Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paper Tigress

It's a rainy summer Saturday.  Derby day 2010, in Louisville, Kentucky.  My friend Debbie and I stroll into  a very nice bar to catch the race on the big screen.  There's so much hustle and bustle and all the girls are dressed up for derby day.  I'm in one of my favorite summer florals despite the weather, which seemed a silly choice earlier in the day.  But inside a lot of other women had also chosen not to let the weather spoil their original derby day wardrobe decision.  It feels great being among people and being a part of things.  I'm super confident today and for once I actually feel pretty.

A few minutes before the race I got up to make my way to the ladies' room, then made about three steps without considering my shoes could still be wet from the sidewalk outside.   I slipped and had an awkward moment, rebalancing over my very narrow 3 inch heels. I giggled sheepishly and glanced around casually wondering who might have seen.

Almost straight ahead, two pairs of gorgeous brown eyes caught mine. Two nicely dressed clean cut men, around my own age, standing near eachother and each holding a drink.  They looked a lot alike and I was imediately certain they were brothers.  They had probably taken notice of me because of the sudden movement, but now they were still looking right at me.  Its a look I have not experienced many times in my life, but I know it when I see it.  They were admiring me.

Somehow I just knew, that all I had to do was smile and I could be over there with them.  I wanted too.  I almost did.

Then reality snapped into focus.  I grow hair in places I shouldn't.  I'm wearing more makeup than I should rightfully need.  My complexion is awful, with skin swollen from laser the day before.  I'm missing parts I should have. I have parts I shouldn't.  They admire me now, from 20 feet away.   But the distance, the low light, and a thin layer of cloth and mineral powder hides a multitude of sins.  For now rare distant admiration is all I can accept.  I can't date. I can't fall in love.  If they spent time with me, either would eventually be disappointed. The only question is how long we could talk before someone saw through the paper thin illusion that masks my many handicaps.

The smile forming on my lips froze incomplete and something primal and natural that was happening inside died .  There was no time to think.  I couldn't end up with a situation where they would feel comfortable approaching me.  I gave them the tiniest cold smile and then turned to the women's room with a dismissive toss of my hair.

A paper thin layer of cloth and makeup hides a multitude of sins.  I am a paper tigress.

Empty Days

Its a gorgeous weekend.  Warm, slight breeze, and a beautiful sky.  Mom and Dad's property looks gorgeous.  From my window I can see several species of birds.  Lots of lovely flowers are in bloom.  Besides all that,  this particular weekend happens to be a resplendent three days long.  I should be happy.  I have been so blessed in the past months.  But today I'm having a hard time keeping sight of that.

I've been slipping emotionally ever since Thursday.  A task I needed to do involved going to every classroom and working with every teacher in the building.  For the most part, I've been feeling very social lately, but for some reason my confidence was just shot last week.  Odd looks and mean comments from the high school boys usually do not mean much to me. But Thursday I was just feeling delicate, and the same treatment I get all the time just felt different.  Instead of keeping my head high and moving on, I felt the sting every glance and word, and it just kept weakening me.

By Friday, I was in a major slump.  My self esteem was shattered.  I was feeling inferior to everyone and even simple conversations made me feel scared.  My heart was racing most the day from fear and stress and I just felt so tired.

Around two I finished my room to room project and was sitting at my desk planning what to work on next when a class of kids came by.  My office is fronted with a large window. When I moved in I took the ugly metal blinds down, and the door is always open.  I like people to feel welcome to walk right in, and I like the open feeling that has.  So, the kids walk by my office, and as usual a majority turned to look inside as they passed.  Gotta see how absurd the resident tranny/queer/gay, (whatever they think I am) is looking today, of course.

Well, one boy stopped and looked me right in the eye.  Then he extended a limp wristed wave and said "Hey!" in a super squeaky high voice meant to mock mine.  I just rolled my eyes and he moved on. Inside though something just snapped.  My energy was completely gone.  I spent the next 20 minutes crying as I watched my swirly blue screensaver.

Is that how people see me? "Hey!"  That is my default greeting when I'm in a good mood. What the fuck is so funny about that?  I just wanted to be gone. 

After my eyes were dry I decided to go out to buy a little snack.  I still looked like a wreck.  The walk to the exit involved cutting across the technology lab.  As luck would have it, the high school labs were booked up and they were using our lab for some online testing.  The door is at the back of the room and I stepped in quietly, but a few kids on the back row looked up to see who had entered.  One boy got this annoying little smirk and started elbowing the girl next to him. "Look! Look! It's that guy!" he said in a tone that he intended to be a whisper, but that was far too loud to fit the definition.  

I started to just go home, but in the end I bought some Starbusrt and a grapefruit juice and went back to find some desk work.  I wasn't fit to be around people, but that didn't mean I was completely useless.

  I am, forced to present in these ill fitting clothes, intentionally passing myself off as a guy, yet trying to be myself in every regard other than attire.  A girl, in oversized men's clothes, with some male physical attributes, a touch of facial hair and a high nasal voice, working as a male.  Its no wonder I'm such a joke to these kids.  

I went home so glad that the weekend was starting.  But then after a nap and a cry, I found myself feeling trapped here.  Another place I'm not free to be myself.  Another place I'm not fully accepted.  Another place I can't be comfortable.  I find myself longing for a chance to get away to somewhere I can just be myself.  This happens a lot on my weekends at home. But usually I can look forward to getting back to work, and in my present state, thats nothing to look forward to.

I feel sub-human.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Frivolous Photo Update

(Photo with the green shirt was taken at work last week.  The rest are me trying on my new Hard Rock Cafe tee today.  I saw it when I ate at Hard Rock Cafe last weekend, resisted buying it there, then came back and ordered it online.  I think its my favorite tee!  No makeup in any of these.  Just hope none of the hair comes back. :P )

I'm just feeling great about my transition progress today and thought I'd put up some updated photos.  Right now it just feels like everything is coming together more and more.

