So it's been three weeks since my surgery. Dr. Brassard and his staff were wonderful. Absolutely the right choice for me. Made quite a few new friends, friends whom (who? whom? I never know for sure) I hope to keep. I'm not inclined to go into the details of my time there or my recovery... it is all private and precious. Let it suffice to say that my recovery is where it's supposed to be at this point. I have friends who have taken care of me since I've been home and continue to. I'm up and moving around, taking walks, doing well. Things are good.

I took a quick look on T-Central the other day and realized that I am just not into this anymore. I'm neither into the transition stories nor the constant din of the TS vs. TG arguments. Doesn't hold any interest for me. Writing about the remainder of my transition, what little there is left of it, doesn't either. I'm sure I will find ways to help those who are where I once was, but for now I am going to focus on me and my recovery. Time to get back to real life.

So, this is the post that I've wanted to write since that first day that I realized that I was a woman. The last post. What have I learned?

As we transition, we read about techniques for "developing our femininity," about developing a sense of style, about walking with our hips at a specific angle or stepping with a certain frequency, about how a woman does this and how she does that, about how women respond to this and how they respond to that, how they develop friendships, about learning how to be a woman. This could leave us with an inaccurate impression, an impression that "being a woman" is about something specific. I've been guilty of contributing to this myself, as I asserted in an earlier blog entry that no woman would give up her children without a fight. That is false. There are not many, but they exist. Which, I suppose, is my point.

Do you want to know the secret of being a woman? Do you want to know what you need to do to be accepted as a woman in real life, from someone who has accomplished that very thing? Lean close. I will whisper it in your ear. Here is what being a woman is all about:


Nothing. It's about nothing. There exists no quality or trait that is universal to and exclusive of women. There is no behavior, learned or otherwise, which if missing from a person, marks that person as unmistakably male or unmistakably female. There exists neither a book you can read nor a video you can watch which will teach you how to be a woman. So stop trying so hard. Sorry to disappoint you, but there's nothing specific to which I can point. We don't have as much in common as you've been led to believe.

Well, there might be one commonality. I suppose we're all just striving to be ourselves. Perhaps that is one unifying characteristic of all women. For any given woman, being herself might mean falling in line with society's expectations; to regress to the mean. For another, it might mean flouting them for the sake of flouting them. Of course, the 3.5 billion males in the world also share this trait, this sense of self. So, if one is a woman, "being a woman" is about nothing more than being herself. As is "being a man."

We are unified by our uniqueness. Whatever acronym one chooses or does not choose to "identify with."

So, after blog entries spanning three calendar years, transition, and successfully living my life as myself, that is my sole piece of wisdom.

Ultimately, we are all striving to be ourselves.  Whether that self is a fully-assimilated woman, a fully-assimilated man, a woman who is "out" about her background, a man who likes to express another side of himself from time to time, or something else altogether. In terms of transition and gender, whatever degree of change one undergoes, even if she goes "all the way" as I have, is not to emerge from the change as a woman or a man. We do this for one reason and one reason only: to be ourselves.

So, to be you, be you. Stay true to yourself. It's not any more complicated than that. Neither I nor anyone else can offer you any advice on that. *You* are the only one who knows. Don't do anything because someone says you should or avoid doing something else because someone says that you shouldn't. I promise you that if you remain true to yourself, at some point, someone will appreciate you for that which you are... a woman, a man, or something in between. It might take years. You may incur tremendous losses. But you can get there. Your reward for this? Nothing more than being yourself. Being yourself is the only way to have a fighting chance at being free. It's working well for me so far.

We are different. There are going to be arguments and dissent. Trans people, and people in general, all might not want to get along, and that's just reality. Even if it might be better for all of us if we did. I might not agree with your self-concept, and you might vehemently disagree with mine. At the very least, perhaps we can acknowledge the fact that the essence of what I'm doing is the same as yours... trying to be myself, whoever she is. And whoever you are.

All the best to you as you seek her or him.

With that, I'll leave you with one of the greatest songs ever written.

~~ The end. ~~

I took today off from work to finish up odds and ends before I head to Montreal tomorrow morning. Expected that it would be somewhat of a frantic day, but it's not turned out that way. Have been working on my "to-do" list all week, and I got everything done that I wanted. The recovery supplies are purchased. The freezer is stocked with homemade veggie lasagna, mini meatloaves, spaghetti sauce with homemade meatballs and sausage. The house is clean. I'm packed, more or less. Even had time for a nice nap this afternoon.

I'm very calm about all this. Excited, too, but mostly calm.

I needed to make one more trip out to the grocery store to pick up a couple items for when I get back... tea, cranberry pills, seltzer, and a couple other things. My last trip out of the house before heading to the airport in the morning. I step into the grocery store and who do I bump into but Sharlene. Sharlene is the head administrator of G's preschool, the woman who banned me from it. We worked things out and now have a friendly relationship. I don't have any animosity or hard feelings towards her at all. We chatted for about 5 minutes, she asked me how things were, and I told her I was heading to Canada in the morning for surgery. She wished me well.

One might think to herself, "Geez... of all people to bump into, the last person you see before SRS is her? Ugh." But I don't look at it that way. The truth is that I think it was kind of cool to see her today of all days. There was something almost poetic about it. To me, the preschool banning and subsequent reinstating symbolizes everything that I've done right with my transition. Putting my son's interests first. Learning how to work with people towards whom I'm angry by putting that anger aside and seeing the larger picture. Teaching people that transsexuals are not whatever-you-thought-we-were. Turning a bad situation into a fantastic opportunity.

And that's what transition is, really. I mean, c'mon. Being born into the wrong body? It is a baaaaaad situation. I've taken this situation and turned it into a tremendous opportunity, an opportunity to turn my life around and show others that they can do the same, whatever their particular bad situation is.

So it was absolutely appropriate and cool that of all people, Sharlene was the last person from my life that I'd see before heading to Montreal, which I will do in about 13 and-a-half hours.

I don't think I will write here again for a little while. Time to focus on the task at hand. :)

Here we go!!! :)

I've been thinking about vacations a lot lately. Trying to figure out when my last real vacation was, at least in the way that I think about vacations. Didn't take one this summer, or last summer. Or the summer before that, unless you count taking the kids to visit family for a week. Which I don't. Before that, my X and I took a trip in 2004 (yes, 2004) to San Diego. I suppose that was a vacation, unless you consider the fact that the entire itinerary for the trip was dictated to me. Wasn't overly relaxing.

I suppose the last real relaxing trip was before we got married. That'd be 2003. That's a long time to go without a vacation.

This week, it's been very loud in my head. Between all the last-minute things I need to take care of, my X is pushing for us to go to a co-parenting therapy (always productive when you are in the middle of a custody battle), I have a bunch of knowledge transfer meetings at work, electrolysis, one night out with friends (to see the indomitable Rachel Platten), a couple doctor appointments, and a (certain to be) long conference call with my attorney. I'm very busy, which is both good and bad. I have this list of things I need to get done before I depart on Saturday, and I keep coming up with more to add to the list. None of them are "big" things, but there are quite a few of them.

A trip to have major surgery isn't necessarily relaxing. Although this particular trip will be somewhat of a vacation from my life at a time that I sorely need it. Between the custody trial and SRS, I keep waiting for a moment when I just break down under all this stuff, but it still hasn't come. My therapist says that's because I am stronger as myself than I was as a man. Perhaps, but I also feel I'm getting through this because of my pragmatic nature; I focus on the task at hand and I try not to allow myself to be distracted.

I wonder what it will feel like on Saturday, when I am sitting at the airport, waiting to board my flight to Montreal, when I am away from all this, if only for a short while. Away from the pressures of life, from haranguing ex-spouses, from doctor/attorney/therapist appointments, from work. At the very least, it's bound to be a mental vacation.

Months ago I wrote about how it appeared that my sexual orientation changed from that of a straight man to that of a straight woman. For the past year-and-a-half or so, I've solely been attracted to men. To be certain, these attractions were purely physical attractions, and for the most part, still are. As I've developed emotional connections with women through my transition, I've always wondered how it would be possible to develop the sort of close emotional connection with a man, that I can and do with women. But my feelings towards women have been exclusively platonic during this time.

Well, transition appears to have thrown me yet another curve ball. There's a woman that I've come to know over the past three months or so and I feel incredibly drawn to her. I've only met her once; in fact, I have trouble remembering what she looks like. But we've spoken on the phone many times. We're continually finishing each others' sentences, we seem to think alike, we just connect. A little while ago, we had a bit of a disagreement but quickly got back on the same page. She said something like "See, even when we fight, we end up agreeing." I find myself daydreaming about her... a lot. Not in a sexual way. Although I have imagined kissing her. It's quite a pleasant thought.

