My Face for the World to See (Part II):
The Diary of Sherilyn Connelly
a fiction

April 1 - 10, 2001


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Tuesday, 10 April 2001 (the living end)

Oh, that was close. Right before I went into the gym last night, I realized I'd forgotten my towel. Doesn't seem like that a big deal, but they require you bring one of your own, and I don't quite feel ready to start ignoring their rules yet. So I went back to the car and drove home to get it.

I came very close to deciding to just stay there. After all, I'd worked out the day before, and surely I'd go back the following day, it was almost 9pm and they close at 10, and I'd already gone all the way out there once today, and...

Then I mentally bitch-slapped myself. No! For fuck's sake, it's only three minutes away! You're going back! And I did, staying until closing. The place was, as I was hoping, dead, just like the previous afternoon. That's what's really going to keep me going back, at least until I start seeing progress.

My feelings about my midsection notwithstanding, I'd be happiest to see said progress in occuring my face. It's reminding me too much of how it used to be, round and formless. Like when I used to look at myself and not be certain what I was seeing. It was like that for too many years.

There's also the pitting around my mouth, the electrolysis scarring. Phil assures me that it'll heal up, that the skin will smooth out as if the ruined follicles had never existed in the first place. Me, I'm not so convinced. I wonder how much a chemical peel costs. (Hey, it worked for David Duke.) Something to ask my endoc next month.


Speaking of Nazis, I see that the 1976 Italian atrocity Last Orgy of the Third Reich (a resident of "Mature" shelf at my video store in Fresno, along with Private Popsicle, Jabberwalk, early John Waters, and other notables from the golden age of video sleaze) is now making the rounds under the title Caligula Reincarnated As Hitler. The drive-in may be as dead as Monstervision, but it's nice to know that home video is keeping exploitation alive. Although I still think the Faces of Death series is a cheap ripoff.

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Monday, 9 April 2001 (just like honey)

In addition to joining (and actually going to) that gym yesterday, I also finally got around to one of my other back-burner projects, hooking up my tape deck to my computer. It wasn't especially difficult, mainly requiring a trip to Radio Shack, where I fortunately didn't have to actually speak to the employees. (you've got questions. we've got blank stares.) So now, bottom line, I can rip cassettes to mp3. This is a good thing, as it means I can finally do something with the box of tapes in the closet which I'll probably never use again in their current form (analog is so nineties), but can't bear to part with. Most of them are Neil Young bootlegs, stuff which isn't likely to show up on CD or the Usenet unless I do it myself. I'm just trying to decide if this qualifies as "stealing" the music, since as we all know, any music on a computer is stolen. I'll have to check with Lars Ulrich.


In addition to not driving to work every day, I've also started brown-bagging it. As fond as I am of the chinese place at Pacific and Broadway (the best sweet & sour chicken in SF), it's not money I should be spending every day, and it's not as healthy as it could be, either. The rice is more than my daily allotment of starch, and I'm sure the primary ingredient of their various sauces is one form of glucose or another. So, I'm not going there again for a while.

Thus, the return of the homemade bagel sammich, aka the bagelmich—or, if you want to be precise, Das Bagelmïch! Comparatively cheap, relatively filling and not quite as fatty as other things available in this area. Besides, it was what I had for lunch when I worked at Autodesk (i.e., the time I really lost weight), so it can't hurt at this point.

As I was putting the scales back under the desk on Saturday morning, Maddy was still in bed; hearing what I was doing, and without opening her eyes, she said, "You're not fat." She always knows what to say.

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Sunday, 8 April 2001 (ramble tamble)

An hour today, another tomorrow, another the day after that...eventually it'll add up to something. A whole of hours, at least. (I joined today.)

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Saturday, 7 April 2001 (____ - myopia)

I weighed myself this morning. One of the two thrift-shop scales said 200; the other said 190. So I'm going with 195. Which, while not bad for 6', is still at least 15 above where I'd like to be. So, y'know, I guess I'd best be starting soon. Yep. Pretty much. Because then everything will be different.


if i can't save my soul, i'll save my body

Or not.


It still kills me, how I just barely missed the golden age of goth fashion—and, more importantly, makeup...

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Friday, 6 April 2001 (colorless green ideas sleep furiously)

Since we haven't been getting enough grease and saturated fat in our diets lately, Madeline and I went to Chevy's last night. I decided to take the path of least resistance, tying my hair back and giving "Jeff" as the party name. Whatever problems I may have with name, at least people get it right the first time—funny how with some people anything longer than a single syllable causes problems.

