Cold and damp memories

I woke up terrified this morning. It wasn’t the result of dreams of monsters or high threat situations. I wasn’t suffering from the occasional existential dread I get of getting older and losing family and friends. Instead I was lying in a dark room. I could hear the rain sound from the white noise YouTube channel mixed with the cold air of the air conditioner. The faint light from the tv gave the impression of street lights off in the distance (the YouTube channel video is black, but the ambient tv light was still there). It was around 1:30 or so and laid there until almost 3am. I am sure I drifted in and out but I wasn’t able to go back to sleep. So here I am up and moving.

Like I said, the fear and anxiety wasn’t monster based, or bad dreams (at least I don’t think so), but was the distinct feeling, memory or some combination of the two that was a weird flashback to when I was homeless as a teenager. It was the same feeling I had when my family lived in the car, and under sheets of plastic under a state park bench and hadn’t lived reliably in a solid foundation and four walls and a roof for about a year.

Not exaggerating when I said we lived under sheet of plastic visqueen stretched over park benches.
People always think I am exaggerating.

When we were homeless I would always wake up hours before dawn and lay there in the dark. It was Washington State in the mid/late 1980s and it didn’t seem as dry back then as it does now. I remember it always raining a little at night. It didn’t matter if I woke up in the car in a parking lot near a store, in a rest stop along I-5, or even under a State Park bench at one of the many state parks we lived out of. There was always the faint patter of rain, sometimes heavy, sometimes it was just an occasional sound.

I only felt safe sleeping during the day when we were homeless. Honestly I still feel that way. That is me on the left.

When I would wake up, I could always hear my siblings and parents breathing, snoring and moving around. That always made me feel safer, as I laid there in the dark. I think it is probably why nowadays I am uncomfortable sleeping by myself. Never liked it, not when I was 15 and homeless with my family, 19 and living with my first group of friends, or now with my husband after almost 28 years of marriage.

I would lay there sometimes for hours worried about my family. Watching them breath, listening to every sound outside the sleeping area (whether it was a park or a car). Sometimes I would catch my dad doing the exact same thing, laying they for hours as we both let my mom and my siblings sleep. Always worried someone would come and try to hurt them* (* Side note, that isn’t an exaggeration either, the threat of someone showing up to hurt my family was very real and something I will probably talk about later). The sound of rain outside was a combination of the normal relaxation people feel, wound around the anxiety that the rain was masking the sound of someone walking up on us. It doesn’t make sense but the two feelings are usually intertwined for me with rain.

When I was waking up this morning, I couldn’t get comfortable. It was a rare exception that the sound of rain didn’t reassure me. Instead as I turned and rolled around I had this worry that my blanket was going to get damp. I also couldn’t quite get warm no matter how I moved or curled up. I had that same feeling of not being able to get rid of the chill of being homeless (although this time it was the air conditioner not wind from an oncoming storm).  I had totally forgotten about that feeling for quite awhile now.

The tent was an upgrade but it was still cold and damp (and we didn’t have it too long before back to car/plastic)

It reminded me a lot of when I was a teenager.  Back in the 1980s when we were homeless, except for a very few hot sweltering days of summer, I always had a chill. It didn’t matter if daytime temperatures would get into the 60s or 70s, you can’t get rid of that bit of cold on the edges of everything. It just stays in your clothes, in your sleeping bags (or in our case some blankets that we had kept). No matter what you did it was there. It was even worse if it rained because everything had that dampness as well.

I suspect that is why there has always been a fight my parents had with keeping the photo albums dry and the mold from eating away at the pictures we had. Even now 30+ years later when I took possession of the photos and I have removed all the pictures and separated them, properly storing them, but some just continue to mildew no matter what I do. The cold and dampness has just seeped into the photo stock.

Even cleaned up and stored right I still fight with the mildew

I am sure part of my issue probably involves my brother who is currently living in a shelter and my worry for him. A large part of it is definitely therapy and maybe I actually feel safe enough to process emotions and memories I should have handled 33 years ago, and part of it is probably just a bad night.

