Why I am over joyed and giddy beyond words about the upcoming live-action Barbie film

I don’t often write about upcoming movies. In fact I rarely follow Hollywood news these days. Before college when I still subscribed to American Cinematographer, People, TV Guide and Us Weekly I followed the gossip a lot closer.

Right now I am in a weird phase of extreme fangirlism. Two days ago I heard they cast Ryan Gosling to play Ken along side Margot Robbie in the upcoming live-action Barbie film. Forget GB: Afterlife, put Snake Eyes aside, move over Avengers, this is the cinematic dream come true I’ve been waiting for my entire life.

Of course I wish I was joking. A movie about two extremely beautiful people living presumably outrageous lives is sure to be Hollywood fantasy at its best. We all know the fetishizing of celebrities is near cult-like in this country so a film that puts two celebrities on a pedestal is sure to bring out the worst in us. But  don’t care I will pay a premium to see this opening night!

I haven’t been this excited for a film since The Force Awakens. That was before Star Wars films became so cliche they just stopped making them. I have enjoyed many of the toys to movie adaptations thus far. Clue was a fun romp through the early 80’s creativity. The Transformers films have been all fairly entertaining for me, Bumblebee being my absolute favorite so far. Then there were all those TMNT movies. Oh sure TMNT was technically a comic book but we all remember it for the toys.

Why does Barbie excite me so much when I know Gem flopped so hard? It’ not like Mattel has a better track record of bringing toys to life than Hasbro right? Even putting that aside there’s a lot to like about Barbie getting the spotlight. One it’s all about the girls. The toyline has always been a staple for young girls of all shapes and sizes, including trans girls like myself. It is not without it’s detractors and rightfully so as all products of American Capitalism are rife with issues. But the toyline has traditionally been produce by women in an industry typically dominated by men. Not to mention the fantasy aspect, Barbie has always encouraged girls to imagine themselves being anything they want. It has issue with body image but when it comes to if it can be done a girl can do it aspirations, in that regard nobody does it better than Barbie.

It is also exciting for me because Barbie was the first girl-marketed toy I ever bought since I started my transition journey. It was such a huge deal for me I made a YouTube video, in full boy mode, declaring how meaningful it was to me.

I have since amassed decent Barbie collection. I only have three dolls, two of the standard Blonde and one of the Fashionistas. But I also have several playsets and the convertible because she has to ride in style. The toys have always been important not only to me but young girls everywhere. Of course men are going to be dismissive of this film which is one more reason I will be lining up to offer it as much support as I can. If it flops it will send a message to Hollywood, and girls everyone aspiring to break into that industry, we still don’t matter. After the Ghostbusters Answer The Call debacle of 2016 we learned our lesson and it’s that boys make the decisions when it comes to films we see. Even the Black Widow movie was put doomed from the start, treated as an afterthought and released as a filler movie while the world recalibrates. It didn’t matter to the studio if it flopped because it was a girl movie.

That’s why Barbie has to succeed. It has to unite all females, female leaning and femme identifying people. Even if it’s something we have to put side our feminism for a day to achieve, the greater good outweighs any harm this movie could impose on girls body image, and that’s why we HAVE to ensure it’s financial success. The fact they picked an attractive female actress popular with boys and arguably the hottest male alive according to what I’ve seen, tells me the studio is banking big on this movie to succeed. The fact it barely gets any media coverage when it should be a hug deal reinforces the male-dominated world we live in.

This movie isn’t about empowering women and girls, it isn’t about uniting us under the banner of feminism it is about representation, showing the world we’re here and we matter damn it. This movie is likely to suck, there’s no doubts there. That alone shouldn’t stop all women from coming together to make it as damn visible as we can simply to prove to the boys are stuff is as important as theirs. The fact Barbie is one of the most lucrative toys on the planet should be enough to convince the boys to take girls more seriously, if this movie succeeds then the world gets that much more inclusive for women in the future.

How a rusty knife, a VCR and Doctor Who launched my career

When you talk about the choices we make in our lives you don’t always have the hindsight to connect the dots until later on. Anytime I take a look back at the twists and turns my life took I realize I can always trace the lines from the moment things changed. 

My story starts with a knife. A friend of mine, partner-in-crime rather, homie if you want to get technical,  gave it to me as payment for a “job” we did for a girl we knew. No, I am not going to say what we did or why we were “stiffed” on payment in the first place, all I am going to say is that knife put me on the path I am on now. 

I tucked it away for several yeas. I always kept it on my person. During those days we were small time criminals. He would acquire BMX bikes he “found” lying around and I’d help him find new buyers. We eventually migrated to installing “found” car stereos for underpaid friends of ours. This was taking place during my DJ years. He and I had a breakdancing group as well as a full hip-hop crew. I was the DJ. He was the break dancer and graffiti artist. We had  a couple friends who would rap for or with us and a few who shared our dream to “make it big” in the hip hop game. 

During the course of our pursuit of fame and fortune I bought a CD program called Acid by a company then called Sonic Foundry. It would later get scooped up by Sony who sold it to Magix but it was important. I had to upgrade my computer to use it which mean investing some of our “earnings” on a new graphics card. Since I had bought this JVC camcorder that I still have to make break dancing, and music videos, I decided to spend some of the money on one more piece of equipment, a TV tuner. 

My justification for wanting this was selfish but I bent it to the cause so my friend would fork over the cash. I wanted it so I could record movies and TV shows from the TV to my computer, also as a way to get videos off our VHS tapes which is how I sold it to my friend. I claimed we could shoot on his friends big VHS camcorder and copy the movies to my PC. 

