Supposedly “LGBT-friendly” campsites are (gasp) just catered to wealthy cis gay people!

Gross…. I’m doing research on “LGBT” friendly RV stuff, and all these camps are so sex-segregated and really just “LG” friendly. It’s all like GAY MALES ONLY. GAY FEMALES ONLY. Probably because most people who RV have a lot of money, and are not most certainly not trans. I think I’ll stay away. Though it would be amusing to raise hell at some of these “adult males only/clothing optional” places.

Isn’t there anywhere two demisexual trans guys can stay with a gender-not-identifying teen and two cats? (Ugh, that is an over simplification of my identity, but will suffice for now and for the sake of the sentence). Oh right, they are just called campsites. Sigh. The irony that “safe spaces” are usually less safe for me and my family never ceases smacking me in the face.

Carroll County, Ohio

It is the first REAL OFFICIAL CAT ROAD TRIP! Meaning, this is the first time we have travelled a distance, as the entire family,  including Mittens and Snowflake. For the most part, it has gone very well. Snowflake seems comfortable and adventurous, as always. Mittens is a little skittish. She will definitely be happier when we have the motorhome. Note- we know our cats well and pay attention to them and we would not put them in uncomfortable situations that we did not feel they could handle. My partner Joey has trained animals all his life and did a lot to prep them for the trip. So don’t worry.

I write this from the third floor of a hotel in Carrollton, Ohio. This is possibly the most boring place I have written about yet. We are here because Drew is attending Flite Fest, in Malvern, Ohio. This is a gathering of people who do remote control airplane stuff. It’s…really really not interesting to me. But it’s nice to see him doing something he enjoys. It’s basically in this big cornfield (see below). I left to go do some work, because there was no wi-fi. I ended up at the Malvern Public Library, which wasn’t much bigger than our hotel room.

Snowflake enjoys the hotel room.
The view of scenic Carrollton, Ohio from our hotel room
We left a gift. You can’t tell, but the pin says, “Diversify Science!” Rainbows AND science. Clearly a hate crime.
This building in Malvern was interesting.
The view from Flite Fest.

It’s sort of nice to be on a trip that isn’t centered on my writing career. Actually, a week or so ago Joey and I went to NYC to see Morrissey live, at Madison Square Garden, but I never got a chance to really write about that. It was an overnight trip, and the concert was awesome, and the after party was fun, but the rain was awful.

OK I can’t remember anything else that happened today or yesterday. I’ll write more over the next few days.

The Cats of Chamounix Mansion, Philadelphia, PA

A penny jar at Hostel International at Chamounix Mansion

It’s been over a week since I last wrote and it’s high time I got to telling you fine folks about my trip to Philadelphia for the Philly Trans Health Conference. I know you’re probably dying to hear about how I actually did at the conference, and all the interesting things that happened being surrounded by so many other trans people…and how it was empowering, and uplifting, and blah blah blah. BUT. First, more importantly, I need to tell you about that cats at Chamounix Mansion.

The guest house where we stayed
The main building for the hostel

That is the place we stayed. We couldn’t pronounce it so we called it Shamwow Mansion. It’s an international hostel and it was cheap, but amazing. We had a private room in the guest house and it was only $55 a night.  It was located in this beautiful park about a ten minute drive from the convention center and downtown Philly. The first thing I noticed upon arrival were THE CATS.

This guy, who I call Spike Jr., kept walking out in front of people’s cars. He may have had a little bit of a death wish.
Tuxedo Jones (I have a habit of naming cats when I see them, so assume that these are the names I came up with unless otherwise specified).
This is Bacon. He is the only one who isn’t feral, and I didn’t give him his name. He lives at the mansion, sometimes in the masion. Nobody else is allowed inside. He is king.
Whitey II immediately jumped atop Joey’s car after we parked.

I was kind of disappointed that we had to go to the conference at all because this place was awesome. I could have hung out with the feral cats and horses and roamed the grounds all three days, if I didn’t have to sell books.

