Every Little Thing -In Search of the American Soul

I’m pretty sure my son voted for Trump.  I can’t bring myself to ask him directly, but I’m relatively sure his opinion hadn’t changed between the beer I had with him to celebrate his birthday in September and the election in November.  I don’t know what he thinks of things now either – whether he regrets his vote or not.  For an anti-racist, progressive transgender man such as myself, this is a gut check.

He looks at politicians with a raised eyebrow and barely contained eye-roll.  He doesn’t see much honor or honesty among any of our elected officials in any capacity, and I think I may have taught him that.

We’ve spent hours over the course of his life talking about things that matter -love, honor, truthfulness, dreams, the future, critical thinking.  Those are the conversations you get when you’re distilling a week’s worth of parenting into a weekend visit or dinner at Olga’s Kitchen in the mall.  There’s no time for idle chatter before the inevitable drop-off at the end of the visit. Then that’s followed by the drive home with grief and regret that you didn’t get to everything.  Every. Little. Thing.  Because every little thing is what I missed.

As he got older, his reality parted from mine.  He didn’t go to college even though he is smart enough.  He couldn’t justify the debt without the guarantee of a salary that would pay for the student loans.  What he did instead was follow his other parent into metal working (which is kind of bad ass anyway).  He’s had a few good jobs, but a few jobs isn’t what he really wanted.  It’s not what anybody really wants. But he’s a responsible, caring, funny and thoughtful man – a certain kind of happiness finds that kind of person no matter what they do for a living, and I am proud of him.

During our shared birthday beer we argued over policies and debated about candidates.  We talked about schools and banks and business.  We fundamentally agreed on mostly everything.  He is a smart, engaged voter.

And we still came to different conclusions.

Every time I hear my friends – many of whom I respect, many of whom I have stood beside during protests, parades, marches, educational talks and author events – say they’ve blocked out everyone who voted for Trump I am gut checked.

This is a time like no other.  The structure of our government is in peril.  I can barely keep up with the daily onslaught of regressive, destructive mandates from a racist sociopath who surrounds himself with other racist sociopaths.  I mourn because it’s evident that our country has elected a functionally illiterate celebrity to silence the press and mock and dismantle our government like it’s a reality tv show.

My social media feeds are electrified with outrage, fear and calls for resistance.  There are pleas to contact representatives, calls to action, marches unlike any other in history – a collective scream and chest clutch that reaches around the globe.

And I still love my son.  I think he mistook entertainment and manipulation for truth telling.  I think he was conned.  But I still love him, and I won’t give up the precious hours I have with him (that are now fewer and fewer) talking about things that don’t matter.  And I won’t give up any time with him that I can get.

Yesterday I posted on Facebook:

– Watching a screaming man being taken away to a psych ward in leg shackles for squatting in an apartment,
– getting news of DeVos’ confirmation on the phone i took out to film in case of a violent turn of events, and
-calming a dog terrified of loud sounds
is too much for me to process at the moment. Layers of processing there.

I will say this though –
When park rangers and teachers are dissidents, we have clear and indisputable evidence of a sick society.”

My good friend Alfred replied:

“Or a society that is beginning to know where to turn to find its healing …”

This stuck with me.  Another gut check. I’ll advocate.  I’ll call my senators. I’ll resist.  I’ll fight fascism like my life depends on it – it does.

But what it comes down to every time is the brave trust we have in each other, one on one, to take care of each other.  The heroes of this story won’t be our congress or lawyers.  They never have been.   We are.

We have to turn to each other once again, make and keep small promises, teach the truth even if it’s dangerous, speak even if it’s softly, listen even if it’s hard – even if it hurts – and argue about the things that still matter.

But above all, if we’re going to be the heroes of our own American story, we must take leadership from others who have fought oppression for generations and learn this lesson –

Our institutions won’t save us. We the people are the only ones capable of saving ourselves.  Each of us, one by one, two by two, must choose to be brave enough to keep the fabric of our common dream intact.  We must fight each other like hell and choose to love each other anyway.

I think I’ll call my kid now.



benA few months ago, my stepson sat at the dinner table with Kris and me just before he left for a country music festival with his other dad and uncle in Alabama.  “You’ll be the brownest one in the crowd,”  I said.  Ben was in his freshman year at Carnahan High School of the Future in South St. Louis, a mostly black high school, after spending his entire school career in an all white Catholic school.  He is accustomed to being the only brown person in the room.

