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My "father" turned 87 yesterday.  The event passed with no message from me, no wishes for another great year, only because he doesn't want to hear from me.  I am so greatly saddened, not as much by the fact that he doesn't want to hear from me, but by the fact that he never wanted to hear from me.  He wanted to hear from his expectation of what I would be, and when I was not that, it was over.

I hope that you are happy, sir.  You have St. Ann, who, for whatever she may have been in life, can do no wrong now.  There is comfort in living a fantasy.  May you find comfort in yours.
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I finally got to the Post Office yesterday, to send about a dozen holiday cards.  Of course, I have since thought of two more recipients; it always works that way.  My folks don't get a card.  It's not that I'm angry with them, really and truly, I'm not; I'm sending no card because they have indicated that they do not want contact with me, and it is not mine to intrude upon them.  At the same time, should they ever decide to talk to me again, they will hold this "no-card Xmas" against me forever; it always works that way.

I do feel sorry for my folks.  A couple of weeks ago, I had called my ex-wife.  We had talked for a couple of hours, as it had been ten years since we had last spoken.  During that conversation, I came out to her, and told her that my folks had written me off.  I had to smile slightly when she told me that "They were never two of my favorite people."  Aye, there's the rub; over the years, they have alienated just about everybody.  They are two abjectly lonely people, but they have done it to themselves.  Yes, I feel sorry for them, but not because almost nobody talks to them.  I feel sorry for them because they refuse to accept anyone at face value; I'm not the only one.  I feel sorry for them because as long as they are as they are, they will always be lonely; they will always be lonely because they do not see fit to change their world-view.
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I called my father, a few minutes ago.  I wasn't thrilled to do it, but my cousin had just e-mailed me to tell me that her mother, my aunt, my father's sister, had died overnight.  Kathy asked me to make the call because she just couldn't deal with it.

I began the  call with "Kathy just e-mailed me..."  Rather than asking why, and before I could get the next word out, he launched into "Oh you advertise all over the place...!"  After twice trying to tell him that his sister was dead, I finally had to scream at him to "Shut the fuck up (yes, those were my exact words), your sister died!  Aunt Eleanor died!"

"Oh, okay" was his answer, whereupon, he hung up.

The obituary I wrote, stands.

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A thought occurred to me, about an hour ago. So, with that thought fresh in my mind, I typed "Why do people name their children after themselves" into my search bar.

You see, I was a namesake. In fact, on my birth certificate, I am identified as Edward Zavartkay, Jr., at least until I can find the means to do something about that. The story goes that, when my adoption was cleared, and it was time to finally decide upon a name, my Babka (my paternal grandmother) proclaimed "Oh, he has to be Edward!" So, something I found in my Google search, something I had rather suspected anyway, a statement made by clinical psychologist Dr. Michelle Golland, came as no surprise to me:

Family legacies have been passed down via namesakes; one way families establish a sense of permanence is by naming firstborn males after their fathers. So for some -- especially in Europe -- it's tradition.


This makes perfect sense to me, as Babka was born in Slovakia in 1892, living there until she came to the United States in 1912. What I found interesting, however, was what Dr. Golland said next:

That said, these are modern times, and this is America. There could be a degree of narcissism involved.


Could it be, then, that I was to have been an extension, or even a copy, of the senior Edward, differing only in my expected attainment of the honors he, himself, did not achieve?  If that is the case, then I failed him in every respect.

I was to have been a Good Hunkie Catholic.  Hunkie, I'll grant you, to a degree at least.  Even as I cherish the tradition within which I was raised, however, I am rather more cosmopolitan than my family.  "Catholic" is another story.  I like to tell people that my parents raised my sister and myself Roman Catholic; whereupon she found Jesus, and I found Carl Sagan.  I am well familiar with the Catholic creed and tradition, and can brook with none of it.  I shall not indict those who choose that path, it is simply that I cannot follow it.

I was to have been a professional, a doctor/lawyer/engineer, preferably engineer.  I have encountered many engineers in my time and in my studies, and "engineer", I am not.  Their narrow view, the philosophy of "Do it thus and so, and it works", as necessary as it is to the function of a society, is not mine.  I am a research scientist.  My favorite word is "why", something that caused my parents much consternation over the nearly fifty-four years that they knew me.  I theorize, I build models, and, most importantly, I challenge those models, looking for reasons they won't work in order to build a body of evidence that they might.  It is only because I was hospitalized on the account of my depression, shortly after receiving my BS in Neuroscience, that I have not been able to pursue the PhD I had planned to attain.

I was to have been father to lots of my parents' grandchildren, especially another Edward.  It takes something very special to be a parent, something that I know I do not have.  Rather than screw up a set of kids; yes, rather than repeat the folly of my own parents, I obtained a vasectomy in 1984.  It is a decision I have never regretted.

