My second career: The decision

I rarely write here anymore. School as an adult in combination with having a family really depletes one’s energy. There is little time remaining in each day, and with that time, I have come to the conclusion that self-care is of the utmost importance. I have some minor health issues that can become either a major nuisance or a very serious issue if left uncared for. Self-care should also include writing since I know it helps me decompartmentalize.

The purpose of this writing is to help me unpack the concept that I have been awarded a seriously amazing opportunity.

At the beginning of my return to school, I was in my late 30’s. I was in a tumultuous relationship that forced me to put my education on hold. I felt like I would never finish. I had 2 false starts, in fact. When I moved to the mountains and began for the 3rd time, I honestly had little faith in myself that I could, or would, finish school. It seems a monumental task that was all uphill. This May, I will be graduating with an A.S. degree that I earned with hard work, dedication, and a lot of coffee. I have proven to myself that I can and WILL do anything to which I set my mind. I have also learned that I love learning, and I hope to get into academia someday. I could not have done this without a supportive partner and the wonderful faculty at my school nor without the generous financial aid I have received.

That brings me to my point… I have been awarded a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I have been given a scholarship which covers out of state tuition, books, and fees for my undergraduate program. The graduate program in the same discipline also has a potential for a free ride with a stipend. This pathway is pretty set if I maintain my current trajectory; however, it is a pathway that sounds a bit crazy for an adult student to bank on. The school I will be attending has a Paleontology program. This is a childhood dream come true. Not only do they have the classes on the subject, but they have an absolutely massive 5 million-year-old fossil site a few miles from campus, complete with a museum. This means as paleontologists and students uncover mastodons, rhinos, and other amazing prehistoric creatures, they (we) can carry those remains several FEET into a building and make ourselves a cappuccino before heading to the lab to study it. This is as cushy as it gets in this field. And it is totally paid for!

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Color me flabbergasted. It still doesn’t seem real, even as I write it out. There is some tinge of awe lurking below the surface. Perhaps it will take my first class to really set in. Or maybe I am just burned out from this semester and will be able to feel it once I am finished with this portion.

I should be dancing in the streets like Jagger and Bowie…

But I am basically experiencing my excitement in small amounts when I tell the faculty members at my current school that I was accepted for the scholarship they helped me get.

Maybe, at my age, I am just a little jaded and have trouble believing this is going to happen at all. Old habits die hard.


Masculinity for Transmen, the beginning

I am newly [and eagerly] diving into the study of masculinity from the perspective of a man. I have experienced gender studies from the view of a female in society, and have judged masculinity through the lens of a female and a lesbian. Now, I am a man. Now that I am learning to live authentically, I am uncovering a boat load of shame that I carried over from my assumptions about men, gathered prior to my hormonal transition.

It is an interesting place to be: I am becoming more authentic, yet I carry fear and shame. I carry shame because I know what women (and lesbians) say about men when men aren’t around. I fear being seen by women as one of THOSE types of men, though I logically understand that this cannot be controlled. I have begun to crave some type of camaraderie with other men: I feel that I need a place to stop worrying for a time whether I am being too…. “male”… whatever that means.

It might not be the experience of some, but my experience is that I get the finger pointed at me for being a man when saying something I’d have said prior to my hormonal and social transition. I do shrug it off, but later, it weighs on me. I don’t want to become part of the problem. That brings me to ponder, quite often, whether I am or whether the perception of others is what causes me to feel this way.

More to come….

Legal Name Change

Since some people [on my social media pages] were interested in the process of my legal name change, I thought I would share the emotional and the legal steps taken to approach this issue. **ONE THING I FORGOT TO ADD – you will need to pick up a PINK FORM from the Clerk of Court to add in with all of your other paperwork.

Since I turned off embedding, I can share the video link to my YouTube here:

My second career…. What to do?!

While experiencing my second puberty through hormone therapy, I am also enrolled in community college. Where once I was preoccupied with my gender transition, I now find myself unable to come to a conclusion about what to do with my second life. What do I want to be when I grow up, this time? I am 43 years old and have three semesters under my belt.

My heart’s desire is to find a field that engulfs me, and captures my interest the way that music once did. We spend at least 30% or more of our lives working – and that doesn’t account for being asleep and doing nothing for yourself – and I NEED to do something I love with most of my waking life. That being said, my conditioning from my protestant upbringing tells me to do something practical that I don’t care about, just because it is my duty to work my life away for pay I can’t spend because I’m too tired from working a job I hate.

I’m writing this in an attempt to quell the war within. So bear with me while I argue with myself in public….

