Saturday, April 29, 2006

someone to watch over me

So I've been on T for what, about three weeks now? I've had two half doses, and I'm going to get my first full dose on Tuesday the 7th. I haven't noticed too many changes, and I don' t know if anyone else has noticed anything different- I imagine y'all aren't watching me like hawks or anything, but I'm counting on you to let me know if something seems different! I think I might miss things as they happen gradually. On the other hand, since I have been eyeing myself every morning and night with aquiline intensity, I think I'm more likely to exaggerate any changes than miss them altogether. Perhaps it's the folks around me who won't notice, as I shift.
I'm sure it's the folks who'll go long periods between seeing me- my family, who won't see me til August, or my friends that I don't see very regularly- who are going to notice the changes the most, given that the accumulation of many small changes will add up to a big difference to them.

Anyway, here's what I've noticed thus far, in my three weeks at 100mg every two weeks.

This is one of the changes I'm anticipating most eagerly, and while there hasn't been anything drastic yet, I can definitely feel it changing. The best way I can think of to describe it is that it feels like my voice is opening up at the bottom. My normal voice sounds the same to me, but I can feel it more easily sinking down lower when I try to put on authoritative voice, and when I'm singing, I can go lower more easily. Also when I'm singing it feels more unpredictable. I've never had much control over my voice (so much enthusiasm, so little skill!) but now it feels intractable in a less familiar way- I'm even less certain of what note is going to come out of my voice when I try to match Alan Jackson's drawl.

Skin, etc:
I've had a little acne breakout, but not very bad at all (yet?). I've been fairly strict about my new skincare regimen- face scrub in the shower, face cleansing pads at night, moisturizer in the morning- and I think that's probably helping. No new hairs noticed, yet. I have been sweating more than usual, but I'm uncertain whether to blame the T or the new springtime warm weather or a combination of both.

No beefcake Eli yet. Since I haven't gone to the gym in months, and since my before bed crunches and situps routine has dwindled from diligent to occasional, I can't say that I'm surprised.

(Let's talk about!) Sex:
First, here is an open invitation for family members, professors, employers and others who probably don't need to know about my sex life to skip this section or at least, to save us both embarrassment, pretend that you have. Okay.
I haven't noticed a quantitative increase in my libido, but given that I already had the sex drive of a teenage boy, I'm not so surprised. I have, however, noticed the beginnings of some qualitative changes in my libido. More on this later, as I have more data to back it up, but basically, arousal seems to be more physically based, as opposed to mentally. I've always had an *ahem* active imagination, but lately it seems that when I'm getting turned on, it doesn't always stay in my head, but rather, rushes down southward more quickly. Is this making any sense? Maybe I can be more scientific about it: I seem to be having a stronger physiological reaction to sexy things, rather than my usually highly intellectual appreciation of said sexiness.

So that's what I've been noticing lately. I guess I should probably take another round of pictures, though I don't think I look any different at all than I did two weeks ago. My hair's a bit shaggier, maybe, and I'm not quite as pale (thank you fire escape/sun deck), but I really think I look basically the same. In fact, I had to work to write this at all, because I've been so busy trying to curb my impatience that I've almost got myself convinced that there's no way that ANY changes could've manifested yet, given the brevity of the time that I've been on T, and the low dosage.

It's a little weird to be writing this. I spent such a long time reading other guys' transition diaries that it's almost like there's a script I should be following. I'm trying hard to stay focused on me right now, and not what my expectations are based on other people's experiences. I want to be aware and conscious of my self, and my journey, even as it echoes the journeys of my compatriots.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

putting on my top hat, tying up my white tie, brushing off my tails!

Last week was Trans Prom at the Center, and boy, was it a riproaring good time- a bunch of us went out for dinner before hand, and it was like the giant genderqueer group date that high school never offered. It's times like those that I feel best in NYC- knowing that I made the right decision to come here, because I've found these great folks to spend time with. I know that there are great folks everywhere, but it has seemed more possible to find them here in the city.

