Friday, October 19, 2018

So I did a Little Thing

One of the easiest things in this process of legally changing my name and my gender was getting this driver's license.  You may recall that I was quite nervous about the process.  In the end, it was super easy and I was in and out of the DMV in about 20 minutes.  Yes I did have an appointment, and I highly recommend making one if you are ever in a need to visit that lovely place.

The super surprising thing about the entire process was that exactly one week later, I received this lovely little piece of plastic in the mail!  Woo-Hoo!  I finally failed sex!  Get it?  I've got the F next to the word sex on there.  Yeah, I know, I'm fricken hilarious!  I did mention that I am a math teacher right?  Anywho..... the DMV worker said that I would receive my new license in about 3-4 weeks, and they killed that time expectation!  Lovely!  Simply lovely!  Thank you Cali DMV!

Oh, and I also think that my picture is pretty good as well.  I mean it does look as though my eyes are half closed, but heck I still look pretty darn cute, so I'll take it!  I also like that they were not so closely zoomed in on my face that you can actually see a bit of the dress I have on.  Woo-Hoo!  Now I'm just hoping that when I go in for the Real ID that they don't make me take another photo.  Crossing my fingers!

So now, onto the massive pain in the ass, my birth certificate.  Yup this little lovely came only one day after I received my driver's license.  When did I first send away for it?  July 11th.  Yeah, so that made it about 3 months to complete this mission.  It shouldn't have taken that long, but it did due to an error that I made.  Yup, I was kicking myself!

Initially I sent it off, like I said, on July 11th.  It was returned to me about 5 weeks later, and I was thrilled, until I opened the letter and discovered that I had made an error.  It said something along the lines of - mother's name at birth, and what they meant was mother's maiden name.  That would have made it clear.  Like a fool, I did what it said instead of what it meant.  They returned it, with my mother's name corrected and told me to resubmit it.

I mailed it back the very next day with the corrections having been made.  Five weeks later, I had nothing.  Sometime in the sixth or seventh week, I noticed that they cashed my check.  Woo Hoo I thought, they will be sending it to me any day now.  Alas, there was no such luck.  It took another two to three weeks for them to actually send it to me.

For me, the absolute weirdest part was that when I received both of these items, one day apart, I was not nearly as thrilled as I thought I would be.  I was happy, but not absolutely ecstatic, over the moon happy.  I actually had to tell myself to be happier.  What was the issue?  I was having my period.  Yeah, I know, not possible right?  Well, I did have a pretty major adjustment in my hormone levels at the start of last week.  My doc doubled my spiro dosage.  My T was still too high.  I think that hormone adjustment put me into a bit of a funk.

Whatevs, right?  Well for me it was as within a week I was absolutely thrilled to have gotten these two giant checkmarks off my list.  The driver's license was huge actually because that was what I was waiting for to begin pretty much all of the rest of the changes.  Now, I'm making a list and checking it twice for every last little instance of my previous name.  It will probably take quite some time for me to find every occurrence, but I will get there eventually.

In the end, if this is a course you are taking, make sure you do not make ANY errors on the birth certificate application.  That's my one piece of advice, oh and be prepared at the DMV and be willing to explain the process to whomever is attempting to help you as you may very well have to explain to them how to do it.  Yeah, that was funny for sure! 

Oh, and another super cool thing, I actually composed this blog yesterday and when I got home what was in the mail?  My new credit and bank cards!  Yay!!  Super YAY!!!  That means that pretty much everything in my wallet is now with my correct name!  That is super FUCKING AMAZE BALLS!!!  Oh, geez, oops, did I just let an F bomb fly?  YES! Yes I did!  I even yelled it right?  Yup, that happened! 

Okie dokie!  Love you!

Love yourselves!

Work hard to get yourself what you need! 

Care about the other's in your life.  But take care of yourself so that you are able to care for others. 

It's important.



