Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A New Beginning

His words spun a spell around me, my mind filling with images that simultaneously aroused and repulsed me.
- Katie McAlister, Playing with Fire

I got the job. Unbelievably, somehow, I got the job, despite accidentally let slip a little crude humor at lunch and calling the director of develoment the wrong name--twice. I got the job.

In two weeks, I get to start over, start fresh, begin working where nobody (with the exception of Human Resources) knows my past. Little reminders like the name on my corporate email account, having to use a separate bathroom, and being denied hormones by the insurance company will become a thing of the past.

Last Wednesday, I flew up to Salt Lake City for the opportunity at a job making slightly more than I did last year before I got laid off, before I moved to Kentucky and transitioned. A whirlwind of prepping the Saturday before, and hair and makeup tips from Ryan were not the only things that helped me land this job. What really helped was being patient and transitioning on the job instead of between jobs last August, when a lawyer in Houston recommended I do so.

Last year, I flew up to Seattle in September, presenting as female for an interview, but because I hadn't worked as a woman, I was somewhat nervous during the interview process, unsure if I would be accepted, even though the company policy stated they would; and I'm sure that nervousness rubbed off.

When I interviewed last Thursday, it was like another day going to work. I dressed a little nicer, but not over the top in a skirt suit. In fact, I had the luck of the sleeve of my blouse opting to pick that moment to start parting from the blouse. I kept my light-weight sleeved shawl on for the entire interview.

And the magic of the moment was that I was being myself, and I hit my stride. Sure, I couldn't answer every question, but the bulk of the interview was to actually gauge my social skills, and I heard that there were no complaints of the 10 men that interviewed me and treated my as a lady the whole time. I found out later, when I looked at the buisiness card that one of the architects gave me to call if I had any questions, that he was not just "an architect;" he is the director of architecture.

I can't emphasize more the benefits of transitioning at work if you can.

So I will start my cross-country drive out on the 16th. This weekend left me feeling a little morose. I have many friends in Louisville, and it's a bit like cutting off my arm. I'm replanting in soil I have never been in. I have to re-establish a support safety net for myself, and a life outside of work. I'll be alone again, until I earn people's confidence in Salt Lake City.

And I'll be stealth. I'll have a permanent job with good benefits and I'll be able to afford to make my financial commitments. They also tell me there is no ghetto in Salt Lake City.

I'll also be entering a long-distance relationship for the next few months. Facebook, email and Instant Messaging should help me deal with some of the longing for my close friends.

I resigned yesterday. It was not easy. Tonight, I get to tell my laser tech that it's the last appointment, and I will go spend some time with Ryan afterwards.

Hugs and God Bless,

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Right Ingredients

The setup had all the right ingredients. He'd had plenty of practice in Miami, plenty of time to sharpen his instincts.
-- Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Relic

I received the itenerary confirmation for my trip to Salt Lake City tomorrow night. Tonight, I pack. I'll be back in Louisville late Thursday night.

I stopped by on the way home from work to spend some time relaxing with Ryan. It felt good and I got to speak a little with her mother, who doesn't seem at all hostile toward me. I was a little nervous returning home, because it was just after nine pm, the time of the mugging last week. After racing in the house twice, once with the purse, and once for the laundry, I noticed I had a phone call. My neighbor had borrowed a cell phone to let me know she saw two people that fit the description of my attackers patrolling the neighborhood, and said they appeared to live in a nearby apartment.

The job I am interviewing for is for an agile software development environment, all new development, and pays enough for me to make my financial obligations, and it's a permanent position. I was told that they noticed I had a "healthy scientific curiosity" as well.

I have also noticed that there were a couple of visits to my blog from readers in Salt Lake City around the first of the month. Could someone there have scoped me out already and put two-and-two together? I don't usually post my last name or the name of companies on my blog, because it exposes me in a potential harmful way. But there's enough information that has been accidentally posted to lead from my full legal name to here. It's just a matter of following the bread crumbs to find me here.

