updated: 01/26/00 12:51



fighting & not fighting

talkin' to penny

cool your jets

performing presidents

my mantra for 2000:

Of course I'm too much!

If I were too little, I wouldn't be up here!

Somebody has to be the drag queen!


Charles Pierce, usually while performing as Bette Davis

From a remembrance in the January 2, 2000 New York Times Magazine


morality is accountability.
accountability requires a voice.

This is the dirty little secret of small towns, the one we have worked so hard to escape: In small towns, people are held accountable for their actions.

The ultimate rudeness today is to call someone on their bad behavior. We don't want to make a stink, make a scene, draw attention to ourselves, be judgmental. We don't want to have to be the one who stands up and says "That's wrong, and I'm not going to put up with that."

Part of this, of course, is a global thing -- in accepting & respecting diversity, we no longer have fixed, stable and well understood community values. A community no longer shares tribal or religious history, and that means we may not be clear on what the right rules are for someone else.

We know we have lost something in this loss of accountability. That's why we fetishes people, pundits & preachers, talk radio jocks & radical activists, who stand up and do what we ourselves are afraid to do: call other people on their bad behavior. "Sock it to them!" we scream, when we can vicariously hit back at every little injustice we felt that went uncalled, unnoted, unpunished.

Today's marketing game plays right into this. Marketers use gimmicks to get as much as they can, knowing that they won't be held accountable. It's much cheaper to pay off a few screamers while screwing the sheep than to give a good and fair deal to all.

3 January 2000
Attorney General, State Of NYS
Consumer Protection Division

Today, at the CompUSA store in Latham Farms, Colonie NY, I went to purchase a CompUSA brand 10.2 Gb hard drive which was advertised for $99.99 as part of a two day sale (1/2-1/3)

When I arrived at about 3 PM, I was told that they had none of the hard drives left, not withstanding a stack of CompUSA brand 10Gb hard drives behind the counter, at least 24 of them, which were not the drive on sale. I was not offered a raincheck or a substitution of product.

As I looked at the printed advertisement, which was distributed in the Albany Times Union of 1/2/00, I noted there were no restrictions printed -- "limited to store stock," "only 12 per store," or even "quantities limited." One clerk I spoke to mentioned that often they would get a large shipment of one item where only a small number of the product were assigned the sale price.

I would understand if the advertisement was clear that quantities were limited, but since it didn't, I felt I was part of a bait and switch. Doesn't CompUSA owe me a good faith effort to deliver what they advertised, though rain check or substitution?

I do note that many of the goods in the CompUSA advertisements are gimmick priced -- one must have a rebate, or buy combinations of products (a form of bundling) or some such. This makes me feel that they are trying to cut the edges, play fast and loose with advertisements in order to deliberately deceive the public about actual pricing.

Does CompUSA have an obligation to make a good faith effort to deliver what they advertise to consumers?



CompUSA 10.2GB Ultra DMA 66 Hard Drive
7200 RPM
SKU # 227732 COMP PRICE: $99.99

Gimmicks. It's all tricks and gimmicks, from bank fees to rebates, to Wal Mart advertising a 20 quart plastic bin so customers will confuse it with the 20 gallon one -- why not label them both in one unit -- 20 quart & 80 quart, or 5 gallon & 20 gallon? Because that would make it too simple. CompUSA even has a separate company selling as www.compusa.com, so they can split the deal between web and stores. GE products are more likely to be made by Thompson CSF, a company that is not connected by GE except for a license of their name.

There's only one way to get the real deal, not be manipulated and delayed and deceived, and that's to stand up and make a fuss, hold people and corporations accountable for their behaviors.

The number one fear of people is public speaking, but public complaining is even tougher. We live in a world where we know that few will hold us accountable, and that means many can play fast and loose, all the while complaining about the decline in public morals. We want to complain about the idiot driver, but if someone calls us on not using a turn signal, we think that's rude. We feel like we are always being screwed, but don't have any way to hold anyone else accountable.

This is the premise of "The Insider." Wigand wants to speak up and all possible weight is used to silence them. We learn this lesson early: if we are visible, we will be attacked until we shut up, so its best to keep our heads down, not get involved. It's easier to use tricks like political correctness or spin to silence those demanding accountability than to deliver on moral, gracious and fair behavior -- and that's true from marxists & feminists to big corporations.

