Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dreams of Old

Dreams.  I write about them a lot.  I talk about them.  Everyone has them supposedly.  I was speaking with a friend about childhood dreams.

I have stated many times that my dreams are Dead.  But are they?  What dreams have I had in this life?

So, I decided to make a list.  What are all the dreams for my life that I remember having?  And what happened to them?  I put these in order the best I could.

Firefighter:  One of my earliest dreams.  I lived across the street from the firehouse, and would see the volunteers sprint to it when the whistle blew.  I would then see the large firetrucks (Gray first, then Yellow) leave the firehouse, sirens blaring!  I wanted to help as well!

The old firehouse on Hall St, right down the street.  I remember these trucks

Spring Ford Rescue Squad Trucks- 1980s.  Yes, it's a plumber truck.

Status:  I became an EMT in 1984, and went on to be a paramedic until the early 1990s.  So, I'd say I fulfilled that one.

Another early dream.  One of my earliest memories was watching the moon landing on TV.  And, like so many people, I would look at the night sky and wish that I could explore the stars.  Having been born nearly the same day as Star Trek helped that a lot!  When I was a child, NASA launched several moon missions, and I was glued to the TV for them.

Status:  When I was in third grade, I had to get glasses.  Back then, to be an astronaut, you had to have 20/20 uncorrected vision.  So my dreams of flight were dashed, leaving me with really ugly horn rimmed glasses.

A Day of Peace and Quiet:
Sounds unusual for a kid, right?  Well, I was an odd kid.  Whenever my brother got bored, he would come pick on me, causing a fight.  And I would get in trouble (sometimes he would too.)  I remember wishing for a day when I could just do whatever without being picked on or yelled at.  I could just sit and read or whatever.

Status:  When I started working at Burger King, my parents no longer required me to go on family vacations, as I was working.  My brother usually still went, because he liked fishing, etc.  So, I would have the house to myself, and I would take care of the family dog.  Just me.  It was then that I started "crossdressing."  I remember the hot summer days, walking Sabre by the river, reading, watching MTV (which my parents forbade), and going to work for a few hours.  It was heaven for my tortured teenage soul.  So yes, that one was fulfilled.

Becoming A Girl:
The dream of so many transgender people- to magically wake up in the body which you should've been born with.  I used to take long walks when I was a teen (see: Peace and Quiet, above) to sort out my head.  Hormones were rushing, causing changes I didn't want.  The girls were becoming women, and, due to delayed adolescence, I was still me.  It wasn't fair!  In any case, I didn't WANT the changes that were coming my way.  But, come they did, and there was nothing I could do about it.  All the wishes in the world weren't going to prevent it.

Status: Well, there was no magical solution.  Now I'm on HRT and living as a woman.  I'd say that this one, due to its nature and timing, didn't come true.

So, this seems basic, especially if you look at Maslow.  I even put it in my yearbook- all I wanted to be was Happy.  It seems so easy, yet is so hard to achieve.  I have come to believe that Happiness is something you are born with.  You either are or you aren't.  Others say it's a choice.  I'll entertain that argument, but I don't believe it.

Yearbook Picture

Status:  Unfulfilled now and forever

Go to College:
College.  Higher education.  Back when I was growing up, I was always told that College was the gateway to a better life.  That if I worked hard at school, and went to college, my future would be set.  And going to college was by no means assured.  But that is what I wanted.  Long story short, I worked hard and made it to college.

Status:  This dream came true.

A Girlfriend:
I always figured that people could see right through me- that my "secret" was no secret at all.  In any case, I was a late bloomer, so I was undersized and looked like a little boy while my classmates were shaving daily.  So of course, the girls wanted them, not me.  Yet, I dreamed of finding someone who would see ME, not just a runt.  And of course, my dating someone would cure me of my insane need to be female.  Right?  It took a while, but in January of my senior year, I finally did start dating someone seriously.  We lasted two years before she cheated.  I mean, after all, I was off at college and all, so DUH, but I didn't see it that way at the time.

Status:  This dream came true.  Be careful what you wish for...

Philadelphia Skyline, Nov 1986.  View from Drexel Dorms

Go to a College that wasn't an Urban Hell:
So I went to Drexel University, located in a not great part of Philadelphia.  I figured that the BIG CITY would be the answer to my prayers, and I'd become a City person- cultured and urbane.  Nope.  I hated it.  I got mugged four times in two years.  A classmate was murdered.  Then that whole MOVE thing.  In fall 1985, I visited my childhood best friend, Dr. Dave, at Penn State.  And I was hooked.  Penn State was everything I'd ever dreamed college should be.  But, transferring?  That's a major change.  Would I have the courage?  As it turns out, I did.

