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.

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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.

CDL Blogoversary, Day Two: Adam Lambert’s Loss is Our Gain

We’re celebrating Claire De Lunacy’s First Blogoversary, and I’ve invited some very gracious and awesome friends to contribute to this mess, sharing their words with you, my beloved readers. Through June 10th, there will be a new post from a different guest each day, culminating with a new, full-length short story by yours truly. I hope you enjoy my guests’ work as much as I do, and I hope you’ll stick around to see what happens during the NEXT year.

[Today’s Guest Blog is by Blanca Meneses, a friend I met on “The Twitter.”  Blanca is Cuban American and has lived in the US since 1969. She has an MBA in International Business, a Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts and a Paralegal Certificate. She currently works as an in-house paralegal at a Fortune 500 company. When not working, Blanca focuses on her photography. She resides in Miami with her partner and their Goldendoodle, Cocker Spaniel and two cats. Visit her online at http://www.blancameneses.com]

I sit here today still dumbfounded by the results of American Idol. I still feel confusion and disbelief when I think about the results. I mean, Adam Lambert should have won, right? Right? He’s multitalented and the best contestant ever to compete on American Idol. But for some reason, or reasons, he did not win. We all know that now.

I remember that on that Wednesday evening, May 20, 2009, I was sitting in front of my big flat screen tv with my partner and our two dogs watching American Idol with the Bose stereo system blasting away just waiting for the results. Finally, after all the artists sang, some better than others, and after they dimmed the lights, my heart began to race. I was nervous but optimistic and hopeful. I was so confident, as I”m sure were many other Adam fans, that Adam would win. But when Ryan Seacrest announced Kris Allen as the winner I was in utter shock and disbelief and felt mentally and emotionally stiff. I couldn’t move! The phone rang. It was my partner’s mother. I’m screaming saying that this is BS! What?! What?! What?! What????!!!! The unthinkable had happened! Kris Allen won.

I was enraged. I went on Facebook to tell the whole world how I felt. My status was not pretty. In fact, I was fuming! I went on Twitter to tell the whole world how I felt. My 140 characters were not pretty. In fact, I was still fuming! Why didn’t Adam win? How did this happen? I was perplexed and upset! I was so enraged I even shedded a few tears.

Tears? Why yes, tears. Tears because I took his loss personal. Tears because I believe Adam Lambert lost because he’s “different” and obviously more colorful than the conservative Kris Allen, who, in my belief, didn’t win on talent alone. Adam Lambert has not really admitted he’s gay, but he is quite flamboyant. His black fingernails, his heavy eyeliner, his walk, his thick make-up, and at times his clothing, all gave way for people to think that he was over the top in every which way. But more important than anything, he is unbelievably talented.

Did Kris Allen win because of the conservative vote? Did Adam Lambert lose because he’s “different”? We might never know; however, there is wide speculation and much talk that the reason Adam lost and Kris won was because the conservative vote pushed Kris over the edge. So now, all of a sudden, we have conservatism vs liberalism and red states vs blue states in an American Idol competition. And here I was thinking that the election was over.

The bottom line here is that this country, although some states are making progress with LGBT issues and we have a Democratic president and a Democratic congress, is still quite conservative. It is the fight of the religious right vs those that are to the left of the religious right. I do believe that more and more people are becoming more accepting of LGBT people, but I also believe that homophonia is still alive and kicking in the good old USA.

So, in the end, I had to accept that Adam had lost this year’s American Idol crown. But, I do believe that he is well on his way to having an abundance of success. As a matter of fact, he might just be on his way to becoming the lead singer for Queen. Sweet and at the same time ironic, isn’t it?

Here’s to you Adam and to your undeniable talent!

[It’s me again. Regardless of American Idol‘s role as, ahem, “entertainment,” I do believe that Adam’s decision to be open about his homosexuality adversely affected his shot at the crown. As Blanca said, his loss will ultimately be America’s gain, especially since the runners-up from Idol seem to make a bigger splash more often than their crown-winning counterparts.

Special thanks to Blanca for sharing her views! Be sure to stop by her site to say “hola!”

Tune in tomorrow for some short fiction!]

Presidents’ Day: Suggested Reading for My Fellow Nerds

It’s Presidents’ Day, kids, and while many of you are no doubt off of work or school, savoring the deep discounts at JC Penny or attempting to convince Obama to make it rain candy, some of us are trapped at work, toiling for minor ducats under the thumb of employers unmoved by the celebration of our nation’s great leaders.

Luckily, some of us have plowed through so much work today that there’s a momentary gap in the river of unrelenting tedium, and so have the time to create things like lists of books you should be reading today instead of giving Lincoln a purple beard.

American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House Arguably the most populist President of all time, Old Hickory could take a beating and keep on bleating, as they say. Whether tearing it up in N’awlins even after the war was won or slapping down the veto whoop-ass, Jackson was a fiery and charismatic man who nevertheless scared the bejeebus out of the elite with his rough-around-the-edges, “Le etat, c’est moi” ways.  Sort of like someone else we know from the past 8 years – only not, you know, out to destroy the world.

