Madame Parisianne Modert is Phonetically Challanged

Good day to you all from the towers that are A Word with You Press in beautiful sunny downtown Moscow.  Our friend and contributor Parisianne Modert has conjured the spirit of Lily Tomlin to help us make that call. I would love to call my own parents but I would have to call collect and …

Good day to you all

from the towers that are A Word with You Press in beautiful sunny downtown Moscow.  Our friend and contributor Parisianne Modert has conjured the spirit of Lily Tomlin to help us make that call. I would love to call my own parents but I would have to call collect and risk having the charges declined when they heard who was on the line. Can’t blame them… But Parisianne feels compelled to warn/advise those who in her past shaped her future.  I wonder if the NSA can bug this kind of magical call into the past? Excuse me…there is a knock on the door…Edward?  Is that you?

Here is

Gender Conversations Across Time

by Lily Toml–oops!  I mean Madame Parisianne Modert

“Voices Across Time Communication connecting you with the past.  I’m Laverne. How may I be of service?”

“I’ve never used your service before.”

“City?”

“Mt. Vernon, Illinois.”

“Date and time?”

“September 29, 1959.  7:30 am CST.”

“Person?”

“Master Peter, Mrs. Jo or Dr. Al Modert in that order.”

“Your name?”

“Parisianne Modert.”

“Relationship?”

“I was Peter.  Why?”

“Standard company policy sir.”

“I’m female now.”

“Sorry, local telephone number.”

“CH2-2855.”

“Ringing now…one Mississippi…two Mississippi…”

“Dr. Alson Modert’s residence this is his wife.”

“Laverne from VATC, call for Master Peter Modert.”

“Who’s calling him?”

“A relative accepting all the charges ma’am, because we could never collect from you.”

“Peter, phone call.”

“Who?”

“A relative, so be polite birthday boy.”

“Hi.”

“Happy birthday Peter.  I’m Parisianne Modert.”

“Who?”

“I know this will be hard to believe, but don’t hang up.  Promise?”

“That would be rude.”

“Good girl.”

“How did you know I want to…”

“I am you in the distant future Michelle.”

“Mom and dad don’t believe I’m a girl, but I do.  I swear.”

“I believe you honey and calling to help you become that little girl.  It’s possible.”

“It is?”

“Ask your parents what they know about Christine Jorgensen.  I’ll wait.”

“Who’s she?”

“The first public person to make her penis and testicles go inside and stay there like you would like yours to.”

“I believe you, but…”

“Michelle, I know you love playing with other girls not boys, dolls and were dressed up by Mary’s mother Dorothy.  I know about your Indian maiden fantasy and how you want pretty dresses and long hair.  Honey, you will someday change your sex regardless, but I want to help make it sooner.”

“Can you?  Please, please, please.  Mom and dad don’t understand me.  I tried to tell them, but…”

“Let me talk to our mother dear.  Please.”

“Mom, she wants to talk to you.  Please Mom.”

“Alright, go play Peter.  Look, I never heard of you and you seem to be upsetting Peter.”

“You wanted to name your son Michelle if he had been born your daughter, he didn’t eat anything but beets for a while, his nickname is Beep, he walks on his toes and dad complains that you are turning Peter into a girl.”

“My God, who are you?”

“You were editor of the Franklin College Yearbook, met dad at the Book Nook at Indiana University, among Who’s Who In America and almost drowned at Turkey Creek.  Your mother died from colon cancer before Peter was conceived.  She painted dishes and the watercolor over your fireplace mantel.”

“Who the hell are you?”

“Your daughter, Michelle, Mother.  I’m Peter, surgically made female.”

“He would do that to his father and me.”

“Yes, I’m 61 today and your son is a girl inside.  Haven’t you heard her cries for help?”

“I shouldn’t believe you.  You said your name is Parisianne?”

“Yes, I am Parisianne Michelle Modert and I am your daughter.”

“Figures.  Peter is too strange to be just a transvestite.  So this call is from the future?  Am I still alive then?”

“No which is another reason I called.”

“Don’t you dare tell me how or when we die.  Isn’t this costing you a fortune Ghost of Birthdays Yet to Come?”

“Just listen Mom.”

“Listening.”

“Your Peter is going to change his sex to female no matter what you do.  Psychologists and MDs of 2013 understand her mind can not be changed.  The sooner you accept this the better.  Let Michelle decide how she dresses and behaves.  Get her knowledgable, professional help immediately.”

“My husband is a MD.  We have a reputation to uphold in this community.”

“Does Peter or Mt. Vernon come first in your life?”

“He does.”

“Your true friends will support all of you, so hear Peter out.  Michelle needs to grow up happy now rather than being in mental crisis later.”

“Mental crisis?”

“Your husband is going to have a major stroke in 1964 followed by more if both of you don’t stop drinking and smoking.  This will ruin all of your lives unless you change.”

“Stop smoking?”

