Archive for January, 2011

Who Are You?

My vagina is asymmetrical. This is premature, of course. Things are still healing. But that’s how it looks. What, that’s not what you mean when you ask if I’m happy with the surgery? Well, what do you mean? Or what do I mean? This ground has already been covered before several times, both in my current blog (Questionably Sincere, which you probably know since it’s in the upper left hand corner, but just in case) and in my previous blog (Marginalia for the kids at home or those new to the game), so let’s not talk about that for just a second. Important, sure, and definitely something I will write about again, but right now, I feel like it’s more appropriate to consider the journey to become who I am as “me”, whoever that is.

Have you ever had to truly think about who you are? Or have you always just known. I am sure that there are at least a couple people who’ve always known, but to some degree we all go through this experience of finding out who we are. For reasons I’ve never been entirely sure of, when that involves gender identity, it is perceived as a bigger deal. I get on the outside that going through a transition seems like a bigger deal than, say, becoming a doctor, but when you get down to it, they both require a lot of time, money, dedication, and sacrifice. That could be said of any major path in life. Getting older, one of the things I realized is that I simply have to make decisions about what I truly want to do, because I’m never going to do it all. I’m never going to try every restaurant that’s even within walking distance, let alone see all of the things I could see in Minnesota. I could live my entire life in this state and not do that. There’s a lot to do and see. See, as people, we prioritize; we set goals that ultimately are supposed to help us do the things we truly want to. My big goal for the past few years has just been to figure who the hell I truly am so that I can go after some of those things. And a big part of that is coming into who I am, of simply being. But it must have worked, because when I look in the mirror, I see me, or Jane, or however it helps you to think about it. I did not for a long time. Even when I started to figure out who I was, I had this idea of who I was, but I didn’t really know what to expect looking back in a mirror. Now I know.

I don’t think this process is too different from anyone else. We are all in the process of figuring out who we are, evaluating and reevaluating that as our lives change. We are taking on new roles as husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, changing in our existing roles as brothers, sisters, children, etc, and some of us have shed previous roles as students to become professionals (though not all of us). These are of course just a few examples of the many changing roles, and if you don’t believe me, well, there’s a Shakespeare quotation about it, and that guy was always onto something. I reflect because my age became nice and round again, so it’s a good time to reflect on what being 30 means, what I’ve accomplished, what I want to accomplish, etc. Being 30 doesn’t feel all that different so far. Maybe it never will feel all that different. What it does feel like is that I’m living, something that I don’t think I did for a long time, probably had never really done until a couple years ago. I am no longer, as Thoreau might intimate, leading a life of quiet desperation, and maybe, just maybe, I am lucky enough to be awake now, but I doubt I’m there yet. I still have a lot more to learn about myself, and I always will. The more I know, the more I want to know. So yes, I’m 30, and yes, it’s possible that I do indeed have an asymmetrical vagina. The former is definitely true. Jury’s still out on the latter. But both, both are tangible signs of who I am. Surely you can think of a few of your own.

Keep On Keeping On

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When I was in LA recently, I was talking with a friend about the state of modern music, and he made a comment that has stuck with me the past couple weeks as I’ve been trying to catch up on what I missed since being unplugged for that time period. He stated that part of what is happening now with the explosion of available music is that listeners who truly have their ear to the ground are basically hearing demos that before never would have surfaced in this fashion. What a band once used to try and secure a gig at a local venue is now what is up on Myspace or Soundcloud or Tumblr to get anyone’s attention. The change in music culture around this is not insignificant; while I’m not on the front line of finding new music, I am certainly close, willing to read up on and listen to a lot of music that quite literally just came into being and surfaced on the internet. Whether it’s because of the blogs I follow or the variety of services available that help expose me to new music, I’m unquestionably hearing, digesting, and forming opinions on more music than I did even 5 years ago. All of this has had quite an effect on my listening habits, and the way I form opinions. The central question, I suppose, is what is causing all of this to change. Certainly availability is a factor, and while there’s always been a lot of music, it’s definitely a lot easier for me to hear the demos of someone in Manchester now than it was 20 years ago. To think of what the would have even involved then is kind of funny, as someone would have had to have heard a band, created a tape most likely, and sent it to another person. So there’s definitely an aspect where things can no go viral because the technology has caught up. Like the memes of the internet, have serious music listeners therefore turned into people who, in an effort to keep up with all that there is to digest, pass judgment too quickly, both positively and negatively? Do we as listeners care more about the craft of a good song now than the craft of a good album? Is the album even relevant anymore, or is it entirely believable that an artist could now simply string together strong collections of 3-4 songs as they happen and make a career around doing that repeatedly? Even more curious, should more artists embrace that approach, and leave the filler for live shows where it is necessary at the beginning at least, until they have enough to make a strong set and never really put those weaker tracks on wax or tape or their Apple?

