Tuesday, April 29, 2008
So today, when my manager spent an hour basically chewing me out for the screw-ups on one of my projects (caused by delays from another team, which I don't manage), I was not happy. I used to get really angry when this sort of thing happened. People sometimes draw unfair comparisons to other projects where they have someone to run it who has just the one project and who manages exactly zero people, and so they have time to put together nice daily status reports and dashboards and other crap I just can't do if you want me to run all these things at the same time. I have between 5 and 9 hours of meetings every day. I get at least 100 emails every day. I'm sorry if someone told you the fucking scope document was fucking signed off on, and really it wasn't, and I'm sorry I didn't catch that on one of the 3 fucking weekly status reports to upper management. And I'm sorry that this other team is delaying our production migration by a week. That seriously breaks my fucking heart and I'll be glad to personally apologize to the CEO, but you know what else? Fuck you. I've got of other crap to deal with, and I come through for you again and again and I never get credit for doing the work of two people come review time, so do me a favor and just fuck the hell off and let me fix it, which I always do.
That used to be my attitude. On the inside. On the outside, I was usually mostly calm and collected. I'd figure out a way to get things back on track. They could pile all kinds of things on me and I'd find a way to get it all done. I complained behind their backs, but I never let the pressure show.
Today, when my manager tells me he's not happy with how the project is going, I feel demoralized. I want to cry. I seriously would have told them I was sick and left at noon, only I had a demo scheduled for the afternoon that we had spent a couple of weeks setting up, so I had to stay. I wanted to cry but I couldn't. I still got things done, but I was in a terrible funk all day. I have taken two sick days in the last 9 years, and I was about to throw in the towel today. That's how bad I felt. I can't keep up, and I feel helpless, and I don't know what to do.
So I toughed it out, sort of, but not in my usual way. I got home (late, at almost 7:30) and went for a run and had a nice hot bath with bath salts and candles and incense and I had two gin and tonics. Then I cried. I feel much better now.
When I was 8 or 9 years old, my older sister Kim, my best friend Dave and I were playing in Lake Michigan at the end of the summer. It was the off-season, so there were no life guards on duty. We got caught off guard suddenly by a current so strong that, even though we were only about chest deep, it swept us out into the lake past the breakwater.
Some older kids who were in the water near us tried to help us when we started getting into trouble, but couldn't. I remember swimming as hard as I could and still I was just getting further and further from the beach. I was scared. I didn't know what to do. I wasn't going to tire out anytime soon, but I was doing all I could and not making any progress. I felt helpless.
From that point my memories are fuzzy, but I think the other kids swam in and alerted my parents. My dad, who was always very athletic and competed in triathons and marathons and such, came out to save us. He swam by me to rescue my sister, who was further out than I was and was drowning, since Dave (who, incidentally, could not swim at all) was clinging to her shoulders and pulling her under. My dad swam them to shore, and I waited and waited and waited for an eternity. Finally, after forever, I think it was my mom who came out and got me. They had forgotten about me because my sister had come so close to drowning, and I was basically okay out there on my own, even though I had no idea how to get back in to shore. When I finally got in, there was an ambulance there on the beach and paramedics tending to my sister. We all made it through pretty shaken but unscathed.
That memory always makes me cry. For some reason, the movie "Ordinary People" reminds me of that time, too, and I cry every time I watch it. I kind of like that memory, because sometimes I need a good cry, like today. That one always works like a charm.
Friday, April 25, 2008
Another (unflattering, sans makeup) shot today. This one is a 3/4 view. I got home, took a nap and then played around with this second photo for a couple of hours. I think I did a pretty good job making sure the changes are consistent from one angle to the next. I don't know if I did a good job staying within the realm of possibility and realistic expectations. Plastic surgeons would likely tell me that it's doable, or close to it, but then they have a vested interest, don't they?
Blogging and photoshopping on a Friday night, and a warm one at that. Tsk, tsk, Suzanne -- you should be out having fun, girl.
The office felt practically deserted today. I think a lot of people took the day off since it was so nice and warm and sunny out. It seemed quiet. I looked around for someone to go outside and have lunch with, but ended up eating lunch alone in my office. I'm detecting a theme here, and I don't like it.
