The dark shadow that hangs over transgender heads: how I almost lost my fight

We live in a society that treats us not even as second, or third class citizens but as freaks of nature not even worthy of legal protections. Right now transgender people are under attack across this country. As one of the most marginalized social groups there are not a lot of people fighting for us right now. That leads many transgender people to walk a dark path in life.

Among the many hurdles we face can be discrimination and hardship in the workplace, difficulties applying for loans, housing and other legal documents, deciding which public restroom to utilize, whether or not we can play on a sports team with others who share our gender instead of forced into competition with those of the opposite sex or gender. While all of those are hard, not to mention the relentless attacks on us from the media, government agencies, public figures, celebrities and more, its no wonder so many of us turn to suicide. It’s a dark topic but many of us face it. In fact I’d venture to say nearly every single transperson deals with suicide either directly through their own contemplations or via someone they know who went through it or contemplated it.

I don’t need to bother citing statistics here, we all know the numbers. It’s bad. We’re more likely to end it when our struggles feel overwhelming.

This is where I was recently I am sad to say. Not to the point I was actually going to try anything but I was absolutely at a low enough point that it didn’t just cross my mind, I started to view it as my only way out.

What got me here?

I don’t wanna air my dirty laundry here. I will say that life has become a bit overwhelming for me in recent months. I went from being a hard-working, respected journalist in my community with a loving, supportive family and a home I owned; to an out-of-work “former” journalist living on a persons couch I had met barely 9 months ago, largely ostracized from said so-called family. Now not everything has been bad but let’s face it every day I have been reminded what I have been through. I am told by my adopted sister how strong I am and how much I have been through. My therapist who calls me a survivor. Even my close friends who reach out to me often pull back once they too become exhausted at trying to help me find some light. It’s getting harder to stay positive. It’s getting harder to keep up the fight.

Did I actually attempt to take my life Saturday? No. But I cam as close to it as I have in years. In fact I was close enough not only did I consider it, I was looking for ways to pull it off. Fortunately my loved ones, and not my blood relatives, reached out and helped talk me through my crisis.

But the damage has been done. I already left a perfectly good, albeit difficult, job. I already disappointed my sister who I have leaned on heavily these past few months. I have already blown out my self esteem not only as I deal with everything weighing me down but also the fact I was so weak, so low, so hurt I was considering it, the fact I got as close as I did, it made it all worse. I started to feel like a failure. A disappointment. A lost cause.

These feelings put me in a downward spiral I will admit I have yet to recover from. I am taking steps to get better. I am working with people close to me to step back from things I can no longer keep up and looking forward to things that I hope will bring me some joy in the near future.

The breaking point was a combination of going three days without taking my medications, everything finally weighing me down too much, I was tired, had a fight with someone I love and respect more than anyone on this planet and I sank. I hit rock bottom. Once I rolled over onto my back after falling flat on my ass metaphorically, I turned to drinking. I went to a dark place because as a transgender person that darkness is always there. That shadow is always looming over my head. The constant barrage of people telling me or others like me I am a freak or worse it gets to me. The shitty things some people in my family have done or said to or about me. It disgusts me. The way my own church turned on me. It’s been too much.

Fortunately I do have people who love me and care about me. That does make me feel somewhat better. But at the end of the day the reality remains, I lost my hope for a moment and came that close to throwing in the towel. The last time I was that close to ending it all was after was expelled from university.

I have no advice. I have no direction. I don’t know what the path to recovery looks like. I am trying to get back on my feet. I am trying to find enough light to shine through the shadow and brighten my days. I am trying to feel less beaten down.

As of the time of this writing I am not back yet. I don’t know how long it will be or what it will take. I know that it’s not gotten worse but it hasn’t improved enough for me to say I am in the clear. I doubt I will take my own life. I have too much to look forward to and I might still have some fight left in me. But I am probably going to slow down some, find ways to take care of myself outside Twitter and Facebook. Right now I am even scaling back my involvement in projects I am involved in, more on that to come.

I have cried so many tears I am damn near dehydrated. The tears won’t stop and that makes my heartache. Knowing people care enough to reach out and offer support helps, but right now even as grateful as I am for all of that, I need to fight this on my own in my own way. I have people I can lean on but I also have to figure things out myself. And the clock is ticking. I don’t know where to turn to find my inner strength right now. I have mustered enough energy to look forward to Pride this weekend and my nephews wedding next weekend. I am hopeful those will recharge my heart and give me some renewed joy. In the meantime please know I am not ignoring people intentionally I just need to take a break.

