Tuesday, July 3, 2018

1 Year Anniversary on Estrogen


I really had no idea.  If I would have known, I would have gone this route long ago.  How different life would be is unimaginable.  It's sad, actually.  I know, I shouldn't feel bad for things that have happened, for it was only those things that brought me to the path I'm on.  Who knows what would have been now, if that had not ever been then.  At least it happened eventually.

Oh, I'm sorry, I'm waxing on dramatically without cluing in the reader, right?  Estrogen people.  I'm talking about my life on Estrogen, for today is the day that one year ago I got my first script for Spironolactone (an anti-androgen, that I refer to as my anti-boy-otics) and Estradiol.  And, no I don't care if they are supposed to be capitalized or not, for to me, they are capitol deserving words.  They have changed my life.

There is no truly effective way to convey what venturing down this path has done for me.  It is too vast, too subtle, too complex.  I mean, I'll give it a shot, but be forewarned, I am anticipating that my words will fall flat.  I'm reminded of a ponderable I had as a teen, what writing would it take to get someone to picture the exact same coffee cup that was in my mind.  It is a surprisingly difficult thing to do.  Well, maybe just for me!

A picture is worth a thousand words.  Sometimes I think they can be worth much more.   On that note, you may have noticed the collection of photos I have provided for you.  In choosing these photos, I didn't filter them and try to pick out good and bad ones.  I simply chose ones that I like out of the ones I had taken on that date.  I have not been the fastidious sort to take the same photo, in the same location, with the same lighting as some people have.  That really shows the change.  With my photos, I have found that I struggle to see much of a change as there can be vast variation within photography itself.  Sure, the photos look different, but is it due to the lighting, or the camera settings, or whatever? 

That was what I had thought prior to putting these photos together.  I think taken as a whole, yup Estrogen (yes, again with the capital!) has indeed been changing my appearance.  I can't quite tell you exactly what it is.  What I can say is that there is a difference in my appearance in my photos from a year ago.  Huge differences?  Nope.  But a difference, yes, a difference for sure.  Yay!  I will, of course, allow you to make up your own mind about it, and thus these photos.

Well then, what else?  How about any other physical changes?  Okay, fine.  How about numbers?  I like numbers.  I have been tracking many different measurements over the past year.  Weight - up about 6-7 pounds. Neck - 1/2 inch smaller.  Arms - same.  Breasts - up 2 inches.  Waist - up about 2 inches.  Butt - 1.5 inches larger.  Legs - the same.  Some changes, but not huge changes.  The chest?  Yeah, loving those changes.  The waist?  Not so much!  The butt, yes!  The waist, not so much! 

So, yeah, there you go.  You know the numbers.  You can see the photos.  And that's about it, isn't it?  Well, no.  Not even close.  For those are the easy things to get across.  Here, check out this photo!  Here, my boobs are growing!  And then poof, you've got an idea of what this all has done for me right?  Ha, I wish it were so!  Alas, it may take a few more words. 

Ahhh..... here is something worth a mention.  Recently I went back and read my blog from start to finish.  Interesting event.  Over the last 8 years of writing this blog, I certainly noticed a vast improvement in my writing from year to year.  However, over the past year, it was a bit of a jump.  I'm not trying to toot my own horn too much.  You are free to look for yourself.  Like the pictures, for me, I noticed a difference. 

Another glorious difference is my relationship with my wife.  This to me is one of the utmost amazing things of this path.  Once upon a time, back when my wife and I were both super ignorant about transgender issues, she said to me that if I ever transitioned she would leave me.  It wasn't said meanly.  It wasn't out of anger or non acceptance.  It was because of what she and I thought that meant.  Low and behold, pursuing this path, that most would term transition, is actually what is saving our marriage. 

I have written here and there in this blog about our relationship and how it has changed since changing my hormones.  If you don't already know, the long and the short of it is, we have been together for almost 32 years and have fought pretty constantly about every 1 to 2 weeks over that entire time.  And generally the fights were not calm, well thought out, loving discourses between people who love each other.  They were also not about anything in particular.  No, it was not about my gender issues. 

