Monthly Archives: December 2008

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Exhausting console gaming

I follow the technological development of most things which has to do with computers and IT as close as I can. Naturally I read a lot about the Nintendo Wii gaming console when it was introduced. It was clear that Nintendo chose to not continue the fight for the most powerful gaming console with Sony and Microsoft. Instead they focused on the gaming experienced and introduced a new set of motion-sensitive controls couple with fun games which made you move the hand control instead of pushing buttons.

A few days after Christmas I went to visit Sören and Daniel who lives very close to very I grew up. A couple of other people where also there and one of them had brough her Nintendo Wii game so it became a good chance to try it out. We played ski slalom, snowboard, ski jump, “steer the bubble” but also tennis and boxing and it was so fun and exhausting. It was way more fun than I thought and much more exhausting. After 3×3 min of boxing I completely crashed in the sofa panting like I had been running 400 meters or something. Earlier I had thought really hard to get myself a Playstation 3 mainly to get the combination of a gaming console and a Bluray player but after playing Wii it became harder to choose. I would really need to do the excercises bundled with the board to improve my coordination. Two days after I had still sore muscles 🙂

Christmas Eve with family in Dalarna

As usual me and my little brother went to Mum who lives in Borlänge, Dalarna where we both grew up. Our Christmas holidays are very calm and relaxed but we still have quite a lof presents which I actually really like. Sure it is sometimes really hard to find good presents but there is something about thinking out great cool presents and giving them to others. Mum lives in a rather small apartment but it is well planned and it is not actually a problem – it almost makes it a bit more cosy and intimate. Sometimes my friends asks what we are doing around Christmas and I usually smile a little and describe it as a family LAN-party. This year my Mum had just bought a new Mac mini and me and my brother each brought our new laptops so we ended up as usual sitting behind our computers, talking and swapping links over iChat.

This year I felt more comfortable than ever before and I guess it is my new body which makes me feel very feminine even with my (pink) PJs on. Somehow I think my physcial appearance also makes people around me see me for the woman I am. It is an amazing feeling to no longer be ashamed of my body when I am changing clothes and taking a shower. It almost as if the woman in me has met the outside appearance. Years ago before my transition process I remember I was so sad every evening when I took of my makeup, hair and clothes. It was as if the real me dissolved.

This year I got really nice Christmas presents. From my Mum I got great Pasta plates but also a pink exfoliating kit from The Body Shop together with nail files. She also gave my Barack Obama’s book. From my brother I got a book called “Women who are thinking too much” which I think I will like. It actually means a lot to get these “girl-things” from my closest family. It is a wonderful affirmation of me as a woman but also still with my different interests in life.

Lovely weekend in Berlin

Christmas in Berlin 2009 with friends
So after getting up really early I landed at Berlin Schönefeld around 8 in the morning and despite the rain it felt great to finally be there. Struggled a while to understand the ticket machines at the S-bahn station close to the airport and finally I was on my way to the central part of Berlin where Mikael had rented really cool apartments where we all could stay. Got off the train at Alexanderplatz and took a cab the last bit which turned out really short. The apartments where really nice with a very modern and designed look. I decided to get some sleep before heading out on the streets of Berlin and it was so welcome to slip between warm and clean sheets in the bed.

In the afternoon we set off towards KaDeWe where Mikael was doing some intense Christmas gift shopping on the top floor but we were all quite hungry so we stopped a nice coffee house and I had a warm sandwich and a wonder full Vanilla Latte. It felt great to be walking around Berlin again (have been there once before) and feel the pulse of a big city. The apartment store KaDeWe (Kaufhaus Des Westens) is similar in style to NK here in Stockholm but so much bigger – almost beyond understanding. We browsed through the top floor devoted to food and it was so much to look at. Found a nice and expensive Chinese tea for my brother together with a cool designed tea can. We also passed a bottle of Champagne which had a retail price of 5990 EUR (!). The Christmas decorations where also very interesting to look at together with vast array of home interior design things. Finished off in the lingerie department which I found two nice chairs for my tired friends to rest in while I walked around looking at wonderful pieces of underwear. It is so fun with underwear this days – the surgery has really changed this for me. I found a very nice piece with bra and panties from the german company Mey which fitted me perfectly on the first try. The size was 80C this time. It is so fun to buy underwear and I felt great to have found another set already.

