Sunday, 30 January 2011

What's In A Name? Part IV

Guess what arrived in the mail the other day? A shiny new name change certificate! (Or, Certificate of Change of Name, because of course we can't do it the easy way, can we?)

This happened both faster and slightly cheaper than I expected. Remember that $200+ fee I was quoted at the beginning? It was more like $175.00(plus the $25.00 fingerprint processing fee, but we'd already figured that one in.) I was also told, I believe, 4-6 weeks before I could expect it to arrive. Less than two weeks later, there it is!

The registry agent told me it would be all pink and purple, and "pretty enough to frame." And you know what? It really is. It's not something that most people have hanging on their walls, at least. So now I have a certificate, with just slightly less security features than your typical $5 bill, proclaiming me to be me, rather than that other person who was running around with my life.

Of course,(and isn't that always the way?) this was actually the easy part. I still need to go through all the steps to get my name changed on my photo ID, with my phone, with my bank, on my passport... What fun, yes? Oh, and with Alberta Heathcare, at my doctor's, on my prescriptions...

Friday, 28 January 2011

Because You Could Live Off Borscht

I really do think that, with this recipe at least, one could live off Borscht for quite a long time. It has all the protein, fat, fibre and vitamins a body could need! Ok, don't quote me on that. I have only a vague idea of what constitutes a balanced, nutritious diet, but I still think that if all you had to eat was this Borscht, you'd be doing pretty well.

Now, unlike the previous recipes I've put up here in some premature, experimental state, this one is tried, tested and true. Seriously, I eat this all the time and I've yet to get sick of it. It also changes a bit each time I make it, based on what I have or what I forgot, so you get more of a general guide line than a proper recipe. But that's ok. Vague recipes are a Mennonite tradition, and this one comes down the line from the Mennonite side of my family. And again, mine is probably a little different than my mom's, and hers is different from my grandma's.

I start by making a nice beef stock by boiling soup bones in a big pot of water. And I mean a big pot, not the sauce pan that you can get away with for a pack of KD or a can of soup. Look for soup bones that have some meat on them; you'll want to add that meat later. The process here is pretty simple. Put soup bones in the pot, fill at least half-way with water, set it to boil, and simmer with the lid on for a few hours or "until ready."

Now you take it off the heat, remove the soup bones and set them aside. If you've got time to let the broth sit and cool for a while, do that. Even better if you can leave it in the fridge over night, as that makes it particularly easy to skim the fat off the top(seriously, when chilled in the fridge, I can just grab the solid chunks off the top with a pair of tongs.) Otherwise, use a spoon to skim off the fat and put it in whatever grease collecting container you use for disposal or whatever. I mean, if you want you can always make soap out of it later.

Once you have your broth, put about five to eight(or, you know, however many you like) black peppercorns and a bay leaf in a spice ball and drop it in, adding a generous sprinkling of dill to the broth while you're at it. Start it a-boiling and a-simmering again while you chop and add your vegetables.

My understanding of Borscht is that it must contain cabbage and beets, but what do I know? Mine typically contains cabbage, beets, onion, carrot, rutabaga, potato and a can of diced tomatoes. About half the time I forget the tomatoes and/or the potato, but the rest is there for sure. The rutabaga is my own addition to the recipe for the simple reason that I like rutabaga. Yummy rutabaga... What? Right. Anyway. You can pretty much use whatever combination of root vegetables you like or have on hand. Chop up a good amount of each (I'm talking like, one large carrot, one russet potato, half a large rutabaga etc.) into bite-size pieces. Add each vegetable as you chop it, giving it a stir as you do. Add the can of tomatoes(if you haven't done like I did and forgot it.)

While that's simmering away, take the soup bones you set aside earlier and remove the meat. Do this however works best for you; use a knife, your bare hands, a combination thereof, whatever. Your goal is to separate the good meat from the bone, fat and other gristle. Add the meat to the Borscht and let that simmer a little bit longer, giving an occasional stir when you check on it.

You can always add some water at any point if the level has gotten too low. Any excess liquid will boil off, and you really can't kill this.

Serve hot. I always have a bowl or two right when I finish and before I store the rest.

For storage, I usually freeze mine in 1L mason jars, but you can use whatever works best for you. If you do like I do, you've got to do it carefully. Freezer plus glass equals glass shards if it isn't done properly, something I sacrificed four jars to find out. The fact that I still ate those batches is entirely beside the point...