I feel jealous (yeah, I admit it) of people who know exactly what they feel called to do, and they go after it like the honey badger. I, on the other hand, not only try to talk myself out of doing something I love, I also love SO MANY THINGS. I feel a calling to help people, and I have considered the following careers that could answer that call:

  • Counseling (LPC)
  • Social Work (MSW)
  • Psychology (PhD)
  • Anthropology (PhD)
  • Forensic Science – Biology focus (B.S)
  • Criminology – (?)
  • Biology (B.S.) [this degree works for Forensics as well)

My brain responds to these ideas with the following:

You are an introvert – you will be DRAINED after a day of one-on-one counseling. You will not want to interact with your family when you get home. You frustrate easily, and although you put on a good face, you will need a stiff drink way too often. Psychology is a PhD – YOU ARE TOO OLD TO START THAT SHIT NOW… get real. Anthropology is useless, and is a PhD – all you can do is teach and research IF you can find the funding. Forensic Science is fun, but how are you gonna find a job in Asheville? You need to KNOW you are going to get a job, and plus, we have read all those articles about how Forensic degrees are too specialized and you can get no other type of job with it. Criminology is a waste of time. You are too old to become a criminal psychologist, and Biosocial Criminology – (which combines a lot of my favorite things listed above) – is too new and too much of a niche. GO INTO COMPUTER SCIENCE.

I’m exhausted of myself.

I would still be on a track toward Biology if I hadn’t taken a course last semester, which freaked me the hell out. I had a Chemistry instructor that was brilliant, but did not teach, had no patience for American students, and made me feel dumb. This is the kicker: I made a B in that class, and I STILL dropped my Associate of Science (A.S.) and went for the safer, less stressful Associate of Arts (A.A.). I love my semester, but I really miss the challenges of higher level math and hard science.

I have this semester to decide what to do, and then I have to stick to whatever I choose, if I plan to keep using financial aid – which I must.

My counter argument, which is less aggressive and more subdued, goes something like this:

I also must think about being trans in my future career, and what that will mean for me. Will my environment be safe? I feel strongly that I would be fine in either hard or soft sciences. But for Forensics, I would have to testify in court and I have neck tattoos…. which could be removed…. at great cost (and pain). I am willing to figure that out if and when the time comes…. or wear turtle necks… ugh. Or maybe an ascot…. oh god… My largest fascinations are with paleo anthropology and criminal psychology. So maybe I would best serve a new career that helps people overall, rather than individually, although I could get job satisfaction from either field. But one on one might wear me out, whereas working to help humans overall would likely be more energizing to me. But all those fields are so LONG or vague, or I might have to move to get a job in a niche field, and am I willing to put myself and my family through that? 

It just occurred to me that my conditioned response to this, (the first block-quote) is the combined personality of my parents…. which makes sense. I am “parenting” (aka, in my family, as micromanaging) myself….. and my parents were both aggressive people…. “they” too often have the last word in my head.

The second response is more my nature – being willing to take on impossible things and do something no one thinks I can do, and being optimistic about it. Essentially, I am raining on my own parade. Not sure how to stop that… but I am working on it actively.

When I started school in the summer, I began interviewing people in various fields of biology, and I think I need to do that for some of these other fields. I have interviewed one head of Forensics and that was simply fascinating….

I guess that is the next step. If anyone stuck through this horrifying look inside my mind, thanks for reading and for any encouragement if you have any to give.

I need a cup of strong coffee, now.

If I had been born male….

I have spent a lot of time being upset at the thoughts of where my life would be different if I had been born in a male body. Being that there is nothing that I could do about this fantasy, I taught myself to shut down any such thoughts as they came to mind, and I have been quite successful in that recently. Something has changed, however, and now that I am successfully presenting as male in public, I have decided to entertain this idea, to see how it compares with my currently held feelings of my life’s direction. It is quite different.

My earliest memory of telling people what I wanted to be when I grew up was that I desired to be an FBI or CIA agent. I spent countless hours reading encyclopedias, and watching documentaries beginning with animals when I was very young, and morphed into cryptozoology (Sasquatch, Loch Ness Monster, etc). One day when I was 7 years old, I saw a documentary on Jack the Ripper and that became my obsession, never losing my fondness for the search for mysterious animals. I was bound and determined that my tiny mind could root out the real killer from the list of suspects they had back in the 1800’s. I would lay in front of the TV during anything related to Jack the Ripper, note book and pencil at the ready, and take notes on all the suspects. I never paid this close attention in school, but this was a mystery and I wanted to seek the truth. This lead me into the idea of being in the FBI. As I aged into preteen years, my brother gave me his Navy dog tags, and it made me decide to go into the military, but floating on a large vessel at sea did not interest me one bit. I read into all the branches, and chose the Air Force, though I also had no desire to be a pilot. I would enter ROTC as soon as I was old enough, and this would be my path: Military for 4 years, and then I would apply to the FBI, and that was that!