I have already Google'd for the Unitarian church up that way. They have grown to the point that they have two morning services every Sunday, and they are one of the charter churches that formulated the Welcoming Congregation Statement. My first priority if I get this job is to establish a support safety net for myself. The best place for me to do that is among the women at the church, and within that group, those who have same-sex partners. And I need to connect with the transgender support community there. This will probably take a few months again. But then I'll be ready to handle co-located a relationship in SLC. Meanwhile, I'll be having to maintain our relationship via long distance. I wish I could stay in Louisville, but under the current circumstances, I just can't afford it.

Hugs and God Bless,

Monday, August 23, 2010


S: (v) recover, retrieve, find, regain (get or find back; recover the use of) "She regained control of herself"; "She found her voice and replied quickly"

S: (v) recuperate, recover, convalesce (get over an illness or shock) "The patient is recuperating"

S: (v) recover, go back, recuperate (regain a former condition after a financial loss) "We expect the stocks to recover to $2.90"; "The company managed to recuperate"

S: (v) recover, recoup, recuperate (regain or make up for) "recuperate one's losses"

S: (v) reclaim, recover (reuse (materials from waste products))

S: (v) recover (cover anew) "recover a chair"
-- WordNet Definition of Recovery
Thank you, everyone, for your support. I am finding a surprising amount of it here and with people from my church and Ryan.

When something drastic and terrible happens to us, sometimes and most especially in a blindside moment, when are shaken to our very core. Our vulnerabilities and rage are exposed to the world, and we start hoping and praying for recovery. We want things back the way they were.

Unfortunately, in the strictest sense, recovery is never complete. Something has definitely changed. After Ryan was in a horrible accident, it must have taken her a long time to recover her confidence to drive, and likewise, my own confidence going outdoors at night after the mugging. Many times we don't gain full functionality back, nor can we, because something at a very systematic level has been changed forever. I can, perhaps, find my voice and reply to the moment quickly, but that orginal state, that elusive state is now blocked by the memory of the event , if nothing else.

Getting over the shock is something that I am very much attempting to do; and a big part of that is keeping myself occupied on what I need to do. I am nervous in the evenings now: around men, my apartment, my car. I take my purse inside by itself now first, I try to remember to have the keys out before I unlock the door. If I forget, I take my purse to the hood of the car and face out while digging. I am in a sense of hypervigilance, and in some ways it's a good thing, if I can learn from it and let it go.

Point blank: I'm scared, but I'm dealing with it and moving on.

So I am focusing on not only regaining from my prior financial loss when I was laid off last year, but taking a shot at an opportunity to improve it. To prep for my interview, I had the acrylics redone on my nails, had my hair conditioned and the bangs layered gently around my face, and had wardrobe, hair and makeup coaching from Ryan. In fact, I hit another milestone that I completely forgot about. This was my first cut back into a feminine pattern. The bangs had grown so long that their weight was flattening my hair. With the feathering all around this time, I now have a nice bounce with body. The hairdresser kept the length and we agreed that my hair may now be full and long enough to let it grow out in its natural color. We'll give it a shot at least. The flight to Salt Lake City's on Wednesday after work, and the interview's Thursday.

When I dropped Ryan off last night at the preserve where she lives, it felt so peaceful. The chaos of my week was felt more sublimely and balanced out by the noisy chirp of the crickets and forest creatures under the pale moon and clouds. Peace, at last. When I finally settle in to a permanent home, that's what I want. Something deeply immersed in a natural refuge not too far from an available city.

So, as I go through the process of recovering my exposed emotions, and taking solace in a church member's freely offered shoulder to shed a few irrational tears, I will re-cover myself with love, a renewed sense of my surroundings, both good and bad, and do my best to breathe every moment of life in me.

I have once again been stripped to nothing but raw emotion, and I now have the opportunity to once again choose the layers that will ultimately make up the composite me.

Hugs and God Bless,

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Purse Snatching

One young man ran up behind me, pinned my arms and held my waist as soon as I had my house key from my purse. Another young man, who had reached me at the same time, just reached up and pulled the strap, which instantly tore away, and they took off running, while I called for help with no one responding.

