Archive | February 2016

Into the Labyrinth

I’ve sunken into depression.

“Depression.” I hate that word. It’s nothing against the word itself. It’s how everyone uses the word. It’s like OCD. Everyone uses it, no idea what it means. They just want to be special little snowflakes. “I’m OCD about this,” they say. Because they watched a few episodes of Monk and think OCD is fun. It’s not. And they do the same with depression. They think it’s like “Upset Plus,” like it’s a tier above sad or something. I hear that so often. “Just feeling my depression,” people say.

“Oh?” I like to ask. “Do you know why you’re upset?”

“Yeah, it’s because–”

Then it’s not depression. It’s an emotional reaction to environmental stimuli. That’s not depression.

I would have killed myself a dozen times in the last six months if it wasn’t for my cats. That was why I left them in Vegas, after all. And then that was why I paid a guy to bring them to me on his flight. When I left Vegas, I figured I had about a 30% chance of actually continuing the drive, not stopping and going into the desert with my gun–

One shot and the world gets smaller.

But then I decided to survive, and I needed my cats to help me do that. We don’t really have a normal relationship. They don’t behave toward me like most cats do toward people. It’s hard to explain. I know how cats act toward people, though, and then there are these two. And they’ve kept me alive because I don’t want to leave them alone.

Who else is there? My family shuns me.

There are my friends, of course, but as I know damned well–life goes on.

It’s probably a good thing that I have my cats. Life wouldn’t just go on for them. And most people can say that about other humans. Life hasn’t just gone on for Monte’s wife or John’s wife. Life doesn’t just go on for someone when a sibling dies. It does, but it’s not the same. One of my really good friends seems to be losing his mind, too, so that’s something. My best friend through most of my teenage and adult life, who is a swinger himself, wants nothing to do with me now. I don’t really care about that, because he was kinda a loser anyway, but it just goes to show.

There’s no point in writing this, and even less point in posting it.

A Long Time Coming

Last night, I reached a point in “Dancing in Hellfire” where it was time to discuss coming out, and, of my experiences, one in particular is notable. The rest don’t matter and are all being lumped together as “Fantastic Friends,” but one is unique: my sister. By an incredible margin, this was the most difficult one to address, and by all rights should have brought me the most relief once it was over, since most people would look back in hindsight and think “Well, of course my sister wasn’t going to have a problem with it! What the fuck was I thinking?”

But I can’t look back and say that, because my initial fears–shared by a friend who knew my sister pretty well–proved correct. In the cognitive dissonance that rose because I’m transgender and she’s a fundamentalist Christian, she actively chose unacceptance and ignorance. Strangely, this is something that she more or less openly admits. And, to make matters worse, I happened to see her a few hours ago when I was at the bank, and she reported that she’d just taken her son back to the doctor. That’s three doctor visits in 5 days, and during none of those did she do what she’d told me she would.

I knew it would have to happen eventually, and, sure enough, the content I wrote last night on the matter was aimed more at dissecting and rebuking my sister’s long and fucked up text message. I had to get it out of my system, though, because I haven’t actually sat down to examine it and point out every little thing that’s wrong with it. So here’s another excerpt from “Dancing in Hellfire.”

=====================================

Accepting that I’m transgender was only the first of many difficult battles—in fact, there are still battles that I fight, and I don’t expect that I’ll have the war behind me for many years. I would even go further than that and say: accepting that I’m transgender was not the first of many battles; it was the declaration of war.

The first step in this, of course, is coming out to people, and that has been extremely easy and extremely difficult. I still haven’t told my grandfather, grandmother, and father, but, in honesty, I don’t intend to tell my grandfather at all. I love him to death, and he’s very old—I don’t want him to spend the last few years of his life supremely disapointed and under the impression that I’m going to hell. There’s no need to burden him with that, since I don’t see him that often in the first place—not as much as I’d like, for sure. My grandmother and dad will have to know, but, as the time of writing this section, I still hadn’t told them because, again, I don’t see them often enough for it to be a problem.

The most difficult person so far to discuss it with has been my sister. I knew that it could go one of two ways: either she wouldn’t care, or she would care immensely. It’s that damned internal conflict, that cognitive dissonance, and her reply, I knew, would depend on which of the two things were more important to her on a fundamental level: her religious beliefs or our relationship.

When I discussed this with a friend of mine, he told me that I was crazy for telling her and that she would never have anything to do with me again. As I thought more and more about it, though, I decided that wasn’t true, and that all of the bullshit we had gone through together ensured a more powerful bond than that. Because we really did go through a lot together, and we always have had each other’s back.

So I just told her one day, after wrestling with it for months, by bringing it up randomly while we were in the kitchen. I showed her a picture of myself as a female, and said, “That’s me,” or something to that effect. She replied that she already knew and that she didn’t care. We discussed it for a few moments, but nothing substantial was said, and I broke it to her in the same way that I’ve broken it to others: “For now, just think of it like cross dressing. It’s not cross dressing, but that’s a good way to think of it for the time being.” And, most critically, I explained that the reason I was finally bringing it up was because I wasn’t content to continue dressing as a male when I was at home. She said that she’d have to discuss that with her husband.

I knew that she knew I occasionally wore women’s clothes, and she knew that I knew that she knew, so her response to the whole thing was pretty much unnecessary. It was an open secret, an elephant in the room that we never talked about. Something like “So you’re finally getting it out in the open? That’s great. I’m happy for you” would have been nice, but, as I would soon guess, that was not her feeling about it at all.

I waited about a week to hear back from her on discussing it with her husband, and then I asked her if she’d talked to him. She said that she had not, because he had been pretty busy at work. This was the first indication that something was amiss. I had stressed to her the entire reason for bringing it out into the open, after all, and made it a point to mention that it was all very important to me, though I didn’t then go into specifics. I did explain then that I’m not into guys, and that my love for women hasn’t changed at all, and I explained that I have no interest in SRS, so it’s not like nothing was said that day.

After several more days, I began to suspect that something was amiss, and nearly a month passed before I asked her about it again, though by this point I was already starting to sense that my initial impression—and my friend’s impression—was correct, and that she was going to hide behind her husband (who she probably hadn’t even talked to) as an excuse to stop it. And, sure enough, when I asked her again, she said that he wasn’t comfortable with the idea.

That… struck me as strange, because he had lived with a drag queen before, when he was younger. They weren’t romantically involved or anything like that, but I still have a hard time believing that he had a problem with it. He had never said or done anything that indicated an unwillingness to accept homosexuals or transgenders, and he had once been roommates with a drag queen; that’s a pretty big change of heart, and in a strange direction for someone who describes himself as an atheist.

Meanwhile, my sister’s biggest “thing” is a deep and pervasive fear of death and oblivion. She willingly admits that the reason she is a Christian is because she is scared of oblivion and wants to believe in an afterlife. During that month that I waited patiently for her to do something she should have had the decency as my sister to do immediately, I thought a lot about her motivations, and I realized that accepting me would come in direct conflict with her religious beliefs, and her religious beliefs gave her the pacifier of immortality; asking her to accept me was to ask her to accept oblivion.

She lies, because she’s a coward and won’t say to my face the things she says in text message. She has done this repeatedly, and it’s infuriating. Still, she was noticeably uncomfortable discussing this sort of thing in person, even though she had just a week or so before given me a ton of clothes, jewelry, and makeup that she didn’t want or need. I languished for about another month, wondering how she would react if I simply dropped it on her as an ultimatum. I realized my mistake—I was asking her permission to by myself, and that was the wrong way to handle it. I didn’t need her permission. Instead, I should have said, “This is what I’m doing. You can accept it or not.”

One thing that motivated me further was my knowledge that they simply don’t have the money to survive without me paying them that $500 monthly that I was giving them. Shortly after they had their second child, they fought constantly about whether [my sister] was going back to work. Surprisingly, [my sister] wanted to go back, because she accepted the reality that they simply didn’t make enough money, the way they burned through it, to make ends meet on only one income. Keeping in mind that they had a six year old child and a two month old baby, as [my sister] drove to work, [her husband] informed her that if she went to work, then he was leaving her.

Let that sink in.

So she quit her job, and they’ve been white-knuckling it since, even with the money that I gave them monthly and the random cigarettes and stuff I purchased here and there because they were out. And there was constant tension for me, because if they were broke it was always my fault. It didn’t matter that I paid them exactly what they asked—if they were broke, it was because I hadn’t paid them yet. There was so much tension that there were several nights when I simply sat in my room, needing to use the bathroom but holding it, simply because I didn’t want to deal with that horrible tension. Meanwhile, I paid them regularly, and they had a steady influx of money—as they were creating this oppressive vibe in the air.

I accommodated her still and wrote her a letter. For one, she had consistently written it off as “wanting to wear girl clothes,” and I had already corrected that. That first time I asked her if she’d talked to [her husband] yet, I clarified that and explained that I’m transgender. So she only believed that I cross-dressed for a few days, a week at the most; after that, she knew the full details that I’m transgender and that it’s a pretty big deal. But she continued to characterize it as “wanting to wear girl clothes,” and writing it down would leave her totally unable to misconstrue it. It couldn’t be interrupted—something else she is bad about doing—and it couldn’t be misunderstood.

My letter basically said that being forced to live the lie constantly, even when I was at home, where I was paying a substantial amount of money to rent a bedroom with drafts all through it in a house that was in poor condition, was destroying me. And it was. The only other time in my life that I had been that suicidal was shortly after my separation, and on that occasion I was admitted to the hospital for slashing my wrists open. I told her that she could accept it, or I could move, but I wasn’t asking her permission to do it, and I wasn’t going to continue hiding it. I explained that her 6 year old is the least likely person in the world to care and that at most he will think it’s funny at first, and then will ask if he can play one of the games on my computer, and then he will never think about it again.

She responded just a few minutes later with a text message that I can’t let myself read right now, because it will infuriate me, and probably make me cry since I’m on hormone. I was going to post the screenshot, but it’s kind of difficult to read, and it wouldn’t be legible in black and white anyway. So here’s the message:

“I love u and for 29 yrs u have been my brother so I just block it out bc I can’t even come to terms with it so my 6 year old isn’t going to have to either. I would rather leave it to deal with when he’s older so no I won’t b telling him now. We, as a family, are not comfortable with you dressing up as a woman in our home. I’m sorry. But it’s my family. These kids mean more than anything to me. I do want u to be happy and not depressed but I guess that does involve u moving. [My son] is still full of innocence and I am not going to destroy that. I know that this world will do that all by itself but [my husband] and I have decided to raise our sons the way we think. This is a topic obviously that I try to avoid bc I’m not comfortable with it. I can’t look at u in any other way. I will tell [my son] anything but the truth right now. He will miss u but he will get over it. I just can’t explain it to him and we don’t want to so I’m sorry.”

I’m going to now do something that I’ve resisted the urge to do since I saw that text message. I’m going to explain everything that’s wrong with it.

