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, September 30, 2006

Ring, Ring

So the phone rings, and there's this guy I have a little trouble placing at first, and he seems to want a little advice.

"The gay bar, it closed."

Oh, him! He'd called a year ago, wanting help with going out dressed. I couldn't make out if he was really deciding to be trans, but I'd given it the benefit of the doubt. We'd met near campus, and he wasn't sure if he wanted to go in or not. He had his stuff in a bag, but was shy about changing in the men's room in the town's only gay bar.

So I'd suggested a ladies' room on campus, a two-holer that I knew of with an outside door, lockable, with a good mirror.

And we caravaned over there, and when I got out of my car, he said, over and over, how beautiful I was in my outfit, and I felt, like, hmm, false note here.

But I made sure the coast was clear, and got him in there and changed, and -- wow -- better looking than me, an easy passer. But terrified anyway. He asked for pointers, and I coached him a bit:

"Walk like you're carrying an orange between your thighs and mustn't drop it. Okay, now bring your elbows in a bit. We don't hold our arms out or carry books on our side, because men need that space, and we women yield it to them. Don't lean into your steps. Put your foot out while standing upright, then let your hips and your back foot bring you over your front foot. It's a semicircle around your focal point, which is where your uterus would be. 'K? Now loosen up your neck a little bit -- men hold theirs stiff, which says they are in command, while we bobble around on ours a little, which is pliability. Good, good! Ready to go?"

So we went, and the drag show wouldn't be starting till ten, so we commandered one of the few booths and nursed two beers each for the better part of five hours.

And I never heard from him again.

Till now.

"Yes, they lost their lease so the owner could get its reputation "cleaned up" for the basketball fans when the new arena's built."

"Oh. That's terrible. Where do people go now?"

"Well, there's a place run by two lesbians across town."

"Do people go there dressed?"

"Not really. And it's very small and intimate, sort of for people who all already know each other. I think. I mean, I've never been. Not really into bars."


Long silence.

"Well," he began again tentatively, "How about Portland? Aren't there some places there?"

"I'm sure! I mean, there's twenty times the scene there that there is here. This isn't a city, it's a town; folks go home from work and watch videos over dinner."

He laughed. "Yeah, they do. So, umm, if I got the name of a place in Portland, do you think you could, umm, ride up there with me?"

This surprised me. In twelve months, he's still needing a babysitter to get into places? Assuming that's all he's after, which seems to be the case. Poor guy!

"No ... no, I don't think so. You see, I'm just a girl."

"Oh." He turned that over in his mind a bit. "Oh, I see. Well, uh, thanks for all the help, and umm, see you around sometime."


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Not worn out or anything! I just completed hostessing my first-ever retirment party for one of my people, who will be sorely missed. The veggie plate turned out well, the salt-and-sugar-and-drinks were sufficient, and others contributed rhubarb cobbler and ice cream, scones, and Chinese dumplings. We had about thirty people, and the University president dropped in, which was very touching for our retiree.

She'll be volunteering in the art museum, traveling with her husband, and making zucchini chutney (using some of my monster zukes). Wish I was her.

Now I have to help close the building and then come back and get my cooler and several large hampers out to the loading dock without being busted for anything. Life in the fast lane.

My stitches were taken out yesterday. The nurse said I'm looking pretty good; which actually surprised me as I have had what I felt were major swelling issues, with a few popped stitches (some of the smaller ones, it turned out). Our journey home was the least eventful of all our air journeys -- I didn't have to be body searched for once -- and we mostly slept the whole way. From Portland we had a two hour drive after midnight, but neither of us felt overextended; we took turns being the trucker and the napper, and found that enough rain had fallen in our absence that the house had a kind of uninhabited, damp sort of smell to it. First thing in the morning, we built a fire and made coffee, and everything brightened up again.

It is definitely fall, though. The tomatoes are splitting, the orb-weavers are weaving orbs, the geese are on the wing, the apples have mostly fallen, and a leaf-dropping wind is churning the trees.

risa b

Thursday, September 14, 2006

You should be fine

We walked up to the clinic again today at nine in the morning, and again were buzzed right in. Dr. Reed removed the dressing and stood back to admire his work. Calling Beloved over, he showed her the changes.