I have one more pre-paid laser session left, and I'm so pleased with the results of the last appointment.  Two days without a shave yields visible hair, but none growing close enough together to shadow.  Immediately after a shave, its pretty hard to tell there is hair at all.

My face is looking altogether softer and smoother too.  Recently I picked up my Mary Kay skin regimen again.  There were a few bumps as I adjusted to using retanol but now that my skin has adjusted, my skin is looking much nicer on this regimen than the gentler routine I was using back when laser was harder on me.  I've even picked up microderm abrasion again.  So thrilled!

Body-wise, I'm thrilled with the way things are going.  I've lost a lot of strength and tone over the last year, but my measurements have kept improving and I'm really happy with most of my body right now.  Just feeling softer, more feminine and more me.

It all feels so natural and healthy.  Its hard to explain. Its just, my body feels like it is now doing what it should have been all along, and the feeling that comes with that is just....  I don't know! :P  Content? Relaxed? Serendipity?  I'm happy at any rate. :)

I've changed up my work look a bit more.  I've stopped flat ironing out all the volume and am really enjoying working with a blow dryer and round brush to get lots of body and curl.  Its getting some looks.  Some people are cool with it and have even complimented it. Others seemed a bit put off at first, but adjusted, at least externally.  I'm growing my nails out now and wearing polish as well, though all the physical labor lately ensures lots of chips and scrapes.

So far the nails have been complimented at work once, and the hair has gotten positive comments from several people including students.  Two people have actually referred to it as "so pretty".  I'm just appreciating the tolerance level here so much!

Friday, May 07, 2010

Go Super Saver!

Ater a hectic work week, I finally get to start the current relaxed weekend by writing up last weekend, which was anything but relaxed.  Friday I was scheduled for laser in Lexington.  Saturday I was scheduled for my first counseling session since June, in Louisville.  While I was in Lexington I wanted to visit Lisa, and while I was in Louisville I wanted a chance to visit Debbie.   Also Saturday was of course derby day, as well as Transkentucky day. It didn't sound like a crazy schedule to me  as I thought it out all week, but it did turn out to be very rushed sometimes - but in a fun way!

Friday, I decided to take a personal day since my laser appointment 2 hours away was scheduled a little earlier in the day than I usually do it.  This made for a carefree morning of picking the right clothes, taking care of my hair, and packing all the cosmetics I haven't used in an age.

 I've been running around in a very androgynous state since January first.  All my time away has been based around laser appointments.  Makeup before the appointments was pointless, and after the damaged hair was impossible to hide.  So really I've not been pleased with my appreance for a single day in 2010 up until last weekend.  I thought I was fine with it, but I started to realized over the last few weeks that my self esteem is eroding a bit, being forced to present male for so long.

Last weekend though was my comeback.  There was so little hair left that I decided I could probably cover it even after laser, and it was derby weekend, which is Kentucky's ultimate excuse for fun clothes! While packing I came to the conclusion that the hair was reduced far enough that I could present correctly at laser.  Since it would be the first time they would see me presenting as my true gender, I decided to dress to be taken seriously.  Black slacks and a fitted vest with a ruched silk top in a cream color.

When I got to Lexington I was able to visit Lisa briefly, then I went for the appointment.  I was a little nervous walking in, but they were very welcoming and the whole visit was very comfortable and friendly.  I got compliments on my clothes.   They were really pleased with the laser results so far.  They even asked before beginning the treatment whether I was wearing makeup. :P

Saturday morning my face wasn't irritated at all and the remaining hair didn't look to hard to cover.  I tried a thin layer of ivory concealer over my chin and upper lip, and then brushed outward. Instead of a hard border for the concealer this left a gradual change in tone between the natural skin tone and the concealer.  Next I used a light liquid foundation and then a thin layer of mineral powder.  With a little color over this I was very satisfied.  It was the easiest and most natural makeup job I have ever done, even though it was just one day after laser!

Despite the cold and damp day I decided I'd still dress nice for derby.  I settled on a strapless floral in black and blue with pearl jewelry.  For the first time in several months I felt pretty and fully confident in my appearance.

Counseling went great.  We mainly just caught up on happenings.  Also she issued me a carry letter and we talked about my plans to go full time without moving first.  For the first time, she seemed very supportive of this plan.  The next time we meet, we are going to begin talking through actual time lines.

The session was really enjoyable, and though it was scheduled to be an hour we talked almost two.  Near the end we got off topic and were talking about pretty much random things.  In a story from way back I mentioned that I "was a very strange looking creature at the time."   To which she replied "You are anything but strange looking now.  You're a beautiful young woman."   She said it with such sincerity, and though she has given me mild reassurance before, she had never given me a compliment like that.  I left feeling great!

After therapy I went to Debbie's.  She fixed a delicious lunch of stir fry shrimp and steak.  Then we went to PF Chang's to have cocktails and watch the race.  It was great fun and Debbie's bet on Super Saver turned out to be an excellent choice.

We dropped by Sally's Beauty supply after to look for some nail products someone had recommended to Debbie.  Then we chatted and worked on our nails back at Debbie's.  We topped off the evening with a late dinner at the Bristol on Bard's Town road.  On derby day Louisville is busy well in to the night, and Bard's Town Road is a pretty popular place.  We took a table at the window and watched the well dressed derby goer's pass as we chatted and enjoyed the food.

Sunday I made it home late and tired after visiting with Lisa and Tina.  I feel so happy right now.  Transition is progressing well and I'm so sure this is going to be the year I  get to let go of my secret completely and finally live true to myself.