So who am I and why do I have a blog?

The fifth anniversary of my little gender epiphany. At home, in the house where I grew up, January 9, 2013.

The fifth anniversary of my little gender epiphany. At home, in the house where I grew up, January 9, 2013.

Who am I? Well, as another guy born as Francis might have said, I’ve been a journalist, a DJ, a man, a woman, a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn and a king and a lot of other things. Or something to that effect. But that’s life …

In short: just another girl with a little something extra trying to get by and stand out and make something of herself among the 7 billion on this wretched and overcrowded planet …

I’m Fran Fried — pronounced freed, spelled fryed, pronounced the latter by telemarketers and Californians. But I’m not living in California anymore — in August 2012, after eight years in exile, in search of a steady job and the possibility of love, and also because I really needed to come back while my parents are still alive, I moved from Fresno, the cowtown of a half-million where I lived for eight years, across the country to Connecticut, where I lived most of my life. At least temporarily, I’m living in the house where I grew up, in the little hick town where, despite being the smartest kid in class, I was “faggot” and variations thereof.

My age is Shut the Fuck Up – at least that’s what a lot of people tell me when they learn I’m 52, since I often get pegged for 35 to 40. Usually I feel about 28 spiritually; rock’n’roll is the ultimate youth serum, after all. And I’m at the tail end of the wildest, weirdest, most turbulent and soul-searching time of my life. Talk about going through adolescence and mid-life crisis at the same time … emphasis on crisis … One day, if I live through this, I swear it’ll be my book. In fact, it’s part of why I started this here blog in February 2010 – to capture some of my experiences and firm up my writing for when I do get to the book.

You see, I’ve been navigating two major and unplanned life changes at once over the past five years. One of the two alone would be enough to stop a horse. Even though, as a hardcore Gemini, I feel fully equipped to live dualities, this has been a hell of a lot to chew off. And I can’t believe I’m still alive to talk about it.

On March 11, 2009, I was laid off as an assistant features editor and night sports editor at The Fresno Bee, along with about 40 percent of McClatchy employees across the country. It was the job for which I moved cross-country in March 2004 after 20 years as a journalist (sports, music and entertainment) at two papers in Connecticut. That started a seemingly neverending odyssey through the thick of the Recession That’s Really Been a Depression. I was brought back by the Bee in September 2011 as an on-call copy editor,  but when my hours disappeared for good in late July 2012, I kickstarted enough money to be able to rent a truck and head home. (See the Going Home section of my blog for the whole harrowing story.)

It’s been an odyssey of frustration and self-doubt and high anxiety and sometimes the blackest of thoughts, and questions about self-worth and faith, both in a higher power and self. I’ve experienced the pain of uselessness and worthlessness; the mistreatment by people who either interviewed me or said they would and jerked me around; and the desperation that comes with having the unemployment run out.

And the stress of the joblessness and semi-joblessness was a Twin Tower of Stress to go along with the other wild trip I’ve been going through.

In January 2008, I began transitioning genders.

Simply, the plumbing says boy; the wiring has always said girl. I’ve always felt more comfortable with and around the girls (though I’ve always been attracted to them, too, and still am). After a lifetime of suppression — and decades of depression, low self-esteem and occasional suicidal thoughts (I’ve had many, but never acted upon them) – my epiphany came one night in January 2008. After nearly a year of baby steps, I let the girl loose that Christmastime to rave reviews in Fresno’s Tower District, the only cool section of a right-wing city.

The layoff helped hasten my transition, as I had to figure out whether I was interviewing for my next job as Fran or as Fran. In September 2009,  I finally slayed my biggest dragon: I came out to my immediate family, then had the talk with most of the rest of my friends back home on three subsequent visits between November ’09 and February ’10. As of November 2010, after 14 months of weirdness and hell, my family was on board with me. My elderly, devoutly Roman Catholic parents are totally fine with me now, actually – a big star to them for that.

I also began therapy in September ’09 as a prelude to starting hormone replacement therapy, which I started in late April 2010 — which, to my surprise and great delight, cleared up 35 years of chronic depression, going back to puberty.