Tomorrow I'll get out. I may try for a long run. 15 miles seems pretty doable. I ran 12 last Saturday and it felt good. 10 is fine too, though. Whatever I feel like. 15 would be a new record though. Yesterday, I timed myself and I ran 6 miles in 48 minutes. That's pretty fast. Not at all bad. I shouldn't time myself; it's pointless.
No, it's worse than that. It's completely counterproductive to the whole point of why I run. I went faster than I should have because I was timing myself. Pushing myself like that can make me ruin my knees, and spoils the whole meditative, peaceful quality of jogging.
Why do I feel this need to push myself? Why do I need goals at all? Why am I actively sabotaging my own self-esteem by digitally manipulating photos of my face, which is by most people's accounts already fine?
I guess it's okay as long as I don't get my hopes up too high. It's good to have something to work towards, right? I'd love to get to a point where I look more female than male without any makeup. I don't need to be supermodel-gorgeous or anything.
I'm trying to set realistic goals for this. Obsession can lead you to take some crazy risks. Disappointment can be a killer.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Jani was here visiting for a couple of days. I had her snap a few quick headshots of me fresh out of the shower with no makeup. The photos are for sending off to a girl in the UK who does virtual facial feminization surgery.
For around $100, the goal is to show you what benefit you might expect to get out of spending many hundreds of times that initial $100 on real facial feminization surgery.
I'm not really what you'd call patient I guess. I sent the photos off for her to work on, but being somewhat good with graphics programs myself (and having briefly considered art as a major in college), I decided to take a crack at it myself. The above picture is what I came up with. I don't know how realistic that is as far as results go, but I only went with actual existing cosmetic procedures, and I didn't radically alter any one feature.
The results are much better than I expected. Shit. I was hoping I'd just be satisfied with a nose job. Now, I'm starting to reconsider. I'll see what the virtual FFS girl comes back with, since she knows more about what's realistic to expect for results, but I don't think it's really a question of whether I'll have cosmetic work done, but when and how much.
If I could get results like the ones I simulated here, I'd get most of that, if not all. Surgery scares me, and plastic surgery is something you don't want to overdue unless you really want to look, well, plastic.
To look totally feminine with no makeup on, though... that would be a dream come true. I'm definitely going to have to think about this for a few months.
Monday, April 21, 2008
The warmer weather created some new challenges for me. One benefit of the cold was that when I went out jogging, I was bundled up in a jacket and headband and I probably wasn't too obviously transsexual. Most people probably thought I was just some guy out jogging, although a few may have noticed the earrings and nail polish from time to time. Now, with no makeup but wearing less clothing, I'm getting more stares. Some are puzzled looks; some are appreciative glances. I find I don't really care. I just say "good morning" and jog on by in my pink form-fitting shirt and sports bra.
Also, now that it's Spring, there's work to be done outside my townhouse. I did some yard work on Saturday after I got back from jogging. My neighbors, Sharon and Joe, were outside gardening and doing other chores as well. I went out pretty androgynous with no wig and just a little makeup, because it was hot and I was going to be weeding and raking and generally dirty and sweating. I hadn't spoken to them since the big change, but I just gave them a friendly "hi" and Sharon came over and told me she thought I looked really pretty. She called me Suzanne, even though I think I looked more like Scott. I'm glad the neighbors (for the most part) seem to be okay living next to a transsexual.
I've been thinking a lot lately about why it's even important for me to present as female. I'm not sure I'm closer to an answer. People seem to mostly be fine with it. I like it. It feels right to me most of the time. Maybe I don't need a deeper answer than that, for now. Still, there are times when it's hard to look very feminine, at least for now. Lately, I'm getting a lot more comfortable just being me, whether I look particularly like a woman or not.
The fact is that I'm starting to care less and less if people know I'm trans, and feeling a lot better about myself. Abject fear of discovery is now replaced by a certain swagger. Maybe not all the time, but it's definitely there. If people don't read me, that's cool too, but if they do, I don't really care. As long as I'm happy with how I look, I find people accept me very willingly. I know there are people out there who won't, but really I don't care what those people think, as long as they don't try to hurt me. Yeah, okay, that part worries me. I know there are people who may want to beat me or worse for what I am. That's still a scary prospect.
