Book Three:

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Skinned Alive
by Melanie Anne

Part Two: Innocence Sought

Chapter 57

Harebrained Schemes

January 2, 1996

No more hopes,
No more dreams,
No more crazy,
Harebrained schemes.

No more futures,
No more pasts,
No more present,
While it lasts.

Motivation lies there dead.

Hibernation rears its head.

January 6, 1996

Well, my mood has improved a bit since I wrote that last entry. But not before I went through some serious depression. Why, I haven't been THIS depressed since before my original surgery. Strangely, the depression started after my recent surgery. Since that time, I have taken an emotional journey quite unlike anything I have done before. Part of it, the part that can be expressed in words (if even in a round about manner) has been documented here. But the bulk of it has been beyond language or even symbols, and has remained known to me only.

Over the last few days, however, I have made such progress in emotional resolution that I feel compelled to record what I can for the benefit of those stalwart readers who have been through so much with me already. So, I shall strive to at least approximate the experiences I have been at the mercy of because of my resolve to find true inner peace.

As I have written earlier, most every day since my breast and nose surgery I have cried at least once. For the longest time I believed that the surgery was the reason. Now I know it is not. This does not mean I am yet completed at ease with the results if not happy, but that I understand the reasons why I am not, and therefore can cope until I adjust.

Usually, I explore such issues through the chronology in which they occurred. This time, however, such a sequence means nothing. What I seek to describe is how I see things now; how I arrived at this vision is of no consequence.

So what do I see? I see the answers I have sought. That's all. Nothing more. Oh, I could tell you what they were and probably I shall, but that is not important to the feeling. What IS important is that gender was only a part of what drove me, and not the largest part at that. I had within me a drive, a yearning, to understand the meaning of life; the meaning of the universe, and I have filled that want. I am not saying that I found the answers for everyone, but I have found them for myself - to my own satisfaction, which let the demon go.

I believe I have mentioned before that at age three or four I was on my swing set in the back yard of this very house in which I still live. It was an overcast day and the sky was seamlessly gray. As I swung up, all I could see was this neutrality, and at each apex I wondered, "If I were in the middle of nothing, what would it look like: black or gray?" Strange thoughts for a child to be sure, but then I was a strange child. Something about the genetic forces that made me transsexual also cursed me with a destiny grown out of a biologically imprinted yearning to understand the nature of reality.

I think now that it was perhaps more my seeker's soul than my female mind that separated me from my peers at school. Facts and figures were of no interest to me, though I excelled at both. No, all I thought about other than gender was to find a way to understand. And finally, I do.

So, without yet explaining what I learned, I can tell you how I feel. I feel free. And freedom does not mean happiness, but it does define contentment. I always used to think contentment meant a lack of motivation - perfect satisfaction with the status quo - but this is not true. Contentment means being free of the demon; it means being at peace with the way things are going, though that may not include being satisfied with the way things are.

When I awoke today at ten o'clock after having gone to bed after one the night before, I had my answer. Unlike my first inspiration for Mental Relativity that occurred full-blown in that moment just before waking, this one arrived in one piece but I did not recognize it for what it was except gradually.

At first, I thought I simply had a few additional brush strokes for the Mental Relativity theory. An hour and a half later, after having recorded that much material on my micro-cassette, I understood the full magnitude of what I had so casually considered at the beginning. Some day soon I will have that tape transcribed so that I can put the nails in the coffin of the demon who fled this morning. For now, I will reconstruct the ninety minutes of its doom.

Here is what I saw:

The brain has four aspects:

1. The neural networks of the ganglia.

2. The neurons that connect the ganglia one to another.

3. The biochemistry within each ganglia.

4. The biochemistry of the realm between the ganglia.

Before birth, the neurons in the brain of the developing fetus fire more or less randomly, in a chaotic fashion and therefore the brain contains no mind.

At the twelfth to fourteenth week, the brain of the developing fetus is flooded with a wash of hormones, either estrogen for female fetuses or testosterone for male fetuses.

Estrogen increases the amount of the Dopamine family of neurotransmitters, which are neural suppressors.

Testosterone increases the amount of the Seratonin family of neurotransmitters, which are neural exciters.

Either of these two kinds of hormone washes serves to organize the firing of the brain's neurons, providing a foundation for the creation of a mind.

Both Estrogen and Testosterone have their pre-birth impact specifically in the ganglia.

Each ganglia has two lobes, much like a small model of the brain at large. The are called the Left and Right hemiganglia.

