Annie and James Rushden were man and wife, until James revealed he was transsexual. Annie writes about the experience of falling in love all over again with her partner Claire. Same soul, different gift wrap.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Of landlords and bunker gear...

We were approved for our house in Atlanta. We're pretty excited, because it has a huge deck and backyard for the puppies. We have the movers booked, and I'm trying to sell 3 cars in 2 weeks. Hopefully I'll succeed :)

I turned in my bunker gear tonight as my final act with the fire department. Of course, I was asked if I'm leaving my search dogs. Sometimes it's tempting -- when they're being crazy. But my K-9 would go on a hunger strike if I left him, so as much as I hate leaving the department with no search dogs, he's coming with us.

As I was getting ready to go, my fire chief walked over to me. Now, my chief is a bit different. He's a brilliant engineer with a very quiet but twisted sense of humor. Most people don't get him, but I do. I have the greatest respect for him. So anyway, he walked over to me and I said "Hi Chief." He just looked at me, gave a crooked sad smile and a slight shake of his head, walked up, grabbed my head and gave me a noogie. Yup, you read that right. In front of half the department, my chief saluted my leaving with the ultimate juvenile gesture. He then quietly walked off as I laughed and said "Thank you Sir!" and saluted. I couldn't have asked for a more touching send off from a really good guy. I know some of the new guys might not have understood why I was so touched by the gesture, but the old timers sure did.

I was glad I'd said all my other goodbyes, because after that I walked away from the group--past the tankers and engines idling along the road of the training site--to my truck, hiding the tears that streamed down my face.

Stay safe, my awesome brothers. You've been so great.

I'm 10-42.


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Office Space

So we took a break from packing to watch a television show, and what was on? Office Space,a movie I have watched so many times I have lost count.

So Claire is sitting there snickering because she's pointing out I'm going back to the land of cubicles.

At least I have a red Swingline stapler. :)

Packing packing packing...

Ugh. I hate packing! But, we're having fun, or at least I'm telling myself that :)

Hopefully, our application for a place a couple of miles from East Atlanta and Little 5 Points in Decatur will be approved. The house is a little bit smaller than now but the yard is huge and I think the dogs will love it. There is also a huge deck that I can see Claire and the puppies hanging out on during the day.

Well the taskmaster--I mean Claire--is cracking the whip, so I must go pack some more.


Thursday, May 24, 2007

(re)Meet the Parents

Better late than never - I want to share our experience Mother's Day weekend.

Friday, Claire and I packed our bags, dropped the dogs at the vet and set off on a journey that was scaring the hell out of Claire. We were going to Florida to hang with family. My dad was about to meet the real Claire. So were my 2 aunts, my uncle and my grandmother.


Everyone has known since before Christmas. We've sent photos. Mom and my sister were up here to visit, so Mom was a known reaction. But Claire was stressed out. How would people react? Should she visit Grandma, aunts and uncle as Claire or in androgynous mode? What about Dad, would he want to call her Claire or CJ? Would they want to go out somewhere with Claire?

So we left home. Driving down the road, an hour into the trip, my beloved--in a fine mood to begin with and dressed androgynously to ease the restroom stops--cussed loudly. She'd forgotten something. Something quite important. Mainly, breast forms to help augment her growing figure. To say she was unhappy is an understatement.

No, she didn't want to go home. But maybe she did. She was pretty upset and for about 30 miles we went back and forth on whether to go back for them. We finally decided we would improvise when we got down there. She said that she wasn't used to going somewhere with them without actually wearing them.

We got down to Tampa and settled in with Mom. Dad came home a bit later and we had a nice evening. The next day, Mom, Claire (in androgynous mode as 'CJ') and I went shopping and tried to find a replacement for the missing bra and padding. We had a lovely time. We went back to my parents' house and Claire and I wrestled Mom's 2 dogs into getting portraits taken. At the same time, Claire also took a portrait of my sister's dog, who was boarding with Mom while my sister took her baby to visit the other grandparents. We developed the portraits into 8x10s and Claire presented Mom with the pictures, thrilling her beyond belief. So, with my earrings I made for Mom and Claire's pet portraits, Mom had a great Mother's Day.

Mom and I went out shopping at Midnight with her two sisters to get my grandma a new garden swing. While we were out, Claire crashed at the house exhausted. My aunts expressed worry about messing up the next day with pronouns, etc. I assured them that Claire didn't care if they slipped, and that she was more nervous than them. I grabbed a bouquet of flowers for Claire and when we got home I put them in a vase and left them on the nightstand next to her as a Mother's Day present.