Last Wednesday, which was the last group session til June, we talked a bit about community and I said something about how I moved to New York to transition, and I'm not sure that's entirely accurate. I would've taken this time right now to transition no matter where I had ended up living- if I were in Portland, I would be transitioning, or if I were anywhere. I moved to New York because my friends were moving here, too, and I thought I could get a good job and have a good time, but it sure didn't hurt that I thought I could find myself a trans community here. And I have! Not just through the Trans Masculine group, though that has definitely been crucial. I'm so glad that we all exchanged emails, and are going to keep spending time with each other, because nothing affirms me like spending time with likeminded individuals, you know? Chinese food in fancy clothes is always fun, but when you're surrounded by fellow genderqueers, it's just that much better.

I don't want to sound separatist, or trip mself up with identity politics here. It's just as valuable to me to spend time with people who aren't like me, and get new perpectives and new outlooks and learn how to be myself when I'm the only one shoring up my identity. Makes me stronger, I think, to be the only trans person in a situation, because then I'm carrying my own torch. Sometimes I have to explain myself, and that makes me stronger as well.

I'm always of two minds about explaining things to folks who aren't sure how to handle me being trans. On the one hand, I don't want to feel like I need explain myself to anyone. I'm doing what I need to do to live in this world productively, and make myself happy. That's a good enough reason, and it doesn't need explaining. On the other hand, I'm enough of a social creature that I do feel like the people in my life deserve an explanation of what's going on with me. Also, through offering that explanation, I think (I hope) that I can educate myself- nothing like needing to explain yourself to someone to force yourself to re-evaluate and really understand why you're doing something- and also educate others, which is an important, though sometimes contentious, subgoal of mine.

Wow, this post is just meandering all over the map, isn't it? I'll leave off, then, with a picture and a resolution. The picture is of some of my compatriots and I at the Prom- you can just make me out in the back row with my grin and my striped red shirt.

The resolution is strictly my own- I've resolved not to buy any more clothes until the end of summer. I don't want to buy any more shirts until I have the body that's going to fit into them properly, and I don't want to buy any more pants until my hips have redistributed themselves a little bit (though I realize that's going to take longer than just a few months), and I don't want to buy any more underwear until I know there's no chance the Communists (my own private metaphor. you know. the Red army?) are going to arrive unexpectedly and stain my favorite boxer briefs.

Plus, I'm trying to be thrifty, and by the end of August my expenses will be done with and I can start re-evaluating my budget. And then I can go out and go wild on Fall Fashions in September. My birthday present to myself- clothes that fit and look good, on a body that does likewise.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Second time is charming

Only waited 35 minutes in the doctor's office last night before I got my shot, instead of 55 minutes. I should've brought a more interesting book (Rum, Sodomy & the Lash did not really live up to its title), so it's my own fault, but geeze, there's not really much in the world besides being hungry that makes me as grumpy/frustrated as waiting for something for no apparent reason. I mean, I know there was reason- Callen-Lorde is a very busy place. it's just that I was 10 minutes early, and there was no one else in the waiting room, so what the heck, friends?

Anyway, once I got in there, the shot itself was no sweat- I've had virtually no pain in these shots so far, just the brief prick of the needle, none of the worrisome muscle cramping I've heard so much about. I think because I'm getting the shot in the butt instead of the thigh, and because I massaged the area (although really, not that extensively, just for about five minutes before and after) both times, pursuant to the advice I've gotten. At my next appointment, they'll take some blood to determine how my levels are doing, to make sure that going up to a full dose is the best course of action. So three cheers for shot number two, and I'll of course be detailing any noticeable results as soon as they're noticeable.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Shot # 2

Tonight at 6:30 I'll get my second shot of testosterone- still on a half dose of half a cc (100 mg) for the next two weeks. My third shot I'll go up to the standard dose of 200 mg every two weeks.
My doctor says that therapeutically speaking there isn't much of a difference between 200 mg every two weeks and 100 mg every week, though I've heard anecdotally that a smaller dose more frequently can help alleviate more drastic shifts in T levels, which tends to help with mood swings and acne. But on the other hand, the biweekly injections mean fewer overall shots, which is nice!
I guess I'll just have to wait and see how things pan out, and try to keep track of mood and other fluctuation-type effects, and see if I can determine any difference. The only way that I'd be able to change my dosage is if I started self-injecting, because the clinic only does the biweekly, as a matter of policy (staffing issues, I think). But they also have a policy that youth aren't allowed to begin self-injecting until a year from their first shot. So if I stay in the youth program, I won't have to think about this til next April, anyway.
I could theoretically switch over to the adult division when I turn 21 in September, but the only reason to do that would be to have more autonomy over my shots and start self-injecting. Also, costs would go up a lot- right now I've only got a five dollar copay for each visit and for each prescription, and my therapy is free. While I don't know what the costs are for the adult division, I'm sure they wouldn't be nearly so cheap.
I will, of course, continue to document any and all changes, but again, aside from arguable observations (some breaking out on my face; feeling sweatier than usual; high libido, but that's nothing new!), there's not much to report yet. Patience, young Eli!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

