Monday, September 24, 2012

Mystery of the Blue Ridge

I am looking at a somewhat busy week here in Tammy World so I'm doing my post here on Monday while I am home relaxing from my weekend vacation.  Tomorrow I am driving up to Greensboro, NC to the UNCG Transgender Voice and Communication Group which meets on Tuesday afternoons.  This week will be the third session and I also made the 2.5 hour drive before the class began for an initial evaluation.  On the evaluation I scored excellent on non verbal communication skills (basically female mannerisms) and my voice tested in the gender neutral range and I was given an excellent prognosis on meeting my goal, which is developing a passable female voice.  The first 2 sessions focused mostly on the non verbal communication and at the very end of the last session we learned to say "eeee".  So it is very basic so far and I don't think I have learned anything yet but I believe we are on the verge of beginning to learn what I am after and I'm very hopeful.  Someone who took that course a couple of years ago told me the program gave her the confidence to transition and I've heard other good things about it so I think it will be worth the time, money and effort.  Our "group" consists of me, one older group member, the instructor (who is a professor with the UNC Greensboro Speech Department) and two female graduate students who are working with us individually.  I will blog more on this interesting program as it goes along but it is a very small group this year.  It has had as many as 8 members so I think we will be able to get good individual attention.  Wednesday I have to do the androgynous male thing and drive my dad 1.5 hours to the VA hospital at Duke University Medical Center to get a memory test ironically given by the Speech Pathology Department at the Veterans Administration hospital.  Thursday is electrolysis and Friday I think my friend from South Carolina is coming up to go shopping with me in Raleigh.  My de facto ex wife/roommate will be leaving to spend time with her family in the Raleigh area over the weekend so I will be home and I am hoping to have my boyfriend over. :)

Last week was very good as far as getting out a lot and doing stuff as myself.  Tuesday was a full day of driving up to Greensboro for my class, Thursday I had a therapist appointment in Durham then went shopping and Friday through Sunday I had my first real vacation as myself.  My boyfriend has been working up in Lynchburg, Virginia in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains for almost a year.  He has a hotel room there his company rents by the week and he drives home most weekends to spend time with his kids and also me.  I have viewed it as a mysterious far away place, about 3.5 hours from where I live, and even though we have talked of me going up for a night or weekend for a long time this past weekend was my first trip up and it was my first time going to the mountains in probably 10 years and my first time going as myself.  The drive up on Friday afternoon was nice although the air conditioning went out on my van about halfway there and a little later as the afternoon sun was making it uncomfortably hot it came back on so I am not sure of the severity of the problem.  On the way home last night it was quite cool outside, they were expecting a low of 40 in the Virginia foothills, so I didn't even try it.  We will be having some more sort of hot days here for about another month so I hope it holds out and I don't have to spend money getting that fixed right now.  Making this drive unlocked the mystery of the Blue Ridge for me.  I now see that my boyfriend's weekly drive up and back is long but doable and overall it's not a bad ride through pretty country.  The route I took is all 4 lane highways except for about 30 miles of Virginia 2 lane asphalt.  It took me only 3 hours and 15 minutes to get home last night and I arrived back here at 12:40.  I saw Whitetail deer at least 10 times either in groups or single deer.  It seemed like they were all over the road on the 2 lane stretch and I saw very few cars, in fact traffic was light the whole trip.  We also saw a few deer up in the mountains during the day and a couple that had been hit and killed by cars, on the side of the highway.  They are really moving since the weather started cooling down, especially at night as they are feeding and getting ready for mating season.

Blue Ridge Mystery

The weather was beautiful on my drive up Friday afternoon and about 20 miles from Lynchburg I began to see the prominent peaks of the Blue Ridge Mountains on the horizon.  Its an aptly named mountain chain as there is a blueish haze to them as they loom in the distance.  I got there before 5 pm and we took all my bags up to the room.  I brought enough for clothes and things for more than a week but that's typical for me.  The only thing I didn't bring was the kitchen sink but luckily he has a nice sink in the bathroom.  He has a cozy little room on the top floor of the hotel that sits up on top of a big hill.  He spends much of his time there and it was nice to finally see where my man lives and I even met his friends that work there at the hotel.  After giving him a little massage and relaxing him from the long work week, we went to a nice restaurant in town for dinner then went shopping at Burlington Coat Factory.  He got me a cool sign (My World, shown above) and some skirts,tights and casual athletic clothes.  Then we went by a grocery store for some drinks and snacks then back to the room to watch tv.  After we watched the rest of WWE wrestling we watched a few episodes of his favorite sitcom, Two and a Half Men, on dvd and had a romantic evening and a wonderful night of cuddling and good sleep. 

