my weblog

Monday, December 29, 2008

Wishes for the New Year...

By almost any account, 2008 was not a good year. A lot of people, good, decent, hard-working people, individually and collectively, struggled and suffered. Years of poor decision-making in the business community resulted in a widespread tanking of our economy. We had a Presidential campaign and candidates that claimed to want to rise above our recent political pettiness but instead engaged in the typical distractions, distortions, demonizing, and just dirtiness that our system- and too many in the electorate- seem to prefer. While the US has remained safe, Islamist-inspired terrorism has yet been vanquished from the world. Even my Patriots couldn't finish off what would have been undefeated season, giving up a lead with under 3 minutes left to lose the Super Bowl last February (yes, it still hurts!) and missed the playoffs this season, even with an 11-5 record. While many of us can probably point to a few things that did go well this year, I know of few folks who would say '08 was a great year. It won't be missed.

So on to 2009. I'm not naive enuf to think that a wish of Peace on Earth will actually come true. I'll keep my wishes a bit more modest. I hope that the stabilization and reduction of violence our troops have been seeing in Iraq will continue and accelerate, allowing as many of our brave men and women to return home as possible, reallocating troops and resources to Afghanistan- and any other terrorist hotspots that threaten us and our allies- as necessary. People sometimes forget that terrorists of that ideology didn't just attack us on 9/11; these people have been attacking us and our values for decades, have been targeting America and Americans for at least 30 years- the takeover of our embassy in Iran in '79, anyone? The Cold War waged cold and not-so-cold for 45 years, and communism was only a 100-or-so year old flawed political/economic theory, not a 1600 year old faith with over 1 billion adherents. We won't- we don't need to- conquer or "defeat" Islam. We do need to defend ourselves from those who would use it perpetrate violence upon us and our way of life. My hope for 2009 is that we continue to do so... I hope that those whose decisions most impact the health and growth of our economy- business and finance leaders, labor chiefs, and government officials, in that order!- make decisions and take courses of action that will benefit not only their immediate interests and beneficiaries (stockholders, workers, consumers, constituents) but, by doing so, benefit the larger economy. Some short-term sacrifices will have to be made, by management, labor, and government, in order to right and repair past bad actions and wasteful practices and resume the overall growth our- and the world's- economy has seen over these last roughly 30 years, growth that affords businesses, workers, families, and individuals the means to prosper and grow... I wish Barack Obama, his Administration, and the Democratic Congress all the best. I didn't vote for him, or them, but they are, they will be, my government, my President. Not from me will you hear the childish petulance many on the Left exhibited these past eight years toward President Bush and the Republicans ("He's not my President/They're not my government"- weak, libs.) I have no doubt I will disagree with and at times criticize him and them on several issues, as I did with Bush and the GOP. I will commend Obama and his team if/as appropriate as well, as I also did with their predecessors. But it is my wish that he and they succeed in their efforts to create a yet better America... It is my wish that the petty divisiveness we see in almost all spheres of our society, our culture, be tempered. Liberal vs. conservative, black vs. white, gay vs. straight, secularist vs. religious, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Less Filling vs. Tastes Great, neither side is all sinner or all saint, all vice or all virtue. We ought to be able to passionately define and defend our beliefs without demonizing those whose views differ. And frequently it is the self-appointed, self-anointed mouthpieces and blowhards of various constituencies and communities who are the biggest offenders, the most divisive, intolerant, and disrespectful; the just folks tend to be more live-and-let-live, differ and disagree without being difficult and disagreeable...