First, as I said, her son won’t have a hard time coming to terms with it. The only reason she has a hard time is because of all that religious crap in her head that says it’s a sin and that it’s wrong. The bluntness and self-awareness of her message is staggering: she knows she wants to escape back into ignorance. She wanted to keep Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell in our family, and I was unwilling to do that. There’s a reason we abolished that in the military. It’s extremely destructive.

By the third sentence, she has forgotten that I’m her family, too, but whatever. That’s not even the important bit. The important part is “…you dressing up as a woman in our home.” This infuriates me so much to see, because it’s not only willful ignorance—since I’ve already explained to her that it’s not “dressing up”—it’s downright offensive and insulting. You don’t characterize a transgender person as fucking playing dress up. That’s messed up. Drag Queens dress up, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but that isn’t what a transgender person does. These are critical distinctions, and I’d already made them to her. That she would say this after at least two in-depth explanations is nothing short of insulting and a blatant display of her absolute failure to listen.

Take note of the line “These kids mean more than anything to me,” because we’ll come back to that in a moment. Let’s focus for now on the allegation that my very existence is a threat to her son’s innocence. Is that not just the most fundamentalist Christian thing you’ve ever heard? I don’t have any problem with Christians—a great deal of them are wonderful, kind, and loving people. I have a problem with Christians like my sister, who think that my being openly transgender will destroy her son’s innocence. By that statement, we can extrapolate that she would think her son seeing two men or two women kiss on television would also destroy her son’s innocence. But it doesn’t. It simply expands his mind.

Because she doesn’t have a problem with non-transgender people dressing however they want to dress. Nor does she have a problem with straight couples kissing in front of her son—she even encourages it regularly. “Is that your little girlfriend?” she asks him, never stopping to consider that he might be gay, and never even allowing the possibility. “He’s a little ladies’ man!” she proclaims proudly. If we’re going to talk about the destruction of innocence, let’s talk about the destruction of innocence and how she has overwritten his default worldview of bisexualism with heterosexuality, and now she brands everything that isn’t strict homosexuality as the destruction of innocence. It is not. It is simply a threat on the definitions and constraints she has attempted to impose upon his mind, rather than letting it grow and develop naturally.

And she even knows that: “We have decided to raise our sons how we think.” Well, first of all, her husband calls himself an atheist, so I still doubt that he has a problem with it. I don’t know that, but I do doubt it, because being unaccepting of homosexuals and transgender people is almost always a religious thing. Why hide behind this bullshit about innocence, though, when we all know what it’s really about—controlling how her kids think. My being transgender isn’t an assault on her son’s ignorance. It’s an assault on her attempts to make her kids into the kind of people who would turn their backs on a family member of 29 years. If you ask me, that’s the kind of thing that should be assaulted.

“Oh? My being transgender is an attack on that mentality that would lead someone to turn their backs on their sibling after 29 years beside each other through hardship, struggle, abuse, and violence? I’m a threat to that worldview that openly chooses lies and willful ignorance over the truth and acceptance? Good.”

Then she gets into how she’s not comfortable with it and can’t look at me in any other way. Well, of course you can’t! You won’t open your eyes! This was infuriating, made all the worse that I forced myself to be the bigger person and just not reply to it. I still haven’t replied to it. We’ve had a few small discussions here and there, but nothing really substantial, and, after what happened in the past few days, we won’t really have any discussions again. We’re done.

How ridiculous is it, though, to say that she can’t see me any other way, when she openly refuses to look at me? Remember what all of this was about: my telling her that I was going to begin being me more and more frequently until I no longer presented myself as a male at all. Apart from the picture I showed her, which concealed most of my face, she had only ever seen her brother. One thing I stressed in my letter was that I knew it was jarring for everyone and would require transition—I was not going to just pop out in a little pink dress and high heels. I was willing to move slowly toward that, at a rate that was slow but moving forward. I think I said a good first step would have been to simply wear female jeans at home. But even that was too much for her.

She wasn’t willing to look, and she insisted that she couldn’t look. I am a threat to the Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell shit that we’ve lived for two decades. I’m a threat to the secret, to the elephant in the room. I’m a threat to her desire not to think about it. I’m a threat to her ignorance. She didn’t choose her religion; she chose her ignorance.

And then she drops the hammer. She will tell her son anything but the truth. What a remarkable thing to say. If your worldview requries lies in order to protect it, then you should re-examine that worldview. And drop it, replacing it with one that doesn’t require lies and deceit to be protected. But let’s just bask in the glory of that statement—she would tell her son anything but the truth.

She would lie to her son.

She will kick me from her son’s life.

She will bring her son sorrow.

And I’m a threat to his innocence.

Her son and I spent a lot of time together, because we are both avid video gamers. I write for a gaming site and am a professional game critics—they’re more than a hobby to me, and I’ve got a ton of games on my computer that her son loved playing. Every single evening, he’d come into my room and ask if he could play with my cats, ask if he could play games on my computer, and ask if he could watch me play. I didn’t always say “Yes,” because, frankly, I don’t have kids for a reason, and one of those reasons is that I like to spend time to myself. But he did spend a lot of time with me.

And one day he’s going to wonder why his mom took his friend away and wouldn’t let him see his friend anymore. He is only six, so he may not remember how much time we spent together. He may not remember all the nights he sat in there and played with my cats, and he might not remember how many times I told him to come into the bedroom with me because his parents were fighting again and I knew he didn’t need to hear that shit. I love that kid. And my existence is a threat to his innocence.

As a bonus happy thought, here is my kitty Rainbow:

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She’s so precious. 🙂

My pillowcases were actually in the dryer because I needed to get cat hair off them, in case anyone is curious. Neither of the cats shed very badly, and it’s winter here anyway, but I still wash them pretty often because they do stuff like this.

Rainbow wants to know if you’ve considered supporting me on Patreon, to help ensure that posts like these keep coming, as well as getting some exclusive stuff that only patrons get. Join that elite club of awesome people. 🙂

Oh, Death.

That’s so Die Eier Von Satan-ish, plus the awesome vocals of Jen Titus. Truly an awesome piece of music.

Anyway.

John Casseus died. Casseus isn’t actually his last name, but I’m changing it out of respect for his wife and family. He was the owner of a Wine & Spirits store nearby, one of the most successful businesses in the state of Mississippi, in fact–go figure. He was also one of my clients, and a very good one. Regular, and he always paid his invoices on time, never disputed the prices. He actually wasn’t my client; he was my colleague’s client, but I did probably 75% of the work there, and the lines between my company and my colleague’s company have gotten extremely blurred.

John died Saturday morning. Evidently, he just never woke up. I’m guessing sleep apnea, because he looks and seems like the type of guy who has a severe snoring problem–don’t ask me what that means, because I couldn’t explain it–and that’s often a sign of sleep apnea. Dying in the middle of the night while being an otherwise healthy adult, though, is an even stronger sign of sleep apnea. I have sleep apnea, and it sucks. You never feel rested. I’m told people normally feel rested and rejuvenated when they wake. I wouldn’t know anything about that. Really, when I wake up I feel like I just died.

And John did die.

John was a great guy, and one of the few people I trusted and respected absolutely. I was having a bad day once and still had to go by his house to do some tech work for him. My colleague and I have different standards when it comes to customer service, so when I say “I treated him like shit that day,” it’s more like what you would expect “average service” to be from most people. And I felt horrible about it. I wasn’t gone from his house for ten minutes before I was texting him to let him know that I had just treated him like shit and that I knew he deserved better than that. I explained that I clearly needed to clear my head, so I couldn’t return that day, but that I would return the next morning and provide him the level of service that he deserves.

That text message changed things between John and me. He’d always respected me, and we discussed politics and Ron Paul extensively–he was also a Ron Paul supporter–but that text pushed him over the top. My colleague later that evening reported that it brought tears to John’s eyes and that he had the utmost respect for someone who could say “I screwed up, and you deserve better, so here’s what I’m going to do to fix it.”

That’s what’s powerful about apologies, isn’t it? There are two types of apologies: sincere ones and fake ones. A sincere apology has three parts:

  1. The apology itself: “I’m sorry.”
  2. Admission of guilt: “I was wrong.”
  3. Attempt to fix the mistake. “Here’s what I will do to make things right.”

A lot of people say that most people forget #3, but that isn’t true. It’s not a real apology if it lacks number 3–it’s pacification, an attempt to weasel out from the apology. A sincere apology contains #3. So keep that in mind going forward; when someone offers you an apology, pay close attention to see if they are truly apologizing and are genuinely sorry, or if they’re just trying to manipulate you into forgiving them without their having to actually do anything. It doesn’t matter what has to be done to make things right, and it doesn’t matter if you require that of them or not; if they don’t make the offer, then they’re not sincere.

John and I didn’t actually talk much after that, because I moved to Vegas shortly thereafter, and there wasn’t much going on at his store through the latter half of last year. It wasn’t much fun working for John, though, for two primary reasons. First, he’s almost obsessive compulsive. As a sidenote, I hate how “OCD” has become a new buzzword thrown about by people with idiosyncrasies who have no idea what OCD actually means; I’m not using it in that way. I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who didn’t claim to “have OCD” about something.

To give you an idea of what borderline OCD actually looks like, John’s store operates with a server that is running Windows 2000, and his point-of-sale machines run Windows 98. He refused to upgrade to something new, primarily because of the cost but also because he didn’t want to. In fact, when one of his POSs died and he had such a hard time finding replacements, he went ahead and ordered nine more of the things so that he would be able to use them for the next 20 years at least. Yeah. This dude has nine Windows 98 point-of-sales sitting in his back office.

He resisted change, and in many ways working for him was like working for an elderly client. These people require that their desktop resolution be the same, their bookmarks be exactly where they were, and the steps necessary to do things never change; if they change even slightly, they will let you know. The day I switched him from using Internet Explorer to using the proprietary Specco software to watch his in-store DVR and security camera feeds while off-site will always be remembered as the Day I Learned Patience.

But we had to get him off Internet Explorer, because the DVR needed a firmware upgrade that we couldn’t actually install for stupid, complicated tech reasons, which left him being able to use only Internet Explorer 9 in order to view the security camera footage. That would have been okay, if webpages like Yahoo and Google weren’t constantly prompting him to update to a “more recent browser to improve [his] experience!” Every 2 weeks, it never failed, either my colleague or I had to make a trip to John’s house or store to uninstall an IE11 update that he did because he was not able to view the live camera feeds afterward.

So we tried moving him to Firefox and Chrome, telling him to only use Internet Explorer to view the security cameras. Well, in hindsight we might as well have told him that the “f of x as x approaches infinity is 2x over y squared,” because it was just a day later–just a day later–that he was texting me to tell me that he couldn’t view the cameras any longer. My apology had already been made by this point, and my colleague and I had already had numerous conversations about the issue, so I was kind and cordial about the whole thing.

I was a jerk that one day–and by most standards, I wasn’t a jerk, just a typical tech–because I was having a bad day anyway. I’ve never lost sight of how it feels to be an ordinary person, largely helpless in the face of all this technology, and utterly powerless to do anything about it when it doesn’t work. The average person is helpless when something goes wrong, and the people like John and the elderly become almost paralyzed when it happens. They hate it, deep down inside, and it’s written all over their actions and words. They hate that they don’t understand this thing that is such an integral part of their lives, but they simply don’t understand it.

