From Georgia with love

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Ruby Falls, Chattanooga TN

I’m winding down the remaining hours of my vacation, laying in bed as my laundry is getting done, grateful that I got home safe, and a little annoyed that it didn’t go as I had hoped. My trip to Georgia began wonderfully, as I detailed in my last post, but that’s where it goes awry.

What happened is that I got sick. I’m talking about coughing until my lungs hurt, unable to breath, and spent three days stuck in my room trying to avoid getting others sick, and hoping not to get worse sick. It really, really sucked.

My first three days in Georgia were fun. On Saturday, we – and by that I mean me and Amy, the friend I rode with to Georgia, and the friends in whose home we were staying – went hiking at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. It’s a Civil War battlefield outside of Atlanta. We quickly toured the museum, where I could easily have spent all looking at the artifacts and reading up on the battle, before walking up the mountain. There’s no off trail hiking allowed, which is a shame, but they want to preserve the area for historical and archaeological reasons.

Sunday we went to an escape room. Not much to say about that except that we had an hour to try and escape, and we did so in thirty-one minutes. It was challenging, but I think we should have picked a harder room to escape from. It was fun.

Monday, we drove to Chattanooga and did three attractions, all on Lookout Mountain. We rode up the Incline Railway, did Rock Garden, and then saw Ruby Falls, which is a waterfall deep underground, in the heart of Lookout Mountain. We did a lot of walking on Monday, and by then, I was well on my way to being sick. I was hacking and coughing, and though I didn’t feel sick, I knew it was coming.

From Tuesday on, I sequestered myself in the room. I felt horrible. I did agree to go downstairs and watch Westworld, and I think I played a tabletop game called Munchkin on Thursday. It was a lot of fun, but I just wasn’t into it. I felt like death.

By Thursday, me and Amy decided to cancel the New Orleans portion of the trip. I didn’t have it in me to try and wander around New Orleans and try to join in the festivities of Mardi Gras. It bummed me out because I had planned on being Stef for those two days. As it turned out, I only got to dress up for my ride down to Georgia. It was a complete let down.

There’s  chance that we may decide to go to New Orleans some other time in a few months, but we have no imminent plans. I know I would love to go, but right now I’m trying to psych myself up to go back to work tomorrow morning. I really don’t want to go, but I need to. Eleven days is not enough down time, especially since I spent the last six of them coughing phlegm up. It’s been swell!

Martin from Garland Texas from The Straight Up Gay Podcast


Episode 8 of the Straight Up Gay Podcast is up. If you haven’t checked it out, please do so. It is an informative podcast, dealing with issues surrounding the LGBT community. Hosted by Major, the father of a gay teen, he seeks to raise awareness.

Driving Miss Stefani

20170217_1236551I’m on vacation! It’s nice to get away from the hassle of everyday life. No work responsibilities, no familial ties to bind me into societal norms. I’m free to be me, to explore, to live. It’s an awesome experience.

I left work on Wednesday and drove to my friends house outside of the Dallas Metroplex, getting there around eleven at night. I didn’t change into Stef. I was more concerned about getting out of Dodge than anything else. Thursday was a no go as well. There were too many things to do. My friend, who runs a dog sitting business, had to travel to McKinney to pick up a dog, her cousin’s, and then I went to Commerce to visit my step-daughter.

Friday, however, was my day. I woke up at four in the morning to get ready. Once, done, I finished whatever last minute packing we needed to do, then we headed out at six, down U.S. Highway 69 to Tyler, where we jumped on I-20, and eventually Georgia. It was a looong drive!

The trip itself was uneventful. I sat in the passenger seat most of the way, relaxing and enjoying the scenery. I had never been in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, or Georgia, so it really was a new experience. We stopped at all the rest areas to take pictures, except in Georgia. By then, it was dark and we were tired of being cooped up in the car.

The only stressful part of the drive was going to the bathroom. Damn conservatives! I myself consider myself right from center, but damn! The evangelicals in the right wing of the party are a bunch of busy body, judgmental assholes. So much for being for smaller government. It puts a great deal of pressure on us to conform into a mold in which we feel uncomfortable.

