My Feelings on the Super Bowl!

Super Bowl City

It’s the day before the Super Bowl, so I figured I’d write about it. 🙂

Normally the Super Bowl doesn’t mean very much to me. I don’t really pay attention to sports (other than baseball a few times a year), but I’m a bit more emotionally invested in it this year because it’s here in San Francisco, and I’ve had to deal with it. The Super Bowl City has the heart of downtown closed off, right in front of the Ferry Building, where I go to get to and from work. It’s been kinda a mess for the last two weeks and I suspect that when it’s all said and done, we’ll deem the Super Bowl a very expensive thing that cost the city a lot of money.

All that said! 🙂

The theme of the last eight or nine years of my life has been “be someone that makes you happy.” I like it when people are happy. Them being happy makes me happy.

I’m not into sports, and that’s okay. Most people aren’t into Second Life like I am, either. And that’s okay, too. Everyone being different is what makes life so much fun! If were all the same, life would be pretty boring.

If you’re into sports and the Super Bowl, then that’s great! I’m happy it makes you happy. You being happy makes me happy, too, so it’s a nice win-win. 🙂

I like being around happy people. That’s why I never say no to an invitation to go to a Super Bowl party, even if I’m mostly going to play with your pets and eat snacks. Playing with animals and eating snacks makes me happy, so it’s a win all around. (Plus some of the commercials are kinda funny. That’s neat, too!) To me, Super Bowl Sunday is a chance to hang out with people that are doing something that makes them happy, while playing with pets and eating snacks. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon, if you ask me. 🙂

I’ll never mock you for being into “sportball” or laugh at you for liking things I don’t like. I’m happy you like them, and that’s all I need to know. ❤

Bunny vs The Social Security Administration

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I went to the Social Security Administration office in downtown Oakland, CA today. The reason I went was to get my gender marker corrected from male to female now that I’ve had appropriate treatment and am eligible.

It ended in heartache.

Background Stuff to Know

There’s a few things you should know.

  • I am terrified of downtown Oakland. 😦 I get harassed almost every time I go there. I’ve gotten the worse harassment I’ve ever received there. I get nervous and scared every time I even think about going there. This is why I’d held off getting this done for so long… I just didn’t wanna go to Oakland.
  • This was not my first visit to the SSA (or even this office!). I was last here in March of 2014 after I legally changed my name. I knew the drill ’cause I’d done it before.
  • I didn’t change my gender marker during the first visit because I hadn’t yet qualified for it. (I didn’t have surgery until March of 2015.)
  • My first and middle names are very feminine. There’s no male version of ’em, and there is little doubt I am a lady when you hear my name.
  • My last name is one of the most common last names in the United States. It’s not Mickley, but that’s what I’m gonna pretend it is for this story.
  • The only purpose of this visit was to get my gender marker switched to female.

That should do it!

The Story

You may not realize it, but while it doesn’t list your gender on your Social Security card, the SSA does keep track of it, and it’s used as a source of truth for some things. When you go through transition from one gender to another, you learn that there’s two places you have to have update your records – the DMV (this is what shows up on your ID), and the SSA.

I’d been putting off getting my gender marker changed with the SSA, because, ick, it’s not a fun thing to do. I had today off of work, however, and I decided to use that time to be productive and finally get it done.

I got there this morning and checked in. I was given a number, A178, and told to go sit in the waiting room for my number to be called. I didn’t have an appointment, but that was okay. I have an iPhone, and Twitter, and lots of other stuff to do while I wait. I was prepared for a long wait, and it was just fine. I ended up waiting about 90 minutes, which is less than I figured it’d take. (I was counting on two hours!)

While I waited they were calling off numbers slowly. I think they were in the A150’s when I got there, so I was pretty excited when they got to the A170s. Things were going pretty well at this point!

Eventually I hear them say on the PA “Mr. Mickley to window four.” I ignore this because “Mr.,” and because the last name was Mickley. My last name is so common that I just figured there was someone else there with it. It was also kinda weird that they said a name, because up till then, they were calling numbers.

They repeat this a few times. People start looking around the room trying to figure out who Mr. Mickley is, in case he’d fallen asleep or something.

Finally I hear “Last call for Mr. Mickley, number A178, to window four.” I instantly turn white as a sheet and my eyes fill up with tears, since A178 is my number.

