Stuff from the Attic (June 2009 Edition)

In the wake of the recent (and, let it be said, extremely fun) Claire De Lunacy blogoversary, I’ve found myself struggling to come up with something blog-worthy to fill this site. I’ve had several false starts, but they seemed too facile or insubstantial to sustain an entire post (and if something on THIS site is too ephemeral to support a post, you know we’re in trouble). So, just to keep the blood pumping, I present to you the following list of topics currently banging around in my noggin’.

1) Henchmen of shared nationality and language who, despite being utterly alone unless fighting the hero of the pic or book, speak English with each other. We’ve all seen this a thousand times. James Bond is scampering about, chopping necks and turning his shoe into a shaped charge against the wall of the evil mastermind’s lair, and miles away, Sergei and Boris are walking the perimeter, conversing in a language they no doubt had to learn for solely professional reasons.  “But,” I hear you asking, “what if they’re under orders to speak English, so that the dastardly associates of their employer can speak with them directly? What if, in the underworld of crime and perfidity, English functions much as it does in the world of legitimate business, a sort of koine that assures everyone is at a mutual disadvantage during negotiations?”

To which I reply, “Oh, piffle.”

Seriously, if you’re in another country (even for work) and you’re back at the hostel, waiting for dinner or to be abducted and sold into white slavery until rescued by Liam Neeson, are you chatting with your mates in Castillian about the latest episode of 30 Rock? Of course you aren’t.

[NOTE: Obviously, this rule doesn’t apply if you’ve brought a potential love interest back to the apartment, in which case you behave as though you were steeped in the same cultural and linguistic influences they were, so that they see you are a person of substance, and also so that they will let you touch their naughty bits.]

But Sergei and Boris aren’t interested in gettin’ it on, they’re (presumably) trying to pop a cap in the gent from MI-6. Plus, in accordance with the Convenient Plot Furtherance Act of 1982, they are inevitably childhood friends who dreamt of one day working as the muscle for one of many human embodiments of evil, and are therefore no longer trying to impress one another.

Bottom line, henchpeople who are nowhere near people who do not speak their mother tongue should converse in it without feeling obligated to help the audience along.

[This goes double for Klingons.]

2) And speaking of James Bond, why can’t we have a movie about Q-Branch? James Bond is 007. That means there are at least six other 00’s out there (unless they start with 000, in which case there are seven), and I’m betting that they give Q-Branch as much trouble as James does. Are we meant to believe that wacky hijinks ensue only when The Man Who Really Should Only Be Played By Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan comes around? I think not.

I’m picturing a series of films starring John Cleese. Music by Danny Elfman, with special guest Eric Idle as “Zed,” the lowest-ranking member of Q-Branch whose zany antics create problems for R at first, but ultimately provide the solution to the crisis facing the team.

Gold, I’m telling you. GOLD.

3) Cable Internet should not just fail for no discernible reason. I pay top dollar each month for Road Runner Turbo. When it works, it is a heavenly connection to the global information stream. When it fails (which it does with alarming regularity ever since Time Warner sent me an “improved” replacement modem to exchange for the old one that worked PERFECTLY WELL WITHOUT ANY TROUBLE, EVER), my wrath becomes a molten volcano of  earth-scorching magma, eager to strip the flesh and sinew from those who have denied me the chance to show Dramatic Prairie Dog to the one friend who hasn’t yet seen it.

Even now, THIS VERY SECOND, my Internet is out for the fourth time today. The FOURTH TIME! It often lasts for an hour or more. Requests for assistance are met with blank stares or infuriating questions (especially to an IT person) like “Have you restarted your computer?” and “Is your house properly wired for both electricity and cable?”

No, jackass, I’m living in a sod house on the banks of Plum F-ing Creek with Mary and Laura.


[This topic may grow into a full-blown entry, depending on how my next volley of requests is handled by the TWC crew.]

4) Hormones make you fat. OK, I’ll admit that the pepper-and-olive pizza I eat a little too often is aiding and abetting the ‘mones in their evil quest to turn my ass into an earthwork, but my regular workouts don’t cut the difference anymore. When, last week, I realized I had not only stopped losing weight (even with the help of Fullbar), but was GAINING, I knew it was time to take drastic measures. So, now I work out twice a day…strength and flexibility in the morning, aerobic exercise at night (if you know what I mean, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m riding a freaking bike).

So far, I’ve stopped gaining. However, my overall wimpiness and disturbingly taut pants suggest even more drastic measures may be necessary, e.g. not eating a bowl of cereal every night even though cereal is a gift from Ceres to show that we are worthy of deliciousness.

And if I have to eliminate cheese, there may very well be no point to living.

Also, I could probably stand to workout harder. And longer.And, God help us all, join a gym.

Me! Be a joiner! The mind boggles. Ah, well, no one said being a glamor girl was easy.