For the most part, I tried to find places I knew would have family or unisex bathrooms. Where I didn’t, I hurried into the women’s room, did my business, and left. I didn’t linger. I felt pressured and uncomfortable. I feel judged as it is, and I’m self-conscious about taking a pee. I never had any trouble, however I did get some jackass glaring at be as we gassed up in Mississippi. I wanted to beat up the old codger, but I refrained. I’m a very nice person.

I didn’t let that dampen the enthusiasm for the trip. I took over the drive in Alabama, stressing out over how busy the traffic was. My friend fell asleep, and I drove in silence, enjoying the beauty of the scenery. Wishing we had the time to stop more often to explore places I had never seen before.

I gave up the driver seat right before we entered Georgia. We stopped for gas, and once we left, I had to change back into Joe. I was bummed out, but a little relieved. My jeans were a little tight around the waist, and my men’s wear is a little looser. Taking off my makeup and fingernail polish was tricky in the dark, but I got it done.

The people we are staying with don’t know about Stef. I haven’t decided whether or not to tell them. They have a daughter who is a lesbian, so I don’t fear judgement. It’s more that it takes it out of me to revel myself. Opening myself up isn’t easy. We’ll see how it goes.

We plan to leave here Thursday, bound for New Orleans and Mardi Gras! I will spend those few days as Stef, once again stressing about restrooms and the like. I used to worry about it years ago when I took my first steps out as Stefani, but now there’s an increased focus on that, which I absolutely loath. I may end up having to become more political, but not just yet. I’m on vacation. I’m not ready for reality to ruin my fun.

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Growing out

fotor_148643598267887Growing my hair has been a royal pain in the ass, if you’ll allow me to be frank about it. I don’t know how I managed it the first couple of times I grew it out. It’s getting in my way, it’s hard to work, and it’s uncomfortable. It’s at the awkward length were I can’t really do anything with it. The front of my hair has grown down to my nose, while the back is almost down to my shoulders. It’s annoying.

Pretty soon, but not soon enough, it’ll be long enough for me to tie it back, which I’m sure is how I’ll wear it most days. For the moment, however, I need to find a way to get it cut, one that won’t give me away. A friend said I should get a pixie cut, but that may be a little too girly. Also, I don’t think it’s right for me or my face. This is going to be tougher than I thought.

This past Saturday, I decided to try styling my own hair. I gave up after a few feeble attempts. I was never shown how to fix hair. Growing up, I was given really short hair cuts, which I despised. In high school, my hair was usually shaggy, but never too long. It was only in college that I decided I wanted to grow my hair out, and yes, I kept in in a pony tail. Creative, I know!

What I want to do now is learn how to fix it up. On Saturday, I let my friend give it a go, and it turned out okay. She said some hair gel and/or hairspray would have helped. I don’t disagree. I think I need someone to give me some hair-styling tutorials. I think I may need a hair dresser. Yikes!

I’ve hated my wigs since I bought my first one back almost a year and a half ago. It’s not that I didn’t like the way they looked. I did. I didn’t say I hated the way it make me feel, I loved it. I that the way they feel. They’re hot, cumbersome, and itchy. I never spent the money to buy an expensive wig, but I suspect they would be just as big of a pain in the ass as the one I did buy.

The one thing I do have to say is that they hid my forehead nicely. Without it, all I see is my huge noggin. I know, I know! I need to stop focusing on things I don’t like about myself, but it’s difficult. Let’s say it’s a work in progress.

I’ll experiment with my hair the next few days, and maybe I can find someway to fix it, one that looks good, and is at least somewhat comfortable. I need to figure it out soon. I start my vacation next Thursday, and I plan on spending as much time as I can dressed up as I can manage. I don’t want a cumbersome wig to mess with.  I may buy some curlers, or a curling iron. I’ll have to practice some more. I doubt I’ll have anyone to come to my rescue on my roadtrip.

