Tonight is an anniversary for me as well as Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving 2003 was one of the lowest points in my life. I had recently moved to Washington DC and had a one bedroom apartment that was baren. It had a bed (from the previous owner), a small kitchen table, and that was all for furniture. The previous year had seen me lose visitation to both my son and my daughter because I was trans. I was in a new city with very few friends. I had no one that I considered close enough to spend Thanksgiving day with. So I filled my day with laundry and prepped for my daily trans talk show. Somewhere in the middle of that I had a breakdown. I was crying, depressed, and really didn’t want to live anymore. Life without my children was something I could barely tolerate. The only thing that kept me alive was the memory of how I felt about my dad killing himself (he drank himself to death when I was 11). I thought my kids would rather have a transsexual father that they didn’t see than a dead one. In the pain of that moment I tried to find something to be thankful for. That day I wrote one of my first blog posts on Blogger.com. I said:
Kids, today is Thanksgiving, and by all rights, I have very little to be thankful for. I dont see you anymore, and I speak to you rarely. One thing I am thankful for is your existance. I hope someday that you can understand how hurt I am, and how much I do love you. I am a piece of trash that some want to throw away and act as if I don’t exist. I am, and will always be, your Dad.
I made it through that day and continued to struggle with depression and daily existence. But life did slowly get better (2004, 2008). Like a coronary artery bypass, the scars from my past won’t ever disappear. But I have healed.
Many things were the same today as they were on that day in 2003. I was alone, I didn’t have my kids with me, and I spent the day trying to avoid “Thanksgiving”. But it’s no 2003. I have so much to be grateful for. I have a wonderful life here in Madison. I have people here I consider family, an amazing job with fantastic coworkers, and an amazing son back in Indianapolis that is following his dream.
I am thankful every day for the people in my life. And I’m grateful that you are here to read this. I am blessed.
I’ve always viewed friendships as somewhat like fine china. Some patterns come and go with the seasons. Some are solid, never go out of style, and serve you many years. Good china will provide you a beautiful space to nourish yourself. But you must always keep in mind that no matter how durable it is, it’s still china and it will break if not handled with care.
I’ve never really had the ability to stop loving people after I’ve started loving them. A scene from “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” explains how love works in my life.
(HEDWIG:) “Seriously, Tom, yes. I believe love is immortal.”
(TOMMY sings:) “Look what you done … (bad chord) goddammit! How is it immortal?”
(HEDWIG:) “Well, perhaps because love creates something that was not there before.”
(TOMMY:) “What, like procreation?”
(HEDWIG:) “Yes, but not only.”
(TOMMY:) “What, like recreation?”
(HEDWIG:) “Sometimes just creation.” Continue reading “Friendships, Loves, and China Sets”
Growing up in a super dysfunctional household, I had very little in the way of nurturing. Between working full time and regularly engaging in marital battles, my mom had little quality time with us kids. I spent a lot of time with my maternal grandmother and grandfather (who we affectionately called “Granny” and “Poppy”). Pop was a very mean man. I can remember times he would come home for supper and if Granny didn’t have the food on the table, he’d call her every expletive in the book (with “bitch” in first place). Many times Granny took to venting with me, telling me stories of how he’d been mean to her (especially the story of her catching him cheating).
He was also one of the most racist men I’ve ever known. I can remember him yelling at the TV and turning it off when Emmanuel Lewis came on television, grumbling about how the niggers were taking over the world. From what my mom has told me he also was probably in the Klu Klux Klan. There were so many dark sides to my Poppy, it would be easy to hate him.
But I don’t. While I saw all the ugliness, I also saw a side of him that made me love him. More than any person in my young life he nurtured me. He would often spend time with me one on one, offering me a father figure that was rarely present at home. I can remember many trips he and I took to White Castle to just hang out and talk. When I would complain about the way my parents treated me (a difference in how my parents treated me and my brother, of which Granny and Poppy both acknowledged), Poppy would tell me not to mind that. He would enthusiastically comfort me saying “you are smart and you are going to do amazing things with your life”. That may not sound very profound, but those words coming from Poppy were. Those words have echoed in the back of my mind for the past 35 or so years, giving me strength.
Pop taught me that people aren’t one dimensional. While he was an incredibly hateful to Granny, he was a loving and nurturing man to me. The duality of his life has made me look at people differently. Being a liberal Democrat on a Facebook account full of Indiana Republicans (mostly my Alumni from Southport High School), this skill has come in handy. I’ve been able to become good friends with people that are my ideological opposite. Poppy taught me to see the humanity in all people and life taught me what Bernard Meltzer knew:
“If you have learned how to disagree without being disagreeable, then you have discovered the secret of getting along — whether it be business, family relations, or life itself.”
