Monday, April 7, 2014

Keystone Conference 2014 Part 1

The sixth annual Keystone Conference was held at the Sheraton Harrisburg/Hershey from March 26-29, 2014.

Seriously.  I know- I was there.  This was my sixth straight Keystone- I've never missed one.  It's grown from 75 people the first year to over 500 attendees this year.

Unlike the past few Keystones, this time I didn't take notes.  So everything I write will be based upon my fuzzy memory of events.  In any case, the feelings are true.

Monday night, I announced to the world that I am transgender.  The following morning, I put on my makeup and loaded the car with my stuff and Linda's and drove west to Harrisburg.

Ready to Roll!

So off we went through the early morning haze.

We arrived around noon and checked into the room.  Then we went to the Dog and Pony bar for lunch. Then a pedicure.  That night, Linda and I helped the Keystone staff stuff registration envelopes.  After that, we had dinner with them.

Dinner with the Staff

Wednesday I bummed around, bumping into friends and catching up.  Linda and I were supposed to have lunch with Amanda Richards, but it didn't happen as she had last minute things to do.  So Linda and I ate elsewhere.  I was going to go to the Devon Seafood Grille, but couldn't afford it.  And besides, I had to be up early the next morning for my seminar.  While in the bar, I met someone named Julie.  She is a Navy veteran and an EMT.  She looked so put together and beautiful.  As I am a former paramedic, we clicked immediately.  We shared some drinks, and I went to bed early.

Wednesday Night Dinner

For the fourth time, I gave a seminar on writing.  As always, I used the same learning objectives as always, but designed the lesson to be entirely different- trying to achieve the objectives from a different angle.  Last year, I used the setting of a beach party and constructivist learning theory.  This year, while I stayed with constructivism, I decided to supply just a hair less guidance, and answered questions.  This year's setting was a 10 year reunion of something very significant in their character's lives.  I would tell them what later.

The each participant created their character, and each person added something to him/her, like occupation or phobia.  The discussion began and I revealed what they were there for:  it was the 10 year reunion of the abduction by Aliens.  Some laughed, and then, as if on cue, the door opened and a beautiful woman entered.  She was Jenny North, and she apologized profusely for being late.  I briefed her on what was going on and she quickly created a character, and I told her I would supply her occupation.  

The conversation began again, and someone asked what she did for a living.  To which I said "Don't you recognize her- she's the one who abducted you!"  

And Jenny went with it immediately.  I found out later that she does improv comedy, so she was well suited to doing it.  So good that people thought she was a plant.  She wasn't.  But she was an amazing addition.

The session ended and my phone rang.  It was a relative, bearing very bad news.  I'm not at liberty to discuss this news, but I will say it has to do with something I am quite familiar with:  the Darkness.  This news necessitated certain actions and certain emotions.  I was quite upset.  I'll get back to this.

I went upstairs.  There I bumped into Amanda Richards and Kristin Beck.  For those who don't know that name, Kristin Beck was a Navy SEAL for over twenty years, and she came out as transgender.  This made headlines, and she's been in the news since as an advocate for TG and veterans' rights.

Amanda invited me to have drinks with them.  So I did.  And I found out how genuine and no-pretense Kristin is.  For all the fame, she is just Her.  And we share the same warped sense of humor.  Several people were sitting alone in the bar, including Julie, who I'd met the night before.  I mentioned to Kristin that Julie served in the Navy and Kristin immediately smiled brightly.  They spoke of being TG veterans and how it would affect her veteran's benefits.

After a little while, the group broke up.  After checking my dear friend, the gorgeous Ally Raymond into our room, I went to see Donna Miller for a hair appointment.  She cut my hair in a feminine style.  No more wigs for this chick!  Then I saw Amanda for makeup.  When she finished, I was ready for the Vanity Club dinner.

At the Final Cut

So it was off to the Hollywood Casino, and the Final Cut Steakhouse.  There I sat with the beautiful Linda Lewis as all the Sisters of VC in attendance had a wonderful dinner.  Also there was Jenny North, as she was also a sister of VC.  Small world. Jenny received her VC pin, as did my friend the beautiful Olivia Lauren.

After dinner we lingered around the casino waiting for the bus.  Some of the elderly patrons looked positively scandalized by us.  So scandalized they weren't playing their slot machines!

We returned the the hotel, where I had a couple of drinks before going to bed.  It had been a long day, and I was quite tired.  

Continued in Part 2

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