In each lobe are two different cells: L cells and R cells.

One of the two kinds of cells (probably the L cells) manufacture the Dopamine family of neurotransmitters.

The other of the two kinds of cells (probably the R cells) manufacture the Seratonin family of neurotransmitters.

When an Estrogen wash is present pre-birth, it will suppress the R cells and favor the L cells.

When a Testosterone wash is present pre-birth, it will suppress the R cells and favor the L cells.

This suppression "sets:" in the cells and causes the micro-climate zone of biochemistry in each of the ganglia to produce more Dopamine or Seratonin for the rest of the brains life.

In addition, the Dopamine wash suppresses the existing neurology for that two week period, giving a greater influence to the biochemistry during that time.

The Seratonin wash enhances the existing neurology for that two week period, giving a greater influence to the neurology.

Because neurons fire in a binary fashion, the Seratonin wash creates a mind that favors the binary.

Because the biochemistry is fluid in its influence, the Dopamine wash creates a mind that favors the analog.

After two weeks, the hormone wash recedes, but it's impact lasts a life time.

A spatial mind, being driven primarily by neurology, is more attuned to sensory input, and therefore tends to function with greater efficiency in environmental issues.

A temporal mind, being driven primarily by biochemistry, is more attuned to internal dynamics, and therefore tends to function with greater sensitivity in human issues.

Still, because each mind has access to sensory perception AND the ability to look inwardly each kind of mind places part of its attention in the secondary realm as well.

A spatial mind has less sensitivity to internal dynamics; a temporal mind has less efficiency in environmental issues.

The above explanations pertain only to the impact of the biochemistry of the ganglia on the mind due to the life-long pre-birth hormone bias. Because it acts as a focusing agent and filter that serve as the biased foundation of each mind, it is called the Pre-Conscious.

As mentioned at the beginning, there are four other aspects of the brain beside the biochemistry of the ganglia.

The next of these is the biochemistry of the brain as a whole.

January 13, 1996

Things have gone quite differently since my revelation into the reasons why I can never resolve that issue: whether nothing would be black because it was the absence of light or if it would be gray because it would also be the absence of absence. I never really needed to answer the question, but simply to understand why it couldn't be answered. Now I know. That has dealt with the first appendage of my four-headed demon.

Everyone's demon has four heads: the four horsemen of the inner apocalypse - one for each of the four aspects of the mind - each a different result of the inner angst that can never be directly seen. The trinity brings salvation in threes, but the demon must be vanquished in fours.

Then, Wednesday, I received my royalty check from Screenplay Systems for the last quarter of last year's sales of the software. It was equal to more than six months of my regular wage, and comes in ADDITION to my wage. The second head of the demon fell.

Meanwhile, I put a section on my World Wide Web pages with Melanie's Datebook asking anyone who wanted to join me for lunch or coffee to send me some Email. I've received many notes, all of whom I've told of my history. Today I had lunch with the first fellow who has arranged a meeting (more are coming). He is not one I would want for intimacy, but I had such a wonderful time just sharing common chit chat across the table after all these years of fear, isolation, and self-infatuation. Head three toppled.

Then, even as I was beginning this entry, I was watching the end of the musical, "Scrooge", starring Albert Finney, which I had borrowed from a friend at work. The spirit of joy after Scrooge's conversion filled me with such a clarity of heart that I couldn't help from crying tears of joy. The final head rolled, as I realized that now that my angst was not only fully vanquished but proven by trial in the real world, and rather than being left without further motivation, I wished to share my joy, my wealth, my self with others: this time not to find an answer or to seek a cure, but to support others in finding theirs.

You wanted a happy ending? I haven't been able to bring you one before. But now, here it is. Real in its fullness, solid in its truth: I am satisfied, I am fulfilled, I am happy. Now, with an eye toward the needs of others, the REAL journey begins....

January 24, 1997

A letter to a friend:

I had a dream this morning in the early gray light, just before I woke.

I was in a casino and had taken another job with a slave-driver producer I have actually worked for in the past. I was surprised to find myself working for him again after all the trouble he had caused me, yet as long as I was I intended to do a good job. I couldn't stand the accommodations at the hotel/casino as there was garbage and spilled soda all over the trashy, pink, carpet. So, I got in the elevator to leave the building. But the elevator had two sides, left and right, and was like a honeycomb. I had to step back to let someone out, and I got stuck on the small side.