"See, this was a big square, now it's a couple of parentheses facing each other. This is a little smaller, and this is bigger, and now they're like they should be. And that lip that was down here is gone. So now everything is going all in the right directions and it's gonna be just beautiful.

"But I've just taken off the bandages, so now it's all going to get a little puffy and blue for a few days, so I want you both to know that so you won't get alarmed, yes? Now you see these blue stitches, there aren't a whole lot of those, have your doctor take them out -- when did I operate?"


"So, ten days, fourteen days after Friday. Fourteen is better."

"And all the little stitches?"

"Those can stay in. They're expensive stuff; it does the job. They keep all the little bits lined up while they recover, and then they just kind of wither away. Just dissolve.

"You can have the catheter out sooner, eight days, ten. Here's a prescription for the catheter, because you're not supposed to bring fluids on the airlines right now; I would just say walk through but if they need to search you they can see the prescription and they can call me if they want to. You should be fine."

"What about dilation?"

"Wait three weeks. You're a lot stronger than those stiches; you want to give them time to do their job."

"I'll lose some depth?"

"Yes, but you'll get it all back."

We said our goodbyes. It was like leaving old friends. I dropped Dr. Reed a deep curtsey, in the royal Thai manner, and he smiled. Anne hugged Beloved, and took us to the door, and we made our way slowly to the elevator and pushed the DOWN button for the hot streets of Bay Harbor Islands.

We need some more anaesthetic there

Here follows a post about Sexual Reassignment Surgery (Part II: Labiaplasty). If this does not suit you, you may go elsewhere. Thanks! -- risa b

1111 Kane Concourse

At ten Friday morning, Beloved and I walked together the block east from the hotel to the clinic, and presented ourselves in the waiting room. Annie, in an O.R. gown and cap, was at the reception desk. She spotted us and picked up the phone. "The patient is here."

She walked us through the cap-and-gown routine, and led me into the familiar operating room.

Anne appeared. "Okay, Risa, we're going to do a dry shave here, as you may remember, then we're going to do a local."

The local was new. This time I would be awake through the whole thing. The numbing began right way.

"Is that a Lidocaine or Prilocaine?"

"It's Novocaine, honey."

Dr. Reed came in. He poked around a bit. "Did you feel any of that?"

"Umm, no. Unless you mean other than as pressure?"

"Some pressure is fine. How about here?"


"Good, I think we're ready to begin."

In the reflection from the huge lampshade overhead, with its hundreds of Fresnel lenses, I could see everything that was happening. In a vague way, I could feel it, too, but relatively painlessly.

Dr. Reed is very much in command when he's working. Sometimes he sounds like he's being sharp with the people around him, but you can tell from their responses that they don't seem to have a problem with it. He wants their best, and they want to give their best.

I felt a cold bump, way down on my fanny.


"That wasn't supposed to go there," he said, in his joking voice.

For about five seconds, I didn't quite have a response to that, but began trying to stifle a giggle.

It wasn't working.

My belly began dancing with the suppressed chuckles, and Anne and Annie became quite alarmed.

"What's happening?" asked Annie, wide-eyed.

"I don't know!" Anne looked at my face. "Oh -- I don't believe it -- she's laughing!"

"Sorry! Hih-hih-hih-hih-hih-hih-hih..."

"S'okay, honey. Quit trying to hold it in or we'll all get seasick."

"Mm-mm." [Splutter.]

But then Dr. Reed got into an area that wasn't done yet.

"Yeowww --"

"Woops, we need some more anaesthetic there, Anne."

"Here we go."

Now I was quietly weeping. It wasn't much of an owie, I mean, I've been through worse with electrolysis, but the contrast from only a few minutes earlier was striking.

Too, I think there may have been some disassociative emotion, either way, such as one gets with nitrous oxide, that could be attributed to the sedation. Y'think?

Afterwards, I was helped out to the recovery room, where I thought I spent half an hour watching the BP/pulse monitor, only to find that when Beloved came to collect me, it was after four in the afternoon. I had slept for three hours.