“Or it will kill you in 1991.  All three of you have choices to make.  Cut dad’s hours down.  Don’t let Pawpaw or Uncle Rip overwork him.”

“Why are you saying this?”

“I love you mom.  Dad comes home from Barnes Hospital, after three months, half the man he was with each day being a misery.  You got dad through medical school.  Don’t throw our happiness away.  My life has been a living hell Mom.  Please change it before it is too late.  I swear, it’s not too late Mother.”

“I…I… got to go dear…I love you.”

“Mom, Mother?  Operator!”

“I’m sorry Ms. Modert, but the past is no longer answering.”

“I understand Laverne.”

“Sorry. Ms. Modert.”

I cried myself to sleep that night.  Would Mom help me?

“Time to wake up birthday girl.”

“Steven.  Don’t you have rounds to make?

“Jacob is covering them for me today Michelle.  My present to you is me.”

“I love you so Steven.  How did I get so lucky falling in love with you?”

“Remember?  We collided into each other at the Oberlin library.”

“I was such a geeky klutz.”

“Me too.  Books, went everywhere.  That librarian scolded me.”

“I told you my secret before she threw us out.”

“Why did you dear?”

“Steven, you were the man of my dreams, holding me in your arms, kissing my lips.”

“I thought I had killed an angel.”

“You brought me back to life.”

“You are my fairy tale princess come true Michelle.”

“My fairy godmother, Parisianne, gave up her life for us Steven.”

“You and your mother, I swear…telephone.”

“Doctor Kushner’s residence, this is his wife.”

“Laverne from VACT.  Company survey time…”

“Mark every question as perfectly satisfied.”

“But…”

“Laverne?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“I need to hang up now and make love with my husband.”

Click.

“Thank you Parisianne, thank you Mother.  Make love to me Steven.”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=k9e3dTOJi0o

 

48 comments

        • Parisianne Modert says:

          Seeing what I presume is a smile from Thorn’s humour, I hope you FJ and the reader got a sense of the triumph of Michelle and the brave sacrifice which Parisianne made in this story. By making that call, pleading her case to her mother, my mother, who was the daughter of a contract lawyer with the same disposition, Parisianne is being potentially wiped from existence. Only one life can survive. Michelle is created from her mother’s belief in her, but Parisianne ceases to exist. In time travel they call this a form of paradox. When the fabric of time is changed, lives change as well.

          The constant and the comedy relief to ease tensions is that telephone operators never really change in how they handle calls or customers. I hope all of you found Laverne to be very much the personality of Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine from Laugh In. She nailed that personality with perfection.

      • Parisianne Modert says:

        Different story dear editor in chief and friend, but as usual very amusing. Steven sees Michelle as an angel, but his actions though only briefly written about suggest that he is himself an angel of sensitivity, loving nature and compassion. There is a part of most girls growing up who seek in a husband by dream a man who has the qualities of their father if that father be lovable. My father was a very gentle, tender and decent man of such compassion. The phone call begs for the escape from the tragedy which is coming as surely as the train so mentioned. The question we all ask as we look back on our lives about our misfortunes is whether they could have been avoided. Did we have to suffer as we did? As a romantic with a faith that once my mother made up her mind, no one, I mean no one defeated her cause.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you FJ. There is a quality to people who become medical doctors if they enter medicine for the right reason of compassion. I wanted to present the medical imperative of, “Do no harm” which every student must learn in medical school. I also wanted to present my alternative path as being one of a woman which a man like Steven could fall in love with at first collision. There is a kismet about Michelle and Steven which is a romantic writer’s dream. The telephone call over time has changed Michelle’s path to very different than the one I experienced at that time of my own life. Michelle and Steven are both geeks, bookworms and absorbed in their own thoughts until love offers more to both in a moment’s crashing.

      The use of the birthday was to suggest birth celebrations and rebirth for this person who is both who I actually am and never will be. In real life as it actually has played out, I celebrate my rebirth day (surgical date) with great joy each year which makes me currently 25 and my birthday each year with more subdued and bittersweet feelings which makes me 61. I hope that this story will give both my friends and other less familiar with me readers insights into me as a writer and the struggles which have helped form who I have become as a woman.

  1. Parisianne Modert says:

    I wish to thank A Word With You Press for publishing this extremely personal, autobiographical story mixed with sci-fy that was used to allow a parallel path through what actually happened in my own life and my parents. Here I challenge the orientation of my life by not having my voice ruined in puberty, my adjustment to womanhood through the lens of a little girl going through transition as opposed to doing it as a man in his/her 30s. I have for years asked myself how my life would have been different if my parents had taken me seriously as a transsexual girl with a correctible in part birth defect. Medical people now believe that this birth defect was caused in the first trimester of my life in my mother’s womb, but in 1959 they had no idea. Thus this story calls for a lot of faith, love and devotion.

