This is my life... embracing joy where i find it After forty-seven years of chasing dreams & goals, I came to the realization that those important milestones speak far less about my life than the moments situated directly in front of me. 2009 marks a new beginning in more ways than I care to recall. I retain many aspirations & even a few lofty dreams. However, my primary objective is now about finding joy in every single day. Want to follow along? I'd be honored if you did. *Smile* she's alive! 11-22-09 Long time no to blog, huh? What's it been...almost five months? Sorry about that - I had quite a run. There's lots to catch up on & more than a few things I would like to share. Thus, how about if we just jump right in, ok? *Smile*
So why no new blog posts for such an extended period? My career was certainly a big distraction. Lets face it, these are crazy times and we're all extra focused upon work these days, no?
I also regained a sense of passion with a variety of important interests - I even made it out to the golf driving range last month. How did that go? Well...if I'm facing a right dog-leg with no trees or related barriers - I'm likely to set some course records. *Laugh* My horrid slice did begin to improve over the last third of my bucket thanks to an adorable pro's advice. Playing golf as a woman is not just about hitting from those red tee's (which is really nice) - it's also about getting all kinds of help from nearby men even if you don't ask for it (which is also really nice). *Grin* I'm keeping a close eye on my left shoulder (damaged in 2001 by a f***ing psycho-fan). Hopefully, it won't act up & I can actually once again enjoy a few rounds of links in 2010. Honestly?
I don't recall the last time my life was this well-balanced physically, spiritually & emotionally. It's nice. However, none of this is really the root cause for my extended silence. Simply stated - I'm finding it increasingly challenging to dedicate much time to my "transgender" life. My current existence? It's now almost totally non transgender. Thus, unless it's part of time I already budgeted (SCC, etc.), I have little patience and even less interest in any form of "tranny talk". With that in mind, I wish to offer an apology to those of you that sent notes and / or questions these last several months. Unless I happened to receive your letter just as I was on-line (and it was a fairly simple query) - I let my response "pile" build up to a point where it became insurmountable. A positive byproduct of this distancing is that I'm making real progress towards creating some killer new content for reneereyes.com - primarily within the new "transition" guide and the Admirer's Handbook / TG-Dating information. I feel confident I'll start uploading much of this in the first quarter of 2010 & be able to complete the first phase by June. I didn't realize what a monumental undertaking it was to re-tool a site as large as mine into an even larger presence with improved navigation. It's a bitch, but I'm getting there. With all this in mind, I decided to take a couple of steps to create some workable boundaries with my work in Genderland, including:
I removed my email link - I simply don't have the time to respond to personal queries. I wish I did, but I do not.
No new mentoring - I put in over ten years of support to tranz-women - including a handful of gals that I directly mentored through various phases of transition or gender expression. I'm now officially "retired" in that regard. If someone has a question, I'm asking they add it to my guestbook & I'll try and address their issue within some of the new content I will be providing. That way I'm able to help many & maintain a better semblance of order in my new life.
I'll start blogging again each month - My blog is important to some & it also serves as an easy means for me to keep old friends updated on my crazy life. It's a good habit that I want to maintain.
Fair enough? So what's been happening these last five months? Hmmmm, let's see... My 30-Year High School Reunion
A thirty-year class reunion can be a bit traumatic even under the best of circumstances. However, when a football team captain returns to a small town in western Kentucky as a woman? Well, it's hard to imagine how that wouldn't be somewhat eventful. My plans to attend my reunion were aggravated by a few nasty emails from classmates less than supportive regarding my new life, including one anonymous coward who served up a pair of threats regarding my potential appearance. Lets be honest - after all I've been through in my journey - I don't exactly get scared by some 48-year-old backwards jerk from Owensboro, Ky. If you're gonna' threaten me? You better be coming with more than an attitude. Alas, you can take the girl out of the trailer park...*Laugh* Still, the last thing I wanted was to be the cause of some consequential distraction for my fellow classmates during what was supposed to be a joyous occasion. Thanks to the classy kindness of a now badge-wielding fellow classmate, I was able to attend with a sense of assurance that anything bizarre would be handled - thank you very much, Mark.