Well, okay, the words were not ever about my gender issues.  And Jules never fought with me because of my gender issues.  However, in reality, my hand in all of that muck was certainly about my gender issues.  Neither of us knew that.  But we do now!  Now that I have been on the right hormones for a year, and I have not lost my shit with her during that entire time.  That is truly very shocking for both of us.  Yes she has on occasion lost her shit with me, but my responses have been actually pretty darn loving!  Holy crap, Batman!  Seriously, this alone is enough for me to know without a doubt that I will forevermore be on Estrogen! (Yes, still with the capital!)

Alright, so, the photos, the numbers, the relationship........ what else?  Work?  Yeah, it would appear as though I am going to go to work this next school year presenting as female.  I'm not super set on that yet.  I mean, I think I am, but then I think I'm not.  I'm much more on the, yes I am going to do it path than not!  A year ago though?  That was not even a thought.  not even a consideration.  I mean, I have always done me, an eclectic mix of gender, but I have never gone to work fully presenting as female.  Apparently, that is what is going to be happening now, though! 

How about personally?  Well personally, I feel like me.  And that is weird.  It is weird that I didn't realize that I stopped feeling like me.  When did that occur?  Was it all at once?  Did something swoop in, rob a piece of me, and sneak away with it?  I think really, it happened bit by bit.  The body hair, the facial hair, the lowering of the voice, balding, societal expectations, parental expectations, bit by bit, things coalesced in me and then one day I was no longer me.  I was a shell of myself, functioning, successful, yet floundering in so many ways.   I know a year ago, I didn't know this, but I do now.  And I am grateful. 

Awhile ago I came up with a new mantra.  How long ago?  Dunno, maybe about six months or so.  Here it is - I'm going to stop hiding who I am from anybody, and I'm going to give people the freedom to chose for themselves how to respond.  Sound simple?  Maybe to some.  But to many, it is not.  Sometimes it is easier to hide from people because sometimes people can be bad.  It is an irrefutable fact.  Nonetheless, in hiding, one hurts themselves, and others.  You hurt yourself because you are robbing yourself of any true connection.  You hurt others because you are judging them to be people who may behave poorly. 

On that note, I am out to pretty much everybody.  It has gotten to the point that I am stretching my memory of who does not know!  Funny!  It was only 1 year ago that I became Facebook friends with my wife.  That is crazy!  Now I am friends with many people in my day to day life, and I love it!  I absolutely adore that!  I really do.  I have received such a tremendous outpouring of support from my community, and I am so eternally grateful for that.  It has meant so much to me, that I could never possibly explain it.  That whole coffee cup thing... suffice to say, thank you!  I love you! 

Hmmmm...... negatives?  How about anything negative?  Well, yeah a couple.  Testosterone is a natural steroid.  I used those steroids to my advantage!  I realize that now.  What does that mean?  Well, I cannot perform at the physical muscular levels that I did before.  I cannot do as much, for as long, as often as I did.  If I work all day long like I used to, I am wiped for like a week!  It is crazy!  I don't really mind it; I just have to get used to it.  Many of the things I did before, I did because I could, and I felt like I had to.  Now?  Nope, I just don't really care about it!

Oh, that is another positive.  I am so much more able to focus on what things in life really matter to me.  And that is lovely!  So helpful to find some focus in life, right??! 

Right, negatives!  Um..... sorry can't think of any others.  Oh, how about the fact that facial electrolysis is a type of medieval torture!  Could that be a negative consequence??  Maybe!  How about that electrolysis is so incredibly expensive???  Could that be a negative?  Yes!  It is!

How about that issue that everybody married is concerned about?  You know that issue, right?  That issue that is so concerning to so many people.  Yeah, I get it, you feel better, yippee!  Now tell me about what is going on in your pants!  The clamoring crowd is chanting for blood!  Dramatic, maybe yes, just a bit overly so!  Anywho..... yeah, things in that arena are functioning as normal.  Yup, totally unaffected.  Well if anything, positively so.  Yeah, apparently that is unusual, but you know that is nothing new for me!  Ha!

Okay.  I've got to stop.  Seriously, this is going on for too long!  Ahhh...... too late! 

Yikes. 

Love you!

Love yourself!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Did She Just Say Transing?


Standing next to my truck I realized what had occurred, I just locked my keys inside.  It was truly an unreal moment and I stood there for a bit absolutely dumbstruck.  This couldn't really be happening could it?  Yes, yes it could, and it was.  I tried pushing some random numbers into my key-less entry system as I never actually bothered to memorize the actual combination.  I knew it was a five digit code, but that was about it.  

