This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting to Blogger with such a large archive has become unwieldy. Also, your blogista, who is sewing a kesa, is not writing much at present. She has ceased adding new posts. Still-active links are here.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

You're welcome, ma'am

A friend came to visit, whom I'd only met online. She's traveling around the country, seeing whether there might be an area to move to, because two married women (married to each other) tend to be regarded with a lot of disapproval in the Deep South.

I was working late when she arrived, and Beloved undertook to be the hostess for two unsupported hours -- not that easy for her to do as she's a private person. I arrived, and my houseguest and I thanked Beloved and hit it off right away, talking deep into the night, and made plans for the next day, which I had taken as vacation for the purpose.

First order of business was to go up and see the reservoir. A serious accident blocked the intersection of our road and the highway, so we backtracked along the highway to another route, which went up through the mountains briefly, and after fifteen miles of, to me, God's country, small farms and big timber, came out a mile farther up the highway. We drove around to the covered bridge and up into Lowell.

The marina was unavailable for inspection because the weekend would be one of three every year when the lake is closed for high-powered boat races.

So we went around to the rowing dock, admired the scenery for a bit, and headed down to the dam to see the salmon.

There aren't a lot of them this year, but we could find a few milling about in the depths below us, including a June hog weighing around 35 pounds. Most looked to be fifteen pounders. Every now and then one would jump, with a plop that could be heard over the roar of the spillway.

These are hatchery fish, born here on the north bank and released to go to sea every year. The hatchery is a series of holding pens, and we walked in and examined these; already full of fry about two inches long; life in abundance. Soon they would be big enough to attract the attention of ospreys, eagles, and herons; hence the netting that covers each pool.

It's a sad business, really; there are no more wild salmon here. This dam has no fish ladder, and when the fish come back upstream, the tailrace is as far as they can go. With a dim memory of a concrete holding tank as home, some of them make it up the chute to the hatchery, to be milked and, perhaps, trucked to some nearby creek to die and return some of their nutrients to the local salmon-starved ecosystem (at considerable expense); the rest whiten around their fins and tail and begin to drift back downstream, coming to rest on some gravel bar to be picked apart by, mostly, crows.

Not many fishermen were vying for them, maybe eight on the far bank and four at the bar downstream on the hatchery side. No one got action while we were there. They looked weary and bored.

We went to town and I introduced my friend to my work crews. She checked her mail while I trained a student as a closer (last shift at night), then we went to explore the campus. After that, we walked down 13th a ways, and were "ma'amed" by the free-newspapers guy, which was nice for both of us. We stopped in to visit Mother Kali's (more), ate a bit at Napoli, and I went to my counselor appointment while she explored the downtown.

I finally asked the counselor about the M on my DL and he said he would begin the paper work, and also had a question for me to ask the SRS surgeon that I've corresponded with.

Gee, nice. But it's been three years, people.

A few months ago I would have jumped around on the sidewalk afterward, screaming for joy. But the harsh experience I had with the previous counselor has tempered my expectations somewhat. Things might turn out the way they seem they're going to, or other hurdles may throw themselves across my path. Best not to get carried away.

We then stopped by the house for a bit, and then on to Cottage Grove. I dropped her off to explore the town, went and got my weekly hour of electro, and came back. As we drove back to the house in the gathering dusk, she described the Dallas experience: all day, one side and then the other. I had heard of this from others, and said so.

"Yes, people go to them from all over the world."

The next day, after she left for parts east, I went to the Library to make sure I had crew, then noticed Beloved's car in front of my son's apartment, where clearly no one was at home. Deducing the entire family had walked to Saturday Market, which had been mentioned, I set out across town.

It's easy not to find someone at the Market, with several thousand people milling about, but I got them on my third loop. We visited long enough for me to cadge lunch money, then I ate a Burrito Bowl while listening to a set by Tom's Kitchen, a good local band specializing in Celtic music. Many people were dancing, and I joined them, lunch in one hand, fork in the other.

