Category: personal evolution


It’s been quite some time since I posted here. Partly due to laziness. A greater part due to the simple struggle to get by and largely due to recently working two jobs.

But occasionally you just get to thinking and find you must put your thoughts into actual words.

Tonight is such a night. There are lines of thinking that have come upon me repeatedly. They are usually triggered by the actions or words of someone in a totally unrelated way. And most often the person whose actions or words have triggered it has no idea that it’s happened. More often than not the trigger is something very innocent, but like billiards ricocheting across a table, my mind goes from trigger to bouncing through various mental pathways.

Yes I know so far this is dull as mud.

What I am thinking is that not everything is able to be quantified. Not every cost, result, change, course of action, decision etc has a sum that can be truly weighed and measured.

When people first meet me, then get to know me a bit and eventually feel comfortable enough to converse about my life and the less than common course it has taken; they will almost without fail utter the same 6 words, “It’s all been worth it, right?” Followed by, “You’re happier now, right?”

Usually I will respond with something vaguely positive or innocent or avoident. Something along the lines of not really having much of a choice. But I really did. I could have chosen to cling desperately to my self-denial and evenutally self-destructed. I could have chosen to admit the truth of who/what I was yet refused to actually become a truer self. I could have continued a rapidly downward spiral of depression and more than likely ended up a statistical suicide.

I didn’t choose any of them. No instead I chose to admit to myself, my family, my friends and the world that I a transsexual. Born physically male, lived most of a life as such. To all intents and purposes had a successful life as such. Yet waged an almost constant internal war with my own gender identity for most of my adult life. Had a childhood where I knew I was somehow different yet had no real idea just how I was different. I chose the path of self discovery, of trying my best to become who I was supposed to be. A more “true” me.

And so those words, those two questions, “It’s all been worth it, right? You’re happier now, right?”

And to be honest, I’m not so sure it has been worth it. I’m not so positive that I’m any happier.

My choice cost me some friends, some family. It irrevocably altered my relationships with my entire family. Although most of my family are, have been, supportive, some are more comfortable with who I have become than others. I suspect that for some there will always bee some degree of social embarassment, that they are related to transperson. They will never actually say so, may never even think those exact words. But they will also never be likely to say, “Hey let’s meet for lunch at SuchAndSuch restaurant.” They may never even tell people they know that they are related to me. In social settings (notably online social media) some of them now only refer to me by my first name and never by how we are related. My children for example, no longer refer to me as “Dad”. My youngest will if it’s just me and her, but if I’m being introduced to people or if it’s an online public communication, then I’m “Krystle”. If the grandkids are around I’m “Nana”. Yet I doubt they really know how I am related to them. My oldest refers to me as Krystle in cards, private messages etc. I have somehow ceased to remain “Dad” in her eyes.

These are the kinds of costs, the types of prices I have paid for my life’s course, that I can’t quantify. Except to say it hurts. More than I can express. It makes me feel as if they may just be embarassed or ashamed of me. Or as if by becoming who I am I have somehow lost the right to be their parent still.

And yet I know many others in my shoes whose costs and losses have been infinitely higher. So I try to console myself with the thought that I could have it much worse. And I know that to be true. But it doesn’t lessen the sting a single iota.

And yes I’ve also paid the price financially. I gave up a lucrative career with a supportive company. And I did so due to a feeling of burnout after doing the same thing for 28 years. So I chose another careeer. Went to school, became licensed and was told time again that  not only was my training and knowledge top notch, but that I had a gift with my touch. And yet, that wasn’t near enough to build clientele. It wasn’t enough to land jobs I was imminently qualified for. I lost track of how many jobs ads I’d send a resume to, get called in less than an hour after sending my resume and either hear the caller go cold once they heard my voice (I get called Sir almost without fail over the phone) or see them lose all interest once they saw me. I have had my gender questioned outright over the phone by one such spa that was looking to hire. I was asked “Are you a man? We only want to hire a woman and you sound like man. I don’t think this will work.” And that call was in response to my resume less than 5 minutes after I had sent it off. If I looked good enough on paper that you’d call me that fast, then you’d think they’d at least want to talk to me a bit more beyond “Hello”. I’ve also run into clients who looked at me and refused to have their service done by me.

