Enjoying the View from the Moral High Ground

Somehow by saying “sure, I’d be happy to mentor you” I seem to suddenly be mentoring quite a few transsexual girls on the same journey as I am.

One common thread I’m noticing, and to which I can relate to … is the feeling of being disapproved of — for being a t-girl, for wanting to be out as a t-girl, for being open about being a sexual being etc. Especially these things in combination.

Now that I’ve been clear on the basics for a while (i.e., , that I’m not crazy but I’m simply a genetic anomaly, somewhat rare but not all that much either, kinda like black panthers) its gelled with me emotionally.  This realization of “I’m OK” made my confidence level rise to levels I hadn’t thought possible. I’m kinda surprised at how good I feel about life; I’ve never experienced this level of harmony with the world before.

A good ally in the journey is my amazing younger sister, someone who got extra portions when the universe was handing out rations of looks, personality, character and brains.

So when she recently posted something that resonates with me even more than the cool things that she normally posts, I thought I’d repost it on here — with a contextual explanation and slightly cleaned-up for the parents of the teenagers who read my blog and think the “f-word” hasn’t been an integral part of the vocabulary of every child in the English-swearing world since age six.

So_True43Methinks the attitude shown in this image can be a useful tool on the journey of most t-girls. I warmly recommend it.


Coming out to one’s Parents, Part 1


I’ve recently been asked to advise a transsexual girl like me, as to how I suggest she come out to her parents. Her parents are very conservative and socially not all that civil. For example, they tend to rant and rave. This combination of attitudes on their part has made her understandably hesitant to come out to them.

There’s enough to say on this subject to fill a book, but it’s important to have a realistic idea of what “success” means.

I suggest that a good standard for success in coming out to your parents is where you look back at it and can say “I handled that as well as I reasonably could have.”

The key point is that you can’t control how your parents will react. You can do the best you can, and the rest is up to them. Whether they embrace you or disown you, it doesn’t reflect on how well you handled it. (I’m not saying this lightly; I was embraced by my mother and disowned by my surrogate dad). It’d be great if your parents accepted the news rationally, but that adjective doesn’t describe most parents’ approach of a “coming-out” conversation.

You simply can’t control how they react. You can do the right thing as best you can but possibly, given their mindset, they’ll react negatively anyway even if your approach was exemplary.

So if your standard of success incorporates how they react, i.e., something you can’t control, anticipating the conversation might be very stressful for you.

As to more specific guidance, I propose that as you look back on that conversation, you should be able to rejoice in not having violated your own standards of honesty, independence, rationality, justice and integrity. That’s success. If they also happen to accept you, that’s a bonus.

A good analogy is how the US declared independence from Britain. The Declaration of Independence was carefully drafted and much-debated. Then and now, it’s an exemplary way of approaching this sort of thing. It’s so exemplary that when Rhodesia declared its own independence from Britain in 1966, their announcement was very similar to the US document of 1776. In the case of both the US and the Rhodesian declarations of independence, the audience behaved atrociously.

In the case of the US, King George refused to even read the document, and then declared war on the US. In the case of Rhodesia, Harold Wilson, the PM of Britain, didn’t declare war directly but he enabled a communist dictator to take over Rhodesia. Fourteen years later, he succeeded and now the place is a shambles.

Even though in both cases, the recipient reacted abominably, you can hardly place the blame on the announcement that triggered the animosity. The same principle applies to you coming out as a t-girl to your parents.

Mean Folks’ Reactions to Caitlyn Jenner’s Award

To quote from a cool article in Distractify:

  • “ESPN recently awarded Caitlyn Jenner at the ESPY’s with an Arthur Ashe Courage Award. In her emotional acceptance speech, she waved the flag for transgender issues.”
  • “And there were a few people who thought C-Jenns wasn’t deserving of the acknowledgment, so they took to the web to let everyone know just how ticked off they were”

Anyway, a solider, Joey Vicente, responded most eloquently (and bravely since his opinion will no doubt make his life in the military more difficult). If you care about t-girl issues you’ll probably enjoy his response. It’s in the article.

However, many anti-transsexual folks took to Facebook and spoke out (not so nicely). I posted my own input to the thread, there:

Like Caitlyn and so many others, I was born with male plumbing and a female brain. And a few years ago I realized explicitly what was going on with me, rather than having “just” a mountain of evidence that I had kept suppressing and dismissing..