There has been a lot of talk about the album, whether it’s dying, why we should care, etc; the album is not dying, and I don’t think it ever will. It may become like vinyl currently is, for a niche audience. But let’s start at the other end of the equation and talk specifics with a certain band to illustrate what is happening with bands these days in terms of production. Before a band gets to make an album that an audience has the chance to consume, it’s most likely they need a series of successful songs that help catch the attention and ears of the tastemakers of the world. Now that process was different even ten years ago, when peer sharing of music was starting, but it was something generally confined to locations like college campuses with powerful networks. The ability of individual artists to put music out there that anyone could hear and that anyone could potentially buy, download, or even just listen to was still minimal, and more traditional means were still required for a band to get attention. Maybe you have a good record store in your town that took chances on those 7″. Here in the Twin Cities, there are many good stores like that, and there used to be even more when I moved here originally. Stores like Treehouse, The Electric Fetus, and, at that time, Let It Be caught my attention as places where I could find music off the beaten path. Not every town has that, though. So there’s independent record stores. There are also the smaller venues that are willing to give those bands a chance to grow. I’m not talking small like The Entry, though it’s certainly one of those places. It takes at least a step or two before a band is someplace like 7th Street Entry; most towns, it’s venues like The Nomad, or The Hexagon Bar; again, the Twin Cities are rife with little clubs, coffee shops, and otherwise converted spaces that plenty of bands can play out (if that’s they’re only goal); bands with bigger aspirations can use them to cut their teeth and work up to the 400 Bar, the 7th Street Entry, or The Turf Club, maybe opening for someone that other people have actually heard of. There are, of course, now mostly websites that cover these newer bands, but there was a time where it was zines and newsletters that put those bands out there. Bands are definitely still taking advantages of these resources, but the chief differences is those tastemakers don’t have to be local at all. A blogger in Brooklyn can post a song by a band in Austin that I can listen to now. Those sorts of connections just didn’t exist like that back then. A band had to at least achieve a certain amount of status to get a 7″, ep, or album out to the various independent outlets where people could go buy it once upon a time. Now, a band can literally have several hundred listeners before ever playing a show; those tracks can be home recording hastily posted on the internet. As listeners, it’s like we no longer are beholden to the finished product, even if the finished product then was only a demo. Whereas a demo might have once only been the product used to convince a local club to book a band, it is now used just to drum up listeners. So what kind of effects does that have?

The hierarchy that I laid out in the last paragraph, the need for a band to use the old stepping stones, doesn’t matter quite as much as it once did. Not that it doesn’t matter. There are still certainly plenty of bands that come up the old fashioned way, slogging through many a practice until they have a set of songs they are willing to put out to the world. They convince someone they know to put them on a bill or otherwise use a demo to convince someone that they deserve a shot in front of some people and go from there. As I had the chance to see while in a band, connections can make a lot of difference in taking that first step. As I also learned, connections only take you so far. A band still has to make a lot of steps after those initial ones for anything to happen. But at a certain point, some bands can start skipping that. I can find music that was literally posted in the first couple weeks of a band’s online existence. I was literally downloading and listening to music by SPORTS two weeks after they existed online. They didn’t even play their first live show until December. And irrelevant of how much I love their music, the live show still matters in terms of working up the hierarchy and becoming successful as a band. As Elite Gymnastics helped prove, anyone can make a good song these days, but the ability to perform that song live? Not necessarily there yet. Seriously, go listen to “Is This On Me?” Great tune. But they were awful opening for Matthew Dear. It’s as if the success of putting together a couple good EPs got them in front of people before they learned how to actually perform that music live, like they went out of order. To prove how out of order things went, I first heard of them in the Forkcast section of Pitchfork even though they are from Minneapolis. What musically might have had to prove itself through a city weekly 10 years ago can skip that step entirely. And that’s an important step. Some bands will never have more than local appeal. Some bands don’t even want more than local appeal. But these days, it’s all out there for us to sift through as listeners if we so desire. Of course, it’s akin to panning for gold. There’s a lot out there to sift through.

