Skirting The Issues: 2013

Ellen Krug. Photo by Mike Hnida
Ellen Krug. Photo by Mike Hnida

Honestly, I’m not particularly crazy about year-end retrospectives. Invariably, I focus only on what I didn’t accomplish. In the end, I’m simply reminded that the big old clock I carry around in my head is sounding tic toc, tic toc, feeding my neuroses.

Oh, what the hell. Here’s my stab at looking back at 2013.

Worst Hair Moment: You’ve got that right—I’m going to start out with my hair. No vanity here.

I have this problem with flat hair—my mane is so incredibly fine that it won’t hold body. I was acutely reminded of this in April, when I appeared on Bi-Cities TV, where I read from my memoir and talked about living as transgender. Despite a good half can of hair spray and enough teasing to give anyone carpal tunnel, I showed up with hair hanging limp like some old wrinkled—wait a minute, I’ll let you conjure up your own noun. Throw in awful lighting and my man-voice, and there’s no way I’d ever want anyone to see that interview.

Alas, if you search, “Ellen Krug,” the interview is the second or third link to come up.

Damn Google.

Best Moment: Hmm, let me see. There was a wonderful book launch, an interview with Public Radio, multiple presentations—some to standing ovations, and a degree of notoriety.

However, apart from feeding my ego, none of that qualifies as “best moment.”

Instead, it’s all about my bike, the White Knight, which I’ve shared before. I feel the greatest freedom pedaling down the Greenway at five in the morning as darkness transitions to light and crickets give way to songbirds.

On a beautiful July dawn, I rounded a curve at the east end of the Greenway near the Martin Olav Sabo bridge just as the first rays of sunlight appeared. They caught the night’s mist just right, and I was treated to a magical display of water particles dancing in air.

It took my breath away! So much that I hope that’s the last thing I think of on my deathbed.

Yup, there’s me being neurotic again.

Honorable Mention for Best Moment: Riding back from Ecolab Plaza on the night the Legislature approved the marriage bill, I saw the Guthrie smokestacks decked out in rainbow colors. How utterly brilliant!

Worst Act of Cowardice: On a January morning, I sat with the executive committee of my nonprofit at the Nicollet Inn restaurant. The occasion?

My very first job performance review.

At one point, someone looked out the window and exclaimed, “Oh, that must have hurt!”

I turned around and saw a man, probably sixty years old, plumped down on the icy sidewalk. His glasses were askew, there was blood around his nose, and he appeared dazed following a fall.

My natural compassionate inclination was to get up from the meeting and go to him.

The other three people with me simply sat and continued with my review, which at that moment wasn’t going so well.

I feared what my bosses would think if I interrupted the meeting to assist the fallen man, and so I just sat there. Eventually, the man got up and hobbled away.

Cowardice. I’ve vowed to never again idly sit by while another human suffers.

Best Conversation: In October, my daughter, Lily, texted Can I come over and can we sit on your bed and talk? 

Lily’s a senior at Augsburg College. She was having boy issues, and as well wanted to vetch about classes and her fast food job. My bed is our talking-place.

We sat side-by-side propped on pillows for an hour and a half. I listened open-minded and shared what little wisdom I own. Lily was very appreciative, and in the end, she told me that she was proud of me for living authentically. I said the same to her.

It was my best conversation of the year, hands down.

Most Unexpected Act of Kindness: I stayed at a Provincetown bed and breakfast in early September. On my first night there, I received a very hurtful email from someone incredibly important in my former man-life.

I shared this with Daniel, the innkeeper. Quite unexpectedly, he asked if I could use a hug.

Seconds later, I found myself wrapped in the arms of a wonderfully kind person.


That’s all I’ve got. Here’s to a great 2014!


Ellie Krug is the author of Getting to Ellen: A Memoir about Love, Honesty and Gender Change. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]

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