We talked a bit about the likelihood of anything happening that would result in more than harsh looks or his own rolled eyes at some random confederate flag.  “Just let them say something,” he said.

Kris’ eyes got that darting fight or flight look and she launched into a quintessential Kris Kleindienst fear induced rant, scolding then begging then scolding again, admonishing Ben to keep his head down and stay safe.  The conversation escalated of course.  Ben asserting his teenage indestructibility, Kris asserting her protective mother bear instincts, me finishing my asparagus fast so I could remove myself to the kitchen.

During the inevitable argument later that night, Kris wondered why I didn’t back her up.  Truthfully, I hate arguments.  I loathe confrontation., but I’m no coward.  When pressed, I will give my opinion – and I did.  “Sometimes, when you are the most powerless one in the room, the only weapon you have is swagger.  It’s the only thing that leaves your ego in tact, and you have to let him have that, even if it puts him in danger.”

codyI thought about my son Cody, who wore a Superman cape with foam muscles almost every single day for a year when he was four.  He was obsessed with being a super hero.  Fifteen years later, as I watched him play one of his first shows with his first band in a college cafeteria set up for open mic night I worried for him.  He was standing on a folding chair, one leg on the seat, one leg on the back, playing his guitar as the chair teetered and tilted from four legs to two and back again.  His eyes were closed, his hands were wrapped around his guitar and his fingers flew up and down the fret board.  I could almost see the red cape around his neck even then.

The past several months I’ve been studiously avoiding most of the news about Trayvon Martin’s death and the trial of George Zimmerman, but I’ve kept the image of what probably happened in my mind – the brown kid walking down the street, probably talking loudly into his cell phone, probably strutting while eating those Skittles, probably wrapping himself under that hood the way Cody wrapped himself in those foam muscles.  Probably thinking, ” Just let them say something.”

George Zimmerman probably armed himself with a pistol the way Cody arms himself with his guitar, and played cop like Ben plays major league baseball player during Sunday double headers at Fultz Field by the River Des Peres as he sweeps up an infield hit and flings it to first for the easy out.

Having been born female, swagger was socialized out of me, but I used it instinctively.  When I was Ben’s age I went to Shawneetown, Illinois with my best friend Debbie to visit her family.  I was in love with her, of course, so when she found boys to hang out with while we were there I found ways to make her worry about me and wonder where I was.

At a biker bar just on the border of Illinois and Kentucky, I met a man I’ll call Crow.  He and I smoked a lot of pot and headed into the Shawnee forest on his Harley, speeding to the tops of hills, then cutting the engine and flying down the down slope listening to the wind in the trees the whole way down.  I knew he had just gotten out of prison, but I loved his bike and I wanted to fly.

Crow and I crossed the bridge into Kentucky on the wrong side of the road, swerving out of the way of oncoming traffic in the nick of time, whooping and yelling, cheating death.  When we finally wrecked and I flew off the back of the bike and rolled down a hill, we pushed it the rest of the way to his friend’s house.  I waited on the couch, cleaning the road rash off my arms and legs as he talked into a phone to someone about “what to do with me.”  We had crossed a state line, I was 15 and weighed 125 pounds.  He was in his thirties and on parole.  He questioned me about who would miss me.  Did I have a boyfriend?  How big was he?

I remember thinking that I just rolled down a hill and pushed his bike after giving the finger to my own mortality on a bridge.  If he thought I was going down without a fight he was mistaken.  I lied and said my boyfriend was huge and mean.  I named off family members who were just on the other side of the river wondering where I was – and knew who he was.  His hands were huge, dirty and calloused.  I watched them on the steering wheel of his friend’s car as they drove me back into Illinois and dropped me on the side of the road near the bar.  I didn’t exhale until I was in the backseat of Debbie’s mom’s car listening to them scold me about disappearing.

When I retold that story I edited out the tense moments on that couch and the long ride back.  I didn’t tell about the promise I made to him and his friend not to come back to that town unless I was prepared to “pay them back for their kindness.”  I only recalled the fresh air and wind, the feeling of invincibility on that bridge, the freedom of that bike.

And all of it’s true.  The super hero, the brown bad ass at the country festival, the dream of being a cop, the thug under the hoodie, the well protected biker bitch.  All of the costumes we wear to define and protect ourselves are true.  And that’s why today, the day after the George Zimmerman verdict, I’m sad for us all.

