I added a small magnet to this Chun-Li minifig and now she can stand on my hitbox peripheral, judging me when I drop a combo. A silly hack, but figured this blog needed some variety in content 😇
I’m sitting here on a bench in Point Pleasant Park a few weeks away from the date I decided to stop hiding from my family. Sitting on a bench, in a dress and sun blocking hat to avoid sun burning my to-be-lasered-again face, sporting a choker with a rainbow tinted glass leaf gifted to me by my mom. It’s 26C with a nice breeze. I still have lots on my mind, but I have big thing less.
At this point last year I was also taking pictures and walking around, but in cargo shorts, likely a XXL t-shirt kept dark lest the pit stains get to it, thinking moments like these where I could forget myself was as good as it was gonna get. Wandering alone, between social gatherings, and completely oblivious to the turbulent month that was going to follow.
It was about one month later I would surrender and bring down the walls I had built to “protect” myself from…well…myself.
On this date last year I had no idea what I’d turn into. I assumed I was static. Teetering always on the brink of something or other. But assuming I had reached “peak Réal”, which, in a sense, I did. There was nowhere else to go but further down. My life was scripted, syndicated and running reruns. Already I was wearing out, like someone who can really only watch that same episodes of M*A*S*H so many times before grimacing at any Allan Alda vodka pun.
So where are things now? What’s the status report? The briefing so to speak.
I still have lots on my mind. Obviously. I sometimes even pine for the simplicity of my less complicated before-life. But for the first time something new is on TV. It’s like one of those serial dramas, where I can’t look away. I’d binge watch if I could, even.
I’ve learnt so many new things about myself and about life experience in general. I can even take selfies and not cringe at the picture staring back!
Not everything’s moving as fast as I’d like. But it’s moving, goddammit. For the first time in ages, I feel life moving forward, not back. Even as the Western world polarises, even as the economy plays games, boomers attack the young, Nazis are thinking they’re “hip” and fetishizing frogs for some reason, I still can finally look at this world, this life, and experience it.
As myself. For myself. I’m sitting on this bench, in a park, in a dress, alive.
Or How I Learned To Love The Front Camera
Anyone who’s been following me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram will notice I’ve gone a little selfie heavy lately. This is behaviour I only started noticing myself fairly recently on reflection and pre-transition, was just not a thing I did….ever. Like, seriously, my Facebook profile pic was Charles Beams for years, broken only by cartoon renditions of myself which typically looked nothing like myself. Really, I had to go back basically when I first joined Facebook over a decade ago to see an actual real life picture of my face. So what gives?
No I haven’t become some vain diva insisting you all look at my mug. Honest.
The reality is really a combination of factors but they boil down to this: Progress tracking and disbelief.
Understand that up until about half a year ago, seeing my visage in photographs viscerally grossed me out. I hated seeing that guy on the picture and having to come to terms with the fact that that vaguely George Strombo meets Shrek looking mofo was me. Any picture I was in I’d toss a wry smile and what wrestling fans will call the people’s eyebrow in order to kinda distract from my visage[note] seriously, find one picture of me closeted where I’m not doing some variation of that unless it’s like a professional photo or wedding or something, I dare you [/note]. To make me look less awkward, I suppose.
But yeah, I’d avoid the camera when I could, so even finding picture of closeted me is sparse unless they were taken before I noticed.
So really, lots of my selfies arise from a position of disbelief. I can look at myself and think, yeah, it needs work, but this is me! I’m so gobsmacked to have a reflection, photographic or otherwise, I’m not ashamed of I gotta take the pic and go “Holy shit, guys, look at this!”
The other reason is a bit more measured and technical. Transition is slow, and progress is extremely gradual. It’s easy to think nothing is happening. So tracking metrics like measurements, photos, etc… are valuable. Case in point, I was certain my arms were the exact same shape and size as last summer until I looked at a tracking sheet I made in a spreadsheet and saw a change of 1-2 inches in diameter on the forearm and upper arms respectively. But over the course of many months. So none of this registers.
So yeah, the second reason I take lots of photos of myself is sometimes just to remind me that shit is happening. Even when it feels like it isn’t.
