Memory: Camp Horizon (1988)

Camp Horizon is located in Birch Bay Washington (the site of an old Air Force Station) that provides recreational facilities for individuals with developmental disabilities. I was fortunate enough for two, one week sessions, to be an assistant counselor. It is something that has stayed with me for my life, or at least the last 30 years since I did it (1988). I ended up going up to Birch Bay in summer of 2017, and while I was there I decided to go back to the camp and take some photos. In addition I do have a couple of photos from that time.

The sign!

Funny enough, I had lived in Birch Bay in the fall/winter of 1987 at the age of 15/16 and I never knew this place existed. Then we moved to Bellingham that spring. There I attended Bellingham High School. When I was at the high school, I somehow got in contact with a nice young man named Russ Nelson. He was the stage/videographer for the high school. To this day I can’t remember how he got me interested, but he talked about Camp Horizon and I should volunteer as an assistant counselor.

This was a new thing for me. I had just gotten done being homeless for a year+ and then living in Birch Bay (once again I didn’t know this place existed). I thought this wouldn’t be bad to start with on my resume. I believe it paid $50 for the first week and if I went the second week it went up to $75 (although I could be off a bit). So I agreed to it. Russ was kind enough to drive me to the camp (which was about 30 miles from my home).

I got to the camp, met several other assistant counselors (and a couple of college aged counselors) and began my short lived career as a camp counselor. We were there for five days each session I believe and our days consisted of bunking in the dorms, getting up, running classes, movies, gym activities, and most importantly just being there for the campers.

It was the first time I worked with people more disadvantaged than me and I loved it completely. I will be honest though, it probably helped that I had regular meals, recreational activities and no drunk parents (they were in a bad place at this time). To this day I still remember Dayleen (I am sure I did not spell that right). A young girl who was deaf, with some developmental disabilities and I believe cerebral palsy. It is because of her that I learned my numbers and letters in American Sign Language, along with the way to say “Cookie Monster” and a couple of other phrases.

My three strongest memories were waking up and hearing “I wanna dance with someone” by Whitney Houston, going downstairs and meeting up with Dayleen. I don’t remember exactly what we were working on, I just remember her being so excited about us playing and her signing “Lucky” or some variation of it when she saw me. Sadly I had a picture of her but once we started moving a lot as an older teen, it disappeared in one of our many homeless moments.

My second strongest memory was wrapping up my first session and feeling incredibly sad that it was over. It was followed up with getting home and my parents were on a run. There was loud arguments, loud music and much drinking by several people. I just remember wishing I was still at camp.

My third memory was Melody (I think her name was Melody, not Meloney, but I could be wrong). She was one of my many unrequited loves. I was very quiet as a teenager at this time, and I never figured out how to ask her out, or do pretty much anything. However, my favorite memory with her was laying under a tree, next to her and talking for a long time (probably longer than I should have since I was after all a counselor).

The two sessions went by very quickly and before I knew it I went home and collected my check for the two weeks. I believe I bought my parents an anniversary present and my brother a birthday present with it, never spent a dime on myself (I think the remaining went to house bills). I never was able to go back the following year. This was because by that time I was working full time and supporting my family.

Damn I look young.

Fast forward to summer of 2017 and we went up to Birch bay and stopped by the camp. Surprisingly there were people readying the camp for this summer and we talked with them. They are up to 6 or 7 weeks a year of sessions and they have been constantly updating the place. They were kind enough to let me take some pictures. So below is our gallery and it includes photos from my adventure and last weekend. I know we had other photos, if I find them I will add them.

THE GALLERY

My First Week

I have been very quiet for awhile now. Mostly because I started my new job, and with the much longer commute I have been tired and overly anxious. Well now I can give some feedback on it.

It’s Great!!!

The money thing hasn’t hit me yet (or reduction of), but my boss and coworkers have all been really cool. I am slowly presenting more feminine, and since my two supervisors I work with (as the third supervisor) they are incredibly kind about it. My boss is totally supportive and constantly tells me to wear what I want, and not care about anyone else.

I am still not ready to do that yet. I start up my laser hair removal again next Saturday, then some electrolysis for the hard to get rid of hairs after that. Once I don’t have to worry that within three hours of arriving having so much whisker that it would destroy any ability to not get dysphoric.

I have a ton of subjects to talk about, but once again I am fairly exhausted and even this was a lot of effort, so I will get back to you all as soon as I can. Thanks for everything.

Bad bosses dream

Dreams Road SignI am starting a new job today (one that knows I am trans and seems to accept it) so last night was filled with hard dreams.