You might think I’m on the front end, but I’m nowhere close. I may be listening to a lot of music that you’ve never heard of, but I’m not finding it. I am merely plugged into agencies that help me find it, websites, venues, people I trust. I use the local clubs, local stores, I use Pitchfork, I use Altered Zones, I use Last.fm, and I peruse many other sites that those all lead me to. But I am not truly on the front end, not the one who’s actually digging through Myspaces and Tumblrs to find bands like Shimmering Stars. That was Delicious Scopitone (RIP). I can’t even keep up with all of it, I don’t know how those bloggers find it. Cassette-only releases, online EPs that are about cats and sample Metroid, bands with runs of 50 7″ records for their debut. From all over. Though my tastes are still not truly international (even if I own an Ali Farke Toure album, let’s not kid ourselves), they are certainly expanding, and influenced by an ever-widening array of music. But I’m still way back. I am maybe on the front end to a lot of people who know me, but I’m on the back end in terms of consumption. I am not truly deciding if something is worth anyone’s time other than my own. Maybe that changes some day, and you come to Questionably Sincere to learn about music (as well as, face it, what it’s like to be trans). Probably that won’t any time soon. But who knows, right? I could fall down the rabbit hole. I am already close to the edge, even if I don’t feel like it some days. With each new 7″, 10″, and 12″ that i’m willing to spend between $5-$20 on, I start to feel like I’m one step closer some days. And even if I’m buying all of those items, I still eagerly await the album should it be coming down the pipeline, in some far off time.

Why am I still waiting for the album? The online world certainly doesn’t care that much about albums. Bands put out things piecemeal, and if you follow a band from their inception, you begin to realize that those debuts are really just cobbled together earlier releases, high points with new songs and hopefully new production and budgets. These are not coherent statements on pressing personal issues. But I still wait because in the right hands, an album is a devastating statement of beauty, of sadness, of hope, of anything. It is still, for some, a coherent statement. It is a friend that helps get you through 40 minutes you might not otherwise; it is a disc on repeat for hours of driving when you’ve got something to think about; it’s a guidebook that helps you through a bad breakup; it is a reminder of the first time you made out with someone. Not every album, for sure, but there are still great albums being made, by artists that themselves invariably grew up attached to great albums. Hospice doesn’t happen without In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, and in turn, 10 years from now, it’ll be The Antlers inspiring some kid instead of Neutral Milk Hotel. Like many before me who have failed at art, I have become a critic. Maybe failure is required for that. But maybe it’s not failure, it’s just not succeeding, which is a bit different. There are so many factors, so many great albums made years ago yet to be discovered. It’s like the process that still happens with novels, and movies, and all sorts of art forms. Some things do not find the properly light when their creators hoped they might. Only in retrospect to we realize how much some things mean. Of course, not everyone who’s making great music is making albums. If I’m only waiting for albums, then I’m definitely not finding everything out there to find. Even if I’m trying to consume everything, I’m not finding everything there is to find.

Not that that phenomenon has changed. It may be convenient to think that we have too much to do and this problem didn’t plague a previous generation, but we have just as much to do as they did. There’s always too much to do, and we are all making decisions all the time about what to take in and do in our lives. It feels like the internet has exacerbated that problem, but those things just as likely existed before. Now it’s just that we know about them. So yeah, I’m basically listening to demos from some band in Seattle or some band in Manchester and deciding how much I am willing to drop on some wax. In the case of Shimmering Stars (British Columbia), it was quite a bit. In the case of Memoryhouse (somewhere in Ontario), I was glad to get a good deal, but couldn’t pull the trigger on their first single because I couldn’t justify $8 for one song, but there was no way I wouldn’t buy the Caregiver single for $5.50. Tennis got me really excited with a 7″, and I now wait for an already-ordered album that is universally getting “doesn’t work for 30 minutes” reviews. But I will find out. And maybe it won’t get as many spins because of that, or because of something else I get catching my ear more. Or maybe it will rule my turn table. While there may be more music than ever, a hodge-podge of singles, eps, and albums piling up, and even more free eps and new tracks to check out online, undoubtedly something is going to catch my ear. The more I listen, the more I refine my ability to tell if something is truly worth my time. Maybe at the time, it doesn’t get the requisite spins. But hell, I have time. It took me almost 10 years to really start to appreciate New Miserable Experience by Gin Blossoms, an album that I am in no way ashamed that I love. So yes, I am creating opinions faster. All of us do that as we get older, especially in regard to the things we love. I love music. As I started to writ this entry, I thought the net effect might be that my taste has become more insular, that I’m not willing to stop and say that a good pop song is still a good song, but no, that isn’t true. Good pop will never die, no matter how much one hates (or loves) Lady Gaga, there’s always a place for her. Me, I love her songs. Not enough to go out there and buy them all on vinyl, but enough to know that there’s nothing wrong with a world where a lot of people are listening to her. But the insular nature of how we form opinions now (and its effects on the music we listen to), that’s a discussion for another time. In the meantime, I’ll keep listening to what are essentially demos, free eps, and all that other junk, I’ll keep burning up my iPod and stereo listening to hot tracks, and I’ll keep waiting for albums, and I bet the bands that I listen to will too.