Once I started pirating movies to my PC and backing them up to folders a friend of mine told me about torrents. At first I was only interested in downloading episodes of Doctor Who because I didn’t get the BBC and the Sci-Fi channel (before name change) wasn’t enough. Through a series of events I won’t share here we started a business venture selling pirate copies of movies still in theaters. Ultimately this forced me to need more hard drive space thus my spending habits changed yet again. I sold all my video games at the time to buy more external hard drives, as well as an iPod Video Classic. 

I quickly turned my bedroom into a digital lair where you could find enough movies and TV shows to make Netflix blush. After a while I started to distance myself from our under-the-table shadier endeavors. I discovered with all this equipment I bought to make music videos that I never made I could start a side hustle, well another one I should say. I found an elderly woman who had a ton of VHS tapes she needed put on DVD for her. Hey guess who could now do this. I quickly made a small business out of putting people’s memories onto DVD for them. Before long I had invested in tons of other equipment as I expanded my offerings. 

By the time I found myself homeless in Nebraska in the middle of the 2009 recession I was at a loss for where to go next in my life. Naturally I turned to what I had on hand. I made a DVD from VHS tapes from a woman who was in the community as a part of the Chamber of Commerce. I talked them into hiring me to produce a short promotional video they could put on their Facebook page telling people all about how great the town was. It was a project I never completed due to conflicting views over storytelling. The chamber president wanted businesses full of people, but the business owners refused to let me film their customers, who also wanted not to be on film. Thus it made the town look like a ghost town and we terminated our agreement as I walked away with the footage. I managed to recycle some of this for a class project so I guess I came out on top. 

This is where my life takes a dark turn. It starts with me getting into college and having the best time ever studying broadcasting. This part was going pretty well until dysphoria and depression came back. I needed to clear my head so I started counseling. The therapist dug deep enough she found the story of how I obtained the knife. Patient confidentiality requires her to keep her mouth shut so I was in the clear, or so I thought. But because the knife was assumed to have been used in the commission of a crime it was suddenly wanted for police evidence. This threw my entire world upside down. Within days in what I consider a blur I to this day cannot sort out in my mind ended up checking myself into a mental hospital for a week for observation. 

Once out of that nightmare I found myself facing homelessness yet again. My aunt and her husband came to my rescue on the condition I get a job. Having been cut off from my school unable to finish my degree I quickly enrolled in the community college to by me some time. That lasted all of three months and the nagging to get a job returned. That’s when I decided to seek a job. Most of my experience up to this point had been in short term retail or food service jobs I never stuck with for long. Thus landing job interviews was a massive headache. I decided to turn to a tried and true method of landing a job today, the temp agency. 

I took a job working at the local hockey arena. This was a decent job for game nights that gave  me quick cash and helped build a relationship with the temp agency. Once that job ended it was time to try again. I took a job at an auto parts factory I walked out on mid-shift. This naturally terminated my employment with the staffing agency. 

Looking back on it that day was the turning point for me. I started going to the Army recruiter only to be told since I was 32 at the time I was aged out of joining. Oh well, moving on. I went over to Pizza Hut and applied for a job I’d had dozens of times before in multiple cities across the U.S. It was a job I knew I could get in my sleep. Fortunately when he said he could pay me “waitress” wages and I’d make the rest in tips I walked out pissed. I said you can pay me $8 an hour or I walk. Yeah, I walked.

But I didn’t walk far. As I was leaving the parking lot I noticed a sign across the street. It was a HUGE red banner that said HIRING DRIVERS. It was an auto parts store. This I could do. Drive their car, get paid a decent wage for the market and not have to smell like pepperoni. I was hired on the spot. By itself this job didn’t do much for my career but as luck or fate would have it I was about to take a turn for the best. 

I had only been working there a few days when I was tasked with training the next new hire. He was a young kid had just turned 18 and gotten married a few months prior. He was telling me how his wife refused to work for his uncle because he couldn’t pay her what she thought she was worth. I asked what the job was, he said wedding photographer. During our conversation I navigated my way through the twists and turns until he agreed to talk his uncle into giving me a job interview. That job, videographer, photographer, DJ for a wedding company is how I got to where I am today. If you read my resume in its current form that’s the first job on the list. 

From there I went to work as a video editor, then production assistant, then assistant producer for KHGI NTV News. After than I was a Master Control Operator for KTEN in Texoma. My next job was Staff Writer at the Whitesboro News Record. That followed by News Reporter at the Herald Democrat, then News Producer/Editor a KXII News 12. 

Today I am happily employed as a studio photographer nights and weekends, school portrait photographer by day, podcast host and blogger in my spare time. All because when I was 17 years old my friend stole a knife from a girls dad who owed us money for a job I can’t talk about the details today.  The moral of the story is you never know what you are doing today will lead to tomorrow. Just always be on the look out for ways to take your experiences, craft them into a well-told story and use that as a way to open doors for yourself. 

Coming to terms with my possibly being asexual

Earlier this summer I was living with a very sexually active transwoman and her wife. She always talked about her sexual preferences, experiences and desires. Whenever we’d watch a TV show or a movie she’d comment on who was making her feel hot. Yet I never could bring myself to come up with any examples of my own.

I knew I was sexually inexperienced. I’ve always known I wasn’t aching to have sex or going out of my way to seek it out. I usually, pretransition that is, told people I was celibate for religious reasons. Of course I was still trying to deflect my own trans identity so I would often go out of my way to try to overcompensate.

Here’s the thing. Looking back on my life I never did really think of people as “hot,” at least not in the traditional sense. That isn’t to say I can’t or don’t find people attractive but I don’t think of them in a sexual way. I always chalked this up to inexperience coupled with repressed feelings. I pegged my lack of libido on my depression and fear of intimacy. When I did reflect upon this subject I would push it out of my mind. How many times have I forced myself to try to think of or imagine sexual scenarios when in reality I wasn’t interested? I lost count.

