Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Three Bitchin' Babes (With an Extended Cameo by B.B. Halle) Conquer Canada: A Tale of Camaraderie, Caffeine, and Apple Pie (Plus Lots and Lots of Beaver Jokes) or Help I Got Nature On Me....or..... GREATEST JOINT BLOG POST EVER

Help I Got Nature On Me

The greatest international BFF meet up since Yalta

I will leave it up to Cassidy’s superior blogging skills to recount the blow by blow details of her visit to Canukistan. Beginning with the strip search at Canada Customs....sorry was I not supposed to mention that?

By the way Cass also posted her version of events, mine is of course the one true version.

I want to deal with a couple of personal issues, the first being memory. I met up with Alice and Cassidy on Friday in Toronto. I took the GoTrain into Union Station which always brings back memories of my time working for BMO’s Cebra division on Yonge and Bloor. 

The bank wasn't as exciting as my later career in automotive television but I enjoyed working in Toronto (Canada’s self proclaimed centre of the universe), the hustle and bustle...the great record stores.

Acting as tour guide I took the girls on an alternative tour of the city with particular emphasis on my old hang out of Queen Street East. The original hipster part of the city, rich with clubs, cool clothing, book and record stores back in my day.

It was amazing how little had changed. the first stop was Kops Collectibles, my fav record store that had reverted almost completely to vinyl, where upstairs you can still listen to 45s before you buy them. I think I even recognised one of the owners as he came over to speak to us. I am positive he didn't recognise me.

vinyl hounds on the prowl

We also hit Sonic Boom and a great clothing store further down Queen called, where we discover our new favourite dress brand, StopStarring.

juke box at Sonic Boom

It was emotional returning to the place I spent my late teens early twenties. It was in the University of Toronto libraries that I would haunt the stacks for any book on transsexualism. I never found the one I that could have made a difference, Harry Benjamin’s, Transsexual Phenomenon. Instead I remained lost failing to recognise myself in the psychological texts that relegated our kind to a footnote on sexual perversion. 
(here is a link to a pdf of the entire book....you're welcome.... http://www.mut23.de/texte/Harry%20Benjamin%20-%20The%20Transsexual%20Phenomenon.pdf

Mere blocks away up Spadina was Camh (the former Clarke Institute), given its prior reputation it was perhaps a good thing I never learnt of its existence back then.

It was as if I were travelling in time, the woman I am now walking the same streets I walked as a confused and angry young man. I remember passing by stores displaying fashions I could never dream of wearing, Like the hapless protagonist in Vonnegut’s Slaughter House Five, I felt myself break loose from the moorings of time. Like the layers of an onion past and present unwound leaving me emotionally drained.

Later we would visit my former home in Huntsville, where I had first become aware of my transsexualism (of course I didn't know that term back then, all I knew was that I wanted to be a girl). I hadn’t been back since I was seven. 

My heart ached for the younger me, the years of pain. I wanted to cross that boundary and tell me that I could save myself , to be brave, to live an unimaginable and seemingly impossible future.

OK back to the great international T-Central meet up. I had met Alice before when she visited to test drive a new Corvettes, so we had already bonded as sisters of blessed acceleration.

Cassidy and I have known each other for longer, dating back to the dark days of our early blogging career. Starting with frequent comments on each others posts to phone calls and endless pun filled texts we became best friends. Often we joked that we must be sisters and speculated on which parent had “strayed”.

Like any teenage girls (despite our advanced ages we are in our second adolescence whether we want it or not) we have had our falling outs and making ups. 

Because of work and family commitments I could not meet Cass at the airport, that honour went to Alice (thank you for all your driving!!!). 
Cass at Toronto Airport

More suitably for our shared interest in all things retro we met at Toronto’s grandest building, Union Station on Friday morning. 


The girls had stayed the night before at the historic Royal York Hotel across the street. 

Royal York on the left....yes Toronto has regular airship service

The hotel’s Library Bar in now our headquarters for planning world domination or at least a revival of travel by airship. They make a mean grapefruit vodka cocktail. I had one and it must have been a double, I quickly spilled my guts about the terrible relationship I just ended

For me there was no awkwardness, we were old friends....well we were even though we had never met outside the bounds of communication technology. I felt absolutely comfortable in her presence, Saturday night after a trip to the Falls and Niagara on the Lake we watched the Candy Darling documentary and stayed up till well past three am talking about everything.

Candy and Tennessee William

Sunday morning we were to leave to visit Alice’s super cool cottage in Huntsville, I spent the morning rushing around getting ready while fighting back tears. At the time I was at a loss for my emotional state. I believe now that I was upset by the prospect of facing childhood demons and that the first half of Cass’s trip was over and yes she would eventually have to leave. I wanted Her and Alice to live in the same town as me, no make that on the same street, so we could hang out all the time.

