Sunday, June 23, 2013

Time for Change: Fall 2011

My 3 part coming out series, Hello World, concluded with the end of summer in September 2011. Hello World Part 1 ended with my coming out to my spouse in October 2010 and telling her I wanted to enter therapy to help me deal with my gender issues.  I could not continue to keep myself bottled up or hold myself back any longer, so I had to do what I had previously thought I could never do, come out to her. Part 2 dealt with the aftermath of coming out, going through a period where I was taking it slow with her, making compromises and ended with her finally spending some time with me as Tammy. Hello World Part 3 documents my continuing progress in my female gender role both in the outside world and at home. Getting to know the real me was an eye opener for my spouse, Joan, and while she did not yet fully accept me or want to be seen in public with me as Tammy, she did the incredible thing of encouraging me to come out to my parents. It would take me more time to accept that I could come out to them so that I could fully live my life freely as myself, but she helped to realize it was a possibility and even a necessity.  2012 was approaching and it was time for change.

September 24, 2011

Autumn 2011

When my last entry in this series, Hello World Part 3, ended I had just experienced my first date with my eventual boyfriend, Mitchell. He came to my house and we spent several hours together before I asked him to leave. He was prepared to spend the night but I was not nearly ready for that yet but we did enjoy a very romantic evening. Even though it was our first date, I felt very close to him and knew we shared a lot of interests and goals. We had talked on the phone often for several weeks, exchanged messages online and met in person (though briefly) at a couple of parties, so I felt like I knew him very well right from the beginning.

The following Saturday I had plans to visit some friends near Wilson, which is about 20 miles from where I live, then pick up something to eat and go shopping. I was always considerate of my spouse here at home, who has a lot of insecurities, and tried not to leave her home alone for too long. Mitchell was determined to see me one way or another although I sort of went out my way not to make a date with him. Whatever was happening, I wanted to take things slow with us and I was afraid I had given him the wrong impression inviting him over on our first date. I didn't feel I was in a good position (being married) to actually have a boyfriend nor did I want it to be that easy. He was persistent and wanted to meet me in Wilson for dinner only if that's all I would agree to, and it was. He made the 1.5 hour drive and showed up bearing flowers again. We had a nice dinner and talked for a bit then he drove back home to spend time with his kids and I went home and watched television with Joan. 

We had a similar date the following weekend and the weekend after that I had the house to myself again and invited him over. I still didn't let him stay overnight but as he was leaving (about 4 am) I sort of let the words "I love you" slip out. That may have caught both us by surprise but this was a feeling that had developed in me rather quickly over the past few weeks. I did not want to be in love with anyone and if I was I did not want him to know. It seems like I had found someone very special but it just wasn't the right time in our lives for a loving relationship as both of us were married, although he was in the process of separating. I just played it down and tried to control my feelings, telling him from the beginning that we both had to take it slow.
Spending as much time as possible out in public getting comfortable in a variety of different situations: here on October 1 doing my favorite activity, shopping.

There was a party coming up for our Yahoo group on the 7th and 8th of October. Mitchell already had a date to this party with another girl, new to our group, that he had dated some in the months prior to meeting me. They obviously didn't have an exclusive relationship and he had not seen her since our first date. Anyway, he did have this date set for her at the two night party although he actually told me he would cancel it and go with me if I wanted him to. This really put me on the spot, because I did want to go with him but I did not want to be reason he cancelled the date with this new girl to the area and our Yahoo group.  That is just not my style and I did not want to be known as that type of person. I told him to go with her even though I knew they would be staying in the hotel together for 2 nights. He urged me to come to the party anyway and I planned on possibly driving up Saturday night for a few hours and then making the one hour drive back home.

Every morning since our first date Mitchell would send me a text saying something like "Good morning beautiful, smooches."  He almost always gets up earlier than me so I had come to expect those texts to be on my phone when I woke up.  That Saturday morning I checked my phone and there was nothing.  All I could think about was him  at the hotel with that other girl and I began to cry.  I was not on hormones yet but still the tears really flowed.  I was blue for a couple of hours and finally, about noon, he called me.  We spoke for a few minutes, which made me feel better, but still I could not get over the fact that Mitchell was going to spend the day and evening with someone else.  Was he playing me?  I am the one that told him to keep his date he made before we met and go with her so I only had myself to blame, right?  Still, something seemed very wrong.

