Okay, I should clarify right away the title of this post. I’m not married or dating anyone (I’m still single). It’s not my work anniversary (that was in September). And it’s not this blog’s anniversary (that was last month). But the day I write this post (December 9) marks one year since I first attended a transgender/crossdresser support meeting here in Madison. As I recounted here, I had attended a Milwaukee support group a couple of times many years ago, and I longed to have the gumption to attend a similar group here in Madison. One year ago tonight, I finally got the gumption to get dolled up, straighten that wig on my noggin, drive through the Friday night going-home traffic, and join others in the TG/CD community to share thoughts, opinions, and camaraderie.
A quick post to reflect on a couple of things from the world of performing arts, one featuring yours truly and one not. The former of the two goes first: I dolled myself up last night (Friday) and returned to Mother Fool’s for the open-mic poetry event it hosts every month. I hadn’t been to Mother Fool’s in a while, and the good feeling I had performing there, combined with the equally good feelings lingering from my performance at Trans Monologues last month, drove me to perform at Mother Fool’s again.
As is usually the procedure with the Mother Fool’s poetry and freeform events, those who wanted to perform added their name to a basket, from which the host (more on him in a moment) pulled out names to determine the order of performances. I was the penultimate name pulled, taking the mic at around a quarter to 10PM. By chance, I had a literal front row seat to the entire show; the table you see in the foreground of this photo is where I sat, with a lady sitting at the next table obliging to take photos while I was at the mic. By chance or error, she hit the “video record” button on my phone’s camera a couple of times; they were brief and incomplete, but I’m tempted to edit and post them to show… well, audio proof that I perform my poetry. (If I do, a bit of a spoiler alert: I still not the most confident performer.)
Two spots after my 5-minute slot, which included 3 of my poems (including the holiday-themed first poem I ever posted here), the host took to the mic to finish off the event with a morose and rather morbid listing of the mass shootings in the United States over the past 5 years, including date and incident (his last entry was, “Next date: To be announced”). The host was Ron Czerwein, who owns the Avol’s Books consignment business that operates out of A Room of One’s Own downtown. For reasons left undisclosed, Friday was Ron’s last night hosting poetry open mic at Mother Fool’s. The plan is for him to cede host duties to a rotation of four hosts, with one of the quartet caring for the hosting duties each month (including, presumably, making arrangements for the guest performers who open each event). Two of those four hosting slots were still open, according to Ron, and being the type of person who wants to help out any way I can, I was tempted to inquire about the host slots. I didn’t, however, because for one, I don’t have any real skills at arranging event logistics. Also, I’m still relatively new at poetry writing and presenting. Perhaps if I had more of those logistical and performing skills, I would have stepped up and asked, “Hey, do you need a fourth host?” Maybe that will change in the future.
As I write this, it’s Thanksgiving morning in the United States. As my fellow Americans surely know by now, this is a day to meet up with family, eat copious amounts of food, watch grown men hit each other on only 3 days’ rest… and try to think of what they’re thankful for. I’ve thought a bit about the intent of this holiday’s title, and in this post I’ve compiled some of things I’m thankful for — and a few I’m not thankful for — here in 2017.
- I am thankful for still being employed. Well, duh. And while some of the work may be tedious, and while this is one of the busiest times of year for our team, at least I am doing a job I mostly enjoy using skills I’m proud to possess.
- Despite my own employment and the fact that Madison has a pretty good climate for job prospects and growth, I am not thankful that this Thanksgiving finds some around here who, for reasons beyond their control, must go without gainful employment Case in point: Someone I’ve built a good friendship with this past year (more on how that came about in a little bit) was let go from her steady job last summer. As with other unemployed people around here, I sincerely hope my friend will gain a job with a company that will appreciate her skills, her work ethic, and especially her passion for those who have less and for life in general. (Side note to my friend: I apologize in advance that my bringing up your plight on here may make you sad on this day, but know that I am here to respect and support you and wish you nothing but the best.)
- I am thankful that I still live in such a wonderful, progressive, and wonderfully progressive community that is Madison.
- I am even more thankful that I’ve had the opportunity — and the gumption — to step out as Allison into a city so welcoming. I’ll likely bring this up again in an end-of-year post, but 2017 has been a big year for my stepping out of my wardrobe and into the world, from performing poetry to marching in a parade to attending a banquet. These are experiences that I will never forget.
