Applicable Term

I sometimes try to convince

myself that I am not (applicable term)

That I am not a devil.

That I am not a freak.

That I am not a lost soul.

 

But, I try.

I try often.

I mull through all the things that make me, me.

And, I always come back to the same conclusion.

 

This is me.

This is who I am.

I cannot reason my way out of this.

 

And, I won’t apologize for who I am.

I may apologize for some things I have done,

some paths I took to get here and

some paths I have yet to take,

But, I promise.

I won’t apologize for who I am.

Unending

May your choices be etched into the rocks

The salty waters of Earth awash with the decisions

 

As the gathering darkness consumes and crushes

This day matters above all others

(yet just as much as the previous and the next)

 

For eventually your life will be forgotten

No one will remember you,

    the things you did, the things you said

You will be forgotten in the immensity of time.

 

Yet, somehow, your decisions will reverberate

Time unending will know,

    

As existence fails

         Time will know.

Proposed Replies

I haven’t spoken to my father in four months. I sent him my blog post “To Whom It May Concern” via text, and I received a response telling me I was lost. Then, I sent him a package, and I heard nothing. So now, after four months of not hearing his voice, I receive a call and this voicemail:

“Hey, son. It’s, uh, dad. I haven’t talked to you in a long time, and I just wanted to give you a call and check in on you. And, uh, I hope you are doing well. Love you, and I’ll talk to you later.”

I honestly don’t know how I want to respond. I don’t. So, I have come up with a few different options.

Version 1:

A Very Bad Idea

Hey, thanks for calling. Honestly, it shows you are making some kind of effort to speak to me while I spew fire and brimstone atop a throne of dildos. Is brimstone even spewable? Meh, don’t care. I am spewing it.

Hold on . . .

. . . Sorry, the Christians in the other room were getting really loud. They were crying about being forced to read through the worldwide gay agenda put forth by those gays.

Ha, silly Christians.

So, anyway, what did you want to talk about?

Version 2:

Snarky with a Side of Snark

Thanks for calling. I hope you are well. I heard about the new job and new house. Congrats. Really.

I know it has been awhile since we have caught up. Four months, to be exact. So, let me fill you in.

So, let’s see, the big things.

Well, I am sure you heard that I moved. It’s a great place. Big open space. I have a garage and a washer and dryer. Nice walk-in closet and a great kitchen. My furniture I have, which consists of a bed, a futon, and a bookshelf, looks so small in this new place. Before, those three things filled up my entire old apartment. I haven’t bought much for the new place. Just a rug and a grill. I was hoping to have a little more money at the moment, but when I switched bank accounts that I used, my last apartment and I had quite the falling out over an error with their system. I lodged a complaint. It was a whole mess, but it is over now.

You might be wondering why I changed my bank account. Look, I will just be honest. I didn’t feel comfortable with someone having access to my account that thinks I am either a) mentally ill or b) possessed or having something to do with the devil and/or demons.

I hope you can understand.

So, anyway, I have been trying to stay politically involved. You know, part of the resistance and all that. So, I have been doing what I can with the ACLU and the Human Rights Campaign. I participated in a fundraiser for the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico. I have also been participating in a six-week course on bullying put on by Equality New Mexico and several other groups. I was at the Women’s March, the Tax March, and the March for Science, and it was amazing to see how many people were standing up for what is right and good in this country. I’ve been staying active on Twitter and Change.org trying to help keep this new level of corrupt and ill-fated government accountable to the Constitution and equal rights and the environment. I have also been contacting my congressional leaders and speaking out against what has been going on. It’s been nice being involved. Surely, you can even admit that the new administration is an embarrassment.

But, let’s not get too far into politics. I’d like this to be as civil as possible.

I just wanted to fill you in on what I have been up to in the last four months.

Let’s see.

What else . . .

It sucked being uninvited to my brother’s graduation. He just didn’t want it to be an issue with me there. And I get it, I do. Because, if someone said something stupid about transpeople or immigrants or some other backward and idiotic comment, I would not have been able to keep my mouth shut. It probably would have caused a whole scene, and one of the stipulations for me being there was that if something was said, I was to keep my mouth shut. That . . . well, it was a bridge too far for me to take.

