Marching With the Women

21 January, 2017.  By now most people in the world have a pretty good idea what happened that day.  Not only was the Woman’s March on Washington the single greatest demonstration event in this country, but it ranks as one of the largest worldwide events ever.  Not bad for something that started out as a Facebook post the day after the US presidential elections.

Given that I worked on Hillary Clinton’s campaign beginning in August of 2016, I felt that in the aftermath of the election I could do one of two things: sit back and piss and moan, or get involved.  I decided on the former.  I registered with the Woman’s March knew the end of November, and a few weeks later I volunteered to be a bus captain, which meant I would be responsible for 50 to 60 people traveling on a caravan of buses leaving Harrisburg the day of the march.

So through most of January I prepared myself for what was to come.  I bought a battery charger for my phone as I would need my phone on most of the day.  (Though that proved to be unnecessary as you will soon see.)  I bought wool socks in case it was cold.  I bought new insoles for my mukluks in case I needed to wear them.  I bought thermal undergarments in case I was going to have to deal with near zero temperatures.  When I discovered the temperatures were expected to be in the mid-50s, I bought a fleece jacket to go over the sweatshirt, jeans, and tennis shoes I was going to wear.

Last of all, I had my pussy hat: the ubiquitous pink hat that was made in such a way that the corners would look like cat ears.  Mine was crocheted by a member of the crocheting group I belong to and send to me all the way from Illinois.  And with all of that in place I was ready to go–

The night before the March–which happened to be the inauguration of Darth Orange–I expected to be in bed before ten and up at four so that I could be out the door a little after five.  As usually happens with me my plans blow up in my face: I really didn’t get to bed until about eleven-thirty and I was up at three, with maybe two hours of good sleep found during that time.  I got up, did my business, loaded up on some cashews and beef jerky, and got dressed.  I also took some antidiarrhea medication because only a couple of days earlier I’d been sick as a dog and I was completely unsure of whether or not it actually be a will to make the March.  By mid-Friday I was certain: sick or not, I was going to go to DC.  Nothing was going to stop me–not even lo0se bowels.

Here I am, ready to leave the apt at 4:50 AM.

Here I am, ready to leave the apt at 4:50 AM.

Believe it or not even though I arrived at the parking lot at 5:10 in the morning, I was not the first one there.  There were already close to a dozen cars in the parking lot and only a few of us were bus captains.  It didn’t take long for that to change, and well before the first bus arrived there were hundreds of people waiting to board.

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My early morning people.

The process was simple: as soon as the buses arrived we began loading people on, first come first serve.  I was on the third bus to arrive and left in a group of six, all from the same carrier.  My job was to see that everybody was aboard was supposed to be there and keep them informed of what we expected to do once we were on the ground in Washington.

As you can see I was dressed the part.

As you can see I was dressed the part.

I should point out that we had an app our phones that was supposed to allow us to select a bus and checking passengers.  Needless to say, the app didn’t work for shit, and at no time during the day was I ever able to get it to do anything.  Not that it really mattered, because we discovered that once we were in DC we basically shut down the phone service: it was nearly impossible to get a signal to call out, and data and Wi-Fi were impossible to come by.  I managed a couple of live broadcasts, coming while I was back-boning off of the Wi-Fi from the National Archives.  This last part we had been warned about by people who had been in DC during large gatherings and who said it was impossible to use your mobiles.

With everybody aboard we left Harrisburg a little after 6:35 and we were soon on our way to Washington. I was soon on my feet explaining to my group what we expected to do and to beware of anyone who might be trying to get them to fill out questionnaires as they might have been people working to make us look bad, or others who were trying to track us.  Once my spiel was done I kicked back and enjoyed the ride.

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The buses were parked at RFK Stadium, on the far east side of the downtown area.  While I had a Metro card which would allow me to take the subway into the center of the city, I decided to do something else: walked for two miles from RFK to the Capital.  And I wasn’t walking alone:

Leaving Buses.

Leaving Buses.

 

Leaving RFK.

Leaving RFK.

 

Waking down the road.

Waking down the road.

 

Pussy hats ahoy!

Pussy hats ahoy!

It took about forty minutes for the capital to come and view and this was probably the first moment I started to feel real excitement.  Because when you see a structure like this you know you’re right downtown in the middle of the nation’s capital and you’re about to engage in something historic.

Close--

Close–

 

Closer--

Closer–

 

Closest.

Closest.

Let’s keep in mind that we were coming in from the east and all of the action was going to be happening on the west side of the capital, in the area of The Mall stretching all the way out to the Washington Monument and the White House.  So it this point in the above photos, we couldn’t see what waited for us.  Not only that but there’s a reason they call the Capital “The Hill”: it sits on top of the hill and from there you’re actually looking down on the city.  So as were walking towards the crown we start hearing this now that would begin low and rise in intensity before sweeping over us like a wave.  The first time we heard it was somewhat indistinct, the second time we heard it it hit everyone walking in the group like a hammer.  I turned to the woman on my right and said, “That is chilling as hell.”  She told me that chilling was the appropriate word: she said it gave her goosebumps.

It was only a few minutes later that we saw what was causing the sound, and upon seeing the crowd I actually gasped.

And this is just a small part of the crowd.

And this is just a small part of the crowd.

On the right is the US Botanical Gardens, and if you look all the way down the street at what looks like a white barricade–that’s the stage where all the festivities were taking place.  The closest we got to the stage was about a block; you couldn’t get any closer because of the crush of people.  So slowly I made my way towards The Mall, as I was caught in a mob and my anxiety level was going right off the scale.

The scene at The Mall wasn’t much better: it was just there was more space for more people. There were also port-a-potties, which I had to use.  The one good thing was that there was some space in which one can catch their breath.

I could almost build a house here.

I could almost build a house here there’s so much room.

Here’s a video I made of my time on The Mall and it gives you some idea not only of the crowds, but how uncomfortable I was feeling in them.

