Saturday, December 27, 2008

The inevitable letdown

Christmas is such a huge buildup to... something. And now that it's over, there's the after-holiday blues that always set in. I just decided to take the day off, to decompress and do absolutely nothing. It's been really nice! I'm still in my jammies, and it's very near dinner time.

Yesterday, C and E and the rest of the brood got back from their vacation, and I had to do my final cat-sitting duties yesterday anyway, so I decided that I'd save them some effort when they got home, and cooked them some dinner while I was there. It wasn't anything major, but it was very much appreciated. And it was the first time in a few weeks that I've had a femme day, so, apart from the cat pee on the floor, it was good.

I'm not sure if it's my new hormones, or just decompression from the silly-season stress, but I have been exhausted the past couple days. I'm sleeping like a rock for like 9 hours, and waking up still tired. I've read that some people have a lower energy level once they start on estrogen, so maybe that's what is going on. I'm also experiencing a lot more sensitivity to touch, which I've heard many other people report. The nausea seems to have gone away, so maybe that was just me adjusting. Things are moving along; some quicker changes than I expected, but they're very welcome changes.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas stress, as usual

Christmas always ends up being the most stressful time of the year. It's supposed to be a time when we can relax and take it easy, and enjoy being with family, but things always seem to get in the way of that. We can't find the right gift for somebody on our list, or we don't have enough time to complete many of the tasks that we set for ourselves. And of course, despite my planning to try to head all that stress off, I've done it again.

Sigh.

I was sewing some things for my mom, and of course things went south. Of course, some of the pieces weren't fitting right, and of course that caused everything else to get all fouled up. So right now, I don't have anything to give my mom. Nothing. I know that I can just take her aside and let her know what happened, and that she'll understand, and be ok, but that doesn't get rid of the stress that it has already caused.

And then it's becoming something of a tradition that I bake some fresh bagels for the day. That, of course, always takes longer than I remember it does, so of course, I'm up until some stupid hour finishing things up.

I do these kinds of things to myself every year, and I don't seem to be learning anything from them.

And on top of all that, I was hoping to have some time to talk with my brother-in-law, but he and my sister have to leave early Friday morning, so there won't be much chance.

My mom used to say that I would always get really grumpy around Christmas time when I was younger. I don't really remember too much about it, but now I know that I do.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The not-so-glamorous side...

The spironolactone data sheet says that one of the side effects could be nausea. Sure enough. My appetite has been massive for the past couple days, and then when I get done eating, I'm just all... ugh.

I hope that I'm just getting used to it, and things will settle down in a couple of days.

On a brighter note, I had a really good session with my therapist this week. I told her that I was not happy with the way she talked to me during the previous session. We had a very good conversation about it, and we got a bunch of things out in the open. She was very happy that I confronted her about it, rather than keeping it to myself.

I also finally fulfilled a small dream I've had for a long time. My bed now has sheer drapes around it! I bought my bed frame 8 years ago, and since I saw it in the showroom I've wanted to get some sheers for it, so I finally measured and found what I wanted. I put them up tonight, and though they probably need a little adjustment, they're finally there. I'm so excited!

Monday, December 15, 2008

It's cold as hell; life is good

They say if you're going to steal, steal from the best.

Actually, those of you who know me, probably also know that I love the cold weather. I absolutely adore it. Time to get out the sweaters and coats, and bundle up a bit. Time to snuggle up with someone special on the couch and spend some quality time, getting warm. In the area where I work, which has a lot of big businesses, all the ladies put on their long skirts and tall spike-heeled boots, which I just love. Of course, in colder climes, it means attempting to drive on ice, and having to shovel snow, and all that stuff that makes winter not so fun. But I will not let that ruin my romantic view of winter. After all, winter is my second favorite season.

I went to the endocrinologist today. I was sort of expecting physicals, or blood work, combined with "we'll meet again when we hear the results", or something like that. Nothing of the sort. I talked to the doctor for 10 or 15 minutes, about various aspects of what I'm doing, and he wrote me a prescription for spironolactone and estradiol. Just like that. So I am starting what the doctor called a "test dose", to see how I respond, and how I feel, and all that. Perhaps at my next appointment in six weeks, we'll take a deeper look at what's going on inside me, checking levels of various hormones.

Then I got to drive home in rush-hour traffic. Urg. Clutch foot.

I've made it over another hurdle. My hands were shaking before the doctor came in, but his manner put me very much at ease. He spoke plainly and pleasantly. He asked me at one point, if I did a bit of a dance in my head before I was able to get into his office. Which of course, I did. Dialling those ten numbers was almost as hard as dialling my therapist for the first time, or coming out to the various members of my family. But it's done, and I'm embarking on the next leg of my journey. Now, since changes will start happening, is when the documentation project really comes into play.

Oh, and since I'm stealing, I might as well follow up with the point of that post I linked above. My three happy-things for today: 1) I'm healthy; 2) I'm making great progress toward my goal; and 3) I have many friends who love me, no matter what.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Confidence, or the complete lack of same

It wasn't the best week ever.

Not even close.

I'm not quite sure what I should expect, with any aspect of my transformation. Should I have some sort of master plan, in which I can say, "ok, here's what will happen next"? I have an outline, but I'm just sort of fleshing things out as I go along. I'm pretty sure I know all the big things I need to accomplish, but there are so many small details, it's almost overwhelming.

Wednesday, I saw my therapist. It was a very different kind of session. Instead of just talking about things, she actually became somewhat accusative, and most definitely NOT supportive. She declared my attempt at a female voice to be "whiny and pitiful". I know my voice isn't good, and I've said so on many occasions, both here, and in real life. I try, but I'm not able to make any progress. I don't know what I need to sound like, and I don't know what I need to do to sound "better". I just don't know. The only feedback I get is listening to recordings of myself, and saying, "ok, that's not very good," and not knowing what to do next. I've been thinking about seeing a voice therapist, who would surely be more help than the nothing I have now.

On Thursday, I had a good long talk with E, about all this stuff. I count on her, as the only girl I spend any amount of time around, to give me feedback. When I'm trying too hard, when I'm not trying hard enough, when I'm just missing something entirely, or even when I get something just right. She said it was hard for her to help me with my voice; she did say she could definitely hear a difference between when I was trying and when I was just using my mundane voice, but not any one thing that she felt was missing. She's unable to give any constructive feedback, because, like me, she just doesn't know what I need to do.

The conversation went on from there. I'm very unsure of a lot of things. Women my age have had the benefit of a few decades of experience, and perhaps a decade of trial and error in their single-digits and teens, to get things right. I have to compress that lifetime into several months or a year. I have to start from age 8 or so, and get through to age 37, before I even get out the door. I don't get any trial-and-error time. That wouldn't befit a woman of my age. I don't get to experiment, except in my own house, in front of my mirror, where I get no feedback. Most girls have the support of their mothers, who have that lifetime of experience and can pass it on to their daughters. My mom is anything but supportive, and views my whole predicament as anything but a fun adventure. My sister seems even less supportive than my mom. Most girls also have, perhaps even more important than their family, the support of their group of friends, who can learn with them and help them along the way. I have one, who's already learned about everything she needs, and has her own extremely complicated life to deal with. The other few women I know, it's just so hard to get to visit with them, because they have their own complicated lives to deal with. I'm sure they understand, and are sympathetic to what I have to do, but that doesn't magically take care of their families, or jobs, or school, or distance between us, or any of the other complicated parts. I know they love me, and want to help me if they can. I don't want to impose on anyone's goodwill, but I sort of need to. I need help, and I'm not getting the help I need. But beyond that, there is so much help that I'm sure I need, it's next to impossible to know where to start.

I feel certain that if I can make even a little breakthrough, that a lot of other things might start falling into place. Confidence breeds more confidence. I have very little confidence right now, and I need to find some, someplace.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The next step

I took a few minutes and called up the endocrinologist this afternoon. I have an appointment this Monday afternoon.

Hmmm, seems a really short post. I dunno, I'm excited, and anxious, and we'll see what happens.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Sound and color

I spent a little bit of time with the microphone and recording program yesterday, before I went over to C and E's for the evening. I was reasonably surprised at how I sound; it's still not great, but it's a whole lot better than I expected. My voice is one of the things that has frustrated me, because I'm just not quite sure what I really want to sound like. As a result of my frustration, I just don't have any motivation to work with it, and I don't improve at all.

But my current voice is fairly comfortable for me to use, and sounds decent. I wouldn't say it makes me happy per se, but I'm more pleased than disappointed. More positive than negative. It's progress, so I'll take it.

I felt pretty good about my appearance yesterday, too. I think I'm getting a better idea of some of the effects of the couple different makeup schemes that I use; the browns look pretty good with my coloring, but they seem harsher than the pinks. The brown liner and mascara doesn't really seem to go with the pinks, but the black is way too dark. I still want to figure out some good colors that will enhance my blue eyes, because I still get a little greenness out of the pinks. I have blues, but I haven't used the blue liner much, and the blue shadows are WAY too dark. They seem a little dramatic for the basic daily-type stuff that I'm trying.

So much to learn. But it's pretty fun, so that's ok. And I am getting quicker, and making fewer mistakes.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another critical point

Today is the first day in two weeks that I've gotten a real chance to switch into girl mode. My voice is finally back to normal, and I'm basically over all that illness of last week - what an annoying pain that was! My facial hair is simply gone right now, except for the sprinkling of white-blonde hairs that simply ignored the laser. So things are good, in that respect.