The realization hit me as puberty set in, and as I entered Junior High School, that I was not ever going to be seen as the male that I felt myself to be, and it was rough on my mental state. I beat myself up about it pretty badly. I noticed the girls in ROTC in my school were always wearing skirts, and my disdain for antiquated female attire, or even the 80’s styles girls wore, was much greater than my desire to make a difference. I could not put myself through being forced to wear a skirt in order to get the job I desired. and honestly I may never have been able to be a field agent with the FBI in those days, in a female body. I don’t truly know. I felt defeated, in any case, and sunk into depression. I rediscovered music and disappeared into bands like KISS and Ratt, Motley Crue and Ozzy, forgetting my body. Girls were objectified in much of that music, and somehow I didn’t see myself as a girl when I played my guitar. So I switched my targeted career from law enforcement to music. That didn’t pan out, either, but it has served as a good outlet for me for many years.

If I had been born in a male body, I would be in a drastically different place today, but I would not have had the experience that I had being brought up as female. Not many men understand the struggle, and I am grateful to know that these days, instead of being mad at myself or the powers that be for having been born in the wrong body. I also am planning to go back to school, and I allowed myself to revisit this line of thinking in order to see if it was a place I would still want to go.  I am planning some type of human behavioral degree, whether some type of psychology, counseling, or social work degree, I haven’t yet decided my path, but it feels good to know my original truth.