Proving to be quite fruitless, I moved on to coaxing my dog into the front seat with the hopes that I could get him to paw at the door lock button.  Yes, Indy was inside the truck.  Luckily this was not a recent event, thus it was not life threatening for my dog to be locked in my truck.  It was an annoying thing for me and a confusing thing for him, but not life threatening for either of us.  It actually happened last December or January while duck hunting with the outside temps in the 40s or 50s.  So no lives threatened.

With some encouragement Indy climbed over the seat and was next to the window with his tongue out, looking at me very anxiously.  I motioned to him to come towards the window.  He did what I asked and actually pawed at the arm rest holding the unlock button, which momentarily thrilled me.  But alas he unfortunately missed it by a few inches, at which point he laid down on the seat and stared at me and would do no more.  

The story of this incident is far more involved.  It has lots of walking and lots of sweating from going back and forth in the marsh.  Finding out that my wife did not have her spare set of keys.  Quite a few moments of pondering just what exactly I was going to do about this situation.  A bit of cursing my lack of awareness.  But the long and the short of it is, I ended up breaking the small slider window in the back window of the truck.  I was able to then crawl in and hit the unlock button.  Yay, Indy was rescued and I had regained access to my truck.  

At the time, I was shocked at how calm I remained through the entire incident.  Estrogen and I had become good friends by this point and all parties involved were quite happy with that fact.  This was where I thought the story would end, but actually it led to something super amusing.

Being a teacher, I often put off things until summer vacation rolls around, and getting the window fixed was on that list.  I had put up some plastic to keep out the water and that was it.  I have lived with it for the past six months or so.  Being as I am now on vacay, I finally took the truck down to a local automotive glass shop to make an appointment.  

Nothing unusual happened at first.  I inquired about the cost, when they could do it, and what it would entail.  It was pretty standard stuff.  Of course I was a bit nervous.  I was wearing (which is always relevant to a trans human's story right?) short shorts, and a tank top.  With that whole estrogen thing occurring as well, my breasts travel where I do.  So, um, yeah, there I was, in a local auto place, dressed as me, and chatting it up like this was just any other normal day.  Because, you know, it was.  

Then it happened, I setup the appointment I wanted and the super nice woman asked for my name.  Of course I stopped for just a brief moment.  It wasn't long, but it was long enough.  I mean how many people have to stop and ponder, yeah just what exactly is my name, that's a damn good question!  Uh, I don't think that many people generally ever pause in the least to stop and consider what their name is.  But I did and that is a bit odd. 

I gave them my male name, Robert.  But then I had to explain myself.  Okay, you are right, I did not have to, but I am wanting to try to do my part to normalize the transgender experience for people.  So I chuckled and explained that for now my legal name is Robert, until Thursday of this week when I am having it changed.  

The receptionist smiled and asked what I am having it changed to.  I smiled and told her, Kelly.  (Yes peeps I know I still blog under Nadine, which I will continue to do, but please know it is simply my nom de plume, hopefully that is understood by now ;) )  She smiled and said, cool well we will go by Kelly then.  I smiled back and said cool thanks.

She continued by saying "well you are transing aren't you?"  Transing?  Did she just ask me if I was transing?  Yes, yes she did just ask if I was transing.  This was one of those moments that took milliseconds in the real world, but lasted for far longer in my mind.  I pondered if I should stop and correct this woman to let her know that she just created a brand new verb?  Do I tell her that many people in the transgender community would see her comments as ignorant and possibly quite offensive?  Or do I simply take pleasure in this woman, in this town, trying her best to be understanding, caring, and accommodating?  

Of course I railed her for her ignorant bullshit in my typical militant transing fashion right?  Ha!  

Um no.  No that is not what I did.  What I did do was to take the time to realize the beauty in the situation.  Here was someone who possibly has not ever encountered a human such as myself, but she was trying her best to care about me.  Some stranger cared enough about me to want to call me what I want to be called.  Who cares if she was not totally clear on the transgender lexicon?  She was a human being trying to treat another being kindly.  

