Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Concert Resume

Living in the Philadelphia area, I'm a little spoiled.  Not only do we have cheesesteaks, but we also have a great music scene.

Many great national acts have come from this area, and there were/are countless more great bands who never made it out of the club scene here.

Add to that, we had/have some amazing radio stations.  Like most areas, most of our radio stations are now run by corporations who determine playlists using data from focus groups, etc, but when I was growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, this wasn't the case.  DJs were allowed a lot of flexibility.  We have a couple of stations around here that still have a little flexibility.  One of these is WMMR, which also promotes local bands.

One of WMMR DJs is Pierre Robert, who has been with the station since 1981.  He occasionally talks about people's "Concert resume."  This is the shows that a person has seen in their lifetime.  For example, ever speak to someone who was actually AT the Woodstock Festival?

I'm passionate about music.  Music has gotten me through some really rough times in this life.  Let's face it, any Transgendered person's life is rough.  We are born different, and we know it.  Throw that on top of the standard awkwardness of growing up, and well... it sucks.  I've written about my love of the Who already. 

But I've been thinking (dangerous I know), I wonder how many shows I've actually seen in my time.  What does my Concert Resume look like?  So I started compiling a list.  In doing so, I remembered the shows, and that's brought a smile to my face. 

Belting out a song at Laptop Lounge

So... here's my Concert resume.  I'll add comments where appropriate.  This doesn't include "bar bands" that released records, no matter how good those records are, like the amazing Love Seed Mama Jump, and the late great Queen Bee and the Blue Hornet Band.  I had to draw the line somewhere.

So here's how I'm doing it:  BAND/Opening Act,  Date.  That assumes I have all that info.  I'm fairly sure that I've missed a few shows I attended on this list, but cest la vie.

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

Men at Work/ INXS   August 13, 1983
My first show!  This was the Mann Music Center in Philly.  INXS was simply incredible, and blew Men at Work off the stage.  At the time of the show, Men at Work had the #1 single with "It's a Mistake."  I remember riding in the back of a van, and being asked to mix grain alcohol (which I'd never had) with Kool Aid for tailgating.  Needless to say, the drinks were STRONG!

Police Synchronicty Tour/  R.E.M., Madness, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts August 20, 1983
Tickets were $17.50 for a full day of music.  An incredibly hot day!  There is a great description of the show HERE.  My wife wore the shirt I bought at this show to the reunion show in 2007.

 Wife in Shirt. 
Van Halen (with David Lee Roth)/ Autograph  March 21, 1984
WOW!  I had crappy seats but what an amazing show!  THIS was Van Halen!  There was a camera on a platform directly over my head filming for the Panama video.  At 25 seconds into the video (and a few other times) is footage from that camera panning the stage.  At one point of the show, David Lee Roth was drinking from a bottle of Jack Daniels.  He looked down at someone in the front row and said "Of course it's real!  Who do you think we are?  Quiet Riot?"

Chicago (with Peter Cetera) August 24, 1984
Still the loudest show I've ever attended.  Hint: when the band has a horn section, don't get seats near the speakers. This was the tour following Chicago 17.

Live Aid  July 13, 1985
So much has been written about this.  I still have my painters hat I wore that day somewhere.  It was incredibly hot, and the fire department turned hoses on the crowd to cool us down.  it felt sooooo goood!  Tickets were an "outrageous" $35.00 each.  Back then, a ticket for a concert was less than $20.  Except Michael Jackson's Victory tour, which cost $36!

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band  August 14, 1985
It was 99 degrees that day with 99% humidity.  Stinking hot!  But what an amazing show!  Everything you've heard about Bruce in concert-it's true!

Roger Daltrey (x2)  Dec 5, 1985, Sept 11, 1994
The first show was ok, and I met Roger afterwards (I waited by the tour bus with many others.)  The second show is one of my top 5 favorite shows of all time.

