Thursday, December 31, 2009

Holidays and stuff

Christmas has never been one of my favorite holidays. Too much to get done, too much family, too much on-your-best-manners, too much this, too much that. Too much stress. Just too much.

The new year is another one I just don't get. I just can't get all that excited for the fact that the calendar is recycling. The calendar does that same thing every month, and yet we don't get all excited those other eleven times during the year. And plus, it's more of an alcoholic holiday, and I just don't even go there.

But perhaps the new year thing isn't all that far out there. I had lunch with L today, and we talked a lot about changes in our lives. Seems like people can use something like a new year as something of a clean slate, to try something new and different. The setting of resolutions for the new year is a prime example of that. This new year, for me, will bring the most dramatic of changes. I'll have a new public persona. I'll have a new name. I should reach some plateau of completeness with all my big life changes. There are further changes which I might yet make, but those are still some time away.

One of the things that inspires some of my friends (and me too, of course) about my whole odyssey, is that fact that I get to completely remake my life, and my persona, and be exactly who I want to be. Exactly. That's quite a big thing to encompass. No preconceptions, no determinism, no history. I can change anything. I can be anyone. Tabula rasa, in a manner of speaking.

I'm actually considering setting some resolutions for myself. I've never done it before, but I think it could be something interesting. We'll see how I feel when I wake up tomorrow.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Post-holiday blahs

It happens every year. The big buildup to Christmas, with all the attendant stress, and when it's all over, it seems like it was all for nought. As the bard said, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

The dumb part is that I knew what was going to happen. I knew my brother-in-law was going to echo my sister's feelings about me. I knew my entire family was going to be indifferent at the very best with my feminine presentation. I knew, and yet I let it make me crazy for, what, two weeks. I haven't slept worth a darn for that long, and it's catching up with me in a big, big way. I've had a low-grade headache for days now. I've developed an itchy and painful case of eczema on my forehead and eyelids, surely from all that stress.

So now I just need to let go of it. I might have hit some kind of point today on that path; all of a sudden, I had absolutely no energy, and just had to sleep. Most of the rest of the day, I've been quite sedate, and I hope I can sleep well tonight. I need the rest.

One of these days, I'll learn that nobody defines me, but me. I'll learn that my happiness doesn't need to depend on the responses of a very specific small group of people. I might even learn that there are other people out there, who do respond well, and I can feel good with their responses to me. I might also learn that happiness can be wherever I find it, and I need to keep my heart open that I might find those new places of joy.

This was all so much easier when I was numb, and didn't care. Apathy was nice while it lasted, but that's no way to have any kind of meaningful life. Easy usually doesn't equate with good or healthy. Now I do care, and things do matter, so I take everything pretty seriously. No grains of salt here. This is my life, and I've had enough with it being numb and worthless. I want it to be awesome, and there are forces which are near to me which seek to make it not awesome. So I just need to recognize those sources of anti-awesomeness as what they are, and eschew them in favor of sources of love and support.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Ho ho ho

Christmas day is going a lot better than Christmas Eve did. I woke up from the first decent night's sleep in many days, and felt like spending time with my family, regardless of how they have been treating me. And if they treated me poorly, I reasoned, I do have a plan B.

Up, showered, dressed. Kept it simple today - just jeans and a tee, and my new pink All-Stars. Collected gifts and went. Ate breakfast, opened gifts, laughed at the dog. My sister's dog is a riot.

After lunch, I came back home to decompress a little bit, and bake a quick loaf of orange-cran bread. I'm not sure how much decompression I needed, but I did want some time to reflect a bit on what happened this morning.

I've commented a few times to a few different people that I want nothing to do with being in the spotlight. But on the other end of the spectrum, there's being largely ignored, and that's just as hard for me to deal with. Now that I'm getting to a place where I'm comfortable with myself, it's nice to have people recognize that, and in turn feel more comfortable around me, and maybe even comment on it. My family totally failed on that score. For them, my transition is something to be endured, not something to be celebrated. My anger about that has dulled, but is by no means gone. As their antipathy remains, so does mine.

Nobody made any comments, positive or negative, which has both positive and negative aspects to it. They weren't berating me, laughing at me, or making fun of me, so that's good. On the other hand, they weren't being positive in any way, and for a lot of the day, I felt largely invisible. Out of sight, out of mind, right there in the same room with them all. And that's not good.

Perhaps I should have involved them earlier on. Then they would have had more time to become acclimated to the changes. As it stands now, I'm almost at the finish line, and they've only just heard the starting gun. My friends and I have been dealing with all of this stuff for over a year now, so it's getting to be old hat to us - just another part of the day. I'm probably not being as patient as I could be with my family, since they're not up with me.

The other part is the name/pronoun thing. They're using he, him, and the old guy name, which just twists the knife a little each time. It denies my identity, and pushes everything I've been working toward under the rug. My brother-in-law is calling me "Mr. <guyname>", which... I'm not sure if he's doing it out of habit, or out of malice. I didn't want to push it with anyone today, in the interest of not having people freak out, but I think after this, I'm going to start. I'm a she. I'm a her. I'm Trinity.

I guess all I can really do is hope that things get better. And if they don't, I'll keep that plan B open. I've got places I can go, and people who love me.

Everyone have a happy Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas time

Christmas time and family can be a deadly combination. I saw my family today - all of them - for about ten minutes. It was all I could stand, and I had to get out of there.

I spoke briefly with my brother-in-law, and that didn't go very well. He said that he didn't understand, and that based on his beliefs, he couldn't accept or support me. He said that he would be civil to me. He also said that he felt sorry for me, and that he worried for my safety.

Every bit of that was a knife to the heart. The last person in the family fell right in line with the rest of them, in their dismissal of my identity.

I went off to be by myself for a few minutes, and was intercepted by my mother when I was on my way out the door. I told her that I was going to leave, and when she asked if I would be back for dinner, I slowly replied that I didn't know. I then proceeded to blow up at her a little. My final shot was that if they weren't willing to accept me as I am, then to hell with them all.

It was probably a pretty childish display, but I am so furious with all of them and with their lousy treatment of me. I have had enough of being "tolerated" and "treated civilly", when what I really need is love and acceptance. I've never gotten a huge amount of it from them, even before I was out to them, but the little I used to get is now a distant memory.

I spent most of the rest of the afternoon crying off and on. I didn't return for dinner, and I'm still trying to decide whether I want to go over there tomorrow morning. I should go and see if they have anything worthwhile to say to me, but right now, my anger is telling me to stay far away from all of them.

See me, feel me, touch me, heal me

It's early morning, Christmas Eve. My sister and brother-in-law are coming into town tomorrow, so I will have to face them.

I sent a CD off to my brother-in-law late last week, and hoped it would reach him by Tuesday, or Wednesday at the very latest. It was a recording of me, reading him the coming-out letter that I wrote for him. I do not feel comfortable enough around my sister, to go visit to have the talk with him, so this seemed like the next best thing. He still gets to hear things in my voice, but just lacks the part of seeing me there. In it, in addition to the typical coming-out stuff, I told him that I would be presenting femme at Christmas this year. At the end, I told him that he could call me at any time if he had questions, or if he just wanted to talk to me. I had hoped that he would call, at least just to let me know that he had received the parcel, and listened to it, but I haven't heard a peep.

On the way home from seeing Avatar tonight, E and I got to talking about it, and she assured me that whatever happens, she will not abandon me, and that I always have a place to go with her and C. As we were all going our separate ways, I was talking a bit with K, and my anger with my sister came back in full force. I decided a while ago that if she wants to start something, that I would be out the door, and that would be the last time she would ever see me. I still feel that way, but I just hope it doesn't come to that.

This feels like such an ultimatum point. I hate to call it that, but it's me saying "this is me, take me or leave me, forever". It's going to be hard for me to give second chances. I know I have to let go of my anger, but I can't do that, not when I have no idea how things stand.

Tomorrow I'll know, one way or the other. Tomorrow I'll know if I still have a sister.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Work

I came out to my boss yesterday.

It all started last week, when I had to let him know about the all-day doctor appointment that I had. He replied that he hoped everything was ok, to which I replied "nothing life-threatening, but important", and that we should discuss it during our next one-on-one conference, which was supposed to be this past Tuesday. Well, Tuesday turned into a bit of drama, and we didn't get to have our meeting. So I spent the rest of the week in extreme stress mode, waiting until I could get a chance to spill my big pot o' beans.

Finally, on Friday we managed to have our meeting. I had some notes of most of the points I wanted to discuss, but for the first part, I just flew by the seat of my pants. Coming out, no matter to one's family, or friends, or boss, is fundamentally the same. There's a big thing, and one tells the other what it is, and then things go on from there. The anxiety for me (and probably for a lot of people) is about that last part, where things go on. Sometimes it's hard to see, with any clarity, just what that going-on will involve. And that, I think, is the crux of the whole thing: we don't know what will happen, and we're scared of the unknown.

I'm not entirely sure what I did expect from him, but whatever it was, bore very little resemblance to reality. He was calm and cool, and at the same time warm and supportive. He said that he wanted to help me in any way he could, which kind of blew me away. We talked a little bit about my current plans, and he was very open, and agreed with my tentative timeline. I mentioned that I would send him a few links with some resources that might be helpful, and also suggested that we work together, and with HR, to come up with a good strategy for everything that needs to happen.

