Friday, August 03, 2012


I noticed an email from Caroline a few hours ago that reminded me I haven't written in ages.  I've often wanted to, but everything has just been so busy. 

While it has been a long time since I have written,itI feels even longer to me, because it has been such a turbulent year and my life has changed so much in that short time. 

Katie and I are doing well.  This time a year ago I was in love, but I really wasn't sure how well I knew her.  Over this year, we have grown so close, and found so much in common.  Her companionship has made the last year so much easier, and through the hardships of the past few months, I'm not sure how I would have made it without her. 

Transition-wise, things are basically at a stand still right now.  I've gained wide acceptance in my town, and am treated well.  My day to day life feels very typical.  I no longer have the feeling that I could be insulted any second when I'm out in town, and I don't sit at fast food restaurants looking around to see if I'm about to get insulted. At work, people almost always get pronouns correctly, and if they slip up, they correct themselves imediately.  My boss used to seem uncomfortable around me, to the point that I worked in isolation, mostly cut off from the rest of the department.  Now things are less awkward between us, and I have been mostly re-integrated.

It has been long enough since my surgeries that everything has settled.  I'm very pleased with my face, though teh differences are subtle.  Just a little more open around the eyes, and my brow doesn't look so heavy in ccertain lighting.  It was something that I was very self concious about.  My only complaint is that one corner of my hairline is noticably higher than the other.  I could probably get a free revision, only, it wouldn't be free since it would involve travel to Mexico.  I'd rather save my money ahead for GRS. 

My breast augmentation went very well.  I can't honestly claim to look natural, but I'm pleased with the results anyone.  I was at the Lexigton, KY Pride event last month with Katie, and I met a gay male couple at an ATM.  One asked if my boobs were real.  The other said "Of course that's all real. Don't be rude!"  The first guy said something like "Honey, when your straps fall down and the boobs go up instead of down... that's not natural."  LOL!  I had been drinking margaritas and really didn't have enough focus to keep the top of my dress under control.

Got to add this! It turned out we were all going to the same place.  When we got to the bar, me and the second guy ended up at the counter at the same time.  We were sitting around chatting and he was like "I just have to say, you are absolutely gorgeous.  You remind me of Angelina Jolie.  I feel like I'm sitting here talking to Angelina Jolie!"  It was probably the most flattering thing anyone has ever said to me, and he meant it.  He wasn't interesting and trying to pick me up and had no real reason to suck up to me.  Of course, he was also half drunk.  There's that beer goggle effect, you know?  LOL!

Amid all the positive changes and pleasant experiences though, this has been the hardest year of my life.  Not because of transition, but because I lost my mother.  Through a lot of last year, she had strange medical symptoms, and wasn't looking well.  I tried to be supportive and encouraging.  Even when she was going for exaimations, I had myself convinced whatever was happening was going to be something treatable. In November we found out she had cancer, and they weren't sure what kind.  I still clung to the hope that it would be something treatable.

In May we lost her.  The chemo and radiation never really helped.  Nor any of the surgeries.  In the end, her quality of life would have probably been better if she had just stayed home.  But she was a fighter, and she wouldn't let go.  Through it all, she never complained.  I have always felt I was tough, standing up through the things I've been through.  But Mom was tougher.

I have so many regrets about Mom.  Most of my life, I felt distant from my family, because I was harboring such heavy secrets that I felt they didn't know me.  Then, since I came out, she and I have had such a war of wills.  Some of the things she said to me are hard to forget.  But what I didn't know was that the emotional distance I put between us to avoid fighting would eventually hurt more than words ever could. Most of her last healthy months, we got along and didn't fight, but never did a lot together.

In the end, she accepted me and we were back on good terms.  The last day she was alert enough to hear, I held her hand and told her how proud I was of her strength, and how much I wanted to be like her.  I told her so many things that were important to me.  But now the memory is hazy and it doesn't feel real.  It's like my mind is trying to push those memories away to protect me.  But I do remember that she had the look around her eyes that she always got when she smiled, and then a tear fell fromm her eye.  At the time she couldn't talk or even move.  The tear let me know she could hear, and that the smile around her eyes wasn't just my imagination.  It was the first time I'd been able to really tell her she was a role model to me, and how much I admired the way she lived her life.  How much I appreciated the selfless loving way that she raised me.  I so wish I had told her so a long time ago.  But, in truth, I don't think she would have been any more ready to hear it, than I was ready to say it. 