    My family had several tragedies which changed and diminished all of our lives. I asked what if all this could change in a time period where it would have been enormously challaging to manage. Christine Jorgensen appeared to the American public the year in which I was born having gone through her transition previously. My father, being a medical doctor must have been very aware of her and curious. I imagined being able to wear what I wanted to wear, playing with what and whom I wished to. I imagined wearing a prom dress rather than a suit to my senior prom escorted by a boy rather than escorting a girl. Why did I expose all this? I did so, because so few people understand the struggles that children like me go through and later in their lives. My story is an argument for compassion which not many children ever face, but they still do. In the 2010s we have trans children with parents who are allowing them to be themselves. This story is dedicated to them as much as it is to my own what ifs.

    I meant to suggest by this story that one’s orientation is both personal appeal (self-nurturing) and hormonal (physical). By introducing female hormones at the onset of puberty I wished to suggest that my orientation might have ended up heterosexual rather than being primarily lesbian as I am now. The introduction of female hormones in my 30s was the first time in my life when I started finding men attractive and desirable. By then my comfort had already been established with women not men. If there is a most controversial element within the story this would be it. The link of becoming my mother is one which took place in part. She was a published author of the letters of Jane Austen and book reviewer for the St. Louis Post Dispatch. By answering the phone in the same manner and marrying an MD in the story I wished to suggest that this generational bond might have been far deeper.

    The use of the comical telephone operator was to allow you the reader comedy relief from a very intense drama where the quality of three lives were changed forever by a single phone call across time. In life we don’t get do overs, but don’t you wish you could alter what went drastically wrong in your own life?

    The choice of Oberlin in northern Ohio was deliberate to honour my mother who always wished that I could attend there rather than colleges in my home state of Illinois. Oberlin would have been the perfect match for both my intellect and avant garde ways of imagination and creativity.

  2. thorn
    thorn says:

    My dearest Madame…not fair of me to be sure but my comment to FJ was an inside joke. In his own novel the Lowlands of Heaven a pregnant newlywed is killed when her car gets stuck on a train track but the angel of her unborn child escapes into space. The plot of the story is thus lsunched.i was reminding FJ that i remembered his book and the wink that he gave me in the reply was his acknowlwdgement of my my acknowledgement

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      I am guilty of having purchased that book, but not having read it yet. Thank you for the incentive to do so. Your humour Thorn is both cavier served on a banana peel. In that it is an acquired taste for many which I come by naturally and therefore they never slip by me usually. You got one past me this time, because I brake and wait on trains passing by, so congratulations.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you for your kind words of support. My parents were very good to me and for most part my childhood was a very happy one.

  3. Salvatore Buttaci says:

    Connecting with the past is not always bad, though the consensus seems to favor living in the moment. A funny story!

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      OMG Salvatore what an unusual sense of humour you must possess. I cried almost all the time while writing this and had a very hard time reading it to my test group who were left in tears, gasp and shock. I tore my own heart out on this one with short comedy relief for the reader rather than myself, because my life is less shocking to me having lived it. The ending was a selfish indulgence. It is the fantasy of most post op transwomen I have met in my life to simply have the love of a good man. Still I thank you for reading my entry.

  4. Beverly Lucey says:

    Although I’m a life long fan of Lily Tomlin and her talents, I would have liked the story if I knew nothing of her and her many fluid characters. While realizing the story is very personal and very brave, I’m reacting to it purely as a Wonderful What If version of the alternate history genre.

    Having said that, there are some lines in here that play so well in their comic timing as well as poignancy:

    “A relative accepting all the charges ma’am, because we could never collect from you.”

    “Ask your parents what they know about Christine Jorgensen. I’ll wait.”

    and…
    “Mark every question as perfectly satisfied.” (a particular peeve of mine from hotels and car dealerships)

    I think the story dialogue (remember, I’m only reacting to this as a piece of fiction, without considering the author at all) is so much better during the phone call and much more stilted when you get into the alternative present. Knowing the personality, practicality and flair of the mother (Figures. I knew he was too strange to just be a transvestite) I hope we could assume rather than know what she might do with all this future knowledge, and therefore assume the happy ending.

    These details are charming and particular–

    “You wanted to name your son Michelle if he had been born your daughter, he didn’t eat anything but beets for a while, his nickname is Beep, he walks on his toes and dad complains that you are turning Peter into a girl.”

    Close Editing Dept: “He would do that to his father and me.” probably ‘wouldn’t’ ??

    “My husband is a MD. probably ‘an MD.”