An Apology In Which The Author Realizes She Must Correct A Grievous Error From The Last Entry

To Kevin Drew et al.,

I realize that I accidentally omitted your 2010 LP, Forgiveness Rock Record from my 2010 year-end list, and that I must say, it was a simple oversight on my part. My love of Broken Social Scene as well as Canada has been well-established since the early 2000s, and the fact that I do believe, looking back at the list, that Canada was poorly represented with only The Arcade Fire making the list; again, this was an oversight. Please consider this as a part of the list, and once again, accept my apologies for such a mistake.

Ever so humbly your listener,

Jane

2010 Music wrap-up

Lists and lists. I don’t really feel like saying anything more about them at the time, like I did with the 7″ and the shows, but maybe I’ll add a little bit more. Anyway, I just wanted to get this out there before I get too swept up in 2011. More shows! More new music! Anyway, here this is 16 days late or so:

10 Favorite LPs of 2010 or some records by bands you’ve heard of:

Titus Andronicus – The Monitor
Salem – King Night
Beach House – Teen Dream
Deerhunter – Halcyon Digest
The National – High Violet
Tamaryn – The Waves
Wild Nothing – Gemini
Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
Twin Shadow – Forget
Local Natives – Gorilla Manor

Honorable Mention LPs:

Best Coast – Crazy For You
Candy Claws – Hidden Lands
ceo – White Magic
How To Dress Well – Love Remains
Tame Impala – Innerspeaker

10 Favorite EPs of 2010 or some records by bands you haven’t heard of:

guards – s/t
Class Actress – Journal Of Ardency
Twin Sister – Color Your Life
Active Child – Curtis Lane
Tanlines – Real Live
Balam Acab – See Birds
Puro Instinct – s/t
Nite Jewel – Am I Real?
Keep Shelley In Athens – In Love With Dusk
Laurel Halo – King Felix

I thought about doing a round-up of songs, too, but I never really got around to it appropriately, and I already put together a mix for the first half of the year here at my old blog. So here’s another mix for the second half, cleaning up songs I missed in the first half and songs that came out in the second half. Once again, it’s somewhat, but not totally ordered. I grouped stuff more relative to how I felt like it and didn’t think about it too long, but I bet you if I listened to this over and over, I’d hammer out a slightly different order. Such are the perils of making mixes. I’m trying to figure out a way so that you can listen to this, but I don’t think I have the technology at present over here, and there’s no good streaming service on the web, so get creative on your own. If you are looking for some assistance, as always, feel free to ask. Also, I have no legitimate idea where some of these songs come from. Some were made available as artist downloads and might never end up on anything as far as I know. That’d be a shame, but I suppose that’s what happens when you’re living in a world where you are essentially listening to other peoples’ demos.

2010 part 2, Songs I Missed or Songs Yet To Come:

