Life is a Journey - Make sure you get the right roadmap to the universe

I'm quite sure I picked up the wrong one on my way out the door....

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On this New Year's Eve....

...I would like to stop to reflect on the year this has been and to thank those who have taken even the smallest of paths to walk with me in some way in my life.....and to thank them for allowing me to share in at least the tiniest part of theirs. 

In the year's journey, as in each year, I have tried to look at the horizon and at what COULD be rather than to look down at my feet as I stumble through a tangled forest of roots and of rock in the darkness at often what IS.... 

In so doing, I have tried to focus and to write of each of the joys and of each of the small successes in my life.... and to avoid the temptation to render my falterings and failings as if they were tangible weights dragging behind and threatening to render the journey impossible.

Far be it from me to say that this year has seen the culmination and fulfillment of plans I have laid forth, as I have tried to chart through the course of my entire life.  The odyssey has been a paradoxical adventure of hidden gems and of dangerous sirens luring ships off course and to their death.  There has been much which I have written and much which I have shared, and there is much which lays hidden from the sight of all but a select few who know the detailed intricacies of my voyage shared.

And, as it is my nature to withdraw, as some may know and many will not...
so  many of the intimate intricacies of this voyage remain and shall remain engirded within the captive reach of my own space....for much of what waters must be sailed....must be sailed by myself.... as they are for each of us.  The consequences of that course plotted and hence sailed thence become truly the ownership of our own conscience.

I look back across the stern of the ship at lands not to be seen ever again as their contours and shapes meld into the color of the endless sky and their features sink into the ever-curving horizon of an even more endless sea.  I take with me the swag of the souvenirs both tangible and intangible which have brought me to this point and know that each one has had it's instrumental purpose and meaning, each person, each friend, each relationship I have had......all experiences which, hopefully, are allowing me a more safe passage into the great unknown as I turn back and look off the bow into a low mist which covers the ocean.....but through which I can see just the hazy and distant peaks of some distant land cutting above the undulating layer of that low mist.

I have no idea what course on the chart of destiny I am taking...
And realizing more that the course I chart is not exactly the one I am on...
But I'm going somewhere, of that I am certain....
And I am grateful to have friends travel along

Happy New Year.....

Monday, December 23, 2013

"Stopping By a Gas Station on a Snowy Evening"



"Stopping By a Gas Station on a Snowy Evening"
Whose snow-blower this is, I think I know
It sits within my basement below.
It will not start tomorrow I fear
As my driveway starts to fill with snow.

Inquisitive minds must think it queer
When shoveling without a snow-blower near
Between the garage and frozen street
The plow will block me in I fear.

I give the snow blower a ruffled shake
Failing to start, is it some mistake?
The reason is unmistakable I do fear
There is no gas in it for goodness sake.

The road is lonely, stark and white
But I have a can to fill with gas tonight
And miles to drive before I plow
And miles to drive before I plow.


From the original poem by Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”
...modified (with hopeful forgiveness by the original author) by Christen Bustani

The original poem, in respect to the author, follows....

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Fallout

It was a blustery and breezy Sunday afternoon that Joanne and I found ourselves taking a few hours to escape the world for a quiet walk through the woods along a path around the shores of a mountain lake. The serenity and the sunshine dappling through the leaves brought a peace to my ever-restless soul. In a flash, the nature of that day changed when my cell phone's ring interrupted it abruptly. Looking at the display, I could see it was my youngest nephew “M”....my sister's youngest son. I hesitated for a moment to answer it as I thought of what this call would be about. I knew I never heard from him unless he needed something or unless he was upset by something. I thought, in that instant, of what likely lead up to this call.

It had been about 3 weeks prior when my father called me to let me know that he had an unexpected visit from “M” out of the blue. Apparently he stopped by, according to my father, without calling ahead. I would have thought that with planning out a trip from Las Vegas to Boston where my father lives, that he might have called first....but he didn't.

I asked my father what the visit was about and he explained that it was simply a visit to say hi and to see how he was doing.

“Really?”, I asked my dad. “He doesn't even bother to call you after a year has gone by to say 'hi' and just pops in suddenly without even mentioning that he is coming east?”

“Well”, my dad admitted, “There is something else.”

He faltered in his words for a moment as if not wanting to continue....

“He mentioned that he knows I am holding several thousand dollars in bonds for him that have not matured and wanted to know if he could have them early before they matured to help him pay off his bills”

“I knew it!”, I said. “This is all they think you are good for is money. They don't respect you for anything you have done for them and simply find fault in everything they can to dismiss the positive”.