Kilbear Provincial Park on Georgian Bay

Alice's four cylinder Chevy II powered boat

When Alice and I said goodbye to Cass at Pearson airport I was glad I had my emotional melt down the day before. Still it was hard not to get chocked up. After I picked up my car from airport parking, Alice was kind enough to wait out rush hour traffic with me over coffee, otherwise I might had cried all the way home. Damn hormones....

The good news is that a return engagement is planned for October-November, stay tuned.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Is There an Automotive Goddess? I am asking as I want to know to whom to give thanks, you know light a candle, an offering of 20W-50, sacrifice a virgin

I am asking as I want to know too whom to give thanks, vintage cars can be fickle things and I don't want to jinx my lucky streak with all things internal combustion related.

If I may offer two suggestions as the patron saints of automobiles,  Jayne Mansfield and Diana Dors, both of whom had the good taste to own 1959 Cadillacs. The less said about Jayne and Buicks the better.

Jayne on the hood of a 58 Caddy ambulance

I do have one very I expensive repair coming up but that is on my modern vehicle (twenty years old is modern to me).

Two weeks ago I went and started my 59 Cadillac after almost two years in storage, same with my 76 Buick Electra and my 76 Lincoln Mark IV (she had only been started in the spring).

I took both the Caddy and the Electra for short drives, they idled beautifully, I was soooo happy.

Biggest Buick ever made, 455 cubic inch V8
Last weekend Alice visited and we went to inspect my father's horde of Jaguars, MGs and Rileys. Afterwards we dusted off "old reliable" my rat rod 76 Lincoln Mark IV. The Mark has a custom built 460 V8 (witness me as I ride the highways of Valhalla)...she too roared to life like the day she left the Wixom, Michigan assembly line. The Mark is my bug out ride when the inevitable zombie apocalypse occurs. Voted one of the ten best cars to survive the rise of the undead.

We went for a short ride along a quite road that followed the shore of Lake Ontario, where Alice snapped this awesome picture.

ready to take on the walking dead....I would never walk I would take a car
Today I changed the oil & filter as well as the coolant in the Cadillac, washed off the dust and a short test drive to put in some fresh high test dinosaur juice. My father was there to lend a hand and friends dropped by with coffee.
getting gas with J and A

Detroit meets Tokyo......16 cylinders between them
looks like the South of France right? Dinner in Monaco anyone?

I was very happy to get the Cadillac serviced successfully, she is due to be used in a wedding in September so I want everything in order. Also it is great that something has being going right in my life. Career and relationships suck and my confidence has taken quite a hit. I have been plagued by panic attacks and even the thought of working on my cars filled me with fear.

So hopefully my prayers will be answered and the goddesses of chrome and flame will continue to smile upon me.

not taken in France and not my house


Thursday, 30 July 2015

American Girl ..... Unless you have a pre-teen girl in your family you might not be aware of the American Girl doll cultural phenomenon.

The American Girl doll line was created back in 1986  Pleasant T. Rowland a former school teacher, news reporter and author. The dolls were originally designed to inspire an interest in history. The first few dolls had their own back stories (and accompanying books) that covered a wide swath of American history from the Revolution through the Civil War, the industrial revolution, the Great Depression and WWII.

And it worked! My middle daughter who has the 1940s era Molly American Doll and her friend Emily (an English American doll) was inspired to know about WWII history and speak to her grandmother about being young child during the blitz.

Despite the dolls high cost there is little to argue about there. I have always believed it paramount to understand the past to understand the present and to deal with the future.

Rowland's company was sold to Mattel, iconic toy conglomerate and maker of Barbie and Hot Wheels, in 1998. In 2008 the historical dolls have been discontinued or in American girl speak, "archived". 


The dolls have become quite the cultural phenomena band despite the name are equally popular in Canada. All my daughters have an American Girl doll and several outfits and accessories. In the last year three stores have been opened north of the border.

My middle daughter is the biggest fan of the brand, for her birthday we ordered her the  historical doll, Josefina, a latina girl living on a ranch in prior to the Mexican-American war.   Unfortunately this doll is not made available in Canada and I had to order and ship to Cassidy who will forward on to the Great White North.

As part of my middle daughters birthday we drove into Toronto with her sisters and grandmother to visit her personal shrine to consumerism....the American Girl store in the Eaton's Centre.

We left after the morning rush hour and parked in the Eaton's Centre garage. There right in front of us  as we emerged from the third floor parking deck was the American girl store.  The look on her face was pure excitement!

She spent her birthday money on some outfits and accessories, my teenage daughter hit up Hollister, Pink and other clothing stores. I held the bags and tried not to get distracted by all the lovely things I could not afford right now.

