Tag Archive | Life

Adventures in Dallas

20170829_155558Yesterday took me and my friend into downtown Dallas, specifically the Dallas Museum of Art. Amy has been wanting to take me to the museum for years, and I’ve wanted to go, but it’s never happened. I wanted to go as Stefani, and I hadn’t developed the nerve to go out until now.

We had planned on maybe going to Lake Texoma, but we got up late, and honestly I didn’t have anything to wear to the lake or to go hiking. We sat around, I played on the computer, and we had a late breakfast a little before noon. That’s when I decided that we should see the museum. She heartily agreed.

We got ready as quickly as we could. I chose a skirt and blouse to wear for the day. I wanted a chance to dress up, not in my usual jeans. I thought it would be a nice change from my usual attire. Amy dressed up as well, and we set off on our day’s adventure.

A little about why we hadn’t gone before today. Like I said, I wanted to go as Stefani, but I was afraid to dress up here. Amy’s husband didn’t know about me at the time, and even after he did, I wasn’t comfortable with him knowing, In addition, I wasn’t entirely ready to go out in public. When I did go out, I was self-conscious, and convinced everyone was looking at me, judging me for being some weirdo in a dress.

Even during my trip to OKC last year, I was nervous and afraid. People were paying attention to me, not because I was a guy in gal’s clothing, but because I was nervous. I don’t know about you, but I’d pay attention to someone who was anxious because who knows what they would go.

I’ve grown to relax now. It’s amazing how easily I walked into the museum. So far this vacation I’ve gone into crowded stores, restaurants, and parks. Even if I’m not entirely convincing, I’m not attracting stares or awkward glances. I’m at ease and I’ve become more or less invisible, another member of the crowd. I keep repeating this only because I want to stress this point to others who are on the same journey I am. The more you relax, the more at ease everyone around you is.

We should have gotten to the museum sooner. There was too much to see. We left only because they were about to close. We walked across the street to a park built over a freeway, which was kind of neat. We then headed to the Cathedral Shrine of the Virgin of of Guadalupe. I wanted to see if I would burst into flames if I cross into the church, but they are doing renovations and the doors were locked. I didn’t know how to get in, so we left.

We made our way to the Galleria mall. Amy had worked in the Galleria Towers for several years, and I used to go have lunch with her occasionally. We hadn’t been there in years, so we went. I had to use the restroom. I know that’s not usually newsworthy, but considering the noise Gov. Greg Abbott has been making about the transgender community and which bathroom they use, it has been stressful. I try to use the family bathroom, unisex bathrooms, or just hold it. I had no choice but to use the women’s room. It was fine. No drama. It was a quick pee and go.

Other than that, and a quick stop at Starbucks, we didn’t stay long. We had no intention of shopping. We walked around, reminisced a bit about her time there back in 2000 through 2006, and we left, taking the long way home, stopping only for gas and a couple of pizza to eat once we got home.

Today’s my last day here. Tomorrow I drive home, and Friday I go back to work. It’s depressing. I don’t want to go back, and I don’t want to have to return to being Joe, even if Stefani is a lot of work. It’s amazing how necessary time away is for the soul, how time to one’s self is a tonic that washes away exhaustion and the bitter taste of life.

I have another vacation set for October, a little over six weeks away. I have a wedding to go to, and planning on following a band for a couple of days, seeing them in OKC before following them to Albuquerque the next. Then a few days to myself to recover from such an insane attempt. This is the kind of crap I should have been doing twenty years ago!

But I guess the old saying is true, it’s better late than never. I’m enjoying my life more. I’m not as sad and depressed as I was before. There’s some direction in my life now, even if that direction terrifies me. At least it’s not a scary as living a stagnant life.

 

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It’s work becoming me

So far this has been an illuminating experience. I have spent the whole of my vacation thus far in Stefani mode, embracing my inner self. It’s kind of exhausting. I know you cis-women are rolling your eyes at me, and I can’t blame you if you are, but damn this is tiring. Getting up, shaving, chosing what to wear, doing my make up, it’s exhausting. And I’m not doing anything special with my hair!

