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Move preparations

I'm moving!  That's right...that time has come to move in with my best friend.  Being unemployed, I can't afford to live in my apartment anymore.  So I'm off to Chippewa Falls this week.  It's going to be a difficult move too.  It's hard to justify rental fees for trucks and whatnot when you have no income.

I was originally planning on updating this website design this past week.  Turns out I realized I was running short on time for packing to move.  So I set the website aside to pack everything up.  I sit right now with 3/4 of my apartment ready to move.  The one thing I don't know yet is if I'll rent a trailer or a full on truck.  It's about 30 bucks a day to rent a trailer, and it's about 360 bucks to rent a truck one way.  Unfortunately I don't think I could do the trailer thing and get everything up there in one shot.  I'll probably need a few trips.  I'll figure it out.

Scarlet vs the Bluetooth Headset

Scarlet, for those of you that don't know, is my 10 month old red tabby cat.  She's a cutie, but don't let her looks fool you.  She's a brat and a diva.  It would also seem that she loves to bat around bluetooth headsets for cell phones.  I should preface this whole thing with the fact that I've had bad histories with headsets.  I've owned four of them.  Normally I'm great with electronics, but these things are so small that they disappear on me.

Case in point:  I recently lost my favorite LG headset upon switching cars for a car repair.  I'm not sure when it fell out of my purse or car, but it did.  So, I was headset-less.  I decided to replace it.  I went looking and found a Plantronics headset that I thought would be ok.  I tried it for a few days and discovered I hated the things.  It was uncomfortable in my ear, it was quiet, and the reception wasn't all that great.  So I wanted to return it.

I set the headset on my dining room table with the intention of returning it the next day.  I thought to myself that it may not be wise since Scarlet may find it and play with it.  I walked away and forgot about my own concern before I could do anything about it.  I went to bed and in the morning...Surprise...it was gone.  Scarlet had played with it.

So I searched the apartment to no avail.  I looked everywhere...under the couch, in the couch, under the radiators, all surrounding the table, all across the floor, under the bed, in the closets...everywhere...twice.  I couldn't find it.  I was pretty upset.  After several hours of searching, I gave up.

Finally tonight...as my mother, father, and I were packing up, it appeared.  My mom found it in a closet.  It had been batted into the closet and around the corner edge.  So, it was in a shadow and was surrounded by a small collection of toys that had also been lost.  I was shocked.  In fact, at this point, I had started to wonder if I was wrong and that I had lost it myself somehow.  Maybe I hadn't deserved to ever have a headset.  Nope...it was Scarlet afterall.  Crazy kitten...she's curled up next to me right now looking as innocent as ever too.

Car Accident

In other news...I got into a car accident just over a week ago.  I was on my way to Toys R Us to buy a gift for my older sister's baby shower.  I got off the freeway during rush hour and none of the traffic would let the line of cars coming off the freeway merge.  So we all slowed to a halt.  The car in front of me went.  I sat waiting to go watching traffic, inching forward.

Suddenly I hear a crunch and feel my head hit the head rest.  A very loud "F&%king A!!!" involuntarily came out of my mouth.  I looked into my rear view to see a girl about my age in the car behind me.  She looked a bit freaked out.  I pulled forward a bit and put on my flashers.  We got out and she was incredibly apologetic.

I am proud of myself in that the first thing I asked was if she was ok.  She was.  I was too.  Turns out our cars were fine.  It was just a little bumper cars is all.  I had no damage...her license plate was a little bent.  That was it.  She was asking about exchanging information.  The first thought that popped into my head was a similar situation I caused about two years ago.  The car was a lot nicer...a white convertible...and the owners were so nice to me.  Since no one was hurt, and there was no damage, they let me go.  So I thought I'd pass on that karma.  I told her that since we were both fine, and our cars were fine...there's no reason to exchange info.  She was incredibly relieved.  I just said be careful and have a good night.  I hope she does the same to someone else in the future.

