Friday, October 31, 2014

Timeline II, Part II: No More Support

(I hope you guys are taking advantage of national dressup day!  There's a Halloween bonus at the bottom of the post.)

In November 2011, Penny's wife of 15 years (I did not know her name either; I knew her as Aeify) wrote me and asked me to call.  She wanted to discuss something and not in e-mail.

I called.

Penny had died.

We spoke on the phone briefly, cried briefly, and started exchanging e-mails.  Penny and Aeify had little live involvement in the community and I wanted to be there for anything she wanted to talk about that she couldn't share with family and (civilian) friends.

In early December, Aeify wrote that she was coming to DC with a friend for a day or so.

Prior to this, I would ask my wife before I'd meet with an on-line (female) friend.  She'd come up with rules or need to be present or something for no reason I could ever discern.  How an on-line friend is different from, say, a woman I meet at work is not something I could see.

This time, I told her I would be meeting Aeify in DC for breakfast.  I felt it was the right thing to do to be able to talk with her about trans issues without any civilians present ~ especially one who was borderline hostile, as my wife was.

I wend in drab and met Aeify for breakfast and a little walk and talk around DC.

We walked a lot.  We talked a LOT.  I learned some deep, intimate things about her, like her first name (Charity) and Penny's real name.  We spoke about her marriage, how she felt about trans, what was next in her life....

We talked a LOT.  Her friend finally found us and dragged her away.

 Halloween bonus.  Click to enlarge or zoom in!


I'll wear them!  Pick me!

And a little dressup by Big Nate

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Timeline II, Part I: Penny

(I want to reiterate that the events in Timeline I are not recent, but recent past.  The end was almost exactly two years ago.)

Y'all might notice a change in the subject.  It now refers to Timeline II, and the next four will as well.

Prior to Fall 2011, where my timeline started, I was friends with someone I knew as 'Penny Perfect'.

As with many in the community, I do call her a friend yet we had never met and I did not know her birth name.  Often, I worry that something will happen to an on-line friend, whether in a group or just far away and I'll never know.  That's a problem in need of a solution.

I did know a lot of her story: She lived in Memphis.  She was married to a supportive, even helpful, wife.  She had no children.  She was involved with the community, but on her own terms.

She was also confused about the direction of her life and troubled in other ways.  I tried to be supportive as well, but it's like being friends with someone who's having a rocky relationship.  When they break up, you want to say "good riddance" but they'll be back together in a week and she'll hate you for badmouthing her boyfriend.

It's difficult, but I thought Penny was worth it so I walked on eggshells when necessary and worked with her when I could.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Simple Pleasure: New Quilt

Why not?  Now I need a sheet set that goes better with it.

Laura Ashley

Reversible!  But I'm not a fan of tiny flowers

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Timeline I, Part V: Movin' Out

I was scheduled to move into my two-bedroom apartment at the end of October.

I found an inexpensive mover and my wife was gracious enough to let me take some furniture, which I did.  I bought a new bedroom set but everything else was taken from the house: some living room furniture that was about 25 years old and bookcases from the basement were most of it.  Oh... my office desk and chair.  A card table served as a dining room table, for the moment.  I took Passover dishes (there is special kitchenware only used during that one week; I could promote them to every day and I'd have a few months to replenish before the holiday).

I spent as little as possible.

I still hadn't found a roommate.

For the record, there was never an "I'm free!" moment.  It was extremely bittersweet, even though I initiated the break.  I was worried about the future and about my kids.  Shortly after the move, I was unpacking and listening to old cassettes and David Massengill's "Great American Dream" came up, a song about broken dreams and I stopped what I was doing and cried like I hadn't done since I was a child.  But I had faith I had made the right choice.  I hoped if I hadn't I could undo what I did.

I put my trust in Thalia, and the universe.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Timeline I, Part IV: Step Away

In June, I took my break.  It wasn't as smooth as I had hoped; I had to move back to the house for a few days but I tried to keep my distance and focus during that time.

I did a lot of writing, on a variety of prompts.  More on that shortly.

I stopped the marital therapy, recognising that the therapist was useless and I took advantage of my company Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and found a therapist of my own ~ someone with whom I could talk things through, and who would act as a sanity check (or brake) on my way forward.  (There are a couple of insightful comments on last Thursday's post.)

My writing all converged on the same conclusion.  Working through my thoughts in therapy confirmed the same.

I was unhappy.  I was very unhappy, and that didn't seem to be helpful or healthful for me or my boys.  I needed to consider making this a permanent way forward.

My wife's concern was not for how we could make the marrige work; she focused on when to tell the boys/when to move out.  That kind of confirmed that I was doing the right thing.