I get up and take the walk of shame to the window. Everyone is looking at me at this point, because I’m a chick that got up when they called for “Mr. Mickley,” and I’m really upset and super embarrassed.

I get to the window unable to speak because I was so choked up and was fighting back tears. I give the clerk the letter from my Doctor certifying that I’ve completed my gender transition and the paperwork needed on the SSA’s side to have it changed. (I came prepared – I filled it out ahead of time on my computer and just printed it out and took it with me.)

The clerk asks for my ID, which I hand to him. My ID says that my gender is female, as it should. I still haven’t said a word because I’m so choked up. I finally bring myself to sit down while he’s working, and he calls me “Mr. Mickley” a few times while asking a few basic questions. (This was after I’d handed him my paperwork and my ID, all of which state female, and it was clear that I was there to get their database corrected at this point.) I merely responded by shaking my head.

He asks me “do you have a court order for ‘the change‘?” and I weakly get out “I don’t need one,” because I don’t. (This was the first thing I’d managed to say.) He starts doing something on the computer – looking up the correct procedure I assume – and learns that I’m correct. You don’t need a court order to get your gender changed if you have an affidavit from a licensed Physician.

The clerk keeps working on the computer for a while, and then gets up to talk to someone. I have no idea what he said… getting my name changed was a breeze, so I expected this would be too.

Finally he comes back and makes a photocopy of my doctor’s letter. He returns with the usual stamped letter stating that I’d applied for a new card and that it will be mailed to me in a few weeks. He did manage to call me “Miss Mickley” at this point, but the damage was done. I was a total wreck.

I collect the stamped letter, file it away in my folder, and slip out quietly to the bathroom to cry. 😦

Afterword

Now that I’ve had time to calm down and collect myself, I am pretty sure the clerk did not mean to be mean to me. I am guessing he thought he was providing really good service by reading a name rather than some stupid number.

The problem is that, like it or not, the SSA and the DMV are the gateways to our identities in the real world. Assumptions like “Mr.” or “Miss” based on a character in a database may not be good there because that’s where we have to go to get it changed, and we need their help to do it.

My first and middle names are very feminine. If he’d just bothered to read the screen, he’d seen that “Mr. Mickley” was completely the wrong thing to call me, but he never did, I guess.

I do intend to contact the SSA office on Monday and let them know what happened. I’m done with them – I won’t need to go back for a long time to come – but I want to make sure that the person that comes after me doesn’t have to deal with what I dealt with today.

I don’t wanna get anyone in trouble, but I want to point out a gap in their training. I want to remind them that to some of us, these things reallllly matter, and we need their help.

I really wish he’d just called out “A178.” 😦

Ten Years Ago…

It was ten years ago today that a huge white fluffy monster named Moose moved into my apartment.

Moose Smiling

Moose was my first rabbit roommate. (I don’t like to call him a pet! We were roommates in just about every way.) He was pretty amazing.

The day he came home (ten years ago today) is a day I won’t forget. He’d been abandoned a few months earlier, and his foster Mom had really grown quite attached to him. (Who could blame her, he was an amazing bun!) She was crying the whole time, I was crying because she was crying, and on the drive home I started to freak out a bit.

I’d just become a parent. I’d never had to care for another life before, and here I was driving home with my new bunny buddy in the back seat, knowing we’d be together for the rest of his life. It hit me like a ton a bricks that I was now, literally, a parent, and my life was gonna change.

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I got him home and opened up the carrier. The very first thing he did was hop around and explore, and then settle down between the two bunny statues I have in my living room. I didn’t plan that, and I didn’t tell him to do it, he just did it. I quickly went to get my camera to capture the moment.

It took us a few days to get to know each other, but eventually we did. I think we bonded completely a few weeks later when I realized that an abscess on his head from an injury he had when he was abandoned was starting to come back. I spent a lot of time with him those first few months cleaning out his wound and helping him to heal up. Trial by fire, I guess!

The good news is that nothing really scared me after that. If I could handle that, I could handle anything, and I did. He had other abscesses throughout his life, and each time they got a little easier to care for. By the time he got the last one it was a total non-issue! We’d moved to Texas by then and the vets there were willing to try all kinds of crazy things that made caring for things like that much easier. (One of the advantages to living so close to one of the best vet schools in the country!)