Wednesday, October 3, 2018

My Outfit - Off to the DMV

Dress - White House Black Market - Similar @ WHBM, @ Amazon
Leggings - WHBM - @ WHBM, Similar @ Amazon
Booties - Unisa - Havana @ DSW, Similar @ Amazon
Scarf - WHBM - @ WHBM, Similar @ Amazon

I had waited far too long.  My court date to legally change my name and my gender was on June 28th.  My plan, which was wonderful, was to get my birth certificate and then get my new license.  Doing it in that order would allow for me to get one of those new fancy Real ID thingies.  You know, that ID that you will need if you want to board a plane, starting in October of 2020.  Yes that requirement is a ways off, but why go through the joys of visiting the DMV now, just to have to do it later??  Yeah, I'm no fool, so I sent off for my birth certificate.

Ah such well laid plans!  You know how this is going to turn out don't you?  Well you should!

Anywho..... I sent off for my new birth certificate on July 11th.  Yes I waited about a week or two between the court date and the mailing of my forms.  But remember, that was also the time at which my wife had her foot surgery.  So, I tried to cut myself some slack.  Five weeks later, I got back a letter from the CDPH (California department of public health.)  They were returning my application as it had been rejected due to an error on my part.  The place that says mother's name at birth, actually meant, mother's maiden name.  Silly me!  Why did I not understand what they meant instead of what they wrote.

Oh well!  I refilled out my application, and mailed it off again.  Within a day or two, or so, I got a letter from the DMV.  It turns out that my license will be expiring on my birthday, October 4th.  Which basically meant, I had about 8 weeks for the CDPH to receive my application, and then send me my new birth certificate before I would need them.  Plenty of time, right?  Yeah, no.

Lots of words to say, I visited the DMV yesterday to get my new license!  These photos show what I chose to wear for my day.  It actually started off with me going to my OB/GYN for my 6th month check up and blood work.  That was in the morning, so I made the DMV appointment for that afternoon.  When my doctor saw me, she mentioned that she thought my outfit was on point!  Which of course made me glow even more.  Love my doc!

I began this post with stating that I felt as though I had waited too long.  Yeah, unfortunately the birth certificate did not come, and I was not able to fulfill my original quest, that of the Real ID.  But in hindsight, I think that I was using that to avoid something I was super worried about.  It turns out that I have a little bit of an inner issue, I am terrified that someone along the way in this whole transition journey is going to tell me that I can't.  Can't what?  Can't be who I know that I am.

It is sort of like that shark in my swimming pool thing that I wrote about recently.  Logically I know that it is not going to happen, but I fear it so.  This was not something that I consciously realized prior to standing in the DMV and realizing that I was shaking.  I had shown up on time for my appointment, checked in, completed an online form, received my number, and was waiting for my number to be called.  Everything had gone smoothly, and I was pretty sure that I had all of the forms I would need to complete the job.  However, as I stood there, leaning against a counter, I realized just how terrified I was.

Realizing I was shaking with fear and doubt, I pulled out my handwriting practice paper and began to sign my name.  Have I ever mentioned that I am practicing my handwriting?  Well I am.  It has of course been one of those life long gender issues.  As a child I never practiced my writing, why should I when my teachers calmly explained to me that boys could not write as well girls due to a lack of fine motor control.  It never occurred to me to challenge their incorrect assumptions about gender and actually just practice my writing!  Well, phooey on them I say, and now 40 years later, I am actually taking the time to practice!

I stood and signed my name over and over, trying to control my breathing, and force my hand to slowly and calmly form the newly learned strokes.  I was having a tough time.  My signature was certainly shaky.  Far more shaky then it was when I wasn't terrified about some unforeseen impending doom.  Within minutes my number was called and off I went to find my window and enlighten the next individual who was going to be bound to helping me be me.

Not surprisingly the DMV worker had not performed a name and gender change before.  No worries, I talked him through it!  Yeah, seriously!  I informed him of the paper work that was needed as I handed it to him.  He tippity tapped on his keyboard, went and consulted with a more experienced worker a few times, made me some copies, had me verify everything, then gave me a temporary license to sign.  With that, he asked me to step over to the camera.  With a thumb print, a signature, and a flash, boom, I was done at the DMV!  And out I walked, no longer in possession of an incorrect male license, but with my brand new license with everything correct on it for the first time in my life.

