So I think I'll call this blog entry
"Pot Luck" because there is a little bit of everything in it. I'm not
entirely sure where to start to be honest.
So a very good friend of mine,
CarolLyn, is an artist, and a good one at that. I have absolutely no idea why,
but I felt the overwhelming urge to come out to her a year or so ago and so I
told her all about who and what I am. She was going through a tough time
in her life and I probably couldn't have picked a worse or more selfish time
in the world to put yet more on her plate, but I guess I just really wanted to
be her friend as the real me. Does that make any sense?
I had very little doubt
that she would be 100% fine with me and I was not at all disappointed. After all, artists
don't tend to be narrow minded ya know? I've seriously admired her courage in life and would have to admit that I envy her in many ways. She has been doing a
lot of work involving the space program lately, which I think is the coolest
thing in the world. I've been a huge fan of the space program for as long as I
can remember and would kill to play any part at all in it. I remember talking
my mom into letting me go to school late when I was small, because I
desperately wanted to watch one of the moon launches. In her personal life, Carolyn
has also taken great strides as an artist and has had several exhibits of her
work! How cool is that?! To top it all off, she is just an absolutely beautiful
person. If I had a list of people I wish I could be just like, she would be
pretty near the top I think. And now I notice that I am gushing again. . .
that with her once, when I'd had enough of adulting and got trashed one night
while traveling for work. I probably spent an hour chatting with her on
Facebook and telling her how awesome she was that night, and then got to feel
like a complete ass the next morning when I realized that I had almost
certainly made a fool out of myself. Important note to self - copious amounts
of alcohol and Facebook should never be mixed.
Anyway, she recently was part of an
artistic project where artists were given a color of the LGBT flag and a topic,
and they were to combine the two. The artwork must be at least 80% of the
required color and obviously have some connection to the topic that was given. The
color and topic that she was given
were pink and female/male sexuality and off to work she went! One of the things
that really impressed me was just how much she cared about getting it right.
Not just the nuts and bolts of the painting, but that she really wanted to make
sure that it was appropriate and meaningful to the community. In other words, she
really put her heart into it. Knowing how much she cared about it, and how
much of herself she had put into it, I will not bullshit you - I teared up when
she told me how she was dedicating it. Thank you Carolyn. Thank you on behalf
of all of those like me, who live somewhat complicated lives that few are willing,
let alone capable, of understanding. Thank you for caring. Thank you for your
art. Most of all, thank you for your friendship.
I've hesitated to write about this
for several reasons, the most significant being my daughters privacy I suppose,
but she is very vocal about it herself and has assured me that she is fine with
my writing about it. Anyway, my 14 year old daughter has informed anyone
that would care to listen that she is pan sexual, but as a general rule prefers
girls. To say that my feelings about this are a bit conflicted would be a huge
understatement. The first thought to cross my mind was "holy shit, you're
only 14 and have never even kissed anyone, so how the hell would you know what
you prefer yet?!" Then I recall that I knew for absolute certain
that I was different at only 5 or 6 years old, so maybe it's not so
unreasonable to think that she has a clue at 14. Don't get me wrong, there was
never a question about whether I'd support my daughter or not, but I would have
to admit to a feeling of loss. From the moment I first held her in my arms,
I've envisioned a life for her that involved first dates, a marriage,
motherhood, and grandchildren for me to adore. Much of this now seems unlikely to
ever take place and I do indeed feel some grief at the loss. Still, she is not responsible for the dreams
that I had envisioned for her life. Having
lived a somewhat unique and outside of the box life myself, I also do not envy
her the complications that being different will bring to her life. Many
times through the years I've wished like hell that I'd been normal, that I had
either been fully male or fully female, without the confusion and complication
of being so different that many people can't stand the very idea of who and
what I am. I would have much preferred that my children not know such
discomfort and complications in their lives.
By the time that she decided to tell
my wife and I, she had long since already told all of her friends and school
mates, so my advice that it might not be in her best interests to be too vocal about it while living in small
town Texas were far too late. For better or worse, she is out and
vocal about it. Out of sheer curiosity, I asked her the other day why she felt
the need to throw caution to the wind and be so quick to let people know about
her sexuality. She gave a small pause to consider the question before
"I don't want to invest time
and effort into getting to know someone just to have them back away after they
find out." Hmm, fairly logical there I suppose.
Not that I can take credit for who
she is, but I am terribly proud of her for her self-confidence and her
willingness to be herself regardless of what others might think. She has always done her own thing and never been one to follow the crowd.
