“thoughts on my 50th high school reunion”

there was a simple royal blue envelope, in the pile of mail that i brought into the house,. it was announcing my 50th Class Reunion from Sterling Regional High School…. i left it on my desk while i went about opening the other mail and finishing the various little tasks that i had been doing…. finally out of curiosity i opened the announcement that stated the reunion would be held this coming October…. no, why in the world would i ever want to attend…. i noticed no names that rang a bell but did see a Facebook site i could go to in order to register and get further information about my classmates from a time that i would just like to forget… i then tossed the paper aside, as i had other things i would rather be doing…

curiosity kills the cat they say and later that evening i found myself going to the Facebook site where i could see the old classmates that had registered…. i slowly scanned the names and only one or two seemed to ring a bell but what did interest me was what a lot of these people ended up doing and where they now lived… before i knew it i was out in the garage looking for my old high school yearbook, and yes i found it…
as i opened it and began to slowly turn the pages all that pain and dysphoria i lived through during my teenage years seemed to come rushing back… i looked at photos of girls that i had stared at for endless hours just wishing that i was them and not the person i was…. i remember staring at their hairdo or their makeup and the smiles they wore, why was that not my reflection, my life instead of the hell that i had to live in…. i looked up the photo of my english teacher from my sophomore year… i remember how i would look at her and just dream about a life that wasn’t mine to have….. there really were very few signature in my yearbook as i remember how hard it was for me to ask someone to sign my yearbook and then what would i write in their book, “do you know how many hours i stared at you wishing i was simply you”….. i saw the photo of Laurie Tate, a cheerleader i actually dated, well i wouldn’t say dated as i took her out twice and feared every minute of that evening not knowing how to make conversation or just thinking about what i would have to do when i dropped her off later that night… i looked at the photos of some of the boys i would associate with while at school…. i remember our lunch table and how i just couldn’t fit into their conversation about girls…. i remember clearly i always walked to school and from school alone… i remember once when i left the crowded scene of other students i would carry my books in a feminine way, just wishing to God things would change…
i spent four years at Sterling HS living in a prison created by my gender dysphoria, 4 years of just nothing but tears, living in the shadow of that rusty razor…. i was a below than average student in high school, hell who could focus or get excited about school work when you were living in a hell…. i never joined any clubs because i always feared what the other student would think… i had always lived my whole life in a fear of what others would think of me, would my dirty thoughts be known… and i remember the Saturday morning football games where all i did was stare at the cheerleaders…. always asking why, never getting an answer….
i then saw a website i could go to inorder to update my data… there was my high school graduation photo… i wore a fake smile and there was just something about my eyes…. yes it was marking a time i would graduate from high school and move on into the real world, to college and then make my mark in this world… i left my high school years and my years of living behind locked doors in fear of my secret moments, in fear that what i was doing would be known….. it seemed i would spend most of my life behind locked doors in fear…..
i left my high school years only to fail at college and dropped out after only two years….. socially i was nothing but a misfit for i lived my life in dreams that always were broken….

and if i did go to that website and update my biography it would look impressive… i spent eight years as an Air Traffic Controller, graduated from ASU with a degree in Geology and went on to a teaching career of over 20 years during which i pursued two more graduate degrees in science…. i retired early and was now employed by Princess Cruises as a Naturalist (Geologist/Marine Biologist) which enabled be to cruise throughout the world… yes i have been to 6 of the 7 continents and sailed all the major oceans and seas that blanket this planet…. i sailed every degree of longitude and most of the degrees of latitude….. would i even put that my wife and i just celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary…….but then how would i update my photo… would you see the beautiful smile i now wear and the name that all know me by today, tess julianna…..
yes i am transgender and lived in a dysphoria of 66 years…. my teenage and high schools years were wasted in a nightmare… why in the world would i ever want to return to my high school reunion… what was there to treasure or smile about
tess julianna 2/21/18