After a while it got to be too much and I had to leave the crowds. It wasn’t anything personal, just a matter of anxiety and feeling a bit claustrophobic.  So I made my way off The Mall and headed up 4th Street towards Pennsylvania Avenue.  Pennsylvania Avenue was closed off and people were marching there, with most of them going around in a two block circle.  There were still a lot of people in this area the city: tens of thousands at least stretching down to The Mall and a block further north past the Canadian Embassy and up toward the federal courthouses.

Out of The Mall and heading towards Penn Ave.

Out of The Mall and heading towards Penn Ave.

 

Penn Ave looking west.

Penn Ave looking west.

 

Penn Ave looking east.

Penn Ave looking east.

 

Just north of the Canadian Embasy looking towards the stage which is about 2/3rds of a mile away.

Just north of the Canadian Embassy looking towards the stage are which is about two-thirds of a mile away.

It was while I was here that I cut another video, this time sitting in front of the Canadian Embassy.  It’s not long video, but at this point you could see that I was starting to get a little tired–mostly because at this point I had only two hours of sleep in the last thirty-six and I was quickly approaching nine hours awake.

I grabbed a quick bite and a quick rest as well. As I pointed out in the video I was feeling more dehydrated than I was hungry and I was in the process of trying to fill up on as many fluids as possible.  My appetite had vanished since Thursday, so it seemed as if I was living off fat reserves, a bit of beef jerky, and cashew nuts.  But I drank two large bottles of water on the bus trip down, another bottle of water and a power bar on the walk to the capital from RFK Stadium, and during lunch I had a Gatorade and a ginger ale.  I knew the fluids would get absorbed into my body and the less solids I ate, the less I would need to go to a port-a-potty.  I also wanted to get back to Pennsylvania Avenue before one PM, as that was the time the march started.

Only thing was, no one really knew where the march was starting.

Given the size of the crowd getting information out was sketchy as hell.  At eleven-thirty I’d spoken to a person who would just been in a conversation with a New York Times stringer and she was told that at that time, they were estimating the size of the crowd at between four hundred and fifty and five hundred thousand people.  As 1 o’clock approached I was hearing various rumors that the numbers were actually closer to six hundred thousand, and a few people had heard that we might be close to seven hundred thousand.  All of this was totally believable: at this point there were way too many people in the downtown Washington area, and people were walking the streets without any fear that we were going to encounter vehicle traffic.

It was just before one that the word came out that the march was starting.  What we were hearing was that we would not be allowed to march to the front of the White House, and that Pennsylvania Avenue was closed off a few blocks from where we were marching.  So right near the IRS Building on 10th, everyone hung a left and marched a block down to Constitution Avenue.  What we didn’t know at the time was that this still wasn’t the actual march: these people were actually the spillover from The Mall, whereas the true march was coming up 14th Street from Independence Avenue.  Essentially what was happening was three separate marches going on at the same time, which was similar to the situation they had in Los Angeles.

It didn’t matter: we were marching and doing so with a purpose.  Here are some of the shots I took on Constitution Avenue as we headed east.

Checking out the Washington Monument in the mist.

Checking out the Washington Monument in the mist.

 

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The building on the left is the African-American History building, which looks incredible.

I also managed to pick up about a minute and a half of video footage as we were marching.  One thing I need the stress is that while the crowd doesn’t sound that loud on the recording, there was constant noise at all times, as well as a constant background on.  At no time did ever get completely quiet, and after a while you just sort of tuned it out.  But it never, ever went away

As we walked I had no sense of time; I was charging my phone during much of the march and since I couldn’t get a data connection there wasn’t any point in checking for updates from people.  And given the crowd I was in, it would’ve been ridiculous to try texting or reading a text while walking along.  They were far more important things going on which needed my attention.

I walked all the way down to 20th Street and headed north to C Street and headed back east towards the Ellipse, the park just to the south of the White House.  While I was still marching on Constitution I’d taken the time to speak with a few of the volunteers near the entrance to the Eclipse, and they had informed me that area was the closest anyone would be allowed to the White House proper.  It made sense as it’s a huge park, but what no one knew was it was already twenty minutes after two PM in the march was supposed to have ended at two.

And it was still going on.

So I snapped a few pictures while in the Ellipse before heading across the street to the Washington Monument, where I hope to be able get a better perspective by getting a little elevation on top of everyone.

People coming into the Ellipse.

People coming into the Ellipse.

 

People gathering on the Ellipse.

People gathering on the Ellipse.

 

Me more or less flipping el Presidente off...

Me more or less flipping el Presidente off…

And when I say “more or less”, we discovered that the new Pussy Grabber in Chief had decided to begin from the White House earlier in the day and didn’t return until late afternoon, were leaks report he was extremely furious about the coverage the march was getting.  One of the reports that’s been publicized is that he flew into a rage at one point and screamed, “Don’t these people know I’m the fucking president?”  Yeah, Donnie: we know you’re the president. That’s why we were marching.

I finally headed up towards the Washington Monument and got one more picture as well as a final bit of video trying to capture the last of the marchers coming it–or, I should say what I thought were the last of the marchers.  Because it was about three-thirty in the afternoon when I shot this last video and there was no sign that the people in the march were sending out.

Looking down on the Ellipse from the Washington Monument.

Looking down on the Ellipse from the Washington Monument.

When you watch this video pay no attention to the fact that my nose piercing and sticking way out, something I didn’t realize at the time.  Normally I keep it flush against the outer skin, but at some point I must’ve wiped my nose and pushed it outward, which is why it sticking up when you see the one shot of me.

