I think I'm going to have to take a vow of silence regarding any issue involving my personal opinions. My fastest mechanism possible for alienating even the people I love and who love me in return seems to be voicing my viewpoint.

The above statement is characteristic of the reasons why the above statement is true. I am a writer. I am not an orator. When I put down prose, I have the time to edit it in successive iterations, refining and improving my language at every pass. The first draft of most of what I write is, by my own view, poorly written. Speech involving another human being is nothing but first drafts.

The best example of this I can give is, I think, the movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure. This movie is, in my honest opinion, an exceptionally artistic film. It shows us the world as seen by an eight-year-old, and it accomplishes
this exceptionally well. However, it uses the character of Pee-Wee Herman, as portrayed by Paul Reubens, to do this, and Pee-Wee Herman gives me the itch. I don't enjoy watching that character, and yet I can think of no other lead role that would have worked anywhere nearly as well, nor could I imagine anyone else in that role. In addition, my eight-year-old world was a painful and uncomfortable place. Thus, while I think the film is brilliant in its execution, it's one I actively do not enjoy watching and have no desire to ever see again.

All of the above sentiment came out as "That film sucked" when Jessie asked me what I thought of it after I watched it. I could barely sit through the movie, I felt I had been pressured into viewing it, I didn't enjoy being
brought back to my own childhood by proxy, and I had to fight down my own bile at that buzz-cutted, bow-tied buffoon's antics on the screen. My initial response was, I hope, understandably visceral, but my method of conveying what I felt came out horribly oversimplified and heavily misleading. The film does not, in fact, suck in my opinion, but the experience of watching it was such that when questioned on my current state of mind, I gave a purely emotional response.

This did not lead to a positive dialogue afterwards. In fact, it led to an argument which didn't resolve itself for days. In true-to-self fashion, when Jessie responded to my emotional expulsion with frustration and disbelief, I
took it as a sign of invalidation and became defensive, leading me to lash out at my mate, who in turn became cold and isolating. Seeing this, I shut down emotionally realizing I had hurt someone I loved, and only
was I able to say in clear terms how I truly felt about the film, at which point it became evident to all involved that there had been no conflict from the beginning, if only I could've said "this is why I didn't like it" instead of "this sucked."

Unfortunately, as I said above, I am a writer, not an orator. I almost never say what I want to say the first time I open my muzzle, and yet I'm expected consistently to be as good with my words in real-time as I am on the page, and when I fail to live up to the standards my written works have set for me, I confuse and upset those around me. I upset and confuse myself, as well, because often I won't have even been able to sort out what it is that I'm trying to say. I have only an emotion, and I don't understand it; I have no way of explaining it to other people yet, because I don't know what's caused it in myself.

This leads me to my next problem. Not only can I not easily explain what's wrong when I first have to do so, I'm very defensive of my emotions. I've had too often the sense of being told I'm in the wrong for how I think when
I try to voice my specific views on a subject. Much of this, I'm sure, can be blamed on my ex, but that doesn't mean I should do it. Still, there's a part of me that feels that if I break down my dislikes or likes into specifics,
someone will pick them apart or tear them down, but if I present only "I liked it" or "I didn't like it," there's nothing to attack.

All of this, I'm sure, could be forgiven if I didn't feel the need to vent my spleen when I'm upset, as part of the process of working out why I'm upset and getting over things. I bring most of my problems down on my own head, by trying to talk about what bothers me and failing miserably to convey any sort of coherent meaning, leading those around me to look at me in bewilderment because I'm not normally the sort to just go off half-cocked. I have a reason for almost everything I say, but often until I've worked through whatever it is
that's on my mind, I'm incapable of conveying it in a meaningful fashion. 

It's a challenge to myself, sometimes, figuring out what actually bothers me. Often I have to make several iterations through my own head, thinking that one thing is the problem and finding out through analysis that that's not really what it is, but that something is still bothering me. Usually, once I know why I'm upset, I stop being upset about it. It's either the worst case of self-delusion or the best case of self-understanding. Either way, the pain goes away.

In the meantime, though, I inflict my particular brand of insanity on those around me, who either have the option of trying to respond to my neurosis and risk upsetting me further, or trying somehow to ignore me while I spin madly like an out-of-control whirligig until I sputter to a halt. In the meantime, I say the craziest things in an attempt to figure out what my true feelings on an issue are, and may irk any number of people in the process. I'm prone to saying things that I don't truly believe but that at the moment I say them are less painful to accept as true than admitting a mistake. In general, I'm a royal bitch.

This apparently makes me no different from any other woman.

Since I never speak of this sort of thing in the abstract, obviously there must be something that prompted all of this. Of course, there is. One member of my surrogate family made a comment in her LiveJournal about the death of story in modern gaming, which led to a long and involved argument between my mate and I about whether this was a valid statement, whether it was a true statement, and whether it was an important statement. This branched out into what constituted a good game, and ultimately whether or not my view of gaming was meaningful in the scope of the industry as a whole. As I could care less about any "view of the group as a whole" except for how it impacts my own ability to function and enjoy myself, the conversation degenerated rapidly, leading to my state of upset.

I talked with Galen about this lately, but it's something that weighs heavily on my mind. I suffer from a pair of emotional needs that make engaging in any heavy discussion difficult. On the one hand, I actively fear being manipulated or used by those around me. On the other, I fear being isolated or alienated from my friends and family. This leads me at once to try to condemn what the majority of my friends do—even if it's something I want or enjoy—and to do my own thing—and to follow the herd—even if I don't like what they're doing—in turns. I want to be recognized and accepted as part of my social group, but I hate feeling like I'm doing things because the other members of my group are doing them.

This means that in conversation, adding to all of the above, I often try to stake out my position and stick by it, but it means that I feel the incessant need for my view to be validated by those whose opinions are meaningful to me,
even when they don't understand me or when I say things in my muddled way. When I don't get what I need, I get even more frustrated because I feel like I'm being ignored or treated poorly by the people I'm supposed to be able to trust, and that just accelerates the descent into madness.

Some days, it's a wonder that I have any friends at all any more. That makes the ones who are willing to put up with my insanity that much more precious.


I think I finally had the talk with Anji that I needed to have. That we both needed to have. This happened with my friend Mitchell, and I should've seen the signs. People change. It's a fact of life. People grow and mature and evolve throughout their lives, and when you're around people a lot, you see how they change, and you change with them, and you learn over time how to adjust how you deal with those people to accomodate those changes. When you're around someone for a long time, you develop a lot of subtle specialties that key you into how that person feels and thinks, and those too change over time, but you see how they change. Then, if suddenly you're not around that person for a long time, you both keep changing, but you do so in isolation from each other, and those cues change, but you don't see it happening and so when you meet back up with that person, you don't account for the differences and suddenly there's tears and anger and misunderstandings and hurt. We both finally admitted that had happened, and I think we're the better for it.

Mind you, it doesn't explain what to do next, but it tells us where we are and how we got here, and what we'd at least like to see happen from here.

One odd side effect of this talk, however, is that it's left me in this really weird mood, and listening to Bush's "Alien" hasn't helped at all. I feel suffused with this very powerful violence or passion suffused into a fierce protectiveness. It's this sense that I care for someone so much that I would kill to protect that person, without hesitation or regret. Mixed into it is a guilt and fear of this capacity within myself, like I don't quite know or
understand how it got into my head but that I know it won't ever go away. Perhaps I've heavily overanalyzing it, but it's one of the few emotions in my head that, for whatever reason, gets heavily associated with "male," despite the fact that there's no creature so ferocious as a dam bear whose cubs are threatened.

I was catching myself up on my youngest sister's livejournal, and I found where she had referenced me as "den mother," which only adds to the sensation. Is that what I'm feeling? Does it really matter? I know that I get this way from time to time; it's one of the few holdovers from my previous life that I think actively belongs in my head, but I still don't really know where it fits.

I think if I totally understood how I felt, I'd be criminally insane. I think if anyone else ever totally understood how I felt, I'd be forced to kill zim for my own salvation's sake.