Bob Dylan with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers July 20, 1986
Met Pierre Robert here.  We talked music.  He was impressed that someone my age "knew Dylan's music so well."  I was floating!  Bob did five songs, and after each one, Tom Petty chugged a beer.  After the five songs, Bob introduced Tom, who then did a few of his own songs while drunk out of his mind.

Boston/ Farrenheit June 26, 1987
Fun show.  Brad Delp really could hit the high notes!

Bob Dylan with Grateful Dead July 10, 1987
My second Bob show and my first Dead show.  What an amazing day!

James Taylor   September 13, 1987
My 21st birthday, spent at Rec Hall, PSU.  It was a Sunday night, and my girlfriend of the time bought the tickets.

The Who (x3) July 9, 1989; July 7, 2000; Dec 8, 2012
First time was OK.  Second time was amazing!  The last time I discuss here.

Elvis Costello and the Impostors  August 19,1989
Dull show.  Highlight was Elvis calling the audience out on not knowing a Van Morrison song.

Rolling Stones/ Living Color  August 31, 1989
Opening night for the US tour.  During the first song, Mick's mic went out.  He was pissed!  Amazing show!  My date was so drunk she fell down the steps.  (She was ok.)

Jethro Tull  November 2, 1989
Fun show!  These guys are entertaining!

David Bowie  July 9, 1990
Sound and Vision tour.  Bowie was simply amazing. 

Special Beat  TLA, Philly 1990
Ska show.  I remember it was fun, but I was quite drunk.

Yes (x3) April 16, 1991, July 13, 1991, October 25, 1997
The second show I sat in the front row, and shook hands with Alan White and Trevor Rabin.  My (then future) wife gave roses to Rick Wakeman, who caressed her hand and thanked her.  Yes was and still is her favorite band.  At the third show, I met Paul Simon.  Really!

Genesis  June 1, 1993
The "We Can't Dance" tour.  Fun show!  Some religious fundamentalists were sitting next to me.  When they played "Jesus he knows me" they got all pissed off and left.

Pete Townshend July 15, 1993
Psychoderelict Tour.  5th row.  Great show!

Jerry Garcia Band  November 16, 1993
I don't remember much of this show.  I was in the 10th row, but as I didn't drive I got hammered!
 
Robert Plant Nov 27, 1993
Tower Theater, Philly.  He's REALLY tall!  Good show.  He played my favorite Zep song, "Thank you."

Elvis Costello and the Attractions/ Crash Test Dummies  June 9, 1994
This may be the best concert I ever saw.  Amazing energy!  It was a hot night, and Elvis was on FIRE.  It was like he had something to prove. 

Madness  9:30 Club, 1998
Their reunion tour in a pit of a club.  Great show!  People stayed maybe 45 minutes afterwards cheering, hoping they'd do another encore.

Duran Duran August 4, 2000
Good show.  It was fun watching a bunch of thirty something Durannies bounce up and down and scream like they were 14 again.  This was at Baltimore's Pier 6, and it was the band's first ever show in Baltimore.

Todd Rundgren/ Joe Jackson  April 24, 2005
Acoustic show.  Todd was good, but Joe Jackson blew him off the stage!

Police/ Fratellis July 19, 2007
Reunion tour.  Great show with a lot of energy.  My wife was six months pregnant at the time, and felt the baby kicking to the beat.

Zombies/Strawbs September 15, 2011
I went to this with Amanda Richards.  The Zombies are known for a few songs back in the day, and sounded great.  Their opening band was one of the most influential prog rock bands out there, and they did an acoustic show.  I'd never heard of them before this, but they were great!

Hooters (many times)
I used to catch these guys all the time when they were a club band around 1984, usually at the Chestnut Cabaret in Philly.  They were the best band in Philly at the time, and listening to their music always makes me smile.

Bob Dylan (many times)
I've seen Bob 5 times total I think, including an all-electric show at PSU in 1989.  He rarely does all electric shows.

Grateful Dead (many times)
Wow.  Umm lots and lots!  My last show was October 7, 1994 at the Spectrum in Philly.  There was nothing like a Dead show.  It had to be experienced to be appreciated.