We woke up Saturday in time for him to go down and get us some breakfast from the hotel lobby and after getting a little morning energy we spent some quality romantic time before getting ready for the day's drive up into the Blue Ridge Mountains.  All of this seemed to take a long time so we picked up lunch from McDonald's and ate it on the way up.  It's pretty country up there, heavily forested and a curvy 2 lane highway leads up to the mountains.  We hit the Blue Ridge Parkway and headed south.  Of the two directions we could go, the southern route looked like it would hit higher elevations quicker and the point we got on the parkway at the James River is the lowest point (650 feet) on the 469 mile scenic road that runs from Virginia to North Carolina.  We started going up pretty quickly and ours ears popped as the elevations increased to 2000, 3000 then 4000 feet above sea level.  There are a lot of scenic overlooks and we stopped at most of them to admire the views looking way down to the valleys below and to the other mountains in the distance.  Words cannot describe the beauty of these mountains, one of the oldest mountain chain in the world, and the awesome scenery was only topped by the quality time I got to spend with my man while riding the Parkway.  We stopped at one point and hiked 2000 feet down a trail to see a waterfall, Fallingwater Cascades, from a small stream and it was quite a strenuous hike back up to the parking lot.  Mitchell saw a girl he knows from town there and we stopped to talk to her for a minute and apparently from what she said the falls are more spectacular when the creek is raging from rains.  The hike on the mountain trail was nice though and walking up made us appreciate some of the nice features of living in flat country down in eastern North Carolina.

We stayed on the Parkway until almost dark and ended the day by walking the bridge over the James River, we had the place to ourselves at that point.  I ended up eating seafood for three meals on this trip and the best meal of all was when we stopped and ate at a little Italian place he knows in town.  The Mahi Mahi was fantastic, as was everything there but as usual the best thing about the meal was the company.  When we got back to the room, after 9 pm, we had a very intense romantic evening and he fell asleep on the end of the bed while I massaged his ankle that was sore from hiking, and listened to music.  I finally went to bed and we got under the covers and cuddled all night and I slept good for a few hours.  Sunday morning we got up in time for breakfast and again seemed to have trouble breaking ourselves away from the room.  When we finally did get away and went to lunch it was almost 3 pm and we ate a great late lunch at Red Lobster.  We had an afternoon of shopping planned before I was to leave to drive back to NC but we only went to Halloween City and got our costumes for the CMP Halloween party next month.  Then I said there was still enough daytime left to drive up to the Blue Ridge Parkway again and check out the route south of Lynchburg.  So you see, I Really am not a shopaholic as I gave up a couple of hours of shopping for a scenic Sunday drive in the Virginia mountains. :)

                                                        Indian Rocks
Sunday's mountain views were just as gorgeous but the parkway to the south of the James River does have a slightly different feel.  There are a lot of creeks and lower elevations at first and the forest is thick and has more pine trees.  The rock formations even look a little different, it takes longer to get up on the crest of the Blue Ridge and there are fewer overlooks in the 25 or so miles we drove in one direction.  My camera was not working again although I got a few with my cell phone including the panoramic view above.  I hope the pictures on Mitch's camera were good and I think we got some good ones together:)  We stopped on the way back for a short hike on Indian Rocks trail to see some unique boulder formations in the forest and saw a deer in the middle of the road that did not seem to want to move.  On our drive we had some good talks about our relationship, how it started and where it is now and where it may be going as well as how we each got to where are in our lives.  This was some really good quality time and it was well worth staying later even though it put me on the road later than I had planned. 

I think this trip unlocked a mystery for me and that is I now have a clear picture of where it is that my man lives during the week and how to get there.  It doesn't seem now like such a far off and unreachable place.  I used to feel sorry for him when he would leave to go back there, like he was disappearing into the wilderness into a place I could not visualize.  I had talked about going and wanted to but the trip seemed daunting, now it seems doable and if his assignment there lasts for awhile longer I know I will go back up to visit.  We had never spent an entire weekend with each other and the quality time we spent together and closeness we feel is really special, something on a level I have never felt before.  I guess I am still in a Blue Ridge haze but really I suspect it's just love.  Getting out of my little box here and expanding my comfort zone is so liberating also and I expect to travel and go more places now, something I have not really done since I was a kid and teenager with my parents.  The world is my oyster and I am cracking it open and loving every minute of my life now.  Good things are on the horizon, and like those mountains in the distance, I am going to climb all the way to the top!!!

