Who I am

I was “born as” a baby – 5 lbs, 16 inches. The clothes my parents gave me then don’t fit me anymore than the arbitrary labels they gave me as identity markers, so I changed them to real ones. In 48 years I’ve outgrown onesies and other people’s expectations and grown into the person I actually am, which may not fit into your demands of me, but that’s too bad. I’m going to wear what I want to wear, call myself my real name and go to the bathroom where I need to. You have nothing to fear from me in a restroom, I promise you. But you already know that, really.

Posted in About Me

First Lady Michelle Obama in Manchester, New Hampshire

Posted in Feminism & Women's Issues, Politics Tagged with: , , , ,

Me, today.

welp

and

you have got to be kidding

And also

eyeroll-neil-tyson

Posted in Journal

Death of blogger Gary Welsh officially ruled suicide

guernica-picasso-painting-meaning

Goodness knows I did not love prolific local blogger and attorney Gary Welsh. Over the many years he wrote about local and national politics, he penned things that were complete libelous falsehoods, and he should have been sued many times over. Fortunately for himself, he was shrewd enough to aim his worst defamatory lies at the two groups of people who were unlikely to take him to court – national public figures who didn’t care about a puny midwest blogger, and local folks who didn’t have two dimes to rub together and could never afford to drag him into a courtroom. When it came to people who could actually take him on legally, he tended to pull his punches and say things that were sly implications rather than forthright. For the local folks upon whom he unleashed the dogs of war, god help them. He destroyed several people’s livelihoods and at least one person took his life after being subjected to an endless tirade of vicious, unfounded Welsh penmanship.

There are lots of folks who are saying nice things about Welsh now that he’s passed on; I’ve read lots of laudatory words with raised eyebrows. Some people will apparently say nice things about anyone, which gives me great pause. I think that’s part of of the banality of evil; people’s willingness to look past truly terrible behavior “to always find the good” in someone is ultimately a sort of applause.

The nicest thing I could say about him is that he was prolific. The man wrote a lot. The nature of what Welsh wrote, well… I gave up reading his work years ago, about the same time I gave up writing about anything political. Reading his work seemed like smoking; you got a nice hit off it for a bit because of the level of vitriol involved, but you could tell it was a cancer that was tearing your soul to pieces. In a larger sense, focusing on the minutia of politics seems the same way and I began to avoid doing that as well. Sometimes I think that was a good idea and sometimes I worry that I’m not doing more to make my city a better place to live. But the price of trying to do that in the face of the kind of tactics that people like Gary Welsh employed is too high.

In balance, the damage that Welsh did as a political blogger far outweighed the good. The hit jobs he did on Bart Peterson did indeed help Greg Ballard into 8 years in office, and that was a catastrophe it will take the city decades to fix. That alone is a massive weight on the cosmic scale, and add in the small and large ways he set off bombs in individual people’s lives… I do hope there’s not a hell, because Gary would be in it, probably in charge of something horrible.

I was very surprised that Welsh would commit suicide. I sort of figured he was an unstoppable juggernaut constructed from a swirling storm of conspiracy theories and wild speculation; a perpetual motion machine fueled endlessly by malevolent cookies fed him by nihilist low-level civil employees.

And even reading the details of his death – something does seem pretty off there. If you are going to kill yourself, would you do it in a stairwell? Would you shoot yourself in the chest? Well, you or I wouldn’t; we’d do our best to have the least horror and impact on the people around us. But I would not put it past Welsh to stage-craft his suicide for maximum conspiracy theory gossip. The coroner has ruled his death a suicide. Who am I to argue, if no one else is doing so?

Source: Indiana Business Journal – “Death of blogger Welsh officially ruled suicide

The death of prominent Indianapolis political blogger Gary Welsh three weeks ago has officially been ruled a suicide, the Marion County Coroner’s Office said.

Welsh, who wrote the popular conservative blog Advance Indiana, died May 1 of a gunshot wound. He was 53. Indianapolis police said they investigated his death as a “tragic suicide.”

The coroner’s office said it issued a death certificate Thursday that listed suicide as the official cause of Welsh’s death. The official manner of death was listed as a single gunshot wound to the chest. The coroner’s office said the final rulings confirmed preliminary findings.

Welsh’s body was found in a stairwell at the Lockerbie Glove Factory Lofts, 430 N. Park Ave. Witnesses who called 911 to report the death said a gun was found next to the body.

Welsh was a practicing attorney who launched Advance Indiana more than a decade ago. He was known for hard-hitting blog posts that were critical of both Democrats and Republicans.

Paul Ogden, in his blog Ogden on Politics, said a gathering is planned “to remember and celebrate the life” of Welsh. The event is scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. June 2 at the Northside Knights of Columbus, 2100 E. 71st St.

More on the event can be found here.

I wonder how many folks will attend that celebration? And what will they be celebrating?

Posted in Indianapolis Tagged with: ,

I’m legally changing my first and middle names

Hawthorn Branch

I’m changing my first and middle names.

I am getting rid of Stephanie Ann. My first name is going to be Hawthorn. (no e- like the tree, not the author.) My middle name is chosen, but I’m keeping to myself for now.

This is something I’ve been actively planning for over two years, but I’ve been thinking about it for more than 20, because I’ve always disliked my name and did not feel like it fit me. I have always been more gender-neutral than my name is, and I am in a place where I can’t tolerate a name I don’t connect with anymore.

My wife Stephanie has known about this for several years and is supportive of me changing names. We have talked through all of my ideas together. I’ve let my immediate family know about this. Most of them are onboard with it. Some of them are going to have to get onboard.

I’ll be starting the legal name change process soon, and it will take a month or so before that is all in place, and I’ll start changing things like credit cards and bank accounts and then my online presence.

I realize this is a big change for someone who has had the same name for 47 years, and that remembering it and calling me that name and thinking about me differently is a pretty big challenge.

That weird feeling you may have about my new name feeling strange to you – that’s the feeling I’ve always had about my old name – it doesn’t feel right. It’s a period of adjustment, but I have confidence you all are smart and capable people and can rise to the occasion.

I know people will have ideas, opinions or commentary about this. Please share your thoughts with me directly in a phone call or face-to-face conversation, rather than gossiping or commenting on social media.

The decision tree of names I’ve thought through and discarded is 786 lines long. I’ve gone through literally hundreds of names in the past few years trying them on and seeing how they fit. Naming yourself is hard. But I’ve found a name I actually love – it’s unique, gender neutral, has an outdoors/natural quality to it. Hawthorn is unusual as a first name, so there aren’t hundreds of little kids running around with the same name, nor do I have cousins or family members with that name, which are also bonuses.

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