It was a weird conversation; I've never really connected with my boss, or any boss, on a personal level, and there I was, doing exactly that. So I think everybody grew a little bit from the conversation, and I left his office with a smile on my face and a really good feeling about the future.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Post surgery follow-up

I journeyed up to Plano once again yesterday for my two-week post-surgery appointment. Everything has been doing pretty well since all the excitement of a couple weeks ago, so I expected the visit to be pretty short.

K had agreed to come along, both for driving help and moral support. He stayed on my couch the night before, since we were getting underway pretty early in the morning. I was a little freaked out, so I probably wasn't the best hostess in the world; I hope he understood.

I managed maybe four hours' sleep that night, and woke even before my alarm. I got up, showered, and got ready. And then the nervousness started, while I waited for K to get ready. It wasn't quite the "I'm doing something completely new" terror, but my appetite was off, and I certainly wasn't feeling too talkative. K slept for the early part of the trip, which was maybe good, and maybe not so good. I had a lot of time to think, and not much else to occupy my thoughts. But once we got to Dallas, traffic diverted my attention enough so that I didn't go all basketcase.

We were early, by about 45 minutes, and it was lunchtime, so I suggested getting something to eat. K agreed, so we went to a sandwich shop that E and I found while we were there. This time, though, the place was full of people. I think I managed to keep my composure, though I ate precious little of my food, and my hands were shaking the entire time. My next big hurdle, and this is probably more of a long-term project, is to become more comfortable just being out in the world. I don't do it much, so it's always stressful. But we finished our lunch without incident, and headed to the doctor's office.

The appointment itself was very short; I was in the office for maybe ten minutes. The doctor had a look at how everything was healing, and seemed very happy. No hematomas, which he said was the big thing to worry about with the procedure I had. The incisions themselves were starting to go away; he had placed adhesive strips over them after the surgery, which he removed. He directed me to place small pieces of adhesive tape over the incisions for a couple months, to make sure everything heals up well. And then I had a few questions, and that was that. He said he wouldn't need to see me again unless something goes really wrong.

The trip back to Houston was a whole different story. K was driving, and my stress had completely evaporated. I actually had a really good time. Traffic seemed a little heavier than the trip up, but I wasn't driving, so I actually just totally let go of everything related to the road. I spent most of the trip changing radio stations; I'm sure I was driving K absolutely bonkers. But we listened to some good music, and we chatted pretty much the entire way home.

When we got back into Houston, we went directly to C and E's for dinner, which was delicious. I had brought a pair of pants (I wore a skirt for the day) in anticipation of playing some Rock Band, but both K and I were absolutely exhausted, so we called it a night a bit early. I don't think it was much later than 10:30 PM when I fell into bed. I slept the sleep of the just.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A day to give thanks

This day has been coming for a long time. The day my family sees me, the self that I see in my mind's eye.

And what's more, today is Thanksgiving here in the United States, a day during which we reflect on the year past, and be thankful for our many blessings, large and small.

Perhaps that's what put me in the mindset of wanting something that I didn't have - the support of my family. I wanted to force the issue, and come to a sort of ultimatum point. I wanted to dare them to accept me, to support me, to love me.

Why should one have to dare her family to do what families are supposed to do in the first place? Coming from a place of anger, as I am regarding them, it might be the intent to hurt, to dish out what one has received. Lashing out is unhealthy, and is unproductive, and is ultimately unsatisfying. No one wins; everyone loses. The unfortunate truth is that it's a reflex: you hurt me, so I'll hurt you.

Elevated thinking notwithstanding, I wanted to make the dare, and I wanted to do it today.

I spent a couple hours crying my eyes out. Despite my anger, I was still scared to death. Playing chicken with somebody else's feelings is no simple feat. There is every possibility that they won't flinch, and the whole encounter will end in a terrible crash. Everybody loses, again.

Once I got hold of myself long enough to dial the phone, I managed to get out about two sentences before I dissolved into body-wracking sobs again. But I had to continue. If I gave up on this, as I had been trying to convince myself to do for the previous couple hours, I would never be able to progress. I got hold of myself again, and forced the words out: I need to be able to be myself with you. I need you to be able to know me. And I need to do it now, today.

I was met with... my mom, being a mom, doing what moms are supposed to do.

The rest was anticlimactic. Once I started getting ready, the stress basically left me; it was just another day out. I got ready and went, and the parents saw, and we cooked and ate our simple Thanksgiving dinner, and I came home.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Out of whack

Today was not a good day.

I'm still in recovery mode following my surgery; I don't return to work until Wednesday, so I'm just at my apartment, trying to find things to keep me busy. Eating, watching netflix, and poking around on the 'tubes is about all I have to do. I've even tried working on a programming project that had fallen by the wayside a few years ago.

But for whatever reason, I spent most of the day trying to keep from bursting into tears.

C sent an SMS a bit after lunch, offering to come visit me this evening, since he figured that I might be getting a little stir-crazy being home by myself. He also offered to bring some dinner. I accepted on all counts - I just needed some human contact.

Once he walked through the door, and asked me how I was doing, I couldn't hang on to my composure any longer. I just started weeping, and he held me for a few minutes while I cried myself out.

Once I got hold of myself again (however tenuously), we ate and visited for a while, which helped take my mind off whatever was going on. C suggested that it's probably a huge change in hormone levels resulting from the surgery; I'm sure that is exactly the case.

This is not the first time I've been caught unaware by my hormones. I feel like I should have at least seen this one coming, but apparently I wasn't thinking. Now that I know better what to expect, I might be able to handle it a little better, or at least I hope I can.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Still here!

I kind of fell off the grid yesterday; I was hoping to have a new blog post every day through my surgery experience, but yesterday just got too busy, and pain meds have a way of making things seem not quite so important.

The day of the surgery, E and I got there right on time, and were shown in to the pre-op ward after a couple minutes. They had me change into everyone's favorite hospital garment, the backless gown, and put me into a bed with a thing they called a bear hugger. The bear hugger, oh my, what a wonderful invention! It's a heater and fan, connected by a duct to an inflatable blanket, which is lain over the top of the patient. It's like being in a warm and toasty cocoon.

A nurse came in and went over some more papers with me, which required a couple signatures. We then went over what was going to occur over the rest of the day. She then tried to start up my IV, but missed. She was so very apologetic, but I kept reassuring her that everyone has an off day. In reflection, I find it rather interesting that, even with scary stuff impending in my own life, I will take the time to reassure another person who's having trouble with something. I just like working with people, rather than against them.

The nurse left and E and I just sat and talked, and waited, and talked. She was just telling silly stories about her daughters and trying to keep my mind off the worry, and just keep me in good spirits. The nurse came back after a while to inform us that they were running a little behind, and that she would try to find Dr. Raphael and have him come talk to me before everything got started. More time passed, and the doctor came and visited with us for a few minutes. He's such a lovely person; he has such an easy manner, and it's very clear that he cares for his patients very much. I tend to not name full names or endorse people or businesses here in this blog, but I had such a wonderful experience with Dr. Raphael and his staff, I will not hesitate to recommend him.

Hospitals, in my fairly limited experience, seem to be places out of time. There are few clocks where patients can see them, and time just seems to stretch out into infinity sometimes. Even with that timelessness, I could tell that we had been waiting a long time. E just kept deflecting my attention and kept me smiling and laughing. I asked once what time it was, and she wouldn't tell me, which told me more than she probably meant to. Eventually, the anesthesiologist, Tracy, another super nice person with a great bedside manner, came in and we spoke briefly, and he set up my IV. He had three syringes, which he put into my IV in quick succession.

I continued to lie there, and suddenly noticed that my eyes were closed, and it was quite a struggle to get them to come open. I could hear E and another of the nurses talking, so I knew everything was going fine. They noticed that I was trying to get my eyes open, and reassured me that everything had gone very well, and that even the surgeon was surprised at how smoothly the procedure had gone. I was mildly amused that this newest experience with anesthesia mirrored my previous one - a chunk of time and awareness was simply edited out of my mind's record. Once I gained a little more of a handle on my surroundings, I noticed that I was dressed in my clothes again. E and the nurse were talking about supportive underwear, to keep gauze and body parts in place, which led to changing into the padded girdle that I've had for a while, sans pads. After that, we said our goodbyes and the nurse wheeled me out to the car.

The rest of the day was pretty mundane: I slept and went to the potty, and that was about it. The nurse called a couple times to make sure I was able to use the potty, since I wasn't able right before they wheeled me out. Apparently my ability to go was an indicator for how swollen I was inside. First try was a big bust, and second try wasn't a whole lot better, but once I was able, things went more or less on autopilot. Drink, doze, pee became my world. E had to help me up the first several times, but as the night wore on, I was able to make the trip under my own power the last couple of times.

The next morning arrived, and with it came the various prescriptions - anti-swelling, antibiotic, pain pills. A lot of them are uncoated and bitter as can be, but I suppose if they work, I can't really complain. We got all our things packed up and took care of our morning routines, and checked out of the hotel on the way to the first post-surgical appointment, at 9:45. The appointment was pretty simple; the nurse just wanted to hear how I was feeling, if I was going to the bathroom ok, how my pain and nausea levels had been, and things like that. She also checked out the incision sites, to make sure everything was secure. She also changed my gauze padding, and showed me how to do it properly. We set up my next follow-up appointment, in two weeks.