Another shot of the guest house, in the evening.
This is apparently the kind of hostel where people keep horses in a stable and play polo during the day…? So odd.
Smokey was very friendly and we chilled outside the guest house for a while and I tried not to smoke on him. He kept wanting to get in my lap though, so eventually I just put out the cigarette. It’s a good friend who tells you things you don’t want to hear. Thanks Smokey.
Joey took lots of nature photography from the windows. He was lucky and just stayed at the mansion the second day while I went to sell books at the conference.

Anyway, maybe I’ll get around to telling you about the conference eventually. Some cool stuff happened, though I’m having trouble remembering. It was all kind of a blur. However, as slippery as my young memory can be, I will never forget the cats of Shamwow Mansion.

The Rainbow Book Fair, New York, and Stamford, CT

Right now I’m in Stamford, CT where we’re staying. It’s a short train ride to New York and saves Joey and me some money. We’re at a Starbucks down the road from the Super 8. Man, this city is dull so far. Saturday was the Rainbow Book Fair, which is why I’m in town. That went pretty well. I met some awesome people, such as gay romance author Leta Blake, who I tabled with. She was very nice and helpful and we bought one anothers’ books. She is the author of Training Season and several other gay romance books, and had come all the way from Tennessee! I also met Sophie Labelle, author of Assigned Male- A Webcomic About A Transgender Girl. She came all the way from Montreal. We traded books and stickers as well. Afterwards, Sophie came with Joey and me to the after party where there was free wine (woo!) I had a nice conversation with Pauline Park, a (trans)gender rights advocate who I heard speak back when I was at SUNY Purchase. I really liked what she had to say about nonbinary transition and some other stuff, and I told her so. After that, Sophie, Joey and I went for Thai food.

11161359_10206260605010109_1611242095497439777_nSadly, I am home now in Syracuse and I cannot remember much of this trip. It’s amazing how fast my memory goes lately.

Boston and Providence

OK, I realized that we are headed to Connecticut and New York City tomorrow and that I need to just write this Boston post already. Oh, if you are in New York City, you should come to the Rainbow Book Fair on Saturday. I’ll be selling/signing my books and giving a reading. I’ll also be selling my artwork. Do it.

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See the hatred in her eyes?

So, back to Boston. Joey had his top surgery consultation in Brookline, MA. It was our best experience so far, and I believe that is the surgeon he’s going to choose. We will most likely be back in Brookline for that in June. (Later note: Do not go here, they are fraudulent!) After that though, his insurance company was being awful and he spent a good couple hours arguing on the phone with them. Luckily I think that’s taken care of and they are going to cover it. Which is still fairly rare, I believe, in the U.S. But they still acted like dicks. To alleviate my stress, I took a series of pictures of Joey looking stressed. I don’t think I mentioned that he got himself a DSLR camera, so that’s been awesome to play with. I also took some pictures with the telephoto lens of geese. We were parked next to a pond. This went well for a while, but then the geese decided to charge at me, and I just barely escaped unscathed.

After the consultation we went for coffee again in Jamaica Plain at Fazenda Cafe. That’s where my reading was last time. While we were hanging out, a person came up to me and introduced themselves as one of my facebook/instagram friends named Margaret. I was like, “Oh cool,” but kinda derp, and we talked for a minute and then they left. Joey was like, “Do you want to ask them to get coffee or something?” But they were leaving and so I just shrugged it off. After dealing with all the surgery-related crap, Joey was exhausted and didn’t want to drive home. Actually, he thought about it, but I confessed that I really didn’t feel like a 4 hour car ride and we decided to just stay near Boston somewhere. Joey spent a little over an hour in the parked car trying to find a hotel deal on his phone, because he really wanted to stay in the city. I once again took photos because I was incredibly bored and impatient.

Me at the bar
Me at the bar

After he gave up, we went to the Midway Cafe, which is a bar and music venue. It’s where we went last time for “queereoke.” And I ended up facebook messaging Margaret, and we all hung out and watched the live music, and it was cool. We also talked about Syracuse, because Margaret is originally from Skaneateles. Skaneatles? Skaeneateles? Oh well. Upstate New York. One of the bands was called Night Slice, and they had a song about geodes (in the sun/my favorite rock formation) and mothman (he’s a mothy mothy man). I was drunk. It was fun.