We have a business relationship, and for now and the next few months, even if these feelings of mine were reciprocated, it wouldn't be appropriate for us to have a personal relationship outside of the business stuff, even a friendship. So any of that will have to wait, if it's meant to be at all. I do know that she loves my sense of humor, that she thinks I'm pretty, and that she has a lot of respect for me. All good things. :)

She's a single mom, a couple years older than me, and although we've not gotten into too much personal stuff, I don't sense that there's a man in her life. Through her work, she is very involved in and passionate about LGBT-related causes, which makes me think at the very least, she's bi. I was talking about my feelings with my therapist, and she suggested that a bisexual woman would be less likely to be put off by the fact by my history than someone who is exclusively straight or lesbian. I tend to agree with that.

This post, I suppose, isn't so much about this specific person as it is about me and how things change as one transitions. The more I think about it, I think the way it's going to go for me is that I will be attracted and drawn to someone's soul. The body containing that soul, whether it is a male or a female body, might not matter so much to me. We'll see how everything shakes out after surgery. There are bound to be a few more twists and turns to this story.

I had to go look at the calendar before I wrote the title for this post. It doesn't seem possible that my little countdown timer went from 120 to 10 so quickly. I have moments here and there where it hits me, like today at work. I'm rolling off our project when I go for surgery, and will start with a new client when I return. I was talking to our project architect about some knowledge transfer that I need to do before I leave. Our architect has been on this project since its' inception, and was the one who applauded when I came out to the team. He's a fantastic architect, but more importantly, a good person. I'll miss working with him.

Anyway, after we talked today, I started getting emotional and choked-up. While I ultimately don't want to be known as the transsexual person, this project has been very safe and even comfortable. I'll be on a new project with some people who might know, and a client who will not. And that will be new. The unknown is a little bit scary. I started thinking about what it will be like on my last day. I'll probably be an emotional wreck. Not to mention that I'll leave work, and then go pick up my kids for my last evening with them. Which will likely be even more emotional.

As far as the surgery itself, I'm excited for it. I think once I get my see ya laters out to co-workers and the kids, that I will be calm and focused once I'm up there.

I made my blog private; there are maybe 15 people who are readers.

Today I feel excited and emotional. :)

I wonder what you all think you're accomplishing.

Pretty much every blog in which I have any interest whatsoever these days, at least in the comments' section, has degraded into a cacophony of voices screaming at each other and accomplishing absolutely nothing. Whether you're a transsexual separatist, a crossdresser, a transsexual who identifies as transgender, a transgender person, someone who starts comments, or someone who is repeatedly goaded into responding to comments, a commenter on T-Central blogs, PHB, Bilerco, Transadvocate, or any of the other LGBT-related websites where people endlessly rehash the same thing that's being simultaneously argued on all of the other aforementioned sites, you need to wake up to the fact that you're not going to change anyone's mind about anything via blog comments.

What you will do, is alienate people that you otherwise might not have. You might drive good people to stop blogging or to head-em-off-at-the-pass by disabling comments altogether. You might cause people not to trust you who otherwise might have. What you won't do, is bring anyone around to your own way of thinking. Not gonna happen.

Especially when someone comments as "Anonymous." Don't even get me started on anonymous commenters. I turned them off here a little while ago when I got one-too-many trollish attacks from "Anonymous."

Anyway, this is all just a bunch of meaningless white noise full of a bunch of people who pretty much enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice.

I've been guilty of falling into this trap myself at times, getting caught up in it; in fact, I recently did elsewhere. Probably mostly because I'm bored and lonely. Not much of an excuse. Anyway, I'm done with all that. I'm not planning to read, let alone comment elsewhere anymore. I'll keep up with this blog through SRS and perhaps the outcome of my custody trial but I can't see it going much longer than that. Frankly, I'm getting sick of it. Blogging has brought some good to my life. In the form of a handful of precious friends who don't blog anymore, as well as a release at a time in my life when I sorely needed it. It's beginning to turn into a burden, though.

Knock your collective selves out with your comment wars. I'm done with it.

I ruptured my Achilles tendon almost three years ago while playing basketball.  It sucked.  I couldn't walk for three months, couldn't do all the things that a person with a normal Achilles tendon takes for granted.  It took me 30 minutes to get groceries up the stairs.  I wanted to go get a takeout pizza, but I had no way to carry it. Couldn't workout or run or bike or swim with my friends.  A very frustrating and lonely time.  While one is going through something like this, it's helpful to find support in others experiencing the same.  So I joined an Achilles recovery support site in which each member of the site blogs about her or his experiences.  It was great while I was going through the process.

On the site, you have a drop-down list where you indicate what stage of the recovery you're at: NWB (non weight-bearing), PWB (partial), FWB (full), 2-Shoes (out of the "boot" and walking normally). Everyone is anxious to get to the next "stage," and with longing and sometimes jealousy, we read the stories of people who were a stage or two ahead. Once someone gets to the "2-Shoes" stage, they don't blog much, and typically leave the site altogether shortly afterwards. I mean, what's the point, right? No one gets pissed or upset when people leave the "achilles community." They understand that the goal is a normal life, and when you're done, people are happy for you. You're not branded a traitor.  I mean, that would be ridiculous, right? Of course it would.

Anyway, I had surgery for it, I recovered, and I got back to normalcy.  The sutures they use are called "Ticron."  They're non-absorbable, meaning they will always be in there.  So there's a bit of artificiality to my tendon now, and there always will be.  Despite this, I don't refer to my Achilles as my Neoachilles, or Neotendon.  There will always be small hesitations here and there... if I jump, will it re-rupture?  If I run too fast or play tennis or play basketball, will it re-rupture?  I do my best to put these aside and do whatever physical activity I like.  I can't let this change the activities I enjoy. There were a couple side effects which will be with me forever; for example, the leg still isn't as strong as the other one, and there is some lingering numbness in that foot.  I think these side effects are likely permanent.  Nonetheless, it's just a tendon, like anyone else's.

I don't think of myself as post-Achilles, or as a post-ruptured person. It'd be silly to define myself that way, I think. At any rate, I got the medical problem fixed and proceeded to live my life. And that was that.

I had a post up here a couple days ago entitled "30 days." which came off a little more depressing-sounding than I intended, so I removed it.  So now we have this one.  Apparently I've released myself from the pressure of coming up with interesting blog titles.  :)  The week was stressful.  I had a good cry on Friday afternoon, which I *really* needed.  That sums up the "30 days." post.  You didn't miss much.  :)

Ended up having a pretty good weekend.  With quite a few reminders that although life is a roller coaster lately, there's light at the end of the tunnel.  Friday night I went out with a group to celebrate my friend Benet's birthday.  I've known Benet for almost 14 years.  I also told her that I thought I might actually be a woman about a year into our friendship.  The GNO was great, although one member of our group, Jorleen (geez... can't I think of better fake names??!?!) kept misgendering me.  Over and over.  It's weird... Jorleen is very accepting; in fact, she went to the ladies' room with me, but she keeps screwing up the pronouns.  I've known her for around 10 years, and I tend to cut people who've known me for so long a little slack, but it was very aggravating.  Especially given the fact that there were people in the group whom I met that evening.  On one hand, it's hard to imagining letting everyone go, but when I read blog entries like Jen's latest, I find myself nodding my head.  All that said, the night was far and away an overall good.  We're all going out again to send me off the week before I fly out to Montreal.

Had electrolysis on Saturday. then walked around Old Town for a while and sat by the river for about an hour, watching the water.  Water calms woman.  Today, I installed new drapes and shades in the kids' bedroom, found a cozy and versatile cardigan at Nordy's, and got a lot of cleaning done.  The installation took two trips to Lowe's and one to Target.  At Target, one of the women working there was very very friendly to me.  Very chatty.  I like it when women get chatty with me.  It's still novel.  And it reminds me of the future.  Got an awesome voice message from S&G, him saying that he wanted to come to my house and her saying the she loved me "very, very, very much hugs and kisses hugs and kisses."

After my electrolysis appointment on Saturday, I was talking about my week and its' stress, and that I was frustrated that I'm 40 and I don't have all that much to show for it; how I feel as if I ought to have accomplished more in life.  Here I am approaching middle-age and I'm fighting to keep my children and otherwise basically starting from zero.  Less than zero, if you include debt.  Giselle listened and then told me a story about her son, who has 4 children, a wife who (according to Giselle) is useless, and at this point, his life is the same every day.  He doesn't have things that one typically points to as "accomplishments."   She pointed out that sometimes it's a big accomplishment to simply continue putting one foot in front of the other and doing what one needs to do to get to the next day.  And to her, it matters not that he doesn't have a giant home or take fancy trips or a huge bank account; she finds him courageous simply for living his life.  Of course, there's a lesson there for me.

So, dear reader, although I have a lot of stress, there's a lot of good, and I am aware of it.  The next time you see an angst-filled post here with links to the latest song which made me bawl, you have my permission to roll your eyes and think, "good lord, there she goes again."

This morning, I woke up crying. I've no idea what I was crying about in my dream, but when I woke up I was crying. The pillow was wet. That's never happened to me before, at least that I recall. I tend to try and find meaning in such things. I suppose it means I'm stressed and upset. I find that I'm overly jumpy lately, too. A month and change ago, I came home at lunch to find that motion on my door; two weeks later, another motion. Now I'm continually checking the front door, like I'm waiting for something else to happen. You know the dashboard fuel light? Today mine lit up when I was driving and I almost launched myself through the sunroof.