The division between the two closed and I was trapped in the funnel-like small side. At the end of the funnel, I could see each floor go by, but much too quickly to try and cram through the small hole. Floor after floor went by and I was to be stuck forever.

Then, suddenly, I was in my front yard which was filled with junk from a huge garage sale. My grandmother (who died in 1989 was there and came up with another relative saying they had borrowed some bread from my mother by mistake. My grandmother came in, I hugged her (I really do miss her so) and when we stopped hugging, she had become my mother, who also died in 1989.

They had both been smiling and were full of happiness, quite unlike the way they were in the last years of their lives. I almost felt as if they had seen me now, approved, and came back to give me a chance to tell them how much I loved them. I awoke slowly, feeling that something unfinished had now been resolved.

Melanie

February 4, 1996

Some couple of weeks ago I placed an ad on my World Wide Web pages asking if anyone would care to join me for coffee or lunch. The responses were immediate. I guess with so many visits to my home page each day, it was inevitable. Still, I found myself increasingly distressed that I had no plan of how to break the news about my past with potential suitors. I grieved and grieved. And grieved even more, even.

Through trial and error, I experimented with all kinds of methods, and durned if I didn't get better at it. The end result was a really straight forward approach. My ad says nothing about my past. If someone inquires about meeting me, I simply say the following:

"Hiya, (name here)! Thanks so much for the note. You sound like quite an interesting person, and I would enjoy getting together for coffee or lunch. Before we do, you should know that I had sex-change surgery four years ago. I have been surprised to find that to many guys, it simply doesn't matter. For others, although romance is no longer in the wind, they are still very interested in being friends. Let me know if you'd like to chat further. Melanie".

Well, that did the trick. For those too embarrassed, bigoted, or insecure to even reply, I simply never hear from them again. That cuts down on my Email load quite a bit! Then, for those who fall somewhere along the romance/friend line, we start talking and see what kind of chemistry develops.

One such development involved a fellow named Neil. When Neil first wrote me I was taking a different approach. I simply gave him the Web address of my gender page site. Poor, soul, his sensibilities did a flip! He wrote several intense letters crammed into a few days and finally determined he'd like to meet me anyway. So, we got together over Chinese food at a local restaurant. That went rather well, actually, and it wasn't long before he invited me out for dinner and a movie.

This time we ate Indian, and enjoyed the movie, Jumangi. Well, this was the first time I had dated since Andy and I broke up almost two years ago! What a great feeling to have a tall, strong guy next to me as we walked down the boulevard against the background of city lights. Lordy, how I've missed this!

The evening went well, and I could only imagine what the poor fellow was thinking, sitting in the theatre next to a transsexual who was certainly all woman now, and no doubt affecting his instincts as any woman would. By the end of the evening, we had not held hands, much less embraced. So, as we sat in the car briefly before he dropped me off, I leaned over and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before stepping back into the standard world.

He called me again early the next week and offered to make dinner for me at his place. I was thrilled to accept! Yesterday was the appointed time. He picked me up about 8 and we arrived at his place shortly thereafter. Neil lives with a female roommate, though they are only friends, and she, in fact, was staying at her boyfriend's place that night.

The apartment was sparsely decorated, and this despite his revelation that even these minimal accoutrements were the work of his roommate, rather than himself. There were a few intriguing items reflective of his roommate's unusual sensibilities, such as a stuffed armadillo named Owen and a patchwork quilt with an alternating checkerboard of little sperms and tiny eggs. I don't want to give the impression the apartment was all that odd. In fact, most everything else was more or less ordinary, but these two items stood out as being something more than typical.

Neil, who is gracious by nature, had planned a dinner in the Thai style, including hot and sour soup and a chicken/vegetable affair to be served over rice noodles. The soup was quite a hit, in spite of his worries to the contrary. We spoke the chat and I suggested some music to fill the spaces in between. Obviously, his schooling in the creation of a romantic mood was missing in some essential details. Still, as my soup approached the bottom of the bowl, I began to feel quite enamored of Neil in a way I had not expected.

Next came preparation of the chicken dish. Neil's roommate had given him the recipe, but he admitted he had never done more than watched it prepared before. So, I asked if I might join him in the kitchen so we could talk while he assembled the entrée. Surprisingly, he was quite a diligent chef, though I felt compelled at one point to assume control of the wok that the chicken might be thoroughly cooked before the addition of the sauce.

The meal itself turned out splendidly, and I found myself further drawn into a warm and receptive mood, especially under the dimmed table lights while we ate. Gosh, as silly as it sounds, romantic music, low illumination, and a fine dinner prepared by a man in one's honor does indeed make the heart overthrow the head and leave one susceptible to more intimate suggestion.

