Friday, September 30, 2016


liv asked, "what's that full, dark band on the other arm?"

I think you mean my typewriter.

I collect them, I display them, I clean them up, I use them, I give them to friends. I never pay more than $10 for one, because they're still everywhere, safely resting int heir little suitcases in thrift stores and flea markets. They almost always still work - they were made to take a beating, literally. You can still buy ribbon through Amazon or possibly even physical office supply stores.

This is fresh, of course, and better than it looks now with my Robin-Williams-like arm hair grown back over it, but I'm still a fan. If the blade and marker are my basic tools, the typewriter is an elegant machine, every piece clicking softly together to make language hold still long enough to carry meaning.

I have big arms. It made sense to get big ink. Here's pirate Hank, walking the Dog Island decks. Note PBR bottlecap done just inside the line of my farmer's tan.

I'd like to get another, still manual but newer, on my right arm. Balance, I like it. Finances being what they are, that will have to wait.

Plus, my next tattoo will be my knuckles. I've waited long enough.

drinking ink

In this photo you see the curtains I recently made (slightly different lengths), my gross couch, and two of my tattoos. By request, two stories.

On my right arm, a Sharpie marker and box cutter, crossed. The most basic tools of information dissemination. With those two things and any form of paper I can make a zine, cut a stencil, draw a poster. Plus, I have this thing for office supplies.

Between my collarbones, 'choose your own scars'. I got this one done after chest surgery, a comment on the Frankenstein scars that are slowly fading. They don't bother me, I just felt like they needed balancing and this would do it. One of my only tattoos that hurt like hell, mostly toward either end when it felt like they were halfway up my neck. Worth it. though. I get compliments on this one.

Man, my forehead looks big in this picture.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Pabst Blue Ribbon is union made

In the late 90s, in my early 20s, I lived in Atlanta. I didn't know how to drink yet. I mean, I knew how to put alcohol in my face, but I didn't know how to deal with myself on a regular basis in a bar. I drank a lot of rum and cokes back then, because it was something my parents drank and didn't seem ridiculous.

I kind of stand by that. I had good drinking instincts.

At five, my dad taught me how to order. I remember it clearly - I doubt he does. He was playing at a beach bar, and in the middle of the afternoon he stood me up on a bar stool and handed me a money.

"Don't yell for him. Look at the bartender and hold up your money, he'll come to you." He did, and I ordered a Shirley Temple, and I learned a skill that has stood me in good stead for 35 years.

So, 97 or 98. East Atlanta before that was a thing. A friend took me into a bar, stepped up, and said, "Two Pabsts please."

There are moments in my life that became forks. This was one of them.

You couldn't get PBR is many places then. Atlanta was a rockabilly town, and Pabst was part of the fun.

I remember the way that first Pabst tasted. Clean and dirty at the same time. Cold, a line to my gut. I don't know how many $1 tall boys I drank that night, but I was sold. Brand loyal, buddy, to this day. I literally just walked in from karaoke night, where I drank more than a reasonable number of them.

Have I showed you my tattoo?

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

taking requests

I feel like writing.

I dunno what to write about.

Questions? Requests?

Ask and be answered.

Here is a photo of my last cat, Baggy. Because why not.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

40: the year of why the hell not

Shoog McDaniel, artist. Known for photographs of southern queers and feral kids, often in nature.

So, Friday afternoon, Shoog turned up at my house with their camera and we got in my car and headed out to my mom's place in the country. She'd been alerted as to plans and asked to make venison meatloaf and greeted us warmly. I gave the tour of the house, warned mama off the back porch, and shucked my tshirt and shorts. 

"Does everyone laugh when they take their clothes off?" I asked. Yes, they do. 

I stripped down to my skivvies and sat where Shoog told me to sit. Propped my arms behind my head or set my hands on my belly. Flashed all my ink. Talked about various fat rolls and how your body changes over time.

We wandered upstairs and took some on a bed. We hung out on the front porch off mama's bathroom. I watched cars speed by and never look over to realize I was out enjoying my skin.

"Does anyone ever not want to put their clothes back on after?" I asked. Yes, sometimes.

It's only for everyone else's sake that I ever wear more than what I had on that day (which I have on now). But there's so much gender and size and class mixed up in casual nudity. So I said to hell with it, and now I'm art. I've checked out my photos on Shoog's instagram, and the comments are flattering.

