I never really thought about what I looked like when I stared at myself in the mirror. I generally would just groom and move on. It is just a station to stop at and fix up as best I can what I see in the mirror.
It is strange now that I have lost more than 105lbs, I am under 200lbs for the first time since I was 18. That combined with the fact that I am growing my beard out for electrolysis and causing a huge influx of dysphoria (which I will talk about more later) and the final touch realizing that most of the brown in my beard is gone due to laser hair removal means it is mostly a glint of silvery white.
Combine that with my longer thinner face and my hair is still brown means I am looking at myself in the mirror and realize I once again look vaguely like my father around this age. Especially when I catch it in the corner of my eyes, it catches me off guard. Not in a bad way, he wasn’t an unattractive man. I don’t hate the sight of him. I loved him dearly even with the alcoholism and other issues. It just wasn’t something I expected to see again.
When I was 18-19 and I first started dating the hubby I looked similar to now (just 30 years younger of course). I had more than one occasion where I would walk the hubby down the street (he was a tiny, very very attractive punk rock girl at the time, since this was 24 years before his transition) and people would comment back to my mom that they saw “John” down on Railroad (the local bar road) with a younger girl.
It got my dad in trouble a couple of times for stuff he hadn’t done, and I never understood it. I never really thought we looked alike (although looking at a photo album I can see what people were saying). We even had one person step out of a bar and start calling my dad’s name when I had walked by with my hand around Wolsey’s waist. Of course when they got outside and got closer they realized I was his older kid and apologized, but it was funny now (and I was a bit horrified back then).
I grew older and within a couple of years I had put on a lot of weight. I still think I looked hot (well, I didn’t, but W always thought I did) and I looked a lot more like my mother’s side of the family, the viking norseman bloodline was a lot more evident and similarities to my father disappeared under my bulk.
Now that thirty years have gone by and I have recently lost all that weight I look different and my body has morphed closer to my father (except far taller, my dad was always shorter than me) and my grandfather on my mom’s side similarity has receded.
So now sometimes, with the beard coming out and the silver white coloring glinting in the light of the bathroom mirror I see memories of my dad. Part of it makes me smile, I loved him dearly. Part of me misses him terribly. I haven’t yet really talked about the horror of him passing away and the total fucked up situation my siblings put the whole thing through. Maybe I am at a point I can do that.
Then part of me panics for a moment. Shame that I might “destroy” what is left looking like him living here in the world. It is a stupid thought. A fear that I am going to fuck something up. I realize this is more about fear of the unknown when it comes to the FFS, but that is how it comes out. That I might destroy the last remnants of my father that still live and look like him.
The worst part is that is quickly overridden by the gut sick feeling I see of myself when I see that facial hair coming through. I never understood up until coming out and transitioning what it meant that I hated facial hair. I tried it a lot, I come from biker stock and it is part of the uniform, especially the mutton chops. I think a lot of the time it looked really good on me, better than without it. It didn’t matter though, I always hated it.
I hate it more now that I know FFS is coming up and there it is mocking me while I wait for the electrolysis to make it go away forever over a very long period of time. That however doesn’t stop the weird guilt and shame I feel over intentionally changing my bone structure and removing that beard forever. Don’t worry, that guilt and shame only last momentarily and then my desire for my true self to come out is stronger, but its there.
I know part of it is I just miss my dad a lot. He had a lot of problems, way more than most dads. In other ways he showed love a lot stronger than any dad I have met. It is complicated thing, but I think the transition is forcing me to deal with feelings. The fact that I see parts of him when I look in the mirror has made it harder. It doesn’t help we are coming up to the anniversary of his passing and I think with the anxiety of the surgery.
Sometimes I can’t even clearly define why I am upset about it, I am still working on it, trying to understand. I don’t know if all this will be is random emotions about my history, my life and experiences and complicated relationships, but that is why I write it down. Maybe in 20 years when I am closing in on 70 it will make more sense why I felt this way… or maybe I will still have no clue.
For now it brings out some sadness, a lot of dysphoria, but also a little smile when I catch my father in the mirror.
I wanted to post something about how Wolsey and I met. This is actually already posted on my AG account a couple years ago, but I felt it stood up to time well enough to be reposted here instead of completely rewritten.
(Wolsey and I talked, and thought it would be easier to refer to him with feminine pronouns. It helps paint the picture of what he presented as, and how I’d have interpreted his gender back when we met. This was a long time ago, and neither of us had any concept of what being transgender even was.)