Going back to my stay with my adopted sister. At the time we were both doing a podcast together. We kept putting the topic of sex and sexuality and their relationship to being trans on our topic sheet Every time we’d try to work out a way to discuss it in a professional manner she would observe my lack of experience was inhibiting my ability to have a discussion. Then one day while trying on clothes and shoes she showed me a product she used to help her decide what breast size she was hoping to achieve while on HRT. She pulled out a very life-like fake boob. I immediately cringed. I withdrew and nearly vomited at the sight of it. She decided right there she was not going to have a discussion about sex with me because she said I wasn’t only unqualified due to lack of experience, she said I probably wasn’t going to have the stomach to get into the kinds of details she would like. So we put it off.

This wasn’t the first time I was in a sexual situation where I felt uncomfortable. When I was 21 I was dating a woman three years older than I was at the time. She already had a 5-year-old daughter so sex was on her mind. She invited me over to her apartment for a sleepover date, she said during the course of the night her intention was to seduce me. While at the time I resisted her advances she accused me of being gay, I thought it was my religious-right upbringing, ultimately it was the start of the end of our relationship.

Over the years I did masturbate. This is what caused confusion within me when I first discovered the term asexual. Much like transgender, I shrugged it off as not quite right because I wasn’t, at the time, willing to explore the possibility. Looking back on it I can see clearly now how I never really did have a fleshed out sex drive. My friends tried to get me to sleep with a prostitute once, even paid for the session for me. I withdrew angrily and left the situation. I never understood why sex felt so foreign to me.

It wasn’t until a few months ago when I was interviewing a trans woman who said she was asexual that I started to really question things. She described her self discovery for an article I was hoping to write on the subject. After a few weeks of processing what she told me I reached back out to pursue a romantic relationship with her. I knew if her and I both could have a relationship sans sex and be comfortable with one another then there must be something there worth exploring.

The two of us have been dating for nearly two months now. During that time we’ve both had intimate conversations regarding our expectations of sexuality. During that time our feelings for one another have grown exponentially along with our trust for one another. Yet we both continue to proclaim our mutual disinterest in seeking sexual pleasure, at least in the traditional sense.

Has this experienced helped me settle on asexual as my sexual identity? I had considered maybe I was demisexual or even grey sexual. The more I read up and the more I look back on my own experiences the more I affirm what I suppose I always knew but never suspected, sex just isn’t that interesting to me, not even at all.

I don’t watch porn. When I was in high school my social studies teacher called me a liar in front of the classroom for insisting I didn’t watch porn. She said I was being modest because of my religious upbringing but that everyone has sex and everyone watches porn even if we lie about it. I went to the principal and complained she made me feel uncomfortable being called out like that in class. He sided with her, insisting it was okay to admit as I was in a safe space. I then was sent to the counselor to help me become comfortable with my feelings. The counselor knew better. Once glance at the look of anguish on my face told her not to push the subject and I was excused from health class as a result of this encounter.

Of course my Baptist parents were always blamed for my awkward discussions regarding sex. However my parents were pretty candid and open about their sex lives. Once I cleared through the fog of lies thrust upon me by the church I realized my desire not to procreate, not to engage in sexual conduct, my aversion to sexually explicit material was in fact due to an innate asexuality I never explored.

So here I am, having another coming out moment where I shed further light on the deepest shallows of my soul. Here I am once again digging into my past trying to fit together the missing puzzle pieces as new information becomes available. The only thing that has thrown a wrench in all this is my intense baby fever, but even that subsides from time to time. Also since having babies the old fashioned way is out of the question for me anyways, I suppose that isn’t a factor in my discovery either.

As it turns out I probably am Ace. I am at the very least on the spectrum no doubt about it. I want to thank my loving and very patient girlfriend Christina for helping me see what was always there. During our conversations I have come to realize I was more like her in that regard than I initially thought. As with all things involving change my instinct is to be afraid. With as much change as I’ve been through in my life it’s understandable new experiences as well as new light cast on old ones can cause me extreme discomfort. The more I discover about myself the more I come to accept life as a quest. I don’t know what the treasure is, but I know this, I’ve taken some side quests along the way. I am ready to be more comfortable in my own skin. So there it is, my discovering I am probably, most definitely almost assuredly 100 percent certain I am very much ace.

Profiling a deity Part Two: My Matron Goddess The Triple Goddess Brigid

Brigid comes in a variety of forms. She also watches over a large swatch of the world considering her real of influence. She is a Triple Goddess who watches over the Hearth, Poetry and Smiths. She is also a fire goddess and a healer, attributed to fire and water. What makes her so interesting isn’t just her triple nature. It is how she has survived and adapted over the years. 

Brigit is one of the Tuatha Dé Danann or “People of the Goddess Danu.” They were the most prominent figures in Celtic mythology. She has been worshiped and revered throughout all of the British Aisle, which consequently are named for her, but also over large parts of mainland Europe. When the Christians attempted to force convert all of the Celtics to Catholicism they were unsuccessful in stamping her out. Thus she was adopted into the Catholic faith as St. Brigit. From there her followers, along with indentured Irish servants and African slaves mixing in the Caribbean was adapted again by those who practice voodoo where she became Maman Brigitte. 

This adaptability has served her well as a deity who has found a way to remain in the hearts of thousands of her followers across the globe. She is revered in Paganism, Christianity, Wicca and other religions the world over. This is part of what makes her special, but not at all why she is my Matron Goddess. 