How I lost my virginity to a broom stick

It’s fucking Pride month and you know what that means? It means there are LGBTQ+ people young and old about to start making themselves visible in ways we don’t do year round. Some of us have the distinct pleasure, if you can call it that, of living our authentic lives. At the same time there are others in the community who don’t have that luxury. Whether you see Pride as a protest, a celebration or a mixture of both, there is one thing we can ALL agree on and it’s about being more visible. That is why this year I am going to commit to writing very deeply personal blogs digging into my own sexuality. My sister Robin will tell you I am kinda repressed in a lot of ways, sexually speaking. So you know this is not easy for me to share. But fuck it, this has to be done, it has to be shared.

When I say I am a virgin that is technically true in the purest sense. Meaning I have never had traditional sexual intercourse with another human being, this includes penetrative and non penetrative forms of genital exposure. But that doesn’t mean I have never experienced an orgasm. Nor does it mean I have never had a sexual experience with another human being.

I won’t share the details but I have had and have given hand jobs. I have given oral sex to a former partner at least once. And yes I have done the nasty all by my lonesome oh so many times. Yes that is all true. I have also had a lot of anal penetration over the years. No, sadly, not with a partner. But that doesn’t completely diminish my experiences.

I won’t divulge the first time I inserted an object into my anus with the intention of seeing how it felt. I will say it was around the same time I started questioning my gender identity so if you know anything about me at all that should give you some clues. I will also not be sharing every, well, thing, I have tried. That is both private and well frankly not something I care to share at this time.

I will describe my first orgasm though, and I will be honest it did not involve my genitals.

I was 12 years old. I hadn’t even discovered my junk could get hard yet let alone learned what comes next. I had already explored my anal cavity with various “toys” and things in an attempt to see what felt good. Spoiler alert it pretty much all did. At 12 years old, before I had my first ejaculatory emission I found myself in a literal closet, in my bedroom door closed, locked, front door to the house locked, radio up, TV on in my bedroom to drown out the noise. I took a screwdriver handle and went to town. It didn’t take long before I found the sweet spot and holy fucking shit that was all it took. I never told anyone this but I basically tried everything from there discovering what I liked, what I didn’t and figuring out what my limits were. That first time was, masturbatory for sure but it was also, well messy so it was short experience.

I spent the next few years, yes years, basically finding anything I could that would fit comfortably in me that I could keep there for a casual reminder I was different than everyone else. I am not going to lie here I kept pencils, pens, markers and other similar items handy just in case. I was always wearing women’s or girls panties so it was just another thing I had to hide.

When I say I “lost my virginity” to a broomstick that is not entirely accurate. The headline is eye catching but it’s not far from the truth. I literally got screwed by a screwdriver on more than one occasion. By the time I was 15 I had already begun the horror that was teenage “male” puberty so I had discovered another form of masturbating that included the use of said genitals. Now by this time I had also done some heavy petting with at least two girls so I was still figuring out what I liked.

It was right after I turned 16. I was staying home from school after I had dropped out. I was running around the house in a swimming suit I “borrowed” and found myself blasting “Work Baby Work” by the Quad City DJ’s. The song certainly turned me on in a weird way no other song had before. I had played with hair brushes, and other similar items plenty of times up to that point, But today was different. This day I took a broom handle into the bathroom, filled the tub with warm water and bubbles, slid things into place and Holy. Fucking. Shit. I know I had an orgasm because I shook violently. I experienced a sensation I had never felt before. After I exhausted myself from the most pleasurable penetration I have ever experienced I grabbed the little guy, finished the deed and drained the tub. I cleaned myself off, put the items I borrowed away, returning the broom to it’s designated place. Then I went to my bedroom and cried. Then prayed. I begged God to forgive me for sinning. I wasn’t sure what I had done that was a sin, I just knew it felt so damn good it had to be a sin. It was only the first, far, far from the last.

I never told anyone this but yes I would make excuses to stay home, alone, as often as I could. Not just to spend as much girl time as I could, ya know as I explored my femininity. But I also couldn’t wait to get under a bed, in a closet or even into a bathtub to try again. I quickly learned I had far more greater sexual experiences when anal was either involved, or the main focus of my explorations.

I write this, now, because Pride Month is all about telling the world people like me exist and our sexual desires might be different from theirs, they are just as valid and just as important to us as theirs are to them. I don’t know if I would enjoy being penetrated by an actual penis attached to a man, but I do know I have at least learned could accommodate one should that situation arise. I also know, from experience, that I can fit an anatomically accurate facsimile too. I share this because I don’t believe I am a pervert or a sinner for having these feelings or enjoying a sexual experience that differs from the hetero norm. I also share this because fuck it, Pride is all about pushing boundaries and what better way to do that then talking about gay sex, even if it’s masturbatory in nature. I say rub, suck, jab or fuck whatever it is that gets you where you need to go. At the end of the day be you. Stay Cool and Happy Pride~

Transphobes beware, why I don’t tuck, deal with it

I have been seeing a lot of debates around the internet among queer people about whether or not kink should be allowed at Pride. The arguments center on Pride being a celebration that should be all inclusive for children thus keeping it “family friendly.” The other side, the pro kink side, argue Pride is not a celebration it is a protest. I have been going over this entire argument in my mind for the past few weeks ever since I learned of it.