I got dressed for the party Saturday night but I ended up staying home and hanging out with Joan.  I had my usual buzz with beer and pot and I tried not to think about what was going on at that party.  Sunday morning I woke up and there was no text message from Mitchell and I started crying again.  This time it was even worse and I stayed in the bathroom for a long time, hiding my emotional state from Joan.  Soon it was checkout time at the hotel and Mitch called me when he hit the road.  I think I was still in the bathroom when I took his call and when I told him I had been crying over the disastrous weekend, he began to cry too.  We cried together on the phone and I could tell he had the same feeling of wrongness that I had been experiencing.  That afternoon, on the telephone, we decided to date exclusively from that day on.  I was still sort of numb from the emotional weekend and I didn't feel any real victory that Mitchell had decided to date only me, it just felt right.  That day was was October 10, 2011.

NC State Fair 2011
The North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh started the following week and we had been talking about going together so we made a date to meet in Raleigh and drive together to the fair.  By now I had been all over the place as Tammy; with Mitchell, with friends and mostly by myself. Still, this would be a big test for me because even though we chose to go on a Tuesday when it would not be jam packed with weekend crowds, there would still be thousands and thousands of people there. The weather was sunny and hot which made for an even more crowded day at the huge fair.  Mitchell had bought me two pair of tennis shoes and that day was the first time I wore female tennis shoes.  I wore a comfortable grey and pink pair to the fair and the other pair was white and could barely be distinguished from my "other" tennis shoes.  After the fair date I started wearing the white pair when in "male mode" and I would never wear male tennis shoes again.
In the State Fair parking lot with the flowers Mitchell brought me.

We had a blast at the State Fair and if it was a test I passed with flying colors.  I only had one little nervous "moment" when we were in a crowded exhibit building and people were walking around and into us from all directions, and even then Mitchell quickly calmed me down.  He was becoming an anchor for me in more ways than one and at the end of the long day we sat in the parking lot and had a long and fairly deep conversation. If I was having a dream I did not want to wake up.  I was feeling so blessed to have someone to share all these experiences with as well as sharing more and more of my heart.
My boyfriend and I at the NC State Fair 2011

Mitchell and I exchanged texts every morning, talked on the phone at least once a day (we still do these things) and went out most weekends.  When Joan went out of town I would have him over but still not to spend the night.  One Saturday night in October he came all the way to Wilson, just 20 minutes from my house, got a hotel room and we went out to dinner then hung out in the room until around midnight.  He stayed in the room all night but I drove home and Joan was already in bed when I got here.  I sat up for awhile in the bar in my little house and I remember feeling like a teenage girl who came home to meet her curfew.  Joan did not like to be left alone at the house all night.  I had made progress over the last year even staying out until midnight or so without her with me but I always came home unless she was out of town.  This limitation was really starting to bother me but I tried not to push her too far too fast because of how far I had come in gaining more freedom and getting her to at least be tolerant of the changes I had made so far. She also knew that I was taking a variety of "herbal" hormones and that I was intending to follow through with medical hormones and transition at some point in the not too distant future.

I had to remember back to what she told me when I first came out to her over a year ago, that she would leave if I ever became a woman full time.  I also had to remember what she told me earlier in 2011 that I should in fact follow my heart and transition but that ultimately she would leave me.  It was really a testimony to how much I cared about Joan that I did not want to push her far enough that she would leave, not yet anyway.  I didn't know what would become of her without me and I wasn't yet ready to imagine my own life without her here.  Part of it was also my desire to keep the dogs together as a family because I knew she would take Jumper with her when she left.  

After feeling so foolish about coming home that night and leaving Mitchell in the hotel room all alone, and all the other nights I was coming home when I wanted to stay out all night, I began to tell Joan that after the first of the year I would be staying out overnight sometimes even when she was home.  Luckily she was going away to stay with her sister in Raleigh a couple of weekends a month but I was starting to want/need even more freedom.  I just wasn't ready to shake up my little family quite yet.