The next morning, we drove to East Providence and met up with my friend Red. We went to this place he likes, Seven Stars Bakery, and we talked for a while before driving home to Syracuse.

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Talkin to Red and lookin Derp

Uploading and formatting photos is annoying, so from now on, I’m going to make a gallery on flicker and link to it. (this will be a link soon). Maybe.

So I realized I haven’t really been holding up my “cat” promise with this whole “cat road trip” thing. I promise, eventually there will be cats. Maybe in the meantime, before the actual cat road tripping, I will just post periodic updates and Mittens and Snowflake. Because otherwise, my blog really isn’t fit to call itself “Cat Road Trip.”

This is Snowflake. She loves you. This is Mittens. She hates you.
This is Snowflake. She loves you. This is Mittens. She hates you.

Until next time.

Albany, NY

Me at Professor Java's.
Me at Professor Java’s.

Tuesday afternoon, Joey came downstairs and said, “I’m going to Boston. Want to come along?” He had a consultation with another top surgeon. So we got in the car and drove halfway, to Albany, where we stayed the night in our signature Super 8 jacuzzi suite. The hotel was directly across from a juvenile detention center, which may have explained why it was cheap and also why we kept getting weird looks. At first I figured it was because we were two male-appearing-people staying together in a romantic suite. We’ve gotten homophobic crap in the past. At a hostel in Toronto for instance, they insisted on giving us a room with two beds. So in Albany, we forgot the key one time, we had to ask at the front desk. A woman, different from the person who checked us in, already knew which room we were in. So we got the feeling we were the talk of the Super 8. But we also mused that since anti-aging-transgender-magic makes Joey look like he’s in his early thirties and me in my late teens, they may have thought he had just picked me up from the juvenile detention center. We thought this would make a funny erotica story or porno. Then we realized it wouldn’t and changed the subject.

The next morning we went to a place called Professor Java’s Coffee Sanctuary, based solely off the name and that it wasn’t  a Starbucks. It was pretty cool. My latte was fine and all. After that we stopped briefly in downtown Albany because I wanted to take a few photos. None of them really turned out as I planned, but eh. And then we drove to Brookline, MA, which is what my next post will be about. Coming soon.

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Manhattan

And so, to continue where I left off: our trip to New York City. We stopped briefly at the hotel to drop off our stuff. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on 57th Street, right near Central Park. It was nicer than our usual accommodations, because Joey wanted to treat Drew. We had an amazing view. Then Joey and I hurried to the modeling audition at James Weber Studio in Chelsea. As previously mentioned, it was pretty straightforward and painless.

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Hotel lobby panorama!!!
There were some pigeons out the window on a ledge. This doesn't really capture how beautiful the lighting was.
There were some pigeons out the window on a ledge. This doesn’t really capture how beautiful the lighting was.

After that, we went to an event at the bookstore BGSQD which is now located at The Center (for the LGBTs) in the West Village. I signed up for this reading last minute, and the writer running the event, Michael Brodus, was very generous to let me join. The event was called Queer Loves and Lusts in a Post-DOMA World. “Celebrating the full range of queer relationship options on the 15th Anniversary of the night Michael Broder hit on Jason Schneiderman. An evening of words and deeds honoring the raunchy outlaw roots of LGBTQ love and celebrating the full range of relationship options in the wake of same-sex marriage—hooking up, dating, living together, cheating, breaking up, open relationships, groups, polyamory, fetish, kink—anything and everything we do to express our loves, lusts, commitments, and refusals of commitment in the era of same-sex marriage.” It was mostly poetry, but I read prose and got a good reception. I read about my relationship with Joey and it felt really good, given that we haven’t had much support back in Syracuse. Everyone was really warm and friendly, and the elbow-rubbing seemed sincere and not gross. Like making new friends rather than just networking. It was pretty awesome. And the other readers were great. I especially enjoyed the poetry of fellow trans writer Trace Peterson.