Whatever the reason I am sitting here fully dressed in pajamas, t-shirt, bra and a small blanket, with all fans off and air conditioner stopped and I still can’t seem to get fully warm or get rid of the damp feeling. I will probably go try and shower and see if that helps.

Maybe my next post will be positive 😉

A Clear Memory – UHF Antenna (1985)

I woke up this morning with an incredibly clear memory from my childhood. Something I hadn’t thought about in decades, but for whatever reason it came up now. Probably because we are starting to approach fall and it triggered something (Fall/winter always has the most memories pop up and the most nightmares).

Back in 1985 at a ripe old age of 13/14 (I had a birthday at this apartment) we lived for part of the year on Lombard and 32nd Street in Everett. It was in a converted mansion and we lived up in the attic apartment. A large 3 bedroom apartment with a cool turret for one of the bedrooms (not mine), that had a servants entrance under the bathtub (I will tell that story later).

This is me at the time, within a couple of months of this picture.

I believe it must have been April or May of 1985 and we had only been there for awhile when we got up on a Saturday morning. My siblings and I were out in the living room and I was messing with the TV. We hadn’t had reliable tv in a long time (and I don’t think at this time we had EVER had cable, it was always rabbit ears… not just because I am old, but because we were poor. Cable was common for most of my friends, but we hadn’t had it.

We couldn’t afford a car, this is us walking home. Myself with head in my hands, my dad, mom and little brother. My sister was taking the picture.

So that meant our choices were very small. We got Channels 4, 5, 7, and 13. However my dad had gotten us one of those weird round rabbit ears for UHF. We didn’t even have the rods, it was just a piece of metal that was circular that you directly attached to the back of the tv (not even as good as the picture below, just the round bit with no base or antennae).

Just that round central wire, no base even. One of those cheap $.79 ones.

It was exciting because for the first time we got the “cool” cartoons that morning like Thunder Cats and some of the other UHF cartoons (on channel 22 baby). I remember looking out of the front window (we could see the string of Cascade Mountains) and the light had that sharp quality in the early morning when it was still sort of cold. I guess this could have been in September, but I don’t think I was going to Everett High School, I believe it was still North Middle School so it would put it spring of 1985, not fall. For some reason though, that quality of light and the sharpness is still with me (oh it might have been fall because I think it was about the same time that fall was coming and I would watch the spider webs with dew on them, sorry weird side tangent there).

A picture from one of the three panes of glass in that window. You could see from Mt. Baker to Mt. Ranier when it was a clear day.

I looked over and saw my mom helping my dad into the living room. They had been drinking the night before (same old same old for us) and we were asleep before they got home (I was the baby sitter since my sister was only 9 and my brother 4). I noticed my dad was hurting pretty bad and I ran over to check on him.

My mom had pulled his shirt off and his back was covered in boot mark  type bruises, a lot of them. My dad explained he had gotten in a fight with a guy, the guy had multiple friends and like my father always was, he wouldn’t back down and took on them all. My mom later said she thinks at least one of the other guys he fought with went to the hospital, but it resulted in my dad and a boot party.

I remember sitting on the living room couch with its darker patterned stuff cushions. I looked over at my brother and sister and made sure they were ok. I then remember going into the kitchen and pouring water into a bowl so I could help clean his back up. I vaguely remember my mom not really wanting to do it and my dad was too hurt to fix himself so I did it, but that is sort of a vague memory so it may not be 100% accurate on that point.

Here is the couch from two apartments before. I believe it was the same couch (and that was the neighborhood stray Reprobate who came in and sat with us).

Just the memory of connecting the antenna to the tv before all of this and seeing the first episode of Thunder Cats I watched (and honestly I found I didn’t particularly like it) just seemed a weird memory to crystalize for me today. Although a ton of other memories of that apartment kind of washed up as I write this. Some good, some not good at all. Maybe I can put some time down to write more memories up. Its important to me to record what I can, as time slowly erases or at least buries them.

There is my memory for the day. I should do this more often and fill more pages up.