I'm at another one of those critical, "gotta do it" points right now. It's time to call up the endocrinologist, and set up an appointment, and get that process going. I've got two feelings about it. First, I'm excited to finally be to that point, and glad that I've gotten here. I'm grateful for all the support I've received from my friends, and from the TG community here in town, and from my therapist. They've really helped me to believe both that I can do this, and also that I should be doing this. On the other hand, I'm scared to death about what could happen. I'll start changing, physically, and that could have implications for me, at work, or in my daily life. People who are "different" don't always get treated fairly, or even nicely. I could lose my job, just because somebody at my company isn't comfortable, or won't take the time to understand. The TG community recently observed its Day of Remembrance, to keep in mind that it's a dangerous world out there. What if something like that happened to me? How much would that suck?

I've got the doctor's phone number in my phone, so now all I need to do is call it and talk to the people who answer, the same as I did with my therapist, and the same as I did with the hair removal clinic. Those turned out ok, didn't they? I'm second guessing myself right now, and that's never a good time for me. The what-if game doesn't serve any purpose, other than to annoy and delay.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ARGH!

So they're having a nice gathering today to observe the TG Day of Remembrance, and I was getting really excited to go. I woke up this afternoon, after doing on-call stuff, and wouldn't you know, I'm sick. C and E's kids' daycare reported that another child there had hand, foot and mouth disease, and I think it may have been passed down to me. The symptoms I'm having seem to fit with what HFMD usually does. Ugh.

So I'll not go to the gathering, so I won't infect anyone else. And be really disappointed about not being able to go.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day of Remembrance

Yesterday was the Transgender Day of Remembrance. It was started in 1998 to honor a Boston transwoman, Rita Hester, who was stabbed to death. It has since become an international day in which trans folk everywhere remember and honor those who they have lost, be it to hate, or to suicide.

The Second Life trans community has a permanent memorial site, the Transgender Suicide Memorial, which is now also a place which honors those who have been taken from us by the actions of others.

The Houston trans community will be observing the Day on Saturday, with a gathering at the Holocaust Museum.

While I was at the Second Life memorial, I saw a poster which hit me really hard, and I have to share it with everyone.



Click to embiggen. I'm still trying not to cry after seeing that; it just reached into my core and poked at one of those things which I've been trying to get over and done with, the entire reason for everything I'm doing, the thing that drives all of us to do what we know we have to do.

In a bit of synchronicity, the fortune out of my fortune cookie yesterday at lunch was "Never give up". OK, I won't. I can't.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Random little thing

I just got back from a walk; I often walk up to the corner and back, just to "get the wiggles out" as my mom used to say. It's about a mile, and it's a nice little piece of exercise. And for a nice bonus, there's a formal dress shop up at the corner, which always has such pretty dresses in the window. I love to spend a minute looking at them, and imagining that I'm the belle of the ball, the most beautiful girl in the hall. Tonight, along with the beautiful formal gowns, there was a "we're moving!" sign in the window. So one of my favorite reasons for taking a short walk up to the corner will soon be gone.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Much easier than I thought

I came out to my dad this morning.

I had this whole horror nightmare scenario built up in my head - he was going to yell, and he was going to tell me that he never wanted to see me ever again, he was going to go for a gun (he has many), or any number of other equally bad things went through my mind.

The reality was about as different from that as it could possibly have been.

My letter that I read to him was very short, maybe two thirds of a page, and very light on details. I just covered the big stuff: I'm trans, and I will be changing, and I love him, and I count on his support. I think he was pretty nonplussed by the whole thing, because he seemed like he was really unsure what to say. The first thing he said was that he would give me whatever support I needed. He didn't really have any questions for me then, which didn't especially surprise me; most people just don't have any idea about what trans people are dealing with. I gave my normal offers of any questions answered, or any help understanding any aspect. It was almost a non-event. I certainly can't complain about that.

Friday, November 7, 2008

OK so far...

I've been putting aloe lotion on my face every few hours since my treatment yesterday (except, of course, while I was sleeping), and it seems to be helping. It's still achy, but it's not really swollen or red. So that's good.

Right now, I'm working on my coming-out letter to my dad. I'm trying to keep things very short and to the point; it seems like some of my other coming-out letters were too long, and maybe had a little too much information in them. So rather than lay out a huge bunch of information overload, I'm going to try for a minimal kind of thing, and then see if I can encourage questions. I should be able to finish it up tonight, and I hope to go talk to him tomorrow morning. I am already feeling quite a bit of anxiety; he's so hard to read, and I just have no idea at all how this will go.

And after that, I'm going to try to talk to my gaming group tomorrow afternoon. I was hoping to talk to them last Saturday, but it just wasn't the right time, and I couldn't summon the courage. They didn't blink an eye when I started playing a sorceress character a few months ago, so I'm sure there's very little to worry about with them. I do, however, anticipate a fair amount of shock, and am not especially looking forward to the response I expect from J. I guess we'll see how it goes.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Next treatment... check

I had my second laser hair removal treatment earlier this afternoon. It didn't hurt as much as I remember from the first time, and it didn't take as long this time. It went pretty smoothly, and the nurse who did my lasering said that they learned a little more about removing male facial hair, and figured out a new setting on the machine to take advantage of that new knowledge, and that she hoped that it would do a more effective job on my face. Sounds good to me!

So right now, I'm a little singed, and a little ouchy, but pleased. Hopefully my face won't swell up so badly this time. More aloe, and then off to my therapist appointment.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

It's done

Well, the election is finally over. The good guy won, I guess. I was unable to vote, because of a procedural screwup - I was still registered at my old address, and I was not about to drive for an hour in rush-hour traffic, just so my vote could not even count (Texas goes republican, always always). Instead, I wanted to get changed into girl-mode, and go over to C and E's, which is what I did.

Not much else to say, I suppose. I'm having a bit of a bad week; I woke up this morning, and just wanted to spend the day crying. I have no idea why. I think my therapist's suggestions of trying antidepressants might be something to look at seriously. I've been really resistant to medicating the problem up to now, but this emotional torture I'm living through is just getting ridiculous. Even if it can just take the raw edge off, that would be some help.

Friday, October 31, 2008

What fun!

I got to bed at 03:00 this morning, and still hadn't finished up my costume. I got up, ran out to get some socks and a stuffed dog to be Toto, and came home to finish up the last bits. The slipstitching on the blouse went reasonably smoothly. I totally overmeasured on the bib on my dress, so I had to shorten that; I just folded it down to the bottom of the waistband and stitched it there, which turned out to be exactly perfect. I had everything finished up by 13:00, and then got myself cleaned up and ready to go. I was late to my therapy appointment, which made me a little crazy because I hate being late, but it was a very productive session today, so it balanced out. And my therapist complimented me on my costume. Yaay!

I then headed over to C and E's for the Halloween festivities. They have 3 little daughters, so trick-or-treating was the order of the night. They also invited a couple other families who also have their daughters in the same day care. That was rather interesting. It's not too hard to figure out that I'm male-bodied - my facial hair shadow is reasonably obvious right now, even when I get a really close shave. One of the moms tried to give me a compliment, that she totally thought I was a woman from the back. It was kind of insulting, but she didn't know; I didn't want to get into a big explanation of transness, and possibly ruin people's night. Parents of little children can sometimes get pretty touchy about things that are not mainstream. The dads who came didn't quite seem to know what to make of me, it seemed. One was pretty nice, and friendly, and the other was pretty distant.

We went around the block, doing trick-or-treat, and in fairly short order, the girls all either got tired out, or lost interest. There were tons of kids out in the neighborhood, and lots of parties going on in driveways and cul-de-sacs. Everybody was having a really good time. My feet were killing me, because those shoes are not made for real walking, but I dealt with it, and kept my spirits up, and had a good time too. One lady had a little dog, and wanted to get a picture of me with her dog as a real "Toto". A few people gave me some funny looks, but I was past caring much; they say that Halloween is a transperson's favorite holiday, because they can get away with anything, and it was definitely true for me this year. I wasn't passing at all, but it was all good anyway.

Once things wound down and most everybody left, E took a couple photos of me. I don't know if I want to post them here, but if people ask very nicely, I might. Or for those Second Life residents who know me, ask me in-world, and I'll give you a copy (once I get it myself, of course). As I was leaving, C said that my costume was really good, and fairly obvious, but the stuffed dog I had in the basket I was carrying just pushed it over the edge into awesome-land. So I'll take all those compliments I received, pat myself on the back, and call it a major win.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Almost there...

I went over to C and E's tonight, and E worked on the dress, while I finished up on the blouse. She called her mom, to see if she had any ideas about the strange instructions I got stuck on, and she figured them out, even without benefit of the (poor) picture. Yaay! If it hadn't been for E, I would definitely not be able to go visit with K and some of his family tomorrow, and my finishing up would be much more stressful. I kept her up waaaay past her bedtime, but she hung in there, and she did awesome work.

So the blouse needs 3 1/2 more buttons sewn on, the front facings stitched closed, and then a washing, and it's ready. The dress needs to be hemmed, the waist stitched closed, and the straps and buttons need to be sewn on, and that'll be done too. Probably another 2 or 3 hours' more work. I also need to go find a stuffed animal for my basket, and some socks.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More progress!