In the evening we fixed some canapés to the champagne (and a very small cute bottle of non-alcoholic white wine for me) which we had before heading for dinner in the evening. It was great sitting there with friends in a cool Berlin apartment eating and drinking. For the dinner we had found a rather interesting Italian place rather close to the apartments. It was housed in a pretty large stand-alone house which had a huge set of stairs in the entrance. The place was very casual with lots of scribblings and pictures of Che Guevara on the walls. I think my left-oriented friends liked a lot and I felt it was exotic 🙂 The pizzas we had were of high quality even though I missed the herbs on top. After the dinner we headed of to the Roses Bar which is completely decorated in pink and rather psychedlic lights. The music was great and it was a fun bar to be in. We must have been rather exotic because people stared at us a lot and I don’t think it was me this time.

After that bar the time was around 1 o´clock in the morning and I felt I needed to head back to be able to make it in time for the flight 12.40 the next day. However, I sometimes feel a bit boring these times and always wonder if I maybe should be better to stay around and possibly see more things and meet more people. Some of the others end up returning home at 9 in the morning and then some of the big clubs were still open (some don’t even get crowed before 5-6 in the morning). On the other hand I need to be better to do what I feel I want to and I did not felt like being totally wasted of tiredness the day after, especially after my early morning from Skavsta airport. So I went home and had a nice time chatting before heading to bed around 3 in the morning.

Missed my flight tonight

Sometimes I wonder why I do as I do. Tonight I had made a reservation on a SAS flight to Berlin to celebrate a friend of mine’s birthday. I ended up missing the flight and I was really sad. Maybe because I initially had some doubts about this trip anyway and this almost seemed like a sign that I weren’t supposed to go there. Yes, I cried. I am very emotional these days. Then I started thinking about why this happened. I still have not that much excess energy I think which makes me push things into the future when I can. Still feeling the effects of lost love a bit which does not help either. I actually got some energy back in the beginning of the week where I met with people two nights in a row which was very nice. Lost some steam at the end of the week though.

I also I have a general tendency to be a time-optimist and often end up being a little late because I try to do a little bit too much all the time. Sometimes it is of course also because I feel very tired in the morning and can’t do much to shorten my morning routine. This being late-thing also has to do with my previous fear of waiting for people alone in public places where it was easier to show up a little late to avoid that waiting alone.

So today I went to my old work in Uppsala for some annual tasks, then to FOI to pick up a USB-stick, then to my makeup store and finally to eat something down at the City Center Mall. Managed to place some calls to both the Cable-TV company (ordered HDTV) and my Internet Service Provider in the car. Felt I had been rather productive today. On my way to my car I decided to see if I could find a birthday present for my friend so I went inside the bookshop even though I knew time was running short. I guess I missed the flight there. After that I took my car back home and it went better than I thought despite the Christmas traffic in central Stockholm. Still I realised I was getting a bit late but I did not really think I realised how late I was. Got home and started packing my suitcase as fast as I could. Here comes the next part of the explantation I think. There are quite a few things that I really can’t forget when I am traveling and it is a bit stressful to try to think of everything that need to go into the suitcase. Why don’t do the packing the day before then? Because I most of the stuff that is really important is something I use both in the evening and in the morning.

Finally I was ready and headed for the bus stop and saw the rear end of the bus moving away from the bus stop. Checked the display which said that the next bus was due in 13 minutes. Think I lost around 20 minutes there so when I finally arrived at Arlanda Airport there was 25 minutes left to the plane would leave. Even though I had checked in online they refused to accept my suitcase and that was that. It was the first time I had missed a flight.

Ended up feeling like I have failed to be there for my friend but also failed to take the chance to have some great fun on my leisure time. Also felt very confused because I am a rather seasoned traveller who have been abroad 8 times already this year. How could I do this?? After a while I gathered myself and found a Ryanair flight for around 1100 SEK which I finally booked. It would leave 6.30 in the morning which meant that I had to leave home around 3.25 or so. Would not be much sleep for me then – I wonder if I could fall asleep at all before that.

Bra sizes and a very nice Birthday party

Started this morning with a home made Café Latte again and it was really nice. I still think Espresso House does it better than me but still it tasted really good. Noticed again what a big difference my new office chair is compared to the old one. It is way more comfortable sitting in front of the computer now. I can’t really figure out what took me so long. Had a nice talk over the phone with Mikael and realised that a week from now we will be in Berlin on his birthday trip. I look forward to that, maybe because it was years since I travelled and it had nothing to do with work.