    Thanks for a fun and provocative approach to illustrate the pain and lost opportunity children have gone through all these years.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      The details in the story are extremely accurate; although some of my family would argue over the severity of my father’s first and continued strokes. When I came out to my mother at age 34 sitting next to her on her right in Mt. Vernon on her favorite couch, I choked up and couldn’t find the words. She turned to me and said, “Don’t tell me, you’re like Christine Jorgensen. You were always too weird just to be a transvestite. You were the strangest child ever, sweet, but strange.” I tried to use language in the form to which she did during her life, God bless her soul. People tell me that my odd syntax and way of presenting stories are naturally humorous so what I find everyday makes others laugh at times. The one line you mentioned in editing was spoken on the same couch during that same vacation visit, but later on as my mother tried to deal with the implications of how our lives were changing. After all it isn’t everyday that your son comes home to tell you that he is going to becoming your daughter. It actually was, “You would do this to your father and me. What will people here think of us?” My mother was the mistress of guilt when she wanted to be.

      The use of “a MD” I believe is correct grammar; although some might insert periods after the M and the D. I grew up in this world, because my grandfather (my father’s father) and my father’s older brother were also MDs. They practiced medicine together in the town I grew up in with many in the town believing I would be a medical doctor someday. The phone operator was suppose to be the telephone operator of the days before the telephone company was broken up and competition was allowed. This device was to make the transition to the past more comfortable and believable. Thank you for your detailed critique.

      • Beverly Lucey says:

        You’re right. Now I can hear the voice and cadence. “You would do this do your father and me.” A very familiar sentence structure in my family. My bad.

        • Parisianne Modert says:

          My mother read three detective novels a night while keeping my father focused on his med school studies. My father was a very soft spoken kind of Gary Cooper type with a bit of Cary Grant humour thrown in before his first stroke. He had a real boyish charm to him and gentleness that people liked in a man. His greatest joy was delivering babies. My father loved and admired women very much. There was no fooling my mother on anything, so I seldom dared to try. Dad just wanted me to be happy, but dealing with her was very similar to being grilled in cross examination on the stand. Life for her went from love and triumph to obligation and fear. Our lives always seemed to be on the edge of falling the rest of the way apart day in and day out; while holding up false walls of appearance which few were dumb enough to believe. My father only asked me one question when I came out to my mother and him. “Is this what it will take to finally make you happy?” It took a lot of years after transition to gain that happiness, but I have. I remember my parents with a great deal of love and know that while they didn’t accept me as their daughter in my childhood, I know that I was loved and cared for. In this regard, I was fortunate to have the family I had. Sadly, many children are not so blessed. The traumas of our childhoods remain even in our 60s, because they are a vital part of us in relationships and outlook.

  5. Sheri Strobaugh says:

    Hey P. This is a very touching story and it was obvious you were pouring you heart out. You are a very special lady with tons of talent…xo

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thanks Sheri. A thousand words goes too quickly when trying to change one’s life (again). I thought about what would it be like to talk to that shy little mixed up kid I was. All the signs appeared over and over in various ways, but I never knew how to beg for what I wanted. Now I wish I had. Ask yourself as a mother what you would do if your young child told you.

  6. Michael Stang says:

    When writer’s plunge into opening their soul, there is always the danger of distraction getting to the core. But here, Madam, your pen does not quake.
    A captivating way to plot through with the operator’s highlights, a remarkable view of a remarkable life.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Michael. Until I started writing at the start of 2011, I thought of my life as an unending tragedy of most cruel misfortune with brief moments of joy. One tries to make the best of events and play the cards they are dealt before birth, but dark and bitter humour never served me well while I struggled against the birth defect that plagued me. Neither did trying to fade into the background of common ground thinking or behaviour by living a lie to others. I was fortunate to have family which loved me, but that love came with social expectations which I learned in time not to break. College changed that prison into an inner war against myself in my twenties. In my thirties at a predictable time for a transsexual in crisis, without getting professional psychological and medical help, I fell apart. The mental crisis I wrote about was real and almost cost both my sanity and life. How I am still alive is a mystery to many who have known me well. Of all the subjects I like writing about least, this is the one. Autobiographies generally fail from self-delusions and the appearance of narcissistic notions. I hope people will understand me a bit better, but more than this “look at me, look at me” assumption, I am wishing for the reader to gain both an understanding and sympathy for the lives of pre and post operative transsexual women’s lives. I tell people, who approach me believing that they might be like me, to try to find any other path through life. Mine hasn’t been romantic, easy or recommended. My surgery took years to recover from fully. Sex transition should only be allowed when there is no alternative to achieve happiness and self-dignity for the patient. While I pray that no one else will not need to go through what I have in life, I also support those who like me are trapped without a better solution. I weep knowing that there are 32,000 women like me currently in the US who have had the surgery I had. I consider them my sisters by birth defect and resolve. For many of us Christine Jorgensen is our mother and most blessed saint. I found my clear definition of myself after ongoing mental clues from the age of 4, because she visited my college campus in 1973 when I was still 20. I will always love Ms. Jorgensen for setting me free to become myself.

