Monday, May 26, 2014

Two Months Full Time

Today, May 25, 2014, marks two months since going full time.  I worked today, and reflected on a few things.

Things I still DON'T take for Granted
(in no particular order)

1)  Being Employed
So many of us aren't and, being trans, I could be fired at any time.  Legally.  I am so very fortunate to have so many people that support me and accept me at work.

2)  Wife and Daughter
Enough said.

3)  M
Her generosity in allowing me to stay with her all these months.  My time with her maybe be coming to a close, but I owe her a debt I can never ever repay in my life time.

4)  The Community
I wouldn't be here if not for my Trans sisters and brothers.

Julie, Me, Katie, Linda

5)  Friends
Having grown up with few, I understand what it means to be alone.  Having friends is a Blessing, and my friends that remain mean the world to me.  I lost several when I came out.  I'll miss them, but they made that choice, so I won't cry over them.  Speaking of which...

Sandy, John, Me, Linda

6)  Crying
As a guy, I never allowed myself to cry.  It can be so very cleansing.  I cry with some frequency now.

7)  Breasts
I've been very lucky that I have them.  They are a dream come true.  I'm still amazed seeing them when I look down and knowing they are a part of me.  That my flesh fills the cups of my bra.  I am blessed.



8)  Family
So many of us lose our family when we transition.  I haven't.  In fact, we're closer than ever.  We still have a long road, but we're finally on it.

9)  Life
Having fought the Darkness and come so very close to losing, the mere fact I'm here is something I will never take for granted.  Especially when so many of us are lost to the Darkness.  Like dear Lisa.

Lisa

10)  Readers
I write this blog mostly for me. Therapy?  Writing practice?  Vanity?  All of the above?  In any case, the fact that I have 97 subscribers blows my mind and humbles me.  Thanks to the 97 and to all of my readers.  Seriously.  Especially those who comment.

11)  Gifts
In most things I am very self depreciating (seriously.)   One thing I acknowledge is my writing ability.  So many people have complimented me on it that it can't be a coincidence.  I know I can do this and do it well.  Someday I'd love to make a living from it.

12) Nittany
My dog, who is now 14 years old.  I miss her.  I can only see her when MIL is away, so my opportunities are few.  But she is a wonderful and loyal friend.

Nittany

That's all I came up with today so far.  I'm sure I can think of more.  Maybe I will.  In any case, a Dozen should be enough for now.

What do YOU not take for granted?

First Day of Work as a Woman

Friday, May 23, 2014

May Journies

Being mostly broke has some major disadvantages.  However, having friends does not.

Linda and I have to be out of our current residence soon as the place is going up for sale.  M has been more than generous to us.  But time is running out.  I've been apartment hunting like crazy, but things kept falling through.  However it looks like that may be changing.

In any case, all work and no play makes Sophie a dull girl.  Recently, on Wednesday May 7, I was visited by my dear friend Tammy Matthews who is from North Carolina.  She also has a wonderful blog you can see HERE.

I wanted to show her Philly.  First stop was lunch.  Hmmm what to get?


Provolone wit'

Yum!  Tammy loves Jim's

Well, Duh!  It had to be a cheesesteak.  I chose Jim's Steaks so I could show her and Linda Lewis around South Street, which has for many years been the "fun alternative" street in Philly.


After lunch, we walked to our next location.  A couple of blocks away, next to the legendary rock club JC Dobbs (launch place of many famous Philly bands), is Jon's Bar and Grille.  It is in the building where Larry Fine of the Three Stooges was born.

Picture courtesy Jon's Bar



Tammy, Linda, Me pose in front of the Three Stooges.

A drink there, then to the new Cavanaughs, which USED to be the Dickens Inn, owned by the great grandson of Charles Dickens.  We had a drink there as well.  Tammy took many pictures.  I took some as well.

At Cavanaughs

From there we left the city, passing the Art Museum and the Rocky statue, and we drove around Valley Forge Park.  We made two stops as it had started raining: the Von Steuben statue and a log cabin.



That night, we had dinner at McKenzies.  We had some drinks, and Tammy had more than the rest.  We won a free pitcher of beer playing music trivia.

Tammy with Valerie, our heroine!

Near the end of the night, our waitress, Valerie, was called over to a neighboring table where three older businessman types were seated.  They asked her to sit, and she did, hoping for a better tip.  They then asked her "That table over there [us] are they men or women?"  Valerie answered "women."  The guy then asked "Do they have penises?"  Val answered "THEY are my regular customers.  YOU are not" and stood up.  Not long after, the men cashed out and left.  We thanked Valerie profusely when she told us the story.  Linda had heard part of the exchange, but Valerie filled in the rest.

So thank you VERY much Valerie!!!