It's much easier to help others lose than to win, to attack rather than to be open, honorable and responsive. Demonization rules.

To be big, we have to be willing to fight, to create a scene, to make a stink, to stand up and speak for accountability. That's risky, though, especially for someone who feels vulnerable because they are not normative, and impossible for anyone committed to stealth living, the hiding of a secret they don't want revealed.

This is the big deal: how do we claim a voice and make a stink when we don't want to be vulnerable? Because if we don't do that, we can never stand up for accountability.

Morality is accountability. Accountability requires a voice.


It's this simple: I feel better when I express who I am inside, when I honor my own soul by expressing it. That's not my habit, though. My habit is to deny, to hide, to hang tough. I have learned how to keep hidden, here in this pile of junk, there in a world where the expectation of silence is enforced.

I drove to Saratoga Springs yesterday to get some paperwork done on a big empty table under a stained glass window in their new library, the old library now an arts center on Broadway. It was an April day on the third of January, temperatures in the 50s, so I took a walk, joking with passerby about how we all had to bear another Adirondack winter.

Saratoga has always had two faces, a working class town that comes alive as a retreat for the upscale and trendy in the summer, with racing, ballet & orchestra. Now, the trendy face is more and more visible all year round, different from when I lived there from 1980-1986.

I strolled the streets and went into a few shops, a mix of new age books, ethnic jewelry and the preppy meets art clothing that captures me. I felt the energy of possibility, the way these people had created a post hippy life which honored grace & art. The proprietors, though, saw me not as a woman, but as a guy in tractor cap & Timberlands, saw my shell, and couldn't help.

The necklace with silver angels & glass beads, the glass sculptures, the soft velvet skirts all had to pass without my showing my enthusiasm for them, oohing and ahhing, gushing and smiling, delighting in the simple pleasures of beauty, whimsy and grace. This is the exuberance that is missing, the deep rooted fear that making the choices of a woman, from looking dramatic to flirting, will put us in danger. We chance crossing that line from unnoticed woman to fabulous tranny, and that line feels dangerous, someplace we should never go without armor. Being a Surly Girl (my misreading of the new line at Bath & Body Works, Swirly Girl) doesn't feel like an option.

I made the mistake of going to my parents yesterday. The erasure of who I am, my mother droning her tiny stories and unable to see a heart, is always hard. The one thing my sister & I wish for my mother is simple: that she get a life, friends and a support system, one that took care of her basic needs for companionship, so she wouldn't depend on her children to tend those needs, and could then take the time to have a special relationship with them, to cherish the special time she spends with her kids rather than treating them as subsitute pals, projecting her own needs onto them. She does have one older friend, a mother figure about 10 or 15 years older than she is, but other than that, her social networks are very, very limited.

For me, though, the combination of my parents and the crushing churlishness of CompUSA were touch. The energy I felt after spending a few days inside, as myself, was snuffed out, and I was smashed. I hated changing into boy clothes to go out, but I did it, and that change worked its magic by taking away the magic of seeing myself.

This morning I have been struggling to reclaim that momentum. I got dressed, but until I put on some lipstick and eyeliner and a pair of shoes, the energy was gone. The symbols unlock my own being, even as they expose me to the risk of being seen as. . . Yet, until I relax into the symbols and trust that others see them and see me as I feel, the symbols are mere costume.

Found this morning on alt.quotations:

Men have bodies that they might express their soul.
Leonardo DaVinci (attributed)

I also found this, one that gave insight to the tree loving trannies:

I like the trees because
they seem more resigned to the way they have to live
than other things do.
Willa Cather

I'm not resigned, but when I don't express my soul, it is denied and discouraged. It always seems the prudent thing to do to deny my soul, appropriate and considerate, but appropriate and considerate to others and not to the gift my creator gave me.

I know how bad I look as a tranny -- I see my skin, covered up, my big shoulders, a growing gut stuffed with substitutes for affection & affirmation, and I get it.

Yet, that look is the best I can reveal my soul without having my body cut and stitched back together, as Linda Tripp apparently has had hers.

Momentum to dispose an old life and trust a new one. Challenges for a new year.

fighting & not fighting


the question is not if you fight or if you don't.
it's how quick you can change tactics
to meet the situation
fighting or cooperating
working together or pushing beyond the group.

where the fight fails
is where we get more involved with the outcome
than with the process

when we are too obsessed with the goal
we bang our heads against the glass
rather than switching gears and strategies

to find a better way.

for example
brawling at the office may build a habit
that leads us to brawl at home
which may well be a counterproductive strategy
with your family.

