Giving thanks

Goofing around with Snapchat ~ Stefani Lara 2018

Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Are you ready? For me, working in retail, it’s all about getting ready for the next big event. Right now I’m focused on getting ready for Black Friday, the greatest of American retail holidays. The public will descend en masse to take advantage of the great values retailers are giving the public. Line the pockets of the money man. Cha-ching! $$$

But I would like to take a moment, before the my hectic week begins to look back and see where I am. I have a place to live, and the opportunity to help out a friend in need. I’m making progress paying off my debts. In a couple of weeks, I’ll be taking a quick roadtrip with friends to see a concert.

Speaking of friends, I made peace with one of them.  Almost took a whole year to get to this point, but I’m glad whatever happened is behind us. I took my best friend with me to a family reunion in Corpus Christi. Twenty years of friendship, and we both go to Corpus, but that was the first time we went together.

On the same trip, after c oming back to the DFW area, I finally met someone I’ve been talking to on Twitter, whose child is also transgender. We had a great time over burgers and drinks, with her husband and my best friend. 

And talking about trips, we’re planning on going to Florida next year. Maybe I should be thankful next year after we go, but I’m positive about our chances of actually going. We’ve gone to Georgia together twice. Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando will totally be worth it

I’m definitely thankful for friends, both old and new, but what else?

I’m thankful for having come out to my family. They have taken it better than I had imagined. Even so, they are not thrilled about it. They don’t want to see me dressing as me, but I will take what I can get. Hope they will come around, but I’m grateful for this small miracle.

When I first came around to accepting my own truth, I never thought I would get to this point. I never imagined that I would come out to my family. Now they know, as do my coworkers and my friends. I have not experienced the hate I expected to see. I found only love and understanding.

It’s not a perfect situation, but it never it is. It’s at best a compromise, but life is made of compromises, of giving and taking, of making peace out of situations that may otherwise create conflict.

I have created enough conflict, both to the world and within myself. In the past year, I have discovered a measure of peace. I have learned to be happy with who I am and where I am. I still have dreams and goals, but it’s no longer a flight from where I am, but rather desire to better myself. 

I’m thankful for my life. Maybe it’s not the life I would otherwise have chosen, but it’s the life I have. I will make the best of it. I’m thankful for everything that has come my way. 

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Some thoughts over coffee

20181031_174426.jpgI’m sitting in a coffee shop, getting ready for another NaNoWriMo. I posted a blog on my writer’s page, but I though I’d write a few things here as well. The competition won’t begin for another six and half hours, and I’m not one to cheat and start early, but I will start blogging about it, and I have.

As I sit here and look out the window, it’s a cold, gray Halloween. The weeks leading up to today have been exhausting. At work we’ve been scurrying around to get ready for a visit from our Regional Vice President. It has been physically and mentally exhausting. I’ve had very little time to just relax and be me!

But that’s over now, and it seems to have gone well. Of course since I work retail, it only gets a little more hectic. Black Friday is only a little more than three weeks away. I work at a home improvement store, so we are entering our slow period, but for me, as the supervisor over hardware, it’s going to pick up considerably. My footprint in the store has grown to include the section in front of my department, as well as most of the racetrack that leads around the store. I will have a lot to take care of.

That, of course, is par for the course. We all have trying and stressful times. At least I’m healthy, as are my loved ones. I’m thankful for that. Everyday is a gift, and I’m blessed to be living my life. The duality of my life can be trying, but I’m happy to be here, free to live this life. I’m happy that Stefani can be out in the open!

I spent the day today running a few errands. I had to get my car inspected and then registered. As I was at the Santa Fe building in downtown Amarillo, where the Potter County tax office is located, I walked across the hall to cast my vote for next week’s election. I feel as though I really accomplished something. I also did dishes!

At midnight, if I’m awake, I’ll start writing this years novel. Tomorrow, I will continue to write and I’m planning of going to a football game. My niece will be in town with the marching band, and I have to cheer her on. I’m also taking a friend in tomorrow, I hope temporarily. I don’t want a roommate.