I was to have been my parents' son.  I failed even that.  I do not know how it happened, I do not know what caused it, but even though I looked like a boy, I was, in fact, a girl.  As I have pursued my transition, I have never had a moment of regret.  With each step, I have, in fact, become more convinced that my initial assessment of myself was indeed correct.  If there is any regret that I have, it is that I could not have begun my transition forty years ago.

So, then, I am rejected by my parents as the total failure that they perceive me to be.  I am a waste of energy, of time, of no small amount of money.  I am a waste of a name.  So be it.  For all the things I am not, there is one thing that I am; one thing without which I cannot live.

I am Diana Athena Clarion.
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I would often wonder what I would feel when my folks finally died.  Would it be grief or relief?

I suppose that I know now.

I Remember

Nov. 8th, 2011 08:37 am
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I was perhaps eight years old, sitting with my father on the Old Loading Dock on Kelley's Island on a summer night, sharing chocolate chip cookies while we fished for perch.  Oh, gods!  Whatever happened to that man?
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I just woke up after about five hours of sleep.  I had had a dream involving an abstract algebra class at a strangely distorted Marietta College, taught by my freshman calculus professor at Pitt.  There was also something about walking from the Math building to the dorms, past the Catholic elementary school I had endured as a child, with a soundtrack of a song about being in love with a transvestite.  And let's not forget the part about an urban renewal project in Parma which included renovating a three-story, pagoda-shaped Chinese restaurant at the corner of State and Snow roads, with coolies jumping out of the windows.

I'm not sure if this means that I'm shaken up, or if it's just another of my usual dreams.

My face isn't burning as it was when I lay down; perhaps I'm cried out for a while.  There's a vague thoracic/abdominal ache, probably from all of the crying.  I can't believe that I've laid them to their rest, yet I did it because I had to do it.  I don't want to hate them; perhaps that is the reason for the "funeral".  Perhaps I'm trying to freeze my perception of them, trying to prevent its getting any worse.  It is so unfortunate that they believe that I humiliate them; do they think so little of themselves that they define their own self-concept on the basis of what I am and do?

I have to deal with the things said in that last conversation with them, if one can call their diatribe a "conversation".  I have to deal with my father's "You humiliate us" delivered from across the room, giving me no opportunity to reply.  I have to deal with my mother's "I'll never accept you".  These are my last memories of them; this is not The Jazz Singer, I am not Neil Diamond, and they are not Sir Lawrence.

The road ahead is dark. I know not where it leads, but I have to walk it.  I can't stand still.

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Especially to Jessie and Marie, I offer this:

They have written me out of their lives.  For some degree of closure, I have lain them to rest.  It tore my heart from me to do this, but I felt it necessary to preserve my sanity.  They can now have their world without me, I will keep a memorial to attempt to fill the void.

The first section of my post describes my feeling that their souls died long ago; when, I'm not sure.  As I search my memory, it must have happened before they adopted me; I wonder if it happened when my mother had the emergency hysterectomy.  There are stories that describe them as decent and honorable people; if they once were, I never knew them that way.  But I think again, and wonder if, in my father's case, that description isn't entirely accurate; I can remember a very few times when he was honorable, even good, but never while my mother was around.  I will treasure those moments with him for the rest of my own life.

They want me to begone.  I will comply, but please allow me to set a stone in memory, or perhaps a desire for what never was or could be.

In Memoriam

Nov. 7th, 2011 02:48 pm
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I do not know the precise time, place, or manner of their passing.    I know only that, upon discovery, the remains were already badly decomposed.  Knowing only the date of discovery, I set that here, in memory.

All I wanted was to be able to love them.  I was alien, I did not know how.
I will not remember them in bitterness, nor will I long to change history; that serves no purpose.
In my world-view, there is no resurrection, but there is an afterlife.
As I lay them to rest, with a great emptiness in my heart, I wonder: Is that emptiness their eternal life?

Edward, Father  16 March 1925    - 6 November 2011
Lillian, Mother    18 October 1924 - 6 November 2011

Requiescant in pace
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The one thing I do not know about this indictment is whether it is even worth issuing it.

Father,

I need to find a way to make you understand.  I need to find a way to make you understand how you have hurt me, and yes, how you have angered me.  You believe that I humiliate you.  As much as I wish that I could make you see the error in your reasoning, that is not what has unsettled me so.  I am hurt and angered not because of what you believe, but because of the way you chose to make it known to me.

Father, you issued your indictment against me not directly to me, but from the shadows.  You issued your indictment far enough in the open that I could know that you did it, but far enough out of sight that I could not respond.  That is not the act of an honorable man.  That is a pusillanimous act; that is the act of a coward.