Oh, and mama's meatloaf was damn good, too. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


I have become shabby. For reasons both financial and cultural, I don't do much shopping. My shirts are either polos, all getting older and frayed at the edges, or tshirts with the word FESTIVAL on them. My pants are a pair of shorts (black) and a pair of jeans (second hand). I've got boots, but I wear converse.

I'm fat, and clothes fit me oddly. The state of my appearance needs to become someone's hobby, if only for the good of my trivia nights.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


Sometimes I want to write but I have no idea what to write about. Hey, I didn't do trivia today, but I promoted one night, answered a guy's questions about how it compares to Brain Bowl (favorably), and started the wheel in motion to create and host a queer-centered Sunday trivia.

My car didn't start! And then I ate lunch and held a baby and my car started again. I have no fucking clue, I am a car moron. I'm still carrying around a piece of rebar in case I need to bang on the starter again.

The weather's cooling off and it's about time to pick out a new hoodie for the winter. Traditional black? Something I screen print? Crying Breakfast Friends?

I've arranged to do sort of an odd thing this weekend, and if I don't lose my nerve I'll report back. The unexperienced life is not worth living.

Honey Kix are not honey enough. Add honey.

Friday, September 9, 2016

hurricane season

Hell, Martha.

One week ago tonight, right?, I was sitting here waiting for the storm to hit and generally hoping I wouldn't lose power. Ha ha to that, motherfucker.

So yes, the storm hit, and yes, I am calling it Hermione like everyone else. And Johnny Karate and I lost power in the wee hours and had a very sweaty night.

The next day I got up and ran what errands I could. It was like some kind of dangerous holiday. I had to back up and get around downed wires and trees and yard furniture and all other manner of flotsam and jetsam. The Waffle Houses were open, mostly, but mostly just taking cash. No one I know had power. I wound up at the downtown restaurant where my buddy Bishop works. We drank cold sodas, talked about Harry Potter, and watched people walk by with a jaunty, end of the world attitude. I went home and read Harry Potter by flashlight and spent another sweaty night.

It went on like that for a couple days. All you talked about if you ran into someone was power and how much you missed it and maybe who else had it. Mama got it back quick, so some of my sisters and their kids posted up out there. I was glad, I don't like to think of all the kids fussy and hot and annoyed.

I played card games at El Patron, my local Mexican joint. I rode around town with Lindsey, sliding through pockets of deep darkness in the heart of the city. "Like Silent Hill," she said. I read another Harry Potter book. I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and was grateful that the water worked.

Monday morning around 3:30, I'd given up hope for the night and started to head to bed when everything clicked back into technicolor and I head the woosh of the AC. Praise be, y'all. Window unit, Hallelujah. I got lucky. Some folks still don't have it back. Plenty of people wound up with trees in their houses or on their cars. We live in a jungle, and the jungle don't give a fuck.

So, how've y'all been?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

If every pork chop were perfect...

...we wouldn't have hotdogs. 

And that is how my day is going. I got yelled out by a friend, although that's worked out by now and didn't have much to do with me. I have been waiting all day to take my car into the shop, but time and tide got away from us. It happens, I'll get it in tomorrow. I've written my trivia and now I'm trying to find a ride to work, as one does. I have faith, it'll happen, just have to get all the ducks lined up and marching straight. 

A day of minor inconveniences but nothing worth fussing about. I feel sort of jagged, but in the mood to laugh with friends. Luckily, it's karaoke night, so that's a given. 

Blah blah blah, sis boom bah. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016


My starter is still broken - to be fixed this week - and I haven't got so much as a spare dollar, so today is sort of odd, quiet, and boring. Happens sometimes, I guess.

All my hangout friends are night time people.
I'd go for a walk, but it's 98 degrees outside and I would die. Possibly literally.
I have data entry I need to do for the upcoming festival, but really?
There's trivia to be written for tomorrow, but I'm not feeling inspired.
Had I a car, I could maybe get laid, but that will have to wait.
I could clean, but fuck it.

Hmm. Fuck it. I think that may be the phrase I'm looking for here.

Not at the local Mexican restaurant drinking two for one margaritas and eating tacos, thereby upsetting my plans for healthier eating.
Eventually I will get bored enough to get some work done.
This isn't my general situation or attitude, so I don't feel guilty about wallowing in cabin fever a little.
My cat is really cute. Here is a picture of Johnny trying to help distract me.

