Monday, November 23, 2009

Blog Rollup: This weekend, and other fantastical events, in brief.

I still do not have a working satellite modem at home, so its rare to have an opportunity at blogging as of late. It is unfortunate, because things keep happening that I wish I could write about! Sicne I am writing form work after hours today, I'm going to quickly catch up everything.

First laser. My skin finally recovered, and very little of the hair is coming back in so far. It makes makeup easy, plus I look so much more the way I should, even without makeup. That can make life awkward in my current circumstances, but it does make me feel better about myself. :)

Last week several things happened that show my male presentation is decaying rapidly. The worry that it could cause me trouble is getting more and more tangible.

For instance, last Wednesday, I was out to lunch at the local Dairy Queen. It is pretty much what you would expect of such an establishment; mainly miners and other locals, a very conservative feel.

As I approached the door, a man and woman arrived just ahead of me. The guy noticed me coming up and held the door for me. As I approached, he made eye contact. Something about his manner left me the immediate feeling that he was interested in me, but I told myself "Shannon, this is a Dairy Queen in a really conservative town, and you are wearing intentionally unkempt hair, two layers of giant shirts, and baggy jeans. No man, regardless of sexuality is going to take notice of you here."

Still, despite my reality check, he held eye contact yet again when he held the second door for me. I said thank you, in a shy, tiny voice, and he welcomed me with a smile. When she heard us talking, the woman with him turned around and giggled slightly when she recognized me. I do not believe it was meant to be rude. She just seemed perhaps amused by all the changes in my appearance since the last time we had seen each other. She graduated the same year as me, and we have rarely seen each other since.

Once inside, I had to cross the serving line to go to the restroom to check my hair and wash my hands before eating. I needed to get past where the man and woman were standing so I approached and asked to be excused. He turned again, and with a dashing smile, bowed ever so slightly and ushered me past with a grand gesture. I smiled back and stepped past feeling very shy now.

For a moment I felt like a princess, but then I started to have my doubts. Was he patronizing me, because I looked like a sissy to him, or was he really flirting with me? In my situation, it was just too much to believe. Even if it were true, it was awkward. He was a handsome man, about my age, with long sleek hair, tied back carelessly, and a rugged face with just enough stubble. I have to admit, I'm a sucker for pirates, rogues, and guys who are a bit rough around the edges. Normally I would be very pleased by attention form such a man, but in my little home town? People wonder about me enough without me flirting with men in broad daylight at Dairy Queen.

When I left the restroom and got in line, he continued to make occasional eye contact. I could feel myself blushing, but I couldn't do anything about it. When I finished ordering, I found one of my co-workers was eating there as well, so I joined him at his table. The girl who was with the guy stopped by my table twice. Once to ask me over to the table after I finished eating, and a second time to leave her phone number when they finished eating before me and my co-worker.

My co-worker thought the girl was interested in me and was about to start joking about it, so I told him a guy was with her, and suggested they seemed to be a couple, to deflect his interest in the subject.

The next day I got curious enough to call, and she told me the guy was a friend of hers who had just moved down from Indiana and did not know a lot of people here yet. She said he thought I seemed like an interesting person and wondered if we could talk. I left my number with her, but he has not called. Oh well! Men have such short attention spans...

I still don't know what his perception of me was. Did he see me as a very effeminate, obviously gay male? Did he immediately read me as trans? I really wish I knew. Staying here, my situation feels delicate, and knowing how people are reading me would be nice.

the last week has held other evidence that perception of me is shifting too. Unfortunately the rest is not as flattering. In a neighboring town, in line at a fast food restaurant, an entire school sports team kept staring and laughing, with me in guy mode. Today I have been traveling to schools for upgrades that I do not usually cover on my job. Some of the younger kids were discussing openly and loudly whether I was male or female.

The high school kids here are also noticing me again. Their interest seemed to be waning for a bit, and suddenly many of them seem curious, amused, or sometimes offended by me anew. I think I have caught conversation in the halls as I pass, regarding everything from my hair to my chest.

It is a ticklish situation, and a stressful one. I am thrilled with the progress of my transition, and would not mind if it went even faster. If I woke up tomorrow completely unable to pass as male, I would be thrilled despite the complications it would cause. I want to be myself, and I want people to recognize my gender.

For now, no matter what the kids think, I think my job is safe. Most adults here have been very respectful. Some seem curious, but everyone continues to be nice to me, and mostly comfortable around me. Two of the people I was afraid may eventually push to remove me showed me my fears were off base last Friday. They were setting up for a banquet and didn't have the equipment they needed for audio. It was 7 at night and I was already working late on another job, but I quickly came to their aid with my stash of cabling and audio gear. While I was setting up, one of them hugged me. Her husband, the assistant superintendent, even invited me to stay and eat at the banquet!

I was thrilled that they welcomed my company, but I had to get back to the other job. Still, their kindness and sincerity really touched me. I feel really sad that I assumed I had probably already went to far with my presentation to have their support. Also, when I asked what their problem was with the presentation when I arrived, she looked to her husband and I could have swore she said "Tell her about our problem." Maybe I misheard, and maybe it was just the kind of slip everyone makes occasionally without any meaning whatsoever. I like to think it might have been a Freudian slip though. I seem to get that more and more often as I go along.