The first rule is to never go quickly from hot to cold. Let the Borscht cool at least to room temperature, or let it chill in the fridge first. The second rule is to leave about an inch of space at the top, and don't seal it completely right away. You want to give the Borscht space to expand as it freezes. You can always screw the tops down properly the next day.

Now, after what you just ate, you probably have a good three litres of Borscht that will keep for however long you need. Sometimes mine makes it a full two week before it disappears.

Share and enjoy!

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Momentum And Why I Need It

This is perhaps the most fitting time for me to tackle the subject, since I seem to have stalled out on the blog a bit. It was looking pretty good for a while there too, wasn't it? Every couple of days, something new.

But then I let myself take a break. I told myself, "Eh, I'll write it tomorrow." "Ran out of time." "Next time I have a good night's sleep, I'll be able to post something." (Note that once sleep-deprived, it is very difficult for me to have a "good night's sleep" for quite a while.) What it comes down to is I made a lot of excuses for why I didn't post something and I let myself get in the habit of not posting instead of what I wanted to do, which was get into the habit of posting a lot. I didn't keep up my momentum. Now, it is totally possible to recover from lost momentum. I've done it. I did it when I pulled out that old novel idea for NaNoWriMo, and I'm doing it again now. And honestly, it's not that hard once I get started. Hence the momentum bit.

Maybe this isn't a problem for you. Maybe you've solved it already and are totally task-oriented, able to pump out content daily as a matter of course. But maybe, just maybe this is a problem for you, too. It's ok, I know. The secret is momentum. Each day, every day, I need to at least be actively thinking about my writing, by blogging, my book reviews, because if I don't, it can take me a long time to get back to it. Ideally, I'm actually doing something towards each of these things daily.

Yes, I slip up at times. But for the most part, I'm succeeding. Not a day goes by that I don't add at least a few words to my novel, or take down a fiddling plot point. Yes, it's been at least a week since my last blog post, but look at my previous dry-spell that lasted a good three months. The trick is to kick your butt into gear before too much time has passed and you forget that you even had anything going on. What's the best way to do that? Keep at it every day. Live it. Breathe it. Dream about it.

Whatever you do, don't lose momentum. But if you do, just be sure to pick it back up again as quick as possible.

For more about why blogging is awesome and some tips on how to go about it, check out Kristen Lamb's series on blogging starting here. And if you want to check out the rest of her stuff, I totally encourage that, too.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

I've Agreed to Disagree With Ray Bradbury

I love Ray Bradbury. There are many reasons for this, possibly as numerous as the stories he's written, but there is one reason above all others: he's the first of my idols that I've ever disagreed with.

I didn't grow up with Ray Bradbury in the same way that I did with Douglas Adams(more about him in the future, I'm sure,) but he was there during that weird, confusing, universally upsetting period when I wasn't quite a child any more, but I definitely wasn't a teenager yet. I read Fahrenheit 451 in school, and made it my gospel. I cherished the copy of Something Wicked This Way Comes that I was given one year for Christmas. I remember fondly the summer spent on swing sets, reading Dandelion Wine with my mom and my sister. His prose had a way of carrying me away just that much more completely than other books, and for a child with an over-active imagination, who got lost in any story e came across, this was something special indeed. In my eyes, for the longest time, the man could do no wrong.

Then about four, five years ago, I reread Something Wicked. The book hadn't changed of course, but I had.  I'd grown up some, read a whole lot of other things, and had done some of my own questioning about the nature of 'good' and 'evil'. And as I was reading I realized that I no longer agreed with what he was saying, or at least parts of how he was saying it. I still loved the book, and I always will, yet it was a rare and precious moment, realizing that I could disagree with my idol's point of view but still respect him and love his work. It opened me up to the possibility of questioning my other idols without losing my love for them.

Why did I suddenly feel the need to share this with you all? Well, a few days ago TheEchoInside brought this video of An Evening With Ray Bradbury to my attention. It was a wonderful thing, listening to him talk about the art and the craft of his writing. There were many things he said that I agreed with, things like reading. A lot. Reading everything you can get your hands on, no matter how random or unrelated. Short stories, poetry, essays. Anything. And again, as with Something Wicked, there were things I didn't agree with. Mainly the value of the internet.