Status:  This Dream came true.  One of the best decisions I ever made.

Graduate College:
So there I was at Penn State!  I met people, and partied... and did my damndest to be the Man I was expected to be.  But- what did that mean?  And could I live up to what I felt I should accomplish?  Well, no.  I didn't adjust well at first.  And my drinking was out of control.  But I was determined- I WOULD graduate!  I WOULD make a great life for myself and make a difference!  And THEN I'd be Happy, right?

Status:  I graduated from Penn State in 1989.  Dream fulfilled.

Find a Job:
Great- now I had a degree!  My teaching career came to a screeching halt.  Now what?  I searched and searched.  I found a couple temporary jobs, but nothing stable.  I went back to the restaurant buisness- waiting tables and bartending.  I felt I'd be trapped there forever.

Status:  See below.

Find a girl who wouldn't cheat on me:
It seemed that every woman I could find to date me ended up cheating on me.  I guess I wasn't Manly enough.  Many women told me that they saw me as "one of the girls" or "didn't see me THAT way" and, of course, the dreaded "Let's just be friends."  I would meet Wife in April 1991.

Status:  Dream fulfilled.  I'm sure she regrets that...

So.  I couldn't find a real job.  I was drinking far too much.  I was lonely.  Depressed.  Couldn't get a date.  Then the woman who I thought was the answer to my prayers cheated on me.  It all became a whirling vortex, which, when added to complete bitter self hatred, was lethal.  I wanted to die- badly.  I started driving without a seatbelt, knowing full well that I could be killed.  I wrote about this time period HERE.

Status:  Failed.  Still alive.

Find a Real job:
In April 1991, I was still working at Fridays.  I met Wife.  I was miserable in the food service business.  I wanted More.  I felt I could do more.  This was during the first Bush recession and jobs were scarce.  That July, we went to a gaming convention in Baltimore, where I met people who worked for Chessex Game Distributors.  After a couple more months, they hired me.  I worked there for three years, before quitting (before I was fired) and going to Games Workshop.

Status:  Fulfilled for a time.

Me at work: Games Workshop. 1999.

Buy a house:
Ok, so I had this steady job in Baltimore.  And I hated apartment living.  Wife kept saying how she wanted a House.  And she got me wanting one as well.  It seemed like an eternity, but yes, we did finally buy a house in Owings Mills, MD, that we owned for five years before we left Maryland.

Status:  Dream came true.  I loved that house.

Figure out why I am so miserable:
I had a job.  I had a wonderful wife.  I had a dog.  A circle of friends.  So why was I so angry and full of self-hatred?  There HAD to be a reason.  So I thought about it.  the last time I felt the closest to Happy was in college, so the root must be there.  My brilliant solution- write a book about my college experience and research the HELL out of it.  And I did.  It took seven years, but I did it!  But the answers weren't in those pages.  I finished the book in early 2008.  I didn't know that my Answers would be coming soon...

Status: I finally did figure this out, so I'd have to say fulfilled.

Restore my marriage:
When I moved back to Pennsylvania, my marriage was on VERY shaky ground.  Without going into detail, I was deeply depressed to the point I could barely function.  Wife lost her patience with this.  I remember crying into my pillow often, just wishing I could have my happy marriage back.  (I'm tearing up even thinking about that.)

Status:  We worked through the trouble.  Then my female side re-emerged...

Find a Real Job:
So there I was, back in Pennsylvania.  After a couple months, I found a job as holiday staff at a chain bookstore.  It didn't pay much, but it was income.  However, it wasn't enough for Wife and I to get a house and move out of MIL's place.  After the holidays, the bookstore kept me on.  Thirteen years later, I'm still there.  I've kept looking for better, full time work, and occasionally found work (like at Vanguard) but I stayed with the bookstore just in case.  Smart move.  The other jobs always petered out.

Status:  See below.

Get my Masters Degree:
One of the goals I had when moving back to Pennsylvania was to earn my Masters degree in Education.  I did my due diligence, and decided to enroll at Penn State Great Valley campus.  I needed loans.  I got them.  It took years (due to financial considerations) but I finally received my Masters degree in 2007.

Status:  Fulfilled.

