Tag Archives: bumbling into body hair

Deleted Scene from Bumbling into Body Hair

I cut 23,000 words from BiBH for the final version that went to publication, but sometimes I refer folks to scenes in the book that now aren’t there. This is the scene that gets brought up the most, so for everyone who would love a little more memoir, enjoy some road rage.

road rage; raised fist through car windowEveryone I met through Susanne knew me as Everett. I didn’t ask whether she told them I was transgender or not, because I presumed I didn’t look very male, even though I’d been on T for 8 months. I had a bit of chin hair I had to shave every few days still, but other than that, I looked the same, at least to me. I still got the occasional second glance, but it had been a while since anyone had verbally or physically accosted me. So perhaps I was due for another flare up.

I was driving down to the cheap hair styling place in Virginia again, which was bustling with more traffic than ever now that a new grocery store and condominium complex had come into the neighborhood. It was a condominium “of rare occurrence,” as the billboard next to the highway touted, which made me laugh. So the condo building was only rarely in existence and other times not there at all?

I slowed down and stopped for a yellow light, and the car behind me honked. Looking at the driver in my rear-view mirror, I put my hands up to suggest I had no other options, and promptly forgot about him.

Four or five lights later—which in metropolitan DC means something like 8–10 minutes of elapsed time—I made my turn into the strip mall. The parking spot at the very end of the row, next to the salon was open, but I needed to back up to get the car in. I couldn’t back up though, and I saw that it was the same driver who’d honked at me back on the road. Slowly, it dawned on me that he was irate. He saw me looking at him quizzically and started honking his horn and screaming at me. Read More…

On the Road for an Unknown Writer’s Book Tour

The book tour is an endangered species, part of the soon-to-be archaic practice of publishers in getting publicity for top- and mid-list authors when their latest books hit the market. I remember book tours from the bookstore perspective, because I was once a book buyer and I coordinated readings up in Syracuse, New York. Stephen King, impeccably nice. Oliver Stone, not so nice. Mollie Katzen had lots of culinary tips, William Bennet was reserved, and Donna Shalala had a great booming laugh. For each of these events we ordered 30, 40, 75 copies of their tomes, and the lines stretched out of the store and into the student life building atrium. We’d put extra people on shift and listen to the cash registers ring with sales. It was something of an assembly line: customers waiting, picking up books, paying for books, getting books signed, out the door. A signing could last one or two hours before the interest petered out. We tried not to frown when people arrived with their own books or with books that had been released years earlier, because the authors were sure glad to see everyone. Some of the authors had requests up front or in their contracts that we had to fulfill, things like having sparkling water, or having a rival’s books tucked out of sight, and of course, of course, we were more than happy to oblige them.

When I do a reading, I count it as lucky if the store remembers I’m showing up that night. One reading had me and a few friends standing nervously on the sidewalk, the store dark and empty of staff, while I called my publicist. We were saved from reading on the street or walking away in sorrow when a random car with three store employees drove by us, wheeled around, and opened up the building. By the time I started reading in the quickly rearranged room, 15 people had shown up. Read More…

Across the Continent in 5 Days

National AirportI’ve got one hour until boarding time for my flight to Chicago. Flying in and out of O’Hare is always a little nerve-wracking because it’s an airport that can kick you in the teeth if you haven’t planned well or aren’t on the top of your game. I shushed my friend Barbara when she assured me everything would go well today, because I hate tempting fate. Excuse me, I mean Fate. With a capitol F.

I might as well admit to my other big airplane flying superstition: I hold my feet off the floor when we land so I can have good luck for the next flight. I guess I can’t call it “paying it forward” if it’s for my own benefit, but I will point out here I’m not completely selfish because supposedly all the other people on the flight with me would receive my good fortune as well. And I know I’m being completely ridiculous, but the little kid me heard my grandpa tell me to do it when crossing railroad tracks and landing in a plane, and now I can’t shake it for planes. I keep my feet where they are when going over tracks because 1: it makes it too hard to keep driving if I lift them up, and 2: Walla Walla has a ton of railroad crossings in and around town.

This has been a great trip, save my pangs of missingness for the wee one and Susanne. She’s been kind enough to send me pictures of him throughout the day with a video here and there so I can listen to him babble. And thank modern technology for FaceTime on the iPhone–he smiles at me across 3,000 miles and my heart leaps just as hard as when we’re together. Read More…

Useless Fears About Reading One’s Work

in other words bookstore frontI’m reading this afternoon at In Other Words, the last nonprofit feminist bookstore in the country. The one featured in Portlandia, but I won’t mention that today when I’m there, in case they’re sore about it. As is typical for me and my neuroses, I have some worst-case scenarios in my head that won’t leave me alone, even though I know they’re extremely improbable. Here is the list of “what ifs” that I’ve dwelt on so far:

1. I will get motion sickness from trying to figure out how to use my new bifocals that I throw up on myself or the audience.

2. A recent rain in Portland will create a puddle over by the electrical panel and my mic will electrocute me when I’m talking about intimate like packing or breasts.

