Archive for the ‘Fresno life’ Category

Five years already? A hormonal balance

April 27, 2015
A molecular model of estradiol.

A molecular model of estradiol.

The date was April 27, 2010.

The location was the clinic next door to, and affiliated with, Adventist Medical Center in Selma, California, a small and dusty farming city (mainly grapes), 20 minutes south of Fresno via Highway 99.

The doctor (who, as of Spring 2015, retired from her practice to move to the Northwest to be closer to her son and daughter) was a post-op who had lost her job up in the Northwest a few years earlier due to prejudice, and the only place she could find to set up anew, after much searching, was there, in Fresno County. There, her patients included young families, mostly Mexican farm workers, looking to treat their sick children … and transgenders, mostly male-to-female, who were looking to take that next leap forward.

And this was huge because in a county of a million people, there were only two doctors at the time who prescribed hormones. One was in Fresno, a man who gave his patients their hormones in pill form. The other was this doctor in Selma, who not only administered the estradiol in injection form — a more effective method — she was post-op, using the same conservative protocol on patients that she used for her own transition.

And that afternoon, she left the honors to the nurse, who told me as she readied the needle, “Wow — You’ve really got a big butt” — which, at the time, wasn’t fat, but mostly muscle from bicycle riding, so it actually was kind of a compliment.

And a shot to the right cheek, in the delta area between my lower back and my ass, and it was done.

Except for all that has happened since. And as of today, it’s been five years after I crossed one of the biggest Rubicons I had to cross in my transition. (more…)

Five years on already

February 8, 2015

5th candleIt was a cloudy Friday afternoon in January 2010, about 12:30, at the place that was my de facto second home in Fresno, the Revue coffee shop (since sold and renamed Mia Cuppa) in the Tower District.

I met up for a lunch/coffee appointment with my former Fresno Bee colleague, Jennifer Ward. At that point, it had been eight months since I was discarded, in a mass layoff, by the McClatchy chain, from the job for which I had moved from Connecticut six years before, as an assistant features editor at the Bee. Jen was the paper’s interactive editor, brought in from the Dallas Morning News to implement and oversee the paper’s online operations.

But Jen had just been let go, too, and unlike this frustrated, depressed, middle-aged editor and writer who couldn’t even get a dog to sniff me despite a glowing resume, she had some ideas.

So she sat down with me this particular afternoon to introduce me to the world of social media.

She told me I needed to do three things — start a Facebook account, start a Twitter account and create a blog — so prospective employers would see that I was adept at social media.

I told her no Facebook — for one, I reasoned that the same people who told me “You need to get on Facebook!” were the same ones who told me “You need to get on MySpace!” two or three years before, and who’s to say that in a year they wouldn’t be telling me “You need to get on Zork.com!” or some other site? Also, while I was out as transgender to my family, my friends in Fresno and my closest friends back in Connecticut, I didn’t feel comfortable having a social-media page as Frannie 2.0 yet, and wouldn’t be for another year.

But I was more than amenable to Twitter and a blog. She walked me through both. She told me to go with WordPress, as it was an easy-to-manage content-management system. I came up with the name Franorama for my blog — same as my radio show back home at WPKN in Bridgeport — but someone had beaten me to it. So I settled on Franorama World, and she left me to play with the blog and learn to navigate my way around it.

But what to write?

I had the world in front of me, but what would I write that would make sense? And people would want to read?

Also, when I left my longtime job as the entertainment editor/music writer at the New Haven Register to move to bigger and better across the country, I was seriously burnt on writing. My job was two and a half full-time jobs compressed into 55-60 hours each week — planning, laying out and supervising a Weekend section, writing one or two feature stories, planning and lining up interview questions, writing a music column — and the new job in Fresno was strictly editing, no writing, 40 hours a week. And save for posting an occasional CD review on Amazon, and a handful of blog posts on MySpace and Fresnobeehive.com, I had done no writing for nearly six years. I had to dig a lot of ashes out of the furnace.

So I was seriously out of practice.

Technically, my first post was on Feb. 3, 2010 — an automated introductory post from WordPress on the day I finally activated the account. But I finally found some inspiration four days later, the first Sunday of February. One of my two football teams, the New Orleans Saints, was ending decades of frustration by playing in its first Super Bowl. I banged out a post before the game about the excitement level I felt going in … and afterward, a little more ragged (and buzzing) for the wear, I posted again about the glorious aftermath.

I figured I would go back to writing entertainment/review pieces — after all, I reviewed albums and the occasional movie for 20 years in my professional life — but I still didn’t feel I had a purpose.