Spotlight on Cinderella

“thoughts on “Studio Spotlight Cinderella”

i wanted to touch but i knew not to, i wanted so deeply to belong, but i knew i never could… my eyes raced around the room trying to grasp it all, yet i knew in my heart i never would be able to…. i cried deep within my heart and my chest seemed heavy because of the sorrow, or was it the joy as my tears continuously stained my face…. i watched so closely those that belong, they had that feeling of ownership… this was no big deal for them for this is where they belonged, this was their world…. i watched as the door, a door i would never be able to have the ownership of walking through open and let those who belong walk into an entirely different world than mine, it was the world of a dancer, and these dancer were so special to my heart, as these dancers danced the ballet…. i thought of all my friends from last summer, i thought of you Zachary, for i listened with my heart as you told me about this world…

i finally stood in the lobby of Ballet Arizona, this was the School of Ballet Arizona… i belonged to many different educational experiences in my lifetime and walked through countless door to learn… i had that feeling of ownership that those dancers who casually walked through their door had, but this was one door that was never opened to me, and today i cry because now i wanted that lifetime… no they didn’t carry the books that i carried when i walked through my doors, no they had their bag of sweats, their tights and leg warmers but mainly they carried their badge of distinction, they carried their ballet shoes…. my shoes were always heavy and bulky for they took me into a world of geology, that was the world that i had ownership of… their shoes were soft and seemed so delicate to me… and i wonder what they felt like on their feet, but i knew they were soaked in sweat, the sweat of a dancer’s endless practices…
i quietly watch the dancers, the little girls in their black tights with their long hair tied in a dancer’s bun on their head… they chatted as they walked through that door with smiles on their faces…. i thought of how many countless hours they had already practiced… their conversations were probably filled with images of the world of dance and i knew in my heart they all carried the dream of being that ballerina on a stage, a stage with the spotlight on them…
and then i saw the images of him, he was young and had an innocence about him… this too was his world of dreams… already his body was lean yet his reflection was gentle like a dancer’s should be…. he knew in his heart that this was the playing field that he belonged on, and i’m sure he never listened to the harsh words that many other boys playing on their field of dreams would throw at him… i never would of had his confidence or his belief in his dream, no my world would of been shattered by those harsh words….
and that endless moment finally passed… my thoughts were broken as the reality of the moment became clear… i walked away from “their door” and saw myself become part of the crowd that waited for a performance, a performance that i knew would unleash another flood of emotions…
i didn’t sit in the seat i sat in all summer long, no this was a different theater, a different world, but i sat as close to it as i could…. this theater was different and i could sensei it in the emotions that filled my body…. i could see it on the dance floor, the curtains… this was sacred ground to me but i knew i had to be close enough to see their faces, that expression of joy that i always saw in my dancers from last summer…. and as the music finally filled the room i saw the dancers enter… i wanted to see Paul there dancing with Stephanie but i couldn’t find them amongst these dancers so i cried… i did a lot of crying in that hour… i was so happy to be alive, to be here and to have the love in my heart for this world that i was witness to….
and what i loved most about this evening were the dancers were not in their elegant costumes but just in their practice tights…. the colors didn’t blend but each wore the reflection of that individual dancer… were these their favorite tights, the ones they felt most comfortable in, the blend of colors that were their favorite…. these were the badges of their countless hours of practice….
i wanted these minutes to go on forever, i didn’t want the music to ever stop… i didn’t know where to focus so i let my eyes dance aimlessly, yet i tried to see every dancer’s face in those minutes…. my eyes were always racing back to their feet, standing so effortlessly on their toes…. the movement of their legs, their muscles tensed yet the motion so soft and gentle… and my tears of joy kept silently flowing….
and when Cinderella and her prince finally came into view and began their ballet i saw immediately what all those others dancers strived so hard to achieve… these two dancers were at a level that seemed far above the rest… i saw it in their faces, the poetry of their motion and in their feet…. but then it was over, the music had stopped only to fill that room with the applause of love and appreciation…
as the applause died down the Head Dance-Master took the floor and called out a few of his dancers… they wore the reflection of being exhausted, of giving their all in these moments… they stood there with a respect for their dance…. this was their playing field but it was a sacred field and they showed that respect…. before us they stood there quietly trying to stretch out their tired muscles, they stood there with modesty not parading around making useless noise of “their” performance…… they stood there with dignity yet each one took a moment to talk and let us into their sacred world of dance…
i left quietly, just as i entered but my heart was filled with an incredible joy