                                          Y'all come back now, ya hear?



Monday, September 17, 2012

Blogging about....blogging, friends, passing..

I've had this blog going for a little over 4 months now and I have also been reading other blogs so I think I am learning a few things about what it takes to make this work.  I am also open to ideas and constructive criticism from readers so if any of y'all have any ideas, suggestions etc. please drop me a line or include them in the comments here.  Comments should now be open to anyone and I really love hearing for you.  One thing I am curious about is how y'all like the font size (it seems larger than most blogs) and color, backgrounds etc.  I also learned on my last entry that I can include pictures within the text and that is something I will do as much as possible but not necessarily every time.  Its been encouraging to get so many views in such a short time and even quite a few followers and believe me this thing is just getting going so definitely stay tuned, I hope to make this blog better and better.

I think the biggest things I have learned so far is that blogs are better written off the cuff and not being such a planned, calculated effort.  All of my entries have been written that way but the same day I wrote my last post I wrote another and intended to wait a week and then add it.  I know some bloggers speak of writing several posts ahead of time or working on several at the time then posting them when they are ready.  Well, I have to admit having a problem reading my own material and if I plan it too much or edit too much I am just never satisfied with it.  Honestly, last week I planned to just edit my pre written post for spelling and grammar and post it and I could never bring myself to re read it.  Then this weekend I had a router problem and lost computer access and today I sat down to edit and post that pre written entry and when I started reading it I just hated it, didn't make it through 2 paragraphs.  It seems the best thing I can do right now is write a post, immediately go through it with spell check and give it a quick read for grammar errors and post it.  I am not saying they will be error free and English teachers reading this could probably tear it apart but it is a blog: its raw, from the heart and off the cuff.  I think that is the best spirit of a blog, like when people live blog an event.  It's happening, its now and its posted. 

One other thing I had set a hard goal of posting one entry per week and while I do intend to post a general average of one post a week, I don't think its best to stick to that as a hard rule.  My posting is going to be limited by my time availability (which is good now but could change), creative inspiration and interesting events to blog about.  Right now the biggest limiting factor is my creative inspiration and I might go longer than a week without any real inspiration or be inspired to post a couple of entries or more in a short period of time.  I think this will be a better blog if I don't feel confined to any particular schedule and have a little more creative licence.  Bear with me on that because this will be a very active blog.


So I wanted to mention a couple of online friends this week and the first one is Lucy from Taunton, England.  She has been inspirational to me going as far back as last year and she is also one that had advised me to keep my blog entries regular, like one a week.  While I don't know if the once a week schedule will work to the letter for me, the regularity and activity level of the blog is something she definitely advised me on and I think will work well here.  There are a lot of blogs online and I speak mainly about transition blogs, that will go weeks or even months between posts and they tend to lose people's interests.  I realize a lot of things happen and we are talking about people that are by definition going through major changes in their lives so I see how that can happen, however I do not intend to let that happen here.  Tammy World is always turning and there always should be something to write about.  If I feel I need to take a break for awhile for whatever reason, I will just announce I am taking a break and not leave people hanging.  So Lucy is someone I admire a lot and she is in many ways at about the same level of transition as I am.  I think it was about the same time last spring or so that we were both coming to the realization that in order to go on with life and have any meaning or peace with ourselves we Had to transition.  Changing one's gender/sex is not something someone should do because they want to or because they think it would be cool, fun, or nicer on the other side.  You do it because you hit a wall and Need to transition, as my therapist says, to survive.  So because Lucy lives in the UK and the medical system is completely different over there she is having to take steps in a different order to get to the same place.  This summer she transitioned to full time female and legally changed her name and had to come out and transition on a job she already had for several years.  Now that she is full time she is waiting for the system to allow her begin hormone therapy, and all they have done so far is evaluate her to make she isn't delusional.  That is causing hardships in some ways but hopefully when she can get medical treatment the state will pick up all or most of the bill, and this can be really nice for those that cannot afford it.  Lucy has mentioned me and this blog on her website/blog and has a link for this blog there.  Her SO (female significant other ) also has a blog and it is very interesting seeing things from a partner's perspective.  Here is a link for Lucy's website and Amanda's blogger site and I am positive anyone reading this will want to check out those sites and follow them as well.  She has given me permission to mention her here so I may include updates that happen in her transition here from time to time as well.