if I should suddenly start to sing

My Manniversary party last night was a TREMENDOUS success, and I'm grateful to and charmed by everyone who came, called, or sent kind words. I couldn't do this without you all around me.

It was so so good to enjoy myself at this party last night. Besides an excellent evening of conversation and connection, I now have a table full of incredibly thoughtful cards, as well as an excellent supply of manly bath products: my mom sent me face wash, my friend Alysse gifted me with shaving supplies and manly face care products, and my karaoke friends showed up with a bagful of Axe bodywash and a loofah. because Real Men Exfoliate.

The gifting generosity extended to the surgery fund jar- I waited til the end of the night to empty it out, and was shocked past delight to find 805 dollars in there! Holy Saturday, my friends are amazing! That pushes me way past my milestone goal for the surgery- I need less than $1000 before August, and that is utterly doable.

Ro managed to refrain from a kindly "I told you so!" but I am still blown away by the amazing generosity of my friends and family. It's amazing to me that there are that many folks out there willing to part with that much of their money just to make my life a little better. But lo and behold! I'll never underestimate my community again. I'm also going to be returning the good karma for years to come. I don't know if I can think of a suitable means to say thank you, but I'm sure going to try.

It's so good to have friends and compatriots around me, supporting me. That was what made this party so important to me. It wasn't about raising surgery funds or drinking whiskey, though admittedly those were two pretty important subgoals. It was about gathering folks around me who are here with me as I make my way through this transition. These are the people who are really here for me, and I feel safe and comfortable and happy in their midst, confident that they know who I am- they know Eli. Though our next door neighbor came over partway through the evening (to charm everyone with his French accent and chic advice) and I couldn't quite bring myself to explain the purpose of the party to him, and offered a weak "I'm just throwing myself a party!"

Still, for the most part, everyone there knew me well, and was more than happy to give me good vibes and words of congratulations. It feels so damn good not to be going at it alone. For years (and though it's hard to say that phrase with a straight face while I'm a tender 20 years old, I do mean several years- ages 15 to 19, essentially) I felt very alone and isolated in dealing with my gender. I felt like it was my Deepest Darkest Secret, and my biggest fears and concerns centered around how transitioning would affect my social ties. It wasn't a question of whether transition would make me happier with myself (easily answered: yes.) but rather, how would I be able to maintain my ties and connections with people if I undertook this challenge. Realizing now that I can follow this unconventional (and excellent!) path and still have my friends and family love and in fact celebrate me- well, that's reason enough to party, don't you think?

In fact, it seems that my friends are rising to the challenge and drawing closer to me as I recreate myself. It's certainly true that I'm able to make deeper and truer connections as I've become happier and more open this past year.

So, my first year as a man, successfully completed! All that's left for me now is to carry on and enjoy year number two, and also to track down some lovely stationary on which to write the heartfelt thank-you notes I'll be sending to my kind and generous friends.

Oh, and with regards to Day 6 on Testosterone: Still no immediately discernible effects. A few physical manifestations are on the fence- I've been sweating a lot, and had some acne action on my face- but those could just as easily be attributed to the 75+ degree sunny springtime weather. I'm looking forward to my next shot. And the one after that. And the one after that.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

remember, Butt Massage!

So yesterday was, all in all, a pretty good day. I slept in late, then headed over to Callen Lorde for my 16th therapy session, thus ensuring that there would be no repeat of two weeks ago, when my first shot was delayed at the last minute due to a mix-up about the requirements of the HRT protocol for the youth prgoram. With the completion of session number 16, however, nothing could stand in my way! So I spent the 50 minutes basically chattering on about how cheerful I'm feeling, and how happy I am that everything is coming together for me.

I talked a bit about what starting T means to me, though I'm still not sure, exactly. All day yesterday (and the days leading up to it, honestly) I was having trouble really parsing out the best description of "how I'm feeling."

