Prelude, Plus Some Quick Tidbits and Musings

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Finally getting around to finishing a post about some news in Cass's little corner of the world. I will be finishing - and posting - it tomorrow. Stay tuned.

Follow below the fold for a few items from the past week if you are so inclined.

(It includes shoes - specifically boots - among other things, in case you are wondering. Or am I the only person who would find that intriguing?)

I came out to another good friend at work this week.

I had never actually met RO (that's "O" for "Other Office," as he works in the same office my manager does) in person until this week. However, he was absolutely wonderful last summer when I was struggling so much. He barely knew me, but went out of his way to offer his support and encouragement. His kindness and genuine concern meant a great deal to me, then and now.

He was visiting our office this week to help out my team's technical gurus with resolving some "under-the-cover" issues, as we tech folks call them. Customers don't see them, but fixing them will greatly improve the speed of our product.

The technical folks have been working extremely hard to address these matters, and are doing a superb job until difficult conditions. RO's arrival, as well as that of several other equally talented colleagues from one of our overseas offices, have helped close the gap.

Anyway, RO was as genuinely warm and funny as I expected. He fit in so well with the, uh, "eccentricities" of those on our team (amazingly, I am not the weird one, which should tell you something) that I kidded him he couldn't return home.

I had spoken with my manager L and said I wanted to tell RO during his visit. She thought it was an excellent idea (she and RO are good friends).

We went out to lunch on Wednesday, along with R (who clearly needs another initial now as well), my fellow writer and office mate. She and R are good friends, which was immediately obvious from the number of times RO had to remove his glasses because R had him laughing so hard. :c)

By this point, telling people, while not second nature, is certainly less fraught with peril than it used to be. I was all but certain that RO would be OK with it as well, which certainly made it easier.

He immediately expressed his support and congratulated me for my courage. I am always touched when someone does so, especially someone I respect a great deal like RO, but it has always made me a bit uncomfortable. As I told him, it really isn't about courage as much as it is about finally being too worn out to fight any longer. (We finally agreed to disagree. :-p)

We wound up chatting for a long time - mostly because R had both RO and myself laughing so hard with her various pronouncements - no more so than her utterly sincere assertion that she is the "normal one" of all of the writers.

(My manager L, informed of this later, had this response: "R??? Really? I always thought I was the normal one." I pointed out what a low bar that was, considering the competition; she declined any further comment.)

The most fascinating part of the discussion, for me, anyway, came when R urged me to show RO some pictures of me from before I began transitioning.

I've posted those pictures, which seem to get a similar reaction each time.

RO was genuinely astounded; I could tell his reaction was genuine. He asked when the first photo in that post was taken. I replied that it was taken in the summer of 2011, about six months before I started HRT. He shook his head in amazement.

He looked at the photo again, then at me, and declared, "I would never believe the person in this picture and you could ever have been the same person."

It was my turn to be genuinely astounded. I know I have changed; I can see it sometimes when I catch a glimpse of myself when I am not expecting it. But it doesn't become clear to me how much I seem to have changed until someone reacts as RO did.

It is a very odd, albeit encouraging, experience each time it happens.

I wonder if/when I will no longer see him most of the time and begin to see what others seem to see. I hope I get to find out.

It was wonderful to be able to share my news with someone whom I am very fond of, especially getting to share it with him in person.

I'd like to end this portion of  the post with a shout-out to RO, whom R tells me has already begun reading this blog. Thank you so much for being a good cookie, as Kelli would say. :c)

Side note: Apparently he has spent several hours at a time reading this blog, for some ungodly reason. This clearly indicates he has too much time on his hands - a point I plan to bring up to my manager when she visits this week.

A good work/life balance is crucial; as management, it is her duty to set a good example for the great unwashed below her on the corporate ladder, such as RO and yours truly.

(Since this will involve drinking large amounts of beer with someone she already likes, I expect an enthusiastic response.)

Anyway, thank you again, RO, for making a long, busy week so memorable! Sending a big, big hug all the way from the Northeast, hon!


As for today, I had a long but satisfying day of house cleaning, followed by a trip to the gym and grocery shopping.

After a shower, I tried on some of my purchases from a shopping excursion last weekend with my fashion adviser (and fellow writer) S. She has a keen eye, which I, assuredly, do not.

(Shoe alert: I bought three pair of boots, all of which I love. I would happily have made it four had the last pair not ensured future, ongoing visits to my podiatrist were I to purchase them. God help me if I ever have to wear anything with heels, given how often my wheels decide to throw a tantrum already.)