- I am thankful for the health and happiness of my family. I’m also thankful that we’ve grown bigger through the uniting in marriage of my youngest sister with her husband and his extended family (including his daughters).
- I am also thankful that my four nieces are growing into wonderful young women. One of them graduated from high school this year, and I hope she has ventured into what will be a positive future for her. I hope, too, that my other nieces will have positive futures of their own.
- I am not thankful that some in my family have our differences. Those differences have been shown bare through Facebook: My mom is among a (thankfully) few of my Facebook friends who are not above sharing a conservative-leaning meme with their friends. At least I’m not one who uses Facebook much (at least as Male Mode Me), so I don’t have to see those irritating memes very much. When I do, however, I’m not above using the “angry” reaction button to show my displeasure (I hope Mom and my Facebook friends get the message).
- Needless to say, I am not thankful that our society has become more and more divided over the past year since You Know Who was elected You Know What. Most of the previous 8 years, we didn’t have that feeling of our country being ripped apart centimeter by centimeter. Now, in the past year, it’s as if those rips are not metaphoric and are miles in width — with the chasm being filled not by bridges but by walls.
- Despite that, I am thankful that a great many people in this country are willing to stand up for what’s right and just, rising above the hatred and vitriol to stand for a country that should not have fear and hatred as its bedrock.
- Above all else, I am very, very thankful to have joined and in and being a relatively active part of a transgender/crossdresser support group over the past year. I regularly meet up with this group’s members, and they have proven to be a wonderful group. They are ready to lend an an ear, their advice, and their support to those like me, regardless how how we identify. (Respect for others’ differences is our group’s own bedrock.)
- I have come to know my above mentioned friend through this TG/CD group; she is a cis-gender ally who respects and admires us for the people we are and the identity we know we are. Friendships like this can be a rare thing for some, and I’m very glad — and very, very thankful — to have found such a friendship.
And just as I am very, very thankful for the friends I’ve built over the past year, I am very, very thankful for your readership and kind words. Whoever you are, wherever you may be, whatever your identity, and whatever your background, here’s hoping Thanksgiving 2017 proves to be a happy time for you, and that you have your own reasons to be thankful. Have a safe and enjoyable day.
Okay, okay, okay! I know you’ve been waiting with baited breath for me to tell all about my night at the Trans Monologues event. You haven’t? Well, even if you haven’t, here’s where I finally talk about it.
As I mentioned previously on here, Trans Monologues is an annual event put on by the University of Wisconsin—Madison’s LGBT Campus Center. The event, which coincides with Transgender Awareness Week, aims to be a “night of honest expression about the joys and trials of being anywhere on or off the gender-variant spectrum” (direct quote from the event’s Facebook page, where the above image appears).
Before I (finally) recount my performance last Friday at Trans Monologues, I want to first present to you, for the first time on this blog, the poem I performed at the event. The reason for this is to have a preface to my post about my performance at the event, which will include how I presented the poem. (Spoiler alert: It involved emphasizing some lines with hand gestures. No, not those kinds of hand gestures.)
As for the poem itself? This was one of two poems I wanted to refrain from publishing on here until after presenting them live. Back in August, I submitted this and a few others for consideration at another trans-related performance event. And as I mentioned here, I was turned down. That did to not only a bit of soul searching but also editing and re-editing the two new poems. (For the record, I’ve already published the other poem, and it’s found here.) The re-editing process included some re-re-editing after I read it aloud for folks in a trans support group I regularly attend. They were more supportive, were not one to readily scrutinize so harshly, and are part of a community that is this poem’s inspiration. They did offer some praise, but also some constructive advice I heeded, and the final result is what you are about to read.
While I’m spending part of my Saturday morning bathing in the euphoria from and thinking up a post documenting my poetry performance Friday night (an awesome evening all around), I want to make a quick addition to “Allison’s Jukebox.” Have a listen to “Diamonds and Pearls,” the 1991 hit by Prince and The New Power Generation.
It’s Friday as I write this, and I have the entire day off. A good thing, yes, since it gives me a three-day weekend. But it’s an even better thing for me since it’s been a major bummer of a week, thanks to taking my (supposedly) sweet little car into the shop not once but twice. The first, unplanned visit was because of a flat tire. On my drive into work on Monday, I had to dodge a little yet quite noticeable something that the construction site across from my place of employment did not sweep up. However, I heard a little “pop” in the back of my car. While I had dodged what I had to dodge, I wasn’t expecting something else in the road — a nail, which I didn’t realize I had run over until my work day ended and I came back to my car. The good news is that there was a tire place literally two doors down from my place of employment, and they were able to replace my tires and get me back on the road that night. (I say “tires” because they got me with the up-sell thing and replaced both of my rear tires, since they didn’t have a single tire in stock that matched the size of the good rear tire.)