After a good rest where I spent about twenty minutes speaking with another woman from North Carolina, I headed over by the World War II Monument and did some walking along reflecting, as well as using a port-a-potty for the last time.  I walked back up to the Washington Monument about four-thirty and the march was still continuing.  I discovered much later that the police had actually closed the parade route at four o’clock and turned away tens of thousands of people who were still waiting to march.  I continued to watch people filing into the Ellipse for about another ten minutes, then began making my way back to the Washington Metro system, where I boarded the train at the Smithsonian station.

I didn’t get any pictures on the train because they were packed: people were standing shoulder to shoulder in every car, and there were stories from different people in my car saying that lines and been shut down at least three or four times during the day because of all the problems they had with people overcrowding the cars.  The Washington Metro office reported that by 11 AM that day, they had serviced 275,000 transit passes, where’s the day before, during the inauguration, they said during the same time period they had serviced 192,000 passes.  Needless to say we were far bigger party, and a lot more jovial.

There were several people in the car with me were actually heading back to Harrisburg: it turned out there was right next to mine, so I helped lead them back to the parking lot.  One of the women in the group was in a walker, and she was growing rapidly exhausted as she had walked the entire march using her walker.  We took our time getting back and after only a few minutes of looking I found our buses and got everyone where they were supposed to be.  I came on board mine and begin making certain that everyone who is returning on the bus was there, as well as finally getting off my feet and having another water.

Oh, and I also took a picture of the buses getting ready to leave.

Oh, and I also took a picture of the buses getting ready to leave.

About twenty minutes after I sat down someone came around and gave us the news: AP and CNN were reporting that unofficial totals for our march showed nearly 1 million participants, and CNN said there were as many as 1.3 million.  I got on the loudspeaker and reported the news, which got everyone applauding. And throughout the time before we left, and while we were departing Washington, I kept giving as many updates as I could get on the numbers coming back from the sister marchers in cities around the country and the world.  It was while I was reading this information that everyone, myself included, realize just what a huge offense had taken place today.  It’s one thing to say half a million marchers showed up in Washington DC, but it’s entirely something else to hear there were maybe a million marchers in Washington, and 275,000 in New York City, and possibly 750,000 in Los Angeles, and that the Chicago march was officially stopped when the number of participants reached 300,000, but everyone going on and by the time they reached Grant Park it was estimated the crowd had reached a half a million.

When we heard that news, it became evident we had started something important.

That was the question I kept asking myself on the ride home: did we do something important?  Was our efforts worthwhile?  More importantly, did we start something that was going to continue onward and not just be some one-time, flash in the pan event that people would feel good about doing but wouldn’t amount to much in the end?

That was all answered for me last week.  Scientists are now planning a march in mid-March, and at last check there were nearly 800,000 people interested in the event in Washington.  There is also talk of another march on April 15 which will end in front of the IRS Building, and this will focus on the fact that the Liar in Chief refuses to release his tax forms.  Lastly, the Pride parade which is supposed to take place on 11 June is apparently going to become a rather huge event, and given that I’m hearing that there’s going to be an executive order which is basically going to allow legalized discrimination against anyone LGBTQIA, I imagine that is going to grow into something far bigger than just everyone parading and having a good time.  I feel is going to turn into something hugely political.

And seeing how people turned out to protest at airports this last weekend concerning the restrictions on travel for Muslim countries, it’s apparent that people are not letting up the pressure.  With the exception of those were comfortable with fascism, most people seem upset over what is occurring and they’re prepared to take action.

So what’s in store for me?  What actions am I going to take?  This Sunday I’ll be marching in Harrisburg in support of immigration and sanctuary cities for refugees, particularly those coming from Syria.  I’m already making arrangements to go to the Science March and I fully intend to participate in the Pride March in June, though that one is going to be tricky because I’m going to drive to Indiana on 8 June, attend my daughter’s high school graduation on 9 June, then drive to Washington on 10 June and do the march the next day.  Needless to say, exhaustion is probably going to set in somewhere around the night of 10 June and I’m going to sleep like a rock somewhere in a hotel on the outskirts of Washington.

It’s time to get political; it’s time to get active. I’ve always been somewhat active politically, but ever since working on Hillary Clinton’s campaign last year I seem to have found a need to actually put myself on the line and get things done.  As a trans-woman it’s easy to say, well sure, we know why you’re doing this.  But as I’ve said to others, it’s not just me on marching for.  Part of it is I’m marching for my daughter, who is likely to start growing up in a world radically different than she’s known for the last eighteen years.  I’m marching for my Muslim friends who suddenly have a reason to fear living in the US.  I’m marching for all my women friends who are about to watch all the rights safe for the last fifty years vanish.

I can’t just march for myself.  I have maybe 10 to 15 years left after which I really won’t much care if things are further going to shit, or if they’re getting better, or we successfully fought off the darkness.  But there will be so many other people I know will still be here, and they will care about these things.

One doesn’t march for the present: they march to make a better future.

And while I can, I will do my damnedest to make that future a better one for those I leave behind.

 

As a last note to the March, I worked out the route I walk that Saturday so that I could see how many miles I traveled.  The numbers are pretty impressive: I was on my feet for 11.67 miles/18.78 kilometers, of which I walked 8.67 miles/13.95 kilometers.  This was the reason I spent most of the following Sunday wine about taking aspirin so that my legs wouldn’t hurt.  Pretty impressive for someone who two days earlier was thinking about going to the hospital because they were so dehydrated.

My March in all its glory.

My March in all its glory.

Stepping Into Thirteen

The Great Indiana Change Trip is nearly over, and this will be one of the last things I do in this state before packing my stuff and heading back to The Burg in a few hours.  With all the anxiety I felt before driving the the thousand kilometers to get here, everything went smoothly.

I’ve already discussed the court hearing and getting a new Social Security card, and yesterday involved getting a new driver’s licence.  Other than the fact there was some sort of data connection issue between Valparaiso and Indianapolis, the licence change went without problems, and after an hour I managed to get the registration on both cars changed, and my name and gender marker adjusted.  So now the state of Indiana recognizes I’m a woman, which means Yay!  And I changed all my banking information and received a new debit card with real name upon the surface.  Even more Yay!

