CDL Blogoversary, Day Seven: TV is Life

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 Blogger is Megan Gesing, a pal I met on The Twitter. Megan is a 27 year-old Instructional Designer, Actress, Filmmaker and Artist.  She’s from Cleveland, OH but lives in Las Vegas, NV for the time being.  Contrary to popular belief, she doesn’t live in a casino and hates gambling. She really loves the sun and doesn’t eat meat.

Megan writes a blog called Love, Megan.  Check it out! http://www.lovemegan.net]

I watch a lot of TV.  I always have.  I’ve been acting since I was a kid, so I attribute this to research.  With all of this TV watching, I began developing this theory… See, my life can be pretty bizarre- Sometimes unbelievably so.  Stuff happens to me that you only see on TV… so, I’ve come to the conclusion that my life is a TV show- or more accurately a series of TV shows based on the same character.

When I was a kid, I was the cute little girl on a family comedy.  The kind of girl who’s mom dressed her up in pretty clothes and dress shoes, but who insisted on going outside and attempting to climb a tree anyway.  This always ended badly… but not horribly, so the audience (whoever and wherever they are) could laugh and shake their heads at her.  “Aw, that poor girl.” There were ups and downs, laughs and tears… Just like any good family comedy.

Through Junior High and High School, my show was more like “Boy Meets World” or something like that.  I had a great group of friends and we were pretty wholesome.  There was always just enough excitement and embarrassment to make the audience cringe and fall in love.  C’mon- you know the kind of show.  There were some great characters that got their own spin-offs and you always knew it was going to end at some point.  It may be sad, but high school can’t last forever, right?

Well, then I went to college.  My show got a complete overhaul: new location, new cast, new attitude.  It wasn’t really “wholesome” anymore.  It was dramatic and intense.  I got into trouble, I got my heart broken, I learned a lot about myself. I’m pretty sure it made for great TV week after week.  We always had summer break and a new season started every fall.  Each spring, something shocking would happen that would leave us all hanging waiting for the “season” to start in the fall.  Each year we’d welcome new characters and say good-bye to others.  People were scandalous, crazy, supportive and loving.  I mean, it was college.  Then I graduated and I’m pretty sure my show got cancelled.

But, audiences must like me because I landed a part on a wholesome kids show, playing their sarcastic-but-loving daycare teacher.  I couldn’t take this for too long, so I moved to Las Vegas.

That’s the show I’m on now.  It’s been “on the air” for three years now.  It’s exactly what you’d expect from a 20-something dramedy.  Insane roommates, ridiculously unhealthy relationships, challenging jobs, new friends…  It was a great show for a long time- but it’s pretty boring now.  I need a change.

I’ve been doing my best to change to the storylines myself, but sometimes I get the sinking feeling that I have no control.  I get the feeling that nothing’s going to change right now.  Maybe the writers are on strike, or the production company gets a great deal to shoot in Las Vegas.  Something completely out of my control is keeping me stuck here.

We’re going on summer break.  The show’s going to be in repeats for a few months and for the first time in a lifetime, there’s no big cliffhanger ending… There’s no big mystery to solve or surprise to wait for next fall.  Just a 28th birthday. Woo!

Think about it, we’re all stars of our own TV shows.  People make guest appearances on each other’s shows and shows spin off from each other.  We’re all the star of our own show… or at least we should be.  When the storyline falters and you start to feel like a secondary cast member on someone else’s show, there’s a problem.

Actors have shown us that it’s possible to demand quality from your writers: more face time, a more interesting plotline for your character- whatever you need. Just look what it did for the cast of Grey’s Anatomy- OK, maybe not the best example…

But as the star of my show, I’m demanding better storylines.  This fall, it’s going to be the start of the BEST SEASON ever.  Something big is going to happen.  Things are going to change.  I just really hope I don’t get a brain tumor or hit by a bus…

Stay tuned.

[It’s me again. Speaking as the star of literally dozens of mental television shows, I can confirm that we are each living in a program of our own making. Be sure to tune into Megan’s site for more fun and a possible season-ending cliffhanger involving ninjas, ferrets and a surprise special guest!*

*NOTE: I am, in fact, making this up.