I recall that my dad was the person who paid for their education and took them on vacations that their parents never did. They spent more time living with my parents than they did their own. They were well taken care of beyond that of most children.

I thought it was odd that he was here out of the blue to see my dad after a year of no contact and thought it even more odd that he felt the need to come to my dad for this money. His dad was now a very successful businessman grossing over 1.5 million in the last year at the company which he founded. Their large house in Las Vegas and membership in an upscale country club were harbingers of that very fact. So I thought it odd that he was there.

I logged into Facebook to check on my oldest nephew's page and found that he had posted that he was excited that his mother (my sister) and his brother “M” were flying to Boston to visit with him and to see the new Star Trek Movie coming out that Friday.

Here again, I found that my sister and nephews would have nothing to do with me and had failed to contact me....meaning that I would not know that they were here. I learned later from “M” that my sister felt “uncomfortable” around me....although she told me differently to my face.

I spoke with my dad about this and explained all that I have just written here and he became infuriated that he felt he was being used and taken for a sucker for his money. They didn't care about him....just that he had something to offer.

He got off the phone with me and called “M” to tell him he would not be giving the money ahead of its maturity. “M” became very angry with my father and told him he would be over shortly to “talk”. When “M” rang the bell of my father's door, my father answered it and he came upstairs to have it out with my dad. He called my father some very nasty things and punched him in the arm when my father told him to get out of his house.

Shortly after my phone rang..... while I was walking in the woods of that serene fall day.

I looked at my phone and thought not to answer it.... but knew if I did not, that this would fester longer..... and this was something I didn't want to deal with later. Better to get it over with now I thought to myself..... and I answered....

It was “M”

He started in on me right off, telling me how I was the spoiled son who wanted all the money for myself and that I had no business interfering in his visit with my dad.

“You know...” I replied to 'M', That money is in your name. You are going to get it. I simply asked my father what he thought of the fact that you never call him to see how he is doing and you never stop by unless you are looking for something from him. This isn't about the money....It's about you”

“M” went off the handle at that point and started a verbal assault on the phone. He lashed out and the truth finally came out of his mouth in that moment's rage when the filters in a person are down. He blurted out, “I was going to tell everyone and your dad that you are a cross-dresser and a freak”.

“Go ahead”, I said calmly in reply. “You can say what you want. Everyone around me in my life already knows I am transgender. You can't use that to hurt me because it won't”.

I continued on....
“I want you to know that I am already out, and that I am well respected within the greater community, within high reaching circles within the state of New Hampshire as we work for legislation and am viewable all over the internet.... so go right ahead and have your fun if you want...it's pointless.”

I told him that I have given lectures at universities and public venues and am well known as and who I am.

He backed off at that point saying that he thought it was good that I was trying to make a difference in the world. I didn't believe a word he said in that un-heartfelt sentence.

Then he started in that if I had a problem with his going over to my dad's that I should have talked with him first before talking to my dad....so that he could work things out.

Really?

I need to talk to my nephew first before I talk to my dad? I'm sorry but my dad comes first and if “M” needed to clarify things, perhaps he should have given me a call to let me know he was coming in the first place.

Joanne was getting pretty irate with this conversation she had been hearing as it blurted out over the speakerphone while we walked through the pine forest along the lake. I was so burnt up inside and flustered that I failed to notice just how far we had come in our walk. Joanne took the phone from me in that instant.

“You know 'M'”. she started, “You are only here for the money. You never call when you come to town because you want to try to sneak in and sneak out without our ever knowing you came to Boston. You have a father who is making millions and you come to see Christen's father simply to get money off of him”.

M lost it at that point and called J nothing but a bitch and a whore.

He apologized a moment later but it was too late. The words meant nothing because in the anger, the walls were down and truth came out. They were caught in the act.

Usually my sister would call after such a blowout to try to cover up the mess but no such call ever came. We left the call with “M” saying that he would like to make amends and to visit us one day. That day have still never come. He said that his mother, my sister, would love to try to get together with me still.....even in the face of his admitting that she was uncomfortable with who I am.

I have not heard from them again since and my eldest nephew blocked me from his Facebook page. Until the reading of the will of my father, I dare say that I won't be hearing from any of them ever again. It's sad really, because I spent a lot of time with them in growing up and to see that they have come to this and to see my own sister being insecure enough to stand up for her own brother in the face of what her friends might think of her having her “brother who thinks he is a woman”. I have lost all respect and although they are gone from my life, the hurt will always be there until the day I pass on.

