A. Russo – More than the sum of my parts.



A Musical Day!

I actually did not have to look this one up – because I knew it already! October 8, 1982 was the opening date of the musical Cats on Broadway. It became one of the longest-running musicals on Broadway, running for 18 years.

I was lucky enough to grow up outside of NY city, so I had access to Broadway with just a 2-hour train ride. Now obviously (or maybe not so obviously but you’re too kind to say so) I’m too young to have seen Cats when it opened. And it wasn’t October 8 when I saw it. But I still remember it because it was my very first musical!

I was just starting to get into musical theater and a friend of mine loaned me a CD of the music. I memorized it and sang it all the dang time. When my grandmother got wind of this, she took me to Broadway. We stood there in Times Square at the discount ticket booth and she managed to get us two seats next to each other in the fourth row back in the orchestra. That’s crazy!

I remember when the lights went down and the music began, and little twinkling lights began to sparkle all over the theater through curls of fog. It was so magical, so surreal, I fell in love instantly. p until then I’d just seen little amateur shows with terrible effects and maybe one poor beleaguered piano teacher clunking out the score. This was something else.

At one point Bustopher Jones came dancing down the aisle, grabbed my grandma’s hands, pulled her up and danced with her for a second or two, and then sat her back down. I was beside myself. And then, of course, was the scene with Mr Mistoffelees, which has remained one of my favorite Broadway bits EVER. I always thought if I were to be on Broadway, that’s the role I’d want (technically my first pick would be Javert in Les Miserables but let’s face it, there isn’t enough testosterone in the world to make my voice get as low as he sings). Besides, Mr. Mistoffelees gets that awesome leap sequence in his dance. Can’t quite see Javert bursting into a round of spins and leaps like Mr. Mistoffelees does. Dance, dance, suicide, dance… no, that wouldn’t work.

Anyway, when the musical was done my grandma took me to this little restaurant that looked like a total dive but served the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten (welcome to NYC – if the place looks like a crackhouse but a billion people are eating there, you want to be one of them). That was the beginning of a life-long love of musical theater.

If you’re not sure why this is relevant, book-ish-ly speaking, it’s because the musical was actually based on a book by T.S.Eliot called Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. Naturally, I do have the book. I think it’s adorable. It’s a collection of poems – yes, about cats. No deep meaning. Just kitties.

I think I might have cried when Cats stopped running on Broadway. I saw it three times (it was beaten out by Les Mis which I’ve seen 4 times), and each was just as magical as the last. From the costumes to the lighting to the music and dancing… just incredible.

And a priceless memory with my grandma, who is now 86… I’m always going to remember that day she opened my eyes to an incredible new world. Thanks, grandma!


Word of the Day

I don’t know what it is today but I’m feeling very happily queer. Fiercely queer, if you will. Let’s just call it ‘quierce.’ Yeah. That’ll do.

Normally I’m pretty low-key. Central Texas is not the most accommodating, accepting place and I have the misfortune to work for a company that isn’t widely regarded for its progressive outlook and open acceptance of people from all over the rainbow, feel me?

Today I am just unapologetically queer. Wait, my bad. Quierce. Nothing to be done for it.

I think the older I get the less I care what people think about me. I spent most of my life trying to blend in and be like everyone else so I wouldn’t draw attention to myself. Now, as I’m growing SO old (yeah, that’s sarcasm – I’m not THAT old), I realize it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about me. Trying to blend in with the masses has only brought me discontent and unhappiness. Fuck blending.

I’m not stupid. I know that dressing the way I dress, wearing my hair differently, all the things I do that scream ‘gender non-conformist’ could very well get me beaten the hell up on a rural back street somewhere. Today, though, and on an increasingly large number of days as I look back on the last few years of my life, the risk is worth the reward.

What reward?

The reward of being myself. The reward of looking in the mirror and actually LIKING what I see, even if ninety-nine percent of the world disagrees. The reward of knowing I went into my day lying about nothing, hiding nothing, being the person I wanted to be from the second I rolled out of bed to the second I collapsed back into it.

That’s reward enough for me. So I’mma just go ahead an be quierce today. And probably tomorrow. And quite possibly the day after that too.


Wednesday Inspiration

Okay, so every day I’m trying to find some new inspiration somewhere. From something. Or, y’know, someone. A lot of my inspiration comes from nature, and I’m pretty convinced my muse is some sort of nature sprite.

This morning, inspiration happened in the form of a spider web. So, interesting Arin tidbit – I am deathly afraid of anything with more than four legs. Extra afraid if said thing happens to be chitinous.

Not three legs.

Not zero legs.








There’s a little morning code for you (see, I totally write code at work).