Coming up tomorrow: The CDL Blogoversary celebration comes to a close with a COMPLETE short story from the Circe universe, courtesy of yours truly. Walk, don’t run, to your nearest chair and perch on the edge with anticipation, won’t you?]

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Unacceptable!

In the interest of public safety and not being arrested/Tased™/beaten with socks full of walnuts by the hoi polloi, I usually keep my wellspring of wrath sealed away beneath the much calmer waters of snarkiness and, ahem, “humor.” However, around this time every year, as we slide inexorably toward another series of days reserved for mad dogs and Englishmen, the temperature, humidity, and general ass-itude of the idiots of the world join forces to push me to the breaking point, and I must let my vitriol pour forth upon the heads of those nouns (both proper and common) so richly deserving of it.

To wit:

Beardy Dude who already has ten delicious “everything” bagels and, even though it’s clear that I intend to nab the last one after he goes on his greedy way, takes the last one “just in case”: UNACCEPTABLE!! You are hereby ordered to surrender your place in line and have all your bagels replaced with today’s “gourmet” flavor. Let’s see how everyone back at the office likes “Rose Petal and Gorgonzola,” Mr. Piggy!

Random acquaintance who likes to make cracks about my being transgendered but still looks down my shirt every chance he gets: UNACCEPTABLE!! You are hereby ordered to buy me a novelty t-shirt reading “I see you’ve already met the twins” and/or “My eyes are up here” with a wacky arrow pointing upward.

Sweaty shirtless guy with enough body hair for Locks of Love who, despite having seen me not ten seconds ago, asks me AGAIN if it’s “hot enough” for me: UNACCEPTABLE!! You are hereby sentenced to wear three sweatshirts and a plastic bag until you pass out just like Martin Lawrence!

Swimsuit manufacturers who are clearly in league with the Devil and, as a result, offer products designed to make me feel like either a stripper or a sausage trying to escape its casing: EXCEEDINGLY UNACCEPTABLE!! You are hereby sentenced to walk down the street past a crowd of recently-released sex offenders wearing only a piece of lettuce and two old Skoal lids, tied together with dental floss!

Judgmental old bat who feels it is her duty to point out what a sinner I am and berate me loudly through her clacking dentures even though she’s out shopping for shoes with her gay grandson I saw at the club macking on some burly welder or something last weekend: WILDLY UNACCEPTABLE!! You are hereby ordered to get a clue and remove the enormous, pink, Be-Dazzled™, dildo-shaped plank from your eye before plucking the transgendered splinter out of mine!

Also, you smell like death. It’s called soap -look into it!

Patrick Rothfuss, whose next book is not scheduled for release until 2009: UNDERSTANDABLE BUT ULTIMATELY…UNACCEPTABLE!! You are hereby ordered to STOP pretending you’re Robert Jordan and release your novels in a timely fashion so we’re not stuck with a cliffhanger when you die! Also, you are ordered to send me an autographed galley of the next book immediately so I can lord my superiority over all other fans posthaste!

Robin Meade who, despite being awakened in the middle of the night by a clearly insensitive husband, remains infuriatingly married and straight: UTTERLY AND COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE!! You are hereby ordered to read this pamphlet, entitled “Why Boys Are Icky: Les Be Friends!” You are furthermore ordered to change your daily greeting from “Morning, Sunshine!” to “Morning, Sunshine! And by “Sunshine,” I mean Claire. The rest of you bastards can suck it!”

Alarmingly anorexic counter girl at any restaurant ever who, upon hearing my order for at least five lunch orders to take back to the office, looks me over, smirks and says “Is this for here, or to go?”: UNSPEAKABLY UNACCEPTABLE! You are hereby sentenced to eat your own horrible fast food until you return to a healthy weight for a human being or your exhausted heart implodes from a combination of malnutrition and grease, you smug little tart!

That is all for now. Tread lightly, my friends, lest you arouse my mighty wrath and become…

UNACCEPTABLE!

Entonces y Ahora

Hi, kids.

Having just completed the crazy Transgender Primer thingy, and having seen one or two of my friends compile their histories into tidy little posts, I have decided to take a break and dash off my own 20-year history.

