This blog contains 1000 posts. Posting to Blogger with such a large archive has become unwieldy. Also, your blogista, who is sewing a kesa, is not writing much at present. She has ceased adding new posts. Still-active links are here.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

A good, long hug

Yesterday, I went to the coast, with my software engineer, to install our database in the local library. I took my car, because the state motor pool can't figure out my driver's license any more, and I don't want to get a new one till my name goes through.

My engineer is a sweet and gentle man, which would surprise and perhaps dismay him to hear, because he was in the Army for 28 years, and is gruff and macho in his demeanor. I knew he would have trouble adapting to my name and pronouns, but forgave him in advance, based on his 17 years of kindness toward me.

As we drove, I told him of my adventures along the route over the decades, pre-transition: the wreck that dismantled a Subaru that appeared suddenly in front of an F100 in which I was a passenger, and totaled the truck as well, very nearly killing the kid in the Subaru; tree planting on this mountain, snag felling on that one, forest fire fighting over that ridge, nearly losing my life and those of six fire fighters in my rig when we met an out-of-control eighteen wheeler on the curve below the tunnel. A lot of history.

I suppose I was telling these stories to put him more at ease with the person I've revealed myself to be; here I was driving him through the mountains while wearing hoop earrings, a tan ribbed turtleneck, and my Mary Kay face, with my purse in the back seat. And I noticed I was having a lot of trouble staying in girl voice, which happens more around my men friends from Before Risa.

I needn't have worried. It's true that he couldn't find my name and pronoun while talking with the coastal librarians; but he was not ill at ease. Our product was his concern, and he (and they) all behaved graciously during the visit and at the local restaurant where I took them to lunch. I was simply not an issue, nor a topic of conversation. It was just a lovely visit among four library people. Well, gee. How it oughta be, for a change!

On the return journey he told me of his problems with dog training and other issues in his life, then took a nap as we approached the Valley. Driving past the big reservoir, on a long straight stretch that threatened to make me sleepy as well, I looked over at him and felt a tremendous wave of affection for this man, who places integrity first in all his dealings with other human beings. We certainly could use more like him!


I attended a meeting the other night where one of the wonderful people present (and they were all wonderful) turned out to be a counselor I'd heard praised and was anxious to meet. In spite of my better judgment, I asked her advice on my situation, and she was patient with me and did offer some good observations. We found that I had written to her partner (as she turned out to be) and that I would likely be receiving one or more contacts to pursue. I'm afraid I got rather shaky. Fortunately it was time to clear the building, and we were chased out before I could fall apart.

The man that had convened the meeting was still in the parking lot when I arrived there. He asked how things were going for me.

I said, "you know, all the counselors I've met are good and dedicated people, and Harry Benjamin, as I've read, was a deeply caring and empathetic human being; it's just so sad [here I began weeping] that these guidelines were named after him and that they seem to make gatekeeper ogres out of people whose only intention is to help!"

He gave me a good, long hug and I pulled it together and drove away.

But as I crossed the top of the hill, I began remembering what had happened a few weeks ago, and really lost it. I started screaming, really screaming, in that way that can damage your voice, and had to pull over before I became a danger to other drivers. I recognized the sounds I was making. Animals that have been shot or run over make them. This can't go on. And I've done it twice now, over losing one counselor.

But you can see how it is: my family, friends, work place, national and international colleagues, faith community, doctor, dentist, radiologist and, really, entire city in which I live accept me as me. Except for my ID and my orchi, I'm as transitioned right now as I will ever be ...

But when you fail to convince a counselor, your clock gets set back to zero. That's a lot to deal with when you're fifty-five.

--risa b

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Names and bones

I had a really busy Thursday. Friday wasn't slow, either.

First thing was to return a call to the lawyer's office.

"Hi, I'm Risa, I'm calling about coming in to sign the name change petition?"

The secretary said I come come anytime, that she had it at the front desk. Great! I tossed on a black turtleneck-and trousers ensemble, grabbed my purse and drove downtown.

There they were. Two lines marked with "X."

"Sign here, your old name, in both places, and I'll notarize. You can write us a check and we'll write one to the court."

"Do I go to court later?"

"Maybe. Sometimes they just want to stare at you for a few seconds and ask you if you really want to do this. But you look pretty real to me. So we'll let you know what else needs to happen, if anything."

"Thank you!" With any luck, I had just signed my old name for the last time.

Next stop was a radiology clinic. They have my medical records under my old name but I asked them to page me as Risa, which they didn't mind doing. I sat among a lot of conservative-looking pensioners, but I was of no interest, which is how I like it.

The radiologist asked a few questions, set me up on the table for the bone scan, and grew curious in a friendly way.

"So, did you ever see the movie Normal?"

We had a really good talk, while the gizmo ran up and down the length of my body.

"I don't see any sign at all of osteoporosis, ma'am; that heel test was just mistaken. We're getting so we don't trust those anyway."

"So, I'm good to go?"

"Yep! You'll be hiking in the hills for many years to come!"

May it be so!

Next I went to lunch with a couple of dear friends, and collected some really good hugging, then to another friend's house in the country. She's had it rough with an illness that keeps you down for weeks, so I stacked wood on her front porch for awhile and discovered an envelope with my name on it.

Oh, my.

Inside were two lovely pairs of silver earrings.

I cried. I think she got a little misty-eyed herself. Collected another great hug, and ran off to my electro appointment.

The electrologist lives up in the hills on twenty-three acres, with a golden retriever, fruit trees, sheep, and a fantastic view. I'm not jealous or anything. While I'm waiting for my appointments, I play catch with the beautiful Golden, Buddy. He's still learning to give up items, rubber balls, sock puppets or whatever, but I get a kick out of prying his sloppy jaws apart, and feeling the gentle strength behind those businesslike teeth. He's gentle, but one remembers that his ancestors were wolves. I'm glad I'm not an antelope or a deer or whatever, with a pack of these after me!

An hour under the electrologist's blinkers is pretty uniformly miserable, but it seems to go fast. Sometimes I actually fall asleep, though not during upper lip work! I cried a little, but that was about my recent disappointment with counseling.

Next, dinner and a movie with a friend. The movie stunk, but the Thai salad, with fried tofu, was great, and I got another good hug. Everybody is checking on me about the counseling disaster; I don't like to say much about it, because a dear friend is doing well with the same counselor, and I wouldn't want to jeopardize that by saying anything prejudicial that would reach her.

It was a long, full, and fulfilling day. All that would have made it better would be a little exercise, and the knowledge that my full-time life as a woman at present actually counted towards a surgery date ...

Friday! A good day at work, and then Beloved and I dressed up to go to the Vagina Monologues on campus. It was the first time we went out in dresses together!! I chose a long black velvet tube dress and black ballet shoes, with a little black hat and my new, wonderful silver leaf-vein earrings. She chose a simple dark blue velvet 3/4 length dress.

The show was just terrific, with a few first night jitters, but who cared? "The Flood" (performed by the Vice President for Student Services!), "My Short Skirt," "Because He liked to Look at It," "The Little Coochie Snorcher that Could," and "The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy" were particularly well done, even if we were an easy audience.

During the intermission, Beloved ran into someone she knew.

"I'm here with Risa; she's right over there."

"Mmm, hmm. So ... are you a Lesbian now?"

"Yes ... yes, I guess I am."



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