I've spent most of the evening tonight sewing. I got the rest of the pieces for my blouse cut out, and started stitching them together. The thread tensioner on my machine is a little tricky to get threaded properly, so after some abortive tries at threading it, I got everything working, and got quite a bit done. The bodice is basically done, with the exception of the facing pieces on the front and the buttons and loops, and the sleeves are about halfway done. I'll start doing the gathering on the sleeves tomorrow, and hopefully I'll be able to sew everything together and call that one complete. Then I can start on my dress and petti.

I told E that I probably wouldn't be able to come to her house on Wednesday because I had too much work to do on my projects, so rather than not get to spend time together, she volunteered to help. So I'm taking my sewing machine and my projects over there, for a big sewing extravaganza. It should be a lot of fun!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Costume shenanigans

After all my struggles with finding the right fabric for my dress, and ordering it and all that, it turns out that the place where I ordered it doesn't have enough to fill my requirements. So I'm back where I started. It looks like my vision of a home-made costume for this halloween just became a lot more difficult.

There are a few things I can do. I can always buy one. E saw an advertisement for a store which had costumes very much like what I had planned to make (though much shorter), for not a huge amount of money. Another option is that the nearest fabric store has a bit over 4 yards of medium blue 1/4" check gingham, but it's not in one continuous piece. I might be able to modify my pattern a little bit, possibly changing the half-circles for the skirt into quarter-circles, and just stitching them together. Based in the sizes of the pieces that the store has, I think this can definitely work. There is also a pattern available which is very cute, is very similar to what I want (also much shorter), and only requires a bit over 2 yards of fabric, which the fabric store definitely does have.

And not only is there the drama with my dress, but there is also a problem with the fabric I got for my blouse... it's too short. The cutting instructions are a little more involved than "fold in half, layout like so, and cut"; it's a couple step process. I did the first step, cut, and set up for the last part. The piece of fabric I have left now is about 3" too short for the pieces I need. So I have to get more of that too. Note to self: always get more than the pattern calls for, just in case.

If I had known this costume was going to be this much drama, well, actually, it probably wouldn't have made any difference. It would have been dramatic regardless.

Monday, October 20, 2008

More costume parts!

I went to the nearby fabric store on Saturday night, and spent a good bit of time looking through the pattern books. I found a blouse pattern which was almost exactly what I wanted, but nothing that was exactly what I wanted. So the almost one won out. I also got most of the items to make the blouse while I was there; I need interfacing for it as well, but that's actually pretty far into the instructions, so I can (hopefully) wait for the interfacing to arrive from my Internet fabric order.

After getting home from work yesterday (what a waste of time that was!), I traced and cut out all the pattern pieces for the blouse, and the one piece for the petti (one piece, cut 14 times), and the waist pieces for the dress. I have to finish drawing the three remaining dress pattern pieces, and cut them out, and then I can start working on cutting the fabric for the blouse.

The clerk at Jo Ann gave me a flyer for their "Moonlight Madness" sale this week, with pretty big discounts on a lot of things. McCall's patterns are 99¢, and a bunch of items are half off. I'm pretty sure the sale prices are also good on Internet orders as well.

I actually have some pictures of my patterns, so I'll post those when I figure out how to work the photo album here on Google. UPDATE: I took quite a few pictures with my camera-phone, but they turned out horribly. So no pictures. Sorry!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Next appointment is set

I just called the hair removal clinic, and my next appointment is on the 6th of November. It will be nice to get rid of this dumb shadow once again.

Yesterday, I went to another four fabric stores, and was unable to find what I was looking for. So being the Internet knowledgeable girl I am, I came home and ordered my fabric online. I really hope it gets here in a good amount of time, because otherwise I'll have to rush, and I usually don't do very good work when I'm in a hurry. This afternoon, in between some things I'm doing in Second Life to get ready for an art show opening tomorrow, I'm looking for a good pattern for my blouse. I also need to draw and cut all the pattern pieces for my dress and petti.

Friday, October 17, 2008

One costume, coming up!

So now that I have Fridays off (I've moved to a Sunday-Thursday shift at work, ugh), I've spent the morning going over the patterns for the dress and petticoat for my Halloween costume. I have my list of things I need at the fabric store, and once the laundry finishes, I'm going to venture out and hopefully I can find everything. I went to three different fabric stores yesterday, including the one that always has everything, and none of them had the kind of gingham that I need. How completely disappointing! I did some searching, and there are several more fabric stores within reasonable distance, so I'm still ok.

Once I can find all my items, and get them marked and cut, I think it'll be just a couple days to make each piece. The tricky parts on the dress will be the zipper (because they always are, for me), and the order that I need to assemble the pieces. The barely-difficult part on the petti will be gathering, plus lots and lots (and lots) of straight lines. Then I'll have a little over a week to either find or make a blouse. And then I'll be done! Perhaps while I'm at the fabric store, I can look at the pattern books for possible blouse patterns.

I'll try to post pictures of my progress. I haven't made any clothes in quite a while, so this should be lots of fun. I'm very excited about this dress - it's going to be soooo cute!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Just tired

It's a tired week, and is turning into a tired weekend. My heart wasn't really into things this week; I got into it with one of my coworkers, and I've basically lost all respect for him, and that kind of colored my week crappy.

I went to the rifle range today with some of the boys, and did ok. I shot on the 200m range, and once I figured out how crazy my sights were, I managed to be pretty consistent. 13 of 16 shots hit the paper. Then we got back and started cooking. I brought sausages, and made apple pie. I undercooked the pie, but it was nice anyway; the apples were a little firmer than I would have liked, but everything tasted fine.

I received one part of my halloween costume this week in the mail. Now I just have to get working on the rest of my dress. It's going to be cuter than allowable by law. E and E's mom know what it is, and maybe C (if he was paying attention). Oh, and it turns out that there will be some more people at C and E's on Halloween, so maybe that's a good boundary that I can push. I can't say I'm totally looking forward to it, since my beard shadow is back in about full force, and it's giving me some anxiety when I'm presenting "her". I won't go in for my next laser treatment until early November, so I'm stuck with it for now.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Progress, perhaps

After the group session last weekend, this past Friday's outing was a little different. Some of the things the group members said must have wedged in my subconscious and done something, because I had a whole lot less anxiety in walking out the door to the car than I usually do. And traffic was bad (it's Houston, on a Friday night, of course it's going to be bad), but I didn't have much anxiety about the people around me, and whatever they might have thought they were seeing. It was pretty cool. Even getting out of the car, it wasn't too bad. We were wandering around outside before dinner, because C and E wanted to show off the results of the cleaning they did to the garage that day (good job, you two!), and that wasn't a big deal either.

Another weird thing I've noticed lately. It almost feels like I'm having phantom sensations in my chest, as if I was missing my boobs. Which, in a manner of speaking, I am, except for the fact that I never had them in the first place. Usually it's the day after I go out in girl-mode, which makes enough sense to turn it a little mundane, but it's still kind of cool.

And I spent waaay too much on shoes today. W00t! I still didn't find any good sandals, but then it's about to start getting too cold for sandals anyway.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Much ado about...

Not nothing, that's for very sure! I went to the TATS group session this afternoon, and despite all my anxiety, and my poor sleep last night, and my nausea this afternoon, it was a very uplifting experience. I didn't say much at all, but the people there were all very helpful. There were a whole range of people there, from people who appeared to be just starting out, to people who were done with their transitions, including several points in between, to a couple of significant others. There were both transwomen and transmen. Everybody had a lot of insightful and helpful things to say. After the meeting, I spent a little time talking with one person, who invited me to participate in some of the weekly meetings they have, on Mondays and Thursdays. The Monday sessions seem like they would be most practical for me; I may not go this Monday, but I will definitely try to get to a meeting very soon.

As for the rest of my evening, my potential date-thing, well, it just didn't happen. It's a long story, and it's really not worth telling anyway. So I went to the car-guys meeting. I had to race home to change back to boring-guy me, which, after the excellent meeting, was the biggest downer of the day. It was a light turnout, but the one person who I wanted to see was there, and none the worse for wear, despite his house being destroyed by flooding.

In other news, E made a little slip of the tongue this morning, and made reference to "Trinity" to someone who wasn't in the loop. Notice the past-tense there: E and I came out to J this morning. Her response was "I want to see." E gushed a little bit about how cute I am, which made me feel pretty good. So I guess J will get to see sometime soon. I told her Friday, so we'll see if she comes.

I'm afraid this post isn't too coherent - I'm about to fall face-first into the keyboard. Off to dreamy-land with me!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Too many choices

This Saturday is the monthly support group meeting, and I'm having a little bit of trouble deciding whether I want to go in femme-mode or boring-guy-mode. This will be the first time I'll be going, and I don't really know anything about the rest of the group members. I mean, they're all trans people, so I'm sure they'll understand and be supportive. I've already more-or-less convinced myself that I'll be in girl-mode for that meeting, but there's still a little bit of anxiety about meeting new people, and in my new form.