Our talk ended as our walk ended. The peacefulness of that day was shattered and the walk in the woods was one that I didn't even sense happened when I arrived back at the car. Blinded by the intensity of a conversation needed to learn the truth, I lost that day....and I realized finally that I had lost much more.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Memories and Affirmations

With J down in Boston taking her mom to her doctor appointment, I wandered out on my own yesterday evening and it became a very intensely emotional night. I chatted for an especially long time with the manager of a major Spa here at one of the resorts on the big lake. At some point in the conversation, she admitted to me that she was dealing with the beginning signs of Alzheimers. It was a major admission for her but we were deeply into a heartfelt conversation to begin with and she opened up to me about it. I lost my mom to Dementia and the post traumatic stress for me is still as vibrant now as it was when I experienced it in all its throes then. I comforted her in a meaningful way although the admonition was one of concern and of search for internal peace through discussion. I started to break down but held it in as best I could, although I could see she saw visibly that I was on the edge. She has a wonderful partner who she has been married to for 46 years and I extolled the wonderful relationship I knew, from both what they have each individually told me as much as their body language and inseparability discreetly implied. Then she asked a bit more about me and after, then summed her words up by stating in an unequivocally candid way that she thought I was an amazingly compassionate, intelligent, articulate, confident and beautiful woman. At that point I totally lost it as I was suddenly confronted with both being affirmed as a person of merit and as a woman, but also the stinging and heartfelt admission to a reality that was as much directed as empathy toward her as much as it was a reflection of what I did and still live with in my mind's eye today of the ravages and loss of a loved one's mind....and their dignity. Sensing I was visibly moved, as my body language and stance were tightly bound and retracted, she asked for a hug. We embraced and she told me as I hugged her how she said she could tell a lot from the way a person hugs.... a lot about the depth of their emotions and just of the person in general. Obviously it was her way of telling me something about myself discreetly or she would not have uttered it as we embraced. There are moments in life which become etched within you forever while others fade into the twilight of time. This shall be an indelible mark which permeates my very being in many ways for years to come.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Suddenly, I'm Not Half The Man I Used To Be..... There's A Woman Looking Back At Me...

Someone commented on a recent post asking whimsically if I was "full time" (as my true self, as a female), likely as a result of all my recent posts in the past year of seeming to just blend in within the greater world as female.  Well, that was an interesting comment because something interesting happened today.  J and I were taking a hike in the woods around Squam Lake (actually better known as the setting for the movie "On Golden Pond").  Anyway, towards the end of our multi-mile hike, we passed an older gentleman who stopped us as we passed and said, "I recognize you!"  He looked straight at Joanne when he said it.  After a brief reintroduction, we both realized that this was the gentleman who ran the coffee shop up at the Waterville Valley Town Village Shops.  We had come to know him well over the years and had chatted extensively, but our last encounter with him was about 3 years prior.  He looked right at Joanne and spoke to her but didn't as much even make the connection with me.  I was in my "guy mode" wearing a light blue T-shirt and blue jeans and he didn't as much as even make the connection that I was the same person, J's husband, that he knew so well three years ago.  It was the weirdest moment..... as if I was invisible.  It was a telling moment as well for both J and I as we parted ways with him and walked the remaining distance home through the early autumn woods.  We looked at each other and said exactly the same words to each other.... that he did not recognize me one bit.  I said to myself, that if three years ago, I would have thought that this day would come, that it could even come without going on E or blocking my T, I would have said it was crazy.  I have entered, through this and other less obviously poignant yet still very affirming experiences, into the world of "female".....and here I thought I had this all under control,   I'm getting mammed enough now in my so-called "guy mode" that this "guy mode" has become quite the facade which, apparently, only I am believing.

Well... all that came to my mind at that point was a revised version of the ending to the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas".  Something like this....

"I hadn't stopped transition from coming! It came!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And Christen with her eyes aglow
Stood puzzling and puzzling. "How could it be so?

It came without ribbons! It came without tags!
It came without hormones, surgeries and without any lags!"

She puzzled and puzzed till her puzzler was sore.
Then Christen thought of something she hadn't before.

Maybe transition, she thought, doesn't come in a way I thought before
Maybe transition, perhaps, comes from something much more..."