Every possible time was wrong (not surprising).  She really wanted me to wait until the youngest left for college (four more years).  Research shows that that is, in fact, the worst time to separate.

I decided that I'd be moving out at the end of October.  I found an apartment close to the house and close to my job and started searching for a roommate, preferably someone in the community.  I think most civilians would have issues with a roommate who dresses regularly.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Funnies: Divorce Part II

What would divorce be without lawyers?  That's right ~ inexpensive.

PC & Pixel, Sylvia, Shoe, Herman, and 9-5 (new to the blog).

I LOVE the smile!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Divorce Part I

Divorce is a great source of humour, as a subset of relationships.

Cartoons from Cornered, Working It Out, Flying McCoys, Real Life Adventures, Shoe, The Middletons, and a bonus.

unknown pedigree

Friday, October 24, 2014

Timeline I, Part III: Give Me a Break

During therapy, I changed jobs.  The events were unrelated.

My old job was fine but the scope and target were changing and I had an option to lead the Arizona part of the work or be part of the Virginia team.  There was a lead in Arizona who would have been pushed aside and I didn't think that was right, but in Virginia I was sorely underutilised.

In retrospect, I left at the right time.  The contract was rebid, I was working for a subcontractor which decided to mutiny.  They lost the bid, and they lost their subcontract role.  All of the people from that company were told to go home.  Again, part of the series of events that got me where I am today, at this moment.

During my next job job interview, I was asked where I lived and I said that was an interesting question because I was looking to move out for a bit (I had suggested six months to the therapist) and I explained briefly what was going on in my life.

Shortly after starting, my manager told me he was planning to retire and was going to look for a place to live in Colorado.  He'd be taking an extended trip out there and would like to have a housesitter.  Since I was considering moving out for a while, it might be synergistic.

Sometimes, the universe looks out for you.  I still attribute things that work well to my personal muse, Thalia (the traditional muse of comedy).  She's been looking out for me for a long time and continues to have my back.  I'm sure she nudged me into accepting therapy, changing jobs, mentioning that I want to get out for a while....  I don't think I would have made that final admission without a nudge from somewhere.

During our next therapy session I told my wife that I had an empty house to move into for a while and I would be doing so.  I'd bring my computer, some clothes, and a LOT of Meg.  I planned to play a bit but I also planned to a LOT of writing.  Writing has always helped to clear my mind and solve problems.  I am a huge believer in stream-of-consciousness writing.  I had a bunch of prompts I had come up with to work from and a minimum time I would write each day.

I was hopeful.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Timeline I, Part II: Marital Therapy Can Be Fatal

Things were kind of rocky after the "moving out of the basement" event, but the status quo had taken over.

In the spring of 2012, my wife suggested going for marital therapy.  She had some issues of her own that she wanted to address, she thought the marriage could use some help, and she offerred to discuss my crossdressing.  She's never wanted to do that final item before and it convinced me to go.

In the first session, I suggested that we go out to eat after each session to kind of keep any animosity at bay.  The therapist thought that was a good idea, and we (mostly) did so.

Each session followed a pattern.

My wife would start with something that was, in effect, "here's what's wrong with him" and I would spend the session trying to recover from being blindsided.  She had some doozies.  And everything was what I did wrong; I don't think she considered any other possibilities.

I should have expected something like this.

A few years ago, we took a marital workshop.  She couched it as an educational activity for her; I would be along because it was for couples and it would be odd for her to be on her own.  I understood that she wanted to use this as an opportunity to work on our own marriage while she learned techniques from the workshops.

I was definitely wrong there.  I assume she was there to learn, but the workshops were mostly for me to work on our marriage.

There were several sessions (I think it was Saturday and Sunday for two weeks).  We were issued homework as well as assignments during the workshops.

I did my homework.  She did not.  She was there to learn.  I was there to make our marriage better, because, well, I was the problem.

Every other couple did their work diligently and even shared with the group.

In therapy, she accused me of miscellaneous and sundry insults.  I was flawed and she was a saint who tolerated me, waiting until I saw the light and changed.

My dressing was just another problem in a series, or a symptom of what else is wrong with me.

During our time in therapy, I mentioned that I might want to move out for a bit so I can think without being punched in the face (figuratively) constantly.  I suggested six months.  It's hard to think when you're being hit all the time.  Cliché though it is, I needed space.  

The therapist agreed that it might be a good idea.  In fact, the therapist took my side whenever I'd ask her opinion but mostly she sat stupidly and let the attacks continue.  My wife pronounced her a "good therapist."  I think she was a complete waste who put rockets on a marriage that was merely drifting downhill.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Doin' That Columbus Day Drag

Monday was a federal holiday.  I work in a federal facility and the building was, effectively, closed.  Government employees were off.  To me, that mostly means the escalators are not running, no-one is cleaning the restrooms every ten minutes, and, alas, there is no coffee available for blood nor money.