A common question I get is how did Wolsey and I actually meet? Was it fate? Was it some quirky romantic comedy? Was it maybe even a horror show? The answer to all of that was no, or maybe yes in parts. Overall though it was pretty straight forward, or at least that is how it seems now.
I had recently moved up to Bellingham right before I turned 17. The first thing I did there was meet a group of friends that I played Dungeons and Dragons with. It was a household that several friends lived at, almost a flop house. A middle aged single mom owned the house, and was taking rent for all the teens she moved in. Most of these kids were near homeless, and this was a viable option for them. One of those people I met was my future husband.
Wolsey was a damn cute punk rock girl, at the time. She was a sassy smoker, drinker, and very alternative in her outlook. She had that intensity you only see in movies. She was something between a hard rocking Joan Jett and a manic pixie dream girl. Strangely enough, even with all that, she seemed to like me and wanted to hang out.
Over the next couple of years, she ended up dating my best friend, Doug. I was pretty shy and had ran away from a few different girls that approached me with my Dungeons and Dragons books as a shield. It wasn’t much different with Wolsey, when she showed interest in me.
Funny enough, Wolsey was the one who enjoyed playing Dungeons and Dragons with me the most. Her tough exterior was captivating as she roleplayed a cleric full of healing. She really wanted to help tell a story. Unlike all my male friends, who just liked to kill everything they encountered in my games. Even Doug would give both of us a hard time for liking the storytelling aspect of the game. I should have known that this was a good since Wolsey and I continue to play these kinds of games, thirty years later.
With Wolsey dating Doug, at the time, I was around her a lot more. She became my best friend, while Doug drifted off into a world I didn’t want to follow. I would be lying if I didn’t say I had a mad crush on her for a long time. We would wander off by ourselves while her boyfriend decided to hang out at home, and I just liked spending time with her. I had no expectations she would date me. I just felt like she was a really good friend.
It was sometime during this time period when my parents had met Wolsey. They already knew Doug, and he brought her over, and they liked her. For a time, Wolsey lived a half a block down from my family and my father went over to borrow the phone regularly. That is when he noticed that Wolsey, who was presenting as a woman at that point was cute, and seemed to be focused on me. This went on for a while, when eventually my mom and dad asked how serious Wolsey and Doug were as a couple, and that they thought Wolsey would be perfect for me. I could not take the suggestion seriously because they were my friends and dating. I also just couldn’t believe that she was interested in me like that.
Eventually Wolsey and Doug broke up, and Wolsey asked me out to meet her for coffee. I freaked out. I wanted to be with Wolsey and I was positive she didn’t feel that way about me so I ditched her . . . at least twice. I look back now, and I can’t help but think I was such an idiot. At the time, I felt there was no way in the world someone as cool as Wolsey would want me and that I would just be making her uncomfortable.
Some time went by and I lost contact with Wolsey, as I became involved in my first live-in relationship. That partner decided to jealously block several communication attempts by Wolsey, something I hadn’t heard about until I broke up with that partner a few months later.
After this first major relationship breakup, I moved into a room at the same house I had met Wolsey. This time I was the one living there and not Wolsey. During this time, I had jumped four or five jobs in the space of a few months and was working in the paint department of Kmart.
That’s when I got an announcement over the intercom saying there was a phone call for me on line 3. I remember it with clarity.
I pick up the phone and it is Wolsey’s voice. She seemed excited and maybe a little out of breath. All she asked was what time I was off. I was confused and excited. I hadn’t seen Wolsey in months. I had missed her but I figured she was off dating someone and doing her own thing. Her words to me on the phone were, “Don’t go anywhere.” It was a pretty commanding tone and I agreed to wait.
Twenty minutes later I hear stomping boots coming down the aisle and there she was dressed in a leather jacket, facial piercings, a very tiny shirt that revealed her feminine body quite explicitly, a mohawk, makeup, and the cutest purple crinoline skirt. I was getting off work about this time and she came up and hustled me to her truck and took me home.
We spent the next hour and a half talking. Over the next couple of weeks, we talked a lot and she kept showing up at my room. Wolsey was homeless at the time, but that didn’t bother me. I invited her in to my room and let her stay on my single-wide bed. I left out cans of ravioli, with a can opener and a spoon, for her to eat if she was hungry. Wolsey was always hungry and this was the one thing I knew she liked to eat.
