So right now I’m in a parking lot in Watkins Glen, New York, but that has very little to do with this actual post. I am going to write about my trip to Washington DC last weekend.
So I traveled to DC with Joey in order to speak on a panel about transgender self-published authors at the 2015 OutWrite LGBT Bookfair. I set it up and was the admin. The other two speakers were Sophie LaBelle and DL Wainwright. You can watch the videos of it on my YouTube channel: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ifPckZQVCpc
I also had a table to sign sell my books and art at the event. There wasn’t much of a turnout so that was pretty disappointing and I had to endure some ignorant comments and questions.
We stayed with friends that we met in Philadelphia, Lane and Jes. Sophie stayed with them as well so it was like big radical trans sleepover party. Joey and I had a really good time. It was nice to hang around transgender and queer people who don’t hate us.
Anyway that’s all I can think to say about the trip for now.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As I write this I am currently staying at a hostel in Philadelphia. I will have much to say about this- we’ve only just arrived. So I figured I better get a move on with my post about our trip to Geneva for Finger Lakes Pride! That was last Saturday.
First, we got there around 10 for a trans/gender-variant open mic at this place called The Flounge. It was a coffee house and gift store. Most the performers, mostly older trans women, shared their personal transition stories. I read a few chapters of my second book. The reception was warm. I enjoyed it.
After that we killed some time by the lake. I had a wine slushie and Joey took some photography. Then it was time to set up for the festival.
I was in a tent with several nonprofits. It was actually kinda rough being next to the domestic violence/sexual assault counseling volunteers, because I had to hear people ask them questions all day and multiple triggering subjects were brought up. Anyway. I managed. I was also annoyed by the nonprofit next to me on the other side that was asking questions for prizes, one of which was “if you’re a lesbian who sleeps with other women, do you still need to get a pap smear?” It was cissexist and trans erasure and ugh. I’d explain why, but I’ll give my reader the benefit of the doubt that they can figure it out or look it up. Hint: not all lesbians have cervixes, not all people with cervixes are women.
People were pretty cool and I sold and signed quite a few of my books and some of my art. It was really hot and muggy, so that sucked, but I did OK. Especially after the free wine tasting! I may have made a few rounds. After that, I tried on some costumes made available by the local theater group.
It was cool to see what appeared to be a few young trans boys pick up my books and buy them. Cis people too. But it touches me when young trans people are interested. One of them looked super sad, and he bought a book so I hope the book gives him something to relate to maybe? I dunno. Some of the people I talked to were really super nice and encouraging of the work I’m doing.
Oh and there was this one drunk woman…
Lady: This is great! I mean, it’s all so important. Bruce Jenner’s interview really opened my eyes to this stuff.
Me: Oh. I haven’t seen it. (Note: this was before I heard she was going by Caitlyn)
Me: Whoa, hey there. Not sure that calling them he-she is cool.
Lady: Well he said to still call him he. For now.
Me: Cool. So do. I feel the same way, by the way. Call me he, for now.
Lady: Haha you’re too funny!
Me: No really, it changes sometimes. But he works, for now.
Lady: Oh, haha, OK. Right! Why not? Hahaha! Well um, bye!
Fun times. I was absolutely charming but firm through this whole interaction and kind of in love with myself.
Later as it started to pour and thunderstorm, a young gay man and his bestie stopped to talk to Joey and I about cats for quite some time. They bought some of my cat art and we showed pictures of our cats on our phones. They were awesome.
Then we had to rush out of there before we were all struck by lightning and died.
All in all I had a good time. Highlight of the trip? A little girl of like 6 was perusing through my used queer books and came across Maurice by E.M. Forester. “Mommy, I need this!” “What, why? There are no pictures.” “But I need it!” “No, come on….” “Noooooo! Please!” I whispered to the mom that she could have it for free, because it was just too dang adorable and reminded me of myself. Maybe she is a future fellow trans-fag-English-major-Writer in the making. We can only hope!
Tomorrow morning I start vending at Philly Trans Health, so I hope to see people there! More about this Philly trip coming ASAP, as it happens most likely. Stay tuned. THERE ARE PICTURES OF FERAL CATS SOON TO COME.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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:
Also, I tried on their unicorn hat.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I realized that I travel a lot these days. I’m a professional (ish) writer, so I often have book readings, fairs, and college events and what not. Plus, my partner Joey and I just enjoy traveling. This is my ideal lifestyle, and I’ve known that since I was a child. I could never quite picture what I wanted out of life, other than to write and to travel. So here you go.
I made a list of the places we’ve gone the past 9 months or so, and it includes: New York City, Philadelphia, Indianapolis, the Adirondacks, Washington, D.C., Toronto, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Ithaca, and small towns in Canada and the Midwest. Most my recent travel has been on the east coast of the U.S., but I’ve also spent some time in California and England.
We are planning a road trip West next fall, because we are moving from Syracuse, New York to Southern California (most likely Ventura). I originally made this blog with that big trip in mind. We will be traveling by car with Joey’s 15 year old son, Drew, and our two cats, Mittens and Snowflake.
Between now and then, I will also update this blog when I’m on the road. I will share my opinions and anecdotes, because strange stuff always seems to happen. Or I just manage to find the strangeness in everyday events. I’m also a photographer, artist, and musician, so I’ll most likely include some more creative documentations as well.
Tomorrow Joey and I leave for a week long trip. He has an appointment in Springfield, Massachusetts with a surgeon, which is very exciting. He is a trans man and is having chest reconstructive surgery. I had the same surgery in 2010. I am also trans. My gender is complicated and it changes. This blog will only deal with that somewhat. It’s mostly about travel, but I suppose I do have a somewhat unique perspective.
After Springfield, we are headed to Boston, where I am reading at a queer open mic event called Moonlighting. I am the featured reader, so I’ll have 30 minutes to read from my newest book. I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t been to Boston since I was a small child.
After Boston, we are driving to NYC, where I have a photo shoot with Amos Mac for the upcoming “Literature” issue of Original Plumbing Magazine. I’m pretty excited to be featured.
So, whether you have read any of my other work or not, I hope you’ll enjoy this blog that documents my future adventures.