Yeah life changing.  Seriously.  It is funny how when I finally accomplish something like this, I realize just how long I have been waiting for it.  Prior to doing things like this, I fairly confidently lie to myself that these things don't really matter.  But then I do it, and I can almost literally feel weights dropping off my shoulders.

Now, I have my court order, my SSN is updated, my driver's license is updated, and today I sent off my info to have all of my banking and insurance documents changed.  I am still waiting my for new birth certificate, but they have cashed my check so that is a good sign.  One day everything will be done, but for today I will be thrilled with what has been done.

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Have you tied looking for those things which have annoyed you for so long they have become normal?  It's worth the look.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

My Outfit - Be the Queen

Top - WHBM - Similar @ Amazon, @ WHBM
Leggings - WHBM - Similar @ Amazon, @ WHBM
Shoes - Unisa - Similar @ Amazon, @ DSW 
Belt - ?? - Similar @Amazon

Do you know that I adore this tunic?  Well I do!  And today I felt like a queen.  Does it show on my face?  It should!  Seriously, I really like this outfit.  I had to go visit CVS after work to determine when my next refill of anti-asshole meds were going to be refilled.  As well, I needed to make sure that both of my meds are now being handled by a much more efficient CVS.  Thrilling, right?  I know!  Anywho.... I caught my reflection in the glass doors of the CVS, and marveled at my style.  I know, I'm SO modest, right???  Ahahahahahahaha!!  That's a good one. 

It does bring up a good point though.  If you have been a reader of this blog for just about any length of time you may very well be aware of the almost crippling doubt that I have suffered with.  And if you are brand new here, well a quick primer for you - yeah, believe it or not, I've kind of doubted myself a bit of the years.  It's kind of a thing among the transgender community, and actually it's a thing among most of the population. 

Oh, right.... the point!  That would be I am making serious progress on improving my self image!  That whole, estrogen and anti-testosterone thing with the meds and all has helped.  But what has helped even more, is actually freeing myself from my own self imposed restrictions.  Like, it's only okay to be myself around these people or in these situations, and I really can't let those in these other places know the truth about me.  Being able to give myself the freedom to be myself, and to trust that other people are actually good decent humans that really only want to experience connections with others, has been absolutely life changing. 

Today, I did the usual, I went to work and taught my little heart out to my middle school lovelies.  It was a short day and we had a teacher work session for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  The work thing went great.  I went to CVS, that went great.  I went to Lowes, and that went great.  All it all, it was a super normal, and yet totally awesome day that left me smiling and savoring the beauty in the small simple things. 

Slowly, bit by bit, I notice that how I view myself is changing.  I've never thought that I was all that becoming of a human.  After years of my wife telling me that I was good looking, I finally began to acknowledge that I wasn't completely horrible as a dude.  However, when I started actually dressing as me, I knew for a fact that I was a super uggo of the 10th degree as a woman.  All I could ever see was what made me look like a man.  And that sucked.  It clouded my vision immensely.

It is not as though the estrogen has taken hold of me and warped my face magically into a super model.  Yeah, no.  No no.  Nope.  Can I say again, no?  However, there is something different about my appearance that is kind of hard to pinpoint.  Keeping my face shaved, wearing all of my lovely clothes, and makeup almost every day has seriously helped as well. 

So, um, yeah.  Today I saw my reflection and dare I say it?  I thought I actually looked cute.  Fine!  I said it!  There you go. 

Love you!

Love yourself!

Seriously, love yourself.  Find what you need to do to believe you are the queen.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

1 Regret, Some Could Have Done Betters, And Lots of Glad I Dids

About 6 months ago.

I will be the first to admit that my transition has not gone the way that I expected it to.  My whole life has been spent picturing people chasing me down with torches and pitchforks.  I know that would never happen, but as well I am the type that is afraid of a shark biting me when I jump in my pool.  I know that it isn't real, and I know it is not ever going to happen.  But that doesn't make the fear go away.

What does?  Facing those fears.

This has been a long slow event for me.  I see that now.  Some part of me must have known what was coming because while some may say my easy transition is due to luck, I see now that much of it was due to hard work.  Much of that work was done by those who have come before me.  They are the ones who endured much of the vitriol that is born of ignorance.  They are the ones who helped to open the door.  Me?  I'm just taking advantage of that opening.

