Flashbacks from the Wild, Part 2: Orange Dream Shirt

Occasionally, I, and I assume many others do as well, have recurring dreams. Some dreams standout fully. Some dreams just snippets here and there. I’ve not had any vivid and outstanding dreams for a while and certainly none recently that are recurring. But, as we made our way to the canyon we were hiking to, our conversation shifted, ebbed and flowed, to that of dreams.  

From Carlsbad, our hiking spot was an hour or so through dirt and gravel roads with signs that read “If Light Is Blinking, Toxic Gas Present. Do Not Enter,” which was a sign similar to that on Hawaii’s Big Island as my brother, stepfather, and myself made our way across the lava flow with stop signs peeking out of the lava rock and other signs telling people to turn back as they will be breathing in glass fragments and carcinogens. We did not turn back then. We don’t turn back now.

The trail was well marked, at least it was until the trail ended, and we made our way down into the canyon for a lunch of trail mix, hummus, and cheeses. As we chat, I discussed one recurring dream I had growing up.

It is a take on the whole suddenly-aware-you-are-naked-in-public dream. Only in this dream, I am wearing a giant white T-shirt with a smiling orange on the front of it. I don’t go into all of the details about the dreams, but I get the gist across.

I remember dreams where I am in middle school wearing the giant T-shirt and nothing else and trying to be nonchalant about it. Or, where I am riding a giant wheeled old-timey bicycle across my hometown with only the shirt on. Or, where I am rolling silverware at my grandparent’s diner. Or, where I am counting money in the safe at the now defunct Hastings Entertainment. In all scenarios, the only thing I am wearing is the dress-like giant white T-shirt with a smiling orange on it.

As we discuss dreams and then the conversation launches into other subjects, I tried to place where that shirt came from.

At the time of the hike, I couldn’t.

The following day, we are off to the famous Carlsbad Caverns.

On the drive, we passed by a drive-in theater, and then, it hit me.

The smiling orange shirt.

A familiar childhood spot was the Admiral Twin Drive-In in Tulsa, OK. I spent many summers watching the somewhat blurry screen with somewhat poor audio quality emitting from the car’s stereo. And, I think back to the very first time my mom, brother, and I loaded up the white Ford Taurus.

It was after a day of swimming at my grandparents, and in wet trunks, we loaded up into the car to watch the Ferris Bueller starring in the latest Godzilla remake.

I remember only wearing a t-shirt, found under the sink at my grandparents sink, which is a place I remember well because it held many girl swimsuits that I could never bring myself to wear but would always think about it, every single time I went swimming.

Was a smiling orange on it?

I wonder.


An Apology


I’m still waiting.

Waiting on an apology.

An apology from you.

And, I plan to keep waiting until I get it.


I need you to admit that what you are doing is wrong.

I need you to know that what you are doing,


It goes against everything you were taught.

It goes against everything I thought I knew about you.


I will keep waiting.”

We said, almost in unison,

Our voices echoing in the chasm between us.


Sometimes, it works.

This whole writing thing.

I have an idea.

It’s outlined.

I walk with it,

     taking in the scenery around me.


I dive with it,

     swimming within the memory as words pour forth.


I start and stop and restart with it,

     like learning how to drive stick for the very first time,

     an audience around me laughing every time the words fail.

Flashbacks from the Wild, Part 1: Fuel and Fury

As the narrator reads through the president’s decision to ban transgender people from the military, an almost inhuman rage fills me as I scream, “Fuck you,” in an empty car.

Tears well in my eyes, as I continue to mumble, “fuck, fuck, fuck” over and over again.

The glass is beginning to fog and ice over from the clouds hovering on the ground. It is much colder driving back home than it was driving to Carlsbad.


I was looking forward to the drive and to a weekend getaway, even though winter break had been filled with one getaway after the other.

But, I was particularly looking forward to this drive because I would be able to listen to Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. On recent road trips, I’d listened to Devil’s Bargain by Joshua Green and Unbelievable by Katy Tur, which were informative, fascinating, and only fueled my revulsion for this racist and paying-hush-money-to-pornstars Dear Leader.

Nothing in the book was surprising.

It only furthered my resolve to resist, to stand up for what’s right.

But, as the words were read as I made my way down to Carlsbad, I couldn’t help but think about recent news revelations, i.e. Shithole-gate.

Once again, the president was caught in another moment of racism and Republicans were bending over backwards to find a loophole out of his racism, or simply to excuse it. Meanwhile, neo-Nazis were praising their elected troll from all corners of the internet.

I’d always thought I’d been taught that racism was wrong, evil.

How’s is it a topic for debate now?

Then, as my car rumbled down the highway, I remembered a conversation.

Prior to moving to New Mexico, I went up to Tulsa, on this particular trip for three reasons. One, to search for engagement diamond options. Two, to close out my original savings account in favor of an account I could access across state lines. And, three, to have lunch with my grandparents.

After I accomplished my first two tasks, I met my grandparents at my, then, favorite spot, Siegi’s Sausage Factory.