So what happens? The waitress calls us "ladies" the entire evening. Me without a speck of makeup, hair tied back at the neck with no strands, really not trying at all, even figuring that it would make a journey into the men's room a little easier. Mind you, I am NOT complaining, but geez, it's a mindfuck.


Fatal Error: DataMgr.c,Line:6503,Index out of range

Heh. I think I just killed my Palm again.

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Thursday, 5 April 2001 (psychocandy)

Battlezone in German, the way it was meant to be.


So I received a refund check from Pac Bell yesterday. (More specifically, SBC Global Network, the megaconglomerate which pulls their strings.) At first I figured it was because I'd paid them by accident; I do all that online now, and I've been known to check the wrong box once or twice. Even back in the all-paper days, I'd been known to get checks confused. Anyway, I finally figured out it was the deposit I'd put down around this time last year to get our phone service reinstalled. Hell, I'd forgotten that I'd had to put down said deposit, and/or that it would be returned after a year of not forgetting to pay the bill. Which I guess is supposed to be a pretty good carrot, except that as is typical with me when someone has money of mine, I promptly forgot about it. So it was a nice suprise, and it occurs to me that it's just a few dollars shy of a three-month membership at the local gym. Quite a coinkydink, that is.

Thanks to Pike's roommate (and no thanks to our cable provider's Cartoon Network-less lineup), we've finally been exposed to the madness that is The Powerpuff Girls. Orky had actually wanted to watch it with us while we were coming down that morning, and it sounded tempting, but if I was going to drive on acid it was going to be while the roads were relatively clear. It was the right decision, but I still wish we could have watched it then.

Anyway, it's pretty damned good. There's a definite Ren & Stimpy influence, which isn't a bad thing, and you can't go wrong with voices being done by Tom Kenny (Binky in Shakes the Clown, damnit!) and E.G. Daily doing voices. Hell, I've had a thing for her even before her current Traci Lords-esque sex-kitten phase. Most importantly, we can finally buy Buttercup merchandise with a clear conscience. She's got black hair and a scowl, after all...

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Wednesday, 4 April 2001 (notary sojac)

Monday night we investigated the local gym. Maddy didn't much care for it, but I liked the fact that it was small yet uncrowded. I'm sure there are times when it's crowded, but that it wasn't packed on a weeknight is a good sign. The machines are in various states of disrepair, but really, nothing that seems much worse than the 24 Hour on Ocean. The readouts on some of their treadmills have been saying REWAX BELT since 1997; from a budgetary standpoint it apparently makes more sense to them to buy new equipment rather than fix the old stuff. While that has the advantage of resulting in more equipment altogether, I sincerely doubt it would bankrupt them to follow the advice of the older machines and, in fact, REWAX the BELT. Then again, this is a chain which doesn't feel magazine racks are a worthwhile investment.

The local gym, on the other hand, does have magazine racks. The beefcake level didn't seem quite as high as the other places, and nobody batted an eye as we wandered about in our daily-goff wear. It's nice to think that nobody there gives a shit what anybody else looks like. Again, it was just one particular night, but I still got a good vibe.

The hours (7-10 M-F, 8-6 Sat-Sun) aren't quite accomodating as I'd like, but I suppose going to the gym at 4am is a thing of the past, however romantic those memories may be. In any event, I probably wouldn't be wanting to go at times other than when they're open, and being a three minute drive is a strong persuader. Although I'm loathe to start paying fees at two different places again, their rates are actually quite reasonable. Now I just need to convince myself to sign up, start going...same old same old...


Seems that the department's admin, a very nice guy and Summer's second replacement in that particular job, has been trying to figure what should be done for my birthday. So he asked Maddy, who has informed him that I hate, loathe and despise office birthday parties. Perhaps not in those exact words, but the point got across. He's promised (her, not me, since any potential party would of course be a "surprise") that a big fuss will not be made; I sincerely hope that means there'll be no acknowledgement made at all.

Even something as simple as a card signed by everyone would feel false, just like it feels false when I sign a card for most anyone else in the department. I don't really know most of them, and I don't believe this sort of thing increases productivity or bonds us together as a team or anything like that.

Besides, I have no intention of being available for such a thing. My birthday's on a Saturday, so I figure if I take the week before it off (I'll have enough vacation time stored up, that's for sure), I should be dot dot...