On more personal items, it is my wish that I better find/make/take much more time to start living a bit more, instead of soooo much time spent grinding away, letting the better things that life has to offer too often slip by. It's not about being irresponsible, but about creating some better semblance of balance in my life... It is my wish to create better financial stability for me (yeah, I know, in this economy- shure, Kel!) and much more pro-actively seek out opportunities utilizing my talents and abilities toward those ends... Similarly, it is my wish to adopt and maintain a more growth vs. fixed mindset (see here and here)... It is my wish- and more, my plan- to do what I need to do to take- or more appropriately, resume- certain, um, measures to better balance physical appearance with mental and emotional identity... Similarly, it is my wish to resume with renewed commitment and enthusiasm many of the things that, especially this past year, I've too often let slide; better consistency in diet and exercise, better stress management, better appreciation and nurturing of those relationships I cherish and value, in all of my walks of life... And while it is my wish to be a more patient and understanding individual, it is also my wish to put on notice and, as necessary, put distance between myself and those in all of my walks of life who have repeatedly shown, in word and in deed, that they do not appreciate me, my efforts, my initiative, my going the extra step...

And lastly, it is my wish for all of those- and to all of you- whom I'm honored to call friends, that all of your wishes for the New Year come true.

"And the good times are the best times/The bad times fade away/The good times are forever/But now baby, the last time is today..."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The disappearing dreams of yesterday...

A lil reflective tonite... How, or where, do we lose the hopes and dreams and plans we had when we were younger? I don't necessarily mean childhood dreams ("I'm gonna be an astronaut/actress/football star when I grow up!") but the ones we had when we started out as we began to reach adulthood and ostensibly possessed the potential to shape our lives. Maybe it was graduating high school and starting that first full-time job, or going to college and deciding on a field, a major in which to concentrate. But then... what? Slowly, inexorably, almost imperceptibly, we somehow seem to drift a lil bit, lose focus, make an unwise choice or four, get caught up in the immediate... seldom is any of this intentional, a conscious, deliberate act. And I'm not talking about so-called Acts of God, those things which may happen to us beyond our control (a life-altering accident or illness, a 9/11-like event, etc...) but rather losing grasp of those things that were within our ability to shape, to have, to hold, due to our actions, inactions, choices, and the like. Sometimes this is acting in a manner we believe to be responsible, making "practical" choices, honoring (or believing that we are honoring) obligations and commitments (or expectations) owed (or we believe are owed) to others. And then five years, ten years, maybe twenty years down the road we find ourselves at a place and space that, while perhaps comfortable enuf, is unfulfilling on a variety of levels.

Tonite I was thinking primarily in terms of education and career choices made, or not made, in my life. Ideally, if I had worked and stayed true to and attempted to fulfill my dreams, I'd be a journalist of some sort today. Writing has always come easily to me, and I have a real interest in the events of the day on many levels. Crime, politics, even living section or sports, be it as a reporter, columnist, features writer... Throughout school teachers encouraged me to think about going in that direction; for maybe a semester and a half in college I was a journalism major. But then... I dunno... several different things I suppose... I had people close to me who were urging me to prepare for another field (law; I never did, tho' I did take the LSAT- and did pretty well on it- many years ago)... I didn't know anyone on the school's paper, and by reputation many of them were more interested in activism than journalism... a lack of confidence, as well as laziness and perhaps a too-cool-for-you attitude on my part... all of these, as well as a- regrettable- indifference toward my studies (even as I attended on an academic scholarship) or more precisely, an indifference toward effort at my studies and a fondness for the local watering holes... these education choices of course affected my post-graduate career choices to the point where, many years removed from starting out, I find myself somewhere where I never imagined I'd be, and not in a serendipitous manner, either. All because, never consciously but I suppose intentionally nevertheless, I lost focus, lost track, lost touch with what I enjoyed, with what I had some innate ability doing, got too caught up in the immediate to ponder and plan the long view... About ten years ago I did have a stint as a columnist for an online publication, for the experience and the clips as much as for the pay. And I really enjoyed it! But the publication folded, and I had made no real plans on how to parlay that experience into another gig, and so on and so on... again, losing focus, drifting, not grasping and utilizing opportunities nor appreciating nor working toward the bigger picture.