Let’s add in the whole dating, romance arena. My sexuality is that I am attracted to women. I always have been. I’ve had my share of experiences with women who hold to the thought “Once a man, always a man”. I’ve had women who never knew me as man, who I’d never even spoken to directly, refer to me as “him”. I’ve communicated with women online who through the course of several e-mails become very interested, only to totally lose interest once I let them know I was trans and then have them tell me, “Oh I could never be involved with anyone like you.” when just before they couldn’t wait to meet me. I’ve made the mistake of becoming involved with women who in the end were merely curious about what it would be like. Dating, romance etc. for anyone over 50 is tough. Even tougher when you ID as lesbian and the lesbian community harbors so much prejudice against transwomen. I’ve come to a place in my life where I not only have stopped looking; I stopped hoping or caring. In fact I actively do not want to ever again have any sort of romantic entanglement with anyone because I just don’t need to experience the loss, sense of betrayal or feeling of being cast aside. I don’t need to be hurt again simply because of who I am.

So my life’s course has resulted in my closing off a huge part of the human experience.

No, it’s not been worth it. I’m not happier.

When I’ve shared some of these hurst and frustations with people I know, the response i most often get is, “Well you must have known what you were getting into when you made your choice.”

Knowing such possibilities on an intellectual level, and living them day by day over the span of a decade or more are two entirely different animals. And even had I known it on a visceral level, they way I do now, my “choices” would have remained the same. I never chose to be transsexual. I could only choose how I handled it. And those options were limited to basically hasten my own end or try to live through it and hope for the best.

The “best” isn’t all that great. At least not for me.

Just over a year ago, I was asked by a young newly self-recognised transgirl, “Please tell me it gets better.” I couldn’t lie to her. I told her it doesn’t necesarily get better. It gets different. She’ll still face being hurt, still face a struggle. But her struggles will no longer be so much internal as they will be with the rest of the world. But for her I have hope that being of a younger, and seemingly more receptive and open-minded generation, that she will become more fully integrated into society as a whole. That she will go through her transition during a time when society will be enacting more legal protections and seeing a paradigm shift in awareness and how the gender different are perceived and accepted.

For myself I find my life has become simply a day to day struggle to survive, to try and find a somewhat better degree of financial security. I find myself increasingly withdrawing as much as I can from the world at large. Moments of happiness are few and far between.

It’s not been worth it. I’m not happier. But it’s all I have.

Many years back, I had a different personal website. It was there I maintained something of a diary, as well as fiction and poetry I’d written. This goes back to my earlier days of trying to deal with being trans. While perusing some older file folders I came across the saved contents of that old site. The following poem is one I feel to be still very relevent today. Particularly in light of more and more young people expressing their gender conflicts. If this can enlighten just one parent, save just one young transperson the heartache that years of denial brings, then it will be more than worth reposting. My very deepest wish in this regard, is that every child is allowed to grow into their truest, most honest self, without fear, without repression, without judgement. Rather with love, support and acceptance.

Somewhere In The World

Somewhere in the world a child is born.

……..And they exclaim, “It’s a boy!” …..And they exclaim, “It’s a girl!”

But with all their wisdom, they are ignorant

For they cannot see inside

And even the child does not yet know just which they truly are.

……..So they dress him in Blue …So they dress her in pink.

….And they give him toy trucks …. And they give her toy dolls

………And the child learns what he’s taught. ..And the child learns what she’s taught.

……………..Should he reach for the doll, he’s called “Sissy” … Should she reach for the truck, she’s called”Tomboy”

………And he’s taught that it’s wrong …. And she’s taught that it’s wrong.

………So, eager to please he conforms …. So, eager to please she conforms.

………..And he learns from his parents …. And she learns from her parents.

Because after all they know best

………..And he learns from his siblings …. And she learns from her siblings

……….And he learns from playing with others …. And she learns from playing with others.

……….And he learns when he’s in school …..And she learns when she’s in school.

What is acceptable, and how to avoid the taunts.

………And this child begins to build his armor …. And this child begins to build her armor.