Still it was a good day and one I hope she will remember happily for years to come.



Sorry no photos of my daughters because of obvious personal privacy and security reasons.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Gabba Gabba Hey....One of Us, One of Us American Horror Story Season Four and the desire to live a normal life

Television viewing has really evolved in the last few years, no longer communal and no longer on a TV either. I long ago cut my cable ties and if I want to see anything it is through Netflicks or more and more commonly I stream it. Laptop connected to big screen or just my old Apple and I alone in the dark.

It would seem that we live in a new golden age of TV, Mad Men (oh Don. I miss you so...sigh), The Walking Dead, OITNB and quite a few more that I don’t have time to commit to.  

Less stellar but just as compelling was the forth season of the anthology series, American horror Story. Truth be told I haven’t seen seasons one through three but when I read the synopsis for the current season I had to check it out. Freak show in the fifties Florida.

The writers put an interesting spin on a story clearly inspired by Tod Browning’s 1932 shocker Freaks. The proprietress, a Miss Elsa is a Nazi era chanteuse with more than a passing resemblance to Marlene Dietrich, played by Jessica Lang. 

The series successfully walks the tenuous tight rope connecting ultra modern suburban fifties America to the dying tradition of the side show and the decadence of pre war Berlin. Unlikely ingredients but tasty as a poisoned candy apple.

The series has some superfluous story lines and I didn't really care for the use of a modern soundtrack when the fifties offered a wealth of weired and wonderful tunes that would have been right at home in an evil carnival.

There is even one character that could be characterised as intesex if not trans. The freaks are meant to elicit our sympathy and are clearly the heroes of the piece, but they are a realistic mix of good and evil. 

There is much talk of “passing” and the desire to live a normal life that no doubt will be familiar feeling to anyone who is transsexual. Do I consider myself a freak, yes I guess I do but I would be offended by anyone who called me that. 

Enjoy....just remember to look under your bed for killer clowns.



Sunday, 19 July 2015

Hopelessness....sometimes you bear the unbearable....sometimes the bear eats you

Recently I had an interview with a well funded tech startup. I was very excited about the prospect of once again working in Toronto, not to mention such crass concerns as salary and benefits.

And lets not forget to add a sense of self worth and dignity but who is counting.

Despite much research and planning the interview didn’t go anything like I expected, good or bad. Rather it turned out worse than I could have imagined. The interviewer and I seemed to be speaking different languages. I usually do well in interview situations and I am still trying to unpack what went wrong in this case.

I left the interview knowing in no uncertain terms that I did not get the job. I also had the distinct impression that I was old, useless and obsolete.

I have faced disappointment before but this one hit me really hard. I thought I was in a good position with the skills and experience the company needed as well as a positive reference from a friend on the inside. I felt that I had let myself and more importantly my friend down by my poor performance.

Even worse was the feeling of hopelessness. In the aftermath I felt I would never get out of my low paying "transitional” job and my career permanently stalled. I believed that I should be put out on the ice flow and unburden society from my useless presence.

I lay on the floor of my room wanting nothing more than numbness to claim me body and soul. I wanted to swallow all my sleeping pills to run Corvette in the garage. Jeez, I make it sound like my life is kinda dramatic no?

For the first time I had doubts about transition....purley economic ones....Im not that crazy yet.

Sometimes I wish I could just run away, cash in my remaining assets and go live in the South of France till the money runs out then walk into the Mediterranean.

Thankfully both genetic and trans girlfriends were there for me. Alice called, Sasha took me for coffee and Cass and I Skyped late into the night.

The hopelessness faded to be replaced by a deep sadness and anger. I am told I am resilient, fearless, I don’t know if that is true but it seems a curse not being able to give to have no other choice but to keep fighting.

The next day and the day after, I continued to “bear the unbearable” I got up and went to the job that is an utter waste of my talents and later headed to the house that is no longer mine to see my children. 

For better or worse I keep fighting.....

Monday, 13 July 2015

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead......toxic relationship is c'est fini

I finally broke up with the person who was making my life miserable, after a month of sporadic contact I forced the conversation that ended it all.

I wish I could have let all my anger out but I still loved them and could not bring myself to say anything really hurtful. No friends going forward, I am still too weak to see them in any social setting...better out of site and out of mind.

I did in no uncertain terms tell them that they had behaved horribly, cruelly and were the worst sort of coward.

Did my unfortunate history have anything to do with breakup....yes partially

I can't believe how much this toxic relationship damaged my self confidence.

Well it was good to be the normal one in the relationship for a change.

Big thanks to Alice, Cass, Joanne, April and Julie for listening and providing a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.

Music is the best medicine sometimes: