July 17, 2016

Checking In

This blog has been pretty dormant of late (social media continues to suck the life blood out of my personal blogosphere, although my work blogs are still simmering)

However, in light of the recent killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, I ponder how long the 2nd amendment of the Constitution will remain intact given that the folks with heavy arms are persons of color (rather than crazy lone wolf white dudes), and the persons being killed are police officers, rather than children, queer folk, or random bystanders.

I'm trying not to get too deep into the mud on this stuff:
  • Most murders are committed with handguns, not rifles or "assault weapons" 
  • Gun deaths, and the murder rate in general, are falling
  • Most gun deaths are suicides, nearly 2:1. In some ways, I feel as if the rigor with which the 2nd Amendment is defended is as an alternative to a more enlightened policy on assisted suicide. In darker moods, I note that gun owners are killing themselves faster than they are killing the rest of us.  
The plight of black persons remains heart-breaking - mass incarceration, black-on-black crime, racial profiling, ongoing discrimination, the economic disadvantages of generations of slavery and subsequent discrimination - all of these by-products of an open wound in this country.

I do not support violence as a means of creating change. But I certainly understand how people reach a breaking point, and something snaps.

And oh yeah, the Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters were both veterans / victims of our ongoing wars in the middle east. We train these guys in the art of killing, we expose them to horrors both internal and external, and then bring them back into a racist and prejudiced society without a lot of support or opportunities, but with easy access to guns and ammo.


May 24, 2016

Guan Yin / Avalokiteśvara

I'm not really sure how or why I stumbled across this particular bodhisattva. Serendipity works that way. When one is ready, something (or someone) drops into the path.

Wikipedia has a quick overview:
Guanyin is an East Asian deity of mercy, and a bodhisattva associated with compassion as venerated by Mahayana Buddhists. The name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means "Perceiving the Sounds (or Cries) of the World". She is also sometimes referred to as Guanyin Bodhisattva.
It is generally accepted among East Asian adherents that Guanyin originated as the Sanskrit Avalokiteśvara. Commonly known in English as the Mercy Goddess or Goddess of Mercy. This bodhisattva is variably depicted and described and is portrayed in different cultures as either female or male. In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has become the somewhat different female figure Guanyin

According to Mahāyāna doctrine, Avalokiteśvara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to assist sentient beings in times of difficulty and to postpone his own buddhahood until he has assisted every sentient being in achieving nirvana.
I'm not really sure why, but there's a deep resonance here. I'm in a place in life of serving, of providing nurturing and support to others even as I am unable to partake of that myself. It's happening in my yoga practice - even as my skill and popularity as a teacher increases, I find it a struggle to practice except on my own. I teach the practice I want to take but find it so difficult to connect with the practice as led by others. Similarly, I am the cheerful and kind voice of the Christmas season for clients.

April 10, 2016

Life in Da Hood, Part II

Back in 2011, I wrote about a particularly creative (in terms of stupidity, lack of personal boundaries, and amount of damage) lawn job.

From that event:
I called the local police, an officer showed up who was friendly but mostly unhelpful - she took some pictures, did a plate search on the car (came up clean) and found it was registered to the place next door. But was unsuccessful in contacting the owner and confessed that there was nothing she could do (because apparently this happened on Tuesday, so to charge them on Wednesday involved "warrants" which I guess means paperwork, and besides, this was not a vehicular matter (tickets) but a criminal one. etc. etc.
So when I came back home this noontime to a repeat performance in the making, I wasted no time contacting the local police. Catch 'em in the act, so to speak, and hopefully prevent the incident from going downhill fast.

Sorry to have to contact Johnny 5-0 on you, but you spent a good hour spinning tires and getting yourself in deeper, showed no sign of dealing with the problem in any sort of adult way, and your apparent intention (to continue to drive around to the back of the building to unload, since that was the direction they were trying to move the truck) was setting up a repeat performance of the 2011 event.

The cops (helpful, friendly) called a tow truck and hung around while they winched the sucker out of there. The damage on our side of the property line was not too bad, but they left a trench about 12" deep and 5-6' long on the other side.