Thanksgiving is supposed to be the holiday on which we give thanks—hence its name—to that which makes our lives better. In that sense, I can get a heck of a lot more into Thanksgiving than I can into Christmas, or most any
other holiday. I like the idea of celebrating people's birthdays, as a sign of respect, but that's not really large-scale holiday fodder. The only other days I could see celebrating would be Labor Day and Independence Day, but the former implies "relaxing" which means no working on party-type things, and the latter I can't really
dig, 'cause while I love the ideals upon which my nation were founded, I have a hard time appreciating the current incarnation of those visions. It's a damn sight better than most, to be sure, but I still think we could do a lot better. A grass-is-greener problem, maybe.

Right now, I have a lot for which to be thankful. ObTrannie, I'm thankful that the surgery is now well and truly behind me and that I can enjoy the results. I'm thankful to have such a loving and supporting mate who was willing to keep zir paws to zirself while I was still healing but who is now more than willing to put zir paws all over me. I'm thankful to still be employed after the economic meltdown. I'm thankful to still be in sufficient possession of my faculties as to not need to wear the Happy Coat more than once a week, so long as I take my pills like a good girl. I'm thankful to have family and friends with whom to spend the holidays. All in all, my life's pretty good
right now.

To be sure, there are a few dark clouds. I almost had to work last Friday, which would've sucked because it would've cut into my four-day weekend right down the middle. Fortunately, for some definition of fortunate, I had worked four hours a day over the weekend prior and managed to get everything that had to be done for today finished, so nobody complained when I said I would be back on Monday and not Friday. Most of upper management was out of the office as well, so nothing really happened on Friday anyway.

Thanksgiving itself went off remarkably well. A friend of mine from Virginia visited, and my sister Joanne made it all the way from Ohio for the four-day weekend. Tanya came down from Jersey, and Randy and her girlfriend put in an appearance on Thursday. Thanks to a slight communication goof, Tanya and I both bought turkeys, so we ended up with over thirty pounds of roast bird for the occasion, plus a ham, homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, rolls and egg nog.

Here I must digress briefly and discuss egg nog. I have a great fondness for this concoction, and I have since my youth, but it is horribly unhealthy in its standard form, and with me being on a low-carb diet it's even worse for
me. However, having found a recipe online with which I can work, I did some tweaking and adjustments, and I devised an Atkins-compliant Egg Nog:

  • 1 qt heavy cream
  • 1 qt half-and-half
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 C Splenda
  • 1.25 C brandy
  • 0.5 t nutmeg
  • 0.5 t cinnamon
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine yolks with Splenda, whip until thoroughly mixed.
  2. Add brandy and half-and-half, whip until evenly mixed.
  3. In a blender, combine egg whites with cream, blend on high until well-aerated.
  4. Fold heavy cream mixture into half-and-half mixture, stir well
  5. Blend in spices

The total "bad carb" count is thirty-two grams for over two quarts of egg nog, which is a hell of a lot less than most traditional varieties. There's carbs in the brandy, to be sure, but sugar alcohol doesn't get converted into fat, or so goes the theory, so it's "safe". Next I'm going to replace the half-and-half with more heavy cream, but that may make the result too thick, if such a thing is possible.

Anyway, the gathering itself I think went very well. I make a very poor hostess, in my opinion: I love to have people over, but I have no idea how to keep that many people entertained. I can barely keep myself and my mate
occupied most evenings, unless we've gotten a new video game, so having eight people just magnified the problem. I think most nights passed in front of Metroid Prime or Super Smash Brothers Melee, much to my embarrassment. Still, nobody complained too heavily about anything, so I hope people weren't too bored and just not telling me.

All in all, I think Thanksgiving went well. This means I have a year to plan for how to do it better.

The other major issue on my mind right now is housing. I decided some time ago that I wanted out of the rent trap, and I'm now in an area of the country in which I could easily see myself settling, at least until retirement, and
so I've started the long and arduous task of finding a house. Of course, with the economy in this slump, interest rates are down, and so everyone else is also looking for a house, and most of them have their finances directly in
order to buy the instant they find something.

So far, I've had four houses sniped out from under me. By that, I mean I see some place that looks nice, tell the realtor with whom I've been working that I'd like to schedule a viewing, and then find out that it's not available in
the time that it takes her to get something scheduled. The fifth place at which I wanted to look turned out to be in such poor shape that it didn't have active power or other utilities, so right now I'm kind of bummed. I know I
have some strict requirements, like a second full bathroom, but there can't be that many people looking at the same thing, can there?

At least my down payment is growing nicely. I got my vacation pay from my old job, very unexpectedly, which added to the stocks I sold very nicely and made up about $2500. December is a three-check month, so I'll be able to add another $700 to that in two weeks, and then my 401K from my old job will cash itself out soon, which should be another good chunk of change. Hopefully by the time the bank tells me I can get prequalified, I'll have enough dosh to pass their tests.

After that, I just have to find a house.


I told someone I had every intent of actually updating this over the weekend, then again sometime early in the week, and as usual I didn't do it, citing too many other things I had to do. The truth is that I spent most of the
weekend sitting in front of a video game console of one sort or another, and most of the rest agonizing over was to follow, but more on that in just a bit.

I quit my old job at ISI on Sunday. Yes, Sunday. Well, early Monday morning, about 01h00. Friday afternoon I had a job interview, and I filled out my employment forms before walking out the door. I originally told my new manager that I'd need a week for courtesy's sake, but then I realized that to give them a week would only be wasting my time and theirs. I hadn't done anything truly productive in the last five months, and it wasn't going to start after I'd told them I was leaving. Plus, it would've been more money spent on parking or train fares, more boring days wasted playing Freecell and wondering if the axe would fall. So, Sunday afternoon I resolved to clean out my desk and leave a farewell e-mail in my ex-manager's inbox. It was a crass thing to do, to be sure, and I'm not saying this sort of tactic is justified or polite, but under the circumstances I couldn't see any other way of handling things that wouldn't have felt like a waste of five days.

I'm taking a slight paycut at my new position, but it should represent an increase in real take-home pay, considering it's a shorter commute and I won't have to pay to park. The job's in Newtown, which apparently is one of the oldest settlements in the country, and obviously is one of the most expensive. It's going to be something of a shock, driving my little Escort clown car in and amongst BMWs and Mercedi. Mercedeses? Fancy cars made in countries whose names I can't pronounce, to be sure.

This alone promises to alleviate most of my stress. My schedule will still be offset from Jessie's by a few hours, and I'm not real happy about that, but I will have an extra hour in the morning that I can sleep, meaning I have an extra hour in the evening I can afford to stay awake with my mate, which over time means a lot more time together. Hopefully if Jessie can get either Saturday or Sunday free consistently, it'll mean a lot more
time we have, which will be extra-bonus.

I got the exit paperwork from my old job today, and I had that signed and returned in the afternoon post. With any luck, my paycheck Friday will have my vacation time on it already. If not, I should get that in a seperate
payout in a few weeks. I'll be closing my stock account over the next week or so; I'm only piddling around with the funds as things stand now. Add to that the 401k payout from my old job 'cause my new one doesn't have that
kind of program, and my income tax refund in February, and I should be more than set to do the house thing.

I know, I know. I should roll my 401k over into a Roth IRA and save those pre-tax dollars and all that investment. Truth be told, right now I'm more concerned with making the down payment on the house and getting that started so that I can afford to escape the rental trap and start building some equity. The fastest track of which I'm aware to financial security is to have a house purchased outright, which drops the biggest single portion of
monthly expenses. With Kelly living with us, and Jessie and I both working, I hope to have a place purchased and "our own" in ten years' time.

Of course, Life is what happens while you're making other plans, so I'm not going to demand this happen or damn the universe if it doesn't. I just think it's within our abilities if things continue to go as they currently are.

We've been getting out of debt, too, lately, which has been a shocking feeling unto itself. Before I was maybe squeaking out fifty a month ahead on my cards, but with Jessie working it's shot up to close to four or five hundred, which means my VISA should be clear in a year, and my MasterCard hopefully in three. Not having any external debts is a good feeling, and I want to get back to that point as quickly as possible.