Friends

I would be remiss if I didn't mention some new friends in my life.  First and foremost is Leah.  She's a really cool girl from the Southeast and has had a bit of a struggle lately, but I've really enjoyed chatting and getting to know her.  She's really pretty, and she doesn't see it.  She's a geek and loves music.  In fact, she creates it almost nightly.  It's really impressive how strong she is and how well she's dealing with the challenges that she's facing right now.  She's a true role model for anyone.  I hope someday soon she can see that too.

I've also been being a lot more social lately.  I went to a couple unconferences, which I'll talk about later.  I also met a few people thanks to my friend Tracy.  Tracy is an awesome tech nerd, and she seems to know just about everyone.  So she ends up being this node of communication that connects people.  It's pretty awesome.  I've met so many cool people through her recently.  Plus, she's so driven when it comes to bringing people together around causes.  She also has great parties in her basement.

I met her girlfriend, Jackie, who is such a geek.  It's great.  I've been able to talk Harry Potter with her, Star Wars, and various other nerditry.  She makes for a really cool friend, AND she and Tracy are cute together. I hope they stay that way.  Plus they're fun to hang out with together.

I got to meet someone called "the Dane" for the main reason that she's from Denmark.  She was visiting Tracy.  She was fun to hang out with.  We went to the unconference together, and we hung out at the parties afterwards too.  She is a very interesting girl, and while a little quiet, very smart.

As part of the conferences, there were several parties and events.  I finally got out to the lesbian bars in Milwaukee.  I visited the Pint, which is like local meat shack.  As soon as you walk in, everone's heads turn and eye you up as fresh meat.  Still, I liked the ambiance.  They had the Brewer game on both nights I was there.  I had a good time there both times I went.

I also went to Mona's, which is like...THE lesbian bar.  It's a happenin place with loud music, a big dance floor, a large bar, and a lot of places to sit and talk...er...yell.  It was fun to people watch there with Tracy and the Dane.  While there I got to meet little Jess as we called her.  She's shorter than me.  She's a very energetic woman that has a very frantic personality and a wacky sense of humor.  She was a lot of fun to shoot the shit with. I really had a good time at Mona's too.

It's truly unfortunate that I finally feel connected to the community here, and I'm leaving.  I feel like I have friends that go out.  That's exactly what I wanted the entire time I was in Milwaukee.  Why now?  Guess we can't have everything.

Unemployment

Speaking of not having everything, I'm really upset with my former employer.  They are fighting my unemployment claim.  It figures right?  I mean, they screwed me over at work, took advantage of me, totally used me, drained me of all desire and energy, and then fired me for trying to take on extra work to make ends meet.  Now they want to take away a lifeline.  Pardon my language here, but Fuck you, Move inc.  You're truly a bunch of blood sucking, rapists.  You fired me for ethics, but you truly have none to begin with.  You know nothing about how to treat people fairly and respectfully.

Queer Camp

Tracy created the first ever Queer Camp, and I was proud to be a part of it.  There's a concept out there surrounding this "Camp" idea.  People come together around a concept.  Sometimes it's about podcasting, aka podcamp, or around photography, aka photocamp.  Another aspect is that it's really informal.  The schedule is never set in stone.  So it's frequently called an "unconference" because of that.  Queer Camp was the first surrounding LGBT issues.  Tracy started the website www.queercamp.org.  She also planned the whole thing.  She is amazing.

This was my first camp experience.  I presented during the first day and it was a blast.  I did two sessions.  The first was called "Gender in a slightly larger nutshell than expected"...no scrotal puns were intended.  The second was a less structured Q/A session called "Ask a transsexual anything".  Both went great.  I have a video recording of the first one, and I'll perhaps post some of the video when I get settled at the new house.  I also got some great questions in the second session.

There were a lot of great sessions.  Some were on gay christianity, legal issues in relationships, music, paganism, polyamory, and more.  It was very enlightening.  Above all it was great to connect with people and have a good time doing so.  I look forward to the next queer camp.  It seems poised to branch out across the country too.  Watch for it in your area! Or plan one yourself.  Tracy would be happy to set you up with the promo materials.

PhotoCamp Milwaukee

The following weekend was quite a few events.  One of them was Photocamp.  I didn't think I was going to get to go to this, but I made it for the last part.  I had a few things earlier in the day that conflicted.  Otherwise, I'd have been there earlier.