The previous sentence sadly sums up too much. I don't know why, but I have always had difficulty recognizing and utilizing opportunities; so often, it is only much later, in/with considerable hindsight, that I even recognize the for what they were, usually far too late. I don't know why; I've discussed this with a few people close to me, and they're as lost for an answer as I. In a similar vein, appreciating or working toward the bigger picture, where I truly want to be going/what I truly want to be doing in life. Clearly this could apply to my education and career choices. It also could apply to my choices re. my transgenderism. While I may not know exactly what or where in the journalism field I might have found myself, similarly I may not know exactly where along the gender continuum I might ultimately be but for each of those I know that where I am is not where I want to be, where I hope to be, where I believe I need to be in order to feel more fulfilled, be it career-wise or gender-wise. I do enuf in my various walks of life of that I'm not completely removed from writing, or my preferred gender, but I'm nowhere near where, in my dreams of yesterday, I'd have thought or hoped I would be. And it's not emptiness so much as it is knowing there could have been, and perhaps can still be, so much more. And not by having been/being selfish, or irresponsible, but simply by having been/being truer to, and focused upon, those things that were/are a vital part of me. Things could be so much more fulfilling today had I not lost sight, lost track, lost focus on those dreams of yesterday.

How is it that- some of us- lose those hopes, dreams, and plans?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas Joke

Three men died on Christmas Eve and were met by Saint Peter at the pearly gates.
'In honor of this holy season' Saint Peter said, 'You must each possess something that symbolizes Christmas to get into heaven.'
The first man fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a lighter. He flicked it on. 'It represents a candle', he said.
'You may pass through the pearly gates' Saint Peter said.
The second man reached into his pocket and pulled out a set of keys. He shook them and said, 'They're bells.'
Saint Peter said 'You may pass through the pearly gates'.
The third man started searching desperately through his pockets and finally pulled out a pair of women's panties.
St. Peter looked at the man with a raised eyebrow and asked, 'And just what do those symbolize?'
The man replied, 'These are Carols.'

And So The Christmas Season Begins...... (thx, Jim!)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas discs...
A lot of people like Mannheim Steamroller and Trans-Siberian Orchestra for holiday music, but my fav instrumental Christmas disc is The Ventures' Christmas Album... Another, more wistful, disc is Aimee Mann's One More Drifter in the Snow... both are great for decking the halls, jingling the bells, knocking back an eggnog or three or, like me, putting up a lil Charlie Brown-like Christmas tree! (And from last year, one more fav: A Christmas Gift for You from Phil Spector )
Separated at birth- disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, and Moe Howard:

Random musings... I heard an ad for something called Hammer & Sickle Vodka. How repugnant is that?! Would anyone approve of a product called, and emblazoned with a, Swastika? People- rightly- excoriate and consider as the highest of insults anything to do with Nazism; I've never understood why, at least in certain circles, a pass is given to communism. Surely anyone who has any awareness of history realizes that more civilians were killed under Soviet Communism than under German Nazism. Both were repressive, murderous regimes; pure evil. Yet we have Hammer & Sickle Vodka... A fierce ice storm hits parts of the area last week. I made out no problem here but north and west of Boston and on up into New Hampshire people were- and are- without power for what could be several more days. Yuck... Boston had its annual Santa Speedo Run; maybe next year!
What I'm reading now:
I have an acquaintance who never seems satisfied with the support and approval received from loved ones, instead always seeking attention and validation from those foolishly deemed "higher profile." I've never understood this mindset. Yes, we all like to receive attention and appreciation of and for the things we do, the things we seek to accomplish; those can build our self-esteem. But is it really worth it to seek, to crave them at the expense of denigrating, indeed of insulting, the support, attention, and apppreciation given freely by those who actually care for and about them, as my acquaintance too often does? Cherish what you have.
"A beautiful sight/We're happy tonight/Walking in a winter wonderland..."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Prisms? Or prisons?

This thought has been one which has occurred to me for sometime, one which I've alluded to in a few past journalings here. Most recently it came to mind in light of comments I offered IMing to a T acquaintance, vis a vis bloggings and the like. In the current example I'm referring to T-folks offering their thoughts, views, opinions, etc... be they one-on-one, in chats, personal journals or blogs, as opposed to specific T publication/websites.