Realizations of Male Privilege: Male Gaze (Only Part 1 I am sure)

Growing up in a male body meant I was socialized and elevated to pretty much the pinnacle of western civilization (barring poverty and LGBTQIA affiliations which knocked me down a couple of pegs, but still high up). I have always heard about the male gaze, and I am sure on occasion I partook in it, the hubby does say I wasn’t bad with it, but I know I did it. That being said, I grew up not being the focus or on parade for half of the population.

I had always heard the references, jokes, and anger that people with breasts had concerning men who just stare at them. I had noticed some really bad examples in the past, but even so from my position I never really understood how persistent and just how common it was.

Fast forward to our trip to Pet Smart a couple of days ago. It was my first time really going to a store since my face surgery and breast augmentation, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I wasn’t even dressed up especially feminine, I had a t-shirt on and cut off shorts. Inside as we were shopping I saw a guy came in and his eyes just dropped to my boobs, as in laser focus, seeing nothing else. It was such an intense stare that he almost walked into one of the endcaps on an aisle.

I turned and looked at Wolsey and asked if he had seen that. He nodded and said, “Welcome to the world of being a woman, your body is on display 24/7.” Sadly he is right. I have had that kind of experience dressing in feminine clothing, but always very transgender appearing, so the stares were more for the trans part. This time I don’t think the guy even clocked me, he just stared at the boobs.

As we were trying to leave the store the same guy almost walked into me in the aisle, the whole time just staring at my boobs. I said hi to him as he walked by, but he was fixated enough that I don’t think he heard my voice (the most obvious part about me being trans).

For the last two days since then, we have had to get the cat and then go to Costco. Both times the hubby and I have noticed some guys (not all, but probably more than half) seem to always be checking out my boobs. I honestly don’t recall if I did that, but I am sure I did and that is when I felt bad about having done that. I do hope I was never as obvious as the guys I am noticing now.

The top I wore to get Tally and go to Costco

It is just a little shocking at how obvious some guys are. There is a small positive feeling in the fact that evidently they don’t realize I am trans, but it also becomes gross when they literally won’t look me in the face.

I just feel guilty about my behavior before, or at least about my lack of understanding of what my breast having people would go through. I guess now I understand and will be dealing with it too.

Projects

I don’t know why but I am starting to come out of the funk that I have had since the start of the year (I am fairly sure COVID didn’t help, plus seasonal issues). I am excited to get back into my gaming, photography, and video editing routines.

I just wrote up 5 weeks worth of Things You Should Know Civil War scripts, almost finished with the first of the videos for it. I already have some stuff set up for my People You Should Know videos. This is in addition to some new stuff coming out as well.

Yesterday we went out for one of our walks and I took photos of a local church to be a part of my Pierce County photography project (this is for the church project – photos of the churches in the area, I have other projects such as the bridge project, urban art project, and the parks project). I will post the galleries here as well, so don’t worry you will get to be overwhelmed with my photography mastery… ok that was too much sarcasm ;).

What it really means is that I think I am starting to feel better. The upcoming surgery has made me somewhat hopeful, and I am starting to like my life again.

Electrolysis Trip #2 – Day 2 and 3

Another late post, but life is going at a million miles an hour. Then again Day 2 and 3 were remarkably quiet.

The biggest thing of course was a combined 10 hours of electrolysis I got. I sat as two wonderful people worked on my face at the same time for five hours. They got a large chunk of my face done. This included all around my mouth, almost to my chin and all the way up the left side of my face. Even now, two weeks later, I have a lot of smooth skin, especially above the lips (the important spot).

I had planned on going out later that night, but you can see from the pictures that I was feeling rough, I definitely wasn’t feeling feminine and we hid out for the entire day eating grocery store food and door dash Mexican food. It wasn’t a bad night.

The next day was a little better. I woke up feeling ugly duckling, but decided fuck it and I would dress up anyways. I got some looks from the locals, but no one had the cajones to say anything so we remained where we were, ate La Quinta breakfast and then turned in our room key (btw the Tempe LQ SUCKS, it was dirty, loud and at no time did we feel safe).