No surprise then, that when he suggested we remove to the couch to talk, I agreed without hesitation. And so began a drawing closer that culminated one more expansive couch later in his bedroom, where my two year hiatus of intimate expression was at last concluded.

Even now, I feel so satisfied in heart and soul that as a result, Mary, Keith, and Mindi have all had a fine day. This in contrast to my usual cranky spirit, which can set a foundation for the feelings of the house so deep in deficit that there are not enough hours to bring it back to scratch.

Of interest, Neil, himself, was so distracted that as we left, he neglected his wallet and keys, only to discover them in the moment just after he had closed and locked the door to his apartment, leaving us standing in the hallway at one o'clock in the morning with no means to get me home.

Ultimately, Neil was obliged to hike down the boulevard for a pay phone, call the emergency manager's number and learn the apartment number of the manager so that we could wake her up and get a spare set of keys. She was somewhat less than thrilled at the interruption, but Neil determined he would make her a batch of cookies as a peace offering.

In the end, I arrived home at nearly 2 AM, and smiled smugly as I hugged my family and crawled into bed.

If this had been the full extent of my weekend, it would have been quite enough to be sure. But there is much, much more to tell!

To begin, we need return to last Wednesday. That is the day I completed the first draft of the extensive re-write of the story theory book. It has been a harrowing job, reminiscent of all the other deadline driven projects I have been plagued with in the past. It is one thing to be highly creative and another to efficiently proceed along a pre-determined schedule. The two are almost always mutually exclusive. Still, they can be accomplished if the artist in question is willing to lose her sanity. This commodity I have willingly provided in lavish quantities until at times I feared my supply had been so diminished as never to be recoverable.

In short, such intense effort sucks.

Imagine the focused attention to be riveted to a screen, pausing not to consider but forcing every instinct into unnatural tune and harmonic that the material might flow from mind to keyboard at the greatest possible frequency in the widest possible bandwidth.

So, Wednesday it was that the deed was finished, and with it my resolve to ever again engage in any activity to that repulsive degree. This, of course, is a much easier attitude to adopt when one's royalties are more than that needed to cover the costs of living with a luxury fund included. Nonetheless, why should I put my nose to the grindstone when I'd rather be spinning tales?

This, then, was the foundation of my mood of laizes faire and blissful relaxation as Thursday night approached with its attendant appointment with Mr. W. Squared. (Oh, yes, you remember him from my recent entries?) Well, he is a persistent fellow, owing I'm sure some ancestry to the forty million dollars he commands as his personal fortune. For those who have jumped in at this juncture, let me provide a brief background that may also serve to remind my continuing readership of the history of my relationship with this man.

Mr. W. Squared first contacted me after having read these very journals from my Web pages. He had made his fortune building a major software company in a niche industry. His little apple, as luck would have it, might fill the hunger gnawing at the appetite of an even larger company, which offered him the aforementioned fortune in exchange for the right to consume the fruit of his labors, right down to the core. Quite simply, he took the money and ran.

Oh, they wanted him on the board of directors, but he had other plans. After years of building a small empire and a family including his wife and six children, he removed himself from the active business world to content himself as the largest single shareholder in the larger company and to follow a life long dream: he wished to become a woman.

What? Is this an epidemic? No matter. The point is that he read my material, elevated me to the status of gender goddess (or at least the best in the transition business, as he might see it) and determined he wanted my friendship, my assistance, and my body. He came into town on business, took me to lunch, and asked if I would join him at the Beverly Hills Hotel for an evening of champagne in a room with a private Jacuzzi. I respectfully declined. After all, I am an easy enough mark for any true heart, but cannot be bought at price, despite my own assertions to the contrary. Oh, heck, maybe I can be bought. In fact, I'd really like to be. It's just that he didn't offer me any money.

In any event, we traded Email letters for some weeks until he asked if he might take me to dinner on the Thursday about which this long and convoluted dissertation centers. We met that evening at my office, and shortly thereafter, I brought him to my house to meet Mary and the kids. For him, I played an album of my original music, of which I gave him a copy. I also endowed him with one of the few remaining copies of a book of my poetry I had published as my Christmas card for 1994. As you may ascertain from these gifts, I was interested in showing off my artistic prowess, figuring that perhaps he might find some good use for his ample funds if any of my work filled a gap in his satisfactions.