The Saturday night gathering (I didn't make the Friday event) was held at the social hall of St Pious X out on Highway 60 & I arrived amidst of pouring rain...fitting, huh? *Laugh* The event was nothing short of outstanding thanks to all the hard work of the organizers, namely, Desla, Dawn, Terry & Allison. I can't say I was ever able to just relax and enjoy the moment but I was glad I went. I had a chance to connect with a number of old cronies. I sadly discovered that one of my dearest old friends from high school - Jeff Gray - had passed away two years before. Finding that out was a big downer & I decided to leave shortly afterwards. Having already lost my best childhood friend - Rob Puckett - to a murder in 2004 and all my immediate family over the years, hearing about Jeff was just too much to take. There remains one more dear friend from my early childhood that I'm hoping to reconnect with in 2010. He was at the reunion but we didn't find our way to talk. I actually have two very important people from my past where I'm struggling in terms of finding the right words to reconnect. I want them in my life, I need them in my life - yet every time I start to reach out? The words escape my soul. What does that mean? I don't know. However, I hope it's something it changes soon.
Anyway... The following day, I traveled about town - visiting new & old landmarks. It's amazing what a big deal little changes are in a small town. Also, I grabbed a burger at the Dairy Drive-In on Parish Avenue...and was comforted by the fact they were still as tasty as ever. I enjoyed a vanilla latte at a downtown coffee shop with a lovely outdoor seating area...that was an unexpected pleasure. I stopped by the house where I grew up but it didn't take long before I started getting rather emotional. Thus, I didn't make the subsequent visit to my family's gravesites - I was just too drained. It was time to go...and I was definitely ready to leave. I gotta' be honest - once I hit the open road I felt that I never wanted to go back to Owensboro. I felt like I did not belong, I felt pain, and I felt lonely. Upon further reflection over the past couple of months, I decided the problem was rooted in the fact I had gone so many years without direct contact with these old friends. Let's face it: a tree is never stronger than its roots and some of mine are damaged & in need of care. I intend to begin fixing that in 2010. Also, I'm now totally "outed" in my hometown. Although my life was never any big secret, I was able to anonymously stop-in & visit on occasion. Those days are over and that's probably a good thing. Thus, a new chapter begins... Equals Bar: Owensboro Kentucky Speaking of "new chapters"?
A definite highlight of my trip back to Owensboro was a visit to "Equals" - a gay / alternative bar located just off the downtown sector at 1006 East 4th Street. I heard about this place through the grapevine but was having difficulty creating a mental image of its existence. The concept of a successful gay bar in my hometown seemed about as likely as a high-volume pork barbecue joint in Tel-Aviv, know what I mean?
Although my life is now rather sedate, you would be hard-pressed to find another gal with more experience in the bar & club scene across America than yours truly. Dating back to my jaunts to Studio 54 in the early 80's, I tasted the energy of pretty much every licensed form of social gathering known to man, woman or beast over the years. I'm not easily impressed. It's worth noting that the continuing acceptance of transgenderism across mainstream America is creating a decline in the number & quality of successful gay, lesbian & tranz clubs within large cities. Atlanta is certainly a victim of this phenomenon. However, in the smaller towns...where alternative expression is less integrated? The vibrant energy from days gone-by is alive & well. Equals Bar in Owensboro is a classic example in this regard. The lead bartender "Scott" was friendly & vigilant regarding fast service in what quickly became a crowded club. As it happened, they were filing a segment of Extreme Makeover / Home Edition in Owensboro and much of that cast & crew were visiting Equals at the same time as yours truly. The DJ was first-rate - even by Atlanta standards. However, my biggest shock was the quality of DRAG entertainment from the show headliners Erica Dawn & Monica Hillz. These gals worked hard on their acts - something I rarely witness in Atlanta any longer. Even the Tranz-men / DRAG Kings were well represented (Good job, Jake!). I had the pleasure of chatting with Kelly - the club's owner - before I left. He's adorable & the ideal person to represent this unique success story. The bottom line? If you ever find yourself in western Kentucky on a weekend and are under the delusion there couldn't possibly be a fun alternative club to spend your night, you'll get a pleasant surprise with a visit to Equals in Owensboro, Kentucky. Atlanta's Social Butterfly Naturally, the last five months were a source of more than a few fun events. What was worth noting?