No food or drink after midnight

From Los Angeles International we would fly non-stop to Miami International, an overnighter. Chasing away from the setting sun at over five hundred miles an hour, we'd be arriving at sunrise after a very short night. The plane lifted off to seaward, turning over the Pacific Ocean, the city and harbor lights strung like an amber necklace around the moonlit water.

We settled down to a fitful sleep, packed into the claustrophobic cabin, three by three along the long tight corridor of the 757.

Hydrating was a big issue for us last time we made this trip, although we had watter bottles. This time, under Code Orange, water bottles would not be allowed. I brought along apples and tomatoes from our garden, and found that these would do the job. Even baby carrots, which one might not think of as a source of water, were a help.

Beloved tells me I slept well, a sign that she didn't. I woke in time to see the dawn, filled with the tall pink clouds of the East Coast. We were in aisle seats, but I could see, as the plane executed a leisurely turn, that we were somewhere over the Everglades.

At the terminal, we had only to collect our bags, which thanks be had stayed with us for once, and settle down to a routine of taking turns to find the ladies' room and the drinking fountain. We were not due at the hotel for hours, and we'd made up our minds to do without the car rental.

I had vaguely remembered that the city buses serve Miami International, and had looked up the routes and times. The J bus comes to the airport every half hour each way, and goes out to Miami Beach, turning back at Collins and 71st. There we could pick up the G bus and it would deposit us on our very own block on Bay Harbor Islands.

The bus journey was, like bus journeys everywhere, an opportunity to watch vignettes of of the dignity and indignity of human life -- retired men, harrassed mothers, bright children, and madwomen. I found myself addressed, whenever I smiled at anyone, only in Spanish, and my halting replies, mingling and mangling a few bits of Spanish with Italian, were enthusiastically received.

Though we pulled the rope before the bridge from Bal Harbour, the first stop on 96th was right in front of the clinic, a block past the hotel. So we pulled up the handles of our black bags and trundled them behind us over the brick cobbles -- tunkitty bunkitty -- around the corner to the lobby entrance.

We were recognized and welcomed, and within half an hour, well before the stated time, shown to room 208, which turned out to be a bridal suite. Two rooms, two baths, two televisions, lots and lots of drawers, and a view of the clinic building to the west. Overkill. I hung my three dresses in the enormous closet, shook out my wig, and let down my hair. We went straight to bed.

Late in the afternoon, with Beloved still out cold, I felt the need for a meal. Dressing quietly and taking my string bag, a room key, and some cash, I stepped out into dramatic weather. Though it was hot and muggy, there were storm clouds everywhere, a smell of lightning, and uncertain winds tugging at the trees in different directions.

I remembered a small corner grocery in the next block and made for it. Some rain fell just as I reached the entryway. But in the door was a sign, "Closed for four months." I had seen several such signs on the way over. Is this a ghost town in the summer?

Since I was only a half-block from the clinic, I thought I might as well say hi, though my pre-surgery appointment would not be until the next afternoon. I punched the UP button on the outside elevator, and then the THREE, as I had done in March, when my whole life had changed.

Someone I hadn't met was staffing the desk. This was a beautiful black woman, in nurse's uniform, with her hair swept up in a bun, whom I could see was very tall, even sitting down.

"Hi, I'm Risa Bear, and I'll be having surgery on Friday ... "

"Do you have an appointment today?"

"No, it's tomorrow, but I thought I'd drop in and maybe say hi, to let them know we're here and ask if there's anything we should do between now and Friday?"

"Right; I'll let him know."

Dr. Reed popped out, his white jacket billowing out behing him on both sides, like the Little Prince's cloak. He always looks like he's just blown in from a thousand miles away in order to listen intently to whatever you have for him.

"Hello, darling. You're early!"

"I, umm, just ..."

"Come on in. Come on in. Let's talk a little bit."

I sat across from him at his desk, and he asked a few general questions about my health. "Annie!" I wondered if he might be calling the redoubtable Anne, but the tall nurse reappeared. "Let's have Risa's records, if you please." To me he saidd, as she brought him the folder, "You want to go across the hall? Look everything over today?"

"Umm ..."