There are many things that I am glad I figured out, a few things that could have been better, and really only one thing that I have absolutely regretted.   

Glad I figured out:

Name - I have been through a few of them.  I couldn't imagine having the first female name I used on all of my legal records.  Nope.  SO glad I figured out the name thing.

Clothes - 28 days at work, how many outfits do you think I have repeated?  Zero.  Yup, zero.  Do you read this blog at all?  Have you seen my clothes?  It is as though I have been preparing to be out at work for the last 10 years.  I have been so thrilled to be out as me and not only not worry about my clothes, but to have my clothes bring me strength.  It is funny.  I have said before that my clothes are my friends, and I feel as though my friends have finally come out to play in the real world. Can you guess my favorite clothing store?  White House Black Market anyone!!!

Community connections - Yeah, this is another biggy.  A real biggy.  This has been central to the easy transition I have had.  If not for the support of the people in my life, I would not be able to do what I have done.  It is not merely that people are supportive, it is that I took the time to build community connections prior to coming out.
Eeeek!!!  So glad I learned!!

Hormones - This one was life changing for me.  It really opened my eyes to my reality.  I laugh at who I thought I was prior to last July and changing my hormones to the right ones.

Therapy - Have I mentioned before that I love my therapist?  Well I do!  Not merely because she is my therapist, but because she is a specialist with gender issues.  Her listening ear and gentle guidance has been so lovely!

Makeup - I started with getting foundation from Target or Walmart.  It functioned, but it didn't make me feel like a queen.  Now?  I love that I have had the last ten to fifteen years of my life to practice with this stuff.  Practice is necessary.  Who do I use today?  A combo of Clinique and Urban Decay, mostly just UD

Hair - my first wig cost probably about forty bucks.  My latest?  About four hundred and fifty bucks.  Why pay so much?  Because it rocks!  Currently I have three main hair pieces.  They are all by Jon Renau and in a large size cap for my large noggen.  Amber - long and curly.  Zara - long and straight. Cameron - short and straight, and the most expensive due to the hand tied lace top cap.

A sense of humor - This is important.  There is a certain reality to my situation.  I was born with a male body, bummer for me!  People like people who smile.  Smile more.

The world does not revolve around me being transgender - When I first started going out in public, I was sure that every little laugh, every mean look, every rude person, was doing that because I am transgender.  When in reality more than 99.9% of the time none of that had anything to do with me.  Some people laugh. Some people have weird looks on their faces.  Some people are rude.  And that is just how they are, and they would be that way regardless of how I chose to dress.  The worst that I have seen from humanity was while I was presenting as a male.  The best I have seen from humanity has been while I am me.
Ahhh..... that hair!!!

What could have been done better:

Shoes - I wish I had invested more time in finding cute, all day wearable, functional shoes!  This has been hard as it is a super weak link in my outfits.  Shoes I thought would be wearable really are not when you are talking about being on your feet for oh, 8 hours a day, walking circles around your classroom.

Bras - Good wearable bras, that are good for the entire day, day after day, yeah, I should have spent more time on this!

Legal name change - I got the court date and social security number done with prior to going back to work, but I wish I had gotten it all done.  I'm currently on Birth Certificate.  Then onto Driver's License.  And lastly will be Passport.  Well actually, after the DL, then I will start doing everything else - bank, bills, utilities, you know all that stuff?  Yeah, I wish it was done.

Some sort of functional scheduling system - Since I switched to estrogen my memory has gone to crap!  Seriously!  It used to be so easy to pretty much remember everything, always, for all time!  Now?  Yeah, not so much!

My one regret:

Electrolysis - Wow, I wish I had finished this up long before I decided to go full time.  It really would have been mentally much easier to have had that done by now.  Too bad for me that even though I read this advice, I thought it would never apply to me!  Hahahahahahahahaha!!!!!!  Ahh well!

Well then, there ya go!  That is my 1+ month reflection of being full time at my job.

Love you!

Love yourself!