After a bit, the night ended and we poured Tammy back into her hotel room.  I had a wonderful time with her and Linda, showing off just a little of Philadelphia.



Sunday May 18 Linda and I went to Baltimore.  She'd never been there, and I wanted to see Sandy Empanada.  I'd saved a little money to make this trip by not eating out all week.  We met Sandy at the home Lisa rebuilt for her.  Sandy showed Linda around as I spoke to Hayden, who was also visiting.  Eventually, we went to Canton Dockside, where we sat outside on a beautiful day.  This was the same place we ate on the day of Lisa's funeral.

Linda takes a picture of Hayden taking pictures

the Amazing Sandy Empanada

We enjoyed a wonderful meal, and Linda finally had Baltimore seafood.  Linda loves seafood, but I don't.  I had a wonderful Buffalo Chicken sandwich.  We took some pictures nearby, then Sandy took Hayden to the bus stop while I took Linda to the Inner harbor, where we walked around.

At Inner harbor with Linda

Tir Na Nog

Eventually, Sandy and John (her uncle) joined us and we had a drink at an Irish bar in one of the pavilions: Tir Na Nog.  Linda and I were tired, so we left soon after, especially as we had one more stop.

Linda and I stopped at Red Brick Station, which used to my favorite haunt when I lived in Baltimore.  Linda and I stopped there for a drink.  So we sat down and were waiting for service when the bartender knocked some glasses over in front of me, shattering one on the copper topped bar.  I was partially covered with glass, especially on my denim skirt.  The bartender was extremely apologetic, and bought us our round of beer.  We had that round and I had a coke, then we hit the road as the sun set.

Tired at Red brick

Due to traffic, the normally ninety minute drive lasted nearly four hours.

So why did I tell this particular story?  Why do I think anyone would care about either of these adventures?  Well, I have two points.  No they aren't horns.  The first is that Friends are so hard to find that seeing them is a priority.  Tammy is an amazing person, and spending time with her is rare, so I wanted to make it special for her.  I never see Sandy enough, and she is so special.  Also, Linda is here and I love expanding her East Coast experiences.  She is a fantastic friend, and I don't know how long she will be here before she moves to Florida as was the original plan.  I am enjoying having her around.  Not only is she fun, but she's taught me so much.

The second is to thank both Tammy and Sandy.  Neither would let me pay for meals as they want me to save the money for the apartment (and I have.)  They care.  They WANT me to succeed, live and thrive.  So here, publicly, I thank them again for their generosity.  And for being a part of my life.

And thank YOU, dear reader, for joining me on this journey!


Friday, May 16, 2014

Unedited May Rambling

As the moon wanes on a cloudy night, I feel off.

Off?

Something is wrong.  I feel down.  I saw Wife and daughter tonight, and Daughter was very vocal about how she wants me to live with them and for us to "be a family again."  I really wanted to tell her that I can't come back as long as they live where they are.  But I didn't.

I told her that it wasn't my choice, and that we would always be a family, no matter where I live.   I really pray that's true.

Tonight I feel incompetent.  There's a metric of my new position that I am not meeting, and management has made it clear that this puts my job at risk.  I could be demoted back to part time.  No benefits.  Which means no surgery.

No pressure, right?

So I have to sort out this metric, but everything I've tried so far has failed.  I've trained some damn good salespeople in my day... and here I can't solve this problem.

I miss feeling competent.

Why can't I make a living writing?  Seems to be the only thing I'm good at.

Will Write for Food

On another track, today is May 16.  Lisa died 8 months ago today.  But who's counting?

On yet another track, tomorrow I submit an application for an apartment.  Hopefully they'll accept the application, and homelessness will be averted.

So that's what's on my mind on a night where dark clouds partially obscure the full moon.  It looks more like October than May.  But Summer is coming, not going.  Heat, humidity... I love summer.

Yes, I'm rambling.  And I'm going to post this unedited.  Why?  Well whats the purpose of this blog if not to air my thoughts and faults?  Sure as hell isn't entertainment.

But I'm glad you're sharing my life with me.  It comforts me to know I'm not alone.  It gives me hope.

Hope.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Thoughts on a Waxing Moon

It's clear night with high clouds and we approach the full moon.  I've been full time as a Woman for about a month and a half.  Here are random thoughts from the past few weeks.

My dear friend, the  beautiful Victoria, has her GCS on Tuesday.  I am praying for her speedy recovery.  Her dream is coming true, and I couldn't be happier for her.

With warmer weather arriving, I've discovered that boobs sweat.  I'm told powder helps this.

I'm still thrilled when customers refer to me as "her,"  "she," etc.  Occasionally I still get "sir"-ed, but I try not to let it bother me.   My confidence is growing.

