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.


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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.

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 One: What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding Transgenderism?

Today is Claire De Lunacy’s First Blogoversary. To celebrate, I’ve invited some very gracious and awesome friends to contribute to this mess, sharing their words with you, my beloved readers. Over the next week, 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 my friend Sra, a very dear “friend once removed.” When she’s not sharing her adventures and insights at her own, also awesome blog, Bunsnip, she can be found preparing for the big move from Utah to Portland, Oregon for law school.]

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding Transgenderism?

Hello, everyone, my name is Sra and I write the drivel over at Bunsnip.com. I’m a real life friend of one of Claire’s real life friends, which means Claire and I are real life friends once removed, or just virtual friends, if you like. Claire is one of the funniest, most intelligent, and most bizarre people I’ve ever virtually met. Whenever she writes a comment on my blog, I’m left either laughing my ass off, or scratching my head because I don’t understand the obscure references she is able to pull out of her ass… er… I mean… her exceedingly knowledgeable brain… on any topic imaginable, but I’m sure these references would only make her comments all the more funny if understood. With this, her one year blogiversary of making people laugh and scratch their heads, Claire deserves to sit back, kick up her feet, and let other people do all the work for her for once. I’m only happy to oblige.

I’ve decided to write a little bit about transgenderism, since this seems a nice venue to do so. I am very interested in the topics of sexuality and gender, and if you’ve read Claire’s Transgender Primer for the Curious, Apprehensive, or Confused, you know that sexuality and gender are not the same thing. For instance, I was ok with “the gay”, as Claire likes to say, well before I understood and accepted transgenderism.

I don’t remember exactly when I became ok with homosexuality, but I know it was sometime before high school. Of course, as a young child it didn’t occur to me that there could be some moral difference between having romantic feelings for a person of one gender versus another. This attitude that one type of sexual attraction is ok while another is verboten is socialized into us. Sometime around maybe 4th or 5th grade, when kids are becoming more cognizant of their sexuality, I became aware of the fact that people recognize straight versus gay, and that straight is perceived as normal, while anything else is considered aberrant.

When I was a tween and young teenager, it was a regular part of slang to call things “gay” to mean “stupid”, and I partook of this slang like everyone else. Then sometime in high school, well after I had decided that homosexuality was a perfectly viable and completely amoral way of life, a friend of mine pointed out that using the word “gay” to mean “stupid” sent a message that I was actually much less accepting of homosexuality than I claimed. For some reason, I needed a little convincing (looking back now, I can’t remember how I might have rationalized my use of that slang), but I finally came to understand her reasoning and made the effort to change my slang usage.

And doing so made me realize that I may not have been as accepting as I had thought. It was then that it also occurred to me that, while I understood homosexuality, I didn’t understand transgenderism at all. And again, looking back now, it’s hard for me to revert to that state of mind in which I just don’t get it. I mean, if it’s perfectly natural to think that one could be attracted to someone regardless of sex, notwithstanding the accepted norm, it also seems perfectly natural that one could personally identify as either gender, notwithstanding the body into which one was born. But back then, I didn’t understand. I felt like if I was going to become the accepting person that I wanted to be, I really needed to figure transgenderism out.

~~ Let me make a little aside here. Some people errantly believe that when you’re talking about accepting homosexuality and transgenderism, then naturally you must also be willing to accept pedophilia, bestiality, polyamory, and, hell, maybe even necrophilia; like maybe homosexuality and transgenderism are gateway drugs to throwing all limits out the window, sexually speaking. This is a non sequitur, of course. (As an aside to the aside, with the exception of pedophilia, which I do find appallingly immoral, I am not making any judgment as to the morality of those other -alities, -amories, and -philias. Some of them might be a little stomach churning, however.) ~~

At about this same time, Hillary Swank played the role of a female-to-male transgendered person in the movie Boys Don’t Cry, which is based on the true story of Brandon Teena, born Teena Brandon, who is murdered when his friends discover that he was born female. I happened to come across the movie on TV one night, and found it very humanizing of transgenderism. It’s a story of love; it’s a story of hate. In short, it’s a story of the human condition. The film helped me see transgendered people as, well, just that, people. Really, that’s all it took for me to find acceptance of transgenderism, and understanding came with time.

In college, I learned that one of my family members identifies as transgendered, and I felt very fortunate that by this time I had already taken the steps to achieve understanding and acceptance of transgenderism, and wouldn’t have to deal with the search for acceptance when what was really important was showing love and support of this person, who is, after all, still my family.

A few years later, a friend of mine who I had known as Jason back in high school met with me for lunch because he had something to tell me. He was reluctant to divulge the secret, but I think subconsciously I had figured it out, because one of my first guesses was, “You’re not getting a sex change, are you?” That’s when Jason’s voiced morphed into the much higher voice of Lauren, “Well, actually…”

I was shocked, not only because I didn’t expect Jason’s voice ever to reach that high, but because a year or so prior, I had welcomed Lauren home from her LDS mission, which she had taken as Jason. That just shows to go you that you can’t suppose someone isn’t gay or transgendered just because of their religion. As a matter of fact, Lauren still remains devout to her faith, as do, surprisingly, many gay, bisexual, and transgendered people of all kinds of faith.