Now I'm kind of stuck in the house until they finish unloading and vamoose - don't want to leave in case the new neighbors or their moved decide to screw with me or the condo for ratting them out.

Hard hittin' New Britain....

March 16, 2016

Documentary: Peace Officer

Caught this documentary last night on Hulu; a sobering and powerful film about the increasing militarization of the police (tactics, firepower, equipment, policies) and the cost in lives lost (officers, criminals, bystanders) as situations escalate. 

What made this powerful is the way the film-makers decoupled race from this issue. Clearly, systemic racial bias, issues of privilege, and racial imbalance between the police and their community multiply the problem many-fold for persons of color. But by focusing on cases where race was not even in the equation, the brokenness of the system is evident.

Not saying that it's a simple issue - the availability of powerful and high capacity weaponry makes policing a lot more difficult in the modern era. But this is really thought-provoking.

And then I had a nightmare that people were breaking into my house as I frantically barred the door and called the cops. Thanks a lot.

March 10, 2016

Happy Birthday to Me (or Not)

Wow, have I really not written a word here since November?

Well, it's my birthday; and a sorta big one. In recent years, I have been rather cagey about my birthday; keeping it private on Facebook, removing it from various databases where it might leak out, and fastidiously deleting or hiding social media posts throughout the day. My primary motivation was somewhat self-protective - most such posts, as well-intentioned as they are, focus on a traditional birthday celebration. Party, drinks, cake, presents, dinner, a gathering.

I enjoy none of these. I generally spend my birthday completely alone (but for a trip to do an errand for a friend this year); I've had a handful of cards, but mostly, birthday celebrations are something that others enjoy, but not me. And yes, I'm sure that some of this is self-imposed, or self-chosen, or cultivated by a lifetime of introversion, but it is what it is at this point.

So it's always seemed easier to just sweep it under the rug - that the outpouring of social media and virtual birthday wishes contrast to the nearly non-existent birthday reality and make the latter even more difficult, sad, painful.  Let's just pretend it's not my birthday so I don't have to feel like shit about it.

For whatever reason, I decided to do something different this year; simply removing the privacy guards on FB so that my birthday is visible. And my timeline / wall has been bubbling all day with well-wishes, comments, cute photos and videos. Which is all nice. But truth be told, it feels specious, somewhat disingenuous, when held up against the emptiness of reality.

My intentions were, really, pure - I wanted to break the cycle of birthday denial, be open to something new, different, better. But as the day has unfolded, it feels a little more like the real reason was because I want to feel the deep pain of the day, because I want to snuggle into the discomfort, loneliness, sense of alienation that spending a birthday alone entails.

So thanks for all the Facebook posts. I carry each well intentioned missive on my back as I sink into the morass.

November 13, 2015

NERFA - Day One

First day at NERFA (my second) under my belt.

I got up here a bit late (3:30 pm) - was intending to hit the road by noon, but got out a little late, and stopped multiple times en route (lunch, gas, grocery, and coffee), and it was a grey and rainy day which slowed the drive (especially over the mountain). Still, I got here in daylight and the weather cleared a bit for unpacking the car and the yoga toys. 

A CT registered car followed me over the mountain, turned out to be my Falcon Ridge friends Paul and Barbara, who I greeted in the parking lot. First of a bunch of friends from the festival and the local folk world I found yesterday - Anne and Bub from Falcon Ridge, Nancy (one of our merch tent crew who I did not initially remember), Barbara from CT Folk, Ethan and Jake from Pesky J. Nixon, Falcon Ridge mainstay Brad Yoder (the only artist I've actually played with, by dint of Ben's Silly Songs written for the volunteer open mic), local fave Kate Callahan (back for her second year, after have a quad showcase last year), and Ira and Julia Levin (aka The Levins) who had a well deserved DJ Spotlight slot this year. It feels a little more like "family" this year which is nice.

I settled in to my hotel room (roomie arrives today, a Canadian singer songwriter named Bobby Dove whose internet footprint brings to mind a young KD Lang) and rearranged the deck chairs (the room had a clear "bed wedged in the corner" feel and I wanted to give my roomie space, a desk, etc. so I pushed shit all over). It's a step up from last year, but not a BIG step up....