I woke up from a dream this morning, around 2am. It involved me starting a brand new job in an office. It was incredibly regimented, and people were always freaking out. A coworker who sat next to me at another desk was a large black man who reminded me of my previous boss I just left (except she was a she).

He looked over at me and told me that I would have to take breaks at 1130am every day, no exceptions and it is required. I laughed my ass off at him at first and told him that isn’t true. He continued to demand it and I told him I am not “working at fucking mcdonalds” and you aren’t going to regiment me on every little thing I do.

At some point I stood up, told him to fuck himself he wasn’t my boss and we would be stepping up to the next person line of authority. That is where I woke up.

manager

I can tell that relates back to two different people. The first was my previous boss. She wasn’t flexible on my start/end times. It was a silly rule because I couldn’t cover anyone else’s position (I am the only auditor in a group of accountants) and they couldn’t cover mine.

It was the ONLY white collar job I have had since graduating going on 11 years ago that isn’t flexible on start/stop times. The advantage of auditing is there is no customer service, and as long as you are in at a core set of hours (many times 9-2, or 9-3) they don’t care if you come in earlier or stay later then that to make your full day.

She also wouldn’t let me work extra hours on some days to make up for medical appointments on the other. There was a whole ton of other small things, but those are the big one (and I agree not the worst in the world), but my Oppositional Defiance personality has a hard time.

The other boss is from the DoD. He told me to do things that were not what I considered ethical in testing on a DoD Contractor. He didn’t want to deal with the problems I was finding. I told him no, I am pursuing it and he really didn’t have the authority to stop me since that was my actual job.

He kept pushing and pushing and griping. Eventually I told him we could go talk to the station chief to clarify it if he wants. He talked big about we don’t need to bother him, I just needed to listen to the doofus supervisor (himself). I stood up, told him to fuck himself eventually, said we are going into the manager’s office and he could decide.

fuck you

The shocked look on that person’s face was priceless. We eventually went in (stormed is probably a pretty good word) and I laid out what I had found. The supervisor all of a sudden started backing down in front of our big boss. Big boss agreed with me and that was that.

Now I realize it seems weird I can tell my supervisor no, but that is because I am an auditor. As an auditor I am responsible as a professional to not veer my audit on outside pressure, that includes my supervisor if I feel we are not following “due diligence”. That was what was happening, he didn’t want to find more problems and I told him you can’t just stop looking when you find problems.

There are a lot of other small things like this, but that is why I like auditing. I can pursue problems I see and have upper management usually back me (now, whether they support it because the contractor has lobbyists is a different story, but above my paygrade and not something that was my issue).

There you have it, an anxiety dream taking two different incidents from my last two jobs to make me anxious for my new one.

Shedding the old skin

Well yesterday I made the first step of shedding my old look.

Since the weight loss started in March I have dropped from 300+ lbs down to 217 today in September. I feel good, I think I look a lot better (but I do feel I am not done), and because of this I have a LOT of clothing that I can’t wear.

Most of the clothing is my boy clothing of course, especially my work clothes. I have a ton of clothing that is just hanging out in boxes and bags because it won’t fit me. Yesterday we decided to get rid of the clothing, and not to keep it any longer “just in case”.

We will be giving my boy clothing to my younger brother. He doesn’t have a lot of good clothes anyways and I like being able to help him with what I do have. Combined I am giving away

  • 14 T-Shirts
  • 1 brand new suit (bought in march)
  • 5 belts that are way too long and can’t be cut down.
  • 5 long shorts
  • 2 gym shorts
  • 7 polo shirts
  • 4 casual office pants
  • 3 jeans
  • 8 dress shirts
  • 4 dress pants
  • 1 pair of fatigues
  • 1 sports jacke

March 2018

This leaves me with a few bits of boy work clothing that are much smaller size (from waist size 46+ to now a 36, same with the shirts in reduction.

The surprising part is now I have to get rid of all my initial girl clothing as well, and that is the clothing that made me feel a tinge of worry and maybe regret. None of the boy clothing did that.

Don’t get me wrong, it is great I went down from that size, but it is still a little sad. Also, I will probably have to shop in plus size most of the time anyways no matter how skinny I get, since I am 6’2″+ tall.

So next month when I go up and see my brother I get to give him a new wardrobe. Both the hubby and I figure even if I gained weight back, I won’t be wearing those types of clothes by the time it happens anyway.

September 2018

I am still working on my new wardrobe. The hubby is busily buying things for me as he finds them, and we are both surprised at the sizing getting smaller as we go. He says it is the first time in our 26+ year relationship (26 years married on Halloween, then a couple years before that) that I seem to enjoy getting clothes. I think he is right.

