June 2008

TransLate just hit 20,000 page views since its inception. I’m glad the blog serves a purpose for you, dear readers. It has been helpful to me to write about my experiences and I think it has made me a better writer and a better person — imagining you out there, my friends, family, colleagues, total strangers, fellow trans* people, and writing for you as a way of hopefully avoiding dangerous self-centeredness and of assuaging your fears about my situation. I will keep writing as long as you find it useful.

Here’s the growth of the blog since its inception, week-by-week. You read it like this: at the bottom, the legend says 2007-50, which you’d translate to the 50th week of 2007.The first phase of slow growth represents the slow coming out period where we brought one person into the fold every few days. The big spikes in April were the big broadcast announcements to the world. The final few weeks of spikes come from going full-time and blogging the FFS, I suspect.

Blog Stats (weekly)

The rest of this post is simply the past 30 days’ of stats, which I read and find absolutely fascinating.

What do people read? Here are the top posts for the past 30 days
Facing East (part 1) 101
About 54
FFS Day 3, Friday (6/27) 46
Narrative Erasures 41
You Look Good in My Skirt 40
New Swimming Suit 39
Marriage 39
Trans 101 38
Letters 34
FFS Assessment by Alexandra 30
Let’s Take Your Reasoning and Run with i 29 (more…)

Monday FFS
Might have overdone it yesterday just a bit — here, at the end of Monday, I’m feeling good enough to get out on my long-planned excursion over to Target wearing my scarf instead of an wig (as picture illustrates). My head throbbed the whole way, so the scarf may not be the best plan. Bought soups and a Cherry Garcia as a treat for this evening. My left shoulder (carrying nothing, by the way) felt like it was going to fall out of its socket. As my nose is beginning to run, and sneezing is completely off-limits, I bought Claritin after talking to the pharmacist about it. Little kids giving me the eye, almost certainly because of my monster-like face, and almost certainly not because I’m a tranny. Exhausted upon return to the hotel room — enough for one day.

Ice cream is good, paying bills is good, and long baths are good. Getting home on Wednesday, however, will be really good. After today’s little outing to Target, however, I think Wednesday’s going to be quite full and very, very tiring and painful.

Face considerably more yellow over all, and much more swelling in jaw and chin than before — maybe the bony work takes longer to show the damage?

Sunday FFSHere’s the end-of-the-day photo I just took on my cell phone. I’m feeling a lot better, but I notice I’m yellow all over my face. First plum, then purple, then yellow, I guess.

I learned last night just what it means to exceed the 6-hour window of my Percocet dosing schedule. I had taken my normal 9:00 pm dose and had written in the blog, watched TV, and done all sorts of things, eventually going to bed at 2:00. “I’ll get started, then wake up in an hour for my pill,” I said to myself.

I slept wonderfully, dreaming of Jerry Garcia playing Bertha, my friend Gerald from Santa Barbara, some sort of kiln/vault/printingPress that was in Marin County, and some other kind of kiln, vault, or printing press that a neighbor had, but that had somehow generated these awful, nauseating, headache-causing fumes. I was trying to help figure out the problem when I woke up and realized exactly what the problem was — it was 4:00 a.m. and I was keenly aware of just what the unmedicated head feels like 4 days after surgery, throbbing and bulging and overwhelming, even though I had fallen asleep with a nice, tight bandage around my head and jaw.

Took 2 Percocets immediately and paced the room for a few minutes waiting for the edge to begin to come off. Fortunately, it did and I was able to get back to sleep. I was pleased I had gone 7 hours and thus know it’s achievable, but I was awfully frustrated by how much actual pain must be there in my muscles and nerves that is still masked considerably by the pain medication.

Whenever Jerry Garcia shows up in my dreams, I figure it means something. I think the Grateful Dead run through my life as a thread or a soundtrack of many (if not most) of my key spots, high and low.

I’m sorely tempted to write a long essay on the Grateful Dead, but I’ll keep it out of the FFS entries. Suffice to say that I must be feeling better, dancing around to Shakedown Street, remembering all the people I’ve gone to Dead shows with over the years, thinking about the different configurations of the band I saw over the years. I’ll mention three specific songs and save the rest for an essay.

