Getting There is the Battle
by: River Eller
::getting ready to go to work. hating the prep time::
Shaving entails feet, legs, hands, arms, chest, under arms, shoulders, face, and neck; it is a tremendous pain in the tucked region and generally takes an hour and a half. I did most of it the night before so it only took twenty minutes this morning. It saves time to do it in stages, but that means everyday there is a different area that needs shaving and, every now and then (read: last night) shooting stars, planets, blue moons, and horseshoes align and I have to do it all at once. The exceptions to the stagger-shave rule are my face and neck, that’s everyday. I am still figuring out how much pressure to apply to each area, so I cut myself, a lot. I cut myself twice last night, once on a toe and once behind the knee.
After a scalding shower (it needs to be scalding to burn away my dysphoria), I towel dry my hair and shave my face. I also brush my teeth. I do this all by the glow of the nightlight. It is enough light to see by while being dark enough I won’t glimpse body parts I cannot handle seeing.
::a quick blast with the blow comb. hating my forehead; cursing mentally—and a little under my breath—fiddling with my hair::
I stare into the mirror. A brush in one hand and volumising spray in the other. I always flip my bangs to one side then the other then straight down. I brush them back to add lift …
::seeing my forehead again; struggling against the tears::
… and then back down. It wants to part to the right and leave the thinning spots distressingly noticeable. I brush it toward the left side. Better.
::still noticeable and oh goddess! that forehead::
I let the sides and back of my not-straight-not-curly-and-still-to-short hair flop down as it pleases. At least it is chin length now, which means fewer days in a wig.
::smiling at my reflection then frowning because I forgot to do my make-up before my hair; chastising myself; making myself feel bad because I deserve it, they tell me I deserve it.::
My foundation is powder. I tried the liquid but it clumps to the stubble as the five o’clock shadow comes in. Powder is lighter and can be re-applied quickly without a caked on look. I can do this because I am blonde and my shadow is almost non-existent.
::thanking the goddess I am blonde::
I apply some blush and, because I was feeling dysphoric yesterday, I decide to femme it up with eye liner (brown), eye shadow (green), and mascara (Lushes Lashes). I use just a hint of eye liner in my eyebrows to make them a touch more visible. Then the whole thing is sprayed with De-Slick, a mattifying spray.
::redoing my hair; feeling bitchy because it doesn’t look as good as the first time; still hating my forehead::
My outfit is cute; they always are. They need to be because jeans and a t-shirt get me clocked. (child: Mommy, why is that boy wearing make-up?) Today it is a dark, denim-like-blue, cotton skirt from Old Navy and a green and white, floral peasant top from Macy’s. I adjust my tuck to prevent accidental bulging.
::I thought it was supposed to shrivel from lack of use; it’s been a year, why is it still so huge? sighs::
I rub baby-boy Mulder, my black cat, on the head. “Be a good boy,” I tell him. “Or girl,” I add, “which ever you feel you are.”
::heading out; locking the door behind me::
Traffic is light, which is good because I left ten minutes late and have to speed to make-up the time. I push the car to seventy and hope that the people doing eighty are the ones who get pulled over. The posted limit is forty-five, but everyone does sixty. Well, everyone except the dump trucks, they do thirty and scatter themselves across all three lanes creating a string of weaving, merging vehicles at inconsistent speeds. I hate speeding or doing anything I could get pulled over for; I don’t want to deal with bigoted police officers. (cop: Sir, your license says female. Please, step out of the car, sir.)
::parking; rushing into the building::
I’m still late. Teachers are supposed to be there at seven; it is five after. On the way into the building, the wind blows my hair to shit. There are students gathered near the door and they see my bald patch. Some snigger, others turn away in disgust, and one grabs his friend’s backpack and pretends to vomit into it. Mr. Veep, the vice principal (read: bigoted asshat) is standing in the doorway, watching.
I smile. “Good morning, Mr. Veep!”
He looks away and down and mumbles a sorta “Good morn-nnmph …”
The office is crowded. It’s always crowded in the morning. Teachers, subs, administration, support staff, students, and parents. Today a group of parents take up half the lobby space. The men are big, I mean, BIG boys. The lightest of the three must weigh in at 225 pounds and his wife isn’t far behind him. The other men aren’t starving, either. Of the other two women, one looks like she could skip meals, plural, everyday for a few weeks and not suffer. The other is so skeletal I’m convinced the big’uns have been eating her meals.
“pardon me” I squeak. I keep my head down and avoid eye contact.
::willing them not to notice::
I slip between them and head to the counter and the staff sign-in sheet. Just three quick strokes, ‘CMS’, and I’m out of the office and into the hallway and sixty-one moderate steps later its the relative safety of a parent free room. dontnoticemedontnoticemedontnoticeme—
“The fuck is that?” the biggest big’un asks. His voice is as large as his stomach and resoundingly deep.
“Oh! That’s MISTER Song,” the skeletal one says. “He teaches literature.”
Big’un grunts. “I always figured boy teachers were fags. Doin’ women’s work.”
“Thank Jay-zus it don’t teach our kids,” says Mrs. Big’un.
Ms. Möbius, our smashing, sweetheart secretary, overhears them—they’re so loud neighbouring schools could hear them—and she says in a firm voice, “Good morning, Ms. Song. My but don’t you look nice today.”
“Thank you, Ms. Möbius. Have a great day!” thankyouthankyouthankyou!
“You do the same, now, dear.”
She’s a blessing, that Ms. Möbius. She also does a damn fine job subbing on those rare occasions I need to call in
::out of the office … sixty-one steps … shut the door::
- Trans* Love (caitlinsong.wordpress.com)