Do you remember being 14 at all? I
have some memories of it, but of course they are getting a bit vague. I do
recall that it was about this time when I really started to notice the opposite
sex, and I don't mean that in a sexual way, but more of a longing for someone
to love. It was around then that I might look at someone and daydream about
walking with them, holding hands, staring into beautiful eyes, and just
existing with someone else that just might adore me back. That was hard enough
when considering someone of the opposite gender as society expects, but now
imagine having those same wants and dreams, but preferring someone of your own
gender, thus making it infinitely more difficult to find someone. In the year
or so since my daughter shared this with me, she has hinted at some of her
thoughts on this with me; how it is hard to know someone that she cares about
in that way, but be unsure how or if she should approach them.
On the upside, while I can't do much
about the complications this will bring to her life, she knows for absolute
certain that she has love and support at home. While I already miss the
grandchildren that it looks like you're not gonna give me, I got your back
Of course all of this has me
thinking a good deal about my own life style and the cost of it. The other
night I had to get up at 2:30 AM to get ready for a flight, and so I went to bed
quite early. When I told my wife good night, she was kind of short and terse
with her reply. We've been married for thirty years now, so I know the signs. After all, I'm slow, but I aint that slow.
"Are you angry at me about
something?" I asked her.
"Yeah, a little." She
replied without looking up from her computer.
"What did I do?"
"I don't want to talk about
"Umm, we haven't hardly seen
each other for days - what could I possibly have done to piss you off?" I
"I think you can probably
guess," was the answer I received.
So, my best guess is that she was
angry because after she had been gone for the weekend and we hadn't seen each
other, instead of spending time with her, I was getting ready to take a trip as
Kim. Getting clothes and makeup together, going to bed early because I'd have
to get up early to get ready, etc. Of course I'm probably wrong and missing
something obvious - I'm good at that.
Right or wrong, this has had me thinking
this week, and I'm wondering why the hell I bother to do this? Years ago, I
felt wonderful spending time in the world as Kim. I felt real, I felt right, I
felt at peace, and yes, I even felt beautiful. Truth be told though, I haven't
felt that sense of fulfillment in years. These days I feel almost entirely like
an ugly old man desperately trying not to be perceived as such. As I’ve aged, I’ve gone from passing and being accepted as a
woman probably 75% of the time, to being pegged as male the vast majority of
the time. In addition to my own dissatisfaction with my appearance, I’m almost constantly a nervous wreck. Scared when I leave the house
that my neighbors may just happen to walk out the door at 5AM as I am loading
my suitcase into the truck, and then I’ll have to have “the talk” with them and
then deal with my wife who would no doubt be angry and hurt at such a thing.
Scared when I have to use the bathroom, because these days I put my physical and
professional life at risk any time that I enter a bathroom. Scared that my wife
may eventually just say “Piss on it, I’ve had it with you” and our family will crash and burn.
I am not ready to fall upon my own
sword or anything, but it definitely depresses the hell out of me. I'm not
looking for sympathy here, and would really prefer not to get a bunch of
comments trying to bolster my confidence, I'm just continuing my long standing
tradition of being honest and blunt about my life and feelings here on the
blog. The point is, I cause my wife hurt and anger and I'm pretty much unhappy
and miserable most of the time myself anyway, so why do I bother to still do
I don't know.
I don't understand it myself.
I can't bear not being me, but I can't bear being
It's the proverbial unstoppable
force meeting an immovable object with all of us caught right in the middle.
Shit. . .
This week I headed for the
Philadelphia area to help a customer that has been unable to use her
spectrometer for about two weeks. I'd been trying to help her solve her problem
by phone and email while I was home with the pneumonia, but ultimately had to
throw in the towel and prepare to go fix it myself. Others at my company had
reached the conclusion that it was a very complicated and expensive component
at fault, while I insisted that I didn't think so. Since I had failed to prove
my case remotely, I kind of had to go along with their recommendations though
and so had to wait for the replacement part to be purchased, built, and setup
for me. So, the customer was down and out for two weeks waiting for a
part that the factory told her she needed, and that I had argued was probably
not the faulty component - needless to say there was some anxiety going into
I had to laugh as a young couple got
onto the airport shuttle bus behind me carrying two huge suite cases; one
bright blue and one bright green.