It’s funny because there are a few meals there that come to mind. My mother ordering salmon (it’s a German restaurant) off the dinner menu at my birthday lunch. A meal with my ex after the trans-intervention with my family. And, actually, quite a few others.  

Yet, this one’s stands out in a more profound way.

It was the first time I remember having fundamental disagreement with my grandparents.

One where I could not see or understand their point of view, and I could tell that they were disappointed in mine.

As we ate, and I have no recollection of how it was brought up, my grandparents expressed their dismay at the University of Tulsa changing the name of its law school after it was revealed that the founder of the law school had been affiliated with the KKK.

From my point of view, of course the university would want to distance itself from the racism and bigotry and of any association with that hate group, and I expressed as much.

After much back and forth, the conversation went nowhere.

They had their opinion.

I had mine.

And as the words of Michael Wolff filled my car as I rumbled down to Carlsbad, flashes of that meal and conversation swirled through my mind.


Trump Attacks Senator Who Confirmed ‘Shithole Countries’ Comments


University of Tulsa law school to remove founder’s name after discovering his affiliation with the Ku Klux Klan


Trans Version of Tony Robins, Delivered

When I saw the Reddit post, I first thought, “Yes! I hope someone has done this. Something uplifting in the vain of some kind of uplifting YouTube imagery. Something inspiring.

Then, I read the post.

It wasn’t what I thought it was going to be.

This is what it was asking for: “Would someone please share a happy experience from their transition journey to help us remember that there can be light at the end of this fucked up tunnel?”

I wanted a something, something else, something uplifting for me, to give me hope. But, it gave me an idea. An idea I bring to fruition here:


Be Yourself.

For whatever reason, you are here.

You have reached to this point in your journey.

And, you have a decision to make.  

Do you continue on the same path? The same path that has brought you to this moment. The same path that you have always known. The same path that could lead to your future.

Or, do you do something different?

Do you finally start living?

Do you want to?

Do you have the courage? The strength? The fortitude?

Commitment? Hope? Fear?

How do you know?

Have you reached inside yourself to see what you truly want?

Likely, because you are now here.

At this moment.

And, honestly, if I know you, like I think I know you,

You have been here.

You have looked down the path in front of you, and it scared you, filled you with dread, and hopelessness.

You started to see your dreams swirling around you.

You realized that if you stayed where you were you would lose, never to see again, your dreams.

So, you spoke a truth.

Maybe, finally to yourself, aloud, to others, to a friend, a lover.

To someone.

Maybe, you took that first step to rightness, breaking free.

The cloak of wrongness clinging a little less tightly.

And, now, you decide again or maybe for the first time.

You decide.


You decide if you will be yourself.

Your true self.

The self you really are, the self you either hid from or embraced.

The self that you were afraid would cause you to lose everything.

To lose loved ones.

To lose relationships.


But, regardless of if you have realized it or not, you won’t lose everything. You may not even lose anything, but you certainly won’t lose everything.

And, you can do this.

You know who you are.

No one can take that away from you.

You are you.

Be You.

Be Yourself.


Asktransgender Subreddit Post: Wanted, trans version of Tony Robins to blow sunshine up my ass.


Croquet, A Tradition

It’s been two days of skiing, and I am aching. I have not skied since a half day at Sandia to celebrate my undergraduate degree in 2010. So, to wind down after a walk around a lake (and I refuse to call it a hike because my body is sore, and I know it would do a full revolt if it knew I took it on a hike) and exploring the California mountain town, my friends and I opted for a couple rounds of tabletop croquet.

I have a long history of tabletop croquet and an even longer one of croquet. Having held a mallet since I could walk, my launch into the miniaturized table top version began in high school, when a set was found at Pier 1 while looking for mother-approved Christmas ornaments. My brother and I took the set to visit my father and family in Houston to celebrate the New Year, as the Houston lawns proved much too small for the actual version of the game. Finding the miniature version a success, I would later convince the Mannford High School Student Council to host a tabletop croquet tournament during one of the generic sports homecomings my senior year.

My competitive side really shows during a round of croquet.

“No, take your two! Set up and make your wickets! But, you gotta make it!”

“Come on! You gotta make those shots!”

“Nice. You’re good. He’s wicketed from you.”

“Roquet us both, but not too hard, but you gotta hit us, too.”

My croquet coaching takes me back.

It takes me back to recently showing my friends tabletop croquet at a going away party for a friend leaving the state, as my teammates look skeptical as I explain the many, many rules.  

It takes me back to Oxford. As I take a break from writing about Shakespeare, with a mallet in one hand and a gin and tonic in the other, I rule the pristine lawn surrounded by buildings, which had at one time been film sets for the Harry Potter film series and various period pieces. Somewhere, hidden in the internet is a Facebook photo from my old non-trans account, when I could still be befriended by family, of my blue striped hoodie and middle school-aged khaki shorts with pockets large enough to hold a large bottle of fizzy water and a Robert Jordan paperback. I still have the hoodie. The shorts, I believe, finally dissolved in the wash. It takes me back to “going high pitch” in frustration as my team failed to make their shots, a vocal intonation, which would earn me the nickname of Princess of Yearbook during my junior year of high school, and a nickname that when an ex questioned what P.O.Y. meant, I would lie and say it meant Prince of Yearbook.