And so I chose to begin living as the girl I am, realizing that my brain categorizes me much more significantly than my plumbing does. In the process, it was helpful and validating to learn that actual autopsies have shown that, yep, some people really have male plumbing and a flat-out female brain structure, hence the female thought processes they had shown while alive. After coming out, I found three main types of reactions:

  • My science-minded friends agreed that, yep, it’s logical, go live accordingly.
  • My liberal friends were OK with me choosing to live as whomever I chose. I’m not a liberal but there’s a lot to be sad for that reaction.
  • My conservative friends, especially older-generation, disagreed with my focus on brain vs. plumbing. To them apparently those few inches of flesh were so important as to eclipse the brain in any consideration. Their definition of “male” took on a dogmatic stubbornness and they insisted on focusing on the plumbing and on ignoring the brain aspect.

Where Caitlyn comes in is that she was was a known public figure, long before the K family aspect hit the spotlight, and it’s that older generation of extra-patriotic folks who cheered her on in her Olympic victories.

So, this makes the controversy very hard to ignore. The main reason WHY living as a transsexual girl is so difficult is: the mean people’s reactions. And these are mostly found in the generation and mindset who at the time was cheering for Jenner.

It’s kinda like saying “folks who drive Volvos are loser liberals” and then someone points out that, hey, John Wayne drove one and so did Winston Churchill, General Patton, Oliver North and Ronald Reagan so maybe you wanna rethink your animosity. (I don’t know that they did drive Volvos, it’s just an example).

Coming out as a transsexual girl is hard .. really hard, But when you’re the person who is fondly remembered by and was cheered by the generation and mindset whose known attitude is vehemently negative towards transsexuals, then coming out is really, really hard and brave.

Should a Gay or Transsexual Person Tell?

I grew up in several countries, mostly in South Africa. When I was in high school, the teachers exposed us to a wide variety of authors. Most of them I didn’t like. By far the author whom I disliked most was an Afrikaans author named Van Melle. Handsome chap, yes, but I don’t like his work.

I had the choice of getting a miserable grade in Afrikaans literature, or grinding my teenage soul through the depressing world view of this author. Its somber atmosphere hung over the various short stories that comprised the book that the class was being tasked with working through. I got an “A” in that class but I kinda wonder if it was worth it.

One of the stories is named “Just in Time.”  As I recall the story: an aging lawyer has a law firm in a small town. Early every weekday morning, he packs up his lunch, puts on his business suit, and heads out the door. Before doing so, he says “good-bye” to his wife, a nice lady who is also very advanced in years, and whose health is failing. She’s bed-ridden. She brightly wishes him well, and off he goes.  In the evening he’s back. He doesn’t go into much detail about his day. She’s not surprised; such events would be covered by attorney-client confidentiality. Even so, he exudes the air of a successful attorney and his wife is happy for him, and proud of him.  He’s a caring husband, and they spend pleasant evenings and weekends together. And every weekday morning, off he goes again.

What his wife doesn’t know is that he ran his business out of money quite some time ago,and the two of them are living on his meager and almost-depleted savings. He has no office. He’s let it go long ago, since he couldn’t afford the rent or utilities. Every weekday, he wanders the city streets all day, or sits in the park, for enough hours to come home late enough to maintain the illusion that he’s had a full and busy day as a successful lawyer.

He doesn’t know what he’ll do as a fall-back plan when the money runs out, and it’s almost about to happen. There is no plan B. He’s on auto-pilot, focusing all his energy on getting through every day, maintaining the illusions for the intended benefit of his wife.

As to the illusions, they’re pretty far-reaching. He’s not a successful attorney with his own office, any more. There is no office any more. He’s not successful any more. He’s not even an attorney any more.  He’s just someone who puts on the clothes for a role that he feels he should play because that’s the image he’s created and someone else is buying into. If his wife is glad that he’s a successful lawyer, then in fact she shouldn’t be. But, most of all, if his wife thinks he’s happy, then she shouldn’t be, because that’s the biggest illusion of all. He’s stressed out and utterly miserable. The closeness in their marriage is fake. There is no shared vision of the world. There’s only the facade of one.

In a way, the man cares deeply for his wife and knows her health is failing, but he prefers to spend 40-plus hours per week wasting time to foster an illusion — rather than spending that time with his wife, enjoying her companionship, keeping her company or tending to her. Maintaining the illusion is so absolute a premise that he is willing to forego all these alternatives.