Potential violent acts aside, though, androgyny is not such a bad look. Kinda cute even. There was a very cute college-age boy at the Chinese grocery store (I buy all my fruits and vegetables there) the other day. He was wearing a hot pink tee-shirt that said "Filthy Slut" on it. I told him I loved his shirt. He said "well, cool." It really did look totally cute on him. That's a good look for a boy.
A few weeks ago, my friend Chris came down from New York to visit me for the weekend. After I had gotten ready to go out one day, we had the following exchange:
Me: Do I look pretty?
Chris: Do you think you look pretty?
Chris: Well, that's what's important.
For the record, that's not even in the top 10,000 things a girl wants to ever hear when you ask her if she looks pretty. Chris is not Mr. Tactful.
Still, he's right. And I'm right, too -- I do look pretty. Maybe not totally feminine, but pretty nonetheless.
Friday, April 18, 2008
Not present on the Year
At any other period—
When March is scarcely here
A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.
It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.
Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay—
A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.
-Emily Dickinson, #812
Spring is not my favorite time of year, but it's a close second to Fall. The cherry blossoms are just fading, and my steps are covered with tiny pink petals. The tulips and azaleas are just starting to bloom. My front yard (if you can call it that -- it's only a 10'x10' patch) is a mess, but for a couple of weeks per year, it looks almost like a planned mess.
The weather has been getting steadily better this week. Today, it supposedly touched 80 degrees and sunny, but I have to take people's word for that, since I have been far too busy at work to get outside. Today and yesterday for lunch I had all of 5 minutes to grab a salad in the cafeteria to eat in one of my meetings. Some days I have meetings back to back all day. Oh well.
I did get out for a nice jog this morning. I told my manager yesterday that I'd be coming in late today since I had to attend to some personal business. I didn't have any meetings until 10:30. I got in at 10:15, and my personal business was sleeping in until 7 am and then going for a jog. I was exhausted from this week. I really needed that. I feel much better today than yesterday, when I was having trouble focusing towards the end of the day I was so tired, and I passed out as soon as I got home and slept through until morning. I think I got more done today in less time. I'm considering asking if I can change my hours permanently to allow for this on a regular basis, but I don't think that will go over well. We'll see.
Anyway, it's still nice out, and this weekend should be mostly nice, too. Much too nice to stay cooped up inside in front of a computer. I'm going to get out and enjoy some of this Spring weather, starting right now--
Sunday, April 13, 2008
These pictures were taken six months apart, from early August of last year, to right before I went full time in February. I think that's not bad progress for six months. I'm going to keep working at this, and when I am focused on something, I work very hard. I doubt the change over the next six months will be as dramatic, but still.
Yesterday was fun. I had a party to go to in the afternoon at my neighbors' house, and then another party in the evening for alumni of my college. For the first party, I had been looking forward to breaking the (self-imposed) awkward silence between me and my neighbors. I was pretty sure that the rumor mill had done its job spreadimg my news (it had) but I didn't really know how to "introduce" myself to people I already knew. This was a nice way to break the ice. Everyone seemed okay with me. I didn't get the sense anyone minded having a trans neighbor. Maybe it's even sort of cool or hip. Dunno.
One of my neighbors, Rich, who's a really sweet guy, even asked me a lot about my transition. He was really afraid of offending me with questions, but I assured him it takes a lot more than sincere curiosity to offend me. I'm actually usually happy to talk about myself, since I'm pretty self-centered, when you get down to it. Maybe most transsexuals are. I am. I admit it. It's not my most admirable quality, but I try to dial it back some when I can. Try talking to me at a party sometime. You'll find my feigned interest in you and what you're doing is very hard to distinguish from the genuine article. I nod and smile politely and look just like I am listening to what you are saying and everything. I'm good at parties.
Anyway, it was nice to meet some neighbors I hadn't spoken to before, and nicer still to get that elephant-in-the-room thing out of the way for the next time I run into neighbors when coming and going from my place. There were some awkward moments, sure, like with people who thought I was new to the community ("no, I've lived here since 2000." "really? wow! I've never seen you." "I guess I'm kind of a hermit, sorry."), but overall it was lots of fun.