Within a couple of weeks and we were fulling dating and she moved me out of that horrible room and into our own apartment. We had a tumultuous first seven months and spoiler alert… ended up breaking up for six months. I had been working graveyard shift as a taxi dispatcher, and it had created a huge scheduling problem between us.
While I might have dated another woman and lived with her, this was the first relationship I wanted to last permanently. I had a lot of preconceived traditional, unexamined, views and expectations. I was confident though, so I asked Wolsey to marry me. I was surprised when she said no. I think I was too surprised to be crushed. I wouldn’t be crushed until later.
Now as I am older, I can admit I didn’t handle the relationship in the most mature way, and I suspect she thought I was someone I wasn’t. I kept putting forward this ideal of a relationship that didn’t exist anywhere. Instead of following my parents lead, or maybe one of my friends in a successful relationship I clung tighter and dug deeper.
The whole time, these decisions felt like a mismatch that would almost fit, but not quite. Wolsey was trying to get her hair styling degree and I pressured her a lot to pay attention to me. I was trying to work 18 hours a day and I can’t do 10 hours a day, let alone 18, without becoming someone I don’t like.
The relationship ended quietly a few days before Thanksgiving, and our third roommate decided he was going to move out with Wolsey and one of her friends who didn’t like me. I was left without roommates, in an apartment I couldn’t afford.
I ended up living with my old best friend, Doug. Unfortunately, he had developed a more serious drug and alcohol problem, and I still ended up paying all the bills on my own. When I complained, he brought me pizza he had found in a dumpster. This was not an easy time in my life.
The next six months were brutal and I drifted through multiple jobs and had multiple places to live after I had grown tired of living in that situation with Doug.
I ended up living with that same ex-girlfriend from before and her boyfriend. This time I was just as a roommate with another person sharing my bedroom.
Throughout all of this, all I could really think about was Wolsey, and how I had made things bad and how I could have handled things better. Even the things that really bothered me during the relationship now seemed insignificant.
What I knew was that Wolsey had gone hitchhiking with another gutter-punk down to California. I didn’t know if she was ok. I didn’t know if she was dating the guy, and it really did rip me apart. It bothered me so much I ignored other women that pursued me.
Our town was small, and I heard Wolsey had gotten back from California when I noticed her in the video store. I did everything I could to avoid her, my heart was pumping so loud in my ears I couldn’t hear the TV’s on display. I didn’t say hello, but turned away.
A couple of days later I was told I had a visitor by a very annoyed ex-girlfriend and roommate. I came downstairs and answered the door, and there was Wolsey. She looked tired, hungry and a bit sad. She looked worried. She was the most beautiful person I had ever seen and sadly enough I almost shut the door on her right there. I was so terrified I didn’t know what to do.
Fortunately she did, and she stayed in my room a couple of days while we talked about things. I followed her back to her new place (the one with my old roommate and supposed friend.) Their household broke up within a couple of days of me visiting Wolsey and it ended up with Wolsey and I renting the house, with new roommates who were much better.
Wolsey decided to change, I can’t tell you exactly what happened but she cut her mohawk off, and got a job at Mervyns at the mall in the shoe department. We started working out our finances and she made it clear how much she loved me.
She asked me to marry her on the couch while I was playing one of the iterations of Megaman on a Nintendo gaming system. She said she never wanted to be with anyone else in her life and I replied the same. There was no way I wasn’t going to accept the proposal, she was everything I had dreamed about for years.
We were married on Halloween of 1992, it had been less than four months since we had gotten back together and while we were married by a judge who was inappropriate, it was the most fantastic evening of my life. Marrying my spouse is the only decision in my life I have never regretted.
To this day I can’t see a cute girl in a mohawk, a can of ravioli, or smell the smell of cigarette smoke on a person without thinking about Wolsey and how much I loved him when we met.
That my friends is how Wolsey and I met and got together, well in a few words at least. Oh, and here is how we are now. Just as much in love.
Wraith, Spook, and a bunch of characters I don’t remember, Pencil Sketch 1991 – Shadowrun
At that time in 1991 this was actually one of my favorite pictures. In it is our shadowrun group. On the left is Wraith, my combat decker. Beside her is Spook, an asian cat burgler.. sort of (it’s hard to remember). The other two characters I think were Ben’s whose name I think was Mist… maybe. The other was Drew’s and I have no idea at all the name of the character.
The game was pretty cool, the group was a lot of fun but a lot of problematic things now that I am 28+ years older. Spook… that name would have had an objection from me now, but honestly we didn’t even consider other racist commentary possibilities.