Monday, September 2, 2013

Thinking Outside the Box

I'm sure there are days in everyone's life when they begin to wonder what difference they are making in the greater world.  It's the type of thoughts that give rise to the wonder of whether or not they make a meaningful difference in the world whether they are in it or not.  I guess we all have our moments where we have made that positive association and link but then there are also those long stretches where it doesn't seem to matter whether you exist or not.  I suppose it's true that folk do get caught up in their own lives and it's easy for them to sort of overlook a person, but then again, how much does one really mean if that is truly the case?

I will say that I have had some amazing experiences and the chance to touch at least a few people in a positive way in my life and....even more so..... more recently within the transgender world.  A lot of folks say that my writings have meant something to them.  I do get comments from time to time attesting so.  But really, in the big picture, I don't think I'm making a huge difference..... just lots of micro-cosmic ones on a person to person level.  I suppose that's not too bad of an accomplishment.  It makes me feel good to hear that I did mean something at some point in someone's life.

I guess I'm just a bit tired is what it comes down to it.  I like to do what I can to try to help others but lately I've grown a bit forlorn and feeling detached.  It's nothing really to do with my transness so anyone thinking that can put that theory to rest straight off.   No... It's just that sort of feeling I've had most of my life which is that if I stop reaching out, that others really aren't going to notice either way.  I don't feel like I can give anymore and I really don't want to ask of anyone when I need.  I would hope that those who know me would check in once and a while, and granted a few do..... but most don't.

I've always had my moments throughout my life, from adolescence straight through to present day, of pulling out of it all.  There's a huge world to explore and here I am working in a well-enough paying job that has no soul to it and no inspiration.  It's that sort of cog-in-the-wheel position where meeting metrics and deadlines are more important than the quality of one's life.   It's a vaporous effigy of a life constantly meeting the next goal and solving the next technical computer issue with the only thanks being that one gets even more in the process for doing a job well.  Yes, in this day and age having a job that pays well enough to live is a thing to thankful for with so many out of work.   But indeed it is soulless as well and yet another aspect of life where I just feel like a cog in the machine.

I think it's not a matter of "if" but of "when".  At some point I do see myself seriously drawing back and dropping out.  I've always loved the outdoors and the wilderness, and even with this brief interlude of being a "teenage transgender woman" who enjoyed briefly the social scene, I still want ultimately what I've always envisioned. and the premise still holds today.  The observations of the lives of those around me and who consider me provide more than enough argumentative aspects to hold it true.  I've got the thoughts in place and I've considered it.  Getting the resources in place is part of the assembly plan decades in the works now.

I'm not talking A Walk in the Woods either, although that was an amazing book and well worth the read.  On the other end of the spectrum, I'm not talking about something akin to Into the Wild either.  I am, however more in line with something in-between..... more on the level of something akin but likely less challenging than Dick Proenneke's wilderness experiences.  If you haven't read his book or seen his video, here is a Video Excerpt and well worth watching as he was an amazing individual.

I've got big chunks of the Appalachian Trail I have always wished to do and still have not done.  There are huge pieces of the Sierra Crest Trail I dream of doing as well.  Although approaching the half century mark in the age department, I still have the speed, dexterity, flexibility and stamina of me as an 18 year old and can easily keep up with one as well!  But I know this won't forever be the case and that one day this will not be true no matter how well I keep myself fit.  I'm quite accomplished with the outdoors and am comfortable with all of what goes along with such endeavors from years of experience and experiences.

I am sure for some that this post may seem somewhat offbeat from what they may think they know of me.  I know that the pictures on my blog attest perhaps to a more flirtatious, teen-age like party girl at times, but in reality, it's more "fun" than an actual persona.  It's a picture which is an image and not my soul.  These thoughts have not cropped up because of any life event, nor of even me being trans.  No.... They have ALWAYS been with me and I've tried very hard to fit into the idealized "American Dream" of family and career and the minutiae of those simple things in life.  You know... the simple things that seem to be enough for most people.... getting together with friends to hang out, to go out to dinner or to see a movie.... to go out drinking and dancing.  Sure, I enjoy all these things and I find my times with friends fulfilling....but only to a degree do they satiate a thirst.

There is MORE.  There is a lot MORE that I want to experience.  There are people and cultures which exist which I have not been privileged to meet.  There are some beautifully exotic places that I want to see that most do not.  No... I do not mean Aruba or Hawaii..... not that sort of exotic like most think of for vacation.... No, I mean places that most do not go to....the places off the map like Iceland (which I would love to get back to again....I have some amazingly weird stories from that place!), New Zealand, Some of the smaller towns of the Inuit off of James Bay, Patagonia, Nepal, Antarctica, Alaska....and the least goes on and on......  I've explored quite a few on that list and many others but a few weeks is not enough to do more than to whet my appetite.  I've seen some amazing things and recorded some unbelievable adventure stories and images of those trips....some of which were hair-raising and all of which were just incredible beyond the usual Las Vegas or Disney World "adventures" in the corporate and humanized worlds of soft adventures.

