When I tell people I'm heading back down to Dallas for more electrolysis, some comment, "but I thought you already did that." Yeah, this is the not fun part of being a MTF transsexual -- the stubborn little hairs on your face grow back a few times for you to kill them again and again. I don't quite know why, but I think it has something to do with God hating transsexuals (see E3000 Diary #1).
Only this time I'm not just working on my face, but also my preparations for surgery in March. That's going to involve removing hair from what the ladies at E3K refer to euphemistically as the "South Pole region" and which I refer to somewhat more directly as my penis and scrotum. Sounds fun, right? I agree. Let's begin.
Sunday, November 2 - Travel Day
I'm flying from DC to Dallas with 4 days' beard growth. It's far, far less growth than I had two months ago before my first clearing, but the upper lip is still pretty obvious, and up close there's no hiding these hairs, which still grow quite fast on me. Good. I want the little bastards to be long, so there's no escape for them tomorrow.
I really don't think I attracted much attention at the airport or on the plane. I notice a few stares, but the stares only seem to say, "I don't like you or your kind, you queer freak of nature". So I don't really mind it. I just smile back politely with a "yeah, so what're you gonna do about it, Mr. NRA ballcap?" stare of my own. That gets me the "you're lucky this isn't a dark alley and I don't have my redneck friends with me" look as NRA baseball hat guy turns his glare away, and I smile my smug "yeah, that's what I thought, b*tch" smile. Because that's how I roll today. Just like that.
Thanks to the new airline baggage policies, I'm flying carry-on, which means I had to freeze the gumbo I'm smuggling through, leftover from my party the night before. I have a great argument ready if they want to confiscate it. The policy is against liquids, but unless the policy specifically states "at room temperature", I've pretty much got them on a technicality here I think. Lots of things are liquid if you heat them up, after all, and they're not confiscating that stuff. The hummus, since it's at room temperature already, I'm planning to claim is more of a solid colloidal suspension than a liquid, per se. I don't actually know if that's true or not since I don't know exactly what that means, but it sounds good and I'm sure they won't know either, plus I can always hold the container upside down with the lid off and it doesn't fall out. That's no liquid or gel, right there, see? I'm actually prepared to lose both arguments, in which case I'm out some leftovers and tupperware.
The TSA fails to inspect my carry-on bag at all, so I'm happy to have my stuff to take to Dallas, but a little disappointed for losing a good chance to argue with someone about an idiotic policy. I'd rather have the gumbo, though, so that's a win.
In Dallas, Jani picks me up at the airport and we have dinner (contraband homemade gumbo and hummus) with my friends Scott and Lisa. We call it an early night, and head to the hotel. Jani's switched us to the Staybridge Suites, which is a little more than twice as expensive (a bit over $100 a night) as the Homestead Suites we stayed at last time, and is a mile or so further from E3000. Totally, completely worth it. We've got a huge room, a giant closet, a nice kitchen that's well-stocked, daily maid service, a breakfast buffet, and the room doesn't smell like mildew. The internet connection is like twice as fast, too, and it includes a wired internet connection as well as the wireless. Yeah, I'm never going back to Homestead. This place is nice.
Jani said not to take her photo, but I wanted a picture of the room in here. So I blurred her out. There we go.
Monday, November 3 - Bring the Pain
I wake up early, like at 6 am or so. I rudely wake up Jani to see if she wants to go downstairs and have breakfast with me. I know what the answer is before asking (she's not leaving the hotel room with stubble except for the trip to E3000), but I offer to bring her back some fruit and a bagel, which she takes me up on. I must be in one of my in-your-face moods because I decide to eat down in the lobby, unashamed of my obvious beard growth. I figure tomorrow I may be more in the mood to coop myself up again, icing my face. The less time spent in the room today, the better.
Over at E3000, I have Star and Sabrina again as my technicians. Same as my last trip. They're in a chatty mood in the morning, and I join in as much as I can for someone with a numb face and needles being jabbed in me every few seconds, trying to speak without moving my jaw or lips.
The lidocaine injections are just as bad this time as I remembered from last time. Anything near the lips is torture. The electrolysis itself is painless. This time it's going much, much quicker. I mention when we go on break that I'd arranged for us to work on my "South Pole" after we're done with my face. And by "South Pole" I mean my penis. And by "work on" I mean jab needles into it and apply electric shocks. I don't need to point these clarifications out to Sabrina and Star. They know how this works.
