Posts Tagged ‘gender transition’

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?

(more…)

Advertisements

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 …

(more…)

The blinding glare of the spotlight: Welcome to storytelling

February 27, 2013

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=S776lS6rQW0://

I was bored the first Monday night of 2013. My hangout Starbucks, 10 minutes from New Haven, was closing, and I didn’t feel like going home just yet. So I headed up 95 and into downtown, to Ninth Square and the friendly confines of my favorite club, Cafe Nine.

You can see me -- maybe too much of me -- but I certainly can't see you..

You can see me — maybe too much of me — but I certainly can’t see you.

I figured I’d get there in time to hit the tail end of Get to the Point!, a new monthly first-Monday storytelling series, but I was a little too late. Not too late, though, to do some commiserating at the bar. There, I sat in between the show’s host, longtime New Haven arts writer Christopher Arnott, who was my “rival” music writer when I was at the daily New Haven Register and he at the weekly New Haven Advocate; and the lovely and quite-talented Lys Guillorn, a singer/songwriter I didn’t really know before I moved away but who has become a dear friend and supporter in the two years since I came out as transgender to most of the people I knew in Connecticut.

And Chris, in the midst of perhaps the longest conversation we had in the 25 years or so that we’ve known each other, asked me, “So when are you gonna tell a story?”

The thought had crossed my mind before. After all, having lived in Fresno for eight years — the home of the largest fringe festival west of the Mississippi, the Rogue Performance Festival — I’ve harbored the notion of doing a one-woman show the past three years and debuting it there (because, after all, I began my wild gender trip there). Of course, I want to finish my book first, which I can’t do because I don’t have that happy ending yet (in other words, the job, or perhaps the sugar mama), so that kinda rules out the show for now.

But maybe storytelling would be a way to work up to doing a fuller, longer, more theatrical performance. And for all the writing I’ve done about gender matters the last three years on this very blog, and in a page-one op-ed piece in the Register in June 2011, I’d never talked about it on stage. Sure, I’ve talked about it on the radio — I came out to my WPKN audience on my 20th-anniversary show in January 2011 — and last fall, I talked about trans healthcare to two nursing classes at Southern Connecticut State University.

But this was a stage. The domain of a performer. How would this play with a mic and a spotlight and a lot of people who didn’t know about me or my story?

Nervous much? Not that much, but still, a brave new world …

(more…)

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.

(more…)

Life in Limboland, Part 1: ‘He’ — or what the hell AM I, really?

April 23, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

I kinda sorta rejoined the work world last September. The Fresno Bee, the newspaper that brought me out here eight years ago from Connecticut — and the very place that laid me off three years ago — brought me back, as an on-call copy editor.

Things would be different this time, though, as befitting a newspaper and staff that had been decimated over the previous three years — no benefits, and the hours weren’t set in stone. But since the rest of the already-stretched staff was facing furloughs the final quarter of last year, it meant, between that and the regular staffers’ sick days, that I would pretty much get full-time hours.

Okay, not ideal. But after 2 1/2 years without a job, four months after the unemployment ran out, and being fucked with every way to Sunday by the work world — more than 300 resumes sent out, 99.9 percent of them without the decency of even a “Fran, you suck” in return, and the few places that interviewed me treating me terribly — it was a huge sigh of relief to be able to make something resembling a living again.

I could pay the rent, pay off some bills, pay down the credit cards, and pay for some doctor bills should I need to. And, as it turned out, the money came in handy when my car was totaled a month later and I needed another one. And I came back to a lot of open arms and hugs from my ex-and-once-again colleagues. That was great. And I think it said something to the world at large that, in the midst of the newspaper industry’s self-destruction, the paper that laid me off thought enough of me to bring me back. And, for the first time, as a woman.

And, for the first time in a long time, I would feel useful. That’s a powerful thing. The worst aspect of my distended unemployment hell wasn’t the fear of being broke, as stressful as that was — it was the uselessness. The constant messages of worthlessness hammered into me from the world at large, and from God — whatever God is — itself. Try fighting that in the midst of the stress that comes with a gender transition, willya?

It was a good thing, going back to the Bee. It wasn’t going to be forever, but it would get me on my feet. And all would be well — a great springboard to much better things.

Well, seven-and-a-half months later, I find myself rut-stuck — trapped, even — in Limboland. For one, the Bee is in such straits that, even in a quarter of more furloughs, my hours were slashed to, for all intents, nothing two weeks ago. No warning, either — went from three-, four-, five-day weeks to one day scheduled in the coming month. I was called in last night, and it was the first work I had in nearly two weeks. My next scheduled day is two Sundays from now. Nothing after that.

And again, I find myself with no job prospects, not knowing where to turn. Same as a year ago. And the year before that. And the year before that. But that will all be another post, I guess.

But just as badly, I’m going through another nifty little bit of limbo that has me questioning everything all over again.

It all has to do with two little letters, which I hear a lot:

“he.”

Leading to the inevitable follow-up:

“What the hell AM I?”

I won’t go through this again.

(more…)

Ask Aunt Fran: What did you know and when did you know it?

December 8, 2010

OK, it’s time for another question from the mental mailbag of Ask Aunt Fran, where you ask me questions about this crazy gender-transition trip and I try to answer them as best I can, sometimes long-windedly.

Anyway, if you have a question, don’t be shy. You can email me at franoramaworld@gmail.com (or my personal email if you know it).

And remember: I’m not a doctor. Or even a shrink. I’m just a girl trying to make a go of it in this great big crazy world, and my answers are based on my own experiences.

Here’s a question I get from time to time:

“So when did you know?”

Did you mean when did I know that that the Saints would win the Super Bowl? Or that the business I was in my whole life, newspapers, was going to self-destruct? Or that there weren’t WMDs in Iraq?

Of course, I know what you meant — just because I changed the gender on my driver’s license doesn’t mean I threw away my license to be a smartass …

(more…)