Once we got out onto the road, a feeling of nausea started slowly, and I hoped I could just ride it out, but I could tell that just wasn't going to happen. I took an anti-nausea pill, which acted pretty quickly, and made me feel a whole lot better. The rest of the drive went without incident; more of the drink, rest, pee from the previous night, punctuated with eating and other medications at strategic times.

We got back to C & E's by about 3pm, and I just parked myself on a recliner and rested some more. I surprised myself with how much dinner I ate. Recovery, it seems, takes a lot out of a person. Once we all called it quits for the night, C brought me and my car back to my place, and he stayed the night to make sure everything was ok.

Now it's just up to me to take care of myself, and rest, and recover. Nothing glamorous, but it's life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Today

So today's the day.

I'm just lounging in my hotel room, still in my jammies, waiting until closer to time to get up and do my morning stuff. There's not too much to be done, since most of my morning stuff is pretty moot today: just a quick shower, clean my "down south" region with Betadine, and put on comfy clothes.

Last night was pretty calm, mainly because both E and I were exhausted. Road trips always take a lot out of people, and I hadn't slept worth a darn in days, and I think she's pretty stressed with being away from her husband and children. We video conferenced with C and the girls for a little while, and showered, and she swapped my piercing bar for a nonmetallic one, and then we just relaxed a bit before going to bed. I worked on one of my sewing projects, which was being difficult, and E video conferenced with C some more. I took some of the prescribed Diazepam to help me sleep, though I'm not sure how much I really needed it; regardless, I slept like a rock.

A little over two hours to go. The butterflies have started a little bit. I'd love some breakfast to calm my stomach, but that's a no-no this morning.

Here goes nothing...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

One day away

I am in Plano, TX, currently relaxing at the hotel following my pre-surgical appointment earlier this afternoon. Surgery is tomorrow morning at 11:30. I'm to be at the surgical office an hour before surgery begins, so I can get all settled and ready, and the anesthesiologist can begin hir work.

The trip here was a typical road trip. We hit a lot of rush hour traffic as we left Houston, so I was immediately feeling the "we're going to be late" craziness. I managed to get a speeding ticket as we went through Dallas. Despite the various stops we made, we managed to make it to the office right on time.

We waited a half-hour or so until we were called in. Catherine came in and talked to us for a few minutes, and gave an overview of how everything was going to work. Then she went to fetch Dr. Raphael, which took some time. Pretty typical doctor office type stuff. Once the doctor appeared, we had a great conversation; he has a great bedside manner, and was very personable, and made me feel a lot less nervous about everything, and answered all the questions we had. One of the nurses, Debbie, came in to go over the details, and answer any more questions. She also took my blood pressure (which was good) and drew some blood. Then we went up to the front, where they gave me 5(!) prescriptions, and I gave them the BIG check.

After that, we went for lunch, because we were both starving, and then took the prescriptions to the drug store. When the prescriptions were ready, the pharmacist asked for my ID. As I handed it to her, she quickly said, "no, I need to see your ID." My quick comeback was "that is my ID." And then she went on just as if nothing had happened. It was both very cool, and pretty funny. Then we came to the hotel and checked in.

Now we wait. We're planning on having a late dinner, since I'm not allowed to eat after midnight, until after I come out of the anesthesia. Last night's paltry four hours' sleep is starting to catch up with me in a big way; a short nap might be nice, though just staying up and crashing for the whole night would probably be the best way to go.

My butterflies are pretty well gone right now. The way I was treated by everyone at the doctor's office, especially including Dr. Raphael, has given me a huge amount of confidence.

I also want to thank all those who have sent their good wishes via Twitter, email, in Second Life, and in person. This has been a long journey, but your encouragment and love have given me courage and hope. I couldn't have gotten this far without each and every one of you.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Four days away

My emotions have settled down to a dull roar. I just want to get everything over and done with. The surgery itself is making me nervous, not because of what it is, but because it's surgery, and there will be pain, and recovery time, and all the other stuff. Not to mention all the little things I have to do before time, that are making me crazy.

That's not to say that all my roaring emotions are negative. I'm starting to get excited for what it means for me. I've had a pretty dull past few months, in which there has been little apparent progress, and now I'm about to make a pretty big leap forward. It seems like there is little left except a couple more huge leaps forward, and then it's all done. I'm not quite sure what to make of that.

It's interesting how adaptable the mind is. Before I started this whole odyssey, I was accustomed to pretty much nothing happening, or a general state of discomfort and self-loathing. That was my world for a very long time, so that's what I was used to. Then I got to the point where I could not live in that world anymore. I started making changes, so that became my standard reality. Sometimes the changes came pretty fast and furious, and sometimes less so. I stretched and pulled at my boundaries so much during that time, I thought I might break them. That world was pretty stressful sometimes, but it has been a good experience. I have grown in ways I never thought possible, and made amazing progress to becoming the person I am supposed to be. And now things have settled down, and I'm getting close to some possible finishing points, so I'll have to move into yet another different world. That new world probably won't be as harrowing as the one where I've been, but instead it should be a much more emotionally satisfying place for me to live.

I had a conversation with J a couple days ago about one of my recent blog entries. I've been viewing this upcoming event as the first can't-go-back event of my journey, but he countered by saying that every little step along the way has been a small rubicon of its own. The day he and I sat in the restaurant eating our gyros, and I told him who I was and who I needed to be, is something I can never take back. The first time I ever put on a skirt and went to C and E's, I can't take that back either. Every bit of progress, no matter how simple or mundane, has changed me, and I can never go back to that person I was not so long ago. That world is completely foreign to me now, and I'm not sure how I ever tried to live there. The real truth, I think, is that I never really did live there; I was wandering around in a state of emotional homelessness.

So the point of this whole exercise seems to be to get myself to a place where I can feel at home inside my own heart. The problem is that I'm not really sure how that's supposed to feel. The only thing I do know for sure is that where I am now is different from where I was before. I'm going to have to think about that a bit more, and write a post about it.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Industrialization

Tonight was the outing of all outings. For most of it, I was in a constant state of surprise at how well everything was going.

A number of weeks ago, I was talking to C about information on his piercer, for getting an industrial, which I've been thinking about for a couple years now. He told me that he was taking E out to have some work done, and that we could go together. That immediately made me feel much more comfortable about the whole thing, since I trust both of them implicitly, and they would also be there for moral support. The proposed date for it was still a bit off, so all I could do was wait. Well, tonight was the night, put-up-or-shut-up time.

Once we finally made it to the shop, E, who's been pierced a number of times before, just went ahead and took care of her stuff. That was fine with me, since I was unsure of what to expect. She was doing a fairly sensitive area, and yelled a bit during hers. That was fine, I reasoned, the ear cartilage has a whole lot less nerve endings than the area she was having pierced.

Then the man who was helping the piercer came out and we got started setting up for mine. Once he started looking at my ear, he discovered that I don't have a very deep rim of cartilage around my ear. In the days leading up, I've wondered about that; after he left to talk to the piercer, I started to worry that they wouldn't be able to do it at all. Both the helper and the piercer took better looks, and decided that everything was ok, that there was just enough cartilage there to make it. Whew!

So the next thing was to fill out some papers - who I am, stuff like that. "Can I see your ID?" he asked. Knowing it was coming, and somewhat dreading it, I mumbled something to E along the lines of "this is the part that I was not looking forward to." So I placed my thoroughly male ID down on the desk, and told him "it doesn't match very well," which didn't seem to register immediately. He was looking at it intently for several seconds before he said that it was a bit of a surprise.

I'll take it.

The piercing itself was anticlimactic; I held on to C, and was braced for some serious pain, and... it wasn't bad at all. The anti-helix side was worse than the helix side, but I didn't make a sound for either, and may have wrinkled my nose for the anti-helix. Maybe.

After that was done, we went out to dinner at C and E's favorite sushi restaurant. The hostess may have been checking me out as she left the table, but it barely made a dent. The food was excellent, and the musical duo was playing some good tunes.

Pretty much every time I'm out in public, I expect to be read by everyone, and half the time I expect somebody to cause a scene, so when the interest is so low-key, it's a nice departure from the horror-stories I cook up in my brain. The comments from the man at the piercing shop blew me away. I'm sure he had no idea that he completely made my night.

Several hours later, my ear is aching dully, but even that can't remove the smile on my face. I need to clean up and go to bed, but I'm way too excited to have a chance at sleeping.

You can see my ear here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's coming...!

I've done all the scheduling for my upcoming surgery that there is to do. I have my days off from work, as does my support person (I heart you, E!), and I have our hotel reservation, and I have the surgery itself scheduled. It's happening!

Being the queen of stress that I am, I'm still worried. I think my worry is in two parts. The first is simply that everything with the procedure goes smoothly. The doctor is a professional, and this looks to be a procedure that he's done quite a number of times, so I'm sure it will go very well. But as I've said in the past, I never let logic get in the way of a good anxiety attack. It seems to be simply the way I roll. I've learned so much about myself over this odyssey so far, and not all of it is positive; my anxiety about, like, everything is just another of those things. Fair enough. All my worry on that score will be moot on the 20th, after it's all done. So for the time being, I'll just go with it, and try not to make myself too crazy.