The day of her funeral, I was just in shock.  So much so that I totaled my car.  My mind was just working so slowly that I looked over to see if my phone was in the passenger seat, and it took me so long to process it, that by the time I faced forward again, I was already running off the road.  It flipped and I just remember sliding along vaguely hoping to live.  There wasn't even a shaky adrenalin rush.  Just stepped out of the car in my black dress covered in glass, and my sliced, bloody hose, and stood around completely detached from the whole thing.  It just wasn't important enough to care. 

The last two weeks of July, Dad, Katie and I went to Yellowstone together.  We all love nature, photography and getting outside, which has been good for Dad and I. We just try to give eachother things to look forward to, to pull through.  It's very hard for Dad, but he stays busy.  On the vacation, we explored the park more thoroughly than we ever have, and came back with lots of great landscape and wildlifephotos.  Dad says he wants Katie and I in his life as much as possible, which makes me very happy.  This fall, he and I are going to build kayaks together, and hopefully we all have lots more outdoor adventures in our future. 

I've been happier since vacation. It gave me enough distance from Mom's passing, and my everyday existence to gain some perspective.  I have a lot to live for. Lots to be thankful for.  I've recommited to my fitness since mid June, and I feel so vital right now.  I'm surrounded by good friends, and a wonderful family.  Life is short, but its a blessing.  A very fragile, temporary blessing and you have to relish every moment, and cherish every close human connection.  It's all temporary, and it can all change in a heartbeat, but that is not something to be bitter about.  It is what makes it all so precious.

Wednesday was Chic-fil-a appreciation day.  Ridiculuosly high turnouts of people protecting the right to disccriminate against others, with a thin excuse that it was really about freedom of speech.  Most of us are fine with the man and the company have a right to an opinion, and a right to spend their profits where we wish.  We just do not wish to support it with our money.  And yet conservatives come out in droves to protest our boycott, calling us hypocrites, for using our freedom to simply choose where we wish to spend our money. 

Reading all the hateful and ignorant messages in news story reader comments and social media all day, I started feeling more alienated than I have in a long time.  It made me feel like all the optimism I've felt about our direction as a culture was misplaced. I felt outnumbered, vulnerable, and suddenly the future looked bleak.  I dreaded Thursday. Going to my largely conservative work place.  I thought I would feel so out of place.  Instead, everyone was unusually nice, and my tensions started to ease. I was being naive, and the world is not that dark.  And the acceptance I have recieved localy is very real after all.  Still I felt a paranoia, and an insecurity in town that I haven't felt in over a year. 

When I got home, I decided to fight it.  I wanted to remind myself that I have the same rights as anyone else, and can go where I want, and do what I want.  So I slipped into some pink spandex running shorts and a job bra and took my 1 mile evening run doing laps around town square instead of around the highschool track.  .

I half wanted confrontation, or at least some mean stares.  If there were any rednecks feeling smug and thinking their kind rules the country after Wednesday, I wanted to remind them that they don't control me,  I'm not afraid of them, and that I'm still proud of who I am.  Didn't even get an odd look though.  Some guys watched me run, but not in an offendedvsort of  way. 

Afterward, I walked into BP to buy a drink.  I hit the door feeling like a 5'11", sweat drenched tranny in skin tight running gear, out to be confrontational and make the statement "I go where I like, and if you don't like it, you'll have to deal."  Left just feeling like a regular girl- stopping by for a Gatorade after a run, like any normal person has a right too.  No odd looks.  No stares.  The lady in line in front of me gave me her place in line. 

"You go first!"

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, you only have one item, and you look burnt up honey!"

"Yeh, I've been out running."

"I'd pass out running in this heat!"

I guess I don't have the shock value I used to.  Feels nice! 

By the time I got home, I felt like a normal person again.  The fearful ghosts conjured by the Chic-fil-a fiasco had dissapeared as quickly as they had emerged.


ms.shandy said...

Temporary Comment: It's a busy evening and this is essentually a rough draft. There will probably be heavy revisions later, but feel free to read if you can handle strange sentence structure, poor grammar, out of place and misued words, and other things of that nature. If it's too much to handle, it should be better tomorrow. LOL!

Arcee Mann said...

First of all, before my real comment, my condolences to you and your Dad! I can't fathom how hard it would be to lose either of my parents right now, although I know it's inevitable.