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

So there it is.  I've been fortunate that I've seen some amazing bands in my time, including some legends. 

What's YOUR Concert resume like?  I hope it makes you smile! 









 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Reprise

Another weekend gone.  Mostly cloudy, some sun, highs in the 40s.  A little warm for this time of year in south eastern PA, but I'm not complaining.

This weekend I was out and about, but it wasn't typical.  No far from it.

This weekend was the monthly Renaissance meeting and the biweekly Laptop Lounge

I worked Saturday morning, and from there went to True Colors for a makeover by Amanda Richards.  (oh, I stopped to get a room at a motel first.)

I arrived early for my pre-paid 4 PM appointment... to find Amanda in a middle of a photo session.  She's double booked.  Oops!  Amanda was horrified and very apologetic.  Yes, even the Legend makes mistakes sometimes.  ;)

So, options were weighed.  I could:
1) Go back to the motel room ( a 90 minute drive) and do my own makeup.
2) Wait until the end of the photo session at Six and then bump her 6 o clock appointment back.
3) Do my own makeup there.

In any case, she said I could be refunded, as any choice was free (her mistake after all.)  I told her that no refund would be needed, but I found it very generous (and honest) of her to offer.

Hmmm.  I didn't bring my makeup.  Amanda said she had everything I would need.  So, I would get to play with her professional palliate and brushes...

I said I'd do so if at six she would do my eyelashes for me.  She agreed.

So.  There I was with a professional makeup palliate and professional brushes.  Only thing that was less than awesome was the lighting.  No brainer!  I was like a kid in a candy store with mom's credit card!  So I dressed and started applying.

The person having the photoshoot was someone going out for the first time: Alexis.  She'd been dressing for years, but this would be her first time out.  The photoshoot was a Christmas gift from her wife, who not only knows about Alexis, but approves and participates.

Yes, Alexis is aware how blessed she is.

I was all but ready at 5:45.  I was wearing a new dress I found on ebay.  This was the second dress I bought from Funfash.  Their stuff tends to be a bit daring, and they ship quickly.  And I LOVE this dress!  I was going to wear a white cami underneath it to cover the cleavage, but... NAH!




I'll wear this again at Keystone.  THERE I'll wear the cami.

At six on the nose, I sat in Amanda's chair.  I asked her to critique my makeup as she apologized again.  She said she really liked the job I did on my eyes, and made some helpful suggestions here and there.  She did my lashes, lips, and eyeliner.  She also combed out my wig.  By 6:15, I was ready.



I was supposed to go to dinner with my dear friends Jen, Katie and Suzanne.  However due to the scheduling mishap, I called off.  I went directly to Renaissance. 

When I arrived, there were maybe twenty girls attending, including five I'd never seen before.  One was a member from way back- she transitioned in the late nineties.  The other four were first timers.  Four in the same meeting!  I was thrilled!  Four more of us starting the journey out of the shadows. Two told me that they heard of us through our group on Meetup.com.  As I am the host of that group, I was glad to hear it.

I didn't stay too long, as I'd missed dinner, and I was hungry.

For the first time in a while (and only for this one night) Laptop Lounge was at Shangrila.  Some readers may remember that I went to Shangrila alone back in November.  At the bar, I found Dr. Michelle Angello, who was kind enough to invite me to join her.  Dr. Angello is one of the leading therapists specializing in LGBT issues, and has appeared on many talk shows, including a memorable appearance on Larry King.  I had a wonderful time talking with her over appetizers and wine.

Soon enough, the party started.  The bar was soon packed.  My "Big Sis" Mel arrived, and we talked for a while.  I saw my friend Tina from Allentown for the first time in a while.  There were many new faces, including Alexis.  Turns out she is a fellow Penn Stater, several years after my time there. 

With Alexis

Also there was another "new"girl, Nikki.  She also had been dressing for years, and it showed.  Beautiful presentation!  Far better than I was my first time out!