I’m also looking forward to a trip up to Kansas in December. I, along with a couple of friends, will be going to see Halestorm and In This Moment. I have my ticket. The only issue there will be whose care we will be taking, when we are leaving, and when we are coming back. We need to get together to discuss this, but so far all plans have fallen apart. I hope the trip itself doesn’t get cancelled.

Otherwise, my life is pretty much going as it always has. There has been no major changes. I haven’t met anyone, I haven’t lost anyone. I’m still contemplating moving out of Amarillo, but nothing’s concrete. I’m just happy to be alive, and honestly, that’s a monumental change in my outlook.

 

No time for me

img_20180921_185953I’m nearing the end of a week-long overnight work week and I’m feeling the strain. As a department supervisor, I have to go overnight to do some organizing in my department, something we do twice a year, once at the beginning of the spring season, and after summer ends. It’s a glorious task!

I’m kidding. It’s exhausting. Some supervisors only had to do two or three nights, but since I’m in one of the main departments, hardware, I have an entire week. I’m still not going to get done with everything. There’s that much to work!

So while I’m working the night shift, I don’t have much time for myself. My sleep is out of sync, and it’s getting to me. I’m not cranky or anything, but I’m just really tired. I don’t have the energy to do anything other than lie in bed and stare into the void. Or my phone.

Honestly though, I haven’t really taken any me time lately. I usually take my days off for myself, but my last day off didn’t really pan out as I had a friend who needed attention. Afterward, I decided to see my parents. I don’t go visit them as often as I should.

This coming weekend isn’t looking good either. I’m planning on going to the WT homecoming game as it’ll be the last one at Kimbrough Stadium. I have a lot of memories there. I was in the marching band back in my college days. As much as a new stadium is needed, it’s still a little bittersweet. I’ll be my last trip there as a college stadium.

Sunday, my parents are supposed to be coming to visit. I complained a bit that they never visit me in Amarillo. They go to Lubbock and Muleshoe to visit my other siblings, but never me. I don’t mind most of the time, but it would be nice for them to take time to remember me. I’m sounding too much like a whining brat, so I should leave it.

All the same, this weekend doesn’t look good for me. I do have next Tuesday off, so I’m sure I’ll make the most of that. I’ll probably end up getting caught up on my cleaning. So even if it is a Stefani day, it’ll be a shorts and tshirt day.

That seems to be my usual outfit these days. I used to get all dressed up, even if I was just going to stay in. Now I don’t bother unless I’m heading out, which is such a hassle. Showering, shaving, dressing, doing makeup, it’s such an ordeal. I love the end result, and I feel great, but it’s so time consuming.

Right now, though, I have to make it until Saturday morning. I may try to sneak a few hours for myself this weekend. I do miss the freedom to be myself. I envy those who have the courage to go all in and transition, but at the moment that’s not in the cards. I’ll have to make do with the precious few hours I do have. One day that may change. I can only hope.

Losing the thrill

img_20180908_221221_178I no longer feel the need to post as often as I used to. I guess it’s a bit of a win, though I confess that it makes me a little sad. The divide between my two halves, the male and the female, has lessened and has become my new normal. I no longer fear people finding out about me. I have become me.

The funny thing is I don’t feel the pull of being Stefani as I once did. I would look forward to the day I could steal a few hours out of the week to hide out at my friend’s place, dress up, even if I had no place to go. Dressing up was the destination. It was exhilarating!

Then came the moment I left the apartment for the first time. It was for a late night drive, but I was terrified. I just knew I would be found out. I wasn’t, but it was still a huge step. Then came the first time I stepped out in public, at Club 212 in Amarillo, a gay club, so we could see the drag show. Terrifying and exhilarating.