The author is skilled at his craft, and so although I don’t like his work, I have to confess that it’s good art.  He immerses the reader thoroughly in his depressing mindset (not that I needed any more of that, being a transsexual gay Afrikaans teenager in a government school in South Africa was depressing enough).

Anyway, in the story, the man sits around worrying about what to do when the money runs out. The author explains the man’s mindset as totally unconcerned with his own situation, but greatly concerned about the effect it’ll have on his wife. He can’t even begin to figure out how to break the news to her. So, his mind doesn’t even go there. He’s miserable and it’s a misery steeped in inaction, except for the energy allocated to maintaining the illusion.

He looks at his watch. He’d pawn it but then his wife would notice that and wonder what happened to it. And, he doesn’t want to raise even the hint of a suspicion that might endanger the illusion.

He sees that it’s time to go home. With a heavy heart, he makes his way home. Today isn’t the day when the money runs out. It’s still some distance in the future … but it’s not far away. He knows it.

For whatever reason, the man doesn’t even consider the possibility of doing anything else, however minimal, to earn any additional money in the 40 hours when he’s away from his wife. It’s too much of a departure from the illusion, and so his mind doesn’t even go there.

Home he goes. He walks in the front door. Every weekday, he performs the same ritual when he gets home. He takes off his jacket, puts the kettle on, etc. Then, he goes into his wife’s bedroom to greet her after being away all day. Today, he does so again.

As he enters her bedroom, she’s quiet. She’s not asleep. She passed away at some point during the day. He falls to his knees and weeps, an immense feeling of relief overwhelming him. She died just in time, before his savings had run out — hence the title of the story, “Just in Time.”

* * *

To our credit as a species, we are born with the capacity for reason, and without irrationalism implanted in our minds. It takes two decades of bad parenting and government-run schooling to break down the healthy mindset that children initially have. The literature class was no exception of this process at work. Even in as irrational a culture as an Afrikaans government high school, the teenagers in my class still had enough of a reality-based mindset to react very negatively to this story. There was much rampant opinion to the effect that this man was, to put it bluntly, a dumb-ass.

It took much convincing on the teacher’s part to pitch the author’s point of view, that really this could also be seen as someone who was sweet and caring. The teacher wasn’t all too interested in the analyses that maybe the man could have come up with a better plan had he involved his wife in the brain-storming process, and maybe they could have lived more frugally and pawned some items and made the money last longer and be more. Even though he was not a young man, he had much experience and to presume the job market was totally closed to him in every respect was unreasonable too. But even if it was, then he might have been a much nicer husband had he spent his weekdays with his wife, reading together, chatting, playing cards, swapping massages, having sex, reminiscing, whatever. Most likely the wife would have preferred truth and intimacy, by being told what’s going on, even if it wasn’t a happy financial situation. And his business failing doesn’t detract from the fact that at some point, he had indeed been a successful lawyer with his own office. I could go on and on.

Certainly, if this is the sort of mindset that’s championed as a laudable standard, it goes a long way to explaining the general societal meltdown that has been happening in South Africa, where the governmental focus has for a long time been long on fostering illusions and short on focusing on facts.

Much as I dislike the psychological implications of the man’s actions … how he evaluated himself (not worthy of his wife’s view of the world) and of his wife (not deserving of being trusted to handle the truth), my main problem with it is philosophical: its disdain for facts.

I like an approach that deals with facts as facts. For example, it might be socially more mainstream if I were straight, but the fact of the matter is that I’m not. I’m a girl who likes girls. If my enthusiasm for rainbow emblems bothers someone, to where in person or on social media they wanna unfriend me or disown me or whatever, that doesn’t make me any less gay. And no, nobody stuck a probe into my head and had it light up in rainbow colors. And I didn’t go have a dynamic MRI while looking at pictures of naked girls vs. pictures of naked guys. It’s a fact that gay people exist, and the best evidence is introspective, and I have enough such evidence to tip the scale and to conclude that I’m gay. In fact. .