He seemed to view it as some sort of cultural sink hole, the information here trivial and without substance. I became incredibly aware then, the difference in perspective that a couple of generations and ten years of advances in information technologies can make(the video is from 2001.) I could see why, from his perspective, the internet could never hold a flame to hours spent exploring a library, and it's true that nothing can replace that experience. However, I don't see the internet as trivial or unimportant. Here I have access to information, even ancient information, that I wouldn't necessarily be able to find at my local library, and I have access to people I would never have come across otherwise. People I can share ideas with, who get excited about the same things I do, or have the same fears. Even ten years ago this was possible, if slightly more difficult.

In short, I love Ray Bradbury. His works will always have something to say to me, even if I don't always agree. And that's ok.

Friday, 14 January 2011

What's In A Name? Part III

or Our Hero's Epic Quest to Win His Name

The only thing that can explain my day today is the fact that not only am I a masochist, but I'm a stubborn one at that. And before you accuse me of hyperbole or of misrepresenting masochism, let me assure you that I do know what it is to be a masochist. Intimately.

It started with my deciding to take transit to the notary's office, even though they offered mobile service. I could have chosen to have them come to me. Instead, I thought it would be a good idea to take the bus into the suburbs. This also could have been avoided if I'd gone to a notary downtown. The reason I didn't actually has more to do with my particular brand of anxiety than anything else. It's easier for me to make an appointment by actually talking to someone rather than leaving a message or e-mail, and the one in the boonies had a 'talk to an actual person' option. So.

Between Google Maps telling me this place was impossible to get to and me only really knowing one bus route in the area, this meant a bloody lot of walking, and just to be clear, there is definitely not a Chinook going on right now. Once I actually got there, things went pretty smoothly. It was warm, the notary was nice and helpful, and the idea was brought up of getting to a registry right away. And guess what! There's one close-ish that's open late! Sounds like a good idea, right?


So maybe if I hadn't stopped at that Starbucks to warm up with a hot drink I'd have made it on time, but I'm a masochist not an idiot. When I say I was freezing I mean it literally, and quite frankly frostbite is not something I'm eager to experience. But I left there in plenty of time, right? Well, plenty of time if I hadn't ignored the route Google Maps suggested and gotten myself just a little bit lost along the way. After wandering around the wrong side of the shopping complex for a while, I finally get there twenty minutes to closing only to have the guy tell me they can't do it tonight because it will take half an hour to process.

Brick wall, head smash, gnashing of teeth.

I'd like to tell you there was some epic, climactic scene here, that I told him I didn't care how long it would take, he was going to do this for me now. I'd like to tell you that I didn't just gather up my things and walk quietly back out the door, but the truth is that I'm no good at conflict. Oh, I can write it well enough. Everything I wish I'd said or thought about doing goes into my characters, but in real life I try to avoid it at all costs. I'll battle my way through ice and snow, navigate inadequate transit coverage and keep at it when most sane people would say “You know what? I'm just gonna go home now,” but bending a registry agent to my will is just not one of my skill sets. I can wait for my name just a little while longer.  Tomorrow will be soon enough.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Cat-Bird Stole My Afternoon, And I Don't Care

I have just devoured Dog-Man And Cat-Bird.  I was supposed to be grocery shopping, and I don't care.  I was supposed to be baking buns, and I don't care.  Hell, I was supposed to be doing my own writing, but again, I don't care.  Because for the past 14,000 words, all I've cared about was Cat-Bird.  All I wanted to know was how and what now and oh god, why can't you see what's really going on here?  Yes, ok, I yell at characters in the hopes they'll figure it all out before it's too late.  I do it to the TV.  I do it to my characters too.  It's only because, even for a little while, I really care about them.  And like I said, I cared.

And now for those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about here, I'm talking about the first story in Chuck Wendig's new short story collection Irregular Creatures.  Now that you know about it, go buy it.  If you already knew about it but haven't bought it yet, what's stopping you?  No Kindle?  Amazon doesn't like your method of payment?  Do what I did, contact the Man Himself through his website, send him the monies through PayPal and he'll send you a PDF.  Nothing easier.  And I'm not just saying this because he has those incriminating photographs of me...

Ok, I'm done.  For now.  Chances are I'll report back as I read the rest of the stories though, which I am very much looking forward to doing.  Until then, happy reading and writing, folks.

My Writing Process: Making It Up As I Go Along

Just based on process alone, it's painfully obvious that this is my first novel.  I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started, or what I was getting myself into.  Hell, it started more than anything as a writing exercise.