Yeah I get that what she said truly made no sense.  There is no such thing as transing.  The thing is, while I could have corrected her easily enough - by saying, well yes I am transgender, but no, one cannot be transing.  It would be simple right?  Well yeah, but it would also taint the experience.  See, the important thing was that she was trying.  She tried on her own, with no prodding from me.  So, she tries and then I _________ .  Scold her?  Even lightly?  Even, ever so gently?  Or do I excuse the specific phrasing, and hear her intent?  

I heard her intent and it made me smile.  So I answered, yes to her question.  She said, cool, well then we will call you Kelly.  I thanked her while gathering up my things back into my purse.  I reconfirmed the estimate amount and my appointment day and time before heading for the door.  She said, goodbye Kelly when I walked out.  

Myself?  I had the hugest shit-eating grin on my face.  (Side bar - what a weird idiom, shit eating grin, is it just a regional thing?  Is it used outside of California?  And why in the heck does a shit-eating grin refer to a huge smile?  There is absolutely nothing smile inducing about the literal meaning of those words! - sorry, side bar over!)   

It was an event that made me smile for the entire day and I got a kick out of telling my wife throughout the day that I was transing.  Hilarious.  Okay, well to me it is.  I love the English language.  Why?  For its flexibility.  It is so malleable.  It flows with general guidelines and very few definitive rules.  My work subject matter, mathematics, is so opposite of that, full of rules that have very few exceptions.  So at the end of the day who cares that she took an adjective and turned it into a verb, not me.  Not then, and not now.  

What I care about was someone showed me that they care.  A total stranger cares that much about me?  Well that is just totes magotes.  Did ya see what I did there?  English is so absurdly hilarious! 

Love you!

Love yourself!

Love others!

Love transing!  

photo credit:

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

My Outfit - Cute Dress

Dress - White House Black Market - Similar @ WHBM - @ Amazon
Scarf - ?? - Similar
Leggings - White House Black Market - Similar @ WHBM - @ Amazon
Booties - Madden Girl - Similar @ Amazon - @ DSW

Wow, I have no idea what I was doing when I wore this outfit, but I do know, I really like it!  It is a very simple dress from WHBM that is super comfy.  It also has a wonderful texture to it.  I really like texture, if you don't know.  Well, and of course, I really like black and white.  So there is that.  Plus, the pattern on the dress is super cute.  It is little flower plants printed all over it.  Totes adorbs!

Recently I did something that I found to be super amusing, I did a massive spring cleaning of my wardrobe.  Well, it isn't really spring time anymore is it?  Not with temps around here getting into the 100s.  Anywho - I do like to go through my clothes somewhat frequently and rid myself of the excess baggage hanging in my closet and hiding in my drawers.  I ended up getting rid of about three to four bags of old items.  But that was not the amusing part.  The amusing aspect was in trying to determine if my outfits could work for this next school year. 

I am still quite undecided as to how I will chose to be presenting this coming school year.  Some days I am set solidly on going dressed in a far more female manner, while other days I think, oh hell no!  Time will tell for sure.  However, while going through my closet it did become kind of a thing to look at each item and decide if it was work appropriate or not.  How many outfits do you think I got up to?  The answer is about fifty to sixty. 

Yup, at least fifty to sixty different outfits that I could wear to work without repeats.  Wow!  I mentioned to my wife that I think I have been planning all along to go to work wearing these outfits.  When she questioned me as to why I said that, she seemed surprised and said, "I thought you just liked nice clothes."  Well sure, I do like nice clothes, but why exactly is it that I have such a large collection of outfits that are super work appropriate?  Hmmm... makes me wonder for sure!

So, uh, yeah, there you go! 

Love you!

Love yourselves!

(I super hope you are trying to love yourselves, I really do!)

Friday, June 8, 2018

A Minor Massive Fear


It was with a weird disconnected calm that I heard my wife describe the horror I had been dreading since 2010.  A student came up to her and described how all of the students were talking about that I had been discovered online.  They apparently found my Facebook page which led them here to this little ol blog of mine.  At one point in my life this would have been awesomely devastating for the two of us, at least mentally.  I am sure that it would have sent me into a frenzied attempt to remove my online presence and erase all evidence that is the horror of being transgender.  

But on that day, I listened with a bemused sort of disinterest.  So much has changed.  So much will continue to change.  Currently I am finding myself in a location that I never came close to imagining.  Almost daily I question myself as to if I have determined an answer to my most recent work question - how will I present this next school year and what will I expect for people to call me, most importantly the students.  My answer to that question for now is - I have no idea.  