Each step was met with a feeling of dread, then excitement, then the eventual normative state. Each time the high was less thrilling, the excitement less so, the dread not as dreadful. I feel as though I was losing a part of the reason why I was dressing up. Being Stefani was less because it was thrilling. I became Stefani because that was who I was, who I am.

I came to visit a friend this weekend. I drove up here in boy mode, as I could be a little more comfortable. I’ve gone back and forth the whole weekend, depending of the situation. Went to a waterpark and it was more convenient to be in boy mode. The same night we went to Choctaw Casino. I went as Stefani. The compulsion to be one or the other is not as pronounced now. I have reached equilibrium.

It’s just funny that coming to this understanding and acceptance came at a cost. The fear of being discovered came with excitement. It fueled my desire. The thrill of being rejected also gave me a rush of adrenaline. The most I feel is a bit of trepidation whenever I step out of the car. It passes almost instantly. I’m largely invisible now. Just another nobody in the ocean of the public, bobbing along, trying to keep my head afloat.

 

Whirlwind Days

Panhandle Pride Picnic at Memorial Park ~ © 2018 Veronica Fite.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks for me. Two weekends ago, I attended my neice’s quinceñera on Saturday. That was a lot of fun. I took my friend Jessica as my date. She didn’t know what a quineñera entailed, so I thought taking her would be a lot easier than explaining it to her.

The following day was Pride. Panhandle Pride hosted a picnic at Memorial Park in Amarillo. Last year was the first time I had attended. It was also the day I kind of outed myself to everyone at work. This year wasn’t as dramatic for me, but it was fun.

Again, I took Jessica. She was eager to go. We wandered around the park, taking a look at what was available. A law firm was handing out free beer, with proof of age. We had to show our ID, get our hand stamped, and then we were allowed a beer. It’s a little weird to be walking around in public with a cup of beer. Amarillo PD was roaming the park, which made it weirder.

The afternoon was pretty chill. We looked at booths of merchandise. I saw the ex-president of my alma mater, West Texas A&M University – Go Buffs!, – Dr. Russell Long and his wife. They had a booth promoting their books. I was interested in his, Jessica in hers. I plan to look them up on Amazon and get us those books!

I ran into my friend Veronica while there. Home Depot also had a booth, hosted by my former store manager from store #6831, Amanda. Talked with her a bit. Jessica ran into a lot of old friends. It was a fun day, until the combination of alcohol and heat got to me. I was probably close to suffering heat exhaustion. We ended up leaving and going to my apartment for a bit just to cool off.

Last weekend, I began my vacation. I picked up my best friend Amy and headed to Corpus Christi. My mom’s side of the family had a family reunion. All my siblings were there, except my sister. She had to work. It was a draining weekend, one with driving in from Amarillo to DFW on Thursday, DFW to Corpus on Friday, reunion on Saturday, and back to DFW on Sunday. I slept almost all day Monday!

On our way to Corpus, we toured the Spoetzl Brewery in Shiner, TX. I had always wanted to go, or at least have wanted to go for over twenty years. It was a neat experience. I can’t believe how popular the tour is! Afterward, we drove to Aransas Pass, got on a ferry – the first time I’ve ever been on a boat! – and went to Port Aransas. We visited the beach, but didn’t go swimming. We then made it to Corpus.

We got to do a little bit of swimming on Sunday, on our way back to DFW. Again, we went on the ferry, except this time I drove my car onto the boat, found a place to park, and got into the water. I haven’t gotten into the ocean since…, well I don’t know when. It might be close to thirty years since the last time I swan in the ocean. I had a blast and actually laughed joyfully, without reservation.

After our swim, I drove back to DFW. The brief swim at the beach wore me out. Made the drive back extremely difficult. I had to stop a few more times than I would have liked just to keep from falling asleep.

After coming back, well it was a pretty tame week. I finally met someone I’ve been talking to for the past couple of years on Twitter. She has a trans daughter and I believe we found each other because of this blog. I only wish I could have met her daughter, but she was out of town. I hope I can meet here the next time I’m in town.