I decided I am ready to chime in. I have been battling gender dysphoria for my entire life. I started transitioning one year ago because I couldn’t stomach living a lie any longer. I have always been a non conformist. That was partly how I covered up being trans, I liked to break stereotypes and ignore societal norms wherever I could. But somewhere along the way I found myself blending in to navigate those turbulent waters. That is, until I realized that blending in was killing me and I needed to shift gears before I ran out of energy to hold on.

For me gender dysphoria means I was born in the wrong body. Plain and simple. So the fact I am transgender does mean I lean into feminine stereotypes as a way to stave off that dysphoria. It’s why I wear makeup. To fit in with the other females but also to look pretty. I want to be admired. It’s one of the female traits I admire. But there is a part of me, the feminist woman I am trying to become, that wants to say you don’t have to live up to stereotypes. You can be trans and still wear pants, grow a beard or even forgo HRT. There is no rule book that says this is how you trans.

So when I started thinking about tucking in relation to Pride and my own gender expression and developing sexuality I came to a realization that I don’t do it for one reason. It’s makes me uncomfortable to do so. Yes I would kill to have bottom surgery and get the vagina my brain keeps telling me I need. But as long as I have the thing that shall remain unnamed, I am going to make do.

At first it wasn’t about protest or nonconformity for me. I never tuck. I refuse. It’s not comfortable and it makes me feel weird. I do, sometimes, wear gaff but that’s a different story. As I started listening to the discussions online between older queer people and the younger generation I started to see argument for and against bulge popping up. One trans person said they celebrate girl bulge because it demonstrates strength. Another responded they tuck out of fear of being clocked and the repercussions that go along with it. Another said it’s to stave off their dysphoria. I see all thee of those points as valid.

Here is why I wanted to chime in. Even before I knew who I was into sexually I knew two things about the male sex organ from an early age. I hated having one but I also love them on other people. This was a part of my discovery I tried to burry deep down. I felt if I was attracted to penis, or penile humans, it meant I was gay. Now I already determined I was gay, or a lesbian anyways, when I discovered I am also into vaginas and identify as a female. This put me in a strange place where I felt either way I went would be a betrayal to the real me.

Bulge for me is empowering to those who show it. I do find trans woman who show their bulge sexy, not gonna lie. That’s not why I don’t tuck though, because I want to be perceived as female. But I don’t want to be objectified. I want to be treated like a woman worth treating like a woman because of who I am, not because of my genitals. I mean damn if you’re only nice to the people you think about fucking you’re not a decent human being. That’s actually kinda self serving in fact.

I don’t want to go to the beach with my bulge showing. But I do want to wear a bikini to the beach despite not having the physical shape most women consider bikini bod. For me it is about tapping into my femininity and feminism. I want to push the boundaries of queerness in public. Normalize those who are different so people go to the beach, or Pride, can just be seen as people out having a good time, and nobody will be worried about which ones they can imagine naked while they jerk off when nobody is looking.

For me women, men and children should be free to wear whatever they want in public and not have to worry about who is looking. After all if you can’t see a person in public showing skin because you’re afraid it’ll get you off, that’s your problem not ours. To that end I say bring on the kink. Bring on the guy bulge, assless chaps and whatever else makes queer people comfortable, cishet people uncomfortable and helps normalize queerness in all its manifestations.

The Spiders Lair looks at The Conjuring

Ghost stories, haunted houses and demonic possession are the stuff of nightmare for me. As a horror fan I can tell you the movie that give me the most chills are those involving these topics. Demon possession is probably high on the list.

I have been watching horror movies ever since I was a child. I have recently been on a retro kick where I’ve been exploring the hidden gems from the 70s and 80s that I might have missed out on for one reason or another. I’ve been mostly avoiding the newer stuff for a number of reasons. My main reason is I have been told modern horror isn’t as good as the older stuff. I am not sure I agree with that sentiment.

In the past few years I have come across a handful of horror films that have really impressed me in ways few of the so-called classics have. Sure movies like The Last House on the Left, Hellraiser and Needful Things are among the scariest and thought provoking horror films I have come across. That hasn’t stopped me from discovering movies that I enjoyed as much, if not more than, those fantastic films. Sure I really dug Oculus. It Follows reminded me that teen horror can still captivate me even as I age into their parents demographic. And even something like We Are What We Are comes along and delivers a shocking ending that delivers on the promise of the slow build. And yet despite these modern classics I have been turned off by the barrage of low grade movies shot with a cheap camera or those infamous found footage licks I detest. Along came The Conjuring.