      • Michael Stang says:

        I can only wish you a gained existance until your end. Those who carry the cross, dragged through their lives, confess to abuse, depression, self abuse, mental insanity; on and on. For you to be able to write this on this site of family, but strangers just the same, is simply heroic. And it is not about the taboo of the issue. You know that more than anybody. The story was arms open, honest…raw as it should be. Perhaps, even though facing the personal pain, this is something you may want to expand. That Greek author did it some years back (read the book, forgotten the name and title)-an amazing read but there lacked this urgency you do, even through the humor. A thousand words, you know? Not to say yours was easy but a life time of story? There may lie healing you could embrace.

        • Parisianne Modert says:

          Thank you Michael. I started writing because I couldn’t grieve the death of my partner anymore and stay sane. The week before I started writing in Jan of 2011, I had had the cat I was at that time the closest to put to sleep. I had to take another path. Writing became both an obsession for me and medicine, because it allowed me to tear all the pent up garbage inside on to the typed page. It took the first million words before I felt like i was starting to learn how to write. I have twelve full and several partial novels which desperately need editing before they could be published. Contest like this sharpen skills much like writing poetry does. Most writers at some point, if they are honest, must admit that aspects of their issues leak out here and there within their work. We write about what we know ourselves when creating character behavior and dialogue. It is very difficult not to and often far less impressive. There is a lot of passion in this story, because I wish dearly I could confront my own mother at the point of my reason, age 7, rather than face what I did face. In 1959 it would have been virtually impossible to get the help I needed and the surgical procedures were far greater nightmares than in 1988 when I did eventually have surgery. Still I find a peace about this story more than any other I have previously written for having offered it.

  7. Here’s where I have to own that I am not as old as I think I am. I know of Lily Tomlin, but I can honestly say that the natural flow of the jokes was lost on me. Parisianne, you’ve written some seriously personal stuff here, and that take bravery.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Ronan and Martin’s Laugh-In actually took place between January of 1968 and March of 1973 at the height of the Vietnam Era. During this point of history the telephone company had yet to be divided up and did hold the power to wire tap with court order by the government. The movie, “The President’s Analyst” had already suggested that the telephone company was threatening to take over the world. Most of Miss Tomlin’s skits during the show had to do with comedy leveled at the Nixon administration which came into power in January of 1969. She used his middle name with Mister placed in front of it (Mister Millhouse). Laugh-In got away with what other protest shows of the time did not due to its following. Oddly, many think that Nixon won the November 1968 election by coming on Laugh-In and saying, “Sock-it-to-me”.

      With all this being said, it was my intention to place a believable phone operator who would provide comedy relief into my story. I did actually cry the entire time I wrote it, edited it and during the first few reads to friends. I wanted the ending to be a triumph which I have never known and may never know. I had a wonderful 30 year marriage with a woman who stuck by me before and after my transition, but I wondered what it might have been like to go through grade school, jr. high, high school and college as the girl and woman I felt inside. I wondered how I might have seen the world differently if I went to my high school prom in a dress escorted by a boy I cared for. I wondered what kind of man I might have eventually fallen in love with never knowing what high levels of testosterone felt like and marry that young man as a young woman. My tears were over the fact that this is mere fantasy, but what if that phone call could be placed?

      I thank you for the term “bravery”, but in my life I am exposed regardless. In the trans world we like to say that if you pass with 9 out of 10 people you don’t pass, because the one person who knows tells the rest. Given my overall appearance and voice, I therefore do not pass often. I’ve found that I would rather people know the truth as I see it rather than the rumors they can dream up about me. There also is the argument that any liberation of a minority begins with people standing up with their own dignities despite it being dangerous and unpopular to do so. Now I’m out, potentially world wide for which there may be a price to pay. So be it. I’m not the first transwoman to do so, nor will I be the last. Those who come after me may well never know I ever existed, but while I am here I intend to try to make whatever difference I can about how people see people like me.

      • Thank you for breaking all that down for me. I knew that there was a flow to it that I was not getting. I remember watching the tiniest bit of Laugh-In on Nickelodeon back when that channel was cool. As for your bravery, whether you accept the title as such or not, it takes bravery to live exposed. You leave the house! You get dressed and go OUT into a world where a lot of people would rather you didn’t (regardless of whatever politics and media may or may not project). It is not much different for myself, a Christian, to tell you I am so, knowing what others have said and done with that title. It would be SO easy to not say so. It would be SOOOOO easy to just be quiet. But you know that, already, and you also know the subtle smell of death that comes with keeping your true self quiet. In the brief time I have known you, it is something you have NEVER done, and it makes me take a little more pride in myself and being myself (the writer, singer, artist, woman, friend, etc.) with all my sides available to see and be seen. SO I say it is bravery. Perhaps we are just having a semantic disagreement. Billy Holder and I have those often.