Pardon the shedding, it's 104 degrees outside right now.

We ended up being bonded about as tightly as a rabbit and someone that just thinks they are a rabbit can be. He was always in the same room with me, but usually not by my side. He liked to be close enough where he could see me, but not so close that I might accidentally try to brush him. Any time I’d get up to change rooms it wouldn’t take very long for the big white rabbit to reappear in the new room with me. (I’d like to say he was sneaky, but he wasn’t. A 14 lbs rabbit does nothing quietly or gracefully!)

Moose lived to be eight years old, which is really old for a Flemish Giant. Larger rabbits don’t life nearly as long as younger ones do. The day I brought him home I made him a promise that when his time came, I would not let him suffer just so that I felt better about myself. I kept that promise.

When it was clear it was his time, and he wasn’t gonna get better, I held his paw the whole way over the rainbow bridge. It was one of the hardest, and saddest things I’d ever had to do in my life, but I know I did the right thing. I promised Moose I wasn’t gonna let him suffer, and I didn’t. He came into this world and lived a rough life, but he left it living like a king with his Mom by his side. (I have tears running down my cheeks as I write this… just thinking back to that time is emotional.)

Moose was the first person to see the real me. I put on a show a lot for him as I was super early in transition when I lost him, and I wasn’t out of the closet yet. He didn’t seem to care, he just liked being with me.

 

I miss you, bud. I’m sure you’d be very proud and happy to call me your Mom if you could see me today.

Practice, practice, practice!

Since I’ve been working on this site today for the first time in almost a decade, I decided to go look at an old version of it in the Internet Archive. (Don’t do that, it’s boring as heck.)

There was one page that had something I like on it a lot today:

“Any man who keeps working is not a failure. He may not be a great writer, but if he applies the old-fashioned virtues of hard, constant labor, he’ll eventually make some kind of career for himself as writer.” – Ray Bradbury

One of the old versions of this site had that quote on the top. I said that I hoped to be a great writer someday on the same page. I’m not sure if that ever came true, but I do receive praise for my ability to communicate things via written word at work. (They’re even starting to let me post things where customers can see it, something I never dreamed I’d be doing!)

I guess Mr. Bradbury was right. Keep doing something and eventually you kinda get good at it. 🙂

Welcome to my new blog!

I made some changes today!

I’ve started pulling some of the posts I’ve made throughout the years over to this site. I’ve had bunnynet.org as my domain since 1997, but mostly only used it for email in the last 15 years. (There was a site here long long ago, but it’s been forgotten to the ages.)

The bulk of what’s here right now comes from LiveJournal. There’s nothing wrong with LiveJournal, but I wanted to start collecting things on my own domain instead. I’m also able to make it a lot more “me” here, which is cool! I think I’ll keep on cross-posting over there for a while, at least.

Looking back at my old post is really interesting. There’s some at in the pre-2012 era where I was still very deep in the closet and are worded as such. I thought for a while about going back and editing them to swap pronouns and such, but decided to just leave them alone. It is a record of how things actually were, and it’s my own history. I don’t want to rewrite it.

For people have have been following me on LiveJournal, I don’t expect a lot will change! I’m just gonna write things here, instead. 🙂

I still gotta clean things up. I was never good at categories and tags, and I need to fix that. I’ll be tagging posts over time and trying to get my data clean.

Into the modern area of blogging I go!! 🙂

Reflections on my Austin Trip

I just got back from Mephit Fur Meet! Before I got there I spent a few days in Austin, TX, near where I used to life. It impacted me in a way I wasn’t expecting.

I lived in Austin for four years. I’ve been here in CA for 21 months.

At this point in my life in Austin, I felt much more at home than I do here in CA. I’ve been trying to figure out why this is so.

A few things have come to mind. The main thing is that I live in Alameda. I like the town a whole lot, but leaving via car is difficult. There’s four bridges and one tunnel to get off the island. That’s it. (I take the ferry to work, I don’t drive.) The bridges dump you onto I-880, which is ALWAYS backed up. Even at 3am. And heaven help you if you have to get onto I-80.

The tunnel drops you off into a part of Oakland, where, as a translady, I do not feel safe. I have been harassed and catcalled there more than anywhere else combined. It it just a very toxic place and I don’t like to go there. When I do take the tube I refuse to get out of my car until I get to my destination.

