Cruel Irony

Some may be aware of the six months I recently spent down at the bottom of a deep hole, the sky a tiny dot of blue almost infinitely removed from my existence. It was a very long six months and it wasn’t the first time I had taken up residence in that place.
Then about four months ago I agreed to meet with a new mental health provider, one that was more versed in medication and could actually write a prescription. The goal was to find an antidepressant that works and doesn’t make me feel like a dog turd in return.

The first appointment arrived and proceeded with the obligatory recounting of the last four or five years’ worth of ups and downs, suicidal thoughts and extended stays at the bottom of that well I mentioned earlier. Add to this a brief foray into my childhood and all that being a closeted transgender adolescent added to this mix. What I discovered was that even if you’re feeling pretty good that day, this retrospective is sure to bring up something that will linger all day. It wasn’t exactly a pleasurable hour and a half but with that out of the way we could move on to reason I came, the “meds.”

Her approach was conservative, “lets start with what you’re taking now” I had good results when I started but it seemed to have become less effect with time. I was only taking 20mg so first step, up the dose. Then wait…..

OK that seems a bit better but not quite where I hoped to be, so up the dose again. Now I’m at the maximum dose. More waiting, then suddenly one morning, presto… smiles and happy thoughts.

Three months later, I’m still smiling and getting ready for my next check in. The expected questions are waiting, how are you feeling? how have the last months been?

I said I’ve been great but ended the declaration with the depressed person’s lament, “I hope it lasts”

This was her opening to make sure I knew that what goes up must come down. Then it was on to an interrogation about how happy I’ve been, a brief mention of bipolar ensued which left me defending myself against the implication that I was manic. Her mention of having spoken to my therapist planted a lingering suspicion about what the two of them could have said about me.

Well, that appears to have cured me of my apparently irrational happiness, plunging me back into second guessing how I feel. I resisted medication for a long time thinking about just these concerns, if I feel better do I really feel better or it akin to having a couple of drinks. It has me wondering if my therapist knows something about me she hasn’t shared with me.

All in all, it knocked me a bunch of rungs down the ladder and left me wanting to scream

Fuck this, fuck it all…








Tell Me a Story

Deep into history I fall, thoughts meandering to times gone by.

Times not of my time, but of those passed to me in storiesillus058a,

As part of my passage through childhood.

As when voices were the only connection between generations.

I’ve grown up to contemplate history as an unbroken line,

Believing the intimate details of its passage always discoverable.

While true of the world at large, of events on the grand scale,

The sounds, smells, the intimate details,

dwell only in the memories of those souls present at the scene.

I’ve walked the cemetery in Johnstown and considered

The rows and rows of those taken in an instant.

Or the section containing families laid side by side, day by day

By the great flu epidemic, so many stories lost, so many voices silenced.

My father had a brother once, gone while still very young

James was his name is all I know, all the rest, the how, the why

wiped clean at dad’s passing, as a slate at the conclusion of the lesson.

Gaps in the knowing appear, leaving bits without continuity,

The line lies broken, littered with lingering questions,

All with answers unknowable.

We squander the opportunity to know, believing we’ll always have time.

Assuming that tomorrow will arrive, and we will greet it

risking that all may be erased by the unforeseeable.

The only certainty, that when the end comes, the stories vanish.

Replaced by deafening silence.

Lifes musical soundtrack

Mulling over the peculiarities of memory and the triggers that call up long distant lives. I hear a song from my youth, that song is imprinted on my mind and evidently will remain so until the bitter end. It wraps itself around good times and bad, conjures up faces that I haven’t seen in many years.

Its strange the way it and the other songs from the soundtrack of my life are so intimately woven in the fabric of those memories and stranger still the effect that my current mood has in determining the feeling I get from a given song.

If you were to ask me if I remember the words to a given song I would probably so no, but put that song on the radio and they all come flooding back including the harmony parts and the sequence of songs on that particular album.

Naturally it will then morph into an earworm and play over and over until I’m ready to go screaming into the night.

Living in Chains

“So often times it happens that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key.” – The Eagles

Thinking of what I want to write about this morning when I arrive at my favorite coffee shop. This song came on the radio, and these words struck me right in the heart. It is such a metaphor for my life, I don’t think I could ever come up with a better way to express the time I’ve wasted.

With so much more behind than ahead it seems instinctive
That memories have more substance then the dreams that seem elusive
Yet dreams don’t carry the stain of already certain disappointment
At this point in my life I find that I have very few dreams left,

I’m unsure when looking back, what dreams I have ever really had
Other than the constant prayer that I arise one day with the sun
To discover that my life as a man had simply been a long dark nightmare.
Yet wishing could never make it so, having lived a life without courage

It calls for a titanic leap of faith, to imagine another life
To accept the truth that eluded me for decades
It fills my heart with satisfaction that I finally found the key
That I always processed the courage, to make the dream reality.

I have passed into the realm of my personal truth
Existence as the person I’ve always been
But I’ll never forget nor could I ever forget
Where I came from, That life in the shadows.