3 parties
Flowers from Michell for the Halloween party

At the end of October there was a Halloween party for the Carolina Meeting Place Yahoo group.  This was the group that held the parties where Mitchell and I met and this was to be our first party attending together as a couple.  I felt a little uneasy about going because Mitch had gone to the party earlier in the month with another date and she was to be at this Halloween function too.  I told him I felt some trepidation about that but once we actually got to the party I was relaxed and everything was fine.  It turns out this girl did not even show up, but it wasn't because of us. 
Cougar and Tamer

My costume was a cougar theme and Mitchell was an animal tamer.  There is some irony here in that I am older than him so in some ways I am the "cougar" and he is the first man to "tame" me in the sense of getting me into a steady relationship.  I was very happy in our budding relationship though and we had a great time at the party.  That night in the hotel was the first night we ever stayed overnight together and I began to discover how nice it is to have someone to cuddle with all night during sleep.  I had never really experienced this even in all my years of marriage and I would quickly grow to love it.

November party at Christy's
Mitchell, me and hostess Christy Michaels

In November my friend Christy had a party at her house which is only like 15 minutes from where I live.  It wasn't a big party like the ones we have in Raleigh but there were about 6 or 7 girls that came down from the Raleigh area so we had a good party in her nice home here.  This was to be the first night that Mitchell and I actually slept together overnight at my house, after getting home from the party.  Because I didn't want to have him over into the main house yet we slept here in my little guest house on the couch and later on a sleeping bag on the hard, cold tile floor because the couch was so small.  After that night I decided to get a futon for the little house and that ended up being my Christmas present from my parents that year.  Little did they know what it was to be primarily used for..:)

Sitting with my signature Bud Light and straw, at Christy's.
The third party of the season was on December 8th, an early Christmas party for the CMP group.  This time I didn't have any trepidation about going and I did get to meet the new girl in the group that Mitchell had gone out with.  We actually got along pretty good and sort of made friends but after that she flaked out and didn't go to any more parties and then dropped out of the whole scene.  After 2 months of going steady Mitchell and I were very comfortable together but we were still taking it slow overall while getting to know each other better.  We say that we took it slow, and we did in our relationship progression, but our hearts did not take anything slow.  We were very much in love by now and that just continued to grow and grow.

Mitchell and I at the 2011 Christmas party.
Carolina Meeting Place founding members Sabrina and Danielle on my right, group leader Candi on my far left in the Christmas dress and another friend, Julie, directly to my left.

Of course I was doing much more that fall than just going to parties.  I continued to get out more and more as myself, going any and everywhere.  I had lost any fear I had about being seen out in my hometown and the fact is I hardly knew anybody here or ever ran into the few people I did know anyway.  As well as developing my female life I was also deconstructing what male life I had left, outside of family, and this was a concerted effort.  I was down to one friend that would come visit once or twice a week and I began to cancel those visits more and more.  The more I was allowing myself to be myself the harder it was to attempt to present any other way.  I really had done nothing in my real estate business since Spring except some BPO's (Broker Price Opinions) for banks and foreclosure companies where I would just ride by a property, take some pictures and do some internet research.  This did not require interacting with anyone in person so I could easily do it as Tammy and usually did. 
At home, Joan was totally comfortable with me as myself but I had to present male when we went out and, of course, around my parents.  Things were tense when my friend came over and I was not comfortable with myself but I did not bother to come out to him because he projected himself as a very intolerant person.  He did, however, see many things on my computer like my Facebook page so I know he knew at least something about the real me.  He never brought it up and we never talked about it but then again we never really talked about anything serious or personal.  We just smoked, drank beer and watched movies or listened to rock music.

The partying was growing old very fast with me too.  I wasn't enjoying it much anymore and I think a big part of the reason is that I was finally feeling much more comfortable within myself (most of the time) and didn't need to blot the pain out by getting stoned.  Plus, I had real hope for the future and I knew the parts of my old life that I was holding onto would soon be discarded and I would finally get to have the life I always wanted but until fairly recently never thought I could have.  At least I was hopeful that this is what would happen.  The new year was almost here and I had great hope that 2012 would be my year for change.  I don't think there was anything magical about that year in history, even with all the folklore surrounding it, but in my own life I was dedicated to making big changes and that is all that mattered.