Last year the DJ Favorite's showcase was a bit too crowded - they seemed to have more seating this year so I was able to sit and listen through most of it - missed a few artists for bathroom and beverage breaks.

Some notables (in no particular order):

Mt. Thelonius - Interesting jazz/folk fusion, novel way they used folk instruments. Not really my cup of tea but I appreciated something different.

Davey O - Kind of omni-present here at NERFA and in the folk world in general, first time I got to sit and listen. Enjoyable, sweet.

Kirsten Maxwell - Had a sort of early Dar Williams vibe (think "As Cool As I Am") - I really liked her energy, playing, singing.

The Levins - What's to say? Dear, sweet, talented people, dare I say friends. Their songs and harmonies make me want to cry and melt this crusty soul.

Evie Laden Band - Has she played Falcon Ridge? If so, how have I missed her. Just amazing claw-hammer banjo with a couple of sidemen. She turned an old folk standard"Your Face" on it's head and charmed with her prelude about having Peggy Seeger listen to it. LOVED her lots.....

Caroline Cotter - My NERFA yoga teacher and a sweet woman (with a bump upon her head, she ought to cover Suzanne Vega's song Gypsy this weekend) - and pretty damn poised to come out with an a capella sing-along. She had the goods to carry it off.

Meghan Cary - A FRFF Emerging Artist, glad to hear her outside of the fest. A ton of energy and a strong performer. I picked up her latest CD after fest so it will get a fresh listen.

Fendrick & Peck - Unplugged duo using a single mic; they were funny as hell (vibing Burns & Allen) and talented too - definitely want to hear / see more of them. My only complaint, they were a little far from the mic so there was a slight feedback bubble forming throughout their performance.

Annika Bennett - the NYU freshman who wowed Falcon Ridgeas an Emerging Artist, and has continued that here at NERFA.

Rik Barron - Extra credit for going last. A journeyman who was charming and solid - I was not really expecting much but he won me over. He played two quick ones and said goodbye, when the moderator told him he had more time he came back with a solid song. Well played, getting an encore in the DJ set :)

I did not do much in the way of guerilla's (as evidenced by my sitting in the lobby blogging this morning) but I snuck up to Cup of Joe #2 (Joe Virga) for a few songs by my friend Kate Callahan (she and Joe did a kind of song swap) and a nlovely surprised, David Massengill followed up. David was so sweet (no surprise there) and despite speaking about arthritis that has impacted his dulcimer playing, looks to be in good health and spirits.

Interesting, two of the artists I covered back when I did Open Mics (and we're talking 20 years ago here) - David Massengill (#1 in America) and Kate McDonnell (Ordinary Man) are both at NERFA this year. I hope to chat a bit with them both before the weekend is out.

The quiet of the lobby is kind of refreshing - the energy of this conference is a bit overwhelming, with so many people looking to make contacts, be seen and heard, catch up with old friends. I'm giving myself some time for quiet, for stillness, in the middle of this music whirlwind.

November 10, 2015

NERFA and Me - Round II

I'm headed back to NERFA (North East Regional Folk Alliance) this week, an annual "industry conference" designed to connect folk and acoustic musicians with venues, DJs, promoters, managers, and service providers.

I go ostensibly as part of my "crew chief" role at Falcon Ridge (I get to meet and work with so many of these musicians each year) but mostly I go because I'm too damn busy during Falcon Ridge to actually site out front and listen to the music, so this is myself reward.

The conference itself is a bit overwhelming - rather than doing full concerts, musicians are showcased on two nights - with a large auditorium show (five+ acts) followed by the "quads", four simultaneous showcases in breakout rooms, with another five acts. So there are 50 musicians / bands in official showcases, plus a handful of other formal showcases.

In addition to that bountiful harvest, there are daytime workshops on music industry, targeted at performers, managers, venues, etc. (always something interesting), and a chance to mix and mingle with other folkies.