After cocktail-hour with the neighbors, I made my way over to Bethesda for the alumni gathering. I haven't been to one of these since graduating, but I was looking forward to this time. A few people knew me there. One had heard my news, an old friend I hadn't seen since I moved back to DC from New York, although we had exchanged emails a while back. Jon (sorry, he's going by "Jonathan" now, aparently -- don't you hate it when people up and just change their names on you? How rude!) spotted me right away and we hugged and chatted quite a bit and caught up. I asked him what he thought of the changes, and he said I looked "hot". I was going for more cute/elegant, but I was flattered nevertheless. Plus, he was genuinely interested in hearing about what I've been going through. Jonathan's a good guy.
Most other people at the party didn't know me well in my old incarnation, although 4 or 5 of them were people I remembered as having been at the college, even if I couldn't have remembered their names without the nametags. Telling them I used to be a boy when we went to school together didn't seem to help them remember who I was. I guess I'm probably not that easy to recognize from college, and it's been a long time since then. We had a nice chat anyway.
I think I'm becoming a lot more extroverted these days. A day like yesterday would have left me feeling drained before, but now I get a charge out of being around people. New people, old friends, strangers, family, whatever.
I mentioned that to my therapist last week. She seemed interested from an experimental psychology perspective and said it would be interesting to give me another Rorschach (ink blot) test to see the personality differences. We did one before she recommended me to start on hormones back in October, so she could certify that she didn't think I was delusional. Most of the results from that one seemed to mesh pretty well with my understanding of my personality back then, but I remember being bothered by the part of the results that seemed to imply I was self-centered. I've never heard such nonsense!
Anyway, I'm a lot different now. Hopefully for the better. It feels that way.
Saturday, April 5, 2008
Part of the reason I wanted to go on hormone replacement therapy in the first place was that I wanted to see what life was like without male hormones coursing through my system. Aside from an immediate drop in my sex drive, I didn't notice much at first. The changes have been subtle, and I can't separate the physical from the emotional and tell what caused what. It doesn't matter anyway. This is who I am now. The construct that was Scott -- everything from the chromosomal to the psychological -- does not exist anymore. He may never have been real in the first place, and I don't think I could call him up anymore if I wanted to.
I am a different person than I was 9 months ago. I hope I am a better person, but honestly I don't know if that's true or not. I'm less closed off, but I'm more vulnerable. I'm more real, but I sometimes have trouble dealing with the reality of my situation.
If you could see inside my heart you might understand why Scott was necessary in the first place. He protected me from myself. You can't. I can't explain it. It wouldn't make sense if I did, anyway.
I watched "Dan in Real Life" this evening, which was pretty good, if a bit over-the-top Norman Rockwell. Nobody has a house or a family as cozy and comfortable as that. Steve Carrell, or Disney's version of him anyway, is really cute. Maybe he's a jerk in real life. I doubt it. I bet he's really sweet. I guess I have something of a crush on him, which makes me sad when I think that there's no way a guy like him would ever want someone like me.
I'm ugly. I'm a freak. I wasn't born with the right parts, and so I'll always be someone that some guy or girl would have to settle for. I cried uncontrollably thinking about that. I probably needed a good cry anyway.
That feeling's not new, but for different reasons now. The crying is new. Scott felt angry thinking about how, as a short man, women who wanted to be with him were settling for something inferior. All you need to do to convince yourself of that is to look at the online dating sites. Most women list height requirements, and they're all well over 5'6".
I've got to get over this self-pity. It's not healthy. Steve Carrell wouldn't want you even if he knew you, which he also doesn't. So big fucking deal, Suzanne. Join the club of 3 billion other women that's true for.
Well within normal ranges for a female, I guess.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
lie lay lain
lay laid laid
Still doesn't look right, but okay. I lay down when I got home from work and took a nap accidentally. My mom called me after a couple of hours and woke me up. She likes to call me after she reads something in my blog. She'll probably call me this weekend to tell me she's proud that I conjugated the past tense of "to lie" correctly, or will lecture me or disown me as a daughter if I got that wrong. Usually, I don't remember what the hell I wrote in my blog. That's why I have this blog, so I can put some of this stuff behind me and move on.
