Posts Tagged ‘coffee

16
Jul
09

“My Adventures in the Land of Trans Rights” or “Lorelei attends the House Judiciary Committee’s Hearing on HB1728/S1687”

Yesterday I took my radical trans self out to the Eastern part of our great Commonwealth of Massachusetts to attend the hearings being held by the Judiciary Committee at The State House on Beacon Hill in regards to HB1728/S1687, known in the English version of governmentese as “An Act Relative To Gender Based Discrimination And Hate Crimes”.

I dragged myself out of bed at the crack of dawn and did all the things I have to do to make myself not just presentable to the larger world, but to the press as well!

Somehow, I managed through a combination of highways, subways and my own two feet to arrive at The Statehouse in time for the press conference held by The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition
in The Senate Reception Room at 11:00.

There were already a number of the movers and shakers in the Mass Transgender community there as well as a number of supporters.  Gunner Scott, the Director of MTPC was there as well as his new right hand woman, Rachel Katharine Zall.  Also in attendance were the chair of MTPC, Nancy Nangeroni; Ethan St. Pierre, of “The Radical Trannies” podcast on TransFM.org; and my new friend Interfaith Leader, Mycroft Masada Holmes.

There were a number of others there as well, including a very nice woman who was there with her transmale son.  I spoke with her and her son for a few minutes as I regained my “social sea-legs”.  They were totally inspirational to me!  It’s so nice to see such support at the family level.  She just absolutely loves and supports her son and they were both pitching in to fight the good fight for Trans Right!!!

The press conference was fairly brief, essentially just an overview of the bill we are supporting, the work that MTPC has been doing and an introduction of several of the expert panel members who would be testifying later.

At this point, I did not expect to be testifying myself, I was simply there to support as a face in the crowd (albeit a fabulous one!) and a body in the seats.

After the press conference, I went and had a small lunch at Finagle A Bagel down the street with Mycroft.  And by lunch, I mean, for myself, primarily coffee!  (My lifestyle brought to you by the miracle of coffee!)

I have always loved watching the crowds of business people and others in the lunch hour buzz of downtown Boston and was pleased to have such excellent company and conversation to share it with.

Lunch was over fast though as Mycroft got a message from Gunner saying that bodies were needed in the lobby of The Gardner Auditorium where the Hearings were being held.  So off we went, back into the fray.  As we entered the State House we passed a couple of sweet looking little old ladies holding a banner for MassResistance, a group that has put an astonishing amount of time energy and effort into hating LGBT folks!!!
So much so that I often wonder what kind of issues the folks in charge of that particular Hate Group are repressing?  I’m not saying anything particular, but I’ll just mention that they put as much energy into hating us as I put into loving cheese (sweet, glorious, yummy cheese…)!!!!!!

I greeted them with a pleasant hello anyway, because that’s just how I roll.  And also because they were “kind enough” to give me some fabulous publicity when I first came back to the East Coast, by making me essentially the face of “The Tranny Menace In Massachusetts”.  A fact which my friend Justin Adkins, a hardworking trans-activist of note I might add, and a great guy, seems to be quite jealous of!!
(Note to MassResisitance: Justin feels awfully slighted by your ignorance of him!  He’s just as Evil as the rest of us you know, and he’s been working really hard spread the Transgender Agenda!!)

As soon as we got to the lobby of the auditorium I was intercepted by Dan Ring of The Springfield Republican for an interview.  He needed a Western Mass transperson to interview and had been aimed at “The really tall girl around here somewhere”, which is actually a pretty accurate description of me and my habit of being in as many places as possible.

It was a decent interview, Dan seemed like a good enough guy.  It was really super-hot in The Statehouse though and as I poured sweat in the interview I couldn’t help thinking of Dick Nixon facing down Kennedy in their famous debate.  Thankfully I fared a might better than old Tricky Dick.