From there I made my way to the Hult Center, going around to the back and, having been mistaken about whether I had been invited, managed to talk my way past the nice security guard to get into a Bach Festival rehearsal. The justly famed Helmuth Rilling was putting full orchestra and chorus, made up of invitation-only musicians from all over the world, through some final adjustments to the Christmas Oratorio. The soloists lounged about in the auditorium a few seats ahead of me, conversing in German, and made their way, one by one, to the stage for their parts, sweaters carried over both shoulders like capes, water bottle in hand. Then they would pick up their scores with seconds to go, and fill the cavernous, almost empty hall with sounds of a stunning beauty. The soprano turned toward the fifteen or so of us and the eight hundred or so empty seats and and gave us her all. I broke into tears three times.

Rilling was interested in better work than satisfied me, however, and frequently halted passages of soaring genius, rendered by about ninety geniuses, to explain what he wanted from them. He spoke quietly but urgently, and everyone got out pencils, furrowed their brows, made notes on their scores, and lifted their instruments or filled their lungs for another go. At the end he made a warmly encouraging little joke, and they all laughed good-naturedly and packed away for the next day's performance.

As I left I thanked the security guard.

"You're welcome, ma'am."

An amazing afternoon -- but wait -- then I went back to the Saturday Market, where I found a local, much loved band -- Eleven Eyes -- at the moment, a trumpet, sax, two guitars and a sampler, with a small child choosing old records to hand to his dad, who was running the turntables -- in the middle of a raucous set, with about eighty people dancing in front of the stage area. I joined them, for about three numbers; then, deciding it had been a full two days, walked back to my car, about six blocks away in the low afternoon sun and long shadows, and drove home, happy. It would be an early bedtime, though...

-- risa b

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

You're related?

My mom-in-law and Beloved's sister were here for a few days and it was a wonderful visit. They are upbeat people, not easily intimidated by bullies, sure of their rights and secure in granting those same rights -- nothing more -- to others. How refreshing!


I needed to gas up and so pulled into the station we both use. In Oregon the attendant pumps your gas (petrol to some of you) and so I handed my card out the window to the grizzled old geezer on the afternoon shift. He glanced at it, puzzled over it for a bit, and said, to himself, as if his brain were hurting him, "Bear ... Bear ... "

I told him Beloved's name. He brightened up. "That's right. She comes here all the time."

He peered in the window, clearly not meaning to pry -- some piece of the equation just wasn't working out for him.

"You're related?"


I left it at that.


Tonight I went to a public hearing of the city Human Rights Commission on proposed legislation adding transgendered people to the list of protected classes in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

This time all but one of those who spoke were in favor of at least most* of the code change. There was only one of the nay-sayers present, instead of the large numbers that appeared at hearings in 2002, or the five or so vocal opponents we had been hearing from so far this year.

He seemed like he might be a nice enough man if one could get to talk with him, but he was gone immediately after the last speaker and people began to rise. I mean, gone! Someone followed him down the hall, but I had the impression he was running, from what imagined demons I wouldn't know. So much for asking him to coffee, which was what I was there for.

His testimony was the usual.

1. We choose to be like this, unlike black people or women, who are born different from white males.
2. So granting us protections is granting "special rights," trampling on the rights of the majority.
3. The right of the majority is to go to the bathroom safely, and women and children will not be safe in public restrooms if transgender protections are added.
4. It's criminal of the City to contemplate doing this without a vote of the people.


I'd like to note that protected classes currently include "race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation."

So, he was born Protestant? And why, if we're not to be added because we choose to be trans, does the current code have "sexual orientation?" Gay people have rights protected, but trans people shouldn't? I think he probably didn't mean to argue that gays are born gay and Protestants are born Protestant, but this is, in effect, what he argued.

