Three Years Down the Road

Anything interesting happen to you on this day, Cassidy?

Why, I’m glad you asked…

7 July, 2014, I headed out to Sterling, NJ, to see a doctor.  Actually, I was seeing her for the second time in two weeks because I’d had an initial consultation with her at the end of June.  This time I wasn’t going back for a check up, or for another consultation, or to even discuss possible medical options.

I was going there to get a shot.

As many of you know, during May of 2014 I decided to take a big step in my transition and get on the Estradiol train.  As Kerry can now tell you, Estradiol is the primary hormone found in that soup known as estrogen and it’s the most powerful of the lot.  You start taking that and before you know it, your body starts heading off down Girl Street.  And that was where I wanted to head, so the time came that in order to go that way I had to find a doctor.  Which I did.  In New Jersey.

And three years ago today I received my first injection.

It was really kind of interesting to watch her, my doctor, go through the steps I’d need to follow in order to inject myself in the leg.  I watched, I learned, and I sat there while I got the needle in the leg.  It was a life changing experience, it really was, and I was in sort of a daze all the way on the two-hour drive back to Harrisburg.

And since some of you don’t remember what I was like back there, here’s a reminder.

Man… I have a hard time believing I was this person.

 

Yep, that was me right after I returned home, fraying wig, old glasses, and bushy eyebrows to complete the look.  At this point in my life I was still going to work as “that other guy” and the next day I dressed like the person I used to pretend I was and headed off to work.

Only I was a little different.  And I’d get more different every day.

Two weeks later I had to return to my doctor’s office for another injection, only this time I was required to do the injection.  Which I did.  My doctor told me at the time that she expected me to get it right the first time because she knew I would.  I’m glad I didn’t let her down.

And that brings me to this point in time.  Three years later, I’m pretty happy with myself.  I’ve worked on a political campaign, I’ve marched against the Orange Menace, I’ve gotten more left and aware, and I’ve joined roller derby.  Oh, and I’m still writing after all these years.

Plus, I certainly look a lot better now than I did three years ago.

Yeah, I’m almost quite the looker right after rolling out of bed.

 

I don’t know what’s ahead.  Three years from now I’ll be 63 and likely doing much of the same things I’m doing now.  Maybe I’ll be published by then–maybe not.  Maybe I’ll have competed in a derby game–maybe not.  Maybe I won’t even be here–maybe not.

I don’t know:  I’m not Deanna so I can’t see the future.  All I can do is live from one moment to the next and hope for the best.

And when my fourth anniversary rolls around I’ll talk about it and shoot another picture of myself, just so I know what I look like.

Though I look a little strange when I’m shot through a dirty lens.

 

Lunchtime in London: Embankment Bound

The last couple of years on this day, which is Coming Out Day, I had video cued up and ready to go.  Guess what?  No such luck this time.  I could have done one yesterday and had it ready to go today, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that I didn’t have much to say this time around.  Maybe I’ll have something by this weekend, but at the moment I’m at a loss for words.

Well, not where it comes to writing.  I stopped the day just short of one thousand words, which is a pretty good total for me.  And now that I have the kids in London, on their own, they can eat and do whatever else they like–

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Though they could eat anywhere in London, they both agreed that having lunch at this Russel Square sandwich shop brought them back to the time of their first solo excursion together. They ordered their lunch and drinks and took their time eating and talking while watching people pass by their window table. It gave them both to snap photos of each other with their phones which Kerry then downloaded to his tablet that he carried around in his backpack. He even asked a customer if she would be nice enough to take their photo together, and the woman did so using Annie’s phone.

After lunch they took the Underground to the Victoria Embankment Gardens. Neither had ever visited their when in London and they felt today was a good day for some afternoon time in the park. They exited the Embankment Station and took their time wandering the garden, walking over to the water gate and examining a couple of statues before finding a shady bench across from the Embankment Cafe.

 

The Victoria Embankment Gardens extend for a ways alone the north bank of the River Thames and like a famous park in Chicago, it’s pretty much all landfill.  The water gate mentioned in the preceding paragraph?  That was one of the accesses to the Thames, as it sat on the then banks of the river.

The water gate is by those trees in the center top.  All that below--it was water.

The water gate is by those trees in the center top where it says Watergate Walk. All that below–it was water.

On a clear, somewhat cool day–15 C is about 60 F for us non-Celsius people–this is a nice place to come and sit and get away from the city proper.  And that’s what they do:  they come here to sit and talk:

Right there on the bench on the right.  I know my locations.