But if that fails, I am just biting the bullet and shopping around for an eating disorder like my friends. Well, I mean, an eating disorder that makes me thin rather than saurian.

5) Chaz Bono has a rough ride ahead. I feel Chaz’s pain. Here’s a person who has spent their life trapped in the wrong body, and has weight issues to boot. Chaz, buddy, I am pulling for you! I hope that, as they did for me, your weight issues start to resolve as you resolve your gender issues. Plus, the testosterone will help you build muscle, which, as the Lotte Berk method teaches us, eats fat. Sure, you’ll have to work hard, but I’ll bet that with your limitless financial resources and access to Hollywood’s beautification professionals, you’ll be running through the surf, Hasselhoff-style, in no time flat.

Just remember the words of C.S. Lewis: “You don’t have a soul. You ARE a soul. You HAVE a body.”

Also, please remember that I was so supportive and send me any extra trainers and/or plastic surgeons you have laying around.

6) Going back to school is nerve-wracking but also exciting as hell. For those of you who don’t know, I’m going back to college in the Winter quarter of 2009-2010. I made a promise to myself when I was but a sprout, and that promise was that I would become a doctor of philosophy in the science of linguistics. As of this year, that dream begins to come true. I’m writing essays, I’m gathering letters of recommendation, I’m purchasing raccoon coats and little football pennants that say things like “Rah!” (just in case I’m thrown back in time and have to wrap things up in the 1920s). I suspect that my mania regarding this process is the real reason I’ve been blog-avoidant of late; I’ve been trying to conserve my creative and intellectual juices so that I may make a favorable impression on the doyens et doyennes of academia who will determine my worthiness for further growth.

Not that they want to hear about my juices, creative or otherwise. In fact, I’m fairly certain no one does. Let’s just pretend I never said it and focus on my casual usage of French in a context designed to make me appear worldly without being a pompous ass.

There – that’s better, non?

7) My being transgendered does not give you the right to disrespect me. I didn’t want to take a whole blog post with this topic, as this particular saw has several busted teeth, but a recent incident freaked me the hell out and I had to say something.

I keep an announcement board on the window of my office, a little dry-erase deal with the names of myself and my assistant written along the left-hand side, with a magnetic dot indicating whether we are “in” or “out,” and a space to clarify as necessary (e.g., “in a pointless meeting,” “saving children from burning orphanage,” “having lunch with the Married Crush in the hope that my telepathy will finally kick in and she will find herself immersed in the golden sunbeams of my undying adoration, whereby she will realize she has been a fool to toy with me and loves me as well,” et hoc genus omne). Usually, I don’t even look at the board; I just slide the dot from “out” to “in,” unlock my office, and begin counting the minutes ’til five o’clock.

That day, however, I noticed something different.

Someone had erased “Claire” and written my OLD name. Not the name by which I was known, mind you, but my old LEGAL name.

Now, I hear some of you asking “So? What’s the big deal?” and I get that, I really do. After all, it was just a simple scribble on a white board.

That said, imagine if you will my confusion and, yes, fear. Here was a bit of information that, while hardly a state secret, was not common knowledge, even among my friends. Here was an act that said, in essence, “I am denying you exist, and I am quite literally attempting to erase you.” Was this a harmless prank, or was some whack-a-do hiding in the creepy warehouse shelves behind me, waiting for me to be distracted so they could brain me with a pipe wrench and add bits of my body to the silver skeleton in their basement?

In erasing my name and writing the old one, they were (whether they were cognizant of the fact or not) challenging my right to exist as myself. They were attacking me, in a “safe” place, with my own possessions.

I felt violated. I felt sick.

And then I got angry.

I wiped the board clean, re-wrote my name clearly and firmly, and then e-mailed HR.

Now, it must be said that the HR department was exceptionally helpful and kind. They immediately contacted security to see if any tape was available for the time when the “prank” most likely occurred. They were sympathetic to my concerns, and assured me that action would be taken against the person who had done this. After talking with them, I felt reassured – clearly, someone cared and would support me.

Presently, the perpetrator remains unknown (at least to me). I’m not going to pretend this is as serious as the attacks that happen to transpeople every day, both in this country and worldwide. After all, I didn’t have to earn my lesson with blood or, worse yet, my life.  But to me, a girl who is already hyper-vigilant when in public, the loss of one of the few places I felt safe to relax my guard is a very real attack on me and my right to live my life.

I’m not going to let it change my desire to see the good in people, or to try my best to be an ambassador for transpeople to the mainstream world.

But just the same, Ice Station Zebra is a little colder these days.


10 Responses

  1. I always wanted to live in a sod house.

    The Queen of Responding to the Least Important Sentence in a Really Long Post

  2. Almost everyone I know who has Time Warner has issues with it – and that includes my employer. (Fortunately, since I telecommute, my only issues with it are when I can’t get to my remote desktop because Time Warner is down. Again.)