(men tend to prefer brawling
and trust brawlers
women tend to prefer seduction
and trust seducers
but they are both just means to an end.)

only people who get frustrated
have the incentive
to find a better way.

they succeed in finding a better way
when they find a new approach
that leads to the goal
rather than staying frustrated
and pounding at dead ends
repeating choices that don't work.

when we fight too much with our allies
we make them our enemies.

we need to pick our battles
and be willing to surrender in the moment
drop the brawl
to find a moment of connection & peace

we have to fight
but remember that it's the strategy that counts
be ready to shift our approach
to meet the moment
because one fight never suits all
one approach never fits all challenges.

Fight when you need to
cooperate when you need to
brawl when you need to
seduce when you need to
conquer when you need to
surrender when you need to
and you will find a full life.

god grant me
the strength to change what i can
the serenity to accept what i cannot change
the wisdom to know the difference

the wisdom to choose the strategy
the wisdom to drop what is counterproductive
to work together
to make things new and better.

talkin' to penny 1/8

you can not learn, that's fine. it's just that goddess will keep trying to teach it to you.

it's like going though a low hanging door and bumping your head. you can be taught the lesson over and over again until you get it though your skull, literally.

your choice, though, is to choose an approach. you can:

goddess will keep hitting you giving you the lesson -- like someone 6" tall can't go though a 5' 10" door standing up -- and you pick the what you want to learn from the truth the universe hits you with, how you choose to handle it.  Do you just react the same way over and over again, or do you think and respond, learning & changing in the process?

writing things down can help you see the patterns, help you think it though and find both the hit and what lesson you choose to learn from it.

Learning is not compulsory.
Neither is survival.
    W. Edwards Deming

put a paper envvelope by the door and touch it will your full hand or kiss it when you leave. in that envelope place what you need to remember -- like you are gorgeous & brilliant.

it's just a paper mezzuzah.

my father may be femaled -- the prostate cancer treatment --   but that's just part of the pretense dropping as we age. we can't hold our tummy in forever. eventually we don't have energy or will to keep the mask in place and then we have to face ourselves.

The problem with aging is that you stuffing starts to come out.

You don't have the youth, looks and energy to keep stuffing the feelings you tried to hide.

To grow old is to face who you are behind the mask you created in youth face the spirit which lives in a decaying body.

The closing years of life are like
the end of a masquerade party,
when the masks are dropped.
    Arthur Schopenauer

"See, you and they are perfect. You don't have the problems I do, so that means you don't have problems. I'm screwed, but you aren't -- in fact everyone who I see as succceding is not screwed at all."

idiots.  the point is simple: we are all screwed, we are all capable of great things.  Even the biggest successes have problems, often large ones.

there is no us and them, there is only us.

that is the lesson that we are taught over and over again, but we keep trying to rebuild those walls based on surface differences, only to be caught when we realize that the sufrace differences just conceal human hearts, minds & spirits.   there is only one human nature, and we all share it.

part of being a hero, an icon, is to always dress & act for the camera, the history book, and not for the people next to you. what would look great in the paper, in the history, on the tv?

this means that close up, lots of big people look a bit odd, but they create a presence that persists, because they choose for the long term, not the moment, look beyond comfort to what is right.

'course the line is when we are being big to do right and when we try to manipulate, but over time every mask slips (as above) and what outs in the history is the bravery, courage and strength.

cool your jets


when i fight, i get hot under the collar.

when i get hot under the collar, i want to fight.

crusading for justice and right isn't something we can easily switch off.

i confront the kid at staples, where the product i want is out of stock on the first day of a sale, and demand a raincheck. he doesn't know how to make one, so he says to come back later in the week -- they are expecting more product.

on one level he is right -- i have 6 more days to get a raincheck.

on another level i am right -- if the product isn't in stock, under the rules of this county, i get a raincheck. if they don't have the product, they should have trained people.

i leave, with a growl.

then, when the women in front of me in the seven-items cash-only lane pulls out a check, i growl. she is wrong, but she is as offended at being called wrong as the woman yesterday who almost hit me as she was going the wrong way down a one-way, angle parking lane, who smirked when i yelled out "wrong way."