Again.... it's not a matter of "IF" but of "WHEN".  I'm just a bit tired....actually a whole lot tired.  I probably won't be missed and if I am, well, when I trek out of the wilderness long enough to send a post card, you can bet I will.  I've never aspired to a conventional life.  I've never liked boxes.....I've played the game though and lived within the boxes and excelled by playing it right.  It doesn't make me happy... but it provides me with the means to an end one day if the weather of life and health holds fair.  I've done the corporate ladder "box".  I've lived in the "male" box and I've had quite some time and many experiences in the "female" box.  Both of those are boxes as well with societal expectations and socialized norms for each.  I'm way beyond socially contrived boxes.  There's a LOT more to this world.  Whatever I've set my mind to do, I have done.  I have tried many things....  Sailing, Scuba, Electrical, Plumbing, Carpentry, Makeup Artistry, Fashion, modeling, photography, astronomy, meteorology, basics of geology, creative writing and poetry..... and there's a lot more I wish to do....and more if I had the time and resources.  There is so much potential we each have in life..... It's only that it seems to me that most of us don't have the inertia or the opportunity or the finances or health in some cases to be able to seize it.....and at some point..... those opportunities will exceed my grasp as well......

For now, it's back to the grind and the daily minutiae.... and I'll keep doing my weekend warrior adventures working within the gridwork of this boxed life.......but planning one day for the day where some may come to wonder......where did Christen go?  Don't worry.... when that day comes, I'll be sure to send virtual postcards and warm wishes......

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Miles to Go Before I Sleep


This isn’t just a story about a bike.  It’s not just a story about what I did today.  It is a story that is all of ours, yet at the same time it is also a story that is uniquely my own....and with special consideration to the inspirations of Robert Frost.




Today is the day before the day of my birth.  It’s the day before the day I began an independent journey of what would be called my life.  Today was a warm and sunny day and it was a day for me to explore, to think, to reminisce and a day to think about tomorrow and the days ahead.

My spouse, Joanne, was dealing with a painful backache and so my day today, on this Sunday, was free for me to do as desired.  Deciding on a bike ride, I quickly changed into my bike tights and top, donned my helmet, and extracted my bike of choice from it’s perch on our Barn’s wooden walls. On this day the bike of chose was my steadfast and trustworthy 12 speed touring bike.  I thought it appropriate on this day, for this bike, but I'm getting ahead of myself in the story and so we will just say that this was the bike chosen, and the reason it was chosen will soon be very clear.

I had intended to bike my usual 20 mile loop, but having done this loop just the day before, the choices made along the trek that day became an entirely differnt path…. another route.  The first hour or so of my trek was simply taken in just admiring the scenery and the views of the serene and tree lined country road.  The river, occasionally visible off my right shoulder, caught the sunlight and glimmered in speckled blues reflected back upon me.  Hillsides were now, this late in spring,carpeted in a forest of freshly new green leaves and the undulating hills and mountains beyond gave contrast to the rich blues of the river beside me.

After an hour or so of biking, I veered off onto a road that was even smaller and quieter then the one I had been riding upon.  Here and there were houses hidden in the forest along either side of the road and cars there were few as I made my way through the twists and bends.   Somewhere in that near silent soliloquy which my bike and the birds and sounds of the forest around me made, I began a thought.  It was the first of a series of mental musings which would accompany me for the rest of that day.

In time I happened upon the turn in the road I had planned to make.  It was a road that would lead me down, and across the river via an old wooden covered bridge and hence to the other side of the river where a quick turn onto a parallel road on the other side would lead me home.  Only it was that when I came upon this turn, a sign had been placed marking the bridge as closed and so the road as well.

I was disappointed.  Now it was necessary to maintain a course of many more miles to find another bridge to cross.  At first I was quiet angry - angry that the highway crews had not erected a sign at the last junction and river crossing, that this next crossing would be closed.  And I thought to myself then, how very much like life this was.  There were thoughts of the times I wish I knew or had been told that something would prevent or bar my way in life at a critical junction.  I was angry with the road and I was suddenly angry with the myopia and inability to see far enough ahead in my own life with its twists and turns I could not have suspected.