The monthly meet of the car guys is later that evening, and I'm not sure if I want to go to that or not. I would definitely need to change back to boring-guy-mode, which, frankly, I don't want to have to do. But there are a couple people who will be there who I'd like to see, to make sure they're ok after the storm. There is also a taiko drum performance at the outdoor theatre this Saturday evening, that I'd like to see; if the person I want to invite wants to go, I would like to attend in girl-mode. It'll be getting dark by the time the performance starts, which should make me feel a little more comfortable. The whole anxiety thing about being seen and judged is what's really being difficult right now, and I think the dark might help that a little bit.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Uneventful week, I guess

It's been several days since I've made a post.  Life just continues to roll along...

The city is still trying to recover from the recent hurricane, and many parts of the city are still without power.  Many traffic lights are still dark.  A couple of my friends who live closer to the coast have not been very lucky; one just sent a text message today that his house is uninhabitable.  Some of his things were salvageable, and some not.  It's terrible, but Mother Nature is not to be denied.

K and L, who live a bit north, are still without power.  I offered them any help they needed, so they're coming to stay on Saturday night, for a little air-conditioning.  The cold front was nice, but it's not quite the same.  Modern houses, especially houses around here, are not designed for natural circulation; central air or fans are basically required now, and of course without electricity, we have neither.  So, it's the least I can do to give them some air-conditioned sleep.

I ran into an old friend on Second Life this week, someone who I haven't had a chance to talk to for a few months.  Things were left in a bit of a bad state, but we've patched things up.  I didn't realize how much I'd missed her.  We've both been through some pretty dramatic growth and change since we lost contact, all for the better, so yaaay for both of us!

I'm at C and E's now, just poking around before we get ready for dinner.  I actually managed three femme days this week - Monday, Wednesday, and  today.  It's starting to become, well, usual.  Monday, when I was on my way to my car, there was a work crew busy cleaning up the hurricane debris.  I marched right through the middle of the group, and barely had a second thought about doing it.  That's not to say that I didn't have a whole ton of anxiety about doing it, but I did it nonetheless.  But all three times I've been out this week, I've been very comfortable with myself, once I got out the door.  I think the next step is to start getting out where there are more people, and people who don't know me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hurricane Ugh

I made it through the hurricane none the worse for wear. I went to C and E's, because they offered, and it was a whole lot less stressful to be with other people through that. I didn't sleep much, and the power was off so it was stuffy and uncomfortable, but we and the house were ok. I went back to my own apartment about mid-afternoon, and found that there was no damage there either. So all was pretty well.

I still have no power, and I have relocated to my parents' place, who do have power and phone. I was so tired of being sweaty just from sitting there. A cold front is supposed to be arriving tonight, so even if the power isn't on tomorrow, it won't be nearly as hot and humid.

I managed to talk to my sister yesterday afternoon, and the conversation started fairly well, but went downhill pretty quickly. She became selfish and demanding. She asked if I'd told my dad yet. She said that she didn't like it that she and my mom knew, but he didn't. She also asked if I'd been to see a psychiatrist yet, which I have no intention of doing. My therapist is giving me exactly the kind of support that I want and need. She thinks that my therapist's credentials are insufficient to support me. She's continually questioning my judgement, and belittling me.

The phone call ended abruptly, and I think it'll be a long time before I'll want to talk to her again. It's all up to her; if she's going to be a bitch about things, then she's basically removing herself from the group of people with whom I want to interact. There's no reason I have to put up with somebody who treats me that way. J has said that life is too short to spend it dealing with people you don't like. I totally agree, but it's a shame when those people are family. So it kind of seems like I don't have a sister right now.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Well bummer!

It's been a nice week so far - two femme outings in two days, including my therapist's office yesterday (which went well, and we had a very helpful discussion). Unfortunately, though, my usual Friday outing to C&E's house is interrupted this week. Here in Houston, we're currently awaiting the arrival of hurricane Ike, and C offered his house for a group shelter, which I gratefully accepted. It's not that I think my apartment is going to blow away or anything, but with weather like this, it's a lot less stressful to be with other people, just in case anything bad happens. Unfortunately for me, he has invited some other people to shelter there, many of whom don't know about my trans nature, so it looks like my three-in-three week just crashed.

One of the things I've noticed, the more I get out there in girl-mode, after I get over the anxiety of being laughed at or whatever, is how comfortable I feel. I can just relax and be me, and not have to worry about anything. That's the whole point of this odyssey, of course, so I guess we're finding out that it's working. I just have to get over that anxiety, and that's most of what my therapist and I talked about this last session. I'm also finding that I'm almost looking for excuses to get out there in girl-mode too, which I didn't exactly expect. It doesn't really surprise me, but it's one of those little details that most people probably wouldn't think about.

An interesting, amusing note: I was ma'am'ed at the grocery store this morning, from the side, and while I was presenting male. It's usually from the back, and they usually get all flustered when they realize what they have apparently done. She didn't though; she just sailed on ahead and wanted to make sure everything was ok for me, which I assured her was true. She had plenty else on her mind - it's crazy-shopping today, with everybody getting last minute water and canned foods for the hurricane - so she might not have even noticed what she said.

As the hurricane nears, many friends on the net have asked if I'm safe. Yes, I am as safe as I can be in this situation. I will be with other very capable people, in a solid building, pretty far away from the shore, in a place that doesn't flood. My apartment complex does not flood either, and my unit is in the middle of the building, so there are plenty of solid walls around me. I have water and food for at least a few days, and a couple different means to cook, and a full tank of fuel in my car. If things get really bad, I am also armed. I also have insurance, so if my apartment does blow away, or a tree falls on my car, it will be ok anyway.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Big hugs!

I spent the evening with C and E. It was sort of a spur of the moment thing, or as spur-of-the-moment a day in advance can be. It felt great to go over and spend time with them. I was running late because of work, but once I got there, all my troubles just melted away. We just enjoyed each other's company, and had some very nice conversation, and I went home with a big smile on my face. I simply enjoyed being there. I just have to hug myself.

I talked to C about going to his piercer sometime soon. I want to get my ears pierced, and it's probably better to have it done by a professional piercer, rather than some minimum wage person in the mall with a gun. I'm also considering getting an industrial at some point, but I don't think that will be this first time.

I may actually get three outings in three days this week. Tonight and Friday at C&E's, and then I also have a fairly late therapy appointment tomorrow evening, so if I can get home at a decent time, I'm going to try to go in girl-mode this time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

It's ba-a-ack

This morning, the mirror revealed some disturbing, but not unexpected news: my beard shadow is coming back. Not the whole thing yet, but I could very clearly see a scattering of dark hairs poking through the skin. For the past week, I've had some growth, but it was only very very light hairs; I had to shave every other day, but it was still basically invisible. And now, the visible stuff is coming back. I was hoping the period of no hair would be a bit longer, but I guess that's all I get for right now. It sure was nice to not have to be self-conscious of that masculine feature for a little while.

The nurse at the laser clinic said that I would probably have my next appointment at 3 months, which would put it in early November. I hope that the swelling and pain in my skin is less next time, since there will be less hair to cause trouble. Time will tell.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Sigh, I did it again

I have come to the realization that I picked the wrong job, yet again. In my rush to get out of the hellhole that was my previous job, I took another position which threatens to be even more mind-numbingly dull. It's pretty obvious that the management of my group has NO experience in doing what they're trying to do, so they're trying to guess what's going to happen, and getting it so soo wrong. Now I realize that both (a) I'm not very high on the food chain, and (b) I've only got a little over a year of experience in the market segment we're in, so it's pretty obvious that they're not going to listen to me. Not that they'll probably even ask, but whatever.

That old idea that I need to get myself into a different industry has come back over the last several days. And like before, I'm still not sure what else I should do. I've got a couple ideas, and both of them are likely to be difficult and very likely to fail, and probably won't make a whole lot of money to start out. But one of them could possibly start as a weekend thing, and grow into a full time job, so that's something interesting to consider. I'll just have to think about how much I want to get out of what I'm doing now, and how much pain I'm willing to endure to do it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Pretty good weekend

I spent the evening with L last night, and everything went well. We had lasagna and garlic bread, and for dessert we had maple custard pie. After we ate, we played Scrabble, and then we watched an on-demand movie - the 1940 production of Pride and Prejudice. Young-L was pretty well behaved; she drew a bunch of pictures for us while we Scrabbled. K was at work, and I was hoping he'd get out early enough to spend some time with him as well, but it got really late. Rather than fall asleep on the road, I went home. We'll have to try again some day soon when K isn't at work, so we can all visit together.

I was hoping I might have a chance to get out and do something today, but nothing really came up. I spent most of the day playing Fantastic Contraption, and playing with my trebuchet in Second Life.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Twice in one week

Friday's outing was the most relaxing evening I've had in a long time. I was looking forward to it all week, the time when I would get to see my dearest friends in the world. It was a lazy evening, and I think we all had some unwinding to do. E had a hard day and needed a big hug, which I was very happy to give her; I probably needed it as much as she did. Even though not everyone was able to make it, it was very comfortable, and it was the perfect end to the week.

Tomorrow (Sunday, which is technically today) I'm going to K and L's for the first time in girl-mode. Their daughter will be there, and I'm a little nervous about that; my history with children not understanding what is going on with me isn't the greatest. K will be at work when I get there, so it will be just us girls, at least until he gets back home. L is making lasagna, and I'm bringing some pie for dessert.