A friend of mine moved to Indianapolis, Indiana from New York because in his words, “Indianapolis feels like home.” As someone that’s always hated living in Indianapolis, I couldn’t understand how someone would WANT to move there. There are people I miss in Indianapolis, but I don’t miss the place itself. A year ago I moved to Wisconsin to be near my best friend. I now know what Danni was talking about. I’ve never felt this at home.
Home is where a light is left on until you get home.
Home is morning tea with your best friend.
Home is not locational, it is emotional.
Home is the place where you are loved.
For now, Middleton, Wisconsin is my home and I’m grateful.
Happy New Year to you all.
I’ve always found great joy in music, but there are few songs that impact me to such an extent that I cry the first time I hear them. Tonight I heard the following song did:
All That We Let In – Indigo Girls
“Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it’s sticking to your skin
But we’re better off for all that we let in
Lost friends and loved ones much too young
So much promises and work left undone
When all that guards us is a single center line
And the brutal crossing over when it’s time
(I don’t know where it all begins)
(And I don’t know where it all will end)
(We’re better off for all that we let in)
One day those toughies will be withered up and bent
The father son the holy warriors and the president
With glory days of put up dukes for all the world to see
Beaten into submission in the name of the free Continue reading “All That I’ve Let In, I’m Blessed Beyond Belief”
For many years I thought I needed someone else to make me whole. Someone to “complete me.” I’ve tried so many ways to find that completeness, but sometimes the cliché is the truth. The easy truth is sometimes the hardest to actualize/realize/deal with.
Ultimately I realized that I never needed anything outside my own acceptance, my own love, and my own respect. Do I want those things from other people? Yes. Do I need them to be complete? Hardly.
But saying that doesn’t mean I want to be alone. It means I can be and that’s ok. I had a recent bout of loneliness that came over me quick and pressed down on me like an imploding house. But even in that, the above realization was always with me. I’m at a point in my life where my needs and wants are clearly defined. It helps to know the difference, especially when I get lonely. Filling that void in my life is a want, not a need. That is such a relief/weight lifted, I can’t even explain it enough for one to understand the gravity it implies.
This recording was done at a mobile StoryCorps trailer on September 16th, 2007. The StoryCorps website describes itself this way:
StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit project whose mission is to honor and celebrate one another’s lives through listening.
By recording the stories of our lives with the people we care about, we experience our history, hopes, and humanity. Since 2003, tens of thousands of everyday people have interviewed family and friends through StoryCorps. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to take home and share, and is archived for generations to come at the Library of Congress. Millions listen to our award-winning broadcasts on public radio and the Internet. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, creating a growing portrait of who we really are as Americans.
I love doing this kind of interview. Listening to it now is like a time capsule, and it was only two years ago.
Recently I went to the health department to get a copy of my birth certificate. One of the women at the ISDOH pulled me in an office to tell me that “Usually it doesn’t take so long to process this, but since you’re adopted, it takes longer.”
I must have looked punched… she covered her mouth and said “You didn’t know?”
So, ya… thanks Mom.
Sheesh. Let’s go to the Ole Myspace mailbag, shall we?
my names john, i am a 22 yr old from chicago. I am very outgoing and willing to try anything once. I am a chef and curently going to culinary school. I have pics, but for now i am 5’7” tan athletic body brn eyes n hair 150 pnds, and italian. I just wanted to tell you that you are georgeous and i’d love to talk to u. Also i am very very bi curious. hehe. Could i have your yahoo id so we could chat more, or aol? Thanks hope to hear from you soon! – John”
“YEA YEA YEA….
I KNOW I DON’T KNOW YOU AND YOU DON’T KNOW ME. SO WE GOT THAT SETTLED. I WOULD LIKE TO BE ADDED TO YOURS AND YOU ADDED TO MINE…. ADDING AS A FRIEND, I’AM NOT GOOD AT THIS….
SO HOW DOES THAT SOUND! I KNOW I KNOW I’AM SORRY I COULD’NT SELL YOU INSURANCE WITH THAT STUFF.
I KNOW! IT’S THE WAY YOU PUT THINGS MAINLY IN THE PART ABOUT YOUR SELF
P.S MY NAME IS JEFF
I REALLY WANT CHAT WITH YOU I KNOW IT’S GONNA BE
SILLY . I FILL A BATTLE COMING ON————– BETWEEN WORDS
JUST FOR FUN “
“hi who are you doing tonight wanna chat hit me back -Gregg”
“want 9 inches? – K-Bo”
Sheesh. No wonder good men are hard to find.
But I saved the best for last….
“hey i can accept you being lesbian as long as your with me. sincerly ronnie i live in indy east side 632-2XXX” – Ronnie