This is a movie that based purely on the trailer I knew if I watched it I would find it frightening. The 80’s have often been regarded as the golden age of horror films, especially the slasher among others. But I am here to tell you right now The Conjuring is the sort of movie that restores my faith in the genre. Now truth be told I am legit afraid of demonic dolls. So the idea of watching Anabelle gives me chills, and no in a good way. Except, that’s what I love about horror. A movie that can keep me interested and scare the bezjeesus out of me is the type of horror film that is going to grab my attention. Despite the terrible sequels The Ring remains one of the few horror movies that can still cause me to tense up when I revisit it. The Conjuring has that in spades.

The first thing I will say about this movie is it really delivered. Now this isn’t exactly a review of the movie itself. Rather this is intended to be a discussion of modern horror and my discovering basically what I have been missing out on. Now that I have seen this first entry you can bet your ass I am going to explore the rest of this universe as much as I can. At least for the time being.

It is rare for a movie to leave me wanting more. This was that movie. Not so much more from the same cast or within the same mythology but more movies in this style with this tone. Sure the Saw movies deliver on the gore and Human Centipede has the shock value but most modern horror movies I have seen, even those that came highly recommended, have been lackluster for the most part. For every fantastic film like Midsommar, you get three more Saw flicks, five found footage films and terrible movies like incredibly boring Would You Rather. It’s movies like that last one that really make me roll me eyes. So many Saw copy cats and not one of them worth a damn. That’s not saying anything about whether or not I even enjoyed Saw, that’s a story for another day. But I have realized most horror movies today come in two flavors. Those trying to out gore the movies from decades past, i.e. Human Centipede, or those trying to appeal to a younger audience that grew up with cell phones such as the annual Paranormal Activity release. I see films like that advertised and I wonder what happened to horror.

I want to take a deeper look at the modern films I have been avoiding. I also want to touch on one aspect of the horror world that has been shining bright lately and that’s TV. With shows like The Walking Dead, Lucifer, Supernatural, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and of course Stranger Things, horror has been enjoying some tremendous success lately.

Let’s take a step back and hone in on The Conjuring for a moment. I promise I will do a legit review in the near future. You can expect it to be a video review on my YouTube channel. In the meantime I will tide you over with a quick reminder that I rather enjoyed this movie quite a bit. In fact I will go so far to say this has easily propelled itself to my top possession films. It might not attain the number one spot quite yet, I have to do some deeper thinking on that first. But it is absolutely going to be a film I revisit frequently.

This takes me to my first impression. A bit ago I dismissed Paranormal Activity. Why? Well frankly it’s low budget, low production values aesthetic. It looks like something I wouldn’t enjoy watching. When I saw trailers for Oculus I knew I would enjoy that movie. While I did, it was not a fraction of how pleasing The Conjuring was. This is a movie I can sum up with a single word, satisfying.

There’s a lot of reasons why I tread lightly when going into demonic movies, ghost stories and haunted house films. I am a Witch. I believe in the power of evil spirits. Thus for me these are the movies that hit closest to home so to speak. Now I won’t even touch the way witches are portrayed as purely evil devil worshipers in this movie. Rather I will sidestep that for now and focus on the rest.

I often find myself thumbing through the endless thumbnails on Netflix looking for anything that catches my eye. Naturally I dive into the horror section first. Normally I flip through, decide I don’t see anything I want to invest my time into and return to good old faithful Shudder where I am nearly always met with something that will deliver the goods. This was one of those rare instances where Netflix just happened to have a legit horror movie that was new and not one I had seen a dozen or more times or something that reads like it was written by an 8th grader discovering horror for the first time. And that’s how most of the so-called horror movies I have discovered on Netflix felt. Like they were made by or for kids who have no appreciation for the art. That is absolutely not the case when it comes to this movie.

By far The Conjuring proves two things to me that I had been questioning. The first was that modern horror that captivates me and terrifies me at the same time does exist. It also cemented the reality that despite the love for indie horror, every once in a while Hollywood knocks it out of the park.

What gives me pause is if I decide this movie was a rush of terrifying brilliance how disappointed will I be when the next film I explored is a dud? Well at the end of the day I enjoyed this movie. It rekindled my love of horror while showing me there can still be good horror movies made in modern times. It also scared the living daylights out of me which is absolutely what I want in a scary movie.

Ghosts of Midlands Past Chapter 2- The Wishing Well

Ghosts of Midlands Past

By Stephanie Bri

Chapter 2 The wishing well

It was getting cold down in the well.  Her feet were getting cold from sloshing in the water. This was not what Jennifer had in mind when she woke up this morning.

“How in the hell did I get myself into this mess?” she asked. As she pulled herself up onto the ridge of the well she felt a sharp pain surge through her leg.

“Aw damn it all. I must have sprained my ankle during the drop.” she said.