Right there on the bench on the right. I know my locations.

And what are they going to talk about?  Well, Annie has something in mind…

 

Annie had considered asking Kerry if he wanted to grab a cool drink at the cafe, but the moment they were seated she saw that he would likely prefer the semi-privacy of their current location—and given some of the conversation they shared since the restaurant there were several things on her mind which she began sharing the movement they sat. “I can’t believe your parents are calling you a magic user.” She crossed her legs. “What’s wrong with witch? It’s what you are.”

“I know, but—” He sat back and sighed. “This all comes from my mom being a control freak. She’s uncomfortable with me being a witch—”

Annie turned up her nose. “Which I do not understand.”

“—and so she’s decided that rather call me what I am, she’ll call me what she likes.” He crossed his arms over his stomach. “It’s the way she is.”

“And your father won’t say anything?”

“Nah. He’s lost too many fights to her, so when he gets home from work all he wants to do is relax.  He’ll just nod the moment she starts going off on stuff.”

Annie reached over the wooden armrest separating them and took his left hand. “They didn’t even have anything to say when they saw you’ve learned how to correct your vision?”

Kerry snorted just under his breath. “Dad said it seemed strange that I would do magic to change my eyesight; mom said I should go back to wearing glasses because Harry Potter wears them.”

“You’re kidding.” Annie turned withering side glare upon her soul mate which he knew wasn’t for him. “You did tell her he doesn’t exist?”

He chuckled. “That was the first thing I told her. She didn’t care for that.”

“Too bad.” She turned her head so he could see her full face. “You’ve done marvelously, my love: I love you without your glasses.” It was her turn to snort. “Your mother is an idiot.”

“Yeah, well…” He gave Annie’s hand a squeeze. “Welcome to my life. The whole freakin’ summer’s been this way. First it’s don’t say anything to me, and right before I head back to school they decide they’re gonna let me know they find my entire situation unusual.” He leaned over and rested his head against Annie’s. “At least they know the truth about you, Darling.”

 

“Your mother is an idiot.”  Way to start building that bridge toward the woman who’ll be your future mother-in-law, Annie!  Can’t wait for the first time she calls Annie a “magic user” or just shades the “witch” a little too hard–yeah, future family gatherings are gonna be so much fun.

If I don’t get too burned out at the phone bank tonight we’ll learn a little more tomorrow.  We’re lucky we got this–

'Cause I was wandering about The Burg after lunch with three glasses of wine.  Yeah, I go there.

‘Cause I was wandering about The Burg after lunch with three glasses of wine. Yeah, I go there.

Up In the Anniversary

Interesting times for sure.  Nice dinner yesterday, made it home and caught up on a couple of episodes of Sense8–and let me tell you, I am so glad I have the equipment to stream these days, because I didn’t know what I was missing–and then I hit the editing, and managed to do maybe fifteen hundred words of editing as well.  Oh, and I set up an Instagram account, which means I’ll probably shuffle most of my phone pictures off to that area when I don’t want to keep them on my computer.

Fun times.

It’s first breakfast time on the first full day at the School of Salem, and I can remember how hard it was to write this part back during NaNo 20013.  I’m great at seeing things in my mind, but getting them onto the page isn’t always the easiest thing, you know.  I thought to myself at the time, “Yeah, these descriptions are a little doggy, I’ll fix them later.  Okay, so it took two and a half years, but I fixed them up.

Now, a couple of scenes which were among my favorites because one showed how different things were, and how Annie likes throwing out little jabs that show she’s on a completely different level that Kerry.  Also, we learn something important about her:

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book One: A For Advanced, copyright 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

“I don’t know. Over a hundred for sure; maybe close to one twenty-five? Can’t really tell.” He turned back to his breakfast, launching into one of the strips of bacon he’d picked up. “Man, this is good.”

Annie had eaten bacon on a couple of occasions, and while she didn’t mind it she did not possess any strong feelings for the dish. However— “I like pork. There are some marvelous Bulgarian pork dishes.”

Kerry spoke between bites. “I’d love to taste them. I love trying new food.”

“There is plenty of new food for you in Bulgaria—oh.”

The same woman who’d taken Annie’s order only a few minutes before was standing next next to the table with a plate in her hand. “Here you are: two printsessi.”

 

The girl does not like bacon, though she does like pork.  Mostly in Bulgarian dishes.  Which she would be happy to show Kerry, probably in Bulgaria.  While she’s a Bulgarian wife.  But Kerry hasn’t picked up on this yet, and we have a few hundred thousand more words of him stumbling along before he really knows what’s going on.