Anyway, I have been rambling . . .

Is there anything you wanted to talk about?

Version 3:

The Only Viable Option

Thanks for calling to check in. I hope you can understand that I don’t feel like talking right now. But, things are going pretty well. I hope you have been well, too. Love you.

Version 4:

A Plea for Change

Thanks for calling to check in. I hope you are well. But, here’s the thing. I said exactly what I needed to say when I sent that text to you and again when I mailed you that package. And, until you come to terms with what it means, there really isn’t anything else to say. What is happening in this country right now . . . well, it is bigger than you and me. I wish you the best. Love you.

Version 5:

Defeated

Thanks for calling. But, honestly, with what you think of me, why bother?

Version 6:

Anger and Disappointment

Thanks for calling. But, I just want to know, and I want your honest opinion. Where do we go from here? Because, right now, we are at an impasse, and I can promise you this. As long as you hold to your view about LGBT people, myself included, we are never going to be okay. That, I can promise. So, I am asking, where do we go from here?

*          *          *          *          *

But, in the end, I went with none of these options. As I was driving to Santa Fe for the last of the Beyond Bullying workshops, I called his number, and he picked up. And for the first time in four months, we had a conversation. A ten minute conversation.

It was civil and caring, and it avoided any “controversial” topics.

What it means . . . I honestly don’t know.

But, it was something.

Maybe, eventually, that something will be enough.

Because, when he ended the conversation with “I miss you,” my response was “Take care.” I miss the person, the parent, I thought he was, and maybe, just maybe, he will come around and be the parent I need him to be.

Maybe.

An 8th Grade Sleeping Bag

I woke up shaking again, shivering.

It was so cold.  

Desperately, I reached out for my backpack in search of an extra sock or shirt or something to add on another layer of warmth. As I tried to reorient myself in my bleary and semiconscious state, I realized that I had once again rolled to the bottom of the tent. My backpack was on the opposite side of the tent, and I began to inchworm myself over to the hope of warmth.

I grasped for my iPad and checked the time, 2:09 AM.

Ugh.

The warmth from a few too many margaritas had disappeared for sometime now, and my best hope for warmth was an extra layer of clothing.

Pulling on an extra layer of socks and realizing that I was already wearing my best bet for warmth, I resolved to huddle into a ball in my sleeping bag and hope for the best.

Still shivering, I began to feel my sleeping bag sliding down to the side of the tent again. I squeezed my eyes shut tighter. I really wished I would have noticed the unevenness of the spot I choose for the tent. Too late now.  

I clicked on my iPad again, the bright light illuminated the inside of my sleeping bag as my teeth began to chatter.

I wasn’t going to be sleeping anytime soon.

It was too cold.

Bracing myself for the cold, my hand shot out of my sleeping bag cocoon as I reached desperately for my glasses. Finally finding the familiar black plastic frames, my arm slid back into my desperate attempt for warmth.

I felt the side of the tent go taut as my back rested against it, and I knew I had slid all the way back to the edge again. Feeling like it was a losing battle, I resolved to just stay there.

I felt a lump jamming into my thigh, and I truly hoped that I had noticed and removed all of the cow pies from where I had set up camp.

Hitting the home button, my iPad illuminated my shivering form. If I wasn’t going to be able to sleep, I could at least read. I tapped my Marvel Unlimited app and began to read through issues of the Age of Ultron crossover and The Vision series. As I read and shivered, I wondered if my friends in the tents nearby were as cold I was, but I, then, thought they were probably wiser and had decent sleeping bags. I was snuggled in one I had won during an auction in 8th grade.

Don’t get me wrong; it was a great sleeping bag.

Well, maybe not great, but it was fine for camping in Oklahoma. It was not working for mountain camping in New Mexico.

As I write this, I am trying to think back on the auction in 8th grade and remember what I took home that day. It seems like an impossibly long time ago and an almost entirely different life.