It didn’t take long before she realized how unusual it was for a well like this to have ridge around the circumference in the first place. Something felt really odd about the whole thing.

Jennifer began swaying her hands around the knee-deep water looking for her flashlight she dropped on the way down. After a few moments she pulled it out of the water. Fortunately it still turned on.

She shined her light around the well to see what she could identify. She noticed it wasn’t like a typical watering well she had read about. It had a narrow ledge about six inches going around the wall of the well. On the far side she noticed something else that was unusual. She shined her light in that direction to see what appeared to be a crack in the wall. Not the kind made b weather wear, it looked man-made in how straight it was. She hopped down into the water to take the pressure off her ankle.

She slowly made her way around the circular dungeon she found herself trapped in for now. As soon as she reached the other side she ran her fingers along the length of the crack. She traced it around a square about twelve inches square she figured. To her chagrin it was far too small to be a trap door to a hidden passage.

“Oh sure Jen, let your imagination run wild,” she said.

Still, she could tell something felt rely strange. She knew her uncle, who sold the house to her mother for a bargain price, was a very secretive individual. But not nearly as secretive as her deceased father. She wasn’t sure what to expect but figured she would give the brick a push. Suddenly to her surprise brick came loose. She managed to muster¬† enough strength to nudge it loose.

She realized that even though it was obviously cut out of the wall, she lacked the energy to remove it from its resting place. After a few minutes of tugging she wasn’t able to move more than one corner lose from the wall. That, however, was all she needed to shine her flashlight in the cracks to see what she could spot. No, it wasn’t a secret passage way as she had hoped. She could see there was definitely a space carved into the wall behind the brick. She couldn’t quite make out what was in the slit but it looked like there was something there.

Deciding she was best served conserving her energy she curled her legs up onto the ledge as best she could, propped her book bag up on the loose brick to use as a pillow and closed her eyes.

There are secrets you were never meant to unlock.

The voice rang in her ears as she drifted to sleep.

(Jennifer was leaning next to her favorite tree. She knew she was dreaming by the fog that was surrounding her.

“If I’m dreaming I guess it means I’m not dead” she thought.

She looked around. The fog was the thickest she had ever seen. It was like the fog you’d see in ghost movies on TV.

She looked around for familiar clues.

You must be lost, child. This is no place for a young woman like yourself.

Jennifer could hear the voice again. She looked around to see where it was coming from. Slowly she spotted a figure appearing out of the fog. It was a woman with long, curly hair. It was a golden shimmer righter than the sun. The woman was dressed in white robes. She had the most beautiful gray and blue eyes Jennifer had ever seen. They reminded her of her dad. He was blind in one eye. The tint in his dead eye was slightly off compared to his normal one. It used to gross people out.

The woman walked over to Jennifer, her heart racing. Even though she knew it was just a dream she was certain she had no desire to visit with a ghost.

You are not wrong to be afraid child. You do not belong here. Close your eyes and I will return you to the land of the living where you belong. I pray that it will be a very long time before I see you here again, dear child.

Startled awake Jennifer was blinded by a white light. The first thing she noticed was she felt warm, dry and that felt wrong.nThen as her eyes began to adjust she realized she was in a hospital bed.

Unsure of how she got out of the well she sat up startled.

“Wow there, it’s okay Jen, momma’s here,” her mother said. “You’re safe now sweetie.”

Jennifer’s mother leaned in and engulfed the teenager in the smuggest hug she had ever been embraced within.

“Where am I?” she asked.

“You are in the hospital. We found you unconscious by that old well out back,” her mother said.

“How long was I asleep?” Jennifer sked.

“Three days darling. I was beginning to worry. But I stayed right here by your side every day waiting for you to wake up. I just knew you’d wake up,” she said.

Jennifer was too tired to hold herself up any longer. She plopped back down onto her pillow and let her arms drop to her sides.

How did I get out of the well?

“Wait, you said I was lying next to the well right?” Jennifer asked.

“Yes dear, we found you on the ground.” her mother said. “What were you even doing out so late?”

Jennifer wasn’t sure what to say. It didn’t sound like her mom knew she had been inside the bottom of the well. She didn’t know if she was quite ready to break that news to her as she still had questions on how she go out of the well.

“Hey, there she is, our little comma patient,” a voice she was all to familiar with said.

“How ya doing squirt, is my baby sis smothering you for taking a three-day nap?” uncle Trent said. “You’re mom here insisted on sleeping here at the hospital in that uncomfortable chair. When I told her she had nothing to worry about our Jennifer was a tough gal.”

“Oh stop it Trent, she’s been through a lot,” mom said.

“Right sis, as if twisting her ankle, falling and hitting her head on that stone well wasn’t enough to worry about, she’s got you coddling her like a child. It’s high time you cut the damn cord,” Trent said.

Jennifer didn’t want to get in the middle of another argument between her mom and her uncle.