[*cue rumble of thunder and eerie organ music*] Salutations, ghosts and goblins and non-conforming. I’ve gone on the record on here once or twice about not getting into the whole dress-up thing for Halloween very much. Since I’m a crossdresser and normally appear as my usual male self before the public eye, any day of the year can be a day when I can put on that “costume” I call “being Allison” and bring my feminine character to life.
But that’s not to say that I’ve never dressed up for Halloween, at least as an adult. Matter of fact, this past Saturday night, I dressed up to the nines for a Halloween party. And here’s proof:
This dress may look familiar to you regular readers of this blog, and it’s true, you’ve seen it on here before. This is the very same black lace-and-beads dress and accompanying bolero jacket I found several years ago at the Savers thrift store and have had in my closet ever since. At first, I didn’t have any thoughts about attending any Halloween party this year (more on the party in a little bit), and even when I decided to go, this outfit wasn’t my first thought for a costume. Instead, the first thought of a costume that came to my mind was a certain yellow-and-black sexy taxi driver outfit, an homage to a friend of mine on Facebook who occasionally wears such an outfit as part of her work. Alas, I could not find such an outfit that was in my size. And with the party coming up very quick, I went with Plan B (and, no, I’m not talking about the nightclub) and got all formal and classy.
Let’s start off this post with a quick comic book analogy, and before you think I’m a sci-fi/comic book geek, I’m not; it’s just that I read a quick blurb about this character a long while ago and felt they were apropos for this post: In the DC Comics Universe, there is a character by the name of Luornu Durgo, a strange visitor from another planet (whoops, wrong character) where the natives had the ability to split themselves into three identical bodies at will. Luornu Durgo used that that ability to overwhelm and fight evil forces, earning her the nickname “Triplicate Girl.”
Now, I imagine that Luornu Durgo could have used that multiplication ability to do other things… like, say, straighten up her house before guests came over to visit. Or… I dunno, appear in three totally separate places at once. Last week Friday, I had not one, not two, but three separate commitments occupying my entire day from pre-dawn to well past sunset. Thankfully, I didn’t have to be there all at the same time, but just the same, I felt like I had that multiplying superpower. Just call me [*insert powerful superhero music here*] Triplicate Person!
It’s Wednesday as I finish this post, and while I try to process my long weekend out of town and my return from work afterwards (a topic for a forthcoming post, I promise), let’s devote this post to the big weekend I had exactly one weekend previous — Saturday the 23rd of September, to be exact. As you can tell from this post’s title, I did indeed perform poetry as Allison once again. But was it my second performance or my third? Well, I guess some clarification is in order: The first time I performed in front of a mic was during a poetry event at Mother Fool’s back in early July. A few weeks after that, on the last Saturday night of July to be exact, I was actually back at Mother Fool’s, though not to read poetry. Instead, since it wasn’t exclusively a night of poetry, I did a little bit of freeform spoken word storytelling about how I first found that sack of women’s clothing.
Saturday the 23rd, however, was all about the poetry. And instead of Mother Fool’s, we did our thing at another coffee house in town. (I’ll get to the significance of the “we” later.) The business in question is Cargo Coffee, a locally- and family-owned coffee shop that has two locations here in Madison, one on the south side and the one we performed at on East Washington Avenue, a few blocks northeast of the State Capitol. Cargo Coffee’s East Wash location is part of a major redevelopment that’s been occurring on the avenue the past several years (well, it’s happening throughout Madison but it definitely applies to East Wash): Older, smaller, and generally decrepit buildings, ones that housed businesses ranging from repair shops to an automobile dealership, have been replaced by more modern buildings and shops (including restaurants, a swank hotel, and a supermarket) and condominiums and luxury apartments that cost a pretty penny. And the redevelopment isn’t done yet: A new music venue is under construction just kitty corner from Cargo Coffee; further up the avenue, a separate redevelopment is turning a long-empty and neglected plot of land into a mix of apartments, shops, and a UW Health clinic.