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

June 21, 2015

Falcon Ridge Folk Festival 2015

Six weekends from now, I'll be finishing up a long week of camping, music, working (crew chief duties), friends, and fun at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival. It will not be too long before I start to load up the performer merch spreadsheet, send out emails to all the performers and/or managers, and start to collect and organize my camping supplies, food and beverages, and my portable office to run the merch trailer.

I happened to pop by the Performers Page yesterday to refresh my memory about who will be there (and who will not) and I'm starting to get a little excited about the fest.

Old Faves: Wonderful to have Brother Sun coming back, they are really a "three-for" because each member of the group (Greg Greenway, Pat Wictor, and Joe Jencks) brings individual energy to the fest and the stages. Speaking of Pat Wictor, his "Most-Wanted" (if I recall correctly) partner Ellis will also be back this year - she's not been back in a while. Susan Werner has become more regular recently, a welcome addition. Nerissa & Katrina Nields (if they weren't coming, it would be news). The Grand Slambovians. June Rich (saw her at FRFF many years back, and not since). Jay Mankita (a long ago fave who has also resurfaced in the past few years).

Most Wanted: Caitlin Canty, Jean Rohe, Matt Nakoa, and Hayley Reardon (stepping in for Tumbling Bones, who will not make it in 2015) will be back this year, rising to the top of the polls from last year's Emerging Artist field. But mention to previous "Most Wanted" artists Ellis, Pat Wictor, Roosevelt Dime, ilyAIMY, and Pesky J. Nixon - all of whom are "home grown" emerging artists now coming back to main stage gigs. One thing I love about Falcon Ridge is the Emerging Artist showcase - in some ways the 24 artists who play short sets each year become my "bucket list" of artists to see in featured spots throughout the musical year.

New for 2015: Garnet Rogers, Judy Collins, Martyn Joseph (not really new, he visited a few years back, and I became a big fan, so welcome back!)

There are always "yeah, but....." artists out there - my FRFF core has been artists like Gorka, Larkin, Brown, Morrissey, Shindell, Kaplansky, Dar Williams, and well, they are getting older (or are no longer with us) and are perhaps a little rich for what has always been a bit of a struggling festival. I get to see them enough. Just being on a hillside in Hillsdale, with friends and music and sun (and rain) is generally sufficient....

June 16, 2015

Le Morte du Paper Files

When I started my consulting practice way back in 1995 (coming up on the 20th anniversary in December), I mirrored my corporate office / consulting practice for my home office / small business. When I last worked in corporate America (Philips Medical Systems), email was a new phenomena - I guess I had an email account, but it was mostly an in-house thing - the web was pretty thin, and most everything I did was via US mail and hard-copies.

A good part of my job at Philips was collecting information for obscure bits of technology, products, or technical solutions that I would reference, reproduce, and distribute as needed to international contacts, field service engineers, and management. So when I started my business, I found a used filing cabinet, and filled it with folders, like the one I left in my corporate office.

I had a lot of file folder categories:
  • Medical imaging OEMs (my primary client base) 
  • Tools and test equipment manufacturers (I used, and consulted on, various meters, loggers, and other test equipment)
  • Power conditioning technologies and specific manufacturers (things like surge suppressors, UPS systems, voltage regulators, transformers, and filters) 
  • Customer projects (perhaps 20-30 projects for my principal clients, over many years)
  • Business projects - advertising, marketing, registration, professional organizations, etc.
  • Personal files - credit, utilities, financial, insurance, etc.
It's been a good file cabinet - rugged, roller bearings, solid. Also, heavy as hell - I've moved it 4 times (Waterbury home office to Newington office space to Hartford home office to Newington office space to New Britain home office) plus a few trips up and down the stairs in Waterbury as my office moved. But somewhere along the line I did a paper purge; the files have been sitting empty for years, and it's been opened in recent memory only to search for art / office supplies in the single drawer I used to store my office supplies. So today was the day I decided to ditch the filing cabinet.

I pulled out 220 mainly empty file folders from the drawers: 
  • 111 Dark Green
  • 66 Tan 
  • 20 Red
  • 14 Blue
  • 9 extra wide / thick Dark Green
There's am 8" stack of mostly personal files (bills, insurance, etc. from 2006-2007 that somehow escaped disposal / filing in my annual tax boxes; I'll go through those at some point.  And there were a matching number of folder tags, which I removed from the folders, and am tasked with removing the slide-in labels.

I've got the cabinet up on Craigs List (Free!) and it will probably be gone tomorrow - I'll give away the hanging files and tabs as well if anyone will have them.

End of an era, I guess.  It's been a little bit nostalgic going through this today; old clients, old projects, an age when I was not sure what type of paying work I would find so I collected everything and anything. An age when a technical inquiry would involve a phone call, and result in a few faxed pages copied from a manual, or a thick envelope in the mail with the latest catalog. Today, it's all up and online, or perhaps an email and a PDF document away.

June 08, 2015

Social Media Rules: Facebook Edition

Rule 1: If you use your personal Facebook account to run your business, I will probably hide your feed. I'm happy that you are third level black belt Reiki or whatever you are, but if I have not specifically "liked" your business page, I really do not want it in my feed.

Rule 1A: If your personal Facebook page is a nonstop diatribe for or against anything - shelter dogs, politics, rights, activism, etc. I will also probably hide your page. I know the planet is warming, I know there are a lot of shelter dogs looking for homes, I know what the major political parties stand for.

Rule 2: If you do a spam mass invite to your event, class, workshop, etc. to your entire friends list, hiding you will not protect me. I'm going to unfriend you. If I want to know about your workshops, classes, gigs, etc. I will "like" your business page.

I'm not being too much of a crank here - my logic goes like this: I have (at the moment) nearly 700 Facebook friends. If every one of them acted like you do (mass invites) I'd be swamped with events - spending time every day declining things and probably losing track of things I *do* want to attend. You are decreasing the quality of my Facebook experience. Buh-bye.

I cut folks slack - a lot of slack, really, and am happy to get personal invites from people and for things I've shown some interest in, have "liked", occur 1-2 times a year, etc. But there are folks I've never met in person, inviting to things I'd never go to, on a weekly basis. And that's a no-no.