I don't have much else to say. It seems like I should be a little more anxious, driving halfway across town, walking up to a door in a neighborhood of people who have only seen "him" before, visiting with people who I have known for over half my life, but who have never seen "her" before. But the weird part is, I'm not, really. It could be the late hour and my tiredness, or it could be that I'm just getting used to presenting myself that way, and that this is just another day.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Sometimes people-watching isn't so good

I went up to Austin yesterday for the annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. It's something of a tradition for C and I, since we're sort of pepper junkies. A lot of other people are too, so they come out in droves for the festival. And of course, that makes for some excellent people-watching.

Usually.

This year is the first year I've been to the festival, in the heavy grip of my transness. I've had some amount of being "out", but I'm still not really ready to be out out, as in out in public. So every single woman I saw, who was even vaguely cute, inspired such a cloud of jealousy in me, it was a little difficult to keep interest in being there. Sundresses, halters, tube tops, oh my! And almost every bit of it, nothing that I could wear, since all of the bumps and curves I currently have are fake.

I had a conversation about it with one of my Second Life friends, and she (a GG) said that sometimes showing less is more alluring. That's all well and good, and sometimes it is definitely true. But when I see something, and say to myself "hey, I'd love to wear something like that," and just plain old can't... it sucks.

I was trying to keep my spirits up over the rest of the afternoon, and today, but it just wasn't really happening. Despite all the good things that happened over the weekend, it ended up more frustrating than anything else. It overshadowed the very nice time I had on Saturday, when a bunch of people came for my birthday. It overshadowed the time I got to spend with E, just cooking and chatting, while the rest of the party guests were game-geeking out. It also overshadowed the very nice time I had on Friday, when Miss Trinity got her first birthday cake, complete with "1" candle, and her very first Barbie doll as a gift. It even overshadowed the fact that I didn't shave on Sunday, and didn't need to, and still didn't really need to when I got home on Sunday evening.

Sigh.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Penelope

I just finished watching Penelope, starring Christina Ricci. It's a modern-day fairy tale about a girl who is trying to find herself. I'd love to recap it for everyone, because it is a charming and wonderful story, but I'll recommend that you see the film instead. There will be spoilers coming up, but this is what I want to write about today, so deal with it.

As the credits were rolling, I couldn't help but think how that film could be an allegory for my own life. Here is this girl, who has some pretty serious body-image problems. She feels repulsive, and she tends to repulse anyone who might love her. Over the course of the film, she figures out that there is a big world out there, and people just going about their lives. She eventually figures out that everybody has something about themselves that they don't like, something that makes them feel like a complete mutant. Once she figures that out and realizes that she likes the way she is, she stops being a mutant, and just starts being another person, like everyone else.

So right now, I'm in the stage when Penelope runs away from home and starts exploring the world. In the film, she's still hiding herself, but she's noticing that there's a universe of experience out there, just waiting for her to come try it out. Perhaps I'm not bursting out of my door, but I'm making my own exodus all the same. Once the character is finally discovered by the townspeople, she realizes that people like her for her, too. And I'm finding that out myself; those who have been with me from the start, and who see me trying to be true to the self that I see inside, are hugely supportive and loving, and happy that I can finally come out of the shell that I've been stuck in all this time, even for just a little while. I don't expect any parades in my honor, or to be the feature on the front page of the newspaper. I just hope for people close to me, to continue to be close to me, and that people will love me for who I am.

I also don't pretend that I'll suddenly become the same beautiful swan that Ms. Ricci is; I'm sure it will be a much more mundane transformation, and one which will take months, rather than moments. From ugly duckling, to kinda-cute duck, that will be fine with me.

But the most important thing about this whole journey, is that I'm starting to love me for me, and what I am inside, and what I know I can be outside.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's working!

I woke up this morning, and though I hadn't shaved yesterday, my face looked like it usually does after only one day. So that whole facial-hair-falling-out thing, it looks like it's actually happening! Now that I'm back home, it doesn't look nearly like it usually does after 12 hours. This is just so cool. By Wednesday, my usual outing day, maybe it'll even be gone, like all the way gone. Wouldn't that rule?

Tonight I'm making pie. I got some apples, and after like 3 trips to 3 different grocery stores over the last 3 days, I finally found everything I need. Why would a grocery store not have something simple like lemons? I'm going to christen the mini pie pans with these, and I think I'm going to try to photograph one of them when I cook them.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Kinda blah, but good anyway

I went to C and E's for dinner tonight, and S was over too. She's been around for the last couple weeks, and I've gotten to know her much better. She's got a really big soft heart, and she's also very funny. She definitely falls into the "really awesome people" group, and I like her a lot. We connected pretty well last week; she's had some experience with coming out to people, and she was empathetic to some of what I'm going through, especially with my family. I think she's still a little unsure around me, but it's still a new thing for her. C and E were unsure when I first started going over there. J and J were a bit unsure, I think, when I went over to their house too.

I felt kinda blah today; I'm not sure what it's from, but I felt like I was being a wet blanket for everybody else. I was running really late all day today, so maybe that's got something to do with it. I felt like I did really well with my makeup (less is more is my new mantra, and I'm trying to look nice without looking "made up"), though I wasn't terribly excited about my clothes. But on an up note, the sushi rolls that E and S made were really great, and we relaxed and chatted and watched women's beach volleyball and all sorts of different swimming events on the Olympics.

Other than that, I was able to shave myself pretty well today. So, almost a week for my skin to return to normal. Hopefully as some of the hair follicles are killed, the recovery period will grow shorter, since there will be much less of my skin which will be damaged.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back to mostly-normal

I think the skin on my face has more-or-less returned to normal. It still hurts a little bit to shave, and I don't get nearly as close as I usually do, but it's a lot better than it was. All the blisters are gone. Now begins the wait until all that dumb hair falls out, as it's supposed to. I wish it would all just fall out and never return.

I started a new job today. It seems like a good bunch of people, and they're really laid back, so this will hopefully be a good place for me, especially when I make the big switch at work. Of course that's a couple years off, but it never hurts to plan ahead a little bit.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I take it ALL back!

OK, my intended joke about being impervious to laser fire... scratch that. It was all a big lie, a mistake, a misunderstanding! It's like I've got a really uncomfortable sunburn on the lower half of my face. Tiny blisters have popped up, which, according to the nurse who lasered me, are completely normal. It still aches a little, and it itches like crazy - I've got some hydrocortisone from the clinic, which I really need to apply. And maybe some aloe as well, which should cool the sunburn sensation.

Even though I had a fairly disappointing evening last night (football video gaming with the boys, and my team did really poorly), I'm still in pretty awesome spirits. I made forward progress yesterday. I also got to spend some time just chatting with L, which we don't get much chance to do. She's so easy to talk to, and she's understanding and supportive. I should invite her out to dinner sometime soon, just because.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

It has begun!

All I can think about when I write that title is Shang Tsung with his arms skyward, shouting that his evil plan is coming to fruition. Does that make me a video game geek or anything? Oh, what do I know, I've never even played Mortal Kombat; he probably only said that in the movie.

Anyway, before I was so rudely interrupted by my weird imagination, I was going to share that I have just returned from my first appointment with the <dr_evil>"la-ser"</dr_evil>. My face feels like I spent an hour or so being slapped all over. The receptionist at the clinic likened it to having a rubber band snapped, as the laser is fired. Depending on how much hair is in the area, and how many nerve endings are there, changes how far the virtual rubber band is pulled back before being snapped. The upper lip was the worst... holy socks! We went pretty slowly on that part. The laser technician was very professional, and very nice, and apart from the pain (and the smell - burning hair, ew!), it was a very positive experience.

Even now, a little less than an hour after we finished up, the pain is mostly subsided, and my face just feels a little tender. So now I get to wait a few months until I need to make my next appointment. I'm excited about the upcoming period of NO facial hair. That will soooo rule.

I was going to make a silly joke about being impervious to laser fire, since I've just been shot by one like a few dozen times, but I'm sure it sounds a lot funnier in my head. Try one for yourself; it seems like it could be pretty funny.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Nothing

It's been a week since my last post, and I feel like I should say something, or at least have something to say.

Nothing's coming out. I've been stuck in my apartment, trying to neaten things up, trying to get myself to work on my voice, trying to get myself to do anything... And nothing's coming.

I've been sitting in front of the machine for a week, telling myself, "oh yeah, I'll do this, and this, and this, and it will be great!" And yet here I still sit. It's probably the fact that I'm off work until next Monday - I've got nothing really to do, so I'm not doing anything. I wanted to work on my voice, and I wanted to play with my makeup some more, and I wanted to do something fun in the kitchen, and I was thinking about maybe trying some more food photography, but most of all I want to clean up my horrifying apartment. I've done basically none of those things.

I got a few new parts for my computer yesterday, and one of them - the one I was most excited to try - didn't work right. That deflated me pretty badly. I'm actually looking forward to the tropical storm which is coming on shore right now, because it will at least be something interesting. It's starting to rain again, which buoys my spirits a little. Rain cleanses and refreshes everything, and the sound on the windows and roof is very relaxing.

I'm debating on whether to go to my therapist appointment on Wednesday in girl-mode, but I know I can't do it yet. I'd love to be able to be "her", but I'm not comfortable with some of my more masculine features. I want to get my voice to at least vaguely passable, and I'd also like to diminish this dumb beard shadow on my face, before I try getting out into the real world. It's fear, plain and simple. I'm afraid of being hurt. And not even physically - I don't want anybody to make fun of me. Those things cut deepest. But more immediately, it's another thing I wanted to do on my few days between jobs, that I haven't done, and can't do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Interesting, and true

It's been a pretty uneventful day, but a good day for doing some thinking. I've spent most of it reading Questionable Content, through the almost-1200 of them. I'm fortified by Chipotle and Blue Bell Dutch Chocolate, and I've been thinking about CandiFLA's newest video.