And then there are the informal, or guerrilla showcases. Many attendees choose to convert their hotel rooms into small concert venues late at night or during off peak hours, and musicians roam the halls, instruments in hand, to play 10 or 15 minutes to intimate audiences. Needless to say, a lot of magic goes down as musicians sit in with others, play unusual songs, etc. I confess to just tasting the guerrillas last year - we'll see how long I last this year. Even if the late night showcases don't work, there are song circles and jam sessions that sprout up throughout the weekend, in every available space and nook.

In addition to all this, it's a fine get-away weekend for me (who rarely / ever takes time off or a vacation) - there are ample and diverse meals included in the room & board price (an opportunity to eat well and reasonably healthy), there is morning yoga (courtesy of musician Caroline Cotter, and your truly, who is bringing along her stock of mats, blankets, and props), and there the usual resort hotel amenities (pool, exercise room, etc.) if I wish to partake of them.

Looking forward to my second year!

August 31, 2015

Om Street Follow-up

Two bits of video footage from the Om Street event, this past July.


First, a time-lapse video of the entire class, as captured from the roof of the Elbow Room. Since I suggested that the still photographer see if he could get in to the Elbow Room for the first Om Street event, and suggested a time-lapse video for this one, I take partial credit, although Breck McNab set it up and created the wonderful video.

And second, a drone video which really gives some idea of the scale of the event - the time-lapse video is impressive but there's a certain collapsing of the depth of field and length of the space that the drone footage makes evident. You can even see me, right side of the still frame above, working the sound board.

It's kind of cool to be in the middle of, and integral to, this sort of event. Although there's a small part of me that would love to assist and/or practice.

August 17, 2015

Camp Camp Farewell Farewell

After four years of spending a week in August in the woods of Maine at an LGBT summer camp, called Camp Camp, I've decided to take a year off.

Camp is doing some organizational / management things that have resulted in the annual fees increasing significantly, even for staff members. While I could certainly make it happen if I were highly motivated, I'm not highly motivated. I've become pretty ambivalent about the experience, I'll try to flesh that out a little here.

First off, an internal problem. I have this tendency of getting involved / embedded into an organization or event in such a way that I'm not so much enjoying the event as I am working. Camp has become that way for me - I do almost no formal activities, the evening stuff seems like an effort, and between official and unofficial responsibilities: teaching yoga, rainbow group leader, talent show set-up - it felt more like a job. If I were getting more back, I guess I'd feel OK about that, but more and more I felt like I was putting in time, trying hard, serving others, not getting too much back.

On some level, that's an "It's not you, it's me" kind of thing - increasingly I've felt myself having a "stranger in a strange land" experience, feeling as if I move through, observe, serve this human species without actually being a member. I guess I've come to accept this feeling of alienation and separateness in the mainstream world; I take the moments of connection where I can find them. But to have that experience in a queer ghetto like camp is particularly difficult and painful.

Added to that is an increasing sensitivity and awareness of the difficulty of negotiating what is predominantly a G/L camp as a transwoman. While there is a "gender free" cabin (that, for the most part, is not occupied by transfolk), all of the out transwomen at camp have ended up in the same cabin in a way that has increasingly felt ghetto-izing and exclusionary. While I've never experienced trans-exclusionary-rad-fem (TERF) attitudes at camp, there are the occasional MWMF shirts and hats visible, and my own suspicions that the egregious / outspoken TERFs are just the tip of a much larger iceberg of lesbian women who don't see transwomen as women.

Last year, a camper of color made some waves with regard to a tea dance outfit (a rough approximation of drag geisha) and a talent show outfit (an afro wig, glasses, dashiki that was supposed to be hippie chic, but was perhaps somewhat colonizing of african american fashion). I was not too involved or invested in that discussion, but it kind of hit me square in the face how she was empowered / entitled to her discomfort with these encroaches, while as a transwoman, I'm sitting in a camp filled with nontrans men doing drag, and kind of sitting on my own discomfort / difficulty. Blackface (however mild) - bad. Transface - no big deal.