As soon as the interview was over I was asked if I was interested in testifying and since I make a point of saying “yes” as often as possible, I signed my name to the dotted line.  Gulp.  “Oh my, I guess that’s that.” I thought.  Somehow, I always knew I would end up testifying before some governmental committee.  I’m just glad no one was asking if I was now or ever had been a member of the Communist Party.  I’m not by the way, but my politics are pretty far left…  Oh heck, just call me Comrade!!  (wink, wink)

Caught up in the whirlwind at this point, I was glad to be called upon to switch into “techie mode” for awhile.  I was “volunteered” to help Gordene MacKenzie, Nancy Nangeroni’s life partner and co-host with her of “GenderVision” and also a very nice woman, to set up the camera and microphones for taping all the testimonies.

Nothing gets me over a case of the nerves like adjusting a tripod, plugging in wires and setting levels!  A potentially hostile and packed crowd full of strangers immediately becomes simply an obstacle to be gotten through when I’m carrying camera equipment!
I tied my hair back and I was able to set aside thoughts like, “OMG!!!!  What the heck am I going to say!?!?!” for several minutes while I fiddled with knobs and listened for buzzing.

After all that was fairly well-settled and set up, it was time for the waiting.
I stood around, listening to testimony on a bunch of other, very interesting bills.  I opened up my trusty yellow pad and quickly outlined what I was going to say.  Three minutes to testify and hopefully get my message across, so I kept it as simple as I know how.

2:30, the appointed time for the testimony on our bill came and went.  3:00, 3:30, time passed as we all waited, asking each other for any scraps of useful information on when our testimonies would be heard.  All the while the pressure differentials of the packed auditorium were wreaking havoc with my sinuses and seriously f—king with my equilibrium.  I could hear the sound of my own breathing echoing in my ears and the room sounded like I was underwater.  Awfully unsettling.

Finally, around 4-4:30, the judiciary committee chair, Newton Senator Cynthia Stone Creem (D), announced that they would begin hearing testimony on “An Act Relative To Gender Based Discrimination And Hate Crimes”.

I couldn’t hope to do justice to the details of the many, many testimonies that were offered by both sides of the issue.  However, I will relay my general impressions.

I was especially impressed by one of the initial speakers in support of the bill, Jennifer Levi, Esq., Transgender Rights Project Director at GLAD.  Her testimony was informative, insightful, well reasoned and very persuasive. Immediately after she finished the Committee asked her a number of questions all of which she answered like a pro.  Well okay, I guess actually she is a pro, but her answers simplified and explicated a number of complex issues.

For hours the testimonies continued.  Back and forth, between supporters of the bill and those who opposed the bill.

On our side, we had people from all across the spectrum.  Transpeople with personal stories of triumph and difficulty.  All manner of experts.  Parents of transfolks.  Professional business types.  Pretty much all walks of life were intelligently and movingly represented.

As for the opposition.  I will try to be fair.  There were those who seemed decent enough and genuinely concerned.  For the most part though, I was shockingly reminded of just how much blind hatred and ignorance there still is out there towards transgender people.
I sat and listened as we were called all kinds of horrible things.  Rarely directly mind you, usually by association.  We were alluded to as potential child molesters and perverts.  Emotionally charged stories of rape and abuse were used as arguments against us.  None of these stories involved transpeople doing the raping or abusing mind you, but it was implied that if this bill passes it would open the door for all kinds of perverts and predators to begin their reign of terror in the name of the evil “gender expression”.

I listened to endless streams of testimony about “The Bathroom Bill”.

While we were asking for equal rights, for protections against job discrimination and violent Hate Crimes, our opposition was more concerned with where we should pee!

The usual cries of “Save the children!” were heard over and over.  Despite the fact that not a single incident involving a transperson attacking someone in a public restroom has ever been reported.  Despite also the fact that most child-molestation occurs within the family unit.

