Writing Prompt

I use the app Loop Journal, and one day it invited me to begin a story with this sentance. The rest is history and took me 10 minutes. XD

” ‘Suddenly the door opens itself…’ That’s a rubbish way to start any book,” Sidney grumbled to himself. The line was mercilessly hacked out, and he tried to start again. It was a chilly blue and peach evening in late fall, and Sidney Meyhew, late of Kings Cross, was now merely late at turning in a new first chapter to his who-dun-it. Ghostwriting is never glamorous work, especially not for sweaty asthmatic British transplants who find themselves in Boring City, Michigan after London proved inconquerable.

But Sidney had a dream.

He wanted to write an epic modern novel, detailing the pathos and ecstasy of one man’s journey into becoming the woman he always wanted to be. He wanted to write a first hand account of the life of a transwoman and how she finds love after finding herself. The only problem with this dream, the problem which kept dragging him out of bed to beat his head against the floor, was the fact that he didn’t know the first thing about transwomen. How did you spot one? Was it polite to ask? Were they all simplified drag queens? What would he need to do to gain access to the inner sanctum of a diva’s precious journey of burgeoning womanhood? And why, ye gods, did he have to have THIS inescapable idea as the impetus for his magnum opus?

The thorny prickles of these various conundrums had lately been driving Sidney to the conclusion that it was all going to boil down to one thing: fitting in.

To meet a transwoman, he was going to have to become one himself.

If asked, he couldn’t tell you how he’d arrived at this conclusion.

But just this evening, banging away on an old DOS computer his gran kept on her draughty porch, it was the biggest thing on his mind.

Not consciously, you understand.

No, consciously he was dealing with the agony of sweating in 50 degree weather, being outside because Gran was cooking cabbage again, and trying to make his book behave and make sense.

But subconsciously, the Rolodex of his mind was ticking methodically over his options and pragmatically continuing to arrive at the same conclusion. To write his book, he had to know. To know, he must ask. To ask, he must not look stupid. To avoid stupidity, he must fit in. To fit in, he had to become a woman.
I’m sure by this point my reader will be wondering why Sidney did not choose to write the book about himself, but I am merely his biographer, not his apologist. If you ask me, it was damn silly of him not to recognize this as soon as you did.

Perhaps it was because Sidney Augustus Meyhew was, at the moment, the antithesis of elegant transwomanhood. Picture if you will, and if you’d prefer not to I entirely understand, a man well past 30 but not entirely ready to concede to 40 and frantically reaching for the brakes.

Hairy legs, pale and fidgety, stumping out from underneath billowy cotton drawers in a faded print. Pudgy and double curved, stomach meticulously tucked inside, an undershirt sagging for the floor struggles bravely against the forces of gravity and cheaply labored cotton. Grandad’s old maroon dressing gown keeps the neighbors from complaining from the back, and from the front there is only the dull glow of the computer to witness the sloping tragedy of a sad and manly clavicle in full bushy bloom, with a chin mysteriously free of even a shadow of hair. The fact that his cheeks were as smooth as a woman’s sometimes gave Sidney a bit of theatrical excitement toward his aforementiomed plot, until he realized that from the neck down he resembled a wire brush put through a bark chipper. Morosely then, notice with Sidney his sparse eyebrows and Roman nose, watery hazel eyes, and surprisingly luxuriant bouffant of ginger hair. From the neck up he really could have swung it, he thought. He’d seen women at the market, some of them no better looking than he!

But as for the walking carpet that was the rest of him…

This is why he stuck to ghostwriting.

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My America

My America is mixed up.

And messed up.

For me, the two are very different things.


(Pic taken by me, of a sign that gripped my attention outside a market in Portland)

In my head, my heart, and my perception for most of my life, it is just mixed. Like a milkshake.

Whenever I see an ad, a TV show or movie, or a group of friends together, and there is a mix of genders, ethnicities, fashion, skin and hair, tastes, abilities… 

That is my America. It is what I have always seen this country to be, the gift it is to the world, though now I am painfully aware this is not the reality many face. 

I know now the horrors of too-recent Jim Crow, the appalling behavior of Trump supporters, the absymal lack of regard for indigenous peoples, and the deep pain faced by members of the SAGA (sexuality and gender awareness) community.