The most difficult part of learning that someone you know and love is transgendered is having to play the pronoun game. Hard as you may try, you will slip up, probably many times, before the hes and shes fall out naturally in their correct place. Incidentally, I’ve heard people use “it” when referring to transgendered people, and I can’t tell you how offensive I find that. People are never “its”.

The greatest thing about learning that someone you know and love is transgendered is the way that the person finally starts to make sense. Lauren in particular was always a little bit strange to me, growing up. In high school, as Jason, she would do this thing where she’d get uncomfortable and suddenly lower her voice dramatically. I always just thought she was being a goof, but now it suddenly makes sense. She had struggled with her gender identity her entire life, and tried hard to convince herself that she was a boy when inside she always felt like a girl. When she felt she was failing at being a convincing boy, she’d lower her voice nervously, or do something stereotypically male, trying to cover up. Learning that my friend was always the right person in the wrong body made everything about her click to me.

Claire makes the third transgendered person I know in my life. I’m counting her on account of our real life friends once removed status. The point here isn’t that I’m keeping score on my diversity of friendship score card, but that I am a 26 year old woman from Salt Lake City, Utah, and I know three transgendered people, which means there is probably someone in your life who is transgendered as well. This is why it’s important to come to understand transgenderism, and homosexuality, and bisexuality, as perfectly valid ways of identifying, because someone you know and care about will probably identify as one or more of these things. I think in life we all just want to be accepted and understood for who we are. I think if we try to accept and understand other people, without caveats and conditions, we will in turn find it easier to be understood and accepted ourselves. Easier said than done, especially for a grouchy non-people-person such as myself, but I work on it, and so should we all.

[It’s me again. Isn’t she great? Please be sure to pay her a visit at her blog, and tune in tomorrow for another great post dealing with Adam Lambert’s failure to become The Fairest of Them All, and what it means in today’s society.]

Fullbar© 2009: The Fittening

Hey, kids.

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Other than keeping up with my poetry and trying to throw in the occasional comic, I haven’t done much blogging of late.  This is because, as they say, life intrudes. I suppose that, ultimately, I’d rather have too much life to live and neglect my blog than too much blogging and neglect my life.

Besides, life is the fuel that fires the engine of the blog. Stop living, stop blogging (I’m looking at you, Perez Hilton).

But I digress. Today’s post is about an exciting new addition to my battle against The Chub. Yes, dear readers, I have become one of “those” people (well, I guess it’s more correct to say I’ve added another category to my classification as one of “those” people).

I ordered Fullbar©.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Fullbar© is a nutritional supplement/weight loss aid cleverly disguised as a spongy, flexible brick of fiber. You eat one twice a day with a large glass of water, 30 minutes before your two biggest meals. The ostensible purpose of this is staving off hunger by telling your brain you’re full before you start eating – a feat easily accomplished because the Fullbar© absorbs the water like nobody’s business.

Today is day one of my Fullbar© experiment, and my initial impressions are as follows:

1) This thing is yummier than it has any right to be. Seriously, I had a cranberry-almond bar at 5:10 this morning, carefully chewing each bite to avoid having the whole bar swell up to the size of a mattress inside me and explode me like a bird eating rice. But it wasn’t too arduous a task – the bar itself was oddly like a Rice-Krispy-Treat in texture, with puffed brown rice and rice syrup taking the place of toasted white rice and marshmallow. It was slightly tacky to the touch, but not sticky. And the taste, as I said, was pretty darn good. Like an especially chewy granola bar.

2) It may prove difficult to follow-up with a mini-meal after eating one of these bastards. I’m supposed to eat six mini-meals a day, the two largest preceded by a Fullbar© as indicated. The trouble I’m running into is that not only did I not want my 5:30 meal this morning, I was still pretty full at 8:00. But, because the good doctor instructs us not to skip any meals lest our brain realize we are pulling a little legerdemain, I was a good little Fullbarite and ate my weight-control protein-infused oatmeal at 8:00. I’m kind of wondering what I’ll eat at lunchtime now…maybe some air? One Cheez-It and a piece of pepperoni?

3) The biggest surprise is that I don’t feel like I’m on a “program.” Diets and I have a checkered history. I’ve done the grapefruit diet. I’ve done the Mayo Clinic diet. I’ve even, in a moment of insanity, done Deal-a-Meal. Most everything I’ve tried has felt like a chore on day one. This being day one of Fullbar©, I fully intended to experience the sort of exasperated disillusionment that characterizes my attempts to defeat The Chub. To my very pleasant surprise, I have not. I think the primary difference stems from:

A) It’s not so much a diet as it is a complete restructuring of my eating habits

and

B) I’m at a point in my life where food is no longer a necessary crutch to deal with my inner demons (that’s what Grey Goose is for!)