A couple of things hit me in therapy, though. For one thing, I'm going to look different. Sound different. A few months from now, with any luck, I'm going to notice substantive changes in myself, and my physicality. I've been living so long with a hopeful disconnect from how I actually look that it's hard to internalize and really realize that this change will be happening, albeit slowly.

Which means it's time for me to be patient. It means that now it's the end of a chapter in my life, the 'pre-transition' period. I'm not looking forward all the time to the when/how/where I'll be starting T. I've started. I've done my piece. Time to wait and welcome the results.

Anyway, at last 6:30 rolled around, and back to Callen Lorde. After waiting for about 45 minutes in the waiting room (which is pretty much the standard wait time at my clinic) the front desk person came over to reveal that, it turns out, they had no record of my 6:30 appointment, despite the appointment card I brandished which read '6:30, April 10th" in her own handwriting. This, as you may expect, Did Not Make Me Happy, but I kept my composure and good nature long enough for her to reassure me that I would be seen regardless, and in about 10 minutes, no less.

The appointment itself was pretty quick and straightforward, since all the paperwork etc. had been taken care of two weeks ago, and the shot itself didn't really hurt at all. Excellent! Later on the bus back to Rochelle's apartment (where she cooked me a fantastic three course celebratory meal that ended with my very first Artichoke Experience) we ran into a new friend of mine from group, who congratulated me on my first shot with a heartfelt smile that testified to true empathy, and warned me to massage the injection site ("Butt Massage! That's all I've gotta say!") so as to avoid soreness.

I was quieter than usual all evening, trying to reconcile the immensity of the moment with the fact that it was wrapped up in a very ordinary moment. More than the happiness I expected to feel (and which I surely did feel, just check out my grin in those pictures!), I felt a sense of quiet accomplishment. As in, that really needed to be done, and it feels good to have done it.

Today, that feeling has continued. I'm more cheerful and less contemplative, and I keep thinking silly little thoughts, wondering if the T is kicking in yet. I got rather frustrated with a student who approached the desk and asked for a reserve book by saying "I need that book, the beige one!" and pointing. After gritting my teeth and politely but somewhat brusquely referring her to the online catalog and the reserve request cards, I wondered if I was being somewhat more short-tempered than usual. Ha. I intend to keep an eye on my moods in the upcoming week, but I don't think that I've become subject to the vagaries of testosterone-induced testiness a mere 18 hours after my first dose.

So. Day 1. Observations: as expected, nothing seems different. The injection site is a little sore, but the butt massage helped, I think. I'm looking forward to being patient. I'm happy, and optimistic, and calm. To borrow a friend's habit of nautical terminology- I've shoved off, the shoreline is rapidly receeding, the seagulls are circling overhead, and it's Bon Voyage!

at last

April 10th, 2006 7:40pm

Eli receives his first shot of testosterone.

Friday, April 07, 2006

this is a shakedown, son

so the other day, some friends and I were pulled over for (very mild!) speeding by a New York state trooper. To make a long story short, my friend who was driving the car had, unbeknownst to her, a suspended license, and so the trooper asked the rest of us in the car for ID, so that he could see if any of us could drive instead. As it turns out, I was the only one in the car with a valid license on me, and so I drove us the rest of the way to our destination, but as we were driving off, laughing with the nervousness that comes after the end of an interaction with authority, I realized that I'm very glad that occured this week and not, say, six months, or a year from now.

Because, see, my license still says F on it. I'm not sure what my plans are for changing the gender marker on my ID. I can't do it until after my surgery, anyway, because NY state requires a letter from a surgeon stating that you've had "irreversible sex reassignment surgery" before changing one's ID marker. Also, I've heard that it can be useful to keep F on one's ID for health insurance purposes in terms of getting things like gynecological care, so I want to look into that before I do anything.

In any case, right now, I can still pass fairly easily for a girl. A butch, masculine girl, sure, but my ID isn't wildly inconguent with my appearence, only with my identity and presentation. I don't know if the troopers (who looked very snappy, by the way, in heather grey wool uniforms with purple knit ties) even looked that closely at my ID, but my name and my gender match up on there, and the picture is a good one, that looks just like me as I look right now, smooth rosy cheeks and all.