And then we get to meet some of the staff and see something that was just touched upon, in the story, the night before:

 

Kerry recognized some of the people at the tables. There was Professor Semplen, a few tables over on the left, sitting with a woman with long, straight, brown hair. The blond woman from the plane and her friend sat together near the west wall, and the black woman from the Rotunda was sitting with the other dark-haired woman they met on the trip over, and who was also in the Rotunda gathering up new students. Isis sat with a petite woman who looked so young he thought she might be a student—and that was when Kerry realized just how young Isis appeared in the light of day. The same could be said of Nurse Coraline—who sat next to a studious looking guy in a three-piece suit—and a few others up front.

He leaned towards Annie. “Some of those instructors look like they just graduated.”

One of Annie’s eyebrows shot upward, which was something he noticed she did after he’d made a rather obvious statement. “Yes, I know.” She smiled and turned her attention back to the front.

 

There’s that whole thing again about how young everyone looks, something that doesn’t seem to bother Annie all that much.  And why should it?  After all it’s something she’ll likely have people saying about her one day–

"I'm so qualified to watch over security. I mean, I've killed people with my mind--can you do that? No, I thought so."

“Don’t worry, I’m extremely qualified to do this job. I mean, I’ve killed people just by looking at them–can you do that? No, I thought not.”

Don’t worry, Kerry:  the upside to this is that when Annie is 30 she’ll still look like she’s 18, and that can be cool or creepy, depending on how one looks at things.

Now, on to the quick personal news.  Today,  7 July, 2016, marks my two year anniversary of being under hormone replacement therapy.  My first shot was on this day, and my forty-eighth was last Friday on 1 July.  This means I’ve pretty completely this part of my “real life experience”, and I pretty much hit all the bullet points on the WPATH Standards of Care sheet.

What does this mean?  Well, it means that if I ever get up the money and/or insurance, I can take that next big step, which some call–in whispered tones, of course–“The Operation.”  This is really what I want, but those finances don’t allow for it right now.  So I gotta play the waiting game and hope that at some point in the next few years I win the lottery or something.

When I logged on to my computer this morning the Windows 10 splash screen came up with the time of 5:03, which, as some of you know, reflects my birthday of 3 May.  So it’s a bit auspicious to have my one birth date come up right over the date I sort of consider my other birth date.  I’ll probably celebrate both from here on out, because they are both important dates to me.  And that means I took pictures walking into work:

Here I look a little grumpy.

Here I look a little grumpy.

 

Here I look much happier here.

Here I look much happier.

And so you get an idea of the changes I’ve gone through in the last two years, here’s a little side-by-side.  The picture on the left was taken the moment I go home from getting my first shot, 7 July, 2014; the one in the middle came after my twenty-forth shot a year ago, and the one on the right I took Sunday morning, 3 July, 2016.

As you can see someone is changing and improving.

As you can see someone is changing and improving.

The most important point, though, is that the picture on the right was taken in public, and there’s nothing in my demeanor to indicate I’m shy or worried about how I look, or that I’m even out.  And that’s because I’m finally comfortable in my own skin.  There are still things I want, and things that make me bothered–

But being a woman isn’t one of them.

The Walk of My Life

Was there editing last night?  Yes, some.  I didn’t finish want I wanted to edit, in part because I was tired.  Why was I tired?  Well, I was out on a walk.  Though it’s not the sort of walk you might imagine . . .

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last few days you’re aware of what happened in Orlando Sunday morning.  I’ve felt like I’ve wanted to say something, but since hearing about this I’ve been a bit numb.  Externally I got a bit drunk Sunday noon, and yesterday I was sort of like, “Oh, how am I supposed to feel right now?” for most of the day.  You know, all the work stuff and whatnot.

But what do you say to something where over a hundred people are killed and wounded?  Oh, I know what a few people I know is saying:  “Islamic terrorism!”  Yeah, right.  The more you dig into the shooter’s life, the more you discover he was an abusive husband, a racist, that he had a whackadoodle for a father, and now, the biggest tip in of all, he was a regular at Pulse, he was using gay dating apps on his phone, and he was once so drunk in the club that security tossed his ass out.  It sound to me like another self-hating gay man so deep in the closet he sent out mail from the Narnia post office couldn’t take it anymore and snapped.