“Guys, please I am still very sore and I have this headache the size of New Mexico,” Jennifer said.

“Well shit girl, just trying to get my grown ass sister to stop babying her own child who is damn near an adult from what I can tell.” Trent said. “To hell with this! You to bitches can just cry and hug all day, I’ve got work to do.” he said as he threw his arms up and stormed out.

Brenda placed her hand on Jennifer’s shoulder and said. “Don’t mind him, he was as worried about you as the rest of us, he just likes to act tough. Somehow thinks it will hurt his manhood if he shows any emotions. Never mind him, how is your ankle feeling?” mom asked.

Jennifer had forgotten about her ankle until her uncle brought it up. She squinted as she loosened up her muscles trying to take stock of what all did hurt. She certainly felt a bump on her heard that wasn’t there before. Was that why she couldn’t remember how she got out of the well?

“Mom, how wet was I went you found me? How long was I in that old well?” Jennifer asked.

“Oh silly Jen, we found you lying next to the well, you were never inside it. How would you even get down there? It’s been dried up for decades,” mom said.

“Mom I was down at the bottom of the well for at least a few hours. I slid down the old rope that was tied to the beam,” Jennifer said. “The water broke my fall when the rope snapped and I couldn’t get back up. The last thing I remember is trying to get above the water so I could fall asleep. I must have been drenched when you found me.” Jennifer said.

“Jennifer you must have dreamt the whole thing. There is no rope. There is no water. That well’s been dry for nearly forty years. Besides think about it. What on earth would possess you to climb into that broken old thing any way. Honestly. Sometimes your imagination is too damn much.” mom said.

Jennifer thought about what her mom was saying. Was it possible she dreamt the whole thing? If so did she actually pass out before climbing into the well?

Wait! The key she thought.

“Mother, where s my bag the things I had on me” Jennifer asked excitedly.

“Right here dear.” her mom said as she handed the bag to the distraught teen.

She frantically rummaged through her belongings. Everything was there. Every tool or item she packed was exactly where she left it. Except the key. It was gone.

“Where’s the key! I had a key it was right here in this pouch,” she said as she flipped the pocket inside out to demonstrate.

“I have no clue what you are talking about Jen,” mom said.

Jennifer was not about to let her mother talk to her like this.

“I know what I saw mother. I distinctly remember climbing down into the old well to fetch a key I saw when I shined my flashlight down there. When the rope snapped I couldn’t get back up so I slid the rest of the way down and slept the night. I know that part wasn’t a dream because…” she stopped and let her voice trail as she noticed the concerned look in her mother’s eyes.

“Because what darling?” her mother said. It was clear by the tone in her voice she was going from relieved Jen was alive to concerned for her mental state.

“Nothing mom. I guess I must have imagined it or something when I hit my head, like you said.” she said.

“Listen the doctor is going to be in here soon to ask you questions. I would strongly advise you not to tell him about your delusion of climbing down into an empty well.”

Jennifer agreed it was best not to make herself sound crazy while she was in a hospital bed. Still she knew what had happened that night. What was a mystery was how on earth did she get out of the well.

Learning how to science on the job

I started a new job recently working in a medical lab. Of all the dozens of jobs I have had over the years this is by far the most interesting one. I have done a lot of interesting stuff too from working at a waste water treatment plant to being a journalist for multiple news outlets. I am currently loving my job for one big reason, the science.

There is always a learning curve when it comes to jobs. Even though I ended up dropping out of college too, the fact I never completed my formal education is not based on a disdain for learning or a distrust in the world of academia. It was personal issues that got in the way. But I loved going to school. For the last several years I have had jobs that in so many ways feel like being in school. As a news reporter it’s like being a life-long student of the community around you. You spend our days asking questions, listening to lecture, taking notes and then writing it all down in a report for others to read. Also you sit at a desk most of the time. I love that aspect of being a reporter.

Due to the ongoing, seemingly endless in ways, pandemic I have had to change careers rather suddenly. Yet I can’t blame the coronavirus too much because in a way it opened a door for me to an exciting new chapter in my life. One where I can, should I so choose, go down the path of becoming a scientist of sorts. And I am loving every minute of it.

To be fair I don’t actually work directly in the science part of the lab. I work in receiving department. But I handle samples, wear a lab coat and gloves and take those samples I log to their respective lab for processing. More than that though I am working with scientists. Really cool, really intelligent and very open minded individuals. It’s a rather nice change of pace. I love writing and my fellow writers to death, but science if fun y’all.