Good luck!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Outfit - Quite Plain but a Beautiful Compliment

There is nothing special about this outfit.  In fact when I wore it I actually had some deodorant spots on it that I hadn't even noticed before leaving the house.  But I have been more than a bit busy lately, as you may have heard.  I didn't even really want to leave the house, but being as we were just about out of toilet paper, it was a necessity. 

I showered after my brief bit of yard work in the morning, tossed on my shorts, a comfy tank, and opted for my taller wedge sandals.  There were a few stops I needed to make, as I was making the half hour drive to town I may as well try and take care of several items at the same time.  Tequila at the liquor store, get gas, picking up stuff at the storage unit, drop off the recycling, and then to Target for the TP. 

It's funny nowadays as the weekends used to be my only time to be me, and now, they are the time I choose to relax, go without the hair, forego makeup, and dress purely for comfort.  Okay, maybe not the shoes, but still, I hadn't even shaved this morning.  Not that there is much growing, but still.  Can we all just agree, I was not at my usual fashionable state? 

As I am sure many of you know, I have struggled with a lifetime of insecurities with my choices in clothing and my general appearance, and today was no different.  I am getting better at telling the voices to calm the heck down and STFU, however, they are still there. 

I am becoming more comfortable with just doing me.  Just a few short years ago, I would have never dressed the way I was and go shopping in my actual town.  But, I am always a bit on edge, waiting to be attacked.  I never have been, but that is the fear.  That has always been the fear.  I kind of have to force myself to just do me.  I smile.  I look at people, and smile bigger.  I talk with just about everyone that I come into contact with.  General chit-chat, small talk, as do most small town country folk are apt to do.  The fear never seems to leave though. 

Thus when someone from behind me complimented my shoes, it took a few second for it to register that someone was talking to me, and they were being super complimentary.  I turned from tossing my purchases into the back of my car to see an adorable blonde woman with a baby strapped across her chest, smiling at my widely and looking at my shoes.  She continued, they are such cute shoes, where did you get them?

At times like this, it honestly still feels as though I totally dissociate.  I want to respond like a normal human having this totally normal conversation about shoes, but I so frequently feel as though I am frozen, or that I am going to barf, or at the very least I am going to make a tremendous fool out of myself. 

I told her that I must have bought them at Famous Footwear or some outlet mall somewhere.  She then complimented my calves and asked what I do to keep them looking so good, or if it was just the shoes.  I told her that it had to be just working around the house and walking my dog.  She said she was impressed because they looked really good.  Her friend walked up as I began pushing my empty cart off to a cart caddie and I heard her continue talking about how much she liked my shoes. 

And it was totally normal.  I was normal.  She was normal.  It was all just so darn normal.  Nothing to see hear folks, walk along now......   But isn't that the beauty of what happened?  That it was totally normal?  Yes.  That is the point.  Two totally normal people having a normal conversation about normal things.  Yup.  That is the point.  And it is fabulous.  Just amazingly, beautifully, fabulously, normal. 

Love you!

Love yourself. 

Love being normal. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Mental Fortitude

Recently I was questioned by a dear friend as to why it appears as though I have discontinued my blogging.  My response - mental fortitude.  Shall we take a moment and look at the definition of that phrase?

mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously: Never once did her fortitude waver during that long illness.

So, um, yeah, that is what has been going on with me.  I like the part of that definition that adds the word courageously.  That is what I have been asking of myself as of late - to have courage.  It is through courage that one will eventually find confidence.  That is what I am truly seeking, confidence.  When faced with something brand new, typically most of us humans will not have confidence and we will need to rely upon courage.

What will it take to muster up that courage?  Mental and emotional strength.  While I truly do love blogging, and have every intention of continuing to do so, for now, I am using up just about all of the mental and emotional strength that I have.

Those who are not Facebook followers of mine, you may be a bit lost as to what is taking such strength and courage.  To fill you in on all of the juicy details - I have decided that this is the year that I am transitioning.  Such a surprise, mostly to myself, for I have been wavering on this decision for quite some time.  Last school year when others asked if I was transitioning, I scoffed, and laughed.  And my answer was a definitive NO.  Hahahahahahahahahaha!  Well, shocker, that apparently is exactly what I am doing!