thoughts on my immortality #22

“reflections: thoughts on my immortality #22”

reflections…
the past that silently left,
left when we were not aware
that today will never be our yesterday’s…
you want to hold on tight
but sadly you realize
leaves will always change their colors
and fall
while our winter’s of tomorrow await…

be it a song,
for you remember those feelings well,
sometimes even better than a faded photo
of a frozen moment…
lost amongst all the other fragments of time
that you tried to steal
but you can’t,
you can’t because those moment were lost
and it’s hard to hold on,
to cling to something that isn’t there anymore….

and what of dreams
don’t they too tarnish
tarnish in the winter of life….
so are my dreams really just a compass
silently guiding me
from my past to points unknown…
but then with a compass you must have faith,
a star you can see
believe in and trust…
so are my dreams then reflections
reflections of pain and disappointment,
tarnished wishes or dreams
forgotten by my fairy princess,
or are they the last remnant of hope
fading silently in the shadows of my age…
tessjulianna 1/22/18

 

Studio Spotlight Cinderella

Feb 3 thoughts on “Studio Spotlight Cinderella”

i wanted to touch but i knew not to, i wanted so deeply to belong, but i knew i never could… my eyes raced around the room trying to grasp it all, yet i knew in my heart i never would be able to…. i cried deep within my heart and my chest seemed heavy because of the sorrow, or was it the joy as my tears continuously stained my face…. i watched so closely those that belong, they had that feeling of ownership… this was no big deal for them for this is where they belonged, this was their world…. i watched as the door, a door i would never be able to have the ownership of walking through open and let those who belong walk into an entirely different world than mine, it was the world of a dancer, and these dancer were so special to my heart, as these dancers danced the ballet…. i thought of all my friends from last summer, i thought of you Zachary, for i listened with my heart as you told me about this world…