But I'm getting my first shot of testosterone on Monday (cue wild excitement! and further blog posts, forthcoming.) and I'm not going to look like the picture on that license, or the letter F, all that much longer.

Of course, I'm still going to look like me, but it's not going to be so easy for me to pass as female once my voice has started dropping and my facial hair starts coming in, and my face is more masculine.

I don't know how those state troopers (three of them, plus a drug-sniffing German shepard, eventually showed up) feel about trans folks, but as I was driving away, I was rather glad that I hadn't had to find out. Maybe I'm not giving them enough credit- maybe a simple "I'm a transsexual" would've been fine.

Still, I'm reminded that just as most things in my life will be getting simpler as I transition, so will some things be getting more complicated.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

the year's been short but the days were long

so in about two weeks (April 15th! Mark your calendars!) I'm going to throw myself a party. It's going to be called Eli's Manniversary, and it's to celebrate my first year of embodied manhood. After all, it was right around the middle of April last year that I had the breakdown night that I think of as a turning point for me. It was a moment when I realized that things were feeling wrong wrong wrong, and needed to change AND also discovered that I had people around me who would love and support me no matter what, and wanted to see me happy. It was an important night for me.

I mean, I've been thinking about my gender for a pretty long time. I came out as queer (as a lesbian, really) when I was 12 or 13...I discovered that I liked girls, and I hadn't yet started to question what I'd been told my whole life, that I was a girl, too. And, you know, Girls + Girls = Lesbians, so I stuck a 'Babydyke!' sticker on the back of my leather jacket and ran with that for a couple of years. So I guess it was about the age of 14/15 that I started meeting transfolks, and getting a broader perspective on the queer community, and that started me thinking pretty hard.

I remember writing in my journal when I was 15, and being real confused, and deciding that I needed to put things off for a while. When I got to college less than a year later, I was questioning my gender identity, but still in small spurts and bursts. It was too daunting to take on all of it yet, and I also didn't yet have a pervasive sense that life as a 'girl' or a dyke was impossible , and so I kept waiting, to see what I needed to do.

The summer I was 16, I got further involved with a queer and genderqueer community in Portland, and really started realizing that I wasn't a girl. I didn't know quite yet what that meant, but I more or less identified as a genderqueer boy-type person by the end of that summer. But then sophomore year at the Rock, I had a bad experience that set me back for a while, genderwise. I made myself rather vulnerable in a rather public way, by writing about my gender identity (precarious though it was at the time!) in a zine, and got some really negative feedback from a couple of individuals that caused me to pull back and shut down for quite some time.

But by my junior year, and the summer after, things were coming to a boil again. I was in a relationship with someone who encouraged and supported me in my masculinity, and I started talking to people again about my gender, albeit cautiously and with great difficulty. I chose Eli as "a name I might go by, you know, if I ever changed my name" and I started thinking Big Scary Thoughts about the future and what could happen. I was shutting down a lot, though, and not letting people support me- like my sister, who was being proactive and supportive in a truly stellar way, that was wonderful, but I wasn't quite ready for.

But important things were happening for me, too. I started binding sporadically, and understanding how much more comfortable I was with a flat chest, despite the physical discomfort of binding my chest. Mel honored me with a place in her thesis performance, and I had a chance to fix some of the bad associations from sophomore year when I made myself vulnerable again, this time in a monologue about my gender in her performance. I got only good feedback, and it felt very good to say those things publicly, and I came out of it feeling stronger.

I was 18 by then, still wrestling with these thoughts, but I was still mostly putting them off for another day. But I remember reading Jamison Green's 'Becoming a Visible Man' on the bus in Portland that summer, and having to stop, and lean my head back against the window and close my eyes, because the words on the page were being overtaken by a voice in my head saying "You're going to have to deal with this. One of these days, you're going to have to deal with this."
So when I arrived back at SRC my senior year, fresh out of a serious relationship and ready to take a serious look at myself, I knew that a change was gonna come. I started therapy for the first time, because I knew that I needed to deal with my gender in a serious (or at least systematic) way. Being in therapy was REALLY good for me.

I think I've talked here before, and certainly in group and with other friends, about what I think of as the Trans Threshold of Miserableness. I think there's a narrative about trans people that says you have to be a certain level of really miserable in your assigned gender in order to want to transition out of it/toward something else. Nowadays, I recognize how that notion is messed up on a lot of levels, but for a long time it's what I told myself...that I wasn't unhappy enough 'being' a girl to justify becoming a guy.