First, I selected nearly all female or gender-neutral deities, Yahweh and his son being the most notable exception. She is my Matron because she is primacy among my goddesses. Brigid isn’t just a goddess I picked on a whim. She called to me. My middle name is Bri, it is a shortened form of her name. I didn’t pick the name specifically because of her, it was a name that felt right. I attributed her to the source of the name as when I called to her seeking if we were compatible she not only answered my call she pointed out to me it was her who called to me. 

One of the other reasons I felt compelled to honor Brigid was because she is a goddess of poetry and smiths. As a creative person who relies heavily in being creative for a living, it felt natural to have a relationship with a deity known for inspiring creative types. 

At first I thought I was called to Danu but there isn’t sufficient evidence to suggest Danu was either ever real or alive today. Considering how counterproductive it would be to seek power and wisdom from a deceased deity who lacks the ability to interject, it makes sense to seek deities that are revered today who have a following and who are more likely to still be listening to the prayers of mortal humans. 

Brigid is also special to me in other ways. She was the first non-Christian spirit I ever conversed with. She was the first of any deity I bought an idol to represent. I have also placed said idol in a prominent place in my kitchen where she can watch over me as well as receive the fire from my stove whenever she wants. I have had to step back from burning candles in her honor for the time being. However I find she offers a blessing as she looks over my kitchen. She is also special to me because on Mabon, the Fall Equinox, I performed a small ritual dedicating my heart to her. As such she has since become my Matron Goddess and the one I turn to almost daily. 

How to pick a toy from an 80’s toy collector’s perspective

What are the best toys? This is a question I’ve been dying to try and answer. If I phrase it another way, what makes a good toy. As a toy collector I know that more often than not I am seeking something that fulfills some sense of nostalgia. It is a missing piece of the puzzle of my life. But why those toys in the first place? I mean nostalgia is steeped in childhood memories so why did child me pick these toys over other toys?

For starters toys are more than a thing to play with. To me, they are treasures to be cherished. Now I don’t keep mine in the package, sealed up brand new to be placed on a shelf and looked at, oh no not me I play with my toys. I will, quite often, buy a sealed toy from yesteryear and open it up. I paid more money than I care to admit for a boxed Megazord Dinozord set from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers toyline. This toy had been in an unopened box since 1993. I got it home, opened it up and somewhere between my last couple of moves, I lost the Power Sword and the horns to the Triceratops. Even though I “devalued” this highly collectible item, I was more interested in buying an unopened product just so *I* could be the one to open it up and experience it brand new as if I would have done in my youth.

I can tell you why I picked Power Rangers when I was a kid. I already had an obsession with Transformers and the Zords were basically like the combiner robots from that series. Oh sure someone will bring up Voltron but let’s not go there. I never had Voltron okay. The other thing that appealed to me was they were kinda like Ninjas. They did martial arts and wore Ninja-like outfits. Then there was the name. It reminded me of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, another toyline I already had an affinity for. This made it easy for me to get into Power Rangers.

When I take a look back at the different toys I played with a good many of them had cartoons to sell me on the toys. Naturally Gobots, Transformers, TMNT, G.I. Joe, He-Man and even Power Rangers all had some sort of TV show to get me excited about wanting to own the toys. I am sure this played a role in my developing an emotional attachment to these toys right? Well, not so fast!

You see I was born in 1983. He-Man was already done by the time I was old enough to watch cartoons. I vaguely remember watching it passively but honestly, gods honest truth here, I don’t recall a single detail from the show. Not even the who’s who of characters. This is similar to Transformers. The cartoon was on it’ last season when I started watching it. That’s right when I was a kid ALL I saw of Transformers on TV were those terrible Tommy episodes with the giant Power Master Prime puppet. Of course my Optimus Prime toy was a Power Master Optimus Prime so it made sense. But none of the toys I had came from or were featured on the cartoon. I had Goldbug not Bumblebee. I had Double Cross not Swoop. I had Skyhammer not Skyfire. I had Skullgrin instead of Megatron. I had Pretender Grimlock who didn’t look anything like his cartoon counterpart. So how, or why, did I end up with a bunch of Transformers toys that were never featured on the cartoon? Simple, I never watched the cartoon I just liked the toys. Oh but I DID watch a transforming robot cartoon that came on USA during it’s Cartoon Express block. It was Challenge of the Go-Bots.
That’s right despite my undying, unwavering and unending love for all things Transformers, the cartoon that got me into transforming robots in the first place wasn’t even theirs, it was the show commissioned to sell their failed counterparts. Now this worked out for Hasbro in that Gobots were no longer being sold on toy shelves so I had the one, just the one my dad picked up at the airport when he returned from California after attending his dads funeral. So I would watch Gobots and play with Transformers, yes pretending THEY, the Robots in Disguise that were branded as being More Than Meets the Eye, the Autobots and Decepticons, I would pretend they were GOBOTS. My toys stood in for Renegades and Guardians.

Remember that Goldbug,  he made a good stand in for Scooter. Skyhammer was a good stand in for the Renegade Thruster. Silverbolt became Leader-1, Skullgrin was turned into Cy-Kill, Power Master Prime became the Guardian Command Center with the truck (cab robot) becoming Staks. Yes I had an Optimus Prime toy I would PRETEND was Gobots Staks. Today, this very day I have a Gobots Staks I actually do play with more than my Optimus Prime.

So in a roundabout way it was a competitors cartoon that got me into Transformers. What about TMNT? Did I plunge head first into the cartoon then immediately run out to buy the toys? Nope yet again my path was slightly different.