That's it. My credit cards, identifying information, makeup, etc. was gone in seconds. The pepper spray did me no good. Nor did having my keys in my hand. I can't go to work without ID, and being contract, that means I don't get paid for the time it's going to take me to get new identification. I'm screwed.

And I'm going to need identification for an in-person job interview because the company is flying me to Salt Lake City for the face-to-face interview.

Welcome to Womanhood, and another good reason to leave Louisville.

But I finally met someone here I really like to be with, and likes to be with quirky me.


- Sophie

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

WInds of Change

I had fun doing Lindy Hop last night at the Riverbend Winery. My confidence was up and I asked several guys to dance. I had to stop about every third song to cool down and breathe as these guys took me through my paces :)

But about 48 minutes after the lessons themselves were over, I couldn't seem to cool down enough to dry the sweat drenching my forelocks (bangs). I knew that was a good signal to say my goodbyes and head home. As I stepped off the elevator, I realized I had to walk across the buffer area between a comedian and his audience. Immediately, I wished I would have used the stairs, which lead to a different door. He was in the middle of some baby joke when I slithered by. Once outside, I heard him say, "You'll miss all the entertainment." I just turned and waved as I continued to my car.

My job did not pan out as promised. I accepted the position almost a year ago because I was unemployed on the condition that it would either convert to permanent, or, if that failed, negotiate for a higher rate. When neither happened a few months ago, my request for a mild increase was denied and it appears that there is no hope for either permanency nor more pay despite the performance, the fact that I am not making enough to manage my current debts becomes the deal breaker.

While the company was good to let me seamlessly transition, the fact is I need to pay my bills, and I can't do it for much longer. So, at the beginning of August, I let myself go into passive-job-hunting mode. One recruiter contacted me for a position making significantly more than what I'm making now, and I, for once in what seems a liong time, was a match for the requirements. The employer wanted me to fill out a pre-screen questionaire about my previous experience, which I felt pretty comfortable answering, and read like a magazine interview when I submitted it. Over the last couple of days, he has submitted me as a candidate to:
  • An e-commerce company in Salt Lake City that specializes in helping brand name companies sell their merchandise when they have too much of it.
  • An e-commerce company in Seattle. This will be my fourth time up on this company. Last time I made it to the in-person interview, and it was the first and only company I interviewed presenting as female.
  • An e-commerce company in Las Vegas, where a number of TG ladies buy their shoes over the internet, which I found out, interestingly enough, is owned by the Seattle company.
I did not mention the company names for fear of triggering blog alerts within the companies themselves.

I have my injectable estrogen now. The prescription was written to dispense 10 months supply at a time. I paid an average of 18 dollars a month for the prescription, which is much cheaper that the 68 dollars a month I was paying for the inconvenient patch, which, by the way, floats embarassingly in swimming pools and bathtubs, when you're not having to keep it on with duct tape (Mark that down as another use for duct tape.)

My friend will be able to walk me through the process Thursday at the earliest. I am looking forward to being able to do this myself.

...which reminds me. I got the IRA application in the mail, and just need to return it with my signatures. Somehow, I completely forgot the mailbox on the way to work. Could it have been the speed bumps?

Hugs and God Bless,

Monday, August 9, 2010

From Her Chrysalis

"Which is exactly what they've succeeded in doing," Ethan muttered.
-- Chloe Neill, Friday Night Bites

From her chrysalis
She emerges.

That within
Has completely subsumed
That without.

No longer does she have to crawl
Across the bark
And the leaves,
Always hungry,
Seeking sustenance.

Free and leaving the thin husk of her old self behind,
She can
Take to the air,
Ride the updrafts
Spiraling ever upwards,
And then let go,
Banking and swerving,
Being what she was meant to be.
Landing where she might.

But it took work.
Feeding that inner hunger
Until the time was upon her.
Spinning her cocoon,
To keep her safe
While she gave in to her transformation
Before emerging in the world
Pretty, confident and smart.

Does a butterfly feel complete
Before she dies?

