Sunday, March 23, 2014

BFFs (Adventures with Lisa)


It is great having a best friend, even greater having one that will make a cool photo like this on her computer and greater still having a friend as sweet, caring and cool as Lisa Lesher.  The last person that I called my best friend, the late Mack Wilson, passed away right after I started my transition and I remembered him in this, one of my earlier blogs.  He visits me sometimes in my dreams and I sense that the turbulence that troubled him throughout his life has followed him to the other side.  In a lot of ways we were never that close anyway, and even if we had been, I don't think there is anything I could have done to help him.  In the old days we had some fun times trying to escape the demons that followed us around and I will never forget him.

I've never really had a best friend that I can relate to like Lisa though, where we can be completely honest with each other, not hold anything back and have so much in common.  She says I am a good influence on her and that is scary in a way but refreshing.  She is someone special that I really enjoying mentoring in her transition, but I also learn a whole lot from her.  She is a very good influence on me as she is such a grounded and clear minded sister.  I just hope that my obliviousness does not rub off on her, but I don't think it will.


Lisa started a blog some time ago but has recently revived it and I include it in my links section now.  I highly recommend reading and following this blog!  She had a great post there recently called Roadblocks, that shows how so many of us (most of us really) throw up roadblocks to transition.  At some point those roadblocks come down one by one, for those of us that transition, and after a long battle and often bumpy road, the roadblocks are now falling away for my best friend with one example being getting ear rings earlier this year. 


Every since I have known her, and long before actually, Lisa wanted to get her ears pierced but was too afraid of what family, coworkers etc. would say.  I know many of you can relate to that dilemma, either having been through it in the past or currently trying to muster the courage to have your ears pierced.  I have noticed quite a few of my friends on Facebook, in various stages of the coming out process, have gotten their ears pierced this year.  I wrote about my own experience here, in one of my earlier blog posts. 

I think sometimes that transgender women who are in the closet, to varying degrees, have a harder time getting up the courage to have their ears pierced than anyone else.  We are hiding who we are from the world anyway, and fear that doing something like having our ears pierced will be the clue that will give us away.  It rarely works out that way, but it is a big fear and seems almost universal for those of us working on coming out.  It's always a relief to actually get them (both ears) pierced and can often be a confidence builder when we see that we can do a little thing like this and the world does not cave in on us.  Sometimes such a little thing can be such a big step.  I know it was for me and here is the story of how it was for Lisa too....


Lisa's Earring Adventure


When I was going to get my ears pierced, I waited until after Christmas so as not to cause as much stress over the holidays and that is exactly what Lisa did.  She wanted me to go with her and "hold her hand" when she went for the piercings.  So, this January tenth, 2 years and 2 days after Joan went with me to get my ears pierced, Lisa came to Rocky Mount and we went to Precision Piercing, in the mall.  It was my advice to go to a real piercing place instead of just a store that does them as I think getting the professional needle will give you better holes, 16 gauge, than the little piercing guns.  It is also guaranteed to be sterile and although it probably doesn't make much difference with simple ear piercings, why take a chance?
Here comes the needle
The needle's going in.
Doesn't look painful at all.
The ear ring is going in.
Lisa is happy and relieved to get this over with...you can see the stud there in her right ear. the security guard that took our picture said we looked like sisters..:)
Lisa got her ears pierced, it was over in a couple of minutes.  She got the same type tiny ball studs that I did back in 2012 and, after doing a little shopping in the mall, we went to celebrate with a nice lunch at Outback steakhouse, complete with a few mixed drinks.  Yes, she needed a little stress reliever now that she had done the deal and was worried about what people at work would say the next day. Afterwards, we hung at my house for awhile then went out for dinner at Ruby Tuesday's before she hit the road for the 2.5 hour drive home.
Enjoying a nice lunch and some nice drinks at Outback.
We kind of dressed like twin sisters that day.
It turns out the people at work never said anything, other than making a few little comments.  For a week, Lisa worried that they were going to write her up for "unprofessional appearance", but nothing of the sort came about.  I think this non event has given her a little more confidence, so now she is working on growing out her hair.  So far, no one has said a word about that either.  Sometimes, more often than not, the fear is worse than the reality, when we allow ourselves to begin openly stepping out of the box, to become ourselves.  This was my experience and is also the experience of most trans women I talk to now.  I am really thrilled to see Lisa now driving through these roadblocks and moving forward.