To wit:

20 Years Ago: The year? 1988. The place? Troy, Ohio. I turned 13 that December, and puberty was kicking me in the groin with a steel-toed boot. I was thin for the one and only year of my post-baby life, having dropped all my baby fat via good old forced participation in organized sports, but confused and frightened not only by my own body, but by the difference in the way others treated me. Luckily, food still loved me. Sigh. Let’s see…I was three years into what would turn out to be a seven-year stint as a newspaper carrier, and my net income was the highest it would ever be, proportionately speaking, until I fell into my current job. My hair was short (not my idea), my clothes were loud and often featured patterns designed to blind the unwary (my idea), and I was burning all my birthday wishes and nightly prayers on “Hey, how about we straighten out this whole crazy “Why am I a boy, damn it?!?” thing?” “Other than that, I seem to recall thinking “Bush and Quayle? Sounds like a hunting magazine.”

10 Years Ago: By 1998, I was turning 23 and had endured the special kind of hell known as employment at The Evil Empire. I was working as the Graphic Artist for a company in nearby Piqua, no closer to coming out, but much closer to maxing out an elevator’s weight capacity. It was a heady and confusing time (no, wait, that’s my whole life). I’d just broken up with my first serious post-high school girlfriend, which was a great idea, as it turned out she was still married and all. Nine months later she had twins, which perhaps understandably set my heart into a gallop not normally seen outside of the Kentucky Derby, but luckily for me, she was apparently sleeping with a variety of people, and her offspring were red-haired, blue-eyed leprechaun babies (possibly changelings…no official verdict has ever been handed down, and the land of Fae won’t return my calls ever since I accidentally dropped an iron nail in the Faery National Bank. Picky picky!). Windows 98 was released, which prompted me to consider trading my distrust and resentment toward Microsoft in for some deluxe, full-chrome loathing. I lived alone, in the second of a series of crappy apartments scattered throughout Troy, my furniture so pathetically outdated that as I was moving in, teenagers driving by yelled “Look at the trash diggers!”, assuming I was not moving into the apartment, but instead boosted my furniture from someone’s front stoop just ahead of the end-of-month pickup by the city.

Five years ago: 2003 was a strange year for me. The preceding November, having graduated from art school and looking forward to becoming the Art Director at my then-employer, I was surprised to learn that I would be receiving a layoff rather than a promotion. Times were tough, and both my then-boss, aka The Stinkiest Man Alive, and myself were out of work, just like that. Happy Thanksgiving! In a desperate bid to flee, I gathered my meager savings and moved to Colombus, looking for work. However, I fell into the category of “You have too much experience…we can’t afford you.”/”You don’t have enough experience, come back when you do,” and after a year of struggling to make ends meet, I slunk back home, depressed but not defeated. I had come out to my friends and parents by this point, and tensions were high, my mother insisting (the Five Man Electrical Band having made a deep impression on her) that I could get a job if I would only cut my hair. Toward the end of the year, I enter into a relationship with Christy, about whom I will say naught but this: upon our breakup, faced with my persistent insistance that I would be transitioning, she boldly declared she would find herself a “real man, a good straight, Christian man…a man like Clay Aiken.” Man, I couldn’t wait for 2004.

Three years ago: 2005 found me working at my current position, fixing computers and helping people every day…I had a ton of friends, and I had come out to a lot, but not all, of them. I was losing weight, having finally started therapy, and although I’d made it clear to my parents that transition was inevitable, they were content to follow the Jackson family motto: Ignore it, and It’ll Go Away. I wasn’t dating anyone, having decided to deal with my own jumbled life before trying to involve innocent passersby, and I’d moved into my townhouse in the winter of ’04, having gone from lowly temp to lowly tech (the primary difference being the steadiness of the work, health insurance, and a big fat raise). My friend Becky and I founded the Super Fun Book Club of Fun-ness™ this year, and membership took off immediately. In November, my sweet angel of a neice, Arielle, was born – less than two years after her brother Ian – and I became an aunt for the second time. In December, I turned 30, and was surprised to find I actually had a plan – complete transition by 2010, the year we make contact. I mean, the year I turn 35. As 2005 drew to a close, I had a quiet word with HR, cluing them in on my, ahem, “situation,” and, having spoken with my shrink, decided to “full time” as a woman in 2006. Operation Claire was about to begin!