A few expletives were uttered as I pushed on past the junction of that closed road and settled in for a long ride, continuing on past some beautiful streams, some historic white steepled churches framed by tall pines as from a Normal Rockwell Painting.  Passing a cascading waterfalls, I listened and watched as water bounced off shelves of rocks into seemingly bottomless pools far below.  I saw things that I would not have seen if I had made the turn I had planned, the turn I had intended. Thoughts arose of my life and how many turns I have missed, been unable to make and of how I still found wondrous things that I could not have imagined had those turns been made, those choices, those decisions in life chosen.  It was, perhaps, in some small way, a bit of a revelation.

Continuing on, now with nearly 20 miles under my feet thus far, I considered perhaps to continue just a bit further from my intended turn-around point to visit a place I had spent many years of my life.  Now at the southern edge of the White Mountain National Forest, it was here, in a quaint New England Town, that J and I had bought our first place away from our then home in the city.  It had been a small, one bedroom condominium that became our weekend escape from Boston.  To me, at the time, it seemed like it was the most amazing place, but perhaps it was most amazing because it was the first place I, and we had ever owned.

I recall the excitement on Friday Evenings each weekend, of getting the car packed with all of the essentials for a weekend away from the responsibilities of work and parents… to our own little place.  It had a view out of the living room window onto the majestic mountains beyond and although tiny in size, it felt like a castle.

Riding my bike on and through the small village before me, I made my way to our old condo.  With only slight exception, it seemed as though 5 years time had changed nothing in this New England Village…. Yet somehow, as I rode through, it just felt different in some way, and in a way that my finger could not be set upon.  Up to the parking lot entrance to our old condo I rode, squealed my brakes to a stop and dismounted my bike.

The condo complex looked the same.  The pool was still there like it always had been.  The Tennis Courts looked as if they were brand new.  Everything looked the same, yet I felt as if nothing was the same.  It was a place I knew well but felt, in that instant, like I hardly ever knew.  It was like it was a place that was a part of my life but also like a place that never was a part of it at all.  It was like a ghost of the past and a vision before me of something that is, yet really simply just only was.

It was like in my own life and probably not unlike anyone elses, to stand in a place they have known their entire life and yet to feel like it never was.  It was an eerie feeling and it sent a shiver down my spine to linger.  I don’t know what it was, but my thoughts of the memories there started to bring back much more from deeper within.  When we owned that condo, it was my escape.  It was escape from my life and from the depression I know only now that had my entire life.  It was the place of refuge from others and a place of refuge from myself.  It was a place for me to be myself in ways that I could only be there and no other.

I recall how I would be able, upon arrival each weekend, to be able to dress as my female self and to be able to express my true self  for the short time we were there.  The frustrations and the anger which I kept inside as I tried to hide who I was for the sake of maintaining continuity for the rest of the world were allayed for that short time.  Looking at the complex from where I stood with my bike, the realization now was that it was simply that… a refuge and an interim hop that served its need during a time in life when I needed it the most.  I no longer needed it, and I no longer needed this place.  Time and my evolution of  my own life had seen to that.  It was now just a ghost… just a memory… just an integral facet in the pieces of my own life that I had needed to be who I am now.  It was time to press on.

Hopping back on my bike, I began ambling my way home.  Along the way, I passed by other pieces of my life as I continued south along the river.  At one point, I came upon a bend in the river and of the road, where an eddy had carved out a beautifully white strand of powdery sand beach.  Suddenly, I was 17 years old again and I was standing on bank of that river with my dad.  I had wanted to have some father and son time with my dad and so as we had been driving along this road so many years ago, I saw this place and asked my father to stop here.  I recall that although I had wanted to enjoy this time with my dad, he was not all too interested in being where we were and so the day was cut short.  But I remember it as if it were yesterday.

And as these memories came to me as I pounded the pedals, mile after mile, I looked down at my bike and realized one very amazing thing that tied each of these memories together.  Of all the possessions I have ever owned in life, it has been this bike, the bike I was riding today, that had been there for all these events.  That, in my mind was an amazing thing and the bike itself held a special significance…. A very special one.

This bike was special as it was the first multi-speed bike I had owned.  It came to me at a very critical time in my own life growing up and it was probably my most treasured thing I had ever owned.  To understand this, one has to go back to when I received this bike…back 33 years ago to 1980.  I was in high school then and having a very hard time in life.  My gender dysphoria was out of control and I was finding myself unable to socialize with anyone.  The girls thought I was incredibly shy and the boys thought I was just totally weird.  I was quiet and recluse because of how I felt my body changing in ways that only angered and depressed me.  So angry was I for not being able to be who I knew I was meant to be created a realm that made it very difficult to be able to socialize with the other boys as a boy would.