In it, she talks about the fact that basically everybody in her life knows either "her" or "him", and she doesn't really switch back and forth for anybody. It's confusing for them, and it's confusing for her. She's trying to become "her" all the time, so I guess there's not much point for her to be "him" unless she has to.

Even though I've spent comparatively little time as "her" so far, that's becoming the case for me too. Most of the time I spend with C and E now is as "her", so much so that it's kind of awkward for me to visit with them as "him". I just feel out of place when I try.

Since I haven't made much progress with my voice yet, there's not a whole lot that I do differently between the way I present "her" and the way I present "him", other than the fact that "she" has boobs, and wears makeup, and perfume, and heels. But even with those superficial differences, it just feels different to be "her". My manner is different, and I carry myself differently; it's not really something I do consciously, but I can feel the difference, even if I can't put my finger on just what's different.

Recently, E was out of town for a couple days, and C was on-call so he was stuck in town, so I thought I'd invite him to meet for dinner. At this point, I'm in no way ready for girl-mode in public, so I met him in boring-guy-mode. I've been out in public as "him" with C literally hundreds of times over the almost-decade we've known each other, but the fact that I've interacted with him for the past couple months almost exclusively in girl-mode, that still made it extremely uncomfortable and awkward for me to try being a boy with him that one time. So evidently in my mind, I'm a girl with them now, and it's difficult for me to switch back.

This past Saturday, I went over to their house, as "him" again, to watch stage 20 of the Tour de France, since I don't have cable. It was early, and it was just a casual thing. It was slightly less awkward, but it was still a little strange for me. E remarked that it was interesting to hear me switch from talking about the guy topics C and I usually discuss, to talking about girl topics with her, just like it was no big deal. Which it isn't, since both sides are parts of me; for a nice illustration, I mentioned that sometimes when I work on my racecar, I get upset when I break a nail (or few). As we were saying our goodbyes, C gave me a kiss, which I was not expecting, and said something along the lines of "you don't need to have a dress on, to get a kiss from me." So I feel like I'm basically at a sort of impasse, some limbo state, where I need to be this other person, and I'm getting used to being this other person in some situations, but I'm not anybody new, exactly. That made absolutely no sense. I know how I feel, but it's hard to get down in words.

When I'm just around my house, it's just me there, and I know how I feel inside, and I don't spend a whole lot of time looking in the mirror, so I usually don't go through the trouble of putting on a dress and all that. I'm "her", all the time, inside. I'm not sure if C and E are starting to see only "her" when they are with me, or just what their thought process is. C once said that if boring-guy me went away, and I was only Trinity forever after, he wouldn't be upset at all. Which totally rules, of course, since that's the ultimate goal.

I really hope it will get easier, both as I become more comfortable and develop the skills to be more passable in my new social role, and as I come out to more people, and am able to present that new role more often. No, I'm sure it will get easier, it will eventually become as natural as breathing. But it will take time and work.

Well that was fun

Since I've got a couple weeks until I start my new job, and I'm just bopping around the house cleaning and doing laundry, I decided to play with my makeup some more, and have some girl-mode time today. I ended up pretty heavily made up, but you know what? I had fun, and since nobody else was around, that's all that counts.

I need to get a lighter, more pink lipstick. All the colors I have are a bit, shall we say, dramatic. They're fun, but a bit heavy for normal daily wear.

I'll definitely try more tomorrow, and maybe aim for a bit more subtle look. I have some new eye shadow, in shades of purple, so I'll see what I can do with those.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ready... set... stop!

My hands were shaking, my mouth was dry, I was totally nervous, but I was all ready to get out there and go. And then I couldn't find the address of where I was supposed to be.

I'm referring to today's meeting of TATS - the Texas Association for Transsexual Support - which is to meet in about 15 minutes at the shiny new Houston Transgender Center. My therapist has been prodding me to go, to meet some of the local community, and I thought "what the heck, might as well." Except that the address is nowhere to be found on their website. Google Maps doesn't know about it either; it's probably too new.

Well darn. I was actually looking forward to it a little bit, and I'm a little bit disappointed.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Wait for it...

Sure, I get everyone all excited with my talk of coming out to my oldest friend, and then... nothing. There was nothing nefarious about it, I assure you. It was a lukewarm response at best, and there was other exciting stuff that happened, which I wanted to focus on more.

Since I've written coming-out letters to a couple people, and they were materially the same, if not identical in places, I think I've gotten the set of talking points down pretty well. I managed to say all the things I wanted to get across, and only ventured into teary-land once.

As for his response, perhaps room-temperature to slightly cool would be a good description. It seemed like at first he just didn't believe me, or maybe didn't want to believe me. He also didn't have much of a foundation for what the heck I was talking about; it seemed like he had most of the stereotypes running through his head, and no real facts. And of course those stereotypes are pretty bad (thank you, Jerry Springer). So he was somewhat resistant to the idea. No, that's an understatement; he was rather resistant to the idea.

I also gave him permission to out me to his wife. I thought for a long time about this; I really don't know her all that well, but what I do know, does not inspire me with confidence for a positive response. He knows her a lot better (of course), so he might know how to frame things in a way that she would (a) understand, and (b) accept. The big stumbling block: she's a preacher's kid. Not only is she a preacher's kid, but she's one of the goody-goody preacher's kids. You know, the ones who are daddy's perfect little angels, never do anything wrong, are extremely religious, all that stuff. When the subject of his wife came up in the conversation, he said "expect reduced interaction". As in, he expected that she'd freak, and disallow him to talk to me much, if at all. Which I half expected anyway.

I suggested that he do some web searching, and learn something about what it means to be transgendered, since it was pretty obvious that he didn't know much about it. I'm a big believer that education can solve a lot of problems - it's easy to hate somebody when you don't know anything about them, but once you know someone, and have a better idea just what they're going through, it's a lot more difficult to work up a bunch of nasty for them.

So. Lukewarm at best. I halfway expected this to be like driving into a minefield, and I'm just waiting for the kaboom.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Yaaaay!!!

I just got home from my consultation appointment with the hair removal clinic, and my first appointment for treatment is on the 7th of August. I'm so excited, I can hardly contain myself!

They said it would take around 10 months to do the complete course of treatment, with approximately 3 months between each individual treatment. There will be periods a couple weeks after each treatment when all my facial hair just falls out (yaaay!), followed by a period of no hair growth (yaaay!), after which the hairs which haven't been killed will grow back (awwww!). After it's all done, all the dark hairs will be gone, and what's left will be blonde. Blonde hairs on the face don't make much of a shadow; C has a blonde beard, and he shaves once a week, and even then it's hard to tell on him. I'll be able to get those blonde hairs removed with electrolysis after that, which, by all accounts, is extremely time consuming and painful. I can't say that I'm looking forward to that a whole lot, but that's further down the road.

Enough of that tech talk. Yaaay, yaaay, yaaay!!!! Hugs to everyone, since I'm just so excited!!!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Some up, some down

So I've been avoiding making this post.

I went to see my sister on Wednesday. We had the Big Talk, and she seemed like she was doing ok with everything. But on reflection, she wasn't doing very well with much of it. I think she might be fighting harder than my mom to keep her brother around. She didn't like my name, she didn't want to think about any of the changes which I'm excited about making. In retrospect, it was a weird confluence of happy, and terrified. I've been feeling awful for the past two days about this, and I decided today that she was shocked, and didn't know how to react, and once she's had some time to think about things, she might be, well, not so hurtful.

My mom is making some progress to being able to handle my impending transition. I didn't really have a lot of opportunity to talk to her about it, as I was in a bit of a hurry when I last talked to her, but she said some good things, and didn't have quite the same stricken face she usually seems to when the subject of my transness comes up. So at least that's something.

And the big excitement: I finally got a hair removal place to answer my phone call, and I have an appointment for a consultation this Saturday (hey, that's tomorrow). I've actually been trying to focus on this as much as possible, because it's something that I can control, and it's something that's awesome, so I think it's much better to be excited about things I'm doing, than depressed about things that other people are doing. Unfortunately, the depressed part tends to overshadow the awesome part.

OK, so that wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. Not one of my better posts, but whatever. It's worth the price you paid.

Oh, another coming-out talk happening in a very short time. I was originally going to come out to my oldest friend last Friday, but schedules got mixed up, and wires got crossed, and plans fell through. But I'm about to walk out the door to go spend time with him. I think he's on the list of "almost certainly ok" people, but there's always that "what if" idiot in my head. Here goes nothing...

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Yaaaay!

I went over to J and J's last night for dinner. What a totally fun time I had! They were both worried that they'd slip and call me by the boring-guy name (which they did), and that I would be upset by that (which I wasn't), but like my first time at C and E's, they made a great effort, and they did really well. They both seemed rather surprised by, I guess, the quality of my presentation. I'm not really sure what they were expecting, but I apparently surpassed it by a good margin. So, yaaay me!