Get a Real Real Job:
I had my Masters degree, so it was time to really make a living, right?  WRONG!  I graduated during the Bush II depression.  There were no jobs to be had in my field, and those that WERE available, I'd "priced myself out of the marketplace" simply by having the degree.  I put out ten resumes a day, every day, for seven years (that's 25,560 resumes- including 10 for Leap day the one year.)  Not a bite.  In all that time, one or two calls.  One interview.  I stopped doing that when I transitioned, figuring I'd start again after my name change.

Status:  Unfulfilled, probably forever.

Determine Who I am really:
As I've written MANY times, my feminine self reawakened on Halloween 2008.  That led to a lot of soul searching and Pain.  I knew that Sophie was part of my life permanently.  I dreamed of figuring out my Truth, and how to live with it.  I prayed for it.  I NEEDED it.  My Myspace blogs are chock full of my trying to figure this out.

Status:  Fulfilled.  I figured out who I am: Sophie.

Start HRT:
Having determined who I truly was, the time came to start integrating my feminine side into my life.  I dreamed of being more feminine- of the day I didn't need pads in my bra or to wear a wig. Wife and I talked, and we decided I should start HRT, if only to keep me from going completely crazy.  What neither of us expected was how my body would react to the hormones, or the inevitability of her mother finding out my secret.

Status:  Fulfilled

Transition to Full Time alongside Lisa:
In August of 2013, I attended an amazing party.  Soon after, my dearest friend Lisa Empanada and made a promise to each other- that we would Transition to our True selves together, supporting each other every step of the way: "Transition Sisters."

Lisa and I at Southern Comfort- our last night.

Not long after that, I was thrown out of the house.  And, a couple weeks later, Lisa broke all her promises by killing herself.  I have written a TON on how this affected me, and the community.  I still hurt.

Status:  Failed.  Will never come true

Lisa's death sent me into a nose dive towards suicide.  My whole life disintegrated.  Within three weeks, I'd lost my home, my marriage, and my best friend.  I seriously have NO idea how I survived September 2013.  But I did.

And so I made a plan, and December 2013, I was headed toward Penn State to execute the plan: suicide behind the Nittany Lion shrine.  Obviously, it didn't happen.

Nor did my extensively plotted plan to end my life on my fiftieth birthday last September.

The Darkness is still with me.  I fight it EVERY DAY.   Lisa once said she was "one bad day away from ending it."  I understand that completely.  Every night, I lay in bed and contemplate ending it all.  And usually, I smile.  Yet every morning, I awaken, and, somehow, find the strength to get out of bed and face another day.  In this fight, I have amazing allies, like my roomie and bestie, Linda Lewis.  I will fight this battle all the days of my life.

Status:  Hasn't come true.  Will someday.

With my life in ruins, I pushed ahead with my plan to transition- to live my Truth.  On March 25, 2014, I started living as my True Self: a Woman.  In the years that have followed, I've chipped away at the necessities of name change, gender markers, etc.  It's still a work in process.

Status: Came True.  At great cost.

Now I start going into what would be considered "current" dreams.  If I had them.  Which I don't.  In any case, I live my Truth every day.  I would LOVE to finish the process, and be a Complete Woman.  As for FFS, I'd love to see a feminine face gazing back from me from the mirror instead of a Neanderthal.  However, as each costs more money than I make in a decade, neither will be happening.  So, I don't even dream of them anymore.  Why keep hurting myself?  (See: "Death" above)

Status:  Yeah right.

Exasperated yesterday at work

I have always had the smallest flicker of a dream that I would someday be a Phd.  My dear friend Dr. Dave has two of them!  However, getting my Masters degree saddled me with a ton of student loan debt that won't be paid off in my lifetime.  Also, if just getting a Masters priced me out of the marketplace, a Doctorate would kill all possibility of work.

Then there's the question of topic.  Education?  I'd rather get one in American Studies, or History, or Gender Studies.  But then I'd need to go back and get masters in these topics first, which, again, I can't afford.  Also, I can't take the time off work to pursue these degrees.  So I don't even dare dream of this either.  Why keep hurting myself?  (See: "Death" above)

Status:  Yeah right.

So, there it is- a tour through the ashes of my desires.  Yes, some Dreams came True, usually through a combination of hard work and dumb luck.  Some of these dreams left deep scars that will never heal.  That's the danger of dreaming- even daring to do so can cause intense pain.

But sometimes...

"Is a Dream a Lie if it don't come true
Or is it something worse..."
Bruce Springsteen The River

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