That gets us back up to the weekend, which was fabulous. I have been planning quite some time to go see Debbie in Louisville, and my dear friend Sylvia decided to come with me, making the trip even nicer! I stopped by her home near Lexington and was treated to a tour of her house, and got to see her lovely art in person for the first time. After that, it turned out I had locked my keys in the car, and waiting for someone to come open my car for me put us well behind schedule.

Still, Louisville was very nice. We visited Debbie and were shown lots of hospitality. She helped me with lots of skin care advice to help with the dryness that has plagued me since I had to use all that acne medication, and allowed me to use her home to dress and prepare for the Sienna meeting, which Sylvia and I attended. We got to meet a lot of new people and reconnect with friends we had not seen in months. It was a fabulous evening.

After all that, we returned to Debbie's and chatted in her kitchen til 1:00. During the visit, Debbie brought out 3 tiny hat boxes filled with jewelry from her youth. I was in a playful mood and began to layer double digits numbers of beads and chains. In the end, Debbie gifted me a couple of pieces that caught my eye. For that I am really grateful. I don't have very much jewelry at the present. Two of the necklaces are fairly unusual and probably will not prove to versatile, though gorgeous. The third, I wore the rest of the night. Its so me! I would describe it, but its too hard too. Anyway, it looked neat with my brown turtle neck. LOL!

When I dropped Sylvia off, we chatted briefly, and got out of our makeup and such. I kept my stay brief though, since we were both very tired by that point. At 6 Am I arrived home before anyone woke up. My sleep schedule is still kind of shot after that 22 hour day. It was so worth it though!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Pushing The Proverbial Envelope

Today I am writing from work again. I'll not talk about why to much, except to say that I am off from now until Tuesday, and I was too excited about what I was working on to quit and forget about it for five days. If I would be back Monday to look at this project, I would walk out now, but to wait until Wednesday of next week to see if everything works? Unthinkable!

*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Boring Techno-Prattle~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*
We just set up a new SAN, sharing 3 terabytes of data, between 3 very powerful clustered servers, with the intent of replacing almost all of our servers with Hyper-V virtual server images ran by this new server cluster. As I wait, the new rig is busy converting one of my old, dying servers into a shiny new virtual machine running on cutting edge hardware with access to lots more resources. If it works, then, next week me and my co-workers will be able to accomplish some spectacular things. But I'll hush now!
*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~End Boring Techno-Prattle~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

The only reason any of that matters at the moment, is that waiting for that conversion gives me time to write.

Its so odd that I am that interested in my work again though. A few months ago, I was convinced that everyone here either hated me, or would hate me if I were to open up just the slightest bit more. I was terrified that I might lose my job soon as my transition progresses, and I mainly just tried to keep a low profile, and stay away from people as best as I could while still fulfilling my job duties.

Now it all feels different. There is still no assurance that I'll keep my job into next year, but there never was. In a place like this, you never know what will happen with budgets, or how strong but invisible political undercurrents could effect your career. For me, all it takes is one influential person deciding I am offensive and a political liability to keep on the payroll, and I can find myself out of work. If it happened, it would be in July. They would not fire me, but rather not renew my contract. In all likelihood, there would be very little advance notice.

Still, I think my odds are better right now than they have ever been. While my new appearance might be offensive or even comical to some people, overall, I am finding people treat me the same as ever. Some folks are even nicer to me than in the past. It seems the better I feel about myself, the more confidently and pleasantly I can approach other people, because I am genuinely happy right now. It seems most people appreciate that and don't mind that I present in a rather feminine manner.

As the title implies though, lately I have been pushing. After my face mostly healed from that freak acne attack I felt super confident. Smoother, clearer skin than I have had in my life, along with subtly more feminine facial features affected by estrogen, and much reduced facial hair that barely is capable of producing a shadow, all leads to a happier, perkier, more confident and less ashamed me. Yesterday, I was feeling so good that I decided to take a little break during the day at work and go out for a trim and to get my hair dyed.

Topping off the facial changes with the new hair style has definitely generated some attention. From adults, that generally translates into a curious look now and then, but some of the kids in this school are not nearly so polite. In the middle school, I can't get through the halls without being openly laughed at by at least five kids. In the high school, I go down the hall with children muttering "fucking fag" or "queer". It bothers me less now than ever, even though the new look is definitely getting more attention than any of the previous changes in my appearance.

Right now, I'm getting along with my co-workers better than I ever have. Previously, I just assumed everyone in the technology department thought I was a joke and was probably hoping I'd hurry up and quit this job and move somewhere else. As a result, I started acting defensively and just stirring clear of everyone else, as I mentioned earlier. I just came in, did my work, documented it to make sure no one had an excuse to fire me, and then went home.