It all started when this character with the unlikely name of Michael Pariah wandered into my head and politely requested that I write him down.  And so, not knowing any better, I did.  The whole first chapter was just me getting to know him.  (The fact that I've since completely cut that chapter is beside the point.)  I was just writing. I would write when I felt like it, and I'd often have to read what I'd already written to remind myself not only what was going on, but what kind of voice I was using.  I'd also edit.  A lot.  I was committing that most heinous of all writer crimes: editing as I went.  Honestly, even after I'd heard about it I thought I was above that rule.  I'm not, and neither are you.  I'd ask you to believe me, but chances are you won't until you've figured it out for yourself.

Well, between the long breaks and the constant editing, it's really no wonder that my novel fell by the wayside for over a year.  Even though I had begun to get an idea of the plot instead of pantsing it completely, I was storing it all in my head and losing momentum.  Other things got in the way, and I'd made it far too easy for these other things to distract me.  That is, until I noticed this intriguing little Twitter hashtag: #NaNoWriMo.

I'd figured out through context that it had something to do with writing a 50,000 word novel in a month, and thought, what the hell.  I've got that Michael Pariah thing sitting around doing nothing, might as well pull that out and see what happens.  It was already a couple of days into November when I finally found the official NaNoWriMo website, found out it stood for National Novel Writing Month, and joined up.  I found out that there was a whole community involved in this, and a local branch with in-person writing sessions that I resolved to take full advantage of.  This began my second writing phase: writing every day.  I still had my outline in my head rather than written out in any way, but I was keeping up momentum and I wasn't editing as I wrote.  I also began reading a lot more about the craft of writing, most notably at Terrible Minds, a blog by the brilliant and bizarre Chuck Wendig.

Did I win, did I beat the NaNo challenge of 50,000 words?  No.  But that wasn't really my goal.  My goal was to finish my first draft, a goal that (I thought) I had accomplished.  The fact that I'd only finished the first plot-arc is a post for another day.  The upshot here is that I got into the habit of writing, and writing every day.  I'd take my laptop on the bus with me, I'd plug in a few words before bed.  I was writing and I was reading about writing.  And eventually, when December rolled around, I started actually plotting.

Admittedly, I still follow a pretty loose format for my outline, more a series of progressions per character group of this action leads to this action, each one indented further than the one before until it looks like way too many nested replies in a forum thread.  Some of it still reads pretty vaguely, like: →Possibly by becoming Timoth's property as well, pulling a Michael? Perverse... Potential. Need to plot on this...  There's also a lot there that can only really be understood if you're living in my head, but it gives me something to refer to, something to give me a direction.  I've also been noting what scenes I've already written, and in what order so I have a better idea of where I left off and what plot-line to pick up next.

Is it a perfect system?  Hardly.  I'm still learning as I go along, but the more I do the more I can fine-tune my process, and what I do have now is in part thanks to reading the advice and experience of others.  Who knows, maybe by the time I write my second book, I'll actually know what I'm doing.  Until then, I'll be doing a lot more reading, and a lot more writing.

How about you, what does your process look like?  Is there anything you find particularly helpful?  Has your process changed much since you started?  I'd love to hear about it.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Making And Breaking The Rules Of Fantasy

I'll admit right now that I am a one, maybe two genre guy, depending on how closely related you consider Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Yes, I'll read other genres, and it's even possible I'll write other genres down the line, but this is where my heart is.  Fantasy, especially.

When they say "write what you know," this is what I go to.  It's true that I've never dealt with daemons, travelled strange and fantastic lands or wielded mighty magics, but if there's one genre I know inside and out, this is it.  I know the rules of Fantasy instinctively, the same way I know when a Chinook* is rolling in.  And the biggest rule is?  There are no rules.

Ok, that's a lie.  There are lots of rules, and they're different if you're talking about High Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy or Urban Fantasy.  Good and evil are more black and white (or at least you know which side a character/creature ought to be on,) magic and fantastic creatures abound, and chances are someone has a Destiny.  The fun part is, even within these rules, you get to reinvent the world each time.  In fact, that's pretty much the point.  While there's only so much you can change about a certain "race" or "species" and still have it be recognizable, you get to take it and make it your own, with your own rules.  For example, there are certain things that make a faerie a faerie or it isn't a faerie, but that can range from sweet Victorian flower fairies, through Tinkerbell right to something downright malicious like Jenny-Greenteeth.  Don't like what came before?  Reinvent it.