Thus it is that I find myself pondering future potentials and I view my students finding out that I am transgender as being inevitable.  Of course really, when I look at my day to day appearance, if anyone doesn't already know that I am transgender then they clearly aren't looking.  You really don't even need to look all that close.  

Recently I attached my legal last name to my Facebook name.  Once I did that, I figured it was only a matter of time before I would be discovered online.  Funny enough I have yet to attach my legal last name, or my upcoming legal last name to this blog.  I don't know if I will ever .  I like the name of Nadine Spirit to be my nom de plume.  It was created specifically to use while blogging.  I used it for awhile in being out and about, but I never did feel much of an attachment to it.  Now my current pending legal last name will be __________________.  I don't yet think I will attach it here.  I have no issue with anyone here knowing my legal name, if you know me on Facebook, then you already know my name.  Yay!  It's so exciting, right?  Yeah, but really my legal last name is something super distinct.  It's not like Brown, or Smith, a name that has a million people with it.  Nope.  My legal last name is pretty unique.  So unique that, fun fact, apparently if you meet anyone in the US with that same last name, we are part of the same family line.  Wow, another exciting tid bit right?  Oh yeah!

Focus here cutie!  Right, this post was supposed to be about freaking out about my students discovering my deeply hidden giant obvious secret that I have been putting on almost full display for about the past five to ten years.  So yeah, I can say that I felt a disconnect from hearing the news from my wife.  Almost a nonchalance about it.  An eh, whatever, sort of flippant-ness.  

The reality of teaching middle school however can be a brutal heartless agony.  It isn't always.  Sometimes it's the most amazing job on the planet and I wouldn't trade it for anything.  I've been doing it for 21 years, so I think there is something about it that I love.  Call me crazy, but it's true.  

However, that whole brutal heartless agony thing can be a real killer.  Thus it was that my wife and I braced ourselves for our possible demise as we walked into work the next day.  It really wasn't me that I was worried about, it was mainly for my wife.  I teach math.  She teaches Language Arts.  Who would you talk to while growing up, the math human or the English human?  Well I will tell you that for every one student who approaches me with a potential conversation she has about a hundred of them.  

In Language Arts, you talk about things like emotion and such.  In math, we just don't do that.  And further more when you do, it makes the students uncomfortable.  Very uncomfortable.  Thus it really never happens.  But it is almost a minute by minute occurrence for my wife.  That's they way it goes it is what it is and there isn't much that can or should be done about it.  As well, with being a public school teacher, you need to understand that we are contract employees.  We are contracted to do a specific job, and my job is to teach math, not for me to talk about transgender issues.  But another fun fact - we can answer just about any question a student asks.  I can talk about transgender issues, if the student initiates the conversation.  

So we braced ourselves for a potential onslaught of hysterical students clamoring with muddled rumors of the teacher they found online that is dressed in a far more feminine manner than they are used to.  I tried to be supportive of my wife and offer her any assistance or thoughts that might help her, but at the start of the day we each had to go our separate ways off to our own classrooms.  

Within moments of arriving into my room, as is usual I dove into my work and soon forgot about the potential looming doom approaching me.  And so it was that it wasn't really until about 2nd period that I remembered.  I had to giggle.  Nothing had happened, nor was happening.  My students were working on their various projects, seemingly oblivious to the supposed furiously flying rumors about their transgender teacher. 

Our morning break came quickly that morning and I anxiously awaited news of what the day had wrought for my wife.  She came into the lounge with a smile on her face and was contentedly talking with another colleague about some chit-chatty topic.  When she sat down next to me I gave her that raised eyebrow look and asked her how her morning had been.  She said it had been fine but did not continue or give any hint of what that particular use of the word "fine" actually meant.  I pressed further and asked her if she had any interesting conversations that morning.  And she replied that she hadn't but that she was still a bit concerned about what the rest of the day would bring.  

I wished her my best at the end of break and returned to my room pondering to myself about just what the rest of the day would bring.  It actually took until after 4th period for something to finally happen.  I was in my room during the passing time between class periods.  A student yelled into my room, my pending legal first name, Kelly.  A student waiting in my room for class to begin told me she thought it was disrespectful as I went to the door to see if I could determine the culprit.  