The other ts I wanted to mention in this post is my good friend Pam and she lives in the USA out west.  She does not have a blog to link to but I intend to post a lot here over time about her transition and she supports that as a way of sharing and giving back.  Those are my main reasons for doing this blog anyway and I am happy to report on Pam because she has really been an inspiration to me I think is a good example of when your bell is rung, as they say, and you are going to have to transition in order to maintain sanity and survive, you just go for it full steam ahead.  We are the same age even though she considers me her little sister because she is like 10 months older than me.  We ran into each other on a forum site last fall and she was in therapy at the time and I think I was just getting up the nerve to reach out to a therapist.  Every step of the way she has been about one step ahead of me and believe me she sets a good example because she has just gone for it on every step of her transition so far and not let fear or life circumstances hold her back in any way.  It's never easy and she has gone through a lot of pain and some turmoil but she has not let any of that hold her back or slow her down.  I am having to really put up an effort to keep up with her but believe me Pam ,it helps me a lot having you there and being my big sister.  In the last couple of months she has sold her house, separated from her wife of many years, come out at work and is two weeks from today she will be in Guadalajara, Mexico for FFS (Facial Feminization Surgery) with Dr. Lazaro Cardenas.

It is a bold move to go to another country or anywhere really for medical procedures, especially something like facial surgery.  This doctor has an excellent reputation however, and there are several others on the forum site that have had outstanding results down there and I even know one girl local to me that has been there.  I really wish I could go down there with her because one person can stay free with another patient and I would let that doctor do the minor FFS that I want eventually and that is a hairline advancement and brow lift.  Those are 2 soft tissue procedures and I don't think I am really up for any major bone work surgery.  Luckily I have been blessed with fairly feminine features although I know I could benefit from some of those procedures.  They do involve quite a recovery time and Pam is ready for it and all that is also quite expensive.  This is a tough woman and she will make it through just fine, this is the type of example that she sets for those of us who feel the need for facial surgery in order to be comfortable in a full time role.  What she is doing is also quite expensive and had she not been able to sell her home in just a few short months, getting close to what she wanted for it, doing this now may not have been possible.  I think Pam would still have found a way but it would be more of a hardship.  The 2 relatively minor procedures I want could be done down there for just around $3,000 I believe but most will spend well over $20,000 there for full FFS.  This doctor does good work from all reports we get here and similar procedures in the USA can easily run twice as much.  So Pam will have this surgery right at her birthday (making her a year older and again my Big sister) and then return home for a few weeks recovery time, then back to her career job that she has held for years as a new person with her name legally changed.  She has not been going out in society as female as long as I have and its still relatively new to me even, so this will be a big adjustment for her but she is just the person to do it.  She has been determined and moved ahead boldly and with no fear on everything so far and that's why I know she will be fine.  I plan to include a lot about her progress so my readers can follow someone who is taking a slightly different path to transition and because I really feel that her life can serve as an inspiration and example to others as it has been to me. 


Out shopping in my hometown...

The other topic I wanted to cover today was the topic of the lost blog post I wrote a couple of weeks ago and wanted to rework and that is the phenomenon I have begun experiencing and that is being read as female and called ma'am in public when when I am not presenting female or fully female.  It is fascinating to me and I am sure as time goes on this will evolve even more and I will post more on it.  Basically I have never had any trouble being called sir when I am out and about presenting female and this goes back a couple of years when I first started venturing out outside the community and into the "real world."  Part of that may have been because I did not really go out until I had developed decent skills with makeup  and dressing, I had good mannerisms and at least a gender neutral if not yet passable voice.  I will not say I never get "read" or "clocked" as I am sure I do but I do present myself with confidence and in a very female way.  In fact the only time in all my times out that I have been called sir when wearing wig, makeup, and the whole nine yards was at a LGBT club this spring.  The place that I first went because people there are supposed to be so accepting and supportive is the very place some drunk bumped into me and said, "excuse me ma'am, I mean sir".  He had it right the first time but perhaps he read me as a drag queen and many of them identify as male and don't care to be called ma'am.  Either way that same night the club was crowded with gay males and I noticed even genetic females at the bar were having trouble with the bartenders getting served as was I.  I was treated fairly rudely by a couple of the bartenders so that experience has sort of soured me on going to those clubs. They have become boring anyway and the only reason I would ever want to go is to socialize with friends that are there.  The night I am speaking of I had met a couple of friends there but they were both there with dates and left earlier than I did.  I should have left then too, I do have a boyfriend and am not looking for a man.  I jsut had not been there long and wanted a couple more drinks.  Even if I was looking for a man a gay bar is the last place a trans woman should go to find one and a friend told me that back in 2008 when I first went there.