We were supposed to have a pre-trial hearing tomorrow morning in my custody case, and it was continued (postponed) this afternoon. Without going into detail, we needed to have the continuance granted, and it wasn't clear until the last moment that it would be. So I've spent the last day or so stressing about that. Hopefully the legal stuff won't continue to be so stressful between now and November 7th.

A good friend of mine will be having surgery with Dr. Chettawut about 10 days after my surgery. She's visiting in a couple weekends. I have two weekends with the kids, and one to get things done (this weekend), and that's all she wrote. I feel like there are million things to do between now and then.

I'm very much looking forward to the 11 days I'll be spending in Montreal. Other than keeping in touch with the kids and letting a few select people know how I am doing, I'm going to maintain radio silence while I'm up there. I'm not going to write much here, if at all. I'm not going to post updates on Facebook. When I return, I have a friend who has been through this before coming to stay for a week, and subsequent to that another friend who's also been through this staying for another week. That will be time that I am required to focus on my recovery and my physical health. Hopefully it'll give me the mental break I need to push through to this custody trial in January.

Wow, this blog entry is incredibly disjoint. I appear to have lost my ability to write cohesively. Apropos, I guess. That's all for now.

Surgery is in 40 days. You've probably not noticed it, but about three months ago, I put a little countdown timer at the bottom of my blog. It's hard to believe that it's gone from 120 to 40 so fast. Still very surreal. Between thoughts on surgery, wondering how I will get through the holidays, and the full-day custody trial scheduled for mid-January, my next 4 months will be about little else than survival.  I've not yet experienced any pre-surgical freakouts, crazy emotions, or anything like that, but I'm sure that will come as November 7th draws near.  I can't imagine what the night before will be like.  I can't imagine what it'll feel like the last time I see my kids before surgery.  Just thinking about it brings forth some pretty heavy emotions.

When I say "survival" earlier, by the way, I don't mean it in the suicidal sense; I mean that I have only the energy to put one foot in front of the other and get to the next day... to put myself in a position where I have a chance to finally, finally, after 40+ years, have a relatively drama-free life. I don't even know what that's like.  For now, I'll continue sucking it up and dealing with the insomnia, constant-pit-in-my-stomach, and loneliness.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel... but just how long is this darn tunnel?

Before my first consult to get my hair done, about 18 months ago, back when it was reminiscent of an inverted grey mop, I had a couple minutes to kill beforehand and stopped at the drugstore. Some guy started talking to me in line about how he didn't have much to do that night. It took me a minute to realize that he was hitting on me. At the consult, I related this anecdote with surprise to my stylist and a friend, Holly, who was there for moral support. I recall Holly saying to me, "Faline, you're pretty. Get used to it. Deal with it." I didn't quite believe her at the time.

I apologize for the self-indulgence which is to follow. But, I need a mental pick-me-up. So, to steal Holly's phrase, deal with it.

I had two appointments related to my kids yesterday, so I put a little extra effort into looking nice. Spent a little time on my hair, picked out a muted purple ruffle cardigan, fancy cami, charcoal pants, black skinny belt. A little bit of makeup. Not much. Ended up being one of those days that I look in the mirror and cannot believe that the woman staring back at me, is me. I looked fantastic. I made my usual stop at Starbucks on the way to work and counted various stares from no less than four men and two women. Yes, I counted. I'd ask for a little slack here, as this is all still a novelty. :) I gave one of the starers an "Um... helloooo?" look and when he realized it, he gave me a sheepish, embarrassed grin. I know this grin because it is the same sheepish, embarrassed grin that I used to give someone who caught me staring just a little too long. YSG was among the transfixed, pun not intended. I gave him a big a smile and a wave of my fingers; he smiled back and gave me a "peace" sign with his.

I guess Holly was right. I'm not quite used to this yet. As evidenced by the fact that I'm writing blog entries on the subject. But, I'm dealing with it. :)

Over the course of my transition, although no one has (overtly) rejected me, over time, friends and the relationships have faded away to the point where other than a precious few people, we're friends in the Facebook sense only. I try to do my best to understand and realize that I'm not the same person I was before and that people were friends with him, not her. I also think removing myself from the local triathlon scene has contributed to that. Triathlon can be cult-like at times; social events revolve around training and races, and if one doesn't train and race, she's not really part of the group any more. So this is no one and everyone's (including me) fault at the same time. I'm as OK with it as I can be.

However, there's one particular friend for whom I truly feel a loss, and this loss saddens me more than any other. I'm not quite sure why. I've known her for three or four years and although at times she could be a little aloof, we clicked. At times it almost felt like a little more than friendship, but it never happened, which was probably for the best. The amount of communication has waxed and waned over the course of our friendship, but I trusted her to the degree that she was among the first few people to whom I came out. I remember how supportive she was and how she told me that I shouldn't be afraid to talk to her about it. We went out a couple times when I was still in wig mode. In fact, she was the one who prodded me into going out without the wig, a much-needed prod. A couple months later, she, I, and others were hanging out, carrying on, having a couple drinks, and she told me that I was her favorite friend. She's said stuff like that to me more than once. She was my favorite friend, too.

We met up for dinner around the time that I came out at work, about a year ago to this day, and I haven't seen her since. I've sent a couple emails and messages here and there about getting together, but I haven't been taken up on it. Granted, she's very busy with some new stuff in her life but if I figure if people truly want to make time, they will. I'm not angry at her in the least; after all, she was friends with him, not her. I had hoped she was friends with her, too. I miss my friend.

Did you ever have one of those nights that, despite the fact that you don't necessarily need validation anymore, absolutely validates everything you're doing, and makes you smile so big that your cheeks hurt? That was tonight for me. I don't even know if mere words can do justice to the way I'm feeling right now.

Tonight was one of our quarterly All Hands Meetings at work. They go over business stuff for about 90 mins., and then there's social time, drinks, apps, etc., for a couple hours. I had never even shown up for one of these during my first three years with the company, before transitioning. I woke up this morning with dread. All day I wondered how long I would stay at the social part of the meeting. How long of an "appearance" would be enough? Show my face, then go home. I thought that if I managed to stay until 6:30, that would be enough. Never been my thing, and still wasn't, after how I handled the first All Hands' Meeting that I attended a couple months ago.

The business part of the meeting started, and they worked their way to the "Employee Recognition Awards." Each quarter, one employee receives a "Super Star" award, out of about 500 people in the company, for outstanding work/commitment. There is one given to a team, as well. I've mentioned here in the past how I was working on a pro bono project, in which I ended up doing the work of two people. The person giving the award started describing the recipient of the Super Star award and her work, and as I listened, I thought, "OMG. This is me. Wow, just wow." And it was!! It was a bit surreal walking up to get this award from the CEO with my picture and name on the overhead with 500 people applauding, when a few short months ago, I feared being fired. (The recognition wasn't bad, but the $200 AMEX gift card wasn't either!!)

The business part of the meeting ended, and the social hour began. People were congratulating me on the award right and left. But still, I felt like I didn't know all that many people; that I was wandering around aimlessly amongst all the masses. My lack of self-confidence got to me. I walked around for a little bit with my glass of wine, had a couple cursory conversations, and then after about 30 minutes, decided it was too much stress, and that I had to go. So I sneaked outside, pretending to be talking on my cell phone, got into my car, and started driving home, bitterly disappointed with myself.

I approached a stoplight. As I sat there, I shook my head and thought to myself, "you know, this is your night. you won an award. people are congratulating you. and you're sitting here in your car, going home at 6 PM. And you look *good* today (it was a good hair day). Turn this car around, bitch. Turn this fucking car around now and go back, and have a good time. You can do this. You know you can."

So I did. I turned the car around and I went back. And guess what? I had a blast. I was social. I talked to lots of people. I made them laugh. I got hugs. Ended up staying, along with the young 'uns, until 9 PM, about an hour after the event was supposed to end. One guy in particular, I had worked with before, and while on travel, before I transitioned, we had a bit of a "rock star" night. Including a baseball game, casino, horse racing, a midnight run to buy alcohol, and a strip club. I figured he of all people had been pretty freaked out by my transition, and I wanted to talk with him. I sought him out, and we talked. When I transitioned, HR sent out a message to the people I had worked with, John included, disclosing my transition. The email subject was simply my name. When I talked to John tonight, he told me when he got the email, and he saw the subject, his first thought was that I had killed myself; that he knew there was something very wrong with me and that I was incredibly unhappy. Wow, just wow. I had no idea that I came across that way to people before transition. Anyway, he said that he didn't quite understand it but that he was just glad I was still around.

The last person I talked to was a woman who had just joined the company a few months ago, and for whatever reason, it was a particularly special conversation. There was nothing outstanding in what we talked about, topics we covered, but you just know when you connect with someone on a friendship level. We talked for about 20 minutes, hugs were exchanged, and I headed home.