Similarly, it might be socially more mainstream if I were a genetically integrated girl, but the fact of the matter is that I’m not. I’m a girl who was born with male plumbing. If my too-masculine attributes bother someone, to where they look at me aghast, or they wanna unfriend me or disown me or whatever, that doesn’t make me any less of a transsexual girl. And no, nobody stuck a probe into my head and had it light up as proof. And I didn’t go have a dynamic MRI for this either. It’s a fact that transsexual girls.exist, and the best evidence is introspective, and I have enough such evidence to tip the scale and to conclude that I’m a transsexual girl. In fact. .

Do I hide this? No.

And yet, the foster-the-illusion approach in the story is a close parallel to how many gay people or transsexual girl live. Their daily actions build illusions for those who are unaware that the person is gay or a transsexual girl (or both). Psychologically, the individual is miserable, and is fundamentally not the person whose life they’re pretending to live. But they will maintain that illusion at any and all expense, even if this means they are deeply miserable. As to the people being kept in the dark, they’re presumed to have the same disdain for facts, and they’re presumed to be untrustworthy of being able to handle the facts.

If you now go re-read the story, and look for parallels between it, and the lives of gay or transsexual people hiding their true nature, you’ll find many. It’s not a happy story.

Personal Safety

1024px-Chess-kingAs I progress more and more into the mode where I take hormones that match my presumed-to-be-female brain structure, I’m slowly turning things around to how they should have been all along.

In the context of a female brain structure, testosterone has a counteracting effect, sort of like a stagecoach being pulled by two horses; one horse veering more left and the other more right. So now they’re more and more pulling in the same direction. Better. Things feels different too, mostly mentally.

However, two more side effects are likely:

  1. I’ll look more feminine yet, in general, and
  2. My muscle mass and strength will diminish.

As to the former, yay though this will probably spark more animosity yet from homophobes.

As to the latter, this is also a welcome development since the cosmetic benefits are of value to me and since I don’t particularly focus on doing things by brute strength anyway.

Here’s a little anecdote to show how I think about this: I used to work on cars with two contractors, both smart and nice people. One was a gentleman who was immensely strong; by far the strongest man I’ve ever met.  At some point he and I were working on a BMW 3-series car. Granted, most of the parts had been stripped from the front of it already, but even so … at some point we had some or other problem and lifting the front of the car would solve the problem. I started thinking about engineering solutions. The contractor simply approached the car, squatted down and lifted the entire front of the car up.  By hand.  Wow!  Although he was red-faced and panting soon, I remain most impressed. He used his strength to solve many problems. However, these often weren’t problems best solved in that way.

The other contractor is a 5′ tall lady, very petite of build. She used to be a cheerleader and she was always the lightweight girl whom the other cheerleaders tossed up in the air. She was unlikely to go around picking up cars, and yet she also helped me work on cars.  She was even more effective than the gentleman. She would figure out brilliant ways around the problems. More often than not, her way got the job done with far fewer parts broken. With so much engineering savvy, I don’t recall that there was ever a problem she couldn’t solve.  So, I’m fine with losing some muscle strength as long as I remain mentally sharp.

One of the points made to me by transsexual girls on feminizing hormones is that the waning of testosterone helped them think more clearly. That certainly bodes well. So, I’m happy about this direction I’m moving into.

The problem is that these developments make me more vulnerable in a self-defense context.

Just as I was pondering the issue, an email from a t-girl friend asked me some questions on the subject, as recently as today. Her questions inspired this post.

By far the best step that I think a girl can take is to read and assimilate Jeff Cooper’s
Principles of Personal Defense … even if one doesn’t use a gun, the principles apply.

But as to owning and being skilled with a hand-gun, I recommend it. I have a concealed-carry permit and I own several guns. Recently, I was at a very remote gas-station-and-convenience store at 1 a.m.  In the parking lot, not by the store or by a gas pump, an old van was parked, with four or so sketchy-looking characters milling around.  They didn’t have the typical sense of purpose: park, buy something, and leave. They seemed to be hovering. I seriously considered moving on, but I really needed to buy something (long story) and I was in the boonies with the next store almost an hour away.  So, I parked at the extreme opposite end of the lot, with my car and I facing the van, far away and positioned so nobody would come close to me without me knowing.  If someone approached, I’d drive away … one more good reason to not have the gas tank on my car ever be too close to empty.

I watched and waited. They didn’t seem to have noticed me (good) and I tried to figure them out, to either reach the point where I would consider them unsafe enough to leave, or safe enough to mellow out. Minutes passed, and neither tipping point was reached.