Fade To White (feat. Emily Reo) by Blackbird Blackbird
Meet the Frownies by Twin Sister
Fried Egg by Grass Widow
Hide It Away by Retribution Gospel Choir
Sunbeam Show by Candy Claws
Same Mistakes by Cinema Red And Blue
Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins Rework) by Star Slinger
Something Else by Diamond Rings
I Was Thinking… by Gauntlet Hair
Up And Down by Chad Valley
Life Magazine (Delorean Remix) by Cold Cave
Lightening Fossil by Prince Rama
video one by Coyote Clean Up
F.X.N.C. by The Samps
Good Feelings by Light Pollution
Where is the problem by Dunian
Heavy Pop by WU LYF
Cold House by Teen Daze
Blessa by Toro Y Moi
Down by Golden Ages
To Catch a Thief by SPORTS
Bali by teams
Maximalist by Baths
Planet Party by Games
Comin’ Back Again by Arches
Supersymmetry by Laurel Halo
Running Out Of You by Keep Shelly in Athens
Yellow Wings by Keepaway
Suicide Dream 2 by How to Dress Well
Is This On Me? by Elite Gymnastics
Video Rock by Big Troubles
Every Second Darker by No Demons Here
Danse Pop by Greatest Hits
Caregiver by Memoryhouse
I’m Gonna Try by Shimmering Stars
Lovesick by Lindstrom & Christabelle
I Can’t Wait by Twin Shadow
See Birds by Balam Acab
Back to Back by Dusty Brown
O.N.E. by Yeasayer
Indestructible by Robyn
Desire Lines by Deerhunter
Mild Confusion by Tamaryn
Suffocation by White Ring
Mien by Millionyoung
When Your Love is Safe by Active Child
All Around and Away We Go by Twin Sister
i see it coming by guards
Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains) by Arcade Fire
Not In Love (ft. Robert Smith) by Crystal Castles

What’s In Store?

I took a break for a couple weeks. I do not think that I would have had anything particularly coherent to say for the majority of that time, so I doubt that you are missing much. I still need to clean up the year in music 2010, which I will do tomorrow, but for right now, I wanted to bookend my last entry with a couple notes. First, it’s good to be back in Minnesota, healing up and getting healthy. If for some reason this is the first place you find information about what’s going on in my life, I am doing well, there were no complications, and there were lots of awkward comments from nurses and doctors about how good my vagina looked. Goes with the territory of being in a hospital I suppose…my surgery was on 01/05/11, so I’m not more than week past it, and while my energy level has certainly not recovered, all around, I feel pretty good and can get around decently, minus this ridiculous donut that I have to sit on whenever I am on a hard chair or surface. I have an abundance of time off, which I am hoping to use to catch up with several things, but also to try and write daily (though maybe not post daily); there’s also some junk sitting around here that has eBay written all over it (if you need Genesis games, let me know!), and there’s some general relaxing and lazing about that’s long overdue. I’m not going to another show until Feb. 6th as of present, plenty of time to rest and heal up and use the rest of January to clean up, find, and think about more music. There’s a couple books that I’ve been meaning to get to, a couple I’ve been meaning to write about, and as always, there are a couple surprises. So I shall not be bored until Feb. 21st (my return to work as of present), that’s for sure. And while it’s good to have all those quotidian things to occupy me (and good to get some of them done…finally), my mind, my mind it turns to greater things.

As I stated last time, it’s not like I’m ever done. This is always a process, transitioning. But in the grand scheme, I am done. There’s a few more pieces of paperwork to shepherd through and worry about, and I still have to change my birth certificate, my sex with SSA, and my passport. That’s not much, though, in the sense of all the things that I have previously had to deal with or done as a result of transitioning. And I am left with a lot of questions about what is next, personally and professionally. A lot of doors that weren’t closed, but I told myself not to mess with for the time, are once again open. Is it time to leave the cities that I have lived in my entire adult life (really, I can’t count my time in college as being an adult in the same sense)? What about all this writing I have sitting around on computers, in notebooks, in my head? Or the instruments that I occasionally bang and strum, but mostly collect dust? I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t know if I can properly capture the feeling that goes along with it in writing. It suddenly feels like I can do anything again, a feeling that I haven’t properly felt, well, ever. And it’s not totally true. I’m not just going to quit my job tomorrow, and or even without having a really good plan about what is next. But I finally have the time and energy to really say to myself, what is next? I come up on my four year anniversary this year with Wells and it is worth questioning, is this the horse I want to keep riding, and if so, what is the next step? I already know the next step I want to take professionally by getting certified as a CFE, but if anything, that should only increase my professional options. Most days, I like my job and I like the company I am with, but how am I going to grow with it, and do I see a path that makes sense for me in it, most of all? Or is it time to try and find someplace else that I think is a better place to grow? That isn’t a question I really dealt with, and it was fine. It gave me time to grow professionally, and frankly, I didn’t really want to wrestle with insurance and all that stuff in the middle of a rather intensive process like transitioning. So, while on the surface it’s all a bit overwhelming, mostly, it feels really good to think about what is next. There are going to be pros and cons to it all. Sometimes I can’t bear the thought of leaving Minnesota. Sometimes I can’t bear the thought of staying. I went through the same set of questions with a little move from Minneapolis to Saint Paul, I can’t imagine that the questions, pros, and cons are any easier on a bigger scale. But it is nice to be able to entertain. And to know that all the decisions I make have multiple facets. Surgery helped me grapple with that. Obviously, there are some risks, however minor in some cases, involved with having an operation. While it seems more irreversible than a lot of other decisions, I doubt that it is. We make decisions about our career that are difficult at a certain time to change. Not impossible, but difficult. The longer we go down a given path, the harder it is to deviate from it. At some point, we all (hopefully) chose those paths with some amount of recognition, though I doubt any of us can have total recognition of the realities of the choices we make until well after them. Every one of us has been doing that, even if what I did seems more permanent in some senses. You may argue otherwise, but I challenge you to think about some of the decisions that you’ve made and realize that there are plenty of things you can’t do over, and even if you changed what you are doing now in respect to them, they wouldn’t be the same. I stand at a decision point again, a rather tangible one, that could affect the whole rest of my life just as much as surgery the so recently passed. If that seems to be a bold statement, well, I feel it is.

