The Consequences of Diligent Facial Waxing

2015-09-18 17.27.29There’s a sub-plot in the series “Orange is the New Black” in which a transsexual girl is on feminizing hormones in prison, and then the prison cuts back on the dosage. The girl is in anguish because of the anticipated consequences. The anticipated regrowth of her body and facial hair is one of the things she mentions as a basis for concern. Feminizing hormones help keep that in check, I’ve read.

Personally, I chose not to wait. I started waxing my body and facial hair away long before I started taking feminizing hormones. And “patience is a virtue” certainly applies here.

I have waxed my body and facial hair so much that, in anticipation of going to a pool party this weekend, I waxed my legs, chest and tummy. Then I took a container of wax, some shaving cream and some razors to my mom, with a request that she do her hair removal magic on my back and shoulders since it’s hard for me to reach there. It’s been several months since last time.  “I can’t,” she said. “There isn’t any [hair to remove, any more].”

Yay!! Victory over the dark forces has been achieved.

As for my face, I’ve been waxing that so diligently that the only surviving strands of hair are few and far between. Hair grows in phases, and so when I wax then I damage the hair follicles in a particular cycle of the hair growth rate. The other follicles are unaffected. So I must then wax again later, to damage them too. Timing matters because if I wait too long then those follicles will once again be in the mode where waxing doesn’t affect them. I don’t measure the cycle changes; I just wax often and hope for the best.

It helps to approach wax on the premise of “I wax to destroy the hair follicles” and the short-term benefits are not the main focus.

It’s working. Here’s a close-up of me a few days ago, with no make-up. Notice the few isolated strands of remaining hair? That’s what the remaining resistance now amounts to … a few isolated strands. I make a point of waxing them too; shaving them would give them a reprieve. When I looked at the post-wax papers, they used to look like a carpet, having just removed a thick mat of hair (yes, eww).  Now I have to look hard and squint to see the few light-colored hairs. As for the few black hairs; they’re also down to one here, one there.

Yay! Perseverance wins.

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Being Mean to Teenagers or Young Adults

Much has been written about teenagers or young adults being mean to other teenagers or young adults. However, it’s time to write about parents being mean as such.

What do these three events have in common?

– A friend of mine is getting married this weekend
– I paused the movie “The Mysterious Island” to write this post
– A t-girl is packing up her stuff to come stay with me for a while

All three of these involve a parent being mean to teenagers or young adults. And the only effect this had was to diminish the parent’s credibility. Their offspring continued to do whatever made the most sense to them. If anything good came out of the parent being mean, it was that their child (whether teenager or adult) asserted their own independence more.

I don’t see how browbeating anyone is ever a good idea … whereas reasoning with them is. Ironically, young people are often the most luminously rational people around and so too often the parent’s inability to “make their child see reason” is because the parent’s position really doesn’t stand up to logical scrutiny.

And no, I’m not opining this from an ivory tower. I was the step-mom to what might just be the most wonderful stepdaughter from the time she was 12. Her mom, my spouse at the time, was an exemplary mother. Reason governed the household, and it governed well. Her two moms encouraged the teenage girl to be independent and to thrive. That she did. Such success stories are far too rare, and though perhaps sometimes good parents really do have the “child from hell” very often the problems can be traced back to bad parenting.

Now, to connect the dots:

– My friend, who is getting married this weekend, chose a truly wonderful lady with whom to share his life. They have been been living together unmarried for some years now, and doing so has no doubt given them both a rich perspective on each other, so their decision to get married is no doubt a well-informed decision. Yet, when my friend announced his then-new living arrangement to his very conservatively religious father, the latter disapproved and made that clear.
– When I take breaks during the day, I watch snippets of movies. It might take me many days to watch one movie but I’m OK with that. I’m currently watching “The Mysterious Island” based on the book by Jules Verne. In the movie, there’s a dilemma and a teenage girl comes up with a suggestion that carries some risk to her safety but given the available data it’s probably the best decision, including for her own safety. Her mother flat-out forbids her to carry out the plan. But, as soon as the mother is asleep, the girl gets up and is no doubt planning to go execute her plan anyway.
– I’m mentoring a wonderful t-girl, a young adult, who is still staying with her parents, and she’s packing up her stuff to come stay with me for a while. I hope she’ll like it here for a long while but time will tell. Problem is, that instead of getting a “safe travels, we love you and will miss you” message from her mom she’s getting mean-spirited animosity, and this in a very stressful week of her life when she needs her mom’s love and support most.