Finally, with the increase in cost, I felt that there would be a continued and increasing skewing of the camp population towards men (more money) - although I know camp is not really a "dating and mating" experience, its still nice to have that possibility. Between coupled women (many) and fewer women, well, the odds are growing increasingly long. Again, moving through the straight world, I've kind of grown accustomed to spending time alone, not having a lot of support or relationship opportunities  - but spending a week at a relatively "target rich environment" such as camp and feeling similarly uncoupled and ineligible is particularly painful. 

So - no camp for me, this year, this year for sure and possibly into the future. I'd rather spend the time and money at something that I get more out of (such as the NERFA conference).

July 26, 2015

Om Street 2015: From the Soundboard

Om Street: Yoga on LaSalle went off yesterday without a hitch.

About 1,800 Gather In West Hartford For Outdoor Yoga (Hartford Courant)

‘Om Street’ Draws More Than 1,700 Yogis (we-ha.com)


You can actually see me in this photo, I'm the orange dot in the front / left, at the sound board. 
Once again, I was in the middle of it all, setting up and running the sound system for the event.

I've been involved in this event from the very start.
Aug 6, 2011: A few days back I started sniffing around to be sure Barb could connect her wireless headset to the sound system. I was a little shaky on the sound system Lululemon had rented (a battery powered PA from Taylor Rental, never did get the power or model) so I decided to bring the studio kirtan sound system. It rocked all the way to the back rows.

And we've grown the tech each year as the event has grown. Last year I set up a zoned PA system (a second satellite PA, 200' down the road, with a delay line to match the sound from the main system). This year, we added a third PA (and a second delay line) and I convinced the band (the talented Craig Norton and Co. / Hands on Drumming) to let me mix them through the board. (in previous years, they ran a PA and I took a feed into the mains)

Green: Road Closed Off / Blue: Stages / Red: Speakers / Yellow: Audio Table
It's a bit of a challenge - I was out on LaSalle Road at 5:30 am (for an 8:00 am event) and it was all I could do to get it set up. It helped that I pre-staged a lot; putting together a board with power, mixer and delay units for the satellite PAs (see right) and setting up and testing the entire system at the studio on Friday night. Even with all that, I had some issues with the speaker cables (bad cables and/or bad connectors) but it all got fixed.

Today is a recovery day; even though there was help on hand from the studio, I still did a lot of the lifting, cabling, and clean-up myself - it's quicker to coil a 100' cable the right way myself, rather than have someone else do it and then have to redo it at home, and I had 400' of XLR, 600' of power, and 300' of speaker cable to deal with. I'm 54 here - doing sound for this sort of thing is a task for  younger legs, shoulders, feet and back!

Glad it's over, glad the weather cooperated, glad there were no significant technical problems. And thank to the Twitter, a bit of feedback live from the event.

July 22, 2015

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival 2015 - Merch Tent Prep

Even though my near focus is on Om Street: Yoga on LaSalle (and the three sound systems, 600' of power cord, 400' of audio cable, and multiple mixers, delay boxes, wireless headsets, and mics that I need to cobble together to make it all work), I spent a good chunk of today immersed in preparation for the 2015 edition of the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival.

Checked off my to-do list in the past couple of days:
  1. Finalized the 2015 pre-fest spreadsheet (researched and input most of the artists' CDs), printed out all pages, and created the three binders we need to make it work
  2. Printed out 6 copies of the schedule (yellow paper this year, I had a pile of it lying around) and laminated same for the merch tent / trailer
  3. Printed out table cards for all artists
  4. Purchased (24) 5"x7" plastic sign holders and made placeholder signs and download card signs for these  
  5. Ordered the little removable colored dots we use to color code / price merch
  6. Checked out the old printer (still going strong, since 2007) and replaced the ink cartridges (need to buy a couple of spares tomorrow)
  7. Checked 3-hole punch paper (1.5 reams should be enough)
  8. Booted up the laptop and updated software / virus protection, and loaded up the 2015 spreadsheet
  9. Unpacked and repacked the merch trailer bin
New for 2015:
  • The placeholder (no merch yet) / download cards (available at cashier) signs 
  • LED lights (I'm always a little nervous about the site electrical, plus the LEDs will be less hot if it's a hot / humid year
  • A new desk lamp that has been sitting in my office for a few years unopened, I'll donate it to the fest and that will free up the one we've been using

July 08, 2015

Project Saturn Window Regulator 2015

It started off innocently enough. I had two worn tires on my 2007 Saturn Ion (I am rather notorious about not rotating tires, so the front ones wear out much more quickly than then rear) so I went to Town Fair Tire yesterday morning to purchase new ones. All went smoothly, but when I went to drive away, the driver's side window was stuck down - the motor engaged, but all I got was a clicking noise that communicated "off the track" (a bit of an anachronism, turns out) or "gears slipping".