Then came April — and I found my purpose, not to mention an outlet to keep me relatively sane as I went through both my transition and the looooooooong unemployment.

And here we are, five years later; I can’t believe that. And now, where the hell am I, really?

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Almost old enough to drink (the blog turns 20), almost old enough for kindergarten (my blog turns 4)

January 30, 2014

Birthday cupcakeNormally, I would just post a news item to the Book of Faces and be done with it. But this one? Nah! That wouldn’t do it justice. It has to be answered in the form of a blog post:

Not sure of the exact birthdate, but the blog turns 20 this year. And all of us who have used this medium to share some of ourselves should give credit where credit’s due.

Until I read this story from the Guardian this morning (and thanks to Jim Romenesko for tipping us off via his blog), I hadn’t given much thought to how the weblog began or who invented it. I mean, do you think of Gottlieb Daimler when you sit behind the wheel and turn the key? I wouldn’t be able to pick Justin Hall or Meg Hourihan or Dave Winer out of a lineup if my life depended on it, but wherever you are, thanks much. Maybe my life would be a little different, and not for the better, had there not been a blogosphere.

Read on …

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10 years ago: What if I had said ‘No’?

September 29, 2013

Ten years ago Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 25, 2003. A drab and dark day in New Haven, as I remember it. A Thursday, which meant I was in the midst of wrapping up another Weekend section at the New Haven Register, where I had been the entertainment editor and music writer since September of 1992.

And somewhere in between putting out one fire or another, I took a breather and checked my personal email. Since the evil Yahoo has chewed up and spit out a lot of my early emails, the exact wording is long lost to the ether (and possibly the NSA). The subject line read something like

The Fresno Bee/Assistant Features Editor Position

And the message, from the then-features editor at the paper, pretty much read:

Dear Fran:

Hello. I’m the features editor at The Fresno Bee. I saw your resume on journalismjobs.com and was wondering if you would be interested in discussing an assistant features editor position with us.

And for the first time — and certainly not the last — I heard the inner voice, loud and clear. The same voice that came to me a little over four years later and asked me if I could transition genders.

All of a sudden, the busy newsroom (straight out of the ’70s Lou Grant School of Newspaper Interior Design) became quiet. And things got very calm — a state to which I certainly was not accustomed, especially working at a fanatic’s pace all the time with little downtime. And I was introduced, at long last, to my inner voice — the creepy whisper from within that sounded an awful lot like HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey. And HAL simply said:

Okay — it’s Fresno.

And six months later, minus two days, I was on a plane out of Bradley International, headed to the heart of the San Joaquin Valley to start a new life. In more ways than I could ever have imagined.

I listened to the voice.

I sometimes wonder what would have happened had I not listened, or had I been too scared to do anything.

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Jan. 9, 2008 (My Feast of the Epiphany)

January 9, 2013
You don't know this yet, but five years from now, you're gonna be one gorgeous babe.

You don’t know this yet, son, but five years from now, you’re gonna be one gorgeous, styling babe.

(c) 2013, Fran Fried

In much of Christianity, January 6 is the Feast of the Epiphany — the commemoration of the revelation of God the son in human form through Jesus, whether it be the visitation of the Magi to the baby in the manger (Western Christianity) or the grownup Jesus’ baptism in the Jordan (Eastern Christianity). (And thanks to Lys Guillorn for reminding me of that a couple nights ago.)

In the life of this estranged Catholic, the Feast of the Epiphany takes place three days later. It was five years ago this very evening, January 9, 2008, that Fran the daughter was revealed to a fat, schleppy, uncertain, middle-aged man with no self-esteem in the middle of California, in a voice so loud and creepy that it sounded as if it came from outside my body.

My life, as you can imagine, was never the same after that. And thank God for that. And I can’t believe it’s been that long ago already.

With the distance of time, it’s hard for me in current form to comprehend what has happened to me. Oh, I sure as hell do know what happened. I just still can’t believe I listened to that voice and acted on it. Smartest and best thing I’ve ever done.

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Five Songs, Part 103 (the Weird Christmas edition)

December 24, 2012

Charlie-Brown-Christmas-Tree-Facebook-Cover

Dec. 24, 2012

Well, it’s been a weird year — why not a weird Christmas, too?

I was hoping my first Christmas home for good for now would be a fantastic one. But as we near the finish line, the last two weeks have made me wish Christmas would come and go, like, yesterday: an epic job-hunt fail (rejected six weeks after a six-hour interview), the crud, the feeling of uselessness that comes with not being able to work and not being able afford to buy gifts for my loved ones — and all dwarfed by the Newtown massacre, which really hit home, as one of the teachers that that psycho took was the daughter/stepdaughter of two old friends.