In nature there are privileges. In society, too. But civil society establishes rights. It's for giving the less privileged more of an even break. By guaranteeing participation to all, we maximize our collective potential -- read create wealth if you like.

The Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states:

Section. 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. (emphasis added).

The Amendment does not grant "special rights" to the freed slaves; it tells the states not to infringe the rights of human beings. The rights are held to be a priori; the people in question had rights all along; therefore laws making them property were henceforth to be regarded as invalid.

I would agree with the gentleman (while buying him a cup of coffee, had he stayed) that I should not have "special rights." But that's because, according to the Constitution, there aren't any. There are only rights.

Protections don't invent rights, they protect those (already in force) of people whom the majority habitually regard as not having them.

Race, because one race, or several, may regard another or others as not fully human -- and therefore not deserving of full human rights.

Religion, because one religious group, or several, may regard another or others as not fully human -- and therefore not deserving of full human rights.

Gender, because one gender (read "male") may regard the other (read "women") as not fully human -- and therefore not deserving of full human rights.

Sexual orientation, because some may regard those who are attracted to the same sex as not fully human -- and therefore not deserving of full human rights.

So the Constitution is given the task, not of creating rights, only protecting those that are already there from a tyrannizing and uncomprehending majority.

And jurisdictions within the United States are tasked with seeing to it that their laws do not deny to any person ... the equal protection of the laws.

Which is the task the City of Eugene is carrying out, having identified a population that is regarded by some as not fully human and therefore not deserving of full human rights: transpeople.

Item to support this assertion: I can be fired in Eugene for being trans.

Item to support this assertion: I can be evicted in Eugene for being trans.

Item to support this assertion: I can be denied access to a homeless shelter in Eugene for being trans.

All of these are infringements of my rights. But if I go to the housing authorities and allege that I was evicted for transitioning, they can say they are forced to shrug me off, because in Oregon's laws and in Eugene's laws there is nothing about transpeople.

I have to be able to show that the thing for which I was evicted is a thing for which it is forbidden to evict me, y'see.

Since the available information shows that most restroom danger is danger to transpeople from others rather than the other way round, I won't dwell on that argument. People who are prone to regard me as a pedophile or rapist because I believe myself to be a woman just aren't thinking clearly. Or have been lied to so often by people with an agenda that there's little hope of reaching them with common sense.

But the fourth point: what about that vote?

Ummm ... did we get to vote directly for our presidential candidate? Did we get to vote on the Patriot Act? Did we get to vote on our tax rate? Did we get to vote on whether to invade a practically unarmed country? Did we get to vote on whether to study stem cells? Did we get to vote on whether to keep the roadless areas? Do we get to vote on North Slope oil? Do we ... well, I could go on for thousands of "pages."

This is representative government. Legislative, executive, judicial, with checks and balances. We have voted for our City Councilors so that they can do what seems best to them in their wisdom, such as it is, to comply with the directives, as a jurisdiction within Oregon and within the United States, of the Constitutions thereof.

In other words, they have to protect the rights of all the citizens, not those of some. Because even if, to you, I'm less than human, the Constitution, rightly or wrongly, disagrees with you there.

But there's a process. You may gather signatures on a petition and force an expensive referendum.

And if you vote to exclude us from our rights as citizens, and win, that vote will be subject to judicial review.

There are those who are calling that likelihood proof that there are "activist judges," This is a code phrase for "judges who don't go to our church."

I have another name for it. I call it the American Way.

-- risa b

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Little Eva

Pre-transition readers may remember that I was preoccupied with fishing for several years, as a result of my dad's influence when my parents lived here a year. In a way it was the last hurrah of my many "manly" activities.

I haven't been out in the kayak much this year, except for just paddling. There have been a number of factors. The weather has been rough, and I'm more susceptible to cold and exposure than I remember; my name change was slow, and the Fish and Game are paranoid about name changes; I'm increasingly domestic; I'm not as predatory as before; I've been active in anti-fascism, and all the few nice days have coincided with the interminable indoor meetings.

