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.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

100th post!

How exciting, I have something really good to talk about, and on my centenary blog post too! Yaay me!

I spent some time this evening downloading all the images from yesterday's shoot from the memory card and picking through them. I'm still relatively new to doing digital photos, so it took me a while to do what little touching up they needed; there was some weird flare on one, and I adjusted the contrast on all of them. But I got them all finished and zipped up, so I had absolutely no excuse not to send them in. I completed the contact form on the surgeon's website, and then sent along the photos in a follow up email, as he requests.

So it's done. Now, I wait.

I want to thank everyone who's been following along for all hundred posts, and also those who have come in somewhere in the middle. I write this for you, as much as for me. You've all given me some lovely feedback on both the content and the style of my writing, and that's one of the things that keeps me coming back to write - your feedback. I hope I can remain interesting and engaging enough for another hundred posts, and I hope you'll continue to follow along with me as I make my journey. Much love to you all!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

We have photos!

L came over this afternoon to shoot photos of me. We spent a good while trying a couple different lighting schemes, and we got plenty of images that make me very happy. We did a set with me in boring-guy-mode, and then I went to change while she played around a little bit on Rock Band. We were both nervous about the whole 'first time seeing Trinity in girl mode' thing, but it was just fine. We shot another set of she-me, and then a couple just for fun. They turned out really awesome! Now I've got images to send in to the plastic surgeon, and can get that whole ball rolling. More progress!

After we finished up doing photos, we sat and visited for a while. We had sort of lost contact for a bit, or as much as two people who follow each other's blogs and twitter streams can, anyway. She's a lovely girl with a big heart, and I realize that I've missed her company a whole lot.

It's interesting how some people react to seeing me in femme-mode for the first time. Some just try to treat it as no big deal, which is nice from the standpoint of not making me feel like a circus attraction, but at the same time it almost feels a little dismissive. I spend a good amount of effort to look nice, and to have that apparently ignored, well, that's a little bit of a disappointment. If that makes me vain, well, I guess I can live with that. On the other end of the spectrum, there have been a couple people who actually stared open-mouthed for several seconds. Those times were more than a little creepy, as one might expect. L's response was somewhere in the middle - she definitely gave me a good look, but also gave a quick smile and a nice compliment.

Today was just generally awesome in all aspects. Progress for my transition, some nice personal time with a lovely friend, and just a nice smiley afternoon.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

All sorts of progress

Near the end of a pretty busy day today, I decided that it was finally time to make one of my important calls. I've had the phone number for the voice therapy clinic ready to dial for a couple weeks now, and simply haven't had the courage to dial it.

In my office, we have a common area upstairs, which is normally pretty deserted. I walked up, and sure enough, there was nobody to be seen. I sat for a few minutes with my phone in my shaking hands before pressing 'send'. I just answered the questions they had to ask, including the inevitable "why do you want to come see us?" I told them that I'm trans, and that I needed help getting my voice to sound more feminine. The truth always works, and deception serves neither of us.

So I have an appointment on the 29th for an evaluation. I'm not sure exactly what that entails, but I'll find out.

I've been trading emails with my photographer friend L, who has agreed to help shoot the photos which the plastic surgeon requests of his prospective patients. Saturday is the day! And it will be the first time I'll be in girl-mode with her. She has said she's a little anxious about it, but I'm pretty excited. Neither of us is strong with portraiture, so we'll probably have to experiment a little bit with the pictures, but I'm sure we'll get done what we need, and I'm also sure we'll have fun at the same time.

Another interesting thing that happened this morning... I think one of my coworkers might be trans. I was talking with a couple people from another support group, and after we'd been talking for quite a while, I noticed that one of them had the transgender symbol on his necklace. I didn't get a chance to ask him about it, but I definitely want to, at the very least, tell him that I like his necklace.

Monday, June 1, 2009

(Not) Getting it done

As exciting as the last few weeks have been for me, and as much as has happened, I think I have run out of steam. Or maybe it's simply that I have important things on my notional to-do list, and I'm not having a whole lot of luck in actually doing them.

I had a chance to talk to another person at work this past Sunday, but it just didn't feel right, so I didn't say anything. With this particular coworker, it may not even be important, because s/he may not even be at the company for much longer. Even so, I always beat myself up whenever I have a chance and a perceived need to come out to someone, and don't. There are a couple other people at work who I'd like to talk to, but I'm not sure how I'll get things arranged.

The other two phone calls I need to make, are still yet unmade. For one of the people I need to contact, I need some photos of myself, and with the impracticality of getting my friend's help, that task has now fallen to me. Portraiture, particularly self-portraiture, is certainly not one of my strong suits. And the other, well, I sent an email on Friday, but I have a strong suspicion that the email address that I found on the website never actually reaches anybody. So I have to call. And that's putting myself so far out there... I'm having trouble.

And then my best friends will be away for a little over a week, starting this Friday. I'm not sure if they quite realize how important they are to me, and how terribly I will miss them.

I guess I should try to focus on the positive, rather than wallow in self-criticism. I'm in the process of making a dress to wear at the wedding of a couple of my Second Life friends. So far, I've gotten partway through making a test version, both for testing of the pattern, and for seeing how things fit. With another few hours of work, I can be mostly done with the test, and begin doing fit-checking and making plans for the real version. It took me a while to get motivated, but now that I'm working on it, I'm able to find some joy in simply creating something new.