No, I don't wear a shirt when working on the computer. This is Florida.

music on a sunday

Saturday, August 27, 2016

big man

Fat at 25 is a world away from fat at 40. Fat at 25 is largely an aesthetic issue. If you like being big, if you are attracted to big people and confident that people will be attracted to you, go for it. It can be hard to find clothes that fit and you likely won't win any foot races, but you can certainly be a big kid and keep up physically.

By 40, your body's starting to chug anyway. That time your knee got kicked out in a mosh pit isn't just receding comfortably into the past, if you know what I mean. Your back aches because your mattress sucks. You get a weird elbow pain and hope it's not impending elbow cancer. So maybe having a bunch of extra weight on you starts to be more of an issue. You're panting goes up stairs. You don't want to take a trip across country because plane seats are a pain in the ass. You worry about your blood pressure, your heart, all the inside bits.

So you start to weigh calories in verses calories out. You cut back on your beer some. And then you remember that if you could do all that shit regularly, you wouldn't be a big fat guy.

So, trying to lose weight. Not sure if I want to talk about it or not. Definitely don't want advice - thanks, though, heard it. Just putting that out there.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I just can't

Whoa, I'm having a hard time getting my feet under me today to work on trivia. Usually I wake up, take a shower, fill my water mug, and start doing that thing. But not so much right now. I ate a tuna on rye. I watched a little Star Trek, I got as far as deciding what my picture round will be. But putting that thought on paper seems to be pushing my luck.

I have a few dishes I can wash - often, the physical can kickstart the mental. And even if it doesn't, I'll have that chore done. Beats sitting around reading Steven Universe fanfic.

Monday, August 22, 2016

a moment

Johnny Karate, lolling in the tub. He did not expect to be suddenly covered in catnip! Oh, the meeping and writhing. Oh, the licking and rolling. Now he's looking off into space, occasionally twitching, cleaning his paws without a care. High cat, living the kitty dream.

Friday, August 19, 2016

won't crank

My starter's gone bad. That's not a metaphor, I really mean it - the starter on my car has gone bad. That means it mostly works, except when it doesn't, and when it doesn't I might be able to get it to work again by banging on it with a piece of rebar.

So I have a car, maybe? And now there's this constant question of whether it's worth trying to go do stuff. I may get my errands run and come home without incident. Or I may wind up sitting in hellish heat in a parking lot, waiting for a friend to come by and scoop me up.

I'll have the money for a new one soon enough, but until then I'm trying to be philosophical and see the whole thing as an exercise in handling uncertainty. Plus, I don't work today, so I guess I could just get really high and clean my house.

I've had worse ideas.

triviaman's friday

It was a good night at trivia. The scores were close, no one seemed left out. The music round was both nostalgic and silly. I did a thing I do sometimes, which is write a round of fake personal ads from historic figures or presidents or parts of your body. In this case, Disney characters.

Here, have a few:

1. Looking for a pleasingly plump guy who likes to dance, eat ants, and not wear pants? I don’t make much money – okay, I don’t make any money – but I manage to get my needs met. Seeking laid-back love to take a float with me down this river we call life.
2. I give and give and what do they call me? A witch. Well even a villain needs love. Big, beautiful woman with intense hair looking for a seaworthy mate. Must like eels. John Waters movie and chill? 
3. Short guy fed up with too many goddamn roommates in search of a woman who can cook, clean, and sooth my angry soul. I’m pretty sure there’s a sweet core deep inside me, but it’ll take someone pretty fucking special to crack my asshole exterior. Whatever, screw it, no one will respond. Never mind, this is just pissing me off. 

4. Look, you may not be a furry, but you know you always thought I was cute. Dashing outlaw type needs partner in crime for night time rescues and good natured class warfare. Love a girl in a wimple. 

So that's what I do to keep the lights on. I don't blame you for being jealous. 

Shit! I just heard a crash from the kitchen, but Johnny is sitting next to me licking between his toes. Ghosts. 

[1. Baloo 2. Ursula 3. Grumpy 4. Robin Hood]

Thursday, August 18, 2016


I didn't have friends in middle and high school. Did I? One or two, but not past that. I was heavily bullied. I remember crying over McDonald's commercials that showed a group of friends hanging out. 

I did survive, I did get older, and I did fill that gap, thanks to the queer and punk scenes. I don't think I am able to consider myself popular, but I suspect that I am, at this point. But of course that kind of misery left scars (a few literal). 