Since I'm a chair-bound office worker, I'm developing a terrible roll around my middle. We have a walking group that does a mile around the campus on breaks, but I can't always go; and mowing is exercise but -- you know?

So, yesterday, immediately upon getting home from work, I changed into a bra cami, shorts and sun visor, dug out the boat from the garage, slipped it into the back of the station wagon (it's that small!) and headed for the reservoir, eight miles point to point.

Such a beautiful place to live!

All my necessary gear is in the boat, Little Eva, and I carry it to the water in one trip, one-handed. I've carried suitcases heavier. I'm glad I chose this boat because not only is it durable, stable and seaworthy, it's very light --17 pounds unloaded. This is proving to be more and more important as I lose muscle mass.

I set the boat down on the swimming beach at the marina, put on my vest, assembled the paddle, arranged the few items of fishing gear, clipped the landing net onto the deck line, assembled my fragile old 1971 Herter's fly rod, and tied on a woolly bugger on a nine-foot leader.

Yes, apparently I can still do and enjoy these things.

This boat is not easy to get in and out of, so I like to launch from flat, shelving locations. It's like climbing into a motorcycle sidecar. So one is still practically on land when setting out, and this activity tends to draw a crowd of onlookers. They're sure I'm going to have to climb out and "do it right," but one shove with the paddle on the sand and a little hunch forward, and you're ten feet out and drifting away.

There were eight three-meter sailboats racing between two orange floats, half a mile away. An antique yawl with orange sails bobbed on the swell from a zooming runabout. An eagle hovered, looking for a free meal. Almost peaceful; it would be, if they'd ban the big motorboats. But extraordinarily scenic, and different every day. People become obsessed with this place; their sloops show up in the marina and never see another body of water again. There's a regatta every Fourth of July that looks like a sailing fleet from a period film.

The lake is used by rowing teams, and one went barreling past me, an eight, all girls. One of them I've seen round the university. They were sprinting for home and didn't look up, but a couple of single sculls came by and we chatted a bit.

Now, I know I did a little name-dropping with the bit about the fly rod, but let me tell you I have never been any good at what is called "fly-fishing," which is a code name for "fly-casting." Those who have seen A River Runs Through It know what that is, and it's a skill, and it has eluded me. I could have taken classes, but I'm nearly deaf, which makes me shyer than I should be about these things -- and -- it's a big "and" for people with my background -- it seems a snobby thing to get involved in.

What I do, though this will make any "real" fly-fisher cringe, is simply paddle backwards a bit, strip out line till the fly is forty feet in front of me, then drift backwards, plopping in a paddle blade about every ten seconds. A tug on the line, pull back gently, and -- "fish on."

The part where you play and land the fish works for me. You learn how to to read hooked-trout behavior, and know when to let go the line and let it whistle out through the guides, preventing a snapped leader, and when to "strip in" to prevent a thrown hook. Rainbows notice slack and will rush to the surface, leap in the air, and thrash around -- and this often is your last look at them.

There was a bite on for about fifteen minutes, around seven o'clock under gathering clouds. There's often feeding activity with a slightly falling barometer, and I had the fortune to be in the right spot at the right time, and the green woolly bugger looked good to a passing school. I hooked six and landed three, about two hundred feet from the darkening shore.

It was a very satisfactory experience.

Yes, I can still do and enjoy this.

Girls do, you know.

Beloved likes to eat trout, and so do I, so I like bringing them to her, and making a dinner featuring them. These are not wild trout. DFW puts them in the lake and they live for three or four years, never reproducing, because there is no gravelly stream running in, and there are dams above and below.

I paddled back to the beach, hopped ashore, broke down my paddle and stowed it, then shucked my vest. The elderly park ranger, a retired volunteer, who knew me when, had recognized my odd little vessel on the water and ambled down to see how I had done. As he neared, he took in the hairdo, earrings, lipstick, cami, shaved legs, and new shape, and raised one eyebrow.