I played the TMNT arcade game. I thought TMNT was this weird new fun 4-player beat-em up style game I instantly fell in love with. Having grown bored with Double Dragon I was excited to play this new and improved game in that same style. In my young mind TMNT was a video game first. I somehow discovered the cartoon and movie later, thus thinking those things were done because the video game was so popular. Hey Mario got a cartoon and movie and he was just a video game so it tracked in my tiny underdeveloped child-brain.

The point is despite everyone saying these cartoons served just as toy commercials is a fallacy. Yes many kids were in fact prompted to buy toys based on their favorite cartoon. But what about the toys we bought that didn’t have a cartoon to sell us on? Or the toys were picked up even after t’s cartoon was long gone and we never saw a single episodes? I never watched G.I. Joe A Real American Hero. I watched G.I. Joe: The Movie because it was a special that came on right after Transformers, in 1992 as a part of the G2 revival. Before that I never watched a single frame of that cartoon, it didn’t interest me one bit. But I still loved the hell out of the toys.

I can’t tell you what made me pick this toy or that toy as a kid, that was so long ago. Today I can tell you I don’t just rely on nostalgia. If I see a really well done action figure or playset from a current toyline, even if I have no attachment to or knowledge of it’s lore, I’ll pick it up. While I do have a fondness for Transformers and TMNT above all others, that doesn’t stop me from owning a Master Chief figure despite having never played Halo before. Or those Fort Night figures I bought even though I don’t even know how to play the game nor do I watch YouTubers play it. I just thought the toys were cool.

There are a lot of things that make me like a toy. It could be the sculpt. It could be the colors or the aesthetic. It might be the packaging or the name on the side of the box. I never know what is going to catch my eye and make me decide to add this toy to my collection over another.

The next time you try to knock down those of us who had a childhood in the 80’s as having been brainwashed by marketing giants, stop and consider the whole story. Not every kid came from a family made of money. Not every family had access to a steady stream of television content. Some of us were lucky to get any toys at all and sometimes we had nothing to go on but what was in front of us or what our imaginations told us would be fun to explore.

Sometimes I just want to be weird

I don’t always have something profound or even heartfelt to write about. Sometimes I want to pick a topic that is completely stupid and get stupid writing it. That’s what I go through most nights when I am on my virtual dates with my girlfriend, I get incredibly goofy and she rolls her eyes a lot. 

I mention this because I don’t always have control over my feelings. Everyone once in a while I just, feel things, and when I do I go with it. When I am sitting in my home alone I dance, I sing to myself, I hum, I make noises I talk to the cat, heck I talk to my toys. I don’t even care. Why? Because I am free. I love being free. I never cared for living under the pressures of society. The monotony of being told you can’t just be silly for no good reason. Where’s the fun in that?

This does often land me the retort from others to “act my age” to which I promptly roll my eyes while I continue dancing to the imaginary music playing in my head. I know one issue I have in life is I don’t like being told what to do. I have never liked having a supervisor or manager at work. When I was a kid I often would make the babysitters want to quite never to return. I didn’t defy authority or give them attitude, I just never let people control me. 

Last night I opened up to my partner about why my toys are so important to me. I shared lonely stories from my childhood about desperately wanting the other kids to play with me but being stuck with my toys because I was “too weird” for the other kids. Yes, I told her this emotional tale with tears running down my cheeks. The music, the laughter these things are what lift me up each day. I rely on tuning out the rest of the droll world in order to find joy. It’s what works for me. It is what has always worked for me. 

The problem is I still ache, long for peers to play with. Whether it’s a board game, video game or some other activity, I desperately seek people with common interests to hang with or do things with. The biggest problem is, I more often than not push people away. I know it’s because I am too weird, but you know what? I am not going to change who I am for anybody. 

This is not to say I don’t know how to behave appropriately in certain circumstances, of course I do. What it really means is that I like to entertain myself. This is mostly because it’s all I’ve known for so long. When I am driving down the street listening to my favorite upbeat pop tunes, I dance along. I sing along too. I like to enjoy life. 

As a professional writer I understand that a story needs a flow. It needs conflict and resolution. The main character needs to undergo some sort of change. I have plenty of conflict in my life, little resolution. I don’t want to change because my entire life is nothing but change I have moved over 67 times in my life. I have had now 80 different jobs. I don’t need any more damn change. I want consistency. Being weird or goofy is that consistency. I know I am aware that I annoy others. I don’t mean to be annoying. The truth is I don’t want to turn the music off and be as boring as everyone else. I’d rather crank the music up and have everyone else be as lively and free as I am. I think the world would be a much better place if we weren’t so stinking serious all the damn time. 

Even in so-called professional settings we take ourselves too seriously. I love that Haribo commercial where the adults are having a board meeting talking like children and cutting loose. That’s how I want the world to be. I wish we could all hold onto that child-like innocence without it being considered weird or creepy. 

In the meantime I will try to do enough goofing for the rest of the world. It’s the least I can do.

Goldfish on the Mountain: Chapter five

Chapter five

 George woke up from his hangover. His ears were ringing, his head was pounding. He felt a throbbing in his chest. He looked over at the alarm clock on his desk, it was no where to be found. He glanced around the room hazily to find it lying on the floor. It read 10 a.m. He was still in a daze. He couldn’t believe his wife let him sleep in, that wasn’t like her.

“George can you get your lazy ass out of bed right this minute?” his wife was yelling at him

He pulled the blanket back over his head. That was just like her he thought to himself. He was still in shock over the events of the last few days. As he rolled over he smelled the vomit in the trash bin next to the bed. He looked down, suddenly remembering the night before. How he left the funeral and went straight to a bar. He recalled how his friend Charlie kept pushing him to take one more shot. It didn’t matter right now.