As always there was music and fun times.  I made sure to limit my drinking, ending very early.  Many, many pictures were taken.  Apparently my dress was a hit!  It was the dress, right?





I left at about 1 AM.  back to the motel, where I changed back to drab and showered.  Then to Wawa for a quick snack.  By 2:15, I was on my way home. 

I'd just cleared Valley Forge Park when I was stuck behind a slow moving SUV.  It was swerving a little bit.  We passed the Valley Forge post office, where a police car was waiting- from the same station that pulled me over back in the summer.  And this officer pulled in behind me.  I wasn't worried about my sobriety as my last drink was more than four hours prior, so it was out of my system.  That said, no one likes being tailed by a police car!

I drove for almost a mile, watching the SUV swerve over the white line and wondering if the police officer behind me saw it as well.  I really didn't like the situation, but didn't want to turn off for fear that the officer would follow me, wondering where I was going.  I was fairly sure that the officer had already run my license plate by that time, and knew where I lived.  As we entered town, I pulled into a gas station, as I kind of needed gas and it provided a plausible reason to pull off. 

The officer nearly tore off my rear bumper blasting past me!  His lights turned on, and he was in pursuit.

I finished pumping gas, turned back onto the road, and there was the officer, maybe three hundred yards down the road.  As I drove past, I saw it was the same officer who caught me, and he was administering "the Test" to the driver of the SUV.

Hopefully, this guy will learn from his mistake.

Soon enough, I was home.  I uploaded the pictures from my camera into my computer, and went to bed.

Happy to be out again.  Happy to have reconnected with friends. 

Happy to be a Woman.




PS:  I will be presenting at the Keystone Conference on Thursday morning at 10:30 AM.  My topic is Writing Transgender Fiction: Releasing Your Inner PersonAnd yes, it will be different from last year's presentation.  Want to know how?  Sign up!

PPS:  Speaking of TG fiction, I recently posted my fourth story to Fictionmania.  Find it HERE.  Comments appreciated!

 




 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Well Regulated Militia

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

Lots of people know some of those words.  I have them memorized.

If you don't live here in the USA, that's the Second amendment to our Constitution.  This amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the "Bill of Rights." As such, it isn't an original part of the Constitution, as it was ratified in 1789.  But that's neither here nor there.

For many people, this is the only part of the Constitution they recognize or even know a part of.  Some people think this is the ONLY part of the Constitution that matters.

I've been asked many times for my opinion on the topic of "Gun Control" and the second amendment lately.  There's a firestorm of angry posts over on facebook.  President Obama issued 23 executive actions, and made some recommendations to Congress.

NONE, repeat NONE of these were to "take away everyone's guns" as the lunatic fringe would have you believe.

So.  Here's my opinion.  Subject to change if the FACTS do.

I have no problem with people owning guns.  Pistols, rifles, if you want them, that's fine. I understand the need for self-defense.


That said... there's a bunch of people (and a very large, very rich organization that owns a lot of people in congress) who want anyone to be able to buy heavy artillery.  Six guns at high noon and all that.  Shoot who, what, and when you want.

Right, let's go back to the actual text, and the part that the NRA and their legions forget.

A well regulated militia

Let's define the term, shall we?  Regulated.  According to Merriam Websters:
 
1
a: to govern or direct according to rule



b (1): to bring under the control of law or constituted authority
(2): to make regulations for or concerning
2
: to bring order, method, or uniformity to


So, "well regulated" means "governed."  As in "have laws concerning." 

I won't go into the fact that the MILITIA part means "own a gun, you're in the militia."  Which today means National Guard.

So.  "Well regulated" means gun laws.  Says so, right there in the second amendment.

No one is taking away your guns, people.  I understand that Big guns are fun to shoot.  Ok, I get it.  Everyone needs a hobby.  But does you getting a thrill trump people dying?

"More people die from cars"  Ummm... cars are built for transportation.  Guns are built to kill.  See the difference?  If you don't, you shouldn't own either one.  (I didn't come up with that, but I agree totally.)