I feel a lot more confident about these kinds of life decisions. Not that I will always make the best decision, but that I have the skills to make the right decision at the time. I did a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily want to to put my life on track, including getting a job that I wasn’t so sure of at first, but was rather important. That has blossomed into a better situation, and I know sometimes what appears to be the best decision immediately will not be the best decision for me in 5 years. But I also know that I just have to take the facts, think about things at this time, and make a decision. No amount of hemming and hawing is going to change the fact that there are still choices to make about where life is going. I don’t regret almost anything about transitioning, and the things that I do find regretful have more to do with how I handled the situations that came up, not the decisions themselves. I can’t do it all, that’s just maturity speaking. Choosing to live in Saint Paul, for example, means that I experience more Saint Paul things, but less of Minneapolis than I used to on a daily basis. It has forced me to think, even in terms of a short distance, of the things over there that are truly important versus the things that were convenient to that locus, in my case, Uptown. I have reconfigured, found replacements, or learned what is still worth driving over for. I have met new sets of employees at new bars, restaurants and shops here in Saint Paul. None of which would have been possible had I not moved to Lowertown. I choose to focus on the sense of discovery that comes with this, not the sense of loss. Sure I don’t ever go to the CC anymore, but you know, maybe I’m not that person anymore anyway. Most definitely I’m not that person anymore. And as I said, this is all on a smaller scale. All those things that I miss, they are just 10 miles away, and it’s pretty easy to get in my car and get to them should I ever truly feel the need. But the things I missing Ames, they are 210 miles away, and the things I miss in Virginia, well, they are 1100 miles away. The scale may be larger, but each move has entailed giving up certain things to find new things. Some can never be properly replaced (here’s looking at you, Battles), but that has just as much to do with time as it does place. You don’t need me to tell you that, think of the bars you used to go to in college, and the times you’ve been there since (if you have), or the coffee shops, or little places that make up a sense of a place. Invariably, we are different people when we go back into those spaces, and while our reactions may vary (from our elementary school seeming so small now to our favorite local haunts feeling occupied by people we are no longer like in college), they are impossible to escape. We are all probably changing in more ways than we realize all the time. Or maybe just in more ways than we’d like to concentrate on.

So what’s in store? I don’t know. I don’t have to figure that out immediately. I have to take some time, take care of myself, and keep plugging away at little things that make up my daily existence. Some of that has been going on for a while, such as taking stock of what I truly consider my lares and penates. Some of it is new, like dilation. Some, some’s just what I do to help the time pass. I will keep thinking on the subject for sure, keep exploring, and most of all, true to consider what makes the most sense for me. It may not make a lot of sense to you, but hopefully whatever enterprise is next doesn’t seem that foolish on the surface. That said, feel free to talk me out of anything truly ridiculous. I can always use some outside perspective.

As a final, unrelated note to most of this, thanks to the support of everyone of the past few years with the process of transitioning. Special thanks to the people I saw in California, either in LA or San Francisco, and if I saw you in both places, well, just consider that doubly special. It really meant a lot just to see some familiar faces, to catch up over coffee, to try a little bit of a Bakesale Betty chicken sandwich, or go shopping on NYE and get free champagne. It’s the really the little things, and all of those little things made for a wonderful time, both before and after surgery. So thanks again to all, but especially those of you in the past couple weeks, whether you schlepped me from to or from an airport or just had the good sense to feed me, please know that it’s appreciated.

 
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