………He learns how to blend in …. She learns how to blend in.

………He learns how to avoid being different …. She learns how to avoid being different.

Because when you’re different, you get hurt.

…….But he isn’t taught how to know himself …. But she isn’t taught how to know herself.

And as the years pass, the armor gets thicker, the shell becomes stronger.

Until soon it is more like a prison, from which there is no escape.

And trapped deep inside, growing day by day,

Is the true heart of that child.

And all the lessons, the learned behaviours, the camouflage and armor

……..Block his true nature from himself …. Block her true nature from herself.

………And so he struggles …. And so she struggles.

………To learn just who he really is …. To learn just who she really is.

………And how to set his spirit free …. And how to set her spirit free.

For that is the way things should be.

……..But the struggles bring him pain …. But the struggles bring her pain.

……….For his chains have been there for years …. For her chains have been there for years.

………And if he’s very lucky …. And if she’s very lucky.

…..One day she finds she’s free …. One day he finds he’s free.

…….And her true nature can grow and blossom …. And his true nature can grow and blossom,

…….As she was always meant to be …. As he was always meant to be.

………But far too often he fails …. But far too often she fails.

………Instead his soul withers and dies….Instead her soul withers and dies.

……….For his struggles are too great to bear … For her struggles are too great to bear.

Freedom has been too long denied.

……..So his shell becomes a coffin …. So her shell becomes a coffin.

…….To bury his inner self…. To bury her inner self.

…….And though he might be living…. And though she might be living.

It’s the very worst kind of hell.


I don’t have all the answers. But there are some things I do believe. Perhaps instead of being so focused on labels, perhaps our children would be best served, if we taught them to be the best possible PEOPLE they can be, to look inside themselves without fear or guilt, and to nurture whoever they are. Maybe, just maybe, then there will be a bit less misery in this world. And after all, isn’t it every parent’s wish that their children grow to be happy?

 

I’m broken.

Inside.

Not physically.

More mentally. Emotionally. Psychically.

And even that’s not quite accurate.

I am not sure I have ever not been broken. I think it’s something inherent in my nature. Some missing or malfunctioning part of me.

This is a conclusion I reached some time back. After one of my internal down times. Those times which lead to a lot of self-examination and reflection.

How am I broken you may wonder?

I seem to lack the ability to make connections with people. To make, keep and grow relationships. Not just romantically, but relationships of every kind.

Yes, I have had relationships. I still have some. Some of them have even been around for decades. But it doesn’t mean I’m not broken in that respect. None of them are what they could be. What they should be. What someone who was whole and functioning could make them. None of them are as strong, vibrant, evolving or active as they should be.

My entire life, for as long as I can remember, I have always felt somehow apart, disconnected, isolated from everyone around me. Not necessarily due to any overt action or lack on the part of others. Rather by my own inability to create a deep connection. I still today feel as if I go through life with some sort of invisible barrier between me and the rest of the world. And when you take a situation in which the result is constant but all the players, except one, change, then logically it stands to reason that the causative agent is that one constant person. Me. I am the only constant in all the relationships I have been in.

In romantic terms I have had two relationships that would be considered long-term. My first lasted approximately five years. It came about when I was in my late teens and honestly should have ended a couple of years before it did. But we were both young and neither of us really knew what we were doing in life, as individuals or as a couple. Those last couple of years were more habit than anything. And an inability to see and the fact that things had run their course. Hell I didn’t even know what love was, what it meant, how to really give it, or how to accept it. Sure I said the word but never truly grasped it’s meaning.

My second romantic relationship spanned 22 yrs. In that time I finally believe I learned what it meant to love; as a spouse, partner, parent. And how to be loved. Yet because of my own inner demons, because of the trans aspects of my nature that I couldn’t face, that I lacked the courage to face, a large part of me was held back. Kept within. And I don’t think you can be fully present and invested in a relationship if so much of you simply is suppressed. If you aren’t all there. If you’re expending a lot of energy internally and not giving it to those whose lives are entwined in yours. When you are so much closed off you cannot possibly know someone as well as you might, and they have no chance to even begin to know you. Because such knowledge is based on two-way sharing and communication. That my marriage lasted so long is more of a testament to the strength and love my ex-wife had than to any virtue on my part. She should have been able to know and have all of me. But she couldn’t. The broken missing parts of me wouldn’t let it happen. We still have a relationship today. One of friendship I guess. It’s based more on what we had, what we could have had, the years shared and having raised a family together. Fortunately for her, her life has moved forward. It’s grown. She has another spouse, and ever-deepening connection with the kids and grandkids. I am happy for her.