Invariably, seemingly every thought, view, observation, opinion, musing, whatever, on whatever, is offered, is made thru the prism of the person's transgenderism (no matter where she/he falls on the gender continuum) as if their gender status is the sole arbiter, the sole point of reference, for their entire existence and worldview. How narrow, how limiting, is that?! From my experience (for what little it is appreciated, valued, or worth!) gender status, or gender thought, is largely immutable; to me it would seem no more relevant, certainly no more interesting, to relate or confine all of my views opinions, observations, and the like, to view all of the events of living, large and small, to my being transgendered anymore than were I to view and opine and relate everything thru the prism of being Caucasian and/or of a particular ethnicity (note: I am white, of largely Irish descent.) From my readings and research, race, birth gender, mind gender, and sexual orientation are the most immutable, unchangeable aspects of who we are. To view our world in large part thru such immutable things, things over which we can exert relatively little change, seems so limited, and limiting. To view and to bring everything back to and thru those facets... I dunno... at the end of the day it seems so irrelevant, so narrow, so limiting. A particular event that happened or is related one's being white/Irish/transgender/gay-straight-bi/whatever? Of course, that's noteworthy and interesting. But to view everything, what we do and what and how others interact with us solely, or even largely, thru the prism of being white/Irish/transgender/gay-straight-bi/whatever? Narrow. Limiting. And ultimately... bo-ring!

What I find and believe are far more interesting and informative are observations, views, and ideas that relate to things we can alter, we can change. These can relate in some way back to the individual's TGism, or not. Fr'instance- in my blog, at times I tend to offer strong views on things political, not merely particular events but philosophically. I wasn't born with my particular views; thru my life, thru my education, reading, observations, and most importantly experiences I've come to hold and believe in certain things certain ideas, certain philosophies. They inform the totality of my view of life. Same with religion. None of us are by birth alone any particular faith, in the manner that we are born a particular race, physical gender, mental wiring, etc... Through our lives most of us are exposed to a particular faith; many of us keep that throughout our lives, yet some change, or leave faith entirely. None of us are by birth alone destined to be: Patriots fans/opera buffs/seafood lovers/mystery devotees/married-or-single, nor lawyers, engineers, writers, analysts, salespersons, etc... All of these- ideally- should be a part of and inform the larger prism thru which we view life. These are even often more interesting as, even if we've made such choices, none of us are destined or required to remain or retain such. We can change, and/or take up new interests, endeavors, etc... we can grow! To me, viewing life, viewing events, perceiving reality thru those things which we can change is far more interesting than thru a very narrow, limited view that sees everything, makes every judgment and observation, by how it relates to being white... or transgender.

All of us are so much more, and have so much more to offer, than one identity.

"Hush, hush, keep it down now/Voices carry..."

Monday, December 08, 2008

This one could be an ode to the Green Line on a cold wintry day...

Casey's Last Ride- Kris Kristofferson
Casey joins the hollow sound of silent people walking down,
The stairway to the subway in the shadows down below.
Following their footsteps through the neon-darkened corridors,
Of silent desperation, never speaking to a soul.
The poison air he's breathing has the dirty smell of dying,
'Cos it's never seen the sunshine and it's never felt the rain.
But Casey minds the arrows and ignores the fatal echoes,
Of the clicking of the turnstiles and the rattle of his chains.

"Oh," she said: "Casey, it's been so long since I've seen you.
"Here," she said: "just a kiss to make a body smile.
"See," she said: "I've put on new stockings just to please you.
"Lord," she said. "Casey, can you only stay a while."

Casey leaves the underground and stops inside The Golden Crown,
For something wet to wipe away the chill that's on his bones.
Seeing his reflection in the lives of all the lonely men,
Who reach for anything they can to keep from going home.
Standing in the corner, Casey drinks his pint of bitter,
Never glancing in the mirror at the people passing by.
Then he stumbles as he's leaving and he wonders if the reason,
Is the beer that's in his belly or the tear that's in his eye.

"Oh," she said: "I suppose you seldom think about me.
"Now," she said: "now that you've a family of your own.
"Still," she said: "It's so blessed good to feel your body.
"Lord," she said: "Casey, it's a shame to be alone."

It also puts me in mind of a certain married friend who takes the T to and fro...