As I sat watching the amateur night performance at The Connection, I realized that, perhaps, that form of entertainment was not in the cards for me. As the three judges critiqued the performers, the emphasis became clear. The performers were expected to be in makeup that accentuated their features on a stage scale, which looked grotesque up close as all the makeup tends to go in the wrong places. Then they were expected to not only lip sync the entire song, but all their movements had to be choreographed to tell a story. And what's more, they were expected to lure the audience in with their smile.

Before the performance, I had danced my heart out on the empty dance floor, and suddenly realized that I had an audience. When I was done, headed for the receptionist table to thank them for the use of the dance floor. The transgender woman sitting there encouraged me to stick around for the show, and I chatted with her a little while. Of course, the conversation turned toward upper torso endowments and she gave me advice to help show a little more cleavage. And then she said, "You're a 'real girl.' During the day, I'm just like you. I blend in." Little did I know I was chatting with the host/MC of the contest that was about to start. I found out later that she is actually part of the cast of LeBoy LeFemme, and I had participated in a real conversation with her.

But what she told me has reverberated in other ways, too. Having reached my three-month anniversary of being full-time, the residual male shell seems to be gone. I can't feel anything other than female, and though I can't be confident all the time, I can be a confident woman. I just have to tell myself, "You're pretty. You're smart. All the guys want you"; whether or not it's true. There are times that the irrational feelings of loneliness and rejection kick in, but as a friend explained to me about the breast cycle, it may actually be PMS. Go figure. And around the same time, I was frightened by brown spots in my bra. It hasn't happened since, and my doctor is treating it as infection with horse-pill-size antibiotics.

My coworker told me during my speculation one time, "Don't do that! You're a woman. Get over it!" because I was thinking that it might be easier to think of myself as a "boy that get's to play in a woman's body" rather than a "woman trapped in a man's body."

And at church, I was told, "You're redefining what it means to be a woman, trying one layer on at a time to see how it fits." The difference this time is that the layers mesh in nicely with my core. I remember when I bought my first wig, and the proprietor told me to come back for free makeup lessons to look like who I wanted to look like. I looked at her and told her, "I don't want to look like anybody. I want to look like a female me."

The night I strolled into Jim Porter's with the confidence to ask the guys to dance with me resulted in a new friend coming into my life, a shy, sweet, gentle friend.

I went to the endocrynologist Friday for my 6 month HRT follow up. She took a look at my blood results, noticed everything was fine and told me she didn't need to see me for a year. I asked her to switch my estrogen prescription to injection, which she did, and Nurse Peggy started explaining that I needed to have someone help me the first couple of times, that I could come back to the clinic in a week or so when I had the prescription. Well, I really didn't want to miss more time off from work to drive 70 miles, so I asked if maybe I could get the nurse at my doctor's office to show me. She told me that was alright and advised me how to speak with them.

On the way home, I realized I knew someone who could help. My friend was a nurse and was forced to change careers, a study that he has almost completed. I took the risk and asked him if he could help with an embarrassing favor, that he could say no, because he might learn more about me than he was ready to know.

Yesterday, he came by with a syringe, a practice IM needle and a nursing textbook, and even though I don't have an orange to practice on he gave me some pointers. Hopefully, he'll still come over to help me the first couple of times once my prescription is in.

He learned a lot about me, and I, likewise, learned quite a bit about him. He doesn't want to do certain things that I am not comfortable with, and when I told him leaving after a nice hug, "We need to do something fun sometime," he explained that he is going to be tied up in his studies for the next three weeks first. (Mmmm, tied up). I can wait for him. I mean he has to wait for me for almost a year.

I submitted my referral letter to Dr. Suporn in Thailand. It was approved. Now is a matter of getting the funds together to pay for the procedure. I noticed I have enough in old retirement savings to cover what I need, and I am working with someone at the bank so that I can try to get the down payment by September to schedule my surgery for next July.

When my friend asked me what the surgery was for, I told him, "Sexual Reassignment Surgery." I think it is best to be honest and confident early on about who you are in a relationship if there is a possibility of going intimate. I can tell he still considers me a woman and I can feel it. Whether or not he reciprocates is in the cards. At the very least, we'll be very good friends.

Hugs and God Bless,