I went in, mostly because it's quiet and I can get a lot of work done without meetings, e-mails, etc.  I can just focus, which is where I like to be.

Normally, I wear "office casual."  I eschew ties, and I wear sneakers pretty much daily.  There's no

real dress code and there are generally three types of people at meetings: women, men with ties, and me.

I took advantage of no customers or government overlords on Columbus Day and went "all girl."  I wore women's denim jeans and denim shirt.  I had my usual women's undies and socks.  Girl bracelet and choker necklace (which I sometimes wear to work or out anyway), and the women's rings I normally wear.

But the shirt covers a multitude of sin so I wore my bra and a strappy camisole underneath.  But I thought I'd go for a little extra.

I have access to "chicken cutlets," silicon push-up pads that add a little extra.

I wore the cutlets.  I mean, why not?

I think, for the most part, they didn't show at all, but I also swapped out my usual tote for my crossbody bag and when I wore it properly it kind of emphasised my little extra.

It was a nice feeling to be a bit more femme at work than normal.  it was a nice feeling I may repeat.

At the very least I will come Veteran's Day.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Timeline I, Part I: The Last Straw

(Email and comment response has been pretty encouraging!  I love you all!)

No marriage is perfect.  I don't think that's a revelation to anyone.  I never expected mine to be perfect, but I expected it to be forever.  We never had screaming matches or worse, but on a couple of occasions I had to walk away to cool off.  Any time I considered ending it, I thought that the possibility of not seeing my boys every day was worse than anything else I had to endure.  Plus, the issues were mostly ephemeral.

One issue that was not was the way I was considered.  My opinions or ideas had one thing in common: they were wrong and therefore ignored.

In the fall of 2011, my wife decided that the basement should be redone into a separate apartment or office or place where my mother could move or something.  Fourteen years earlier, when I moved my office down to the basement from what would then be my youngest son's room, I said I wasn't going to move again.

She decided I would move again, perhaps up to the dining room.  At the same time, she reminded me on multiple occasions that I had said I wouldn't move again.  I think it was a kind of "see?  You were wrong."  That would match her usual attitude.

I was adamant and I was completely ignored.  She made plans, had my oldest (who is pretty good at this sort of thing) design the new living area, and so on.  She moved forward, asserting I would move and ignoring my objections.

At the time, I was making regular trips to Sierra Vista for work.  On one trip in September I decided that I was through being ignored and if she told me once more I was moving out of the basement I was moving out of the house.  No discussion; I'd just go.

My oldest had just started college.  Although he was local, he was living on campus and I was getting used to the idea of not seeing my boys every day.  I didn't like it, but it was bearable compared to what had now become the norm.

For some unknown reason, after I returned she didn't mention my moving out again.

I'm guessing it wasn't time (see yesterday's post for my ideas on time).

Monday, October 20, 2014

Preamble: I Am Here (An Introduction)

History is written by the winners.  A lot of our lives are defined by others.

I'm going to risk boring you out of your collective minds and losing the readers I have by telling my story.

I am not going to start out with my Humble Beginnings, or Growing Up Confused, or even the first 95% of my life.

I have a story with a happy ending.  Yes, the real ending hasn't happened yet.  The hoped-for happy ending is "and he cured all illnesses and went on to live a healthy, productive life until he died at 951."

To get philosophical, I believe that each of us is here because of a series of astonishing accidents.  Richard Dawkins has often said that we owe our existence to a dinosaur sneeze or some other accident of nature ~ if a particular dinosaur was about to eat the tiny mammal that was destined to be the ancestor of man hadn't sneezed we'd all be a snack.  (I paraphrase.)

I'm where I am because of uncountable events, genetic and natural.  We all are. 

If some distant ancestor hadn't recovered from pneumonia I wouldn't be here.  And a delay of an hour over the thousands of years of recorded history might have meant a different sperm reaching an egg producing a different person....  It might have been an ancestor, or a mentor, or a man who killed the man who would have fathered the man who took the last seat on a wagon as my ancestors tried to escape some war or plague....

It wasn't easy for any of us to get here, and we made it without knowing our goals or even what will happen in the next minute.

So, to use an event many of us can relate to, instead of lamenting being born a man, know that if you weren't your amazing children would not be here now.  What might be a personal tragedy might really be a global triumph.  We all sacrifice.

But I'm way off topic.