All that remains now is to contact everyone who knew me by the old name and get them to change everything over to the new.  That’s probably going to happen over the rest of the year, but that’s the breaks, right?  So it is written, so it is done, and this shit is over and done.

Now to get back to life as I know it . . .

Hey, speaking of this novel I’m working on, I wrote some last night.  School is up and running for that long ago year of 2013:  that means stuff and things are happening.  Like–

All these things here.

All these things here.

Several things happened here last night.  First, I changed the name of the chapter.  Second, I changed a wrong time.  Third, I had to reason up something that happens here that won’t become apparent until the next novel, bwah hahahaha! because I know and you don’t.  And forth, I added a scene because it made sense to add a scene.

But what about the writing, Cassie?  What happens in this Express Farewells?  Let’s see together, shall we?

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

It took a few seconds for Annie to realized that she was being awoken, and the person waking her was doing so with light kisses. She kept her eyes closed and enjoyed the sensation, and only began to smile once the kisses moved from her lips to her check and then to her neck. “Ummmmm.”

There was nibbling on her ear before she heard the voice. “You like that?”

Her eyes still closed Annie rolled on to her side and wrapped her right arm around Kerry. “Yes, I do.” She wanted to add A time will come when you’ll be awoken the same way but she left that out of the conversation: this wasn’t the time to speak of the future.  “I love that.”

“I’ve only done that a couple of times.” Though they’d spent the evening together more than a couple of times, on most occasions when it came time to wake up they were up and about with little fanfare—or one of them woke up and let the other sleep in for a few more minutes. “I’ll keep this in mind for the future.”

“As will I, my love.” Annie sat up and looked about the empty ground floor commons of Cernunnos Cover. “No one’s around?”

 

So now we’re seeing that Annie loves being woken up with kisses, and she’s reminded that a time will come at some point in the future when she’ll wake Kerry up the same way.  Not that she hasn’t done this already, but that time she’s thinking about involves her having a new last name, if you know what I mean.  Little romantic witches in love:  gotta love it.

And no one’s around?

 

“The two A Levels were still here when I crashed—that was about an hour ago.” He shook his head.

“Must have went up to the first when we were napping.”

“Quite likely.” Annie threw back the comforter and stretched. “I take it you’re ready?”

He smiled back as he stood. “Only when you are.”

“Since you’re holding my robe—” She found her fur-lined snow boots and slipped them on. “I take that as a sign you’re ready for me to get ready.”

Kerry’s cheeks flushed bright red. “Yeah, well . . .” He looked down at the ground. “I guess I am.”
“No need to be embarrassed.” Annie took her robe and slipped it on seconds after standing. “I understand how excited you are.”

Kerry led Annie away from where they’d napped on the sofa in front of the commons fireplace towards the center of the coven floor. “You wanna take the tunnel over, or walk outside?”

“Temperature still around zero?”

A few hours before the temperatures were hovering just over one degree Celsius, and Kerry couldn’t see them dropping much more. “Probably.”

“Outside will be fine, my love.” She wrapped herself around his left arm as they proceeded towards the door leading to the inner Pentagram Wall. “We won’t be in the cold for long, I’m wearing my flannels, and I can use you to stay warm.”

He waved the door open and tightened his robe before stepping into the wall inner corridor. “I will do my best.”

“You always do.” Annie waved the door to the Pentagram Garden open.

 

So they were napping, and now they’re off into the night towards–well, if they’re heading into the Pentagram Garden, there’s only one destination . . .

 

They walked quickly from the tower to the Great Hall, not meeting a person along the way. Annie didn’t expect to meet anyone, at least not heading to the coven. Right now, at twenty minutes before midnight on the first Thursday school night of 2013, everyone was either in their towers sleeping or in the Great Hall, and she expected they would be among the last to arrive for the event about to occur. They weren’t about to miss anything, however: Kerry and she knew the event schedule as the schedule had been known since Monday.

They entered the Great Hall and headed for the Dining Hall. The scene inside was far different from the other times when it was used for eating or for the Midnight Madness. This time there were several tables covered with backpacks, brooms, and miscellaneous equipment, all kept separate from the seventy or eighty students who’d appeared to watch the proceedings. Annie spotted Vicky speaking with Holoč, Erywin, and Headmistress Laventure, while Isis and Wednesday appeared to be making some last minute checks to equipment with the help of a few of the higher level students, the majority who appeared to be from the racing teams.

Standing near the northwest entrance to the Dining Hall, Annie wasn’t certain what to expect to see in the next twenty minutes—she was, however, pleased that this year Kerry wasn’t one of the students departing on the Polar Express.

 

Now, finally, we get to see something about the already somewhat famous Polar Express.  Just so you know:  Kerry isn’t leaving, not this year.  More is going to get said about it, but for now be content in knowing that the 2013 Polar Express is about to begin.

However . . . I likely won’t post that new information tomorrow because I’m leaving out of Indiana about ten in the morning, and I don’t expect to arrive in Harrisburg until almost twelve hours later.  But as I know the real reason Annie and Kerry are there, I don’t have to give it much thought–I just gotta write it down.

Don’t worry:  I’ll get to it real soon.

…And Call Me Cassidy

This is one of those posts, where I run off the rails and talk about personal stuff.  But then again, the reason I’m back in Indiana is wholly personal, and I’ve not hidden that fact.  Anymore, the only reason I am in Indiana is for personal reasons, but that’s another story.

Yesterday was Name Change Day.

First off, don’t believe I’m ripping off Caitlyn Jenner with this title.  Mine comes from the title used for the serialization of Roger Zelazny’s Hugo Award-winning novel, This Immortal, proving I’m far cooler and geekier.  I’ve always liked the title …And Call Me Conrad better than the one the book was given in final publication, and so did Zelazny when he was alive, so I’m in good company.  And I am cool and geeky, so it fits me perfectly.