I went to a great live concert that included the Doobie Brothers & Bad Company at Chastain Park with my old friends Mike Scott & Bill Medley this summer. Live music from your youth is such a special experience, 'ya know? In a flash, you're right down memory lane and for just a moment - time transcends reality. We had a blast!
My dear friend Lu celebrated her 30th birthday at a party hosted at a friend's house in Sandy Springs. The host is an architect & the home showed accordingly - with an absolutely killer backyard that was bricked into an incredibly cozy setup for just such a gathering. Additionally, there was a hot tub overlooking a waterfall which served to fill a lovely swimming pool. As the night wore on, the temptation to test the waters overwhelmed us and almost everyone ended up soaking wet. I ended up floating about the pool in an oversized inner tube. I guess I found a new means to sober up after too much Vino, no? *Laugh* Also, we held a several house / dinner parties including a special gathering for Esther - my roomies housekeeper of over twenty years. Esther is a very cool lady & exceptionally skilled with cleaning - something I admire. We invited her entire family & spent the day serving her for a change. It was a joyous gathering. What else?
My dear friend Sid gifted a pair of tickets to Iztach Perlman at the Fox Theater in downtown Atlanta. Thus, Kristin & I pulled out some classy threads & showed up for what proved to be a phenomenal performance. Of course, at intermission - we lost much of our sensibilities & stocked up on chocolate treats - complete with an XL-bag of buttered popcorn...yum, yum. Thus, the second half of the show took on a whole new meaning. Let's face it - you just can't take those damned tranny's any place that's classy. *Laugh* This year's Gay Pride, 2009 in Atlanta was postponed from it's usual date in June due to an inability to secure Piedmont Park as the primary venue. Thus, Pride-o-Ween was born on this Halloween night in Atlanta. As you might expect in late October, it rained - which put a damper on what should have been an extra wild evening. I did my Marilyn Monroe routine while Kristin once again stole the show with her flawless rendition of Sarah Palin. We made it back home just after midnight. Can you believe that? There was time when I didn't even walk out the door until midnight. God, I'm getting old!
Finally, I once again stopped by for a night at SCC in Atlanta. As always, it was great to see many old friends & make a few new acquaintances. Worth noting is the outstanding head bartender at the Hyatt Ravinia "Work" - who goes out of his way to make everyone of any persuasion feel welcome. That's always special. It's not a job...it's an adventure! Having been "single" for about a year, I began my adventure of "dating" by posting an ad at traditional sites like Match.com. Ugh...not a good idea. *Laugh* No matter if I put the fact I'm a transsexual in large CAPS at the beginning of my ad, most men just went directly to the photos & subsequently to email link - only to discover their oversight during subsequent communication. Thus, more than one subsequently lashed out at me in less than positive terms. It wasn't worth the potential anguish after a long day of work. I deleted both of these types of ads. I settled upon a couple of sites exclusive to tranz-females. However, I was surprised to find I was already "on" one of them - at least a few of my photos were. *Laugh* There seems to be a pair of individuals out there that constantly use my photos in their personal ads. Friends alerted me accordingly over the years & I tried to stay on top of it - but there's really not much I can do. I am curious as to how they will deal with actually meeting someone? That would be a bit challenging, no? *Laugh* Anyway... I'm now in a fairly positive state of mind regarding my dating adventures. Please cross your fingers for me. I'm in a good place in terms of most aspects of my life. It would be nice to share the next legs of my journey with someone extra special. Oh, yeah...and I also miss having "sex". *Laugh* Mom's 80th Birthday
October 30th, 2009 marked my mother's 80th birthday. I held vigil in her honor by lighting a candle aside a favorite photo and subsequently reading though a litany of old cards & letters. It was a very emotional albeit cathartic experience. I laughed, I cried & I smiled. Mom was such an extraordinary lady. I considered all my efforts to emulate her best qualities and felt misery from the realization of how poorly I compare. I decided to rededicate my efforts in her honor. There could be no better role model on being an incredible woman, than my mother. I don't intend to waste that gift. Later this same night while trying to find sleep, I further reflected upon how much I miss my mother's presence - big mistake. Subsequently, I didn't just start crying...I began f***ing wailing. It got to a point I even couldn't catch my breath. What is it about a "mother" that we all yearn for? I think it's that safe place of unconditional love that's so rare & sacred in this life. I'm thankful for what I had - but I truly miss her. Damn it...I'm crying again! Time for a coffee & pee-pee break...then I'll finish this long overdue blog update. The New Magic Show On a very bright note, my BFF Kristin & I decided to recreate my old magic show into something new. I've dreamed of some sort of launch of my old vistas in magic & performing on numerous occasions but never found the time or energy to drive those ideas into reality. Partnering with Kristin turned out to be the "missing link". Kristin's skills in this regard are extraordinary. As a film major in college, she's actually just a frustrated "Stephanie Spielberg" - and her clever adoptions for our new show rival her namesake. She's amazing & I don't think we'll disappoint with the new act.
