Talk Talk

Sunday, February 14, 2016


Hi everyone. I'm sorry I missed posting last week. So much is going on in my life right now. I discussed some of it in my previous post. I don't want to go much further into it, other than to say that it has been a challenging stretch, and I am still carrying a heavy heart.

Once again, I must say thank you to Alice for her friendship. Your true friends are those who help you even when they have nothing to gain by doing so.

(Full disclosure: I had written a lengthy paragraph about those who are not true friends. But I decided they aren't worth wasting space on in this post. Instead, I choose to celebrate people like Alice, who are most certainly worth it.)

Work has been unusually frantic, even by its standards. A huge project was dropped into my lap in the middle of an already-packed project cycle; as a result, I have six weeks worth of work to finish in barely two weeks. My manager L has been unwavering in her support, as always, which helps immensely. I feel very fortunate to have her in my life at this time, for both professional and personal reasons.

I am in the middle of planning and working on two other major events right now that will hopefully pay off later this year - assuming things go smoothly for once. More on those plans soon - hopefully in positive posts.

For now though, frantic those things have been, I want to write briefly about something I have been making time for as best I can. 


***

Thanks to the tireless, herculean efforts of The Divine Miss M (TDMM), who has been mentioned in this blog several times, a new ToastMasters club was chartered at work just before Thanksgiving last year (late November, for those of you unfamiliar with US holidays). In a nutshell, ToastMasters is a club designed to help members practice public speaking. (TDMM will no doubt blanch at seeing that description (my apologies hon :-p),  but that is its core purpose.)

I was, briefly, an officer in TM, but unfortunately I had to step down, which made - and makes - me feel terribly guilty. The Diving Miss M is the club president, and deservedly so, so I've felt awful about letting her down. (She has been unfailingly gracious and supportive, as is her nature.)

While I am no longer an officer, I try to take part as much as I can in our weekly meetings. As I mentored, we've been in existence for less than three months, so we are still feeling our way along. 

In the early days of this blog, I wrote a post that dealt, in part, about my experience working at a major FM station here in the Boston area while I was in college. I was also a DJ in college, and majored in Communications (and American History, as an aside). So, I have some experience with public speaking. Accordingly, I try to pitch in each week so people with little or no experience can see it's nothing to be afraid of.

So far I've given three speeches. The first was an introductory speech. While some people in attendance knew my history (I went full-time while working here), the majority did not. So, my first speech was about my transition.

I spent three evenings writing and rehearsing it, trying to balance being informative - for some people I knew it would be their first experience with someone who is transsexual - with giving a speech that engaged them.

It was a seven minute speech. Those of you with public speaking experience can probably relate to this, but it felt as if it was over in a heartbeat. I only stumbled once, while speaking about my sister and nephew. My voice caught for a moment, but I recovered and finished the speech without any further difficulty.

When it was over, I received a standing ovation. (For the record, all introductory speeches get one, so my head didn't swell too much. :-p) I'm out of practice with public speaking, so it was a bit difficult to gauge how I did. I no longer beat myself up over every single mistake, as I would have in the past; that said, I hoped the audience found it to be interesting and engaging.

I received my answer at the end of the meeting when the Toastmaster (the club member running that day's meeting), my fellow writer J, asked me to come forward. When I did, he smiled and handed me this:


This is my first ribbon. :c) I was, and am, inordinately proud of it. Not simply because of the recognition, but more because I was able to stand up in front of a room of nearly 50 people and tell them my story, without guilt or shame or embarrassment, and with pride and a sense of quiet confidence. 

I have worked for nearly five years to get to this point: to be proud of who I am, and what I have accomplished. The ribbon will serve as a visual reminder of how far I have come. I could give a speech like that because I had the approval of the only person who matters: myself. I don't need to be "validated" by anyone else, or told that I'm a woman. I know that already. And that makes all of the hard work worth it.

In the days following my speech, a number of people in attendance have taken the time to reach out to me, either through email, handwritten note, or in person, to tell me how moved they were by the speech and how much they appreciated my willingness to share something of myself. I told each person the truth: that I was honored by their generosity and kindness and acceptance. It was, and is, a humbling experience. I gave them seven minutes;  they have given me a lifetime of lovely memories in return. I think I came out ahead in this particular bargain.

Eventually I plan to go stealth. No one will know my background unless I choose to tell them. And those people are likely to be very few in number. Not because I'm ashamed of who I am, but because I'm ready to move to the next phase of my life: living fully as myself. 

I know I pass without a problem, a fact I don't take for granted. I didn't need any FFS, nor did I need to do anything with my hair other than let it grow. I can, and do, go out without a bit of makeup on, and do so knowing everyone will see who I am: a woman. I never would have dared dream that was possible five years ago. But now it's reality. And that is a story worth sharing - and celebrating - during this moment in time. 

 
***

My hometown was one of the first to get MTV for some reason, almost as soon as it began in (if memory serves) late summer 1981. I'm not typically a fan of the synth- and keyboard-driven stuff that was dominant in the early 80s, but I always loved this 1982 song from Talk Talk - also called "Talk Talk." I couldn't find the version of the video I remember, but I do recall seeing this one as well. Regardless, it's a classic of the British New Wave.


While this has nothing to do with the theme of this post, here's another keyboard-dominated track from 1982 that remains a personal favorite to this day: Thomas Dolby's "One Of Our Submarines." Dolby wrote this haunting, eerie song as a tribute to his uncle, who was serving on a submarine that was lost in action during World War II.

 

Beautiful song, isn't it?

2 comments:

Jenna on February 14, 2016 at 6:10 AM said...

Talk Talk, Dolby and their peers were what I grew up. The first concert I ever went to was to see the Human League and I remember being at our local nightclub one Saturday when the group Mai Tai were doing a show, quite a big thing for a Welsh valley's town back in the 80s.

Hope the workload eases up after this current period. Its tiring, especially when you don't then get to do your own work. We've got a simiar heavy workload at the moment and I've just booked the week after Easter off to recharge my batteries before our next busy period, something I very rarely do.

I'm impressed that you got up in front of 50 people and gave a speech. I always find things like nerve wracking so anybody that willing goes and does something like that on a regular basis has my respect.

Abigale Stuart on February 14, 2016 at 1:24 PM said...

Cass, really proud of you getting up and talking to a crowd. I’ve done it a number of times, 150 people 20 minutes about my work is one thing but getting up and talking about yourself is another, double proud of you for that! It’s been a long journey as you said; this to me says you have arrived! Lots of love Miss A

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