I’m still a little numb, but I’m getting angry.  Why?  The last few months have seen a rise in the hate:  against immigrants, against people of color, against the LGBT community and the push to legally discriminate against us, and, specifically, against transpeople like me, who have been labeled a danger to anyone who uses a public bathroom.  The guy on a FBI watch list who goes out and buys an assault rifle, no, he’s not a problem:  me taking a piss in pubic is, it would seem.

I’ve been fortunate that I’ve been spared a lot of hate.  Sure, there was the scree left by some assnoggin a few weeks back who was trying to get me to answer him so he could likely spam my comment section with hate–and who got sent right fast to the Memory Hole–but that’s the exception to the rule.

However, I know the stats.  I know that I’m twice as likely as a csiwoman to be assaulted, and have a fifty percent greater chance of being murdered.  I’m in the group with one of the highest levels of suicide in the country–if I were a transwoman of color I’d be in the highest–and suddenly I find myself among one of the most demonized groups of late.  It’s a lot to fall into after two years of transitioning; you give up your man card and put a target on your back.

But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I was out to a vigil and walk last night.  It’s really the first time I’ve done something with the LGBT community other than attend my support meetings, which have because less over time, and in a way it was nice.  Sad, so sad, but nice to feel the solidarity.  I was there with several hundred people–probably around five hundred, maybe more–and Gov. Wolf was in attendance, as was our physician general Dr. Rachel Levine, who is also a transwoman, and even though my feet and legs were sort from standing for so long, I stuck it out.  Because I can.

And after that we walked just under a half mile to one of the main gay nightclubs in the city of Harrisburg and did our thing, which included chanting, cheering, and reaffirming that, yes, we are here, we are queer, and we will not disappear.

Photo by Vicki Vellios Briner, PennLive.

Photo by Vicki Vellios Briner, PennLive.

Yeah, that’s me on the left in bright blouse and skirt.  Right out in front ’cause I wanted to be seen.  And that’s probably the biggest contribution I can make:  to be out every day just being me.  ‘Cause if you see me, you can’t ignore me.

And if you can’t ignore me, then you have to accept me as a person.

To See the Invisible Girl

Today I’m ripping off a title from Robert Silverberg, only because when you steal, you should always steal from the best.  But only the title here:  the rest is all me.

Yesterday was a pretty good day, and a long one, too, as I was up until midnight watching Sunset Boulevard and Ace in the Hole, both great, classic movies.  And before that–well, during much of Sunset Boulevard–I wrote my next to last Season 4 recap for Orphan Black.  But before that I was at my job, which is where I program computer for the State of Pennsylvania.  That’s the job that pays the bills, at least for now.  Who knows in the future?  I certainly don’t.

Since I live in the city of Harrisburg I walk to work.  It’s about a mile/1.6 kilometers, and takes me about twenty to twenty-five minutes, depending on how I hit the lights.  A nice thing about my walk is that I go right through what is known as the Capitol Complex, which is what we call the area where all the state business gets done.

Which looks something like this.

So I come in at the bottom right of the picture, walk through the park and across the front of the capitol building, then head off somewhere to the upper left.  That’s my usual walk, and with minor variations, I’ve done that for about two and a half years, some shine, rain, or snow.  I always walk alone, and until yesterday, I figured no one ever noticed me–though of late I’ve had a few catcalls from guys, which really sucks.

Yesterday I also had my camera with me, because I wanted to get a picture of myself in a particular outfit so I could show a friend, who had just picked up the same skirt and wondered what it looked like with brown flats.  (And if you really want to know, that person was The Real Annie.  See?  I even help her out.)  As yesterday after work was nice as hell, I decided to get a picture on the way home–

I was taking selfies with timers on cameras before it became mainstream.

I was taking selfies with cameras timers before it became mainstream.

And about a minute after snapping that picture I started on my way home.  I’d walked a pretty short distance when this guy, who was approaching me, asked for a moment.  At first I thought he was going to ask for directions, but as a few of my friends pointed out, it’s a guy:  they don’t ask for directions.

What he did tell me was something completely unexpected.

He told me that he’s actually seen me walking back and forth to work for a couple of years–and given that he was dressed in pretty sharp suit, I figure he worked somewhere in the complex as well–and that he’s noticed my, well, changes during that time.  As the conversation at that point went:

 

Him:  “For a while there was this one person walking, and then one day you were–“

Me:  “Different?”

Him  (Both laughing at this point):  “Yes.”