On Sept. 16, 2010, my name was legally changed to Fran; five days later, I went to the DMV for the new name, photo and gender on my license – I was legally recognized as female by the state of California. And now Connecticut does, too.

These days, I pass very well; you wouldn’t know unless you knew. And along the way, the support I’ve gotten from most people, friends, kin and strangers alike, has been far more than I ever could have hoped for; I must’ve racked up a supertanker full of karma points. I drank the Facebook Kool-Aid in January 2011, and my circle of friends on both sides of the country exploded. (Conversely, I’ve discovered that there is no such thing as a transgender “community”; I’ve been treated much, much better by the everyday, non-trans world.)

But my job (or lack thereof) and my gender (or double thereof) in no way define all of me. I’ve lived a cool and interesting life; that’s for damn sure. Not quite Zelig-like, but I’ve met and talked with enough famous people that you’d accuse me of being a shameless name-dropper.

Music has always been my big passion. I was a music writer for 20 years and since January 1991, I’ve hosted radio shows at WPKN, a 10,000-watt nonprofit community station at 89.5 FM (wpkn.org) in Bridgeport. And on my 20th anniversary on the air, Jan. 4, 2011, I had my coming-out to my radio listeners.

Favorite musical performers (aside from Brian Wilson, on a planet unto himself): The Fleshtones, Greenpoint’s masters of super rock, the uncrowned kings of pop and soul, since 1976. Other faves: the monks (the great lost American band), The Reducers (rocking New London 1978-2012), garage from the ’60s and beyond, The Beatles (pre-1967), Northern soul, NRBQ, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Marvin Gaye, Black 47, The Shangri-Las, The Phil Spector girls (Ronettes, Crystals, Darlene Love), The Sonics, Bobby Fuller, The Kinks and a whole library of other sounds. Newer acts I like a lot: Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, She & Him, Jenny Dee & the Deelinquents, Neko Case, The New Pornographers, Sara Borges & the Broken Singles, The Suzan and The Blind Shake.

Favorite albums: Pet Sounds and (finally!) SMiLE by The Beach Boys, Black Monk Time by the monks, Marshall Crenshaw’s self-titled first album, the first four Ramones albums, the first three Elvis Costello albums, NRBQ at Yankee Stadium, the first three Reducers albums (The Reducers, Let’s Go and Cruise to Nowhere), The Clash’s London Calling, Bruce Springsteen’s The River (and the killer outtakes that ended up on the “Tracks” box set), Skylarking by XTC.

But there are a lot of other cool things in my life. Like having both my favorite teams win Super Bowls the past six seasons. I’ve been a Giants fan since childhood and a Saints fan since my first visit to New Orleans in 1986.

Like Hot Wheels. I may have a girl’s fashion sense, but I’ve always been a sucker for cars. The Mongoose-Snake Drag Race Set was my all-time favorite Christmas toy, when I was 9, and I’ve been started collecting cars in 1995. I have a monster collection by average standards, small in comparison to some of the real hardcores.

Like pinball. (All time-faves include Gottlieb’s Hearts and Spades and Pro Football, The Addams Family, Terminator 2, Elvis and Family Guy.) Or movies. (All-time fave: Citizen Kane.) Or the Yankees.

Like real cars. (Personal wish-for: a ’65 Impala SS convertible, 327, Turbo 400 tranny, Artesian Turquoise/sea foam green with white interior, killer sound system and mad white/silver paisley trim.) Or paisley. Or purple. Or sushi. Or shoes. Or history and current events. Or shoes. Or shoes, my first visual cue as a child that I was a little different …

And Jeopardy! Been wanting to be on the show since it began in 1964. (Yes, that long.) I’ve made it to the contestant pool three times, trying out as Frannie 2.0 for the first time in November 2010. One of my life’s goals is to be a five-time champ — the old-school mark of excellence. I make a mean pub quiz teammate on either side of the country, but Jeopardy! will always be the platinum standard. And I guess being the first transgender contestant on the show would be pretty cool, too, but not nearly as cool as winning a bundle.

So anyway, this blog is about a little of this, a little of that, and a lot of passion. It might help you understand the whole gender transition thang and what I’m going through. It has also gotten me back to writing about music from time to time. And it keeps my writing chops up, gives me a little bit of structure … and the blogging, along with the bike riding, has been great therapy. And maybe this becomes the foundation of a book at some point.