So.  Common sense gun laws.  Like "can buy only one gun a day."  Why do you need to buy more in a DAY?  "Background check."  Issue with that?  Oh wait- that means the government will know you have a gun!  0.o  No selling ammunition on the Internet.  "But that means I have to get my fat ass out of my chair, jump into my deathmobile and go to a store!!!  And the transaction can be traced!"

Exactly!

"Pass a competency test before being licensed to own a gun."  SOCIALISM!  Ummm... you need to pass a test to drive, get into school, and so many other things that are far less lethal than owning a gun.

"I need my gun to fight against a tyrannical gubbermint!"  Wow.  Just... wow.  So, when Bush was wiping his butt with the Constitution, you didn't rise up to fight, but NOW the government is tyrannical?  Oh, right- they want to put in common sense laws!  Seriously, if you hate the government that much... MOBILIZE.  Protest.  Vote.  I attended MANY protests during the years of the Bush junta.  If you need to rely on your popgun against armored swat teams... well first off, you're in the wrong country if you hate America that much and secondly... good luck with that.  Remember me in your will?

And do you REALLY think that the undermanned and underfunded Police or the thinly stretched military are going to come to YOUR house to collect your firearms?  Really?  Because if not them, who would?  "Unarmed tree-hugging hippy liberals?"  "The Government agencies with their black helicopters because there's millions of them funded by the Chinese?"  See how stupid that argument is?

Want a gun?  Follow the laws.  I understand that most people DO follow the laws and WANT common sense laws about guns.  But some still are paranoid about "THEM" coming to shoot them with their illegal gun (cuz them thar criminals don't follow the laws") or the Government taking away their toys. 

Folks, I'm a LOT more worried about my first amendment rights.  Remember the First amendment?  Yeah, the one that comes before the second?  It reads this way:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

That means no state religion (Sorry, Fundamentalists).  It allows peaceably assembling (Occupy Wall Street), and my right to speak my mind.

And contrary to the bumper stickers, the FIRST amendment guarantees the others.  Think a bullet can stop an idea?

Here's some ideas that bullets didn't stop:

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Martin Luther King Jr.

“Let no one be discouraged by the belief there is nothing one person can do against the enormous array of the world's ills, misery, ignorance, and violence. Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events. And in the total of all those acts will be written the history of a generation.”
Robert F. Kennedy

“It has been my experience that folks who have no vices have very few virtues.”
Abraham Lincoln

I could keep going on that, but you get the point.  Bullets don't stop ideas.  Ideas move faster than 3000 feet per second.  Ideas live forever and change lives.  Ideas change Nations.


So. There you have it. You know my mind in full.  I have exercised my First Amendment Right.  With every right is a responsibility.  I am responsible for my own views, and any fallout they may cause. 
Do I look Responsible?


Don't agree with me?  Fine.  Intelligent debate is encouraged.  As this is my blog, I set the following as the guidelines for this discussion:
1) Be civil.  Get personal and you're gone.
2) The moment you reference a statistic provided by the NRA or Fox News or a right wing mouthpiece, you lose.  Because you won't be using facts. 
3) Be prepared to cite your sources, because I will cite mine.

Be well!



 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pallid bust of Pallas

Been away FAR too long.  I'd been counting the minutes until this time...

Out and about again as Myself.  As Sophie.

And this would be my first time out since starting HRT.  It was going to be a memorable night for this chick!  And I dressed like it was a special occasion... which it was!

I was attending one of Jen Bryant's mega-parties at the Raven in New Hope.  She does these every other month, and I've attended a couple.  They're always fun.

I hadn't been out since mid-November.  An Eternity of frustration and patience.  Veteran readers know why I haven't been out, so I won't bore you with the details.

In any case, I made my appointment with Amanda Richards weeks ago.  Spent a while planning my outfit, which in the end was "just" an LBD. 