when you are in the fighting mode, crusading for personal accountability, for people to honor the expectations, the rules, it's hard to stop. that's one reason schools work to take the fight out of kids, to leave them jaded and apathetic -- much easier to control that way.

cops know this. you are in a chase with a suspect, you aren't cool enough to be nice to him when you grab him. the mental gearshifting grinds, clashes.

we know fighting gets us off-balance, and many of us don't like being off-balance -- we want to flop like a weeble, never falling over, never moving much. for others, off-balance is the only way, because being balanced means we have to pay attention to what we feel, and not just action.

to succeed, get what we want and deserve we must fight. we lose purpose and hope if we don't fight and win

fighting all the time never leaves us space for cooperation. we fall into fight mode and push away allies.


What Miss Manners finds offensive is violating standards
and then claiming to be surprised that people are offended.

performing presidents


I was talking to a friend who works for the Roosevelt Presidential Library at Hyde Park about the PBS American Experience Special on Eleanor Roosevelt tonight.

"Biographers always seem to want to go to the subject for facts, but in this case that's just wrong. Eleanor made up her own facts to go with the story she wanted to tell, to make her point, and that story changed over the years. Too many biographers buy into the myth that she herself created, rather than looking at how and why she did what she did and said what she said.

"Even Franklin performed. They dressed his desk for every news conference, like it was a set. Still, few people review them as performers, rather they try to take them at face value."

"I understand," I said. "All great leaders are performers, creating a performance to achieve their desired ends. But how can anyone understand life as performance if they don't relate to that in their life? Few people other than public figures understand the power, the means, the requirement of performance. These are earnest scholars who tell the truth, not larger than life figures who create an image. They probably don't even know any mythic figures up close.

"I was just writing about how the historic person plays not to the people close to them but to the crowd, the camera. They understand that their gestures are key, so they create a face and take action for the pages of the newspapers, the pages of history, and not just to please the people around them."

"That's so true," my friend replied. "Today, though, the level of that artifice has gotten so high that there is a real gap between the performers and the audience. Maybe it's that gap that is the problem, not like the old days when the performance wasn't as slick, wasn't so separate from the human.

"Today, while the style is heightened, the substance seems to be going, and that's sad & scary."

"Yeah," I said. "The problem is once you add substance to the chimera they create it drops to the ground like a rock. Substance only weighs down a performance, adds noise and loses the energy. Becoming solid means you can be attacked, while staying ethereal lets you dodge the bullet -- and dodge accountability."

After that phone call, I headed down to my local pagan ritual.

It's a messy old shopfront, with an eccentric 30-something in it. Timothy has no money, but a he has dream, so he quit McDonalds to open this artistic consignment shop and performance space. A college dorm room come to life as a church, where 1/2 hour after the ritual was to begin, it was only he & I.

"I have a pagan grove with 6 members, and a band, and an electronic community at one list with 33 members," he told me. "I feel powerful, serendipity hitting me like a drum!"

"Can you be a follower of paganism?" I asked him. "I mean, can you lose yourself in the crowd, follow along, or do you have to have your own practice, be a leader?"

"That's a good question," he replied. "No, I don't think you can be a follower. There isn't space for that, and few people are making that space. Coming into a pagan is jumping in the deep end -- you have to swim, not just watch & feel & follow."

"I guess that means you have the problems that come with that," I said. "First, because everyone is focused on their own individual view, their own practice, there are lots of fights about who is right. Too many leaders. And second, it means its hard to build a big base of followers, because there is no way they can stand on the edges, enjoy, watch & grow."

"Yeah, no followers," he mused. "That doesn't make it easy."

"So you have to decide if you want to make space for followers, space in the pews rather than crowding everyone around the altar right away, getting them in deep." I said. "I was looking at an MCC church in Dallas, a big church town, and I am very aware that while they involve their members, members can be involved as followers before they are forced to be leaders. They have a big group, can feel the energy and social pull, and have a place to find their own talents to contribute -- to be empowered over time, have leadership developed."

He looked around the empty storefront, tattered furniture and seedy carpets. "That makes sense," he said.

I smiled, took his information and left. I went home and put up a small website for him. I do hope he succeeds, though my doubts are strong -- he doesn't have a sense of leading people, no charisma & style, and has very limited resources to keep things running while he learns it.

Blessed Be & Safe Home.