Anger, frustration, depression and, finally, stun-shock, rage and sadness.

But at the final sixteenth pole, maybe there’s a strong finish to this race, after all.

Saturday night, I saw Christine Ohlman’s Christmas show at Cafe Nine in New Haven. Lots of great catching up — with Christine, the Beehive Queen herself (and why isn’t she famous yet?); with Dawn, an old acquaintance who’s turned into a friend thanks to the magic of Facebook, and her hubby, Harry; with Laura, who freelanced a weekly club photo feature for me when I was the Register’s entertainment editor, and her hubby, Matthew; and rock’n’roll pal Cary.

Christmas Eve Eve was even better. Spent a wonderful afternoon into evening with two of my oldest friends from the early New Haven music days, John and Mary Lawler, at their house among the woods and rivers of central Connecticut, as Mary plied your hostess with homemade caramelized pecans and veggie antipasto, and John broke out the Yuenglings, the Buffalo Bop Rockabilly Xmas CD and a mix of holiday tunes and ’50s stuff on Sirius XM.

Came home and logged in to see a Facebook photo from California posted on my wall by Todd, a friend from Kingsburg, a town 20 miles south of Fresno (noted for its Swedishness and for being the headquarters of Sun-Maid Raisins). It was a fabulous photo taken at the home of my first Fresno friend, pop guitarist/thereminist/writer extraordinaire Blake Jones. Blake and his wife Lauri, Todd and his wife Pam, Mike and his wife Darla — Lauri holding up a copy of Elvis Costello’s My Aim Is True, Blake holding up a copy of The Fleshtones’ Speed Connection, the ensemble holding up  8 1/2 x 11 sheets that, all together, said, WE MISS YOU FRAN! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!! I was overwhelmed with joy and humility and gratitude.

And Christmas Eve, barring a blizzard (but 1-2 inches is expected), should find me catching up with an old childhood friend and former newspaper colleague and his wife. After Mom’s traditional fish dinner with my brother Ken’s family. Dinner on Christmas is at his house, followed most probably by catching up with more close friends.

Maybe there’s a silver lining in this dark Christmas after all.

Hope yours is an enjoyable one. Or at least a peaceful one. Or, if this is a trying time, that your darkness makes way for some light as well.

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Going Home, Days 6-7, 8/18-19/12: Deliverance

November 30, 2012

A former Econo Lodge, now closed, in Austintown, Ohio, where we spent a lovely final afternoon of our trip home.

Nov. 14, 2012

Here we go — the last installment of the epic Going Home saga, where Alexis and I and our yellow Penske beast left western Ohio Saturday morning with the goal of getting home to Connecticut by the end of the night. And as we found out, the road to good intentions is paved with hell.

For Going Home, the Prequel: Loose Ends, click here.

For Going Home, Day 1, 8/13/12: Leaving Fresno. Not., click here.

For Going Home, Day 2, 8/14/12: Sharing Needles, or Not Even out of California Yet, click here.

For Going Home, Day 3, 8/15/12: The Wrong Toins at Albuquoique, click here.

For Going Home, Day 4, 8/16/12: Amarillo by Lunchtime, But Let’s Wait ’til Oklahoma, click here.

For Going Home, Day 5, 8/15/12: The Big Push, click here.

For the entire Going Home series, click here.

The last day of the trip — or so we hoped and thought — began maybe a little more than an hour after the previous one ended, in that rest area on I-70 in western Ohio. The Saturday light was just starting to bleed into the darkness, black slowly dissolving into deep blue.

I descended the steps of the truck again to hit the women’s room, and I realized something: I needed a shave. I felt the stubble on my face, nearly a day’s growth — not nearly as much as in my boy days, but I could feel the slight coarseness of the stubble — and realized that I needed to do something about it, to be able to pass, especially in case of emergency. And I couldn’t shave in the women’s room, as anyone could walk in on me. Total pain in the ass. Electrolysis is near the top of my wish list once I get hired again and get working again. IF I ever work again at this point …

So, on to Plan B. Rough it. I opened the trunk of the Camry, took the razor and shaving cream from the well-worn Target bag I was using for my meds and toiletries, grabbed some napkins, climbed back in the cab, removed the makeup from my face, poured some bottled water into my hand and started splashing my face. I then lathered, shaved and cleaned up, alternating between handfuls of water and swipes of paper towel. A little messy, but it did the trick.

Then I reapplied my face — nothing too fancy, just enough where no one would read me — and then we were back on the road.

And one last time … showtime!

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Going Home, Day 5, 8/17/12: The Big Push

November 14, 2012

Beautiful skies from the driver’s seat. Interstate 44, somewhere in Missouri.