One year ago: Operation Claire was popular with the people, but there were those who looked upon it with a gleam of malice in their gimlet eyes, and strove mightily to smite me – by which I mean that, in the wake of my coming out, I suddenly found myself transferred to the middle of nowhere in an empty factory, far from any other people, for “security reasons” to protect the computers I worked on. Also, despite years of perfect reviews and the strong support of my customer base, there were suddenly “concerns” about my job performance, despite the fact that no mention of these concerns were ever mentioned until my reviews. It was during this year that I realized two things: I wasn’t happy pushing paper, far from the people I used to be able to help, and corporate America and I were not going to be buddies, EVER. So, I started working harder on the things that did (and do) matter to me: art, poetry and prose. I published my first children’s book with my friend and business partner, Mona…I entered and placed in a regional poetry contest, and I forced myself to buckle down and begin serious work on the novels I’m writing. I also began a relationship with a woman named Venessa, who was amazing and wonderful and brilliant and all of the things I never expected to find…unfortunately, she was also troubled and riddled with a variety of addictions, and we didn’t last.

Today: I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, including another childrens’ book, a sassy and fun line of t-shirts and accessories designed by my friend Laura and I, and a few other ideas that are still percolating in the twenty-cup carafe that is my enormous head. Operation Claire continues: I’m three months into my hormone regime, and two years into electrolysis. I’ve been living as a woman for over two years now, and my mental and physical health are not only improved, but still improving. The Super Fun Book Club of Fun-ness™ continues to thrive. My work continues at Ice Station Zebra, but age and an economy that’s tanking faster than a new CarrotTop movie are actually working in my favor as the dessicated corpses of my would-be vanquishers slide into the murky seas of retirement and, ahem, “voluntary reduction.” I’ve decided to seek creative and fullfilling employment within the company, and if I can’t find it there, then I’ll do what I’ve always done when someone’s told me I can’t have or do something: smile and nod, and then get it anyway.

Never understimate the power of persistance, kids.

What a card.

Just a quick update, kids.

Those of you who’ve been following the tempest-in-a-teacup I’ve been weathering with the fine folks at the bank formerly (and currently) known as US Bank will be pleased (or possibly relieved) to know that my new card finally arrived in Saturday’s mail…and with its arrival, I have at last shed the final bit of old-name purse debris and will now be able to pay for things without fearing being “read” or having to convince some scrunchie-wearing register jockey that I’m not an identity thief (and, really, who would steal my identity? That’s true desperation, yo).

As my close, personal friend Louis Pasteur was heard to opine, “Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity.” Sure, he may have revolutionized dairy, but I got my name changed on a piece of plastic! Yeah! Score one for Team Tramp!

Up next: Claire’s Transgendered Primer for the Curious, Apprehensive or Confused.

Cats – are they just waiting to eat your face?

So here’s the thing:

I live alone, and I am okay with that most of the time. I used to have a cat, until a nearly-fatal choking not unlike Miranda’s Chinese-down-the-wrong-pipe incident pushed me to remove any potential face-devouring creatures from my abode.

As an adult, I’ve had only five serious relationships, one of them veering perilously close to marriage (back when crushing myself into a misery ball for the sake of satisfying someone else’s dream seemed like a workable idea), and I’ve cohabitated with my girlfriends in all but two of them. This has gone horribly, horribly wrong, and I know it’s because of my “type.”

You see, given my nearly fatal case of what I like to call “Lesbian Britomart Syndrome,” I tend to be attracted to ladies who are:

A) In some sort of peril (none as yet have been held captive by wicked sorcerers named Busyrane, however)

B) Unavailable/Available but Uninterested/”Available” in that They Have No Qualms About Sleeping with Me While Technically “Married”

C) Pretty, pretty princesses eager to soak up my abject worship without any real expectation that I will act on it, as I am “safe” and consequently, by their lights, positively dying to hear about how horrible their current boyfriend/husband/wife-beater-wearing Neanderthal is, and how they wish they were a lesbian, but not really, tee-hee-hee!