"I'll bet y'all have no trouble
what so ever spotting your suitcases!" I laughed. We ended up chatting the
whole way to the airport. I told them of the time when I was traveling on a bad
weather day and had arrived at the Austin airport several hours late to find
easily a thousand bags from delayed travelers piled up on the baggage claim
floor. Staring at that huge number of bags and trying to pick mine out of the
mess, I had sworn then and there to never buy a black or dark blue suitcase
The shuttle bus at the other end of
the trip was a bit more awkward. Here I am with a 50 pound suitcase, a 50 pound
tool box, and a thirty pound backpack, trying to heft it all in and out the
rental car shuttle bus. To make it a little harder, the bus driver refused to open
the middle doors, and only opened the one up front by the driver, so I had to
not only get these bags in through a crowd of people, but had to hook them
around the corner. Being the graceful person that I am *cough* I ended up
rolling my suitcase right into this poor woman's toes. She was most
understanding about it though, and assured me that no harm was done, but I
still felt about six inches tall. Having started my day at 2:30AM and still
getting over the pneumonia, I was worn out when I arrived and pretty much got
dinner, showered, and went straight to bed.
The next morning I felt almost
human, but suffered from a major case of the nerves. A large customer of ours,
I'd already failed to identify the source of this customers problem by phone,
and I'd already argued with experts at my factory over what was wrong with it.
More or less, they weren't seeing any infrared and our experts were insisting
that it was the IR detector itself. I argued that it looked like the detector
was fine, but there was just no IR to be
detected. There was just a bit or pressure here if you know what I mean. When I
examined their instrument, I couldn't help literally laughing out loud, much to
the non-amusement of my customer. Over the phone, they had insisted that they
had never touched a special set of mirrors used to align the IR, but someone
had fibbed. Not only had they touched them, but someone had completely removed
them and they were now entirely missing! The best analogy of this whole mess
that I can think of works with cars:
Customer says engine won't run.
Factory says engine needs to be
I insist I think engine is fine, but
it sounds like a carburetor problem.
I ask customer "Did y'all
adjust the carburetor?" and I'm assured that no one would dream of
I arrive to find that the carburetor
is completely missing.
So, an hour later they finally find
the missing adjustment mirrors, and a mere three hours after I arrived I've got
the thing aligned, tested, and done. All of that anxiety over something so
I'd told Sophie and Linda that I was
gonna be near them, but didn't expect to have any free time, and yet here it
was 11 AM and I'm done for the day. Time to give them a call to see if they are
up for getting together after all! The three of us met at the King of Prussia
mall, which Sophie, the font of all trivial knowledge, assures me is now the
largest mall in the world. We started at Macy's, and then made our way to DSW,
and then on to Nordstrom Rack. At DSW (a shoe store) I walked past a woman who
was trying on two colors of the same sandals - one foot white, the other blue.
Without thinking, I spoke up as I walked by her.
"Yes, they're cute on you!"
I said with a grin. She quickly looked up with an expression that implied she
was relieved to get an honest appraisal.
"Yeah, but which color?"
"Definitely the blue one!"
"Yay! That's two votes for blue
then!" She said with a laugh.
In all three locations I found only
two things that I really liked - two skirts at Nordstrom's Rack. The catch is
that they were well out of my budget, so cute or not, they stayed right where
they were. Ultimately I laughed and told Sophie and Linda that we could leave
any time that they were ready because I clearly didn't make enough money to be
shopping there, and so off we went for an early dinner.
|Linda Lewis, Myself, and Sophie in the King of Prussia Mall|
My flight home left at the miserable
hour of 6AM. It doesn't sound so bad until you put it all together. The hotel
was an hour from the airport and you have to get there two hours early. Do that
math and that means my happy ass was up at 2:30 AM again and leaving for the
airport at 3. I could have got flights that left at a more reasonable hour, but
it would have almost tripled the cost. The flight leaving at 6 was $300, and
the flight leaving at 8 was $800. I'm ok with spending a little of my company's money for a
reasonable schedule, but that significant a cost difference would be a hard
sell to the boss.
So there I am, a tired old man
pumping gas into a rental car at a small deserted convenience store in Philly
at about 3:30 AM, when up drives this beautiful woman with long braided hair
down to her bottom. Gotta be honest, even as an old soldier, I wasn't entirely
comfortable in this location at this time of day, and I couldn't help wondering
how she must feel. If I was nervous, I couldn't help wondering what it would be
like to be her; a small and attractive woman pumping gas in a relatively dark
station at such an awful time in the morning. Funny thing is, she didn't seem
half as nervous as I felt. Maybe I'm just a coward that over thinks things. . .
Next week it's off to Denver!