I’m pretty good with analogies, I think, and I explained to John that the web browser is like a car. Internet Explorer is Chrysler, Google Chrome is a Chevrolet, and Firefox is a Ford*. They are vehicles, and he uses them to drive to the store–websites are the stores he wants to go to. His DVR system was a weird and unusual store, and he could only drive to it with one particular vehicle–the Chrysler, Internet Explorer. Of course, the real situation is more complicated than that, since it’s not “to the store” that browsers drive: browsers get the blueprints of what the store should look like, and then the browser builds the store, but the analogy was good enough to convey it to John. And I was happy with that, patted myself on the back, and was sure that we wouldn’t have the issue again.

Nope.

We had the issue again.

Not everyone has a freaking college degree in this field, though. I don’t begrudge anyone for not understanding aspects of technology–they provide me with work, after all–and I generally don’t mind the many ways that this ignorance manifests. With John, it manifested in a need for everything to always stay the same. C’est la vie.

But that’s John as an employer, more or less. It wasn’t strictly business, and that’s the wonderful thing about working outside the confines of a corporation: you can get to know clients on a more personalized level, and I’ve spent a great deal of time at John’s freaking enormous and beautiful house. And though I was working through these visits, it was more like “Hey, I’m about to smoke a bowl. Do you want a hit before you start messing with that laptop?”

I don’t smoke weed. Aside from the handful of occasions I did it in Vegas because I was repeatedly hit with peer pressure until I did it–seriously–I haven’t smoked weed in about three years. I don’t have anything against weed–or any drugs, except meth, coke, and heroin. Those are the Big Three. I detest those three drugs. But I don’t care if people want to smoke weed everyday, or if they want to take rolls everyday. Shit, I love rolls. They’re the most wonderful things human beings ever invented. Rather than being illegal, they should be required monthly dietary supplements. And before you shoot someone during a war, you should have to take 2 triple stack yellow dolphins with them.

I have a song called Swimming With Yellow Dolphins. Now you know why those dolphins are yellow. 😉

Ecstasy is great. No, really. It is. it’s wonderful, spectacular stuff. But I still haven’t done any in 3 years or so, simply because… I grew up. Life went on. That’s one of my biggest worries about one of my friends, that she still seems to be stuck in a 23 year old mindset. Sure, going to a music festival once or twice a year to do some shrooms, rolls, and acid aren’t going to destroy your life or brain. And I’m all for people continuing to do that after the “Time To Grow Up Age.” But anything more than that, after the Time To Grow Up Age… is refusing to grow up. Is it any wonder that she is without a job, phone, car, or stable place to live?

Well, before I got off onto all that…

For many months, John and I emailed and texted regularly discussing politics, and that was how I mostly gained his respect. I know this American politics thing pretty well–much better than the average American does. I know it so well that I called back in November that the election would be “Trump v. Hillary, Trump wins”. Watch me be proven correct. You heard it here first–Aria DiMezzo calls the 2016 election! President Donald Trump. I’m not advocating Trump; I’m simply pointing out that this is what’s going to happen.

John hated the Fed just as much as I do and was increasingly Libertarian himself, and he supported Ron Paul. Not as loudly as I did, but he did support Ron Paul. It was fun to discuss that sort of thing.

He was really the type of guy who would go above and beyond to show gratitude, even to the point where it would occasionally get awkward. With technology, he had the lamentable tendency of talking down himself, calling himself an idiot, and things like that. Can I just say, please… Please don’t tell your I.T. technician that you’re an idiot when it comes to computers. What do people expect us to reply with? That immediately puts us into a delicate situation where we have to find a way to blame the technology, not the person, and that’s usually difficult to do because, yes, 99% of computer problems exist somewhere between the keyboard and the chair.

“No, you’re not… This software just isn’t very intuitive.” “No, you’re not… Microsoft just doesn’t know how to make a reliable operating system.” “No, you’re not… That really shouldn’t have happened.” “No, you’re not…”

I don’t want to be in the business of building up people’s self esteem. I’m not a motivational speaker because I don’t have the patience for that. If someone has self-esteem issues, then I’m the last person they need to be around, because I’m not going to coddle them. I won’t be a jerk, but at best people usually get some sort of ambivalent, non-committal response from me.

This also made John difficult to work with, because at some point you run out of ways to blame the technology for the person using the technology clicking Update for the nine billionth fucking time.

I doubt this post has at all come out the way I intended. All of these are positive memories, even if they don’t sound like it. When I talk about the Internet Explorer fiasco with the DVR, it’s with a smile on my face. A bit of an eye roll and acknowledgement of the pedantic regularity, like when a child says something silly.

I’ll miss you, John. Respect.

Inner Demons

But no one who knew John can deny that the man was clearly tormented by inner demons. In many ways, I suspect that death is a release from him, because I don’t think I’ve ever talked so extensively with such a tortured soul.

Naturally, he was an alcoholic, and he drank nearly $17,000 of his inventory last year, to give you an idea of what I mean. “Alcoholic” should be the last characteristic to ever appear in the bio of a liquor store owner, but he had gotten his drinking a little under control–or so everyone said. I’ll never forget the day, however, that I spent about 3 hours at his house working on various things, and he seemed to have always just used mouthwash. Drinking mouthwash, of course, is one of the things that alcoholics are notorious for doing after they’ve “quit” drinking. Because on the surface, they always have such a convenient excuse–what’s wrong with wanting fresh breath, after all?

Every indication is that John and his wife partied hard in their younger days, to the point that references to quaaludes are everywhere in his life. That’s fine, of course–I partied pretty hard in my younger days, too. But something always continued haunting John, and I never knew what it was. He always seemed to be white-knuckling it through life. I’m not trying to tarnish his name, but I am worried that the inner demons played a role in his death.

He never discussed those demons with me or my colleague, and other than his wife we were pretty much among the closest people in his life who weren’t his employees, so it’s unlikely that he ever discussed them with anyone. That’s precisely how inner demons kill.

We are as sick as we are secretive.

* There’s no significance in why I picked these car manufacturers for the browsers. It was completely arbitrary.

Grab Life By the Bollocks

Over the last few years, I’ve posted user reviews to Gamefaqs (something I will no longer do because of their refusal to post my review of Tomb Raider and their allegation that it was unprofessional–which made it all the more hilarious that I’m a professional reviewer and that the review was taken on by Cubed3, a professional gaming site…) occasionally, and one day I received a message from Adam at Cubed3, and he wanted to know if I’d be interested in reviewing for them. I jumped at the opportunity, despite the warning that it wouldn’t make me any money. I didn’t care. It brought me into the gaming industry as an insider, made me part of the press, and established more credibility as a professional writer.

At the start of the year, Cubed3 began to refocus, and I’ve essentially become the writer for the Critical Hit! series where various gamer-related controversial things are discussed. In addition, I was asked a few weeks ago to become an Editor, and I agreed.

What I learned from this is simple: do what you enjoy doing, and, if you’re any good at it, you’ll become successful with enough hard work.

“How can you say that, Aria? You’re barely surviving.”

That’s true, but there are also a few things worth noting. The first is that until six months ago, everything I wrote was credited to a different person, a dude, and doesn’t really do anything to help me. The second is that, until last month, it wasn’t even possible that I could be a successful writer: I had nothing for sale (that actually generated income for me) and no mechanism by which people could pay for content. I also once ran a website that was pretty popular, averaging roughly 100 visitors per day, but I took it down. Without doubt, that would be 500 per day, or maybe higher, by now. I’ve essentially restarted my entire writing career.

Two years ago, I was contacted by Eric Bigelow and asked if I would be interested in contributing an essay to a voluntaryist compilation that he was putting together. I did so, and was honored to have been included, but, again, you won’t find Aria DiMezzo among the contributors. So it’s no surprise, really. My writing career is basically a month old at this point.

Anyway, I was contacted about V2: The Voluntary Voice because I wrote regularly in favour of Ron Paul, and against statism and interventionism, economically and internationally. I just wrote what I wanted to write, and it began going places. I’m poised now to write an Anarchy book that was being called “What Steam Greenlight Teaches Us About Anarchy,” but I ran into a few problems. There simply wasn’t enough to say. So I’ve expanded it to be “What Video Games Teach Us About Anarchy.” Things like Steam Greenlight, Twitch Plays Pokemon, and so many other examples show us precisely how anarchy can work.

I lost everything shortly after I separated with my ex-wife, thanks to a series of monumentally stupid decisions on my part. Absolutely no one is to blame there but me. I screwed up in huge ways, and I did so repeatedly, until I had nothing left but my vehicle–which I soon lost due to being unable to pay that $550/month note. Like I said–I’d made some enormously stupid decisions in the preceding months.

So I did what anyone would do in that situation. I did what anyone would do when they had no car, no job, and no place to stay.

I went to college and finished earning my degree, utilizing my grants and scholarships to pay for it. The scholarships I earned thanks to my perfect score in the science portion of the GED, thanks to my ACT scores of 32 in Writing and 28 in Science. My lowest score was math, at 21. I applied myself, and I bounced back from my dumbassery, graduating college and earning my degree with my blood.

I got a job with the nearby Radioshack, part time, and saved up enough money to open my own company. I applied for dozens of jobs and interviewed for several, but no one ever called back (except Radioshack, which was minimum wage and only 13~ hours a week). So I started my own company and returned to working with “my colleague” to a small degree, while I reached out to local businesses and used my position at Radioshack to get clients for my I.T. company–which was fine, because Radioshack didn’t do that type of repair. Then one of the places I’d interviewed at ten months previously called and offered me a position as a slot technician making $13.50/hour. I parted ways with Radioshack on good terms and took the job.

Then six months later Harrah’s announced its closure. I’d quit a stable, relatively promising job to start at Harrah’s, and this was how they repaid me? On top of that, they announced a major project at another property and forced us Harrah’s techs to go to Horseshoe. The labor was back-breaking, and totally fucked with our schedules. They wanted us there twelve hours a day, six or seven days a week, and sometimes for sixteen hours. They were obviously willing to pay overtime, but I was in my 20s and had a social life. Plus, no matter how hard we worked, they were still going to fire us all in two months, and there was nothing that we could do to change that. They wanted to work us as hard as they could and then fire us.

So I quit and refocused on my company that I’d started because no one would hire me to any notable degree.

When I couldn’t get a job, I started my own company.

When I couldn’t get my novel published, I published online myself, and turned to other avenues.

When I couldn’t do the hormones thing through the US system, I researched the thing and ordered what I needed online.

Let nothing stand in your way. That’s the key. When you have a problem, solve it or go around it. My life has been pretty much characterized by resistance. Some of it I caused by being stupid. Some of it I caused because someone misled me. Some of it was caused by others. Some of it was caused by society itself. There is, and will always be, resistance.