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Tuesday, 3 April 2001 (let there be more light)

As I was driving to work after my appointment with the speech therapist (more about that later), I heard something interesting on the radio. It seems the city's air raid sirens, including the one in my neighborhood which I only recently noticed, are tested every Tuesday at noon. Next time I'm home on Tuesday at noon, I'm definitely going to pay attention. Anyway, the potential emergencies for which they're used are, according to the local NPR station, hazardous material spills and tsunami waves. Wow. And you people outside the Pacific Time Zone think earthquakes are all we have to worry about.


In spite of the parking in the Laurel Heights area being typical of the city (there was space in a nearby shopping center, but I noticed that the Parking Control Service was in full effect—rumor has it they're an offshoot of MegaForce, but this has been denied by most major governments) and getting the address wrong, I somehow managed to get to the appointment on time. Indeed, she was a few minutes late, which helped.

We started with a bit of Q&A, her trying to figure out where I'm at, where I'm going, etc. I don't mind answering those sorts of questions, because it helps me figure it out, too. Thankfully, the issue of SRS didn't come up once. It was completely irrelevant to the task at hand, but I'd imagine some people would still obsess on it.

I said that one of my ostensible goals is to not be called "sir" on the phone, and she said that it's a common desire, but difficult at best. She told me about a test in one speech class or another wherein eight genetic women and one m2f were recorded, both audio only and audio/visual. The students weren't told which was the m2f (and presumably she passed visually), but were asked to describe each voice as masculine or feminine. When just hearing the voice, her voice was described by some as masculine; but when they actually saw her while speaking, it was judged feminine across the board. For the life of me, I'm not sure what that means, except that maybe I shouldn't worry too much about the phone.

Needless to say, she didn't hassle me about my appearance as I'd neurotically feared; indeed, it was a request she'd made not to judge passability but to hopefully prevent the occasional client from coming in wearing a suit and tie. *shudder* Everyone has their own comfort level, and even before I seriously considered transitioning I refused to dress like that, but in this context it makes it a bit difficult for her to connect with them on the proper level. I wasn't quite in full battle gear, but I guess I got the point across; I wore just enough makeup (mindful of my healing face, which is actually clearing up faster than I'd expected) to get a comment from Maddy before we left the house. A positive comment, of course.

Anyway, it turns out I have a pretty decent voice to begin with. I spoke (among other things) into a microphone hooked into her computer, and according to her pre-Win3.1, barely-GUI software, I have a fairly wide vocal range which already encompasses the normal female range. What I have to work on involves not dropping into the male range quite so much. In other words, I'm not exactly Diamanda Galas, but I have more potential than I'd expected. It's not a question of pitch, of course; growing up surrounded by images of men impersonating women by doing a bad falsetto (and always resulting in Beeg Laffs), I worked that one out for myself early on.

Something else I figured out early on is that I'll have to brush aside any notion of dignity from time to time. Being able to do so helped tremendously when she asked me to imitate a siren. Not of the Roxy Music variety, sadly (hey, I can dream), but like on a cop car. It was to get a sense of my overall range, and she seemed duly impressed.

It's also helpful that I'm pretty good mimic, even if it is unintentional half the time. When she would ask me to say something with a certain inflection, I'd pick it up quite quickly. I've always had a tendency to snag other people's speech idiosyncrasies; even though I didn't spend much time around my father when I was growing up, I still picked up the tendency to pronounce "wash" as "warsh," or to drop the "a" sound out of the days of the week: "Mondee," "Tuesdee," and so on. In this case it comes in handy, provided that it translates into actual progress. Like any kind of learning, applying it to normal life is the toughest part.

Now I have to figure out where to go from here. We didn't schedule another appointment; she said I should probably think about it first, take it at my own pace, whatever that is. Maybe that's actually the toughest part.

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Monday, 2 April 2001 (irreality)

Because, as I never tire of saying, the internet needs more cat pictures.


So at the Anarchist bookfair last week I picked up a copy of The Life and Times of R. Crumb, a collection of essays about the titular personality. (Why, yes, that sentence was just an excuse to use the word "titular.") In it, former Zap and current Zippy the Pinhead writer Bill Griffith describes taking the expatriate Crumb out to eat during a visit to the states:

Ninety ninety-seven: I take Robert to an out-of-the-way restaurant I think he'll like. It's called the Tennessee Grill, located in the Outer Sunset, an aggressively unhip San Francisco neighborhood. The house specials are distinctly all-American. Robert orders the pot roast, I go for the Southen fried chicken. When his meal is served, Robert almost mists over, fork poised. He stares tenderly at his steaming plate, piled high with slices of beef, mounds of homemade mashed potatoes, and a "vegetable medley." After a long pause, Robert says, "Beautiful. You just don't see this kind of thing in France." I respond, "It's a lovely still life," and we both dig in.