Reading at the Bureau.
Reading at the Bureau.
Hotel view, night
Hotel view, night
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Hotel view, day

There was a painting that caught my eye in the hotel. It seemed like Courage the Cowardly Dog, but with the male and female roles reversed. I pointed this out to Drew.

"Stupid dog."
“Stupid dog.”

Some other stuff happened. We went to our favorite gluten-free restaurant, Risotteria, on the Lower East Side. Drew and I checked out guitars in a guitar shop. Alas, we could not locate a hurdy gurdy, which is one of his main objectives at this time. We got delayed on the drive home and slept over at a hotel in New Jersey. It seems like I’m forgetting a lot that happened on this trip, but really, my brain feels fuzzy and fried, and I am missing my glasses. I shall leave you with this picture of us at Risotteria.

Me, Joey, Drew. <3
Me, Joey, Drew.

Beacon, NY

Currently as I write this, I am sitting in Columbus Library (a New York Public Library) in Hell’s Kitchen. Joey and Drew went to check out some stuff that interests Drew: aircrafts, submarines, some sort of museums (he’s a 15 year-old aspie kid. In many regards, so am I, but our obsessive interests are very different so I decided to go to the library instead). This young guy just sat across from me at the table and gave me a very deliberate look in the eye. Flirtation? Maybe he’s just awkward. There are plenty of other tables to sit at, though. This is uncomfortable. I think I’m just going to keep typing. (He eventually left).

So. The main purpose of this trip was for me to attend a modeling audition. “The shoot is for a booklet that will be given out by healthcare professionals to transitioning (FTM) folks. The focus of the booklet is transitioning safely and healthfully.” It paid pretty well, so I figured why not give it a shot? We ended up doing a lot of things on this trip, though.

Driving through the Catskills was not entirely ugly.
Driving through the Catskills was not entirely ugly.

First we had to stop for gas/bathrooms and whatnot in Binghamton. Here are the notes I took while there, because I intended to write about it later. I have so much to get to though, that I think I will just give you the notes. Perhaps in a series of haikus?

Gas station truck stop

Bedazzled pink cowboy hats

Awkward bathroom men

Ok it’s not really working. The best part of that reststop was that they sold these huge wooden crosses with ornate gothic designs and sharp ends that totally looked like vampire-killing-devices. I wish I got a pic.

Anyway, at the second rest stop in Roscoe, NY (“Trout Town USA!”), we observed something very creepy indeed. Notice a difference between the men and ladies room doors?

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Then it was on to Beacon, NY where we stopped for lunch with our friends Nora Olsen and Áine Ní Cheallaigh, fellow queer authors and couple. We got to talk about writing, traditional vs. self-publishing, Morrissey, and travels, and cats. Check out their cat:

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Also, I tried on their unicorn hat.

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So I haven’t got much longer until Drew and Joey are back. I will end this here, and pick up where I left off with our evening and morning spent in Manhattan. Most likely I will write that back when we are back in Syracuse. Until then!

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Walking around, exploring Beacon.

Boston, New York City, and Some Stops Between.

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Reading at the Fazenda Coffee House for “Moonlighting.”
The crowd at "Moonlighting" for my reading.
The crowd at “Moonlighting” for my reading.

Thursday night we stayed in Worcester, MA at a Days Inn. We drove in to Boston for my reading. I was a featured reader for “Moonlighting: A Queer Open Mic Reading Series.” It was located at the Fazenda Coffee House in Jamaica Plains, Boston. This was seriously one of my favorite events I’ve ever done. I read and got great reactions. There was a good-sized, enthusiastic crowd, I sold several books, and the organizers were very kind and generous, giving me the money they raised from suggested donations. I think I rather like Boston, and I’d like to return.

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Queereoke, Midway Cafe

We were told about Queereoke at the Midway Cafe, so we headed over to that as well. Joey likes gay bar scenes even less than I do , but even he had fun. It was a different vibe than I’m used to, partly because it was a queer night at an open-minded dive bar, as opposed to just a gay bar. We had drinks and I sang “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out,” by The Smiths. I got a little too drunk, and was a little self-destructive. This was upsetting. But Joey and I talked a lot that night and on the drive the next day, and it was ultimately okay. We had really good talks. I just really need to deal with some more stuff in therapy. And get my drinking under control.