Kidding! I’m kidding. Everyone knows I prefer Bombay Sapphire.

In addition to faithfully noshing a responsible meal-ette every three hours, I’ve also been instructed to drink at least 60 oz of water a day, work out three times a week, and stay positive.

That’s it.

I’m cautiosly optimistic about this whole mess, and trying to keep my expectations realistic. Yes, in trials, folks following the Fullbar© method lost 40% of their excess body weight in three months. That’s very encouraging, but I also know that the REAL success with this (or any other method of weight loss) will begin and end with my ability to stay true to my goals.

We’ll see how I do.

33 Years

Tomorrow I’ll have
thirty-three full years of age
and unknown years to go.

Tomorrow I will
celebrate palindromic
numeric status.

Tomorrow I’ll be
the age I was so sure I
would be world famous.

Tomorrow I’ll let
my crush take me to lunch and
pretend we’re in love

Tomorrow I’ll mark
my first birthday as Claire
both inside and out.

Today, though…today
I am just a girl who now
understands at last

That time gives and takes
that love is indeed what it
is cracked up to be

That regardless of
deep, deep discounts, plaid will
NEVER be my friend

That losing weight for
anyone but yourself is
pure idiocy

That calories count
even if no one sees you
eat that crate of chips

That a true friend can
save your life without knowing
How close the end was

That loving yourself
is the best way to ready
yourself to love

And that who we were
Need not be who we become
In our tomorrows.

Bittersweet Thanksgiving (But Mostly Sweet)

So here’s the thing:

You can’t spell “Thanksgiving Blast” without “LGBT!”

Well, you can, but then it’d just be “hanksivin as” which makes no freaking sense, you weirdo.

Let me tell you a little story, kids.

Back in the bad old days, before I came out and began transition, Thanksgiving was a fun time for me, but as with most other special occasions, a shadow lay across my heart.

This year, however, the shadow was lifted, and you know why?

Of course not. Otherwise, why would I need to tell you? Honestly.

Anyway, the reason was that I attended my first TransOhio Thanksgiving dinner. Inside the Center on High, I met some amazing people from all walks of life, and had a lot of laughs, conversation, and green bean casserole. For the first time, I could be myself, without fear of judgement or recrimination (well, without fear of judgement or recrimination for being transgendered. My personality remains a valid reason to hurl both). It was one of the best times of my young (cough, cough) life.

Of course, this was also the first Thanksgiving I didn’t share with my family. Due to a lack of extra vacation, I wasn’t with them when they loaded up the Giant Van of Babysitting and schlepped deep into Kentucky to meet my Mother’s extended family for a rip-roarin’ turkey-fest.

And I DID miss them, of course. I missed Ma’s ridiculously delicious lemon meringue pie and stuffing (separately, not together). I missed Dad declaring that his eyes were clearly too big for his tummy (even as he finished half a pumpkin pie). I especially missed the cacophonous maelstrom of chatter and laughs that springs up whenever Ma and her sisters get together. And I missed being part of the mess that, for better or worse, is my pack of kin. I missed knowing that I’d have enough turkey left over to make flautas for the next week and a half.

What I didn’t miss was hearing the wrong name, or the intentional disregard for who I am, or the judgement for something that I know to be necessary for my happiness.

I definitely didn’t miss having to endure the silent opprobrium that is somehow a thousand times worse than the angry recriminations that characterized the early days of my transition.

It was nice to be surrounded by people who understood my struggle. It was even better to be taken at face value, free of the baggage of my complicated past. And it was amazing to finally, truly, let my guard down.

But then again, that same baggage is what enables my family to truly know me in ways no one else ever will. And it’s what makes it necessary for me to find a way to get the feeling I had in that community center hall even when I’m sitting down to dinner in my parents’ dining room; like so many other things, the holidays are (for me) about stitching together the bifurcated fabric of my life.

Will I ever find a way to truly relax as Claire in my parents’ home? Will I be able to stop that anticipatory wince that accompanies the wrong pronouns and name? Can I find a way to keep giving my parents infinite slack as they try to follow me down this path? Will I have the strength to make my own traditions if my parents cannot find a way to accept me as I am? Can I really have my lemon meringue pie and eat it too?

Who the hell knows? These are questions every person asks themselves (well, the first two are probably specific to me and other transwomen named Claire, now that I think about it).

My experience at a new Thanksgiving table was invaluable; it taught me that there are other possibilities in this life; that there are people who really do understand what I’m going through and share my struggle; that there is, as my friend Laura says, the family you’re born with and the family you gather along the way.

But I also have a seat reserved for me at the Jackson Family table, and it’s one I’m not giving up without a fight. There’s a lot of bitterness to address, yes, but as the year draws to a close and I take a step back to gain some perspective, I can’t help but think about how much sweetness there is, too.

And, after all, that pie’s not going to eat itself.