After feeling a flush of pride to see my beloved neighborhood described as "aggressively unhip," I realized I know the place he's described. It happens to be right next door to our chiropractor, and it's one of the indy diners in that area I've always been curious about, along with the wonderfully named Chick-N-Coop. On occasion—usually very late at night—we do go to the area's ultimate greasy spoon, JT's. (Known to you SF old-timers as Zim's, of course.)

To satisfy our curiousity, we went to the Tennessee Grill on Friday night. Well, both to satisfy curiousity and because it seemed like one of the few places we could go at 8pm which wouldn't have a wait. As soon as we walked in Maddy felt uncomfortable because of the stare factor, but I didn't really notice; I guess I just assume that it'll happen and try not to let it get to me much. Sort of a "I'm ignoring you so you don't really exist" kinda thing. I was more fascinated by the breadth of the clientele, including what may well have been the worst rug I've ever seen in my life. Remember in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? when Jessica Rabbit blew on R. K. Maroon's head and his toupee spun around? Or, now that I think about it, Roger may have done it to someone else entirely during his song in the bar. Hey, it's been a few years, okay? Anyhow, imagine if it hadn't returned to its original position. That's how bad it was. I knew I loved the place right then and there.

That, and the fact that our waitress had a bandage on her forehead. I don't know why, but I found that endearing as hell. Look, it's not like it's a reflection on the quality or safety of the food; there's no reason to believe that a place with a well-scrubbed waitstaff is going to be any cleaner in the long run. At least this place wasn't likely to have wannabe Tyler Durdens in the back adding their own seasonings, if you know what I mean and I think you do. (Gawd, I miss Monstervision. Come back, Joe Bob! We need you!)

I got the chicken-fried steak, probably the first time I've had it since whenever the Grandy's in Fresno closed, and definitely the first time Maddy's ever seen me order a steak-related item in a restaurant. I'd originally wanted the fried prawns, but they were out, so I went with Plan B. Maddy got a cheeseburger and fries, not to be confused with the "Tennessee Special," which is a cheeseburger that actually comes with fries without you having to ask. It's all about the fine print, y'know. Of course, this being health-aware California they automatically put mayo on the bun. When she discovered this and asked for a bun without mayo, they actually understood the request and didn't just stare at her blankly. More points right there.

But the real discovery was the mashed potatoes that came with my order. I'm not a big fan (any more than I am of chicken-fried steak or the aptly described "vegetable medley;" if I was simply seeking out my favorite foods, we probably just would have gone to the taqueria down the street), but when Maddy tasted them, she looked like she'd just had that first hit of crack. The effect was not dissimilar to when she first tried the hot and sour soup at King Yen in Oakland, which as we all know is the real liquid crack. In other words, she thought they were really damned good, and the place officially made it onto our "approved list."

Of course, it's also the kind of place which is counterproductive to our ostensible goal of getting in shape. Eating out at all is, really. Not that we necessarily do much better at home, but considering how I can go through those tortillas at Chevy's, going out can be dangerous. I feel like I'm beginning to resemble my driver's license again. This a bad thing.

Yep, the return of the eternal subplot: garsh, i rilly oughtsta start workin' out again some. If I hadn't felt the need to test the neat new pipe we'd bought in the Haight earlier, I would have investigated the small gym in our neighborhood yesterday. But I did, so I didn't. (If you follow what I mean. I did, however, get very hungry.) The place has always been in the back of my mind as a possibilty, but I guess I've been feeling a loyalty to 24 Hour Fitness due largely to the fee which is automatically extracted from my checking account every month. But so many factors work against using that particular chain, and the local gym has the advantage of being, well, local. A five minute drive, tops, and parking shouldn't be anywhere near as harrowing an experience. Hell, it's about as twice as far away as the bus stop we walk to in the morning, so walking is also a possiblity. Since it's smaller it might end up seeming just as crowded as 24 Hour, but then again, it might not. Dana actually goes to the gym's other location and seems happy with it, so that's a good sign. Basically, I'm just hoping the proximity will result in us actually going on a regular basis. Something has to.