Truman Oh, Harry. Sure, you dropped the nuke. Sure, you saw Reds in every corner coffee shop. But, you were a stand-up guy, and you backed up your talk with the walk.  At 1,000 pages, this looks like a bit of a paper anchor, but McCullough knows what he’s doing, and trust me, you’ll be finished before you realize it.

The Essential Book of Presidential Trivia Come on, nerds, you know you want it. Besides, what could be more fun than discovering the facts, figures and foibles about our nation’s storied leaders? Well, besides that complicated scenario I’ve concocted involving me, Robin Meade, a tanker-truckload of Peeps and several bottles of Patron Silver?

So get out there, citizens, and learn a little about your forefathers! You’ll be glad you did!

Dear Future Partner

“Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret.”

(door opening, hurried footsteps)

“What the hell are you doing here? You’re in the wrong place, kid.”

“What? This isn’t Judy Blume’s brain, circa 1969?”

“NO! It’s Claire’s brain, circa 2008, you nutty little freak. Now get out of here! And take Ramona with you! The grownups are talking! Crazy ass kids, always running around in here. Some of us are trying to WORK!”

Ahem.

Dear Future Partner,

Hi, it’s Claire. If the the exchange you just witnessed above made you question my sanity or pull a number of pamphlets from your satchel, then you are excused. If it made you laugh or, at a minimum, shrug and say “Well, at least she’s not trying to make me eat Peeps,” you may stay. If Margaret immediately opened the door to your own brain and asked if this was the room where she learned about the flower of womanhood, then you may come sit by me.

It’s often been said that one shouldn’t have a “type,” and that creating a list of criteria for one’s perfect mate can actually prevent you from finding true love because what one wants is so rarely what one needs.

This is, of course, crap.

OK, not really. There is some sense to this – after all, if you’ve reached the point where you look at another person and say “Oh, jeez, I’m sorry, we can’t date – I’m not really into women with your shade of hair. You’re russet, and I’m really looking for more of an auburn. Also, you don’t have the Pirate Memory Game I’m looking for,” then it’s time to hang up your dating hat and reconcile yourself to being the Paranthropus Robustus of your family tree.

However, future mate, just like anything I attempt to reheat in the oven, I’ve been burned before – and there are some important facts I would like to share with you, here and now, so that in the future, when one of my myriad eccentricities manifests itself like the ghost of Jacob Marley, you’re prepared, and not phoning the authorities/raising a crucifix/alerting the citizens of Tokyo to my presence.

To wit:

1) You should be interested in learning. You needn’t be a super-nerd like me, nor must your internal fires burn with an insatiable lust for knowledge second only to Pryrates. If, however, upon hearing me and/or my friends discuss some bit of linguistic minutiae, some fascinating tidbit of literature or history, or last night’s episode of Jeopardy!, your immediate reaction is to roll your eyes and say “Um, we’re not in school, professor!” before turning back to your People Magazine crossword ( “24 across: TV horse “Mister __””), you will be driven way out in the country and left on a farm where you will have lots of room to frolic and watch reruns of A Current Affair .

2) I am sure that, given time, I really CAN come to love your children as if they are my very own. However, ten seconds after I meet you is a bit soon for this sort of special bond to form. Because I’m an unknown adult, I feel as though it’s not my place to yell at them for drinking bleach/smashing my belongings with a sledgehammer that they must’ve brought from home because I certainly don’t have one/tearing pages from my books (which are, it must be said, MY children) like feral goats. Furthermore, I’m not their Mom – I’m just some lady who keeps making suggestive comments to their mom while she laughs, says things like “little pitchers!” and turns red while slapping her hands over their ears. I don’t hate kids, I don’t have any illusions about my role in their life unless things get sufficiently serious, and I don’t worry about “competing” with them – but, shockingly, I would prefer to get to know YOU before being introduced to your kids and hearing the Brady Bunch theme music as we’re all tossed around in blue squares with your maid and Robert Reed.

3) If I accidentally call you Robin, it is an honest mistake. However, referring to me as Rosie, accidentally or not, will result in a Mortal Kombat-style fatality:

You: “Rosie, honey, can you…”

Announcer guy: “FINISH HER!”

Me: “GET OVER HERE!” (followed by launch of weird spear thingy)

You: “BLERG!” (thump)

Alternatively, you may receive the silent treatment and/or wake to find I have hired a plastic surgeon to bring you into line with Robin while you slumbered. So, you know, look out for that, then.

4) Birthdays are not optional. Even if you’re “not from a birthday family,” be prepared to experience a celebration of your birthday normally reserved for royalty and the ungrateful offspring of the privileged elite.

Seriously, lady, you’re gonna think Ed McMahon stopped by. Well, I mean, the old Ed McMahon, with the Publisher’s Clearinghouse checks, not really old Ed McMahon, with the neckbrace and crippling debt. You will expect to see yourself on the Society Page! Assuming wherever we live has a paper large and pretentious enough to support such a thing!