Brie Mcfee has passed.  From what I gather, it may have been suicide.  I never met her.  But she was special to many of my friends, and will be missed by many good people.  May the four winds blow you safely home, Brie.  I hope you found peace.

I still think of Lisa Empanada every day.  I still cry for her.  I don't talk about her much anymore as people would think I'm obsessed.  Her death affected me so profoundly.  Eight months since...  I wear her four leaf clover necklace very often.  I remember what the symbol meant to her.  I think it was the best gift I ever gave anyone.  And getting it back the way I did still breaks my heart.  I miss you so much, Lisa.

"Not all tears are evil." J.R.R Tolkein

What is the nature of Change?  We all change every day.  Our lives are not static.  The person I am today is unrecognizable as the person I was a year ago.  I am really so different.  Is it for the better?  Events change people and shape us.  It's been one hell of a year.

I've gained weight.  I know why.  Drinking.  Time to go dry again?

"How many friends have I really got?"   Pete Townshend

With the amazing Linda Lewis at McKenzies


Linda Lewis and I go to McKenzies Devon with some frequency.  One of the barmaids, Valerie, has been amazing to us.  The other night she defended us to a table of rich looking older business types asking rude questions.  She is an amazing ally, and a wonderful person.  Thanks Valerie.  Seriously.

We are ALL ambassadors of the Trans community.  How we comport ourselves in public reflects upon us all.  My therapist said she was happy that a Transwoman was working as head cashier at the bookstore, as people will SEE me and be forced to interact with me.  In this way, they learn we are people.  She's right, and I am cognizant of this every day.

What is the Nature of Good?  And why do so many people seems to be just the opposite?

An old friend saw me for the first time yesterday.  She asked me "do you get tired of everyone saying you're an inspiration?"  She was referring to all my cisgender friends on Facialbook saying how brave I am.  The answer is "no."  I am not tired of it.  Each of them is a brick in my wall of defenses.  Each one is an Ally- someone who now knows a Transperson, and sees we are human.  And maybe they will pass that news along.  Everyone is an activist in their own way.  Maybe, just maybe, I'll see trans-equality in my lifetime.  Wouldn't it be nice?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Victoria's Confirmation Party

I have written times about how Lisa Empanada's Affirmation Party was a defining moment in my life.  The love shown that day was absolutely amazing.  Just the idea of it:  a party showing that all of those people care enough about a transperson to celebrate their transition to their True Selves... even the thought of it brings tears to my eyes (especially when I think of how Lisa threw it all away.)

With Lisa at her Affirmation Party

I was invited to the Confirmation (Affirmation) Party of my dear friend Victoria.  She is a first generation Indian American (Indian as in the India subcontinent) whom I've written about a few times in this blog.  I've known Victoria for several years, as she has been a fixture on the Philly Trans scene for a long time.  She started transition a few years ago and has followed the steps of coming out, etc, with Class and Grace.  Hers was one of the letters upon which I modeled my letter to my job about transition.  Victoria is also a member of my support group.

I received the invitation some time ago, and I told her I'd be honored to attend.  It would mean planning around my wedding anniversary, but if she wanted me there, then I was going to be there!

So Saturday, April 26th, 2014 was the date.  My anniversary was Thursday April 24, and Wife and I celebrated on the 25th.

Early on the 26th, I went to New Concepts Med Spa to get my eyebrows done, then to Salon 3 to get my hair styled.  I really wanted to look my best for that day.  I decided to wear my favorite dress- the polka dot one.  The amazing Linda Lewis did my makeup.  I felt I looked good.

Ready for the Party!

I arrived early to help set up.  Various people had responsibilities to bring things.  I brought a Guest Book purchased at my bookstore.  It was quite a nice one.  Balloons were tied to weights, flowers were arraigned, gift table established, props hidden, and wine was opened.


Party room is ready!


The Bill of Fare


Victoria arrived thirty minutes early.  She was radiant and gorgeous.  Soon others began to arrive as well: Victoria's family, old friends from childhood and school, other invited transpeople.  All of the childhood friends sat together, as did all of the transwomen, etc.  Victoria sat with her family, in a chair marked by balloons and a floral arraignment in a shoe shaped vase.

Victoria


Flowers for Victoria

Victoria was so happy.  Her family is her life, and here she was surrounded by them and their love.  I've always envied the closeness she has with them.  As much as my Mum would protest otherwise, until recently I had no such thing.  There was always the specter of the Woman I truly am that kept me distant.  That and fear of terrible punishment.  I am VERY pleased to say that I misjudged them, and have my parents' acceptance.  My brother?  Not so much yet.  Work in progress or lost cause?  Only time will tell.  But I digress.

