The Awakening #1

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thanksgiving Day at my uncle's house. I was five or six years old. My parents both come from large families (each was the youngest of eight), with a considerable gap between them and the next oldest sibling. As a result, my brother, sister, and I were typically the youngest children at family events.

I'm the oldest of three, with a younger sister and brother, all of us born in a span of less than two and a half years. People didn't mess around back then after marrying, I guess. Well, actually I guess they did, based on the evidence. :c) (As an aside: Oddly, most people, relatives included, assumed - and still assume - that I was the youngest and my brother was the oldest. My brother, actually the youngest, was big for his age, much more outgoing, and a natural athlete and leader. By contrast, I was very small for my age, quiet, artistic, and, in retrospect, pretty sensitive, especially for a boy.

My sister, the middle child, was more than a bit of a tomboy back then. She loved nothing more than to be outside playing baseball, football, or whatever sport was in season. I played too, but in spite of being a diehard baseball and hockey fan, I didn't really have any aptitude for sports in general. I have a long list  of sports-related injuries, mostly self-inflicted, to prove it too. :c)

Anyway, like all tomboys she hated having to wear a dress at any time. And on this Thanksgiving day, I have a vivid memory of standing in my uncle's living room next to the television set, The Carpenters singing "Top of the World." I'm styling, albeit somewhat uncomfortably, in all the sartorial splendor of a hip kindergartner circa 1971-ish. At least hip as imagined by a baby-boomer mother who listens to Danny Davis & The Nashville Brass on 8-track (think plaid pants, polka dot tie,  purple shirt with collars pointy enough to use around the fondue pot - you get the picture).

I'm looking at my sister standing in the hallway. She's wearing a pretty white dress with strawberries on it, white knee socks, white patent leather shoes, and a white ribbon in her hair. Arms rigid, hands balled into fists, legs spread defiantly, a scowl etched across her face, she remains consumed by the righteous fury of the wronged that only a four-year-old can muster, a fury that remains undimmed even after an hour-plus car ride.

My cousin N, a teenager at the time, is attempting, without much success, to draw my sister out of her funk.

"That dress is so pretty!"

My sister remains unmoved.

"And look at all of those strawberries! Can I have one of your strawberries, please?"

No response.

"Well, I'll just take that as a yes!" She reaches down, plucks off an imaginary strawberry, pops it in her mouth, and savors it for a few moments.

"Mmm! That is the *best* strawberry I've ever had! I'm so glad you wore that dress, or I wouldn't have been able to enjoy it. Thank you so much!"

Sighing mightily, my sister stomps off, determined to nurse her rage in indignant solitude.

N watches her departure, shaking her head slightly, then turns to me and smiles as she walks away.

"Why can't your sister be more like you, L?"

A thought flashes across my mind:

"I'd wear that every day if I could."

Instantly, my heart flutters. My legs feel like Silly Putty. I sit down on the couch, a strange tingling sensation in my stomach.

And I know I can't ever, ever tell anyone what I just thought.

Even if I don't understand why.

In fact, I know I can't ever let myself think anything like that ever again.

And so I don't.

Until I'm thirteen.

Tell the Truth...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Big day coming up this weekend. My best friend, F, is visiting, and I'm going to come out to him. He'll be the first.

I've known F since I was nine years old (he's a year older), and I've always looked up to him and valued his opinion - more than anyone else, including my parents. He's always been good at really listening to people - an all-too-rare skill, and one I try to emulate. In fact, after encouragement from myself and other friends, he decided to change careers, giving up a high-paying high-tech job for, well, a not-high-paying job in social services. :c) But it's not about money for him; he genuinely wants to help people, and it shows.