What I enjoy the most is the learning processes. Sure there is the part where a lot of what we do is integral to the health and well being of people as we are a cog in the healthcare machine. The majority of tests we perform are either for COVID-19 or urine wellness looking for diseases. In fact the lab where I work basically tests for infectious diseases almost exclusively. The handling of samples, taking them out of their bags, placing the tubes or vials onto a sample rack, putting a label on them and transferring them to the lab with the cool looking science equipment is fun too. The really cool part about it all is how much I am learning. Since I started hear I have begun to learn about the different diseases and the tests we perform to find them. I must admit I am quite overwhelmed but very enthusiastic at the prospects. I am even negotiating with management to let them teach me how to do more than just data entry. I want to learn as much as I can. I’d love to pick the brains of the scientists I work with and better understand the work we do, the processes but also the biology behind it all.

I have always been fascinated by science and learning. When I was in 1st grade I expressed a desire to grow up and become a scientist. I went from paleontologist to astronomy to even chemist at one point in time. While in college I even tried to consider a degree in computer science. There is one thing that has always held me back however, my lack of a solid mathematics education. In grade school they let you fail at least 2 classes before holding you back. I chose to fail P.E. and Math because those two classes were such a struggle for me. P.E. because I wore women’s panties under my “boy” clothes before I came out trans, and math because, well it’s just hard for me. I still love learning though and I have always been interesting in pushing myself beyond my own boundaries.

One thing this job has done in addition to reigniting my passion for learning it’s motivating me to think long and hard about the road ahead. I took this job through a staffing agency. I am currently employed as a temp. I was hired to do data entry based on my years of organizing data working as a news reporter. Also I am quite proficient in typing so that was an added plus.

I have to admit the first month I was a fish out of water. I struggled daily not to go to work, I was motivated by quite honestly how much fun it is. But the work itself. There is a lot to learn working in a medical facility. I had to receive a crash course in OSHA and HIPPA. Yeah that was scary at first. But as long as you follow the procedures theoretically you won’t be in violation of those laws so I got that down.

After about a month something clicked inside. I have more or less been assigned to the COVID-19 station. What that means is when swabs come in containing patient material needing to be tested I organize those tests. I receive the bags, I open them place the tube on a rack, log it into the computer, print a manifest and take it to a lab for testing. Since we’re in the middle of a pandemic I chalked it up to doing my civic duty to help fight the deadly disease that is disrupting our daily lives. Then I got a STAT sample in for a 2-year-old baby. STAT is a word I am sure you have heard on TV shows like Grays Anatomy. It means move faster. You basically have to prioritize a STAT case and get it to the lab as fast as absolutely possible. The difference in a STAT case is rather than take a full rack of samples to the holding fridge, log them into the sheet and get back to the receiving lab, you take it directly to the scientist and hand it to them for testing immediately. Since it was a young child I felt the urgency of doing my part helping this child fight for his life. It was thrilling to say the least. It was in that moment I realize God had given me an opportunity I couldn’t refuse. I am now considering how to get the most of this place. I am considering what I can learn from them.

Right now I am contemplating going back to school. I am thinking about changing careers to something that would allow me to continue to working in a lab while moving into something more exciting than data entry. Don’t get me wrong I love what I do now it’s peaceful most of the time but interesting enough it doesn’t get boring. That’s a key trait in a job I seek, not being bored.

I haven’t given it too much thought which field I would consider. I work with scientists who have varied backgrounds and each one has so much they can teach me. I am considering eventually going back to school and seeking a degree, hopefully one I can finish this time. I am not yet sure where I will go or how I will go about it but I have enough undergraduate credits beneath me I should be able to jump in and hit the ground running. In the coming weeks, days even months I will be seriously considering what those prospects might be and trying to create a plan that will get me back on that path. I know the road ahead is an exciting one and the idea of working in a science lab never would have crossed my mind with my background. As a writer I am skilled at learning. It’s time I take that to the next level and see if I can use it to launch a new career.

Discovering new interests as a trans woman

Before I decide to tell the world I was a transgender woman I was afraid of being labeled. But even more than that I was really afraid that once I became trans, that is all I would be to people. I wouldn’t be that person they went to high school with who became a journalist. I wouldn’t be a former underground hip hop producer. I would cease to be a gamer or toy collector. All of who I am would be erased by one word, trans.

I have to admit my values have changed since coming out. Partially as I start seeing how the world is not designed to accommodate trans people to the way our very existence is used to further the political agendas of both mainstream political parties.

During this time of discovery I have had time to reflect. As such I am learning things about myself I never expected. I want to talk a little about how my interests are starting to reflect my new values. Some of this will reinforce the stereotype of a bitter, angry man-hating lesbian. No matter where I go the more I learn about myself the more likely I will someday achieve my goal of becoming a whole person.

There have been quite a few surprises along the way. For example I am discovering I am more in tune to nature than I previously believed. I have always been fascinated by technology and human scientific progress. Yet now I am finding myself strangely drawn to flowers, plants, trees, birds, animals and even insects, in ways I never was before. This wasn’t too far off from my previous interest in gardening or even my interest in environmental issues. It wasn’t a surprise that my growing spirituality would lead me down a path back towards the magic I longed to practice in my youth. In many ways I have held onto the magical innocence of childhood as much as I can.