I don't know how it works, though. When we get to the genital region after the lunch break, I ask Star if we're doing lidocaine injections down there, hoping the answer is, "no, of course not -- we have some kind of cream and you won't feel a thing". The actual answer is yeah, it's injections, but she hears it's not as bad as the face. I try not to panic thinking of that long needle jabbing me in places that don't especially like sharp objects coming near them, let alone breaking the skin.
It turns out Star's sort of right and sort of not at all right about this being not as bad. The first few injections, right above the penis, I don't even feel. As we get a little lower, I can feel it, but it's not as painful as the ones in my face. It's still a bit nervewracking, and by "a bit", I mean a lot. I don't need that thing for much anymore, but I still don't want people sticking it with a needle. I can't help but imagine the pain I'd feel if the needle went in just a little further.
Then comes the scrotum. Now there's no need to imagine being poked directly in a very sensitive area, because now it's happening for real. Okay, I'd rather have the injections straight into my lips again instead of this. Not only is it incredibly painful, but it's uncomfortable, too. Plus, I'm making it much worse thinking about the possibility of getting jabbed in a testicle with a needle. Star tells me not to squirm. I'm trying. I tell her to be careful. She is. I whine and tears are flowing down my cheeks. At some point in there, I think I may have confessed to having masterminded the September 11 attacks.
Once the injections are over, the rest of the genital clearing is a breeze. We're done in about 2 hours and I don't feel a thing. The whole area is numb. Was this better or worse than I expected? I don't really know. I guess some things were better, and others were just as bad as I'd imagined. But it's over, and it was tollerable, in a really really painful and agonizing sort of way.
Overall, I did about 12 hours of electrolysis this trip for a full clearing of face and genital area. That's versus almost 20 hours just on my face last time. I probably had more lidocaine injections than the last trip, but a lot less actual electrolysis. My face is red and swollen, but nowhere near to the proportions as last time. There's some bruising, but it doesn't feel totally numb and tight like last time. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but I was hoping for a much faster recovery.
We'll see in the morning how much this swells up. I'm guessing it won't be nearly as much. Maybe after this trip, I can cut these trips down to a couple of days instead of 4 or 5.
Tuesday, November 4 - Election Day
I spent last night icing my face, and put on some zinc oxide right before bed. The swelling is there, but it's only about as bad as it had been 2 days after treatment last time. I figure by Thursday the swelling should be almost gone if I keep icing it and taking Advil for the swelling.
I feel a bit traumatized from yesterday's torture session. I can't say that I'm actually sore in the genital area, although there's some really minor bruising. Nothing painful. Still, I have this overwhelming urge for avoidance of my genital region. Like the poor thing just wants to curl up in the corner and for everyone to leave it alone. This feeling will last a few days, but it's not a soreness exactly, just an aversion. So no icing or anything needed down there, but my penis doesn't seem happy with me. It has no idea -- just wait until March. It's really not gonna be happy then.
Tonight is the big exciting election for president of the US, which used to be a country of some importance in the world before we destroyed our reputation and economy in a series of massive blunders. Since I still live in what's left of the US, I went ahead and voted absentee before flying down to Dallas.
I totally called the election yesterday, by the way. When our chatter turned to the election, Star seemed to be favoring Obama while Sabrina definitely seemed to be for McCain. I was between the two, and both had sharp needles they were using on me, so I was as diplomatic as possible, finding nice things to say about Sarah Palin ("she's very beautiful" and "people do seem to like her folksy charm"). It was easier to find nice things to say about Obama, what with him being so clean and articulate for a black man and all. Anyway, I voted for Obama. When Sabrina left me and Star alone, I told her Obama was definitely gonna win, my guess with 350-360 electoral votes. No question about it. Okay, I had some lingering doubt -- you never know with polls I guess, but I was pretty sure.
The election results were surprisingly boring, and it was pretty much completely over when an hour into the counting, FOX News was already calling Ohio for Obama. Game over since Pennsylvania was clearly going blue, too, and everything else was falling in line as predicted. Jani doesn't like the way I keep wanting to switch back to FOX, but I'm interested in how the different networks call it. They pretty much all know it's over when Ohio's gone to Obama. It is.
Too bad, because with nothing to do but ice my face and sit in a hotel room, I could use some excitement. But I'm happy enough with the results.
My face is tight, and there's redness, but really this isn't at all bad. Not nearly as bad as last time. I wouldn't particularly want to be flying home today, but I guess I could if I had to. I'm not sure I look any weirder than when I was flying with 4 days' growth. Next session, I'll only plan to stay in Dallas a couple of days after treatment. That'll cut down on expenses, and get me back to work earlier.