My Relationship with Breasts

Monday night was a poetry event at my favorite bar. When asked if I would read something I asked about the themes and was told, “erotica”

The piece below is the one I wrote to share with crowd, but the motivation wasn’t simply drawn from nowhere, you see I had been thinking about breasts since the previous week, specifically my breasts. I had had my annual mammogram the week before. That annual event speaks to several thoughts I have,

First, my intake of hormones, as confirmed by said breasts, is always a concern in these matters.

Next is the fact that my mother had breast cancer when I was still in high school. I don’t know if familial breast cancer concerns past the gender change, but why not be cautious.

Finally, it provides a degree of validation of my femininity, and a shared experience with women everywhere.

With that said I have been given an additional insight into the world of women. The cold shiver at the phone call, that they have found something suspicious on my mammogram. I need to come back for an additional mammogram plus an ultrasound.

Hit by an emotional sledgehammer I spent the 3 day weekend musing over the importance my breasts play in my sexual self. I could have lived quite nicely without having a breast cancer scare, but it has certainly made the point clear that I do inhabit a different world now and it is most certainly real.


My long and troubled relationship with my body began so many years ago

An erotic desire held in the darkest corner of my transgender mind.

Naturally it all began with breasts, the universally visible,

Forbidden objects of fascination, of desire, of infinite envy,

A gateway drug to my sexual self, an aid to fantasy of my feminine body

Each momentary brush against an extraordinarily sensitive nipple

Producing a breath catching shudder, private exploration and secret exultation.

Yet each foray into my trans desires, each caress of a waiting nipple,

Each flutter of arousal demanded full payment in shame,

To keep me from ever doing that again, to prevent the enjoyment of my body.

It didn’t work, the scars I collected are simply receipts willingly paid

In tribute, for each journey into my feminine desire.

When I discovered, somewhat late in life, I could be who I wanted to be

It began the search for the proper parts, a monumental personal scavenger hunt.

I often written of what I lost in transition.

My house, my marriage, my friends, my muscles…

My penis, although admittedly that was more of a recycling project,

What I gained in return, breasts, oh those breasts

When the hormones had begun to fulfill their promise

I began my daily vigil, each day the question, are they there yet?

Each week a surreptitious feel for change.

Then wonder of wonders, yes now I can feel them

Slight mounds at first, then a slightly cupped handful,

Each month more sensation, nipples rising, areolas darkening, widening

Sensitivity growing, shivers of pleasure as they meet the coarse fabric of  a shirt.

Finally, round and firm handfuls straining at shirt buttons.

With the recycled penis transformed to vagina, a vulva and clitoris

The dreams of a lifetime have become reality.

My quest for my own pleasure has finally been fulfilled,

Again and again and again……

A Chance Encounter with Tears

Well first of all, the antidepressant meds finally seem to be doing what they are supposed to do. Although my natural skepticism asks for how long?, With that said I think I’ll just enjoy the smiles that have crept back into my life.

A week ago I participated in Wordfest, a poetry event held annually in Asheville for the last ten years. It was an honor to be asked to share my words with an audience that actually paid to hear poetry, which certainly had a great deal to do with the anxiety I suffered for the weeks leading up to it.

All that faded away as I stood at the microphone to read my poems, the more I do this the easier it becomes and more the emotion that went into their creation comes through. The poems were well received, especially the one called “Closure or What’s in a Name?” a lament about not being accepted by life long friends that begins, My name is Fucking Rachel!

It was after all the poets were finished that the true magic happened, I was approached by two women separately who shared with me their connection with the trans community.

One related that last week would have been a young relatives fifteenth birthday if they hadn’t been overwhelmed by the difficulty of living in this world as trans and taken their own life. Her tears and the hug she gave me touched me very deeply, leaving me to wish there was something I could do or say that would help. The other woman told me of her daughter’s desire to begin transition. She wanted be supportive, to do all the right things but she was afraid that she wasn’t doing it right. We spoke of all the support that is available in the Asheville area and the importance of her simple acceptance. More tears flowed, and she thanked me, again I was touched by her reaching out in support her child.

It was these unexpected interactions that have stuck with me, the realization that sometimes my words strike home in ways that I don’t foresee, expect or even really understand.

I continue to be amazed.



For the Lack of a Corner

Its been quite a while since I’ve posted to my blog, the truth is that it hasn’t been a7094579747_0a4e75a057_b vacation but I’ve been living in exile in a dark cave. Not a real cave mind you, but one of my minds own creation, not sure why it thought that this was a good idea but good or bad doesn’t change the fact that this is the current situation.

Such is the life of someone living with the joy of depression, I turn on my computer, open a new word document then sit and stare at the blank screen. All the things that I had wanted to say suddenly don’t seem to be worth the energy necessary to move my fingers to the keyboard. It seems like I should be able to force my will on my own mind, insist that it cooperate with my desire to be creative, after all it makes me feel better and right now I could use a bit of that. Instead I find myself withdrawing into a shell, What I really want is a corner where I can curl up and pull a blanket over my head.

I wish my apartment had a corner, as it is there are none. Actually, there are a lot of corners, but they’re all filled with shit.  It’s discouraging to have to fall back to hiding under my desk, it doesn’t seem to offer the same sense of security as a good old corner.

So I slog through another day waiting for the emotional bounce that’s sure to come, all the while resisting the call of that dark cubbyhole under the desk.