I brought my friend Amy, who was not too keen on meeting my friend. But I was apprehensive about going alone, mainly due to my social awkwardness. She’s a lot better at dealing with people. We met at a place on the square in McKinney called Square Burger.

Lisa was there, along with her husband, Ray. It was not some run down burger joint, which I would have been okay with, but a hip bar that specialized in burgers. Not much else, but the burgers were out of this world, and the beer was cold and refreshing. So glad they suggested it!

Our conversation was primarily about me and my journey, which seems a little egotistical. In reality, I think they were curious as to what I went through in order to help their daughter. She’s a lot younger than me, but already out and living life. There’s still some anxiety about it, which I can relate. I tried to explain how I got to where I am in order to help them see how she she might improve.

Lastly, I said goodbye to my stepdaughter. My ex-wife, her husband, and their children, moved to Arizona on Saturday. I don’t know when I’ll get to see her again. It was a surreal moment for me, to say goodbye to her. I know I only see her a couple of times a year, but DFW is only a 6 hour drive, one that I do regularly. I don’t know about going to Arizona.

It’s been a hectic few weeks. I got to spend a lot of Stefani time, enjoying the freedom of being me. I spent my last day at my friend’s sketching on the couch. I created a new blog for my artwork, Artistica Girl. I hope you check it out, and follow me. I would appreciate it.

At the moment, I’m helping Amy with a few things. I have to finish packing, put everything in my car, and begin the trek home. As much as I don’t want to, I also can’t wait to get back. I miss my friends. I’ll get back to work tomorrow night and who knows when I’ll get another vacation. When I do, maybe it won’t be as hectic as these past couple of weeks have been.

Artistica Girl

Artistica Girl

I’ve been considering starting an art blog for sometime, a place to showcase my work. I’m in no respect an accomplished artist. Honestly, I’m not much of an artist.

I have no illusion of selling any of my pieces. I may never get to that point, but that’s not really my goal, at least short term. I’ve only started painting and sketching fairly recently. I began a little over a year ago. I can’t devote too much time to it, but I do what I can, when I can.

I still fancy myself a writer, and I hope to publish something one day. In the meantime, I draw because I can create. Sometimes it’s something original, sometimes I sketch something I see online. If so, it’s definitely not something I can sell. It’s simply an exercise so I can improve my technique.

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I made a friend

IMG_20180520_160255_877.jpgWent to the bar a couple of weeks ago with a friend. That in itself is not remarkable. Though we haven’t gone lately, we will occasionally go to get out, have a couple of drinks, and maybe play some pool. By the way, I totally kicked my friends butt that night. The last time we went, however, I was not as fortunate.

But this is not about our last outing, but the one before that, the night I came out the winner. Starting out, we were asked to show our ID’s even before we stepped into the bar. That usually doesn’t happen, so I was taken aback, more so because my ID does not match my gender. Reluctantly, I pulled my license out, waiting to be called out. All that the bouncer said was that I looked good for 42.

With that, we began the evening, getting a bucket of beers, and playing a few games. Across from out pool table sat a couple, a man and woman, who seemed to be enjoying the night out as well. They were talkative, and my friend Jessica was happily interacting with them, but I less so. I hate talking because more than anything, my voice outs me. I hate my voice!

We continued to play, and the couple across from us continued to visit with those around them, including us from time to time. The man was making me a little nervous, but I ignored him as much as I could, and concentrated on the game. Soon, we were out of quarters, and I was ready to finish that last of my beer, and head home. The couple across from us had other plans.

They invited us to join them, which Jessica was keen on accepting. I followed, afraid of being rejected, or worse attacked, as sat down at their table. With introductions out of the way, the man turned to me and asked if I was trans. Feeling as though the jig was up, I admitted I was. What came next nearly left me speechless. He confessed he was a trans man. I never could have guessed that in a million years!