On December 14, 2011 I timidly walked into a therapist's office in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Except for a brief, bad experience with psychologists when I was in junior high school, I had never been to any type of therapist and I was terrified to do it.  When I got there I was given some basic forms to fill out and also a sheet that listed all types of situations such as depression, drug and alcohol use, thoughts of suicide,  problems with school or work etc. etc.  I remember circling everything on the sheet except for a handful of things and after a brief interview when I gave it to the therapist she told me I was probably in the right place.  

In that first meeting I was honest with her and we went back into my childhood briefly, what I had been doing more recently, why I felt I was there etc.  I did tell her that I had always felt that upon getting evaluated by a psychologist I would be committed to a mental institution and also that I felt I was dying and had never felt I would live much longer.  I had these feeling all the way back to when I was in school, its one reason I never took really good care of myself.  When I was 20 I thought I would die before age 30.  When I was 30 I knew I wouldn't live to see 40.  When I turned 40 I had a big emotional and physical crash and something changed within me.  I still thought I was going to die soon but I no longer fought as hard to suppress what I felt inside.  

So, at age 40 after almost 35 years or fighting the desire to be female and only putting on other people's clothes, I started allowing myself to buy my own clothes and wig and began to cross dress whenever I could while trying to develop a look and presentation that I could eventually take out into the real world.  I had already been looking for help with that online for a few years but had no luck except finding people with ulterior motives so I waited and began to experiment on my own.  I came out of my shell, slowly at first, and my journey had finally led me to this therapist's office.  I had nothing left inside but Tammy and I was so ready to change the outside also.  Not the temporary transformations I had been doing, first on the weekends I could be alone, then eventually most of the time.  I wanted real change and permanent change.  Much of the the pain I had carried since my teenage years had subsided but not all of it and I really could not hold myself back anymore.

Still, I didn't ask the therapist for anything like hormones and I didn't try to tell her what I felt was wrong with me.  I was just honest with her from Day 1 and I let her evaluate me and diagnose me over time.  That's why I was not presenting as Tammy when I went to the appointment.  I went in just like I got out of bed in the morning but on each future appointment I did something else to overtly feminize my appearance.  For my first appointment I wore girls jeans and tennis shoes but had on a male sweater.  That was the last time I wore any male clothing to an appointment and I have never worn a wig to her office.  I walked out after that initial meeting feeling confident that I was not going to be committed to a mental institution, not immediately anyway.  That was enough for me to make a second appointment after Christmas and we were on our way. 

Christmas shopping at Crabtree Mall in Raleigh.
On Flickr I called this one Inside Out
Inside Out: This is a pretty good representation of me looking on the outside how I feel on the inside.  Nothing glamorous, just me.

The best part about Christmas 2011 was the shopping because I did all of it as myself.  We always had a big Christmas tree at my house and a big celebration with what little family I have, at my parent's house.  I always enjoy that time with family, even though I couldn't yet be myself with them, but I had a certain spark inside because I knew that day was coming.  Maybe it wasn't coming very soon but I did feel like it was coming and that gave me some peace.  

New Year's Eve was the first night I spent away from home while leaving Joan at the house alone.  I was in a hotel in Raleigh with Mitchell and we had a great night even though we were both experiencing some anxiety about our marriages and home situations.  Kissing him at midnight and cuddling with my man all night made all that anxiety go away for the moment and 2012 came in with great anticipation and promise.  I was determined to make 2012 a great year, the best year ever for me, and I knew it would be because it was My time for change.

December 30, 2011. Trying on my New Year's Eve outfit at home and exited about the arrival of 2012. 
Time for Change

Monday, June 17, 2013

Father's Day

Yesterday was Father's Day and I was lucky enough to spent about 8 hours of it with my parents.  The big difference in this year and years past is that this year I got to be myself all day, like I am every day.  A year ago I was really worried about coming out to them and had no idea what would happen when I did.  For several years, since I realized I needed to come out to my parents, I had looked at that event as my own "Climbing Mount Everest".  In the past I never thought I could have the strength or courage to "climb Mt. Everest" so I was just going to keep myself bottled up my whole life.

Of course, Mt. Everest proved to be an easy mountain to climb.  The only mountain that had existed was in my own mind.  My parents accepted me immediately and unconditionally.   It didn't seem to be a complete surprise, especially to my mother, and they were just happy to know what was wrong with me and to finally know the real me.  Things have gone Much better than I ever expected since coming out last December so we are blessed with some happy times now and a great day yesterday.

