Because I Simply Don’t Talk Enough.

So here’s the thing:

I’m turning this blog into a podcast. I bought the domain over at http://www.ClaireDeLunacy.com and I’ve migrated this blog over there.

In addition to the occasional scribblings you get from me here (or, er, there, in the future at least), there will be (God help us all) the Claire De Lunacy podcast. That’s right, a whole hour, every week, of yours truly, with call-in guests (it’s true!), some commentary, and a few new surprises (e.g., every tenth caller is randomly either hugged by a stripper,  hit in the stomach by a large, angry Hungarian, or given the power of flight*).

Every week starting NEXT SUNDAY, MAY 2nd, 2010, I’ll be hosting an hour-long free-for-all discussion covering topics (in no particular order) that I’ve posted here on Claire De Lunacy.

I already have the call-in set up, I’ll be posting the info as we get closer to the big day. In the interim, my dear, sweet friends, ruminate on these topics:

1) The hubbub surrounding Israel Luna’s odious “transploitation” film “Ticked Off Trannies with Knives.”

2) Clash of the Smitin’s: Unnecessary Remakes and Why They Suck.

3) And speaking of Things That Should Not Be™, a whole new slew of, er, Things That Should Not Be™ (got a nomination? SEND IT TO ME…NAO!)

4) LGBTidbits™ (Those of you familiar with my Twitter feed will recognize this topic. Everyone else, just be prepared to discuss the week’s LGBT news. Well, I mean, not SUPER prepared. There won’t be a quiz or anything.)

5) The Super-Fun Book Club of Fun-ness™ returns! Our book for the month of May is “American Lion,” a very compelling biography of Andrew Jackson by Jon Meachem (you don’t have to read the entire book for the first podcast, we’ll be discussing it in general and also you get to sit and listen to me explain how the SFBCOF™ works…I know, I know – does the fun ever START?)

6) Random Review: NetFlix for the Wii Or, as I like to call it, “My television’s desperate final ploy to remain relevant to my existence.” (as ploys go, it’s surprisingly effective)

7) SPECIAL BONUS TOPIC!  CASTING: UR DOIN IT WRONG We’ll be discussing how remakes SHOULD be cast, as well as remakes we’d like to see, and a whole bunch of other nerdy stuff that will make the non-nerdy among you (should you exist) throw up your hands and say “But I LIKE Matthew McCan’tActy as Dirk Pitt!

Eventually, I’ll be taking these podcasts into Audacity to strip out all the “erms,” and “uhhhs” and “Doyyyy” sounds. But for the first month or so, it’s the Wild effing West, baby! (something tells me that we’ll earn our “Explicit” rating within the first ten minutes. I know how you think, Hordelings!)

Each week’s info will also be posted to the web site, so don’t get your collective panties in a bunch if there’s something we natter on about that catches your…ear(?) and you don’t have a pencil handy.

I hope to hear from you, friends. It’s sure to be a fun time, or at least more entertaining than having your pinkie torn off by an iPad thief.**

*No, not really.
** OK, to be fair, some people might get off on that, so I will say it’s LIKELY to be more fun. You sick bastards.

It’s not my birthday…

Well the rain falls down without my help I’m afraid
And my lawn gets wet though I’ve withheld my consent
When this grey world crumbles like a cake
I’ll be hanging from the hope
That I’ll never see that recipe again

It’s not my birthday, it’s not today…

– They Might Be Giants, “It’s Not My Birthday”-

There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. That will be the beginning.

-Louis L’Amour-

No, dear readers, it is NOT my birthday today. That cherished occasion lies nine months in the future. Today is auspicious, however, for at least two reasons:

A) Today was the last day of my IT career. I’ve left behind Very Large Corporation, Inc, and Information Technology alike in order to take up my bindle stick, pluck up my courage, and hop aboard a train bound for Creative Enterprise.

and

B) Today is my “rebirthday.” Exactly 2 years ago today, I received the precious blessing of the state court and changed my legal identity to match my actual one. I may be only two years old, but I’m advanced for my age.

It’s been a busy day, is the point.

I’ve been struggling for years to return to creative work, the victim of an odd (and, at times, cruel-seeming) paradox; despite having zero formal IT training or education, possessing what can only be described as mid-level technopathy led to the assumption that I was and would forever be a “techie,” despite both my frequent side projects in the creative arts and my own hearty protestations to the contrary. Eventually, the time I’d spent in IT (which was, naturally, time away from design and other creative fields, at least according to my resume) reinforced this idea; “Claire must be meant for IT because Claire’s in IT and Claire’s in IT because Claire’s meant to be there.”

Not pretty.