A friend of mine had her brithday party planned for this evening so I set out to buy her a present. Decided to go for a book with a LBGT-theme so it turned out to be a great opportunity to visit the bookshop Hallongrottan. When I got there I could not really figure out why I had never been there before either. It struck me how nice it was to have all these LGBT-books gathered and I started looking for a nice lesbian-themed novel for my friend. I really think I need to get some of these books myself. It would be so nice to have a story where the relationship part is actually something I could relate to directly. However, the nice girl in the store guided me to some other books as well and when she told me about a book about post-communist gay men in Poland I knew she would like that. She has her heritage from Poland and the subject seemed really interesting with a story around how these gay men had come up with their own polish way of being gay under a communist dictatorship.

Happy with my purchase I headed off to the downtown area to see if I could buy some underwear for me. The experience this Thursday inspired me to get some nice underwear which I guess can make me feel even more comfortable. I felt it would be great to have some assistance so I headed for Twilfit at the Gallerian Mall where I had some faint recollection of a women working in the changing room area. It turned to to be true and she challenged me directly and rather harshly asked if I knew my sizes. She more or less insisted to measure me, I guess because many women have a tendency to buy the wrong sizes for them. I was a bit nervous at first but it quickly went away when I started trying my bras out. Somehow it felt great when she could see me in my underwear and see that I had the body of a woman. Somehow I think she felt so too because she started complementing how great the bra was and how nice my boobs looked in them. It was more fun then ever to try on nice underwear and I think it looked real good on me too! One great surprise was also that I needed a size 80D (36D in the US) on the light pink one. I have a D-cup – wow! Felt great to have her assistance and when I looked at her nametag I smiled – “Bra expert” it said! Ended up buying a black Calvin Klein and the light pink one from Chantelle.

Finished off the evening at the birthday party and my friend seemed to like my gift. It was a nice and calm evening with a couple of her friends and a dog called Milou that really liked me this evening. Ended up having her sleeping in my lap 🙂 We had ginger bread cookies with ginger bread tea topped off with a pizza later on while we watched Sex and the City the movie. Even if this was the third time I saw it I liked it again. Brought some good reflections on love and sometimes to not give up that easy. I was also reminded by A when Mr Big proposed to her by putting on Carrie her blue high heels. A is an absolute goddess on heels. So balancing getting over her with the (movie´s) message of not giving up to easy when it feels right is not an easy one.

Women's changing room

Traditional christmas food at work
On Thursday it was time for the first “Christmas table” as we call it Sweden. It means that we eat traditional Christmas food from a buffet and it is only served the weeks before Christmas eve each year. This one was at work and followed a day where people from the whole department met and cross-briefed each other about what projects we were working on. Everybody was in uniform as usual during the day but then in the evening we all were expected to change to civilian clothes. Which meant using the women’s changing room for me. I did not do that last year mainly because I think I did not felt secure without the breast augmentation surgery. But this year was different and it felt natural to take the next step this year.

So why is this such a big issue then. Well, it is a bit hard to say but I think the main issue is that I am afraid of feeling to much different from the rest of the women especially when my body is “judged”. I know everybody else is probably thinking about so many other things but on the other hand I guess since I am very open with my background the women around me have some degree of understandable curiosity about me anyway. Another thing that complicates things is that I still prefer to use my “extra-hair” at work together with rather heavy foundation and makeup. It makes me feel more secure (and pretty) at work but it of course means taking it off when I am in the changing room. I guess I still have the fear of that people around me need the attributes to see me for the woman I am. I have come so far with respect for this during the last 10 years and feel very comfortable around my friends and in my civilian life when I am “au naturelle” but at work I don’t feel that yet.

This evening I was not ready to take my make-up off and head for the sauna so it was mainly a hair thing this time. I was pretty nervous before opening the door the first time but I was first so it wasn’t so bad 🙂 Anyway, the other women came and it turned out just fine. I was standing there in my underwear and felt rather ok. Changed my clothes and started fixing my hairdo for the evening and the other women were very nice and we starting talking about hair and hair extensions. Asked them how the thought I should have my hair for the evening and got some approval of having it down my shoulders. It made me feel safe and exactly that kind of “female companionship” that I love experiencing. Next time I think I am ready for a shower and sauna. It is definitely about time!