Part of me relishes the simplicity of being a guy. Get up, shower, throw on some clothes. Done and done. It’s not sexy, it’s not fun, but damn it’s easy. I look like a slob most of the time, especially at work, but who cares? Right? And when I do dress up, it’s still quick and painless. Slacks, a dress shirt, and done. The difference is quite stark.

Now, it would be easier if I wasn’t putting on makeup. It would save time. A lot of women aren’t into putting on makeup daily, or if they do, a little eyeliner, maybe some lipstick, and done. I can’t do that. It’s a full face all the time, to cover up this annoying 5 o’clock shadow. I’m considering waxing or some other semi-permanent hair removal. Then it would simplify it a little.

But there’s also the matter of dressing. I wear pantyhose all the time. I just do. At first, it was a sensual thing, I won’t deny that. I still love the feeling of hose on freshly shaved legs, but it’s hot, and itchy, and it’s a little uncomfortable. Also, I can’t not wear it. The reason I do is because – how do I say this? – it helps me hide my genetalia. It’s how I tuck everything back.

I will admit a few things while I’m at it. I sometimes doubt myself. Am I really trans? Do other transgender ever feel this way? Do I doubt because I’m unsure or because this is an arduous and painful process? What does it mean to have this doubt?

I know I can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Or maybe Pandora’s box is a better metaphor. I can’t but Stefani back in the closet. I’m unhappy without her. I’m unhappy with Joe. I’m somehow neither and both. Schrodinger’s gender? A bad joke perhaps, but somehow also true.

That’s the thing I’m discovering about myself. It’s not entirely black and white. I thought the whole gender spectrum was a bunch of bullshit. I’m discovering that it is truer than I could have imagined. I’m a little of both. A little bit country, a little bit rock n roll. Another bad joke. I apologize.

In the end it’ll come down to which side is more me. It’s going to take me a lot of time to figure this out. I have a spiritual advisor to help me out, and she gave me the name of a therapist who deals with LGBTQ issues and hosts a transgender support group.

I refer to my female self in the third person not because I consider her someone else, but to identify her, to give me an identity. Joe is who I am everyday. Joe is drab, and mundane. Stefani is an emergent butterfly, ready to take flight after her transformation.

I do want to make clear that Stefani is not a mask, a costume I wear when I’m bored. I wouldn’t bother trying to come out if this was just some cheap thrill. I wouldn’t risk friendships and possibly alienating my family on some fetish. I am Stefani. I’m also Joe. I’m both and neither, and sometimes it’s overwhelming and confusing.

And the act of maintaining two distinct and separate lives is exhausting. Yes, there’s be some integration of my two halves, but it’s not complete. In the end, I think I will have to let Stefani out more and relegate Joe to the shadows. I’m happier as Stef. I’m freer as Stef, even if being Stef is a little more maintenance. It’s a small price to pay to be happy.

But why does it have to be a lot of work?

Boomerang roadtrip

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In front of Walmart 5311 in McKinney, TX. I worked here as an ASM back in 2006-2008! ~Stef~

What a week! Last week was inventory week at my employer, and anyone who has ever worked retail knows just how horrible the inventory process is, particularly if you are a manager or a supervisor. Lots of work, long hours, little sleep. Worked Thursday until midnight, having to return to work at five in the morning on Friday. I ended up not being able to sleep, so I stayed up about thirty hours before I was able to get to bed for a little shut eye.

With inventory over, we had reports to work on Saturday, which we spent a few hours doing, until it got too busy. I worked until six, at which time I went home and tried to relax, knowing that the next day, Sunday, I would be have off. Finally having some free time, I changed into my Stefani clothes, knowing I would have the rest of the evening, and the next day, to be myself.

 

At around nine Saturday, my friend Amy convinced me to drive up to see her. The drive from Amarillo to her house, about an hour and a half north east from Dallas, usually takes about six to seven hours. Not wanting to squander the time I had set aside, I said I would go, but I would only do so as Stefani, which she heartily agreed to. She missed her best friend after all, as did I!

Nothing of note happened on the drive. I listened to music, and then switched over to a book got off of Audible, The Night Circus (my favorite book of all time!), and got to her house at 4 in the morning. Slept in until almost ten before I woke up, exhausted but happy to see my friend.