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View of the Long Island Sound

The next day we drove to Stamford, CT, where we stayed at a Super 8. Though we were pretty exhausted, we decided to venture. We were about 20 minutes from SUNY Purchase, where I went to school from 2007-2009. It was the inspiration for the setting of my first book. We first stopped at Rye Playland, which was of course closed for winter, but we looked at the Long Island Sound and the pier and walked some.

Prison-esque architecture at Purchase College.
Prison-esque architecture at Purchase College.

After that I took Joey to Purchase. We parked and wandered around, so I could show him my old haunts. The campus was pretty deserted for spring break. He couldn’t get over how shitty it all was, it terms of aesthetics and the fact that everything was falling apart. It was clear to him why my years there were some of the worst of my life. But ultimately we had a lot of fun, walking around judging everything, and me telling him sad stories about my early college years.

Me and Joey on Metro North.
Me and Joey on Metro North.

The next morning, we took a bus and then Metro North commuter train to Grand Central Station in New York City. We met up with Amos Mac for coffee at the Grumpy Cafe. I met Amos once before at the Philly Trans Health Conference, and I was/am a blogger for Original Plumbing, so we’ve exchanged a lot of emails. He’s always seemed like a really nice guy. He bought our coffees, then we went back in to Grand Central for a photo shoot. It was pretty quick and simple, and I had fun hanging out, even if I am socially awkward and anxious, always. The issue will be coming out in April.

Joey chills in a closed area of the park, as per his usual style.
Joey chills in a closed area of the park, as per his usual style.

After the photo shoot, Joey and I took the subway to the Lower East Side to eat at a gluten-free restaurant that we love, Risotteria. We both have dietary problems with wheat. We had some amazing pizza and beers, and then wandered around and went shopping a bit. It was sunny.

At a vintage clothes shop on the LES.
At a vintage clothes shop on the LES.

And then we headed home! That is where I am now. It’s good to see Drew and the cats. Mittens and Snowflake basically went nuts when we got back…whoever says cats don’t love their owners is crazy. I might post some more on this trip later if I feel up to it, and there might be some more small adventures to describe over the next month or so. I’ll be going back to New York City this Wednesday for a modelling audition (more on that to come). But the next big trip is April 20th, when we are flying out to Ventura, CA! I’m really excited to check out where we are going to live, and hopefully take a trip into Los Angeles and see about doing a reading while I’m there. I can’t wait to get out on the West Coast. Anyway, that’s all for now.

Springfield, MA

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Where they do transgender surgeries. Note the phallus atop.

Springfield, Massachusetts is dull. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it’s dull. We saw the plastic surgeon today about Joey’s chest surgery. That went pretty well, though it was less than pleasant for Joey. The office was located next to this old, rundown factory/warehouse. I was like, “That’s where they do the surgeries.” I am a very comforting boyfriend, and also hilarious.

The weather was god-awful on the drive here, with snow and ice. And did you know that on the radio here, they not only bleep out “ho” but the entirety of “if you dance on a pole, that don’t’ make you a ho,” in Usher’s “I Don’t Mind?” Like, it goes, “Shorty I don’t mind….. …. ….???” It’s pretty weird. In Syracuse they just bleep out “ho.”

There is a cheap print of painting in the living area where we are staying. It depicts a gate, opening to a garden. The same picture is over our bed in the bedroom. Why? Why two of the same shitty picture?

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We got yelled at by a security guard because we tried to go in to Price Rite at 9 PM when they were closing. We still got our milk. He was just really angry about it.

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“Lake view”

The Jacuzzi in the room is sweet. Our room is pretty plain otherwise, but enough. There’s also a balcony that overlooks the “lake,” which is actually a small pond that’s frozen and covered in snow.

Yep. Dull. I promise these posts will get better… Tomorrow, Worcester and Boston. I have a book reading, and I think we might check out dinosaur bones at a museum or something.

Also I am baffled by this sign:

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