So except for that anomaly I never had trouble being called sir or treated like a guy when out no matter how people may read me.  I have friends that are full time and get called sir all the time so I know I am doing something right but I consider myself a work in progress and I still want to improve every aspect of my presentation until maybe one day no one will ever know I was not born female, if that day ever arrives.  So, this spring after letting my hair grow out since Christmas I started going out more and more with a more androgynous presentation some of the time.  Last winter, except when absolutely necessary, I pretty much stopped wearing any male clothes when out.  Even most of the times I do have to present male, like when I go see or go out with my parents, I wear female clothes that do not readily look like female clothes at least as far as I know.  Basically this is female jeans that are not flashy or obvious and shirts like polo shirts for women and shoes like white female tennis shoes with no obvious marks on them.  I had been moving toward wearing similar things even further back than that but when 2012 arrived I left behind anything male that I did not feel was essential and pushing my limits more and more on that as time went on.  It has been sort of an evolution since then and by spring I was starting to incorporate more and more makeup into my everyday look and wearing more obvious female clothes when not having to work or see my parents or the rare old friend.  The last regular old friend was dropped by spring anyway and at home I have been pretty much female all the time all year and all the time since spring. 

At my home...August 2, 2012

So what all this is leading up to is how I was/am perceived by the general public when presenting myself in this more androgynous or neither female nor male state.  I started going to therapy In December pretty much male except for female jeans and tennis shoes and kept adding something each time as my hair also grew out until in June my therapist said I was passable.  She may have been being generous but I think I was close anyway.  I did go to a party at her house a  couple of months into therapy looking my best and she was impressed by my presentation then.  It's just something I wanted to evolve into, a transition instead of a transformation and it has been my life project in 2012.  I think in May about the time I started hormones I left any pretense of a male presentation behind, again unless it was absolutely necessary.  In all this time since I started that presentation I have only been called sir twice and that was once by a store clerk back in May who called me sir then corrected it to ma'am, and once by a man walking by me in a crowded place.  The real phenomenon I wanted to discuss here was being called ma'am when I am in that less than total female presentation with no make up ,or possibly androgynous presentation.

This first started happening to me this spring and it happened a few times before I even started HRT.  I was feminizing with my natural hormones, growing my hair and having electrolysis but the first few times this happened it caught me off guard but also made my day.  It was one day in March I was walking my dogs with my ex (I am now calling her ex even though we are legally married and live together, subject of another blog post) and my neighbor saw me walk by out of the corner of his eye and called me by my wife's name.  He turned to me fully and corrected himself but all I said to him was "hi" and walked inside.  He spoke to my ex when she walked by a minute later and apologized to her for it but in actuality he had made my day.  Another time that stands out from that same time frame was being called ma'am at a drive through window.  I think that was the second public incident except for my neighbor but the amazing thing about that time was that I had not shaved in a couple days in preparation for electrolysis.  I know my facial hair was not as noticeable by then because of hair removal but again that made my day as well as fascinated me.  This started happening more and more all through spring and summer but it did not and does not happen all the time.  It just happens more and more often as time goes by.  This summer it started happening a lot and I remember telling my ex as we were going through a drive through a drive through window about a man giving away free newspapers and signing up people for subscriptions that called me ma'am as I walked into a grocery store.  That time I had even been wearing male shorts and had not yet shaved but he said "ma'am can I offer you a newspaper".  As I told her about it the clerk at the drive through handed me our food and said "thank you ma'am."  Was it the hormones, electrolysis, hair, shirt I had on or possibly a combination?  Guys would be offended but I was liking it :)  A couple of weeks ago we went through a drive through window with my dogs and I was not using my female voice at all.  I made the order and the clerk said "please pull forward sir" but when I got to the window she called me ma'am twice, and this was another day I had on a female t shirt but had not shaved and was earing no makeup.