But, the wheel of life spins under our feet regardless of our forward motion, and eventually I was able to – through a series of contacts, design projects and a stubbornness so profound that mules roll their eyes at me –  procure my new position in Marketing and Social Media. My excitement is so profound that I’m pretty sure I’ve been levitating most of the day, which sounds fun until you stop at the grocery and can’t activate the little pressure-plate door opener thing.

But I digress.

As I was packing up my few remaining possessions and saying my goodbyes, I realized how deeply IT has affected me, both as a person and an employee. Yes, there have been challenges to my patience at times – ID-10T errors and PEBKAC abound – but for the most part, even the most grievous frustrations were ameliorated by that magic moment, that singular instant, when I solved someone’s problem. Money has never been a particularly strong motivator for me; my inability to manage it, coupled with the sort of disregard for material gain most people associate with terminal illness or religious mania makes it a poor carrot with which to lead me down the primrose path. However, put me in a place where I am genuinely and consistently helpful to someone, exorcising not just the demons from their Excel macros but the shadows from their workday, and I am a happy camper (provided, of course, that there is gratitude for services rendered…ingrates turn the knob of my Smitemaster 3000 to “11” ).

This has not been an ideal job – what job is, in the final analysis? – but it HAS been a useful one. It’s taught me many things about myself, and the kind of work, environment and interactions I require to feel as though I’m making a positive impact every day. It’s introduced me to some great friends, taught me that trust needs to be earned (not just given away like novelty tokens at a particularly cruddy fundraising carnival), and, perhaps most importantly of all, helped me to understand all the things I’m NOT as well as those I am.

And for that, I will be forever grateful.

It’s been a day of lasts – last login, last cup of tea, last casual sweep of Ice Station Zebra, last hugs and tears and laughs.There will be letters to write, e-mails to exchange, lunches to coordinate; there will be attrition as bodies both peripheral and central in my personal galaxy move closer or break orbit and disappear into space beyond.

But it’s also a day for beginnings. Here I stand, two years as Claire behind me, with (let us hope) many more ahead. The sun has not yet reached its apex; the future stretches before me, a road traveling through sunny heights and icy, shadowed lows. Having reached a fork, I’ve chosen what I hope is the right one, and focus my gaze on the horizon.

No, it’s not my birthday, my friends. But somehow, I still feel as though I’ve been given a gift.


Claire & Company Winter Wallpapers

Happy Holidays, Horde!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, but I thought I might share with you a little gift: FREE holiday wallpaper, featuring the characters from my very-occasional comic, “Claire & Company!” (also known as “Claire De Lunacy,” depending on the vintage!)

Anyway, here they are.  Consider them a lil’ “Thanks!” for being a reader.

Cheers!

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Oscar is what we call a "special needs" cat.

Oscar is what we call a "special needs" cat.

With Memory and Honor

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009

Transgender Day of Remembrance 2009

OK, kids, it’s time to get serious, because the violence against the TG community is very serious indeed.


This Friday, November 20th, marks the 11th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance. This event is held to pay respect to those who have lost their lives to anti-transgender violence and reckless hate; it is also held to increase awareness within the community at large to this violence and the danger it holds, not only for gender-variant individuals but those who share their lives. In 2009 alone, 99 individuals worldwide have been murdered either because they were transgendered, were involved with someone transgendered, or – perhaps most unsettling of all – were perceived to be transgendered by their attacker(s). With the violence against the community escalating at an alarming rate (2009’s murders to date are more than twice that of 2008’s), informing the public and working to educate others is a key step in reducing these senseless acts and preserving the dignity, safety and lives of all citizens.I encourage you to participate in your local events; the light of awareness helps to dispel the shadows of ignorance and hate.
For more information, or to find an event near you, please visit http://www.transgenderdor.org or http://www.transohio.org.

In Which Our Heroine Becomes a Real, Live, Writer-Type Person

So here’s the thing:

While I have spent the greater part of my life transferring the cacophony that fills my noggin’ into squiggles on both paper and computer screen, I’ve been plagued by doubts (both professional and personal) about the likelihood of such tomfoolery providing me with a career.

Until now.

Recent events – a rise in confidence stemming from feedback on my writing; a return to school that has me remembering that I did not set out to be a pusher of papers and counter of computers for minor ducats and little thanks; and the slow but measurable progress of a life lived as myself rather than who others want me to be – have led me to apply for a job as a writer for a site called Examiner.com.

Basically, it’s a per-click deal – I get $0.01 for every click on an article I’ve written – and while I’m not planning on retiring to a sprawling villa in Barcelona with my earnings, I am planning to build my portfolio and use this to develop myself professionally and hone my craft.

My official title is “Dayton Gay Issues Examiner” for the Dayton, Ohio (duh) area. My first article will be (let us hope) posted later this week. I’ll let you know when it goes live, but in the meantime, please, stop by and visit my ridiculously dorky bio and picture.