I took a lot of comfort from having my .357 Magnum, loaded with a full cylinder, next to me. For better concealment such as in my purse, I also have a Beretta Tomcat with me, with a full magazine. I watched and waited some more. As the military saying goes, a lieutenant may be forgiven for being defeated but not for being surprised.  So I like being alert and prepared. Eventually I decided the situation was safe enough to exit my vehicle and walk briskly to the store. Once inside I was encouraged to see it had half a dozen sharp-looking employees around, and I felt better yet.  But I liked being aware, and wary.

My t-girl friend who emailed me also acknowledged that avoiding conflict is a good first line of defense. I agree. Statistically, by far the biggest danger to girls like me is violent men. So, I’m generally wary of men. In public, I actively avoid eye contact with men or guys, lest one of them is a homophobe and I trigger his weird defense mechanism.  I used to smile at guys when I was more naive, and I got sneered or glared at or insulted so often that I went back to the drawing board and analyzed the situation and came up with a better approach.  So now I do avoid eye contact, but I also look up and past them to not mislead them into appearing weak.  As for females, I make eye contact and I smile unless they’re with a guy, in which case there might be a weird jealousy dynamic too. I’ve triggered that once and it wasn’t a pretty sight.

In general, I make a point of being situationally aware. For example, if I’m at a hotel and someone steps off the elevator at the same floor as I do, then unless they’re harmless e.g.., a family with children then I would hang back … focus on my phone, look in a mirror, do whatever so that they walk away while I wait.  This way, I avoid someone walking behind me (not safe) and knowing which room I go into (also not safe). Even if things go south, I figure I’m safer being right by the elevator, than anywhere else.

It’s kinda fun in a way, almost like real-life chess. And my life depends on it.

* * *

Additional information: one of my friends, also a t-girl, commented via email on my post. She mentioned the need to perhaps one day get into a demolition derby with an aggressor’s car. I can foresee many potential problems so I’m more inclined to highlight what I’d do than to tell you what to or what not to do. Dealing with violence solo is not as smart as calling in the cavalry, so I like to make sure I always have my cell phone with me and it’s charged so I can call the police, and I know it’s important to be calm and clear and highly descriptive and to to generally be able to tell them where I am and what’s going on, not how I feel about it. Example: “What is your emergency?” – “I’m in my car being chased and battered by another vehicle. My license plate is XYX123 and theirs is ABC876. I’m in a gold-colored BMW and they’re in a white Chevy pickup truck with a canopy. I’m at the intersection of Williams and Allen, headed east on Williams. I’m alone, in their vehicle are two males, both seem to be in their 20s.”

Since I’d have some control as to the direction of events I’d take the chase to a densely populated area or brightly lighted and/or near a law enforcement agency location at which point my attackers might well decide to leave. I also have a back-up phone just in case. And I just realized I don’t have my license plate memorized so I plan to go write it down on paper in big letters so I can read it at night if I need to. If it becomes a chase, then I like the idea of it not being a high-speed chase since the chances of a bad accident go up. I’d prefer to keep circling, ducking, swerving rather than outrunning. Besides, the local, low-speed approach makes it easier for the cavalry to come find me. It’s also a personal preference because the cars I drive are nimble and quick.

I also like to have my camera tied to DropBox so anything I take gets auto-uploaded so even if someone grabs and smashes my phone, it’s too late to help them stay anonymous. I also like to have the timer set to off, and the flash to “on” … ready for the worst-case scenario.

Playing the automotive battering-ram game is a specialized field of endeavor and one problem is that even if I succeed then I might then have somewhat of a legal challenge not being labeled as the aggressor. Anyway, if push comes to shove, literally, then I’d use the rear of my own vehicle as the point of impact, never the front. There’s not much to get hurt there that can disable my vehicle. Fuel tanks are nowadays front of the rear axle and out of the crumple zone, and fuel pump wiring and hoses have a lot of flex too. But the front of the car is super vulnerable. I’d use the back rear corner of my car to hit the front wheel of the aggressor’s car. If I hit it just so, they’ll soon be walking. With a little luck this might also deploy their air bag yet not mine, and that might also be pretty darn unnerving to them to where they decide to leave me alone. That said, I’d wanna have my head against the headrest when the impact happens to prevent whiplash. And better yet is to avoid this sort of situation altogether, but if I can’t, then I’m ready enough to be confident.

