I’m new here
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I found community.jpg (1 MB)

“This is where I found community”

A bulletin board outside the SDSU bookstore on the San Diego State University campus, in San Diego, California

I came here for “new”. A new start. A new city. A new school. A new gender.

I knew no one when I came to San Diego. Thinking back on how I got here, my story somehow seems simultaneously reasonable and far-fetched.

It started a year earlier. I came out as transgender. I came out to my friends and I came out to my family. And for the most part, I was met with acceptance and love.

But I couldn’t fathom the idea of coming out to coworkers. Well, maybe my close coworkers. But not the ones on the 7th floor, that I only saw once a week to exchange documents. It was these people that scared me. What would there reaction be? And more importantly, what would my reaction to their reaction be? These thoughts haunted me so much, that I put a plan into action.

“I’ll quit my job, and go to grad school. That should give me a safe place to transition without fear of being fired. I’ll also be in a new place where people will only know me by my new name and [hopefully] new pronouns.”

I put my plan into action, and took the GMAT, a standardized test to get into business school. At the beginning of the test, before any real questions were even asked, there was a section where you could select up to five schools to have your test scores sent for free. I really only had four schools in mind, and they were all local. But I didn’t want to waste that free fifth school. Thinking fondly back on a previous vacation to San Diego, I scanned the alphabetical list for a university with the words “San Diego” in the title, and marked in San Diego State University as my fifth option.

I really had no plans on attending the school, but SDSU showed interest in me enrolling in their MBA program. I researched the program, and it seemed like a good one. And the more I thought about staying at home versus moving to San Diego, the more I thought about how there were more than just the people on the 7th floor I was concerned with. There were the random people I knew from high school or college I would occasionally bump into at the grocery store. There were people I knew well enough to make idol chit-chat with, but not well enough to come out to.

I applied. I was accepted. I enrolled. I was moving to San Diego, without any idea about how intense this change was going to be.

Skip forward a year. I’m in a new city, where I know no one. I’m attending a new school, where I know no one. I’m living in a new gender, and I know no one.

I quickly sought out the school’s LGBT organization. I found the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Student Union or LGBTSU. This is where I found peers. This is where I found friends. This is where I found community.

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Found Art
Found Art avatar

Photo Sep 15, 8 30 09 PM.jpg (1 MB)

“This is where I stumbled upon a secret world.”

In a drawer, in a coffee table, in Filter coffee shop, in North park, in San diego, in California, in the USA.

Several months ago, my friend and I were hanging out at Filter coffee shop. While we were enjoying our coffee and conversation, my friend reached down and randomly decided to open the drawer in the coffee table. To her surprise she found dozens, maybe hundreds of little scrap pieces of paper with little notes and messages scrawled out on them. Some were touching secrets, some jokes, some doodles. Many had replies continuing the conversation, or making fun of original author or taking it in some other direction altogether.

We smiled.

A few minutes before we were in Filter. But now, we were swept up into this secret world connecting us with all the people who had discovered this world before us. We read every single one and shared our favorites with each other. After we got thru them all, we grabbed some paper and a pen and scrawled out our own.

It made our night.

Every time we go back, we check the drawer to find the new messages. Every time, someone has replied to our notes. We each write something else and contribute it back to this delightful box of found art.

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Contest Winners
Contest Winners avatar

I have to apologize for not announcing the contest winners earlier. Claire got pretty sick and so TiW took a back seat.  In an attempt to make ammends, and because we only had two people participate in the latest sticker give away contest, we have deicded that both are winners and both will be sent a free five pack of This is Where stickers. We will be in contact with you both!

And here are the stories by our two winners:

Michelle Magdaleno:

For Our First Road Trip We Went To Santa Monica, We Live In San Diego. It Was Me, My Brother And My Dad. We Left About 1pm. It Took Us 4 Hours To Get There.At First We Thought We Were Lost Because My Brother Didnt Recognize The Freeway And There Was Hardy Any Cars, So Finally We Found Out We Were In A Tollpay Booth And We Had To Pay 5 Dollers. When We Finally Got There We Had To Pay 8 Dollers For Parking And Just Walk To Venice Beach Which Was Pretty Far To Walk, My Dad Wanted Didnt Want To Walk More And Go Back But We Were Aleady In The Middle, So We Finally Got There And Saw All The Little Stores But Didnt Even Buy Anything. We Were Going Back To Go Home And Theres A Bike Line And A Walk Line, My Dad And Brother Crossed The Street And I Was Thinking Why Are They Crossing The Street And As I Was Looking Down At My Camera I Almost Got Ran Over By A Lady In A Bike And Another With RollerBlades, It Was A Close One. As We Go Home We Had A Good Family Talk In The Car. Also We Didnt See No Celebrities…It Was Disapointing But It Was Fun.