Since my divorce, some 11 years ago, I haven’t had a romantic relationship that lasted more than 6 months. And even that is stretching it. Even now, after having faced and dealt with my trans issues, I still find I can’t make a full, deep, open and healthy connection. There are parts of who I am, how I think, what I feel, what I desire; that I cannot express to anyone. Pieces of the me within that I have never given voice to, never spoken of to anyone. After the way my last romantic relationship ended, some 4 yrs ago, I even lost faith in my ability to judge people’s real feelings and emotions in regards to me. And I haven’t even attempted another relationship, or even had a date, since. And I don’t think I am capable of doing so ever again. That part of me that was willing to risk and take chances with my heart, has shrunken deep inside, and built a wall around itself. If I can’t trust my own judgement, my own heart, how can I trust anyone else’s? And without trust there’s no hope at all of ever being able to open up.

My feelings of being disconnected, broken, also extend into my friendships and familial relationships. I have very few long-standing friendships. Most of them are now long distance and people I haven’t seen in years. So as time passes the connection that was there grows more tenuous. Friendships also take work and effort to keep alive and vibrant. Yet I find I am increasingly unable to overcome my inner blockage and initiate get togethers. And when others do, I internally cringe, especially if they are group gatherings. The more people I am around, the noisier the environment, hell even the more jolly and social the setting, the more I feel I want to crawl out of my skin and vanish into some dark hole. Increasingly I seek and need quiet and solitude. Put me in a crowd of people and it’s only exacerbated. Even if I know everyone in the crowd. I can’t relax, I become ever more tense and just want to scream inside.

With my kids, well a gulf formed between us when I came out to them as trans. It was naturally a shock to them, very emotionally distressing and they needed time and space to process it all. For all I know they still are processing it. Having moved so far away hasn’t helped with bridging it either. Time has made it better, narrowed the gap. But again, how do you keep things alive when you’re not around? Due to my financial situation, I’ve been able to visit only once in the 5 years since I moved. I try to stay abreast of their lives via Facebook. And I have tried to initiate dialogue between us regarding their feelings about me and my transition. But they’ve never had much to say. Phone calls are rare. And awkward. I have never been very good talking to anyone by phone. I can’t see them and I end up being at a loss as to what to say. It feels as if they slip away a little more every day. And I do not know how to change it. I’d move back closer if I could, but it’s not possible. My siblings and I have never really shared much, never really known each other very well, never spoken about much important. Much of that goes back to the conditions we grew up in. But I know that at least in my case it largely is due to that broken parts of me. I kept to myself, bottled everything inside, never confided in anyone, never really expressed my thoughts or emotions. I still don’t.

It’s ironic really. Most people would think I am fairly open. And in some ways I am. I do not live in stealth. I am open about being trans, about my history, about who I was. But most of what I think, feel, am is kept within. I cannot find the means to share it. With anyone. I cannot seem to forge that connection that would be real enough, strong enough, where I felt safe enough to do so. Not even sometimes within myself.

Why not? Fear is part of it. Fear of judgement, rejection, further isolation. Of becoming even more of a societal pariah.

A lack of the ability to put much of it into words is another part.

I can also be a bit of a living contradiction. Parts of me yearn for deeper connections with friends, family, to be able to simply put myself out there and meet new people. But I find myself blocked. Locked up within.

I see other people who can go out and simply enjoy new experiences and life. My roommate for example. She’ll go places and to events without knowing anyone who will be there. She’ll go to poetry readings, activist rallys, new social awareness websites and make several new contacts each time. And she’ll develop those into friendships of varying degrees. If I went to any of those events, I’d end up being the silent person in the back who didn’t speak to a single person the entire time. Almost as if I were invisible. Sure people see me. But I don’t register with them. They feel no urge to meet me and I am too bound up internally to initiate any sort of contact. I grew up being taught not to impose on others, to not bother other people. So unless someone approaches me, I feel somehow I would be imposing on them. I know it makes no sense but it’s how my mind works.