Sunday morning we decided it was time for Claire to actually dress the part and go meet the rest of the family en femme. When we got over to grandma's house, we discovered that my uncle was there too (we hadn't expected that) so that was a bit of a shock. Everything went pretty smoothly, and we found out that the cover of the St. Pete Times was graced with the picture of Susan Stanton in her debut to the world as a woman. My aunts wanted Claire to take portraits of their dogs, so Miss Pet Photographer was busy. She got a couple of really cute pictures and made my aunts very happy girls.

On our way home, we stopped at CVS to print out Claire's puppy pictures. We actually walked into CVS before remembering that Claire was dressed en femme. It was just so natural. It felt great to just be out--me, Mom and Claire.

When we got home, the three of us sat back and scarfed down some Olive Garden takeout and my dad walked in. Claire was still fully dressed up, wig and all, and dad just looked and smiled, grabbed his food and settled into a normal routine.

It was all in all a fantastic weekend for all involved. Claire was a hit, and really settled into being her true self. I had a great time being with her, and it really just reinforced how important it would be right now to be on the path we are - moving to Atlanta and letting her at least stop living part time as James. At least now she can be CJ (the androgynous one) and Claire instead of being James and being too scared to dress up and go anywhere within an hour of home.

I have had it reinforced just how much my family amazes me. From my 80 year old grandmother telling Claire "make yourself at home sweetie", to my aunts for being so incredibly wonderful and using all the right pronouns and names, to my uncle for not even batting an eye, mom for running around town with us and not even thinking twice, to dad for being so supportive as well, they are a great family and I'm so proud we have them.

Peace, love and happiness,


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Back from interviews

Well, it's official. I have a job offer from Atlanta.

We have to move in two weeks. Can we say stressed out girls here?

We're trying to find a place to rent by using craigslist and rentlist.net, but it's hard when you can't be there to walk through the neighborhoods. If anyone knows anything about East Point, Marietta or Decatur in general, let me know :D

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The meaning of a heavy heart

(I have so many half written posts, I'll get back to posting daily once this trip is over)

Tonight is the first night Claire and I have spent apart in a very long time. I am in Atlanta tonight preparing for interviews tomorrow. If I get the job I hope to get tomorrow morning, Claire will be able to transition now because I will be making enough for both of us to live on while she establishes herself in her new identity. I drove around and visited a couple of rental houses here, imagining Claire staying at home and playing housewife for a while as she decides and experiments with what she really would like to do for a career.

As I left the house today, I realized something. I am in my late 30s, and have been in a few relationships. I always enjoyed being sent out of town on business or for any reason at all so I could have some alone time. Honestly, when "James" was working nights, I hated it but kind of enjoyed the break from what could be a tense time due to "his" depression.

But today... oh today.

I went to leave and realized that the idea of driving across a state and spending the night without her just plain hurt. I've never felt this with anyone before. It was nice to realize that the sadness I felt on driving away was a true testament to how very strong our marriage is, but I felt tears well up as I drove off.

Six years of marriage. A few hundred miles. And my heart felt like it weighed 40 pounds in my chest as I hit the highway.

I remember reading when Linda McCartney died that she and Paul never spent a night apart. I used to wonder how they could do that and never *want* to spend at least a little time alone. I understand now. I have Claire's picture sitting in front of me while I study tonight, and oh how I understand.

And although tonight I share my bed with nothing but the little stuffed bear we named Charlotte that we bought years ago at Birmingham Zoo (something to occupy Claire's pillow, placed in my bag by her), I feel honored and blessed. For, although some people may look at my life and wonder "why does she stay while her 'husband' becomes a woman?" I know the truth. I have the brass ring. I have a love that transcends all I have ever dreamed possible.

Good night, my sweet, beautiful Claire. I miss you desperately and love you ferociously.


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Long time no blog...

It has been just a crazy few days. Between being out of town and being consumed with job hunting and relocation, it's been so very, very hard to get on and post.

So much to report. Where should I start?

We have been struggling with the idea of what we would do if Claire lost her job--a very real possibility given the agency she works for and her condition. We were comfortably living within our means, but without a whole lot of wiggle room. This means that if she lost her job and had trouble replacing it, we would be in trouble. This has caused a lot of stress.

We had also been planning on moving to Portland, Oregon in a couple of years. But, in order to be able to afford the move without a lot of stress (several thousand dollars and a complicated move), we probably wouldn't have everything paid off in time.

So, out of the blue, I received a letter from a recruiter. I'm a high level computer nerd, so I do get headhunted every now and then. That's when it hit me. If we moved to a bigger city with a comparable cost of living, I could easily make 20k more than I do now, which would mean that the financial load could fall on my shoulders for stability. Then, whatever Claire makes could pay off bills faster, but if she were to lose her job in the new place, we would be financially able to weather it. Added to that the fact that bigger cities have more tolerance, it would be easier all around. We could stay there for 3-4 years and pay off everything, and save money for a down payment on a house in Portland.