"Things are a little different this year," I said, nonchalantly. Then, going for broke, I added, "I bet I'm the only trannie on the lake, ha ha."

"Nahhhh," he said, eying my catch appraisingly. "Some 'a them rowers is trannies. Looks like you done good, here..."

-- risa b

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Another person, not a changed one

I have been to dinner, the past few weeks, with a succession of old friends and former lovers. The food was good and the company superb in each instance.

There were questions and observations.

"Are you happy now?"

Yes, very much so.

"You certainly look it ... you weren't happy before? You certainly had us fooled."

I had myself fooled. There is nothing so desperately masculine as a Southern transwoman born in the forties or fifties. And to stave off depression, I kept myself very, very busy.

"Are you a Lesbian?"

I thought I was going to be. I think it's turning out that I am a straight girl. Polarity switch. Some people will label this gay, but I think there is a difference. I can smell male pheromones now. I couldn't before.

But in a way it's all moot. I see no reason to leave Beloved and she's saying the same to me. And at my age, in my condition, the prospect of celibacy, if it came to that, is not the horror that it would be if I were younger.

"What else is different? I mean, besides your looks?"

Besides my outer shell? My new skin, reduced muscle mass, slightly new shape? As in, inner differences ... I dislike separating "psychological" from "physical." The body is where the mind is; remove the body and there is no mind. "Soul" as it's generally understood is for me entirely theoretical; though that doesn't preclude, to me, some form of resurrection.

Yes, vastly different. Hard to explain, though. I'm calmer, more observant, more likely to follow through on thought-of kindnesses, a bit addled in my thinking, not so good at maps and negotiating curves as before. I have a huge universe of awareness of the feelings and likely intentions of others compared to before. I'm fascinated by small children and want to take care of them. I'm better at dealing with injured or sick people.

I suddenly know how to cook. I've developed a distaste for spectator sports, and don't get me started about boxing. I'm unhappy about dirt under my fingernails and it's hampering my lifelong affair with gardening and fishing. I've lost my hunter instinct. I want to sit around indoors making notecards. Say something nice to me and I fall apart. When I notice competitive behavior it dismays me. I no longer obsess about acheiving things.

"Sounds godawfully stereotyped."

Mmm, hmm. And I really didn't expect it! I have experienced, with psychologists, that when I report these things to them they like to theorize that I'm re-enacting my mom, but she's not a match for the above description. I grew up around women who were strongly masculine in many ways. I'm not imitating her or them.

I don't think my experience proves anything innate about women as opposed to men. I don't know where it comes from, other than the correlation with HRT.

"You did some really hurtful things when you were a guy."

I know it sounds facile, but: I just don't know much about it.

I'm having problems with both short and long term memory. Some things that you remind me about will genuinely be news to me. On the other hand, I hope I can accept responsibility for "his" behavior, and apologize, and, when and where feasible, make restitution...

"You really are different; I mean, another person, not a changed one."

Ah! You get it. That's right; the me you knew was a manufactured and disposable persona. I had no intention of being there when the grenade went off, so to speak. I'm sorry for that; it was all I knew to do in order to survive. It had served me well in childhood. I've shed him.

"He was real for me. Where does that go?"

I don't know. He was as real as he knew how to be, given that something was very wrong, and even mentioning it seemed dangerous.

People say this is like discovering that someone died. I can only hope they discover that someone has been born -- reborn -- and that the gain is worth the loss.

"Did you love me?"



Still do.

Think of me as the angel who watches over you.

"Are you going to keep writing?"

Things are changing fast. I'm blogging, sort of. I'm an activist and that uses up most of the time I had devoted to art and culture. And as I'm another person, I might have most of the same skills "he" had, but a different perspective, which makes it hard to carry on with projects he left unfinished.

"Like Iron Buddha? I was a fan of that one. It's been a long time."