I got to see a neat homemade ring flash...which is a new concept to me.  The result of what you get when you use a ring flash is pretty impressive.  If I had another flash, I'd consider making one.  It's pretty cool.

I also participated in the evening photo walk.  A photo walk is just what it sounds like...people walk and take photos of what they see.  I have a few photos that I want to post, but I don't have access to them at the moment.  I'll post them in the coming few days.

After the photo walk was the closing session.  After that, I had some great food and enjoyed great conversation.  Out of that sparked the idea to pull my sword out of my equipment bag in my car.  Picture after picture was taken of me with the sword.  I'm still hoping to see some of the cool shots.  Unfortunately I've seen none of them, aside from the iPhone photo Tapps took.  I'm hoping I'll get to be a part of  many more camps in the future.  They're a lot of fun.

Bucketworks

Bucketworks is a great place in Milwaukee that both of the camps were held at.  It's a non-profit, very versatile space that can really be used for anything.  The concept isn't unlike an idea I had a couple months back involving a shared studio space that was offered for free to use or for a small fee.  Turns out they had the idea first.

Anyway, if I was staying in Milwaukee, I'd be strongly considering becoming a member.  The people that run the place are fantastic.  Plus, they're nerds.  They have a lounge called "Ten Forward"...the office is called the "Ready Room".  Star Trek references are always a win in my book.  You can check them out at www.bucketworks.org.

Baby Shower

Showers are too much for me.  I may be a girly girl most of the time, but baby showers...wedding showers...no thanks.  There's a level of girly that I won't touch with a 20 foot pole.  I guess the fact that baby clothes and babies were never all that thrilling to me probably has something to do with it.  Plus, the cutesieness of the games and party favors are so hyper feminized that it actually bothers me somewhat.

Maybe it bothers me also because it's just such a heterosexual experience...for now.  Gay couples haven't been able to get married until recently.  Or maybe it's just that I know I'll never have a shower.  I don't date and don't want kids.  I'd sure like the blenders, artwork, and house supplies that are given out as gifts though.

Anyway, as usual, I was on photographer duty.  It's good that I have that, because otherwise I'd be bored.  Though it's nice to catch up with family...still the focus is supposed to be on the showeree...not the showerers.  Plus there were so many people in a small space.  It was hard to hear and hard to focus with all the noise.  I'm glad the shower is over and done.

Visiting Chippewa

I visited the new house about a week ago.  It looks nice.  It's not very big on the outside, but on the inside, it seems a lot bigger.  It has a galley kitchen with a larger dining area.  The three bedrooms are comfortably sized.  I won't have any problems in that space.  The living room is a bit cramped with all the stuff Chris put in there.  I think that'll change over time though.  The basement is nicely finished with plenty of room.  I love the wood burning fireplace.  My office is actually back in the corner.  It's going to be a nice refuge to get work done.  I will call it the "Nerderarium".  :) There will be few to no distractions.  I'm looking forward to it.

One of the things that really stood out in my mind though...the response from friends in the area.  I have a reputation in that part of the state, but it's still surprising to have people shake your hand with two hands and say "It's so good to have you back, Jessica."  It feels good to be wanted.  It makes me feel like no matter what, I'll have success there.  Here's hoping.

Anyway...this is unbelievably long for a post.  I apologize.  I need more fiber...maybe then I'll be more regular.  Maybe it doesn't work that way for blogging...who knows.  Still...this one was over 2500 words.  Looks like writing a book will be easy enough.  Haha.  Sweet dreams and Happy Mothers day!

Keep a close watch on this site.  I've already finished the new layout.  I'll be rolling it out as fast as I can over the next few days.  Stay tuned...

So...now that we've covered the employment side of things, here's what's new in the rest of my life:

A few weeks ago, I watched the movie Ghost Rider, with Nicolas Cage.  Wow, was it bad.  It was so bad that I found myself enjoying it.  It was a B movie in most every sense.  The special effects were cool, but the story was just...weak.  They could have done a much better job with it, but hey, instead it was fun to watch for the sheer enjoyment of how bad it was.  If ever you want a bad movie to watch, pick up Ghost Rider.