“I don’t remember the last time I drank that much,” George said.

He couldn’t lay in bed for long. He picked himself up, smashing his hand on a broken piece of glass on his nightstand.

“Ouch! Son of a bitch!,” he said.

He looked down and saw blood on his hand. To his shock it was his glasses. Apparently they were smashed. He sat up, put his hands over his face as he rested his elbows on his knees. This was going to be a long day. He knew he was going to have to find an excuse not to go see his brother today. He was avoiding Drake since the accident. It wasn’t that he blamed Drake for Linda’s death, how could he? He was still bitter Linda was the one gone while Molly remained alive and well.

George made his way down the stairs feeling along the wall as he went. Once he got down stairs there was his wife, Molly shaking her head, arms folded crosswise.

“Have you seen my backup glasses?” he asked.

“Right here,” she said as she shoved them into his hand. He put them on finally able to see the scowl across her face.

“You should be ashamed of yourself,” she said. “Going out drinking like a damn fool when you should be spending time with your grieving brother. I swear sometimes your ignorance amazes me.”

Last night he was sad his wife had lived and this other woman had died. Today he was downright pissed. He hated that woman more than words could express. How dare the forces of nature, spiritual or otherwise be so fucking ironic like that.

He looked at the woman he hated who was now standing before him reminding him why she was the object of his hatred. Somewhere along the lines he had heard the phrase when you hate something it means you really fear it. He often questioned if that was the case here. Looking back on it, he really had no reason to hate her, not at first anyways.

George sat down to eat his breakfast his wife had mad. She slammed a plate of eggs and toast down in front of him on the table.

“Here ya go , eggs are getting cold,” she said. “You better sober your ass up. You’ve got to take your daughter to get her haircut today then she has a dentist appointment right after. Don’t take too long because you and I are going over to take your brother a casserole I made to lift his spirits.”

George angrily pocked at the eggs with his fork, unwilling to put a bite of her food in his mouth this morning

“He’s not going to find comfort in your food,” he mumbled under his breath.

Molly smacked him across the back of the head.

“I heard that,” she said. Melody giggled at the sight of her mother smacking her dad.

“Oh you like that don’t you girl,” he laughed. It was a fake smile as he rubbed his head.

“I’m sorry dear,” he muttered. He wasn’t but instinct told him it was best not to make it worse right now.

“Oh dad before we head to the salon can we swing by the mall? I want to see about picking up this pair of shoes I saw the other day,” Melody said.

“We’ll see darling,” he said as he kept jabbing at his eggs. At least he managed to get a bite of toast before nausea started to come back.

He was sitting there trying to decide why he was being so nice to these two women he hated so much. He still hadn’t figured out why he hated Molly when he really didn’t have much of a reason to. He determined it must have been because his mother controlled every aspect of her kid’s lives.

“George you might go ahead and take the girl shoe shopping while you’re out. No need to be stingy right now, she’s grieving and this’ll help her through that process,” Molly said.

At that moment George had enough. He would look back at on that day as the moment he decided he was done with his entrapment. He stood up, pushed past his wife and went straight to the bathroom to finish reaping the repercussions from last night’s debauchery.

“You make me sick,” she said as she scoffed in his direction.

As he lay on the bathroom floor puking he had a epiphany. For the first time in his life he realized it was not fear that bred his hate. He got up from the toilet, walked over to his wife then slapped her across the face as hard as he could.

She stood there in shock.

“I hate you,” he said, lowering his voice. Then he turned, walked out the front door and never came back.

The heart of a poet, the will of a lion

One of the reasons I thought I was a girl inside all those years before I knew I was trans was because how sensitive I am. I always felt empathy for others. I cry when it comes to sad movies, songs or even when I see an animal hurting on the side of the road.

I first started to realize how sensitive I was when I was too young to put an age on it. I would get upset if I saw someone step on a bug. I warned them the bug wasn’t doing anything to hurt them. I would sit in the dirt and play with insects all the time. Mostly rollie pollies and ants. Yes even though I knew they would sting you I also liked chasing the bees. Where most kids flee when they saw a bee I would smile. I wanted to watch it do it’s thing.

I was 15 when I learned I was sheltered from the horrors of the world. I had a friend of the family who moved away suddenly. Her parents split up out of the blue and her dad went away no questions asked. I was told she had to leave but didn’t understand why. I later discovered her dad was molesting her. It was uncovered others knew about the abuse and did nothing about it. It tore that family apart. My was upset my friend moved away no warning. I didn’t think it was for her own good. I cried uncontrollably after learning this girl I had known was going through that. I was asked why I was upset I barely knew her. I replied because it’s sad. I was told to “man up” and get over it.

I was told that a lot over the years. If I showed any kind of emotion I was told to man up. If I got angry I was told to bury it. If I got sad I was told to bury it. I was only allowed to be happy in certain circumstances, the rest of the time it was show no emotion.

Of course we could smile and laugh but that’s not the same as showing happiness. I’ve seen the difference in a smile when you’re friends all get together to grab a bit to eat at the restaurant at 1 a.m. versus the smile of genuine bliss when life just goes right for a change. I don’t know about everyone else but I was so conditioned not to show emotion I never smiled. I was afraid if I did people would catch onto my secret. That’s not to say I couldn’t laugh or pretend to be fine from time to time, but for the most part I looked like an angry version of the Tin Man. Expressionless yet full of rage.

That rage became my fuel for the longest time. The will of the lion. The desire to fight back when life kicked me down. Life had a way of making sure if I was already on the ground to go ahead and kick dust in my face too. It’s the way it is. That doesn’t stop me from picking myself up and going forward.