When possible, take control of your life. Try to arrange things so that you are who determines the outcome of things in your life. And, wherever possible, just do what you want to do and overcome or circumvent any resistance that comes up. Because if you’re trying to do something that is even slightly out of the norm, there will be resistance. Don’t let it stop you.

Because yeah. I’m an atheistic shemale lesbian born and raised in Mississippi and entrepreneur. It’s safe to say I’ve faced some challenges in my day. 🙂 So will you. Overcome them. It can be done. You can do. Take control and overcome them.

Carpe diem.

Or, for the uncultured… 😉 … Yolo.

Emails to a Colleague

I’ve been discussing the matter a bit with the colleague who emailed me yesterday, and they’re pretty solid, as far as explanations go, so I thought I’d edit them a bit share them. I’ve not edited out anything important, though. I really, really hate talking about myself in third person, and referring to “my female self” and “my male self.” All I can do is keep making this qualification that it’s not really like that, because this is necessary until society stops linking a person’s gender so tightly with their identity.

I do go places, yes, but not very often. Increasingly often, but that’s more or less normal–kinda like being in high school and going to class with a new haircut. At first it’s like “Are people going to say it looks stupid?” or something to that effect, but that ceases, and then it’s just the way things are, and no one notices–and people noticing may have been all in one’s head in the first place. But that’s high school and hair cuts, so the analogy fails in a few places.

To be politically correct, the term would be non-op transgender, though I don’t like that because it didn’t communicate anything to you unless you already knew what that meant. The term that I use is shemale, because everyone knows what that is, but that’s not entirely accurate either since I’m still my male self, at least part of the time.

gender_confusion_symbol_by_artism777-d3co9w9I don’t think most people make a choice about [their gender]. Or, at least, I wasn’t allowed to. Although hindsight makes it obvious that I was trying to make that choice, dad and grandma basically made it for me. Imagine, though, that you’re sitting on the couch and using your laptop. The television is on, but you’re not really paying any attention to it. It’s just background noise, maybe with a show you like but a rerun that you’ve seen before. But then the show changes, and it’s Teletubbies or something equally irritating. Suddenly the thing to which you’d given no thought is bothering the hell out of you, and you have to change the channel.

As analogies go, that one is pretty close, because gender isn’t something anyone thinks about until it’s an issue. And the critical moment is when they get up to change the channel. In my case, I was smacked back down (literally, at that) and told I had to watch it. But last year I realized that I could change the channel, that no one could actually stop me any longer, and that I’d fallen into watching that channel out of habit, had convinced myself that I liked Teletubbies because I had been forced to watch it. I realized that I hate Teletubbies (strong, not-really-applicable language) and wanted to change the channel–and needed to change the channel, to thwart some self-destructive behavior that was leading me to try to get my fix of South Park by having a friend tell me about the episodes. That metaphor kinda fell apart… But… not really, because it’s surprisingly applicable.

But it’s definitely accelerated, because I’m making up for lost time–I don’t want to watch that show more than I have to. But I do have to watch it some for the time being; I’ve made peace with that. In real terms, it’s only a difference of appearance. For like the last nine months, any emails you received after about 9 came “from Aria, not [my male self],” and that’s what I mean–I’m still the same person, same thoughts, same tendencies, but now with less issues eating at me.

Obviously, I’ve spent a great deal of time thinking along the lines of masculinity and femininity. You’re not wrong to say that [my male self] is pretty much all male (having to talk about myself in third person hasn’t gotten any easier), and that’s intentional. Mannerisms, stances–all that is ingrained in kids without their even noticing, and all of these combine to project masculinity. The same is true regarding women, as well–women blink a lot more, angle their joints more, walk and sit differently. These are mostly learned, though. I remember being a kid in Pontotoc and learning that “men cross their legs like this, women cross their legs like this.” All this probably has some Nature root, since it’s not all Nurture by any means, but it can all be learned. And yes, it requires constant awareness to keep from sitting the wrong way, crossing my legs the wrong way, tilting my head the wrong way. But that’s still behavior that can be trained, becoming automatic based on whatever I’m wearing.

It’s like learning a new language, in some ways. Did you know that people always curse in their native language? It doesn’t matter how many languages I learn–I’ll always yell “fuck!” and not something in Italian or Russian. But the real point of this line of thought is that it can be differentiated when to speak English and when to speak a new language. Even though I may speak Russian 90% of the time, I still know when to speak English, and it becomes natural, around English speakers, to speak English, and natural, around Russian speakers, to speak Russian. But yeah, if the cats randomly run across my feet and claw my toes open, [my male self] will be the one who cries out, no matter the other circumstances. Maybe that can be trained out, too.

oppression_RussiaI don’t know whether most people decide, but that decision was made for me, and it was only recently that I realized I could change the channel. For the first time in my life, really, and, as soon as I realized that, everything else made sense. The deep, chronic need to have a slender, long haired brunette in my life–it was suddenly obvious. Going back the past twenty five years, everything suddenly made sense. But it’s also the case that in 1990, expecting my parents to be on board with that would have been expecting them to be decades ahead of their time. And my mom probably was, because she never minded. But I don’t blame dad and grandma for not being way ahead of the curve. They didn’t handle it nearly as well as they could have, but my issue isn’t that they failed to be ahead of the times; my issue is that that, even then, they were behind the times, and that love for me wasn’t a priority–falling in with the fundamentalist christian line was the priority.

But no one was discussing this in 1990, and I only knew that there was some kind of issue there. “Transgender” wasn’t even a word then, and damn sure not a word that would have reached a four year old in Mississippi. So I was confused, and it wasn’t until my early 20s that society had gotten to a point where I’d have been able to make sense of things, because I was still thinking in those ingrained binary terms. It has never been the case that someone is male or female–these terms only identify sexual organs. Behavior and identity have always been enormous spectra of varying shades, but society has always drawn a dividing line along the spectrum. But, even so, it was still a long uphill battle because I was married then–and it’s so much easier to just go along with what is working than it is to throw a wrench in things.

Is this why I left [my ex-wife]? I don’t know. If it is, then it was extremely unconscious, because this wasn’t on my mind in those months at all. But considering I’ve never come up with a sensible answer why I left [my ex-wife] in the first place… I don’t know. And then it was a struggle just to get my life back on track. Then, despite working at the best possible places in the state to have such a realization (and, to be clear, the realization hadn’t come then anyway) because they’re an international corporation and wouldn’t have risked the bad PR, Harrah’s closed and my life got thrown out of whack again. Then I did the Vegas thing.

And only when I was picking up the pieces of what was my heart and soul did I catch a glimpse of a little shard I’d largely forgotten–but never entirely. And that’s why [my ex-wife] would say she saw it coming. None of my exes would be surprised, because it was never something I was able to repress indefinitely. It always came back to the surface. “Bare minimums,” though, so your junkie analogy isn’t far off. I just misinterpreted what you meant. But yes, it’s similar to an addiction, and one that I’ve always had to fill occasionally. But it’s not an addiction in the way that a drug addiction can destroy, just to be clear. It’s more like your addiction to hunting (presumptuous of me) than my old opiate addiction.

It would be like you being unable to play the guitar, hunt, or even meditate, while being forced to watch a show that you can’t stand. I include all those things because identity is pretty all-encompassing. But I don’t know. As far as relating to the emotions it involves, I’ll have to think more, because that one doesn’t quite hold up.

The genie has never been in the bottle, though–not entirely. When [my ex-wife] first moved in with me, I wasn’t expecting it, and [my ex-wife] found some… “odd”… articles of clothing. [My sister] covered for me and said they were hers, and that her dog probably dragged them in there. I was 18 when [my ex-wife] first moved in with me. I was 3-4 the earliest I remember, hiding all my underwear in the closet because, whenever all mine were dirty, my mom let me wear [my sister]’s. I still remember the night I first dropped the hammer on [my ex-wife], in the gentlest and most non-chalante way possible. I was likely 22 or 23 then. I was 13 when my grandmother, snooping, found clothes that I’d stolen from [my sister] hidden between my mattresses, as well as a porno mag called Lesbian Licks. Lol–the obviousness of it, in hindsight. Girl clothes and a lesbian-specific porno mag. Captain Obvious himself would have been speechless.

When I moved in with my dad a few years later, I found a treasure cove that my great grandmother had left behind. No, don’t get me wrong–I never wore my great grandmother’s clothes. But she had, for unknown reasons, a lot of clothes that had clearly belonged to some contemporary girl around age ten, I’d guess, based on the sizes. And since my dad was never there, that was awesome. But I still didn’t have everything, so I would sneak out when people were gone and steal [my female cousin]’s clothes off the laundry line. I don’t regret that, looking back, because I had no other way to get them, but I did steal them. See why I say it’s so obvious in hindsight? I even broke in through [my male cousin]’s window once, because he always left it unlocked, just to get a pair of jeans or something (I don’t remember the article I needed). Then I started dating [a really awesome ex], and she knew–she even had me wear her prom dress before she’d worn it.

Everything is obvious in hindsight, and that’s truer here than anywhere else. But life went on. I couldn’t have gone to school like that, not in Mississippi, no matter how popular and respected I was. So I just had to “keep on keeping on.” Which, I’m sure, is exactly my dad and grandma wanted and expected when they did all that they did. Or maybe they just seriously underestimated the significance. Since they never gave me the chance to speak, it’s no one’s fault but theirs, though, if they didn’t understand.

Additional Thoughts

That was actually the end of the email, but I want to continue on the subject.

Oh, my dad asked, of course… after I’d overheard him and grandma discussing that they would send me to a home for troubled youth if that turned out to be the case, because my grandma wasn’t going to have that in her house. Only after did I hear that long conversation did dad take me into the backyard and, with his belt in hand, demand in a voice that mixed disgust with anger, “Do you wear them?”

Many people would say that the fault is mine for not answering honestly–in fact, I’ve had a few people say that to me. “You can’t blame them,” they said. “They asked you and you lied, so of course you had to start hiding it. How do you know they wouldn’t have come around?”

There’s this pretty common mentality that people will come around. My sister will come around, they say. My dad will come around, they say. “You should have told them the truth then. They would have been mad and disappointed, but they loved you–they would have come around.” These people infuriate me, because they clearly can’t even relate to life in Mississippi and my life. No, my sister won’t come around. No, my dad won’t come around. No, they wouldn’t have come around back then, either. They’d have sent me to a “home for troubled youth,” at best, or simply kicked me out. I was thirteen.

See, they get their ideas from Hollywood and television, and, never having been in such a situation, they have no idea what the real world is actually like when it comes to this sort of thing. The ignorant remain ignorant. Oh, sure, if we made a movie about this, in the final act the family would come around, realize that they had been wrong, would apologize and welcome me back, and there would be a nice, heartwarming scene as the movie ends on a happy note. This is what informs those people who say “They’ll come around eventually” and “They would have come around eventually.”