I've talked about F with Dr. S in our sessions, and how he's the one person I've always known I could tell absolutely anything. I've told him things that I have literally never told another person, and he's never judged me or been anything but supportive. I have a lot of good friends - I've been absurdly blessed in that regard - but a friend like F is a rare gift. And I count my blessings that F, and all of my other friends, are part of my life. I feel very, very lucky. I hope I've been 1/1000th of the friend to them that they've been to me, particularly F.
When I told Dr. S I was going to tell F, she thought it was an excellent idea. In fact, she thought it wouldn't be a total surprise to him, which, upon reflection, I agree with. I suspect that's going to be the case for many of my friends when I tell them. I've been thinking back to conversations over the years, and in retrospect it's clear that they always sensed I was... different, even if they couldn't quite put their finger on it. I'll write more about some of them in the future, because in restrospect they gave me clues to unravel the mystery that I couldn't (or wouldn't, for a long time) bring myself to solve. In any event, as I said, once the initial shock wears off, I suspect in many cases they'll feel it was... well, maybe not obvious, but not totally out of the blue. But we shall see, I guess. :c)

Oddly, or maybe not so oddly, I'm not anxious about telling him. In fact, I've been SO, SO much calmer since I decided to call Dr. S. I was always so... angry all the time before that. More than angry - furious. And over the most trivial, meaningless nonsense in most cases. Now, I'm not skipping through my days handing out daisies, but I'm also not on the verge of a coronary when someone spends an extra ten minutes on the treadmill at the gym either. What a relief.

But I digress. (These little jaunts down the tributaries of my thought process - such as it is - will be a regular feature here, alas...) :c) As I was saying, I'm really not freaking out about telling F. I'm pretty sure it won't always be that way for everyone I tell, but it's still surprising how calm I feel. Maybe that will change as Saturday approaches. But for now, I'll take the welcome sense of calm. It's a nice change from the constant... pressure I felt for most of my life. And it sounds like this is a common feeling, based on the blogs of other girls. The truth really *will* set you free, as it turns out. Too bad it took me so long to realize cliches are cliches because they're true. But then my friends call me Captain Oblivious for a reason, I suppose... :c)

Least Complicated (?)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

So, I went to see the Indigo Girls tonight. While waiting for the show to start, I struck up a conversation with Sarah and Megan, the (very sweet) couple sitting next to me with their daughter Emily. (And happy birthday to Emily, incidentally, who celebrated her big day by attending her very first concert. :c))

Anyway, they were a little surprised to see a single boy at the show, let alone one who'd seen the Indigo Girls over a dozen times. We chatted a bit about music, and they were even more surprised at how many of the same musicians we liked (Brandi Carlile, Ani DiFranco, and Tegan & Sara, to name a few). Once she realized I genuinely did like all of those artists, Sarah finally asked (jokingly), "Wait, you're sure you're a guy?"

And I replied (after a second): "Let me get back to you."


And one more, just because it was such a fun night...

The Unguarded Moment

Where to start, where to start… no better place than right now, I guess. Maybe I'll backtrack a bit to when I finally realized that not only couldn't I fight this battle any longer, I didn't want to. I want to be who I am. Nothing more, nothing less.

What triggered it? It was, oddly enough, something that had happened before. Except this time it finally made me act. I started dreaming about a girl I know and, well, sort of have a crush on. :c) And in my dreams I was a girl too. Same as before. And we were… er, you know. And, again, I was a girl. But for whatever reason, these dreams were *so* vivid, so real, that I was dizzy when I woke up. Every time. And the feelings were so overwhelming that pretty soon it was all I could think about. I was having a terrible time concentrating, something that was never a problem before this. (One thing about we Irish: we sure can ignore stuff we don't want to deal with. Look, I'm not acknowledging this is happening! See, its like it's not there! Problem. Solved! O say can you see… I'm not listening… la la la!) 

I just knew that L - the me everyone knows -  was finally losing control. And Kelly was taking over. And this time she was going to win the battle. And I wanted her to win. 