And like anyone else part of me desire recognition for things I do. Yet I hate being the focus of attention. So I shield myself. I stay withdrawn and I avoid. It’s only gotten worse since my transition. I already get enough curiosity stares and social isolation being trans. Factor in being overweight and “mature” and there’s even more social dismissal.

I am broken. I am missing a crucial factor in the ability to make connections, to have them grow and thrive past a certain point. I remain locked within. Most of who I am will never be known. And I really don’t think it matters to the world at large.

 

What is “Self”?

This is a bit of a repost from something I thought of back in 2004. Someone I was conversing with online, about the nature of existence, posed the question: What is Self?

To me Self is ever-changing, yet constant. It is constant because it is always there, but ever-changing because it is active only within the immediate moment.
In its simplest terms it is who we are, what we think, how we feel at any one given point in time.

Self could be thought of as a faceted jewel with an infinite number of facets, each reflecting what is within and without, spinning to bring new facets
in line as time and circumstance flows on and changes. But as we do not exist in a vacuum, Self is also altered and influenced by everything outside of us. We are in any given moment both individuals and part of a cosmic and complex whole called Creation.

Self is not only what we feel/think internally, but also what we say/do/react to that which is external. Self is changed by the results and effects of our existence upon the entirety of Creation and by the manner in which our interactions are caused to reflect back into us. It is who we are, what we cause, what we give forth and what we take in.

Changing moment by moment.

And in the end Self is the sum total of all those moments strung together as well as the lingering effects on the Universe after we are gone.

Our “Self” continues on after the passing of our physical form. I believe that there are an infinite number of “selves” in existence and an infinite
number of universes. What happens once our physical forms have ceased to be is total conjecture. I believe that we are continually in a process of moving
towards perfection. Perfection of thought, deed, intent and will. I believe that we return to some sort of physical form and that what form we take is determined by how we spent our time in our last form i.e. how our “Self” developed. If we did poorly, left hurt and pain behind as a legacy, did not move towards being a better Self, then we come back as some lesser physical form. One in which we must experience the receiving end of what we left behind previously and what we inflicted on others. That with each step towards our spiritual evolution we will lead a better and more purposeful life. Not to
say that worthy souls will have perfect beautiful bodies and led problem-free  lives. On the contrary, I believe that with each successive “life” we will face
problems, crises and challenges that will test and temper us. They will be instrumental in burning away the “impurities” and weaknesses that keep us from
being the best we possibly can be. Just as fire and tempering are used to purify  iron to make steel and to give it strength.

And what happens when we have reached perfection? When we have evolved as purely as possible? Well then that may be what “Heaven” or Nirvana is. Then we get to devote our energy towards guiding others who are still making the journey.

Well I’ve been working at my new job for about 6 weeks now. It’s been good. The people I work with are great. The clients I’ve had have been nice. The clients of other staff that I’ve been introduced to have been fine for the most part. I’ve been open and out about being trans and it’s been no big deal, just another facet of me. I guess it was just a matter of time though before some sort of ripples disturbed the unusually placid acceptance I’ve found.

It not been anything upsetting, or outrageous. Far from it.

One of our recently hired team members starting asking me a few questions about my being trans. She explained that she’d grown up in a small town and simply had never met or known anyone who was trans before. She said if it was too personal to just let her know. What I told her was that I have no problem answering questions that are asked out of a genuine desire to learn and understand. The only ones I did not appreciate occur out of some voyeuristic desire to have their curiosity titillated, when it becomes more about the person seeking some sort of thrill and not really caring to understand. However unlike many other times when the questions tended to be about surgery, medical or sexual issues, she was more interested to know how my daughters and family felt about my life path, about how my being trans impacted them. I didn’t have any sense of morbid curiosity from her. Rather just a concern that the people who were closest to me had been able to accept me and the course my life has taken.