Unfortunately, before we could make any real progress - I had to pull the larger illusions from my storage unit. That was no small feat. Naturally, these items were mixed into the very rear of my unit...UGH!! Thus, I hired a couple of movers (very cute, by the way), pulled the needed items - and ended up rearranging the rest of my "stuff" (I'm glad that's done). I'll be sharing more soon regarding this new magic act. We hope to do a couple of soft launches during the first quarter of 2010 - followed by a grand opening sometime in the spring. Stay tuned...we'll be uploading an exclusive website for the show at that time. Until next month... My best to one & all... Keep the faith! Renee
the band plays on... 02-16-09 Another crazy month since we last spoke... Valerie Turned 50
This Valentine's day was unique in more ways than my lack of candy or roses: it marked my sister's 50th birthday. It's hard to believe that she's now been gone for over thirty years. I guess it just never registers because I still talk to her: mostly to complain about how she left in the first place. I never had an adult relationship with my sister...she was only seventeen when she took her own life. I can only try to imagine what it would be like to have her around at this time. She was a deep thinker, a creative genius and a total bitch of an alpha female. I miss her. I love her. Happy birthday, 'sis...at least you'll never have to worry about looking like you're fifty. ((hugs)) End of an Era On a sad note, my dear friend Red and her Russian-born daughter moved to Texas at the end of January, 2009. Unfortunately, both Red's mother & grandfather faced increasingly dire health and her daddy was simply no longer able to handle matters alone. These two very unique ladies changed my life in more ways than I can ever recall. They went through my transition with me, they forced me to dress more appropriate to my age (ugh...I hated that part) and they loved me as a member of their family. I'm not just a better person because of this association: I'm a better woman. I won't see them as much anymore. But...I'll always love them. Tatiana will be returning to Nashville to see her dad over spring break next month. Thus, I'm going to make a special trip to visit with her while she's up this way. Additionally, I'm planning to make a day-trip to my hometown of Owensboro, KY at this same time. Tara is Better On another better note, my roommate's daughter "Tara" finally returned home after "forty days & nights" in the hospital. It's impossible to describe what all went wrong during her hospital hell: it was a study in the Murphy's Law of modern medicine. As I'm sure you can imagine, her first several days back home were brutal: just the detoxing from the heavy doses of pain-meds was brutal. She's now on an upward path...and we're looking forward to things staying that way. Thank you...for your kind thoughts & prayers. And so we move on... I gotta' be honest... I'm really struggling on a personal level at this time. My life, my body, my love-life, my family, my home, my career...everything that I would use to define myself has become so mangled recently that I sometimes lose touch with exactly who I am. Know what I mean? Add to this labyrinth my change of gender and the slicing & dicing of my loins...and I can't help but wonder...am I still the same person I always was? My only reminder of any consistency is my favorite music. Isn't it a wonderful gift how music can take us back to our past in a single guitar rift? These are crazy times. I'm not convinced there won't come a day when I awake & decide that I'm just not interested in starting-over anymore. But that day...is not today. Until next month... My best to one & all... Keep the faith! Renee Leaving it all behind... 