I drove home somewhat astounded on how well I'd done; how people reacted to me and how I felt I was in my element. My element! A room full of people was never "my element." There's this new song that I heard recently on the radio, only once, that I love. I sent the radio station an email this afternoon asking them to play it again. I had the radio on in the car tonight and heard this about a third of the way home ...

"This one's for Faline..."


"Here's 1000 Ships, by Rachel Platten."


The icing on the cake. Is this my night, or what? Wow, just wow. I cannot stop smiling right now.

Is it worth it?  Worth it for who?  Me?

Probably, but I can't say for certain.

I don't have the perspective yet to answer.  I wouldn't feel right answering until "it" is long past, which won't be for a while.

So far it's cost me $50,000, my relationships with my family are extremely strained, I'm in the middle of a legal battle with my ex-spouse to stay in my children's lives, and I'm currently in no-woman's-land as far as friendships are concerned.  In 5 years, when I look back, will I view all this as being worth it?

I'm as sure as I can be, but I can't say for certain.

Is it worth it for you? I don't know.

It's worth it if you are one of the extremely few number of people who have gender dysphoria to the degree that requires transition.  If you're not one of those very rare birds, for me to tell you that it's worth it might, despite my best intentions, end up hurting instead of helping.

So be cautious.

This isn't like being gay or lesbian, you know?  If you're gay, you know it well before the journey starts.  If you're transsexual, you can only be "sure" to a certain degree before embarking on the journey.

So be cautious.

I don't want you to end up like Charles Kane, or worse yet, Mike Penner.

Is it worth it for you? I don't know.

The only person who can answer that question is you, and the only way that question can be answered is by walking the path.  And the only way to start walking the path is to take one small step, and see if it feels comfortable.  If so, take another when you're ready.

Be cautious.

And someday, you'll know.

My "arms" post was a little down-sounding.  Yeah, I'm lonely, but I don't need to sound so depressed about it.  I heard this song on the radio for the first time yesterday and instantaneously loved it. Similar sentiment, but more optimistic. I couldn't help but smile as I bounced along in the car to it.  I don't know that I've ever had such a reaction to a song before, from the first couple notes.  When I got home, I realized that I didn't remember any of the words, and they had provided neither the artist nor the title.  This was an emergency.  I needed to listen to this song again.  Tried a couple things (see the comments), but no luck.  Thought some more and remembered that it had the words "coffee," "belly," and "soliders" in it.  How many songs have those three words, right?  Worth a shot.  So I googled "coffee belly soliders lyrics" and 1000 Ships was the first hit.  Yaaaayyy!!   Well, it was the first hit for the correct spelling of "soldiers," which Google graciously suggested. That's one of those words I can't help but misspell.

I can't stop listening to it. Just makes me smile, which I need lately. I found out that the artist, Rachel Platten, will be performing in my area the the a few days before I fly off to Montreal. I'll get a few girlfriends to go and we'll have a send-off. Cheers!!

A got an email from a friend last night, said friend asked me about the motivation behind it. The idea behind my last post got away from me a bit. The comments somewhat took it further away from the point which I did a lousy job of elucidating in the first place. The point of my last post was *not* to assert my validity as a transsexual woman, nor was it to assert the non-validity of others. Truly, it had nothing to do with that.

I ran into my Starbucks "friend" the other day and he's become very friendly towards me. We chatted for a little bit. It's the kind of thing where one can just tell that there's an attraction. I left and as I got to work, was feeling good about the whole thing. But then a thought crossed my mind. I tried to envision telling this person about my history. One thing I've done throughout transition, especially in terms of coming out to people, is rehearse conversations like that. The rehearsals always go well. This particular rehearsal was a disaster. I couldn't envision what I would say, how I would say it, or how he or any other man might react. There is virtually no one that I can talk to about this. The post was the way those feelings manifested themselves.

The point was that not only do I have no idea how to go about this, I don't even have anyone that I can talk to about it. I don't have anyone who is in a situation similar to mine. There are three or four people I've met through transition, all through teh blogz, with whom I consider myself close. I've spoken on the phone or Skyped or met in person with all of them. But even among that group, there's no one who has been-there-done-that. I know of straight transsexual women, but I don't even know their real names. And there's only so much trust one can put in someone who won't even share their real name with you. Even though I typically have ended up doing my own thing, it's a little frustrating nonetheless to have no one who can relate in a real-life sense to this particular transition hurdle.

So anyway, if my last post sounded frustrated, I suppose it was a little bit. I'm under a tremendous amount of stress these days. I spent all afternoon yesterday trying to avoid having to go to Court this morning because my X is trying to force the kids into therapy to use against me in a custody hearing come January. My mother has been giving me the silent treatment for 2 weeks because she didn't like the way in which I thanked her for the kids' birthday presents. I still haven't quite figured out this "make friends" thing. Oh, and I have this whole major surgery thing coming up in 9 weeks and change. Things that normally wouldn't get to me seem are getting to me. For example, the county voter registration office asked me to send in a copy of my court order so I could change my name with them. They don't require it in cases of, say, name change due to marriage. Normally, this, at the risk of sounding like Monica Roberts, ain't nuttin' but a thang. But I raised a fuss about it; I fired off an angry-sounding email to the county Registrar demanding to know why I was being treated differently than other women. Awesome overreaction, Faline. Like that will accomplish anything.

This would be the perfect time to be able to snuggle up on someone's arms and have him tell me this will all be OK. But there are no arms and no possibility of arms right now. I don't know how to get arms, and furthermore, I have even less of an idea how I'd keep them, once I got them. And I'm alone in it.


I had an appointment for my second surgery letter a few weeks' back. This appointment was with a well-known provider who has been working with trans people for over 20 years. She was going through her standard list of questions, and she asks me, "So, you've had FFS." "No, no I haven't." Her eyes popped out of her head. She wrote something down on her bad and shook her head incredulously. I had an electrolysis appointment about a month ago and one of the women who works there, but hadn't seen me in months, saw me and the same thing happened. Her jaw dropped to the floor and she somewhat stammered out how beautiful I was, as if she couldn't believe that a transsexual woman could look as I do. There's a guy at Starbucks who I consistently get looks from, and we're starting to get chatty.

I look great. In fact, I don't blend. I stand out. In the way that a woman wants to stand out. Which makes it easy for me to attract men. What this does not make any easier is the inevitable conversation that I will have no choice but to have with a man, once things start getting to that point. Not revealing to a man with whom I was serious means involving my children in that and asking them to lie, and I am not willing to do that. But how the heck does one go about telling someone *that*? Let me know when you find that one on your "TS Roadmap."

On teh interwebz, you can find resources to assist you with just about all parts of your transition. Except one. If you happen to be straight, you'll find that you're a needle in a haystack. Which makes one wonder, but I've written on that subject before. I go through a mental list of my friends who have and/or are transitioning, and you know how many would describe themselves as straight? None. Not one. Wait, I thought of one. One. You mention that you're straight around a group of trans women and you get this response...


Which isn't all that helpful. So, like just about everything else related to my transition, I'll take the same approach... the "eh, I'll figure it out." approach. I've pretty much done my own thing through transition. Taken steps, handled things in the way that felt right to me. Sometimes going against prevailing wisdom, sometimes not. It has all worked so far. The whole relationship thing, though, seems like a horse of a different color. The only thing that I've decided so far is that I'm not going to shoot myself in the foot from the get-go, IOW, tell people before they've had a chance to get to know me. Everything else, I'll figure as I go.

There's a new term which I've seen in the past couple days, designed to criticize and/or belittle transsexual women like me.  If you go over to Jenny's blog, she's coined a new one... "Serious Transsexual."  A somewhat tongue-in-cheek phrase to describe women like me, I suppose women who go through the Standards of Care, women who take their transitions seriously.   I'm forced to guess at what she meant since she didn't define the term. Jenny is one of the contributors to T-Central.  A little surprising that one of those women shows such obvious bias.  She's also the one who came up with the idea of the "sin bin" a month or so ago.  A concept which went over with a resounding "thud" with the T-Central community.  They never did say how the poll turned out.  Nor did her post on the sin bin concept allow comments. I would have commented on her blog about the "Serious Transsexuals," but she moderates comments, yet another red flag, so I'm writing here instead.

Anyhoo, back to the "Serious Transsexual" thing.  I suppose that I am a so-called "Serious Transsexual."  In fact, it's so serious, that my ex-wife has filed a motion against me in court to have all of my parental rights revoked.  It's hell.  I can't sleep at night and I constantly feel like I am going to vomit.  All of my remaining savings, thousands of dollars, went to my attorney in the form of a retainer check. One of the things that could be used against a "Serious Transsexual" like me are things from online.  For example, avatars.  Here's a line from Jenny's post:

So have I just shot myself in the foot, destroyed my credibility to Serious Transsexual eyes as surely as if I had changed my avatar to a picture featuring myself in a rubber French Maid outfit?