Often the biggest source of unpleasantness for a young t-girl is her own parents. Even not-so-young t-girls struggle with that. That includes me. My mom has come around and we’re now very close, but the first steps of my independence as a t-girl were very fiercely opposed and for a while the relationship was very strained. One of the nicest t-girls I know is a not-yet-out lady in her late 50s or her 60s, who dares not come out because she’s concerned about how her 80-year-old might react.

Being reasonable (which includes being benevolent) is the best approach I can advise for the parents of a t-girl. Being mean has a long track record of failure.

A Superficially Lousy Day … and yet not

When I’m sleep-deprived I do the dumbest stuff. In that mode, I can’t even walk to the kitchen to make coffee without hurting myself, e.g. stubbing my toe on the sharp edge of the scale I use to weigh myself. This morning, I got to prove that, yet again.

I was up until after 4 a.m., working. I manage several businesses, and today being the 15th, it’s tax deadline day for two of them, my asset management business and my publicity management business. And so, I’ve been doing the financial year-end accounting work, preparing the tax paperwork and filing the taxes. These are weird entities, neither LLCs nor corporations, but limited partnerships, so the paperwork is extra weird. Anyway, I got it all done but it wasn’t easy. Days’ worth of hard work, and so I’ve been sleep-deprived for days on end.

I’m also behind on billable hours for my software engineering company and so last night until close to 11 p.m. I worked on software. Then, my automotive engineering company needed attention. I’d rented a pickup truck for a week, and today at 9:30 a.m. I needed to hand in the vehicle. So last night was my last opportunity to use the thing. So at 11 p.m. last night, that part of my work began, moving furniture and auto parts from one location to another. By 4 a.m. I was done, in more ways than one.

When my alarm went off at 9 a.m. I felt very sleep-deprived and sorry for myself, although of course I’m totally in control and the entire status quo is simply the result of my not-so-smart decisions.

After the truck episode, the car company and software company needed more love and attention and by mid-day I was ready to fall over and sleep. So, I did, for three hours. Then, I got up and worked on software issues again — not realizing that I was blowing off in the process a) an eyelash extension appointment, which makes it two in a row, and b) a hair appointment, which also makes it two in a row. So, by now I need to pay missed-appointment penalties or I won’t be able to look the ladies in the eye any more, so that’s money down the drain. I’d somehow remembered the appointments as being tomorrow not today, oops.

I won’t be able to get another appointment for at least 2 weeks, and the problem is that by now my eyelashes and hair look like I might have been hot long ago but now I look like the prisoner-of-war version of a pretty girl.

The whole point behind all my planning and timing had been to look good at an important business meeting Thursday night. So now, instead of looking resplendent, I’ll show up with two-tone hair and scraggly lashes. I was feeling sorry for myself about this too, although, of course, this is also simply the result of my not-so-smart decisions.

I have a wonderful friend who could see the silver lining on any cloud even if the cloud were mushroom-shaped, and while I was bemoaning my situation she pointed out that:
a) At least I HAVE hair long enough to need styling and coloring
b) Ten years ago, before I was “out” as a t-girl, the idea of having a lash extension appointment would have seemed ludicrous

She’s right, of course. Me whining about all this is like me whining about the Lamborghini needing an oil change again. In the grand scheme of things, these are good problems to be able to have.

Move Mean People out of your Life and Keep them Out

It’s a rare t-girl who doesn’t have a poor self-image due to trying to live as a square peg in a round hole, i.e., a person with a female brain structure trying to live in a culture made for those with a male brain structure. Of course everything will be harder, and often the t-girl will feel like a failure and ashamed of herself.

Objectively, she can’t help being born with a female brain structure, and of course she’d find life to be very difficult when trying to live as a male, just like a dog would if trying to live like a cat.

Even if the reasons aren’t valid, the psychological damage is real, and a common thread I notice in many t-girls (including myself until relatively recently) is that we put up with people being mean to us — especially people in our household or family.

I have very finite time and so I’m supportive to t-girls on part of their journey but the part where I check out of a particular aspect is where someone is in her good graces, then bad graces, then good graces and so on. It’s like a wrecking ball, swinging back and forth, trashing her self-confidence and wasting her valuable energy and time — and it’s always because she chooses to tolerate bad behavior, forgive it again and again — and then gets indignant at being treated badly again and again when to me it’s as predictable as the sunset and sunrise.

If she allows people who choose to hurt her in her life, and then they will be in her life, and choose to hurt her. It’s as simple as that.

Of course the mean people have glowing qualities or are championed by someone who does, and so the victim gets duped into granting them forgiveness but really there’s no excuse for those people to have been mean. Fabricating excuses for such people works great only until next time. That’s the one “room for improvement” thing in the lives of many a t-girl: she allows people in her life who treat her badly and then she somehow tries to weigh their positive contributions as offsetting. There’s no offsetting. There’s no diamond big enough for an abusive husband to buy the wife he just beat up so that she should forgive him. There’s nothing he can do that to deserve her forgiveness and yet she’ll give it … and get beat up again. And the process repeats itself.