Once I started to learn the dirty secrets in life, how evil humans truly are, I went through a phase where I was too depressed to cope. If there was so much suffering in the world where was God? I was maintaining my insistence I was a Christian during that time in my life so it felt like I was being lied to. Either God was lying about he’d be there no matter what, or the church was lying about who he protects. Either way I felt betrayed. Yet I maintained my faith insistent upon the belief that it gets better.

Then I turned to art. Not just my own art, which I found ways to express, but others art. I delved deep into escapism as a way to ignore the problems going on in the world. I knew in my heart of hearts I was a transgender queer person but I ignored the plight of the LGBT community. I did so intentionally. If I dismissed them, if I could brush them out of my mind I wouldn’t have to face it myself thus I could keep on moving forward. Only I was moving backwards instead.

It was sometime after the 2008 Presidential Election I decided to get involved politically. I went to the local office and volunteered. I even tried to sign up for office. I asked what positions needed filled and what I could run for. I felt like the party I was loyal to had taken a beating in that election. I felt I needed to do something to push back against the “Blue Wave” I was told was sweeping this great nation. Of course I was still under the false pretense we were some sort of utopia you just had to work hard to get a piece of that special pie. I was duped I guess.

I kept on fighting, in the dark unsure of what I was fighting for. I knew I was never going to get married and have the 2 kids, white picket fence and dog in the back yard. But I never knew why I wanted that so badly all while life insisted I was to follow a different path.

My over sensitivity is why I dropped out of high school the first time. I was walking down the hall of a new school. I was in 10th grade. It was my first day of class. A teacher, not a student, tripped me and laughed. I got in his face and he sent me to the office for shoving him. Instead I just walked out the front door and trekked, on foot, the 18 miles home. I wasn’t going to go through that again. I made it home with the help of a stranger who saw me walking on the side of the highway. Once home I plopped down on the couch right in front of both of my parents, said I quite school, then immediately broke down into tears.

It was a harsh lesson. My parents weren’t going to support me if I wasn’t in school unless I had a job. As a high school drop out it was next to impossible to find a job. SO what did I do? I took a box of my stuff to the side of the highway and had a yard sale. I walked over to the local gas station, also the only business in town, and begged people to let me wash their windshields for tips. I did that for all of a day before I came up with my own plan. I asked my parents to enroll me in a home school program instead. They agreed and I went back to school.

This is what I often do when I get knocked down. First I try to make it on my own. If that fails I look at my resources and see what I can pool. When I was 18 I had invested in a bunch of musical equipment because I wanted to be a hip hop DJ. When I found myself out of work I just started doing parties for people. I didn’t make a ton of money but I quickly learned I could sell my stuff to pay my bills. Once I learned I could do that something clicked. I made a living for about a year and a half just buying stuff at the thrift stores, yard sales and flee markets and flipping it on ebay. After a while I turned that into a store front and started my own comic book shop online, then set up a small space in my mothers basement. I was able to survive off this for a few years, occasionally having to get a part time pizza delivery job to replenish my funds to buy more stuff or to invest in my next big idea.

I learned that feeling empathy for people allowed me to connect with them on a deeper level than the cold hearted capitalist way I had learned in school. I found out  could make more money taking people’s old photos and video tapes then transferring those to DVD. I found paying jobs photographing or videoing weddings and other special occasions was more lucrative than selling nostalgia to nerds. That’s why when I got to college I studied broadcasting. I honed a skill I knew I could use to support myself.

I couldn’t do any of this if I didn’t care about people. That heart of a poet is what motivates me now. I am more motivated today by a desire to do good and help others than I ever was to pursue fame and fortune. I prefer the small time blog to working in a corporate owned newsroom. I prefer photographing children smiling and having fun rather than car crashes on the side of the road. I enjoy recording a simple podcast where I can be myself to the pressures of producing a TV or radio show that will appeal to advertisers first and foremost.

That is who I am. I have the heart of a poet and the will of a lion because life sucks but I don’t have to suck. I can rise above the evil in this world and be the good I want others to be. I can inspire others to do better because I don’t need to chase the “American dream” which is a capitalist lie. The real dream is to have a few good friends and then spend your time making the world a better place than you found it. I hope I have done that or can work towards that goal. In the meantime I will say this. When life kicks you down thank the person who put you on the ground, hug the earth and get back up.

Why Last House on the Left remains one of the most prolific horror movies I’ve ever seen

It’s the first horror movie I ever watching based on a recommendation someone else made. Although it wasn’t intended to be a recommendation rather than a warning to stay away. The movie isn’t known for it’s gore or eve it’s jump scares. It’s more known for the way it take a seemingly innocent girls night out and turns it into a twisted tale of murder, mayhem and revenge.

The movie came with an aura of mystery surrounding it. It was the one horror film my mom told me never to watch. She said how she went to see it in theaters and it traumatized her. My mom never watched that many horror movies to my knowledge so it was unusual for me to hear her describe one she had seen. Even more so she described it as the most terrifying movie she had ever seen next to The Hills Have Eyes.

I grew up loving horror movies so for me knowing there was one out there that had frightened my mother so I had to check it out. As someone who watched as many horror films as I have I never expected it would leave a mark on me. I went into it thinking my mom oversold it. I was going to leave it behind thinking what a wuss she was. I was wrong.

To this day it remains one of the few horror movies that has affected me in such a negative way. So much so I’ve surely written about it more than once. To this day it remains one I make sure not to over do it. I like to savor it, hold it for special occasions where I can sink my teeth into it. Times when I need to be reminded that horror movies don’t have to be about the gore or the shock value. Sometimes they can just be terrifying all on their own.