Well, a lot of people have been commenting that I seem down lately. That's true. I appreciate the concern, really, but they're getting a glimpse of whatever I happen to be feeling when I feel like writing. Sometimes, my mood changes from ecstatic to depressed several times in the course of a day. I'm not in complete control.
On Monday, when the Trader Joe's checkout guy -- the really talkative slightly older guy who always comments on your purchases ("I like these chicken taquitos, but I haven't tried the beef ones because I don't eat beef") -- you know the guy, yeah, "Steve" -- when Steve the Trader Joe's friendly checkout guy asked me for ID when I was buying a bottle of wine, that cheered me up. He definitely doesn't remember me from when I shopped there as a guy, and I think he was even flirting with me. Maybe that's why he carded me, was to flatter me. Who knows? It made me smile anyway.
Sometimes, little slips or comments get me down. I've written about that before. It happens. Sometimes I'm just down and there's nothing specific I can point to that got me down. And sometimes I feel happy for no particular reason.
It's a mixed bag, but lately if I've been down more than usual, well in part I think the whole being transsexual thing comes with a lot of stresses and challenges. Sometimes I don't even want to talk about it or blog about it and other times I wish I had something to say because I'm wide awake from having taken a nap earlier, but I don't feel like there's anything profound going on in my brain, so I just ramble on about this or that.
I do feel like something's missing lately. Maybe it's because all of this transition stuff is feeling more normal to me day by day and so I'm having to now deal with the fact that I'm a girl but what the hell do I want to do with my life now? Do I want my focus to be on being transsexual or on finding what makes me happy and fulfilled for other reasons? And I'm sexually confused and stressed at work and, yes, lonely sometimes.
Still, I know I'll work through the sad times, or weather them if nothing else. I have a good support structure of friends and family. I have a good job and a wildly-popular internet blog, with something like 5-10 visitors per day, and possibly more once the grade-school kids who were trying to figure out whether to use "lie" or "lay" correctly start getting misdirected here by Google. Yes, I'll be fine, I'm pretty sure.
Maybe what I really need is to get laid. Wait a sec... yeah that one's right, too. Future perfect tense or some shit. I don't know. William Safire's dead, you know.
Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Today is three days after my most recent laser treatment, which means I spent 20 minutes this morning trying to pluck the little dead dark hairs above my lip out without grabbing the very live blond hairs mixed in there. I didn't have time to do a very good job, and I'm not really happy with how my face looks up close. It doesn't really bother me today that much, for some reason. Other days I'd feel disgusting at the sight of any faint beard shadow visible through my foundation. Today it's, like, well, whatever, as the kids say these days. Or maybe they'd say it was "random". I don't really know what the kids today say. Maybe I'll get around to researching that sometime. Probably not.
In any case, today I don't feel especially pretty or elegant or feminine, really. I guess I am okay. Passable. My makeup looks pretty good. My outfit has a lazy but comfortable look to it: wool herringbone trousers with a button-down shirt I did a perfunctory job of ironing this morning, and my brown boots that make me look almost tall. I'd look better if I had bothered to do laundry last night, but I ended up taking a bath and chatting with Jani on the phone instead. Lazy.
I had a voice lesson today, and it went well. I think I'm really coming along, although I know sometimes I slip a little when I'm not focusing on how I'm speaking. There are a lot of things to keep in mind when trying to speak like a woman, and it's hard to do that at the same time you're trying to think of things to say.
I know I'm doing much better than when I started. For three anonymous phone calls in a row to customer support numbers (the latest one being this afternoon), I've been called "ma'am" before I've even given out any personal information such as my name. That's really, really gratifying. I hate hate HATE it if I'm putting in a real effort in how I'm speaking and I get called "sir" on the phone. That hasn't happened now in a couple of months.
Going full time helped, too. I don't slip back accidentally anymore. At the end of today's voice lesson, when Kelly told me to keep track of anytime I feel my resonance go back to the way it was with my male voice, as a joke I replied in the most deeply male voice I could, "that never happens". She was really startled, and so was I. I haven't used that voice in ages. It really didn't sound like me at all anymore. Still, It wasn't hard to call up my male voice on command. One day, it will be.
One day, all of this female stuff will be almost effortless.