The atmosphere was very, very relaxed. We had cheesesteak sandwiches and tonka pies a la mode, and everything was excellent. Young-J (yes, they all have J-names) was pretty well behaved, even though her usual bedtime routine was a little messed up, and that upset her. Once she finally fell asleep, we were able to talk about all manner of things, and I was completely at ease, and enjoyed it greatly. They had good questions, and I tried to give good answers, and they both made some very good insightful comments. Girl-J went to bed, and Guy-J and I stayed up and talked some more. I got home foolishly late, and was very tired, but I felt like I was walking on air.

I think I surprised Guy-J a bit when I hugged him as I was leaving. We were saying our goodbyes, and usually when I'm in boring-guy mode, we give a good handshake. I really like hugs, and it felt like the right thing, so I gave him one. I had the wicked thought at the time that I should totally freak him out and give him a kiss too, but that would have just been mean. Thinking about it now makes me giggle. It did take me a couple months to become comfortable enough around C to be able to kiss him, so like a lot of things, it will just take some time to adjust.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Much ado about nothing, I guess

Wednesday went without a hitch. I mean, duh, right? I knew it would. But of course I can never let my head get in the way of a perfectly good anxiety attack. /me shakes her head. I really do hope this gets easier. I have plenty of anxiety about meeting people in boring-guy mode, but this is just crazy.

So tonight, I'm going to J and J's house, in girl mode. Girl-J is soooooooo excited to see me, it's rubbing off on me, and I'm pretty excited to, well, to be seen. We've been trading emails over the past few days, and she's been super-supportive (even more so than Guy-J, who's fantastically supportive himself), and insightful, and has even offered a little constructive criticism. She's dying to get her hands on my hair, and I'm more than glad to let her show me whatever she wants to teach me.

One comment she made that I thought was extremely interesting, was that she didn't want me to feel like a novelty item.

Well.

I must say that I had never even thought about that before. All these new girl things that I'm learning about - how to put on makeup, and how to do nails, and even how to handle simply living day-to-day with long nails, and all the rest - everything is so novel, that, if you'll forgive the odd analogy, it's like going to a circus. With all the bright lights, and strange people, and weird goings-on, it's basically just sensory overload. Moving from guy-mode to girl-mode, there are so many new sensations, never mind all the new things to learn and do, that sometimes it's difficult to take everything in.

One thing that has just completely blown me away, in all my outings so far, is the simple act of walking out the door in my halter dress. The sun was out, and there was a light breeze, and even though I was fully, decently dressed, I could feel the sun and wind on my shoulders and back. Wow! If I hadn't been quite so anxious to get in the car (it was only my second time out the door in girl-mode), I might have just stopped and enjoyed the sensation for a minute or two. Even now, weeks later, I still remember that sensation very vividly.

Breasts is another one. I wear silicone breast prostheses. They're not connected to me, and they've got no sensation of their own, other than the pressure I can feel when they're pressed up against my own chest, but it's a wholly new feeling. I am made aware that they're there - when driving, or when moving around things that are about chest-height (bonk!), or even when just sitting there breathing. It's a difficult thing to describe, but when they're there, it's just... different.

I expect that, in time, and as my body starts physically changing, a lot of the novelty will wear off, and some of the things I'm just now learning will simply become another part of the daily "thing". And on the other hand, probably some things I'll decide are just too much of a hassle, or are only special-occasion things, so I won't do them very often. And at that point, if one of my girlfriends asked to do a make-over on me, I might feel differently about it. But I'm sure I'll meet her request with grace, and accept her offer because she loves me and wants to share something with me, or even just because she wants to spend time with me.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another new person

Tomorrow, I'm going to my friends' for dinner, which isn't necessarily remarkable in itself. Miss Trinity is making another foray into the world, which is cause for cheering. But the big deal this time, is that there'll be another person there, one who I don't know very well. She seems a pretty open person, and she definitely knows what's going on, so I'm sure it will be ok. But that doesn't seem to stop the dive-bombing butterflies in my tummy. To say that I was panicked, would be something of an understatement.

I've been halfway to tears for most of the afternoon and evening, because of tomorrow. I know this is completely in my head; I'll be with people who love me, and everything will be completely fine. But it's just that fear of the unknown, combined with my anxieties about myself, that are doing some kind of number on me right now.

It's just when things all pile on top of each other that makes me go completely crazy like this. There's so much going on in the next week: two coming-out talks, one of which is to one of my family, and one, possibly two, new people or groups of people who will see me in girl mode.

I probably won't sleep very well tonight. I probably won't sleep very well for the rest of the week.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Here comes the flood

I talked to my sister earlier this afternoon, and I'll be meeting with her next Wednesday for the Big Talk.

I think I'm much less nervous about coming out to her, than I was about my mom. They're definitely different people, and the place where my sister is coming from, she's very much open to differences. I'm not sure whether I should prepare something to possibly read, if my resolve crumbles and I start weeping (again). I can probably just adapt the other letter to something more appropriate for her. I've got some time to decide, and I can always ask my friends for suggestions. So, suggestions anyone?

Shifting gears, today I got an email back from a friend across the pond, who I had come out to back in April. I know my policy is that the coming-out talk is a face-to-face thing, but it's not likely that I'll see him anytime soon, so an email was about the best I could do. When it took a while for him to respond, I was a little worried that I had totally freaked him out, but it turns out he was just slow in replying. His response was funny, and supportive, and, well, uniquely him. He definitely brought a smile to my afternoon! Thanks P!

Shifting gears once more, I'll be coming out to my oldest friend on Friday. We lost contact for a while, but we had a really good phone conversation last week, and we've always been able to talk about really personal things like this. I was a little hesitant to spring this on him so soon, but it just feels like the right time. He's on the "almost assuredly ok" people list, so I'm sure there will be nothing to worry about.

Administrative note: I was reading a blog the other day, in which the author used initials to refer to her friends. That seems a much better way to talk about people, while retaining their privacy (what little we have left in this day and age, anyway), than simply eliminating names altogether. And I can also feel like I'm in a James Bond (Jane Bond?) story, with all these one-letter names floating around! Maestro, cue the Bond theme!

Bonus points to the first to name the title reference.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Don't be a perfectionist

It's becoming very clear to me that the fact that I am a perfectionist might become something of a handicap regarding my transition.

In my work, that's absolutely fine, and practically expected - getting it right the first time, and 100% right, well, that's what you have to do.

But in a gender transition, it takes a lot of practice, and a lot of time in general, to get to being proficient and comfortable with the new things you've got to learn. And being a perfectionist, well, you're going to want to be good at them now. And you won't be.

While I was waiting for my friend to get off work (he's on call right now, and got stuck at work a bit late) to go over to his place for dinner, I sat down with my shiny new Perl::Tk program which allows me to record from my headset, and immediately play what I have just recorded, to work with my voice. I've been watching candiFLA's voice videos on youtube, and the fact that she makes it look really easy, well, that inspired me. It sounds easy enough, but that couldn't be further from the truth. It's freaking hard! Miss Candi says it took her two years to get to where she is now. Two years! That'll surely land me in the loony bin!

So it's very frustrating, and it's going to take me a lot of patience with myself (which, now that I've started my first tentative steps down this path, is coming up in a rather short supply, surprisingly) to get where I need to be. I'm sure it will be just as bad when I start hair removal, and when I start hormone replacement too. They'll take a long time, and probably have very little payoff at the start. But I'll just have to trust that they'll work out, and have patience.

And quit being such a perfectionist.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

My coming-out letter

I've been debating whether to post the coming-out letter I read to my mom, and I finally decided that yes, it could be helpful to somebody else who's in the same situation, or could just be of interest to, well, somebody. So here it is:

Dear Mom,

This is probably the most difficult letter I'll ever have to write, and likely the most difficult letter you'll ever have to read.

You've probably noticed my increasing unhappiness over the past few years. I've been dealing with it for a very long time, even before I really knew what was going on. I couldn't relate to other people, and I just couldn't get excited or feel anything really intense. I often wondered just what was wrong with me, that I couldn't feel much of those kinds of feelings - was I just not wired for that? It was just this feeling of deadness inside, and it came and went. When it came, I just weathered the feelings, or complete lack of feelings, and tried my best to go on with my life. I didn't really attribute it to anything.

Over the past few years, those feelings have started coming on with more regularity, and started getting more intense. Now, that's basically the way I feel all the time; I'm emotionally paralyzed, and nothing has any lasting appeal. I can't get motivated to do anything - look for jobs, clean my house, wash my clothes, sometimes even feed and clean myself.

Not to worry, though, because I know what the problem is, and I also know what needs to be done to fix it.

Deep breath.

I am transgendered. That means that when the doctor called out "it's a boy" and everybody cheered, he didn't get it quite right. I have the normal boy parts, and have physically matured as a man, but that's not what is in my heart and my soul. Inside, I'm a girl. I have no choice in the matter but to feel this way; I just know that's what I am, and moreover, what I need to become. The clinical term for what I feel is Gender Dysphoria, and the name for the condition which I face is Gender Identity Disorder.

This is something which is in no way anyone's fault. It's not yours and dad's fault, for something you think you should have done, or should have not done, as I was growing up. Nor is it the fault of anybody I've known, or anything I've done. There has been research into the reason why this occurs, and there is some possible physical basis for it, which I can discuss with you at another time, if you like. The plain truth of the matter is that nobody really knows exactly why this happens. Knowing the exact reason would not make this any easier for me to tell, and would probably not make it any easier for you to hear.

