Archive for July, 2011


Swamp Bucket

I was thinking about the whole “Bucket List” phenom the other day. I thought, “Why don’t I have a Bucket List?” So I figured I’d make one.

1) Win the top prize in a lottery. This is the big one because it makes so many of the others possible.
2) Hike the Appalachian Trail through from Georgia to Maine. Preferably with a friend or 2. Tough to do unless you can afford the months without income and the proper equipment.
3) Become physically fit enough to handle said through-hike. This may be tougher than winning the lottery, as it means daily exercise and avoidance of foods I crave.
4) Buy a modest sized RV and tour all of North America. Special focus on major natural wonders, touristy spots and places profiled on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Again preferably with a friend or 2. And again having the financial resources to not worry about working or expenses.
5) Retire. Seeing as I have no savings, no retirement fund and am unlikely to earn enough between now and 72, I either need to accomplish Goal #1 or find a way to live within the income from Social Security.
6) Move back Home. This entails either accomplishing Goal #1 or saving enough to cover the cost of relocation and providing enough to live on until I can find another job and build another clientele. “Home” preferably being NH and close enough to my kids, grandkids and extended family to be able to actually see them regularly. If Goal #1 is accomplished, then Home will possibly include both a place in Boston’s Back Bay or Beacon Hill area (or possibly in downtown Portsmouth, NH) and a cozy place up in NH with space for visiting guests.
7) Learn how to REALLY decorate cakes with skill. I do OK now but only if it’s simple and basic. I have the flavors down pat. it’s the eye appeal that is lacking.
8.) Go back to school and learn to be a chef and/or pastry chef. But only if I can achieve Goal #1. I don’t wish to do either for a living. Just for my own edification.
9) Get down to a healthy weight and somehow get rid of my excess belly. While this might look like the most reasonable goal yet, it means huge sacrifices. In the form of calories. Deprivation of my sweet tooth. Surrendering that last hour of sleep and replacing it with (shudder) exercise.
10) Write & Illustrate a graphic novel. Just to see if I can.
11) Write a regular novel. I’ve had a few plot lines bouncing around inside my head for years. Sometimes they give me headaches.
12) Write a cookbook. Basically a compilation of my own recipes and dishes from my childhood and that my kids grew up with. Not for sale, just for history and to share with friends & family.
13) Visit Ireland. My ancestors are from there and it might be nice to actually see where they came from.
14) Visit each of the people I’ve come to know online, and who I consider friends. And see if the friendships survive real life.
15) This is probably the most important goal of all: Make sure that everyone who is part of my life; friends and family, know how I feel about them and what they mean to me beyond any shadow of a doubt. In the end, how you impact the lives of others is the most important thing you leave behind. Sometimes we don’t know the ways we influence people’s lives. I figure they all deserve to know how they influenced mine.

Drifting through some recently discovered terrain, I came across an unexpected sunny spot within the swamp. This was a new region in a
preciously well-known area.

Now I’ve been more fortunate than many others I know, when it comes to finding acceptance, understanding and support. But they have always been accompanied by questions. Questions are a normal and to be expected part of the trans experience. When first discovering the realm of the Internet and online trans-support/chat rooms, you run into endless streams of people who
have nothing but questions. And for myself I had plenty of questions of my own. Who was I REALLY? WHAT was I? Was I dealing with mere curiosity? Was a crossdresser? A fetishist? Was I transsexual? Was I just simply sick in the head? Questions so many others like me, before and since, have asked of themselves. And then of course those places were also filled with questions seeking to learn of other people’s experiences, how to handle XYZ aspects. And of course the questions posed by those who were attracted to and/or fascinated by transwomen on a sexual level.

I wrestled with my own questions for many, many years. Eventually, through much introspection, pain, emotional turmoil and angst; I found some key answers. Those answers resulted in charting a course for my life that I never would have thought possible, never really wanted and feared following. But there was no other acceptable option. I could either follow this new charted course through unknown terrain, or end my earthly travels altogether. Obviously I chose to explore rather than end. And those who have known me best and loved me longest tell me that they are all glad I did. And
while the costs of this course have been incalculably high, I am glad I did too.

Yet though I had some questions of my own answered, I now faced the reality of having to answer so many more questions that others had for me. Questions posed by therapists, doctors and those who would be helping me along through the medical aspects of my journey. Questions that my family and closest friends would have. Those people who had known me for decades as this one person who would be disappearing and being replaced with someone new, and who I myself did not truly know. I had become a work in progress, dealing with the shedding of old mental, social and emotional constructs and disguises that has allowed me to function for so long. And the new me was being born. Previous thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviors that had been denied were now able to come forth and grow. I just had to make sure that whatever I became, whoever I developed into was fully and totally my true self. Yet I had been dealing with this aspect of myself for  countless years. For my family and loved ones it was a bit of a shock, to have their perception of me turned 180 degrees. Naturally they would have questions. I answered each one as openly and honestly as I could. And sometimes I didn’t yet have an answer for their questions. And I have no doubt that there were countless questions they never asked, either due to not wishing to hurt me, from feeling embarrassed by it or simply because it was too awkward or even painful to ask. Hopefully now, years later, their questions have found answers, or ceased to be important to them. Through all of those questions, coursed a level of love, acceptance and support that left no doubts as to its depth or sincerity. I count myself blessed in that regard.