The second part of my worry, I figured out a few days ago. It's about my parents. They're not very accepting of my proposed changes, and would be very happy if I just forgot about all this madness and stayed the way I was. Which, of course, has a snowball's chance. But something like surgery... that seems pretty important. And if anything should go wrong, they'll be absolutely blind-sided with some really awful news. As much as they exasperate and upset me, I still think I should let them know.

I've discussed the situation with a number of people. One of my very close Second Life friends said "why do they have to know?" That is an excellent point; none of my family has seen me in the altogether since I was, what, 5? 6? And that surely won't be starting back up now. Another Second Lifer brought up the "what if, heaven forbid, something goes wrong?" Also a very valid point. They probably do need to know, just in case...

I've done quite a bit of thinking and worrying about this, and I think, based on the feedback I've gotten from everyone, that I'll tell my dad. The statement that he made during my coming-out talk with him, "whatever support you need, you will have," is carrying the day. If he wishes to tell my mother, or my sister, he can. That way, somebody will be in the loop, but it will be somebody with a more open mind, who might have a chance of handling it.

It's the least bad of the available options, I think. I feel that nothing with a gender transition is ever ideal - it's hard on everybody, emotionally, psychologically, and even physically, and there are people who simply can't make that transition in their hearts. It's the same thing that keeps so many of us in the closet, afraid to take that first step: we don't realize that we need to take a pretty big leap in our own hearts, before things can start to improve.

So, one day this will all be done, and my family will either be with me, or they won't. Parts will be, and are, with me, and I expect some parts to go away, probably forever. It's a shame that this will happen, but there's not really anything I can do, other than something that I won't do. All I can do is shrug to myself, and maybe hold out a little hope.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A new beginning

This afternoon, I had some time between my hair removal appointments, so I took the opportunity to call the surgeon's office, to talk to them about orchiectomy. This has been one of the few definite items on my transition-to-do list, and it has been at the top of that list for a while now, so it was a simple decision to go ahead and schedule the procedure.

This marks a big step forward for me. Up to now, the alterations I've made to myself have either been minor, or can be reversed without much difficulty. This is a very different kind of turning point, because this change can not be undone. It is a rubicon, and there will be no turning back once it is crossed.

Not long ago, I would have been frightened beyond comprehension by such a point, but now it solidifies my resolve to see my path through to the end. I have worked very hard to make it this far, and some possible conclusions to this odyssey are now coming into view. All these tasks I've had to perform and obstacles I've had to overcome... it feels like all these pieces are at last approaching their final places. I am beginning to feel comfort in myself for the first time, as a result of all those pieces. I will not give that up, now that it is within reach. I will not give up. It is within neither my desire nor my power to stop, pause, divert, or change my destination.

Now it is up to me to simply take the step. And take it I shall.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Shifting perspectives

I had a very interesting session with my therapist this week. For the entirety of it, we talked about my family's lack of acceptance, and what it means to me. And what I learned during this session, was something that would have taken me a long time to put together on my own.

I have left them behind.

That was quite a revelation to me. In thinking about it over the past few days, it's exactly correct. I am the one who's moving, changing, growing, and they are not willing to come along with me on my journey. In essence, I have rejected them. I presented myself and my path, and welcomed them to come along with me. They declined my invitation, so they are left to fend for themselves.

As I write these words, they sound so cold-blooded. But they are also absolutely true. I want to make my world into a place that's right for me — something that is well within my power to do — and they're not even willing to allow me to do that. I am long past the time of my youth, when they get to make decisions for me, and so they no longer to have the right to question the way in which I will live.

Many trans people worry, rightfully so, that their families will not accept the reality that is presented to them. It is a very real concern, that any given trans person will lose their family, simply because they want to follow where their heart tells them they must go. The family is the base, from which we all spring. Each person's family is supposed to be there for them, nurturing them, and loving them, and accepting them, no matter what. No matter what.

But "is supposed to be" and "is" are often two vastly different things.

Everyone needs a family of some sort. Since the people I've known as my family up to now are unwilling to take on that responsibility, it's up to me to find a new family, one which does accept and support and love me unconditionally. I do have such people in my life now, and I am grateful for them, every day. It's just such a incomprehensible change that I must now make, that the people who have meant "family" to me for my whole life, will no longer claim that label in my heart. I must welcome my new family members, at the same time I mourn the loss of the old. That will take some time.

The strangest part of this, to me, is the feeling of liberation that I had on the following days. I was no longer seeing myself as being held back by anyone but me. I was able to take a new step, and I can feel another one lurking under the surface of my thoughts. Limitations that were once firmly in place, seem to have fallen away, and I feel like I'm able to consider new directions for my path.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The green-eyed monster

Jealousy.

It's one of the seven deadly sins. It is a destroyer of souls. It is an eradicator of joy and grace and love. It brings out the absolute worst in people, and turns them into caricatures of pettiness and alienation.

And it's come for a visit to my heart.

I know it's terrible for me to feel this way, and it's causing me a lot of stress that I do. A couple of people, neither of whom I know directly, are in very good situations. Both are trans girls, and both have completed their transitions. They're both extremely attractive, and seem to have winning personalities. Both have love and companionship, and seem comfortable and happy with their respective places in life.

And for my part, I have none of those things.

I'm still struggling day by day to figure out just who I'm supposed to be. Some days, like today, I get an "I have absolutely no business doing this" feeling. Other times, it's "I'll never get finished", or "I'll never pass, I'll just look like some dumb guy forever", or some other terrible thoughts. And somehow, I developed these awful feelings about people who I don't even really know, that are completely unjustified. They've probably both been in the exact same place that I am right now, and they might have even had those same feelings then, that I have now.

And as if that wasn't enough, I discovered that I have a terrible, hopeless crush on a girl. Not that most crushes aren't hopeless in the first place; just by their very nature, they're doomed to end in a broken heart. Mine came crashing to a fiery end this morning, and it hurts so much. The tears have been threatening to start all day, but I just don't want to go through that. The worst part is that I didn't even realize how much she meant to me until now, so a lot of these feelings seem like they're coming right out of the blue.

I don't think there's really any solution for me, other than to realize what I'm feeling, and that it is about as unproductive as any feelings can possibly be, and to work through them. It'll take time, and plenty of patience, and probably some tears, and perhaps a willingness to forgive myself.

Monday, October 5, 2009

It's been a while

I came out to someone today, probably the first person I've come out to in a couple months.

It's interesting, I've had that same discussion with a whole bunch of people, and for a while there they were happening pretty often. Now that almost all my friends know, it's kind of fallen by the side, and I'm not really having to do it much any more. Don't misunderstand, I'm glad that people know and all that, but, I don't know, it almost seems like something is missing.

I've heard accounts of people post-transition, who think, "what now?" All the work and stress and so on, and once it's done and gone, what now indeed. Perhaps I've reached some intermediate what-now point.

There are a few more people I need to tell; a few other friends don't know yet, and then all of my extended family on my mom's side are still in the dark. My friends are all here, and it's just a matter of gathering a little courage and doing it. My family is another story. I don't live near any of them, so I think it might be more practical to talk to them over the phone. And based on the reactions from most of my family members so far, I'm not too excited about trying that again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

A light in the darkness

I feel like I've been fighting to get out from underneath the dark cloak of depression, that has settled on me once again. There's no way to tell when it will come around, and there's no way to tell when it will vanish, nor how long it will be gone. I just have to be thankful when it does go away, and try to have patience and hope when it does come back around again.

The past couple weeks have been especially hard. It has been a bit since the darkness has come around, and I was hoping that it had perhaps gone for good. Though as Frost wrote, nothing gold can stay, and sure enough, the gold faded and tarnished and turned black. It came on so fast, and I was caught completely unaware. I don't think it was any worse this time than it ever was before, but time thankfully grants a degree of forgetfulness.

This past week, though, has shone a bright light under the cloak. I've been making steady progress toward my goal, though I have an inkling that my recent transition related stuff has been an oblique part of the problem. It's just an idea, though, so I'll keep it to myself for now.

This week I managed not one, not two, but three days out in femme mode. Wednesday was nice, though I was too tired to properly enjoy it. Friday, on the other hand, was the real turning point; on my way out, I could not help but have a big smile on my face. And this afternoon was the icing on the cake. I felt extremely good, and I think I looked pretty darned good, and that just made me so happy. And the fact that we had an extremely good gaming session today didn't hurt things at all.

Tomorrow I have my next appointment with the electrologist; I'm actually getting pretty excited about all the progress we're making. I feel like I've been a bit of a bore here lately, since that's about all I've had to talk about, but that's been foremost in my thoughts. Now that my emotions have come back to a place where I can function, I'm sure I'll have a wider variety of topics, and a more encouraging amount of words to share.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Gauntlet of pain

My third hour of electrolysis is done. This appointment was the difficult one - the upper lip. Despite applying some numbing agent about a half-hour before we started, there was still a good amount of pain. My electrologist worked quickly, and finished up in just about an hour. Once she finished, she told me that she was with me, in my place, for every single one. She has been through facial electrolysis of her own, and so she has great empathy for everyone who lies on her table. Those kinds of things assure me that I chose the right person.

The work was done a few hours ago, and the redness has gone, but there is still a little bit of swelling, and it will be tender for the next couple days.