My Dad and I on Father' Day 2013

My Mom and Dad picked me up about 10 am and we went to IHOP for a pancake brunch.  Afterwards we took a long country ride with me driving my mom's van and my dad taking his nap during part of the trip.  On the way back into town we rode through the cemetery and went by all the old family graves.  We stopped by my grandparents burial sites and they got a chance to remember their own fathers.

I remember my grandfather on my father's side very well even though he died when I was about 12.  One time I was wearing my grandmother's clothes, wig and all, and he came in the house and scolded me.  I was probably about 8 years old and that was the one time in childhood that members of my family (grandmother and a couple of great aunts) had seen me dressed and they seemed to have fun with it for a few minutes before my grandad walked in.  I don't remember what he said but it was serious and he wasn't happy so I will never forget that day. 

I never showed off to anyone after that and went into complete hiding.  My grandfather was very good to me as far as taking me fishing and doing some other fun things, including going to a professional baseball game with my parents and I once in Atlanta.  When he would watch sports on television he would sometimes remark about what a shame it was for the players to have to run a play over when they showed instant replay, but I think he was at least halfway joking.  He was born in the country close to my hometown and in his his lifetime he had been a butcher for a major grocery chain and even owned his own grocery store in Rocky Mount at one time.
Daddy explaining how barbecue pork was cooked at the site of an old restaurant that his great uncle owned.
Daddy pointing out where he grew up in an area that is now a park in the flood zone of the Tar River.

I never knew my grandad on my mother's side as he died before I was born but I am told he was a great man.  My parents still live in the big house he built on 3 lots, right up the street from where I live now.  He owned a large farm in another part of the state, some tobacco warehouses here in town and was even a Baptist minister in his spare time.  He and my grandmother grew up in Kentucky and moved to North Carolina when they got married because of the tobacco business.  He had my parent's current house built when Mom was in high school and we moved into it when I was 12 years old, after my grandmother died.  It is funny because where we lived before that was only a couple of blocks away and I live a block away now, so I have actually lived most of life in a very small area of the world.

Dad reading the first ever Father's Day card I gave him that says "From your daughter..."

He is happy with his box of candy!
My Dad's family did not have as much money as my Mom's did from raising and selling tobacco, but they did ok.  He always told me that when he was a kid during the depression they ate well because my grandfather had a grocery store.  Daddy played football and was a star player in High School.  He ended up with a full scholarship to Duke University, who had a very good football team at the time and has always been a great school.  He hurt his knee playing football there and then he went into the Army and hurt his knee again playing baseball.  So when he got out of the Army he went to law school at UNC on the GI bill and became an attorney then later a local judge.

Because Daddy was in local politics and a well known figure about town I always kept a low profile with everything I did.  He always wanted me to do this and that, great things, and although I was smart enough I was very unhappy with myself so I just couldn't do it.  Staying alive and keeping myself out of trouble was about all I could manage to do and it is amazing I got in as little legal trouble as I did, considering all the things I used to do.  Everything I did was a struggle and life was a miserable existence.  Still, I kept a good relationship with my parents and we were always close, as close as I was with anyone although I was very quiet, shy and secretive.  I never let anyone too close for fear they might "see through me" and figure me out.

Daddy retired about the time I graduated from high school so he wasn't a sitting judge when I was arrested for possession of marijuana on a dirt road in the county during my freshman year of college.  I tried to keep it from my parents but they found out about it anyway, I should have known they would.  That was just one of many, many instances where I disappointed and probably embarrassed them but even then they were only exposed to the tip of the iceberg, thank Goodness.

After that I managed to stay out of trouble, in the local area at least, and never got in any serious trouble.  I always got the feeling that he was disappointed in me but I know my parents loved me enough that it didn't really matter.  After going to college on and off between working various jobs, I finally graduated and eventually got a job in my chosen field and ended up working in it for 13 years.  I got married of course, when I was 34, which is actually about the age my Dad was when he married my Mom.  They did not marry young like most people did back then and soon afterwards they adapted me as a baby.  I could have ended up anywhere but I am really glad I ended up where I did!
Daddy wearing one of the gifts I gave him, this sweater vest.

