While my mind formulates a post about my recent night at Trans Monologues (it’s coming, I promise), I want to keep my writing juices flowing with a few things about the mall down the road from where I live, West Towne Mall. Thankfully, none of what I want to talk about is about this incident (yikes!). Rather, it’s about a couple of stores at West Towne, beginning with Forever 21. As you may have heard, Forever 21 declared bankruptcy back at the end of September, and that the roster of locations the retailer plans to close includes the spot of West Towne they’ve rented out for the past 10 years or so.
It’s the weekend, always a prime time to decompress from the work week just past, and recharge for the work week ahead. For me, this past week was a significant one, in that I started a brand new work assignment through a staffing agency. The assignment is at… well, uh uh, I’m not gonna tell you all. I need to let Male Mode Me have his anonymity and professional dignity secure.
Back in September 2017, I posed for a professional photographer for the first time, doing so before the camera of Katie Berry at Smoketree Photography. Three months later (December 2017), Katie, her partner, and their friends in the Everyday Gay Holiday art studio/collective on Atwood Avenue threw a holiday get-together for their friends in the LGBT+ community — a “HOLIgay” party. While I’m not a party person, I jumped at the chance to doll myself up, snack on some food, and mingle with other LGBT+ people from the Madison community.
Being the photographer that she is, Katie set up a corner in the studio to let the partygoers use her fancy camera and snap a few free selfies in front of a festive “toyland/horse/holiday/winter wonderland” setting. Not wanting to pass up a photo opportunity while looking fabulous, I took the remote and snapped a few photos. There I was in red hair, soft sweater, and patent vinyl Forever 21 skirt, and Katie’s remote clicker in hand, smiling and being all beautiful for the camera. (Oh, the Santa hat was among the available props in the studio.)
Just a very quick about something I could have been doing tonight as I write this but won’t — perform poetry before an audience. While getting all dolled up and reading my words before actual living, breathing people is something I’ve enjoyed doing, it’s also something I haven’t done since the end of June.
And tonight would’ve been a perfect night to do it again, because it’s the 2018 edition of Trans Monologues. Does that name ring familiar to you, dear reader? Well it should, for one year ago this month, I performed a poem at the 2017 Trans Monologues, which is the annual night of performances by trans and gender non-conforming talent put on by UW—Madison’s Gender & Sexuality Campus Center.
You’re probably asking why I’m not there in person tonight? Well, if you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know I’ve been trying to master this work assignment I’ve been on since the first full week of August, one that’s been naturally preoccupying my weekdays but also been lingering on my mind when I’m away from the office. Needless to say, it’s pushed the desire to submit my work for consideration for Trans Monologues to the far back burner, so much so that I missed last week’s deadline for submissions.
On top of that, the outcome of this particular work day would have impinged on my enjoyment of performing had I actually signed up and performed. How bad was this work day for me? Well, let’s just say that I’ve fallen behind on a major task I’m responsible for. But it wasn’t like I’ve fallen so far behind on it that I’m drowning. Actually, I’ve squeezed in working on this task in between the other tasks I’m committed to. But it hasn’t pleased the “dragon lady” of a boss I must
report to please. She can be curt and direct, is often demanding, and can come across as displeased if we create an error or come up short of her expectations.
So tomorrow, I will have a lot of catching up to do, in addition to the other regular tasks I must cover in this assignment. No, it doesn’t leave me in the greatest of situations. But at least no one in this office can say I’m not making an effort to perform admirably in this assignment. And at least despite not always getting a positive read or encouraging word from the “dragon lady,” there are at least two other people who can give me words of comfort. A peer of this “dragon lady,” who I partially report to, reassured me that I’m doing a good job. Well, I sure hope so.
So while I may be too tired, physically and mentally, to attend Trans Monologues tonight, I know that I will be there in spirit. This is a night where my trans sisters and brothers can shine, and do so during an era that finds the collective embrace and support we’ve been receiving larger than before, yet the resistance we’re facing is just as big. Let’s show in our own special ways that we’re just as human as the cis-gender world, whether we’re singing, writing, performing poetry… or, yes, fretting over work. Let’s knock their socks off!
I want to share with you a little personal tidbit I left out during my recap of the OutReach Awards Banquet I attended last week Friday. And I want to preface this by saying that I have never told anyone I’ve worked with or encountered in my professional career that I dress up as Allison, nor do I have any plans to do so. And there have been only two people who have seen me present as both female and male, and both of them have seen me in male mode only once.