Continuing on the bad movie front...I saw Dragonball: Evolution with my friend Daigham on opening weekend.  You know a film is going to flop when it's in a small theater the day after it opens and even then, there's like...15 people in the theater.  I was expecting a crap sandwich of a film...and that's what I got.  They tried very hard to match the feel of the show.  Chow Yun Fat really gave a great Master Roshi performance, but ultimately, the show just doesn't translate well to the live action realm.  The show itself spans 153 episodes.  They kinda jumped in and mish mashed the story into 85 minutes.  The whole movie just felt like a high budget, but poorly executed Power Rangers episode.  The effects were pretty, but that's about it.  It was cheezy bad.  Disappointing, but at least the anime is still cool.

During all the time that stuff was going down at work, I was still finishing up some freelance.  I was dealing with a ton of stress.  I felt it pushing down on me every which way.  It was manifesting itself in a lot of ways.  I was breaking out, which isn't cool.  Also, for those of you that don't know, hair grows more when you're stressed.  So, when I went  in for electrolysis, she really had to remove a forest.  Haha.  Thankfully that stress is gone now.

Part of eliminating stress in my life involved dumping the website project that I took on a few months back.  It was a flash based project that was a bit over my head and skill level.  I found a very talented flash developer that was willing to take on the project.  I think it was a good move on my part.  I'm bad with web based freelance anyway.  I think as my skills progress with web development, I'll feel a bit more comfortable at it.  Plus my friend Tracy might be willing to work with me.  She's a much better graphic designer than I am by a long shot.  So maybe I can do the back end and she can do the front end.

I've been watching a lot of PBS's Nova lately on Hulu.  It's a great show and I've always loved it.  Anyway, this particular episode was about ants.  A famous entomologist, E.O. Wilson, has been studying them for years and actually was the founder of the concept of sociobiology.  Basically sociobiology is social behavior that is embedded in the biology of the lifeform.  It's really fascinating stuff.  It got me thinking about gender...as usual.  I was thinking more specifically about transphobia and homophobia and how perhaps those behaviors are sociobiological in nature.  By that I mean that the fear of the unknown is a survival tool that humanity has employed.  By using fear, we can ensure that we stay safe.  In the case of homo and trans phobia, there are a lot of things that could subconsciously be feared.  Perhaps it's about procreation or self preservation.  As time progresses, I think the sociobiology is changing in that regard...at least specifically to homosexuality and transgender.  Perhaps as a population grows to the immense size that humanity has, those biologically embedded fears are less and less necessary.  Anyway, I thought it was a fascinating concept to ponder.  Feel free to share your thoughts.

Oh, a few weeks back I finally got to do a photo shoot with my friend Ken.  He's a professional photographer, and he'd asked me if I'd model for him at some point.  So I finally did.  Let me tell you...I'm not much of a model.  I can do the physical positioning, but I suck at facial expressions.  I'm too much of a deep thinker.  I have trouble with smiling for real without having something make me smile for real.  I haven't gotten the photos yet, but I have a screen capture from my little video camera if you'd like to see it.

A video screen capture from the photo shoot.

Queer Camp starts tonight!  You can find information on it at www.queercamp.org.  It's free to go to, and it'll be tons of fun.  For those of you that don't know what it is, essentially it's an informal conference on LGBT issues.  I'm doing two sessions.  One is titled "Gender in a slightly larger than average nutshell" and the other is "Ask a transsexual anything".  I'm looking forward to it.  If you want to go, the registration page is located here.

When the whole thing started to go down at work, I had a conversation with Scott, a member of management, about my future.  I talked about my goals for starting a non-profit, writing a book, and mentoring others.  It's my calling.  He told me that when I talked about that, my face lit up more than it ever has.  He told me that I will have more success at doing just that than I will working at any corporation, doing any sort of freelance, or doing just about anything else.  He told me I need to build an empire.  That sounds kinda...Darth Sidius like...but that's now what he meant.  He gave me some good advice on how to get moving.  So I think once genderverse gets going, I'm going to create a special twitter account for it that I use to post news about the gender world.  I think I'll establish another professional blog that talks about gender daily.  The podcast will be important too.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.