And I’m proud of my stepson, who as I started this post, pulled on his hoodie over his baseball uniform in 90 degree heat and walked onto the baseball field to play on his all white baseball team and walked, brown man, almost the age of Trayvon, head held high, all the way to the dugout.

Size Zero: On Being a Big Guy

Village Square Mall, circa – well, always.

In the mid eighties I was a size zero.  I know this because I went to Glik’s in the Village Square Mall in Effingham, IL to shop with my sister and my friend when I was about 13.  I shopped then like I do now:

Friend – “Oh, you would look awesome in this.”

Me – “Nah, I don’t really like to try on clothes” (while looking longingly at Rural King’s selection of coveralls).

Friend – “Ok, well what do you think of this outfit?”

Me, approximating proper mid-western teenage girl social skills – “Um, yeah.  Looks fine.  Zippers on the ankles of your pleated jeans are a classic look.”

On this particular shopping trip, I found a pair of pants that were a size zero.  I don’t remember what the pants looked like or why that day of all days I tried on girl clothes, but that crumb of knowledge – that my size officially didn’t exist – scratched an itch that is very fundamental to the cohesion of my sibling hierarchy.

Yes, my sisters could pinch and bruise their stomachs grasping for the Special K inch and pretend to be frustrated with the miniscule fold of skin in their grasp while looking at the rest of the population of Effingham High School with mild pity.  But could they, in the darkest of night tucked into the bunk-beds and trundle beds, could they say that they had succeeded in actually erasing themselves?

I could.

I’ve never found another pair of size zero pants, but I’ve held that with me for 27 years. The secret weapon. Concealed carefully. Carried deeply.

My size – which from that moment forward was zero, invisible, no matter how much I weighed – was the baseline.  The blank slate.

Every hair, change, scar and pound after that were evidence that either needed to be displayed as proof of my worth or hidden to disguise my lack thereof.  I never weighed myself obsessively, and didn’t jump on  the binge/purge merry-go-round.

I just kept score.

Scars on my hand and wrist from flipping my best friend’s grandma’s car into a cornfield in eighth grade – Fortitude and survival.

Slight dent in my forehead at my hairline – Chickenpox scar. My get out of jail free pass in the presence of all toddlers with viruses.

My adolescent angst was written on my body. I grew hips and breasts and got pregnant and gave birth to my son before my twenty-first birthday.  That same year, three of my sisters had sons.

Stretch marks on my belly and chest – Badge of parenthood/Scarlet I for Inadequate motherhood.

I gained 45 pounds after I started taking testosterone when I turned 30.  Those pounds attached themselves to me gradually, like many profound changes do.  The first ten was happy weight – good food, the right woman in my life, the right life.  Then slowly the weight started to count differently.

The baseline had changed.  My units of measuring were different.  Men are bigger, and my size zero had been adjusted for inflation.

The next fifteen were attached to the bookstore where I work.

Thickening midsection – Evidence that I’m substantial enough to run a business.

Plus a pound or two for stress. A few ounces here and there for loneliness.  More weight to insulate miscellaneous guilt.  The final bulk is overcompensation.

My sisters stayed virtually the same size with some fluctuation while I grew larger and hairier, but I stayed, as always, peripheral.  Exempt.  Invisible.

Recently, I consulted with a few doctors to consider bottom surgery, and know with relative certainty that funding this kind of thing is next to impossible.

And yet.

6 inch vertical scar through my abdominal muscle and around my belly button – Emergency abdominal surgery.  Proof that after unspeakable pain, the clouds part.  The impossible is possible.

Regardless of the donor site for a phalloplasty, being a healthy weight is important to the surgery, and after all, what could it hurt to get fit? To avoid my usual anxiety and stave off the impending doom, I decided that even though I haven’t found a way to complete this final part of my transition, I would focus on something I could control –  losing my extra pounds.

After “running” 5 miles on the elliptical machine every day and eating smoothies and weeds for several weeks, I had stalled.  No weight loss.  My clothes didn’t fit differently.  Doom did start to settle in, but buried within it was something small and concealed.  An itch.  A grim shadow self inside me was strangely, horribly, satisfied.  In a buried recess of my brain I am hoarding my bulk.