Hmmm, I wonder how a picture of me in a rubber French Maid outfit would go over with the judge? Probably not all that well. I wonder how that might impact a judge here in Virginia, a Republican state with mostly conservative judges. Yeah, if anything, it would make my chances of staying in my children's lives smaller. One wants to plaster pictures of herself all over the Internet in costume, knock yourself out. Criticizing those who do not because they're trying to get through this portion of life with minimum collateral damage is another thing altogether.

I had a post featured on T-Central yesterday. I had two thoughts when Halle asked me if I was OK with that. Thought one was "how nice, I'm glad she saw something in the post." Thought two, and I am not making this up, was "I wonder how long Jenny will allow it to be featured, before she features something else?" Turns out the answer was just a shade over 24 hours. The shortest amount of time for which I've seen a post featured. I'm a little bemused by it, frankly.

So anyway, Jenny. Yes. My transition is deadly serious. And before you go on writing posts grouping people without any consideration for their lives or their transitions, and coining little phrases to describe them, stop and think. No, your credibility in the eyes of this "Serious Transsexual" hasn't been destroyed because you advocate fun costumes. It's destroyed because you're biased and prejudiced. I get enough prejudice from my ex-wife, you know, the one on the other side of the courtroom.

Women who are pregnant sometimes experience what's known as the nesting instinct, the urge to prepare a home for the incoming newborn.  They clean, they organize, they decorate.  They have their husbands paint the nursery (paint fumes and pregnancy is a no-no).  They buy new sheets despite the fact that they have perfectly good ones due to the insatiable urge to have new, clean sheets.  They replace the dishes and organize and re-organize the washcloths for Baby two, three, four times.  They have their husbands repaint the nursery.  All to prepare for the new arrival.

I won't go so far as to claim that I, too, am experiencing this as surgery approaches, but I have been doing my own little version of nesting.  For the first year or so of my transition, my home wasn't reflective of me.  It was reflective of what I was going through in my head... it was disorganized, random, and devoid of character.  Certainly not somewhere that I'd be proud to, say, entertain.  That started changing about 5 months ago.  One day I realized that my home was not mine.  It was someone else's.  I am rectifying that.

I've gone through every closet in the house and thrown out tons of stuff, and organized.  I've gone through the kids' toys and donated what they don't play with, and thrown away all the extra crayons, watercolor sets, markers, and coloring books that will never be used.  I had no idea we had so many crayons.  I rented a carpet cleaner for the first time in God-knows-how-long and cleaned every carpet in my townhouse, which is 3 floors of wall-to-wall carpet.  I went to Michaels and bought a bunch of Fall stems to arrange in this little pot my sister got me a while back, along with other stems for other pots, and frames.  I've gone through all the old pictures I had up and replaced them with pics of the kids from some photos we had taken a couple months' back.  I've completely redone my bedroom, from the accent furniture to the curtains and bed decor.  I've redone lots of the kids' room, bought a new bookshelf for them, did some decorating, put up some wall decals. I spent three hours today taking apart this monstrosity of a gas grill which has been sitting on my patio for a year, gathering rust. The last reminder of my marriage I had to look at on a daily basis. The grill is now in pieces at the county landfill.

I had this couch sitting in the basement, holding about 20 "lovies," our word for stuffed animals.  I brought it upstairs and reorganized the main room so guests would have somewhere to sit that wasn't a chair borrowed from the kitchen.  As you can see from the pictures, it was quite an interesting time getting the couch upstairs.  Attempt one is on the left.  Attempt three is on the right. We won't discuss attempt two.

So every non-kids' weekend, I tackle a list of "stuff to get done."  Today was devoted to organizing, tomorrow to (ugh) cleaning.  I have 5 more such weekends before I visit Dr. Brassard.  Hopefully it will be enough time to get things the way I want them.  The garage needs to be organized, lots of cleaning needs to be done, food needs to be cooked ahead of time and frozen, recovery supplies need to be purchased, and I need new curtains for the living room.  Oh, and there's one wall I need to paint.  See that couch on the stairs?  There are now huge brown scuffs on the wall from said couch.

Is all this the famed "nesting instinct?"  Something like that, perhaps.  What am feeling bears a little resemblance to the excitement and anticipation one might feel before Baby comes home for the first time.  That said, it would be silly of me and insulting to women to compare what I'm doing and feeling to what they experience when they're pregnant.  I'm merely working on getting my place the way I want it before I depart for Montreal.  Clean, organized, and most of all, to feel like my home when I get back.  I'm not getting ready for a new baby.  I'm getting ready for a new life.

As you've no doubt heard a million times today, we had an earthquake.  For an encore, Mother Nature will throw Hurricane Irene at us this weekend.  Events with the potential to screw things up.  So I'm taking this opportunity to vent about some of the things which are screwing with my head these days.  I'll be having surgery in about 2 1/2 months and while it's obviously a wonderful thing, it's a stressful thing.  I'm a little concerned about the amount of leave I'll have to take without pay, as well as how much I will be able to see my children for the first month or so of recovery.  I have offers from certain family members to come help, which I'll probably take them up on.  Speaking of my kids...

About three weeks ago, I came home at lunchtime to find a notice on the front door from the county Court. My ex-wife, as I alluded to in my last post, filed a motion for a hearing to have all of my parental rights revoked.   And of course her pleadings are all related to my transition.  So I've retained an attorney, and while ultimately I have confidence that at the very least I'll have the same amount of time with them as I do now, it's a stressful thing.

Work is going well although it's been crazy the past month. I'm fully billable.  I also volunteered for a pro bono project which a team of 7 of us work on outside of normal work hours.  Our company does these projects for non-profits, which otherwise wouldn't be able to afford us.  Anyway, the other technical resource on our team was booted from the team for non-performance, leaving little ol' me to do all his work. I was also getting pressure from the higher-ups in the company to get this certain technical certification, so while I wasn't thinking about surgery, meeting with my attorney, spending time with the kids, or working on the pro bono project, I studied for the certification exam. I passed the exam and our pro bono client was thrilled with my work. It all ended well, but it has weighed on me.

And as well as my transition is going, let's face it. It's still transition and it sucks.  The loneliness is rough... it'd be nice to go on a date or have someone to cuddle with... ugh... it's been, um... I think over three years now, but I just don't want to get into all that until after I'm recovered from surgery.  Pre-op dating is not for me.

All this at once has been a lot to deal with. I've not been sleeping well again.  For a while there, I was doing well with sleep, 7 or 8 hours.  Lately, I'm back to 5 or 6.  Have had this pit in my stomach for 3 or 4 weeks now to the point where I constantly feel like I'm going to puke.  Especially when I eat.  I keep wondering when it will all be over and the issues I face in life will be similar to those that a "normal" person faces.  I think 2013.  I don't feel sorry for myself here; it's all just a lot!  I have a ton of great stuff going for me and I appreciate it all.  It just gets tiring being continually focused on the big picture.

I have had this blog in draft for a while, months, actually, but never posted it. It seems appropriate now.

I've read quite a few blogs by women in similar situations to mine; transitioning with young children and an ex-spouse who is less than supportive. What I haven't read in several of these blogs is how they are fighting. Fighting for their children. The ex threatens to take them to court and these people go down with nary a whimper. A blog of one such woman was featured months ago. With the requisite patting-you-on-the-head-there-there-it'll-be-ok comments from the peanut gallery. She agreed to only be seen with her children far away from their town. I don't think that sends the right message to your children. I think it teaches them that being trans is shameful and something that should be hidden away. I think it teaches them that their parent isn't willing to stand up and fight for them.

It seemed that she just put her hands in her lap, sighed, and said, "well, there's nothing I can do about it." To be fair, I do not know the whole story. To read the particular blog entry though, it sounded like she was resigned to the fact that there wasn't much she could have done about it at the time.

There *is* something you can do about it. Fight. Do not tolerate the views of an ignorant bigot, even if that ignorant bigot happens to be the biological mother of your children. Do not let that ignorant bigot stand in the way of your relationship with your children. You call yourself a woman? Then stand the hell up for your children. They deserve that.

No woman would give her children up without a fight.

There's a situation going on right now involving my kids and ex-wife, which is going to end up in court. My ex-wife is trying to get all of my parental rights revoked. I don't have the inclination or energy to go into it in detail, so I will not be writing about it.

But you damn well better believe that I'm going to fight.

Funny how things change.

I recall early in my transition, where every "new" thing was met with an ecstatic-sounding blog entry. I went to the MALL!!! I used the restroom!!! I got a PEDICURE!!! All, of course, are huge things at the time. Last night I did another new thing, one that truly is a big deal and says lots about how far I've come in the less than 2 years that I've been transitioning. But I'm neither overusing exclamation points nor writing a celebratory blog entry about it... the feeling is more one of quiet satisfaction.

For the first time last night, I put myself out there as just another woman in a social setting. My first book club meeting. There were 6 other women there; it's a non-fiction book club. I can't get into fiction, so when I found this on Meetup, I figured it'd be a good way to start putting myself out there. Which, if you follow this blog, you know that I desperately need to.