    The C.S. Lewis quote is brilliant. And while I do hope the media will leave Chaz the hell alone to sort everything out, I’m also very pleased he’s gone public. (I’m sure it would have leaked eventually, but really – it’s not the paparazzi stalk Cher anymore.) I know it will give more ammo to the bigots and the ‘phobes, but I can also hope it’ll make a few people who hadn’t ever really considered that there are people in the world who aren’t just like them grow a little. (The preceding sentence doesn’t begin to say what I wanted it to, but I’ve rewritten it six times already and I’ve given up.)

    As to number seven… I won’t pretend I know how much that hurts, but I can try to imagine. The best I can hope for is that whoever’s responsible thought that YOU would find it funny – though I don’t have much hope of that. I’m glad you told HR – so much of the problem with issues like this is that they stay hidden. And of course I’m thrilled that HR didn’t brush you off.

    Oh, and I’m proud of you for going back to school. 🙂

  3. Glad to hear you told HR about it. I can understand why you felt violated. That old name is someone you’re not. The only thing worse would be to dehumanize you and call you something less of a person. Either way I’m proud you’re standing your ground.

  4. @Anika I read all the Little House books to tatters as a kid. I, too wanted to live in a sod house, with wax paper windows, eating maple candy we’d cooled in the snow.

    Only with, y’know, cable and A/C and stuff. 😉

    @ChiaLynn Yeah, the TWC is a mystery to me. Their cluelessness regarding problems with their own network leads me to suspect that they are not a company, but some sort of Ashton Kutcher-designed national prank of exceeding douchebaggery.

    Chaz is a tough cookie, and he’ll get by. But I do share your hope that his story encourages people to reflect and (just maybe) begin to understand that not everyone in this world was lucky enough to be born gender-congruent.

    As for number seven, thank you, my friend. It was heartening to see my HR rep leap into action on this…you’re right, secrecy only gives someone like this more power, and I’m no longer willing to accept that.

    Oh, and thanks. I’m really looking forward to school and boring you all with the details. 🙂

    @Lori Thank you so much! Yeah, it was unsettling in the extreme. I just hope that this will make it clear that this type of behavior is disrespectful and unacceptable anywhere, let alone a (ahem) professional business environment.

  5. that sort of thing (7) is VERY serious…
    perhaps all the more serious for being insidious…
    it is, in a manner of speaking,
    a smaller fruit from the same poison tree…
    it is only a less immediately dangerous expression of a fundamental denial of your humanity…
    apparently HR recognizes this…
    i hope they’re not just “lip-servicing” this…

    but suppose somone had gotten married,
    and someone else DELIBERATELY erased their married name
    and wrote in their maiden name…
    that would obviously be more than a simple joke….

    or if your grandfather had changed his name from
    Greenberg to Green,
    and someone had erased “Green” and written in “Greenberg”
    that, too, would obviously be more than a simple joke…

    sorry if this is frightening, i don’t mean to ratchet up the tension,
    but there must be no mistake in anyone’s mind about this sort of thing…

  6. A) Time Warner is the most useless, evil company I do business with. If I were the sort to go crazy and blow things up, they might be first on my list.

    B) I dream of a world where weight issues don’t exist and we are all happy with who we are in spite of our weight.

    C) I feel like there has already been a drop in the frequency with which we hear about Chaz Bono, and I truly hope, for his sake, that the press continues to treat the process with some respect. He so deserves his privacy right now. I can’t imagine how hard transition must be for someone who is NOT in the public eye, let alone one of the most famous children on the planet.

    D) Yay for going back to school! You are awesome!

    E) May whomever wrote your old name on that board suffer from a constant burning itch in a place where he cannot scratch. For the rest of his life.

  7. Whether it was a “harmless” prank (oxy-moron IMHO) or not, what that person did was unacceptable. I hope he/she is caught and forced to go through some diversity/sensitivity training. Naked. In front of the entire office.

  8. Hmm. I swear my comment box wasn’t empty when I posted it. Oh well. Just know I meant well and put in all the necessary congrats and condolences.

  9. Ok, here goes.

    1/2 – Connery can’t be topped – I am VERY particular about my Bondsmen. Heh. I liked Roger Moore okay, but after him…..I had lost my love for Bond. But I am happy to say that Daniel Craig has not only met but exceeded my expectations and I wish him many movies in which I can see him without a shirt. You know, just to make sure he still has nipples.

    3. Three letters – DSL

    4. And grow (or, regrow as the case was) breasts.

    5. Godspeed

    6. Words can’t even begin to describe how jealous I am. In a good way.

    7. It is rare that I hear good things about HR anywhere. I am not sure if I’m more content that they’re seemingly trying to rectify the issue, or that you felt totally comfortable going to them to report the incident. Either way – big, big kudos.

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