Lisa's Earring Adventure Part 2

Lisa has a new roommate, Teri Tainot, who came all the way from Arizona to live in Eastern North Carolina and this seems to be working out great for both of them.  On Lisa's days off they have been going up to Norfolk, Virginia or the nearby Outer Banks to shop, explore and have a good time.  At exactly the 6 week mark after her  ear piercings, Lisa decided to try on some "real" earrings for the first time.  I wasn't with her and Teri that day, but from the pictures she looked great in them.  They were very flattering, beautiful, dangly ear rings.  They were also kind of big, heavy jewelry for such new piercings and it doesn't appear the holes were even fully healed yet.  I had my own scary experience taking my new studs out at exactly the 6 week mark, back in 2012, which I also described in my blog entry, Ear Rings.  The following is Lisa's own account of the events of that day and evening...

 " What being hard headed will get you,
As you may remember I had my ears pierced for the first time in the middle of January and I was told to keep the bar bells in for 6-8 weeks. Well ladies I have to admit that I'm a bit of a knuckle head sometimes and I want what I want when I want it. That being said I decided how nice it would be to go ahead and put some real earrings in see how they looked then when I got home I would re-insert the bar bells. While looking for a nice pair of earrings in Penny's a nice lady came up and told me she'd love to have my legs. LOL That was a great moment for me. I finally found a pair I loved in Dillards and my plan was a go.

Well things don't always go according to plan in the real world. Teri was able to get the bar bells out fairly easily and the left earring went in easily as well, however the right ear I couldn't get it to go in and I ended up irritating the hole and it was a terror. I kept poking it until I was PO'd big time and the ladies at the counter knew something was wrong and kept asking if they could help and the more a crowd gathered the more I got flustered. I kept dropping the earrings and I admit it I got angry, I mean I got really angry.

Well we finally got the earrings in and went to eat at Joes crab shack. I was worried that when we took the earring out we wouldn't be able to get the studs back in. Teri suggested buying smaller gauge studs, I have 16 gauge now and we looked all over for 18 gauge with no luck. One sweet young lady knew of a body piercing place by the Sams Club in Chesapeake Va. and I went there to have the studs re-inserted. Turns out there were three young ladies working in there and they had no problem putting the stud back and said my ears were fine just irritated. They didn't want to charge me anything but I was so relieved that I gave them what cash I had on hand and all was well in my world. The piercing shop was "Things Remembered" and they were wonderful I can't tell you how relieved I was. The best part was when we left the shop Teri N I got a wolf whistle from a passing car. That goes a long long way towards making my crappy day feel like a dream come true. Who doesn't like receiving a wolf whistle! LOL"



She did look great with the big, dangly ear rings...just a little longer, Lisa...
That post generated 45 comments in our Facebook group, Trans Beauty Network, and needless to say the consensus was that Lisa's new piercings were not quite ready to handle wearing anything other than the starter studs.  I think that next week she is going to try it again, at the Keystone Conference.  She should be ready for "real ear rings" by then, as that will be about 2.5 months since the original piercings, but maybe none quite so big as heavy as the ones in the photo above.  We will see, so stay tuned, and this was a good lesson for people with new ear piercings to not push it and give the holes time to heal before trying to change the jewelry.

New Adventures with Lisa and Teri

Lisa and Teri have really hit it off in the last month or so, since they became roommates.  Lisa needed someone there to help and inspire her at this critical stage of her journey.  I also know how lonely it can be to live by yourself, so I am really, really glad she now has someone there with her.  Teri seems to be a great person and a great new friend for me too.  I know she is glad to find a good home with warm, caring friends, and we are glad to welcome her to North Carolina.  Actually, they may be becoming more than just friends and roommates, but I am not going to go there in this blog.  Let's just say I am very, very happy for Lisa (and Teri too) and wish them all the best the world has to offer.