I recall that I would be beat up by the other boys several times per week on my way to or from school, or even during.  Many times it was just rough-housing and name calling but it still hurt.  Sometimes it was more and I recall being gang-tied and carried off to be tied up to a lightpole on the local highway.  The boys just thought I was queer or gay and I let them do what they wanted to me.  I was just hoping that someone would just end it all for me because I didn’t have the guts to do it myself.  And every time I was rescued or lived to survive another day, I cursed God for allowing me to go on.  I did the only thing I knew how to do and recoiled into my books, studies and hobbies.

Well, what of my bike?  Where was my bike in all of this?  Well, you see, my bike was a gift from my dad back in 1980 when I was going through such a terrible depression and self loathing.  My bike was like a godsend to me.  It was, for me, a means of escape and of freedom.  It allowed me to take control of some piece of my own world by being able to travel through it as my heart desired.  Each day, when school was out, I would take my bike out for long rides, sometimes intentionally getting lost, so that I might lose myself for that short time in a maze of streets and roads I had never before been.  For a short time each day, I felt free.  My bike….this bike…had been a slow part of the transformation which allowed me, through the escape it offered, to slowly gain confidence in myself to get through.  Mind you that it was not the ultimate or even the penultimate piece which helped me assemble my life, but it was a piece that without, my depression would have continued for so much longer.

Peddling homeward, I realized that I had been losing track of the time and the miles as my thoughts and memories rushed in.  I recalled the one memory, perhaps only a year after receiving my bike, that suddenly came to me in a flash that startled me as to how long it has been.  It was perhaps in 1981 that I was up with my parents at their weekend cottage in the area where we now live today.  I had been biking on this SAME ROAD I was peddling upon now and happened to see a house.  It was not just any old house but, to me, it was a house that just truly stood out.  Even as just a teenager, I knew that this was just the perfect spot and the perfect house for me.  Each time during that summer when I passed by, I thought to myself how I would love to own that house.  Peddling today, I chuckled as I could not have realized then, that this house I nonchalantly and casually saw upon my rides that summer, would one day be the house I would buy and live in today.  My bike today, is housed in a barn that 32 years ago, it had only rolled past with a very troubled teen riding upon it.

I know that my own life has had many twists and turns, like the road of life.  I know that there have been road closures and detours which I could not plan for.  I know now that any road closures have never meant a dead-end and a terminus to my journey in life, but only to a new path and a new direction to follow.  I know that the detours I have made angered me at the time for their arising, but that in the process of making that detour, I have come to see many new and amazing things in the journey of life that I would not have seen if I had stayed my intended course.

I thought about how many miles I have put on my bike (and all of the bikes I have owned in my life) and how many odometers replaced along the way.  Adding it all up, I have ridden well over 25,000 miles…. enough to encircle this planet once and to come back to where I started….. only  I’ve never really come back to where I started… and the journey really just keeps on and continues.  The 40 miles I rode today seemed like such an effort, and so tiring….. just as each segment of our lives can seem to be so difficult and so tiring…yet, when peering back at where I started from and the many thousands of miles I have come in all, those 40 seem like nothing now.   It is sometimes amazing to ruminate of where I have come from, how may miles in life I have traveled, and how many more miles I have yet to go before I sleep.  I plan to keep my bike and journey with it until the day comes when I can travel no more, and then, perhaps, it will become the vehicle I bequeath to someone else, to be a part of their own journeys upon the road of life.


Sunday, May 5, 2013

Paradigm Shifts: Societally Contrived Concepts of Gender are Changing Around the World

 "Japan is seeing an explosion in sales of male beauty products and the spread of male cross-dressing."

We are witnessing a shift and change in the ideology of the world as we continue to break down societally pre-conceived concepts of gender expression.

Society has seen, in the past 100 years, the rise of women to be able to express as men, right down to their choice of clothing if they so desire.  That's a move "up" in a patriarchal society that had always put men higher on the totem than women.  Women's suffrages and rights have come to change that.

Still, society has had a difficult time with the reverse... seeing any expression of the feminine as a step downward.  Descriptives such as "girly", "effeminate", "emasculated" are often used.  Even sexual identity is often mis-labeled and such a male may be considered to suddenly be "gay"
for so cross-dressing.