Being a leader is what I do naturally.  I've really noticed that I tend to take a leadership approach in most everything I do even when it comes to just mentoring someone.  I think this weekend and the next few months will truly define the direction the rest of my life takes.

It's a new day!  Time to take life by the horns and ride off into the future.

The time has come!! And by that I mean I finally got my blog working again.  Apparently a plugin for twitter broke things somehow.  Now you won't see the "Tweet this" button.  Oh well.  Maybe it'll come back later when it's fixed fully.

The latest news in my life...I'm unemployed!  I know I know...you're thinking "What?!! When did this happen?!! Why?!!" Well let me tell you the story.  Three weeks ago today I was walked into the office yet again.  I was surprised because it was a total blindsiding.  I had to speak directly to HR via the phone.  Apparently someone had reported my freelance work anonymously, and since I was doing work with a home builder, there was concern it was a conflict of interest.

They asked me to describe my relationship to the client and why I never reported the work to management.  The work I took was video editing for a local client.  I made my decision to take the work based on several reasons.  The client had recently dropped a big production house contract.  So they weren't interested in working with another big house.  Specifically, they wanted freelancers.  They didn't have the budget to pay that much.  So I knew they couldn't pay the rates the company I worked for charges.  Most importantly though, they wanted Full HD utilizing a very modern camera.  The company I worked for did not have the capacity to work with the footage at all.  So it was in no way competing with my employer.  I felt very assured that it wasn't a conflict at all.  So I never reported it.

I explained that to HR and they took the information and perused over it for several days.  They came back to me the following Wednesday, April 8th.  They said that they did believe it was a conflict.  I was presented with a memo that stated that I would have to drop my relationship with my client and sign to continue my job.  I took a couple hours to figure out if this was what I wanted to do.

I truly felt that I had made the right decision.  I did not feel this was a conflict of interest at all.  I even had my logic confirmed to me by management locally.  So I was at a loss as to why corporate felt differently.  In my heart, I knew I had done nothing wrong.  To add to that, I really enjoyed my freelance work.  It was about the only thing in my life revolving work that actually fulfilled me creatively and personally.  Plus, I needed the extra income.  This work was basically digging me out of a hole that I needed to dig out of.  My budget was monthly in the red without the work.  So I had to choose between financial difficulty or more financial difficulty.  For me it was a catch 22 all along.

What it came down to for me is a moral decision.  I felt that by signing the memo, I would be admitting wrong doing.  I couldn't do that when I know I didn't.  I realized that no matter what, I had to be happy with myself.  Anyone that had been talking to me a lot lately knew how unhappy I was working there.  So with both my morals and my happiness in question, I chose to not sign knowing full well I'd get fired.

I came back and told them I wouldn't sign and why.  I thought I'd be pretty much fired that day.  Instead, I was told that it had to go back to corporate for them to think about again.  Here I'm going...ok...what's there to think about.  Turns out their was, and I will respect the wishes of the company and say nothing other than the next day I was told information that changed things.  I was given a few more days to figure things out.  I had until Monday 13th to decide.

In that time, I was contacted about a possible job in Eau Claire, my college town and also where my best friend lives.  So Thursday the 9th, I drove all the way up to EC to go to a job open house.  Turns out it wasn't my cup of tea, but I decided to take a vacation day and really think about the situation over the extended weekend.  I sought the advice of close friends in the EC area, like a former professor and some close advisors.  They seemed to reaffirm my feelings.

So I came back home and on Sunday night, I wrote out my official statement, which was two pages long.  Basically it just fleshed out my reasons for not signing.  So..I went to work on Monday and low and behold...my boss was out for the day.  So...I used the day to get my software into shape knowing that I wasn't going to be doing much more work on it now.  Tuesday rolled around and I finally got the chance to sit down with the management and give them my statement.  I could tell they weren't thrilled by my response.  Again, I was expecting to be fired right there, and nope...it had to go back to corporate again.