It was a nice evening. Just a group of mostly middle-aged women sitting around, having wine, talking about our book and such. I can't remember the last time I've been out on a weeknight for something social. It's been months and months. I thought I acquitted myself well; talked as much as anyone, save the one overly chatty person who seems to be in every group, and I threw in some humor here and there. I feel like I ought to have more to say about this, since in the context of my transition, it's an important milestone... but I don't. Probably because it felt normal. We're definitely getting into the "live." portion of my blog title.

Ain't normal grand?

So, this poll on T-Central. In case you missed it, in the past week-and-change, T-Central has featured posts by:

  • a misogynist who has stated that he likes neither women nor transsexuals.  I suspect 95% of the people on T-Central fall into one or both of those groups.
  • a natal female radical feminist trans-hater who uses a sham "blog policy" to delete any and all comments that she doesn't agree with, and makes it clear that she doesn't respect those who disagree with her.
And now they're complaining about the level of animosity on the site?  And recommending a "penalty box" as their preferred option?  Geez, T-Central is going to end up like Pam's House Blend, with the "Left Sidebar of Shame."  I don't know if I want any part of a site that singles people out in such a manner, I suppose designed to shame those who "cause trouble" into changing their behavior.  If someone causes that much trouble, just remove them.  That's what I do over at PE.  We certainly don't have a "Wall of Shame."

I wouldn't have made a post out of this, but they turned off comments.  So my comment is here.

Not your finest hour, ladies.  Sorry.  I'm not with you on this one.  I am abstaining.

The local incumbent for our county Board of Supervisors is a right-wing extremist who has referred to people like me using "it." He hates homosexuals, hates trans people, hates immigrants, hates Muslims, on and on. Basically, if you're not a white male, you're out of luck. He's been entrenched on the Board for years, mostly out of apathy and/or ignorance of the populace. Anyway, last night I took a gander at his opponents' Facebook page and they had posted a request for people to come out and help in the next days' primary; help in the form of canvassing neighborhoods to remind supporters of the primary.

I'm not a politically-involved person. Have never even donated to a political candidate, let alone spend a Saturday afternoon walking around in 110-degree heat index weather for a candidate. Anyway, I thought this might be a great opportunity to help get this bigot out of office. As well as meet some new people and use my voice a lot. So I called up the campaign manager and ended up spending about 3 1/2 hours today wandering around my town, knocking on 50 or so doors, with about 2/3 of the people home.

There was nary a strange look, nothing. The trans thing was 100% not an issue. One woman even told me that she thought I was her niece at first. People invited me in, offered me water, chatted. I think I did well in terms of the real reason I was out there, which was the election. I think we got maybe 10-15 more votes because of little ol' me. In a county primary where there are maybe 175 ballots cast total with a winning margin of thirty votes, 10 votes or even 5 are huge. I was smiley and friendly and did the campaign proud. Oh, and we won! I got a lovely call from the campaign manager thanking me for my help and letting me know that they'd be calling me again. Which I welcome.

After today, I can officially let go any worries about getting looks, getting clocked. And none too late, as I have my first book club meeting this week. I'm completely confident with my voice and my appearance. Got home today and felt so good about helping. Today was a microcosm of the reason I transitioned... to be me... a me who is at ease with strangers, smiling, happy, and doing good for something bigger than herself.

The person I've always wanted to be, knew I could be, and am.

OK. My ex-wife seems intent on driving me absolutely batty, so I need to write about something that will: a) put a smile on my face and b) use as few brain cells as possible. So please excuse me if this post sounds like it has come straight out of the PINK FOG.

I went shopping this evening for some birthday presents for my kids. About 8 months ago, my son saw a picture of a truck with a conveyor-belt loading thing in the Richard Scarry book I was reading him. I loved Richard Scarry when I was little. Anyway, he decided that he simply must have this truck. I've looked and looked, and been asked 10 times if I found his truck yet, but alas, no truck. I was in luck tonight, as the toy store at the mall actually had one! It cost $60, but I had no choice in the matter. They didn't have anything that I thought my daughter would like, so I decided to go shop for some work clothes. Meh.

I tried on a couple things and they looked hideous. I felt fat. On the bright side, they might have enhanced my ability to be seen as myself, as two of the skirts made me look pregnant. But, I am not pregnant, and I don't care to adorn myself in clothes which make me look like I am.

So I soldiered on. I grabbed a couple other outfits off the rack, and was walking past the "hip" section, the section which just might be a tad out of my age range, and I saw this peasant dress. It just kind of reached out as I walked by and smacked me.  So so cute.  Split neckline, little tassled ties, ruffled hem, sleeve length that looked like it might work on me.  So cute, and so not appropriate for work. Too short, too bohemian, too fun. Oh, and too expensive. But, I figured what the hell, I'll grab it and try it on for fun.

I tried it on, and it looked adorable!  Too adorable.  Quite a bit shorter than other stuff I have but not inappropriately short.  Cute-short.  I put it back on the rack, though, as I was there for work clothes.  I wandered around for about 15 more minutes and the little voice in my head talked to me about my dress.  Whoops.  Um, I mean that dress.  Not my dress.  Hmm, maybe you could wear it to work in the Fall with thick brown tights and boots.  You might be able to get away with it, you know.  So it is kind of for work, really.  Ooh ooh ooh.  You know that mustard-colored bag your sister got you for your birthday?  It would go perfectly with this dress.  If you think about it, it'd be a sin *not* to get it.  You never find anything with patterns that you like.  In fact, you were thinking this morning how boring your work clothes are.  Yeah, I think you ought to get it.

You know the rest of the story, of course.  I even changed into it after I bought it and did a little more shopping.  So it ended up being a productive shopping trip.  Although I need to get a little better at rebutting that little voice in my head.

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

Kids... Kids are accepting.  They don't know how to judge unless they're taught how to judge.  They don't know about shame or shamefulness unless it's taught to them.  Any 1-5 year old gleefully running around the house naked shows you that.  My children's attitude towards my transition showed me that.  Lately, after a few months of full-time and close to a year full-time outside of work, I am seeing how they learn to judge, to hide, that certain things aren't right.  What gets scary is when I see reflections of those attitudes in my children.

Last night I was having yet another short conversation with my kids about my change, trying to keep them comfortable and grounded with it.  S., my almost-6-year old, then told me about the Fathers' Day cards they made at school, and told me how she wasn't allowed to draw me "as a girl" so she had to "hide color," meaning she had to hide the fact from the teacher that she was drawing a girl. Also on the card, I could see "Mommy" erased, and replaced with "Daddy." "Guidance" from her teacher, no doubt.  Wonderful.  So now, I not only have to fight the "being different is OK" battle with the general public, I also have to fight it with my children's schoolteacher.  And I certainly won't be backed up by my ex-wife.  She didn't back me up when I was booted from G.'s, preschool.  So, I'll have a polite conversation with the school sometime this week about the issue.

As for my ex-wife, she's said negative things about my transition to the children... I'm not so sure if she's said negative things about me per se, moreso how the transition affects her negatively.  And how it's ok if they miss a night with me here and there.  Of course, the children take away that my transition is a sad thing, a bad thing, a thing that we wish wasn't happening.  And that time with their other mom is not important.  I'm starting to see those attitudes reflected in things they say to me.  Little things, like my 3-year old randomly saying "I am angry that you are changing into a girl!!" A 3-year old learns that from someone. Children are accepting but also easily manipulated.  It's a little frightening.  You need to vent about my transition?  Vent to your friends.  Vent to your family.  Vent to your "friends" from church.  Hell, vent to me.  But don't vent to a 3 and a 5-year old.  You know better than that, H.  You're not that stupid.  You are passive-aggressively manipulating the children for your own good, *not* theirs.

None of this ought to surprise me.  I mean, I am breaking society's biggest taboo.  Transsexual people by and large are not accepted, are misunderstood, are judged.  If I somehow thought that we'd just fly through this period surrounded by transition cheerleaders, that places me smack in the middle of downtown Fantasyland. Reality sucks.

All I can really do is keep loving my children, keep making them feel secure when they're with me.  I can have conversations here and there with schoolteachers, with preschool administrators, with ex-wives, but at the end of the day, they're going to do what they're going to do and there's a limited impact I can have on attitudes of adults.  So I must keep the focus on S and G. I have no choice but to believe that if I keep loving them, keep being a good parent, keep teaching them that differences are OK, that this will all be good. Thoughts to the contrary are too much to bear.

I haven't worked much at all on my voice.  I downloaded that Kathe Perez program and did it for about a week, but being disciplined isn't one of my strongest qualities. I went to a couple lessons at the voice clinic at GWU, but that interfered with work too much, so I had to bag it.  So, like everything else with my transition, I decided that I'd figure it out when the time came.  The voice has gotten better over time, just through using it, through training myself to talk "up" instead of down in my throat.  But, I've always thought of my voice as the voice of a rather pathetic-sounding male; at least, that's what it has sounded like when I've heard it.  It never causes me problems, never causes me to be clocked, but I never understood why.  My therapist told me that I wasn't hearing what she was, that the whole package, the enunciation, pitch fluctuation, gestures, etc., says female.  I dunno.  I didn't see it.

