Christmas Letter

25 December 2010

When i was a kid my parents were always telling me that all the other kids doing something didn’t mean that i should. As adults, though, we can emulate others at will, so i’ve decided to join others in writing a Christmas letter.

I won’t bore you with all the minor stuff but will just describe the year’s major breakthrough.

After many years of struggle, i’ve decided to face a reality that has troubled me all my life. Even as a small child, i understood that something was terribly wrong and that deep down inside i wasn’t really a little boy like all the others. Some of you may have suspected this, but i have finally admitted to myself that i was born into the wrong body and have scheduled complete reassignment surgery for January.

Friends have asked, why now? Wasn’t coming out as gay enough? Actually, no. I never really got comfortable identifying as a gay man even though i did try that for the middle twenty-five years of my life.

What’s helped me come to my decision is that there have been dramatic developments in reassignment surgery recently, and recipients now enjoy full functionality at levels previously thought unattainable. At least this way i’ll finally, for the rest of my life, be living in the right body.

As soon as i’ve recovered from the surgery, i’ll be moving away from the bustle of the city to a rural area where i can make a new life for myself, a remote area in the Sierra that has ample wildlife so that i’ll be able to live a largely solitary life off the land, mostly by hunting my own deer.

I’m realistic enough to know that hunting is a skill that has to be learned, so i’ll be starting out with a freezer full of meat to sustain me until i’m successful enough to be self-sufficient. It will take me a while to master the technique, but i’m sure you all share my excitement as i anticipate finally, at long last, living as a 150 lb. mountain lion, the apex predator i always knew was the real me.

Sure am looking forward to my new dentition.

Late Note: Some of the first readers got back to me with high levels of concern about the surgery since every bone, sinew, and muscle in my body, not to mention all the innards, would have to be radically altered during the reassignment. Well, yes, that would be one way to do it, and a damn difficult one, too.

People, people, can’t we think outside the box? What we’re gonna do here is just catch us a big young healthy mountain lion and drop my brain into him. Voilà.

And yes, i said “him”. This is a species reassignment, not a sex change, and besides, i’m just not up to raising a litter of ungrateful cubs every other year while their father is off somewhere marking his territory and taking power naps.

Oh, and speaking of apex predators, this one’s on Balmy Alley. It’s Sirron Norris‘ Victorion, Defender of the Mission.

Sirron Norris - Victorion, Defender of the Mission


10 January 2011

I went ahead and had the reassignment surgery early, and it was completely successful. The incision is healing and i’m getting accustomed to my new body. My doctors had warned me that while i would have conscious control of my body immediately, i would need to learn to deal with completely unconscious instinctive responses that are ingrained by a couple hundred thousand of years of evolution.

The first time this surgery was performed, there was an unfortunate incident in the Recovery Room when a meaty intern heard a Code called on the intercom and went rushing to respond. Without thinking, the patient leaped off the gurney and caught him before he made it to the door. Even in our finest hospitals, there’s not much that can be done when all the cervical vertebrae have been bitten through.

Since then, the hospital staff have worked with patients on these instincts from the moment they regain consciousness, and by now i’m pretty much acclimatized and barely twitch at all over creatures running away from me, mostly just my ears lie back flat. Frankly, a more difficult adjustment is to no longer having an opposable thumb. Well, and to human speech. It’s pretty clear that i’ll always have a feline accent, but i’m understandable. After all, we Californians got accustomed to listening to our Governator with his “haus plonts” , didn’t we?

So how am i looking? Well, they had to shave the entire top of my head for the incisions, and i’m kinda vain about my hair, so for now we’ll have to make do with this facial shot:

Photo by Victor Zhang

Photo by Victor Zhang

I’m working on a more bashful look, as Vic was acting kinda nervous during the shoot, but that may have been because i’d eaten a Jack Russell Terrier for breakfast, and you know how those things give you dog breath.

My friend David just wrote that he and Chris were planning a trip to California in April and would love to stay with me if they’d be safe. I assured him that they could take advantage of innate behavioral traits and be confident in their compete safety, as it is simply impossible for me to think of any creature as food after it has scratched behind my ears.

Both ears.

And if i growl when you stop, that means don’t stop.


20 January 2011

The other day i observed that i was having to adjust to the lack of an opposable thumb.  Didn’t mean that as some kind of shrill complaint, as there certainly are compensations.  Looking back on it now, i can’t imagine how i got along all those years without inch and a quarter long retractable claws and the ability to sprint 300 yards at 40 MPH.

Still, there are definitely adjustments.  I went down yesterday to my dentist to get him acquainted with the new dentition.  Probably should have mentioned the change in my appearance to his receptionist on the phone beforehand, but she’s ok now.  We talked her down….well, he did.  I hung back.

But then, when we went in and i sat in his chair and opened wide, there was this long pause, and then he said, “Look, Matte, you’ve been a good customer for over twenty years, and i really appreciate all the jellies, but i’m sorry, i just don’t have it in me to stick my hand in there.”

And hey, i could understand that and i bear him no ill will although i’ll admit to being taken aback and yes, a little hurt when he offered to refer me to his veterinarian.

I thought of licking his face to show that we could still be friends but feared he’d misinterpret that.

Just had an idea.  The spirit of volunteerism is alive and well in San Francisco, and i would get great personal satisfaction from performing some service to help the city.  For example, i’m thinking i could help enforce the leash laws in our parks.  The only expense to the city would be putting up signs “Off-Leash Dogs Will Be Eaten”.

And speaking of that sort of thing, my grocery bills have plunged.  I’ve discovered that if i amble over to Buena Vista Park in the middle of the night, it’s like a smorgasbord – mostly fat, slow, and stupid house pets that never had to run for their lives….easy pickings, tender and well marbled.  This is another way in which i can give back to my beloved city because, let’s face it, the ones i’m eating really shouldn’t be breeding.  I see myself as doing my part to advance natural selection.  The Claws of Darwin…or, for the religious, the Jaws of God.

My culinary preferences sure have changed:  potatoes are just tasteless, i don’t like anything sweet, and chocolate is disgusting.  On the other hand, any meat is better than ever, but venison!  Oh, my goodness, it’s by far my favorite now, especially when it’s freshly chased and has that delicious adrenaline flavor.

And speaking of venison, my friend Kurt is a bow hunter, and i’m trying to talk him into taking me along with him, arguing that we’d make a good team. My vision is better than his, and his sense of smell is pitiful compared to mine. Once we selected a target, i’d let him take his shot, and then if he missed, i’d chase it down for us.

We could share the meat, and besides, a big plus for both of us is that we are almost complete opposites in the parts we think of as best.  To me, nothing is finer than the raw heart and liver while they’re still warm, but i can’t talk him into even tasting them unless they’re ruined by being cooked.

But returning to giving back.  A wonderful idea for a place to volunteer just struck me:  our petting zoo.  I could give the little kids rides on my back.  Ohhhh, i just love that delighted squealing.  No no, don’t worry.  Please let me reassure everyone:  I am eager to improve our image, not get us all tarred as pouncing pedophages.

Sorry to change the subject, but taking pics is harder than it used to be, what with all those tiny buttons and switches on the camera. So here’s a row of old ginkgos on 22nd Street west of Valencia that i took before the reassignment.

Ginkgo biloba

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