Nobody unusual was outside my door.  Nothing was happening.  Just the one saying of my name from some anonymous student.  And then it struck me and I smiled, they thought they were being mean, when in reality they were actually using my name, well pending name.  Sure they, as a student at the school, shouldn't be using my first name, but it is undeniable that I smile whenever anyone calls me Kelly.  I took note of who I thought may have said it for future reference but that was it.  

As it turns out, that was all that happened.  To me or to my wife.  Not one other word of it was spoken to me or her.  Hmmmmm....... kind of a let down, huh?  I mean, no not really.  It was actually an amazing gloriously awesome sauce thing!  But, to brace yourself for so long for the inevitable super drama headed towards you as a freight train towards an ant, and then for basically nothing to happen it can kind of spin one for a loop.  

Jules and I spoke about it on the way home.  We were both pretty pleased with how our day had actually gone and how different it was from what we feared it may have been.  We did remind each other that now that this news is out, there is no telling how far it may spread.  There is no knowing what may happen from day to day with young teenagers, you just have to roll with it and sometimes figure it out on the run.  Literally, figuring it out while running to them or from them or just to the restroom between classes!  Haha. 

Surely since then things must have happened, right?  Well no, they have not.  It is now summer break, everybody is signed out and gone.  And nope, not one other thing was said to my wife or me.  I heard some rumors of conversations happening around me, but what is middle school without rumors?  What's the fun in that?  

Will I still be paranoid about some massive unseen meteor of doom headed my way?  Well, yeah, for sure.  I have yet to determine if I am going to go to work next school year dressed in a far more feminine manner or not.  I have not determined if they will be told to reference as Mrs. _____ or not.  Why do you think that is?  Because I am so steadfastly confident?  Ha!  Um, no.  Because I am completely freaking terrified!  Terrified of what may lay waiting for me in its infinite horror.  So there is that.

Um, yeah, there you have it.  Shall we review here for a moment?  For the past twenty one years I have been terrified of my students finding out, they found out, and basically nothing happened.  

Not what I thought.  

So not what I thought.  

See, middle schoolers aren't all bad!  They're actually just a bunch of softies.  (I keep trying to tell myself!)

Thanks!  

Love you!!

Love yourself!


Photos:
The photos are all taken of another art piece I did with my students this year.  This was done about 6 or 7 months ago.  Think I have been hiding all that much?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Paper Mache Penguin


This school year I have had the amazing opportunity to teach an applied mathematics course where we have used mathematics concepts to create art.  This post is about a project that I made for the students to learn the process of using proportional reasoning to create a large scale paper mache object.

I didn't have a Teddy Bear while growing up, I had a stuffed penguin.  I slept with that penguin forever.  Eventually it acted as a pillow that I would use to prop up my shoulder.  As an adult now I still.... no, I don't sleep with a stuffed penguin, but I do sleep with a small pillow that does what my penguin used to.  Funny.  Anywho..... suffice to say, I've got an affinity for penguins!  Thus when I set out to create a larger than usual paper mache object, of course I chose a penguin.  I've done several paper mache projects over the years, however this is by far the largest of them.  I think that it ended up being about three to four feet tall.

The process is fairly simple.  Step 1 - create a frame from chicken wire.  Theoretically you could use just about anything for your inner form, but chicken wire is easily shaped.  A downfall however is that it is easily bent out of shape.  This was a fact I would have liked to have known later in the process.  So, I would suggest if you do use chicken wire, it might be best if you support it from within somehow.

Step 2 - once you have an inner structure in the vague shape of what you are trying to create, then begins the actual paper mache.  I used simple liquid starch and newspaper.  Cut up strips of newspaper, place it into a bowl of starch, and apply it to the form.  With the first layer I like to kind of work it into the chicken wire.  That kind of helps the paper to stick to the chicken wire.  The first layer is kind of tricky, so I would suggest to do a single layer and let it dry.  After the first layer is good and dry, generally at least 24 hours later, then go with more layers.  If you plan on doing step 3, I would suggest you use many layers of newspaper.  An estimate for this project is about thirty to forty layers applied fairly evenly over the entire structure.