Vampire stories are notorious for having a different set of rules for every author, and while each reader has eir own preference, we can (usually) recognize that it is a vampire when you tell us so.  As long as we have drinks blood + immortal/unnaturally long-lived, we'll go "yep, that's a vampire all right," even if the rest of the details get changed faster than topics in an ADD conversation (though some of us still draw the line at sparkles.  I mean, seriously!  He's a vampire, not a disco-ball.)  The upshot of this is, in Fantasy you get to change the rules.  A lot.

One thing you can't do is break your own rules.  Once you've established a magic system in your universe, you have to stick with it.  Your trolls turn to stone in the daylight?  You can't have one suddenly take a noonday stroll.  Your vampires are allergic to garlic?  They probably won't be going out for Italian.  Whatever else you do, you have to keep up an internal logic or the reader with think you have no idea what you're doing.  Keep that in mind when you're doing your world building; consistency is key.

If you're writing a Fantasy story, how well are you sticking to your own rules?  Think I'm full of crap here?  Tell me why.  I'll never learn otherwise.

*For those who don't live just west of the foothills of the Rockies, a Chinook is a warm wind that comes in from the Pacific Ocean, over the mountains, and is known to raise the temperature above freezing in winter.  Also known to cause nasty headaches from the pressure changes.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

What's In A Name? Part II

This part, for some reason, seemed to me like it was going to be something strange and frightening: getting fingerprinted.  I'm not sure why I thought this, but I kept picturing Big Intimidating Cops that would glare suspiciously at me, trying to determine what heinous crime I must have committed.  What can I say?  I'm a writer.  I have an over-active imagination.

The reality was actually very different.  It was in a small office in a public building downtown with two bored looking officials, a woman and an older man.  The man was processing someone else, so it was the woman who helped me.  It was pretty much the basic show ID, give address, (current) legal name, yadda yadda, then have picture taken.  When she was entering it all into the computer, she actually debated whether she could mark me as M under gender rather than F, but was afraid that would screw up the paper work and cause the whole thing to be rejected.  As much as I would have liked it if she could, I had to agree.  Just the fact that she considered it meant a fair bit to me.  Then I made sure it was all today's version of correct, and signed.  At some point in here I did pay my $30.00 fee, confusing her with the relative orientation of my debit card (I love my bank, vertical card design and all.)  

Next came the part that I was actually pretty excited about: the fingerprinting itself.  By this time the other guy who was there for fingerprinting had left.  The man who had been helping him had already set up the ink pad and such the way he liked it, so he did the actual printing.  It went pretty quickly and easily.  Ink and roll each finger, all fingers together, thumbs, done.  I'm honestly not sure whether I'm relived or disappointed that the ink came off my fingers so easily, but it did and there it is.  He folded up the sheet and handed it to me in an envelope.  And that was it, I was done.

So now I have a very official sheet with my fingerprints on it, waiting to be brought back to the registration agency with the rest of my paperwork.  It's actually pretty neat to look at - comparing the swirls on the fingers of my left hand with those on my right - I'm actually thinking of scanning a copy just for myself.  The artist in me can't resist, really.

Friday, 7 January 2011

What's In A Name? Part I

So I am finally going through the process of legally changing my name and I thought, what the hell.  Let's blog about it.  Because even with all of its bureaucracy, or perhaps because of it, it can be a pretty interesting process.  This is of course how it happens in Alberta.  I don't know how much is different elsewhere.

It all starts with the Application for Name Change forms that I picked up at a local Registration agency.  They come bound in this book which is pretty neat, but also a little weird.  Not only do I now have the forms to change my own name, but also the forms to change my children's or my spouse's names, if I had any and thought this was something I wanted to do.  Now, I understand situations where one would want to change a child's name, adoption and what-not, but a spouse?  I don't know about you, but even if my hypothetical spouse and I decided together that we would change eir name, I'd be a hell of a lot more comfortable if e did it emself.  But I digress.

In case I didn't already know this, the front of the application tells me this isn't going to be free.  It's not even going to be cheap, really, which is part of why I've had to wait so long.

Fees for Name Changes:

Registry Agents will collect:

  • a government fee of $120.00.
  • a service fee, which may vary (I was quoted anywhere from $190.00 to something upwards of $200.)
  • a fingerprint processing fee of $25.00, on behalf of the RCMP in Ottawa as payment for the criminal record check.
Local Law Enforcement Agencies:

  • may charge a fee for fingerprinting ($30.00 in this case.)  Payment is made directly to the local law enforcement agency.
So that's... $375.00, or thereabouts.  And that's not including whatever the Notary Public may charge for affirming the affidavit at the end.  Way to make it easy on us, yeah?  Still.  Hoops.  Sometimes you have to jump through them, and sometimes they'll make you pay out the nose for the privilege.