My next appointment will complete my lower lip. After that, further appointments ought to be able to get everything that pops up.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Two down, more yet to come

My second electrolysis appointment was this evening. We've completed the initial clearing of everything on my neck and chin, and even got a couple long hairs out of my left ear, of all places. Things were starting to hurt a bit more this time; apparently there are a lot of nerve endings along the jawline. Right now, two hours after my appointment finished, my face is extremely itchy, and I'm doing my absolute best to not touch it.

The only major parts left are my upper lip and the area directly underneath my lower lip. The really sensitive parts. The really painful parts. I'm to arrive at her office an hour early for my next appointment, so I can apply some numbing agent to myself, and give it time to work before we start.

I'm feeling a whole lot better about this process this time, than I did last time. Though I think that was more a general emotional state, than anything having to do with the procedure.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I'm glad that's over...

...whatever it was.

This week was shaping up to be an utter nightmare. It felt like I was sliding right back into the old depression from last year. Late last week was starting to get progressively more difficult; my energy level was low, and it felt like things were piling on once again. I saw my therapist on Tuesday, and we had a particularly difficult session. At one point she asked if I could look in the mirror and honestly say that I loved myself. I paused for a bit before I even opened my mouth, which told us both the real answer to her question.

She suggested that it might have something to do with my aunt's recent visit, and the contrast of her response to me with the rest of my family's responses. She is quite accepting, and even offered to connect me with some distant relatives who also have a trans person in their immediate family. My immediate family, of course, is quite a bit less than accepting. I'm sure that has brought back at least some of the stress that I thought was gone. I mean, it's pretty obvious that my family is having a lot of trouble with me, but it's neither my fault, nor my problem, and yet I keep making it into my problem. I can understand intellectually that it's them, not me, but that doesn't stop my heart from breaking when I think that I might no longer have my family for support once my transition goes further.

On Wednesday and Thursday, my feelings actually seemed to get worse. Wednesday was still just a down time, and I didn't have much interest in anything. During the day, I started answering a list of questions my therapist gave me for homework; they all asked about things with my family, and they weren't pleasant to think about. Once Thursday rolled around, I couldn't sit still. I kept trying to do different things, but I couldn't generate any enthusiasm for anything. I must have cycled through a half-dozen different things in the space of an hour on Thursday evening, and all each new activity did was make me angrier. I ended up just going to bed out of sheer frustration.

But then when I went to C & E's last night... all that bad stuff just evaporated. In the car on the way over, I felt so comfortable and happy; it didn't quite make sense to me. The entire evening was a smiley time, and when I was cleaning up before bed, I felt like it was easy to love myself. Such a huge switch. I'm still at a loss for words about it.

This morning it occurred to me that it could just be a PMS-type thing again, but it seemed to last a bit longer this time, and also came a little too quickly on the heels of the last one. Or maybe I'm not necessarily on a cycle, but have extreme emotional responses to things now, and it will take some time to learn how to deal with them.

Sometimes this whole transition thing is very, very confusing.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Progress, or something

Over the past month, I've been trying to gather the courage to start back up with my hair removal. The laser treatment has been done for a few months now, so it's time to start electrolysis.

It's been hard to get going - a lot more difficult than starting any other process has been for me - and I'm not at all sure why. It's not the pain, or the cost, or anything about the procedures that is causing me anxiety. I knew about all those long ago, and I've known for a long time that I would need to go through the process of finding an electrologist. I feel like I've reached some impasse, and even this is not the thing I need to do in order to progress. In previous months, the various stumbling points have been related directly to the things I needed to start in order to progress - physical changes that needed to happen. This is another physical change, of course, but it just doesn't feel like this is some sort of turning point for me.

Regardless, it's something that I've needed to get started, so I went through my typical stalling and anxiety. I made my telephone calls, and did all my stuff, and found an electrologist with whom I'm comfortable. Now that I have finally found a person to do the work, it's just not that big a deal. I had my first hour of treatment yesterday. It was mildly painful, but it was WAY less so than a similar hour of laser treatment. A day later, my chin is still tender, but things are underway.

So why am I not happy that I'm finally progressing again?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Turnabout

Last night as I was attempting (and failing) to sleep, I had a moment of intuition. I've been feeling weird lately about seeing and meeting new people, even if our meeting has nothing to do with my gender stuff. My body is no longer "standard" male, and though I still present that way most of the time, I'm not sure how well I can pass in that role anymore. And more to the point, I'm not sure how much I want to pass in that role anymore. But of course, there are physical parts of me that aren't quite ready to make the full-time switch, and a whole lot of emotional parts that aren't ready either.

Quite the conundrum, though I don't think there's actually anything to "figure out". I'll just have to keep having courage, and moving in a good direction, and just take it day by day.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Party!

You say it's your birthday!
It's my birthday too, yeah!
They say it's your birthday!
We're gonna have a good time!
I'm glad it's your birthday!
Happy birthday to you!

— The Beatles


It's that time again... time to get older! Wait, no, that's not quite it. It's birthday time, so it's time to have fun and celebrate. Yes, that's better.

Last year, I had a whole bunch of people over, and that was fun, but not quite what I wanted this time. Instead, I was hoping for something a little simpler, just dinner with some friends. So I invited C & E, and K & L, and the other K. And of course since it's my birthday, I also wanted to make something exotic for dinner. This is me we're talking about, after all.

Everything went fine, with the typical dramatic moments. My dish, a beef wellington... I've done better. I was actually thrown out of my kitchen for part of it, because I was having trouble with the pastry, and starting to get upset. But it was edible, and everyone enjoyed everything, so it was fun.

It was also K's first time to see me in femme-mode. Both he and L missed pronouns a time or two, but they spend very little time around me in girl mode, so I just corrected and moved on. I have no illusions that it will take some people a while to get used to the new words; K has known me for longer than anybody else, with the exception of my family, so he's got a whole lot of history to unlearn. C and E have a whole lot of head start on everyone, and even they slip every once in a while.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

One step forward, and something else entirely

Today was quite the emotional rollercoaster. Huge amounts of stress, with a stress chaser, followed by a pretty nice evening.

My aunt is in town this weekend, which is pretty awesome in general. She came to town to see if she could help with my dad and his drinking. We plotted a little, and decided that we were going to have an intervention for him on Saturday morning. That was almost as stressful as when I came out to my mom. When the time came, we all stalled a bit, but once we got started, we all said the things we wanted to say. It went about as well as I had expected it to go, which is to say it didn't seem to make an immediate dent. I guess that can be as much a process as anything I've been dealing with lately. Patience, I guess, is the word here.

After all the morning fireworks, my aunt and I had plans to have lunch, and do some food shopping. We had traded a few emails a few weeks ago, and in that exchange I had told her that I had something I needed to talk about (the coming-out talk, of course), and that we could do that while she was here. Unfortunately there's no way that I've found to make that not sound ominous, so I think she was a little concerned. As we drove to lunch, we had a good talk about what's going on with me, and where I'm headed, and the discussion continued as we ate. We talked about not just me and my path, but a lot of the family stuff that's going on.

So after that, we went down to the Central Market, since I had to do some shopping for tomorrow night's dinner; some friends are coming over for my birthday, and I'm going to make a beef wellington. We had a super fun time, and I got some really nice food. Once we got back and put away all the groceries, we talked a little more, and I showed her photos and some of the things I've been doing over the past several months, and played my drums for her a little bit. Then we headed back over to my folks' and had dinner and birthday cake and presents. So it ended up being a nice and relaxed evening, after all the excitement of earlier in the day.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's "Beat up on Trinity" time again

I have this terrible habit of beating up on myself. It usually happens whenever there is a new hurdle in my path, and I'm having a hard time even jumping, let alone getting over it. And new hurdles usually coincide with something coming up that I need to work on, that makes me feel less-than-complete.

The current hurdle is my dumb facial hair, which has returned. My course of laser treatment is done, and though I could go back and have them treat the area again, it's probable that there would be very little ultimate change to the areas that remain. The only result is that the completion of getting rid of it would be delayed. So that isn't much of an option.

The only other option - and I knew this would come up eventually - is to find an electrologist, and start a course of electrology treatments. It will be painful, and it will be time-consuming and costly, and all that... but in the end, my goal will be reached, and I will not have to think about it any more. So why don't I just do what I need to do?

Because I'm afraid.

I don't know what is making me so afraid, though. I've been doing various other things with various other professionals: laser hair removal, voice therapy, psychotherapy. I've been out into the wide world, with people who didn't know me at all. I've driven across the country and been my girl-self with a bunch of people I'd never met in the flesh before; more than a couple of them commented how settled I seemed in the girl role. In all honesty, I do feel settled when I don't have to think about all the stuff I have to do. I guess it's when I start thinking about it, is when the trouble starts. Like now.

A friend recently asked if there was something she could do to help. Actually, others have offered the same thing in the past, when I had other difficult steps to take. It would certainly be easy to simply have someone else make the initial call, but how would that really benefit me? I'm not pushing my boundaries, I'm not growing, I'm not improving. It seems like each one of these hurdles is another opportunity for me to break out of the prison of fear that still lives in my heart, even for just a little while.

It seems like every time I write about this, I end up with just as many questions as when I started. I'll figure this out one of these days.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Trinity gets political!