Lately I'm finding myself thinking of a bit from Dana's journal:

Sometimes I wish that it was 1998 and now simultaneously. I love being married, I love the friends we have..but we did more and had more fun then...i think. maybe. I don't know.

Change being married to being in a relationship, and that pretty well sums up my feelings about 1999. For as fucked up as I was, there are certain things I want to get back. Certain feelings, certain ways things were. The fact that I was happy with my body for the first time in years. Obviously it still had a long way to go in terms of transitioning; my breasts hadn't really started to develop yet (would they have been farther along if my endoc had given a tinker's damn about me? discuss amongst yourselves), but on the other hand I knew that what was there wasn't just because I was overweight. Now it's hard to tell. Whatever curviness I may have developed from two and a half years on (varying levels of) hormones is hard to distinguish from my protruding stomach. Even at my thinnest it was still a concern, and more than once I've considered seeking a professional opinion on the matter. Yes, that's right, the word "abdominoplasty" is once again bouncing around my cranium.

I don't believe I'm simply looking for the easy way out, either. It's like this: while I consider the need for a proper diet and exericse to be a given, that alone may not be enough to correct the damage done by years of obesity which, while perhaps not classically morbid, was still very unhealthy. I've overcome that in a big way

ha! that's a pun, right?

there's also the possibility that once stretched out to such an extent, my midsection is going to retain that shape unless altered. That it won't respond to the more conventional methods. That genetics intended my body to be large—which isn't to say that I'm doomed to be fat, but that it's in my DNA to be large and boy-shaped. That's what testosterone and the XY chromosomes native to my bloodline have done, are doing, will continue to do worldwithoutendamen. For as much as the word "unnatural" is trotted out to demonize homosexuality, lemme tell ya, it's nowhere near an affront to nature as is transsexuality. The only rules garden-variety queers break are those arbitrarily made by man (more specifically, made by man in the guise of his fake God), and let's face it, those aren't worth shit. There is nothing two consenting people of any gender/orientation can do to one another which even approaches the utter natural wrongness of the body's hormone supply being altered/replaced by artificial means. (Why, yes, I'm familiar with fisting. I've even seen it in person. It looked like two people enjoying one another.) Some can make it work smoothly almost make it seem natural, some can not. I'm not sure onto which side of that particular fence I fall, or if I'm merely impaled. The other metaphor which springs to mind is going on a very long journey and suspecting that you're not so much making progress as simply getting progressively more lost. Or something like that.

Oh, and after the good dinner and stargazing, Friday night ended kinda funny, in a pathetic sort of way. So we're lying in bed, nicely baked, with the blacklight on. We were reading, or something. I felt something on my arm. At first I thought it was my hair, so I brushed at it. Turns out it was a spider. I yelped, jumped out of bed and ran into the kitchen to get some paper towels (absolutely necessary for me in arachnid extermination). By the time I came back in Maddy had also discovered the intruder, and it had gotten away. We shook out all the sheets, but it was nowhere to be found. Thoroughly spooked, we went into the living room and dozed on the couch for a while—probably a couple hours, I'm not sure—before we decided the coast was clear and returned to the bedroom. Talk about harshing your mellow.

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Sunday, 1 April 2001 (anamnesis)

Funny, it doesn't feel like we lost an hour. Then again, I've been up for the last (two? three?).

The sun's coming up, but it's gray outside. Good. It sucks not being able to sleep and being assaulted by daylight at the same time.

do you get warning before rock bottom hits?

So we went out with Orky yesterday afternoon, first to Glen Canyon Park (going on seven years in this city and I'd had no idea it existed) and then to Golden Gate Park to take pictures. For his portfolio, not for our vanity; indeed, since I'm still only a few days post-zapping, I really only did it because he's such a good friend. I haven't liked pictures taken recently when I'm at whatever passes for my best, so the stuff of me taken yesterday will more likely resemble a Diane Arbus homage. They're redeemed, however, by the presence of Maddy, who was beautiful as always.

It was one of those all-too-rare clear nights on Friday, and after dinner we went out to the beach and looked at the stars. I kinda wish the moon hadn't been out so we could have seen more, but beggars and choosers. Maddy saw her first shooting star; I'm guessing the people boozing it up around the bonfire didn't. Nor, I'm also taking the liberty to presume, did they take their empty bottles with them when the left. They never do. Humans.

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