Anyway . . . it was my time in court, and the first time I’ve stood inside one since my old traffic court days when I used to drive a little too fast and crazy.  But I was up early, getting stoked on music and a few well wishes from others who were aware of the day.  I dressed pretty much the way I normally dress for work, right down to bringing out a pair of nice pumps for the date.

As you can see, Resting Bitch Face was the order of the morning.

As you can see, Resting Bitch Face was the order of the morning.

You can see the folder with all my paperwork sticking out of my purse, which meant I was ready for action.  And when you’re that ready, the only thing to do is get it in gear and head out for your appointment with destiny.

At least I managed a smile this time.

At least I managed a smile this time.

Court was not like I expected, but then I had no idea what to expect.  I do feel something was up because when I walked into the judge’s office to tell them I was there, the woman at the front desk turned and yelled to the judge’s bailiff, “The name change is here!”  That was the first thing that made me wonder if it was standard practice to do things like that around the main courthouse of Porter County, Indiana . . .

I handed over my paper from the paper where the ad announcing my change was place and my birth certificate and went to wait outside.  A few minute later someone from the office came out and returned my birth certificate and gave me the lowdown on protocol:  my hearing was at ten-thirty, but they had to wait for fifteen minutes to see if anyone showed to object to the change–yes, this is something that is legal and can happen.

It was during that time that all the shackled prisoners who were in the criminal court next to me were led out of morning court for their transportation back to the local lockup, and I do which I could have snapped a picture, but cameras aren’t allowed inside the courthouse.  Orange jumpsuits and Crocs–yeah, not for me, thanks.  I couldn’t be seen dead in Crocs, for one thing . . .

At ten forty-five the bailiff called me into court where I was the only person.  I was given the rundown:  the judge would come in, ask me questions, ask for documentation, and that would then be that.  I was like, “Oh, cool,” and tried to settle down because I’ve been nervous as hell for a while waiting for this moment.

I had the full treatment:  a judge–not the one I’d requested, but another one who was filling in pro tem–the bailiff who’d been so helpful to me, a court reporter, and two court deputies.  I mean, this was really a big deal for me.  I was asked everything on the forms I filled out–are you trying to deceive creditors, are you a registered sex offender, are you currently incarcerated, which, by the way, had most of the people in court laughing as it was evident I wasn’t–and I was asked to present my passport and licence to the judge for examination, which one of the court deputies was happy to do for me–after all, I wasn’t supposed to get out of my chair.

And there was the one question I knew I was going to have to answer in open court, “What is the purpose for this name change?”  The answer was and is simple:  “I’m a transgender woman and I’m changing my name to allow me to conduct business legally as myself.”  Right?  I mean, there are other reasons, but you need your name if you’re gonna do business in this country.

After that question court was over:  I was told to wait outside as my change was processed and they’d be returned to me shortly.  I was outside the courtroom for about three minutes before I heard, “Okay, Cassidy–”  Yeah, that was nice.  It was also over.  I headed out to my car and decided to send a message to one of my friends back near The Burg to let them know the change was done, and to tell her to let all the people in my crocheting group who’d wished me well that day that I was out of court.

We all need our Big Girl Papers, yeah?

We all need our Big Girl Papers, yeah?

As you can see, court lasted less than thirty minutes, and most of that time was spent waiting for someone to show up and say I was doing something wrong.  After court I went to the Social Security office and filed to change my card (that took thirty minutes), then had lunch and returned to court to amend my birthday certificate, a process that took about fifteen minutes of filling out papers.

What remains today is to head over to the BMV in about two hours and apply for a new license.  New name, new picture, and a new gender marker.  That last I may need to argue a little on, but I’ll get it.  Once that’s done it’s a trip to the bank to get my name changed on accounts, and then I’m finished with Indiana business; I can head back to Harrisburg tomorrow, which I’m going to do anyway.

And I'll have this paper in hand--probably the most important one of my life.

And I’ll have this paper in hand–probably the most important one of my life.

I’d considered a lot of different things to say on this day, but when it came right down to it, there wasn’t any point in reflecting on my past self–who I don’t even recognize anymore, even when I look at old pictures–there’s just staying on the path to the future.  This isn’t the end of my transition:  oh, there’s plenty more to do.

But from here on out I do everything as me.  Myself.  I.

Cassidy’s the name, and I’m finally here to stay.

Nightmare Discussions at 30,000

Not an original or witty title today, but those are the breaks, you know?  Wit only goes so far on some days, and this isn’t one of them, so I gotta force myself to steal from The Twilight Zone to bring the post.  At least we don’t have to worry about gremlins on the wing of this place, ’cause the witches on this flight would burn its ass down in no time–

“You really think so? Let them take their best shot!”

Keep it up, loser, and I’ll work you into the story.

My kids are not quite home yet.  After all, there’s the whole Adjust on the Bus thing, and they have some time to fly when they come out of that.  And come out of it they do.  Though Annie’s wakey-wake time is just a bit different . . .

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie slowly raised her seat and looked about the cabin. It was empty: no one else had joined them as they’d begun adjusting, and the one attendant who was charged with taking care of this portion of the aircraft was not present. The cabin was dark with just enough illumination for one to find their way about without tripping over things, and nearly silent. This last she remembered from their return flight to Amsterdam, when a sound muffling spell was erected not long after takeoff to minimize the sound of air rushing past the airframe at eight hundred kilometers an hour. Some people found it unnerving; Annie found it comforting, for it reminded her of mornings at her lake house as the sun came up behind the mountains, keeping the valley where she lived in shadow and peaceful silence.

There was a soft moan to her right, and Annie was reminded that she wasn’t alone in the forward cabin . . .