Aimee Carson:

My travel story…I was getting ready to travel to Mexico City for the first time with my boyfriend Juan. I had just finished cramming verbs and palabras with my beginning Spanish textbooks and had prepared my parents for my first international trip ever. I called my Juan at his parent’s house in Mexico City to confirm some travel details and then he passed the phone to his father whom I had met briefly a few months before.
He asked me if I was ready to visit Mexico for the first time. I explained proudly that I was very excited to be visiting… “M’excite!” I said, “I’m so excited!” His father’s tone of voice changed slightly as he handed the phone back to my boyfriend who then passed me on to his sister. She inquired in the same way and I replied again, very confidantly, “Yes! I’m so excited! “M’excite!”
His sister started laughing out loud (LOL in case you forget the IM abbreviation) and my boyfriend got back on the phone bewildered. “What did you say to them baby? Why are they laughing so hard?” I said, “What do you mean, I told them I was excited…M’excite!”
You could hear Juan’s jaw drop and he said, “Oh noooooo baby, that doesn’t mean what you think it does….it means your horny!”

 

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Who I am
Who I am avatar

“This is where I come to remember myself”

Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego

Ocean Beach Pier has been one of my favorite places ever since first visiting San Diego. Since moving here, it has been a place I take visiting friends, new friends, family and myself. I’ve people-watched, dolphin-watched, surfer-watched, drank cocoa, ridden the toy horse meant for kids much smaller (and younger) than me, had conversations with pelicans, made out with my husband, watched fireworks, gotten lost in watching the waves roll in, been splashed by a heavy surf, and have been enveloped by fog, etc. I love going here at night, watching the firefly-fish lures, and listening to the water move all around me. It is the perfect place for introspection, meditation and just plain remembering who I am when the rest of my life quiets down around me.

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Inspired
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inspired.JPG (1 MB)

“This is where i was Inspired!”

On the Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge in downtown San Diego, CA

I got a call early in the morning by a friend. “We have an extra ticket to this art show. Come!” She said.

I hopped out of bed and quickly got ready. I wasn’t really sure what I had stumbled into, but I was ready for adventure that day, and figured if nothing else, it would be a day filled with friendship.

Turns out we were heading to the 2011 San Diego Contemporary Art Fair at the Bayside Hilton. This was a HUGE collection of art from around the world.

The first thing we came across was the (In)Visible Project. I was floored. I stood there staring at the black and white photos surrounding me and reading the stories. I admired the constructed nature of the exhibit and how it played into the theme. It was heart wrenching and honest and stark. Being surrounded and forced to confront homelessness was amazing. And just when I was grasping on to that last bit of insulation between me and the people in the photos; that last tangible sense of comfortable distance from the subject matter, the speakers overhead sprang to life with the voices of the people telling their own stories. It destroyed me. The stories were heart breaking, and warm, and funny, and inspiring.

The illusion was gone.
I cried.

After composing myself, we headed into the main room where we were confronted with a gigantic sculpture of a face. We systematically proceeded to walk around the entire ballroom taking in art in every different style and medium. It was glorious just to be surrounded by so much art.

After several hours we were all exhausted. We sat outside on the balcony for a while overlooking the harbor and enjoying the breeze. We then headed out and started walking back home. As we walked across the beautiful pedestrian bridge it hit me just what an inspiring morning it had been and knew I had to place a sticker. I am thankful to my friend for inviting me along, and I am thankful to my city for hosting such an event.

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A Dickensian Experience
A Dickensian Experience avatar

“This is where I woke up on September 11, 2001″

I left the sticker on the stucco wall below the bronze plaque at the Hillcrest Inn, on Fifth Avenue between Robinson and Pennsylvania Streets, in San Diego.

At that time, the Hillcrest Inn was still a mixed vacation and residential hotel. I had been staying there since September 4. I had decided to relocate to San Diego from Seattle, and my stay was dedicated to looking into neighborhoods and housing options.

On the morning of the 11th, I had a mid-morning flight. I hit the snooze on the alarm clock a couple of times, then finally rolled over and reached for the remote to turn on the TV. I saw the image of the first tower billowing smoke from the gouge near the top, and heard Katie Couric say, “There are reports that a plane has hit the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan.”