The opposition to this bill that would protect the basic human rights of transgender people, often seemed to boil down to the fact that they were “uncomfortable” with us.
I know what my kindergarten teacher would have said about this.  She was a sweet but stern woman, who would have told them that there are all kinds of people in the world and just because some people are different and that makes you uncomfortable is no reason not to let them join in your games.  “Now go back and play nice or I’ll have to make you stand at the fence for five minutes.”

There was one Catholic priest who used the tired old “Deuteronomy calls them an abomination” argument.  To which I badly wanted the opportunity to point out that Deuteronomy also strongly recommends the stoning of Sabbath Breakers!!

Sadly also, a number of the testimonies from the opposition to the bill called upon the name of the DSM-IV, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association.  Which lists gender dysphoria among a whole host of serious and troubling other philias.  Our inclusion as a group in this book was used to link us to the aforementioned perverts, predators and pedophiles.  Another strong reason why we need to step up the fight to have ourselves removed from the next edition, the DSM-V, currently being compiled, just as the Gays were removed from it years ago!

As I grew more tired, I began to welcome the testimonies from our opposition, as the anger that was stirred up each time was helping to keep my caffeine starved-self awake!

Finally as the room was slowly emptying and the night wore on, I heard my own name called.  I was totally prepared and had been ready for hours, but as soon as I sat down at the single brown table in the middle of the room, between the audience and the Judiciary Committee’s long table, I was swept by a wave of nerves.  I could feel myself shaking ever so slightly.  It was as if I had never spoken in front of a crowd before.  The literally thousands of people I’ve performed for over the years disappeared from my mind.
I was just Lorelei, trying to tell my story.  Hoping the words came out that needed to be said.

I told them I was a proud transgender woman and talked briefly about my family’s long history in the State of Massachusetts.  I then went on to talk about my difficulties obtaining a job and the sometimes subtle but still overwhelming amount of prejudice and discrimination that I have faced.  Essentially a pared down version of what I submitted in my written testimony, but with the force of being an actual person speaking before them.  Trembling slightly, scared and nervous, but not afraid to speak up for what I believe in.

As soon as I saw the sign that said “Time” flashed by the woman sitting quietly to my left in front of the table, I wrapped up with a statement that I had written out so I could deliver it clearly and succinctly.

“I support this bill because I wish to have the opportunity to once more become a gainfully employed and contributing member of society and this great Commonwealth.  Thank you.”

After I delivered my testimony I stayed for a while longer to listen to others and finally, at around 10:30, with the hearing still going I began the long midnight journey back to Western Mass with my friend Danica Marie, who also gave a very powerful and moving testimony, along for the ride.

All in all it was a glorious day!!  I felt like we were ready and fully charged for the battle we fought.  It made me proud to see so many transfolks stepping forward in solidarity and speaking up for the rights we deserve!

Hopefully we were heard loud and clear and the Judiciary Committee will pass this crucial bill along for approval by the House and Senate.

It’s hard to know what will happen from here, but one thing is for certain.  We will never give up the struggle against discrimination and hatred.  No matter what the outcome of this single battle, we will never give up the fight for Transgender Rights!!!!  We cannot and we must not.