Wednesday, November 5-Friday, November 7 - Not much to report
Starting Wednesday, I pretty much feel okay going out. I work remotely for most of the day. I call in for a couple of meetings. My voice is a bit off, with my mouth swollen, but again not as bad as last trip. Jani looks even less swollen and red than I do, but still won't leave the hotel room. That's Jani.
Wednesday night, Lisa and I go for yoga. I am forced to look at my swollen self in the mirror for an hour and a half, but I'm not all that self concious about it, even though I'm definitely not at my best. Sweating like crazy (the yoga studio we go to is about 90 degrees or so) doesn't seem to hurt my face. I avoid the sun for the next couple of days, but I go out when I feel like it. I get a lot more work done than last trip.
Friday, Jani's heading home and I move to a new (dirt cheap) hotel near the airport. I can't make my work laptop work on a wireless connection today for some reason, so instead I spend the day shopping and exploring Dallas. I had tried to change my flight back, but the airlines won't even let me fly standby if it's not the day of my flight. I don't know why. They like arbitrary rules.
By Saturday, my face looks unswollen and hair-free for my trip home. Time to enjoy a week or so of not having to shave at all. I like the peach fuzz that grows when I'm not shaving, but all the coarse hairs are gone.
This is getting to be a breeze. Except for the stuff on my genitals. That's torture. I figure I need to do that 3 or 4 more times before surgery. I can do that I guess.
I'm back down in Dallas for round two with E3000 this week. I'll post a diary of my recovery once I'm done, but as a preview it looks like I should be dealing with a lot less swelling this time around. So far, so good. We'll see.
The night before flying down here, I had my annual Halloween party at my house, which was a big hit, I think. Halloweenapalooza is a tradition I started last year, when it was more or less a coming out party for me. Last year's party featured lots of people from work mixed with several of my transgender friends I'd met online in Second Life, who travelled great distances to get together for what turned out to be my first weekend spent as Suzanne. That was a good time. That weekend gave me a taste of what living as a woman would be like, and I really haven't looked back since.
Ironically, a year later for Halloweenapalooza '08, I found myself going out dressed as a boy for the first time in 8 months, when I needed ice and plastic bowls for the party at the last minute. Since I had to stop shaving last Thursday for my electrolysis today, I decided to use the beard shadow (enhanced by some brown eye shadow) for my costume. I went as Hunter S. Thompson. Fishing hat, aviator sunglasses, a cigarette holder, and some of my old boy clothes from the dwindling stash that I still haven't given away to friends or to charity. Well, it worked, although I don't think I made a terribly convincing boy at this point. Putting on that costume only reinforced for me how much my voice and manerisms and really my whole personality has changed in a year. The look itself felt totally fake, and not at all me. I have no desire to go back to being a boy, but it was an experience.
The party was good, despite the fact that sometimes these days I feel like I have to practically beg people to hang out with me, and this was no exception. Maybe I just need friends who are more fun. How many people did I invite? 60 or so, I think. I think I had about 20 people actually show up [most popular excuse: kids; lamest excuse: the time change this weekend costs me an hour of sleep], and 3 of those were my neighbor's friends who happened to be visiting from Wales this week, and whom I'd never met before. Well, they were among the last to leave, at 4 am. The people who did make it to my party were all fun, anyway, so it was a good time. I did a much better job with the food this year (gumbo, which I could keep hot on the stove, and assorted snacks including a sun-dried tomato hummus, which I thought came out great). I had a good time, and somehow managed to wake up early enough the next morning to clean the house completely, pack for my trip and squeeze in a quick jog (jogging with a hangover is not as much fun as it sounds, for those who are wondering).
I wasn't totally comfortable presenting male, and I didn't actually feel like a boy at all -- if anything it highlighted for me how much I don't feel like a boy -- but I did feel like I was treated differently. Jason, Kevin, and Merv, my new friends from Wales, seemed to treat me as one of the guys. I'm not totally sure what they thought, but they were nice enough. It was just a sense I got, though, that to them I was a guy who likes to act like a woman. I didn't like that sense, but I guess that's what I get for my ambiguous gender presentations. I was happy that people who know me seemed to have no trouble referring to me as "she" and "her" despite my manly appearance. It was something of a novelty to be in boy mode again, and not having to check my hair or makeup is a convenience I'd forgotten about.
Another thing I 'd almost forgotten about was that when I'm dressed as a boy, people lecture me about my weight, that I'm too skinny. That used to be a several times per week thing back when I was still going to work as Scott, but since transitioning full time in February, not once had anyone suggested I need to gain weight, until Saturday. Double standard, I guess. My weight's fine for a girl but not for a boy. I can live with that.