I am thrilled that I am able to follow this path, but it is not necessarily out of design that I find myself where I am.  In many ways, it is due to outside circumstances.  Well, kinda, maybe, sort of, I guess!  Wow, how definitive!  Changing my hormones was possibly the best decision I have ever made, and I feel foolish for taking so long to take that leap.  But it is what it is and it happened when it was supposed to.  The thing about that choice though was that in order to have my insurance pay for it, I agreed to legally change my gender marker.  Inevitable is the word that I often think about with that agreement.  I was going to do it sooner or later, I suppose, but it was never what I had set out to do.  I have never been one who has known for their entire life that they are actually female.  Nope, that was not me.  I just thought I was a weirdo! 

However, that is still not where the strength and courage has been needed.  That has been with my littles.  You may recall that I am a middle school teacher.  Currently I teach 7th and 8th math, MESA, and a 3D math/art class. What that translates to is a total student load of about 150.  There are also about 350 other little lovelies that attend my school and I interact with many of them while on yard duty or just walking the campus. 

I have now completed seven days of working directly with the students and it has been going fabulously!  Amazing actually.  Quite shocking and lovingly surprising!   So.... then, what about this whole mental fortitude thing?  If everything has indeed been just as lovely as I have indicated, then why all of the mental strength and courage? 

Well..... how about this -- Since I understood that I am a bit different than your typical human, I have innately understood that it would be dangerous to ever let anybody in on my little secret.  Now what am I doing?  Openly, blatantly, and without a doubt, showing everyone just what exactly that terrifying secret has been.  Furthermore, while doing that very thing, I have large expectations for myself. 

What expectations you may ask?  Well for one, I expect myself to be thrilled at what I am choosing to do, because no one is forcing me to transition.  Second, I expect myself to be better at my job than before.  Third, I want to be able to handle any bumps or difficulties in the road with style and grace.  Lastly, I expect myself to have a smile on my face.  Too much?  Maybe.  Possibly.  How about if I frame them as goals instead of expectations?  Is that a bit more palatable?  Regardless, these are things I am wanting from myself.

If you have not personally transitioned, then maybe you are at a loss as to the immense mental strength and courage it takes to do such a thing.  Trust me, even though I am thrilled, it is still very hard; it's not a just a fabulous party where I am stylishly dressed!  Now on top of that, let's add a job that most humans or other teachers don't ever want to do - teaching middle school students.  Can you imagine just attempting to be in charge of thirty or so twelve to fourteen year olds?  Now add in teaching standards, state testing, district expectations, parent expectations, making sure they are fed, clothed, and properly supplied, etc!  There really is too much to list actually.  Wanna come help??   

So, uh, yeah, mental fortitude.  I think I covered that fairly well.  As a result of that effort, I am frequently super duper drained by the end of the day.  Oh, shall we also add in that yes I am still caring for my wife who had foot surgery about 6 weeks ago?  True, I don't need to do much for her personally, however, it does mean that I am now solely in charge of all of the duties of our household.  Vacuuming, laundry, dishes, shopping, recycling, cats, dogs, bathrooms, garbage, weeding, lawn care, picking up dog waste, yard upkeep, etc., etc.!  Normally I am in charge of the outside house duties and she is in charge of the inside house duties.  Well being as she can't put any weight at all on her foot, that means that all duties fall onto my shoulders.  Do you know what I am interested in getting?  A maid and a yard human!  Yup, that would sure come in handy. 

Personally I am amazed that I found the time to even write this little lovely post.  It has actually taken me about three or four days to do so though.  No matter how much I list here, inevitably there are dozens of little duties that I have that will have failed to make that list.  Can we just leave it at, I'm pretty darn overloaded?  I think that shall suffice, for me at least! 

This has translated to me cutting out things that are not essential.  In many ways I am retracting my sticky tentacles and focusing on me, my wife, our household, and my job.  In time things will loosen up and I will find the ability to resume a less stuffed to the gills existence.  For now, it is what it is. 

Love you!

Love yourself!