  8. Diane Cresswell says:

    I’ll say it again…damn I wish I could write like you do…you have us completely enveloped into the conversation, rooting for Mother to make some changes, that we can have an influence on our past even if its only in our minds. You took charge of the struggle that has been going on for quite awhile and helped us to see that emotional upheaval of being ‘trapped’ so to speak in a body that doesn’t fit. Bravo my dear…you have five gold stars on this one.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Bless you Diane. I like to tell people that there still is this 5 foot 2 inch Swedish woman trapped in a 5 foot 7 inch Parisianne suit. That’s a joke of course and I feel more incomplete than I do trapped anymore. By incomplete I mean that the most profound desire as a woman I have had which Jeanne has as well is a desire to bare children without all of the equipment needed. Being a woman isn’t as much about the clothes, the change in social position as it is about an afternoon cry, a sigh, a growing weak in the knees, a cuteness feeling over babies, giggles fits and many other moments. There are very different body motions and emotions, needs and desires which over 25 plus years have become who I am. While writing this and other autobiographical material it has become more and more difficult to remember and be true to the past. I was a very shy, awkward and strange child who was much more of an introvert than I have become in reaching the beginnings of being elderly. I had a lot of health issues as a child including going into a coma at age 5 from a down there problem. By the time I did seek help, it wasn’t a matter of whether I needed surgery, but the extent of it. It wasn’t a matter of whether I needed chemical balancing hormone wise, but which direction I could live better with. People therefore reading my story should not think the journey of other transwomen is the same as mine was. I’m only reporting a small part of my own; while trying to gain compassion particularly for the current generation growing up that they might find better help earlier in their lives. I knew a part of the truth from age 4 on and I’m learning that most people like me often start having feelings somewhere between age 3 and age 11. The term of , “feeling like you are trapped in the wrong body” is a cliche, but I know of no better description. The earliest writings of people like me which I know of are from the Roman Empire, so we are nothing new under the sun, but sex reassignment surgery is still a very new phenomenon compared to the overall history of the human race. This is the reason that stories need to be told so human compassion and understanding has a chance to increase. I appreciate you kind words Diane as well as your support and care as a very special friend.

  9. Parisianne Modert says:

    My pardons to all of you. There is a line which should begin with, “Your daughter, Parisianne, Mother…” I realized today that the words later on of “I…I…got to go…I love you.” were the actual last words my mother said to me over the phone on Mother’s Day three days before her death in 1991. Life may well be stranger than fiction alone, but mix them together with fantasy and sci-fy and we arrive at what is truly bizarre together. For my mother’s sake I pray she is spending a great deal of time with her beloved Jane Austen in Heaven. I miss my mother each and everyday, hoping she will forgive me someday for what I have written about her in this story and in my comments. I hope you dear editor, readers and fellow writers will forgive my blog style of intrusive commentary. For your considerations of my sharings and patience with my verbosity, I thank you.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Jean. I’m confused by people telling me that I am “courageous”, because I prefer people who are candidly sharing about their own lives. The thought of the word “courageous” is perhaps an indicator that our society at large is beginning a struggle to integrate transgender people into its fabric finally. Until May of 2013 the DSM-4 (replaced with DSM-5) (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) listed “Gender Dysphoria or Gender Identity Disorder” as a disorder that impares the patient by means of their own perceived delusions of false gender identification. While DSM-4 acknowledged that many of us can benefit from treatment; it still saw us as mild psychotics without true hope of recovery. With the change in DSM-5 this psychosis diagnosis and negative prognosis was lowered to a stress disorder brought on by the treatment society places on people with “Gender Dysphoria”. The change is more than language. In the UK it means that SRS (Sex Reassignment Surgery), counseling (with one exception for certification) and hormonal treatments are covered under NHS (National Health Services). In my day of 1984-1988, surgery and medical treatments were seen as elective rather than necessary. They were thought of as no more important than a face lift. In the day and age I had surgery 95% of medical personnel believed that the course which was provided for me at mostly my own expense was medically unethical, because of the medical risks and suffering in recovery. The professionals who helped me did so at great torte risks, bore greater malpractice cost potential and risked their licenses to help people like me reach a greater dignity. In the days I was a child, a teen and young adult there were people like me who were institutionalized against their will and given electric shock therapy. Thank goodness we are evolving in our levels of empathy for transgender people, but that empathy is in its infancy. So, I see my potential gift to this troubled world as one of simply sharing my experience while do what I love most which is writing poetry and being poetic in what I write in stories. The humour was hard wired into my being just as much as my birth defect was. The humour is incurable; whereas my birth defect could be and was cured in part. For this partial cure from others taking risks, I owe it to them and those awaiting help to pay it forward.

      • Jean Rodenbough says:

        I noted that the story itself was courageous. Of course, the writer has to have written it in order for the reader to discover the courage there. And yes, the humor is so finely ingrained into the piece that you have a well-integrated combination of truth and humor which complement each other.