After that revelation, I was a little more receptive to a conversation, he talking about his journey, and me sharing mine. For him, he feels as though he is obviously a woman living as a man, while I feel the opposite, a man trying to live as a woman. In his case, he feels obvious, though of course that’s his own insecurities manifesting. He is not obviously trans. He looks and acts like a cis male.

How much of the struggle to fit in, therefore, is an internal struggle? How much of it is our own insecurities? For me, I know getting on hormones would help, as much as being on hormones helps him, but a lot of passing is partly being confident in living our true gender.

For him, he’s living life as the man he is, with a woman he loves. I’m still living part time, whenever I can spare the time to be me. The thing is, the trans experience is valid for both of us. He transitioned, I have not. Some people go all the way, hormones, top and bottom surgery, or maybe just top surgery. Some never get on hormones, some never accept being trans.

Acceptance begins with yourself. For me it began when I accepted who I was. It was helped by the scores of friends who have accepted me, who have cared for me, who have loved me. It’s an ongoing journey, a journey of discovery and learning to live being true to myself.

I have had few negative experiences going out as Stefani, and so many positive experiences. That night at the 6th Street  Saloon was one of positive experiences, one where I met some new friends. I just have to remember to give others a chance.

The difficulty of finding acceptance

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I took a few days off from work. The reason was so I could come down to DFW to see my friend so we could see Deadpool 2 together. It was a great movie. Glad we went! I’m not much of a superhero/comic book person, but I loved the first movie, and I loved the second one as well. Now I’m waiting for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. I can’t wait!

What I love about heading out of town is being able to exist in my own skin and be me. I don’t have to be drab and pretend anything. I can dress up and remember that I’m more than what my body tells me. I’m more than what my chromosomes made me out to be. I’m what my mind tells me I am.

The long weekend also allowed me to escape from home, to get away from what’s been stressing me out. Ever since my conversation with my parents, then the conversation with my sister, I confess that it got to me. I forget that this is a huge deal. Took me a lifetime to come to terms with it. It’s unfair of me to expect them to just happily accept this. I’m being selfish.

A lot of my friends have been great. They sympathize with me, but they also remind me that this isn’t a minor thing. It’s a monumental shift in my existence. To ask someone to be okay with someone deciding to be a different gender is a lot to ask. For some, it’s too much. That’s the sad reality of being trans.

But for me, though I identify myself under the trans umbrella, I exist as both male a female. I prefer to present myself as female as I feel better of myself as Stefani, but I’m equally secure as Joe. I can’t deny either aspect of my reality.

Which doesn’t mean I haven’t considered hormones. I have, I am, and I will continue to consider it. I would like to feminize myself more even if I don’t completely transition. Not everyone wants to have gender-reassessment surgery. I have thought about it, naturally, and one of my earliest dreams I remember about by identity involves me having a female anatomy.

The struggle for me is that I was born a certain sex. I was born, for better or worse, with a penis. I wish I was born with a vagina instead, or at the very least identifying with the gender I was assigned. That’s the struggle we face. Accepting our assigned gender or accepting that our gender runs counter to what our anatomy tells us.

There’s also a certain amount of God-fear as well. I was born Catholic, and though I’m not practicing, I haven’t abandoned my religion completely. I feel as though I’ve lost my faith at times, but to reject it completely is beyond me. I envy those born without this burden.

I can’t help but wonder why religion makes this so difficult. If someone is born with a defect and there’s a surgery or treatment available, most would agree that the sensible thing to do is to accept said treatment. Heart condition? Surgery. Tumor? Surgery. Transgender? No such thing. God made you that way. You were born female/male. Accept it!

But people are born with heart defects and no one tells them to accept it. “God made you that way.” We amputate limbs, fix other issues, but anything to do with sexuality is taboo. The religious mindset is infuriating!

Sexuality is a natural biological function. Why do we place so much importance on it? Penises are beautiful, so are vaginas. Men are beautiful and so are women. Why is sex considered vulgar? Why does engaging in sex make women whores? Why aren’t men held to that same standard?