I'm going to be writing about the last few years of my life (since I'm the only one who knows it).  It involves two main threads, and although it might not be a "and they lived happily ever after" story, at least it's an "and they are living happily" story.

This will take a bit over three weeks.  I'll still have some T content on Wednesday, and cartoons on the weekend.  If you want to come back at the end, I understand.  I kind of need to write this.  It's certainly cathartic to me.  It might inspire others.  It might annoy some.  So be it.

I've already written a post for the last day which will be 11 November (Veterans' Day in the states).  If I change schedule due to having to respond to comments, for example, the 11 November post will simply say "new end date: 14 Aug 2019" or something and I'll continue on.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Marriage in One Panel

Again, this weekend is marriage cartoons.  Take a peek tomorrow to find out why.

Glenn McCoy's Flying McCoys, Jim Unger's Herman,  three Real Life Adventures from Wise and Aldrich, and a Loose Parts (Dave Blazek).

Yup.  That's right.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Hi, all.

I'm not posting t-cartoons today.  The weekend will have probably the only cartoon topic richer than golf: relationships.  I do believe I didn't note the authors to Flo and Friends (a too-rare female cartoonist, Jenny Campbell), Kudzu (the award-winning Doug Marlette), or Mutt and Jeff (these are original cartoons from the mid-20th century by Al Smith).

Please check in on Monday to see what's going on this weekend.

Up first is marriage.  Click or zoom to make them more enjoyable.

Against the Grain ~ Brilliant!

Two Beetle Baileys

and two Flo and Friends



Mutt and Jeff is a goldmine of marriage jokes unto itself

Friday, October 17, 2014

Close Shave

(another aside: in less than two months, the final "sequential" day of the 21st century will occur: 12-13-14.  Sorry, Rest Of World.  Your final day has passed.  I really feel I should do something important and unusual to mark that day.)

While I'm talking product, I found something I love.

First, let me share an article my dear friend Sharon sent me, regarding the difference between men's and women's shaving products.  I will add that, the one time I tried a women's blade (Venus, I believe) on my face it cut me badly.  I will also say that I prefer women's shaving gel, even if they are the same and cost more!

The longest and most bothersome part of getting ready to go out is shaving.  Chest hair seems to grow at the rate of about an inch a minute.  I try to decide what I'll wear and shave my arms and legs a few inches further than I think I'll need.  The beach was definitely an experience.

I do sometimes wax, mostly my back.

I usually use an electric razor on hands and feet because the contours are difficult with a hand razor.  There are parts I cannot shave with an electric razor so that's not a complete solution.  My face benefits from a new blade.

Epilators, for me, are EXTREMELY itchy.  Depilatories have started to react with my skin.  Waxing is good but not something I can do to myself.

So mostly I shave.

And often I have nicks or cuts or other unpleasantries when I'm done.  Or I skip parts because there's just too much risk of nicks or cuts or other unpleasantries.

When I returned from the beach, I picked up some new blades.  I have two hand razors.  One (a five-blade fusion) is exclusively for my face because I want to ensure the cleanest shave and don't want to dull the blade on, say, coarse chest hair.  The other (a three blade Mach 3) I use for everything below my neck.

I wasn't sure what blades I needed.  I did get the five-blade fusion but I couldn't remember what I got for the other razor.  As I said, I tried using a women's blade in my face razor and cut myself something awful; I'm still not sure why.  But for body hair, I figured I could use the "Venus" blades.  From a product review in InStyle magazine, the Gillette Venus Embrace handle is the best.  Maybe next time I need a handle I'll get one and give it a whirl.

I didn't see the three-blade heads so I got a package of five-blade heads that looked like they'd fit on the handle I have.  The package said "Gillette Venus & Olay" and I figured, why not?
When I opened the package, the blades were in individual boxes and each head had what looked like
pontoons on the side.  I tried to gently run it over my skin and it stuck and the pontoons folded over and I thought I just wasted my money.

I checked the package.  It didn't say a lot but it implied you should wet the blade and, well, go for it.

I did.  I wet my arms and wet the blade and... was wonderful.  It did a fantastic job.  It glided (glid?) over my skin.  It left a lotiony/soapy residue but that could be rubbed in or washed off pretty easily.

Normally, I do arms one day and legs another and chest right before going out.  Instead, I stood in the shower and did EVERYTHING.

I will not recommend this blade for your face.  The sharp curve going from neck to chin causes the pontoon to catch.  But it felt good on my neck itself and maybe fine on parts of the face.  I haven't tried yet.

But I didn't have a single nick and shaving was actually pleasant.  Caveat: the lotion does not last as long as the blade.

Does anyone out there have anything better?  I'm a convert!