We then went and saw Charlie’s Angels. I enjoyed the movie thoroughly, albeit I admit it wasn’t “good cinema”. After that we went to Del Agave in Scottsdale and had a wonderful meal. The server/bartender Daniel was a great guy, I felt safe (probably the safest place I had felt in Arizona) and told us what to order that was the best, and he was right (and it wasn’t the most expensive dish).

 

Hubby was happy for real food

We had an encounter after the meal though, walking to our car a guy was walking his two kids. He spotted us and loudly proclaimed the following:

Dad: So kids, who are we voting for in 2020?
Kids: Donald Trump!!!

Yep, the asshole said it as an intimidation factor because he saw I was transgender. I thought momentarily about going over there and handling it verbally, but he had kids and I was feeling fairly vulnerable after the electrolysis, but I decided not to. I thought the hubby was going to kill him though, that is why I love the man.

I was surprised when we boarded the plane that a very conservative lady (with a church group) told her husband to let “her” through so “she” can get her stuff and she smiled at me. I cannot even explain how nice it was to have someone validate me, especially someone who looked fairly conservative, after the Trump asshole. It put me in a better mood.

We then got back to the airport, waiting around for a few hours and flew home. I always forget how much I miss it here until I land in the Pacific Northwest

Electrolysis Trip #2 – Day 1

This post is a little late, but last weekend we went down to Phoenix for 10 hours of electrolysis. The overall judgment is that it is always worth it, but it was really rough. I will break this up so you don’t get a wall of text, so lets cover the first night, Friday November 15, 2019.

The first thing that happened the week before was growing out my facial hair. I haven’t done it since August and it really set my dysphoria off. It was enough that I don’t think I could do it just for 90 minutes of electrolysis, the 10 hours is something I would go through this for though. I just can’t do short visits because I would have to keep my beard long indefinitely, and I can’t do this week after week.

2 days before electrolysis

The morning of the trip was awesome and stressful at the same time. I fell asleep around 10pm and was promptly awake by 1am, but I didn’t feel too tired because I knew we had to be up at 3:30 anyways, so I stayed up and played some video games (Judgment) and headed out very early when my hubby woke up.

Hubby is not happy.

 

Arrival at SEA-TAC with Pre-Check was worth the money for five years of coverage. We got through the system in a record time, and I didn’t even get wanded by the guard, although my bag got “randomly selected”… so no wand for me, but the poor bag wasn’t so Lucky.

Waiting at the airport was a little stressful though. It was the first time I had to grow a beard in three months and I just wanted to hide. Eventually I had to visit the boys bathroom for the first time in 7 months since I was way too masculine looking for the women’s without risking assholes, so the hubby and I both went in to the boys bathroom together, where I took a picture of how I looked.

I didn’t get looked at much, which was great with me, but surprisingly the boys bathroom was a lot more alien to me then I remembered. Not sure what the difference was, except it was quiet even though there were several guys in there. I never imagined missing warm bathrooms with voices. Weird isn’t it.

We arrived in Phoenix with little problems, although the steward was nice and gave me a hard time for “being in a band”. However when we talked (he was obviously flaming) and I told him I am trans, I showed him before and after  and he was floored (as was the other steward). He had a lot of questions, he thought it was funny a lot of people ask him about transgender people, and he would always explain “How the fuck do I know?”

We then landed in Phoenix, dirty, browns and browns, it is not something I would like to live at for the beauty of the landscape. We sat in first class as this other man in first class started taking everyone’s pillows and blankets and stuffing them inside his suitcase… WTF… We then got ourselves a fancy rental car… even had its own AC/heater temperature for each side…

We then checked in to a different then normal La Quinta… and that was its own brand of hell, but at least on Friday night it just seemed a little bit dirty and worn down. From there we got sandwiches at AZ Sandwich CO and hid out all night waiting for my 8am appointment. We watched videos, trying to use Hulu to stream, but that was limited results. Eventually we logged into Youtube and watched videos until we both passed out for our first day.