The old cliché, "the first day of the rest of your life," feels so overused and trite, and yet that's pretty much how I feel right now.

Monday afternoon, I sent my boss an e-mail saying I wouldn't be present. My signature contains a cutesy little perl script, and unbeknownst to me, his mail filters pick up on the code and decide it's a virus and chucks the notice into his spam-box. I get no report of a bounce, but he doesn't know where I am, so he calls my apartment and gets no answer. He gets no answering machine either, which should have suggested he mis-dialed, but no matter, he gets escalates things to his boss, who has HR call me. They reach me on the second ring and ask me why I didn't tell anyone I didn't come into the office. I tell the HR representative about the e-mail, and she asks for a copy. I forward the message to her, headers and all, and she says it looks like I sent it when I said I did and the matter's between me and my manager, not between me and HR.

Thursday, I had a meeting with a different representative from HR, my manager, and his manager. I received a formal written warning stating that I had failed to follow the guidelines established and not properly notified my manager of an outage. During the course of the meeting, everything about which I had been having problems came to light. She said that the manager I had considered to be one of the best I'd ever had was in fact a very poor manager, that my unusual schedule had been his poor handling of my time, that the job for which I had been hired had not been moved to development but had in fact been disbanded for the foreseeable future and that my new job was to be at work on time and handle any tasks assigned to me as they arose.

She even went so far as to say that I had an excellent skillset for many other departments in the company. I've never had a manager try so hard to convince an employee to quit. Every grievance I raised was dismissed as
"a personal problem, not a company problem," and ultimately I had all the blame for everything dumped back on me, shy of the things my second-line was willing to take pride in doing.

My job duties now involve... sitting. I have to be here at 09h30 every day, have to sit for seven and a half hours waiting to see if someone gives me something to do, and then I can catch the train home. I feel like I'm in
high school again.

If the internet weren't filtered at work, I'd be jobsearching on company time. As it is, I play a lot of Freecell.

I hate coming to work now. I hate getting up in the morning, hate the ride into the office, hate the seven-and-a-half hour wait, hate the ride home and only start to feel normal again once I've entered the apartment. I was so out of it this morning that DEVO only made me feel worse and I started crying at a snippet of OMF-Battlegrounds music. I've been more and more prone to random fits of tears for no reason. I haven't been missing any rounds with my hormones, so I don't want to blame that. I'd rather not believe it's stress, but I can't figure out what else it is.

The worst part of this is that I feel like I should do my best to wait it out, at least until Jessie and I have our plans to move into a house finalized and settled next April. I don't want to do anything to jeopardize the chances of getting approved for a home loan. Meanwhile, we really do need both incomes to get ahead fast enough for either of us to feel like we're doing something positive and not just sitting around stagnating in debt, meaning this is something that will be around for a while.

My parents called on Saturday, and I told them about all of this, and they had their own bout of it when Dad was working and Mom was going to evening classes. They survived it, and I think I can, too, but it's still very

I only hope the day does come soon when we don't have to do this any more.


I have decided to become an Employee that Meets Expectations.

I am not a morning person. I have never been a morning person. I made it through high school by having a mother who was willing to wake me in time to get ready, and I was often late to my first class. After a while, my teachers just got used to it, because my grades were exemplary otherwise. In university, I didn't take any class before noon that I could avoid, and I often failed the ones I couldn't because I couldn't wake up in time for the pop quizzes. However, I endured it all, and I eventually wound up with a Master's of Science degree in Computer Science.

Now I am working for a company that expects me to adhere to an 09h30-18h00 schedule, with a one-hour lunch break.

To be scrupulously fair, they said I could start as early as 07h00 if I wanted, and leave two-and-a-half hours early as a result. However, they've insisted I take lunch off the clock, even though I don't eat lunch.

My mate works now. Jessie's finally got a job after over a year of being unemployed. I can't be happier with this fact, not because I want to see Jessie working but because we really do need two incomes to get out of debt
without drastically effecting our budget. The manager at that store is great. The work isn't hard. Jessie's already learned closing and is going to start on opening soon. There's been talk of it becoming a full-time position. It's almost perfect.

The only catch is that it's an afternoon job. 15h30-21h30 five days a week. 

Under my previous manager, and his boss, I came in late and left late. They didn't seem to care, and if anyone above them did I never heard about it. No-one ever said anything more to me about it more severe than, "if
anyone complaints, we'll have to ask you to stop." Nobody did, so I kept doing it. While I was in surgery, the company faced a re-organization, and I came back to a new manager. Same general department, but one with
one level of insulating management removed, shifted sidways on the org chart.

A lot transpired that I could discuss here, but it's really not important. The short form is that I don't trust my current manager, and there's not a lot I can say or do about him. The company's in a hiring freeze right now,
and out is the only direction anyone can move. I went five months without a formal assignment, and I only ever heard from my boss when things were going badly or when I had some five-minute patch to apply. It got so bad
that for a brief while, I was going home crying several nights in a row. I literally felt that the risk of being fired was outweighed by the fear that nothing would ever change.

The day I resolved to go talk with someone in HR, my manager pulled me into a meeting and we managed to clear a lot of the air between us. He asked me why my schedule had been so lax and I explained to him that in the past I'd had no reason other than nobody having a problem with it, and now I had a good excuse for being late. Between my commute and the amount of sleep I need to function, trying to work a Standard Schedule means I only get fleeting contact with my mate, and I told my boss that I'd go nuts trying to live in that sort of situation for long. He said he understood and that he'd present my case to upper management for me, indicating that it should
be all but a done deal. 

Last night he said to me as I was leaving that the meeting with upper management went poorly and that I had to stick to the Standard Schedule, at least for two months, while they see if I have what it takes to stick to the proper routine, like some sixth-grader.

I feel cheated, but I don't know what to do about it. If I try to go over my boss' head to deal with this, I'm only going to undo what little repair I've managed to make to our working relationship. If I do nothing, he's not going to push the issue for two months, but this is something I really do want to get fixed if at all possible. He himself doesn't show up until nearly 11h00, meaning I'd get more face-time if I came in later, but that fact has gone unnoticed by everyone in power.

About the only thing I can think of doing is simply focusing on being at work and making no effort beyond showing up on time and making it clear that my work ethic improves significantly when I'm not treated like a
child. Of course, this could get me fired for unproductivity, but right now I just don't care.


You were the one to invite me into the circle. On the strength of a dream, you looked past the facade and extended a hand to the person within. Brought into the firelight, I felt outclassed, a cub among greymuzzles being asked my opinions. You saw in me what I could only imagine, and you responded to it.

You showed me smoke. You let me play Twenty Questions with the Idiot Savant. You showed me the dot on the wall, and I showed you my pictures of the golem. You introduced me to the others, and through them I saw something about which I wanted to learn more. I wanted to be a part of the fire, a participant, not just an observer.

I never made the time to thank you, for what you offered me. I don't think you'd have done more than laugh about it if I had. I never made the time I should have made to get to know you better. I always said I wished I could, but I never did. I regret that now, but regrets can't change the past.

"The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long, and you have burned so very very brightly." Fly with Raven, old friend.

In memoriam.


Has it really been almost a month since I last updated? According to the dates, it has. I won't say that the diary's become a chore, but many times I've had the urge to update it, only to say "I'll get to it soon enough and I'll just post it all at once," with the inevitable effect that I've forgotten a large part of what I wanted to address in the realm of all things new and interesting.

Jessie got a LiveJournal account last night, or early this morning depending on the context. Having run my diary now, in fits and spurts to be sure, for over two years without the need for any special software or such, I look at
such tools with a dubious eye. Perhaps it's elitist, but I wonder what it is about LiveJournal and other tools of the sort that make it so much better than a set of pages.

Of course, there's an obvious answer to this, but for me it's not a positive one: the community attitude. I'll give an example, because I know that seems highly questionable. One of my family has a LiveJournal. She says it's easier to update her diary that way. I suppose, whatever, if it works. I know I just got done saying "I don't see it," and I guess what I should say instead is "I don't see it for me." If others benefit from it, fine. She does, actually; she adds stuff on a fairly regular basis. However, there's a drawback: most of what she says about anything really important is vague and deliberately obscure. I can't always tell to whom she's referring when she says things, and sometimes whole events will be reduced to statements like, "went to visit people" or the like, and a lot of detail that would make understanding what she's trying to discuss will be pixellated and self-censored.