Every year in middle school, there was A.R. auction at the end of the year. A.R., which stood for Accelerated Reader and was a program that my school used to encourage students to read and ensure some kind of accountability for reading. While I am not sure how successful the program was with either of those goals, I loved it. Students read from a wide selection of books, took a short ten question quiz over it, and earned points based on the length of the book. I was an avid reader and needed no encouragement to read, but it became a competition in middle school to earn points where the points were used to purchase items at the end of the year auction. And, it was a competition that I actually had a chance at winning.

The auction’s first year was at the end of my 6th grade year, but over the years, the auction grew substantially until, during my 8th grade year, there were several top-notch prizes to be won. I don’t remember all of the top prizes, but I do remember some. There were several Game Boy Colors to choose from, a Playstation 2, and an air hockey table. Aside from these top prizes, there were plenty of other smaller items ranging from glittery pencils to Backstreet Boys and NSYNC CDs to a few random films on VHS to sleeping bags.

Before the auction started, the top earners met secretly and in private and agreed on which items they wanted. I was one of those top point earners, and I expressed my interest in the air hockey table. The other high point-earning readers would back off and wouldn’t bid me up, and I would avoid the Playstation 2 and the Game Boys.

As the bidding began, I claimed the air hockey table for a small fraction of my points. As the other big ticket items were claimed, we moved onto the smaller items. I know I took home quite a few items that day, but only a few come to mind.

A VHS copy of Backdraft and the aforementioned sleeping bag.

I have always loved movies, and no one was bidding on Backdraft, probably because they had never heard of it. I had never heard of it either, but I remember the principal prompting me to bid for it. I did, and the movie wouldn’t be remembered, except for the fact that it included a steamy sex scene on top of a fire truck. After watching the movie a few days after the auction, I remember thinking it was odd that the principal recommended the film, and I still find it . . . let’s just stick with the word “odd”.

The sleeping bag was needed. If my memory serves me correctly, and I believe that it does, I think I was upgrading from a 101 Dalmatians sleeping bag. This solid blue sleeping bag with a built in foot warmer and pillow was a huge upgrade. I have since learned that it is not a mountain-ready upgrade, but at the time, it was much better than camping gear covered in spotted cartoon puppies.

Whatever the other prizes I took home that day have long been forgotten, but regardless, those items weren’t helping me as I shivered on a mountainside with an A.R. auction-won, 8th grade sleeping bag.

As I finished reading the last comic book I had downloaded, only twelve are downloadable at a time, I began to drift back off to a cold and restless sleep.

Still, my sleep-deprived mind was made up.

It was time for a new sleeping bag.

Defying Gravity for Good

I needed something a little different this morning. And, I am not referring to my second trip to Dunkin’ Donuts already this week for an iced coffee. No, I needed something different to emit through my stereo.

While I usually love an audiobook or a podcast, I had just finished China Mieville’s The Scar, and a two week old episode of Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me! wasn’t cutting it. After two days of administering the state-mandated PARCC assessment, which consists of me walking back and forth for hours watching students take tests, I needed something with a beat because another day of mind-numbing computer monitoring was going to be rough. Peter Sagal explaining quotes from that week’s abysmal news cycle about the uncanny levels of U.S. corruption under the 45th president was not going to put a pep in my step and help prepare me for another full day of testing.

With my coffee resting safely in the cup holder and a chocolate glazed cake donut beside me, I perused through my iPhone looking for the soundtrack to Wicked. Mild annoyance and frustration filled me when I initially couldn’t find it, but I kept looking and eventually, between the options of “Defying Gravity” and “For Good”, settled on the latter.

As the voices of Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth filled my Fit, I remembered the rickety-looking clocktower on stage. Costumes and dancing flashed through my mind, as their voices ring out in unison.

“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?/But because I knew you/I have been changed for good.”

I smiled as their voices fill my car but painfully so, as memories flooded through me. Memories of a life that seems almost foreign

Walking down the streets of Manhattan with my grandmother’s arm in mine.

Posing like the Hulk in front of the wax green goliath with my dad beside me.

And, slice after slice of New York pizza, smothered in parmesan cheese.