Sometimes good shows up

I post a lot of stuff that is a little more negative about transition. Today however I have some beautiful stuff to talk about.

I had been out auditing an agency and when I wrapped up I drove the 45 minutes back to town. On my way back I decided I wanted a Costco hot dog, and that is what I thought about the whole time.

I got to Costco and went through my Costco hot dog purchase. The lady behind the counter was super sweet. She called me sweetie like five times and it was a good experience.

I walked back to my car with the hot dog, excited by the bad for you goodness I got to eat when I sat down (it was too packed in Costco dining area).

That is when tragedy struck me…

There was much sadness and gnashing of teeth. I was going to go back to the office and cry when I decided I could afford a second hot dog.

I went back to Costco, walked in and went to pay for another hotdog. All the ladies in Costco food were calling me sweetie, asking how my day was, etc. it helped me some

When I was getting rung up I handed my cash and I mentioned I had to come back because I dropped my hot dog. All of a sudden she stopped and pushed my money away. A second lady was shaking her head and saying “Honey, no money from you, we can give you a new one”. Then they all started yelling don’t pay for it, just take it.

The girl who sold me the original hot dog was screaming from the dishwasher area in the back to give me a free hot dog as well.

I asked them like 12 times if they were sure, they wouldn’t take any money at all. That single unasked concern for me reassured me and made me feel better than I had in days.

I can’t express the good it did for me, except I needed to share it.

Thank you Costco workers for being you!!!

Bathroom Encounter

Gather around for a story of someone who is a royal fuck and why women talking in a bathroom still weirds me out. As a side note, this doesn’t happen in men’s bathrooms. There is an unspoken rule that you do not talk to each other, so it has been an experience learning that women do this differently.

It all started at work, for the most part I have good luck in the bathroom. Most women I see at work don’t hesitate with me being in the bathroom, but sometimes all the stalls can be empty, they walk in, see me and walk back out. It hurts but it is what it is.

Shitty things happen, and this time I am sitting in the stall at work, minding my own business. Someone else comes in and sits in the stall next to me. They just start chatting to me like they know me. We have two actual bathrooms side by side and both are women’s bathroom. I figure their friend probably was in the other one and she hadn’t realized it wasn’t her friend sitting in my stall.

I don’t know her voice but we have a lot of people in that department and I suspect she is across the hall. She then says “Don’t you hate they let guys in here”. Straight out says that to me.

It kind of shocked me for a moment since I know that I have to be that “guy”. Everything sort of froze for me and I went into automatic mode. A childhood full of stressful situations that have left me with PTSD, but also the ability to respond immediately to the situation.

My Bradley wit did overcome and I said “I know… guys shouldn’t be in here.” With my still masculine voice. I am fairly sure I had a bite to my word, one of those ‘wrong stall biatch’ and I could tell I had scored a pretty good hit.

I think she might have had a stroke at that moment as she went silent. You could hear a pin drop. It was that bizarre silence that is just momentary, but loud in its lack of sound. All of a sudden a scattered sound of cleaning up and then she whipped out of that bathroom like a roach scurrying away. I didn’t even catch a glimpse of her when I was finishing up, she was just gone.

At first I thought maybe it was a mean girl thing and she was saying it like that to fuck with me. Some people I grew up with would have approached it that way, a casual “oops I didn’t realize that was you”, but I think her bailing out so quick shows she did think I was someone else.There isn’t anyone else in my department that would have the nerve to do that kind of thing, so the more I think, I definitely believe she just made a mistake.

I was amused for a little while at work, then mad, then I just wanted to crawl home and hide.

I know I shouldn’t care, but it did bug me. I still think about it a few days later. I realize this is my future, and while it sucks, it is still much better than how I felt before I transitioned.

Odysea in the Desert

DATE DAY:
Where: Odysea In The Desert
Links: Odysea Aquarium, Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs, Four Peaks Mining Co, Pangaea Dinosaur Grill, Arizona Territory Trading Post
Date: April 25, 2019.