She's actually made mention, at one point, about how she wishes she could be more open about things like that, but she can't lock her LiveJournal to "friends only," because some of the people she wants to have see what's going on her life don't have LiveJournals, and apparently the locking mechanism that LiveJournal uses allows only other LiveJournal members to read entries. This is, in fact, the only reason Jessie got the account in the first place: to get on her Friends list and make it easier to see what's going on with her.

When ICQ first shat itself onto the internet, everyone around me became instant and early adopters. "You can see who's currently online!" That's all well and good for people whose access is spotty, but it did absolutely nothing for me. If I was online, I was reading my email and sitting on IRC somewhere. If I wasn't answering my mail or sitting on IRC, I wasn't available. I don't get online without keeping one of those channels open. Thus, it really didn't give me any added benefit. The code was unstable, and a lot of people I knew had problems with it crashing their computers. Yet, they all clung to it and stuck with it, citing it as this brilliant advance for which I had absolutely no use.

Now, I've gotten myself involved in a GBA development team; Jessie got involved as a musician and then I heard that they needed coders, so I volunteered to pick up ARM and Thumb assembler to add to my list of languages, and at this rate it looks like I'll be taking over the memory manager. The hitch, of course—as if by this minirant you couldn't have guessed—is that the development team meets weekly, by how? ICQ. Well, AIM specifically.
"It's really advanced; I mean, you can set up these group-chats where everyone involved can see each other talking, just like an IRC server!" Excuse me? Why couldn't we use IRC? "Well, we all already had AIM
accounts." I don't, and I run an IRC server. You all have IRC clients, too, do you not? "Well, yes, but you can get an AIM account!"

I will, at this point, grant that I am not an early adopter of much in the way of technology, unless the benefit is blindingly obvious from the word "go". This has happened, I think, twice: once when my primary development language switched from C to PERL for work (I do mostly large-scale textfile manipulations and database interactions), and again when I saw the disk space savings that OGGs would give me over MP3s on my hard drive for the same sound quality. Other than that, I tend to lag behind the curve simply because what I have works, and I'm happier using what I know for as long as it serves my needs.

Now, though, I feel as if I'm being dragged into things not because they actually benefit me, but strictly because the early adopters have succeeded in driving the market in those directions. I have no need of a LiveJournal. I have no need of AIM. Yet, it seems that others around me are expecting me to pick up these things not for my own sake but for theirs, and the price of not doing so is just unpleasant enough to make things frustrating.
They're things that, on my own, I would have no interest or need of doing, but that because everyone else has I feel left out of the loop.

It shouldn't bother me as much as it does, but there's a part of my brain that craves companionship and approval, and things like this always make me feel awkward, for reasons that seem "silly" when stated explicitly. I want to be an active part of my circle of friends, but my friends are doing things that I wouldn't normally choose to do and, it seems, hoping that I'll do them too or at least altering their behaviors because they know I'm not doing them. This leaves me with the unpleasant choice of doing things I don't want to do because I want to be part of my peer group, or not being part of my peer group and standing by my principles. It's a no-win situation on my
end, because any choice is going to leave me feeling uncomfortable. 

So much of my life feels like it's like this sometimes; I should be used to it by now.

For a few days, I had made a change to one of the links pages off of my site. I had done it in frustration, and looking at it last night I realized I shouldn't have, but at the moment I did it, it seemed like the least painful

I have a knot of emotion about Lurene that I can't explain except to try to pick loose threads from it and point to the threads and say that they're all part of the whole, but the whole itself remains frighteningly tangled. I still very much care about her and feel that she is my sister, but about six months after she got to college, it seemed like she became someone I didn't know, or didn't want to know. It feels like she's entered this little bubble of unreality vastly different from what I'm experiencing in my own life, or even what I experienced in university, and much of how she leads her life now seems less like the person I came to love in the years I saw her grow from a child
to a mature-for-her-age teenager and more like a caricature.

I can't even say that there's any one behavior pattern that sets me off and says that she's changed, but everything all sums to the viewpoint. Her headfirst leap into "lesbian subculture," from reading "On Our Backs" to using "dykey" as a positive adjective; her habit of punctuating her speech with meows and other "cute-kitty" actions;
her views of Objectivism that seem so skewed from my own; even her advocacy for OpenBSD and seeming hero-worship of figures like Theo de Raadt; all feel to me less like actions of a person and more like actions of a character in a poorly-written novel. She's stopped feeling "real" to me, and in that she makes me very nervous.

We tried to share a room at Anthrocon. At the time, we all thought it was a good idea. Things very quickly went sour, and Jessie and I ended up leaving the hotel to stay at our apartment for every night past the first. Shortly
after that, Lurene cleaned out her account on my server. I don't know how long it was between the end of the con and the purge, but when I found it I just tarballed the remainder and deleted her account. It felt like saying goodbye. 

The most painful part of this is just how much I still do care about her, and thus how hard it is for me to see what she's become and reconcile it with my views of her from our shared past.

When I was in my first relationship, I grew apart from a lot of my old friends. Six years can change people a lot, and in the times between when I met Rod and when I finally had the courage to leave him, both I and my old
peer groups had evolved. When I went back to them, we all tried to act as if we were the same people we had been before, and we all hurt each other very badly in the process. One of them told me my new mate wasn't welcome in his apartment, and I stopped speaking with him for quite a while at that point. Then when we started to reconcile from that, world events blew up in everyone's faces, and my rather unorthodox response led to a whole new round of hurt feelings that isolated us from each other again.

It's like we keep trying to interact with each other as if the intervening years had never happened, and we keep running into discrepancies between who we were and who we are, and learning to reconcile those takes time. Now I just have to figure out how to do that with my youngest sister, if I can.


Has it really been over a month since I last updated this? I keep telling myself that I'm not going to spend so much time away from the diary, 'cause when I do I end up with a batallion of things that I want to discuss, and I inevitably end up forgetting something that I considered utterly vital at one point. However, if I spend all day updating my diary, nothing ever happens that's worth noting. It's a classic problem—the polling problem, actually—in computer science, but that doesn't matter.

Anyway, the first thing of import that happened in the last five weeks was Anthrocon, which went far better than
I feared it would. Being on staff, I think, helped immensely. I even got the chance to help lead two panels with the guest of honor, Lisanne Norman. When the programming director of the con handed me the books and said "Go
read these," I was initially dubious, and the first book took a while to get its sea legs under it, but after that I've found them well worth what I spent on them. Ms. Norman managed most of the interviews herself, but she
said she was glad to have had my help through some of the rougher bits. 

In fact, the only thing that didn't go so well at AC was the room arrangement. The people with whom we were staying brought someone into the room that neither Jessie nor I knew while we were in the shower and then just sat there looking surprised when Jessie and I got miffed at them for not warning us we had company or, better yet, waiting until we were dressed to invite a stranger into the room. Then, they invited a fifth person—another person we didn't know—to sleep in the floor of the room without asking us first. True, their names were on the room and ours weren't, but there's this little niggling thing called common courtesy or so I thought. In the end, we left a check for half the room rate, expressed our disappointment and drove home for Saturday night. We didn't sleep there but one night, so in reality I probably shouldn't have paid more than fifty dollars, but I wanted to meet our "hosts" more than halfway.

They cashed the check and haven't tried to contact me about reimbursing me the extra, so I can only guess they're happy with how things happened.

That one minor scuffle aside, though, the rest of the event was quite fun, even if I did spend most of it running around looking for people and helping out in the Con Ops room. Next year, we're getting our own room and I'm going to try to get the days of the con as vacation so I'm not having to drive to work in the middle of it.