As a few pounds finally faded away I started to feel myself panicking as the trophies and evidence of my existence disappeared.  My life in a female body depended on remaining invisible.  My life as a man became, in part, about physically existing, pushing beyond size zero.  I find myself clinging to the credentials packed into my thick chin, lumpy midsection and hips as if I’m going to lose myself.  As if I’m going to be unveiled as a fraud once my disguise as a “big” guy slips.

I’m not obese, just fifteen or twenty pounds this side of normal BMI according to the internet.  My challenge isn’t so much to lose the weight but to travel back through the collecting of it.  To unpack all of the evidence and have a good hard look at it once and for all.

My Slim, Reasonably Sized Trans Wedding (and the Queer Marriage that Follows)

Not even my therapist could say the word.  The big “W” is a concept that she (my therapist) and I had long ago abandoned and let atrophy in our minds.  I went to her office just after Kris and I decided that

I cropped out the "Easy Breeze Trailer Court" address.

Legal Proof – exhibit A.  (I cropped out the “Easy Breeze Trailer Court” address.)

since I got legal proof from the grand state of Illinois that I am male, that we could (and would) get married in Missouri, arguably the least queer friendly state in the union.  We sat through a Katie Couric show about trans youth in her apartment (my therapist and I have a quirky relationship), and I waited patiently for the final fade to credits and inspiring daytime show music to break the news.

I felt like I had to justify what we were doing by telling her that I was taking charge of my legal rights as Kris’ partner, and that ultimately it all made sense even though I had spent the better part of 9 years in her office working through anxiety, depression and one unfortunate bout of ulcerative colitis (too much information?) linked to my gender expression and the problems that go with it.  Also, if you haven’t guessed, my therapist is a lesbian in a long term relationship with her partner, who she can’t marry in this state.  I sort of felt like I had sold out.  Like I had abandoned my queerness to become Mr. Kris Kleindienst.

I expected her to want to dissect why I thought I had to get married and talk about my inner trans/gay phobia or something, but instead she just put her hands over her mouth and then said that it was wonderful news (and that she and her partner are going to Maine to get married).  As we talked about it we kept saying things like, “When I told my sister about, well, you know, the thing we’re going to do…”  Neither of us could utter the words “wedding” or “marriage.”  (Therapists have issues, too.)

ringThe fact is, I kept thinking I had to justify my decision to marry Kris to everyone.  “Mom, I’m doing this because it protects me and Kris.”  “Friend, Kris and I have been together for 11 years, so it won’t be like anything changes.”  “Staff of the bookstore, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke, and it’s not a big deal but…”

I even stayed up at night trying to justify it to myself.

I heard Kris justifying it to other people with things like, “Fuck the state of fucking Missouri.”  In fact, she didn’t describe our wedding without a string of expletives for at least the first week.  I didn’t take that as a bad sign.  Kris is frequently colorful, and we were both terrified.

The wedding itself was a utilitarian affair.  We, and several of our close friends and family, were ushered by a bailiff with a whistle into the cavernous courtroom dedicated to just this event in downtown St. Louis and took our vows while our three year old nephew insisted that his monster truck was more interesting.

It was actually perfect.

For a while afterwards, I played with the idea of being a husband in my mind, and it felt like I was getting away with something, and also that I was finally able to settle into my life with Kris.  Even though we didn’t feel like we lacked a marriage before, having one reminded us that we were here with each other on purpose.  Still, the mechanisms and language were and are foreign to both of us.

Last week I went in to 5/3 Bank to see about opening up a new checking account after our current bank whose name I won’t mention but whose name also connotes the first Monday in March in Illinois (and only Illinois, and only fairly recently – in fact, schools only started taking this holiday when I was in Junior High, but I digress) started disabling our debit cards when we made trips over 20 miles past the Poplar Street Bridge.

I had the beginnings of what would become an all encompassing ear infection and had kept thinking I was screaming when I was whispering, then couldn’t hear answers.  Conversation with anyone was becoming even more awkward than it usually is.  So when I explained who I was to the greeter (and there is no other word to describe this person even though he didn’t wear a smock and direct me to the closeout sale on antiperspirant) he asked me about my accounts.  I explained to him that I wanted one for me and one for my wife, which to me sounded like I had only thought the word because I couldn’t hear anything.