But as messed up as this all is, I believe our America WANTS to just be mixed. Colors and flavors and languages all stirred together and, complex as it is, harmonizing because of that very unity. America has a soul, IS a soul. Something like an ethereal Lady Liberty. And she’s so PROUD of every single one of her children for their very diversity!!

I grew up the youngest of five children.

My three older siblings were adopted, there was never any confusion or hiddenness about that in my family. And we celebrated their dates of adoption as much as their birth dates. My oldest sister is half Iranian. My oldest brother is a Caucasian presenting American mutt with French ancestry. My older sister is from Seoul, South Korea, and appears to have some African DNA.

My blood brother and I are the combined products of Irish and German immigrants and Luxembourgish immigrants. He is dark complected, I fair. He takes after our mother and her family, I our father. We look nothing alike for many years, and even got mistaken as dating. I couldn’t even depend on looks to prove I was related to someone, and that planted a very special seed deep in my heart about our human connection to one another.

I grew up eating bulgogi, hummus, and saffron chicken, hearing German shouted across the house for please and thank you, counting to 10 in 4-5 different languages, and knowing that, no matter our skin differences and parental origins, my sisters ARE my sisters. I grew up trying on saris, kimono, drindl, overalls, and peasant blouses. I grew up wishing I could be Lieutenant Ohoura and devestated when my imagination was shamed for not taking her skin color into account.

I guess I’m a unicorn.  Skin color was only important to me because I thought the varieties it could take were so very beautiful. I still do.

Ive been reminded lately to promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

So rather than keep saying what’s so very very messed up in my America today, I want to weave with my words the way I see a MIXED America.

My America is the old fellow with silvery coils of hair and handsome cocoa skin, dressed up in his Army finest for the Veteran’s Day parade, marching step by step beside his husband. Because they could finally have that wedding they planned in Normandy.

My America is the punk rock princess with slanted eyes and scars from heart surgery, cooing over her best friend’s baby because she wont have any herself but still thinks they are cute. She already lost her mom to breast and uterine cancer, so she made her peace, thanked her gods, and had everything removed. Her album is getting released, tour dates set, and she couldn’t be happier.

My America is a lad turning lady, peppered with freckles, admiring his instep in the heels of his new dancing shoes. They are six inches tall, and that pole will be HIS tonight. Before he puts on his scrubs and works the night shift to clean up gunshot wounds. His physical completion to match outside with inside is one surgery that will just have to wait.

My America is the beautiful woman with bouncing curves and ginger curls, swinging her tap shoes over her shoulder as she walks into the lab to invent the next robotic arm.

My America is the soft spoken husband and wife from Arkansas who moved to Alaska in search of a logging job. They have a baby boy, and love football and coffee. The wife is blind.

My America is four kids, all girls, and no mother. She left. And Daddy’s ok. He brushes hair, ties shoes, cooks and cleans, and writes a blog for a living. Those girls aren’t missing out on any love or attention.

My America is not English. It’s smiles as you both stammer and gesture and pantomime and point. 

My America is not white. It’s a rainbow. For Everyone.

My America lives in wheelchairs and dreams in rocketships.

My America is new to Syrian children, old to the descendants of Plymouth Rock and Jamestown.

My America displays her hope for her children in the curve and swell of mountains, the dip of valleys, the rush of rivers, the climb of forests, the soar of sky and the space of plains.

My America is showing us the way.

If our America is from snowy gold Alaska to dusky Arizona, from misty Maine to Florida and Cali to Tennessee, if She is so diverse but UNIFIED, dont you think we should be?

This is my belief, my firm belief since infancy, a reality that is challenged every time I hear another attrocity or rudeness less perpetrated but perPETUATED in the name of American greatness.

I am a child of the 90’s. Diversity is in my blood. American Greatness is in the strength of individuals with nothing in common, coming together in such a place on earth as beautifully different as they are, and saying “We choose to have something in common! We choose to unify, and say we are all in this together! We choose to be Americans!”

That is my America. I pray for her, as she is martyred and misrepresented, her welcoming bosom barred and her children hating in the streets and courtrooms.

I offer these verses to soothe my country’s soul, to refresh her, to share with anyone who will listen that we CAN be great, TOGETHER.

THIS IS WHAT A PATRIOT LOOKS LIKE.