Being part of a crew makes me a happy man. A contented man. Nothing makes me feel safer and more centered then being able to reach out and put my hand on a friend's shoulder, slap someone's back, touch elbows. Pull someone into a hug for no reason at all. Ruffle hair, bump knuckles, all those little physical ticks that help define us as a group. I love having a shared anthem, a song that gets us all up shouting with our fists in the air. 

That gang dynamic helps shut down that little voice that is still, decades later, whispering the back of my head that it's all a joke. That my friends are lying to me and will turn on me someday and point and ask how I could ever think it was anything but a prank. The damage remains, but it doesn't run me. I have my people. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


It's one of those weird, unanticipated results of the internet age. Woke up to the news that a friend is dead. We knew each other for 15 years, closer or further, but never in person. He was Norwegian and an anglophile. He loved the Smiths and had very good hair. At one point, I think we flirted, but by now he was simply a queer kid I'd known since back in the day.

I asked this last time and I still won't know next time. How do you mourn a friend you've always never known?

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

thank you, Joanna, for this cat

Johnny Karate is a scroungy little bastard, but I love him. He started out among the horde in a hoarder's house and wound up looking at me through the bars of a cage, ready for rescue. I'd just lost my evil familiar Bagheera, the most amazingly violent cat ever hatched, an elegant villain in a black and white tux. I missed her and wanted an orange male or something equally unlike her.

Instead I picked up this scrawny baby, curled him into a ball on his back, and tucked him into the crook of my arm. He accepted it, calmly meeping, and so it was done. He had hernia surgery - he's not a healthy boy - and came home to papa. Look how pitiful, poor little guy.

Took me about two weeks to figure out that my cat was broken. Sweet as sugar, friendly as you could hope for, and so sick that I first named him Humbert Humbert. This is gross, but he pooped constantly. All the time. On everything. Runny, horrible poop. For a while, I just gave up having anyone over. We suffered through six months before I figured out, through trial and error, that if I fed him gluten-free food he'd be okay. You have no idea, the sheer relief when he started to get better and I realized I wouldn't have to put him down. I replaced all my cloth-covered furniture, ruined and stained. I moved into a new apartment. I invited friends to hang out.

During those six dark months of poop, my little guy also survived a fever that scrambled his brain. He's not bright, but who cares? He's a cat, he was never going to write a best seller. He's still tiny, at almost three, and probably always will be. He doesn't meow - doesn't seem to know how - still only emits tiny meeps when he wants to make a point. He still prefers to sleep on his back in my arms like a baby. His fangs hang out of his lips, his claws never quite retreat into his paws and he sometimes gets hung up and limps for a few days. Every so often he forgets how to eat and I have to syringe feed him for a day or two before he remembers. His favorite game is kick-it-off. His breath is just foul. The boy ain't right.

But he's at my hip or in my arms all day. He'll walk on a leash and you can't freak him out. He's not smart, but he's good company. I'm glad of him.

Monday, August 8, 2016

time free

Between the storms rolling in and it being a dead week for FSU, I have an unexpected day off. On the down side, no work no pay. On the up side, I am not the least bit mad about having time that is unassigned to any task or triviality.

To daywalkers, it's getting on toward evening. You're thinking of supper and how you wish you hadn't already watched all of Stranger Things. But for me the day stretches out into possibility and a beautiful, thunder and lightning sort of night. I'll attempt to gather in a few friends, play a few games, drink the beer that's lingering in my fridge. Or read a book or maybe cut a stencil for a project I'm working on. Get high and read Steven Universe fanfic. Design a new flyer for trivia night. Sit on my stoop, fight with the cat.

And I even have a fresh haircut. Mine is a good life.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

wild in the street

Six years ago, a friend of mine named Biro got saddled with the creation of a local music festival. Everybody else sort of fell away, and there she was. She'd never even set up a house show. First I sat around saying "this ain't gonna work," because I am sometimes an asshole. Then I said, "I could help with that," because only sometimes. And now I help Biro set up a great big shindig every year, with a hundred bands playing on a half dozen stages over the course of a day in a two block area. Gaines Street Festival, it's a thing.

Every band that applies gets in, pretty much regardless. From bar cover bands to instrumental metal, they all get 20 minutes and a good time. Plus all the rest of the stuff you need for a street party - food, tanks of beer, oceans of booze. Local orgs, dogs to adopt, artists and bellydancers and a guy who gives you a piece of fruit if you draw something for him. We partially fund it with nudie calendars every year.