Yes. I don't know to write that one; I'm not a man. I don't know how that's going to turn out. Understand, though, that that's not sad for me. I'm not feeling the pressure that he did to do something like that.

"How's your job?"

I've been really, really lucky there. Some things have happened that I wouldn't be happy about if I were ambitious, but they're not about my condition. From what I have heard of other transpeople's lives, I'm having one of the top ten easy transitions.

"Would you like some more custard and fresh strawberries?"

Yes, please. Thank you so much!

-- risa b

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Name Day: June 7, 2005

A couple of months ago, I went for a walk with a dear friend, hashing out some plans for the PFLAG fundraiser, and mentioned to her that I would soon have my official name change in hand. "Oh, that's wonderful, my dear," she said. "You should have a naming ceremony." She checked my expression, and sensing assent, said, "I'd like to do that for you..."

So, two evenings ago, Beloved and I drove down to town in a shower of cold rain -- something we've seen a lot of in May and June this year -- desperately seeking summer -- and after circling the neighborhood once, stressing, found my friends' house. It's always a tough one for me to locate, the streets there are curlicues with blind cul-de-sacs all over. We found stone lanterns and candles lit on the front doorstep,and a sign, "come in." So we did.

They have a tokonoma in the entryway, lit dramatically from above, with a Japanese scroll, a plant, a Nepalese bell, and a crone's staff. The house seems larger than it is, because it's well laid out, and the windows open onto brilliantly thought-out gardens that seem to reach into the distance, even though it is a tiny lot and the house is very near the street.

In the living room they had placed a circle of chairs round a small square table with ritual objects laid out round a candle in the center. Over the next half hour, friends arrived, and visited, waiting for other friends. At last the circle was complete, and we were ready to begin. Beloved and I sat side by side, holding hands. I wore a simple black print dress and a four-string necklace of faux pearls, and she wore a red crafter's dress with dime-sized mirrors embroidered onto it at intervals.

Nearly all present, some dozen, were women. Two were gay men, and one was a two-spirit shaman, specially invited to help with the ritual as ze is a pipe carrier. Ze began with an explanation of the pipestem and the pipestone bowl, both handmade and very sacred, and then invoked the six directions with prayers to father sky, mother earth, and each of the four winds. Hir movements were among the most graceful I had ever witnessed, a fluid epiphany of concentrated, effortless grace.

The candle was lit, and a poem by my former self was read aloud by our other ritual leader, which was "Handcraft," a depiction of our wedding day 28 years ago.

Then each person present offered me a small gift from the heart: a glass star, a pendant, earrings, a painting of a loaf of bread, a mirror, favorite books, a small plush bunny, an even smaller bear, a rhinestone heart, a plant, a berry crusher, a necklace, a wooden egg. One gave me a feather and said that it was to "welcome you into the company of women." I spent much of this time crying, and when I lost track of my handkerchief, a dear heart stole quietly away from the circle and found a lovely box of tissues for me.

Beloved was recognized by our ritual leader with a beautiful speech, thanking her for her support of me, and presenting her with a miniature potted rose bush bearing several carnation-colored blooms and one peach-colored one.

We then stood up and our leader read a blessing she had written, and then read an early poem by the new me, "Allies are made, not born." I was given a dozen white roses and a scroll, made by our leader's daughter, with my new name on it. Everyone applauded. I was then asked to blow out the candle and received it as well.

The ritual was now declared to be over, and everyone headed for the dining room to have potluck dessert. One of the men, known for buying cakes to bring to meetings, had baked, from scratch, a superb German chocolate cake for the occasion. I had only a few bites, having eaten everything in our house not nailed down, out of sheer nervousness, before we left.

Beloved and one of our gracious hostesses gathered up my "loot" and took it all to our car while I collected my goodbye hugs. When I got to the car, I climbed into the passenger side, shut the door, looked over at her, and burst into tears.

"That was really something," she offered.