So I had a window stuck down, intermittent rain in the forecast, and no way to lock the car. When I got home, I dug around online to find out how to take the interior door trim off, in order to at least pull the window up, and found this gem.

Easy enough; I gathered the tools and proceeded. The interior moisture barrier was a bit of a challenge (glued on, removing it involved more tearing than I'd prefer) but all good. But this really did not give me sufficient access to the window to either manually raise it, or so see what was going on. So I decided to remove the exterior plastic door panel, also with the aid of a Youtube video (albeit a much more coarse and in some ways amusing one)

Fortunately, I have a full collection (several different sets in fact) of star and security bits, so the door panel was not a big challenge. The result, a somewhat freakish looking driver's side door that was nevertheless fully driveable.

Once apart, I was able to raise the window (about 1/2 way up, the gears engaged, and the power window kicked in), and although there was a bit of a sliding bolt adjustment on one of the support bars, I could not seem to improve the situation.

However, while I was Googling around for door removal information, I had stumbled upon door removal instructions published by Dorman Products, a company that makes the window motor / regulator assembly. They were very clear, copiously illustrated, and I realized that I was almost 1/2 way to the point of replacing this part myself, if I could find the part.

So I dug around online, found a "parts finder" at Advance Auto Parts, and within 10 minutes had purchased the part online, and was 30 minutes away from picking it up in downtown New Britain. My one mistake was not shopping around online (turns out I could have gotten the part for much less) but perhaps not within 30 minutes, and I do not think I wanted to drive around for a day or two with the door disassembled (parts were all over the front floor, the cup holders, and the back seat) for too long.

The actual replacement also went well, the Dorman Products instruction se4t I found was most helpful, as was yet another Youtube video (which turned out to be the master video that the door removal one above was clipped from)


I remain somewhat curious about the whole "left vs. right" issue - since the window regulator is not side specific, I assume it's mounted "backwards" in the passenger side door, but I'm not prepared to pull the door apart to find out. 

The regulator went in fairly easily; a little challenge to unclip the window from the old device and reseat it in the new device. Nothing got broken (those little plastic clips are notoriously easy to mangle, not to mention the big piece of glass), there were no parts left over, and I impressed myself by having everything I needed, tool wise (including Gaffer's Tape to hold the window in place during the repair). The Facebook video link below will have to suffice until I get the Vine-ish video of the window going up and down uploaded. 

My Facebook feed was somewhat engaged: 
  • Wow you're very handy (to which I replied "Poor more like it. Also self employed so I have time to mess around.")
  • Impressive
  • Nice job, just saved hundreds of $ 
So yeah, mischief managed, thanks in no small part to the information afforded me by Google, Youtube, and the Internet, and the content providers therein.   

June 29, 2015

No Job is Finished....

...until the paperwork is done.

I underwent a little change of identity back in 2003, before this blog started up. And though it rarely rises to the surface, I'm also not particular shy or closeted - it's just not on the front burner these days. I don't experience the same levels of discrimination or struggle that many members of Identity Trans do, so I'd just as soon step aside to permit other voices, other experiences to be heard, especially those less privileged and in more need of protection, legislation, assistance, or support.*

Now, part of transitioning is dealing with paperwork - things like state ID (driver's license, legal name change, birth certificate), federal ID (passport, social security, IRS), and the myriad of other places (credit cards, business affiliations, banks, insurance, employment) which keep track of names and/or gender. And most of this stuff I dealt with back in 2003-4, when it was all kinda fresh.