I started reading transgendered girl's blogs. First, I was awed and inspired by their courage and determination. (Still am.) Even more, I realized I was seeing… me. Over and over and over. It was both frightening and reassuring at the same time. I wasn't crazy. I wasn't alone. And I saw that not only was this possible, but that it could be the best thing you ever did. You're not sentenced to a life of loneliness and that constant, ever-present sense that you're living a lie.

Still, it took me a week to work up the courage to call a therapist. I know that once I did there was no turning back. Kelly was one genie who was never going back in her bottle. Oddly enough, once I actually picked up the phone, there was no hesitation as I dialed the number. Instead, there was… calm. Nor did I hang up when I got voicemail. And when Dr. S called back, and I heard her kind voice, I finally said it: 

I'm a girl.

And I'm going to transition. 

Begin The Begin

Friday, June 24, 2011

So, the first few posts wound up not being what I'd expected. Sort of went where the muse took me. :c) 

Funny thing is, several friends have said I should be a music critic, but it just isn't all that appealing. What gives someone the right - or the knowledge - to criticize people who actually have the talent and tenacity to create something? I'm not a big Dilbert fan, but I thought he nailed it when Dogbert decided to be a critic. When Dilbert asked him why, he replied that he wanted to be able to dismiss an artist's lifework with a witty remark. :c) Sad but true. (That said, Mikal Gilmore, David Fricke, and Brett Milano are always worth reading. Never fail to learn something after seeing their byline on something.)

Anyway, I started a blog as an extension of my journal, which I've been writing for nearly ten years. Even there, in something that no one but me would ever see, I couldn't acknowledge what I've known most of my life, but couldn't bring myself to admit: I'm a girl. 

I think I'll keep doing the journal, but I've found that it drifted from my original purpose - to be, well, a journal. Instead, it's sort of morphed into a place to work out stuff about my comic strip. Just doing a daily brain dump (and no, it doesn't take long, ha ha!), which has proved to be a good way to clear the ol' synapses, creatively speaking. 

But then I was thinking there might be other things to consider writing about. Like… well, let's see… the Mariners amazing pitching… what's for dinner… changing my gender… You know - stuff.

And thus it is so. :c)

So. I guess I'll just use this to figure out how I got here, where I'm going, and maybe a word or three about the sights and sounds I use to inspire/comfort myself along the way. Since I'm easily distracted, an entry could really be about anything. Abandon all hope, ye continuity-seekers! You have been warned, imaginary audience.

 Stay tuned!

Achin' To Be

Sunday, June 19, 2011

So strange how desire ebbs and flows.

At times, it almost seems manageable. "This isn't all that bad. I don't *have* to do anything. I can just stay here."

And then... and then... it's back. Stronger and more overwhelming than ever. Triggered by a gesture. A scent. A shape.

And there it is again. That.... pressure. From having a glimpse of a possible future. If you have the courage to make it come true.

But for now, it's still a longing. Just an achin' to be.

Achin' To Be

Well she's kind of like an artist

Sittin' on the floor

Never finishes, she abandons
Never shows a soul

And she's kind of like a movie
Everyone rushes to see

And no one understands it

Sittin' in their seats

She opens her mouth to speak and
What comes out's a mystery
Thought about, not understood

She's achin' to be

Well she dances alone in nightclubs
Every other day of the week

People look right through her
Baby doll, check your cheek

And she's kind of like a poet

Who finds it hard to speak

Poems come so slowly

Like the colors down a sheet

She opens her mouth to speak and
What comes out's a mystery
Thought about, not understood

She's achin' to be

Darkness on the Edge of Town

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Like many, if not most, longtime Springsteen fans (a/k/a Bruce Tramps - I kid you not), there's a special place in my heart for Darkness on the Edge of Town - both the album and the song. For you non-Bruce fanatics out there - hard to fathom, but they're rumored to exist :c) - he recorded Darkness in the wake of a bruising legal battle with his former manager to regain control of his career and his songwriting catalogue following the success of Born To Run. He was ultimately successful, but the price was his innocence. What replaced it, though, wasn't bitterness or cynicism, as you might expect, and as justifiable as those emotions would have been. Instead, remarkably, came empathy. And a determination to give dignity to ordinary people struggling to cling to hope in a world seemingly designed to snuff it out. The title song is the story of one of those people. 