I could tell I did actually say the word because while explaining that we do in fact still use paper checks sometimes I noticed that he was noticing my hand gestures.  I talk with my hands more than any straight man I know, and since I couldn’t hear him, I was apparently overcompensating by acting out the words joint checking account so he could understand me, which made me look more like a flaming queen than I usually look (which takes effort).  I could see the wheels turning in his head.  He assured me that transferring money from my account to my “wife’s” (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) would be no trouble at all.  There was yet another long moment of awkward silence where I tried to decide whether to assure the man that I wasn’t a delusional closeted gay man or try to be more butch.  I decided that there were other branches of 5/3 Banks, one was even closer to my house, and that I would probably never have to talk to him again, so I continued my game of deaf charades and changed “wife” to “partner” and back again to “wife” and then just to Kris with the “she” thrown in for good measure.  It’s good to keep your banker guessing.

I haven’t been back to the bank yet, mostly because I’ve been stoned on Vicodin and sundry other medications for the aforementioned ear infection, but I will go back.

It’s a strange thing, this circling around, being so queer we’re straight again – “lapping ourselves” as our friend Amanda put it.  There seems to be this conflicting sensation of having to come out again about stepping into another closet. Augusten Burroughs wrote a good op/ed piece in the NY times about his similar struggle with the husband/wife beast which gets at part of what I’m talking about, but this other piece – where I have a wife (that Kris is a wife) is another kind of weird.

I’m not sure I am or ever will be at a point in my life where telling someone I have a wife doesn’t make me feel like I should be wearing gym socks and cowboy boots, holding my harm around the little woman’s shoulders protectively, patting her hand and talking to my friends at the Masonic Lodge about how she and her friends prattle on.

I suppose this, like every other damn thing in my life, will have to be redefined, reworked and reworded a few hundred times before it’s recognizable as my own.  I can’t wait to see what that looks like.

Woodworking for the Gender Impaired

Outhouse workbench

Outhouse Workbench

As we pause for a brief word from our sponsors (or lack thereof) on the kitchen project, I’ll segue (ok the proper word here is digress, but I’ll be brief.  Then it’s back to the kitchen to face the heat.  Or electricity.  Or something.) into the other projects that occupy my time when I’m not obsessing about the bookstore – including building what I now lovingly call the Outhouse Workbench (more on that later).
Our story begins thirty years ago.  I’m 9 years old and have salvaged every scrap of wood and discarded tool from which my dad walked away on his side of the basement.  There were easy pickin’s such as the 2×8 slabs of timber left over from some project or another, and when a saw broke, it was mine.  “Mine” is a very fluid thing when you’re nine.  Undoubtedly “my” tool pile was Dad’s “not thrown away yet” pile and Mom’s “for the love of god do you have to keep everything/I’m going to throw that away when you’re not looking” pile.  I had to stake my claim, so I asked Dad if I could have a tool box, thinking if I put the tools in something that was mine the tools would become less “mine” and more MINE.

Dad said he could “probably think of something,” which I knew to mean he would make one for me at work.  Work was Merz Sheet Metal, where Dad fabricated and installed heating and air conditioning and then came home and washed his hands with Lava soap.  He could build the Sistine Chapel if it were made of sheet metal.  This is the same man who, when he was laid off and bored (and in retrospect horribly depressed), built a two story furnished carpeted, painted and wallpapered Barbie house for my sister and me completely out of a cardboard box, scraps, and old washrags pinned around foam.  It. Was. Awesome.  Plus, Dad always did what he said he was going to do.  I had complete faith.

A couple of days later he walked in the back door with a stack of pieces of sheet metal cut out and bent, for what I couldn’t tell.  He grinned and handed the stack to me.  “Here it is!”

Yep. There it was.  And here we are.  I was too embarrassed to ask him how it went together because obviously People Who Have Tools know how to put things together, and my excitement curdled into despair.  This habit of mine – to mumble, nod my head and smile like I know what I’m doing, then privately jam my nose into a book to learn what I missed – began there in the kitchen with Dad asking the back of my retreating head if I wanted him to show me.  It persists today.

I recognize it in the way my brother and sister-in-law nod and smile in noisy crowds when their hearing-aids become useless, or when the person they’re talking to turns away and mumbles.  When you miss half the joke, the other half isn’t nearly as funny, and I clearly had missed the first part of Dad’s joke.  I didn’t have to be a boy to get it, but I knew my watery eyes and wobbly, “Sure, I’ll figure it out” cemented in his brain (and mine) that a.) I wouldn’t figure it out and b.) even if I had been born a boy, the two of us would have had a hard time bonding over sand paper and wood screws.