A legal name change and CT driver's license were pretty easy, even back in '03. Social Security and Passport required some sort of confirmation surgery, back in the day, and I was privileged enough, and chose to undergo that sort of surgery, so also not too much of a big deal. But I was unfortunate enough to be born in New York City (St. Albans Naval Hospital in Queens, now a VA Extended Care Facility) and well, the City of New York was, for many years, a b*tch when it came to birth certificate changes.

Even for someone as privileged as I, the hoops needed to get a birth certificate amended were significant - a post-surgical psych exam, for instance (what would they do if I failed?), a post-surgical physical exam as well, both by NY State Certified docs. I have a file folder full of rejected applications from back in the day, and I simply gave up.

To be honest, it has not been that big a deal. With congruent state ID (driver's license) and federal ID (passport and social security), I have never needed my birth certificate for anything. If I had, I was also not particularly shy about disclosing my history (via my birth certificate and name change documents). So I've just never bothered. In fact, I've had a little bit of perverse pride in not getting it done, having grown up reading Orwell's 1984 and the Ministry of Truth. I lived 40 years under one name and gender, and it feels a little disingenuous to be effacing or rubbing out that part of my life. 

However, I've recently been on a "getting crap done" tear in my life - long dormant projects like cleaning, organizing, tossing, engaging. One of those was a corporate pension (I vested back in the 90s and so I'll get a little check every month when I retire) and they lost track of me (and never got word of my transition) so as I put together the paperwork for them, I looked into the NYC birth certificate amendment procedures. I know they've lightened up considerably (no longer requiring confirming surgery for instance). And although there are still some small hoops to jump through (a medical professional affidavit) it's minimal.

So I spent some time this afternoon collecting all the pieces - the affidavit from my doctor came in, and although it's probably not all required, I sent an original name change document (I got a bunch of them back in 2003 and have hung on to them), copies of my present documentation (passport and state ID), my NYC birth certificate, even my St. Albans Naval Hospital birth certificate with my footprints and fingerprints, time of birth (4:55 am, sorry Mom), birth weight (7 lbs. 4 oz.)

What does it mean? Who knows. In some ways, my lack of urgency to get this done reflects my privilege as a person who does not struggle with gender these days, whose gender is by and large recognized, honored, unquestioned, and who can live comfortable with a certain level of openness. So in a weird sort of way, putting the final nail in the coffin of my former identity gives me solidarity with those that are not so privileged, for whom a congruent birth certificate might be a matter of life or death. 

It will be in the mail tomorrow.  Be interesting to see how long it will take to come back, and if it will go through smoothly or if I will have one more rejection letter to add to the file.....

Edit: And the new birth certificate was delivered to me on Thursday, July 23 (very speedy service) along with an almost effusive cover letter inviting me to participate in a trans health / needs survey. What a difference a decade makes.....

* One (of several) reasons that I'm not a fan of Caitlyn Jenner's public transition, but that's another story, and one that I probably will not blog about. 

June 24, 2015

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival - 2015 Emerging Artists

Just released; I'll be plugging in links as I get the chance!

1 - Annika - Blauvelt NY
2 - Bernice Lewis - Williamstown MA
3 - Camela Widad - Mechanicsburg PA
4 - Chasing June - Rockaway NJ
5 - Dan Weber - Vancouver WA
6 - Gina Forsyth - New Orleans LA
7 - Jay Hitt - Butler PA
8 - Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers - Fayetteville NY
9 - Jessy Tomsko - Astoria NY
10 - Josh Brooks - Vergennes VT
11- Katie Dahl - Baileys Harbor WI
12 - Katrin - Brookline MA
13 - Liz & the Family Tree - NYC
14 - Mare Wakefield & Nomad - Nashville TN
15 - Mark Allen Berube -Brooklyn NY
16 - Mason Porter - Honey Brook PA
17 - Matt Harlan - Houston TX
18 - Meg Braun - Nashville TN
19 - Meghan Cary with Analog Gypsies - Erdenheim PA
20 - Mya Byrne - NYC
21 - Neptune's Car - Sutton MA
22 - Scott Wolfson & Other Heroes -Jersey City NJ
23 - Skout - NYC
24 - Teresa Storch - Longmont CO