The weekend after that, of course, was the Bash, and that went far better than expected. This year's host and Jessie and I had had some personality scuffles leading up to the event, most of which were successfully resolved
when we had the chance to talk face to face about things. I gave a talk on all the things that nobody had warned me would happen as I transitioned, which went very well even if it did almost not happen thanks to my anxiety
problems—more on that in a bit. The Monday after the Bash is typically a sight-seeing trip, on which I'm almost never interested in going and Jessie only is insofar as it's a chance to socialize with people who're going. We
thought there'd be other people at the hotel with whom we wanted to spend time, but they either all went to Mt. Rainier, or else they went on an impromptu day trip to downtown Seattle, so we spent the day watching television in our hotel room and bitching about the lack of other Bashers. We did get a few rounds of Mao that night, though, which is always a good thing. 

I know I've mentioned my anxiety issues before, and they're no less present now than they were, but the big situations that I feared would lead to my social paralysis seem to be behind me for the moment. I'm not saying I don't want to treat them, but right now I'm going to need to go see my doctor to get any medication to help or find a therapist willing to treat it that will take my insurance. Unfortunately, I have no vacation days left right now,
thanks to the Bash and my surgery from earlier, so now my options are take a day off without pay, try to get my boss to footniblick things to not make me lose any more time, or wait until I get some more vacation time. It's a
crappy set of options, but thanks to how things spilled out earlier I really don't have a better one.

Right now, I'm in a holding action with my own psychoses. Part of me knows I'm copping out and that if I really needed the time off of work I could use my non-vested annual leave, but another part of me is trying to save that for a real emergency since I have no sick time at all remaining until January of next year and there aren't any situations I'm facing in the immediate future that will necessitate me being medicated. I hope.


My sister Tanya just left. Jessie had invited her over for the weekend, and I said at first I wanted her to visit, which is very true. I haven't really gotten the chance to talk with her in nearly five months, only briefly when
she came to pick us up at the airport and bring us home from the surgery trip. I thought, at first, that it would be good to have her around, but very rapidly I went to hell. Not things in general, but me personally.

Two nights before she arrived, I exploded all over Jessie in the local supermarket, saying all manner of impolite and unwarranted things very loudly. Jessie was understanaably shocked by the vehemence of my response, but zie did zir best to mollify me and keep me from yelling too much. I wasn't happy with my reactions, but at the time I told myself that I was justified in my actions, and in some fashion I'm sure I was, as nothing I had said was untrue, though much was probably exaggerated.

Then Tanya arrived at the apartment, and instantly I was on edge. She didn't do or say anything to make me feel uncomfortable; I just was. From the first moment she was there until Jessie told me she'd walked out the door half an hour ago, I felt completely uncomfortable, even in my own bedroom. It was everything I could do not to hide in the bathroom when we went out to dinner, and then when we came home I nearly ran to the bedroom
to hide. She and Jessie went for a walk, but I begged off saying my heel hurt too much.

This morning, the two of them went to lunch and I again excused myself, saying that I shouldn't eat at a buffet while I'm trying to diet, which was the truth, but only half of it. I spent almost all the time they were gone in the
bedroom, most of it in the bed, playing Civ3. Then, when they got back, I hid some more, until Jessie called me out to come watch something, which I did for twenty seconds before discounting it as stupid and returning to my
sanctum sanctorum. After another few hours, Jessie came in to ask me if I wanted to watch a movie, and I said yes I would after I got a shower.

I nearly had a crying fit in the shower, and then when I got out I got back into bed and did have one, during which Jessie came into the bedroom and held me while I cried myself out, mumbling to myself about how much I
hated being this way and how I wished I could face interacting with her. I couldn't even go to the kitchen for a soda because I was afraid of being stopped in the living room to socialize and the very thought of it made me
sick to my stomach.

This has been as long standing in my head as my gender issues, but I've been able to avoid having to deal with them, just like I did the other, by clever manipulation of my environment. I never had enough friends at any one
time to make me uncomfortable being around them all at once, and I would avoid every party I could. The ones I couldn't I either wandered about the whole night aimlessly, stood at the snackbar and noshed myself into oblivion
or monopolized the attentions of a few people the entire evening. In the times when I couldn't do that, I became the Grand Observer, cutting myself off emotionally from the scene and laughing cynically at everyone around me
scurrying about and partaking of their silly social rituals. Now, one by one, facing my gender issues has forced me to discard the barriers that I used to protect myself from my worst secrets, and this has come back to hit
me square in the muzzle.

Tanya didn't do or say anything wrong to upset me. The problem was entirely mine. Five months of silence interspersed only with a few bouts of what felt at the time like her dumping her problems on me led me to feel like I wasn't safe around her. I know that she never meant to hurt me, and I know that she was as scared of talking with me because of how poorly I reacted to her that I was of trying to talk with her about anything, but I didn't and still don't know how to overcome that. Every time I thought about trying to speak with her and explain how I felt and what was wrong in my head, I tensed up and felt nauseous. A part of my brain rose up in indignation proclaiming that it was her job to speak with me about the things she did wrong, and another part panicked and froze solid at the idea of having her speak with me at all. I became a total wreck, and the time I tried to force myself into interaction with her and pretend that it wasn't a problem only made the feelings worse.

I've sent an e-mail to my doctor asking him if he knows any therapists qualified to deal with social anxiety disorder or if he can prescribe any medication to help me deal with this. He's about the only one I trust other
than my mate right now not to try to tell me that either my gender problems caused my social anxiety or vice versa. These are both problems, and maybe they're both symptoms of a third underlying cause, but they're not related to each other as far as I can tell.

I just hope that I can find some way of dealing with this. It hasn't gone away in twenty years. I don't think without medication that it's going to go away now.


I've been sitting in my cube at work falling apart for the last hour, so I figure I'd better write some of it down before it passes and I try to tell myself and everyone else "it's nothing, really." It's not nothing, I don't think, or maybe that's just the frustration talking. 

I hate free-association socializing. I've never felt comfortable in large groups of people without direct purpose. I can sit in any sized meeting or lecture without a problem. I can even lead such an event if I have a reason to be there, but just "hanging out" with more than a very few people makes me feel isolated, alienated and exposed. I don't know why. I don't like feeling that way, but I don't know how to make it go away. Also, the number of people that I can handle in this fashion drops rapidly when people I don't know are involved. I don't even know if it's insecurity or self-consciousness or what. I can't fix the problem if I don't know what the problem is, and I have no way of telling what it is. I just... don't feel safe.

So, of course, one of my friends in the area is keen on turning all of the little get-togethers that had been happening in the area into large get-togethers, with lots of people I don't know present for no reason other than to hang out. Monday nights have traditionally been one of these regularly scheduled meets, and for a long time they were restricted to five or six people. Restricted's the wrong word, but we never had more than that many show up at once, and I had a blast. Over the last three weeks, though, more and more people have begun attending, including a lot of people I've never met before even online, and I've been more and more strung-out and stressed coming home afterwards as a result. It's nobody's fault, except my own if you can assign blame to it, but even there if it were something I could just fix then I would. It's something I don't know how to cure, or even to treat.

Last night, a number of things had all gone wrong over the course of the weekend prior. It had been the third weekend of not having any time to myself with Jessie, and we had just finished a thirty-six hour roadtrip to Michigan to rescue a friend from potential homelessness. I'd forgotten to pack my hormones for the trip, so for two days I was off my pills. I woke up yesterday morning and tipped the scales at 280, which is the highest I've been since before I started my diet two years ago. Then I went out to eat with a bunch of people, including a host of people I didn't know very well and one person that actively irritates me.

I didn't handle things very well.

I didn't yell or shout or scream or make a scene, but I did hunch over feeling vaguely sick to my stomach most of the night, nervous and uncomfortable. I kept feeling exposed and vulnerable, for no good reason. Nobody made any unkind comments, nobody did anything to hurt me, and I don't think anyone would have tried to do anything, but I just didn't feel comfortable. I felt unwelcome at a table of close friends and family at Thanksgiving last year
because I was the only one not eating an appetizer, so I
know it's my problem, not anyone else's, but that didn't make my hasty departure last night any more comprehensible or acceptable.