I'm so glad you decided to come back and write some more! So often when girls have gotten to a certain point in their transition, their blog updates slow to a trickle or stop completely! So as a reader who only discovered your blog fairly recently, it's nice to read an update on your life and to know that there is life "after" transition. That's certainly inspiring to those of us who aren't so far down that road yet. :)

Jenna said...

Sorry about your Mum.
I don't know what I'll do when my parents eventually pass away. I'm sure Dad will struggle without Mum.

You look amazing in your photos. Thanks for posting an update on how things are.

Lisa Maria said...

Its great to read something from you. I havent been on line much but do wonder sometimes how others I have known on line are doing in their lives.
You have come through a lot over the last few months and are showing just how strong a woman you are to be moving forward in such a positive way.
I cant understand why you have any doubt at all at just how great you look.
Hold your head up high and continue to shine!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Shandy,

So good to hear from you. Im glad you are doing so well.
My condolences to you and your family on your moms passing.
I followed you from your first blog and to see you are doing so well is wonderful.

All best wishes to you and yours,
Julia Mitchell
Dallas, Tx.

Caroline said...

Some roller coaster ride of a year there!

Sorry to read about your loss. I too never got to spend time with my mother or share the things which we should have shared...

Humans are not very good at communication!

I have to say that you are looking great, just think of the future not the past, and live the life you deserve.

Jenny said...

Good to see you still fightin', and looking good!

My condolances on your mother. I have yet to lose a parent so I can only imagine the emotional burden it must bestow.

Chick-fil-a? It doesn't matter how many small-minded people 'appreciate' them, the damage is done. Their brand is now firmly associated with homophobia worldwide, and in brand value terms that's a disaster.

Marie said...

Hi Shandy. So sorry to hear about your Mom, but I'm glad to know that things are ok with the rest of your family.

It's great to see what a great job that Dr. Cardenas did. You look absolutely fantastic. I have a pretty good tran-dar, but I wouldn't have guessed in a million years. There are good reasons that no one looks twice at you these days, lady.

(Darn I'm jealous of you in that hat and blue dress that almost comes down to (ahem) - Your smile is so genuine and infectious.)

Take care, and don't be a stranger!

ms.shandy said...

Thanks everyone for responding, and for the compliments. major confidence boost! :)

I'm probably going to start writing and updating more frequently now. But the blog will probably change a lot.

I don't have a lot to say on trans specific topics, because the last steps of my transition are on hold for financial reasons, and most of the stuff going on with me really isn't specific to be being trans.

You could see anything from running, to recoomended hair products for curly hair, to nature photography, to movie reccomendations, to firearms training, to video games, to dance routines on here. LOL!

Debra said...

Wow you look gorgeous girl! I'm so glad to hear that life has been settling down for you. Isn't it great?

Sorry to hear about your mom. Being estranged from my parents, I often wonder what it'll be like when they're someday on their deathbed. How I'll feel, what I'll do. I just don't know. But it's out of my control.

I'm going in for BA soon, yours look great! =) All the best!

<3 Debra

ms.shandy said...

@Debra BA helped my confidence more than anything I've ever done. When my puberty took off in totaly the wrong direction, I was left feeling very insecure and undesirable, and being ultra-flat chested was one of the reasons.

I went with 450 CC anatomical implants, and subpectoral placement. Very happy with the way it worked out for me.

I actually was considering 500 CC, but Dr Cardenas said my chest was too narrow and it wouldn't work out for supectoral placement.

After things were over, I had quite a bit of time that I was tender, and long after that I was just very aware of the implants and afraid to be very active, because I'd read horror stories about "flipping" anatomical implants. But I'm past all that, and now I'm comfortable exercising and running. Everything feels natural and I don't have really any fears with the implants anymore.

Hope everythign goes well for you! :)

Lucy said...

Firstly i'd like to add my condolence as well.
Good to see you pop up on my feed reader again. Glad things are working out well, great post, great photos.
Lucie xx

Katey said...

Hi Ms.Shandy!

Very sorry to hear about your mother. I know how hard it is to lose a parent.

I am so happy to see that you are writing again. I tried to contact you a few times during your absence via this blog and twitter with questions about Mexico. I also had procedures done by Dr. Cardenas, and am generally very happy with the results... though mine were completed just a couple months ago, so I am still healing.

I hope that you will continue writing and sharing your journey, though I also sympathize with the challenges. My own blog has been sorely neglected these last few months.

Best of luck to you, and you look gorgeous, by the way!