As for other characters, Spook and Mace (Weylin’s characters) were really the only ones I liked in game, considered close and would protect. Ben and Drew’s characters were not liked by Wraith (or by me), they were just sort of filler/backdrop.
The funny part is hearing other people’s stories, and its always intriguing to hear different points of view. I am sure Wraith was annoying to other characters/players just like they were to me. Just as humans we rarely look outside our own point of view to take it all in.
It was a good set of games, well at least until we started having bad things happen… then waking up from it like it was a dream. That pretty much killed the campaign for me.
Wraith, Combat Decker (before they were a thing) Pencil Sketch 1991 – Shadowrun
Wraith was my first female pc. I had run as a GM several female NPCs and they had always been my favorite to fall back on. Once I ran Wraith as a player I never really went back for male characters. After that point I can only remember three male characters in thirty years. One was Grim, an ex-FBI sorcery adept in shadowrun, one was Shaan from my most recent Battletech game, and a very short lived character in a hubby game.
This was probably the first adult indication of who I was (not her personality), and that I preferred to be a female character in a game. I knew at this time what I felt I was, but in no way did I ever think I could jump the divide so I buried it.
I think the image is based on an in-game situation when we were imitating being a special forces team, or it could have been Bryon’s “Abyss” run, a shadowrun mission roughly based on the movie the Abyss. A lot of his games tended to fully imitate movies/tv shows for missions or characters this is not unusual, every GM does it, but I try to hide the details enough that at first glance you can’t tell.
Rage was a 2nd edition Shadowrun character, a summoning adept that I had for a short time in a game hubby was running. It is horrible, and I admit it, but like I said I want to post the things I did in the past.
Her chest sucks (and the fact her chest is bare was originally going to be clothed but I wanted to practice breasts… obviously didn’t work).
The character itself was a bad guy, worshipped dark things and really wasn’t that fun past a couple of games (hence why it ended so quickly).
Berek Halfhand, a half elven ranger from a First Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. I drew it when I was 15, so that would make this 1986. Sadly the art pad got pretty damaged and I couldn’t do much to save it (well I guess there is always photoshop).
I started drawing just like everyone else in elementary school or earlier. I was always in awe of a childhood friend in school who could draw so realistically (it would still be a childlike drawing as an adult, but as a kid it was steps ahead of the rest of us).
I didn’t start really drawing until I hit my teenage years though (13+). Gaming images always stoked that fire. I know I have drawn dozens of fantasy cityscapes, castle views and characters. I also know they were not very good in comparison to others but that didn’t bother me at the time.
One problem though was we were so poor that we could only afford a single artpad I had for years. I was always terrified to use up pages, which I still did slowly up until I was 20 or so. Sadly the pad didn’t survive some of our moves and I only have a few pictures, mostly half done sketches (which still will go up). Here is the oldest one to date.
Camp Horizonis 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.
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.
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.
Yesterday (2017 Thanksgiving) I had a pretty strong memory come back, a little one that has no real significance in my life, but for some reason I dreamt and then thought about it anyways all day.
It was early 2000s (I think 2002, and I think this post from 2002 was from the same day). We were sitting in the bedroom of our mobile home we owned. It was a grey Thanksgiving Day that is typical in the Pacific Northwest.
I was sitting on the bed, playing with my 2002 iBook. I had just bought a program that would rename photos in batches as I was going through a huge photo Library waiting for Wolsey’s parents to show up and take us to Thanksgiving.
Also we were watching Trading Spaces, which was one of our favorite shows at the time, it was playing in the background. As a funny side note, evidently they are bringing back Trading Spaces in spring 2018 with most of the same cast (it went off the air end of 2008). I guess some things don’t change.
It was a really vivid memory though and it stuck with me the whole day. The wonder I felt that hubby and I didn’t have to go to two meals for a holiday at different households for the first time since we got together. It would be the first time we would get home and have time to be with each other for a holiday.
The fact my parents were cool and let Wolsey’s parents have Thanksgiving Day without a fact was amazing. What we didn’t realize at the time was that Wolsey’s parents would fight us to come for Christmas as well even though we asked to rotate holidays at family get togethers and gave them first choice of which holiday they wanted.
It was just a really strong memory, and it wasn’t until I was writing it up at this moment I realized it was my first time I didn’t have Thanksgiving with my blood family. Last Thanksgiving would be the second time, although last year was a blur. It is probably a trigger memory missing my parents.