So today, I am much closer to my parents than I ever have been, except maybe when I was a small child.  I am finally honest and open with them about everything and that allows for a much better relationship with no tension.  I have quit all the drugs and mess and am at last able to be an authentic person, to be who I really am.  I know Daddy is proud of me for having the strength to survive and the courage to be myself and I am proud of him for accepting me.

My Father's Day gifts to him were a couple of sweater vests, some candy and a card.  I also gave him some of my nicer old clothes that I have not gotten rid of yet, like a couple of sport coats and suits.  I thought they would be worth something so I was going to take them to a consignment store instead of The Salvation Army, but he has lost weight and I don't need them anymore so I was very glad he could use them.  My Dad enjoyed all the gifts he got this year and we both enjoyed the gift of this day together, but I am the one that is really receiving the gift this year.  That gift is not only the love I have always gotten from him, but now also unconditional acceptance and total support.  Priceless!

Father and daughter: happy and finally proud of me.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Two Weekends

The past two weekends have been quite a contrast to each other but both have been interesting, productive and enjoyable overall.  I was able to spend the first weekend of June with my boyfriend and of course time spent with Mitchell is always special, so being able to spend an entire weekend with him is the best.  Last weekend I drove myself to Pennsylvania for a massive, 2 day electrolysis session.  Having needles stuck in your face for 14 hours over 2 days is not what most of us would consider fun, but even though  there was some discomfort involved, the trip was fun because I got to get out of town and visit another part of the country that I had not been to in a long time.  Considering this trip had its own special conditions and limitations, I managed to make the drive up north and back as enjoyable as possible.

May 31- June 2

This was a really fun weekend and I am so lucky I got to spend it all with Mitchell.  I had an appointment with my stylist for hair color at 2:15 in Raleigh and he met me downtown when I got through.  We went out to dinner at 42nd Street Oyster Bar, which is a really cool restaurant with a great atmosphere that has been a Raleigh institution for many, many years.  I wish I could give them a better review on their food but I will just say that we were glad to go there and see it and will probably try somewhere else next time.  After supper we went to my favorite shoe store, DSW, and Mitchell got me a couple pair of shoes and one for himself.  I should be pretty set shoe wise for summer now although I am still looking for that perfect pair of low wedge heels and of course another perfect pair of heels.

Dining at 42nd Street Oyster Bar

Designer Shoe Warehouse, a warehouse full of shoes!
Mitchell followed me home Friday night and we had all of Saturday in Rocky Mount together.  After spending much of the morning in bed we went out to lunch at the Highway Diner here in town.  This was our second weekend in a row dining there so our waitress from last time recognized us and branded us as regulars.  The food is very good there, and reasonable, so I do think we will be eating at the diner often.  They also have some of the best cake and milkshakes in town so I know Mitch is dying to go back soon.  After lunch we went to a nail salon and I got a French manicure for the first time.  I really love these nails and I think I am sold on keeping my nails professionally done now, after frustratingly trying to grow mine out for so long.  It seems like just when I would get my nails where I want them they would start breaking, one by one, so I have thrown in the towel for now.  Saturday night I cooked us a couple of steaks and some veggies and we sat back and watched  movies and old episodes of the Sopranos on DVD.  The best part of having Mitchell over is that we get to cuddle all night, although I love everything about having him here.

Highway Diner

My new French Tip nails.
Sunday we went out to eat at Cracker Barrel for lunch and I cooked some pork chops here for dinner.  I know he hates to leave me to go back north for work, and I hate to see him go, but after dinner we watched some more of the Sopranos DVDs and then it was time to say goodbye.  I really missed him last weekend but I had a mission to accomplish and he needed to spend some time with his kids.

Riding to Cracker Barrel on Sunday
June 6th-9th

Last Thursday I boarded the dogs in a nice kennel and headed the van north on I-95 towards York, Pennsylvania.  I had purchased 14 pre paid hours of electrolysis from a friend and I had a full facial clearing scheduled for Friday and Saturday with James Walker from Executive Clearance.  I left about 12:10 and did not make it to my hotel in York until about 9;15 pm.  This wouldn't be so bad if I had made some sightseeing stops outside the car but the truth is I was in the car almost the entire day except to go to restroom, fuel the van or eat a sandwich I brought from home.  Google says this trip should take less than 5.5 hours. 