Jessie asked me last night if I wanted zim to try to talk with the one that originally organized the dinners about what had happened and explain that I wouldn't be making it any more, and I said yes. So, of course, this morning
zie did, and then zie called me on the phone to say that the organizer had gotten very upset and to inform me directly that I
would  would continue to go to Monday night dinner with the rest of group, until either I learned how to handle being around large groups of people in a social setting or I ran screaming into the night, whichever came first.

For the life of me, I don't know what to do now.

I hate being like this. I don't want to feel uncomfortable around people I like. I don't enjoy feeling so vulnerable, and I want to get over whatever it is that's causing me to feel this way. However, I don't even know what the real problem is, and I can't solve what I don't understand. If I don't know what's wrong, I can't make it right, and right now all I have is the sense that something is broken in my head without indication of how to repair what's damaged.

Now, though, I feel like anything I do with respect to Monday nights is going to make things worse. If I go, I'm going to feel like nobody wants me there because they all think I don't want to be there. If I don't go, I'm going to
wish I had and feel even more isolated than I already do. I'm caught, and I don't know how to get out. The problem is in my own head, and I
know  it is, but I don't know how to fix it.

I want things to go back to the way they were before, but that's not going to happen now. The only way for them to go back to how they were would be to tell other people they're not welcome, and I'm not going to do that. I wouldn't even if I had the power, because it's not fair to them. The problem is with me, not with them, and I have to be the one to fix it, not them. 

I just don't know how.


I never quite seem to manage unmitigated good news or bad news any more. I think the sign that life has hit the long stretch from maturity to the grave is the realization that everything evens out on a long enough time scale,
and that positives and negatives will, in any life, happen with equal frequency. The secret to happiness isn't avoiding the bad stuff that can happen; it's focusing on the good stuff instead.

Of course, that doesn't help those of us who are by nature pessimistic worriers and perfectionists, but it's a nice idea anyway.

I missed Jessie's birthday on Monday, and I didn't even realize it until zie said something to me last night. Zie'd been out of sorts for a few days, but I couldn't figure out why and zie didn't really tell me until we were curled
up in bed last night, and suddenly zie reminded me of that and I felt like a total schmuck.

Now, in my defense, I don't have a good head for dates. Not only do I rarely remember what day it is, I don't place "today is the nth of xtember" with "the nth of xtember is a special day for this reason" until at least the (n+2)th, sometimes not even until the middle of ztober. It's kind of embarrassing, really; I don't even remember it's my own birthday some years. 

So, on top of everything else, for me to have forgotten such an important day—important because I say it is, and always have—was seriously bad juju. I'm still upset about it this morning, though at this point anything I do to correct the mistake will make me feel worse, not better. Now that the damage is done, bandages on the wound will only call more attention to the wound; they won't help it heal.

On the up-side, I finally had the proof that everything through which I put myself, all the torment and abuse I faced going through my transition, proved a few nights ago to be worthwhile. I had my first post-operative orgasm.

Something of such phenomenal importance, one might think, would get mentioned as soon as it happened. It would, but the truth is that there's absolutely no way for me to describe it. It was... it was right. My body responded as it felt like it should. I felt at that moment like I could've pushed myself into damn near anything and succeeded. I probably could've gone for two or three of them, in fact, if sleep hadn't claimed me almost immediately afterwards.

Like I said, the ups and downs tend to come in even measure after a while. It's focusing on the positives that makes life worthwhile. "It isn't that I don't suffer; it's that I know the unimportance of suffering." My mate will probably get pissy with me for quoting from That Damned Book, but I think this time it's more than reasonable.


Right now, I don't know how I feel. Rather, I know how I feel, but it's a set of disjoint emotions, the cumulative result one of confusion and ambivalence.

Tonight, after twenty-seven months of prepartion, two years of hormones, eighteen months of RLT, fifteen months of waiting for surgery, three weeks of hospital time, two weeks of physical recovery time and seveneen seconds of foreplay, Jessie and I made love for the first time with my new body.

The results were... inconclusive. 

I was horribly nervous when we started, like some twittering virgin on her first date. In many ways, I was. I'd been dilating for weeks, of course, but I'd never had anything up there that wasn't hard plastic or visibly being
guided by someone else. I'd only ever put my own fingers in there a few times, and that was more to prove to myself that I could more than anything else. Jessie had trouble keeping an erection, and several times before we even managed to tie we'd had to pause for more lubricant or other things.

Finally, after about fifteen or twenty minutes of trying to find some position that would work, I lay on my side and Jessie took me from behind, which took a little effort but seemed to work fine, with the one caveat that I couldn't
really feel anything except pressure around the opening and inside. When Jessie began actively thrusting within me... well, frankly, it hurt. I wasn't tense, and I don't think Jessie had the wrong angle or was doing something incorrect, but every push hit the back wall, and the repeated hits started to get sore after a while.

Part of me wanted to call a halt to everything, but I knew I needed to see this through to the end and so rather than say "this hurts" or some other damper on the situation, I simply lay still and tried to let Jessie enjoy things. Except, Jessie wasn't enjoying it either. My mate was so nervous about hurting me, about my not enjoying things, about everything that could go wrong that zie couldn't achieve orgasm, and eventually zie had to pull out of me to take things into zir own paw until zie was so close that anything could have set zim over the edge, and then within half a dozen thrusts within me again zie was done, and all I had was blood and lubricant on my sheets, bodily fluids all over my thighs and a pain in my crotch.

Before I started transition, masturbation was necessary, and it was physically enjoyable but emotionally crippling. During transition, masturbation was an infrequent need, physically stressful but usually fun if my arm didn't grow
fatigued first, emotionally upsetting but still stimulating. Now, there've been fun moments, but on the whole sex was just painful, and it wasn't even emotionally stimulating. It was just... there. A part of me felt good knowing
that Jessie was in the "right" hole, but it just... wasn't what I expected.

In my first relationship, the first month my boyfriend and I were together, I didn't climax once. It took four tries for Jessie and I to achieve an orgasm together when we first moved in with each other. This is no different in its own way. Unfortunately, while I'm consciously aware that this was my first time, that sex is no different from any other act and takes time and practice to get good at performing and that we were both too nervous to really
actually enjoy the event, there's still the part of my brain that bought into the hype that sex would solve all the problems I'e had with my body and that this would be some magical act performed instinctively by any two people in love with each other.

More than anything, I think I'm embarrassed and upset with myself at having fallen for another Big Lie. Society is filled with them, like "the media try to be objective," "the two-party system is a success," and "the earth is round." They're falsities so pervasive that they take on a semblance of truth just because of the number of people who believe in them, but that really have no basis in fact. I've tried so hard to be honest and open about myself, my transition and my expectations of everything as a result, but here I fell for the classic motif hook, line and sinker.

Of course, looking at it afterwards, there's a lot of other facts that I know are important factors in what happened but that don't make me feel better. I was incredibly nervous, as I said, and so was Jessie. Zie was, in fact, so
nervous that when zie did climax, it wasn't fun for zim either. It had been too much effort. It took forever for us to find a position we could use. We had no experience. I could go on, but the point is that I shouldn't have expected it to be this grand thing the first time, and I let myself get swept up in the hype and anticipation and then I let myself get hurt when it wasn't like that.

I feel like a fool.

I can only hope that when next we try this, we take the time to do it better and remember what we did this time so that it's better for both of us. I refuse to accept that this is how sex is going to be for the rest of my life.

In other news, I've been back to work for a week now, and it's as if I've never left. No work has amassed since I left, though many projects are waiting for someone's authorization or signature or something to start, and others are hovering on the edge of being released from the drawing board to start being implemented. Meanwhile, I'm playing a lot of Freecell and reading Slashdot and the Register.

I still haven't got my diary from Thailand into shape for posting as entries in my journal proper, but that can be tomorrow's project, I suppose. I spent most of Wednesday unclogging a mailing list, and I've been debugging some configuration issues that have arisen from the server move. All in all, my life is starting to return to pre-trip levels, whatever those are. 

I'm glad I went, but I'll be a hell of a lot more glad when I can really enjoy the body I bought while I was away.