"Omigod," I blubbered.

"You aren't going to accuse me anymore of being the one that has all the friends, I hope."


"We go now?"


"Righto." She started the car, and we drove off into the night's rain.

-- risa b

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

It doesn't automatically update

I was setting up an exhibit on gay history with my friends over at the City Library -- well, they were setting it up and I was kibitzing -- and I ran into the glass doors twice, so I was sent on an errand for my own protection, to find some LGBTQI books and videos to use in the exhibit and so that's how I found myself climbing the big spiral staircase with an armload of books from the second to the third floor -- and met this guy coming down.

He's a good 6'1". About forty-five. Trim mustache. Khaki shirt and shorts. Lean, strong body. Tanned. Even his legs are tanned. All Northwesterners of Northern European descent look like white grubs except briefly, like for a couple of weeks in August. He looks like he's spent the last six months excavating ruins in Egypt and reading Homer in the original on his lunch breaks.

I swooned.

And he noticed. Damn!

I may even have blushed.

Now, he could have been amused. He could even have laughed out loud. I'm, to put it nicely, not young.

Instead, he smiled graciously. Wooooooo.

When I got to the landing, I did not turn to look back.

Some things are not meant to be.

But it was nice that he was nice about it.


A day later, I'm with Beloved (which has a lot to do with what is or is not meant to be) at the local department store and she goes to buy a throw rug and I head for the outdoor sports counter. There are two guys there, an older manager and a youngish salesman, against a background of racked pump action twelve guage shotguns and stacked boxes of hollow point 180 grain .30-06 ammunition, and the like.

"Yes, ma'am, and what can we do for you today?" says young Hugh. He looks like he's been out of high school about four years, didn't go to college, has two kids by now and trips over toys in the yard about every third day. Sunday school regular, too. I'd be wary of him but old Fred is right there, just like Hugh but thirty years farther on, and more steeped in retail wisdom. I'll chance it.

"I'm ready for my fishing license, if you please, without tags or hunting."

"Certainly," says Hugh, and I give him my driver's license. He swipes it through the machine, it thinks for about fifteen seconds, and prints out a fishing license, which he turns around and places on the counter in front of me to sign.

But I see it has a problem.

"Umm, I'm so sorry, I can't use this one; it has my old name on it."

Whaaaa? Hugh's mouth falls open. He takes a look at the license, and freezes. Fred comes over, ready to do damage control.

Beloved arrives at about this time, and, feeling tension in the air, checks me out from a discreet distance. I seem calm enough, so she turns the cart around and heads for sewing supplies.

Old Fred unsticks Hugh from whatever is panicking him and puts him to work confirming with the Fish and Game office, eighty miles to our north. Their computer has scanned my driver's license number and printed out a record from their own database. Clearly, it doesn't automatically update when the Department of Motor Vehicles updates theirs.

I had half expected this.

After all, how many men change their names? Some places, a name change gets sticky, and Fish and Game can be among the worst. Their system does other things besides give you the right to chase fish around in thirty thousand dollar boats -- for example, it's used to track deadbeat dads (and maybe impound the thirty thousand dollar boat).

Fish and Game looks at DMV, corrects my record, Hugh hangs up and reprints, and there's my new fishing license, ready to sign. It still says Male, but, then, so does my DL. Only, now there's one less problem if a trooper asks me if I've got the right to wave a fly rod over the bow of my kayak.

"Thank you, sir," I say to Hugh. It would be a bit rude to curtsy, but it's in my voice. His eyes narrow a bit. They've been lying to him about me in Sunday School, I can tell.

Fred leans across the counter, a bit in front of Hugh. "You are welcome," he says, in his best retailer's manner. "Thank you for your patience."

On the way out, Beloved checks up on me.

"How are you doing, dear?" she asks, with a small Public Display of Affection.

"Really well, actually. How about if I take the rest of the day off and go paddle around on the lake?"

-- risa b


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