Victoria is a twin, and her twin brother was the MC for the dinner.  He introduced the speakers and, along with others, kept the festivities moving.

You see, Victoria's party was far different from Lisa's.  Lisa's was about education and not a little closure.  Victoria's was about inclusion and acceptance.  I'll explain that as I go.

It was Victoria's family's idea to provide her with all that she missed growing up male.  And that is where the props came in.  She was not aware of these plans.

The first part was Annaprashan, or first solid food ceremony.  It is here that the baby is given her "family" name.  I knew about this from reading Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake.  Her aunt fed Victoria rice, symbolizing her first solid food, and the Name was announced to the family and guests.  As that name is private and for family, I will not repeat it here, but I was very honored to be among those that heard it.

Eating Rice (Picture courtesy Victoria Datta)

She then had her eyes covered and was to choose from various items on a tray.  On the tray were money, a pen, a book, and a clump of soil.  The object the baby reaches for indicates her path in life.  Victoria chose dirt, meaning either farming or property ownership.

The next part of the meal came, then after Victoria was given a fourth birthday "Princess Party" where her young niece presented her with a wand and tiara.  The cake also had a wand and tiara.

Princess Victoria

Another course, then it was Prom Night!  her cousin "asked her to the prom" and gave her a corsage.  She pinned a boutonniere on him.  They then posed for many pictures (I wondered why she didn't text all her friends that "HE ASKED ME OMG!!", but when she was Prom age, there was no texting.  Historical accuracy is a must.)  (hee hee)

Prom Night!  (Picture courtesy Victoria Datta)

Another course, and it was Graduation!  At her high school (and University,) women wore white caps and gowns.  Her high school classmates helped her on with her white cap and gown, then posed for pictures.

Congrats Graduate!

Then a mutual friend Tammi stood and spoke for the trans group.  She led everyone in together saying "We confirm you" to Victoria.  A candle was lit.

That was a LOT!  After dessert, Victoria's father stood to speak.  I got the impression that this was the first time he really allowed himself to discuss his feelings on the topic, as he covered many aspects and spoke so eloquently.  He thanked "that table" (as the table where we tg's were seated had been referred as lovingly by several speakers) for helping Victoria reach this place.

Then Victoria spoke.  She thanked everyone for coming, and thanked each "group" of people.  She spoke of the journey, of sacrifice, and of love.  There wasn't a dry eye in the room.

Victoria's sister in law had asked me to speak, but after Victoria's words, I know whatever I would say would be lame and superfluous.  Besides, she deserved the last word.

At Dinner

 With dinner over, some of us gravitated to the bar.  I spoke to a couple of Victoria's high school friends.  As it turns out, one of them, who I will call "Doc," was a member of my fraternity, but from a different campus.  So Doc and I shared stories.  He and another friend, "Ross," had many intelligent questions about being TG.  Doc started buying sake.

My "Big Sister" Mel was also in attendance for the party.  She was leaving when she saw the sake, smiled, and told me to try to be good.

One sake.
Two sake.

Linda Lewis arrived.  I called her at the end of dinner, and invited her to join me at the bar.  She had a glass of wine.

Three sake.

I handed Linda my car keys, and, as the party was breaking up, I suggested that we all head over McKenzies.  Doc and Ross said they'd be there.  I guess they were overruled by their wives, as they didn't come.

Victoria gave me this

So it was Linda, my friend Amy, and me at the bar at McKenzies. Linda had some food, and I had a drink.  I was suddenly very tired, which was a strong indicator that I'd had too much to drink.  Linda guided me back to her car before I fell asleep on the bar, which was looking really, really comfortable.

A chugged bottle of water and two aspirin later, I was in bed.

So I've been to two confirmation/ affirmation parties and they were markedly different.  Lisa's was more informal but more informative, as she had Alexis Lake speak to discuss "transgender 101."  Victoria's was more formal and full of ceremony and experiences.  Which was better?  There's no way to compare them.  Apples and Oranges.  Both experiences were unique to the family giving them and the women being honored.  Lisa was more free spirited and all about educating people about the trans experience.  Victoria and her family are more formal and have more ritual.  Each party was the perfect expression of love from the family giving it.

Love.

So many transpeople are deprived of Love.  We are disowned by parents, divorced by spouses, and denied by children.  Then every once in a while a glimmer of Hope, like this one.  Hope that one of us would succeed... that one of us would beat the long odds against us.

Victoria is doing it.  She is beating the odds.  Her gender confirmation surgery is on May 13.

To Victoria and her family, thank you for allowing me to attend such a heart warming and amazing event, and thank you Victoria for not only allowing me to write about it, but also...

Thank you for being you, and for being the dear friend that you are.

Good luck on May 13, Victoria.  I will be there for you.