So to wrap this post up I want to touch on the experiences of being called ma'am that trip me out the most, but in a good way.  This is when, usually out with my parents and trying to present male that I still get called ma'am.  I don't think they have noticed it yet and it has not happened too many times but it has been happening since summer and there have a few such incidents recently.  One day a couple weeks ago I was out with my dad and went to the post office.  I stood in line to get some stamps and he talked to someone in the lobby he knew.  Yes we do run into people they know.  I don't know many people here and that goes back a long time maybe by design but at one time my parents knew a Lot of people in town. Today as people have aged and died out, not so many but some.  I was waiting in line and the postal clerks were being very polite to everyone they were dealing with, calling everyone ma'am and sir and being very nice.  Even when out with my dad I have gotten to the point I really hate to be called sir ( it is actually one reason I practically shut down and stopped seeing many people for work), so I braced myself to hear it when called up.  I had on no ear rings, hair combed back behind my ears and wearing jeans and my polo shirt and the clerk got to me and said "yes ma'am how can I help you".  On the way out he called me neither ma'am nor sir so I don't know exactly what his final impression was.  I sometimes wonder if my breast development is starting to become too obvious in these shirts and when I really try to hide it now I wear my old male polo shirts that fit a little bigger and are a little thicker, even though I hate to wear them and all I have is 2 left.  After leaving the post office we went to a car wash and the attendant came up to the window initially calling me ma'am but not loudly, I don't think dad heard, and he said "thank you sir" as he told us to pull through, but dad had talked to him and I will hope he was talking to him. This is happening a Lot now even with them.  Saturday my mom had taken me to Wal Mart and parked close to the front in a handicap park while I ran in to pick up a cart full of drinks.  Pushing it out the door, the door lady came up behind me and said "ma'am can I see your receipt".  I thanked her with my female voice and walked out and I don't know what her final perception of me was.

So this is what is going on in Tammy World these days.  It seems I am having an increasingly hard time passing male even though without makeup or obvious female clothes or trying to make my hair look female I still don't completely see it.  I see changes but I still too much of my old self to believe it.  There must be subtle cues involved in how people read someone as male or female and this is the subject of fascination for me. I am sure electrolysis and hormones as well as longer hair are the main causes but especially on the hormones part just what is it that is getting me read, at least initially, as female.  Is it facial changes, breast lumps in my shirt, skin changes, just what is it?  I am not unhappy about it at all and every time it happens it makes my day.  The less female I am trying to look the more it makes my day when I do get called ma'am.  I still get called sir plenty in this mode, probably still most of the time when I am trying to look more male but it may be getting close to a 50/50 tipping point.  I hope to be at 100% one day and get to a point I can just walk out wearing whatever, not shaving and no makeup and Expect to be treated like a lady.  On a final thought I had to run out to Wal Mart Saturday night when I was not expecting to go out.  I was already wearing a ladies t shirt and shorts and colorful tennis shoes.  All I did was put on a bra, a little 5 minutes of makeup and fluff up and spray my hair (a trick I learned from a gg last week that is helping me control it) and headed out.  Not only was I called ma'am I don't think the clerks knew and I went to 4 stores I felt so confident.  I may have been read as trans but people really don't look for that here in this small city.  I did not look my best but I looked ok and looking around Wal Mart I actually think I looked better than most of the women there, no offense Wal Mart shoppers.  At least I blended in and at the end of the day that is may main goal when going out most of the time, to just blend in and be accepted as any other normal female.  Tammy World is becoming a more amenable place all the time.

                                          Ya'll come back now, ya hear?

Monday, September 3, 2012

Blue Moon: Labor Day Update

Hello friends, it is Labor Day in the USA and I thought I would post this update about what I have been up to in the month of August.  I will admit that in spite of some very exciting times every week, most days in Tammy World would seem boring to the average person.   Honestly, most days are even boring to me and I am getting anxious to get something new and positive going in my life.  The time is getting close that I will be able to do that but I am still working part time in my business, its just very slow right now.  Some of my August highlights were my birthday, getting elected into the Vanity Club Sorority and of course my weekend dates with my boyfriend Mitchell.  I also had a blood test this month to check my hormone levels, the first one since I started HRT.