I have long held mixed opinions about people who are strongly involved in the political process. On one hand, I admire them for having the courage to follow through with their convictions. Political change can often take years, or even generations, and one might never reap the benefits of changes that they started in their own lifetimes. It can be a very selfless act, sacrificing one's time for positive change, which they may never see, but is truly necessary.

On the other hand, I wonder why anyone would beat their head against the wall of no-progress and tyranny of the majority. Regime changes can often interrupt positive change, and set activists back, possibly to the very beginning of their process. Also, many politicians are not in the game to make positive contributions, but rather to thwart any progress by "the other side", simply because it is the opposition. And that's not to mention the corrupt politicians who sell themselves to the highest bidder, and make it impossible for ordinary citizens to be honestly represented in the government.

Earlier this week, the United States Senate introduced a new bill, S.1584, which is more popularly known as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. It provides protection for employees from being fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. This is something for which activists have been lobbying for many years now, but for a variety of reasons, it hasn't done well. Earlier this year, the House of Representatives passed a version of ENDA, H.R. 3017, which finally included protections for trans people. The Senate version takes the similarly bold and necessary step of including all groups. I'm not sure when the Senate might vote on the measure.

This afternoon, I sent messages to Senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, who represent the state of Texas, urging them to support this new resolution. I got an automated response from Senator Cornyn, and nothing yet from Senator Hutchison. But this is the first issue about which I've ever felt strongly enough to take the time and effort to contact people who represent me, to ask them to support me by supporting the legislation. I don't know if my efforts will come to anything, but I can say that I put forth some effort and used my voice to make a statement.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Checkup... thumbs up!

I had a checkup with my ob/gyn this afternoon. He wanted to see me 4 months since I last went, and that time was up about now; plus, I had some questions to ask him about a few different things. It took forever to actually get into the office, as his staff had apparently overbooked him pretty badly today. Once I finally got to see him, we talked about how I was feeling (good), and how the hormones were doing (well), and if I was happy with the results so far (yes).

For my questions, I had three for him. The first was his opinion on what progesterone might do for me. He basically said "not much", which was in line with what the plastic surgeon said. No surprises there.

The next question was about finding a surgeon to perform an orchiectomy. We talked a little about my overarching plan for the surgeries that I wanted, and I told him, as I've said all along, SRS is too big a surgery, and the risks totally outweigh the benefits that I could see it bringing me. My dysphoria is more social than physical, and with this surgery I'm looking to simplify things for me, rather than to radically reshape my body. He said that he didn't perform the surgery, and that I would need to see a urologist. I asked if he knew a doctor who did perform them, and he said the one person he knew in town didn't do them anymore. But he said that he would make some calls, and he would get back to me in a couple of weeks. I figured that since he does treat a number of trans people, he would be in a much better position than me to know, or to be able to find somebody. Also, on a more personal note, I'm his patient, and I feel certain that he wouldn't send me to somebody who he didn't trust, or who didn't have a good reputation.

My last question was something my therapist mentioned, regarding a letter that I could take with me that briefly notes both my names, and says that I am under treatment for gender reassignment. Now that I'm going out in public, that's one thing that has concerned me a bit - my identification doesn't match my presentation, and that could cause more trouble than I care to have. He said yes, he's the one who gives those, and immediately got one of his office people to write one up for me. She had a form letter, so she just had to put in my names and print it out for the doctor to sign. It was simple as could be.

He wants to see me for another checkup in 6 months or so. If all goes according to my vague plan for facial surgery early next year, I'll get in to see him before I head off to the plastic surgeon.

Things just keep coming together bit by bit. When I take a step back and look at everything that's happening, I'm very excited with my progress, and it brings a smile to my face. It's actually happening!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Grrrr...

So right now I'm experiencing a measure of what I'm guessing PMS is all about. I talked with some of the girls I know in Second Life, and they all said, yes, that's about how it is. It's certainly not the best thing in the world.

Yesterday on my bus ride home, I was suddenly struck by such a wave of anger, I could not wait to get off and away from all those people. It really surprised and concerned me. Where did it come from? Who was making me so upset? Surely it couldn't have been my hormone levels, since my dosages have remained the same? Or perhaps my body reacts to them in a cycle of some sort, of which I have been unaware up to now. I spent most of last night wanting to tear into somebody, or take the mutes off my drums and wail on them for a while. All my aggressive feelings made me wonder if my male parts were trying to reassert themselves in some vain attempt. I just didn't know what was going on.

Today, I've got a low headache and I feel like I'm about to burst into tears at any moment. I feel ugly and awful and disgusting. I don't think I slept very well, because I looked very tired as I was getting ready for work this morning. As I was driving to the park and ride, I decided that I just couldn't deal with people today, so I went back home, and am taking a sick day. I'm just reading and taking it easy, and I'll probably have a nap in a while.

I guess the part that worries me so much is the speed with which it came on, and the fact that it seemed totally unrelated to anything that was going on around me. This is totally new for me, and it's not a little frightening. Talking with some people who had a better clue what was going on definitely helped soothe my fears. Hopefully tomorrow I'll feel a bit better?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Out and about

This past Sunday was a big day for me. Not only did it signal a return to a more normal Monday-through-Friday work schedule (yaaay!), but it was also a full day of presenting femme out in the world. I was, of course, scared to death for a decent amount of it, but I got out there and did it, and lived through everything.

First, my friend L and I had planned to see the new Harry Potter film together, and since she was out of town on opening night, we decided instead that Sunday was the day. I invited a few other friends along - C, E, and K - and E declared that she would only go to the movies with me if I presented female. Ok, sure. It surprised me a little bit that I wasn't more hesitant when she first made her requirement, but once I got out there and was trying to get out of the car, it jumped up to a whole new level of significance.

But neither the movie nor my friends were going to wait for me, so I got out and walked to the box office. I got my ticket without incident, and we all met up inside. As we walked to the theatre, L asked quietly if I was still breathing, which helped lighten my panic a bit. And of course, everybody had to go to the bathroom before sitting down, so I went too. This wasn't the first time I've been in a ladies' room, but it was the first time I've been in a ladies' room when there were other ladies in there. One looked me right in the face, and made no reaction. So I guess everything was ok.

After the movie ended and we were walking out, there were a bunch of people coming toward us, and I just tried to not think about them too much. I've still got a way to go to get over all my anxiety, but at least I'm out there confronting it, rather than wallowing in it.

The next encounter: my role-playing gaming group met on Sunday too. Neither of them had seen me in girl-mode before, so that was a new experience for everyone. We didn't really get much gaming done since we were sort of in-between campaigns, but we did a lot of visiting, and it was a good opportunity to practice some of the new voice things I've been learning. J didn't do too well with either name or pronouns at the start, but he started getting it a bit later on. D did pretty well for most of the afternoon; he ma'am'ed me a whole bunch of times, without even hesitating, which made me feel really nice. But for a first time, it went well; everybody made an effort, and I made an effort not to be upset when they inevitably slipped. It will get easier on everyone as time goes on.

So now the gamers know the real me. That's been a huge emotional hurdle for me, coming out to them. I'm sure it doesn't matter to them how I present, so I think I'll just present girl-mode to them from now on. It's something I'll do all the time eventually, and they're another group who knows me and cares for me, so that can be another comfortable part of my week.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nobody got the memo...

I'm still catching up on some of my posts, so please bear with me.

Last Monday, I went out into the wide world in girl-mode for the very first time. It was scary, and exhilarating, and fun, and ultimately it was no big deal.

My friend P, who I haven't seen in ten years, was in town for a visit, and we had planned to have dinner that evening. He's been so supportive and almost nonchalant about my change, and I thought it would be fun to spend the evening with him in my proper form. I picked him up from the airport, and off we went. I had to go by C & E's for some last minute help with the dress I was making for my vacation, so that was our first stop. E helped me with the things I needed, and then we visited for a while. P declared that he was terribly hungry, and since I hadn't eaten much since lunch, I was as well. E headed off to bed, and C, P and I went out for dinner. It had gotten rather late, so the first 3 places we tried to go were closed. We finally found a place, and went in.

I was first through the door, and was surprised that I felt very little anxiety. I was with two people who knew me and cared for me, and I knew that they would not put up with anyone treating me badly. We sat, and ordered, and ate, and left. Nobody batted an eye, or stared, or said a thing.

The next day, as P and I (in boy-mode) were having dinner, we talked about the experience a bit. I told him that I have a lot of anxiety about people treating me badly when they first see me. His comment was that "nobody got the memo that you're the center of the universe." And he was precisely correct - I'm not the center of the universe. Everybody is wrapped up in their own stuff, that most will probably not take much notice of me at all. I'm weird, but I'm not threatening them, so... so what.

That same phrase became my mantra a few days later, when I was halfway across the country, and about to walk out of my hotel room, to meet a bunch of people I'd never seen in real life. Nobody got that memo, Trinity. Nobody really cares. It helped a lot, and it continues to help me. I'm getting the feeling that yes, I really can do this. So I'm going to try to get out there and do it.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pride

This will be one in a series of catchup posts. I should have posted this two weeks ago, when it actually happened, but for one reason or another, I didn't.