Teri and Lisa have met me halfway between our homes a couple of times recently, in Williamston, NC, and last week they also followed me back to Rocky Mount to stay here for the night.  There is not a whole lot to do in little Williamston, but we found a Belk's department store there that we love, so we can get our shopping fix in.  We also met a great makeup artist there, at the Estee Lauder counter, who has the most vibrant, bubbly personality and has become a good friend to us all.

Me, Lisa and Pam..right after Lisa got a makeover.
Mirror shot of Teri, Lisa and myself at the Estee Lauder counter in Belk's
Pam works on my eyebrows.
Lisa and I having the most fun imaginable, shopping.
Lisa, Teri and I on our first day shopping together, at Belk's in Williamston.
Having Lisa and Teri over for the night, last Thursday, was fabulous!  It was so great having house guests again, and now that I'm getting my house in order again (slowly), hopefully I will have more.  They are supposed to come back in May, and now that my Dad has a sitter to help at the house, maybe I can start traveling some again too, visiting friends. 

We started the afternoon back in Williamston, where it was Teri's turn in the makeup chair.  Lisa and I had gotten makeovers on the previous trip, and there were a couple of things Teri wanted to work on so this was a perfect opportunity.  When we left Belk's my friends followed me back to Rocky Mount, dropped their bags off at my house, then we headed over to Chico's Mexican Restaurant to meet two more friends who drove up from another town to have dinner with us.  Donna, Sabrina, Lisa, Teri and I enjoyed a great dinner, complete with a few margaritas for those of us who were staying very close by.  Chico's is actually within walking distance of my house.

Oscar's style selfie, with Pam, Lisa, Teri and myself
Teri's turn in the makeover chair
Donna, Sabrina, me, Lisa and Teri at Chico's
Friday morning we got up, got ready and drove to Raleigh for a full day of shopping fun.  We started off at Ulta, then went to DSW where we all bought shoes, then headed next door to Triangle Town Center for lunch.  Next we drove over to Durham to hit Nordstrum Rack, where Teri bought more shoes and I got a couple of skirts.  We probably should have gone across the street to Southpoint Mall, as that would have given us a grand slam, a mall trifecta, 3 malls in one day.  Because Lisa had to drive home later so she could go to work early Saturday morning, we skipped that one and drove back to Crabtree Valley Mall in Raleigh, my favorite mall.
at MAC in Belk's, Crabtree
Tres Amigas in Macy's: Crabtree Valley Mall
My shopping haul from Friday
We spent a few hours at Crabtree, capping off a great day of fellowship and shopping.  Lisa and I bought makeup at Sephora and I bought a couple of gowns for my upcoming stay at Dr. Brassard's hospital in Montreal.  Plus, we got a Lot of walking in there and Lisa got some compliments on her minskirt clad legs..:) 

The picture of Lisa and I at the top of this page now sits framed in my living room, a symbol of friendship, hope and a new life.  Lisa sent me an 8x10 in the mail as a surprise gift and it sits on my mantle along with other pictures of Mitchell and I, and my family.  It was funny, but the night before it arrived I was admiring how much I loved that picture, my friendship with Lisa and how proud I am of her for her recent progress.  She went out to malls and other places as herself dating as far back as the 80's, but I think now she is finally breaking through the roadblocks to actually start a new life.  She and I will always remain bff's but now she has a new friend, roommate (maybe partner) in Teri and this makes me very happy. 

I feel as if my life has not quite started yet but is getting ready to start.  I'm looking forward to being a complete person, a complete woman, and wishing and looking forward to a life with the love of my life, Mitchell.  Lisa's journey to being complete is well on the way now to, I believe, and I love watching her grow.  We are going to have many more more fun times coming up, so stay tuned, as you navigate those roadblocks in your own life.



Teri and Lisa at Kanki, where we capped the day off with an excellent Sushi meal.

Recommended Link: Lisa's Place