I'm lying awake in the hotel room in Phuket for what will be our last night in Thailand, once I finally manage to get to sleep. In just under fifteen hours, we'll be en route to Singapore, and then to Heathrow to spend five days with Chloe before returning home. It's been nearly five weeks since we arrived in Phuket, and I've come down with my typical case of insomnia. I'm used to it by now; the night before any major trip I usually get three or four hours sleep at most, then crash immediately upon arrival. This will likely prove to be no different.

In a way, it's hard for me to imagine leaving. I've heard claimed in multiple print sources that it takes three weeks for the brain to adjust to any major change, from phantom pain in amputees to not reaching for the missing
cigarette pack in the pocket after stopping smoking. We spent just over that in the hospital, and leaving was something of a shock. Now we've been here over a month, and returning to England is going to be something of a culture shock, to say nothing of Philly. At least it'll be a few more days before I have to remember not to drive on the left side of the road. 

I woke up this morning incredibly aroused, the first time I'd actually been overwhelmed by raw physical desire since getting out of surgery, and it took effort to stop myself from trying to relieve it by whatever means necessary. I'm still healing down there, and Jessie and I are both under medical orders not to do anything for six weeks. We technically violated that two nights ago, but nothing got done that hasn't happened during dilation or showering, so that doesn't really worry me too much. Actively trying to climax, though... that's another matter entirely.

It's hard for me to believe that the changes are finished, in one sense. In another, it's hard for me to imagine how it was before the hospital stay. I can mentally remember how I looked, how it felt, et cetera. Just like the memories of myself from before my transition, though, the ones of my sex life prior seem... disjoint. They don't seem like mine. They are, and I won't try to pretend that I was always possessed of what I have now, but it feels alien to think about what used to be between my legs, even as I still find myself looking in the mirror and wondering why I look different.

I was hoping to see Dr. Sanguan one last time before departure, but the last time I called the hospital to arrange the appointment, I found out that Pim was out sick and likely wouldn't be back to work for the rest of the week.
Right now, I don't even know if they've scheduled a driver to come to the hotel to take us to the airport or if we're going to have to hire a taxi for the job. Being in the hotel has put all of the medical staff in the distance,
and things have seemed very out-of-touch as a result. I've felt stranded on a number of occasions. At least in the hospital I could hit the nurse call button if things got really bad. Out here, once the receptionist goes to bed,
we're cut off from the outside world unless I walk to a pay phone. It's made getting anything major accomplished seem more daunting than is necessary.

At least the hotel staff here has been very understanding. The front desk clerk asked us when we were leaving tomorrow and said we didn't have to check out of the hotel until 15h00 since flight wasn't until 19h. I've never
found that kind of accommodation in the US, or anywhere else for that matter. They've worked their cleaning schedule around our sleeping habits, and Jessie only had to remind them once not to turn off our air conditioning when they came into our room. It really is a nice hotel, and if we had been possessed by aliens or brainwashed by the government into coming to Thailand for a vacation, I certainly might have considered the Kata Poolside Bungalows for several seconds before turning it down in favor of someplace that had phones in the rooms. Still, it's hard to complain too much for under twenty American dollars a night, plus breakfast for both of us.

I should sleep, but I'm not tired. At least, I'm not mentally tired. I'm physically exhausted, but my brain is running on overdrive right now, freely spinning over a hundred ideas and never pulling anything conclusive out of any of them. Jessie and I talked briefly before zie fell asleep about the times in the hospital that I went into surgery, and how zie dealt with it all and how zie felt, and it's left me that much more aware of just what zie means to me, and how fortunate I am to have someone in my life that's so close to me. Right now, I almost wish zie were awake, so that we could cuddle more actively. As it is, I'll probably end up passing out snuggled up against zir back, arms around zir waist.

This whole trip is finally coming to a close, and I don't know how I feel about it. Everything I've done has, in the long run, been far more worth doing than I could possibly put into words, and at the same time there have been some experiences that I can only describe as traumatic and emotionally distressing, but necessary. I've felt alternately that I had made the best decision possible and that I had thrown away my only means of physical
pleasure. I've gone nearly two months with only testosterone, three weeks without even that, and now almost ten days with only estrogen and whatever my adrenal glands are generating, with all of the emotional rollercoastering
that that entails. I've discovered some wonderful local cuisine and spent nights dreaming of homemade chili and jambalaya. I've shared incredible emotional intimacy with Jessie and yearned for the company of others.
Ultimately, I think that this trip will fade into mostly pleasant memories, but a few bouts of pure terror will remain in my mind as dark patches in my rose-tinted hindsight.

I'm glad I did it all, but I hope I don't have to do it again. If I decide on the colon graft extension, I can't think of another surgeon I'd rather have do it than Dr. Sanguan, but that'll be many many months in the future, if at all.

I'm dating this entry according to local time back home in Philly, the time recorded on the computer, because at the moment I have no idea in which time zone I'm actually located and thus what time it really is. I'm on the plane,
stuffed into an economy seat nxt to Jessie on one side and someone sleeping on the other, one of the only people still awake on the whole plane aside from the cabin crew and hopefully the pilot.

I got, at most, four hours of sleep last night. I started to get cramps and pain around my groin at something like four in the morning, which necessitated me getting out of bed and spending an hour or so in the shower to keep the problem from getting out of hand, and then at some point after that I passed out cold, only to be jarred violently awake by a member of the cleaning staff pounding on the door calling me to the phone. I don't take kindly to being woken in that fashion, but as it was a call I'd been expecting, I can't really complain too heavily.

I spoke with Dr. Sanguan, and he told me that the insurance paperwork that both he and his assistant, Pim, said would be faxed to Hartford Life was, in fact, not complete and not faxed, which explained why I had received an email from my boss telling me to contact HR and find out why Hartford Life was balking at paying for my medical benefits. I explained things in an email to my doctor at home, and I can only hope that the matter will be resolved by the time I get back, but I anticipate much bickering with paperpushers when I return to Philadelphia.

Once the details of the insurance were resolved, Dr. Sanguan began questioning me about my progress with healing, how I was sleeping, whether I could urinate and control it, how often I was dilating, and so on and so forth. After he heard my responses, he said that there didn't seem to be a need for me to come to the hospital and that if I had any problems once I got home I could email him directly, which meant that we had only to wait for the hospital driver to arrive at 15h00 to take us to the airport. Needless to say, Jessie and I were both very pleased with that news.

The flight from Thailand to Singapore was easy, but the leg from there to London has been hell so far. I don't sleep well on planes in general; I never have. However, with so little sleep this morning—or is it yesterday now?—I feel utterly exhausted. Unfortunately, because I'm still healing from surgery, no matter what I may like to claim, there aren't any really comfortable positions for me. Every way I've found so far to squeeze myself
into this chair has put pressure somewhere uncomfortable, and a few times has led to outright pain. I'm back to sitting on the donut seat, which has a slow leak leading me to have to stand and reinflate it every so often, and either my neck or my back or my butt hurts from something not being supported or getting pushed into the wrong position.

At some point within—I hope—the next hour or so, I'm going to simply pass out cold from sleep deprivation, but it's equally possible that I'll be awake from one source of irritation or another until the plane touches down and I walk to Chloe's car. I'm almost certainly going to nap on the drive back to her house, though, and likely well into the local afternoon.


Three days left in Thailand, or rather three nights, and I do feel well enough, thankfully, to get up and go walkies on a pretty regular basis. We've seen very little of the local area, still, but that's mostly because the climate itself is inhospitable, and there really hasn't been much of interest that we've wanted to find in the area.

Actually, that's a misleading statement. We've both been very keen on the idea of finding clothing in the local style, but doing so in our sizes is no easy task. We easily tower over most of the natives, and the typical Scandinavian tourist looking for Thai clothes visits one of the numerous "quick tailors" that pepper the island, and apparently the country. Finding one-piece swimsuits—the specific item for which Jessie and I have both been searching—that would fit us ultimately took us to the local Tesco's, the British version of WalMart, where we found one item that would fit our needs.