i finally stood in the lobby of Ballet Arizona, this was the School of Ballet Arizona… i belonged to many different educational experiences in my lifetime and walked through countless door to learn… i had that feeling of ownership that those dancers who casually walked through their door had, but this was one door that was never opened to me, and today i cry because now i wanted that lifetime… no they didn’t carry the books that i carried when i walked through my doors, no they had their bag of sweats, their tights and leg warmers but mainly they carried their badge of distinction, they carried their ballet shoes…. my shoes were always heavy and bulky for they took me into a world of geology, that was the world that i had ownership of… their shoes were soft and seemed so delicate to me… and i wonder what they felt like on their feet, but i knew they were soaked in sweat, the sweat of a dancer’s endless practices…
i quietly watch the dancers, the little girls in their black tights with their long hair tied in a dancer’s bun on their head… they chatted as they walked through that door with smiles on their faces…. i thought of how many countless hours they had already practiced… their conversations were probably filled with images of the world of dance and i knew in my heart they all carried the dream of being that ballerina on a stage, a stage with the spotlight on them…
and then i saw the images of him, he was young and had an innocence about him… this too was his world of dreams… already his body was lean yet his reflection was gentle like a dancer’s should be…. he knew in his heart that this was the playing field that he belonged on, and i’m sure he never listened to the harsh words that many other boys playing on their field of dreams would throw at him… i never would of had his confidence or his belief in his dream, no my world would of been shattered by those harsh words….
and that endless moment finally passed… my thoughts were broken as the reality of the moment became clear… i walked away from “their door” and saw myself become part of the crowd that waited for a performance, a performance that i knew would unleash another flood of emotions…
i didn’t sit in the seat i sat in all summer long, no this was a different theater, a different world, but i sat as close to it as i could…. this theater was different and i could sensei it in the emotions that filled my body…. i could see it on the dance floor, the curtains… this was sacred ground to me but i knew i had to be close enough to see their faces, that expression of joy that i always saw in my dancers from last summer…. and as the music finally filled the room i saw the dancers enter… i wanted to see Paul there dancing with Stephanie but i couldn’t find them amongst these dancers so i cried… i did a lot of crying in that hour… i was so happy to be alive, to be here and to have the love in my heart for this world that i was witness to….
and what i loved most about this evening were the dancers were not in their elegant costumes but just in their practice tights…. the colors didn’t blend but each wore the reflection of that individual dancer… were these their favorite tights, the ones they felt most comfortable in, the blend of colors that were their favorite…. these were the badges of their countless hours of practice….
i wanted these minutes to go on forever, i didn’t want the music to ever stop… i didn’t know where to focus so i let my eyes dance aimlessly, yet i tried to see every dancer’s face in those minutes…. my eyes were always racing back to their feet, standing so effortlessly on their toes…. the movement of their legs, their muscles tensed yet the motion so soft and gentle… and my tears of joy kept silently flowing….
and when Cinderella and her prince finally came into view and began their ballet i saw immediately what all those others dancers strived so hard to achieve… these two dancers were at a level that seemed far above the rest… i saw it in their faces, the poetry of their motion and in their feet…. but then it was over, the music had stopped only to fill that room with the applause of love and appreciation…
as the applause died down the Head Dance-Master took the floor and called out a few of his dancers… they wore the reflection of being exhausted, of giving their all in these moments… they stood there with a respect for their dance…. this was their playing field but it was a sacred field and they showed that respect…. before us they stood there quietly trying to stretch out their tired muscles, they stood there with modesty not parading around making useless noise of “their” performance…… they stood there with dignity yet each one took a moment to talk and let us into their sacred world of dance…
i left quietly, just as i entered but my heart was filled with an incredible joyIMG_1325 - 2018-02-02 at 18-20-43

from a series of essays called transition, #3: “standing at the crossroads”

i would say when i was younger these were my feelings but i would be lying to you, for these thoughts occurred throughout my life…
we hear the tale, did robert johnson sell his soul to the devils at the crossroads to learn to play the blues, his music can be so haunting and if so, what would it take you to sell your soul… by selling your soul you have consciously given up any hope that what you seek in life can or will be reached… you are willing to pay the price for eternal damnation just to experience your upmost desire even if it’s only for a moment… remember prayers have been prayed for a lifetime and they were just empty words heard by no god or being… you are desperate, reaching out to whatever can heal your soul… in my case i just want to be happy…
my sight, a gift or a curse, i often wondered… during most of my life it was simply a double edge razor, her image was everywhere, everywhere except in the reflection i saw in the mirror….. during my late teens and adult years two songs played continuously in my mind, the Rolling Stones, “Paint it Black” and Cohen’s “Dress Rehearsal Rag”… my world was just that, i hated what i saw and i wanted to paint it black to take my pain away…. everywhere i looked i saw what i wasn’t and it hurt…. my dreams at night were always broken only to wake and find yet my prayers were not heard… so why not sell my soul, could it be worst than the pain i felt every day…. i would stand naked in the shower grabbing what i wanted to be rid of… a razor would heal my soul so easily….. a thousand times i played my dress rehearsal rag in my mind…. it would be so simple but i was a coward so i just cried….
and today my identification all reads “female” but is that the case….. my real identification are the “tells” i carry everyday because my hormones poisoned my image for 66 long years, i have the image of a male… my shoulders too broad for a girl, my hands, facial features and the list could go on and on…. we transition in so many ways to heal, my body language can be modified and i can imitate her reflection but that can only go so far…. i dress many times to hid the “tells” that scream out who i am…. but who am i… even that i struggled with, all as part of my transition….
and now, today i hold my bag of silver, what price i’m willing to pay… silver i had not, but did i sell my soul for this silver….. i am transgender, i am now and i will always be…. you are female and i am transgender, it’s that simple…. so what am i willing to do to be as you…. yes we share the same gender but that can not be seen, abstract in a way, all in the mind…. but stand me naked before the world, cut me open to see my secrets and i will never be you… XY is not XX, the code of life can not be fooled…
in less than two weeks i will lay on an operating table for nine long hours under the care of a surgeon just to change some of my facial features… can the knife be a miracle… no, and that’s not what i’m seeking, i’m too wise for that… but the knife can soften the “him” to bring out more of what i feel in my heart, but i wonder, am i just selling my soul but in another way…..
tess julianna 11/3/17