She looked over the partial clamshell that separated their chairs when they were fully reclined. Kerry was still out, but it appeared he was shaking off the effects of the adjustment. She found it a little strange that he was still out, for the other two times they’d adjusted on a flight, she’d fallen asleep together and awoke together without additional time passing between either of them opening their eyes.

Soulmate isn’t awake?  Not when you’ve done it together all the other times?  No way this could be a problem, right?  Right?  Is this thing on?

Not this time, however. Kerry moaned once more, and Annie watched him squirm slightly under his blanket. She reached over, preparing to shake him—

Kerry spoke in a soft mumble. “I don’t know why you wanna . . .” His head turned slowly to the left as his brow furrowed. “Why you kept wanntin’ to see me? I don’t wanna come closer.”

Annie was both surprised and shocked. She wasn’t an expert on Kerry’s sleeping habits, but she had fallen asleep with him many numerous times during the Midnight Madness well as shared a bed with him, and had never heard him talk in his sleep. It wasn’t an indication he didn’t—it just meant that she’d never heard him—

Kerry slowly shook his head and spoke in his dreamy mumble. “You keep sayin’ that, but you’re wrong, I don’t know you—” He sighed softly. “You’re crazy, really. I don’t know that I want you to know me.” He shook his head again. “Well, you should forget.”

Annie’s hand was still in place, hovering in the air over his body. She lay it lightly upon his left shoulder and gave him a slight nudge. “Kerry?”

Kerry’s body went rigid for just a moment before he spoke in a loud, clear voice. “I don’t want your life. I wouldn’t know what to do with it.” He shook his head three times, then jerked hard. “You leave her out of this. She’s not your CONCERN.”

That was enough for Annie. She shook her boyfriend hard. “Kerry—Kerry.”

 

Annie is unnerved that she’s hearing Kerry talk in his sleep–as she notes, in all the time she’s, as she says, “shared a bed with him,” she’s never heard him talking in his sleep–that only happens in their dreams together.  And whomever Kerry is speaking with–and he is having a conversation, one can tell–someone’s name came up, and he didn’t want to hear that particular name . . .

Does he bolt upright in his seat and scream like they do in the movies?  Well . . .

He went limp; three seconds later his eyes began to open. “Hey . . . Annie.” He stretched. “You’re awake.”

“Yes.” She gave him a soft smile she knew he’d see in this dim light. “And so are you finally.”

He lay limply, staring up at the cabin ceiling. “Where are we? What time is it?”

She checked the flight display on her personal monitor. “We’re over Newfoundland: it says Boston time is zero-twenty-one.”

“Sounds about right.” He started raising his chair. “Penny said we’d wake up about ninety minutes out from Logan. And last year we woke up about the same spot.” Once his chair was in the upright position he leaned over and kissed Annie. “How you feeling?”

Annie kept her expression as neutral as possible. “I feel fine—”

 

Everyone feels fine around here, ever notice that?  Come to think of it, when was the last time anyone had a cold around this joint?  Broken bones, concussions, and torn ligaments aplenty, but the flu?  That should tell you something about the health of the Witches of the School of Salem.

After the attendant sees to their immediate needs Annie asks about what was going on with Kerry, if he knew he was talking in his sleep.  And he has an answer–and more.

The attendant returned with towels and bottles of San Pellegrino, leaving as quickly as her duty was finished. Kerry spoke as he wiped his face and arms. “I was having a dream.”

“You were?” Annie almost chuckled, but thought better. “I remember when you used to not remember those.”

“That was Last Year Kerry—” He grinned. “Now I’m This Year Kerry.”

Now she did chuckled. “I’m so glad of that. What were you dreaming about?”

Kerry draped his towel over the aisle arm rest of his chair and opened his mineral water. “I was talking to a girl.”

“Oh?” Annie meticulously folded her spent towel. “Anyone I know?”

“It’s not even anyone I know.” He took a sip of his drink after pouring it into the provided glass. “She’s just—I don’t know. It’s all strange.”

 

There was a time when Kerry would have kept his mouth shut about this sort of thing, or at the least not mention things for a few days or weeks.  Maybe he doesn’t want to spend the next two hours sitting next to Frosty the Dark Witch, though, and decides it’s better to open up about this matter.  It’s also possible that he knows he has nothing to hid, and doesn’t try . . .

“What happened?” Annie normally wasn’t interested in any dream of Kerry’s save those she shared, but after seeing his unconscious distress she was more than a little curious.

“Not much, really. She’s walking towards me and trying to get me to walk towards her—”

“Where are you?”

“It something like a big, empty, gray room. She keeps telling me I need to get to know her, but when I ask her name, she says I already know her name.” He shrugged. “She also tells me she already knows a lot about me.”

“Maybe—” Annie glanced at him out of the corner of her eye as a coy smile formed. “—you have a secret admirer.”

He snorted. “All ready had one of those: I don’t want another.” He glanced at Annie. “Just someone else to curse, yeah?”

“You better curse them.” There was no need to mention the name of Kerry’s “secret admirer”; during their time in the Grunewald forest they discussed his curse on Emma, and what actions they might take if she discovered and tried to void the effects. Neither anticipated she’d be a problem, though Kerry promised he’d take steps to dissuade her from trying to “steal him away” if she should try again.

 

It’s a sign that their relationship is growing in different ways, because they spent part of their time while picnicking in Berlin to discuss Emma, and what to do should she start going all Fatal Attraction on Ginger Soulmate.  Kerry will handle the problem first, ’cause if it comes down to Annie stepping in to deal with Single Ginger Female, it won’t be pretty.

I’m already half way through Chapter Four–

And inching up on thirty thousand words, which is pretty good for three weeks work.

And inching up on thirty thousand words, which is pretty good for three weeks work.

Now that the writing portion of this post is over, it’s time for an update.  To what, you say?  Well . . . something I mentioned last year at this time.