Within a relatively short length of travel upon my new course through life, I then became faced with questions outside of family and medical professionals. I had to deal with work. (One does not make this type of trip in a vacuum after all.) Handling the questions posed by my company (I had been with them close to 20 yrs. by this point.) went pretty smoothly. At least those asked by Human Resources and the various management teams. Again I was fortunate to receive much in the way of support, acceptance and the reassurance that they employed based on ability only and that any sort of harassment or discrimination would not be tolerated. However the multitude of people I worked with meant fielding many other questions. Naturally there was much people did
not know or understand regarding the topic of the transgendered. People were curious. Many questions were logical and relevant. Many others would have been considered rude and intrusive if asked of the average person on the street. Yet again I answered them all tot he best of my ability. I had adopted the policy of welcoming questions and answering any that were asked from a feeling of a
genuine desire to understand, and not asked simply out of some voyeuristic urge. During this time I was also dealing with questions posed by business people I had to deal with: my dentist, the local mechanic, the bank I did business with, my hairstylist, my optometrist, the women who worked the cosmetic counter…. the same types of business people we all deal with every
day. Except for me they had known me for many years in one aspect and were now being presented with a completely new incarnation.

A few years later I felt the need to switch careers. Which meant going back to school and looking for a job in a new field. So now I faced new crops of people filled with questions. And I was discovering that many people all had the same questions. So I was now experiencing how repetitive it could get. But I felt I was doing my part for the trans community. I’m not the activist
type. But I know there is much misinformation and misconceptions about transpeople. I figured each person I had the chance to educate, for each person I was able to get to see me as a normal person, who just happened to be trans, it would be one less prejudiced or ignorant person in the world. And maybe by educating them, they would in turn help dispel the ignorance of others who talked through their ass about people like me. Or at least they would be able to teach their children to be more accepting and tolerant. So now I went through answering questions of fellow students, instructors and eventually new employers, co-workers and in some cases clients. But now these were people who had never known the “old” me. They’d only known and met the “new” me. But it didn’t mean they had fewer questions. Often they had more. And it didn’t mean the questions weren’t as intrusive (“What’s sex like now? Is it different?” was a common one. And for 5 yrs after surgery
I couldn’t really answer it. A second virginity is a unique experience.) or personal.  People don’t always sense when they are crossing social boundaries they would never even consider crossing with a cis-gendered person. (For those who do not know, cis-gendered means your gender identity and birth sex match and are in harmony.)

And with every job change, I’ve ended up going through the Q&A phase all over again. It’s pretty natural I suppose. I do not hide my past or the fact that I am trans. It’s part of who I am. And it’s natural to want to get to know the person yo work with. And while I have worked with some people who were less than thrilled with my presence in their world, for the most part I found always a level of acceptance. As often as not, what I found was just tolerance. And they are not the same thing. Not by any stretch of the imagination. I can say that most of the people I have encountered, worked with or had become part of my life, have accepted me. A large portion of them supports me. A few of them genuinely care about me. But as often as not they accept and support me as a TRANS-person. Not just a person who happens to be trans. All this leads me to the sunny spot I mentioned earlier…

I started a new job recently. And being the open sort of person I am, it became known in short order that I used to be vastly different than I am now. I’d rather learn quickly if I am going to find acceptance, tolerance or hostility, than to have any ill feelings crop up later. I won’t waste my time where I am not wanted. Yet this new job, my newly discovered sunny spot, has been question free. For the first time I can recall I have experienced unquestioning acceptance simply for who I am and not what I am. I get questions more about my opinions on skin care and ones targeted to my
professional expertise than anything else. No prying. No attempts to delve into the mysteries of my deep personal life. I’m just another woman working here, who happens to be trans. And my being trans is no different or unimportant a factor than my age, weight, hair color, race, spirituality, taste in movies or hobbies might be. So I am going to enjoy basking in this quiet sunny spot and just take
in this new, refreshing experience.

So the question many of you may be asking when you read the
title of this blog is, “What the heck is a Swamp Snark?” So let me give you
some background…..

My Roomie, Julie, and my friend David the Mets Fan, were
commenting on my Facebook status. The commentary went something like this:

My Status:

grocery shopping done. Time to put food away. Then start laundry. Later
am planing to go to Joe’s Crab Shack for dinner with my roomie, to celebrate my
first paycheck at my new job

David the Mets Fan: How fun!! Have a great dinner celebrating. How do
you like your new job? I bet they love you.

Me: The new job is good. Not much business for me yet, but the people aare
great, the place is nice and bright and I know things will go well for me
there. They don’t love me yet. They are still getting to know me.

David the Mets Fan: Oh they will love you soon! Have they figured out
your wry east coast humor yet?