Step 3 - cover the entire object using paper mache clay.  The are many recipes online for super nice recipes.  However being as this was a school project, I needed something inexpensive, and easy for students to do.  Thus my process if pretty simple.  Soak newspaper in water for 24 hours.  Blend the newspaper into pulp.  Strain most of the water from the paper, squeezing it from the paper.  Hand knead in salt and flour.  If you add more flour and less water, it will be more like a stiff bread dough, or even like a thick clay.  If you add more water to the mix it will be more like a thick chunky pudding.

So, how much of each?  Hmmm..... I never measured it!  Each batch ended up being about the same amount as a batch of cookies does.  Does that help?  No?  How about four to six cups or so of drained paper pulp, one to two cups of flour, and about a half cup of salt.  Or thereabouts.  Seriously, this is me just guessing at the amounts.

Once you have your clay, then spread it onto your object.  This part is where it gets a bit tricky.  The clay is super heavy.  It will easily bend unsupported chicken wire.  So a good inner form is kind of important.  You could also do lots of layers of the starch and newspaper and then apply the clay in only small sections.  The wetter your clay is the more important having an inner support structure is important.  I found it best to do a very thick clay with as little water as I could get away with.  This made it tough to spread on, but it didn't affect my inner structure as much.

During this stage, of spreading on clay, you want to focus on creating the features you want to be visible in the final stages.  My mixture set almost like a mix between plaster and cement.  It is pretty tough stuff.  And it made my project more and more heavy.  I did use lots of layers.  The initial paper covered form was not nearly as round as I wanted it.  Thus I built up much of the roundness with the clay.

When you have reached the final layer of clay that you want to do, then focus on texture.  I applied the clay, smoothed it into place, wet my hands and ran them over the wet clay.  That helped to smooth things out.

Step 4 - wow, step 3 was long huh?  I used home construction quick dry plaster and covered the penguin entirely in plaster.

Step 5 - I sanded the penguin with several different power sanding tools.

Step 6 - I painted my object using a white primer paint.  This worked pretty well, however in some areas the paint cracked.  Thus I filled in those areas with a super light mix of the quick dry plaster.  I painted it on with a sponger brush and lightly sanded those spots.

Step 7 - I used acrylic paints to apply the final colors.

After that, I have just enjoyed my big new pal!  I think he is absolutely adorable!  Most of my students have agreed as well.

I think he will become my new classroom mascot!  I can have that, can't I?  My school has a mascot, so why can't I have a classroom mascot?  Pretty sure I can.  I'm going to go for it.

Okay.  That's it.  Thanks for being here!

Love you!

Love penguins!

Love folk art!!


Sunday, May 27, 2018

My Outfit - Short Hair!!

Hair - Jon Renau - Cameron Large - @ Amazon - @ Wilshire Wigs
Top - Calvin Klein - Similar @ Amazon
Pants - 7 For All Mankind - Slim Cigarette - Similar @ 7 For All Mankind @ Amazon
Tank - Guess - Similar @ Amazon
Shoes - New Balance - Similar @ Amazon

This was the outfit that I chose to wear for the Visalia Pride Festival.  It was only the 2nd time that Visalia has had this event, and I didn't go the 1st time.  Thus it was that I had no idea what to expect.  My vague notion was, food, information, drag shows, and people.  I just wanted to wear something that was comfy and I wouldn't mind sitting on the ground in.  Overall I thought this outfit worked.  It was cute, comfy, and not too fancy.

A bonus was that when we were pulling out of our house I noticed that the mail had been delivered.  I crossed my fingers with the thought that maybe, just maybe, the new wig I purchased would be sitting in there. And it was!!! 

I have been looking at some other options that might be more work friendly, eeek!!!  This one is actually the most expensive wig I have ever purchased.  It retails for about $420.  Funny price, but it is not the one that I actually paid.  First I got it from Wilshire Wigs, who generally does a 30%, or so, discount per month.  That took off quite a bit of the cost.  Then I used money that I make through some of my side ventures, like Teachers Pay Teachers.  I ended up only paying about $120 out of my pocket.  Sweet!! 

A good number of years ago I had a wig that was as short, possibly shorter, than this one.  I may have had more than one.  Most of my first wigs were super cheap, like in the $50 range cheap.  And no I am not saying inexpensive, they were downright cheap!  Cheap in cost, and cheap looking!  Eventually through trial and error I found some wigs that actually look fairly decent.  But I left behind the notion that I could look good with short hair.