Time heals…

Just over a week after we met last Sunday I got the message. I guess it was natural that it was her who made the move as well. She wanted to know how I would like her to behave when it comes to us and our communication. I know she cares about me and and would like to stay in touch with me although she of course realizes that it is not that easy now. I guess she would feel better if it happened sooner or later because it is never nice to see someone you care about feel bad. So, I had to do what I did not want to do. Tell her that I needed some time before we can talk again so I can get over her but also to honestly be able to tell her I was ok. I don’t think it is fair that we keep in touch just to have me tell her how bad I feel all the time. The other option would be to pretend like nothing and avoid the subject. Neither of these options seem to be any good. So it was with a really sad feeling I had to write to her and say that we will be in touch later on, but not now. When I feel better and when I have stopped thinking “what-if”…really hard since I also do miss her a lot…

About being valued

Early years
I think I have been an ambitious or even over-achieving person my whole life. I was real good at school and felt great each time I scored high on a test and when I got good grades at the end of each year. I learned to work hard and to feel the reward for that. Never went to parties where achievements on tests and grades ceased to matter that much. Had a few crushes but never started exploring real emotions and relations.

All this contributed to me being a bit socially handicapped when I started working and entered the very special environment of a fighter squadron where the social part is very important. I was confident in my professional role but did not feel interesting or valued as a person. I did not drink alcohol at all either and that did of course put even more harder requirement of being yourself and feel cool about it. I realise that alcohol often can be an easy way out when you are feeling insecure. And finally add the fact that I was trapped in the wrong body. I think what was hardest was to feel misunderstood. They never knew the real me and I was so scared of anybody finding out my inner thoughts. It is a bit hard to be myself then and it more or less rules out any personal relationships since what was most important for me was a non-topic.

This “ambitious-girl-approach” of course worked just fine at work in the Swedish Air Force as well. We were of course driven by our interest in the subject and maybe even a bit idealistic because we really thought we could change the Armed Forces. So me and my collegue worked hard and it was really rewarding at times. People respected me for the work I did, even though I had an self-image of being a bit nerdy.

Coming out
My coming out process changed all of that. Suddenly a new world of social interactions opened up both with new friends and in the LGBT-world. What I did at work did not matter that much more than that people thought I had an exotic job. I was invited to parties and got to know a lot of new people who valued me for who I was. In the beginning it was a bit hard to accept that I was a nice interesting person and not just this strange freaky transsexual person. But it is was still so great to be there, to be part of the crowd. To be invited almost despite who I was (in my mind that is). Felt a lot more proud about who I was although I was still ashamed of my body and my legal name. When I was in a situation where I had to change clothes I often had this feeling of being scared that people would not see me for who I am if they caught a glimpse of me without makeup and clothes. Sometimes you need to state your legal name and those situations was even worse. Tried to only show my ID so people could read it instead of me having to say my old name out loud. On the flip side it became an important level of trust to friends around me to let them know my legal name and see me without makeup and see that they still liked me and saw me for the woman I am.

Work was becoming a little less interesting and I really looked forward to my spare time where I could be myself and shine for a while. Then back at work feeling more and more trapped in my body and identity. Living two lives was becoming more and more difficult and I so longed for integrating my life into one. It is a bit interesting because I think that I got somewhat a change of focus then. From the ambitious person to someone who finally could show I was and got many positive affirmations of that. However, I wonder to what degree there was some kind of achievement in that. I want to believe that I started to value myself better as a person and learned that it wasn’t what I did that mattered. On the other hand I think I used my skills as reason to do things with people also. When I met my best friend of today I started out by making her a web-page for her band and volunteered to shoot pictures and video on their performances. So I guess I felt I was there to do things rather then being just me and enjoying the show.

My engagement in RFSL quickly become another comfort zone especially during the first years from 2001 to 2004. It was such a relief to have these days off from my regular work where I good put on my best clothes and head of to the RFSL office in the city of Stockholm and do volunteer work. I think people quickly noticed that I was quite good at making certain stuff happened and I of course accepted tasks gladly. Felt good that my skills was needed of course. Still it was a very happy and interesting time.

Transition time
I started my transition in the summer of 2004 which felt so good and gradually I felt better. Felt so good to finally do what I had dreamed of for so long. Life was gradually becoming less complicated and my life as one person, a young woman, started to fit together. Acceptance at work was really good and that made work feel a lot more interesting and important. I could be myself at all times at last, I coud be honest and did not have to hide anymore. Such a relief! But all of that also meant that I could not hide anymore behind some excuses that the true me wasn’ there. It was just me out there. Still there were a lot of obstacles in daily life at work because the transition process takes a lot of time and the threshold of daring to use the women’s locker room was bigger than I thought. I also think that I feel I have became more afraid than I was in the beginning. Back then I could be complely terrified of just opening the front door and showing myself to others but somehow I overcame my fear so many times and did what I longed for. I think I have become more hard on myself today to dare as much and as quickly as back then. Maybe it also has to do with a realisation that what I do and don’t do today is something that stays. Before I separated my life so that it maybe did not matter that much what I did. I guess in my mind I kind of think that I sometimes have just one chance to “prove” that I for instance look feminine even naked in locker-room. So I want that situation to be a little bit more perfect then what is realistic.

