A life worth living, pt. 4

I was at a group for addiction and PTSD recovery this week. We had to come up with a word. We started with lemon, and said it aloud enough times until it was just sounds. Then we were supposed to choose a judgmental word and do the same. Consequently, I found myself repeating the phrase “Loser,” over and over again. It then became, in our minds, “I am a ___” In my case, loser. We were supposed to overcome it, or see that it was just a word. I guess it’s stuck with me though.

That was the first word I thought of. It was immediate. “I am a loser.”

Evidence: I am in mental health recovery. I am in substance abuse recovery. I wear sweatpants a lot (Caveat: my boyfriend says they are stylish sweatpants). I’ve gained weight. I was a stoner. I have no money or income. I find cooking meals, doing the dishes and going to the grocery store to be daunting tasks.

I have put a lot of pressure on myself to accomplish external things. I haven’t been successful in any conventional sense as an adult. The closest I came was when I was working at the library in Syracuse, as well as working on CNY for Solidarity. I am also proud that I self-published four books. The first three especially were accomplishments. I got some recognition for my writing, in the past. And I travelled many places to give readings.

But lately, I feel… like a loser. More than ever. I want to challenge this, rather than dwell in it. Often, I find writing in the third person and past tense helps. Watch this.

That was the first word he thought of. It was immediate. “I am a loser. “

Evidence: He was in mental health and substance abuse recovery. He wore sweatpants a lot (Caveat: his boyfriend said they were stylish sweatpants). He’d gained weight. He had no money or income. He found cooking meals, doing the dishes, and going to the grocery store to be daunting tasks.

He had never been successful as an adult, in any traditional sense. He was a writer, and had some success and acknowledgement for the books he’s self-published: mostly fictionalized accounts of his own life…

OK it’s getting too meta 😊

Really though, I almost am finding this guy charming, and I feel for him. I guess in that sense, writing fiction is more therapeutic than memoir. If fiction is third person and past tense, conventionally. I need to keep this in mind. Who knows, maybe that will be the answer to my next novel.

CatRoadTrip Will Be Back Soon!

A quick note: November has been National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve put all my typing energy and time into that. I do plan to continue with this blog come December, with at least a weekly post. Don’t give up on me!

We are in Arizona now, staying at Lost Dutchman State Park. Everyone’s doing well, including the cats.

Stay tuned for an official update in December.

 

California at last

Currently camping/staying in: Morgan Hill, Paicines, soon San Francisco…it’s complicated. But we are in California! Yes.

I started writing this entry as a reflection on my life since I’ve been with Joey. We realized early in our relationship that we wanted to move out west. So did his son, Drew. I wanted to give you a sense of what we had to get away from in Syracuse…but I’m realizing that would take another whole book on my part. Suffice to say, Syracuse was slowly killing us for multiple reasons. We had our best friend and family-by-choice, Erica. And while that was huge…we still had to leave. The original plan was to get to California. The idea for the RV came later (though it had been a longtime dream of Joey’s, one that he had almost actualized in his previous marriage).

And so, here we finally are, in California. I suppose I could say “back in California.” I spent a lot of my childhood school breaks in San Diego, because my dad traveled for work. I also lived out here a few years ago, on my own (see my most recent book, Show Trans). But for the most part I’ve been an upstate New Yorker all my life. We travelled from coast to coast. Within a week I swam in the Atlantic and Pacific ocean. It’s pretty mind boggling.

There’s an Instagram feed on the side of my blog now, if you want to see pictures. I’m finding that’s way less hassle then trying to insert them in these text entries.

Since I’m not going to reflect on how we got here– not at this time– I am going to focus on the here and now, and just what that is. Well, first actually, I will give a brief list of what has occurred the past week or so. We traveled to Jerome, AZ one evening, briefly: an artist colony in the hills. We stayed at a Cracker Barrel en route. We spent one night off of Ventura Highway, waking up to an empty beach on a weekday for sunrise. That was amazing. That’s when it all really hit me that I am here and this is life.

There has been a lot of low times. A lot of stress. I still feel depressed, often. This has been hard work. It is not a full-time vacation. And we are not rich, or even really secure yet…

But the cats seem happy. Drew has wi-fi. I’m in California. Joey’s about to have surgery in San Francisco on the 20th, which is both stressful as hell but going to be so good for him in the long run and make his life easier.

And I’m sippin’ coffee and vaping in my camp chair, putting off a little longer my plans to make today productive if possible. It’s 9 am here, and skies are blue and the air is perfect. Yep. This is the life for me.