All that being said, there was someone I’ve encountered in my professional male-mode past who was literally inches from me at the OutReach banquet.
While I spend the weekend recuperating from a grueling work week, I want to highlight a Wisconsin-related, Madison-related, LGBT-related story I came across this morning. The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is, yes, an organization of businesses that promote economic growth, business opportunities, and blah blah blah. But note the inclusion of the acronym “LGBT” in their name. Yes, in addition to all that stuff about promoting economic growth, the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is an advocate for and promoter of LGBT-owned or -allied businesses and professionals in Wisconsin.
This poem is inspired by the topic I addressed in my previous post, which talked up the closing of a couple of anchor stores at West Towne Mall here in Madison. As I mentioned in that post, the eventual closing of the Boston Store chain, including its West Towne location, first made news back in April (it’s slated to close for good this week). Sometime after that, this poem started percolating in my mind. And in all truth, I finished it pretty quick, or at least quick enough to perform it in an open mic performance the last day of June at Mother Fool’s. (Yes, it was a few days after I lost my job. Yes, performing helped take my mind off my job search a little bit.)
In prefacing this poem at that performance, I asked a show of hands from the audience of about 20 or so, inquiring as to how many of them had the chance to check out the Boston Store closing sale at that point. The response wasn’t 100 percent, but more than a few (60 percent was my guess) put their hands up in the affirmative. The rest of the audience? Well, I think they spend too much time on their computers. (Dang you, Amazon!)
Okay, I promised some stuff I had left over from but didn’t have room in my last post about the 2018 OutReach Pride Parade & Rally that occurred last Sunday (August 19). Unlike that previous post, I promise I won’t even bring up the controversy that surrounded the parade this year. Nope, this will be all positive. The first thing is that though some of the same socialists who despised the police being at pride also despised the presence of corporate sponsorship (no, I’m not gonna get any darker than that in this post), there was, without mistake, a sincere presence of businesses who wanted to show their support of the LGBT+ community. Just as with the charities, non-profit organizations, and church and advocacy groups that also populated the parade, they made it known that they truly support our community and do not venture to discriminate against us. That they also do so with their checkbooks and accountants through their sponsorship of Pride does not (and should not) hurt, no matter what your level of disdain of the corporate world. And, yes, sometimes I do think this world has gotten all-corporate, if you know what I mean. Still, I do understand the necessity of having a benevolent, philanthropic sponsor offering cash. Continue reading
It’s been a full week, one that’s been somewhat busy and very wet, since the OutReach Pride Parade & Rally, but I’m finally ready to share with you some of my experience. As I’ve mentioned here and here, this year’s parade and rally was held under an ugly shadow, not from any rain clouds but under the specter of controversy. A loud contingent from Madison’s LGBT+ community raised a ruckus over the presence of the Madison Police Department at the parade, with some threatening to stage a counter-protest. In the end, parade organizers withdrew the applications of LGBT+ employee resource groups from MPD and UW—Madison Police as well as the Dane County Sheriff. Members from those groups could (and did) march in the parade, but had to do so unarmed and out of uniform. (Side note: The Madison Fire Department decided to withdraw one of their engines from the parade in sympathy to the boys in blue; it was MFD’s decision.) While OutReach’s move to formally eliminate the police entries upset some parade supporters and still likely upset some protesters (especially since the parade permit still required MPD to provide security), the parade and rally (**SPOILER ALERT**) went off without a hitch and without any rabble-rousers causing disruptions.
If you’re wondering, yes, I did march in the OutReach Pride parade last weekend. And, yes, I will have a post on it coming very soon. But at this point, I will thank goodness that the parade took place on the warm, pleasant Sunday we had in Madison last weekend, not the wet, stormy Monday that socked us.
For those of you who do not live in Dane County, we were hit with a massive deluge of rain Monday afternoon into Monday evening. How much rain? Judging from the reports I saw, my particular location on Madison’s west side got socked with about 8 inches of rain. That could be an underestimate on my part, considering that locales to the immediate west of Madison got hit much worse, including just under a foot of rain in Middleton and over 15 inches in Cross Plains. It was, according to county emergency management, the all-time Wisconsin record for heaviest rainfall within a 24-hour period.