Overall the experience of shifting out clothes is distorted by my body changing shape. I have some pictures of me just in underwear from March of 2018 (what I looked like under the suit) vs now in September. However I don’t think I am ready to see that up here yet, it really makes me dysphoric.

The funny part about this is I couldn’t name why I hated myself so much before I decided to transition, but I truly did, and I still struggle a little now. Although it is getting less, and I am starting to like what I look like better. That is probably a whole entry by itself, but not today.

So there it is, I am making my first full step in shedding my old self, by packing up forever my old clothing. It is scary, but also pretty exciting.

Almost there, a good choice to leave

Today is my last full day at my job followed by a half day tomorrow (for a total of two having to drive into days), and while I am nervous that I haven’t gotten my offer letter yet, I am also really excited and relieved knowing this was a good choice to leave. There are two reasons for this.

The first is when I told my boss a couple weeks ago I was leaving. She was incredibly supportive, asking how could they change around my schedule for my medical stuff. Then I told her what my medical stuff was for (upcoming orchiectomy, feminizing facial surgery, breast implants) and that didn’t seem to do much to change her, but you could tell.

Well fast forward to yesterday, the HR person comes up to me and double checks that I want to leave. She makes it incredibly clear that HR would give me the necessary time off and I could ask Yolanda to hire a temp up to 6 months, which is renewable for 2 more times. Technically I could be gone 18 months and still have a job. I could actually keep it open while working at my other job to see if that new job works out (ok she doesn’t know that part).

She explained I just need to ask my boss and she has the authority. Our department has a budget for a full time temp worker. Of course it is up to my boss and she has to be willing to do it, but its an option. The problem is my boss never offered that at all. That just shows me she didn’t want me to stay. So that made my decision easier. There was something about her reaction to me that bothered me, she is just pretty good at covering it up.

The stink eye wasn’t quite this bad.

The second thing, and actually more impactful is how people have changed. When I gave notice I told my boss and asked her to not tell the people about my status. Later that day she sent out an email on my leaving (but not why). I had a couple ladies come over to me and chat for an hour. They evidently like me a lot, and I had a small wavering if I was doing the right thing.

I come in the next workday and about half the office wouldn’t even look at me. I am not joking, I even was kind of a dick about things and would step directly in front of them and they would turn their head away. No chatter about personal things, not even more than monosyllables if they could get away with it. I saw this with Wolsey and I assumed I was prepared for it myself. At the time it annoyed me, and amused me to make them uncomfortable. Now however it does bother me.

looking away from me.

The reason I know this is about my transition is because there are still a couple of people who chatter with me. It didn’t seem to phase them. They wished me luck on my future surgeries. They knew what they were for, so I know my boss evidently talks to everyone else (no I am not surprised of that). At that point no one else at the county knew my status, let alone my future plans.

So today is my final long day. I have decided I will be an adult, give them the work they are paying me for and be happy when I leave at 1130am tomorrow morning.

Work and Transition Venting.

This week has been incredibly busy, multiple doctors appointments scheduled and a job interview. The job interview was the thing that took a lot of energy from me.

I have never been this anxious about looking for work, and while I did just get a very good paying job I have found a lot of issues dealing with my transition and the job in general.

The Problems:

The new employer had HR present a new Employee Policy Handbook last year. This included recognizing Gender Identity as a protected status. This is expected as it is state law. However, the council voted to NOT adopt it, because “It would send the wrong message”. They didn’t want to bow to pressure to let “men use the women’s bathroom”. I talked about this here in my “Settling In” post so I won’t go further about that specifically.

There is absolutely no flexibility in my position. I am going to have to have a lot of doctors appointments and surgeries coming up. My boss was quite clear that she only wants us working 8-430 in a solid set schedule. This might seem normal to some, but in the last 10 years and 5+ employers I have never seen this. Normally you are given core hours you need to be there (say 9-3) but you could adjust it to come in late or early (6-3, 9-6, etc). This flexibility does not exist here.

The strange part about the flexibility is that my job isn’t done by anyone else and I can’t do any job others do. I am the only auditor/monitor in my area for my group and no one knows the job so they can offer me no coverage, but even more so I can’t cover them, they are accountants and its a totally different job. This means it’s useless to have me there to “cover for others” when I don’t do their job at all.

This follows up to another point about my coworkers. There has been a lot of jokes about “men in skirts”. They don’t address transgender men but I assume that is because those men often can disappear into society easier after transition so people don’t realize they are there. They even joke around this to me when I am married to someone they know is transgender (but a man… right?).