I mean, I wasn't TOTALLY miserable being Emma, being a dyke. I still don't think I was ever really much of a girl...I put 'being' in quotation marks up there as a nod to the notion that no one really 'is' any one gender, but rather, we all perform and create our genders according to the rules of society. I don't think my performance as a girl ever garnered any rave reviews. But still, I was making it work well enough for a while, and there were parts of it (feeling authentically in the feminist sisterhood, being indubitably and very visibly queer) that I actually quite liked. For a long time, that lack of a sense of total misery was a big part of the inertia that kept me where I was.

Therapy, and the ever growing support from my friends and family and lovers, helped me realize a few things- namely, that the idea of a threshold of miserableness is pretty much bullshit, and that I don't need to be totally miserable in order to want to make myself happier. And secondary to that- I actually was pretty darn unhappy with myself and how I was living. I was growing increasingly disconnected from my body, and feeling increasingly invisible. I needed the world to see me as I saw myself, as a guy. A short, queer, somewhat effeminate and definitely feminist guy.

So that gets us to last April, when I was simultaneously (contradictorily? maybe.) coming to reject this Threshold of Misery as being unnecessary, and also feeling closer and closer to it myself. My future was looming large, seeing as how I was about to graduate from college, and I saw a chance to make a change...take advantage of one period of transition (leaving school) to start another (becoming a man). And, perhaps most importantly, I had people in my life, and one in particular, who were raining support down on me almost faster than I could soak it in. I was in a relationship with someone who loved me and wanted to see me happy, and gave me reason to want to make myself happier.

I mean, clearly I would've gotten here eventually, but being with her made me want to fully engage with myself, and become a better (happier, truer) person so that I could be a good person in tihat relationship. I felt like I couldn't be a good boyfriend until I became a happier boy, and I really really wanted to be a good boyfriend for her. Also, it was invaluable to have somone who liked me at a time when I wasn't sure how much I liked myself, and was willing to lend me some strength at a time when I needed it.

Also adding to that strength were my friends, who answered affirmatively all the stupid questions that I actually asked them like "Um, will you still like me if I'm a boy?" (thanks, Wane!) and my family who kept reminding me that they loved me no matter what.

So I decided to take two (now maybe three?) years off before graduate school and, as my mom put it, "get this Eli business all figured out." I decided I wanted to be legally and inarguably a guy, and comfortable and happy about it, before I went to grad school, and so I moved to New York, and I got a new job, and I started looking for new friends and a new community, and a new me.

And lo and behold! I've found those things, plus quite a few more, and now I can't believe a year went by so fast. and I guess this entry turned into How Eli Became a Transman: a Fairy Tale for All Ages. But it's good to see a chronology like that...I've needed to get it down. Hopefully it'll spare me from any temptations toward revisionist history.

I'm looking forward to this party, and a chance to celebrate. Amy keeps reminding me that I've worked hard this year, and accomplished a lot. I still see a lot in front of me, and I still have a lot inside that I suspect I'm going to have forever. I still shut down, and break down a little. But there are people who love me to hold me and help me put myself back together and remind me that it's gotten better, it's getting better, it's going to get better. Time to party!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

see clearly now

Since making the decision to go to Dr. Brownstein for surgery, I've had a strange aversion to looking at Transster and FTMSurgeryInfo and all of the other wonderful repositories of images and information about surgery results.

Honestly, it has a rather fatalistic feel to it. This surgery is going to happen, and it's going to bring out a more authentic Eli, and so in some sense, I don't really want to be looking at other guys' results. I don't want to freak myself out, just as I don't want to build up an anticipation of an imagined future- I'm not going to have a "Dr. Brownstein chest" but rather my own.

In other words, I know that I'm going to have this surgery, I'm confident (hopeful!) that it's going to go well, and I am going to do everything I can (keep working out, taking my vitamins, etc) to ensure that I get a good result, and then it's going to be me. My chest. Whatever my body is meant to look like.

Now, I'm pretty sure this will have some periodicity to it, and there will be times between now and August 9th that I go back to those images, to get an idea of what to expect. I'll get too excited or too nervous, and I will once again scour the internet for images of possibility.

For now, though, I'd rather not infringe on my anticipation of my own self.