But I digress. Gender is more than what our physical bodies tell us. It’s independent of it. For most gender and sex aligns, but some of us it doesn’t. Why can’t I be a woman? Why can’t I change my body to align better with what my mind tells me?

In the end, it’s a battle too many of us have fought, and continue to fight, both with the world without, and with ourselves as well. I’ve come to accept who I am after many year of denial. I’ve come to the revelation after running from it for a lifetime. Now, I’m happier than I have ever been, though it’s not easy for me. I’m secure in my identity. I just hope my family comes around.

And I’m one of the lucky ones. Many are outright disowned. That, more than anything, is why being trans is so hard to our mental health.

Family drama

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I’ve been seriously stressed out lately. Since telling my parents, I thought things were going okay. I wasn’t making plans on showing up as Stef any time soon, but I thought there was some acceptance there. Even when my sister found out and turned on me, I thought maybe I wouldn’t be so alone. I was wrong.

About a month ago, my mother told me I needed to go home because they needed to talk to me. Nothing gets me more anxious than someone telling me that we need to talk, but I went, needing to get it over with. It was as bad as I feared.

My sister, it seems, has been crying about this to my parents. She claims she fears that I’m going to suddenly show up as Stefani to family events, and is saying she doesn’t think she’s going to a family reunion because of it. The more my parents spoke, the angrier I got.

In the end, my parents said that how I lived my life was my business, but they didn’t want to know. They don’t want me to come around as Stefani, nor do they want to see pictures. If, as they said, I decide to go the Caitlyn Jenner route, they couldn’t support me. They love me, they claimed, but they can’t go against their religious beliefs.

And people wonder why so many in the LGBT community turn our backs on the christian community!

They told me I needed to talk to my sister, and tell my last remaining brother. It took me a week, but I contacted my sister. All it was was an opportunity for my sister to attack me. “What, are you going to date guys now?” or “And you think you’re happy dressing up with dresses and fake boobs and makeup?” She was using her training in social work to put me in a defensive position. I never felt such venom!

It’s been almost two weeks since that conversation, and I’m still on edge. My stress has spiked, I feel as though my heart just wants to beat out of my chest. I go to sleep wondering if I’m going to have a heart attack and die alone in the middle of the night. Part of me welcomes death. I just don’t want to deal with this shit anymore.

But I’m still here, living my life. My sister is not really a part of my life, and never has. I never liked her. The judgment and the hypocrisy she espouses keeps me at bay. She presents herself like a typical Christian, posting religious nonsense, pretending to be holy, but seething with hate. I have enough to deal with.

Part of me wants to be done with my family. I have friends, very good friends, who love me for me. They don’t care if I’m Joe or Stefani. They don’t care if I’m gay or straight. They don’t care about nothing except that I’m being honest about who I am. My family, it seems, doesn’t love me as unconditional as they claim.

So I’m stressed out. I’m wondering about myself, who I am, and where I’m headed. Why does my future hold? Will I transition or not? Do I have the strength to live my life without my family? I put off telling them because I was afraid they would disown me. Turns out, I had every reason to be afraid.

This is what it is to live my life. I feel trapped in limbo, not able to breath, not able to live my life. I don’t have the energy to do anything at this point. Breathing feels like it takes too much out of me, but I have to go about my business, pretending to be okay.

Short Story: Burial

Just posted on my writers page. Please take a look.

Stefani Writes

The note took me by surprise.

“I never expected love to hurt so much.”

I read it and reread it over and over again, not quite making sense of the words so clearly written by her hand, the last words she would ever write. I found it beside her when I found her, dead, rigor mortis already setting in.

I didn’t even try to rouse her. It was obvious she had been dead for hours. I picked up the note, read it, and went back into the living room to call the police. I struggled to keep my emotions under control, more for the sake of our children than for anyone else. Inside I was falling apart.

The police came, and then the coroner. There were a few questions they had for me, but it was obvious there was no foul play involved. She had ended her life. The question…

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