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21
Apr
09

The New Tech Voyeurism

I have a Confession.  I like to watch.  Everything.  I am very curious.  One of my absolute favorite things to do is simply to sit somewhere busy and “people watch”.  Or walk around on a crowded city street.  When I’m waiting for a movie or concert to start, I will spend most of the time looking around the theatre to see who else has come out to see this thing, participate in this experience.
I once went to a screening of Pasolini’s Masterpiece Salo, which is based on a novel by the Marquis DeSade, mainly so I could see who would show up to a public showing of it.
Of course I like to watch cute girls (and boys too!), but I especially relish watching all of the characters go by.  From the busy businessmen to the cuddling couples to the fucked-up frat boys, I watch how they carry themselves, how they move through space, how they interact with each other and their environments.
The crazies are a particular treat.  Especially when they’re good and removed from reality.  I will almost always listen to their stories.
I will watch and try to figure out what these random people’s stories might be.  And as the old saying goes, “God is in the details”.  How a person is dressed, what they’re reading, or drinking or carrying.  I have my own special tells though, specific things that give me the richest information.
Shoes for instance.  I can tell quite a bit about someone from their shoes.  A man in a nice suit with a pair of loafers on is not a man who likes to look good.  He is wearing the suit because he has to.  It’s his uniform.  As soon as he gets home, he will probably slip into his favorite, ragged sports team t-shirt and a pair of baggy shorts.
On the other hand, a man in a slightly ragged suit with nice shoes, is possibly not making the highest salary, but he’s going to be a much more interesting person to meet and he possibly even takes pride in his appearance!
I can also, personally, learn a lot about a person from the books that they have on their bookshelf (or the lack thereof).
But for me, the thing that tells me the most, that adds colour to the pencil sketch, is music.
Which brings me, in a kind of a roundabout way to the actual subject of this particular blog.
I am sitting right now in the Haymarket Café, a little place in Northampton Massachusetts of which I am inordinately fond.  I have a pot of lemon ginger tea and a nice spot by the front counter, where I can see all of the coming and going, ebb and flowing of the people around me.
I also have my trusty, slightly ghetto-ized Mac PowerBook.  Sylvia.
She’s a few years old, and a little cranky.  She won’t turn on unless she’s plugged in and has a USB keyboard because her built-in one no longer works.  She also has a USB track-ball mouse plugged in because I do a lot of work with music and video editing and I hate the trackpad for that stuff.  But she still does what I need, mostly, and I am very fond of her.
All of this makes for an unusual setup, with wires and peripherals everywhere.
But still, I digress.  I merely paint the picture of this moment.  A six foot four, drop dead sexy transwoman with an uber-nerd setup in a crowded, socialist coffeeshop.
What I have discovered, that I wish to share with you, is that a new (at least to me) feature on iTunes allows me to listen to and browse the music libraries of any Mac users sitting nearby.
For me, this is the holy grail of people “watching”.
As I write this I have been switching back and forth between various music libraries, scanning through the artists and hitting shuffle.  One person is heavy on hip hop, another pretty folky.  There’s someone who really like local music.  And someone who favors Ani DiFranco and NPR.
I found out that Lady Sovereign has a new album that I had not yet heard about.
It’s interesting to try and figure out who these people might be.  A Smithie, a townie, a bored suburbanite or a political activist?
I wonder if they even realize I am listening?
All I really know are the names of the playlists.  “Jane Smith’s Library”, “Chouzou”, “Lindy’s Music”, “Guerre de Fleur”.  Even those details help to tell the story though.  Are they whimsical or straightforward?  Angry, with a lot of NWA and Rage Against The Machine?  Or a little sappy with a music library heavy on the Abba and light on the Metallica.
There are mix CDs, where the tracks were never named, just the album.  “Judy’s Random Retro Mix” and “Some Love Songs For Lucy”.  Or just “Jason’s Disc”.
While I was writing those last few lines, the library I was listening to went from Sade to the Pogues to something simply called “track 8”.
I keep looking around to see if I can match up playlists to faces.  I am convinced, because I can hear their music, that they can somehow read these words.  That they are looking at me because they know!
I tend to forget that I stand out in a crowd sometimes simply for being who I am.
I suppose they just might read these words though.  It is a public blog.  Anyone can click through.  Maybe it was your music I was listening to.
I have been sitting here for several hours and I have barely spoken a word to anyone around me.  Even though they are very close.  It is you that I have been talking to, while I have been listening to their music.
And even now, when I was about to wrap up, hit Save, take off the headphones and close iTunes, I am informed via a helpful window, “One or more users are connected to your shared iTunes library, are you sure you want to quit?”
Of course not.  It is somehow gratifying to find that they are watching me!
Far be it for me to turn off the feed.
Now I want to scroll through my own music library and wonder, who I may appear to be?
It’s a brand new voyeurism for a brand new era.  This is “Radio Around You”.