And now, it seems, I have the logical ending for the book. The last Monday of July 2013, I headed down to midtown Manhattan, to the New York offices of Microsoft, to begin a part-time contract job as a copy editor for MSN. I felt like Mary Tyler Moore without the beret. It feels like the end of my hell and the start of something much better.

So strap in — here goes nothing …

LAWYER-TYPE DISCLAIMERS:

1) Especially since I’m back in the work world again: All the opinions in the blog are mine, and are not necessarily the beliefs of any employer past, present or future.

2) All blog entries are original — written and copyrighted by me and not plagiarized in any way, shape or form. In the spirit of the journalist I once was and perhaps am again, any passages I take from elsewhere, such as quotes or pieces of a news story, will be accompanied by an attribution at the very least, as well a link to the original source occasionally.

If you see someone lifting any of my material without attribution, please let me know. Hell hath no fury like a woman plagiarized …

32 Responses to “So who am I and why do I have a blog?”

  1. Ken Robison Says:

    Franman, great to hear from you. This is great stuff — honest, funny, passionate. You’ve hooked me.

  2. Leeah Joo Says:

    Hey Fran, love the blog. I just read and enjoyed the movie review. I haven’t seen it cause I thought it may be too sappy…but now I may just have to see it. And I do love the Dude. keep me posted!

  3. Jane Says:

    Leeah, Do see the movie. If you are a fan of Jeff Bridges, you will be so happy. I had no idea he could sing but have since been told music has been another of his lifelong passions. It shows. He is phenomenal as a musical performer.

    And every detail pleases, I mean every. Even the width of his guitar strap, the way he wears his guitar and how he manages to be sexy on stage even with that paunch, except of course, when he is puking!

    The music was great and without it the film couldn’t have been good. It was as necessary as Bridges was.

  4. Tweets that mention So who am I and why do I have a blog site? « Franorama World -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Brenda Carrasco. Brenda Carrasco said: meet my housemate @franoramaworld! she is bloody brilliant. u should follow her. here's her story: http://bit.ly/bjXHQ3 #fb [...]

  5. Amanda Champ Says:

    Hey Fran. Good to see you tonight! I found your blog. Neat to be about to know more about you. I’ll be reading!

  6. Rob DeRosa Says:

    way to go Fran- I’m a follower now-

  7. Michelle Tuccitto Sullo Says:

    Hey Fran! Just discovered your blog this weekend and started following it! I miss you! Check out my blog at ghostsanovel.blogspot.com.

  8. AlyCat Bowman Says:

    FRANTIC … you look great! Just found your blog. Hope all is well!
    -Antic

  9. Craig Says:

    Fran,
    I was just reading BeatPatrol and I ran across the Fleshtones review and saw your name. I wondered if this was the same Fran i had run into a couple times at gigs at Tokyo Gardens where we had some long conversations about the Fleshtones and Cynics. (It’s not often you run into a fellow garage afficionado(sic). I followed your name to your blog and it is you and ……..Like Wow Wipeout! as the Hoodoo Gurus say. Blown away to say the least…..there is so much change and transistion going on in your life its amazing you can hold it together. What I know about living as a transgendered person or the why’s or how comes is nil. In fact most of my knowledge comes from reading your blog for the last hour. I wish you peace and contentment. You write and articulate yourself and unique humor so well it is amazing you are still searching for a position. I always envy people who have the ability to communicate with the written word. Feel free to email me if you need someone to talk with for job hunting ideas. Take care

    Craig S.

  10. kate sylvester palmieri Says:

    You are looking great. Its good to read your writing again. We hope to see you the next time you are in town. We always half way expect to see you anytime we go to a show in NH. The kids asked about you the other day.

    All our best,

    Kate, Bill, McKinley & Barrett

  11. Ann DeMatteo Says:

    Fran!!!!
    Your photo is BEAUTIFUL!!! Glad you’re losing weight. I’ve been steadily gaining…
    a

  12. Colleen Says:

    Dear Fran,

    Ah, yes, HRT. My doc suggested it to ease the side affects of menopause. Bowhody did that suck (horrible periods returned) so now I take hippie remedies including yam (yes, yam) facial cream. It has progesterone properties so I don’t recommend it for you (also, its scent is not at all pleasant as you can imagine).