New situation at work
So being a woman and with my background naturally meant that I felt the pressure to continue to achieve to get (remain) respected for the things I did. Like most women I felt that I needed to achieve above average to be considered ok. My self-esteem was possibly even more hit when I started working with my new name and my real look. Previously I had got to know people in my private life who accepted me for who I was and felt a comfort zone around them. Now, each new situation had a potential danger and it was easy to think negative thoughts. I was of course nervous about how people would react to me and I think I was strange. The feeling of being looked down on based on you are is by far the hardest one. Somehow I don’t white straight men understand how much that can affect you. Much more hard than being looked down on based on my professional performance.

Balance and sensitivity
So in the end I guess it is about finding the balance. I like to achieve things and like to have passion to change things. That is who I am and I think if I stop doing these things I won’t be happy. The important part is to not feel sad when I fail or don’t succeed in doing things. It does not mean that I am a bad person, it just mean that I did not have enough time, was inspired enough or something like that. Then I must work really hard on my self-esteem and try to spend much less time thinking about what other people might think of me. Usually most people have enough in their own life to have the energy to think about other people. However, my whole experience of being a transsexual person have made me super-sensitive and I have a fine-tuned ability to read people and how they look at me. That is a training I really could have been without. However, I do think I have a big need to feel that people care about me but that kind of affirmations is not always easy to get all the time. Therefore I also need to care more about myself.

A somber week in retrospect…

The week did certainly not start in a good mood but it got somewhat better. Not on Wednesday though when my technical project leader asked for the evaluation report and I explain why I had not been my usual ambitious me lately. He told me he felt sorry for me but could not help himself to twist the knife a little bit although with a warm smile: “Alexandra…and she was a system architect and all…”. Fortunately our physical training officer had a planned a common activity for all of us in the afternoon, bowling. I was a bit hesitant at first but when I was there and started scoring it felt great to focus my mind on something else. Had another “first time experience” again. When I lifted the rather heavy ball I noticed that my breasts became more apparent than usual. Not that it was a real problem but it was just that the feeling of bowling just got a little bit different. Could not help smiling a bit but I decided not to share the excitement with my colleagues 🙂

I was also saved by work that afternoon when I was called in to prepare a document for a meeting one of my colleagues could not attend. I was very energized by the whole thing and managed to bury myself totally in work that evening. The next day I attended the meeting and got tremendous feedback which felt good. After all this was the subject area I have been working with for the last years and it felt great to get some really positive feedback on that from the top management. Tried to take in that feeling as much as possible and it seemed to work. This Friday I had an appointment for diathermy again and as usual it took almost 3 and half hours from start to end. Managed to to some work before and after but I think it deserved to have some time off after my earlier late night work. Even though I was completely exhausted I had a chance to get some company from Mikael at Espresso House and later Martin for a nice dinner in Vasastan. It is so nice to spend the night having dinner with friends. Ended up chatting a little bit in the evening and was called both wise and funny. Tried really hard to believe that.

Reaction or processing…?

They say the phases of grief are chock, reaction, processing and new orientation. I think the reaction phase hit me Sunday night when I felt I could write about my feelings for the first time. When I had finished the two posts it came all over me again and it somehow felt so much more real. I had lost her, it would not be us together. I almost started crying again but somehow I gathered myself and went to bed instead. They day after I decided to try to work from home instead. Had no desire sitting at work and staring into the air. Felt really sad, empty and sort of numb all day and did not manage to put more than an hour or so of work in. So I guess I stared into the air at home instead. Should have rewritten the experiment report but it seem that had to wait for a better day. Today it is Tuesday and it was really hard to muster the energy to get myself fixed up and drive to work so I ended up being late to the briefing. Was sort of saved by my interest in my work in the evening and got some energy back and wrote some comments on a guidance document at least. Talked to Puck for a while on my way home and that made me feel a lot better. She has that effect on me usually. Was nice to hear the latest news about her pregnancy. I hope I can move into processing soon…