When Gail’s brother Michael killed himself on 9/18/85, the instant I heard about it my head was filled with the song Cassidy, in which the character dies and whose spirit scatters like the “flight of the seabirds.” The lyrics end with “Fare the well, let the words be yours — I’m done with mine,” and I although I was filled with such pain and anger, I think picturing Michael’s spirit being scattered into all the places he had visited and infused into all the people he had met helped me cope. The Grateful Dead had lots and lots of songs of farewell, from Black Peter (a man lying on his death bed) to He’s Gone “and nothing’s gonna bring him back” to Brokedown Palace and many more. I suppose it goes with the image of death being something that’s welcomed, for which the sufferer is grateful, and the merging of the band’s lyrical and graphic imagery blending death (skeletons and skulls) with life and love (roses, begonias, and other flowers).


I have always associated Box of Rain with love and changes, and I suppose it’s one of my favorite songs of all time because of its gentleness and its ambiguity. When my father was sick with cancer and when my mother began to fade away a mere year after my father’s death, the soundtrack to my mind was often this song. I wanted to give them a box of rain to help them see their way through their transition, and I know I desperately wanted my own box of rain to help me and my family cope with the pain. Here’s a very short video on Phil Lesh’s and Robert Hunter’s writing of the song:

The third epic set of circumstances was the total destruction of my personal life as Gail and I spun apart in the late 80’s, eventually divorcing in summer of 1990. I took a job in France and high-tailed it out of the states to try to regain my confidence (or maybe escape my troubles), and one of the first things I did as I was planning my time in France was to buy tickets to the Grateful Dead in Paris, probably in October of 1990. Their keyboardist had died, and Bruce Hornsby was playing piano with them, and I took the train up to Paris, found a cheap hotel near the Gar de l’Est, and saw them two nights in a row. The soundtrack to my life in those days involved roots and honesty, and I listened to Scarlet Begonias a lot during that time because of the randomness of actions and just learning to go with the flow, even though you don’t know where you’re going: “Once in a while you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right.” There were many more Dead songs that helped me regain my self, mostly from the albums American Beauty, Workingman’s Dead, Mars Hotel, and In The Dark, which had just come out, but which I had heard in concert all during the 80’s as they refined their songs. Touch of Gray was perhaps a bit cheesy, but I figured if the Dead can sing “I will survive,” then that was perfect medicine for me in my darkest time to date. I wanted desperately to feel magnanimous towards Gail, to feel what the singer sings in Bird Song, that she was a bird that sang for a while then flew away, so it’s best think of her fondly but let her go — but I didn’t feel that way, like our relationship was a happy, random, beautiful accident that hippies can celebrate. Still, the song was a big part of my “rise-from-destruction” internal soundtrack in 1990-92.


TPIL Cover I have not seen this new book from Routledge, and at $95 new I think I’ll ask our library to buy a copy. Here’s the description:

Trans People in Love is a illuminating resource for members of the trans community and their partners and families; gay, lesbian, bisexual, queer, and intersex people; sexologists; sex therapists; counselors; psychologists; psychotherapists; social workers; psychiatrists; medical doctors; educators; students; and couples and family therapists.

Trans People in Love provides a forum for the experience of being in love and in relationships with significant others for members of the trans community. This honest and respectful volume tells clinicians, scholars, and trans people themselves of the beauty and complexity that trans identity brings to a romantic relationship, what skills and mindsets are needed to forge positive relationships, and demonstrates the reality that trans people in all stages of transition can create stable and loving relationships that are both physically and emotionally fulfilling.

I’m very interested in understanding how transsexualism specifically (and transgenderism, more generally) impacts relationships and makes it harder or easier to raise kids, have friends, and nurture relationships. I have tried to write about what it’s all like from my perspective, but I would love to collect your thoughts, dear readers and try to get a snapshot of the how one transsexual’s crisis (and hopefully, resolution) impacts their network of friends and family.