"Sure you do. Gives us more time if we have anything to address."

Annie led me to the exam room, helped me off with my shift and things, and into a robe and onto the table. I apologized for not having showered, but she assured me I was fine.

Dr. Reed came in, pulling on exam gloves, and probed about a bit, asking more questions. I was wondering if I should ask if Anne works here anymore, when he called out the door, "Anne! Would you come here, please."

She came in, all smiles.

"Hello, Risa!"


"Did your Beloved come with you?"

"Yes, she's sleeping."

We'll see her tomorrow, I expect."


They busied themselves consulting on the best way to proceed, took notes, and said to come back Friday at ten A.M. sharp.

Anne let me out into the waiting room. "And remember, no food or drink after midnight, and wear your surgical stockings."

--risa b

Monday, September 04, 2006

Heading out

grape seasonGrape season is upon us -- and the corn, apples, and tomatoes, with a vengeance. The prequel to fall here has never been prettier, and we have to be gone in the very middle of the best time. Oh, well.

Friday I had a party for some of my Library friends and co-workers, and it went well. I strung white party lights on the lilacs and along the sidewalk, and turned on the ones in the living room and dining room, played vinyl from the 40s, 50s and 60s, including an original disk of the Weavers, and got out the big telescope for moon and Jupiter views.

Yhe menu included rice, tomato-veggie soup, tomato-veggie-tofu sauce for the rice, steamed zukes, boiled corn on the cob, Chinese dumplings (made by a co-worker who's from Beijing), ginger-garlic dipping sauce (from her recipe), steamed beets, apple, grapes, cherry tomatoes, salted peanuts, Mission figs, kamala olives, kamala olive-feta cheese three-grain bread, butter, sweet gherkins, lettuce-bok choi-bell pepper-lamb's quarters-nasturtium blossom-beet green salad, Belgian beer, apple cider, well water with a sprig of mint, Oregon red and Washington white wine, coffee, and tea. For dessert there was rhubard cobbler (made by Beloved, who says it's really rhubard "crisp") with vanilla bean ice cream, and brownies brought by one of the guests.

It was a long, quiet and very pleasant evening. The guests were encouraged to consider dancing, games, and etc. but preferred One Acre Farm tours followed by dinner and conversation, sitting around in chairs arranged in a circle lit by the party lights.

Among the guests we were honored by the presence of the 2006 Eugene Celebration S.L.U.G. Queen, Slugretha Latifah Uleafa Gastropodia Jackson, in full regalia. Everyone bowed to her, and she was pleased to be served vanilla bean ice cream with a light topping of real maple syrup. For information on the S.L.U.G. (The Society for the Legitimization of the Ubiquitous Gastropod) Queens of the last 20 years, see this URL.

A few days ago, while sitting under a tree with my PFLAG friends, I heard a tremendous cacaphony of goose-talk, and ran out into the open to see some three hundred heading for the nearby reservoir. I think it must have been the most grrse I've ever heard speaking at once. Goodness knows how they made themselves heard over the competition. Or maybe they were just all saying, "I'm so glad to be alive."

One is, other things being equal, which we know they are not, at this season of the year, very much glad to be alive. If it only it could be so for all.

I'm off tomorrow, with Beloved, for labiaplasty with Dr. Reed. So I've asked all my friends to pick all the grapes, apples, and vegs they want, while watching the house. I've rebuilt and cleaned the gutters, mowed the brown, dry grass, watered trees and the garden, set the potting shed to rights, and battened down all the hatches. We're packed. Beloved is away at the moment, making sure Last Son has all the groceries he will need. I think she was hoping to do the same for Daughter, but she's just called me from on the road somewhere near Seattle, so she's on her own (neither has a car).

I've checked the storm chart, and, sure enough, TD Six has formed up out in the Atlantic. Worse case, it could be a hurrincane and reach us while we are in Miami. But not until after the surgery, which is on Friday, the eighth. Our hotel is a low building near the bay, so if we run into trouble, we may move back to the clinic, which a very solid five-story building. Then, if I'm recovered enough, I might find myself serving as a recuer. Life is full of adventures, isn't it?

risa b


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