Nov. 11, 2012

Welcome to the sixth installment of the epic Going Home series, in which our beleaguered heroine, who, searching for work after losing her job in California’s Central Valley for the second time, does the Okie in reverse — travels Route 66 (well, at least the modern version) eastward as she travels to her new life in her old haunt of Connecticut, accompanied by her staunch and steadfast friend, Alexis.

For Going Home, the Prequel: Loose Ends, click here.

For Going Home, Day 1, 8/13/12: Leaving Fresno. Not., click here.

For Going Home, Day 2, 8/14/12: Sharing Needles, or Not Even out of California Yet, click here.

For Going Home, Day 3, 8/15/12: The Wrong Toins at Albuquoique, click here.

For Going Home, Day 4, 8/16/12: Amarillo by Lunchtime, But Let’s Wait ’til Oklahoma, click here.

For the entire Going Home series, click here.

My cell phone alarm at the Will Rogers Inn, in Will’s hometown of Claremore, Oklahoma, went off at 6:30. That was about six hours for me — surprisingly not very restful, considering it was the most sleep I had gotten all week. I’m guessing it was a combination of the accumulated stress  — the load-in, the running back and forth (and the car malfunction) before we could even leave Fresno, the various monkey wrenches thrown at us, the occasional white-knuckle fights to keep the truck under control — and the adrenaline that was still coursing through my body despite my general weariness.

But I was up, even if I was dragging by that point. And so was Alexis. We were checked out of the motel around 8. At this point, the heat wasn’t a factor anymore; it didn’t matter, really, what time we left. As long as we got home …

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Going Home, Day 4, 8/16/12: Amarillo by Lunchtime, But Let’s Wait ’til Oklahoma

November 12, 2012

The payoff for all our truck stops and fleabag motels: the Windmill Restaurant, Exit 1 off I-40, Texola, Oklahoma.

Nov. 1, 2012

The fifth installment in my epic move home from Fresno to Connecticut — accompanied by my most gracious co-pilot, Alexis — found us traveling through three states in a day. Clearly, we were getting somewhere — say, at least halfway across the country — but we were getting antsy to get home.

For Going Home: The Prequel: Loose Ends, click here.

For Going Home, Day 1, 8/13/12: Leaving Fresno. Not., click here.

For Going Home, Day 2, 8/14/12: Sharing Needles, or Not Even out of California Yet, click here.

For Going Home, Day 3, 8/15/12: The Wrong Toins at Albuquoique, click here.

For the entire Going Home series, click here.

Just as was the case the first night in Needles, we couldn’t get out of Albuquerque fast enough. Too bad, because it’s a nice-looking city, and I’m certain that, had we had ample time, and had we been able to find a motel parking lot big enough to accommodate us in some place that wasn’t fleabag, then we’d probably have dug the hell out of it. Oh, well, if I ever get the chance to motor west again — not likely at this point — I’m sure I’ll give it a second chance.

No time for what-ifs, though. We made our way out of the city under cover of darkness once again, sometime between 3 and 4. (And again, time starts to meld and twist when you’re doing a lot of traveling all at once.)

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Going home, Day 3, 8/15/12: The wrong toins at Albuquoique

November 5, 2012

Hmmm … this don’t look like a decent motel!

Oct. 27, 2012

Here’s the third day of my epic move home from Fresno to Connecticut, accompanied by the lovely and talented and wonderful Alexis.

For Going Home, the prequel: Loose Ends, click here.

For Going Home, Day 1, 8/13/12: Leaving Fresno. Not., click here.

For Going Home, Day 2, 8/14/12: Sharing Needles, or not even out of California yet, click here.

I set the cellphone alarm for 1 a.m. That would give us four hours’ sleep. Neither of us wanted to stay in Needles any longer than we had to. And especially in our bedbug-infested room at the Best Motel. But we needed some rest. But I also needed to get us on the road, and if I could make up for lost time from the first day and the load-in day — ease into a routine where we left earlier and retired earlier — then I wanted to do that.

Besides, we still had a long way to go. One day down — it was now Wednesday morning — and we were still in California, even if we were just across the Colorado River from Arizona. But Alexis brought along an old Rand McNally road atlas, with both a map of the U.S. and larger maps of the individual states in alphabetical order. And I would look over the map at different stops.

Rather than be daunted by the long stretch of road ahead, as I looked at the national map, I viewed it with joy. I mentally tried to figure out just how far we could get from day to day, how much of a chunk we could take out of the map,  and how soon we’d get back to Connecticut. The road might get boring at times, but the payout come the weekend would be well worth it. I hoped.

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