I jumped into my clothes and ran next door to David’s Coffee Shop to get my wakeup coffee. No one had heard yet. I told the baristas and two other customers at the counter. A few other people came in, talking about it. There was no TV at the café. I went back next-door to my room and watched coverage from there. I saw the second tower hit, and went back next door. My packing was forgotten.

Someone had a TV device attached to his car, which was parked in the café driveway. A number of us were watching it and saw the first tower collapse. By now the street was full of shocked citizens, all talking about it. Some wanted to hurry and get to work. Others were afraid to go anywhere but home.

After a couple of hours, it was apparent that my flight home to Seattle would not be departing that morning, or anytime soon. It was also apparent that no other guests at the hotel would be arriving to keep their reservations. The manager extended contracts on a 24-hour basis. I called my rental car company, and they were doing the same.

As the reports came in that all air travel in the country was suspended, and all planes grounded, I pondered other options. After being stuck on hold for an extended time, I drove down to the Amtrak depot. All trains were booked for the next ten days. No hope of getting home by rail. I returned to the hotel.

I stayed in touch with my rental car company. By then they had decided to waive drop-off fees, and were allowing contract-holders to leave with their vehicles and head for home. Finally, on the morning of the 14th, I left San Diego and headed north through LA traffic toward the Grapevine and on up the Central Valley toward home.

I kept the radio on for news updates. It was all depressing: the death toll kept rising. All sense of panic seemed to have settled into a steady level of anxiety. Reports of the heroism in New York, Washington and Shanksville were repeated over and over. There were also some reports of shameful behavior by Americans. In Texas, the Pakistani owner of a convenience store was shot dead.

As I approached San Francisco’s latitude, I looked out uneasily to my left and hoped not to see or hear of any further disaster. The radio reported that a Sikh learning center on the Peninsula had been vandalized. Several men in a large pickup had rammed the locked gate. They had gotten out of the truck and urinated in the sacred fountain. All these men wearing turbans are Muslims, and all Muslims are terrorists—right?

I made it to the small town of Willows, not far south of the Oregon border, driving through heavy rain. I stopped for the night. TV coverage showed no new developments. In the town, I noticed that nearly all homes and businesses displayed American flags. Many cars flew them from the radio antennas, or even from a partially open window. It was a Dickensian experience: the best of times and the worst of times.

Next morning, it was on to Oregon City to stay overnight with a friend, and phone ahead to another friend at home in Seattle to meet me at the Budget office and drive me back to my house. The third day was a short day of driving. As I passed Sea-Tac Airport, the first planes were starting to arrive, and the first departures as well.

John met me and drove me back to my house, and I settled in feeling secure for the first time in days. I had new empathy for the hermit crab, which feels safe only in a borrowed shell.

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Loved
Loved avatar

I am loved.jpg (1 MB)

“This is where I am loved!”

On my back. In my hotel room, Scottsdale, AZ

I had just been released from the hospital after a major surgery. Not being an Arizona resident, I had to stay an extra few days in the area before I could go back home.

I spent a lot of time sleeping in a drug induced haze. My awake time was generally spent making my girlfriend, who was taking care of me, go out and get me food. I think she was bored and decided to conspire against me.

She got a bunch of my friends to send her personal messages. She waited until I started to fall asleep, and then proceeded to write these messages all over my back. She also decided to place a TiW sticker on my back to mark the occasion.

I really didn’t know any of this had happened until I woke up to find I had become my very own get well card.

I have the best friends.

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Yes?
Yes? avatar

So I saw this picture and it amused me. Yes, yes I do want this little piece of paper. I don’t know why, but these simple things make me feel really connected to people. It sort of makes me realize that the world isnt full of ‘strangers’ but other actual people.

Also: Don’t forget we are running the sticker giveaway contest! The contest runs thru Sunday so you still have time to share a small story and have a chance to win a free 5 pack of stickers. Go here for details!

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Give it away now
Give it away now avatar

Hey everyone!

Dont forget that we are running a sticker giveaway contest. Its easy to enter, all ya have to do is leave a short story in the comments. An anecdote if you will. Possibly a chronicle or a narrative. You decide!

More info here.

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Sand
Sand avatar

the sticker wouldn’t stick to the sand,
and the words kept washing away,
so i held the card in my hand
and i typed in the words so it’d say
exactly what i felt in that moment that day.

thisiswhereidmimw.jpg (163 KB)“This is where I drowned myself in music and words…”

 

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