Me: Not yet, David. It’s only been 2 weeks. They’ve only begun to glimpse my
humor. Like yesterday when the 22 yr old stylist said “I don’t ever want
to get pregnant.” and I replied with a totally str8 face “Neither do
I.” Another stylist just started laughing, looked at me and said
“Krystle you just cracked me up. The look on your face was
priceless.”

David the Mets Fan: haha I wish I worked with someone like you.

Me: Someone like me? You mean a Red Sox fan?

My Roomie: MUSCLES!

Me: ‎*flex*

My Roomie: David, you see what I’m dealing with over here?

David the Mets Fan: Yes, I like the BoSox Krystle. My ex was a Red Sox
fan and we used to cheer for them against the Yankees. (I’m a Mets fan) 2004!!!
Haha

David the Mets Fan: Yes, Julie – you have quite the roommate – haha

Me: Yes, David. See what Julie is dealing with here? She has an awesome
roommate, with muscles, a ssense of humor, a taste for bad cheesey sci-fi
flicks, some skillz in the kitchen and the calm demeanor of a saint.

David the Mets Fan: a saint? Oh, I’ve
read about some of those Catholic saints. Is Julie safe? Haha

Me: Julie is safer than if she were in her mother’s arms.

David the Mets Fan: ROFL!!!

My Roomie: Dude, she made me watch Swamp Shark last night.

Me: Admit it Julie, you
ENJOYED watching Swamp Shark.

David the Mets Fan: Oh that is hysterical! I watched some cheesy
alligator sci-fi movie once.

David the Mets Fan: Okay, I need to check out netflix now and watch
that.

Me: David, this movie had shark and alligators. A two-fer!

David the Mets Fan: My two favorites – I will have to check it out. Yer
killing me here.

My Roomie: Okay okay. I enjoyed it. But who doesn’t like it when a
jerky coonass cop gets swallowed whole by a flying armor plated two ton
…shark?

David the Mets Fan: Lordy, you two sound like you would make a great
television sit-com

Me: At least we wouldn’t
be considered a dramedy! or a mockumentery

David the Mets Fan: The new Steel Magnolias – LGBT style

My Roomie: We are. We are two geniuses living in one apartment. Name
a TV show that doesn’t have a genius anymore? Like that happens.

David the Mets Fan: It’s your new
writing project Julie.

My Roomie: HA. A mockumentary. Send us forth and we shall mock.

Me: If we do a mockumentery in Lousiana bayou country we could call it Swamp
Snark

David the Mets Fan: Swamp Snark – I love it!

My Roomie: Krystle can hear me lol’ing about Swamp Snark!

David the Mets Fan: That sounds like a
good name for a blog.

My Roomie: I’m crying.

David the Mets Fan: Krystle – YOU
should write a blog. I bet it would be awesome

My Roomie: God. Please invite me to post on your blog, Krystle.

And lo, I was driven to start a blog. So for whatever suffering you endure
reading my missives here, you can blame my Roomie and David The Mets Fan.

Of course just because one has the urge to blog doesn’t
mean you can just start writing. Oh no. First I had to decide on a title. And a
theme.

I’d read that a good blog needs to have a focus. And I’ve
no desire to write a bad blog (sounds kind of like bad dog.) Since I am
not one who tends to stick with one specific topic, I wasn’t sure what to focus
on. Then my Roomie suggested I simply make the theme about my own point of
view. Simply put down my own twisted endeavors in humor, observations of the
human condition, poignant stories of my life, opinions on social matters etc.
Ok, I thought, I can work with that. But now for a title. Something catchy but
that also makes sense. Then it hit me, I will call it “Beware the Swamp
Snark
”!

I can almost hear the gears in your mind going round and
thinking “WTF? Where is this crazy old woman going with this?”

So let me elucidate. The “Beware” is kind of
self-explanatory. Simply be ready since you never know what you’ll read. Heck I
won’t even know what I’ll write sometimes until after it’s written.

Now for “Swamp”… well I felt it really described
the source of my material. In essence I can liken the contents of my mind to a
swamp. No not a stinking fetid morass of rotting vegetation. Geeze people give
me more credit than that! Actually swamps, bayous, marshes and other such water
rich environments are in reality complex ecosystems, rich and fertile and
simply teeming with a myriad of life. Such a huge variety of flora and fauna,
both seen and unseen. And the terrain is so varied. Dark, shadowy, spooky
places. Bright sun lit glades. Beautiful flowers. Pristine looking pools, murky
waters, slow moving currents of rivers, and yes some stinky places. And
everywhere you look, you can only see a small percentage of what is really
dwelling there. Just like my mind.

Now the “Snark”… well that is simply where my humor comes
in. Sometimes dark, often twisted, more often really skewed, often as not a bit
sarcastic. In other words; snarky.

So hop into a boat, grab a pole or paddle and let’s see
where the currents take you as we drift through the meandering waterways of my
mind. Just always remember: Beware the Swamp Snark!