The most important thing of all though, is that when we move, Claire could immediately adopt an androgynous appearance and go by initials while she works--thus stopping the being called James during the day and Claire at night. She could basically shed the need to be James and at least start living in a transitional state.

So, that said, I placed a resume on a couple of the big job boards, and have been deluged. Apparently my skill set is in high demand, and I have narrowed down the offers to a few. We are now deciding on a location - Lakeland or Jacksonville in Florida or Atlanta, Georgia. I know the Jax scene, but I have no clue about Lakeland. It could be highly intolerant of LGBT issues. I would love some feedback from anyone with Lakeland experience.

I've got to wrap this up for a little while and go take care of some stuff, but I'll post again tonight to fill you in on our adventure of Claire meeting the family as Claire this past weekend.

Oh, and Susan Stanton's portrait was in the St. Pete Times. She looked so gorgeous and that smile was just worth 1,000 words. Today it was announced she's in the final round of interviews for the Sarasota city manager job. And she got a toaster from Jenny Boylan. What else does a girl need? *grin* We're so proud of you Susan! And Sarasota, you just plain rock. Thank you so much for being so fair and wonderful.

Have you seen the Gender issue of Newsweek? Fabulous articles. Really, really great.

Peace, Love and Equality,


Sunday, May 6, 2007

Thanks Comcast!

Comcast has finally fixed our Internet access. Life is good again! We're getting ready to make a trip down to Florida to visit my family. Claire is a bit nervous because she hasn't seen my Pop since the "truth" came out.

I messaged Popperoni this morning to pass along a question from Claire. Mom and Sis have seen Claire both dressed as Claire and in androgynous mode, and Claire wanted to know how to dress to make dad comfortable.

Dad replied with "I'm a nudist at heart, so if I had my druthers... but your mom says I can't, so whatever she wants, just tell her she should probably shave her legs if she's planning on a miniskirt. The French look is kind of frowned on down here in our neck of the woods."

It's really made me proud the way my family has treated this whole life change. Really, really proud. My dad was talking about Stanton a few weeks back, and he was so angered at the commission's decision to fire and the comments made at the "trial." His comment was "This is discrimination. Don't these people realize that this is something she can't change any more than people can change the color of their skin? She (Stanton) didn't ask to be born this way any more than any of us get to pick our attributes." Yup, my Popperoni is a good guy.

So today I plan to catch up on my web design work, and work on mom's Mother's Day present. I'm still debating what I'm going to make - I think I'm going to design her some really nice gold-filled earrings. And (shh... don't tell Claire -- Claire, stop reading now!) but I have to figure out what to make her as well. I figured it would be nice to give her something too :) I know her favorite present would be to have Kiddo here and safe, and not planning her deployment to Iraq, but I can't quite give her that.

Okay, I'm off to catch up on everything.

Peace, Love and Happiness,


Wednesday, May 2, 2007

General ramblings

Comcast has it in for us. We've had Internet access in spurts for the last week. It's been very obnoxious but at least I have almost hit the 14,000 word mark in a novel I'm writing. I get captivated by my character's story, and will catch myself thinking about her and what's next in her story as I go about my day. I find myself falling asleep with my mind firmly stuck in the world I am trying to weave in the book. It's an urban fantasy, a little dark, a little funny. I didn't map out the book in advance; I'm just letting my imagination run with me as I write.

I tend to put on the headphones and crank some music to drown out the evil television in the background, and sometimes I'll write for an hour before realizing I have played the same song nonstop (Trans Siberian Orchestra - Carol of the Bells... oh yeah...) because it all just goes background. So I've pretty much concentrated on that this week.

Claire tonight went through a hormonally charged evening (thanks, estradiol!) and obsessed over everything from her egocentric coworker to imagining that the two pounds she put on in four days was somehow not water weight. Hormone counteraction therapy in the form of homemade french fries was administered and said evening turned around.

She is pushing the envelope with her nails. We found a very sheer pink that she went over her clear nail polish with. I can't see it with one coat but she swears it's day-glo pink. Well, tonight a second coat went on and I realized "hey, this has sparklies in it!"

So now she has fairly "healthy" looking nails (read - PINK!) that shimmer in the light. Let's see if anyone notices that. I still don't know how anyone can look at her and not see the neon sign over her head that proclaims her girlness.

Ah well. She's still cute, even if she is a bit stressed. She was so stressed when she got home she stepped in the shower with her eyeglasses on. What else can you do but have a good laugh when something like that happens? She's hanging in there. :)

My dog is making strange noises as I type. If you've ever played with the child's toy that sounds like a mooing cow when you tip it over, you know the sound. He was half-asleep and making that sound every time Claire stroked his head, so she made him do it about 30 times. I have a strange household sometimes. I wouldn't have it any other way.

Peace, Love and Happiness,