Stop looking to Hollywood to tell you how people act. I live in the real world. In the real world, it doesn’t work that way. The ignorant remain ignorant. The closed-minded remain closed-minded. When the degree of closed-mindedness is so great that there are actual threats to kick out this thirteen year old kid, then nothing will pry that mind open. That’s just reality. This isn’t a movie, and if you go around acting like it is, you are going to fuck over a lot of people who take your advice. I can just imagine if some friend had said, “You have to tell them. They’ll react badly, but they’ll come around. They love you.”

I’d have been sent to a home for troubled youth, where I would have gotten no privacy. I went to school with kids who lived there. There was no privacy, very little joy, no luxury. And when they turned 18, that was it–they had to go. And sometimes they had to go at 17. While I did move out of my dad’s at the age of 17–because he kicked me out, actually, it wasn’t “moving out”–the only reason I was able to was that I had a vehicle that my then-girlfriend’s mom had loaned me the money to buy. And if I was living in that home for troubled youth, I wouldn’t have been at my then-girlfriend’s house that day when I got the phone call about the vehicle for sale, and I wouldn’t have had a job to pay back the money. And I lacked any care about school–the greatest mistake of my life. Trust me when I say that having to live in that home would have destroyed me and would have destroyed my life, and that I would almost certainly now be a gas station attendant, at best, living in government housing, on welfare, and on drugs.

I know my dad better than you. When he asked, he wasn’t looking for the truth; he was looking for me to say “no.” He wanted me to say “no,” and the truth would have gotten me beaten that day, even with the neighbors having come outside to see what all the fuss was about. And even if I could have gotten girls’ clothes after being sent to the home–which would have been impossible–there would have been nowhere to hide them, and I would never have gotten the opportunity to wear them. The lie would have devoured me even more than it did.

I would urge everyone to watch this brilliant video by the only YouTuber I support on Patreon: TheraminTrees. He’s brilliant, and his videos are incredible, well worth watching for everyone. This one reiterates exactly what I’ve said in the past: before coming out, you must consider whether or not you can safely come out. If your life is in danger, or if you’re in danger of being kicked out and unable to survive, then you don’t come out. Like I do, TheraminTrees lives in the real world, where there are consequences, and where those consequences are real and have a real effect.

Did you know that I’m on Patreon? You can help ensure that articles like these continue coming regularly as I struggle in Mississippi with a transgender transition by becoming a Patron: https://www.patreon.com/aria_dimezzo?ty=h or by purchasing my short story on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AS5NJHM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

Be sure to Like the post if you liked it, so I know what you like and know what to write to appeal to people, and maybe consider Sharing–and following me on Twitter and Facebook (links are in the upper-right). I also have a GoFundMe page, but that’s probably my least preferred avenue: www.gofundme.com/ariatransition, and, Notathoughtgiven, none of this is directed at you. 😀 You’ve more than done enough, and I want to openly thank you for what you’ve done. XD Thank you.

Struggles in the South

My failure to bring it up on a daily basis–although I do mention it regularly–may leave you thinking that being transgender in Mississippi isn’t really that bad. But it is.

For years, my property was vandalized when I lived in a small town about 40 minutes south of Memphis, Tennessee. It got to a point where I didn’t have a mailbox or a garbage can, because someone came through and regularly destroyed my mailbox and kicked over my can. One of my vehicles was spray painted so that “SATAN LOVER” was written over the windshield. Thankfully, that proved pretty ineffective. Of course, all of this was merely because I’m an atheist. But there’s more to it than that, naturally, because I’ve never hidden the fact that I’m an atheist, and it got around in the communities pretty well. For the first few years after I “came out” as an atheist, I received death threats regularly. Locally owned gas stations would refuse to serve me and told me to take my business elsewhere, while people standing behind me in line often made remarks about how they’d love to catch me in a back alley.

This is the same place where we have pastors regularly calling for the death of homosexuals, and one of the LGBT bars in Memphis recently had to hire additional security because people were being attacked as they went to the parking lot. A lot of people were put in the hospital, but no one was killed this time. And I live about five minutes from where a gay black teenager was kidnapped as he walked down the street, raped, tortured, and literally beaten to death. While Mississippi has also produced wonderfully accepting people like my friends, it has also produced some of the most hateful and bigoted people out there. The Westboro Baptist Church is pretty well-known through the United States, but only because their antics are calculated to garner media attention; many churches in this area do things very similar to what the Westboro Baptist Church does, though they do stop short of picketing gay funerals.

But I don’t milk this angle often because I’m not in any real danger myself. I’m simply not, and it’s for the same reason that people stopped vandalizing my vehicles and property: I’m respected enough that no one messes with me. It’s not because I’m tough or anything like that–it’s because they know that I do nothing arbitrarily.

I have a friend who is a pretty fundamentalist Christian. And I am a vocal atheist. We’ve disagreed quite a bit, but we always respected one another. And that’s the thing–I’ve earned their respect. A year or so ago, this guy reached out to me and asked for my help getting, onto our county’s ballot, a referendum that would put prayer back in schools. You read that sentence correctly.

We had a brief dialogue about what he meant, because I had to explain that prayers are completely allowed in public schools; the only thing is that the school administration and staff cannot call for prayer and cannot sanction prayer. There is nothing stopping a student from kneeling at his locker and saying a quick prayer. There is nothing stopping a football team from kneeling and saying a prayer; it is illegal for the coach to say “Everyone bow your heads,” but there is absolutely nothing illegal about the team’s captain saying, “Everyone bow your heads.” Students are totally free to pray, and See You at the Pole Rallies still happen. He was aware of this already, but he wanted to make it so that the school administration could lead prayers, and he asked me, a vocal atheist, to help him with this.

This obviously created a conflict for me. I don’t think that a government school should be endorsing a religion, and that’s what it would be to have administration-led prayers. But, at the same time, that’s not up for me to decide. I don’t have kids at that school, for one thing, so I have no skin in the game. For another, whether school-sanctioned prayer should be allowed in this county is for the people in this county to decide, not for me to decide. Refusing to help him–considering my knowledge of politics, government, and how the system works–would have been attempting to make that decision for everyone else. It’s not my place to do that. I could help him get the referendum on the ballot, and I could write articles in local papers arguing against the referendum, but it would have been wrong for me to refuse on the grounds that I didn’t think it should be done. There was a choice presented to the people of this county, and it was my democratic responsibility to help the people of this county make that choice; it was not my place to make it for them.

As it turned out, he didn’t have the drive to really achieve such a thing anyway, and it quickly fell to nothing. I’m glad for that, in many ways, because it would have passed with flying colors–we’re one of the few counties in the United States that continues to be a dry county, and we’re the only state in the country that kept the Confederate Flag as part of the state flag.

Minutes from my house.

Minutes from my house.

It’s easy to lose sight of just how badly this place sucks. It really is. A number of years ago, before I went to college… I guess I was 20 then… I was the manager at a nearby Pizza Hut. I took a week vacation, and when I came back, I immediately realized what terrible shape the store was in. Nothing had changed; it wasn’t like the assistant managers had failed in their duties. It was just that sort of thing that you can’t notice because you’re too close to it. And, to be fair, it wasn’t unclean or anything like that–it was that the seats needed to be upholstered again, the floors needed to be stripped and waxed, everything metal in the building needed rust cleaned off it… Things that you can’t really do on a daily or weekly basis; that was what needed to be done. And it’s really hard to notice that sort of thing when you see it everyday. When I stopped recently to take pics of the area for some friends in Michigan, I realized instantly how terrible this place really is.

Grove Street's got nothing on this, CJ.

Grove Street’s got nothing on this, CJ.

Look at that place. To my right, not pictured, is a bank that closed. Even our banks said “fuck it” and left.

Excuse me while I derail this entire post because someone just pissed me the hell off. It’s a colleague of mine–the one who sends about 95% of my work to me as a contractor, and he just expressed the sentiment to me that he’s been worried that I fell back to taking opiates, an addiction that I used to have, because he thinks I’m burning through money. This not only pissed me off beyond measure at the mere allegation, but it also deeply wounded me, because I daresay that there is no one who would do better than I at this income level. So let me fill you in.

For the first four months of last year, I was doing great. My company was doing great, and I was making good money; I had a wage of $50 per hour, but only about 1 in 4 hours were billable. As a result, I was making about $500 each week and was doing great. I paid $6500 cash for a vehicle and still had about $3000 in the bank. I wasn’t wealthy by any means, but I was making money and generating savings. Then I dropped everything and moved to Vegas. I’m not going to get into that right now, because, frankly, I can’t. I’m emotionally frayed enough without getting into that bullshit. But the short of it, the necessary part, is that it cost me about $1600 just to go there, stay for a few weeks, and return. On top of that, it nearly killed the $6500 vehicle that I had just purchased, but that was my fault for buying an experimental and untested thing.

So I returned to Mississippi believing that I had about $1400 remaining, which should have been fine. What I didn’t know is that my psuedo-accountant had made a tax payment of about $1,000. I had nowhere to go so spent about two weeks in hotel rooms, and that drained every penny that I had. I immediately began putting in job applications everywhere that I could–including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s… I didn’t care. It didn’t matter that I am a college graduate, entrepreneur, business manager… I just needed income. But, of course, places like McDonald’s wouldn’t hire me because I was way overqualified, and it was obvious that I was just needing a job ASAP, and that I would leave as soon as I found something better.

I lost all my clients when I told them that I was closing the company and moving to Las Vegas. And when I returned, only one client took me back as their I.T. vendor–the rest had already replaced me, or didn’t want to work with someone who would evidently just drop everything and move across the country. As you can see from the images, this is not the kind of place where I can just shrug off the loss of clients and find replacements–there simply aren’t that many potential businesses here. For a while, I had to move around. I stayed with a friend in Gulfport for long enough to put in dozens of job applications and realize that I wasn’t going to be hired there, either. I went to Nashville and stayed with a friend, and then repeated the process there. Still nothing. No one was fucking hiring me. No one was even calling me for an interview.

I had no choice but to return to Mississippi, where I lived out of my car without any money–and with my cats in the car with me–until a family member happened to stumble across me where I was parked one day. I had stressed to them that I was going to be homeless, but they didn’t seem to really take it seriously–but now that I was homeless, they weren’t going to turn blind eyes to it, and my sister let me stay with her. I busted my ass and finally got to the point with this colleague where I was making enough money to survive, but only barely, and then had the falling out with my sister and had to move again. So I did, moving into my own place since now I had just enough money to do it.

Through all of this, I never stopped putting in job applications. Through all of last year, I interviewed for one job in the area. One. No one else even called me back. And it is no exaggeration to say that I put in at least 300 applications. No one has fucking called. No one hires in this area. We have some casinos relatively nearby–about an hour away–and they’re pretty much the only sources of actual, gainful employment in the entire north half of the state. Just look at those images. Life here is a struggle. The entire reason that I opened my company in the first place was that I couldn’t find a job after I graduated college, and I graduated with the most marketable degree out there–technology. Certifications, a college degree, excellent employment history–and no one is even calling me back. Because that’s Mississippi.