So, the season is upon us. Between now and November 12, I'll devote more and more time to the Festival and less time to everything that is not the Festival. I'm sorry, friends. I'm sorry, family. I'll try to leave time for karaoke.

Friday, August 5, 2016


I don't like needles. More than that; needles scare me. I like the results of needles. I love my inked skin, my typewriter and boxcutter and the crayon letters in bright colors across my belly. But those needles are tiny and held in another person's hand. I'm in favor of immunizations, obviously, because I am not insane. And the life I live would not be possible without needles. My voice, rich and round and my main source of income, sounds like that because of needles. My scratchy chin, my hairy arms, my entire ability to live as a man in this society - all thanks to intramuscular shots of self-administered testosterone.

It's been a year since my last shot.

I don't make a lot of money. I'm happy, mind you, and I cover my bills, but I seldom have extra for stuff like blood tests and doctors and scrips for T. So I get a few shots here and there off friends - this is a thing trans guys do sometimes. It happens. I've had a vial for a couple months now, but I've been putting off doing the shot. First I had to get more needles - a pain in the ass to do unofficially. Then I didn't have any alcohol swabs. Band-aids. Time. Bravery.

See, all those testosterone-created changes don't just go away when I stop taking my hormones. I take to the stuff well, and I stay my regular, manly(ish) self without it. For a while.

You want to see a mad motherfucker? Talk to a trans man whose body has decided to bleed again. And then, tonight at trivia, my voice cracked slightly. Oh hell no, y'all. Fuck a whole bunch of that.

My friend Lindsey came over and sat with me. No question, just turned up at the door in her pjs with a smile and a strong shoulder. I laid out my gear like a druggie. Rolled up my pants, drew up the T into the syringe, prayed. Laughed at myself, shivering. Prayed again. Gulped, sighed, pushed the needle into my thigh. It doesn't hurt if you do it right. Emptied that illegitimate hormone into my muscle. Pulled it out - no blood, no leak, thank goodness - slapped on a band-aid.

There's no sudden rush. It's not an upper. But endorphins are an amazing thing, as is the satisfaction of simply having finished a hard task. My muscles relaxed. Lindsey hugged me tight, we said goodnight, she headed home. I feel quiet and pleased and a little as if I've fought fiercely against a familiar foe.

I have a few more shots' worth. If I do this again once a week for a month, I'll be okay until the next time a friend hooks me up. My voice will stabilize or maybe even drop some. I'll be alert but more even keeled. I'll stop bleeding, bless us. I'll be horny as hell. More active. I can't wait.

Manhood in the modern age.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

end of the day

If you make yourself a late meal before turning in and it's 5:30am, you can call it breakfast if you want. If you make ramen, add soy sauce and powdered ginger and crack two eggs from your mom's chickens to poach in the boiling broth. Watch something soothing while you eat it. Watch a mystery you already solved. Don't think of better soups, enjoy what you have.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

the karaoke rules

You may think you are the exception. You are not the exception. 

1. Do not sit down when singing. This is not your unplugged.
2. Do not sing a ballad. No one cares.
3. Do not take your friends on stage with you if you are nervous. You want them in the crowd, where they can yell and clap for you. 
4. Do not boo the singers. Karaoke is at least three of most people's biggest fears rolled into one public experience, so everybody gets a E for effort.
5. If you pick a song everyone knows, nobody cares what you sound like because they are too busy singing along. This crowd wants to sing. That's why they're at karaoke. 
6. No one with ass ever sings Baby Got Back. I do not know why this rule exists, but it does. 
7. All Meatloaf songs are too long for this. 
8. Guitar is not the only instrument one can air. 
9. If you can't think of anything else to sing, there's always "Say It Ain't So."
10. Tip your DJ.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

first kiss

Mama Warning: Rated K for Kissing.

Me, 17, a slow bloomer. A sincere nerd, in a time before the geek inherited the Earth. An out queer, in a time before Ellen. Opportunities seemed thin on the ground. Had-I-known-then-what-I-know-now and so on. Never been kissed.

Jenn, closest friend and bad influence, thank goodness. My age but "worldly." Spent a lot of time in college dorms with older friends, and the rest of her time with me. By then she'd been thrown out by her mom and I somehow convinced my own saintly and remarkable parents to take her in temporarily. More about that another time, huh? Much more importantly to Past Hank, Jenn'd been exiled from home in part for being bisexual, making her one of maybe three women my age even theoretically approachable.