The Houston Pride Parade occurred on the 27th of June, and despite my typical crowd anxiety (again with the anxiety?), I really wanted to go. I certainly wasn't going to brave an estimated 150,000 person crowd alone, so I asked L if she was available that day. She already had plans, and funnily enough, she said she's got crowd anxiety stuff too. I mentioned that it was occurring to C and E, and that I would really like to go see. C volunteered, and so off we went.

I debated for a few days on whether I wanted to present femme there. I thought that of any place, that would be a safe enough place. After all, these were some of "my people". But then all my anxiety basically overruled my reasoning; at the time, I had not been in girl-mode out "in the wild", and I was still very uninterested in even taking the risk of being the recipient of pointing and laughing. Me and my anxiety. I don't say, you say? Sure, sure.

So we went. We parked several blocks away, as I knew that both traffic and parking was going to be a complete nightmare. On the walk to the parade route, I kept fighting the urge to turn around. I really can't stand crowds; a crowd situation can, and often does, turn even the most mild-mannered person into a comple jerk. Shove, shove, push, and the inevitability of somebody taller standing in front of little old me. Sigh.

We got to the route about 20 minutes before the parade was to start, and worked our way slowly down the side of the street, looking for a good place to stand. We found a spot not too far down, behind a group of girls who had brought their lawn chairs. I could see! That was a bit of a choke point for all the people walking by, so there was plenty of movement there, but we were able to squeeze in behind the seated people without too much problem.

The parade started late. That's a given for something like this, though. I can't remember how late, but I think it was at least a half-hour. Maybe closer to an hour? However late it was, it gave me the opportunity to do some good people watching. And because we were right next to a constant stream of people moving by us, there was a lot of really interesting people-watching to do. People in every size, shape, color, and description. There were also several guys on the street, in the parade route, apparently trying to rile up the crowd.

One the parade started, some of the groups who were represented surprised me a little. There were probably a dozen different churches and religious groups. There was a couple of legal offices. All the candidates for the upcoming mayoral election were there; some even had floats. The diversity councils from several of the large oil companies had their entire contingents marching. The Houston Pride Band was there. HTGA and STAG were there. PFLAG was certainly there. Several LGBT-positive nightclubs had groups there. It was a cacophony of different groups, but it was a beautiful noise.

The crowd got more rowdy as the parade went on, which is fairly typical when there is a lot of drinking going on. Drunken gays and lesbians are just as boorish as drunken straight people. The gay guys who basically pushed in front of me and prevented me from seeing, were completely obnoxious and really drunk. There was another girl who insisted on having her hands on her hips, with her elbows way out wide, practically poking me in the still-tender boobs every time she moved. The supremely drunk lesbian to my left, who could barely stand up, and whose slurred speech could barely be understood, was just embarrassing. In the "we're just like everyone else" theme, drunken assholes are drunken assholes, no matter their race, creed, color, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Why do people insist on doing that to themselves, and ruining everyone else's fun?

After the parade was over, C and I started walking to find a place to get some food. I had been so worked up, I hadn't eaten dinner, and I think C ate a bit of a snack before we left, so we were both pretty hungry. We settled on a pizza place that sold by the slice, several blocks away from where we stood to watch the parade. There were several other parade-watchers there, so it was an interesting crowd. I was still too keyed up to eat much, but was able to take the raw edge off my hunger. C's stomach is a bottomless pit, so he just piled it in.

On the trek back to the car, we passed by a group in which C thought he recognized someone. We stopped to talk to them, and the person turned out to not be who he thought it was. Though one of the group of three was fairly drunk, she was still very respectful and pleasant, and wanted pictures of both of us. It was cute.

So all in all it was more positive than negative. I got home foolishly late, and I was very tired, but it was a good experience.

Meeting the Fracturelings

Today was quite a full day. I made it through several firsts, not the least of which was my in-office meeting with the plastic surgeon, and in femme-mode, no less. His office was barely-restrained pandemonium, so we were running quite late when he was finally able to talk to me. But talk, he did! He was a whirlwind of information, and sometimes it was even a little hard to keep up. He did a really good job of explaining things, and augmented a lot of his explanations with pictures. He gave me a very comfortable feeling about his level of expertise, and much more importantly, his dedication to his craft, and his pure enjoyment of what he does. He helps people, and it comes through loud and clear that he gets a great deal of satisfaction from it.

So I think I'll have him do the work we've discussed. And my tentative timeline is January 2010. That seems like plenty of time for me to get things finished up which need to be finished.

The other big important thing that I did today was that I spent the entire day in girl-mode. And I was in my hotel room for very little of it. I went over to N and B's to meet some of the Fracturelings who were in town for Fracturecon, though most were either asleep or elsewhere. I had a good hour of conversation with N before I had to leave for the drive into Chicago for my consultation with the surgeon.

Once I got to Chicago, I met up with J for lunch before the appointment, and she came with me to the session with the doctor, and then after some mind-bending traffic, she came back to Milwaukee with me. We had a super pleasant time together, and seeing her again tomorrow will be another fun time.

One thing that multiple people have said to me, is how settled within myself that I seem to be. At the time, I thought, oh no way, I'm just out here flailing. But the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I've been going out in girl-mode for around a year, and I've gotten much more comfortable with both my physical presentation, and with the role which my presentation entails.

The other thing that struck me was the complete lack of reaction most people had to me. I did get a few funny looks when I was picking a few last-minute items up at the grocery for the dinner I cooked for everyone. But I was there to get groceries, and most people were there to do the same thing. When J and I had lunch, it was almost exactly the same way; we sat and ate, and everyone else was just doing the same thing. So it's helping to drive the point home that either (a) I pass really well, or (b) most people couldn't care less. I'm assuming choice B.

I am just so full of good feelings from meeting all the Fracture people in real-life tonight. It was a completely affirming thing, as I always knew it would be.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Busy, busy!

You know that old saying, "the harder I work, the behinder I get"? That's just how I'm feeling right now. I've got three blog posts that I want to make, dating from last weekend, and I've got more work to do on my dress, and I'm in the middle of an across-the-country road trip, and, and, and. I feel like I'm not finishing anything properly, and being the perfectionist that I am, doing something halfway is probably worse than not doing it at all.

Sigh.

I'm whining. I'm tired, and cranky, and not very comfortable, and I still have a couple hours' work to finish up some important things on my new dress before I can go to bed.

Road trips are no fun. I always forget that, and then I'm given the rudest of awakenings when I take one. They're exhausting, and the road has absolutely no mercy - you have to complete the distance, no matter what. But, I'm halfway done, and I'm doing it, and when I get to the end and see everyone who I'm going to see, it will be worth it. Tomorrow will be better. The reason for my journey will come to pass. I will be surrounded by friends, and there will be fun and merriment.

Right now, I would be content with a refreshing beverage, and my work being done. That doesn't seem like too much to ask. Magic 8-ball says: my sources say no.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Exercise works for other things too

We all know that exercise is not usually the easiest thing to do - it taxes the body, so that we can learn how to make our body work better. Voice exercises, as I'm finding out, are no different. The first few times I did my readings, I either overdid a bit, or I'm just not used to the amount of breathing that I'm doing; I felt faint and lightheaded, which made me feel a little below average, and also rather frustrated me. Since then, however, I've gotten used to it a bit, and I'm not having nearly as much trouble, either physically or emotionally. So, it seems to be working, which, of course, is the point of the whole thing.

I asked S, my speech therapist, whether it would be worthwhile to record myself when doing my exercises, and she said that yes, it would give me some good feedback to hear what these new things are doing for me. The first couple days, I just spoke my phrases, and didn't record. I just wanted to get the hang of it, and, truth be told, I was a little afraid, based on the non-progress from my earlier attempts. Yesterday evening, I felt like I had it pretty well, and my curiosity finally overcame my fear, so I started the recording program.

Well. Veeery interesting. I can certainly hear the difference in quality. I know that what I'm doing right now is exaggerated, but I think I've got an idea of where my voice training will be going over the next weeks. This morning, I recorded a few more of my phrases, just to see if I was hearing things, or if it was a fluke. No, there's definitely... something there.

I'm actually kind of excited to continue these sessions, since I can already hear some improvement. I'm making some progress!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Voices inside my head

This morning, I went to my first appointment with the voice therapist. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the things she had me do - read a bunch of words and phrases, sometimes with differing inflections - didn't really surprise me. One of the exercises turned out really silly; I read the same phrase several times, stressing a different word each time, and she interjected questions which prompted the new stress. I'm not sure who started laughing first, but we both had fun with that one.

My first "homework" exercise, which I am to do three times a day, is to read several words and phrases, working on breath control in a particular way, and avoiding some of the things I currently do, which she pointed out to me as not particularly feminine. I'm set up to go weekly to work with her. I hope I do well, since this is one of the things that really causes me anxiety. It's also kind of amusing to me that all the work that we did in high school choir on posture and breath control, will be very helpful with my voice exercises.

