to help.

My friend Tina made a suggestion to me, and I ran with it.

So. I started a fund for Sandy to help cover the funeral costs.  The goal is $10,000.

When I first started this, I received $720 in cash donations at Laptop Lounge.  This money is already in Sandy's hands.

Since then, the website has collected $3,075.  This amount was withdrawn on September 30, and Sandy will have it soon.

The original deadline was September 30.  I've extended it to October 31, for many reasons.  The first is because many people asked me to do so, so they can donate when they get more money.  The second is because the job isn't done.  $3000 is a lot of money, but it isn't enough.  The third is just a little more personal.  October 31 is Halloween, and it marks five years since my feminine self re-emerged.  So it's my "second birthday."  I could think of nothing better on that day then to tell Sandy that We- Lisa's sisters- covered her final expenses.

SCC 2103

As transgender people, we are often alone.  Then we discover that there are others like us.  We gather together, we form small groups, that collect as a community.  We face adversity together when everyone else turns their back on us.  We take care of our own

That's what I told Sandy when I asked her permission to do this.  "We take care of our own." 

Sandy did not ask for this help.  She would not ask for help.  It is up to us to give it. 

Sandy called me family.  I take that seriously.  I've already given over $100, and I will give more when I can.  Lisa was my Sister.  I can do no less.

I'm asking you to help me help Lisa's wife.  She is alone in a house with nothing but memories.  Help me show her that even though Lisa is gone, she is NOT alone.  That we, as a Community, are here for her.

Please help.  Every little bit helps.  I will personally be very grateful.

To donate, please go to:

Thank you for anything you can do.