Thankfully, I'm old to have really been online in my teens. All that terrible poetry, gone. You can't even imagine. There's no sexual tension like teenage queer sexual tension.

My folks went to Mexico and left Granny to mind the four of us. (Poor Granny.)

Jenn and I always went to the library downtown, as allowed, and wound up in Old City Cemetery, down the hill, on a grave for a girl named Jenny. Comfortable, semi-hidden, and she felt a name-based kinship to the occupant. We'd been touching each other all day, as accidentally as possible. At school, sitting on the same step in a back stairway with a few other outcasts. Fingers brushing knees in class. Kept my hair shaved down to velvet then, and her hands reached to stroke it when I stood near. In the graveyard, in the October sun, leaned up against a double headstone, shoulder to shoulder. Did I kiss her then? No.

Back to the house. The third floor belonged to teenagers. One long room, like a karate studio, the length of the house. Cut into three with a pair of massive bookshelves and sheets haphazardly strung for privacy. My chunk had no windows and was papered in pictures, few over palm size, cut from magazines. May was somewhere? doing much worse things, I'm sure. She ran with a fast crowd. I was jealous.

Jenn'd done this before, and bless her for it. I was so nervous I had electricity crawling around under my skin. She asked for a backrub. I do give a pretty good backrub. She turned over and kissed me. No rush at all. One hand on the back of my neck, one on my side, on my bare skin. She bit my lip hard enough to make me whine.

We did more than night, but it's fainter and fuzzier and further away.

By the way, tonight's date went well.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

a difference that makes no difference

Post-transition, I've become largely gender indiscriminate in dating. Male and female have become a bit of a sliding scale. Moving along that line - line? curve? blur? explosion? - turns out to be remarkably simple. It's the context we place that change in, the medical barriers we put up against it, the official hoops we are required to jump through, the emotional battles we fight within ourselves about it that make the whole thing complicated. And I'm not saying it's easy - you can ask anyone who ever tried to lose weight if simple means easy - I'm just saying that it doesn't matter to me in a dating situation anymore. 

Hell, it's queer no matter who I hook up with these days. 

So, I have a date tonight. I hope I have a clean shirt.

Friday, July 29, 2016


In certain circles, Thursday is known as "the Triviaman's Friday."

Trivia is different every night, but exactly the same. I'm a carnival talker, same basic script daily but with new questions, new jokes fitted into their spots. Same warnings, I do them by rote while feeling out the crowd. I need you to take your cell phone i-phone, i-pad, smart phone, flip phone, whatever it is you use to communicate with other people, and put that in your pocket or your purse, out of sight and off the table. 

I'm completely in love with my own voice these days. This is a post-testosterone affair. I'm good on a microphone and on the rare occasion that I eat shrooms I wind up talking a lot but very calmly just to enjoy what I sound like. I may have a problem with maintaining an inside voice, but that's been a lifelong truth.

I love my job.

Thursday, July 28, 2016


Ach. A typo led to one lens of my new glasses being decidedly wrong, so back they went and in another week I'll get my clear vision again. In my twenties, it would have enraged me. With any luck, I'd have left the store before I cussed a blue streak about having to wait. Past Hank loved anger, loved the power that built up behind the rage. But nobody likes Angry Hank much.

I still feel flashes of it, heat lightning, but life is so much easier when you let the little shit roll by. I may have to wait a week, but now I won't feel embarrassed to go back. Save up the gunpowder for the big stuff. Hard won wisdom, and I'm handing it out for free.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

too long between visits

There's a woman in North Carolina that I never see. There's a woman in North Carolina that is very busy and owns a house and two dogs and I wish I saw her more often. There's a woman in North Carolina that I have mostly given up on, that I doubt I'll ever give up on completely. There's a woman in North Carolina that's fucked up in just the right ways to make the ways in which I'm fucked up worth it. Come to sunny Florida, North Carolina woman. Sunny Florida misses you.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


I'm not blind, but I'm blind enough. I take off my glasses to sleep, to swim, to shower. To make out, because they smear against their nose or click against their glasses. (Hank makes passes at folks who wear glasses.) Sex, obviously, because they'd fall off anyway. I used to leave them with the bartender or a friend when I crashed into a mosh pit, and now I barely recognize myself in old show photos.