For the record it’s my birthday, and I’ll cry if I want to–and all ready did this morning, if anyone is keeping track.  A year ago I wrote this, talking not only about my novel in progress–you remember, it’s my own version of War and Peace–but I also wrote about getting ready to go on hormones as I started my transition from the old person I was to the new person I am.  I mentioned that I was starting on a long adventure, one that would end–well, who knows where, mostly because that adventure is still ongoing.

I also posted a picture, saying that for the person in that picture, it was going to be their last birthday–

Contrary to what some people might say, I didn't really attack Kerry on a dark afternoon in November . . .

Contrary to what some people might say, I didn’t really attack Kerry on a dark afternoon in November . . .

And I was right, because today it’s this person’s birthday.

I'm also not the girl of Kerry's dreams, 'cause Annie would kill me if I was.

I’m also not the girl of Kerry’s dreams, ’cause Annie would kill me if I was.

A whole lot of things have happened in the last year.  New glasses, new brows, new wig.  I wear makeup better and I know how to dress.  I’ve had one session of laser and two sessions of electrolysis on my face, and the beard is starting to vanish.  I’ve been on hormone replacement therapy for just under ten months now, and all my labs look fantastic.  My face has changed as fat has moved around, my weight has dropped, my hips and butt are starting to develop, and I have “the girls” as my doctor calls my breasts.  I have crazy, insane mood swings depending upon where I am in my hormonal cycle–yes, because I take shots every two weeks, I do have a cycle–and I’m learning how to get through those as I deal with this thing known as “womanhood”.

Most of all, I’m what is known as “full-time” in therapy vernacular.  Since coming out at work on 2 February I am all lady, all the time, and the only person there is any more is completely and totally me.  I don’t go back to pretending I was someone else:  when you see me any and everywhere, I am the woman in the second picture.  There is no “first picture person” anymore:  as I stated last year, they had their birthday, and now they are gone.  Not forgotten, I should mention, but they are no longer around.

What remains at this point is getting my name and gender markers changed, and I’m at work on that.  By this time next year all my important papers and legal documents should reflect my real name and gender, and there shouldn’t be anything to show an old me used to exist save for a few signatures here and there under my old name.  After that’s complete, about the only thing left to me are the various surgeries I could get if I can afford them.  There’s only one I’m interested in getting, and I may raid my 401(k) at some point in the future to make that a reality.

But the adventure is a year down and who knows how many more to come.  Unlike Annie and Kerry, I don’t have a handy timeline I can pull up and use to figure out where I’ll actually be on, say, 1 June, 2019–and unlike a certain Muslim Seer woman who’s tight with my kids, I can’t see into the future, so I gotta kinda wing it day-by-day.  And that’s okay, because every day is different.  Good, bad, fantastic, miserable:  they’re all different.  In their own way they’re wonderful, even during those when I feel like giving up and moving on beyond The Veil.

That’s because, the ones where I have hope that life is giving me a good day are worth remembering and holding close to my heart.

It’s been an interesting journey–

I wonder how next year will shape up?

A Year and a Day

Today is the last day of March, 2015.  That’s a pretty easy one:  you can look at any calendar, phone, or computer and see that right away.  It’s a good thing, too, because these days it’s also nearly impossible to know from one day to the next what day it should be.  I’m good with that, but not perfect.

Today is also the International Transgender Day of Visibility, the day that is meant to celebrate those of us who have chosen to live our lives as we needed them to be lived, and not pretend we are someone else–something I did most of my life.  Believe me, getting to the point where I could stop pretending wasn’t the easiest thing in my life . . .

My own public coming out wasn’t something I spent a long time thinking about.  I had already begun attending a few transgender support meetings through the winter of 2013/14, but by March of 2014, I was feeling the need to do more.  By that time I’d been in and out of therapy for almost two years, but I felt that I wasn’t making any real progress toward being me.

That started changing on 29 March, 2014.  On that day I drove home from Indiana to Harrisburg in some of the strangest weather I’d ever encountered.  It started out cloudy, then started drizzling in eastern Indiana.  I began seeing snow flurries in western Ohio, snow in central, and by the time I reach not-rocking Cleveland, it was snowing hard enough that only one lane of the three lane Ohio Turnpike was open.  It stayed that way until I reached the Cuyahoga River valley, at which point everything turned to rain–

And stayed that way all through the gathering night as I drove through the mountains of Pennsylvania on the way to Harrisburg.

It was about eleven PM when I reached home, and I didn’t make it into bed until about half-past midnight.  I was up because I was chatting with someone about writing, but as I went to bed my mind was on something else.  Me.

When I woke up the next morning, Sunday, 30 March, I decided that I was lacking as far as my transition was concerned, and if I was going to go through with it, I’d either need to do so, or crawl back into the closet where I’d been for fifty years.  And so, that morning, I threw on my wig, put on a little makeup (really, just a little:  I had no idea what I was doing), got dressed, and headed for my normal weekend morning hangout, the Panera in Camp Hill.  I was nervous, I was scared, I was worried I was going to get chased out of the joint, and while I did get a few stares–lots of few stares, actually–I was waited on and served.

That was the start.  And I even got a picture to commemorate the moment, because if you don’t see it, it didn’t happen, right?

April of 2014 was really my transition month, and the biggest turning point for me was, believe it or not, the fact that I was getting tired of transferring my ID from my woman’s wallet to my male wallet, and I reached the next milestone where I decided I was either going to be a woman or man, and chose woman because, yeah, I was.

Yesterday was my anniversary of my real coming out, where I’d decided to forgo all possible humiliation and walk out of my apartment and show the world who I was.  Yesterday I met with my tax prepare at H&R Block in Valparaiso, IN–you may have heard a little about Indiana lately, as the government here is trying to squeeze the entire state into a TARDIS and take us back to 1915–so I could file my federal and state taxes, naturally.  Last year I’d done so in male mode, but not so much this year.  This year I went as myself, my true self, and my tax lady didn’t bat an eye.  She remarked that I looked good, and asked a few questions about my transition, but mostly what she wanted to know was if I was getting ready to publish anything else, since I had a 1099 from Amazon for book royalties.  (All of fifteen dollars, if you must know.)  As for the whole, “Oh, you’re a woman now?” thing–she could care less.