As to people apologizing, if the t-girl thinks it means anything more than “Forgive me so I can hurt you again next time,” here’s an excerpt from a story I wrote recently:

This is after Nina just insulted Tammy, her friend — big mistake. Chris, the neighbor is there too, watching the dialog. Nina rushes to apologize:

“Oh, no, I am so sorry. My mind is just messed up.”

“Not an excuse. Get a grip. And that’s not the sort of threat I like to make so consider it implied in everything you say and count this as your last warning. In the past when I put up with rudeness, I got more of it. So, I decided to stop accepting it. If you should be an exception, I don’t know why you would.”

“I am really so sor ….”

“Time for an object lesson in being sorry,” said Tammy. “Bowl, yes?” She waved a breakfast bowl, similar to Nina’s, in the air. “Close your eyes, both of you,” she said. They did. She raised the bowl high and dropped it on the kitchen floor. The bowl shattered and pieces of ceramic flew around. “Open your eyes. That was to protect you from flying shards.”

“Good thing we listened,” Chris said.

“When I warn, best to take me seriously,” Tammy said. “Anyway, focus, people. Bowl broken, yes?” Chris nodded; Nina shrugged and nodded too.

“Tell the bowl you’re sorry,” she told Nina.

Nina stared at her woodenly. Then, “I’m sorry,” she said to the bowl.

“Any actual improvement as a result of saying that?“

“No,” said Nina.

“This concludes our object lesson,” Tammy said.

A Report from the Front Lines

One of my favorite authors is P.J. O’Rourke. When he writes about something, he goes there, spends time, learns in-depth, in person. He talks to the people who matter. When he writes about the Middle East he’ll go talk to the Israeli soldiers and the Palestinian youths who are throwing half-bricks at the soldiers. In a world of second-hand, regurgitated information, he is raw, real, direct, true, engaged, reliable, believable. Without diminishing objectivity, he also blends into his fact-based writing a lovely sense of humor and a formal acknowledgement of his own quirks.

And so, here I am, starting to understand the transitioning process, the trials and tribulations, of real-world t-girls, up close and very, very personal in a P.J. sense.

Sure, some years ago I’d been to t-girl clubs and chatted with a few girls. I had read somewhere that some of us fall apart and sink into despair and desperate situations where life is like a losing chess game and it’s all going downhill. But, all that was like seeing it from a distance, almost as if on TV. I was detached and clueless as to the raw pain of the real world.

I used to hand out flyers at meetings saying I’m happy to mentor t-girls, implying I knew what I was doing. Maybe I was, maybe I wasn’t, but either way, my perspective was lofty and not grounded in dirt, blood and guts. I thought I was involved and in touch, but I wasn’t.

What changed? In the last x months, I’ve traveled much, and folks have traveled to me. All of it was with a view to me mentoring t-girls. Since my finances don’t enable leisure travel it was always intertwined with business travel. I have met up close and personal with t-girls from the UK, the Bible Belt, the American North-East, the American West.

The one thing that really hit me hard is how damn painful the journey of a t-girl is, and how soul-wrenchingly difficult it is for the t-girls I’m mentoring. Some make it to my hotel room and fall down on my bed and cry. Some don’t even make it to my hotel room. Some of us do better, some of us do worse. Regardless, I get to see first-hand that it is really, really, really, really damn hard for so many of us.

The least of our problems are the awkwardness we feel, and the pettiness of assholes who make mean comments, or are dangerous. It’s the self-doubt, the self-loathing, the being buried under the emotional rubble of having tried and failed in living as a boy, and wondering why we would not also fail at living as a girl. It’s the cumulative damage of the vast amount of abuse that we’ve tolerated from evil people around us, thinking we’re exceptions to the rule that people should be treated fairly. However badly we got hurt by strangers, that was a mere scratch compared to the deep wounds we carved in ourselves, or the wounds that we allowed evil people close to us to inflict.

If I wanted to rescue people, I’ve had ample opportunity in the course of my travels. Instead, I’m hard-assed. I tell the t-girls I mentor that even though they might well have reasonable cause to feel terrible about life, it’s still not going to get better until they get off their asses and stand up and fight for their rightful place in their own lives. And yes, they’ll get knocked down and beat up. And then I’ll be there, suggesting they get up yet again. I know that if they just lie there and give up, one day at a time … they fail. If I condone that, then I fail.