And that's step one: getting the application.  Tomorrow I'll tell you all about the fingerprinting.

Also, just a quick FYI.  No, I will not tell you my original/old/"real" name.  I'm pretty open about the process of transitioning, more so than most people in my situation, but this is one of the few questions I won't answer.  The last thing I want to do is give more people the opportunity to call me by the wrong name.  Thank you.

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Getting Comfortable With Being In Transition

And I don't just mean the big obvious one, though that's something I've had to get comfortable with too.  I mean the whole big transition that is life, that thing we all do every day or else we become some stagnant, stale shell of a human being.

When I was a kid, I thought that all I had to do was figure out who I was, and that's who I'd be.  Forever.  Nothing else, and nothing less.  I'd grow up, find a few words to describe myself, and that would be that.  One thing I've had to come to terms with is the fact that that is never going to happen.  Who I am today?  Really not who I was yesterday.  Tomorrow?  Well, I'll be someone else again, won't I?

I don't mean every transition I go through is as big and life-changing as the one from trying to be female to finally being male.  Sometimes it's as simple as reading an insightful blog post, or engaging with new people on Twitter.  Or in real life even.  That happens too, on occasion.  If who I am is the sum of my experiences, then with every moment I'm in transition from being someone who hasn't experienced something to someone who has.

This also means that I have to update who I think I am at almost every turn.  I thought I was someone who was only romantically interested in people of a specific gender or type until I realized it wasn't that simple, not for me anyway.  I thought of myself as someone who hated kids and would never have any or want to until I met my niece.  And the big one?  Perhaps bigger than all the rest, even THE big one?

I thought I was always and forever an Artist before anything else.  That was the pinnacle of my identity, the one thing that I had always been and would always be no matter what else changed, I was an Artist and I would paint/draw/make jewellery until the day I died of some bizarre cancer or heavy metal poisoning from my work.  I believed this until I looked up one day and realized I was becoming a Writer.

I looked at what I had drawn or made in the past week, the past month.  Nothing.  I mean literally.  I hadn't made a damn thing the whole time, not so much as a doodle.  I looked at what I had been doing instead.  When I wasn't writing, I was reading about writing.  I was talking about writing, and I was on my way to someplace where I would be writing.  (Or I was at my day job, but even there I was thinking about writing.)  That's when I realized that I was watching my own transition from Artist with a little writing on the side, to Writer with a little art on the side.

I can't say that I was entirely happy about this.  I mean, I'd put how many years into that identity?  I now owe how much in student loans because of it?  And what will my Grandma think?  I was always the Artist in the family, one of her kind.  I felt like I was betraying a core part of me.  But that didn't stop the transition.  Because even though I was mourning the Artist, I was celebrating the Writer.  You see, the big difference between the two has been commitment.  I have actually been able to commit to one writing project, my novel, far longer and more consistently than any body of art I've undertaken.  And I've realized, that I'd much rather be productive and prolific at something that I love than be sporadic and occasionally brilliant at something that I love.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Sample Sunday: A Discussion of Self in Carl's Café

Obviously, some things have changed since I first wrote this.  I'd be surprised if it hadn't, seeing as this comes from that same 2007/2008 era as Friday's flash piece, and in fact appears on the page just before it in the notebook.  Does it mean that what I wrote then is now completely untrue?  No, not really.  It was true at the time, and I think I needed it to work through who I was and get to who I am.  The fact that I chose to do this through a fictionalized encounter with myself is also unsurprising, given my tendency in the past to use a fantasy world for both escapism and self-discovery.

Anyway, I've done more than enough babbling here about 'what it all means' and other self analysis.  I'll let you get on with actually reading it now.

A Discussion of Self in Carl's Café
"I'm not like other guys," he said.  "Then again, most other guys aren't perfectly happy living in a woman's body."
He laughed then.  "Hell, why shouldn't I be?  I mean, I get to live the 'lesbian fantasy' to its most satisfying fullness.  But seriously.  A man in a woman's body who's not about to do anything about it at all.  Am I being a coward?  Not taking the risk, not making the commitment to become 'who I am?'"  He shrugged.  "Maybe.  But I'm really only a part of who I am, aren't I?" 
He smiled at me and finished his coffee.  As he left, I smiled and nodded to myself.  What he'd said was true.