Having to recall those exercises from high school reminded me of another important moment. The first, clearest memory that I have of gender weirdness occurred in choir class when I was a freshman. My voice hadn't yet started to change, and I was still a soprano, but almost all freshman boys, including me, went into boys' choir. While we were doing warmup exercises at the beginning of class one day, one of the guys who was sitting next to me happened to hear something a little strange, and moved so he could hear me. I was singing in my normal register, which just so happened to match that of our choir director - that of a girl. I took a bit of ribbing over that, but at the same time I remember feeling something else. Perhaps a feeling of rightness? Satisfaction that I was recognized in the way which I really felt? It registered as a weird feeling at the time, but it did make an impression. A few months later, shortly after the spring semester had started, puberty hit, and by the end of the school year I had turned into a baritone. But in retrospect, it was a rather nice affirmation, even if I didn't fully recognize it as one right then, and especially since it hadn't been meant that way.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A new dress for me

I've been invited to go to a wedding on July 11, and of course weddings and new dresses go hand in hand. And being the DIY girl that I am, I decided that I could make my own. I searched for quite a while for a pattern that was pretty close to what I wanted. Once I found one, I did my alterations and made a test version out of inexpensive fabric to test fit and look. I finished the test dress on Friday, and everything looked really good, so next I needed to pick fabric for the real one.

I asked E if she could spare a few hours yesterday, to go to the huge fabric store in town. She was able to go with me, and we took quite a while just looking at lots of fabrics of various kinds, and talking about what we both thought. She is a more experienced seamstress than I am, and she's also got really good color sense, so her input was very helpful. Finally, though, we found something that both of us thought was awesome. It's deep red, and it's crinkly, and it's going to be super cute.

After that, we went back to my place so we could check the fit of the test dress. Only one spot obviously didn't fit properly, and one other spot just needed a little more give, but the changes are pretty minor. I'll alter the pattern and start working on it tomorrow. It's going to be awesome!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Out, out, I say!

I finally managed to have my coming out talk with the final member of my gaming group tonight. Since we had plenty of time alone as I drove home (he gets road hypnosis pretty badly at night, so we carpool), I decided that I had stalled for long enough, and started out with "there's something I need to talk to you about."

I had to do a little more explaining to him, though I think it was more clarifying just what was going on, rather than him not knowing what the word meant. He's a pretty smart guy, and he thinks on his feet very well, so he had questions almost instantly. Some of his questions were a bit personal, but I tried to answer them as clearly as I was willing. I'm sure he'll have many more questions as time goes on, as he's a very inquisitive sort. But he said that I could count him among the wildly supportive. Yaay!

Earlier this week, I had a talk with another of my coworkers. We planned to take a walk to get breakfast, while I told him whatever it was that I needed to tell him. I was running late that day, of all days, so we were a bit rushed. I got everything out that I wanted to say, and he was supportive and understanding. He mirrored some of the thoughts about the boss and some of the other members of our group, of the other guys at work who know. He did caution me to be a bit careful of who I tell. I certainly have been; some people will know what's coming, and some people will have that bomb dropped on them at the very last minute.

It was a good week to come out to people. It's been a good month for transition-related things for me. Perhaps that it's Pride Month might have something to do with it? Or maybe it's just that I'm finally feeling comfortable with myself, and what I'm doing, and where I'm going, that it's becoming a lot easier to tell others about myself. That's such a good thing; a year ago it would have been next to impossible to imagine being where I am now.

It's late, so I'm off to dream happy dreams.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A happy fog

This morning was my phone consultation with the plastic surgeon. The procedure was interesting: I was to page a number at 9:00, and the doctor would then call me back at the number I left. The few minutes leading up to my call, though... my hands were shaking, and I had to pee. I just get too worked up over these things.

He called back after about 15 minutes, and immediately apologized for keeping me waiting. We talked about my coming to his office for an in-person consultation in early July, since I'll be passing through his city; we're all set up for that, and I just need to call his office tomorrow to confirm with his staff.

Then he got down to a short consultation. I should have made this post directly after the call, because I've forgotten some of the things he said. But I do remember that he was very excited about my eyes, and said that they were <gulp> beautiful, and that he could make me not just passable, but "a knockout". Gulp indeed. I have never in my life had somebody talk about me in such a way. I'm still not sure what to think about that. But it made me feel really nice.

He went through some details on some of the procedures he suggested, talking a bit about some of the reasoning, and differences in shape between boys' and girls' faces, and even some high-level overviews of what the procedures themselves entailed. That was pretty interesting. Seeing surgery programs on television gross me out, but hearing about these types of things in a more academic way really wakes up my how-it's-made, nuts-and-bolts persona.

At the end, he got down to pricing. Wow. We're talking decent car pricing. I knew it was going to be expensive, but not quite that expensive. I shall have to save my pennies. Many, many pennies.

After the consultation, I went to work, and I was in sort of a fog for most of the day. Me, a knockout? Half a day later, and I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that. But the fog in my head was a happy one, so I won't complain.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Response!

I received an email this morning from the plastic surgeon's assistant, asking if a Wednesday morning phone consultation would be good for me. I couldn't email back quickly enough to tell her that time would be fine! She will apparently follow up with instructions on what I'll have to do for the call; I don't expect to see those before tomorrow, when the office is actually open.

I've been waiting with bated breath to hear back, and now that I have, I'm very excited! I'm not at all sure what to expect. My standard response would be to begin worrying every possible thing, but I think I'll just let it go and see what happens.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A new page?

I've had a sneaking feeling in my heart for some time now, that with all this physical change, I'm on the verge of some sort of emotional or personal change too. There's some sort of big inflection point lurking out there, and I'm rushing headlong toward it. I don't know when I'll get there, and I don't know what will happen when I do reach it. And perhaps that's what is making me so crazy about the whole thing - I don't usually do well with The Unknown.

Lately, I've just wanted to take a breath and take a break from everything. Everything that I do that's typical, I just want to stop for a while. Take another look. See if it's really working.

But I worry that in all this pausing and reexamination, if I'm just trying to disconnect. I've spent all these years of my life being disconnected from everything, including myself. Now I'm able to connect on a real level with other people, and most importantly with myself. I am making connections. So why would I want to question those? Why would I want to risk those connections? Could it be too much, too fast? Or is it something else?

My mom has commented that since I've started coming out, that I've seemed much busier. And I certainly have been - I visit people, and do things online with people; for once, I've got a reasonably full social schedule. A bit limited, but I'm out and connecting with people. Busy in that way is good, isn't it? Well, for somebody who has always treasured her personal time, busy isn't quite as good as it sounds. I have basically one day each week when I can do my own thing, and most of the time I'm too tired on that day, so I end up doing nothing. And that frustrates me to no end. I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything.

I'm going to have to spend some more time figuring this out. Maybe I can take a partial break from some things. Pare down, but not cut off. I'm pretty mercenary with my time with work, but I don't want to be some unavailable ice-queen in my personal life too. I want to keep those connections that I've made. I want to make new connections. And I want to strike out and try some new things. To have the time to try new things. And maybe more importantly, to have the courage to try new things.

The good, the lame, and the painful

When the week started out, it seemed like it was going to be Week of Coming Out. Three coming-out conversations in as many days, wow! As the days wore on, well, lots of things sort of fell apart. Tuesday, I was able to have a talk with another of my coworkers, J, and he was mildly surprised, I think, but said that he's known another person who's transitioned before. So that worked out really well.

Just before lunchtime on Tuesday, another of the group asked if I minded his tagging along with J and I for lunch that day, and I said with a smile, "kind of, yes." That sort of ran the whole conversation straight off the rails; it was actually pretty funny. Once the first guy had his laughs and walked away, one of the other guys was curious about my "top secret lunch". I offered to give him a top-secret lunch of his own on the following day. He'll get one eventually, so now is as good a time as any, I reasoned. Wednesday lunchtime came, and he had something else going on. Thursday lunchtime came, and he'd apparently forgotten about the whole thing. I'm sure I'll have to make the suggestion again. He's a few years older than me, and he's pretty laid back, so I'm pretty positive that he'll be fine, though I'm guessing that he'll be more inquisitive than the other two who are in the loop.

Thursday, I was all set to come out to a member of my gaming group. We play way up on the north end of town on Thursdays, and it takes 30 or 40 minutes to get there. Alone in the car, time on our hands - about as perfect a time to have such a conversation that I can imagine. Well, he had to work late, and was really tired when he got home, and I got going kind of late, so we ended up not even going. Which means, of course, that we didn't get have our talk, either. I think he, like my coworker, has probably forgotten about the important conversation that I told him we needed to have. Next week, for sure! No, really, I'm serious. Serious Trinity is SERIOUS.

Ahem.

So, another thing that did happen this week, earlier today, in fact. I went for the first of my new laser hair removal treatments, on the bottom half of my body - legs and bottom. Oh. Em. Gee. I thought the upper lip was painful during my facial treatments? Child's play compared to some spots in this latest treatment. The treatment itself lasted a little over two hours; while the nurse was able to zip along pretty quickly with the laser probe, there was a LOT more area to cover. Once she got to the, erm, areas with lots of nerve endings... holy socks. And yaay, I get to do this two more times. Experience has taught me that subsequent treatments are never as bad as the first, but still.

Despite the initial pain, and the lingering discomfort, I feel a great sense of accomplishment. I decided that I wanted to do this, and I got everything set up for it, and I did it. Sometimes that feeling is hazy and amorphous, but in this case, it's very clear and definite, and I think it's almost even more important to me than the actual physical results of the treatment. Not to discount those, certainly; the experience is already helping me feel better about my body. It also seems to reinforce that I shouldn't be afraid of changes. Changes are what my whole journey is about: changes toward making me a happier, and more comfortable, and more "whole" person.