Tell me, has your niece heard your bitter complaints about her expenditure to place your great-nieces in a parochial school?  Do those great-nieces and your great-nephew know how you truly feel about the biracial?  I think not, because I believe that you know that you would lose their company were you to make these things known to them.  Tell me, how is it that, thirty-five years ago, you had the courage to drive your daughter away by screaming your unfounded accusations of pregnancy directly at her, but you would not offer me the same courtesy now?

How often, in the past and even the present, have you admonished me to "grow up and take responsibility"?  I see so clearly, now, that that was not parental guidance; I see that it was projection.

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Well, there it is.  My father called about an hour ago, I'm not quite sure why.  Perhaps it was to sling barbs at me.  It wouldn't be the first time.  While on the phone to me, he sidestepped the White Elephant while talking about other things.  Then, he handed the phone to my mother.

Her "conversation" was largely unexpected.  She issued recriminations for everything from my not finishing college my first time in to the breakup of my marriage.  She had a list of people, in regard to whom she asked  "Does this one know?  And this one?  How about this one?", to which I answered "affirmative, affirmative, affirmative"; hell, the whole world knows about me.  She told me all about how I was doing this "for the attention"; funny, how that's what she said to me after I had had cranial surgery in 1976 (strangely enough, I had all but forgotten about that incident until now).  She also instructed me to not show up as I am.  Fine, I guess I know what I have to do with regard to funerals.  But I can live with that, if I have to.  What I cannot live with is what came next.

From across the kitchen came my father's voice, uttering the words "You humiliate us."  Of course, he couldn't speak those words into my ear, he had to wait until I couldn't issue a reply.  That is so much like him.  And that is what this is all about, isn't it?  What I've done to you.  As I couldn't answer my father's indictment directly, I issued my reply to my mother:

"Don't you ever take that position.  I humiliate nobody.  Even were I to be convicted of mass murder, it would in no way reflect upon you.  What I am and what I do reflect upon me, alone."

And that's the way it is, isn't it?  Me, alone.  I was about to write "I gambled it all and lost", but that isn't strictly true.  Given the history, I had never had it in the first place.  I suppose that I had known that, but had, for reasons I cannot name, refused to believe it.

I believe it now.  I am alone.
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At the outset of this post, may I state that I am nothing if not a thoroughgoing coward. For the last 29 months and some odd days, I have been living as Diana Clarion. I have not yet petitioned the court for a change of name, nor have I obtained the desired surgeries; that is mostly a matter of finding the not insubstantial amount of cash needed for these things. Nevertheless, the world sees Diana and only Diana; the only trace of the "other me" is my driver's license and a few credit cards, that by legal necessity. For 14 months and some odd days of the aforementioned period, I have been receiving hormone therapy to assist in my transition; the effects of said therapy have been mild (although that seems to be changing; more on that in a later post), but not insignificant. Almost my entire family, or at least those with whom I have contact that approaches some semblance of regular, has known about me.

Almost, but not quite.

There exist two people to whom I had not said Word One about any of this. Those two people are those who raised me, my mother and my father. The reason that I have said nothing is simple: refer, please, to the first sentence of this post. The main reason that I have been able to get away with this for two and a half years is also simple: there is a separation of approximately 100 nautical miles between us. Another reason is that practically none of the family like my parents all that much; those who do, tend, unlike most Hunkies, to keep their mouths shut.

About two weeks ago, I made the usual phone call to my parents. Upon happily telling my mother of a lunch date earlier that day, she began her usual round of prying. Partly because of the direction the prying was leading (somebody may have said something, after all), and partly because I simply had had enough, I laid the Big One on her. Be careful what you wish for, Mom.

The reaction was what one might expect from someone who had no idea how much pain her kid had endured for the previous fifty-some years. Shock, horror, accusations. The discussion with my father fared no better. I suppose that one could not expect much different from a couple of Hunkie octogenarians, but a "What do you mean by this pain you describe?" would have been nice. During my next call, about a week later, it was quite obvious that my father did not wish to speak to me, while all my mother could do was complain about the money I'd spent on clothing.

I may be closing the door with this, but I've drafted a letter to my folks, with copies to be sent to a cousin and a cousin-in-law. The carbons are to attempt to ensure that somebody sees the message, in case my folks destroy their copy unopened. I also plan on sending a photo of myself, and a DVD copy of the Barbara Walters special on transgendered kids.
 

Click, and ye shall find. )

Here will be found the photograph.

My Secret Self, Part 1

My Secret Self, Part 2

My Secret Self, Part 3

So, here goes.  I have nothing more to lose, have I?

May 2013

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