    But I do suggest a website written by a gal who posts low-fat recipes designed to fit into the Weight Watchers plan. I’ve lost 65 pounds thanks to her site. Not sure if you like to cook, but if you do, try her recipes:

    http://www.skinnytaste.com/

    You might also enjoy my friend’s sports blog. Jody’s a great dame:

    http://ballsandwhistles.blogspot.com/

    You look positively divoon and I’m so glad Drew sent me your blog. I look forward to reading about your journey.

    Warmest regards,
    CVT

  13. Bill Mozer Says:

    Hey Fran,
    How come you didn’t mention your days at WCWP?
    It’s only beeen a thousand years!
    Nancy Basile forwarded you blog.
    Are you on FaceBook?
    Drop me a note
    Bill

  14. Merrell Feuer Angstreich Says:

    Fran,

    Like Bill, I just got wind of your blog. First of all, don’t let anyone ever tell you that you’re NOT one of the smartest kids in the room…you are. Second, good for you for doing the right thing for yourself. Be who you are supposed to be — life’s too short.

    I wish you all the best, and will definitely be following your blog.

    -Merrell

  15. Maureen Says:

    True we haven’t spoken in forever Fran… but I have to say after reading your blog it sounds like the same person who was in Nassau Hall. You just have new and improved packaging… If products can do it people should too.

    I’m glad you’re happy

    Maureen

  16. Jeannie Moon Says:

    Hi Fran,

    Another WCWP friend coming out of the woodwork. I love your blog and I look forward to following your journey. Be happy, you deserve nothing less.

    Jeannie

  17. Nancy Basile Says:

    It is I, the long lost Nancy D. Yes, Fran, I have been watching you for a while but the kids hog up all my free time. I promise to write you soon. I have to admit this took me by surprise but I am just LOVING all your cultural references in your writings. Be happy! Be healthy! Be employed very soon! Smooches from Florida, Nancy

  18. MaXi V Says:

    Fran, I’ll never forget when I tried to seduce you in my car when we first met. You are still my beautiful Fran. I will always adore you! New Haven Pal
    xoxo

  19. Lynn Fredricksen Says:

    Fran, You’re looking and sounding great! I’m so sorry we didn’t have a chance to get together when you were here. Let’s make it a priority on your next visit. I’m not seeing any opportunities to get to Fresno any time soon. : (
    I’m also very happy for you that you’re writing as much as you are. Your blog is terrific! I remember one very lonely Sunday afternoon shift when we got talking in the newsroom and you said, “Gee, if we didn’t have these jobs where we’re writing all the time we might be able to get some writing done.” Amen to that.
    Be well, my friend,
    Lynn

  20. Eileen Ziontz Says:

    Fran – I never talked to you long enough when you were in town. Never even saw you long enough to talk. Paul told me to read your blog – I just finally got on facebook just for exposure for our store(Larry Loud and I got married and we have an online boutique). Anyway – I thought you looked really demure and beautiful in your facebook photo but assumed you were dressed up for a halloween party. Now I know why you looked so pretty! I am very,very happy for you and am so impressed that you did the right thing and followed your heart! Too many people don’t and it just leads to awful things! That is super cool and real – I am into the truth and really respect people who live in it. So I just wanted to say hi and tell you that you look gorgeous and finally happy, and that I wish you all the best things!

  21. Eileen Ziontz Says:

    Oh and by the way – dig those five song posts – especially The Creeps!