Sharing Public Spaces

My house is on the market, and each time an agent shows my house, I am banished to wander about town for up to an hour and a half. Today, I had run all of my errands, spent most of my extra money, and since I am still in recovery from surgery, I felt like sticking as close to home as possible. The only problem is that I live in a very small town with very little in the way of entertainment or restaurants. I normally go one town over, where transplants to the area have made a quaint old town into a miniature social mecca with choices for bars, restaurants, a coffee shop, and retail shops, across from a revamped park that my mother used to visit as a teenager in the 50’s when malt shops were the favorite past times of teenagers. Today, I did not feel like driving more than 2 miles. I remembered a coffee shop that I once frequented about two years ago, prior to transition. I still have a bit of anxiety about going places (especially locally) that I have not entered since pre-facial hair. I thought that surely I looked so different now, that I would be like a stranger and could just sit in the corner with my laptop, none the wiser, and I could work on an article I am attempting to write for a local paper.
Much to my chagrin and simultaneous awe, the owner greeted me with cheery exclamations of “Long time, no see!” and “we have soy milk now!”. I couldn’t believe she remembered my intolerance to lactose, but I realized that my tattoos make anonymity nearly impossible. I was pleasantly surprised at how seamlessly our reunion went, and I was delighted to have made an impression on this person that she would be excited to offer me an alternative to black coffee. But now, I wanted to slip away into a corner, set up my computer and THINK. That was not going to be in the cards today.
With my faux fleece-lined jacket draped backwards over my chair, I set my laptop to the center of the small table, my coffee to the left, and sat back against the soft cushion I had created. Breathing a long, deep breath, I leaned slightly forward with hands on the keys, and began typing. I was unable to complete one sentence before the barista yelled to the other people in the cafe to see if anyone wanted some extra soy foam for their coffees. I looked up and around the room, thinking that was a sweet offer so as not to waste anything. The crowd all seemed confused. Half a dozen people sat across the room from me, and all of them looked like she had spoken a foreign language. One older man, wearing a thick head of curly silvered hair, boisterously shouted back, “WHAT kinda foam? I’d rather have dog poo in my coffee!”. The others chimed in with laughter, making small comments on milk alternatives. Grey haired man quieted after his remark to open the floor to Miss Know-It-All, who enjoyed imparting knowledge about the most mundane of things. Miss Know-It-All continued to (loudly) exclaim that some almond milk has a trace of dairy in it, and she knew this because…. I tuned out of that conversation and went back to writing. A customer walked in and Miss Know-It-All broke her run-on sentence to greet them with a “Good Morning,” and then back to her database on almond milk knowledge, which had shifted to Seattle coffee shops. Grey-haired man shouted at this arriving customer that the owner had some “what do you call that foam stuff? Soy? Dog poo for your coffee if you want some!” and laughed with the satisfaction of a man who believed himself to be a comedian.
I realized by this time that writing my article was going to be impossible here. Instead, I was on Facebook Messenger telling my friend about this surreal experience. I stay in such a tightly knit circle of friends, that I forget how ignorant the world is outside of my social group. I stopped typing long enough to shout at the grey haired man. I said, “Hey now, don’t be disrespecting my soy milk,” with a combination of assertion and humor in my tone. I am from the south, and though I lived half of my life away from this place, I know how this works: I knew he would back-peddle his remarks and calm it down. He said, “I just don’t like STUFF in my coffee!” I asked in return, “So, you drink your coffee black, then?” He peered into his mug and paused for a few seconds before responding, “ok, I just like MY stuff in MY coffee.” We both laughed, and that would have been that, except Miss Know-It-All could not let sleeping dogs lie. She chimed in with “Now, I haven’t tried soy milk, but I have tried almond milk!” I wanted to say, “Yah, I heard you were a self-proclaimed expert on the subject.” But I am too nice to take my frustration out on others, so I smiled and turned back to my computer for a few short seconds before she interrupted again. “That foam looked very nice and thick – is it?” I took my time to reply, demanding time to complete one damn sentence on my laptop. “Yes,” I said bluntly, “it is.” Before my head could turn back to my screen, she was off on another tangent about coffee and Seattle. She had that kind of voice which penetrated the murmur of the crowd. All voices, other than hers, were muffled and I could not hear any individual words, for they must have had some manners. She talked above all others, as if her voice were the most important event in the world, recounting mundanely detailed stories about Seattle, coffee shops, and…. doughnuts??  People would want to hear what she had to say, I am certain she was thinking,  because she sure liked the sound of her own voice. I turned back to my computer and began heatedly typing this last exchange to my friend on Facebook. “This Mount Holly crowd is an obnoxious bunch!” I typed. By contrast, he was at the sister cafe in Belmont, and no one was disturbing the peace, there. I wished I hadn’t ordered such a large coffee, now.
My usual coping mechanism for frustration is laughter, so when I began to feel that tightening in my chest, I started finding humor in my situation. I pictured unrealistic events that would happen in any given frustrating situation if life were a cartoon and no one would ever have been harmed. I mean, how many times has the Coyote walked away from an anvil dropping on his head? He might be accordion-shaped, but he walks away, am I right? I started typing a scenario out to my friend. I wrote, “I keep picturing myself walking up to Miss Know-It-All with a wad of napkins, balling them up theatrically, then shoving them into her mouth to muffle all these boring facts that began as almond milk and has morphed into Seattle coffee shops and then into donuts! All while maintaining eye contact and no expression on my face.” I would want to say something in the style of Jim Carey, such as “When in public, USE YOUR MANNERS! No one cares about how many kinds of damn DONUTS Seattle has! And no one wants to see PICTURES OF THESE DONUTS! GAAAAAAHHHD!” This is my cartoon world, because I actually do have manners, and I do realize other people exist, so I would never create such a scene outside of fantasy; however, I did find myself sighing and I said aloud, but under my breath, “shut. up. jeez!” There was a guy at the table next to mine and looked over and let out a big smile with a muted laugh.
My article was ruined. The creativity had been stifled. So I ended up writing an article that illustrates the need to be aware of yourself in public spaces. We all have to share these spaces, and there is often that one person who feels the need to dominate the personal spaces of others. Just know that if you are that person, someone in the room, if not more than one person, is wishing you would shut the hell up, and is imagining ways in which to achieve silence. I am of the belief that interpersonal communication should be taught in elementary school up through college, and continuing ed courses would even be a great measure. I am not as adept as I would have it sound, but I do strive to better my communication as I catch things that could use improvement. Public space does not belong to one person, but to all who are sharing it at any given time. Think beyond yourselves. But if you find yourself the victim of a dominating presence, enter your cartoon world and deal with it in a safe, hilarious way. You’d be surprised how much that helps!

In the past 8 months….

It may seem that I went into another long hiatus, however, I just got more focused on my transition, mourning my mother’s passing, and talking to the cis community. You can see what I was up to here:

Also, I have added the links to other social sites to my profile, so feel free to follow.

As usual, I have so much going on at once; all good, but even positive events can feel overwhelming. I have my house and business on the market for my move to Asheville, NC. I may have the opportunity to begin writing for a local publication, so I will (should) be more active. My father is ill these days…. But for the best news: I had my top surgery Feb 9th!!

I came to a local coffee shop to attempt to write while an agent shows my house and I walked into a stereotypical country life social reunion. I never come here, and this is why: it’s loud, obnoxious, and some old fart made so much fun of my soy latte with “funny” remarks about dog poop in his coffee, that I had to actually say something to him. Southerners will do that type of “kidding” until you actually speak up, and usually they will try to convince you they were kidding. In any case, I can’t think enough to write the way I had planned to, so I just dropped my youtube link. I will come back to this later and perhaps backdate some posts.


(To beat all, there is a musical cover of Bohemian Rhapsody on ukulele or something on in here…. I can’t….)


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