When having facial electrolysis you have to let targeted hair grow out for a few days so I had not shaved in over 3 days when I left.  I am at the point I can get by in public with a day off from shaving but this was ridiculous as far as going places and expecting to pass.  I only stopped at rest areas to use the bathroom and I did have to get gas one time and went to one drive through window for a Starbucks coffee.  Other than that it was quick in and out of the restrooms and I made a point not to interact with anyone.  Even with that limitation I wanted to have a little fun on the way up so I decided to make a side trek into downtown Washington D.C. to see the nation's capitol out my car window.

US Capitol Building

I began to run into heavy traffic on and off when I reached the Fredricksburg, Virginia area.  Traffic around Washington is notorious, especially in the stretch from Fredricksburg to DC and especially at rush hour in the mornings and afternoons.  I veered off of I-95 onto I-395 thinking it would take me through the city and out the other side.  I was still going north so I was still on course, or so I thought.  It turns out that 395 is a spur into the District of Columbia that just spills out onto city streets once it gets in the city.  At the end of I-395 I rode around downtown a little bit, getting that picture of the capitol while at a stoplight and soaking in some other sights of this great city.  I really did enjoy riding around down there so it was worth the detour. 

Road construction and big buildings everywhere

The Capitol in the distance

Homeless people on the streets of the capitol city of the United States.
Traffic was murder coming back out of DC on I-395.  It was now after 4pm and people were getting off work from government and other jobs en masse.  I crept back over the Potomac River bridge and followed a sign leading to the George Washington Memorial Parkway, which would lead me to I-495 north into Maryland.  The parkway is actually a beautiful road along the Potomac and if you didn't know you were so close to a major city, you would think you were on a scenic drive such as the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Traffic was heavy on the GW but not too bad until I got closer to the end of the 11 mile drive, then it started backing up again.  There are actually scenic overlooks along the Potomac so I stopped at a couple of them, got out and took a look and a couple of pictures.

The Potomac River as seen from an overlook on the George Washington Memorial Parkway
While at a stoplight in Washington I set my phone's GPS to give me the directions to the hotel address in York, Pa.  I remember it gave me the option of an identical address in several other Pennsylvania cities but I thought I had highlighted York before pressing enter.  At the end of the GW Parkway I merged onto I-495 north and the bumper to bumper stop and go (mostly stop) traffic made for some extremely slow driving.  I finally turned off of 495 onto I-270 north, towards Frederick Maryland.  Traffic was no better on this road and when I finally made it to Gaithersburg I was almost out of fuel and had to make a pit stop.  It took me about one hour to exit that road, find a gas station (it was not near the exit and no signs pointed to it), and that gas station did not have a restroom so I struggled through traffic until I found a McDonald's.  I just didn't feel like eating anything there so I sat in the van and at a sandwich from home before hitting the road again.  I couldn't resist the Starbucks with a drive through window that I passed before getting back onto the interstate.

By now it was almost 7 pm but the traffic wasn't any better.  As I crept north and got a little farther from rush hour, traffic started moving better but it was still slow going.  Near Frederick I was able to travel at almost the speed limit and then I saw an other turn off for a scenic overlook with some historical significance I didn't take note of.  Soon after stopping at the overlook, I turned off onto US 15 north towards the Pennsylvania border and this turned out to be a very pretty stretch of highway.  There were mountains in the distance to my left and I passed by Gettysburg and the historic Civil War battlefield.  In one of the small towns I saw a turn off to the right for York but I stuck with my GPS and stayed north on highway 15.  As darkness set in on this cloudy day I found myself approaching the capitol city of Harrisburg, Pa.  In the past I would have had a map handy but I was relying on my trusty GPS and as I got into a city I turned onto Market Street and the phone indicated I was arriving at my destination.

View from a scenic overlook near Frederick, Maryland
I knew I was in the wrong place so I broke out the reading glasses and then realized that I was in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania.  When I finally programmed the address in York, the GPS said it was 31 miles away.  It was now almost 8:30 pm and I had overshot my destination but it didn't really bother me.  I had seen parts of the country I would not have seen if I had driven the direct route and all I had to do when I got there was sit in a hotel room.  After 9:00 I pulled into the hotel parking lot in York and checked into my home for the next 3 nights.