        • Parisianne Modert says:

          Point noted and yes, the character of “Parisianne” is attempting to be heroic and self-sacrificing on behalf of her family. She doesn’t know and never will how Michelle’s life will play out if her mother follows the suggestions from the future. My best friend told me the other day that I am seldom funny when I’m trying and very funny when I’m not trying to be. My reading test group laughted at expressions I hadn’t considered funny in the slightest. The Lavern character based on Lily Tomlin from Laugh-In was funnier to people of my own age than the younger people in the room. My vocal impression of Ms. Tomlin got laughs by both which is to her credit much more than my own. I’ve believed for as long as I can remember that a story teller needs to take their audience on a roller coaster as opposed to a jet engine ride. There is a power in both building the reader or audience up in tension and smashing the symbols of release within them. Therefore I believe that story telling should have a certain sing-song up and down about them much as in nursery rhymes only with a lesser frequency. The longer the story, the longer the build to tension, but the release is always the same dramatic banging when you have them not expecting it. That’s one of the many tools I try to use well in writing.

          • Jean Rodenbough says:

            . . . and you use those tools with the gifts of an experienced writer. Keep on using up the word supply that is being mined by all us writers!

  10. M Bunny Dubin says:

    Parisienne, It is so like you to make others smile as you find catharsis. I particularly love this interchange: “I thought I had killed an angel.” “You brought me back to life.”

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      I thought back many years after surgery with one question haunting me in particular. It goes like this…”If I had been born correctly, what boy more than any would I have liked to date in high school?” The choice of Steven came from this decision which surprised me at the time, but I think I know what I value in life to know who I would have been attracted to and why. The decision to make this fantasy Steven a bit more synchronised into the story, I decided to make him an MD to honour the male members of my family with the girl ends up marrying a daddy replacement. The choice of a Jewish name was to honour my living a Jewish life during most of my college days and early marriage. My intention in my education was to go on to Rabbinical school in Cincinnati which never happened. Growing up I wanted to go to Brown and my mother wanted me to go to Oberlin, so I picked the far more artsy school to honour my mother knowing me so well. Even though it is not in the story due to length requirements, I pictured Steven as an MD at the Cleveland Clinic. If I had had 1200 words to use, this would have been revealed with a memory of my wedding to Steven. A writer will always ask for as many words as they can get. Thank you for your very kind and thoughtful praise.

  11. Parisianne Modert says:

    I want to thank the editor in chief for the correction to the title of “Madame”. The use of this title has been to prepare my mind perchance I actually am able to live in France someday for the remainder of this lifetime. Merci beaucoup.

  12. Fabiola Surya says:

    Madame, I am sorry I came late to the party. I created this account just to thank you for allowing me to read your lovely story. Your content is brave, touching and pertinent. Your language is exquisite, as always, I suspect. And your format is genius. Dialogue tags are the bane of my existence. Phone conversation = no dialogue tags –> why has this never occurred to me until now? Thank you for having the guts to write and submit this.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      In this world, there is no hiding myself from others. I’ve found the only fill in the blank labeling is whether I do the reporting or leave it to gossip. One of the consistent games people have played in the past, but less so lately is in restaurants where they play the “what is it?” speculation loud enough that I can hear the remarks. I’m rude if I take offense and invade their conversation by approaching them, so I don’t. It still hurts, but less than it use to. In public there is no sanctuary really. In novel writing and what I consider short story length I like to limit, but not eliminate the dialogue tags as long as I express emotional accuracy when I do. An 1,000 word limit is very challenging for an old fashion writer such as myself who belongs in the 1860s in her lyrical, poetic, nature, scenery used as subtext mentality. For insistence I thought of the switchboard pictured with Lily Tomlin as a symbol for how our brains choose their thoughts, how abrupt they occur and are disconnected. The liberation of the minority individual and group has been such an important element of my generation; although that freeing exists across time forward and will going forward. In 2013, the transgender community is topical which is both an opportunity and a danger. My mother was a curious combination of brilliant detective with a need to run the show on her terms with cynical and cutting, Germanic bluntness, yet she had a side of her who would listen to reason and get very emotional when she would yield to those arguments. We never really fought, but o, how we debated as if we were fencing without masks or guardian tips on our foils. I confess that I entered three stories which relied largely on dialogue to attempt to seduce the movie industry. Of course that description may just be a foil to fool and misdirect. Writing to me is very much the fencing contest building thrust, parries and gotchas in the heart. In all three stories if my words got to your heart I succeeded and if they didn’t I failed. The value of not using dialogue tags is to keep the reader attached emotionally to the scene as if they are there in real time.