I had some great dates with my boyfriend in August and unlike our usual weekend dates the first two of the month were on a Thursday night and then 10 days later on a Sunday night.  Both of those dates were in a suites hotel near the RDU airport in Durham and the rooms were really fabulous.  The first one was the presidential suite and it was a huge room, almost as big as my guest house.  The only problem with that room was it was a little too warm, as if the air conditioner could not keep up with the large space in the August heat.  The second room was a suite also and had a balcony where we took some pictures for my Flickr site.  As always, we do go out to eat a nice meal and usually do a little shopping too but because we don't see each other often enough we tend spend a good deal of time in the room:)  One the second of those dates we ate at a nice Chinese restaurant then went by a car lot in Raleigh for Mitchell to look at some hot cars.  Here is a picture he took of me on an old Army Jeep there and one from the room balcony.

That was my first time loading pictures onto the blog and it seems to work nicely so I will try to liven this site up with some pictures from now on.  Bear with me as this blog is like me, a work in progress:)  Our next date was at a hotel here in my city.  I had reported that we would be a suite in Raleigh that night, but I got him to cancel that room and come somewhere closer to home because my dad was not feeling well and I wanted to be closer to home.  Dad is doing fine now.  For this Labor Day weekend we spent Thursday night at another suite in Raleigh and had a great Japanese meal at Kanki Steakhouse.  After the meal we stopped by Wal Mart for some essentials then went back to the room for some tv time on the couch and romance.  Mitchell went to bed about 1:30 am and I had a strange energy that night and couldn't sleep so I stayed up until almost 4:30 drinking a few beers and listening to music.  The next night here at home right around 11:30 pm I was shutting the lights down to go to bed and looked at myself in the mirror in the bathroom with only the lights from outside to see by.  I got close to the mirror and looked at myself and I had a strange sort of out of body experience I really cannot describe.  I felt like I was communicating with something outside myself, or perhaps within myself.  I was not scared but I did say a little prayer to Jesus and the voice in my head told me it was ok to pray to Jesus.  I also was filled with a feeling, not really a voice but a feeling, that everything was going to be ok and that there was something there with me, guiding me.  Days later I found out that there had been a full moon that night and it was a rare Blue Moon, or second full moon of the month.  I don't know the significance of that but I did feel a strange energy for that 24 hour period.

The weekend prior to that full moon, after being with my boyfriend Thursday afternoon through Friday afternoon, I went to a Body Mind Spirit Expo in Raleigh with a girlfriend of mine, Kate.  A lot of that expo was about spiritualism and it was an introduction into that religion/philosophy/lifestyle for me.  I am not really into spiritualism like my friend is but I do have an open mind and like to experience and learn new ideas.  I don't know if any of that was on or in my mind when I had that blue moon experience or not but I tend to be very empathetic and absorb ideas very easily.  Perhaps I was visited by my spirit guide that night, a concept I really just learned about at the Expo.  I had a good time at that event and we went both Saturday and Sunday.  It gave me a chance to experience being in a very different environment and to see and interact with some very interesting and open minded people.

I always go to things like that en femme now and I went to the Expo one day wearing my wig and the next without it.  I didn't notice any difference in how people reacted to me and I felt very comfortable both days.  It was a little odd talking with some of the psychics, as my friend tends to talk to a lot of people and ask a lot of questions.  She even paid for a reading with one spiritual medium.  I felt like some of them were seeing right through me, not just seeing that I am trans but maybe looking deeper into my soul or to past lives or something like that.  As I said I am very empathetic and open to ideas but I am born skeptic too when it comes to actually adapting beliefs so I certainly didn't convert to any new belief system there.   One thing I was interested in finding out was if there was any beliefs or feeling among the people there on any possibly significance to the year 2012.  There was a lot of talk about great change and spiritual upheaval in this year but I did not get anything specific.  The closest I came to any significant ideas was one psychic that Kate had known from a previous Expo.  She asked Kate how was she was doing and she said ok, or something like that.  The psychic explained to us how that was the wrong answer and that you should answer in a positive way as in "I am doing great."  She explained that what you put out you will get back and that the energy of the earth is changing here in 2012 and when I asked how she thought it was changing she replied that the vibration was changing and the law of attraction was coming into play more in this age.  I got the impression that no one knew anything specific on any changes going on in the world but most thought that we are experiencing some sort of change.  I know that I am personally going through a major change but I will have to leave unanswered the question of whether the timing of my personal change has anything to do with some sort of greater world wide change.  I do feel that my transition and change was destined from day 1 of my life but any significance to the year 2012 remains and likely will remain a mystery, curiosity or abstract concept.