I’m like the t-girl version of General Patton, telling them it’s fine to lie there and cry, for a few minutes or hours or days, whatever it takes. After that, I advise them to go get up again, goddammit, and go get back in the fight. When I do that, my heart secretly bleeds for them. I feel for every t-girl who doesn’t wanna crawl from her tear-stained bed to the door and go fight another day; she wants to crawl under the bed, curl up and go to sleep and never wake up again. However, I’m outwardly Ms. Hard-Ass. If I weaken, if I tell them it’s OK to be weak, then I have let them down. And that, I’m not willing to do.

So how come I’m not the one lying on the bed crying? I don’t know. I’ve certainly had my own battles. I’ve certainly faced difficult times. Sure, I’ve seriously considered killing myself off, and once I came so close that I almost couldn’t reverse the process. I don’t really know why I’m not a basket case. Perhaps it’s because I’m lucky. Perhaps it’s because I had wonderful people mentoring me at a time when I was fragile. I really don’t know. But I’m happy to be who I am, deeply and fundamentally happy.

Even so, you might look at my life and shake your head at what you see. My car’s driver side door doesn’t have any upholstery, and the door doesn’t even lock. The A/C doesn’t work. My apartment is in an ancient building and you can’t walk on the living room floor without tripping over used auto parts that I buy and sell. I rinse dusty auto parts off in my bathtub. Ostensibly, my life is a mess. But, part of the reason why my car and home don’t look nicer is … I really don’t care. I’d rather focus on my own looks and health, and build my business. Once that succeeds I might once again go to Hawaii nine times a year, buy two Mercedes-Benz sports cars on the same day, and live in a very, very, very swanky place. But, there’s no rush.

What’s more important to me now is that I can look at my body in the mirror, or my legs under the steering wheel of my car, and feel good about my body, and how I look. Socially, I feel like the girl in a perfume ad. I seem to exude the happiness and confidence that I feel. People are for the most part super-nice to me, and life is good.

How I look to myself in the mirror also depends on my self-respect. I have navigated difficult situations in a way where, though I screwed up royally in so many ways, I can still basically feel good about myself ethically. So when I look in the mirror, I can like and respect the girl who looks back at me.

And that is a feeling I’d like to inspire others to also experience.

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Happy Atlas Shrugged Day!

2015-08-30 16.53.20Today is September 2.

According to The Objective Standard, “Today in 1946, Ayn Rand began writing Atlas Shrugged, which would be published eleven years later.”

The first day IN the novel is also September 2. In the novel, that date is mentioned again and again, year after year.

I first read Atlas Shrugged when I was 19. I have since read it at least eight times. It’s more than 1,000 pages. I love that book. By now, I still can’t recite it but if someone reads it to me, and they misread it slightly, I can usually catch it, and often I can guess what the next sentence or two would be. I have integrated the ideas in that book into my life’s philosophy.

Recently, I’ve been mentoring a t-girl in her mid-20s. In my opinion, she was living her life in the shadows, relegating herself to an unfulfilled life. By the time I was her age, I’d already gotten a university degree, started six businesses, worked as a cost analyst in an automobile factory, moved to America, worked as the office manager of an automotive speed shop, been promoted to general manager, and then started a thriving new career in software development. Much is possible when one applies oneself.

Last Saturday night, this t-girl spent the night with me. And yes, I sleep in the nude. You’d think one naked t-girl and one half-naked t-girl in a king-sized bed would mean there would be very little actually sleeping. And that’s precisely what happened, but not because we had sex that night. We didn’t. We talked — a lot. We talked until the sun came up.

I pointed out to her that she was going out of her way to be fair — to everyone except herself. Others’ needs always came first and her own hopes, wishes and desires did not even feature on her radar screen. I gently pointed out to her that she was being hypocritical: one set of rules for her, another set for everyone else. Indeed, mostly I’ve seen that approach used in the reverse way this t-girl used it, which is to deny herself everything instead of to allow herself everything. Even so, it’s still an unfair principle, and I pointed this out. She was very moved at the realization of what her life might have been and still can be, were she to allocate a good portion of her energies into furthering her own life.

The next day, I took her to Barnes and Noble, and bought her a large copy of Atlas Shrugged, because this novel eloquently illuminates the implications of this sort of approach to life.

Then, she and I spent a large part of the next night in bed together yet again, this time reading the first chapter of the book aloud to each other. She loved it, especially the style of Dagny Taggart, the heroine.

Now that she’s allocating her energies to herself, wow, what a dramatic change, even in just three days. This bodes well. She declared her independence and is proceeding accordingly. Hence, my choice of this picture: Independence Hall where the US Declaration of Independence was signed. Ironically, I took that picture on the same afternoon as when I handed her that book.