The Straight Up Gay Podcast

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Copyright 2017, Straight Up Podcast. Used with permission

I know I run a self-serving little blog. This is my home, a place where I can find some freedom to be myself, unencumbered by societal expectations. I’ve received nothing but kind words from you, my readers, and I have found you all to be a source of understanding and strength.

But to turn the table around, I want to share something I found the other day. I say found, but it was a follower of mine who posted the link to a podcast, run by a man who calls himself Major. Major is the father of a son who came out to him as gay. The Straight Up Gay Podcast is his way  of “working to advance the acceptance of LGBTQ+ individuals in modern society.”

My follower on Twitter, who I have had the pleasure corresponding with for the past several months, is a mother of a young woman, who has begun her journey to transition from male to female. She shared the link to the podcast to talk about her experience as a mother of a transgender child, and knowing who she was, though we’ve never met, I was entranced by what I heard.

More than her conversation, however, was the fact that Major had created a forum where such a discussion could take place. It’s not an obnoxious or toxic arena. It’s a safe place where he can be an advocate of a son he loves, and a platform where he can educate people about the struggles of being a parent of a gay son.

I’ve only listened to Episode 5 with AnnaLis, but a lot of what they discussed I could relate to. The struggles AnnaLis discussed were things I’ve struggled with, but instead of confronting them outright, I chose to do the opposite and hide from them. It was eye opening for me, as a 40 year old, to listen to her talk about a teen going through much of the same things I went through.

But back in the 90’s, there were no forums to go to, no advocates such as there are now. I was a lone wolf, feeling very much alone in my brokeness, struggling to fit in within a world I knew I could never truly belong to. I learned to fake it, and I tried for over ten years to deny to myself my true identity. It’s only recently that I’ve come to terms with my truth.

I believe Major has the promise of becoming an ally for not only members of the LGBTQ community, but the family of those whose children, parents, friends, come out as such. There’s a lot of misunderstandings inherent within our community, some of those I’m still working through, but he’s using his place behind the mic to dispel those same misunderstandings. He has become an educator as much as an advocate.

I hope you all give him a chance and listen to what he has to say. Check him out, subscribe to him, and donate if you think him worthwhile. I know I’ll continue to listen, hoping to learn more about myself and my fellow brothers and sisters. You can find him at the links above, or on Facebook and Twitter.

Where’s my phone?

20161223_182901My phone was stolen last Saturday. Gone, nowhere to be seen. There’s a moment of intense panic and dread when that happens. Partly it’s because of the cost of the damn device. Phones aren’t cheap, and I was actually leasing the phone from Sprint for a small monthly fee. In April, my lease would have been up, and I could have turned it in and gotten an upgrade. That was the plan. Alas, it was not meant to be.

So set aside that I had to pay $250 to buy the phone outright, and then an extra $90 to activate a new phone on a new lease, there’s the real issue. That was my phone! It was my property – though we all know it really wasn’t – and then there’s the reality of what I had on that phone. My music, books, and more importantly, my pictures.

Shit!

I made a habit of moving my pictures off the phone. It didn’t have enough memory to hold everything, so I moved it to my computer, but I still have photos I needed to move and then delete. Also, there were photos of me as Stefani. There were no risque pictures on my phone. The issue is that there are photos of my true self. Most people don’t know my true self. I’m afraid of being outed. Afraid but not as terrified as I once was.

So now I have a new phone, which is nice, but I was trying to save up a little bit of money for my upcoming trip to Georgia. I was hoping to buy a few outfits, maybe some shoes or some makeup. I wanted to look my best for my trip. Now I’ll be struggling just to afford to go. Damn my luck!

But my trip is still a go. My friend, who was planning on making the trip without me, is paying for all the gas, so it’s not like I’ll go broke on the trip. I just wanted to save some spending money. Also I’ll be helping with gas, regardless of what she says.

I’m sure I’ll post plenty of pictures during my trip on my Instagram and on Facebook. I know I’ll have a blast in Georgia, and a blast in New Orleans. My vacation starts on the 16th of February. I can’t wait.