That combined with the fact they want me to fix things, but not really means this job isn’t a fit. It especially isn’t a fit when I get full FFS surgery, breast implants and an orchiectomy and will need to miss a lot of time. I don’t feel safe there, so it isn’t a permanent spot for me.

Fast forward to Tuesday’s appointment. My old boss at a state audit job asked if I would be interested in a supervisor job. I said yes and applied last month. I got called last week and asked to come in for an interview which I did, and I think it did well.

The job has incredibly flexible hours. After my training as supervisor (this is my first fully titled “supervisor” job, but I have ran audits with up to 8 auditors under me so it actually isn’t new) it sounds like I can telework 3 days a week (60%) and more if needed. The hours are what I want them to be daily (of course this has to be reasonable), and I can take off whatever time I need for medical.

It was a very friendly interview with her and two others. So much so that I was upfront about my status. I explained that I now present as male, but that is changing and I am transitioning. There wasn’t even a hesitation, they said they want me and they would protect me. The state is incredibly protective over LGBTQIA so I don’t doubt it.

They said they have to talk about it, and talk with HR to see if they can get close to my salary I had before (they won’t be able to come close at all, probably 65% of it). I reassured them I know the state pays a lot less, but I want to work at a place I feel does a good job for the citizens, for its employees and that will protect me.

I am hopefully going to hear an offer today, but I am quite aware that bringing up my transition status may torpedo the job offer in the end. I figure I would rather not get the job then work for people who have a problem with it. I am already at a job I can hover at for a long time that pays better but treats people like they work at McDonald’s. I can make that work until I start getting surgery if I need to.

So it has started

purple-flower-41As my husband would say, “It has started”, the weird undercutting, insults and insinuations of my new and real life from all aspects of my social circles. This evidently includes people who call me their friend.

Saturday I went out with my husband and my friend to a nice little niche restaurant/bar. I had told our friend earlier in the week via text that I was transitioning and she has been the mandatory supportive person you would expect from someone who says they are a friend. I don’t even doubt she thinks of herself as a friend at that, but it doesn’t change her words or actions, maybe it just makes them worse.

I have known her for over ten years. We got to know each other at my job with the state and while we only worked together for a year and a half or so, we stayed in contact since then via text, email, facebook and lunches.

She has been up to this point a good person, supportive, interested in the hubby’s transition and in general been a friend. I don’t know how we became good friends like that in the beginning, but it was something that kept going.

I had told her via text only because she is on my facebook list and I had posted about coming out there (things were slipping out). Things were great and I was looking forward to seeing her, even if I was a bit anxious socially after being out to her on what she might say.

The lunch went well in the beginning. We talked about things, she was happy I was being myself, it was all good. We even joked about the horrible service we were getting at the restaurant, while the food wasn’t bad, that waitress was pretty horrible.

Things were going great and I was talking about facial feminization surgery and the options/surgery that was involved. That is when she leaned forward and said she wanted to tell me something. So I leaned over in anticipation, smiling at her when she said the words.

“I am glad you are getting FFS because you currently make one ugly woman.”

I knew almost immediately she thought she was joking, but it still hit me pretty hard she said that to me. I know what I look like, I know what I have always felt about my looks to begin with, let alone when I put on makeup and dress like who I am.

I saw the hubby freeze for a moment and I wasn’t sure what he was going to do. He is incredibly protective over me and it would be within possibilities he would pop her in the head (although honestly that would have been more likely when my husband still presented as female). However, I saw the moment pass on him when he took a deep breath.

We both sat back and laughed politely. I didn’t know what to say, or how to feel. I knew logically by looking at her face and the way she laughed after saying it that she thought she was joking, so I pushed it away and thought I would deal with it later and that it shouldn’t be a big deal.

What really bothered me is I have NEVER EVER insulted her or said anything derogatory, she has some mental health and stress issues and I have never wanted to upset her, why she joked like that to me I couldn’t understand.

It is a big deal it turns out. We made our goodbyes a little later and went clothes shopping for hubby. I originally was going to look for some clothes for myself (I have hit 75lbs+ weight loss and don’t have enough currently) but I stepped into the store and couldn’t do it. I didn’t really want to look at myself in the mirror.

The hubby was so pissed, but he was there being supportive of me. He understood I was going to bail on buying myself clothing, but he was so angry. He wanted me to pick out some things I liked and instead of having a good afternoon before seeing our friends later and shopping I was quiet and followed him around.

I do have some follow up stuff (how she has reacted since, how my friends reacted) but this post is already 500 pages long and I will wrap it up here.

Suffice to say, it has begun as hubby says, the insults, insinuations or just callous disregard. I am going to be fine, but this is the one negative of my future.