Here’s a picture of me at the end of the day. My eyes and forehead are better, but my lips are numb and my cheeks hurt and my jaw and chin are puffy. There’s only so much cable television that one can watch, you know? Mary Jo says I’m nuts about the “Ray Liotta” look and said any fool can see I look like Joaquin Phoenix, instead.

Saturday FFS

Woke up with all sorts of creative ideas, like why can’t our PDA’s monitor our heart and gut sounds and call our doctors (or us) if we aren’t right? Or what if transsexuals were like the DNA in Jurassic Park, and we represented some sort of evolution? At a much lower level, I heard my gut boiling, the first time since surgery, and the image of a galvanized rubber production plant came to mind. OK, the creativity may have had something to do with surgery and Percocet, but I started the day excited and ready to write.

I took a bath, washed my hair, cleaned all my wounds, got dressed, then promptly lost the will to do anything, and took a long nap.

Ok, the day of creativity didn’t happen, mostly because just about the time I get a burst of energy, my lips or jaw or chin start hurting, and I use vaseline, saline, hot water rags, Q-Tips, and whatever else I can find to help. Since I can neither blow my nose nor sneeze, I have to shoot saline up my nose to irrigate and then clean up with Q-tips. I am still having trouble drinking, so things go very slowly.

I did finally manage to get out for a few minutes this evening. I got my clothes on, bandaged up my face, took my key and wallet and went down the elevator to buy some cokes and more ice cream at the desk. It was kind of a strain, I’m embarrassed to report.

I also learned that Mary Jo took my driver’s license back to Bedford Falls with her, as she was carrying it for me on the day of surgery so I couldn’t lose anything. Flying home on Wednesday, it appears I’ll get to navigate the TSA maze of security as not only a tranny who has had surgery, but also as someone with no photo identification. Oddly enough, I think it’s going to be ok, as the TSA says it “prefers” these kinds of identification, but if you don’t have it, or have forgotten it, you can go through with an extra layer of scrutiny.

Suffice to say that today, I think I look a lot like the actor Ray Liotta, certainly more than George Bailey or Joyce Bailey. While the color in my eyes is fading really fast, the swelling in my chin and lips is continuing to grow, and is likely to peak today, according to Dr. Spiegel’s office.

The entire series of photographs will be posted later in the week, but since some of my photography is on one camera, some is on Mary Jo’s cell phone, and the rest is on my cell phone, it’s hard to get them all together.

Mary Jo and I had coffee this morning while she packed in order to get back to our kids and our spread in Bedford Falls.

I expected to feel good and fine with her departure, but I found myself feeling quite sad, not just feeling sorry for myself for being in pain (although I’m sure part of it comes from here) but also feeling that she’s going home to set the tone for the boys and to set up the second half of her life. I had these thoughts all night, and grew quite distressed by the 3:00 a.m. I was pretty surprised by how frightened I got, but I was also pleased that I didn’t freak out, and managed to cool off and get some sleep eventually.

What’s important to note (for me, at least) is that this FFS clearly taps into some deep fears and aspirations that I hold. I’m perplexed by how excited I can be that I’m finally jettisoning my GID and getting on with my life as Joyce while simultaneously being filled with fears that Mary Jo will leave me because of my permanent changes. Maybe both things are happening, either in reality or symbolically, and my mind is easily filled with new thoughts.

It’s probably also that I’m on Percocet for the pain and I’m stuck in a stupid hotel room in Boston, too bruised and feeling too bad to go out walking, watching the worst collection of cable channels of all time, and generally going stir crazy.

Another day of resting and pacing. I spent a good part of the day with Q-Tips, a very weak hydrogen peroxide solution, and a hand mirror, very slowly unsticking my eyes, de-crustifying my scars, and cleaning up dried blood.

A treat of the day was a visit from Violet, who brought her nail polish, a vase of flowers, and a pint of ice cream. I got a nice new clean coat of toenail polish from her, and she also re-did Mary Jo’s toes. Since Violet is on her way to a wedding, we returned the favor and put some really cool silver/mauve nail polish on her toes, after which we enjoyed the rest of our ice cream.

I felt quite good at the end of the day now that I could see, had fresh nail polish, and thought most of my swelling and bruising was gone. Little did I know that we would soon be entering a new stage.

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