Ever hear the old adage that a "watched pot never boils?"  Well the days, hours and minutes dragged so slowly. 

Eventually I was on the road to see Amanda.  And not long after, I was looking in the mirror at Me again.  Not the drab false shell, but the REAL me.

So Good to see ME again!


I was invited to dinner by my friend Charlotte and her wonderful wife.  Instead of the Raven, they wanted to go to a different place nearby:  the Cock and Bull.  Joining us were other friends: Jennifur Lynn (yes that's how she spells it), Valentinia Torrelli with her date, Dale. 

A quick word about Valentina.  She's maybe five foot four in heels and weighs less than a wet cocker spaniel.  No one would ever EVER read her as a TG.  Most girls would hate her for being so petite, beautiful, and stylish except for the fact that she's so amazingly nice and considerate.  Everyone loves her!  So she has it all.  Meow.  ;)

In any case, Valentina was a few dozen steps behind Jennifur, Charlotte and myself walking into the restaurant.  We passed a group of elderly women as we entered.  Valentina told me of their comments, which I didn't hear.

As one can see from the picture above, my dress plunged in the front, which showed off the "girls" fairly nicely.  Apparently the ladies were saying "Did you see that girl?"  "That's disgusting!"  "Boobs hanging out like that! She should be ashamed!"  Tramp!"

So I wasn't read as a TG, but as a GG tramp.  Know what?  I'll take that!


A Tramp At Dinner

Dinner was wonderful!  The conversation was terrific as was the food and service.  I had a glass of pinot noir.  Drink number one.

From there it was off to the Raven!  When I arrived, the party was already in full swing.  I re-connected with several people and waited at the bar for my turn.  A guy stood up from his seat at the bar, and another guy moved to take it when the guy leaving said "Hey, let the lady have the seat!  Where's your manners?" while indicating me.  A second guy also chimed in "Yeah, let the lady sit!"  The guy apologized and offered me the seat, which I declined.  I said all I wanted was access to the bar to order a drink.  the man who seated himself offered to buy me a drink, which I declined, but he DID order one for me.  A tall Jack and diet coke.  Drink number two.

So I experienced men treating me like a lady.  I can't tell you how good that felt. 

I circulated about for a bit.  I bumped into Lisa Empanada and her wonderful wife.  Lisa was kind enough to offer her room for me to change back to drab later (as the person with whom I was to share a room caught the flu and didn't make it.)  I bought her a beer for rent. 

As with all Jen Bryant Raven events, there were so many people there.  I was able to talk to Lady Ellen for a bit, which was great.  I also finally met Pat, who reads this blog, but who hasn't commented for a while. Since the election actually...  ;)  We didn't really get a chance to talk, though.  I then had one more Jack and diet coke.  Drink number three.  10 PM.

The evening became a kaleidoscope of people and events.  The GG stripping off her blouse and dancing with just her bra.  The GG who was depressed that my boobs were "bigger and nicer" than hers.  A very tall woman named Jen who defined "Statuesque, raven-tressed, a Goddess of the night."  The usual crowd singing show tunes off key around the piano.

I had so many fun conversations and so much fun!  Total immersion into our Community.  I never felt like anything BUT a Woman. 

I was in heaven!

Oh, I mentioned my "girls" showing.  They received a LOT of attention.  I stopped counting at 100 long looks.  I can't complain, as I WAS showing them off.  Was that the smartest course of action?  Probably not, but I wanted to feel special and feminine.  And I certainly did!


At 1 AM, I bade everyone good night, went to Lisa's room, and changed back to drab.  I hadn't had an alcoholic drink since 10PM.  By the time I left for home, 1:30, it had been three and a half hours since my last drink.  Three drinks, three hours to recover.  Exactly what I needed. 

Next week is Renaissance and Laptop Lounge.  I already have my dress selected, it's just a matter of accessories.  Being out and about again... Bliss.