In fact, "Darkness," the final song on the album, concludes the story of a character introduced earlier on the album, the narrator of "Racing in the Streets." Trapped in a dead-end job, married to a woman who is losing her love for both him and for life, he finds purpose in the street races in which he competes every night. Resolving not to give up on his marriage or his dreams, the song concludes on an early summer evening as he drives with his wife to the ocean "to wash these sins off our hands," with the promise of more racing in the streets beckoning.

As "Darkness" begins, he still races every night, out by the hills on the outskirts of town. But this is no longer enough for his wife, who has left him for a seemingly more upscale, but, it's implied, equally empty existence. Alone, he assesses what remains, and the cost of carrying on regardless. 

As in so many of Bruce's greatest songs, a car and the open road serve as metaphors. For an averge person's extraordinary struggle to shake off fear and despair. To look inside and find out what matters most. To find the courage to pursue that, while fully aware of the cost of the journey. A journey that will take them through the darkness on the edge of town. 

Darkness on the Edge of Town

They're still racing out at the Trestles
But that blood it never burned in her veins
Now I hear she's got a house up in Fairview
And a style she's trying to maintain

Well, if she wants to see me
You can tell her that I'm easily found
Tell her there's a spot out 'neath Abram's Bridge
And tell her
There's a darkness on the edge of town
There's a darkness on the edge of town

Well, everybody's got a secret, son
Something that they just can't face
Some folks spend their whole lives just tryin' to keep it
They carry it with them every step that they take

'Til one day they just cut it loose
Cut it loose or let it drag 'em down
Where no one asks any questions
Or looks too long in your face
In the darkness on the edge of town
In the darkness on the edge of town

Now some folks are born into a good life
And others folks get it anyway, anyhow
Me, I lost my faith when I lost my wife
Them things don't seem to matter much to me now

Tonight I'll be on that hill 'cause I can't stop
I'll be on that hill with everything that I got
Lives on the line where dreams are found and lost
I'll be there on time and I'll pay the cost
For wanting things that can only be found
In the darkness on the edge of town
In the darkness on the edge of town

Try not to trip

Friday, June 17, 2011

So, after much, much too much time spent in my own head, I've realized it might help to, you know, get out of my head and think out loud. Figuratively speaking, of course. This comes after finally saying out loud - literally - the words I'd never dared speak out loud, let alone even admit to myself: I'm a girl. And I need to do something about it. Now.

So I know where I want to go; I don't know how I'm going to get there yet. And I admit I'm pretty scared right now. Well, actually I'm sort of numb right now. I know that's how the other me dealt with things - just shut down. That doesn't work anymore; writing helps me figure out what's making me feel numb, so here we are. That's "we" as in Kelly and the front she's presented to the world her whole life. But his grip is slipping after a lifetime of desperately fighting off the truth. And I'm OK with that; I just need to let it sink in. Hence this journal, such as it is.

Oh, and the title? It comes from one of my favorite Peanuts cartoons. Charlie Brown is at the plate, and strikes out on three pitches. (Of course.) He sits down next to Lucy and says, "Rats! I'll never make the big leagues." Lucy replies, "Charlie Brown, you're thinking too far ahead. You need to set more immediate goals." He replies, " Immediate goals?" Lucy's response: "That's right. Take next inning. When you walk out to the mound, try not to trip."

For once, Lucy is right. :c) So that's my motto for now: try not to trip. But if I do, I'll just pick myself up, dust myself off, and keep going. Because there's no going back now. And I know that. So tighten that seat belt, Kelly; it's gonna be an interesting ride...

Copyright © 2009 Grunge Girl Blogger Template Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template
Girl Vector Copyrighted to Dapino Colada