Annnnnnnyway, the other night I called a friend, a trans friend, and got her voice message.  After I hung up, I decided to record one of my own; I've been using the robotic-sounding pre-recorded greeting that AT&T provides for quite some time now.  So I recorded my little message.  Cringing in anticipation of the certain assault on my ears which was to follow, I hit the pound key to play it back to see how bad it sounded...

... and Oh. My. God.  What I heard, telling me that Faline wasn't able to come to the phone, and could you please leave a message, and thanks, bye!!! was some woman's voice.  This was not my voice.  It did not resemble the voice that I hear when I talk.  Is this what other people hear?  Wow.  I played it again.  And again.  And again.  I could not believe this was my voice.  I recorded it a second time with a little more inflection to see if this was just a fluke, and whaddya know, it sounded even better.

For the rest of the evening, I sat around the house and talked to the walls, the pictures, any inanimate object which would listen.  I had quite a captive audience.  I felt so excited, like Dory in Finding Nemo when she remembered P. Sherman's address and repeated it over, and over, and over.  All I wanted to do was talk and talk and talk.  So that's what I did.  Now that I have some confidence when it comes to my voice, hopefully that will help with meeting new people and making friends.  At this point, my transition is mostly about confidence.

I don't really feel like writing this, but I ought to. Got back from an extended weekend trip to visit family with the kids. Had a really nice time, crazy busy, saw virtually all of my extended family, turned 40, got earrings, scarves, some jewelry, and the kids got presents for their upcoming birthdays as well, got flat tire on way home, Mr. Nice Policeman changed the tire for me, kids took it in stride. I was up there for 5 nights and I checked my email twice. I didn't miss the computer one bit. This trip reminded me what it was like to actually be around people.

I've been situationally depressed at home; the night before my trip I only made it through 15 minutes of electrolysis because I was crying so much. It seems to bring out my feelings... it was a rough night. My electrologist told me she thought I needed to talk to someone. When I dropped the kids off with their other Mom last night, I had another one of my crying sessions afterwards. Now it's back to my boring life after a great weekend. I got home, unpacked, got onto T-Central after a couple hours, and couldn't bring myself to click on any blogs. I've seen and read them all before and nothing held any interest for me. What I think and hope I've gotten through my head is that being on the computer is making things worse for me, not better. I have little right now outside of my kids, family who is far away, and a couple friends with whom I talk to fairly regularly, also far away. Outside of that, I have no life, and that's my fault. Sitting in front of a computer will not change that.

The network guy at work has this sign on his door. I've been walking by it for months and was always a bit afraid of the words on it. Seems appropriate to close this entry with it.

Did you ever spend lots of time thinking about something, chasing dead-end after dead-end in your mind, only to have the answer smack you right in the face? I'm talking a good, solid *SMACK!!* here. So obvious that you're incredulous that you hadn't thought of it before? I had such a moment this morning.

I've been trying to think of ways to get out and meet people. Get my life restarted. Somewhere I'd be comfortable, engaged, interested, etc. I talked about the volunteering thing and while appealing, I don't think I'll meet too many people stocking shelves at the library, volunteering to pick weeds at the local horticultural garden, or delivering food via Meals on Wheels. I looked at local meetups online and most of them are 20-something moms. Not quite in my comfort zone. There's always triathlon, but I wouldn't be able to seriously get into that until well after surgery, and even then, it requires a level of dedication that I'm not certain that I possess anymore.

This morning in the car, I was listening music by this Norwegian group called Secret Garden. Instrumental, peaceful. One of the pieces featured uilleann pipes. I love the uilleann pipes. So mournful, so moving. I was thinking how it'd be cool to play the pipes. The pipes were accompanied by a violinist. Years ago, I had purchased Secret Garden's violin sheet music and used to play along with.....


I've played the violin on and off since 3rd grade. And I was good, too. In high school, I was the concertmaster of the orchestra, played in a bunch of "all-star" orchestras, was a member of the Syracuse University orchestra, in the 1st violin section alongside a bunch of music majors. As an adult, I played in an orchestra which had the honor of accompanying Placido Domingo for a concert. It's a pretty amazing feeling to play while one of the Three Tenors is singing five feet away from you. Hard to pay attention to what you're supposed to be playing, in fact. I also played a few Irish jigs at my sister's wedding reception. Most of my family hadn't heard me play before, and they were blown away.

I always loved expressing myself through violin, the people I met through it, the music itself. I always enjoyed being part of a performance ensemble, whether it be an 100-piece symphony orchestra, or a 4-member string quartet. And it's a group of people that share a common interest, intelligent people, people that I've always been able to relate to, people with whom you share a certain camaraderie. Practicing at home will keep me doing something healthy while keeping me off the stupid internet. Something I love, that's rewarding, and will set a good example for my kids.

My violin has been sitting in its' case for three or four years. It has a giant crack in the back of it. :| I'm not sure that it's salvageable. Oh well, I can always get another instrument. There are a few local community orchestras around here. So my plan is to get practicing and audition. It's been a few years, so I'll be rusty for a bit. But playing the violin has always been like riding a bike. Hopefully it will be a good outlet for me, as it's been in the past.

How could I not have thought of this before?

Back to the transition diary.  That's how this all started.  Apologies to Tasha, because much of this post is just an email that I wrote to her yesterday, with a few additions.

At therapy the other night, we talked about my recent malaise and loneliness, about how I can't be content to sit on the couch, in front of the TV and computer. Which is virtually all I've done for the past month or two when I'm not at work or with the kids. It's getting bad. I bring the laptop out to the kitchen with me when I make dinner, when I use the restroom for um, a longer period of time, when I go upstairs to get ready for work. Martha encouraged me to try to get out there and suggested volunteering to get myself up and out of the house, and maybe meet some people. Right now, I have absolutely zero social life.  By choice, partially.

I'm getting back to that place that I was before I started coming out to people... withdrawing again. From friends, family, and at work. The initial euphoria of "being myself" is getting replaced with reminders that as long as I am at the same job, with the same group of friends, etc., I won't be free from this. Just now, for example, I stopped over to a teammate's cube, and he's like, "yes, sir!!" when I asked him something. A slip, but also a reminder.

I looked at some volunteering opportunities and many of the things I'd like to do... volunteer at a shelter, help kids, help the local rescue squad, all carry with them "background checks."  Something that strikes fear into my heart, as a pre-operative transsexual woman with an "M" on her driver's license.  I could go restock shelves at the library.  Meh.  We had mentioned the working with kids thing at therapy, and for now at least, that's really a non-starter.  They find out your background, and as my therapist put it, "all hell breaks loose."  Working with kids is out.  Maybe in the future.

Tasha suggested taking a class.  I'm such a wimp.  I thought a little while ago that it might be fun to take a cooking class or something... but who shows up by her lonesome self?  I think this is something that people do as couples, or a couple friends take a class together.  At least all the promotional stuff I read about such classes advertise them as a fun way for a couple to do something together.  Excuses?  Yeah, probably.

I guess I'm just not in a very good place right now.  Of course, I am the only one who can get myself out of it. I've been blaming surgery for my disinterest in getting out and living, when I think it's more motivated by fear.  I have to stop thinking that somehow what's between my legs is going to make *that* much of a difference in my day-to-day life.  That's dangerous.  That's Mike Penner-type thinking.

I got my hair done today. It looks really nice. Then I went grocery shopping and now I'm home for the evening. I was reminded of this song. Lately, I feel like I could one be of the people in this video. It was written for gay and lesbian people, but it might as well been written for trans people, too. Fits me like a glove...

Go to work and take your calls
Hang the fruits
of your labour on the walls
Such precision and care
What does it matter
if there's no one here to share

Flowers in the garden
blue wine
the "Waiting for Godot"
and so much modern time?

All I want
is what you want
I'm always waiting
for a red letter day

The years perfecting a stance
of measured cool
fade into insignificance
The moment one starts to understand
What on earth
does it profit a man?

All I want
is what you want
I'm always waiting
for a red letter day

For something special
somehow new
someone saying 'I love you'
Baby, I'm waiting
for that red letter day

You can sneer
or disappear behind a veneer
of self-control
But for all of those who don't fit in
who follow their instincts
and are told they sin
this is a prayer for
a different way

All I want
is what you want
I'm always waiting
for a red letter day

Like Christmas morning
when you're a kid
Admit you love me
and you always did
Baby I'm waiting
for that red letter day

I'm always waiting,
I'm always waiting, waiting

For something special
somehow new
someone saying 'I love you'
Baby, I'm hoping
for that red letter day

This is all getting to be too much.

I read this very succinct post from Leona this morning and it neatly summarizes what's been going on in my head these days. It could not have come at a better time for me.