The next morning I drove to the appointed site, met James Walker and signed the usual release forms necessary to for him to perform electrolysis on me.  He took a little time going over the entire process and even though I had had electrolysis before at two other places, I did learn quite a bit.  He has some of the newest, state of the art equipment and I was impressed by his knowledge and dedication to his practice.  Over the course of the next 2 days I found out that his technique is less painful and much faster than any other operator I had experienced or have knowledge of.   Most of his clients are transgender and his approach of clearing the entire face, waiting a couple of months for the next growth cycle to come in and doing it again, is what I think will be the most effective for me both in terms of overall cost and time needed to attain my goal.  Electrolysis is one aspect of transition I feel I am behind on and I would love to have had all my facial hair cleared before I went full time but I wasn't close.  Working with James I should be through the worst of it in 6 months or so although it may take another year after that to get it All.

After the first full day of electrolysis, with half my face a little puffy and red from the treatment and the other half with hair still on it, I went into a Japanese restaurant and ordered a take out. I went outside and used the phone and when I went back in, paid for the order and picked it up the lady at the restaurant addressed me as ma'am which was a relief considering I was at perhaps my lowest moment of confidence ever.

I was prepared to stay a third day, if necessary to clear all my face, but at the end of the second day we were finished.  There are only two more places in the country that I know of that do these full facial clearings for trans patients.  The other one I was considering is way out in Dallas, Texas and they use 2 technicians working on you simultaneously.  It usually takes them 2 days with 2 techs to do an initial clearing so I was really relived to see that James really could get finished as fast as he did.  I would definitely recommend Executive Clearance to anyone serious about getting electrolysis.

My face didn't look bad at all at the end of the second day and with all my facial hair gone I went out to eat a salmon dinner before going back to the room.  There was still an hour or two of daylight left so I decided to go back out and ride around York to see what the rest of the city was like.  I was a little bit puffy so I really didn't feel like doing anything but riding around and I don't care to go to any bars or clubs by myself, but historic downtown York did look like a really cool place with some really old buildings, many of which have been restored and are now nice restaurants and bars.  The streets are lined with older row houses, some restored nicely and some not, and the residential architecture reminds me of Philadelphia or Baltimore.

Nightlife seemed pretty vibrant downtown on a Saturday night.

Downtown York

Row houses in downtown York
The Drive Home

Sunday I woke up and enjoyed one last free breakfast at the motel, got a shower, slapped on some sun screen and BB cream and hit the road for home.  I left a little before 10:00 am and needed to be back in town by 5 pm to pick up the dogs.  This time I had the GPS set correctly and actually the route is pretty straightforward, with all interstate highways, going by Baltimore and Washington DC.  I decided to take a little sightseeing jaunt into downtown Baltimore but other than that I stayed on the interstate heading south.

I parked in a 5 minute loading zone right next to the water at the Inner Harbor and got out and took a few pictures.  This is a very nice area on the waterfront with lots of upscale shops and restaurants.  People were strolling around the sidewalks and along walkway by the water on this nice, partly cloudy day.  I wish I could have spent more time down there but I had to hit the road after a short stop.  Getting in and out of downtown Baltimore was very easy on this Sunday morning and the only traffic problems I encountered on the return trip were on that infamous stretch south of Washington DC. 

Baltimore's Inner Harbor

Domino Sugar plant as seen from the Inner harbor

Lots of boats and nice condos
I made it back to Rocky Mount just in time to pick up my dogs.  I don't know who was happier, me to see them or them to see me but I know we were all happy to get home.  I will be going back to Pennsylvania in August for another full clearing and will be making a few more out of town trips with Mitchell in the meantime.  We are supposed to go to Charlotte and Raleigh for a couple of parties and I am planning another trip up to the mountains to see him, so July should be a busy month for travelling.

These last two weekends were fun but I did miss my baby last weekend.  He is going to stay with me through Saturday this weekend and then go see his kids for Father's Day.  I will be taking my Mom and Dad out to eat on Sunday and giving Dad his card and presents.  We have already gotten a head start on this weekend after a bad derecho storm hit Lynchburg and knocked out power.  Mitchell decided to come see me a day early and he got here last night about 10pm so we got to cuddle all night.  He's going to be here for about 24 more hours so I am going now to spend some quality time with my baby and I hope y'all have a great weekend, wherever you are.  :)