He seemed pleased with my efforts and went out to his car to play some of his favorite CDs, to which we all sang until quite hoarse. This signaled it was as good a time as any to attend dinner. He drove the kids and I (Mary declining so that she might enjoy the house to herself) in his rented Cadillac with the NorthStar engine, to Sizzler for a steak extravaganza. Those who created the "all you can eat shrimp" dinner had never met my son.

The repast was rather cool in mood, though we played a "guess what old TV series THIS is the theme song from" game until our fellow diners were smiling in an odd mix of empathy and derision. We returned home and I agreed to meet him at noon the following day for the other part of this pre-scheduled appointment.

When he arrived, we drove off to share lunch with an associate of his and the man's wife, both of whom operate a small publishing firm in which Mr. W. had invested some three hundred thousand dollars. At the lunch, my host asked me to recount for his partners my comments on an upcoming product he had previously unveiled to me the night before. I did my song and dance, improvising as I learned more from the publishers, and, naturally, impressed everyone with a plethora of creative suggestions. After all, ideas are my stock in trade - just don't ask me to implement them!

After lunch we hit the road for the annual stockholders meeting for the larger company in which he is the largest shareholder. Quite an interesting affair it was, arriving fashionably late, sitting right up front, and staring into the calm and collected faces of the panel of high-powered world class movers and shakers of an internationally based corporation. Mr. W. had listed me as his trusted consultant, so I enjoyed watching the eyes and faces of the board members when they noticed him lean over and whisper comments about the proceedings to me as the event continued.

Once it was over, he introduced me to the CEO, the Director of Finance, and several other key players in the game, and then we departed, ostensibly to drop me at home. Checking his watch, he asked if I might join him for dinner as it was approaching that time. I agreed, and we drove to his hotel, the Ritz Carlton, in the fashionable district of Pasadena.

We entered the elegant lobby and stepped into the wood paneled elevator. I smiled as he pulled a gold key from his pocket and turned a lock on the panel that brought us to a special floor where a series of drawing rooms stood ready to accommodate the well-to-do in their leisure moments between scheduled appointments. There were elegant pastries arranged for anyone (who could stop at this floor) to help themselves, as well as fine wines and champagnes, of which we partook in a liberally restrained manner.

Mr. W. wanted to know all about my theories of Mental Relativity, so we sat, knee to knee, fluted glass to fluted glass, discussing the meaning of life in scientific terms and then turning it around to find the emotional side of science. He seemed at first disturbed and then amazed that my work encompassed so much ground so completely that he ran out of questions before I ran out of answers.

At last, our down time had dissolved, and it was time to enter the main dining room. Here we feasted on Coho Salmon, tomato fennel soup, and the most amazing apple/crepe dessert, topped with cinnamon ice cream and accompanied by a fine white French wine and followed by an exquisite cappuccino.

It was over dessert that he finally asked me what I wanted most. I told him I wanted to get back to my art: to write, to sing, to produce video and film. He asked what the first step was, and I outlined my plan to create a state of the art audio/video server on the World Wide Web that might stream information directly to the consumer in exchange for a credit card purchase over a secure network.

I explained that the consumer of this day and age had no capacity to receive or store long-form product. Therefore, those touting the future of long-form are currently short sighted. At this time, a great opportunity exists to create short-form product: one minute videos, single songs, etc., and to establish a distribution network via the web to sell it to the consumer.

As speed of data transmission, bandwidth, and storage capability increases, the product could grow with it, eventually producing half hour, hour, and feature length material. The notoriety of our unique source would grow with the expanding Web like the pattern on the outer skin of a balloon might expand as it inflates, at no cost whatsoever, riding simply on the coattails of the expansion of the system itself.

Well, he was impressed. He had shunned the business world to pursue more personal interests, and the expression of his artistic side was one of them. No sooner had I finished, but he said, "I'd like to build that with you," and reached across the table to shake hands on the deal. He tells me he has all the people already lined up that we would need to construct our own server. They had all the skills to build a state of the art system and keep it that way. I would provide the artistic side of the vision and he would bankroll the project and supply the technical expertise. Needless to say, I took his hand and made firm the deal.

As it stands now, he intends to call me when he returns from buying a vineyard in Spain, and wishes me to fly across the country to his offices and meet the team he is assembling. Of course, I have no idea if this will come to pass, but with the software more or less finished up, I was needing a new project to address, and this seems rather in the direction I'm headed anyway. Scientist, sex symbol, media mogul: ain't it da life?

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