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So those of you who've heard the podcast have heard my quite effeminate voice. It's been an interesting thing to have.

One thing that it's led to is me being VERY often mistaken for my ex-spouse, or a female (my name is one of those that could go with either gender) which has led to some rather interesting personal interludes.

Once I was attempting to buy some computers for my workplace, and we needed some scanning as part of it. These were not for art purposes but had to have colour correction as part of the legality of what we were building. So I asked the rather tired-sounding lad at the other end of the phone about colour correction, to which he said "you can have it in any colour you like, sweetheart."

I got his name, and permission from my boss to make some kind of comment.

I put on my studded-and-patched leathers (size 58, I was 255lb at the time, it was during the scary 425lb bench press days), the half-helmet, and sunglasses. Kicked out the kicker arm and fired up the ape-hangered FXE. Roared into the parking lot like something out of a Meat Loaf video. Dismounted, walked in, found the scrawny little spiky haired get who'd made that comment and told him I'll have it in whatever colour it comes in, if that's okay by him. (I left out a few choice words, but that was the gist of my statement.)

My ear-nose-throat guy says I'm blessed, but I don't particularly think so. He says if he'd seen my throat at autopsy minus the body it was on, he would swear in a court of law I was female. But, hey, Roy Orbison was the same way and look how he turned out.

I am NOT Roy Orbison.

I am a guy who's said the same thing to girlfriends and spouse as the next or last guy has said, but because he said it in a deep booming voice their response was usually a giggle, not a fight. It's like height, one of those unfair things we get judged on.

Phonosurgery costs at least $5,000 and bears the chance I'd never be able to speak again. But I might get some respect when I say things on the phone or in person.

I don't talk very much in person, unless you know me and am friends with me, or unless I'm heinously drunk.

Maybe some day I can afford for that to change.

Why invest in gold?

Actually, "tricking" wealthy investors to put more of their investments into gold helps out everybody else. Imagine if the wealthy decided to hoard grains or oil instead - the result would be that a lot of grain and oil would be sitting around in storage, not getting used, while people around the world starved or went without energy.

If it's only a relatively useless commodity like gold sitting around in storage, what is available for people to consume isn't really affected. Thus the more we can "trick" the wealthy into selling their grains / oil and buying gold instead, the more grains and oil will be available on the market, and make life easier for everyone else.

It only becomes stupid when "tricking" the wealthy results in "tricking" everyone else as well, and they start to trade the grains / oil they've produced for the gold that's been hoarded.

I want to tell you all something, but I can't, not yet, and so I'll tell you something else.

I'm almost there. The things I've been working toward the past decade are finally coming together. I'm close to starting a new life as the person I've wanted to be my whole life.

It took me longer than I thought it would. I guess these things always do, don't they?

But still. There are some things that in retrospect I should have done much sooner, and found myself afraid to do because they weren't "practical".

One of those things was to continue to live with a person who smothered me and made me doubt myself and my abilities. This roommate was neither a lover nor a relative, and so I should have been able to just tell this person to go away and get out of my life. It should have been easy, right? Just say, "This isn't working; you need to leave." Or, "This isn't working; I'm leaving."

But it wasn't nearly so simple. The person didn't consciously intend to have the effect they did; we were just a bad combination. And, for better or worse, I cared about them. I'd been raised to try to get along with people no matter what. And in college I'd learned that, courtesy of my depression, I didn't do well on my own. And then there was money: I didn't have much, didn't make much. Not nearly enough to survive on my own.

And so my practical decision to stay in that situation cost me productive time I can't get back.

So, here's what I've learned: if you find yourself living with people who belittle or dismiss your dreams and ambitions, get away from them as soon as possible.

Otherwise, they will drag you down and the mundane stress of dealing with them day after day will drain you of the energy and desire to keep trying to become the person you want to be. They will break you, whether they mean to or not.

And if you stay broken, that's not a lot different from being dead.

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