As I tell people, I still suffer from depression, I still cry, I still believe at times that the end is near, but right now the least of my worries is transition.  The news was good enough yesterday that I was able to determine that I’ll be able to undergo electrolysis this summer, and later today or tomorrow I’ll start the process on getting my name and gender markers changed.

It’s been a strange and wonderful journey.  And as I say, I have pictures.

Then:

Camp Hill, 30 March, 2014.

Camp Hill, PA, 30 March, 2014.

And Now:

Valparaiso, IN, 30 March, 2015.

Valparaiso, IN, 30 March, 2015.

What a different a year makes.

Return of the Last Week

Does that seem cryptic?  Like, oh, god, what sort of “Last Week” are you describing?  Hummm, maybe a little cryptic, but that because I come from a different time and place, not unlike a certain traveler who was on over the weekend.

A week from today is Labor Day, or as some people think of it, the traditional marking of the end of summer.  After that day women aren’t supposed to wear white shoes, men are suppose to stop wearing shorts, and everyone’s suppose to adapt to the idea that fall is here and winter’s around the corner.  It was also, in some places the start of the school year, and depending on the calendar, school either started today, or it started next Tuesday.

That simply isn’t the case any longer.  Today we start school like the first week of August, people don’t much give a damn about what they wear well into fall (something I’ve noticed as I’ve adapted my change in clothing and watched how other women to the same), and winter is now a meme to tell people to brace themselves for some life-changing shit.

And my head was chopped off a few years or over a decade ago, so totally not a spoiler.

And his head was chopped off a few years or over a decade ago, depending on the medium of your choice, so totally not a spoiler.

So we are in the last week of summer.  It’s here, and soon it’ll be Friday, and summer is going . . . well, it’s not going anywhere.  Fall doesn’t officially come for almost another month, and looking ahead for the weeks to come, I doubt that we’re going to see fall-like weather soon.  Which is good, because I don’t have all my winter clothes together yet.  I can get through fall okay, but winter–it’s gonna be a tough one in The Burg.

The only true season I ever used to pay attention to was summer, and that was because I grew up in a house with no air conditioning until about 1970, and so summer was as time of dread.  It was hot and sweaty and miserable, and I couldn’t wait for cooler weather so I could sleep and enjoy going outside without enduring the sensation that I was melting.

The summer’s been mild this year, and where it was super sweltering I’ve manage to stay out of the direct rays and stay comfortable.  Winter is suppose to be a total pain in the ass this year, and that only bothers me in the sense that it’s necessary to go out and share the road with hundreds of drivers who lose their minds whenever there’s the smallest amount of snow on the ground.

However, it’s not the weather going away that I’ll think about this year.  The summer was one of dramatic change for me, and in this last week I meet with my therapist and talk about all the stuff that’s happened in the month since I last saw her.  I’m sure they’ll be a lot of discussion about what’s going to happen at work this winter, and not a few mentions of my emotional state over the month of August.

And then we can talk about what’s coming in the fall.

All-in-all, it’s not been a bad summer,

Maybe I need to get out and enjoy what their is of my new life in the fall.

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Changing seasons, changing gender appearance–pretty much the same, don’t you think?  It can still make for a good hike on a nice day.

 

Letting the Rest Roll

Let it be known that I’ve been slacking off.  Really, I have.  I feel it.  Because I’ve needed to slack off, to be honest.

One, I’ve been tired a lot.  The last couple of nights I’ve taken sleeping pills–just one each night–to help me get through the night and not wake up at three-thirty AM with no chance of getting back to bed.  I’ve managed to get some sleep out of these nights, and even though I was awake at four AM needing to use the bathroom, I went right back to sleep and woke up only moments before the alarm went off.

Two, I’ve been distracted of late by wanting to do things, be it watch TV, read, get out of the house and travel–anything.  I’ve needed to change up my routine for some time now, and it’s great for recharging.  Tonight I’ll go out and do a little grocery shopping, and when that’s over I’m going to stop at Panera, get something to eat–probably a big bowl of soup–and then set up my computer and write.  I did this last week and plopped down a thousand words; I want to finish this scene I’m in, start on the next, and maybe finish it as well.  Because I’m moving ahead.

Annie's letting me know I better get her scene finished, because . . . well, because.

Annie’s letting me know I better get her scene finished, because . . . well, because.

And, admittedly, I enjoy the break.  Which leads into–

Three:  I’ve been feeling a lot burned out.  I’m two hundred and thirty thousand words into the novel, maybe two-thirds of the way through, and after ten months I’m ready for something else.  This is the doldrums part of the story, where you want to keep pushing, but you also want to do something else.  You’ve lived with these people for so long it’s like having guests who never go away, and just like you want the Guests Who Wouldn’t Leave to pack up their shit and move on, I’m ready for another project.

Not that I hate what I’m doing, but like anything else where you do it over and over every day, it starts to wear you down.  I feel that what may be needed is an adjustment of schedules.  Set aside the time I need to do something, and do it then.  I’m thinking Wednesday afternoon is going to become a new writing time for me for the next few months.  After that I’ll find something else to help with the time.

My fear is taking a break from writing for a week or two.  I’ve done that in the past, and when I have I’ve managed to take a month off and get back into things without a problem.  Then again, I’ve also taken a break that lasted years, and I don’t want that to happen.  Because I’ve got the story where I want it, and I don’t have time to take a year off from this project.  Sure, I might be able to get other things done, but I want to finish this story.

Let me correct that:  I need to finish this.

Because it’s too damn important to put to the side.  No matter how I feel right now.