A few days later the topic of job discrimination came up at work. A colleague that I met at a recent class had expressed she was surprised I was working at a salon that wasn’t already busy. She felt given my depth of knowledge I should be working for a dermatologist or plastic surgeon. When I shared this with my co-workers, one of them said, “I don’t know why you aren’t, but we’re glad you’re here instead because we’re lucky to have you.” When I said that I had interviewed with several over the years, I’d never been hired. What works against me is my weight, my age and the fact that I’m trans. Even if they interviewer isn’t sure they often sense there’s something different about me and people do not like to deal with different. And I do not fit the image many such places want – young, thin, pretty, attractive. My co-worker was surprised that people would refuse to hire me because I’m trans. She said, “What would that have to do with anything?” It had never occurred to her that transpeople would be discriminated against. She’s experienced discrimination for being African-American before, and our receptionist schooled her on the existence of age discrimination (she and I are in our 50’s). I said that while I will never know exactly what it has been like for her to be discriminated against because of her race, I do know how it feels because of other factors. We all agreed such discrimination is often subtle and impossible to prove legally. Yet she was further amazed when I explained to her how few states, and countries, have any protections in place for transpeople. That in most of this country we can be denied employment, fired, denied housing and even medical care. Simply for being trans and that with no laws protecting our rights, we have little legal recourse. We are one of the last segments of society that it is legal to discriminate against.

Another day while having lunch, one of the stylists shared with me that he’s been asked by a few clients, “Is that a man or a woman?” Why he felt the need to share this with me I do not know. Yet his response to said clients shows his support. Basically he told them I am a woman. His point of view is that if someone presents themselves as male or female, that is what people need to accept them as, regardless of what their birth sex might have been or even what their genitalia may or may not be (No one has asked if I am “complete” or cares whether I’ve had surgery or not). He asked his client, “Why should it matter to you? Unless you plan on dating her or sleeping with her, all that matters is that she is an amazing esthetician.” (of course I cannot recall what he said word for word but am relating things as accurately as I can) Ah but if only everyone could be so open-minded, accepting and stay focused on what is, and isn’t someone else’s business. Unless you plan to sleep with someone, or become romantically involved with them, then their gender and intimate physical details are not only none of your business, but should not concern you. The same goes for people’s sexuality, race and religion.

Again though, he really didn’t need to share this with me. How he interacts with me on a daily basis tells me he is accepting and supportive. As a transwoman I know that there will be people who do not know what to make of me, may actively dislike (and yes hate) me without ever knowing me, who may disapprove of me and who will judge me in the most negative ways, simply because of their own ignorance and prejudice. I will run into it enough and have to face it in direct encounters. I don’t always need to know about incidents I missed.

Yet in each of these three occurrences, the end result has been those I work with achieving a bit more awareness and their reactions demonstrating true acceptance and support.

In a similar vein, back when I was working at another place (a hellish blend of retail and salon run by one of those Wicked Witches of the South who my very existence drove batshit hostile) I remarked to my then roommate (not to be confused with my current Wonderful Roomie) that clients all seemed to love me and that despite Wicked Witch’s hostility, my co-workers did too. The only co-worker exception was another Mini-Southern Wicked Witch. While I was sharing how good it felt to be accepted and appreciated by clients and co-worker’s, Former Roommate felt the need to say, “They probably don’t. More than likely they just think it’s cool to be able to say they know a tranny as it’s all the rage and the In Thing in the media.” I have no desire to dwell on whether or not her assessment was right and I was deluding myself into feeling liked, or whether she was just envious and full of crap. What did, and still does, bug the heck out of me is even if she knew her assessment to be true, why on earth would she feel she had to say it? Why would you in essence say to someone who was supposedly a friend “People are only acting nice to you because you’re an oddity and part of the latest social craze. They really loathe, pity or despise you.” Why make it a point to cast a pall over another’s good feelings, especially when they didn’t ask your opinion as to whether or not what they felt was real?

So people I ask you to think before you speak and ask yourself, “Why do I feel the need to say what I am thinking and will it make the person I am saying it to feel better or worse and will it make their life better or not?” Sometimes things are better left unsaid.

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!