3. My ex will show up to challenge everything I wrote about him like I’m the next and more disappointing version of James Frey.

4. My bow tie will be too tight and my head will explode.

5. Everyone will realize that they’re so tired of my announcements about this reading they’ll decide not to show up after all. The coffee shop on the next block, however, will be swamped with an impromptu open mic event.

None of these are likely to happen, I know. But neither are they impossible. At least I haven’t envisioned the zombie apocalypse beginning at this very event.

Damn it!

5 Reasons I Wrote Bumbling into Body Hair

Folks don’t have to bring it up a dozen times; I get that this is one of people’s top questions for me. After all, there are a lot of books out there that depict the author’s life in some fashion, and not all of them are memoirs. Certainly very few of them are about people who are gender nonconforming. If we presume I was going to write something and not just make my way through life–which is a big assumption,  granted–then there was a specific decision-making process at work here. I picked this story and told it in this way. Perhaps people see memoir writing as narcissistic in the lowest common denominator. I hope my book doesn’t strike readers that way, not the least reason because I attempted to describe a story that allows for everyone else’s story to be told. Nothing in this book represents anyone else’s experience, and in that way, I hope I’ve done something that stretches beyond vanity. Here’s where my motivation lies: Read More…

Capture the Flag

Field Programmable Gate Arrays textbookIt should come as no surprise to anyone that getting my hands on a copy of my own book has been something of a debacle. I’ve been reading through the manuscript for the last couple of weeks wondering which sections I should offer up at my inaugural reading in Portland this weekend. For me and my easily tired eyes, scrolling on a screen works less well than flipping through actual pages. I’d rather hold sections open with pens and fingers and jump around to plan out my entertainment strategy than make electronic notes on my tablet. And I’m a big fan of technology. Just not for this purpose.

I dropped onto Amazon on the first day of sale and noted that I’d have to pay almost as much for shipping as for the book itself if I wanted to get it in time for our trip to Portland. And then I saw it, a little glimmer of a link–a free month-long trial for Amazon Prime. It was my knight in brilliant armor, promising me an easy, free delivery by Tuesday. Read More…

By Way of Cover Design

Authors don’t usually have much say in the covers of their books, idioms about judging books notwithstanding, but in the digital revolution sometimes conversations about cover design make it to the writer, who naturally has  opinions about the thing. Trouble is, nobody else in the publishing house really cares about those opinions, and maybe it’s best if they ignore us writers. We may be too invested in relaying a scene or theme from the book as opposed to creating a visually appealing cover that will sell books. After all, we’re wordsmiths, not graphic designers.

Unless we’ve also done graphic design work (cough, cough). But even then our input is presumed to be minimal. Read More…

The Terrain of Bumbling

There’s a little less than a month now until the release of my memoir, Bumbling into Body Hair: Adventures of an Accident-Prone Transsexual. I’d rather keep it simple and just be excited, but that isn’t my DNA. Instead I’ve got anxiety up the wazoo and I find myself curtailed by disappointing fantasies of weak sales, offended reviews, and a whole lot of ho-hum regarding the writing. It would be one thing to keep my expectations low, but I enjoy flirting with the border of self-torture. Before anyone begins commenting that it’s all going to be okay, please know that I understand these are just as implausible outcomes as landing in a soft chair on the Ellen DeGeneres Show. If nothing else, I’m accustomed to my own neuroses. So in an attempt to foil my weaknesses, I’m writing today about the issues brought up in my memoir. Call it a teaser of sorts. Read More…

Subtitle Limbo

Once upon a time the title to my memoir was the vague and mildly misleading, “Jersey Boy.” Then that awful movie came out, and the cringefest that is Jersey Shore debuted on MTV. I recognized that in addition to these two negative contextual cues, it didn’t really matter that I am originally from the Garden State, becuase the whole memoir takes place in Washington, DC, and only people who know me personally could remotely care that I hail from the mid-Atlantic state.

Worse, it didn’t say anything about what the book was about.

So I came up with Bumbling into Body Hair: Tales of a Klutz’s Sex Change. That title spelled out everything I thought needed explanation. It’s a funny book. It’s about trans people. It shares the tone and a snippet of the protagonist’s voice.  Read More…

The Road to Publication. . .

still from the movie Airplaneis riddled with nausea. Well, at least in my case. After all of these years of sprained joints, broken bones, bouts of mono and shingles, I can’t say I’m surprised when acute illness or accident pops up, especially when it’s least convenient. Just a couple of years ago I had to flee the Census worker’s orientation with a sudden case of stomach flu. Seems like many times when I’m finally celebrating something terrific, like my own wedding, that’s exactly when part of my body gives out, like my left knee. I know I’m enacting a confirmation bias here, but I still worry there’s some grand curse on my bones and where they meet up with sinew and muscle.

So after something close to 20 rejections on my memoir, right about when I was thinking of self-publishing it just to get it out on the market, I received an email from a publisher I’d met at this year’s Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association, back in early August. He said he’d like to talk with me about where they are in the process of considering my memoir.

I spent 10 minutes rereading the three sentence email.  Read More…

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