So I had my birthday on the 19th of August and I am now 48 years old.  Whooppee.  Never ask a woman her age but I don't mind volunteering mine at this point.  Maybe after next year's birthday I will start repeating the number :)  I have to say I feel a lot younger than my age belies and I think I look younger too.  I don't feel like I am dying anymore so I do feel better and yes younger than I have felt in a very long time.  A couple of months ago my good tg friend Karen from West Virginia asked me if she could nominate me into the Vanity Club sorority.  The club describes itself by stating "We are a special and exclusive sorority whose members are all accomplished & exceptional Transwomen, each and every one being voted in by her fellow sisters."  My member number is VC 573 and that is the last number as I am now the newest member and one of only 2 to be selected this year. Not all are active members so its a fairly small sorority with members from all over.  What I have seen so far is that the women in this club are some of the nicest and most knowledgeable people I have met online and they are all very out in society and love to help each along along.  I hope to make many more friends through this great organization. 

         My photo submission to the Vanity Club taken at home in August 2011

I also went to the doctor on the 16th of August to get my blood levels checked after 3 months of HRT treatment.  I had an appointment the next week with my doctor to discuss the tests but instead he called me on the phone personally after a few days and gave me the results over the phone, saving me a visit.  I have the best doctor!  Luckily all my body system tests were normal and he read me my hormone levels.  I asked him what his interpretation of the levels was and his answer was that they show the meds are working.  I don't have to get another test and see him again until the end of October but I looked up typical male and female hormone levels and did some online research as well as talk to quite a few friends online about their levels on HRT.  I don't include units of measurement here because he just gave me numbers and not units but we will assume standard units.  As a science major I have to include this disclaimer:)  My testosterone levels have already come down into the low end of the female range and are 11.2 with free testosterone at 2.1.  Male levels range from 260 to 1080 and my T level 3 months ago was already down to 242 with free T at 12, probably from the medicine I had been taking on my own and also the herbs I was taking.  I will never know what it was say a year ago before starting anything but even then I had been on low dose of a natural herb, Saw Palmetto, to lower testosterone for a few years literally.  If I had showed up at a doctor 3 months ago as a male with this level they would have put me on testosterone.  If I showed up with my current level they would probably be very concerned :)  A lot of trans women have trouble getting their T levels down, especially early on in HRT treatment so I take it as good news mine seems to be responding well.  My estradiol (estrogen) level was also tested and it is 88.1 and was 11.8 when I started the medication.  The normal female range seems to be 70-600 so I am at the lower end of this range and I am hoping it will come up by the time I am tested again.  I believe most endocrinologists want their ts patients in the 160-300 range. I had only been at my increased dose a couple of weeks when I got this test so hopefully this level takes some time to build up and will increase quite a bit over time.  Some say don't worry about the levels and just go by how well things are changing and if that's the case I would say things are coming along nicely.

September is here now and the time is drawing closer to having to come out to my parents.  I have been out of therapy a couple months also and I will be going back on the 12th.  I had to cancel my last appointment and then she had to cancel that rescheduled appointment, then I waited for them to call and give me another one.  After a couple weeks with no call I called her office and she was going out of the country for a couple of weeks so the 12th was the next appointment I could get.  I am definitely finally ready to address the issue of coming out and I think everything else is going fine mentally.  I am not really crazy I am just different, lol.  A lot of people do not understand why, as an adult, I am making such a big deal out of coming out to them but a lot is at stake for me including where I live (my home that they have an ownership interest in) and part of my livelihood, so I need to do this right.  I cannot hold out too much longer because this week my mom is threatening to cut my hair and even when going out with my dad in a more or less "male mode" I got called Ma'am twice the other day.  It happened again in an androgynous mode when out with my wife yesterday and I don't know if its the hormones or hair or a combination but I am getting this more and more.  I am working on another post about this phenomenon that will be up soon so stay tuned.  August was a great month here in Tammy World and I am excited about September and beyond.  My writer's block seems to be subsiding and I have actually already written my next post.  I wanted to get this update in first so as soon as I edit my rough draft on that post I will have it up.  Thanks for stopping by and as they used to say on the old tv show the Beverly Hillbillies, "y'all come back now ya hear."