Naturally, my own birthday week should be written in your calendar in PERMANENT marker and, if desired, sparkly pen. The kind with a feathery tuft where the cap would rest on a non-super-gay pen.

5) When I hear “PDA,” I think of my Blackberry™. Yes, I love you, Future Partner! Truly, I wish to declare it from the tops of the highest trees…I want to shout it to the deepest caverns of earth’s stony heart! However, I do NOT wish to have an amateur appendectomy performed by your experimental tongue-probe method in front of A) my family, B) strangers at the mall, C) that weird neighbor guy who suddenly became all friendly when he found out I was a lesbian and forced me to get blinds for the bedroom. Seriously, I’m not Prudence McPrude, mayoress of Prudeytown – I just know how grossed out I am by other “get a room” couples, and my hypocrisy only extends so far.

6) I am a tGirl, and the “t” is not silent. OK, it should be noted that, while I don’t exactly wear a t-shirt (get it? T-shirt? HA! Oh, God, I should be killed.) proclaiming my transsexuality, it is a part of who I am, and I have no intention of hiding that part (insert rim shot here). Falling squarely into the “Activist-Lite” category, I am active in the trans community, and anyone I’m with should be cool with that, if only because I’d hate to be at Pride, stuck outside one of those unbelievably snobbish “Natal Women Only” events, holding our ciders while you listen to “Robyn WomynRayn” do a poetry slam.

7) Come to think of it, the “girl” isn’t silent, either. Despite my little case of Harry Benjamin Syndrome, I am in fact a girl through and through. Well, a woman, really, since I heard “Miss” for about a week after I began transition and then settled into “Ma’am” with blithe acceptance. No, my house isn’t pink and covered in doilies, nor do I dress like Miss Yvonne from Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, but I am a femme, for better or worse. It can be difficult to separate stereotype from reality, and even more difficult to separate the concepts of “feminine” and “female,” but let it be said that I am most certainly the former and will (barring acts of the Almighty or Congress) also be the latter as soon as possible. The reason I bring this up is that, as mentioned in my Transgender Primer, I am not a f*ing drag queen, and I am most certainly not a guy in a dress (or any other kind of guy, really).

8 ) I’m not what you call a “serious” person, a fact that has been underscored abundantly within the past two sentences if not the past 33 years. Like a lot of kids whose differences forced them to choose between being the entertainment or the main course, I donned humor and my own cavalier disregard for authority as my sword and shield. Don’t worry, there’s a nougaty center of considered and rational sincerity under the brightly-colored candy shell, but you’re gonna need something sharp to get at it, sister.

I think that’s it for the moment. It’s strange to think you’re reading this now, even though we don’t get together until later, around chapter seveteen (after the incident involving the Van Allen belt, but before we kill the giant badger with silly string and a Sharpie®). Write back soon, okay? But don’t tell me what happens in Transformers 2, because I’d hate to have its tightly-written and no-doubt Joycian plot unraveled for me prematurely.

Also, if Michael Bay ever, ever, EVER wins an Oscar, just go ahead and send a nuke back with the letter. I’ll see that it gets where it needs to go.

Your future wife/partner/ball-and-chain-but-don’t-call-me-that-where-I-can-hear-you-I’m-not-kidding,

Claire

Barack on Board

So here’s the thing:

It should be made clear from the very beginning that I am not what you call a Bumper Sticker Person. Bumper Stickers have always seemed, to me at least, the adhesive-backed embodiment of the sentiment contained within the phrase “Better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  While I adored stickers of all kinds as a child (and still do, now that I think about it), I never saw the point of a small piece of paper as the vehicle (har, har) for expressing one’s sexuality/ideology/politics/religion/sports-team-affiliation.

This is because I am what is known as “snooty.”

Last night, however, something changed. While opening the mail, I discovered my Barack Obama bumper sticker had arrived from MoveOn.org, and as I looked down at it, I thought to myself, “Really? A bumper sticker? Are we this person? What’s next, mud flaps with sexy girlies on them?”

Form AND function.

Form AND function.

Despite my innate snootiness and fear of what might come next (I’m fine with the mudflaps, but what if I suddenly find myself saying “NASCAR? Yeah, that might be a sport.” with a straight face?), I cast my fears aside. I busted out my Simple Green cleanser and recycled paper towels, walked out the back door, and wiped clean a small area of Lola’s rear panel (before you get too excited, friends, Lola is my 2000 Bravada, not some exceptionally dirty girl with an environmentalist fetish).

My precious baby.

My precious baby.

After cleaning her panel, I then applied my brand new, freshly-printed Barack Obama bumper sticker to my precious baby’s hitherto-unblemished backside thusly:

I'm an activist! Yee-haw!

I'm an activist! Yee-haw!

In an ironic twist, you’ll note the sticker leans slightly to the right, har, har, choke, gasp, wheeze!

As I promised a while back, I will NOT exhort you to vote for any particular candidate, but if you, like me, are ready to give your car a tramp stamp for change, you can get your bumper sticker here.

You’re on your own for mudflaps, though.