As the lines, “It well may be/That we will never meet again/In this lifetime/So let me say before we part/So much of me?/Is made of what I learned from you” began to resonate too strongly. I could not help but reflect on how much has changed within me and how much can never be the same. I felt my eyes begin to water. As I passed through another intersection, I switched songs because if I had wanted to waltz into work in a sad and sour mood, I would have remained listening to the Wait Wait . . . panel jokingly describe the fall of American liberty.

As “Defying Gravity,” erupted with its uplifting musical message and tempo, I found myself providing commentary to the lyrics.

“So though I can’t imagine how/I hope you’re happy right now”

I smiled solemnly and filled with melancholy as I thought, I hope you’re happy.

“Something has changed within me/Something is not the same/I’m through with playing by the rules/Of someone else’s game”

Wow, the psychic really hit the nail on the head with that one this past weekend. She even stopped her reading of someone else to tell me that while I do care what other people think, I don’t let it affect my choices or decisions.

“Can’t I make you understand?/You’re having delusions of grandeur”

Yup, worse than Luke thinking he can rescue his friends in Cloud City.

“Some things I cannot change/But till I try, I’ll never know!”

Indeed. Resistance is not futile.

“Too long I’ve been afraid of/Losing love I guess I’ve lost/Well, if that’s love/It comes at much too high a cost!”

I felt like I needed to belt out the next bit here.

Should I?

Yes.

The answer to that question should always be, yes.

I pulled into a parking spot, watching the minutes shift forward on my dash’s clock. But, I sang along, sounding more like a dying cat than the Wicked Witch of the West, as “I’m defying gravity/And you can’t pull me down” blared through the stereo.

Before the song finished, I turned off my car and headed toward another day of testing.

 

“So if you care to find me/Look to the western sky!”

Something I Could Say

I wish there was something I could say

Something I could say to make things easier

To make things better

But I can’t

It is what it is

 

The chips have fallen

Here is how they lie

Strewn across the floor

 

So what do we do now

Where do we go from here

What path do we take

What choices will we make

How will those choices reverberate through

    the hallowed halls

         of time unending

A One-Sided Exchange

I don’t feel a need to wait for anyone to know. I have told you as much. I have said I don’t care who knows. I care how I am treated. If you feel like the enemy, then, you are reading into my blog. I am sorry that you live in a bigoted and cruel town, but not advocating for LGBT and other minorities is why bigotry and cruelty continues to thrive.

A response.

A response.

How would you resolve it? Because, I am not changing or hiding who I am. If you don’t like what I write, don’t read it. I am doing what I need to and only being honest about what has happened and how I feel. How you respond is up to you.

A response.

Then, you can help stop it. But, if reluctant acceptance is the best I can hope for, this drifting will be inevitable.

A response.

You know what. That is up to you. You have to face your decisions just like I have to face mine. And, at this point, it doesn’t matter what I want anyone to do when they find out. I just continue to see how family views and treats “otherness”.

A response.

I want you to do right by you, regardless of how it affects me. I cannot ask you to do more than that. You have to be okay with your decisions and actions. You are not ready for people to know. That is fine, but you are either with me all the way or you are not. There is no middle ground here. There could of been. But not anymore.

A response.

How is it a secret? I want you to accept, respect, and advocate for me. I want you when someone mocks or bullies LGBT individuals or any minority or any person for that matter to be the first one to put a stop to it. I want you to be proud of who I am and that I am being true to myself and not worried about what people will say or think. I thought I made that clear when I sent my blog post to you. With how things are going, I need you to have my back all the way. There really isn’t anything else to say on it. You are either with me or not. If you are, great. If you are not, well, we will both have to live with the consequences.

A response.

A response.

The beginning

This is the beginning

The shape of all things

The sadness

The pressure

The weight

The fourth-wall break of sanity, bone-annihilating sadness

The beginning

Sadness for me, for you, for others

Sadness for our loss, our heartbreak

Sadness long-lasting.

Deep veins of sadness

 

Hold fast to hope before it slips away

Hold fast

Okay

I am never going to be okay

and

I am okay with that

 

Because

when identity clicked

I hurt

I damaged

I grieved

I survived

 

Things said will never be forgotten

they haunt

they rage

they linger