The movie was one I took a long time for me to get into. The reason I put off watching it for so long was because my mom warned me not to watch it. The first time I watched it in fact was in 2005. It was on a road trip back to Idaho from Kansas. My sister and I were travelling by Grey Hound bus to go attend a funeral for a friend of ours who lost his battle with cancer. That road trip itself contributed to the chills the movie send down our spines as we watched for the first time with one of our friends who let us stay with her that weekend.

The movie opens with a couple of teenage girls from the country heading into the big city to attend a rock concert. It doesn’t take long before they find themselves wrapped up in a terrifying ordeal as they wind up being kidnapped by a group of escaped murders during a drug deal gone wrong.

The movie follows the twisted minds of those psychopaths as they take the girls via trunk of their car to the woods. There the two men and their overly sexual female accomplice proceed to rape and torture the young ladies in a harrowing scene that leaves the viewer in a state of shock. It’s not the most shocking scene you will see in comparison to modern movies but considering the time, the tone of the film and the reality we live in, the scene is quite effective in distilling true terror in the blood of those watching it.

It ends with one of the girls meeting her demise in a gruesome manner just off camera as was the norm during those days. It makes the scene more effective as they say leaving the horrors up to the viewers imagination. Meanwhile the friend uses the opportunity of her friends assault to escape into the woods in an attempt to save herself knowing it was too late for the other girl.

The movie takes a dark turn as it is revealed the girls were in the backyard of the main character the whole time!

This is where the movie gets dark. The murders find their way in the country hospitality of the parents of the daughter they just terrorized. Even after the girl escapes the band of misfits decide to enjoy the home as they discover they are sleeping in the bedroom of the girl they raped earlier that day.

It doesn’t take the movie long before the parents deduce what took place. The mother makes her way into the backyard where she discovers the body of one of the girls that had gone missing. The parents then concoct their own plan to enact revenge on the murders sleeping in their own daughters bed.

The thrills that this movie enacts come largely from the mixed tone. You have the comic relief of the local dopey cops, the out of touch-turned-violent parents, and the odd out of place country tunes playing in the background of a movie mixed with rape scenes that are borderline torture porn, a violence suicide and a drug addict’s struggle to come to terms with the guilt of what he did. The chills don’t come from the kills themselves but the look in on the young girls face as her teenage life comes to an abrupt end.

The movie ends with the sheriff walking in just as the dad is about to take a chainsaw to the leader of the criminals.

The aftermath of the film is a reminder that the two men responsible for putting it together would become masters of terror in the horror genre. Sean S. Cunningham would leave the movie behind to give birth to the Friday the 13th franchise. Wes Craven himself followed the movie up with creating the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise.

The movie gets a lot of its extended mythology among fans in the pedigree of the filmmakers behind it. Who knew the man who created Jason Vorhees and the father of Freddy Krueger would collaborate on a chilling suspenseful thrill ride a decade prior to their breakout successes respectively.

Goldfish on the Mountain: Chapter Four

Chapter four

He made his slow walk up the snow covered hill back towards his cabin. He hadn’t caught much; it was just a pair of baby rabbits that would soon be the main ingredient of his stew he would cook up for supper. The thoughts of his previous life were beginning to fade away as he blew one more whistle in the direction towards his companion, his trusty Border collie, Sandy.

“Come on Sandy girl; get over here right now daddy’s got some rabbit for supper.”

As the man walked to the cabin he went straight to the fridge and grabbed an ice cold beer. Normally he would sit down, talk to his goldfish and tell Goldie about his day his own supper Not today. He just wasn’t in much of a mood for anything other than drifting back down memory lane.

The man sat there sipping his beer as he reminisced his old life. Each drink of the beer served to drown out an unwanted memory. There was something else he was trying to drown out. He looked over towards the bedroom door across the kitchen. He could hear muffled moans coming from that direction.

Hang tight my dear. All will be right with the world soon enough.

From inside the room a woman lay tied to a bed. She was naked with dried, bloody scars all over her body. She sobbed as she could hear the sounds of her captor in the other room. Fear filled her heart as she dreaded his return. The woman tugged at her shackles trying to free herself before he came back. She looked back and forth around the room for anything she could use to defend herself. It was useless. She began banging her head against the headboard in desperation.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

“Knock it off in there!” the man said through the door.

He sat back down at the table to finish his beer.

“How you doing there Goldie?” he asked his tiny little pet as an evil smile creeped on his face.

He walked over to the goldfish bowl and tapped on the side.

“Today is the anniversary of the day my life ended,” he said. “Tonight it’s my turn to have some fun with that frigid bitch.”

He smiled as he watched his pet gobble up all the food swimming back and forth in his bowl.

“It must be great living such a life as yours Goldie: no worries, no responsibility, and least of all no guilt.”

The man grabbed a six pack of beers with three cans left on the plastic holder. He walked over to the couch, slumped over and waited to drift off to sleep. He kicked a stack of newspapers out of his way as he walked to the couch. He sat down and looked back towards the bedroom door.

Be patient woman, I’ll be in there to settle your mind soon enough. For now, rest up and wait for me.

The man sat there on the couch thinking of the thing he had done. He tried to tune out the sounds coming from the bedroom. Sounds that filled his heart with a mixture of guilt and regret. He knew better, he knew there was nothing but pain and misery in that bed and he knew that now was not the time to open that wound back up. He wanted to let this go. He was trying to forget what he had done. He was trying to forget the life he ruined.

Life doesn’t work that way, you don’t get a free pass you fuck someone over like that, life fucks you right back.

He looked over at the bedroom door and thought to himself.

“I’m the one that gets to do the fucking tonight,”

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