And yes, I’m also afraid of lobsters and crabs. The verdict is still out on octopi and squid, because those are really tentacles. Not creepy so much as squishy.

Aaaaaaaaanyway, I walked out of my house to find an orb-weaver spider had built a nice big web in the rose bush out front and attached it to the porch roof. It was all pretty and dewy and the morning sun hit it just right, so it was all sparkly. The little spider seemed pretty proud of herself, sitting right in the middle of it.

Naturally, I gave the entire affair a ten-foot berth. That doesn’t mean I didn’t find it gorgeous. I just opted to admire it from a distance. I’ve been thinking all day about how pretty it was, actually, so that’s become this morning’s inspirational ‘thing’ and now there’s going to have to be some reference to a spider web when I write tonight. Or at least, I’ll attempt to write something that makes me feel the same way the web did – a little awestruck, a little frightened, a lot impressed.

It was such a tiny little thing, really, just one bitty little spider web that will probably be gone in a day or two, but sometimes the tiniest things have the greatest impact!


‘More’ or ‘Less’?

So, every once in a while someone asks me why it is I seem to like animals more than people. This makes me feel sort of guilty, because it’s not that I like them more; it’s that I feel more comfortable around them. The reason is pretty simple – animals aren’t complicated.

On the outside it apparently seems like I have no fear, that I’m confident and secure in my self-identity. This could not be farther from the truth, it’s just that my big mouth tends to serve as a cover for the stuff I don’t want people to see. The truth is that I’m just as worried, just as insecure, as anyone else out there.

Being genderfluid isn’t easy to explain to people. Even my own family has met the revelation with sort of a lukewarm acceptance. Oh, I know they love me, but do they really understand? I don’t think so. They try, sure, but it’s awkward at best. This is not a criticism of them, or something I see as a failure on their part – not at all. I adore my family and wouldn’t change a thing about them. It’s just tough to see the world from someone’s point of view when it’s so different from your own, so how can I blame them for not understanding? They try. They get big props for that.

Friends are mostly the same way. It’s tough to ‘come out’ to them. In some cases it’s almost easier to tell them I’m transgender. A lot of people my age at least get that term. Fluid seems a bit more vague to them. Transgender is probably even closer to the truth for me, too, but I just can’t make myself care too much about labels. If it helps someone else ‘get’ me, then that’s okay. But I just want to be me, without anyone trying to over-analyze it. Without anyone being afraid of using ‘the wrong pronoun’ around me. Without asking awkward questions about whether or not I want various surgeries. Without delving into whether or not I need, have, or have had a therapist.

It’s kind of a lonely life. It’s terrifying because I can’t always define myself as ‘male’ or ‘female’ or ‘gay’ or ‘straight’ and people want those labels because they feel better when they can file me under one of them, and they know how to react. I can’t always give them labels. Sometimes I give them the wrong one and get nervous trying to explain. And sometimes even when I give them one, I get backlash. I’ve met straight people who hate gay people. I’ve met gay people who hate transgender people. I’ve met transgender people who hate cis people. It’s everywhere, and I don’t really have a camp. I get hated by some of them equally, and accepted by some of them equally.

So I draw a lot of comfort from the company of a dog, a cat, or a horse. Simply put, they don’t give a shit. And I am comforted by that.

My dog doesn’t care whether I put on a skirt or a pair of slacks to walk her. My cat doesn’t give a rip if my fingernails are polished when I scratch her head, or if my hair is long or short. My horse doesn’t have an opinion on how I ‘present’ or whether I ‘pass.’ As long as I’m kind to him when I ride him and treat him nicely, he will treat me well in return.

In other words, I get from animals the same exact thing human beings preach to each other but frequently do not practice. So can you blame me for loving their company when it’s so relaxing? I can be who I want, look how I want, and do what I want as long as, at the end of the day, they have been fed, attended to, played with, and loved. They don’t judge. They don’t label. They just like when I come home and spend time with them.

It’s frightening to define yourself in a way that makes people question everything about you. At the end of the day, how I live my life is worth it to me because whether I’m loved or hated for it I’m being true to myself, I’m being the person I feel like I am from the inside to the outside, and I’m not hiding anything. I might disgust you. I might make you proud. You may not care at all. How you choose to perceive someone like me is your business.

Could I go on? Yup. Sure could. But the point I’m trying to make is, I don’t care more about animals. I don’t like them more. It’s not a matter of ‘more‘ or ‘less‘ in my mind. To me, they’re the same. I treat animals the way I try to treat people and I afford them equal care and respect because in my life, they are the majority of the ‘people’ who have accepted me wholly, completely, and unconditionally.

If that isn’t deserving of love and care, I don’t know what is.


Blog at

Up ↑