Last month, I made $545. That’s every penny that I made last month, and it’s not from lack of effort. I’ve reached out to every business within 30 miles. I’ve applied to every job opening I’ve found. I’ve done odd jobs for people. I’ve done what I can to promote my writing and get some money flowing from that. I’ve literally done everything that a person can do. And, of course, the job matter is going to be even worse going forward, because I’m transgender and this is Mississippi, where there are no anti-discrimination laws to protect transgender people from being fired. So even if I could find a job, I wouldn’t be able to have it long. And that’s ultimately my choice in Mississippi: to either continue living this lie, or to not have a job.

But for me, it’s really a non-issue, because I can’t get a job anyway. It’s ridiculous. My resume is gorgeous. I was only in Vegas for like three weeks and got no less than six callbacks–they continued calling long after I’d returned to Mississippi. One of those was for a $55,000 year job that I was more than qualified for. There simply aren’t any jobs here that I’m not overqualified for.

I made $545 last month. My rent is $300 a month, and my cell phone bill is $130 a month. That left me with $115 to survive the entire month. That’s food, gasoline, cat food, kitty litter, razors, soap, garbage bags–you know. The stuff people need to survive. But I did it. And I started hormones. People can level a lot of allegations at me, but the accusation that I can’t fucking manage my money is a direct slap in the face. But to go beyond that and to be worried that I’m back on pain killers because I’m broke after I survived an entire month and paid all my bills on what amounts to $7000 a year… No, man, fuck that. I won’t stand for that allegation. You pay your shit with $545 is my message to him. Because of how everything worked out, I made just over $9,000 last year, about $7000 of which was earned from January to April.

The poverty line is $11,800. I’m more than $2000 under the poverty line, all my bills are getting paid, my cats are well taken care of, I bought another $2500 vehicle in December because that piece of shit I’d paid $6500 for twelve months prior was completely dead, and someone has the fucking audacity to say that I should have more money than I do based on what I’ve earned?

I opened my company because I couldn’t find a job and because I became infuriated that my life was in other people’s hands. I couldn’t make companies hire me, after all. This was immediately after I left college, but i had years of work history in the field as a senior technician and office manager. I’m fucking qualified–give me a job and let me work my way up; that’s what I do. I started with Cubed3 thanks to some user reviews I wrote for Gamefaqs in my spare time, and now I’m an editor there. Because that’s what I do. I start somewhere at the bottom and work my way up to the top–or as close to the top as I can get. I’ve done it at every job I’ve ever had. Even when I was 18 and still in high school, I was an assistant manager at Popeye’s, because I work hard and because I work smart. But there’s nothing I can do to get a company to hire me after the interview; that’s entirely beyond my control. And I don’t like things being beyond my control. So I opened my own company and blazed my own path to success–and was successful doing it. Hey, I dropped $6500 cash on something without blinking–I was doing good.

$6500 for something that I was forced to sell a year later for two hundred dollars.

When I say that the Vegas shit destroyed me, that’s why. And now I’ve successfully begun the recovery and rebuilding process, bought a better car, and have my own place again, despite barely making any fucking money. And while I will never deny that I was an idiot for risking the Vegas thing in the first place, no one in their right mind would have expected to be given less than a month to make shit work, and, really, six months would probably be the minimum any sane person would expect. I mean, the Vegas chick knew exactly what I’d done, exactly what I’d given up, and exactly the risk I was taking. I can’t blame her that I took the risk, but I wouldn’t have taken the risk if I’d known that what I had given up would mean fucking nothing to her, and that knowing what I’d done would not factor into her bullshit. Honestly, I didn’t give it much thought, but at the bare minimum I expected that I would have three months, which would have been more than enough time for me to have a stable job and be able to just get my own apartment there. What would you say is the bare minimum amount of time that you’d give a relationship in these circumstances? Did you say “two days?” No. No one in their right mind, no one with any amount of decency, compassion, or heart would say anything less than “a few months at least.”

If it had turned out that I was violent and abusive, that would have been another thing altogether. But no, I did nothing wrong; I was fucking perfect. It’s easy to be perfect when you’re only a few days into the relationship. I gave her space, I gave her attention; I did nothing wrong. So while there are plenty of things that would undoubtedly have warranted what she did, none of those apply. I didn’t have a secret drug or alcohol problem, I wasn’t secretly abusive or controlling, I clearly wasn’t a bum, I clearly wasn’t secretly a bad role model–I was exactly who I said I was, in fact. So none of that applies, and I say this only to clarify that, yes, some things would justify giving the relationship only a few days.

But yes, Vegas is at the root of my current situation.

Did I let that stop me? No. Am I using that as an excuse to be in a bad situation? Hell no. I’m doing everything that a person can to move forward. Do I still harbor anger? Goddamned right–this chick destroyed my life, and she knew it when she was doing it. And, to make matters worse, every indication since is that she did it intentionally.

Sigh.

I intended to write about what it’s actually like to be transgender in Mississippi, what it really means on a daily basis, how it actually affects someone’s life. But instead I had to deal with this bullshit allegation that just pissed me off, which made have to explain why the situation sucks so bad in the first place. Again, it’s not that I haven’t rebuilt–I clearly have, to some degree. But it’s hard as fuck to lose everything except your piece of shit vehicle, and then reconstruct a life. It’s hard, and it takes time. And it takes even longer in Mississippi, since no one fucking hires anyone.

I intended to write about how it’s proving ridiculously difficult to get my next month’s supply of hormones, and how I’m going to run out during this upcoming week because I’ve been trying for about 8 days to order them and I keep running into problems. First, my bank blocked the transaction and put restrictions on my account. Now, the Chinese pharmaceutical company can’t process the transaction because it’s still saying that my account is blocked, while my bank assures me that it isn’t. Between the two, I trust that my American bank knows what they’re talking about. I’ve been using this bank for years; I know them well. I trust them, as far as banks go. Another pharmacy I tried didn’t process the order for 19 hours, when I finally called them and they told me that they were waiting on a prescription. If I had a prescription, I would go the pharmacy a mile from where I live, people, not a pharmacy in India. Besides, their website has Estradiol as OTC, as most countries do. It’s non-narcotic–why is a prescription required?

Only in the United States could I walk into a store, buy a gun, buy bullets, and then fucking shoot myself, but can’t walk into a store and buy hormones. Don’t take that wrong–suicide isn’t on the table. I’m just making a point. If hormones are restricted to prescription only because some fuckwad might start taking them and then sue someone because he grew breasts and the government has to protect us from ourselves, then why in the fuck can I buy a gun? I fully support the second amendment, but I fully support my right to do what I want to my body, too. And I’m not interested in taking the American doctor route, because fuck that. First, I’d have to see a general practitioner, who would be required to send me six months of therapy. Only at the end of that six months would the therapist be able to say “yes” or “no” about me starting hormone therapy, and then all the therapist could do is send me to an endocrinologist, who, after a lot of expensive tests and shit, would finally start me on hormones. I don’t have the money or time for that, and no one has the right to stand in my way in the first place. Society doesn’t have the right to tell me that I have to see a therapist for six months, and society damned sure doesn’t have the right to let a therapist tell me “no.”

I control my life, not the government, not a therapist, not an endocrinologist, and not society.

My sister went to a doctor yesterday, and I gave her one of the empty packages and asked her to get her doctor to “write her a refill” for these hormones that “minimize the recurrence of cysts” for her. She didn’t do it. She told me last night, though, that she was going back to a doctor today, and that she would do it then. She still didn’t do it. Honestly, because of her stance on things, it was always a longshot, but when she voluntarily told me that she was going to another doctor, I thought maybe she was being more open-minded. And she had agreed to do it, and then didn’t. Plus, she doesn’t know what these are for, or what they do. She knows it’s hormones, but that is all she knows. And I finally got her to call the doctor and tell them she forgot to ask, and she says she did it and is waiting on them to call back, but… I doubt it. And even if she does miraculously come through for me, what next? The pharmacy I’ve been using suddenly can’t process my payments, and I haven’t found a replacement pharmacy that won’t require a prescription. My life is fucking hard enough without the government standing in my way.

An Open Letter To Parents and LGBT Teens

A few months ago, I sent a friend request on Facebook to this teenager I know. He’s the son of this couple who are some of my clients, and they manage a hardwood company, more or less, and he’s about the gayest person I’ve ever met. I don’t mean that as an insult by any means, but you immediately knew what I meant, didn’t you? I value clear and effective communication far more than I value political correctness. So yeah, this teen is, by a wide margin, the gayest person I’ve ever seen.

85bb2416-2052-4151-bbf0-5d5d2000c2e1e8962366-2f61-476d-aec4-c5c67d89f3abAnd his parents are in absolute denial about it. He and I have had a very brief conversation, and it was after this that I sent him the friend request, though I retracted it after a few hours, because I realized… that his parents screen his communications almost entirely, so he can’t befriend someone on Facebook without them knowing. I just wanted to tell him, because I wasn’t able to during our conversation… that things do get better. He will get out of that house, and he will be free.

He’s homeschooled, and he wants nothing more than to go back to school. His parents say that it was because he was bullied, but that’s not the case at all. They did it because they want to control what things can influence him. He can use his mom’s phone to some degree, but you’d better believe she reads all communications, and his laptop was taken away from him for an entire year. They’re essentially trying to shelter and oppress the gay out of him, as my grandmother and dad tried to oppress and shelter the transgender out of me.

Dear parents reading, that never works.

You cannot change your child’s sexual orientation, gender, or anything else by oppressing them. At best, you will corrupt them, twist them, and destroy them by forcing them to not merely live a lie to you, but to live a lie to themselves. But the truth will always come forward; it cannot be hidden forever, and it cannot be repressed forever. If your child is gay, deal with it, accept it, and move on, because there’s nothing you can do to change it. And anything you do to try to change it will be destructive, and it may very well grow into bitterness, resentment, and hatred.

It is only because I pity my father and grandmother that I do not hate them for what they did to me. By all rights, they should have sat me down and told me, “Look, you’re wearing girls’ clothes. If that’s what you want to do, then do it. Whatever makes you happy. Fuck whatever anyone else says. We have your back, no matter what, because you’re our <child/grandchild> and we love you.” But they didn’t. They threatened me, grounded me, nearly assaulted me with violence on a few occasions, oppressing me and forcing inner conflict into me until I could only resolve it by living a lie and by lying to myself, culminating in nearly two decades–twenty goddamned years–of wasted time that I will never get back.

I will never be an 18 year old chick partying with her friends on a Friday night. I will never be a bridesmaid at a friend’s wedding. I will never have any of the things that a teenage and young adult female gets to have; those things were stolen from me. I will not get to be a gorgeous, sexy, young minx. Well, I will, because I’m not actually that old, I’m only in my freaking twenties, thank the fucking gods, but still. I did have a lot of time stolen from me.

And I am angry about this, parents out there reading this. I am bitter. I am pissed. I resent them. I hate their religion, and I hate their god*. It is only because I pity my dad and grandmother that I don’t hate them. So think about that–I am what your kids will become. They will either pity you for being so misguided by fucked up religions and ideologies that you would literally oppress your child, or they will come to hate you for oppressing them. It will not end well, and they will not stay “changed.” You cannot pray the gay away, and fuck you for trying to.