D) Crazier than a shithouse rat.

E) Dumber than a box of hair.

F) All of the above

In the movie of life, I am this chick. I fall for the Marsha Bradys of the world, and they’re too busy trying to get Davy Jones to play the school dance to see me as anything but a Noreen.

Wah, wah, wah, right? Yeah, I know, pathetic. But what’s a girl to do? I don’t know how to be Davy Jones! I’m neither tiny nor British, although we did share a hairstyle for a while during the late 70’s. And, truth be told, I know myself well enough to realize that, like a dog with a car, if I actually did catch a Marsha, I wouldn’t be sure what to do with her.

Well, okay, that’s a lie, but there are limits even to my vulgarity.

The point is, I fall for the wrong type of woman (ostensibly “straight,” pretty-pretty princess types with self-esteem issues/substance abuse problems/a bad case of the marrieds) and as a result, I either end up rejected and wearing a full helmet to bed on the off chance I expire in my sleep and cats infiltrate via an unlocked window, or involved with Señorita Hottie VonNutjob, grinding my teeth as she struggles with the Tv Guide crossword or tries to convince me to watch The CW. Neither of these alternatives is the desirable one, and I fear that as I spend less time dating and more time discouraged and becoming inured to a life of solitude, I will become “that” lady – the one who is so ridiculously picky she dumps someone for the way they chew or the arrangment of their shoes in the closet; so eager to maintain the order of her “just-so” home and life that she’s forgotten how making room for someone else helps you grow as a person.

It’s like going to prison for a long stretch – eventually, you get uncomfortable without the walls around you, keeping you safe (well, safe from everything but face-eating cats).

Seriously, though, would it kill you to put the toilet paper on the roll so that the sheets flow from the top?

And don’t get me started on turning off the car with everything else turned on. Hear that grinding sound? I just lost another molar.

Seriously, though, I KNOW all about the “stop expecting true love to look or sound or feel a certain way” school of thought…I’m an apostate member of that sect, actually. Many are the friends who say to me “I found my true love when I stopped looking – it was as if the Universe/God/The Flying Spaghetti Monster sent him/her/them (you know who you are, you hedonistic bastards) to me!”

Well, elitist bitch and sardonic malcontent that I am, I’ve stopped looking. Come on, Universe, show me what you’ve got – I’m hyperverbal, hyperintellectual, and Hypercolor™ (although it fades if you put me in the dryer on high), and I’ve just about given up on love in this land of lowest-common-denominators and Wal-Mart worship. There’s only one thing that can free the butterfly of my wounded soul from its chrysalis of bitterness and regret, and her name is Robin Meade. So get crackin’ on that, would you, Higher Power?

I’m keeping the helmet, though.

A matter of pride (ok, Pride™)

Happy Monday to you, readers.

As some of you are aware, this past weekend was, in many large urban areas, the annual LGBT Pride Parade and gay-stravaganza. Due to a series of circumstances best explained later (in a quiet room, by attorneys, with a box of tissues nearby) I did not attend this year, and instead ate veggie pizza and watched Little Britain, which certainly qualifies as some sort of Queer Pride event, I think.

With June, the official month of Pride™, drawing to a close today, my thoughts have turned to what exactly it is the LGBT community has to be proud about this year. As it turns out, we have quite a bit:

“How much for the ‘Hers & Hers’ bath towels?” Yeah, okay, the big deal right now is the legalization of gay marriage in California. Without opening the “This is the best thing since Robin Meade wore the green silk top/This is the worst thing since Ellen got a talk show” Debate of Hate, let me say that I think we can be proud as a community that we refuse to be told that different = less. Semantics aside, there’s a certain amount of Orwellian bias inherent in “we get marriage, you can have ‘unions.'” To paraphrase Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “Don’t tell me to wait for my freedom.”

“Separate but equal” is a little long in the tooth to be propped up as a justification for denying loving couples the right to share that love in a public forum (as well as obtain the civil benefits of marriage, both tangible and intangible).