  22. Keith Hyatte Says:

    Fran,
    I have been poking through your blog for the last two weeks.
    Today I am inspired to reach out from our little spot in Branford.
    I am proud to know you, and hope you know that John and I celebrate your rebirth.
    Your talent and survival skills will prevail as your stars and planets align.
    I am wild about your photos and enchanted with your blond hairstyle!
    As I gaze upon the new you, I see the sweetness and compassion of Ms. Doris Day,
    the irresistible spontaneity and sparkle of Ms. Carol Channing,
    the sublime fresh faced sex appeal of Ms. Blossom Dearie,
    and the survival skills and resolve of Ms.Rosemary Clooney.
    I never imagined Ms. Fran Fried was waiting in the wings for her cue and entrance.
    You are reborn.
    Relish your journey and relax in the knowledge that you are the star in your new life.
    With sincere affection and best wishes for a long, healthy, enjoyable run.
    xox
    Keith

  23. Walter Says:

    Hmmmm….
    as a great American composer once wrote:
    “Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something.
    Frank Zappa

    he also wrote, and maybe a bit more appropriate
    “You didn’t try to call me, why didn’t ya try, didn’t ya try?”

  24. Cheryl Stanfield Says:

    hi fran – we’ve never met but your name keeps popping up here and there in my life – i’m in fresno and i used to gig around the tower so that’s undoubtedly the connection. honestly, i’m not sure why i’m feeling compelled to do this but i’m reaching out to simply tell you that your story is inspiring and i’m enjoying reading your blog posts. bravissima!

  25. Howie Pyro Says:

    Just wound up here & had a really great read…much respect for your life decisions, strength & self worth. Nothing is more mind blowing, powerful, brave & downright sci-fi as changing your gender (especially to the world). Most people don’t have anything that brings (what I imagine to be) the freeing feeling, the reward of having such a soul crushing secret & letting go of it & stepping into new shoes, literally & on so many levels & getting to reinvent & start new…so rock and fuckin’ roll!!! Again much respect! Rock on…Howie Pyro.

    • franoramaworld Says:

      Howie! Hey! Thanks so much for the kind words and the support. When I was transitioning, one of my biggest concerns was how some of my rock’n’roll pals (in NYC and New Haven) would react. After all, there was a lot of tittering and twittering 10 years before when word got around that someone else we had known in New Haven in the ’80s and ’90s (a record store owner and psychedelic guitarist) transitioned. So that was a level of apprehension. But all’s well. And now I’ve gotten to the point, thanks to the support of my friends, when I can say “Fuck ‘em if they can’t take a joke!” :) Anyway, keep rocking, my friend!

  26. Lana Rose Says:

    An Interesting life! I wish you well!

  27. Mickie Page Dorado Says:

    I guess you never know who how others view you. I was 3 years behind you in Prospect schools and at Holy Cross. This blog is so interesting. You sound happy. Just for the record I always saw you as tall, blonde, crazy smart and way too cool to associate with. I have this memory of you in a HC Varsity Jacket with the 79 on it. It’s been along time, and accurate or not, that’s the first thing that pops into my mind when I see your name. Happy life Fran!
    Mickie

    • franoramaworld Says:

      Wow, Mickie! Thanks for the kindness! My day ends the way it started — with someone from Prospect childhood introducing themselves to me.

      Happened when I went to sign up for a gym this morning — as I was signing up, I heard a guy say “Fran.” I didn’t recognize him at first. I was floored when he told me his name — he was someone who didn’t particularly like me much back then; I hadn’t seen him since we worked together at the Reidville Drive Mickey D’s in high school. Handshake and a hug. He recognized me from my posts on Facebook. He came up to me. That said volumes. I never wanted to come home, never would have expected it, certainly not to the town that held so many bad memories for me as a kid (I’m staying with my parents for now until I can finally get a job). But people surprise me sometimes, and in this case pleasantly. The place where I was “you faggot” then seems to be just fine with me as trans now.

      And y’know, in 20/20 hindsight, I wish you did say something to me then. You might have been the only person who thought I was cool back then … :) But blonde and crazy and smart, — yeah, guilty.

      And thanks so much again! :)

      • Mickie Page Dorado Says:

        Yeah, I wouldn’t have dared. Hey, freshman just don’t talk to seniors. LOL Reidville Drive…wow that’s memories. I hit both sides of 84 working at The Farm Shop and Friendly’s. Your telemarketer comment strikes home with me now. I’ve always known Fried is pronounced Freed. I answered the phone at Four Corners for years! Now that I’m a Dorado, I love when I get calls looking for Ms. Door A Doo.

      • franoramaworld Says:

        Isn’t a Doradoo an instrument they play in Australia?

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