Now, Amy has known about me since we met back in ’98. Her husband, however, did not. He only found out maybe a year ago, after I told Amy to go ahead and tell him. I think it freaked him out, the arch-conservative that he is. I never presented myself as Stef in front of him, but this time I took only one change of clothes, since I would have to drive immediately home on Sunday evening.

This is where it gets amusing. I was in the living room, on the chaise, covered with a throw, wearing the clothes I wore on the drive the night before. He saw me but didn’t pay me no mind. I thought he was avoiding me, not wanting to deal with a freak like me. Soon after, I look a shower, changed into the jeans and blouse I brought for the visit, put on my makeup, and stepped out, nervous at having her husband see me.

A few minutes later, he called me, wanting to show me his latest acquisition, and I went into his music room, where he showed off the controller for his drum machine. I sat down and began playing on the drums, as I usually do while I’m there. As I played, he went back into the kitchen until I was called back for breakfast.

Amy whispered to me that Bryan hadn’t even noticed that I had on a blouse, or that I was wearing makeup, or had my hair tied back. Never registered that I was in Stef mode. What he noticed as I walked into the music room, and what he asked Amy, was if I was wearing girl jeans!

Amy and I set off for one of her client’s house – she has a pet-sitting business – to drop off their dog. We stopped by a Walmart I had worked at in McKinney, the one I opened back in 2007 as an assistant manager, and walked around. Brought back some memories! Then we got a bite to eat, stopped by another client’s house to feed their dogs, and back to her house.

I stayed another couple of hours. Bryan came in and we talked a bit, mostly about the trailer for a movie that’s coming out next year, Ready Player One, and the differences we noticed between what they showed in the trailer and what was written on the book.

Then at six that evening, I left to make the six hour drive home. Once Bryan had decided that I was the same person in Stefani mode, he grew more comfortable. I hope that leads to him coming to terms with transgender people in general, but we will have to wait and see.

I think most people would grow more comfortable if they interacted with transgender people. We’re not some group of bogeymen. We’re not crazy, and we are not mentally ill, which I’ve read as fact from some ignorant jack asses on Facebook. I know some people are bigoted and are eager to find a group that is socially acceptable to bully and disparage, but if more people were willing just to talk to us, maybe some of that stigma would disappear. Maybe they would come to see that we’re people deserving of respect.

At least, that’s my dream.

Moved in!

20170314_150227[1]I’ve moved in! Well, actually, I’m in the process of moving in, but I have the apartment, and I moved the first of my things in this afternoon after work. It’s a little difficult seeing as how I’m trying to do this alone, with only a car to haul everything. Everyone who can help is out of town for spring break. So I’m doing this solo.

It’s not too bad, I suppose. I’m just happy that I have someplace to call my own. It’s really a process now, slowly rebuilding my independence. It’s scary that I’ll be on my own, but exciting that I’m leaving my safety net behind. Besides, I’ll have a place where I can be free to express myself!

What I’m looking forward to the most is my privacy, a place where I can read and write to my heart’s content. I haven’t allowed myself the opportunities to just sit down to read, or to write, like I want. There’s always something to distract me at the moment. Plus, I’ll be saving about an hour and a half on my commute to work!

I’ll probably wait a bit to move all of Stefani’s things into the apartment. I’m sure my parents will want to come by and nose around the place, open all the closets and cabinets to satisfy their curiosity. Once they leave, I’ll drive down the street to my friend’s place, pack all my things there, and haul them to my place.

It’ll be a nice assimilation of both of my genders, the male and the female. I won’t have to go anywhere to be either. I can express myself as I choose, whenever I choose. I can’t wait for that.

For now I need to get off. I have some more packing to do. Maybe my family will be back soon, and they can help me move my things over, especially the larger things that won’t fit into my car. For now, goodnight!

 

Step two – Lease is signed!

20160723_220725I signed my lease! For the first time in ages, I will have a place all to myself. There are a few things I need to do in the coming days, get renter’s insurance, put the utilities in my name, but the biggest hurdle has been crossed. I have an apartment, and I will be living alone!

I will move in on Tuesday, after I get off of work. I’ll hand over my deposit and pro rated rent for March, they’ll hand me the keys, and I’ll start the laborious process of moving my belongings from the house where I’m currently living, up an hour to Amarillo, then trudging up the flight of stairs to the apartment.