01
Apr
09

This Is My America

I wrote this shortly after I moved to Los Angeles.
I was living in a closet in North Hollywood in the apartment of an old friend of mine named Dug.  I knew Dug from my time as a club kid in Boston.  We both worked at Venus DeMilo on Landsdowne Street.  He was a DJ, one of the best that I have ever known.  I ran the lights. We were both Cage Dancers.
He also lived on my floor for a while and we had some crazy adventures.  Most of which I am not currently drunk and/or foolish enough to relate.
We had stayed in touch over the years and when he movcd to L.A. to pursue a standup comedy career, he decided to repay my friendship by moving me out there and giving me a place to stay.  Literally, in a closet under the stairs.  Like Harry Potter.
I had no job, knew no one in L.A. besides Dug and his girlfriend, and had very little money.
So very often the highlight of my day was to scrape enough change together to buy a cup of bottomless coffee and maybe a piece of apple pie at the 24-hour greasy spoon down the street, where I would sit for as long as I could get away with and write or read a cheap, used book.  This piece was written on one of those long, lonely nights.

This is my America!
24 hour NoHo diner.
too impatient to sugar my coffee.
I want to write
and feel
And feel
and write.
A thousand miles from anywhere.
Everybody’s here.
This is what I know.
Chicken Fried Steak
and Mashed Potatoes.
A bottomless cup
out of a steel pot.
This is what I know.
This is who I am.
Today.
Yesterday.
I think of late Chicago nights.
Too high to order.
Trying not to laugh.
Too hard.
Borrowing money from M—.
G—— borrows too.
“I’ll pay you back on Saturday…”
elaborate,
unnecessary,
explanations of debt.
Midnight Whately Diner,
in that other valley.
“Showers are three dollars.”
Or was it five?
Stainless steel,
jet-fuel coffee.
Weirdo kids
and hunkered truckers.
The swirling cream
catches my attention.
Always does.
I take a second to stir too long.
Remember that line,
stirring up memories.
I remember M—.
She liked it too.
P—— telling me,
in another greasy spoon.
Lunchtime breakup.
Biked home crying.
I just couldn’t do
a Gothic picket fence.
Settled down with a kid named Vlad,
and a dog named Cujo.
Fucking terrier, small dog.
So I got married.
Just to contradict myself.
This is my America.
In Cambridge, after Man-Ray.
It was slices of greasy pizza
then the long drunk walk home.
Up Mass. Ave.
To Porter Square.
Another time,
in the same place.
The Tasty,
Closet Cafeteria.
With N—-,
On Acid.
After dancing.
Met Magic Eye inventor,
bummy old man millionaire.
Absolutely true.
Middle of the night N—-
screaming.
“Get the fuck off of me!!!”
When I wasn’t.
Startled awake.
Scared as hell.
Sleeping in the crevice,
between the wall and
the bed.
Another time.
J—-, drunk too much.
“Who are you?” really not knowing.
Her husband.
She should know.
I’m disturbed that she doesn’t.
Garrett’s in the other room.
With a woman and a sunset.
She keeps trying to look.
I pull the door closed.
This is my America.
Never able to say no
to another cup of coffee.
IHOP in Hyannis.
Matt’s a bastard, again.
We fight about a woman.
She wasn’t even worth it really.
So many midnight diners.
And all night greasy spoons.
Chicago New Years Eve.
Another Golden Something Diner.
Happier times.
Bittersweet.
M— and G—— and J—-
and J— and Me.
And M— and J—-.
And Me.
At the start of a new century.
And the end of a Mistaken Marriage.
I remember so many nights.
And so much coffee.
This is my America.




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