Hating my Masculine Aspects Less

The most insightful and helpful person in my life recently said something that I’d paraphrase as:

I understand you’re not interested in being male and even when you tried to live as a male, you failed. You almost had to — since you have, as best we can tell, a female brain structure. But now that you’re living as a girl, there are always other girls that are more feminine: more curvy, more soft, more petite, more experienced in femininity. So, trying to live as a male, you felt inferior. And now, living as a female, even though you’re happy, you also feel inferior.

But maybe that glass is really half full. Maybe you’re actually the best of both worlds.

The human race is still evolving. Using software version numbers as an analogy it seems to me you’re Human 2.0. You have the strength of a male and yet the social savvy, empathy, lack of anger, caring, knack for subtlety etc. that seems to come so naturally to a female mind.

If an animal has the combined strengths of two animals, why would it not use them all, e.g., if part-cheetah and able to run as fast as a normal cheetah, why would it renounce that capability?

That was a nice compliment and yet a hard-hitting subtle reproach too.

If you’ve never actually watched the three main Rambo movies you might have dismissed them superficially as being just blood-and-guts stuff. If you actually pay attention when watching, you learn that John Rambo is a very sensitive and caring character … who also happens to be immensely skilled as a combat veteran. This set of skills bothers him, haunts him. He tries to renounce them, living in as peaceful a haven as he can find: a remote monastery in the far East. He actively contains any use of his combat skills such as limiting it to formally organized public matches … in which he shows his opponent mercy when he wins, and he donates all the winnings to the monks. Day to day, he expends his energy in helping improve the monastery. He likes it there. His former commanding officer tracks him down and confronts him by describing his personal dilemma explicitly. Rambo agrees and yet continues to try hard to live as peacefully as he can, suppressing his combat skills … in much the same way as I suppress my masculine traits.

Evidently, I’ve done a lot of thinking since that thought-provoking conversation. Here’s what I came up with:

To me, the answer lies in the mostly binary structure of the human brain. Yes, there are many variations but to a huge extent, brain structure tends to be basically female or basically male … though I understand that this is a politically unpopular view among the politically correct.

As best I can tell, the most logical explanation of what I am brain-structure-wise is that I really do have a female brain structure. Mentally, structurally and fundamentally, I’m female. Not kind of female, but basically, thoroughly female. Hence, I basically feel female. So I value female traits … those that I have, those that I have acquired, those that I plan to acquire, even those that will forever be out of my reach (given the limits to biology and medical science).

00B0B_1uAKzSlvW0o_600x450My male traits are, ironically, very nice, objectively. I just struggle to think of them objectively. I’m tall. I’m svelte and yet I’m almost uncannily strong. I have good muscle tone and skin tone. I’ll try to avoid making this blog R-rated so I’ll just blandly say that: In bed, I’ve also been told that I’m the best of both worlds.And no, I don’t eat little blue pills. I don’t need them.

This latest input does have me re-evaluating things. Regardless of how I’d like to be, I DO have certain male-based traits. And they are undeniably useful — even if they do come from the masculine side of my make-up. Perhaps I should re-evaluate them more objectively instead of just automatically condemning them as fundamentally tainted due to their source.

If you’re a male reader of this blog, and you’re feeling offended, I hasten to add that I have nothing against anyone else having masculine traits. I just have an issue with ME having masculine traits.

The main problem is how deeply ingrained this I-hate-my-maleness mindset is, in me. The idea of having cellulite at the back of my thighs is literally a turn-on for me. And my hottest fantasy sexually is a scenario in which I can’t function sexually in a male role ever again, as in: in the fantasy, I can’t, won’t ever be able to again … and I know it. Odd as this might seem … yes, that turns me on, more than anything else in the whole world.

That’s some very deeply ingrained dysphoria. By the time I get that turned around, the mere passage of time might ironically have destroyed my male-based desirable qualities because thirty or forty years from now, it won’t matter much any more anyway.

* * *

g2015-07-10 10.37.01Here’s a quick July 10th add-on to show the dichotomy: if you were standing at the cash register of a particular Walgreens store this morning, you’d have seen a tall blonde t-girl (looking just like the picture to the left, which I took a few minutes ago) buying two very pretty sundresses, some Neutrogena skin-by-the-eyes moisturizing cream … and a magazine lauding the adventures of American Special Forces.