The game of tabletop croquet continues to take me back.


And, further.

To family reunions and tournaments.

To never making it to the final round.

To tracing my finger along my father and uncle’s name on the winning plaque, hoping that one day, my name would be on it.

To my grandparents lawn with towering trees, surrounded by an expansive garden, a pool with a diving board, a large dog run, a yellowish-brown tin barn covered speckled with spray painted the University of Oklahoma symbols, courtesy of my father and uncle.

I remember game after game of croquet on that lawn.

But, I remember things said to.

And although, I wish I could make the words go away or make the words impact lessen, I can’t.

“Did you bring your husband with you?”

It’s uttered as my father’s shot comes up short.

It’s laughed when my uncle’s mallet skims the top of the ball, not making solid contact.

It’s teased when I fail to make the next wicket, leaving my ball in a perfect position to be used by the other team.

The remembered phrase makes me feel sick.


But, I remember.  

As the games of the night end, my team loses both, and while I want a rematch, I have a thirteen hour drive in the morning and head to bed.

But, I hear the phrase “Did you bring your husband with you?” again and again, uttered by my father and family members. It reeks of misogyny. And, I wonder, how many memories will continue to be tainted by sexism, racism, homophobia, or transphobia?

2018 – What is the Cost of a Principle?

I’m not going to dive back into my thoughts about border patrol stationed north of Las Cruces because I already went into my . . . shall we say . . . discomfort at this idea.

But, as I cross through the checkpoint, waved through at this point, my car must be in their system, a phrase from my audiobook lingers in my mind long after it is read aloud by one of the narrator.

“What is the cost of a principle?”

As the characters in Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer discuss the trials and tribulation of leadership, and while I won’t discuss my rapture for the author’s latest fantasy epic, the phrase causes reflection.

“What is the cost of a principle?”

I think about the four postcards sitting in the hardback of Oathbringer, postcards from my California ski trip, postcards that I can’t decide what to do with.

Do I send them?

To who?



What would I say?

I think about the new year and celebrating this New Year’s Eve at a drag show at an El Paso gay bar.

I think back on past New Year’s Eves.

Watching the clock on a stove in old Albuquerque High School, renovated into a studio apartment, with a ginger beer margarita in hand.

Watching the clock on a small TV in the kitchen, finding the cliched Times Square coverage to be nearly unbearable.

Watching the clock in the living room at my grandparents’ in Enid, Oklahoma, bundled in a coat, hat, and gloves after being dragged behind a four-wheeler in a sled.

A drag show is certainly one way to celebrate the New Year.

The audiobook continues the epic story of good versus evil.

But, I keep coming back to, “What is the cost of a principle?”

Is it time?

Is it family?

Is it friends?

Is the principle worth it?


Part of me feels like running
Running away
Because of how I feel
And of how you feel

It would just be easier to run
And not look back
One Converse clad foot in front of the other

But when I see you
I lose my breath

What Kind of Year Has It Been? (2017 Edition)

While contrite and perhaps a bit predictable, let’s review the year of 2017.

2017, a year of devastating consequences and hope.

From every single time the 45th president opened his mouth to every time that the Republican party caved to his immortality for the sake of power to every vile policy enacted (Muslim Ban, Trans Military Ban, CDC Word Ban, Tax Scam, Ending DACA, and every other dismantling of U.S. democratic institutions) to the cowardice and the traitorous failing to hold the 45 president’s administration accountable for their election collusion and corruption to the rise of open white supremacy in the name of the Alt-Right and #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, 2017 has taken its toll.

It has taken its toll on me and on others.

It has taken its toll on the relationships with others.

It has led to “To Whom It May Concern,” to “Disappointment,” and to “Where Things Stand”.

It has led to “Child of Trump Nominee Speaks Out.”

It has led to the Women’s March and the March for Science and the Tax March.

It has led to ACLU and Human Rights Campaign donations.

It has led to action and voting and calling my member of Congress.

It has led to being called mean and cruel for speaking up and out.

It has led to near-breaking, near-shattering.

Yet, as the shadow falls across a once proud and hopeful nation, it is not the end.

Though, it is an ending.

And, with that ending, hope still remains because even in 2017’s darkest moments, there was joy.

There was camping and board games and paintings and new friendships and city exploring and a Drag Queen Christmas and skiing and resolve.

Resolve to get through this.

Resolve to move forward.


Because as 2018 promises more darkness and devastation, for not just those who are marginalized but for all of American democracy, there is still hope.

There will always be hope in the darkest of places.

And in the words of a Jedi Master, “This is not going to go the way you think.”

Aware. Never Forgetting. Now, Always Forward.  

To Whom It May Concern




Where Things Stand


Child of Trump Nominee Speaks Out