So that feeling of disconnection and unhappiness, is my soul's attempt to say "hey, listen up! You're not as you should be!" This is not a new feeling; I've been trying to deal with this for many, many years. It started back when I was in high school, after I started going through puberty. I wasn't quite sure why I felt that disconnection, but it was present even back then. A few years after I came back home from being away at college, it started coming back a little bit, and it was starting to become more definite, and it started to become a bit more of a struggle to maintain my male identity. Right around 1999 or 2000, I finally was able to put a name to what I was feeling, though at the time I thought I was a cross-dresser. <ex-gf> knew about my feelings, as I understood them at the time, and accepted me and encouraged me to do what I needed to do to be comfortable with myself. As the years went on, however, I realized that my feelings were much stronger, and eventually figured out that it wasn't just something I needed to do occasionally, it was something that I am, all the time. I finally realized, probably about 2004, what I was really feeling, and what I needed to do. Since then, it has just been a struggle to keep going day after day. When I spent all those months unemployed, thoughts of suicide kept popping into my head. It would be much easier, I reasoned, if I didn't have to deal with this, and it was just over. I never got even close to doing anything about it, but those thoughts came often.

I gave being a man an honest try, but it's become very clear to me that I can't live like that and be happy. Moreover, I can't live an honest life like that - I'm not being honest to myself, and I'm not being honest to anybody else.

When I said that I'm a girl, I also said that it's what I need to become. The only kind of therapy which has lasting benefits for gender identity problems like mine, is a transition to living as the opposite gender. This will involve some medical intervention, including hormone treatment and possibly some surgical procedures, and counseling.

I want to assure you that I will not suddenly change into this completely different person. The changes I will undergo will be gradual, and will also not change the person I am on the inside. Under hormone replacement, I will basically go through a second puberty - that of a teenage girl. I'll probably become a lot more emotional, and my body will move fat around and I will develop breasts. I will lose muscle mass, and my body hair will become lighter, and (hopefully!) more sparse. I will need to undergo hair removal on my face, because last I checked, most girls don't have a 5 o'clock shadow.

There are also some surgical procedures available, which include plastic surgery on the face to give a more feminine appearance, and breast augmentation if the hormone treatments do not give a satisfactory result, and also a couple different kinds of genital surgery. At this point, I'm not sure what kinds of surgery I will want or need; there is no prescribed or required set of procedures, and any that I think I might want can be decided later on.

The point of all these changes is so that my heart and soul can at last feel comfortable about the skin they're moving around in. Unfortunately it's not possible to change the mind to match the body, so this is the only path I can follow.

I know this is a lot to take in at one time, but I hope that you can get some inkling of what I'm going through, from my words here. I want to help you understand this however I can; you can ask me any questions you want, whenever you need to.

I will forever be your child, boy or girl, and nothing can possibly change the fact that I love you very much, and take great strength from your love and support. I will need that love and support during the changes I will soon face.

Love,

Me


My sister is the next one in the family who I want to come out to, but getting to a private face-to-face conversation with her is pretty difficult these days. I think I've got a plan, but it'll take a few weeks to get things set up. I'm also not sure whether I should prepare something along these same lines for that encounter; I knew I wouldn't be able to hold it together with my mom, but my sister is quite a different person, and I think she's much more open to differences. I think I'll probably be a lot less anxious, and should be able to actually speak in coherent sentences, and hopefully not blubber too badly.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Great story

Here's an excellent story I found, which gives a great analogy as to what my life is like:

"Shoes", by Heather Rose Brown

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where's the 'angst' tag when you need it?

I went over to my folks' yesterday to talk with my mom a little bit, and in retrospect I probably shouldn't have. She's having a lot of trouble just getting to the point where she wants to ask questions, or find out anything about what's going on with me. She also can't talk to anybody else about it, because I guess that would be something like her admitting that it's a real thing.

I'm feeling terribly alone right now. It feels like my mom has gone away from me, and I miss her. I can't really go talk to her about it, because it'll just upset her more, and probably upset me more too. This whole thing just stinks.

I took a sick day from work today, because I just couldn't handle having to face people or try to do anything constructive. I may try some constructive things later today, but right now I just don't care one bit.

Song for today: Dash Berlin - "Till the Sky Falls Down"

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Names

Just a small piece of adminstrivia, since I'm up at such an ungodly hour this morning (don't ask).

Up to now, I've been making an effort to not include people's names, other than my own chosen name, into my posts. I don't know various people's thoughts and feelings about having their own names, or the names of their children, splashed all over the internet, so in the interest of not upsetting anyone or putting anyone in an uncomfortable situation, I've opted to go for the safe option. No names, other than my own, posted here or in the comments. And I think that should also include my boring-guy-name too, just since I'm thinking about it.

So let's try to keep it safe out there, kids. :)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It's the little things

A couple tiny little moments happened on my latest outing, that just made my month. Some dialogue between me and the girl half of the couple I visited as we were eating (cheesesteaks, yum!):

Me: May I have a napkin?
Her (tongue firmly planted in cheek): No.
She gets up to get a napkin
Me (carrying it further): Please? Please? I'll be your best friend...?
Her: You already are.

Wow.

Next, a comment by their oldest daughter (the three-and-a-half year old I've mentioned):

Her: You're Trinity, and you're a girl... and I'm a girl too!

It's the little details that make things special. And I just have to give myself a little hug as I remember these moments, because last night was very special for me.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Two steps forward...

It seems like I took a step backward yesterday. After my last couple outings, which seemed to go pretty well, I was just feeling foolish, and wondering why I would ever think I could do something like this. I spent most of the evening crying my eyes out, and ended up going to bed very early (like 8:30), and slept for about 11 hours. It did help a little bit, but it's just very frustrating that days like this come around.

So I'm moving on to second-guessing-land. I'll probably spend a lot of time over the next couple days wondering if what I'm doing is right, and what I should do. The crazy part of all this is what (I think) triggered this whole episode... I was thinking about what my friends' oldest daughter was saying. I know, she's all of three and a half, and she doesn't know much about much, but she just didn't want to hear that I was this different person last Wednesday. Not that I am a different person, but you know what I mean. I was using a different name, and presenting an apparently different gender, but I sounded the same, and above the neck I looked fundamentally the same... I don't know. I guess maybe I'm at a difficult part - nothing's changed, really, and I'm just starting to try to put my real self out there.

I'm babbling. I don't know if I'm making any sense here, even to myself. But maybe this will help me figure out just what I'm feeling.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Once more

I'm about to go out to my friends' for dinner, again as Miss Trinity. I'm feeling slightly less anxiety than I did last time, but still plenty. At least my dress is a little easier to handle this time; only a single layer. We're going to work on doing makeup tonight, so that should be fun.

Hmmm. Just a short post today, I guess.

My, look at the time. Here goes nothing...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We have photos... sort of

I finally got everything set up for the actual documentation part of my project, in a way that's not terribly obtrusive to my house, and is also simple to maintain. I got out to the photo shop to pick up some film, and took my first photos today. I'm doing them on film mainly because I have easy access to film cameras, my film camera has all the features I want and none that I don't, and I want things to be simple and fast. Film seems to be plenty more archival than data - no "oh no, the hard drive with all my pictures just crashed!" These pictures will have to be around for at least a couple years, and I can always have them scanned again (or even scan them myself, if my film scanner stops misbehaving). There is also the whole resolution thing, but that is very, very secondary. I'm bracketing in half-stops, so I'll go through 5 rolls of film about every 2 months. It's an expense, but I'm not complaining about it; at least it'll get me exposing some film.

I'll have some photos to post in a few weeks. Hooray! The documentation project is underway!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

First night out

My best friends in the entire world invited me over for dinner tonight, and suggested that I might come as Trinity. So I thought, no time like the present. I have to have that first time out, and I would rather it would be with people who know me and love me, rather than with people who don't know me, and may not love me. I also knew it would probably not be a smashing success, as my beard shadow is pretty dark, and I haven't done any training on my voice yet. My presentation was likely to, in a word, suck. And as one of my favorite bloggers has said many times, "don't be afraid to suck".

So I did it. I picked a more challenging outfit than I probably should have for my first time (including corset and heels, with a few layers in there so that things stayed in place... :) ), but it all ended up fine. After about 7 hours, the corset is starting to get a bit uncomfortable, and I'm probably not the best smelling girl of all time right now, but I'm glad I did it. They were gracious, and loving, and complimentary, and made an honest effort to figure out the names and pronouns, and were just generally the awesome people I have always known them to be.

My only misstep for the evening turned out to be not a big deal. I managed to leave the house all dolled up, running low on gas in the car. I definitely didn't want to get out of the car in broad daylight on the way there, so I thought I would wait until dark, on the way home, and take care of it then. I passed several stations on the way, which all seemed a bit too crowded. The last one before I made the turn onto my street was empty, so I pulled in, fuelled up, and went on my way, just another girl taking care of one of her car's necessities.

Oh, and since I taunted everybody by mentioning dinner, I should taunt everyone further with the menu. We made a chicken pot-pie. I brought the pastry and the chicken stock, and they supplied the rest of the ingredients, and we worked together to make an excellent meal. I have some sitting in the refrigerator right now, so later on while I'm enjoying the lovely food from the evening, I'll also get to enjoy the memory of my first night out.