The next time I saw the pile of metal, it had been magically assembled into my very own tool box – empty of course, but only for the briefest of moments.  I took it downstairs and filled it with bent nails that could be straightened, saws that weren’t too rusty and a hammer that wasn’t quite broken.  It was a gold mine.

My first project was a bookshelf for Jo Anna, a person who not only didn’t read, but spent most of her time outside.  I was undeterred.  I sawed the 2x8s with the handsaw (yes, it took for flipping ever) and thwacked it together with my straightened nails.  I haven’t seen that bookshelf in many years, but I’m sure it’s being admired in a museum of fine furniture somewhere.

So, back to the Outhouse Workbench.

Kris woke me up one morning, handed me a cup of coffee and proceeded to lace her tennis shoes, talking in one long, continuous sentence about the unbelievable bounty of treasures in our alley that morning.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Kleindienst-Steele household, this is not an uncommon method of awakening.  When the landlords across the alley evict the latest tenant, there’s typically an avalanche of household stuff dumped unceremoniously beside the dumpster.  “Beadboard!” and “Bathroom!” and “Too heavy!” were repeated patterns in this morning’s report.

Indeed, there was a mountain of beadboard affixed to various 2x4s leaning against one another.  It wasn’t until we had most of it in the garage that I noticed the smell.  Upon closer inspection, there was not only a toilet paper holder mounted to the wall, but evidence of the explosion of some sort of bodily function.  Our find was in fact the disassembled parts of a very unfortunate bathroom stall.

It has sat in our garage for some time now, but I had to move it this weekend because I broke the tool fairy’s router.

Perhaps I should explain.

I’ve  been working like a fiend to get the most out of the tools bestowed upon me by the tool fairy before they turn into pumpkins and he needs them back, so I’ve made the following:

Two – count them two – deck planter boxes from an old fence.

pencil box thing for Kathleen

Sculpture type thing with a melted bottle and Kathleen’s wrought iron thing. The base is from the old fence.

even more planter boxes

even more planter boxes

Kris went out of town, leaving me with time on my hands and nary a project in site.  She called our friend Kathleen and asked her to Jaysit (which really means just give me something to do so I don’t tear down the bathroom wall and install a whirlpool).  Kathleen obliged and told me she wanted a hutch for her desk.  I gleefully bought wood, router bits and stain and took a three day weekend in which to build my masterpiece.

Mid-dado cut (the groove where you put the shelf), the router shuddered and stopped.  I did the most obvious thing and shook it, hoping it would start working again.  Nope.

Lori, the most awesome neighbor in the world, saw me sitting in the driveway with my head in my hands and rushed over to ask me what was wrong, which made me decide that she’s several notches above the most awesome neighbor in the world.

I begged the tool fairy’s forgiveness, and in true tool fairy fashion, he forgave me via voice mail, email, and message conveyed in person through his wife, Pam.  I, of course needed all these forms of forgiveness because even though the router was 25 years old, the old dear died on my watch.

I had to have a router to finish the bookshelves and my new project (hopefully) of building a cabinet for some drawers Kathleen bought, which were salvaged out of the old St. Louis City Library building.  I stalked Craig’s List for a week until I found a man willing to part with his router, router table and a box full of brand new bits for a reasonable price.

Isn’t she pretty?

By now, you know me and have no doubt guessed that I talked louder and dropped the g’s on my gerunds to sound less soft handed and bookish on the phone, then drove all the way to Belleville, IL rehearsing how I would introduce myself and making a list of relevant topics to discuss while pretending to examine the tool before buying it.

In the end, the bookshelves weren’t up to snuff, but the tool breakage and purchase and prospect of more woodworking projects lead me to this past weekend, wherein I cleaned out my garage, which had started to look like a four year old organized it.

Amongst all the detritus was the disassembled bathroom stall, toilet paper holder still attached.  I threw away the feces stained portion and broke apart the rest, then reassembled it into a work bench.

I have waited my entire life for this small room in heaven.

When we finally get back to the kitchen project, my workshop will rock!

It is thirty years after Dad brought home the disassembled tool box and a bajillion household projects later.  I like to think he would be jealous of my garage, and sometimes when I’m alone out there I share it with him in spirit.

I still wouldn’t know how to put together the tool box, and I totally straightened out the old nails on the bathroom stall to make the workbench.