Oh, and I bought my first LBD (little black dress) too, which was spotted by S, to my eternal gratitude. Why?

Because it quite clearly is made from some miracle fabric, since it would almost - repeat, almost - lead you to think I actually possess a butt.

I do not, in fact, possess a butt. I can assure you of that most definitively.

For we lasses of Irish descent, the size of our butts and boobies is apparently inversely proportional to the number of freckles we possess. Since beginning HRT, my freckles have proliferated at a rate I can only dream my girls (such as they are) and my caboose (such as it is) would emulate.

Anyway, you can see why the LBD was a no-brainer, as were the boots. And pretty much everything else we picked up.

Thank you again, S. :c) You made shopping much more productive - and fun. (The sweet potato fries afterwards were pretty awesome too!)

Coming soon: S introduces me to the wonder of vintage clothing stores!


To end my day on a proper note, it seemed a good idea to check out the recent American Masters documentary about Jimi Hendrix that aired on PBS (Public Broadcasting System, for those not in the States). It received superlative reviews, and, based on the hour we watched, I can see why. Cannot wait to watch the rest of it.


Thought I would post several of my favorite Jimi songs.

I own his original albums (incredibly, he only made three proper studio albums during his all-too-brief life: Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold As Love, and Electric Ladyland) as well as many of the subsequent live releases, nearly all of which highlight his utterly transcendent guitar pyrotechnics. They are truly awe-inspiring, even after all these years.

Oddly enough, my favorites tend to showcase his greatly underrated songwriting ability. That is a shame; he wrote a number of gentle, heartfelt, and quite beautiful songs that are often overlooked.

Up first, my very favorite Jimi thing (to paraphrase Dave Matthews):

Seriously, was anyone EVER cooler than Jimi Hendrix??? OK, Miles Davis, who is in a class of his own; but who else?

Up next, another gem from his classic 1967 debut:

And another, which was written for his the fourth studio album he sadly did not live to complete.

Finally, another gem, this one from his second album of 1967, Axis: Bold As Love:

I would be remiss if I didn't also post the majestic cover recorded by Derek & The Dominos (a/k/a Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, Bobby Whitlock, Carl Radle, and Jim Gordon), on Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, from 1970:

You can certainly make a strong case for Layla being the ultimate guitar album, but I prefer to just listen to it in its entirety, straight through (all 77-plus minutes of it). At the time, Clapton was desperately in love (unrequited) with Patti Boyd - the wife of his best friend, George Harrison. For obvious reasons, he couldn't admit this to himself, or to anyone; hence the pseudonym.

There was no mistaking the passion behind the project, though, which is readily apparent as you listen. The tension builds with each song, until you reach the title song, the second last track on the album.

I never, ever, ever fail to be moved each and every time I hear this song: by that classic opening riff (composed by Allman, incidentally); by Clapton's impassioned, soul-baring vocals; and, most of all, by the moment when that gorgeous piano coda begins. After well over an hour of ever-increasing intensity, Clapton and friends achieve… redemption.

In truth, there are times when words are inadequate. That is why the last four-plus minutes of the song consists solely of the band playing: the music conveys what words cannot. The final bird call (also courtesy of Allman, using the Coracidin bottle he employed when playing slide guitar) is the perfect closing coda.

"Layla," incidentally, is not the final song on the album. That honor falls to Bobby Whitlock's lovely "Thorn Tree In the Garden," a hushed, entirely acoustic song performed by the entire band.

The album was actually recorded in order, which is highly unusual (typically albums are recorded piecemeal; the song order is often not determined until well after recording is complete). Perhaps that explains how the song perfectly captures the exhausted, late-night ambiance they no doubt felt after working at such a level of pitched intensity for so long.

The song, by the way, was written about Whitlock's beloved dog. A cold-hearted roommate disposed of the dog one day while Whitlock was out of the house. Heartbroken - he was at a difficult point in his life, and the dog was his only friend - he immediately sat down and wrote the song.

I saw Bobby Whitlock perform several years ago. He introduced the song by noting that while his dog inspired the song, its true subject was unrequited love. It could be for a pet, a parent, a companion, or a friend; he said the feeling was universal.

I can attest to its universal nature, having experienced (and in some cases still experiencing) each of the examples he has cited. I suppose it explains why I love the song, and consider it one of my favorite album closers to this day. Sometimes a song expresses what we cannot.


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