Take a good, long, and hard look at this website, parents. I am the result of that religious brainwashing, that religiously motivated oppression, and that bullshit that places loyalty to the tribe over love for the children. And, of course, at every point in this, my dad and grandmother would have said that they only wanted what was best for me, and that is why they did what they did. And they would still insist on that to this day. If you’re oppressing your kids for being LGBT, then chances are that you’ll say the same.

But you’re full of shit, if that’s the case. You’re completely full of shit.

Because the simple fact is that I’ve been transgender since I learned to walk. One of my earliest memories is of hiding all of my underwear so that I could wear my sister’s panties. Based on the timeline I’ve constructed for Dancing in Hellfire, I could not have been older than four, and I was almost certainly three years old. For all intents and purposes, that is “since birth.” There was no cultural influence that could have corrupted me; at that age, there is no way that the devil’s evil television and mainstream media could have deceived me into believing I was transgender. I was three. My exposure to culture consisted of practically nothing; we didn’t even have cable then, and no one on television was talking about homosexuality or transgenderism in 1989 anyway. So there is literally no way that the devil you believe in could have corrupted me into sin.

This means, beyond any doubt whatsoever, that your god made me this way. So what is the argument here? That your god made me desperately and sincerely feel as though I should be a girl because he expected me to resist the temptation to sin at the age of three? Is that the contention? Your god made me transgender at the age of three because he wanted me to resist the sin? I have to quote Maynard James Keenan here when I say, if that’s the case, then “Fuck your god.”

This is Christianity in a nutshell, isn't it?

This is Christianity in a nutshell, isn’t it?

That’s the equivalent of starving a child, poisoning their dinner, and then putting the poisoned dinner in front of the child without even telling them not to eat it. Because I was three, remember? No one had yet beat into my head that it was, for unknown reasons, a sin for me to wear softer, polyester underwear instead of coarser, cotton underwear. No pastor, parent, or teacher had told me that it was a sin for a man to dress like a woman. So I had no idea that the dinner was poisoned.

And it’s entirely accurate to say that I was starving to wear girl’s clothes and to be a girl; I always have been. There’s a reason that it has always popped back up in my life and that I’ve never succeeded in repressing it for more than a few months. And believe me–I’ve tried. My ex-wife and I had been together for like five years before I just straight told her that I was about to put on a pair of her underwear. Until that point, I’d hidden it pretty well, but I still had to do it occasionally, after she went to bed, or when she was gone. It’s a deep, pervasive hunger that has always been there.

I wouldn’t expect you to understand that. Honestly, I wouldn’t, and I don’t expect people like my dad and grandmother to understand what I mean when I say that. But it’s true–it might be the truest thing that I’ve ever said. To deny me that was to starve my soul**. Even people who aren’t like my dad and grandmother won’t necessarily get it–many of my friends have expressed the sentiment that they don’t care why it matters to me. They don’t mind that it obviously matters to me, but they don’t understand why it matters to me.

Why does it matter to me? I don’t know. It certainly doesn’t matter to most people, since most people are born the correct gender and don’t run into any problems there. Why does it matter to you what kind of music you listen to? What kind of movies you watch? “It just does.” And it does, parents. Whether your kid is gay, bisexual, transgender, or lesbian, it matters.

Put it like this. Why does it matter to you whether you’re getting oral sex from a man or a woman? It feels the same, doesn’t it? You can’t tell whether it’s a man’s tongue or a woman’s tongue. So why does it matter? Who knows? But it does matter.

My ex-wife frequently called me gay because I like butts so much–seriously–and, according to her, I might as well like guys, too, then, since guys also have butts. It’s hard to even know where to begin dissecting that particular illogic, isn’t it? Guys also have hands, so if I want to hold her hand I might as well just hold hands with a guy, right? Guys also have lips, so if I want to kiss her then I might as well just kiss a guy, right? But no… It matters. Some people find it strange, considering that I’m transgender, but I’m solely interested in women, and I have no attraction whatsoever to men. I wouldn’t touch a guy sexually, I wouldn’t hold a guy’s hand, and I wouldn’t kiss a guy; the thought actually repulses me^.

These things matter.

So no, you can’t simply make your gay son kiss a few girls and hope he’s cured. If he’s gay, then he’s gay, and he’s just as repulsed by the thought of kissing a girl as I am by the thought of kissing a guy. We have no control over this. It’s not something that we can help, and it’s not something that can be changed. It is simply who we are.

To the Teens

I’m so sorry.

I’m sorry for the situation you’re in, and I’m sorry for what I’m about to tell you. But the simple truth is that… you’re going to have to live a lie to some degree. You’re going to have to hide who you are, keep secrets, and deal with oppression. They’re your parents, and you’re the kid. Sadly, American society has absolutely no respect for the rights of anyone under 18–your parents can oppress you all they want, can invade your privacy all they want, and can go all in with their attempts to destroy who you are.

But if I could say one thing to you, and only one thing, it would be this:

It gets better.

It sucks, and it’s going to continue to suck for a long time. You’ll be miserable, and you’ll likely fall into depression throughout all of your teenage years. You will probably be forced to lie to them, to hide things from them, and to have a false identity just to keep them off your back for five freaking minutes. I get it, man. Believe me, I get it. I totally get it.

But stay true to yourself. Don’t lose sight of who you are, and don’t ever forget that you’re simply wearing a false identity. Don’t ever forget that you’re simply wearing a mask to appease the oppressive adults in your life, and that the day will come when you can remove that mask. Because that day will come. Hang in there. You can always reach out to me. My goal is to create an Internet web of people who are there for LGBT teens in the south, or anywhere with oppressive parents, so that you can be reminded by me, or someone like me, that it will get better. No matter how much it sucks, no matter how bad it gets, and no matter how depressed you become, don’t lose sight of that fact. Once you graduate high school and turn 18, go to college, and be yourself. Remove the masks.

A lot of people will say to go ahead and forcefully come out, make your parents accept you, but that isn’t always an option. Consider your needs, first and foremost. Ask yourself that one simple question: “Will my parents kick me out? Will they send me away?” You know your situation better than anyone. Go with your gut.

Those same people will probably say “If they can’t accept you, then screw them. You don’t need them anyway.” I don’t understand why people say things like that. A few months ago, someone told me that about my clients. Since my clients will drop me the moment that this transition can no longer be hidden, he said “fuck them,” and that I don’t need them. I honestly don’t know what world these people live in, but it’s not the real world. Back in real world, I do need those clients. Those clients keep my bills paid, keep me fed, and keep a roof over my head. This isn’t a movie where you can just be yourself and saw the hearts of the ignorant, convincing them to come around to the side of tolerance and understanding. The real world doesn’t work that way. Ignorant people will remain ignorant, and you will, in many case, need those ignorant people.

Work hard so that you don’t need those ignorant people. And the moment that you don’t need them, then you can tell them to deal with you on your terms. Yeah, if I was making even $2000 a month from writing, I could tell my clients, “I’m transgender. And if I’m going to continue working for you, you need to understand that all future service calls will be done by me ‘as a female.’ And if that’s a problem, then we need to our separate ways.” But back in the real world, I can’t afford to do that. Thanks to how the Vegas bullshit made me lose 90% of my clients, I need my clients more than ever.

And the fact is that, yeah, you do need your parents right now. You might have a friend whose parents wouldn’t care, who you could stay with instead, but before you take a leap like that, you need to put a great deal of thought into things. I would say that if it is possible for you to be you, then do it, no matter the cost, as long as you can survive. If you can’t survive, then… you’ve just gotta wear the mask. And I’m sorry to say that, but…

Wear the mask. Don’t become the mask.

* Though I do hate their god, this is unrelated to my being an atheist.

** I don’t believe in souls, either, but, again, I value effective communication, and you immediately know what I mean when I say this.

^ Homosexuality doesn’t repulse me, to be clear. Obviously, it doesn’t. The thought repulses me because I’m not attracted to guys in the slightest. As far as my sexual orientation goes, there’s no difference for me between the thought of kissing a guy and the thought of kissing a dog. That’s not meant as an insult to men–I’m not comparing men to dogs. I’m simply making the point about the significance of orientation.

1134 Words on a Psychopath

Anyone who has ever been the victim of a psychopath sees the clear parallels to domestic abuse. I grew up watching my mother be thrown through windows by alcoholic Everett Barber (yes, that’s really him, because FUCK HIM), beaten, punched, kicked, and choked. Everett is reformed now, and has been through AA, but I will not accept his redemption as valid until he’s actually apologized to my sister and me, and to our mom–I’ll accept the apology on my mom’s behalf.

I’ve certainly seen my fair share of domestic violence. So please understand that, when I make this analogy, I do so with full knowledge of the unbridled horror of it, and with full awareness of the helplessness of the people involved. Because that’s what perpetuates the violence–helplessness. As a child, I was helpless and powerless to affect the situation. But I tried. That early Saturday morning as my mom choked out, “Everett, I can’t breathe,” I tried, pulling two sharp knives from the kitchen drawer. “Mom, I’ve got a knife!” I shouted and took two steps toward the bedroom.

And then I stopped.

Because I was 8 years old. I was in the second grade, and this was a grown man. Knives or not, I knew I couldn’t take him.

I turned back to the drawer and, standing in darkness, dropped the knives. And then I burst into tears and repeatedly said, “Mom, I’m sorry…”

It only recently occurred to me why I apologized. I never thought about it until I reached that point in Dancing in Hellfire. I apologized because I couldn’t help her. I apologized because I was helpless. I apologized because I was powerless. There was NOTHING I could do.

You can’t imagine how badly I want to go to Everett’s house and totally fuck him up. I reject violence in all its forms, and that is the only thing staying my hand. I’m not a scared little kid now, and he’s not a big adult. I’m in my prime and he’s almost an old man. By all rights, I should now make him helpless and powerless.

But I won’t.

But neither am I able to forgive it or just let it go, and I doubt anyone would be able to. Not if they saw what I saw and heard what I heard.

So I know exactly what I’m drawinG parallels to. And I’m doing so for a reason. Because the psychopath systematically establishes power over the target until the target is helpless, and if you don’t know it’s coming the psychopath will succeed. And, often, the psychopath will succeed anyway, because the psychopath has spent a lot more time perfecting their craft than you will have spent perfecting your defense.

Get back from me, demon, or be exorcised.

Get back from me, demon, or be exorcised.

The psychopath knows what to offer you to entice you. Me, I was looking for a soulmate, someone to connect with on a different level, a kin spirit. Whatever you want, the psychopath knows how to make it appear that you’ve found it. The psychopath is good at this.

But it’s not just about lying to you. It’s about making you lie to yourself. It’s about using lies to make you tell and believe your own lies; it’s about the psychopath enticing you so much that you engage in self-deceit, because then the psychopath truly has power over you.