  13. Suzanne Morse Liy says:

    What a brilliant way of telling your past story. Through conversation, we get an idea of how you felt trapped sexually as a child, and how your parents resisted. It is a little confusing jumping from the conversation with your past self to the fantasy of a husband, but it still was filled with many sensations and good descriptions. This would make a great short play. You got some ideas of my own going in my head. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank Suzanne. It is an honour to have you read my story, Knowing that you are so actively bringing profound issues to theatre. I agree with you that the transition was awkward. 1000 words are reasonable to an editor having to read and publish so many stories, but a struggle as a writer of dialogue with complex concepts to share. The transition in-between could have been presented as a dream sequence with a change in mindset of Michelle dreaming about the day her mother took her to see the psychologist making the diagnosis and perhaps picking out a prom dress. I would have loved to have continued with the relationship between Michelle and Steve with perhaps my parents in their early 90s. As it is with very short pieces, it is a tradition of mine to end them with a shocking twist in plot which has either a “they lived happily ever after” or “a cliff hanger of angst”. I think of this as giving the reader either “the lady” loved or “the tiger” growling, ready to pounce as the door opens.

  14. elizabeth sloan says:

    This is fun to read. I really like that voice from the future. I sometimes have my college students write a letter to themselves from the future. A couple of them “fit” this narrator’s journey, and sometimes that removed perspective can be healing and informative. It frees us to talk and reveal in a safe and playful manner.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you for your kind words Elizabeth. I would like to challenge you to have your students write from their present frames of mind to their child of about seven years old when the age of reason began for them. Many young adults may not remember very much before seven, but beginning about then they do. As young adults having more freedoms to decide their own lives they may well already possess a string of disappointments and accomplishments. They have experienced much from seven into their late teens to early twenties. A child of seven may imagine what their future could be like, but has no experience of what the consequences of their actions will bring about. Would they change from the insights in-between? Would they have prepared for college differently? Would they have focused on different paths to young adulthood? We ask questions to form better questions. The past is written, but isn’t it exciting to imagine a parallel time line much as in “Back to the Future II”. The paradox of mucking with time has fascinated me for years. I wrote this story on my 61st birthday to myself on my 7th birthday. Much like “Back to the Future”, Parisianne is erased from existence in this parallel time line by her mother of the past making different choices by allowing Peter to live and grow up as Michelle. How would your students’ lives change, if their parents made different choices and more fully accepted their children for who they were rather than who they wanted them to become?

      • elizabeth sloan says:

        Great idea, Parisianne. I have actually had them write to themselves from college age to a childhood age, usually with the theme of “mistakes” they made, with the understanding that mistakes are a good thing, and how we learn and grow. I like your ideas here to put a new spin on that. I may reintroduce this idea next semester! Thank you.

  15. Stars Fall On My Heart
    Stars Fall On My Heart says:

    What wouldn’t we all give to tell our younger selves something? What wouldn’t we give to tell them to hold on, that someday, it will get better?

    It does, because if it didn’t, we wouldn’t be here, wishing we could tell them that. This was touching, Madame <3

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you Stephanie. The truth is, physically speaking, that most of us underestimate how much our hormones at puberty effect us. I had to go through 150 hours of electrolysis at a higher dosage of electricity. There are women who can not endure 15 minutes at a time at a much lower jolt. Each 15 minutes gets geometrically more painful. My vocal chords were thickened which would require laser surgery to reduce, but not fully correct. There also is a change in muscle and body growth which would have been somewhat different if I had been allowed estrogen and progesterone at the time of puberty.

      Pyschologically the impact I see in videos of transgirls is uplifting, but their parents and I both know they weil face many heartbreaks for the choice of when they have begun transition. Our teens with all the peer pressures can be overwhelming even for children who fit in to the normalcy of their population. The parents of such children are ridiculed and held in high suspicion of child abuse, but allowing their transgirl or transboy to be themselves.

      So think about this thought that for some holding on without action until adulthood is unacceptable. Sometimes the need of the individual outweighs the needs of the society around them. Transchildren are such people, because of the physical and psychological damage for waiting for that better day without treatment. I am grateful for the help I received in my thirties many years ago, but not a day goes by where I don’t wish I had been allowed to grow up a little girl, start hormones in my early teens and have surgery before twenty.

  16. Eli Fang says:

    I liked this. Good use of a universal desire . . . If only we could make that call back in time to let our young selves know it’s all going to be ok. Found myself wanting to hear more between P&P, but that might be indicative that just enogh was revealed.

    • Parisianne Modert says:

      Thank you for wanting to hear more between Parisianne and Peter. There are times still when that little boy/girl and this woman chat internally. As a child I was terrified of speaking on the phone and to adults in general. Today it is difficult at times to remember how shy and withdrawn I was. My mother dominated us all in the home, because she was so much smarter, quicker and sharper witted than any of us. She had the perception of a detective and the quality of a prosecuting attorney doing a cross exam where the witness gets badgered and the judge is too afraid to hold her in contempt. They knew and saw a girl in me, but did everything to dissuade my path towards the feminine side. I really, only remember being at peace playing with my girlfriends; although their parents turned me in over an over again for playing with dolls and loving all things girly. I learned quickly to become a tom boy to survive my parent’s judgments. My fantasy world became my escape which is why my stories are so dramatic and passionate. Bottle up emotions for years and something has to explode even if it is in satin and lace.

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