For the rest of the day I found myself twiddling my thumbs.  There wasn't any reason for me to start working on anything knowing it was my last day of work.  Turns out it wasn't. We didn't hear back that day.  So I prepared to go to work on Wednesday the 15th.  On my way in, I got a call from my boss saying I didn't need to come in.  They hadn't heard back yet, and really there was no sense in my coming in with nothing to do.  I was told I'd still get paid.  Ok...no problem.  Later that afternoon I got another call.  Turns out legal was out until Friday.  So, I didn't have to come in Thursday with pay either, and I'd be called when to come in Friday.  It surely seemed this was dragging on at this point.  We all knew where it was going.

Friday I was called, and I was told the decision everyone knew was coming.  My employment was terminated.  I was able to come in and pick up the last of my stuff....I had already packed it up anyway.  I said my goodbyes.  I actually choked up a bit when saying goodbye to the two editors.  I'm going to miss them.  I may have had my issues with the job and so forth, but for the most part, the people were great.  It's unfortunate the company treats their employees the way it does though.  That's another topic for another day.

So...I left.  I have to say, too, that despite what most people would feel upon getting fired...I have no remorse.  I'm thrilled its over.  I've wanted to get away from the job for at least a year and a half.  It's finally done.  It didn't happen in the way I had wanted it to, but all things happen for a reason.  I've gotten a few more freelance gigs, and quite honestly, I love the freelance lifestyle.  I feel so much more freedom and control.  I'm still making money, and I'm feeling fullfilled creatively.  I'm not feeling tied to a cubicle.  I can take a break if I want to.  I can sleep when I want to and get up when I want to.  This is what I've wanted for so long.  It just took me getting fired to get here.  I'm actually really happy now.

Before I move on, I do want to say something important.  I don't know if Scott or Julie are reading this, but I just want to say thank you.  I know you both pulled for me with corporate.  I especially want to say thanks to Scott because I heard some of your back and forth with HR, and it told me how much you cared.  I really and truly appreciate that.  I wanted to express my thanks to you in person, but unfortunately you weren't around when I came in to say my good byes. I'm sure we'll talk again, but now it's officially in writing.

So...where do I go from here?  My plan for moving in with Chris is moving forward a bit earlier than expected.  I'll be moving in mid May instead of late June.  I've got a part time job lined up that starts in July.  I've also got plans to talk to some people about using the city business incentive programs in the Chippewa Valley to get myself a camera.  I also plan on moving forward with my non-profit.  So, I think it's time to let my dreams happen.  I'm very excited.

In the meantime, I'm working on getting my new web hosting lined up.  After that, I start work on my professional websites.  Then I get genderverse underway.  At that point, I start the book.  During that time, I want to podcast again.  I'm looking forward to it all.

So that's part 1 of this 2 part series.  Stay tuned for part 2...

I guess not.  My freelance barrage continues.  Today I pick up more footage for yet another video.  I thankfully should be done with the  majority of my work by early next week.  Perhaps that means I will be able to take a few moments to myself and enjoy myself.  Tonight I took two hours to go to a spiritual seminar that I had signed up for.  I've been going once a month to the LGBT community center in Milwaukee for a spiritual seminar.  Unfortunately for the last two months I haven't been able to go due to first being sick and second being busy with freelance.  It was good to go again.

So...apparently March 31st is the Transgender Day of Visibility.  I wonder if other activists find out about these days through the interweb the day of and wonder why they didn't know about this day before.  That's happened to me a couple times before.  So...I didn't get a chance to do anything for it other than wonder why the Transgender Day of Visibility didn't have  more visibility within the community beforehand to plan events.

Also...I wanted to write about it on March 31st / April 1st, but as it turns out, my web host was having troubles.  This seems a more frequent ocurrence of late, and the more research I've done, the less impressed I've been.  This particular host used to be known as an awesome host.  Now their reputation is falling fast.  I didn't realize why Adam had been complaining about them so much until I started to see the problems appear.  So...since I have to pay my hosting bill within the next couple weeks, I've decided to move hosts.  You may see a day or two where my site is down.  It won't be for another week or so yet though.  So no worries.

That's it for today...time for sleepy.  G'night.