Apparently, there’s already a Transgender Issues Examiner, but I’m hoping the overlap won’t be too much for the market to bear.

*cough*

Now, if I can just figure out a way to clone myself, I can finish my novel this year too. Or at least finish revising it for the 85th time.

Out and About

So here’s the thing, kids:

It’s National Coming Out Week, and as I do every year, I pause to reflect on the general status of both the LGBT community and the larger world in which it must function. We’re all another year older, another year further down the road to equality, another year further down the road to an apocalypse starring John Cusack.

Rather than try to create something long-winded and deeply philosophical (for a change, cough, cough), I have created two lists this year: one contains hopeful signs that humanity will indeed embrace its angel and not its ape, learning at long last to love and cherish each other. The other list contains signs that God was a little too hasty in promising never to flood this blue rock ever again.

THINGS CONCERNING “THE GAY” THAT ARE PLEASING IN MY SIGHT IN 2009

1) Obama finally owned up to his promise on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” Hurray! Barack remembered that he made a promise when he was campaigning to get elected! Now, if he can just come up with WHEN he will repeal it…

2) And speaking of politicians doing the right thing, Governor Schwarzenegger created Harvey Milk Day this year. It’s very encouraging to see the heroes and martyrs of our community being granted the same respect and honor as other key figures in American history. Also, bonus points to Arnie for not trying to shoehorn any catchphrases into the legislation.

3) A Trans-inclusive version of the ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) was finally introduced this year. At last, there’s a real chance that LGBT Americans will be protected from the discrimination millions of us face every single day of our lives. No one – NO ONE – should be denied a job, a home,  or a chance at a productive life because of their sexuality, and when this passes, it will be a huge stride forward for this country and for equal rights.

4) Even without an inclusive ENDA, we occasionally win the respect we deserve. Now, having been on the end of some not-so-subtle discrimination myself, I felt Diane Schroer’s pain when I first heard about this story. You don’t have to be Wile E. Coyote, Super Genius, to see that a job offer that’s rescinded when one reveals that they are transgendered is a little suspect. And yes, I know this is hardly Hollywood-movie triumphant – the administration’s refusal to appeal the decision isn’t the same as saying “Hey, genius, lay off the hatin'” but progress is progress.

5) Iran allowed its first Transgendered Marriage this year. I’m on the fence about this one, actually. Yes, it’s great that transpeople can marry, but Iran, a notoriously oppressive theocracy with zero tolerance for any sort of homosexuality, has embraced transgenderism because (in the case of heterosexual couples, at least), it conforms to the traditional male-female paradigm. And,  as the article notes, there’s very legitimate concern that not all of Iran’s transgendered people are transgendered; in fact, some may be lesbians and gays circumventing the law with what can only be called extreme dedication.

THINGS CONCERNING “THE GAY” OVER WHICH I WEPT TEARS OF BLOOD IN 2009

1) Violence against transgendered people worldwide is on the RISE. Iran may be all set to let us get hitched, but worldwide, it’s still a very dangerous thing for transgendered people to be honest about their identity. It can cost us our jobs, our familes, and, increasingly, our lives.

2) In fact, all LGBT folks are painted with targets these days. Violence is not okay. It’s not okay as a tactic to demean, to defile, to diminish anyone. It’s not okay to incite aggression and hatred for someone because you happen to disagree with their lifestyle.

Violence.

Is.

NOT.

Okay.

OK?

3) We still can’t get married…well, at least not everywhere. Canada, America’s Hat, has it. A sprinkling of US States have it: Iowa; Vermont; Connecticut; Maine; Massachusetts.   Many others allow domestic partnerships, or, as I like to call it, “Marriage Lite.” So what’s the hold up, people? The states where LGBT couples can marry didn’t sink into the ocean or disappear in flashes of light. It’s time to recognize that two people of the same sex can and do share loving, lifelong relationships (many with greater success than their heterosexual counterparts…I’m looking at YOU, Hollywood!).

As usual, I like my “Good” list to be longer than my “Bad” list. I could, of course, go on and and on about the injustices and indignities suffered by LGBT people in today’s world, but I’d rather focus on the triumphs and successes. After all, we’re not solely defined by our LGBT-ness; we’re parents, siblings, children, spouses and friends, and beyond that, we are all (regardless of color, creed, race, gender or sexuality) human beings.

Overall, I’d say things are looking up, and that in a lot of important ways, 2009 will go down in history as an important part of both LGBT history and history in general. If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, don’t be afraid this week (or any other week) to be honest with yourself and others about who you are…you owe it to them and you owe it to yourself.

And those of you who aren’t LGBT but have a loved one or friend who is, I encourage you to remain (or become) a supportive and loving part of their lives. Coming out of the closet can be a scary thing, and it’s always nice to be greeted by a friend rather than a fist.

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.

Bah!

[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.