When Redefining Realness Gets Real

I just finished reading Janet Mock’s first book, Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More.  I had only wished I had read this book sooner.  I am so glad that we are living in a moment when trans folks and other marginalized groups are finally having their voices heard.

The memoir chronicles Mock’s life starting as a child coming to grips with her gender identity in a broken home, switching between her mother’s home in Hawaii and with her dad in Oakland and Dallas.  It is hard enough to grow up with poverty and drug addiction with your parents and surviving sexual abuse as an adolescent, in addition to going through a gender transition.

I also admire the level of maturity Mock had as a teenager.  Many of the decisions she had to make at an early age forced her to have to grow up very quickly. The most interesting part of the book was near the end when she raised money through sex work to have gender reassignment surgery in Thailand.  Having gender reassignment surgery at any age is a big decision to make, let alone at 18.

The book does a great job of explaining the many issues and concerns within the transgender community, like stigma and discrimination faced by trans folks within families, schools, and workplaces.  As a cisgender person, these are many issues I sometimes take for granted.

I do encourage others to read this one before reading her new book!


Summer Music Playlist 2017!

Everyone knows that music is the soundtrack to my life.  I love all kinds of music – hip-hop, reggae, r&b, rock, electronica, pop, jazz – you name it.  If it has a good beat, I most likely have that song on my iPod!

Summer is a great time to refresh your playlists with tunes that set the mood for the hot days and sizzling nights.  I listed some songs below that I am feeling right now.  None of them are current chart toppers playing on the radio today, but rather, timeless hits.  Plus, a lot of today’s music is garbage, but I digress…  I’m in a 90s kind of world, and I am glad I got my… playlist.  A good song, no matter when it was made, never goes out of style.

This list is in no particular; they are just random, cool summer songs.

If Loving You Is All That I Have To Do (Live) by Mary J Blige and K-Ci

Don’t Let Me Lose This Dream by Aretha Franklin

When You’re Near Me by Guru

A La Claire Fontaine by MC Solaar

Where It’s At by Beck

Dance Wit Me by Chaka Khan

You’ve Got The Love by DJ Center

Summer Sun by Koop

Monie in the Middle by Monie Love

A Roller Skating Jam Named Saturdays by De La Soul

Flashback by Fat Freddy’s Drop

The Bridge by MC Shan

The Bridge Is Over by Boogie Down Productions (because it is only fair to have this song too!)

Beasts of No Nation by Fela Kuti

Waiting in Vain by Bob Marley

Let’s Dance by David Bowie

No, No, No by Dawn Penn

Fly Girl by Queen Latifah

Club Tropicana by Wham!

Spoonman by Soundgarden

That’s The Way The World Goes Round by Earth, Wind, and Fire

Money Can’t Buy It by Annie Lenox

Save the Overtime (For Me) by Gladys Knight and the Pips

So What by Miles Davis

Microagressions, Explained

Questions concept

Last week I went to a workshop on race and identity in the workplace, and the topic of microaggressions came up.  Bias inside and outside the workplace is a very real thing today.  However, most of these acts will not be direct and in your face, like someone saying a racial slur.  Microaggressions are unintentional but continuously indirect remarks and acts against people of color.

For example, many white people always want to touch my hair or ask where I am really from.  No, you can touch my fair and, yes, I was born and raised in the United States.

Instead of me explaining what this is, this video does a better job of doing it.

My Grand West Coast Adventure

Last February my childhood friend Lauren brought up the idea of possibly going on a cross country trip with me and a couple of other mutual friends either later this year or next year.  I have never gone on such an adventure before and was suddenly intrigued.  In my line of work, I have been lucky to travel to dozens of countries around the world.  However, I am a bit embarrassed to say that I have not done the same extent of travel within the country was born and raised in most of my life.

Also, after the November election, I have been doing a lot of reflection.  I realize that I mostly work and live in the bluest cities in the bluest states in America and that I need to learn more about people and experiences in other parts of the country.

Instead of driving cross country in a car, Lauren wants to travel by Amtrak from Boston to Los Angeles or San Francisco.  My only experience with Amtrak is traveling along the Northeast Corridor.  I had never done any of the long distance routes before.  Since I had to go Seattle and Los Angeles for business a couple of weeks ago, she suggested I take the Coast Starlight between the two cities as a “test” trip.

And, boy, did I have a great time!  When they say the journey is the destination, they are not lying.

The train trip was the best part of the adventure.  The Coast Starlight stops at all the major cities and towns along the west coast, like Portland, Sacramento, Emeryville (San Francisco), San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.  I purchased the roomette (which I highly recommended) and had the first-class experience.  I had the opportunity eat, sleep and enjoy the wonderful scenery along the 36-hour route.  The Amtrak staff and the many people I met onboard were great.  While I did travel mostly through Left Coast blue cities, I met a lot of great people from all over the country like Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, and Louisiana during the ride.

So, yes, I will be doing the cross country trip in the near future!

I also had time to catch up with some friends in Seattle and my bestie Charlotte, who owns a home on the beach in Santa Monica.  Sweet!  I created a short video of my whole trip below.

Here are some highlights from the trip and video:

  • Upon landing in Seattle, I took pictures of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Mountains from the plane.
  • I visited the Seattle Central Library – a beautiful building.  If only all libraries could look this way.
  • I also visited the Uwajimaya Asian Grocery & Gift Market in Seattle’s International District.  It is one of the largest Asian supermarkets in the country.  Lots of wonderful food imported from all over Asia including American brands like green tea and strawberry flavored Kit Kats!  They even have a whole aisle with just ramen – amazing!
  • I went on a three-hour walking tour of Seattle – one hour in Pike Place Market and two hours walking around the city.  Our tour guide Shawn was awesome.
  • I visited the Museum of Pop Culture. Chris Cornell of Soundgarden had just died the day before and there was a huge retrospective memorial there honoring him.  I also saw a Jimi Hendrix exhibit.
  • During the train ride, I saw the Cascade mountains again, as well as go through Willamette Valley. Down into California’s “Salad Bowl.” I eat a lot of salads while riding past lettuce fields in Salinas.  Finally, I went along the along the beautiful southern California coast.  I could have stepped off the train and into the Pacific Ocean if I wanted to (maybe not!)
  • Charlotte and I did a bus tour of Los Angeles, which included taking pictures with “Michael Jackson” at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • We went to Olvera Street, the oldest part of Los Angeles.  Lots of great Mexican food (taquitos!) and culture.  Then we took a quick detour into Chinatown for sweet bread and dim sum.
  • I visited the Santa Monica public library, which is gorgeous.
  • We then went to Venice Beach to watch street performers and saw “Slash” from Guns N Roses walk by.
  • A lot of jogging, volleyball and walking between Venice Beach and Santa Monica.

Enjoy just as much as I did!