The last eighteen months have been a whirlwind. Wolsey has gone through three surgeries, we have had to fly to Phoenix (including in four days from now) three times for two of those surgeries. Both my parents have passed in that time, and the estrangement between me and my sister is pretty much permanent. Not counting all the extra stuff we had to do for the surgeries, burials and work issues.
I am looking forward to the end of the year, and the beginning of the new. I realize it is an arbitrary date, but humans need things like that to set up our boxes. Next year is exciting, we will hopefully move on to more enriching work, maybe move to a better location away from the crowd and especially the traffic, and maybe, just maybe we will get our short-term debt paid off.
I guess my memory post went into a ramble, but that is me in a nutshell. Oh, and sorry but no pics in this one, way to lazy with the food hangover from yesterday. 🙂
I woke up a little confused this morning, dreams of my mom and dad. Then when I sat down I realized she had passed away a year ago today, on their 46th wedding anniversary (today would be their 47th anniversary). Of course it happened that way, my parents loved each other too much to go long without seeing one another. My mom liked holidays so this seems perfectly in her style to pick one of her favorite holidays to pass.
She didn’t do well after my dad passed away in February of 2016. She was lonely a lot, and I couldn’t be with her daily (but at least weekly I was). I did call her multiple times a day, every day and she seemed buoyed by it. Then my brother stayed with her. She tried hard to keep things going, but in the end her body couldn’t hold up to her grief.
Although she was incredibly brave, and remarkably at peace as things failed her. She didn’t want to be here anymore. As her heart was giving out, we talked with her and she went into hospice. By this time we were driving up daily to see her. So many things happened I will talk about later. I remember her asking me for the days in hospice what day it was. She wanted to make it so badly to their anniversary. It was important to her.
I kept telling her it wasn’t “today” yet. Eventually that day did come, no matter how much I wished it wouldn’t. Their anniversary arrived quietly on a hot summer day, and as we went up to see her in the hospice house I knew it would be for the last time.
We arrived there, met with family, drama and a desire that I could whisk her away somewhere she could get true peace. We sat with her for hours, she was slowly fading, but would occasionally stir and say something garbled.
I was holding her hand most of the day, she was less responsive then the previous days. I leaned over and whispered to her that it was ok, today was her anniversary she had been waiting for and it was ok to go. She was mostly unconscious but she still squeezed my hand.
We stayed a few more hours, and I thought I had been wrong. Not more than 30 minutes later, while we were still driving through Mount Vernon on our way home, I got a call from my sister. She had passed away. I was numb for the rest of the car ride, but that will be talked about in a future post (along with everything else that happened around her passing).
I love you mom. I still miss you and I hope you are in a better place. Even with all the issues our family had, I am grateful you were my mother. I know you loved all of us deeply.
It is funny, I still remember you more towards the way you looked in the 1970s.
Oh, and my mom was a stickler about holidays, ALL OF THE HOLIDAYS, so I know she expects me to wish her and my dad a happy anniversary, 47 years ago today. So HAPPY 47th ANNIVERSARY MOM AND DAD!
I love you, just wanted you to know that we love you, and we miss you and dad.
When I was younger, the 4th of July was a lot of fun. As a kid, my dad would take the family outside of the apartment, sometimes the parking lot, sometimes the park across the fence, and light off fireworks. It was a fantastic time for us kids.
When I got older, my parents drank more, but we still usually enjoyed the 4th. As I became a teenager though I began to like it less. Eventually I moved out and ended up with Wolsey. We did the firework thing, bottle rocket wars, etc when we got together, but as the years progressed that became less fun. Nowadays we don’t do much for the holiday, except get home early enough to comfort our animals as others light fireworks.
The only thing that was sure nowadays was a call from my mom wishing me happy Fourth of July. She hadn’t missed any holiday in 25 years. For her, every holiday was sacred and worthy of a call to me. She even did this on Arbor Day… who the hell even knows what Arbor Day is?
Back to yesterday, it went really well, we hung out Torie, went to lunch, came home in time to avoid the crowds. But something had been bothering me all day, something that I would almost catch out of the corner of my memory. I couldn’t come up with what it was at the time until later in the afternoon.
It dawned on me that this was the first 4th of July that my mom hadn’t called to wish me a happy holiday. I realized that had been bothering me since about noon. While this is probably just a sad memory, I suspect part of what is bothering me is that it is the anniversary of her passing will be in three weeks.
I guess this is just a long-winded way to say I miss those stupid holiday calls. I am not looking forward to New Year’s Eve.