 

He told me that he applauded me for being true and brave, and I thanked him for his word, and we went our separate ways.  I didn’t want to say that, no, I don’t consider myself brave because I’m just being me, but maybe that’s really all there is to being brave:  just be yourself in the face of possible adversity.  I know the stats on violence to transwomen, so whenever I’m out I am aware that things might go sideways on me for any number of reasons.

But it’s something incredible to think that someone has actually noticed me.  There are a few people I’ve seen going to and from work every day, and I have never thought of stopping them and telling them something personal.  You never imagine that people see you, that people notice you.

You get used to spending your life being invisible.

Before I arrived home I decided to snap a few more pictures, because why not?  And because it’s one more chance not to remain unseen by others.

After all, this one never gets old..

After all, this one never gets old.

And this one happened where I spent a cold night crying and thinking about jumping off a bridge, but that's another story--

And this one happened where I spent a cold night crying and thinking about jumping off a bridge, but that’s another story–

The Final Solo: Hangar Checkout

There’s a bit of butt dragging today, as I was very tired last night and fell into a deep sleep the moment I hit the pillow.  This was brought on by a long day at work, a run out for food, and then writing up a two thousand word recap that required a thousand words of note the night before.  *sigh*  I know:  I should be working on my stuff, right?  Well, recaps are my stuff, so boo!

Oh, and I had to pay my taxes.  Yeah . . . that’s another story.

I did start the next scene, all three hundred words of it, but that’s three hundred words closer to the end than I was the night before, yeah?  Damn right.

 

(All excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Two: B For Bewitching, copyright 2015, 2016 by Cassidy Frazee)

Annie walked out of the locker room adjusting her balaclava and comm helmet. She stopped for a moment to make certain the helmet strap was tight enough without cutting into her chin before checking that her gloves were she left them in her arctic parka, stuffed in each pocket. Satisfied that her clothing was in proper condition, she made her way to the spiral staircase and headed downstairs to the Hangar.

She stopped at the bottom of the stairs and gave the Band on her wrist one last examination. By now she’d worn it enough that it had become a part of her, and she’d sometimes taken to wearing it through the day just as she did her locket and charm bracelet. A few people asked her about it, and now that people were aware of her Flight Gift they were curious anything they could associate with her ability. Discussing her Band was simple: since it wasn’t any different from the HUD on a broom, it was possible to explain everything in less than three minutes.

Besides, her flying was never about the equipment: it was about being free.

Satisfied there wouldn’t be any issues with her Band, Annie clipped her gloves the sleeves of her parka and headed towards the Hangar entrance. She didn’t wait for Kerry: they’d already spoken and decided to wait for each other at the entrance. Whomever arrived first would wait for the other, and since she immediately noticed that Kerry wasn’t already in place, that meant he was finishing changing into his cold weather gear and should appear shortly. Given that he was such a stickler for starting on time, Annie wasn’t concerned that he would keep them from leaving on her final solo flight on time.

 

Tonight Annie will take to the sky and head out on her longest and hardest solo, with her dutiful chase pilot right behind.  I know I’ll get to the writing tonight, you can rest assured of that, even if I do feel like I’m about to fall asleep.  Maybe I’ll get a nap first, but at the moment I feel fine.

Now for a quick change up . . . today is the Transgender Day of Visibility, when we show support to the transgender community and recognize their accomplishments.  It’s a day of empowerment, and today I feel it because yesterday was two years I’ve been out as me.  Why, it only seems like last year I was getting a picture in Valparaiso, IN:

Valparaiso, IN, 30 March, 2015.

I believe it was this one.

And since I was running a little ragged I popped off a quick one once I returned home, taken a year after the one above.

Harrisburg, PA, 03/31/2016

Harrisburg, PA, 03/31/2016

I look tired, the makeup isn’t as good, and there’s still a bit of scaring from the electrolysis, but I’m me.

Also, I snapped a picture last year when I was out for lunch at my favorite cafe back in Indiana:

Out and About as myself since 2014.

Again, looking like I’m relaxed and comfortable in a state which, at that time, wanted business to discriminate against me.

And given that I like having photos of myself as I move forward on my journey, I snapped a few on my walk into work.  A couple in front of the Pennsylvania capitol building:

 

Really working on the RBF here.

Really working on the RBF here.

And a couple more in the plaza next to the state history museum and the state archive:

Transgender Day of Visibility 03312016 004

Smiling much more here.

Smiling much more here.

Thank you for all the support, and trust me:  I am getting my books finished.  I am.

After all, if I was joking I’d tell you that tomorrow.