01-17-09 Is someone playing a joke on me? That query could easily define my final stretch of 2008. Things went from bad, to worse...then they veered into terrible...and ended up crashed into the wall of downright-ugly. I don't recall ever being more satisfied to hasten a new year. My life changed a great deal in the last quarter of 2008, but strangely: I didn't. I'm figuring that's important in some manner. Alas, I'm not smart enough to comprehend it just yet. Anyway... After a good bit of soul-searching, I decided I didn't want to carry these recent disasters into my new year. Thus, I created a detailed list of the bad things that happened & literally planned their burial in symbolic gesture of stiff-lip defiance. Upon further retrospective, I realized these setbacks were just the tip of my iceberg. I subsequently worked for two-straight days creating a comprehensive listing of all my painful baggage. Not to be outdone by negativity, I also contemplated the many blessings that I wanted to carry into my future. Upon completion of this worst while project, I ceremoniously scaled the ravine behind our house, purposefully recited the entire list of negativity - and subsequently buried every damn issue into the soils of 2008. I gotta' be honest, that was a very emotional trek: I hissed, I cried, I laughed, I even screamed aloud as I christened this makeshift Pet Cemetery of failure, pain, lost love & bygone friendship. I'll never forget it. Upon return to central heat & fresh coffee, I lit a candle and meditated for about thirty minutes. Afterwards, I joyously recited all the blessings I kept in my life. I know all this probably sounds pretty f***ing strange...but before you call-in the white coats? I must tell you: this is working. My soul remains fixated upon a clear horizon. When I struggle, I'm reminded: I left my pain behind...it's not a part of 2009! *Smile* Works for me... On the less weird front: with the help & guidance of my BGF Kristin, I purchased a new camera: a 12.2 MPix Cannon EOS Rebel XSi with an 18-55mm lens. It's totally the bomb! I can't get over the difference with image quality & lighting. 2009 includes a ton of photographic projects & this new tool seems ideally suited to deliver my goods. Look for some fun new photos soon! *Smile* Dating... I'm officially back in the "dating" scene. How's that going? Well...I haven't gone on any dates yet. *Laugh* Okay, first-off you have to understand: I literally despise dating. Simply stated: I'm serial monogamous dater. Thus, to once again finding myself amongst the date-mate process is just one brick shy of totally f***ing depressing. To date, my orbit remains fixated around the unhealthy planet of "everybody's favorite mistress...but nobody's bride". In other words, my last decade was a three-time rerun of falling in love with someone who found themselves unable and/or unwilling to love me openly...ouch! You'd think I'd learn. Alas, blonde roots can run pretty damned deep. Honestly? I'm figuring I'll just stay focused upon my goals & passions for 2009...and keep my eyes open. Alas, my life isn't all that bad without someone special.
Social fun... I got out one night this month: joined my dear friend Betty and her adorable compilation of eclectic persona's at LeBuzz in Marietta. Betty has a most unique gift of assimilating highly divergent clans into perfectly meshed associations. We had a blast: the photo to the right is me with two new friends - Lisa & Carmen. As you can see, we were pretty much smashed. *Laugh* This month's good humor moment was my first-ever (and most likely last) experiment with Karaoke at the Stage Door in Tucker, GA. Let's face it - I no longer have a man's voice and my female voice isn't exactly the world's best. Thus, my singing-voice is essentially the worst of everything. *Laugh* I did have fun, though...and in the end? That makes every adventure worthwhile. I hadn't been by Stage Door in almost two years so it was a special delight visiting with Brian (definitely one of the best bar owners in Atlanta) and getting a hug from my dear old friend: Sister Sara. Stage Door has those "Poker Nights" which are the main reason I stopped-by...I'm planning to play poker once a month on Sunday nights at Stage Door in the "beginners" grouping. I'm smooth with the mathematics of card games but I suck at bluffing. Thus, this new voyage is all about fun. Prayers... My roommate's daughter had surgery in mid-December: it didn't go well. What was supposed to be a simple, one & a half hour procedure turned into a four-day hospital sabbatical. Then...on January first, she was carted via ambulance back to the hospital with a pulmonary embolism & pneumonia. As of today, she's remains hospitalized & we're not sure when she's coming home. Please include "Tara" in your prayers. ((hugs)) That's about all the news that's fit to print. My best to one & all... Keep the faith! Renee