1000 Islands and a Walmart Parking Lot: Northern NY Journey

So we are officially living full-time in the RV now. We stayed up at a state park in the 1000 Islands. Highlights include

  • No wi-fi for several days
  • My phone is dead, forever
  • First time I saw a praying mantis
  • First time in a 30-foot canoe

Now we are in a Walmart parking lot in Northern New York State. It’s been a bit of a rough start, but everyone’s doing pretty good, including the cats. Lack of cell phone means lack of easily accessible camera, and thus, I don’t have any pictures just yet. Brain is also tired, so I am short on amusing anecdotes at the moment. Stay tuned.

Oh, and apparently I can write three books before age 27 but I can’t put away macaroni and cheese leftovers in a bag. Somehow the bag ended up inside out and there is cheese everywhere. I…don’t know what happened… But the others had a good laugh.

Malvern, Ohio (Flite Fest, Day 2)

On the left is my partner, Joey (I recently gave him a haircut). On the right is Drew, his kid. Drew is flying an RC plane, which you can’t see here. We are at Flite Fest.

And now, to experiment with pointless videos! Today I went to Flite Fest again in Malvern, Ohio. As previously stated, this event is not interesting to me. But, we are here for Drew, and that’s what matters. At some point I want Drew to explain why it’s interesting, perhaps in a video. I did like watching him fly his RC places. I am mildly curious about learning to do it myself. I did a lot of wandering the village around today, and I took some videos and pictures. Malvern was a small, mostly deserted town. I bought some blackberry wine at a gas station. The ladies were very impressed that I was all the way from New York (it said on my license). I have interacted with pretty much no one otherwise. I’m realizing I’m the shyest in these situations. Hm, what else has happened? Mittens is much more comfortable here at the hotel than she was the first night. That’s a relief.

Both Snowflake (left) and Mittens (right) seem pretty well acclimated to hotel life.

And now some of my photography that I took on my walk around Malvern. I have an obsession with rundown and abandoned buildings, if you didn’t already know this.

IMG_4972   Another fairly pointless video for you: And lastly, a deceptively prettier picture of the view from our hotel tonight. Through the bug screen.  And so, this is where I shall end. Tomorrow I have a couple writing assignments I need to finish, and I’m also hoping I can check out this nearby lake/swimming spot if possible. Drew and Joey should be back soon, and then I imagine it will be sleep time. So good bye! Oh and for the record, running through the grass was an awful decision. I’m still itchy.

Geneva, NY (Finger Lakes Pride)

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.

The Flounge

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.

Me reading at “The Good, the Bad, and the Funny!” open mic

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)

Lady: Seriously? He- well- she? He-slash-she…He-she…

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.

Peering Through Bookshelves (Or, Aspie Logic)

Yesterday I went to a local used bookstore in Syracuse to sell some books. It went pretty well actually. I made $9. But while I was waiting, I saw someone who I was pretty sure was my ex-girlfriend from when I was 14. We dated for 3 months and kissed a few times behind dumpsters. Now I’m pretty sure this person must know I’m trans now, because I was also pretty trans then, and word gets around besides. But I wasn’t positive it was her. So, I figured it wouldn’t be polite (or even humanly possible) for me to look right at her face directly. And it certainly wouldn’t be socially acceptable to indicate that I recognized her. So I tried to look at her sideways while hiding behind a bookshelf, but the inherent problem was, if I could see her face, then that meant she could see mine. I didn’t want to appear like a stalker. So, I peered from between the books, as I often did when I recognized people while working at libraries. I tried to make it so only my one eye was visible, but then I was afraid that she would see me doing this and be even more freaked out. And yes, I am pretty sure she saw me. So I quickly left.

I told this nonchalantly to Joey later and he couldn’t stop laughing. Apparently, what neurotypical people would do in this situation is just look at the person’s face and smile, and maybe say, “Hey….So-and-So?” And that isn’t creepy at all. Apparently that’s normal. Apparently neurotypical people would find peeking through bookshelves to be the awkward and uncomfortable thing to do. Go figure. I said, “But that’s what people do in books and movies.” And Joey said, “Yes, because that’s the dramatic thing that people do in fantasies and that makes a better story.” Oh. And then he encouraged me to please write about this, no matter how briefly.

So, if you ever see me peeking at you through bookshelves, or anyone like me, please understand it’s because we are trying NOT to freak you out.

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.