One area my changing values did take me by surprise was in the realm of insects. Again, when I was a kid I actually loved playing with bugs and yes that even included spiders. You see my so-called arachnophobia started out as a cover. It was a thing I pretended to have because it gave me something I could cling to. I was desperate to be noticed so screaming at the sight of a spider seamed like a way to get attention and for certain people to chastise me into “growing up” or whatever version of that phrase they used. As time went on I began to read more science fiction and horror books that often featured spiders as monsters. Recently I discovered I am starting to get to a point where I am no longer afraid of bugs but returning to my child like state of fascination with them. More likely it is I am gaining an appreciation for all forms of life as I age. But it has led me to a deeper spiritual existence.

Another thing that took me by surprise was my desire to own a lava lamp and burn candles. The candles I figured had some connection to our days camping in the woods but I always hated lava lamps. During a recent discussion with a friend of mine my newfound interest in these blurted out rather unexpectedly. At first I chalked it up to my quirky habit of being annoying on purpose. It’s a gift I have. But once I was inside the Target store shopping for candles and other witch supplies I spotted a lava lamp I couldn’t live without. I decided this was something I no longer despised but now admired.

Along the way I knew I would put old passions away. I never expected to lose interest in Nintendo but here I sit not even giving them much thought. Before I quite often obsessed over what they were doing, or had done in the past. Not anymore. I find myself more interested in exploring the world of Playstation or getting into tabletop gaming. I am currently knee deep in X-Wing at the moment but I am certainly eyeballing Warhammer. I even picked up some D&D miniatures during my most recent venture into the local comic book store.

The point is as I continue to transition into a woman I am absolutely discovering things about myself I never expected. Some of the things are pleasant surprises. Others are difficult to fathom but welcome curiosities nonetheless. I haven’t quite gotten to the point of going full vegan but I can see myself being more open to that than ever before. In a lot of ways I feel like trying everything new even things I previously decided I wasn’t into. This rediscovery is the best part of transitioning. I welcome whatever new thing I learn next.

What it means to walk in darkness

The word darkness means something different to different people. To a Christian it refers to being in the dark in regards to ones sin. To a scientist it means the absence of light. To a horror fan it means a particularly horrifying film.

We all know what the dark is. We all know what it means to be afraid of the dark. It is often a metaphor of fearing the unknown. I am one who tells people I talk in darkness. This can often confuse people. Let me explain.

To me it refers to a few things. For starters I am not clairvoyant so I am in the dark on what the future holds. I believe most of us would say this to be true. I don’t try to have an optimistic or pessimistic view on things. My default is wait and see. My preferred method is hope for the best but expect the worst. That way you are never disappointed no matter the out come.

I also tell people I walk in darkness because I despise the light. Of course this mostly refers to society. It means I do not conform to the societal pressures. I dismiss, often to the point of aggression, being shoved into a box imposed upon me by others. I try to define myself. Chaos is a good word. Darkness is a better one for this illustration. For me it is about going out after society has gone to bed. This gives me the chance to shun those pressures and live my life free from those shackles. I have learned to bring that darkness with me. It means I put on an invisible shudder that keeps the light out, allowing me to walk among the zombies without becoming one of them.

It also refers to my mood. Death is a natural part of life. Some use the phrase “that’s morbid” but our sense of morbid derives from our sense of mortality. You can’t escape death, might as well embrace it. This is why I favor horror movies where death is the center piece. In many respects Death itself is a character just off camera directing the rest of the cast towards their inevitable end. In so many ways surrounding myself with death allows me to process it.

During my time as a journalist I discovered we were nothing more than merchants of death. We bought and sold other people’s misery like a commodity. We invested in death. We spread it around like a plague so we could profit off of it. We dress it up as informing the community when in reality we get excited when there is “breaking news” to report. The more tragic the news, the higher the ratings you see. This is not why I left professional journalism. I will get to that someday, soon. But my intimacy with death is why I was able to handle it so well.

Death gives us a purpose. It gives life a meaning. Without it the world would be beyond chaotic, it would be an utter disaster beyond human imagination. We need death to keep us grounded. It pushes us to do better. We invest in medicine to push back death. We invent technology to protect us from the dangers around us. We advance firearms and “self defense” in the name of protecting our loved ones when really all we are doing is glorifying death and normalizing our own participation in its culture.

I walk in darkness means to me I shun the rules imposed on me. It means I do not fear change. It means I welcome death and embrace all its clarifying wisdom. I have a light that shines internally. I keep it inside me. I share it with those I trust. The rest of the world I tune out. They are in the shadows in my mind, invisible to my existence. That is what I mean when I say I walk in darkness.