from a series of essays called “transitioning…. #2

yesterday cleaning the garage i found 2 bins of my old cloths that never got sent to goodwill… it was like Christmas seeing so much of my old cloths… will i ever wear them again, i really think not but just seeing them and touching them did feel so good….. and yes, i’ll be honest, i did try a few on….. yes jules is still very much a part of the woman i am today… yes i transitioned to a woman but there’s a part of “his” entity that will always be with me… and for that i am happy…
it’s funny i am now tess, that’s what all my identification states, but really what is a name and does the physical appearance or gender expression really make the person…. hell all my life it seemed i wore costumes, in part to express who i was or what i wanted to be…. yes my biological or genetic sex is male but my gender is female and i think it’s a combination of these two forces which makes the so called person i am… today i feel such a beautiful female presence within me and having my physical appearance being female and being able to live my life as female is beautiful, it’s very peaceful… yes finally i am living my life as the gender i was assigned at birth…. all my body language as a female seems so natural to me now….
in my past i was never comfortable with my physical presence with being a male, as the assorted costumes of appearances i wore for all those years will testify to that fact… i was searching for that comfort zone but little did i realize that my comfort zone was my “lost angel”…
being of “two spirits” was a term used by many cultures for my situation… yes i can see that… i have been blessed to love from a man’s perspective and now from a female’s, but was that really a man’s perspective…. there was always that female presence in so much that defined my character…. i was gentle and showed my emotions more than a typical male…. and it’s funny but when i was having a consultation for facial surgery the surgeon was honest and said you really don’t have very masculine facial features yet they are not very feminine either…..

during the hard days of my transition i felt i had to cast jules out of my life completely…. i removed every photo of him and anything that really spoke of his masculine past… i hated being referred to by his name and mis-gendering me was a capital offense… excerpt from “i’m tired of crying”
my ears are bleeding
bleeding with pain
every time i hear “his” name….
please for the sake of my sanity
let me hear “her” name
let me hear “her” name….
i’m so sorry
yea i understand it’s hard
but “she” cannot be invisible
for “she” has a spirit
and that spirit has a name…
and like a butterfly that just left the cocoon
standing on a branch
its wings drying
she is unfolding her wings
and now she is waiting to fly….
let “her” fly
let “me” fly

i almost lost my relationship with my son because he felt comfortable still calling me Dad… my transition is hard on him…. today i told him he can call me Dad for as long as he wants for i am proud to be his Dad….
and today our house is filled once again with photos of him and yes there are probably just as many of this beautiful woman i am today…. and now when my wife makes a simple mistake and calls me jules, as she did for 44 beautiful years, she will always apologize, but now i tell her never ever apologize using his name, he is still within me and i love him…..