I tend to leave the island via car two or three times a month, at the most. I will go weeks at a time where the only time I leave is via ferry to get to work.

When I do decide to try to leave the island, I have to make sure that I REALLY want it. It’s a big commitment. The level of effort needed to leave the island is huge. I can’t predict how long the trip will be.

When I was in Austin last week I took myself on a tour of some of the old places where I used to go hang out, and it was just kinda refreshing to me that I could just drive places and it was no big deal.

I went into a grocery store, and parking was free and abundant. (Neither of those happen here. Even if parking is free, it’s usually hard to get.) When I got inside it was “just a grocery store.” It wasn’t a place where the products are 100% organic, GMO-free, and they sing songs to the kale twice a day so that it doesn’t feel bad. It was… just a grocery store.

When I went out to lunch with my old team, at the end of the lunch we went to Starbucks in the mall across the street from the office. It was no big deal… we were able to find parking, get out, get our stuff, and get back in a hurry. I’ve tried going to a mall three times since I’ve been here, and only one trip was successful. The other two times I couldn’t find parking, and one of those times people kept honking at me and cutting me off, and I got so stressed out that I broke down and started crying in the parking garage. 😦

(I haven’t even though about going to a mall here since then.)

Two years into my stay in Austin I had way more friends than I have here. It’s not because I don’t know people here – I do – but a lot of them are in the South Bay, and it might as well be China. Getting from the East Bay to the South Bay can, literally, take hours, all because of traffic.

For goodness sakes, I pay $2000/mon in rent, and I’m back to using a laundromat like I did in college. I don’t even have a dishwasher. Sigh.

Then there’s the issue of the constant fear that I may come home some day to a notice on my door that my rent is going up up 30%. That’s happened to a bunch of people in my building… there’s 31 units in this building, and five turned over just last month for this very reason. The uncertainty about where I’ll be living at the end of the year totally sucks. (My lease runs out 12/31.)

So I have been asking myself if the quality of life I have here is better than I had in Austin, and that’s not an easy question to answer.

I love my job. It is the best job I’ve ever had. (Really, that’s what keeps me here! If I didn’t have that, I’d have left a long time ago.) It really makes a lot of it worth it, but is it worth the burden of living here? I don’t know.

But here’s the thing… my job would let me move, if I really wanted to. We have offices in other parts of the country, and some folks work remotely 100% of the time.

Making it even more complex is that I feel somewhat like a failure. I’d wanted to live in the Bay Area for a long time. Now I’m here, and I’m learning that it’s not as cracked up as it seems. I like this part of the country because this is where my industry is located – I work in the Internet industry and most of it happens right here. Sometimes I’ll look at the address of a company when I’m looking at their website, and realize that their office is just a few blocks away from mine… and I think that’s pretty cool.

I made it! I’m where I wanted to be. But now that I’m here… well, it’s hard. :\

I’m not going to do anything quickly. My lease is up at the end of the year, and if it doesn’t go up by much, I might just stay for at least another year. I don’t know.

I doubt I’d go back to Austin, since Texas’s protections for transgender people is nearly non-existent. But there are other parts of the country that I haven’t seen (and even other parts of the Bay Area), and a lot of those are very welcoming to transgender folks. We’ll see, I guess.

Siiiiiigh. :\

Luck

I am one of the luckiest girls in the world, I think.

I said something last night that I am so lucky to be able to say, and it just now occurred to me what I said.

The summer summit at work is coming up in a few months, and I’ve been invited to go. It’s in Boston this year, so that means I have to fly out to Boston for a week. While we’re there there will be a swimming party, which is kinda a tradition for the Boston office.

Except, I’ve never been in a bathing suit post-transition. I don’t own one. I’ll have to get one. That in and of itself is kinda scary, but I can deal.

What I said to the lady that does electro on my face is this: “Oh, I’m not worried. It’ll be in the safest environment I could be in, really. It’s just my coworkers. They all know who I am, my story, support me, and really love me. I couldn’t ask for a safer and better place to go out in a bathing suit for the first time, really.”

Wow.

Yeah, so, that’s just normal to me, but wow am I lucky. Most transwomen fight just to stay employed as they transition, but I’m in a place where not only do I not have to do that, but they love me and are 100% behind me and supportive.