Love your life!  And if you don't, change something and work your ass off to earn it!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The True Pain of Electrolysis

Sitting in the front office getting my chin numbed.
It is with grave misfortune that I neglected to heed the advice of those who have come before me in regards to electrolysis.  That advice was to start now!  And I will repeat it, if you are contemplating the possibility of one day doing this to yourself, stop thinking about it, and just go do it!  Seriously!

My issue?  My issue is that I didn't ever really think that I would be doing this!  I mean, why start something if you never intend on doing it?  Simple right?  Right.  Dur-da-dur!  So what changed?  Some simple sorts of things.  You know that simple little thing that says, I have now legally changed my name.  And this coming school year I will be expecting my students and fellow staff to refer to me as Mrs.

I'm mostly doing alright with that thought at this point.  It is something that I am trying to own, because that is the only thing to do.  However, there are a couple of difficulties that I have been considering.  One - I don't like shaving every day because it hurts and causes me some serious irritation, especially on my neck.  Two - I don't like wearing a wig everyday as they can be painful and quite warm.

Made it back to the room.
An easy way to solve one of those issues is to finally pony up and do what it takes to be rid of my facial hair.  I did a bit of research, got references, made phone calls, and soon had an appointment.  I will eventually write about who I decided to go see, because I LOVE her!  She is the best.  However, I don't want to taint her services with the tone of this post, which I am about to actually get to.

The point, right?  The point is the true pain of electrolysis.  When I went in, I was totally inexperienced.  I have never had this done, ever, anywhere and now I was going to pay to have someone do it to my face?  Yikes!  Alright, so I had it done with a bit of numbing cream on my face.  She worked on my chin and cleared what she could in 2 hours.

During the session I asked her what her thought was for a treatment plan.  She recommends a complete clearing of the face once per month.  Which she could do in marathon 8 hour sessions with 2 electrologists working at the same time, while having lidocain injections.  This would need to be done for a total of 12 to 18 times.

I did mention that I am a math teacher right?  Alrighty, well shall I crunch some numbers then?

Warning - if calculating triggers you, skip ahead to the next bold line!

I survived!
Lets first take a look at the total hours needed.  An 8 hour session with 2 electrologists is 16 hours.  16 hours done 12 to 18 times is 192 - 288 hours.  Next, we need the costs, right?  Well that is $125 per hour per electrologist, which is about average for the area.  As well, have you had it done?  On your face?  The lidocain injections are pretty close to mandatory, well at least for me!  Those are an additional cost of $50 per hour.  Okay, two electrologists, and injections, per hour comes out to $300 per hour.

However, a math problem twist - I will most likely only need 2 electrologists for half of that time.  But you can't just can't halve the cost, because you'll still need the lidocain.  Which means your per hour cost drops by $125 for a per hour cost of $175.

Which means what?  $300 per hour, multiplied by the range of hours of 96 to 144, gives a range of total cost from $28,800 to $43,200.  And $175 per hour,  multiplied by the range of hours of 96 to 144, gives a range of total cost from $16,800 to $25,200.

Calculating over!

For a grand total of $45,600 to $68,400.  Alrighty, if you know me in real life, you know that I don't swear here like I often do in real life!  So, swear warning, avert your eyes little ones, what the fucking shit!!!  That is the cost of the new 4 wheel drive truck that I want!

A close-up of what was done.
Once I got those numbers in, I realized what the true pain of electrolysis is.  Now yes I do pay for an experienced technician.  She has also worked with hundreds of trans clients.  She has about 30 years of experience and she works at an express rate.  Which is a concern, not just the cost per hour, but how effective is each hour?  You may pay less, you probably will pay less, but be careful of what you are willing to pay for.  Remember, this is your face.  Your face people.  Your face!

So yeah, I pay quite a bit.  I have obviously not paid to have all of that done yet.  It is a cost that will be spread out over time.  So far I have had about 15 hours of work done, and I have not been fully cleared yet.  I think it will take about another 4 to 5 hours.

Shall we also add in that I need to drive to LA to get it done?  Yeah that takes me 3 to 4 hours, each way.  Yeah there is that as well!  But that is really minor compared to the other costs.

Alrighty.  I'm done here.  Thanks for visiting!

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Love doing what is right for yourself!

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! 


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!)


Love you!!

Love yourself!

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!!