In the back of my mind I wonder if I’m annoying anyone by doing this so much. But likely won’t stop, sorry 😉
Today I had two fun identity related moments. Little reminders that despite how recently, relatively speaking [note] it still feels like muuuuch longer [/note] my transformation started in earnest. Both were relatively affirming.
For the first anecdote, a little background: For the previous 3-4 years I would bike or, more recently, drive [note] I now use my bike mainly on a nearby nature trail which is far less stressful than Halifax roads [/note] to the farmer’s market on the Halifax waterfront on Saturdays. I usually use the time to fetch fresh cat grass for the cat, some produce, maybe some protein, and have some local eats at the local vendors, finished off by a damn good latté upstairs.
I also would typically get my eats at a little prepared food vendor called Stella’s Antiguan Cuisine, that had some delicious jerk chicken. It was a stable and warm meal, which was especially important during the time I’d bike there. Stella herself is almost a stereotype. A kind and warm Caribbean woman, age unknown but north of 40, who looks like someone who’s invited many a guest into her kitchen for some delicious chemistry. And, most relevant to this anecdote, the type of person who’d recognize a repeat customer.
Due to dieting [note] initially to fend off diabetes, later as part of my transition [/note] I started avoiding the Stella booth, but always glancing over at it.
Today, I gave in and ordered me some jerk chicken. Stella was eyeing me, narrowing her eyelids, seemingly trying to figure something out. I had a pretty good idea why. I broke the ice.
“I used to come here every Saturday, I’ve been craving this for months.”
“Oh?” [still squinting]
“Yeah! Would bike in. Would usually order the jerk chicken and veg. This stuff would really hit the spot.”
“It usually does!” [slight chuckle, squinting intensifies]
“Of course I looked a little different last year.”
At this point I could tell she was really struggling with something. [note] I want to state here that there was no lineup at the moment, I wouldn’t be occupying her time if there was. I’m not a jerk…all the time anyways. [/note] So I proceed to give her my driver’s license, which as of this writing is still an old photo of me, about 100lbs heavier and very male looking. I could see the recognition on her face immediately.
“Now that makes sense!! Ha! I thought you were his sister or something, but couldn’t remember such a person ever coming in!”
We joked a bit, she said I was looking good, that I looked happier. Did some of the traditional small talk and walked away, delicious jerk chicken in hand.
I thought you were his sister or something!
The second moment was at the local pharmacy. Me and a friend were doing what’s basically become a traditional Saturday early evening cosmetics run in the cheap makeup aisle prior to fetching some Mediterranean food at the resto next door. When we’d done our scouting, picked up a few wares and glanced at the impossibly expensive stuff longingly(or suspiciously), we went to the cosmetics counter to pay. And I immediately recognized one of the two ladies who were behind it.
She was the one working when I first went in, last fall, right before closing, looking like a dude but muttering meekly “I…I’m looking for some makeup….but not dude makeup….I’m not sure how to even say this….I’m transitioning, I guess? I’m…I need to feminize my face if that makes any sense.” Thinking back, I acutely remember how terrified I was on my first makeup run. And this woman was the person who would deal with this clueless, anxious 6’2″ guy walking into the makeup section and asking to be made pretty. She handled it like a champ and, while I probably wouldn’t have picked as much expensive stuff as she threw into my starter kit, of sorts, she did get me started. And did her dang best to put me at ease. [note] despite the sticker shock [/note]
So here was this young woman who’d help start it all, whom I surprisingly hadn’t run into since, despite being at that pharmacy often.
I decide, “What the heck? It was fun with Stella.” So I breech the subject again and said
“I think you were the one here the first time I ever came in here to buy makeup.”
She didn’t need my ID to know who I was after I brought that up. Though I showed it to her coworker for context (who gasped). Apparently my impact on her was pretty big as well, as she’d remembered that day herself. It’s not every day someone walks into your makeup shop in literal desperation and looking like a deer in headlights, I suppose. And she recalled both how anxious I was, as well as how relieved I was by the end (sticker shock notwithstanding).
Either way, two fun little moments as I say goodbye to Réal on my way to becoming Rae. Thought I’d share, and finally make a post on this blog.