The good thing is that I don’t really have to move everything all at once. I’ll start with my necessities first. I’m already buying things that I need, towels, cleaning supplies, that sort of things. I’m also buying a few kitchen things that I can use until I have time to drive to my friend’s house to get the bulk of my belongings, namely my bed, dishes, and the rest of my books.

I’m going to clue you in on something; I’m terrified. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to pay rent of utilities. I’ve done it before, so I know I’ll get it again, but in the meantime, I’m trying to figure out how to budget for it. I know I’m stressing out over nothing, but it’s still a big step, especially since the last time I was on my own was before I got married over ten years ago!

That’s okay. I’m about to look into buying furniture. I want to buy new things, especially my sofa and love seat. I found a set that’s reasonably priced. I’ll probably see about buying a dresser on the cheap, at least for the time being. I’m also going to see about building a few things, too. I need shelves to put my books in, and I suppose I need a desk to write at. I’ll just have to buy a dining set. I wonder where I can get one at a reasonable price. Hmm….

There’s a lot to do, and it’s getting expensive quickly! I need to take a deep breath, relax, and accept that I can’t just do it all at once. I’ll be fine. I can do this. I just need money. Lots of it!

Of course, things opens things up for me. Like I’ve stated before, this gives me the freedom to explore the identity, away from prying, judgmental eyes. I’ll be able to go out whenever I please. I’ll also have my clothes and make up with me at all times. So, I can do this. This is what I wanted, after all. Only three more days until move in day.

Step one

20160916_194724.jpgTomorrow I have an appointment with two different apartment complexes, both in Amarillo. I’m super stoked about it. I’m also a little anxious, nervous, and terrified. It’s been more than a decade since I’ve lived by myself. Getting set up again is a little overwhelming. I have to completely rebuild.

Saying all of that, I’m ready to rebuild. I’m ready to get my life situated so that I can be independent again. I’ve relied on family longer than I had intended. I have a natural resistance to change. Complacency is one of my characteristics that I generally despise in myself. I settle for the status quo until something forces me to change.

That’s not entirely true in this case. For the most part, I enjoy the company of my family. It’s familiar, it’s cozy, and there’s a sense of family that I lacked for years, even during my marriage. All the same, there’s a sense of freedom that I’m lacking. That’s my primary motivation. The commute to and from work is secondary.

I’m looking forward to having my own sanctuary. I’m looking forward to having a place where I can be Stef whenever I want. I really want a place where I can have my things with me. At the moment, Stefani’s things are at a friend’s apartment, and I have to limit what I have. Living alone, I’ll be free to buy clothes, makeup, shoes, and other things to my heart’s content.

This is going a little faster than I had intended, but I’m fine with it. If I’m lucky, I’ll have a place by the end of the week. I’m not holding my breath, but I am hopeful. The the process of furnishing my own place will begin. That’ll be fun.

Moving out and moving on

img_20161129_182453Since my divorce, I’ve been living with family. At first, it was a necessity since I lost my job soon after the divorce was finalized, and living with friends was becoming a drain on the friendship. It also afforded me time to heal, in the company of those who would allow me to grieve. It was truly a blessing.

In that time, I went back to college and earned my degree, found a job, but I’ve remained here, unwilling to strike out on my own. Now, I’m starting to feel a little antsy, as though I’m ready for a change.

Well, I’ve been ready for some time. Change is long overdue. While living here has been a luxury, for some time it has been holding me back. I don’t have the freedoms I need in order to move on with my life. It’s hard to look for romantic attachments living with family. I need to support myself. It’s important for my own self-esteem.

What’s more, I would like a my own place where I can store my own things. All of Stefani’s clothes and make-up are at a friend’s place. It’s not very convenient for me. It doesn’t afford me many opportunities to be myself. It kind of sucks.

So I’m about to look for an apartment, in Amarillo, for now. Part of the hesitation to this point has been that I didn’t want to move to Amarillo. I wanted to find a place outside of Dallas. For now, however, I will settle on a place closer to home, as it were, in order to get used to being on my own again. It’s been over ten years since I’ve lived by myself, what with being married, then losing everything. It’s kind of a big, scary step.

But I think I’m ready. I’m trying to psyche myself up. I can do this. I’m ready to do this. It’s time to move on.