and finally there are moments in my days now that i’ll sit, maybe in thought or doing some simple task, and in those moments i am neither “she” or “him” but just me, and i love these minutes too

tess julianna 10/17/17

on “coming out”

this past week many in my community celebrated a special day in our journey through life…… this was a day set aside to remember and celebrate the day we freed ourselves and declared who we really are….
i sat in the LGBT club of the high school i retired from and listened to these student remember and share about that day in their life…. i sat with tears in my eyes listening to each and every one of them share that day, i was filled with happiness that they had the courage to do what i never could…. they are young with their whole life in front of them, a life that they hope to live as who they want to be, not who society says they should be…. i was so proud of each and every one of them and to me they are all heroes in my book…..
i’ve learn, through my journey, that everybody’s journey is different, there is no one set pattern for a journey… there will be many similarities in our journeys, but that will be about it….
some people will carefully plan their “coming out”, who will be the first one to hear their cry and even pick a certain day or date for this declaration… other’s, like myself, their life just became no longer do-able as it was, my choices were limited but no longer could i continue as i was, it was that simple, i could not go on for even another second…..

excerpt from: “thousand voices in my head”
i stand here
broken and crippled,
raped by pain
emotionally stripped
with voices in my head
10,000 strong and more
pounding in my brain
these voices in my head
and the choice that i made

my life had ceased
paralyzed
strip of reasoning
responding only to pain
with voices in my head
10,000 strong and more
pounding in my brain
these voices in my head
and the choice that i made

tess julianna 2/2/2017

regardless how one approaches this day we all face the same uncertainties… we know the relationships in our life may drastically change, it’s a risk we must take, nothing is certain… it’s very possible that many if not all of our loved ones will turn their backs on us, walk out of our life forever, blaming us for this division…. but it’s a risk you have to take…. you take this risk so your life is do-able once again… you take this risk hoping you can look in the mirror and smile at your reflection… you take this risk hoping your life will not fall to pieces… can you imagine how this must feel when your own mother turns her back on you, a mother that wants nothing more for she rather you be dead than “come out” and ruin and embarrass her world… and “coming out” isn’t just a one time event but for everyone we had relationship with and want to continue one with this day, this moment must take place, again and again…. “coming out” doesn’t just involve family and friends but also you risk losing your livelihood…..

the day one “comes out” is the day they stand naked before the world…. they hold a prayer of faith that this will not be a mistake, that their fragile world will not shatter and implode… the words they will cry out can’t be taken back, i’m sorry just isn’t part of the vocabulary… “coming out” is the beginning of an existence where “i understand” can be heard by you over and over, but you know deep in your heart nobody understands what this is like, hell i didn’t understand all of this so how is it possible that they will…

i came out on November 6, 2015… i stood in front of my wife who i had been married to for 44 years… i was emotionally broken with tears raining down, my body was shaking and i was crying, but what do you tell the person who means the world to you….
i stand here
broken and crippled,
raped by pain
emotionally stripped
with voices in my head
10,000 strong and more
pounding in my brain
these voices in my head
and the choice that i made

my life had ceased
paralyzed
strip of reasoning
responding only to pain
with voices in my head
10,000 strong and more
pounding in my brain
these voices in my head
and the choice that i made

 

today my world is still intact…. i was one of the lucky ones as i didn’t lose one friend, one sibling or my parents in fact today i am loved by more people today than ever before… and of my wife… well this year we will celebrate our 46th anniversary……

from my journal: Songs of the SirensOct 11
today i celebrate “National Coming Out Day”
Today is” National Coming Out Day”… i want to celebrate what i finally was able to do after 66 years, simply declaring what and who i really was… so i celebrate today for the life that “he” lived, “he” carried that “Lost Angel” for all those years… and today i want to shout out to the world that i love “him” still for carrying that burden… and to my beautiful wife how do i ever thank you for your love…. and to my beautiful “Lost Angel”, i’m glad you’re free finally to fly and be, yes life is beautiful!……

so on this past National Day of Coming Out i celebrated, but only after i offered up my prayers of thanks

tess julianna 10/15/17