If women can express their masculine side and work and be right alongside men, then men have the same rights to extend beyond their own societally defined "boxes" as well.  What's good for the goose has also to be good for the gander, lest we by hypocrites in action and deed.

And if anyone believes that portraying a "feminine side" is akin to being "sissy", "weak" or "girly", then they've just downplayed genetically born women to being the same for what they already are.....

In the following link, we see a trend and progressive change as these societally contrived stereotypes are breaking down.  Change is inevitable and it's in motion around the world.

Watch this and feel free to comment and share....


http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2012/s3572061.htm

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Night to Remember


What a really affirming night last night!  J was down in MA but insisted I get out yesterday evening on my own.  Although it seems unlikely, I've not headed out to a bar/restaurant on my own to date.  I know all the folks there anyway and it was amazing how very "at home" they all made me feel.  After chatting for a while, one of the guys I know there even asked if I would be comfortable on my own if he headed on home,  which I thought was very considerate.  Other women took notice after he left and with concern that J was not there and went out of their way to stop by or sit with me to chat.  I ended up cackling so much that I lost track of time to order food when the kitchen shut down.  The owner happened to be coming by and overheard my disappointment and so went down to the kitchen to whip something up for me.  Bringing dinner to me, he then proceeded to sit down for a good talk.  Ultimately it turned out to be a Girls Evening entirely at the tail end of the night after all the guys left and we closed the place down for the night.  We just had some wonderful talk both casual and girl.  I even got a text from my friend who is bartender there as she wanted to know I got home alright.  She knows the roads are empty up here save for the variety of wandering wildlife and always seems to be watching out for me whenever I'm in there.  It's all in line with the sort of thing she does, like always introducing me to new people there and in helping assimilate and break the ice with a number of folks.  Some know I am trans.  Some don't.  The folks who do don't "out" me to anyone else there and are very protective of my.  It's all just TOO cool for words to describe!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Positive Happenings in the State of New Hampshire!


This has been an exciting past month as more people within the state, as well as nationally, are coming to learn and hear more about what it means to be transgender.  The recent case of a young Colorado girl who has been banned from using the restroom congruent to her internal gender in school is the latest case in point.  With Colorado already having laws in place protecting gender identity and accommodation based upon gender identity, this case will be setting the stage for precedent in many other states based upon final rulings made.

Within the state of New Hampshire, we are seeing a lot of traction and a lot of inquisitive people who want to come to learn what it means to be gender variant.  I recently appeared on stage as part of a panel of transgender individuals at Plymouth State University.  The auditorium was packed and it was so great to be able tell our stories and to field questions from the next generation of more open minded youth who will inhabit this world.  The school newspaper did a quick follow-up with us after the seminar and promised to give us press space and positive exposure as well.  Additional engagements as part of the diversity project at Plymouth State will be likely in the future as well.  UNH at the Durham campus also have been very active in the past month with similar diversity activities.

As well too, Transgender New Hampshire, of which I am also a steering committee member, recently had a social event for the public in nearby Hooksett, NH.  Link to our page: (TG-NH).  This potluck event was a smash hit and we had great attendance from a large number of individuals (some from Tri-ESS!!!) as well as from specific organizations who have indicated that they would be backing us and learning from us to assist in their own understanding of transgender issues..  One specific person I had the opportunity to meet was a representative from the Concord Feminist Health Center who was eager to outreach to us in her attempt to learn more about the specific medical and health needs within the transgender community.  This person was acting as liaison within her company to help bridge the gap of knowledge and lack of understanding by many in the medical realm in her organization and to bring them up to speed as to how best to be inclusive of the needs of transgender women.   It was an exciting night with a LOT of energy and love in the room!  TG-NH plans on having four socials per year and we hope to see you at one of our next social events to come!

There may be more room for outreach as I’ve been asked to enter into discussions as to the feasibility of perhaps my doing a traveling internet based talk show to help expose and highlight specific areas of change and of topics within the gender variant community.  Such a show could be very informative and educational as we attempt to further outreach using whatever media and mediums are available to best advantage.

The days of closeted cross-dressing are nearing an end as the world comes to realize the volumes of individuals who have been hiding, are no longer willing to do so in this day and age.  Our contributions to the world must be measured in the character of who we are in sum total and not by the clothes we wear or the gender we present to the world as.  Our time is at hand and the opportunities are presenting themselves to us now.   Keep up the great work everyone as we each and everyone of us are making a difference in standing up for who we are!