Speaking of Tesco, we've been doing most of our shopping there since we got out of the hospital. It's not American by any stretch of the imagination, and yet in the short time we were staying with Chloe, we both felt so comfortable and at ease that Tesco's here has quickly become "a taste of home." Jessie's fallen in love with the store-brand ginger nut biscuits, and I don't start the day without a box of pre-mixed Milo, complete with hypodermic straw. It's a small comfort, but one that's helped keep us sane while we've both felt
trapped in this strange country.

Dilation is now at twice a day for about an hour, less often than suggested but for longer periods of time. I couldn't face doing it three times in the same day; if I did, I wouldn't be able to get anything else done at all. It's
not like I have anything to do but dilate, granted, but there's a limit to how often I'm going to do this to myself. There's still something debasing internally over spreading my legs and forcing hard plastic objects into myself to see how much I can take for a given timespan.

Dilation really isn't the big problem I have now, actually. When I went into surgery, I had long before resolved the self-image issues, but learning to actually adjust to my new physical arrangement has taken some effort. It's not that I didn't really want it. Far from it, in fact. The sensation of Jessie's finger within me, rubbing against the inside walls of my sex, has made it all worth it. However, everything has been repositioned, and stimulation that goes to one location might set off old nerves in my mind. Plus, arousal right now hurts, or it did for a while, while the tissues were still healing, and it's not helped that Jessie's been even more sexual than normal.

Everyone that's said I've been so lucky to have a mate that's been with me through the whole of the transition hasn't seen this side of things, I suspect. Healing after the surgery takes time, and it's only been two weeks, tops. Every time I've gotten aroused, it's caused me a great deal of pain. There really isn't any blunter way to say it. And with Jessie being more active than usual, it's been a lot of stress having to say "I can't do this right now." Turning down my mate, saying that zir advances have been physically distressing in ways I don't like, has really been upsetting. This is the sort of thing that I've never heard discussed, and I'm not sure myself how to handle it. I'm doing my best, and as always Jessie has been nothing but understanding, but that only makes the situation manageable; it doesn't make it go away. Only time and recovery can do that.

I heal quickly enough; I can only hope that this holds true this time as well.


We've been in a hotel—more like a bungalow room—for three nights now, and more than ever I'm ready to go home, or at least into some kind of accomodation that has a truly hot shower, twenty-four hour front desk and
cleaning staff, and phone lines in the rooms. To be sure, the hotel Pim found for Jessie and I is nice, but it lacks just enough basic amenities to be irritating without lacking enough basic Thai necessities to make our complaints sound real and not just like whiny American tourists.

I've again contracted food poisoning, again from the Heinz salad cream, and this time I've managed to run myself out of toilet paper at such an hour that there was no way for Jessie to fetch more from the front desk. I thus spent
the night more or less awake, getting up every hour or so to purge my intestines and then stepping into the shower to clean myself. As soon as Jessie is awake enough for me to shake violently awake, zie's going on a mission from Goddess to retrieve several bog rolls from the hotel staff.

I tried yesterday to call about getting the tickets changed myself, but the local QANTAS/British Airways office—which is in Bangkok—isn't open past 13h on Saturday, meaning my call missed their agents by an hour. Neither Jessie nor I could justify spending $1.40/minute, the best rate we could find, calling England to argue with their emergency staff over flight details, and so at the very least it's going to wait until tomorrow. Also on the agenda for then is a call to Pim to discuss the details of our accomodation and a request to find someplace more... well... American, for all the the word connotes.


I should've done this yesterday, but Jessie and I have been having some strange undiagnosable computer problems that appear to be related to hardware failure on the laptop. I hope the drive doesn't die on us; I'll be very upset if it does.

The surgeries all appear finished, so now of course I have the indignity of stomach flu or food poisoning or something to add to my discomfort. I haven't been able to keep down anything but water for the last thirty-six hours, and the aftertaste of some kind of weird salad dressing on the "salad" I got with dinner from a local restaurant a day or so ago, probably about the time the migraines really started getting bad, so I wouldn't be surprised to find out that I'd picked up some ptomaine or something else of the like.

I've given some samples to the nurses here and they said they could find out what was wrong and give me something for it, one advantage to getting sick while staying at a hospital. Now I just have to wait for them to do it and hope that it happens sooner than later. I don't want to be sick on the flight home.

Events transpired so fast today that it scarcely seems like we've had time to process them all, but at the end of the day I've had a little time to think about everything.

First, Dr. Sanguan came to the room this morning to make a last-minute inspection of the surgical site, and he said that one of the grafts was looking very good, and the other had a few problems but they were minimal and that I wasn't going to lose the graft, only the outer tissue around it, which means I have what looks like a crescent-shaped gouge around it. However, that won't take surgery to heal, only time and antibiotic ointment, which I'm to apply after dilation and showering. Further, he said I was in his medical opinion ready to leave the hospital and could check out tomorrow.

Pim then came to the room to collect the money for everything, the stay, the procedure, et cetera. The total came to USD5,500, almost half of what I had been expecting to pay at the outset. This puts me far ahead in the money
game, which means when I get back to the U.S. I can afford to pay off one of my credit cards almost immediately, and more importantly that when I get back to England, I can afford to take my sister and her friends out to a really nice meal somewhere.

Pim also said she'd take a look at our tickets and see what arrangements she could make to get us back to England as early as possible. I can arrange the onward transit from there to Newark by calling Continental's offices, but Pim's the expert in getting the out-from-Phuket routes hastened, and Jessie and I are both eager to get home, or at least out of Thailand. We've had our fun here, as it were, but now it really is time to go home. We'll probably have to spend a few days in a hotel here waiting for our flights, but that's far preferable to two weeks of delays.

I got up and about for real today for the first time since getting the first surgery, and Jessie and I got dressed and went to the local Tesco/Lotus market for lunch, and we picked up some tidbits here and there for other people,
which I hope will be well-received when we do get back home to deliver them. I of course overtaxed myself thinking myself to be Ms. Marvel, and by the time we made it back to the room I was on the verge of collapse, but it just felt so good to be mobile without that damn catheter that I was willing to push things, even if I shouldn't have done so.

I then came back to the room and handled dilation, by myself, for the first time from beginning to end. Unfortunately, I can now only handle Borodir; Aaden is just too big for me. I seem to have lost some diameter in the few days I wasn't actively stretching myself, but I'll get that back with reinforcements. I'm going to need it if I ever intend to put my new body to its intended task. It still feels a bit like a chore, three times a day every day for at least half an hour, but I'd rather do it and get used to having something up there of the appropriate size than not do it, lose more depth and diameter and then get torn the first time Jessie and I try to make love.

Then for dinner, we got dressed again and went down to the Big C, the other major shopping center in the area. This one doesn't involve a taxi, just a short walk down the road behind the hospital. We ate at the Japanese restaurant, during which we had a rather interesting talk that led to a few odd conclusions. I've often made the statement that what someone has between zir legs was unimportant to how that person should be perceived and treated socially, and thus Jessie has presented me with with challenge, or perhaps the order would be more accurate seeing as it did come from my master, of telling people "does it matter?" when asked if I've had the surgery yet. Having made such a big deal of my transition, now to work to elude the question of whether I've taken the "final step," or to avoid giving a direct answer, will be challenging.

Of course, I say "final step," when really the final step of my social transition was several months, perhaps even a year ago. This is isn't even the final step in my physical transition; I have much more electrolysis to do, and I anticipate more changes from the hormones now that I don't have the testosterone to fight. So, why then is this called the "final step"? What is it about the surgery that makes it the all-encompassing conclusion to the process? It's not the only irreversible step. It's not even the last in many cases, including mine. Why does it matter so much
what one has between one's legs? Others before me have said that we live in a society that intertwines the notions of sex and gender, and others after me will say it, and doubtless I won't be any more loudly heard than they
have, but still I feel the compulsion to point it out and decry it, even knowing that my protestations will be futile.

At any rate, everything for me to do in Thailand is finished, at least for now. Perhaps in the future I'll feel ready and interested to come back for the optional hardware upgrade, but for now the trip is finished, and in my
opinion, not a moment too soon. It's a wonderful place, but I'm ready to go home.

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