Long hair is so nice in that it helps to change the appearance of features that maybe some of us would rather not have.  Short hair is less of a mask and can reveal much more of a human.  So, maybe I have been afraid of short hair.  But I will tell you that long hair is a pain in the butt on occasion.  I do love my long hair, but it is hard to care for, especially in wig form!  The tangles and pulls are super challenging to deal with.  So it is that I decided to try for an easier to care for style. 

Overall I like the look.  It is totally different then my long hair, but I think it is still cute.  And in wearing it throughout the day at Pride, it worked just fine.  The only thing about it is that as with most hair, it liked to get into my mouth as I was attempting to eat some tacos.  Mmmmm, yum, mouth hair! 

Okie dokie, that's about it humans!  Oh, one last thing, I did enjoy my first Pride festival.  Nothing out of the ordinary happened.  I did think to myself on more than one occasion, wow I am so normal!  I mean this as no offense to anyone else, but I have always thought I am super strange for being transgender and presenting the way that I do.  But on this day, at this event, my wife and I were some of the most vanilla people there.  I think we got more looks from people wondering why we were even at a Pride event, than people wondering who was the "dude dressed as a woman!"  Funny.

Love you!

Love yourselves! 

Loving short hair!

Monday, May 14, 2018

Artsy Hat - Sharpie Tie Dye


I have been searching for a nice feminine hat and have been disappointed by the available selections.  Sure there are quite a few baseball caps out there that are pretty cute, however I really like to wear wide brim hats.  Remember that whole skin cancer thing I mentioned awhile back?  Well I keep imagining them having to take that kind of slice out of my face and yikes that is some scary shit!  So, yeah, the least I can do is to wear a good hat, right?

For some time I have seen various Sharpie tie-dye projects on the web.  I teach a 3D art class this year and am always on the lookout for cool projects.  This is one I have been wanting to try and this was the perfect opportunity to go for it.

The first step was to practice on something that I didn't care about ruining!  Thus paper towels to the rescue.


The process is pretty basic.  Take your fabric, stretch it over something, or not, and begin drawing.  You draw a small circle of dots with Sharpies (or some other permanent marker.)  Or a large circle.  Or a triangle.  Or anything you want!  It is really pretty simple.  I tried out numerous different things.  It was only paper towel so what did I have to lose?  Nothing!


After I had practiced a bit and had an idea of what I wanted to do, I began working on my hat.  Being as it is such an odd shaped item, and I wanted some sort of consistent look to the blobs, I put it on top of a jar.  I covered the top of the jar with plastic wrap, then placed the hat on top, and stretched a thick rubber band around it all.


I drew what I wanted to, starting with blue.  After I did a bunch of the blue ones in the sort of pattern I wanted it in, I then began working in other colors.  As you can see, I kept one of my test strips nearby to give me inspiration.  I also did some test spots on the white paper I was working on.  This also shows the colors I was working with.  They are the five near the heat gun in the upper right quadrant of the photo.  On the paper I tried out some other colors whose colors did not seem to bleed very well and thus I decided to not use them, like the black for instance.


Once you have stretched your fabric how you want it, and you have drawn your design, you then slowly drip rubbing alcohol from an eye dropper.  I suppose you could use anything to drip the alcohol, but it should be something you can control.  A small amount of alcohol will spread the ink a small amount.  A larger amount and a larger blob will form.  Be cautious though as too much alcohol may not give you the effect that you want.


The other tool that I used was the heat gun.  I would drip the alcohol and then use the heat gun to control how far the drip spread.  By applying some heat you can make the spread slow or stop.  But be careful to not burn your clothes in the process!  The other nice thing about using the heat gun is that it helps to set the color into the fabric.


After I was done coloring the top of the hat, I used the same process for the chin strap.  Overall I think it came out looking pretty cool!  I impressed myself and have enjoyed wearing this hat since I completed it.

Oh one more thing was that I also tossed the hat into the drier after I was finished and ran it for awhile trying to further help set the colors.

Oh as well - be cautious about moving the garment you are dying.  If the spot is not dry, it will smear onto anything it touches.  The strap was really particular about that last part.  Being as it is quite thick it took extra long to dry and the heat gun got super close to singing it.

Hope you give it a whirl!

Seriously, try it out.

Even if on just a piece of paper.

Art is fun.

Art is love!