It turns out, I was being stupid, the lack of communication and cooperation between me and my co-workers was not a sign that they didn't want me around. In fact, I created that void myself, with my standoffish attitude. Right now, I'm happy, and I let it show. I'll gladly work on group projects, and I feel really welcome. We are probably morally at odds on an issue here and there, but no one is letting it interfere with getting along. Everyone is just super nice and sweet to me right now, and I enjoy their company so much.

Now that my gender issues are partially resolved and I know i am on the right track, I am able to focus on other things (some times), and I find I really enjoy my work and my co-workers now that I am not constantly dwelling in fear and desperation.

Eventually I will almost certainly have to move. When that happens, I'm going to miss this place. In eight years I've learned so much, and I've worked with some great people. My dream would be to continue working here, but to get to finish transition. I don't think it is in the cards though. I just hope when I move on, the time can be of my own choosing, and that I can be on good terms with the other people here in my department. I like them all so much and it would hurt to end up at odds.

My future is so terrifyingly vague! :P

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


It has been ages since I have written, and today I am resorting to staying late at work to catch up on my blogging. Why ever would I do such a silly thing? It involves a satellite modem at home which seems to be knocking on heavens door. LOL!

Things have been very eventful since I last wrote. I haven't had the chance to travel any, and I'm feeling a bit claustrophobic, now that I have been no more than an hour away from home for over a month. Since I have mainly been here, most of the news I have relates to my physical transition; specifically my last round of laser.

Early October, I had laser, then life proceeded as normal. But roughly two weeks later, my damaged skin around some of the courses dead hair began to have major irritation. Eventually, most of the hair shed, and it turned out the skin under those former patches of beard looked absolutely disgusting. After a few giving it a few days to heal, I did something brash and stupid. I decided to use microderm abrasion to remove the dead and dried out skin. I ussualy do this, but this time, I did it before the acne liek facial breakouts were completely healed.

What followed that decision was a chain of events that made the next couple of weeks very awkward. The microderm abrasion broke open the acne spots, then spread the bacteria all over my skin, while tearing at the top layer, giving the bacteria a place to settle. My idiotic decision to then slather on a layer of moisturizer sealed the deal, giving the bacteria a moist oxygen free environment to grow in.

Douse this sound like a scenario from an unusually non lethal, superficial episode of House? :P

Well, its not over yet. When the break out spread from these 4 little acne patches around my chin and upper lip, to cover almost the entire lower front of my face, I was in a panic. I ended up buying this Clean and Clear stuff that won an award in Cosmo a couple of issues back for being a gentle way to clear acne. It is really meant to be a spot treatment, but everything was red and swollen, so instead of dabbing it on spots, I just rubbed it everywhere that was remotely red, again, spreading the problem.

Eventually, I had acne that you never see on anyone older than 16, and see probably only in 1 teenager out of 1000. It was just absolutely disgusting. I've been more or less stuck in the office at work for weeks, afraid to get out and do some of m job duties, which fell behind quite a lot.

Finally though, I found a product that worked. A Clean and Clear product based on benzoyl peroxide. The same stuff that kept my facial break outs in check back in my school days. In the ammounts I had to use, it dried my skin a lot, and left a white residue. But over the course of last week, it really sorted things out.

At this point, I am down to two little spots, and a little bit of discoloration that seems temporary.

The really good news? Now that my skin has healed, I can finally appreciate the results of my 4th laser hair removal session. There is practically no hair! There are 4 tiny patches scattered around my jaw line with working follicles close enough together to produce a shadowing effect. Most of the rest of my skin looks totally bare even 36 hours after shaving.

With no makeup or anything, when I look in the mirror now, I see the me I have always wanted to see. Its just the most amazing feeling. And now without a beard distracting me when I interpret the angles of my face, I am seeing estrogen related changes that are more dramatic than I realized. My skin is a little softer, and there is this soft distrubtion of fat in my cheeks that gives my face a much more feminine shape.

Honestly, I am just thrilled. I think I am happier today than I have ever been in my life.

The lesson here, is be very, very careful how you treat your skin, especially after having your face fried with lasers. You could be one poor decision away from the social disaster of a lifetime. Hehe!

Hmmmm! In other news, work is going great the last couple of days, now that I can show my face. I think the lack of facial hair and other subtle changes have not went unnoticed. That probably should concern me, but I Simply can not bring myself to feel anything other than pride. I'm socializing, working hard, and staying super productive, now that I feel good about myself again.

On the home front, I have not fought with Mom and Dad since my last endo appointment. I think they are content to leave me to make my own decisions now. They may even be starting to cope on another level. In subtle ways I can't really put into words, I have gotten the impression lately that they are beginning to shift their perception of me in a very positive way.

I'll sign out for now. It feels so nice righting again. I'm sorry if the gross acne descriptions are a bit TMI. I try to keep my blog honest though, and this honestly has been a very major problem. You would have had to see the severity to understand. Besides that, the possibility is something everyone should be aware of I suppose, though I expect this was a major fluke. LOL!

Anyway, happy, healthy, ad for once in my life proud. And, as I said, signing out for now. So nice to be back!