When it comes to getting normal things done, I find that “normal” is a category of things that I’m increasingly avoiding, not because I don’t like getting normal things done, but because it’s easy to get consumed by issues of transition. I suppose this itself is normal behavior, and if this is the case, then I’m feeling perfectly normal right now.

What’s is like to be consumed by my condition? Not a day goes by that I don’t think about my gender. Not an hour. Maybe a minute or two, and those periods of normalcy are bliss, but they don’t last long. These thoughts involve excitement, fear, anticipation, planning, denial, clothes, body, travel, job, people, family, therapy, online discussion groups, doctors, and anything else that comes creeping into my mind and sits there, squatters on my attention and my time, refusing to leave, even when asked nicely.

When I sit at my computer, I check my Joyce Yahoo mailbox 50 times a day. I update the discussion boards I use (Susan’s, BeginningLife, MyHusbandBetty, and Jenny Boylan’s para/normal, primarily) every 15 minutes to see if anything new has happened. I type “transgender” and you-pick-the-other-term into Google to see if there’s a new book, a new website, a new clinic — some new finding or theory that will help me.

When I walk, I think about my body, my clothing, my carriage — I try to imagine what this same walk is going to be like in a few months, saying hi to students in the hall, holding office hours, lecturing to graduate students, attending faculty meetings.

When I speak, I feel a self-consciousness about whether it’s too masculine, and try go modulate the voice a little higher, a little more sing-song, than normal, but without sounding odd in my male persona.

When I interact with people, there’s a second level of analysis and feeling going on in addition to the primary interaction, like a little transparancy that’s overlaid, and on this plane is self-consciousness about body language, eye contact, physical contact, imagining what this person is going to think and say in a few months, feeling excitement and sadness about what might happen.

When I drive, I talk to myself in an endless stream of consciousness, trying out my letter to friends, hearing myself give a lecture as a woman, running through the hard face-to-face disclosures with my sister and uncle, explaining my condition to my children, role-playing the new me in a dozen new situations, each more unknown than the last.

When I pass a mirror, I pause and examine myself in ways I never dreamed of before. Does my face look different? Is my hair growing? Should I pluck my eyebrows? Could I get away with makeup? Do my boobs show in this shirt? Does my body language say woman? Will I ever get over this and just be?

I feel so consumed, conspicuously so, but I can’t help it. I want to sit and grade the end-of-semester reports with nothing but professorly thoughts in my head. I want to drive to work thinking only of the song on the radio or the road ahead. I want to interact with my colleagues and friends without having an alternate universe clouding my thoughts and emotions.

The only time I lose myself is when I’m snuggling with Mary Jo, and that love, embrace, connection with her is a salve for my affliction. I feel myself beaming with joy as we touch and talk, and I have glimpses of what the future holds when I’m not consumed, when I’m not conspicuous, when I’m just me.