Oh, in case you don't know, Pallas was a Titan in Greek mythology, killed by Athena.  In this case, the bust is actually of Athena, called "Pallas Athena."  So the Raven sits upon a "disguised" female. (And if you don't know to what the title refers, I'm sending you back to Literature 101 to read many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.)

If you follow, it makes perfect sense.

For a Woman going to The Raven.
 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Arrested VI: The Final Cut

For those of you who haven't been following along (there will be a quiz), here are the other parts of this magnum opus:

Arrested
Arrested II: Preliminary Hearing
Arrested III: Psych Evaluation
Arrested IV: Alcohol Highway Safety School
Arrested V: Judged


Right.  So on December 26, I received a letter from the PENNDOT.  It was my reinstatement, valid on the 27th, and my driver's licence.

On the morning of December 27, I climbed into the driver's seat of my Subaru and drove to work.  And I have to say, it felt great.

My thirty day suspension was OVER!  Done!  Finito!  Fertig!


The whole thing is behind me now.  Nearly five months.

Well, not quite over.  There's applying for my record expungement in six months.  Then there's the whole TEN YEARS of never being caught again.  I can manage that.

A lot can happen in five months.  I learned that sobriety isn't an issue for me.  I didn't miss drinking.  Many many people expressed their support, for which I am very grateful. 

Am I still sober?  No.  As I planned, on Dec 29, I rose a glass to toast a departed friend.  I had two glasses of champagne on New years eve.  A glass of wine with dinner the other night.  Nothing even close to what I used to drink.

Some people would look back on this and say "Bad luck" and just go right on their way.  I've met people like that.  Some were in the DUI class I attended.  Me?  I see this as a Life Lesson.

I broke the law.  I pled guilty to this crime.  The Commonwealth gave me my penalty, and I served it.  It SUCKED, but I served it.  (What would be the deterrent if it didn't suck?) 

I NEVER EVER want to go through this again. 



Mirrors Hide Nothing

To ensure this, I had to take a hard look at myself, and my life.  I'm used to looking into the mirror and not liking what I see.  Most Transpeople have this issue.  I also see every little fault in my life; every misstep, every wound I've unintentionally caused others, every hypocrisy.  And this?  This was more than a misstep.

I could've killed someone due to my stupidity.  Or worse.

I remember my friend who died in my arms back in the 1980s, his last breath gurgling blood.  His last words on this plane addressed to me.  "Don't let me..."  The bubbles of blood from his mouth as his last breath left his body.  His car was crushed by a drunk driver.  

And I could've done that to someone else.  To someone I've never met.

Trust me when I say that if I had done this, I would not be breathing now.  I could not have lived with it.


I have a second chance.  God gave it to me.  The Commonwealth gave it to me.  My friends have given it to me.  Now I have to not only accept it, but take it.  And be worthy of it.


Those are the lessons I learned.  That I needed to change, and that maybe I'm worthy of that second chance. 



 

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Relics

It's amazing the lessons life gives us at the strangest of times.  It's even more amazing the value people put on the littlest things.

There's a scene in the the movie "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where Indiana Jones is drunk in a bar, having just watched a truck carrying Marion explode.  In the bar, he is confronted by his rival, Belloq, who says something rather profound.

"Look at this... it's worthless... ten dollars from a vendor in the street.  But I take it, bury it in the sand for a thousand years, it becomes priceless..."

Most people have something in their lives that are worthless to everyone but themselves.  A photo, a lock of hair, a drawing by their child... something.

I'm a sentimental person.  In many ways, I could shed almost all by possessions and be happy.  But there a few things that matter to me a great deal.

Sentimental Value.

What some people see as junk to me can be priceless.  An example is an estate sale.  I've been to a few of these, usually of soldiers.  Their children have no use for most of the items the soldiers collected during the war.  To them, it's nothing.  To that soldier, it was probably a reminder not just of the war, but of friends lost and friendships that endured.

For some people, those relics are a gold mine, as militaria can be quite valuable.  I see the objects as History, and, when I acquire one, that I am just it's steward through my time here.