When Rick Scott laid us all off, I got a new pair before I lost my benefits. That's gone five years now, and mine have become a mass of scratches. At night, the world is full of flares and rainbows and auras and halos. Headlights blast like explosions. Driving isn't fun and probably not safe.

So I finally got an eye exam and yes, my left eye is worse than it ever was, but also: bifocals. Lord help me. I don't look forward to losing even more of my field of vision. That being said, I'll be able to see again! I pick them up today, on my way to trivia. The world, clear again!

after work, meandering

Johnny's hurt his leg somehow. This happens every so often. He's not an adept climber, and his nails never quite retract - he snags on things. I just fed him a sympathy sardine.

A Monday night, home from work and talking to the cat. "What did you do, boy?" He doesn't meow like a cat, just meeps quietly. A friend once said he sounded like Mike Tyson, so there you go.

I should work on tomorrow's trivia. I have a few ideas, but I'm not sure. I hate slogging through a mediocre round that no one enjoys. I write five rounds a day, four or five days per week. Me, the guy who never did a homework assignment in his life. Now I give daily pop quizzes for fun and profit. Strange ol' world.

Monday, July 25, 2016

good night, good morning

I used to be seconds from falling asleep at all times. I slept through high school, arms curled around my head to block the morning light, drooling and trying to stay aware enough to not miss the bell between classes. I nodded off in the car at red lights if I didn't sing along with the radio or pinch myself hard enough to leave bruises. I drifted out in staff meetings, notebooks and pens dropping from suddenly open hands - after a while, they just let me mind the office phones instead of embarrassing myself again. I napped in waiting rooms, crashed halfway through movies. Add alcohol to the mix and I developed a reputation for passing out in the strangest places - legend tells that I once crawled up on an amp next to the stage at a punk show and began happily snoring while the bass player dripped ice on my head.

The less said about public bathrooms the better.

I thought I was narcoleptic. Most of America manages to wake up in the morning and make it through to bedtime without problems. With fewer problems, anyway. More sleep, less sleep, it didn't matter. This was my fate. This was life. I got good at lucid dreaming because I taught myself to check the nearest clock when I thought I might be in a dreamstate - if the numbers stayed where they should be, I was awake and everything simply felt vaguely unreal.

In 2011, I got laid off from my state job. At the time, I was furious - all the shit I did that I could have been fired for, it was an insult to be cut loose just because Rick Scott decided that Florida didn't need health care workers or office staff. I got unemployment. I got into Community College. And I let myself sleep when I wanted to.

A whole new life. An awake life. I tumble into my covers in the early hours, as the mockingbirds begin to imitate and dawn begins to peep. As daywalkers, those fools, groan and hit the alarm and reach for coffee cups. I dream through morning and into early afternoon and open my eyes smiling. The world is real; it's alive and so am I. Goddam it, why did it take this long?

Sunday, July 24, 2016

we're not gonna do it alone

On Sunday I visit my sister May, who is nearly my age and just about my height. To us, we are the funniest people alive. We feed off each other in spirals of laughter, so much funny, all the funny. Oh, look, I can't explain why we crack us up so hard. It's like telling someone about your dream from the night before. Our hilarity takes the form of stupid Boris-and-Natasha Russian accents that we get stuck using, unable to give them up for hours on end. Dumb jokes - what's red and bad for your teeth? A brick. What's brown and sticky? A stick.

The pinnacle of comedy.

We're both Well Known Figures in the bars and restaurants of this town. May's a server, with god-like abilities to run a brunch or calm an angry customer. She can guard her crew from bad management or her employer from a hungover staff's hooliganism. As a teenager she was hit by a car; it broke her life and sent it down unexpected paths. The ripples of pain still expand from that moment, but you would never know to watch her glide through a dining room, soothing and urging by turns.

The 9 to 5 is largely unknown to us, and if we want to hang out on the regular we have to make a point of it, so we've made Sunday our day. I got her and her husband and their roommate hooked on Steven Universe, the gayest musical science fiction cartoon ever made, and we've spent weeks catching up on episodes. We eat snacks, we sing the theme song, we discuss the motivations of fictional characters from space. We remember how good it is to be us and how lucky we truly are.

pocket money

For my side job - trivia makes me a happy man, but no one said anything about rich - I run the teleprompter for the live Florida Lottery draw a few nights a week. Because if you are going to be poor anyway, you might as well not take jobs that make you miserable if you can manage it. The woman who set me up with the position was in my Girl Scout troop. Transitioning in your home town leads to odd little unlikelihoods like that. We went to high school together, two dorks in the herd, and she may have been the first peer I came out to. That was years before I knew trans men existed, because 1993 was not 2016. I was just a chubby, awkward dyke all eat up with queer.