Also, if you’re looking for a career, I suggest getting into the wedding planning industry now, kids – ’cause we ’bout the blow the lid off that thang, as the kids say (which kids, we’re not sure. Possibly these). Seriously, ladies and gentlemen (or ladies and ladies, and gentlemen and gentlemen, or other calculable permutations thereof), the LGBT community has MAD disposable income, and once we’re actually able to get hitched, we set the bar high. Very high.

Congress finally paid attention to us. By “us,” I mean “transgendered Americans.” Congress recently held hearings on workplace discrimination toward Transgendered individuals throughout the country, and it’s my sincere hope that the testimony they heard will convince them to add us to the Workplace Discrimination Act’s protected classes…not because we’re oh-so-super-special, but because we deserve to work without fear of termination because someone has a wild hair you-know-where and decides to use their bias as a crowbar to set us adrift in the seas of joblessness.

Believe me when I say that I cannot wait for this to happen (the addition to the WDA, not the whole crowbar-into-joblessness thing). Having experienced this type of discrimination myself, I assure you that NOBODY deserves to be treated this way…dislike me, backstab me…hell, sit and bitch about what a freak I am to our coworkers while I’m sitting unseen in a booth behind you, you drunken, corpse-faced grimalkin…but don’t try to get me canned with lies, and DEFINITELY remember that karma’s a bitch (Actually, she’s usually quite lovely, and very giving, but if you accidentally call while she’s watching her “stories,” she’ll light into you, yo).

One of the coolest things about living in America is that we are (hair-splitting aside) a nation of equals…any and all of us can dream big and live big, because the opportunities are there, and we all share a common heritage as a country built on the idea that elbow grease and determination can get you just as high as a degree and a jetpack…just think how much higher we’d all be if we spent more time helping each other up instead of trying to cut the legs of those with whom we don’t agree out from under them.

For me, Pride™ has always been about being able to look those who would judge or dismiss me for being transgendered (or Hispanic, or a giant, or a fan of whistling the Imperial Death March every time someone in senior management walks down the hall with two lackeys in tow) in the eye and say “I am your equal – not in all things, but in the sum, and I am deserving of the same love and respect that you are” – and that’s why for me, Pride™ is an everyday thing, and not just something that rolls around every June. It’s SO important to acknowledge our history, how far we’ve come, and how far we have yet to go, but like Christmas, Pride™’s lessons are ones we should remember all year.

And also like Christmas, we should remember to take down the tree within a week. I’m looking at you, Ms. feather boa and fishnets two weeks into July! It’s not a parade if you’re the only one in Denny’s dancing to “I am Woman,” mister-sister!

Changes

So here’s the thing, kids.

In the past year, I – a woman once known for her inability to plan beyond her next round of Bionic Commando, let alone make life goals (such as never, ever telling people you once played Bionic Commando) – have made plans, and actually stuck to them. What? Huh? Who? How?

That’s right.

Q1 2008: Get name changed. Check!

Q2: 2008: Start hormones and begin removal of Testosteroni (the original San Francisco treat. That’s right, I’m not above stealing from Chandler Bing, so suck it.) Check!

Q3 2008: Begin modified regimen of exercises and continue increasingly draconian dietary modifications in an attempt to maintain weight loss and sanity while hormones visit Puberty 2.0 upon me. Check! And stop looking at me like you think my shirt is ugly! <insert random sobbing>

Q4: Prepare for first surgery, the orchiectomy, which is the big rock in my Seven Habits of Highly Annoying People jar (two rocks, actually, har, har, choke, gasp, wheeze).

Amazingly, I’m on target. Sure, my financial understanding remains roughly on par with that of a mercury-poisoned tree sloth. Sure, I still get clocked on occasion (depending on what I’m wearing, mostly), and sure, the hormone-induced craziness and physical whirlwind are a challenge, especially when combined with the face-searing George Forman Electrolysis and Low-Fat Grilling Machine.

But this is what I signed up for! This is me, grabbing the wheel of the ship of life from its previous owner (a one-eyed guy who smelled like rum and Sucrets) and becoming the captain of my own freaking destiny!

This is me, sailing into the rocks!

But at least they’re MY rocks, and I welcome their stony embrace!

What about you? How goes your year? Where are you in your journey? How annoying is it when people ask you “where are you in your journey?” Because that pisses me off something FIERCE.