One of my pieces.  This is a Princess Mary Brass Tobacco Tin, Christmas 1914

What made me think of this (finally to the point, right?) was this past weekend.  I went to a gathering of old friends.  It was a "second wake" for one friend who died a year ago, but one of us was in China and couldn't attend the funeral.  He returned for a few weeks, so we had this gathering.  It was fun, yet subdued.  We did this at a local hotel, and I booked a room for the night. 

Several people brought beer.  As I have a bottle opener on my house key ring (I keep my car keys separate), I had those out and on the table holding the iced down beers.  Simple enough.

So we were all there, playing games, having fun until the wee hours (rare for people our age- but we used to play cards until dawn all the time in our youth.)  At the end of the night, I gave my winnings, meager as they were, to the host as part of my payment for the conference room, and went to bed.

It wasn't until I arrived home the next morning that I discovered that I'd left my house keys back at the hotel.  A few frantic phone calls later, they weren't found, so I went back to the hotel and checked the conference room, where I found them on the floor next to my chair.  So I found them.

Ok, so I lost my keys.  So what?

The key ring itself was given to me in high school by a friend.  It attached to another key ring given to me by another friend in 1983.  But most important to me- precious beyond price- was a little piece of metal hanging on that keyring.  It maybe cost $2 back in the early 1970s when it was first purchased.  Maybe an inch in diameter.  Steel.

It's a dog tag.  Really from a dog.  I'll call him S.

S was the family dog as I was growing up- one of two dogs we had.  One of them died in 1979 leaving S as the only pet.  He was a pure breed German Shepherd, and was big for his breed.  There were many times in my childhood that he was my only friend. 

S died of cancer in August 1983.  He was 11.  I was 16.  His death threw me into my first major depression, which lasted months.

I took his tag from his collar and put it on my key chain, where it remains to this very day.



The Tag.  Rear View. The front has S's name and the address where I grew up.


Nearly thirty years. There aren't many things I've had that long.  Less than five, I think.  That tag was with me through the end of high school, all the way through college, through the turbulent years after college and all the way through my "adult" life since getting married.  Actually to think of it- I stopped dressing as a woman around that time- summer of 1983

So there it was, on my key ring that I lost.  Keys?  I can have them copied.  The key rings themselves?  Well, in the end, they're just key rings given to me by people I haven't seen or spoken to in years.  But that Dog tag?  I was so afraid I'd lost it.

So if it's so important to me, why do I keep it on my key ring where I can easily lose it?  Why not frame it with a picture of the dog? 

"S", circa 1981


That's a really good question.  Maybe because it's always been on that key ring?  Maybe I draw just a tiny bit of comfort knowing it's there?

My current dog, "N,"  is 12.  She's in good health, but that could change quickly (as it did with S.)  She's the first dog I've had since S died, and we found her at an animal rescue shelter in 2000.  N is a German shepherd mutt.  My parents never got another pet, but really love when I bring N to visit them.  They seemed happier to see her than me before my daughter was born.  Now it's all about her.  I'm just the transport method for my daughter and dog. 

"N"


Someday, hopefully not soon, N will pass as well.  And Her tag will join S's on my key ring.  It's my way of honoring their memory and keeping even a small part of them with me, I suppose.

And if my wife and I ever have a house without her mom in it, we will again have pets.  Cats for my Wife, and another dog for me (but only after N passes.)

We all keep our memories one way or the other.  Some we bury, or try to.  Others we desperately cling to, as they are the bright points that keep us going even when things are at their darkest.

My teens were a very dark time.  Were there some good memories?  Yes of course, a few.  S was one of the few bright spots.  N is currently a bright spot, and I'm happy to say I am in a far better place now than I was in my teens.  I have accepted who I am- that I am a Woman.  And my Wife accepts it.  I have friends who understand and accept me, which I didn't have as a teen.

Acceptable?

My acceptance of who I am took a long, long time.  And getting to my eventual destination will also take time, and be very rough. 


If having a dog tag reliquary helps me along this path, so be it.