Eyes, Whispers

I feel your eyes on me

glancing at my top

inspecting my flats

 

I hear your whispers as

I walk down the street

I climb into my car

 

I hold my head high

to face another day

to stand strong

again and again

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One Week

So, you are through week one

Week one as yourself

So

How did it go

 

It went Are you gay

It went strutting

It went Why are you wearing girl shoes

It went smiling

It went Mr wants him to call him Ms now and I respect that

It went excitement

And heartache and frustration and bliss

 

It went I heard a rumor that you want to be called Ms now

And I said Yes

 

It went glimmers of me

A Request

A step forward in being true to myself, I finally came out to the rest of my coworkers and have now asked to go by my prefered name and pronouns. The email below is the first step.

 

Recently, the coaches were provided with a new book to read, which I had put off reading, but last week, the coaches met for the first round of the book study, which meant I could no longer put it off.

So, I read it.

I reflected on it and knew that I needed to make changes, both personally and professionally.

As the English Language Arts team can tell you, one of the activities from book that stuck with me the most was over identifying and reflecting on your Core Values (I highly recommend this activity to everyone and can provide the resource for those interested). I identified and reflected on mine.

Immediately, I noticed a gap . . . I noticed several gaps, honestly.

But for the purpose of this email to you all, the gap was with the Core Value of Authenticity.

The gap closes here.

This year and last year I kept telling myself that I needed to stay under the radar because I didn’t want to be a burden to anyone or challenge ideas, and if I faced rejection and mockery, I was not sure if I was prepared for that again. Yet, I am at the point in my life where I need to be truly authentic: for myself, for our students, and beyond.

I am transgender and have been in the process of living authentically for the past two years, and at this time, I request to be referred to as Bailey and with feminine pronouns.

I ask of you your respect and continued professionalism, and I thank you in advance for it.

I promised myself that I would keep this message brief, but if anyone has any questions, I am happy to answer them.

Thank you for all that you do.

 

Sincerely,

  1. Bailey

My Ideal Bookshelf – Ishmael

Ishmael, Daniel Quinn

I remember spotting all three books in my father’s recycling bin, Ishmael, The Story of B, and My Ishmael.

It must have been during my time in high school because of where he and my stepmom were living, but I can’t remember the reason for the books being in the recycling bin. Perhaps, my father had simply moved on from the books’ ideas. Or, was just cleaning house.

Regardless, I asked if I could have them and reread Ishmael and read The Story of B and My Ishmael for the first time.

Perhaps, if my father knew that Quinn’s book would lead me down the path of atheism, he never would have given me the first one of the trilogy.

In all likelihood, he would have burned them for blasphemy.

Perhaps, that’s why they were being recycled.

(I plan to one day cover the hypocrisy of the Republican agenda to that of my dad and family’s lifelong recycling, but now this post is not that time or place.)

Ishmael and the third of the series have a strange fantasy premise of learning from a talking gorilla, which is probably why the loosely adapted film version, Instinct, lacked the anthropomorphized ape.

Yet, the books, particularly the first and last opened up history in a new and interesting way. It challenged the worldview that I had been shown all my life, and it turned it completely around.

I questioned everything from that point forward.

Religion.

Politics.

History.

Family.

Gender.

I once tried to have a friend read Ishmael, but she was never able to get into it. In her view, she already knew what the book was trying to say. I guess as you educate yourself and grow, you naturally begin to look at the world differently.

But, as a teenager trying to figure out my place in the world in small town Oklahoma, it was another chance to discover and to question.

Flashbacks from the Wild, Part 3: Caves, Dragon’s Egg, and Guano

Sunday morning cartoons paled in comparison to Saturday morning cartoons. In fact, Sunday spent at my mom’s house lacked any cartoons, which was due to either attending the weekly church service when she could not be convinced not to go or because our basic cable package lacked Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel only played TV movies in the morning.

A particular Disney TV movie was on my mind as we made our way deeper into the caverns at Carlsbad.

I couldn’t remember the name of the movie or who was in it or what even happens in the movie, except for a teenager getting lost in a cave and finding a dragon’s egg.

I made a mental note to google the movie and see if I could find the title of the movie and read the synopsis. It was not the time for such things as Google or Snapchat or the Twitters because under the advice of the park ranger, my iPhone was now on airplane mode. For some reason, cell service is quite poor hundreds of feet underground.

The path of the cave was well lit, and I spent much of the time snapping pictures of beautiful rock formations cast in eerie lights for park goers to enjoy.

The cave was much larger and deeper than any I’d ever been to before, and I’d been to quite a few caves.

Again, no Google underground and the names escaped me, but I remembered the cave under Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO. I’d been to Silver Dollar City quite a few times, but I only remember exploring the cave once. I’d been to Missouri’s strange amalgamation of Las Vegas, a cruise ship, hillbilliness, and bible-thumping more times than I care to emit, but a few pleasant memories of Branson exist. A few.

I remembered camping in Oklahoma with my mom, step-dad, brother, and my dog, Cricket, and after a night of tenting, we explored the campground’s cave.

Silver Dollar City’s was much larger than the Oklahoma one, but it was still much smaller than Carlsbad’s.

Further and further into the underground, my friends and I traversed.

Yet, one previous cave stood out the most.

In high school, I was a part of nearly every club there was at the school, except those that were Christian or farming affiliated. And as part of the Gifted program and the Science Club, we ventured to a nearly uncharted cave in northeastern Oklahoma.

The first trip does not particular standout, other than a girl getting stuck for a bit when she tried to follow my cave exploring. And, when we went back as far as we could travel, blocked from going farther by a cave lake, we shut off all the lights, and I practiced my best Gollum impersonation. This prompted a pitch black Gollum-off. I still stand firm that I won.

It is hard to know for sure now, but I think I went on the first trip my sophomore year because if I am remembering correctly who was there from my high school, it had to be my sophomore year.

The second time I went to the cave more memories are easily recalled. The cave was nearly flooded so we were unable to go back into it as far as the previous trip. When attempting to find a handhold, I accidentally touched a small bat. I hopelessly flirted with a girl that I ended up not asking to my senior prom because a few weeks later I would go out on my first official date with a girl I would meet at a speech tournament, who would later become my first girlfriend, first love, and first breakup. I also had the world’s worst shoes for caving, and with the cave being a bit muddier due to the rains, I spent much of the time slipping and sliding all over the cave.

Upon exiting the cave this time, my coveralls were completely covered in a thick layer of mud and bat guano.

Meandering through Carlsbad Caverns, my mind was lost in memories, as I followed the lighted path to the elevator to travel back to the surface.

As I sit down to write this blog post, I decide not to look up the Disney dragon egg movie.

Some things are better left as memories because the whole picture can sometimes ruin a trek to the past.

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

“Look.

I’m still waiting.

Waiting on an apology.

An apology from you.

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

Because,

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

I need you to know that what you are doing,

Well,

It goes against everything you were taught.

It goes against everything I thought I knew about you.

So,

I will keep waiting.”

We said, almost in unison,

Our voices echoing in the chasm between us.

Writing

Sometimes, it works.

This whole writing thing.

I have an idea.

It’s outlined.

I walk with it,

     taking in the scenery around me.

Sometimes,

I dive with it,

     swimming within the memory as words pour forth.

Sometimes,

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

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-twitter-shithole-countries_us_5a5d13bce4b04f3c55a526e4   

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

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/tulsa-law-school-remove-founder-due-kkk-associations-article-1.2626106

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.

Choose.

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.

Everything.

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.

https://www.reddit.com/r/asktransgender/comments/7og735/wanted_trans_version_of_tony_robins_to_blow/