So, from there to here. She's a mom now, I'm a man now, and I pay a bill or two because at one point the two of us hunched over a buddy burner in the North Florida woods. Sometimes I think the reason so many of us believe in fate or destiny is because the path we followed seems too strange and yet too clear to have been made up on the spur of the moment.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

stand by, keep watch

Strong and with grace, my friend Donna labored all yesterday and through the night. The midwife - her mother one of the women who helped bring my sisters into the world - and her assistant guided her through, wisdom and skill and short cat naps as things ebbed and flowed.

I'm not a father and I never will be. Too queer, too lazy, too old now. This is not a lament, just a statement. I am an uncle. When someone I love gives birth, I feel an urge as simple and compelling as breath: be at hand. stand by. keep watch. The knight at vigil, the guard at the gate. More honestly, the fellow sleeping in a chair in the corner, ready to fetch snacks or mind other kids, play cards with relatives, provide a shoulder. Just be there.

I got to hold this little one before she was two hours old. I talk nonsense to babies and they seem to like it as long as I pitch the sounds low in my chest like a hum, slow and deep. Uncle Hank is comforting. Her eyes, she was bright and watching already, half smiling, long fingers splaying and then grabbing. Kicking feet, dark curls of hair, already a beauty, already as strong as her mama.

Friday, July 22, 2016

kneeling in the sand

The Wacissa River is short and broad and stays around 70 degrees all year. On my knees among the fish and snails, up to my chin in water and feeling the heat leech out of my body like poison, leaving me cool and healthy and heavy lidded. I touch my niece with cold hands and she gasps and shivers and giggles, perfect Florida baby. I wrestle my nephews and drag them in circles, kicking up a wake, kissing their heads and ears and faces when they dive at me for a tussle.

By the time I drag myself out and wring out my shirt, sunlight's no longer an assault but a comfort. Warm like my sister's smiles as we wrangle her kids. Warm like a dry towel. The whole world is realigned, any irritations nibbled away by the minnows. A poor man in paradise.

to the river

Florida, and the only reason the air itself isn't on fire is because it's saturated. I need to fall into natural water. I need to roll in the river, spring cold, underground cold. Rebirth, rejuvenation, recreation, re-creation. The cliche of baptism, true with or without gods. 

My gods hold these waters sacred because I do - isn't that how this works? 

In summer, the urge to wash off the salt that crusts us is stronger than the whispers in my mind. The fat kid who won't take his shirt off to go in the pool. The trans guy always aware of what isn't in his trunks. In heat like this, who cares? Not me. 

Hellfire, Martha, let's go. 


There is me, Hank. There is the cat, Johnny Karate. I am fat and short and redheaded, and my smile is sort of crooked. I wear black framed glasses, because I like simplicity, and my eyes are a good blue. My belly is a keg that overhangs my belt. The cat is tiny and black and has fangs that overhang his lip, and he looks a little like a bat. He's not bright, but he's sweet. I'm bright and sweet or salt in turn. And that's the two of us, companions. We're used to each other and generally enjoy our company.

We sleep mornings and we live nights, and in between I write trivia rounds and thereby make my living. At dusk I take my bag of tricks, my questions and answers, and cajole smart people into buying drinks while showing off their store of dumb facts. I used to be pukingly shy. Teenage Hank would be horrified if he knew his future. I work blue, and I've lost some of the ability to watch my tongue around small children. Sorry, kids. Don't mind Uncle Hank, he gets excited and forgets his manners. He means well.

Johnny kicks things off shelves and eats expensive food, because he's special. And kind of an asshole.

I'm usually very fond of myself and comfortable in my skin, although I'm a trans man and self acceptance isn't part of the Standard Narrative. Teenage Hank was a different creature than Now Hank, poor guy. He was difficult to be, at times, and I am glad I'm not him now.

This year I turned forty, and I'm of the last generation not raised on the internet. It leaves me cautious, still, about what I put in writing and leave out where people can see it. But silence sparks no conversation. So this is me, Hank. Hello.