"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self. -- Cyril Connolly (1903 - 1974)"

Whether it's having a link to my blog reposted by someone on a website that I have absolutely nothing to do with, or getting emails from people telling me this person is really three people and this person is that person, or my blog getting 3,000 hits in 8 days, or having some other blogger tag me in 14 blog posts because he's got some weird obsession with me, among others, or a well-meaning person on PE who starts a thread titled "Faline Makes Marie Claire Cover" because she decided I look like the model on the cover, or being told by a friend that a stranger recognized me in real-life from my blog, when I was with my kids, no less, or reading for the 18,439th time about TG vs. TS and allowing myself to be pulled into the conversation...

... or whatever it is, it's too much. My head is pretty much spinning with all this crap. These are signs that one needs to close ranks. This was only supposed to be a transition diary. I'm not sure how we got to this point. I feel like I am being watched, or something, and I don't know who is real and who isn't. I don't know who I can trust. It's like the freaking Truman Show. I've contributed to it, of course, by posting pictures of myself and even one video. No more of that.

It's going to be close to 100 degrees today, I have a ton of work to do, I have electrolysis tonight, I'm upset because this morning my Dad took my place at this preschool thing, I'm trying to figure out how to go about making new friends, and instead of focusing on my real-life "stuff," I'm dwelling on all that other stuff.

By "close ranks," I'm not sure exactly what that means. I don't know if it means make this blog private, or shut it down altogether, or just be more quiet online. Something has to change, though. I changed my avatar by applying a Photoshop effect to my old picture. That's a start. Pretty much sums up how I feel these days.

At the end of the Truman Show, Truman makes the choice to leave the only world he's ever known, a world in which he's encased in a deceivingly protective bubble which he *thought* was safe, but turned out to be just the opposite. What is it that he says as he steps out of that world? "Good morning, and in case I don't see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night!" Yeah, something like that.

I'm very frustrated with myself.  Last night I went for an early dinner with an old friend at this local town center.  Had a nice time catching up.  I didn't feel like heading home afterwards; it was such a nice evening, I looked pretty cute, it would have been depressing to be home at 7 PM, so I decided to meander around the town center for a while.  Felt pretty lonely walking around, seeing all the families and couples, although it would have been worse at home.  I popped into the Apple store and put something on Facebook that I was wandering around at the Town Center, in case anyone I knew was down there.

I had been walking around for about half an hour when I bumped into one of the maybe 4 people in the world who only know me as me.  At work, we're doing a pro bono project for a little non-profit and Robyn is our main client contact.  After the initial meeting our team had with her, I think she was a little intimidated by us, the big bad technology consultants.  I happened to run into her in the ladies' room after the meeting and we talked for a while and she felt better afterwards.  We have a great rapport.  Anyway, at the Town Center, they have these free concerts, and Robyn is a member of a swing dance group that comes and dances at the concerts.  She told me that I ought to come down and hang out with them, told me where they'd be, and said she hoped to see me.

I did try, kind of.  About 30 minutes later I came down and saw her dancing with her friends.  I stood a bit away and watched, waiting for them to take a break from the dancing, and then I'd come over and say hello.  Robyn didn't see me; the crowd is big enough that you can hide if you want to.  I watched them for all of 10 minutes before I started to get self-conscious about standing there by myself, so I went home.  Truth be told, I was also afraid that if I did go over, one of her guy friends would grab me and pull me out to dance.  All these stupid excuses... I've never danced as myself before, I'm wearing a rather short A-line dress and what he if spins me and, well, do I need to spell it out for you?  That would have been awful.  So anyway, I copped out, went home, did the obligatory self-pitying cry in the car, blah blah blah.

The irony of posting in the morning about making a friend who doesn't know juxtaposed with this story is not lost on me.  I had a chance here and I blew it.  Damnit damnit damnit.  No one to blame but myself.

You randomly meet a Mom in the food line at Great Country Farms, a Mom who just moved here and knows no one, has a couple kids around your kids' age, and she's really friendly. You run into her a few times over the course of the day, and each time the two of you chat. Her baby keeps giving you huge smiles, which causes her to smile and say how much he likes you. By the fourth and final time you bump into each other, you feel that you've chatted enough to feel that it wouldn't be inappropriate to try and make a friend. So, for the first time, you get your courage up and offer that if she ever needs to get out, away from the kids and hubby, for a drink or a chat or whatever, to shoot you an email. She gladly accepts your email address and thanks you. She and her husband both smile and wave as you part. You feel like you've accomplished something by taking one small, tentative step towards putting yourself out there.

Then a week goes by without an email. You were really hoping you'd hear from her, because she seemed like a cool person, and you're yearning for just one friend... one friend who doesn't "know." You don't know if you've not heard because you are trans and she was just being polite. Maybe when you cooed at the baby, you were clocked. After all, your voice just doesn't go as high as other women's voices do when cooing at babies. Maybe her husband clocked you and filled her in. Maybe your child yelled "Daddy" at you within her earshot. Maybe you committed a faux pas by offering your email address, and in fact, women don't do this in such situations. Maybe she Googled your name and something trans-related came up. Of course, it could be for a million other reasons. They could be busy. It's busy when one has a 7-month old and a 5-year old. She could have lost the scrap of paper with your email address. Or maybe she was just being polite and it has nothing to do with your history. Maybe a week is too short of a period in which to lose patience and/or faith. It's early yet.

Problem is, though, you don't know if they were just being polite to the transsexual person. You'll never know. You'll never know if you don't present as well as you think. The realization that this is what the rest of your life is going to be like is pretty damn depressing. As much as you know that things could be far, far worse, you get tired of the mantra. As you are typing this blog entry, the little number next to your Inbox changes from 228 to 229. Huh, maybe her ears were burning. *Click*. Nope. There's a sale at Ann Taylor. Ann doesn't know or care if you're transsexual. Now *her*, you hear from quite often.


Not only is it a little early yet to lose faith over someone not sending an email, it's early yet in the context of the rest of my life. Of course I would like to hear from her, and if I didn't, it would be frustrating not knowing. This is only the first time I've put myself out there like this, and it's not easy. It will get easier over time, and at some point, I'll get an email from someone. Perhaps it's a bit of overly-dramatic hyperbole (is there any other kind?) to say "the rest of my life will be like this." It probably won't. It does feel that way sometimes, though.

I remember when I started transition, actually before I started, I was trying to find information about Electrology 3000.  I stumbled onto a blog that I read start to finish.  It inspired me and helped me think that maybe I'd be able to transition.  Somehow reading this blog made things real for me.  So I, too, decided that I needed to write a blog, just as a diary-type thing.  It seemed like every trans person had a blog, so the initial title of it was "the obligatory transgender blog."  :)  I didn't tell anyone about it.  I remember being surprised when I got a comment.  How on earth could anyone have found it?  It freaked me out a little bit.  Kept writing, and once in a while, maybe once a week, got a comment.  Almost a year later, I came out on BT as well as being included on T-Central around the same time, and the hits started coming.

They're continuing to go up... each month for the last 5 months, I couldn't imagine how the next month would get more hits, and each month it goes up.  Yesterday, there was a link to my blog posted on a site that I'm not a member of, and there were 487 hits today alone, the most I've had in a day.  The last two months I've had over 4000 hits, each month.  So far this month, I have 689 hits, after two days.  That's crazy.

It seems like a lot for a non-activist trans blog.  It's not like I'm advertising it, posting links to it all over the place, etc..  Once in a while if I feel I've written an important entry, I'll put it on Facebook, but that's it.  I think I've done that three times.  Anyway, it's a lot of hits, almost more than I am comfortable with.  Earlier in the week, a friend told me that someone in real-life, someone he knows but I do not, recognized me when I was out with my kids, from my blog.  Didn't necessarily freak me out, but it was a reminder that as long as I continue to do things like post pictures and the (very) rare video of myself, people will recognize me in real-life.  Of course, that's not compatible with the life I want.  I'm not complaining about any of this... when you have a public blog and when you are open about yourself, this is how it goes.

This blog has been tremendously helpful to me in many ways... mostly writing about things has helped me work through them, I've met a few wonderful friends who I imagine I'll be in contact long after the last suture has completely healed, and I'd like to think that the blog has helped others who once were where I was.  I've also learned that I overuse commas.  :)  Ultimately, though, this blog needs to be about me and for me.  For a while, it was true that I *needed* this blog... I don't think that's true anymore.  I think that now, I like it, as silly as that might sound.  Eventually it'll just be another reminder of a life that I'd just assume leave behind.

It's hard to imagine that once SRS recovery is over, I'll have much to say here.  I hope I don't, anyway, because this is a trans-related blog, and the idea with transition is that one's life is supposed to evolve into a life which involves transsexual-related issues less and less.  Over time, the entries will come less frequently, and at some point I'll stop altogether.  After that I'm not sure what I'll do with it. I'm not there yet, though, so y'all with have to deal with my navel-gazing and pontificating for a little while longer.  :)


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When I transitioned, there just weren't too many blogs out there written by straight, transitioned women. Well, here's one.

I can be reached via email at this address.

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