We decided to go out and have a good time the day before my surgery. We wanted to spend a little time having fun before I was knocked out of action for some time. The morning of our date we had some La Quinta breakfast, including the waffles we like so much (yes I am white trash).

We had noticed last time we were in Scottsdale that they were advertising a large aquarium. Being from Seattle and the Ocean we were a little skeptical, but also interested. We decided to go whole hog, treat it like a tourist destination and do everything.

We got there pretty early in the morning and found the aquarium was indeed open. We bought our tickets and on a whim bought other tickets for Pangaea for when we were done. Going into the aquarium I found it was really nice. Things were organized fairly well, and they had a lot of hands on exhibits. There were two specifically that I liked a lot.

The first thing we came across was the Sturgeon Cove where we got to pet the sturgeon as they swum by. It was interesting, and they tolerated it, but they didn’t seem to seek it out too much

This was just a lead up to my absolute favorite part of the day. The stingray tank. There is a large tank/pool that you can walk up to. Many stingrays are swimming in it, and when they see you they come rushing to you. You can pet them and give them attention and they will get pushy with each other to get our attention. It was pretty fantastic feeling the smoothness of them.

They hubby and I wandered around the rest of the aquarium, it was interesting, they had some nice displays. Unfortunately a lot of the tanks of fish I had already seen here in the PNW, but it really isn’t a bad aquarium, especially if you are living down there.

We then moved on to Pangaea Land of the Dinosaurs, and found that was an incredibly large disappointment. I have been to other dinosaur exhibits and I was prepared that it would be lackluster, but this was just sad sad sad. It was more of a childcare exhibit, which is totally fine. However, they don’t make it clear what it is and that is on me for going to it anyways.

We lasted about 7 minutes in the exhibits, decided to bail and ended up getting bad photobooth photos before having lunch at the Pangaea Dinosaur Grill. I have to say the Gyro and Greek Fries was an awesome meal and it mollified me for the Pangaea Exhibit.

We wrapped up our visit with a trip to the Arizona Trading Company and picked up expensive tourist knicknacks for our friends, but while it was expensive it is still cheaper than the airport. Our final visit was the Four Peaks Mining Co, where I picked up cheesy bracelet and hubby picked up a fossil. Overpriced, but was still a lot of fun.

Overall, this day went really well, it ended with my pre-op surgery, which I will cover in my surgical post. The only sad part of the day is most of my photos did not work out, the iPhone couldn’t handle the speed of the fish or the dark, but I will get a better camera at some point.

Persian Sabzi Polo (rice dish)

Just finished cooking

Type: Side Dish (rice)
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 6-8

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups long-grain white rice
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen fava beans
  • 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric to taste
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Kalbi Pork, Sabzi Polo and Garlic Bread

Instructions:

  1. Rinse rice under tap water.
  2. Prepare parsley and dill by chopping them finely
  3. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil (not part of the ingredients above).
  4. Once boiling, put rice into water and boil until rice rises to the surface of the water.
  5. Drain rice of water, then thoroughly stir in oil and the 1/2 cup water from above.
  6. Add parsley, dill, turmeric, cinnamon, salt and pepper.
  7. Place rice back on stove, cook over medium for 4-5 minutes
  8. Cover and simmer rice on low for another 40 minutes.
  9. Eat as much rice as you can. It is optional if you want to have a meat side dish, or just enjoy the tasty tasty rice.

Per Wikipedia: Sabzi polo (Persian: سبزی پلو‎‎) is an Iranian (Persian) dish of rice and chopped herbs, usually served with fish. In Persian, sabz means green, and sabzi can refer to herbs or vegetables. Polo is a style of cooked rice, known in English as pilaf.

The herbs used in sabzi polo vary, but typically include coriander, dill, chives or scallions, fenugreek, and parsley. It can be done from both, fresh and dried herbs.

Iranians traditionally eat sabzi polo with māhi sefid (“white fish”), the Caspian kutum, for lunch on Nowruz, the Iranian new year, with their family and relatives.