The psychopath will tell histories that conflict with what you remember. You are right. Never, ever lose sight of that. When something you know conflicts with the psychopath, you are the one who is right. Don’t let yourself believe the psychopath’s version thinking that you can secretly hold to the truth, go along with it, and play the psychopath’s game.

You can’t. You will lose.

The psychopath knows doublethink better than you, and the psychopath will not only use it, but will manipulate you into using it, and it’s then that you are nearly her thrall. By this point, it’s almost certainly got to run its course, which will be painful for you. Very painful. Don’t let it get this far. You are the one who is right. Don’t allow your memories or thoughts to be overwritten. Don’t play along.

The psychopath expects you to play along. Remember, the psychopath is several steps ahead. The psychopath knows fully that when you agree, you have conflict internally and that you are agreeing because you want to believe and that you’re entertaining the possibility that you misremember. When you say, “Hmm… I think I remember bits and pieces of that,” the psychopath knows you’re conflicted. But if you cede the ground that you are wrong, you’re giving the psychopath license to rewrite your memories in her favor. And the psychopath will do so.

A lot of people think that victims in abusive relationships are fools for hanging around, but it’s important to understand that there are a lot of emotional factors there. It’s almost like Stockholm Syndrome in nature–the abuser fulfills their needs and gets emotional highs from it, or some other kind of pleasure from it. But the victim gets something, too.

Yes, you are.

Yes, you are.

The victim is always chasing a carrot on a stick, and the psychopath is always dangling it and tempting with it. Your hope is the strongest weapon in the psychopath’s arsenal. Your hope that it will work out, that the abuse will stop, that you’ll get what is on offer… These are what give the psychopath power over you. The psychopath knows that you hope, and knows how to keep that hope alive. The psychopath keeps the tiny embers burning, kindling the fire just enough to keep it from going out altogether.

You have to let that fire die.

It’s not easy, and the psychopath knows that, too. It’s never easy to stop chasing the carrot, to give up hope and accept that you’ll simply never have the carrot, and it’s made harder by the psychopath’s insistence that you can have the carrot, often “one day.” But you want the carrot, don’t you? Isn’t the carrot fucking everything you ever wanted?

Some of them want to use you
Some of them want to be used
Some of them want to abuse you
Some of them want to be abused

So knowing how to deal with a psychopath, and how to keep yourself protected (because the psychopath lives and loves to play games) is useful, but it doesn’t help much until you’ve identified a psychopath. That’s obviously a lot easier to do in hindsight, isn’t it? Only hindsight gives us the clarity to realize what has happened, how we were played with from the start, and how we were merely victims. How can we distinguish sincerity from psychopathy? How can we know we didn’t misremember?

We can’t.

Ego and Bait

This post is no longer 1134 words. I’m okay with that, because the preceding section is. Anyway.

One of the biggest telltale signs of a psychopath is an out-of-control ego. This doesn’t necessarily manifest in pride; obscene amounts of pride don’t necessarily mean psychopathy, and the psychopath is too clever to display large amounts of pride. The psychopath doesn’t do anything that blatantly gives away the ego.

Ego manifests in many ways, and perhaps the most obvious way is a lack of empathy. But it also appears in harder-to-notice condescension.

I’m saddened to think that I’m absolutely correct, but I don’t know what else to think. Between the stupid “communication through blogging” shit and the way she repeatedly tries to elicit an emotional response from me, only to immediately fall back to one sentence replies and silence, there’s nothing else I can think. She just keeps throwing bait out there and then running back to the shadows, presumably to laugh and enjoy herself when I take the bait. But I didn’t take the bait this time. I kicked it toward the bushes she fled to. And I won’t take the bait again.

Truly the most appropriate image there is for this.

Truly the most appropriate image there is for this.

This time I didn’t try to kick the football. I turned and tried to kick her (remember we’re being metaphorical here). I’m not going to do another somersault because she cajoled me into trying to kick the ball again. I’m not a fucking dolphin at Sea World. I’m Charlie Brown, and I’m no longer trying to kick the ball. Could she convince me to try again?

Absolutely. But not with words. No matter what she says, there are no words Lucy could use to get this Charlie to try to kick the ball again.

Ignorance: The Psychopath’s New Weapon

I actually do want to make the case at some point that humanity is in real trouble, especially in the United States, where we have cultivated ignorance and exonerated it consistently enough that there’s little prospect for continued growth. I frequently have people say “I’m not reading that book you wrote” about one of my comments, proudly broadcasting to the world that they can’t be bothered to read, and this is worsened by it being said as though I’m the one in the wrong, I’m the fool, for writing a reply that was too long for their particular brand of idiocy. But that’s for another day, and the title I’ve chosen isn’t actually related to that.

Someone recently asked me how I can publish a story that Bradley* wrote, and I was told that “Aria didn’t write the story. Bradley wrote the story.”

Needless to say, my mind was positively boggled. And, of course, this was from the psychopath (told you–see this post to learn what I mean), no doubt trying a different tactic to get an emotional reaction out of me–you know, as the psychopath needs. I’m proud to say I didn’t give it, and I won’t give it now, because there was no emotion to my reply. There was only cold brutality.

I replied pointing out that humans evolved from apes, yet there are still monkeys. My point was actually that the psychopath’s question was just as ignorant as the Christians who ask how there can still be monkeys if we evolved from them, and to point out that, yes, I did evolve from Bradley. It was the perfect metaphor for the situation. But the psychopath doubled down on the ignorance and said “Yet we don’t claim credit for the work of the monkeys” or something like that.

I replied three times. First, simply “I did write it.” Then I gave a mini-explanation, a very short one of just a few sentences, and then I said predictable. Well. The psychopath was predictable, to the extent that I couldn’t even pretend to be surprised or pretend to have an emotional reaction. That’s what the psychopath does, remember? I explained that in the last post about it. The psychopath attempts to elicit an emotional response, presumably to feel in control but I don’t care enough to ask “Why,” and then immediately drops back to short replies and no replies. The psychopath simply wants drama, simply feeds on emotion, and is incapable of caring what those emotions are.

So rather than feeding that, I rebuked the psychopath extensively, shredding the thought process and revealing the ignorance underlying it. “You can’t publish that story you wrote yesterday, because you were wearing different socks yesterday, and since you’re not wearing the same socks today you’re a different person and therefore not the person who wrote the story,” I used as a slippery slope. It’s perfectly true, though. The reasoning is as asinine as it was faulty, and rivaled only by the almost pathetic attempt to elicit an emotional response.

There’s just no context where the psychopath’s question and replies make any sense. Even the people at the Westborough Baptist Church aren’t that looney. No one is so confused on the matter that they think a transgender person is literally a different person mid and post transition, especially not to the extent that I wouldn’t be able to rightfully claim to have written something that I wrote.

In another brazen display of the psychopath’s out-of-control ego, I was asked how I expected her to react. I must admit that I took some vindictive pleasure in pointing out that… I didn’t. I never gave a moment of thought to how the psychopath would react. I didn’t consider how George W. Bush, my Aunt Diane, my ex-wife, or Asheik Mohammed Samar, random name in India that I just made up, would react, either. Because these people aren’t part of my life. I don’t make it a habit of wondering what random people who aren’t part of my life will think or feel about what I do. I consider the reactions only of people in my life and people who care about me–not random people thousands of miles away.

Of course, it’s not true that the psychopath is a random person thousands of miles away, but that’s the thing–she might as well be. I didn’t destroy the relationship and friendship, and I clinged to them far longer than I should have.

When I told a friend of this, she asked what could the psychopath say that I would take as sincere. The answer is…

Nothing.

The time for words is long over. There is absolutely nothing that she could say to me that I would accept as sincere. Only actions can speak loudly enough to be heard over the blood pouring from the knives she put in my back.

It still isn’t any easier for me. I doubt it ever will be, and she surely knows that; she certainly knows that I still love her and want to believe she’s sincere. But I can’t.

In the interest of our friendship and years of circles, I did give her time to reply and apologize for the fucked up thing she’d said. She hasn’t done so. Again–predictable.

One thing is all it would take from her. And, believe me, I want to let it all go. You have no idea how badly I want to just release all of it. It would be so easy. One thing to convince me that she’s sincere, that she’s not just a psychopath, that I’m not just her victim, and that she is the person she claims to be. One thing.

And it is the one thing a psychopath would never do.

As I said.

Predictable.

* My “Other name” isn’t Bradley, but that’s close enough.

New Patreon Page

https://www.patreon.com/aria_dimezzo?ty=h

Hello, all five of you. 😀

Actually, there are quite a bit more than 5 people coming here, and that’s great; I love it. I hope people are enjoying the content.

Anyway, I officially have a Patreon page, linked above, and it’s mostly set up. However, I’ve put in my Milestones and Rewards multiple times, and the changes simply aren’t saving, even after disabling NoScript & Ghostery, and even after trying a different browser. I’ve contacted Patreon to get that worked out. The short of it is that it would allow me to publish more substantial content more frequently, and supporters would receive content as PDFs and ePUBs via email before they’re published elsewhere, as long as SFW images chronicling my journey, and miscellaneous other things. And, most importantly, the higher milestones allow me to reach out to other people in the south who are transgender and who are struggling just to survive.

The key thing for me is to continue producing content, and to simply have vehicles with which people can pay me for that content if they so choose. Because I don’t think art should be sold. Once artists start selling art, their artistic integrity dies. I write because I want to write, not because I want to sell my writing. I want people to enjoy what I write, and if they want to pay me for that, then I would love that, but there’s a huge difference between selling art and accepting donations for art. The former turns art into a whore, and the artist into a pimp.

I will continue writing and releasing content. Strictly speaking, supporters won’t get exclusive content–they will, in the case of the pics chronicling my journey and the “Private Thoughts” articles, but those were never things that I intended to publish anyway, so I don’t count them. Contributing or not contributing will not affect the content that I release to you, except in those two cases, but, again, they were never meant to be released anyway.

So if you like my content, maybe you’d consider supporting me there. Or Like to my Facebook page over there on the right, or by following this link to www.facebook.com/aria.the.writer to keep up-to-date on the things I do. You can also follow me at Amazon: www.amazon.com/author/AriaDiMezzo . Please consider contributing to my GoFundMe page at www.gofundme.com/ariatransition , or buy my short story for 99 cents, which I would actually prefer to a blanket donation: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01AS5NJHM?*Version*=1&*entries*=0 And be sure to Follow me on Twitter to stay even more up-to-date on all the crazy shit I say: twitter.com/Aria_DiMezzo, or @Aria_DiMezzo . And you can find me on Tumblr, though that’s really just a way for me to reach a larger audience: www.shemalediary.tumblr.com . Follow me on OpenCritic for all the awesome games I review, because I’m probably the toughest reviewer out there, and nothing will stop me from reviewing a game honestly: http://opencritic.com/critic/1579/aria-dimezzo . Alternatively, you could just start visiting Cubed3, where I write weekly gaming articles known as Critical Hit, discussing things like Launch Day DLC, the use of slurs by gamers, re-re-re-re-releases, and other hot topics: www.cubed3.com/staffreviews/Anema86 .