I know, I know... sooooooo many blogs by sooooooo many T-folks offer sooooooo many more relevent, deep, T-oriented thoughts- sue me!

Saturday, December 06, 2008

I've been reading Wayne Allyn Root's The Zen of Gambling:The Ultimate Guide to Risking It All and Winning at Life (2004.) I had been vaguely aware of him previously, but he was most recently the Libertarian Party's Vice-Presidential candidate this year, hence my curiosity regarding him was piqued, as his political journey was/is similar to mine (briefly: a long-time Republican increasingly disappointed and disillusioned by the GOP's abandonment of limited government principles.) Given my avocation with sports wagering, that aspect of his book interested me. And I have an interest in motivational/self-help books.

The two items, the two themes he hammers home are being a capital C Contrarian in one's endeavors, not following the "public money", the crowd, looking for value in and taking the proverbial road less traveled, and above all not being afraid to take- indeed, embracing- risk, daring to risk, daring to fail, daring to lose, a willingness, an eagerness, to take risk in those defining moments of choice and decision in pursuit of one's goals in life. Root's writing style leaves some to be desired (much of it is shtick, with a healthy dose of shameless self-promotion thrown in) but the message beyond his stylistic medium I've found worth pondering, in ways far beyond the point-spread line.

First, it should be clear that there is a difference between taking risk, and being reckless; they are not one and the same. Risk-taking is a means toward a given end while recklessness is often the end in itself (figuratively as well as literally.) As longtime readers of my blog may have noticed by now I often have a tendency to play things too safely, too, um, conservatively, in many ways; certainly job and career-wise, to a somewhat lesser extent re. my transgenderism, taking it further toward where, in my heart of hearts, I probably know where it should be leading. There are certain parts of my life where I do choose to take what can be considered risk: certainly in my wagering endeavors (I like to think of 'em as calculated risks, or better still, investments!) I suppose going out/doing many things en femme might qualify as well. But on balance I tend toward caution rather than risk. It's not something I prefer, even if I'm wired, or simply have acclimated, toward that more cautious mindset. In my circumstance, it tends to be far less a fear of change or the different, the unknown, than a fear of failure, the losing-hurts-worse-than-winning-feels good thing I referenced in a previous entry here. Change itself doesn't bother me. Failure has always been something that I've- much too assiduously- feared so much that I've too often avoided situations where I might fail personally. To go back to a gambling example, losing a wager because a receiver dropped a sure touchdown, or a player missed a game-winning shot, while disappointing, those aren't my personal failures (except to the extent that I didn't expect as close a game, or didn't anticipate players failing in the clutch.) But seeking better employment for instance but unsure of the outcome (I could get rejected) or not furthering my transitioning mostly because of how those close to me might react (I could be rejected by them) even as the potential rewards for taking such- yes- risks are considerable. (Another part of this aspect of risk-aversiveness is the over-developed sense of loyalty I have toward others; I don't wish to, um, risk disappointing or failing them.) Among my siblings I fall somewhere in the middle; my brother is truly risk- and change- averse while my sister eagerly embraces change, is willing to risk time and again toward the end of achieving the life she seeks.

Ultimately risk is about progress, about daring, about creating one's future, one's reality, one's life rather than having it dictated, thriving rather than merely surviving. The risk-taking mindset that Root writes of is far more than simply being willing to wager on an underdog; it is applicable advice to so many endeavors in life. Perhaps the greatest personal lesson I need to learn- and apply- from this is that seeking, daring to risk toward achieving my greater goals, hopes, and dreams need not be a selfish, self-centered, self-absorbed endeavor; rather that calculated risks and yes, even failures, must be seen as both learning experiences, and more, knowledge gained from those experiences will enable me to make better risk-taking decisions in the future, in the end providing not only myself but, as importantly, those I care for/about the great rewards that come only from great risk. Unfortunately, changing long-ingrained habits and attitudes takes work, takes time.

A lotta heady stuff for a Saturday evening stuck at my work :)

"I'm just wondering why I feel so all alone/Why I'm a stranger in my own life..."