Yay. ❤

Yaaaaaay!

This afternoon I received a letter from my doctor with all of the correct things mentioned and signed by the right people certifying that I have completed my transition from male to female.

I am now legally female. 🙂

I have waited for this day for a looooooooong time. I am giddy. ❤

At a Crossroad

I had an interesting therapy session a few days ago. I’m at a big crossroad in my life.

For the last three years, transition has consumed my life. It was July of 2012 that it began, and it’s winding down fast. I’m not “done” and won’t be for another year, but all of the big things – things like coming to terms with being trans, coming out of the closet, telling family, going full time as a female, changing my name, getting on HRT, and surgery – are now done. At this point, it’s just riding out the rest of HRT and finishing up my electro. (Which is coming along very nicely.)

And of course, the next step, enjoying life. 🙂

What we talked about in therapy is something I’ve written about here many times, the church. I left the church at the start of transition. It’s really the thing that was holding me back, and it was the turning point that finally let me be myself. But I left the church so quick that there’s still a lot I need to work on there… it was just something I had to do, but I didn’t really take the time to understand it all.

I watched a movie called “Saved!” last week. It’s on NetFlix. I had to watch it twice. The first time took a few days because it was just too much for me and I had to watch it in pieces. The second time I was able to watch it all at once and actually enjoy it.

It’s clear that the movie was written by ex-Christians like myself. They nailed the church scenes. It was exactly like how it is in real life, and as I was watching it, I found myself thinking “Wow I miss that,” which scared me. I had to remind myself that no, I don’t miss it. I miss certain parts of it – like the camaraderie with other people – but I do not believe in God. We talked about how there ARE churches that are welcome of transwomen, but I quickly decided that that’s not a good idea. It wouldn’t be genuine… I wouldn’t be there for the reason other people are there. In many ways it would be worse than before.

Something my therapist brought up is that the church was a good chunk of my social structure, and I haven’t really replaced it. He’s right about that.

For a while I had hoped that I could make the furry fandom take some of that, but it’s just not working out. I’m too old. I’m also asexual, and that’s just not common there. Second Life helps, a lot, but I often miss having people in the same physical place as me.

I’ve thought about what to work on next. One of the things I had in Austin was the House Rabbit Resource Network (HRRN). I had some friends there that enjoyed me, and I enjoyed them. We had our mutual love of bunny rabbits between us, and we had a mission to help save the lives of rabbits. Maybe I should look for a group like that here to get involved in.

Who knows. It just so weird that something that had consumed my life – finances, time, emotions, everything – for so long is winding down.

On the Other Side

So I am now a post-op transsexual female. It feels amazing to be able to say that. 🙂

I will remember last week for forever, I think. I had to go two weeks without estrogen before surgery, so I went into last week in a really funky state. I wasn’t very happy and certainly did not feel normal.

On Sunday I picked up a very close friend friend from the airport. (We aren’t joking when we say we’re “like family.” We really are, and we act like it!) We didn’t do a lot that day, other than just hang out here and enjoy each other’s company and some time together. For dinner we found this amazing vegan Chinese place in Oakland that has this really amazing fried rice. It has raisins and stuff in it, and it’s heavenly.

Monday was our day to go hang out together, except I didn’t really sleep the night before. My nerves were getting the best of me at that point. I had a pre-op doctor’s appointment in the morning, which my friend came along with, and then we stopped at a BART station on the way home and took a train downtown.

We walked around Chinatown a bit to one of her favorite places – another vegan Chinese place that’s a bit off the beaten path. The food was also amazing, and I enjoyed every bit of it. Afterwards, I was really dragging… mostly from lack of sleep, but I made some stupid decisions and didn’t drink enough water that morning. (I was still on spiro, which is a strong diuretic.)

After lunch I taught my friend the wonders of Uber, and we got a lift to the hospital where I was to have surgery the next day. We went inside, figured out where I was suppose to go, who to go see, etc, so that the following day, on Tuesday, this wouldn’t be an issue. I’m very glad we did, because we struggled to find it… but it was no big deal, because we weren’t under a time crunch.

After that we walked to the Muni station, took the Muni train to a BART station, and then took BART back home. Once we got home we were home and just basically vegged out in front of the TV the rest of the night.

Tuesday was surgery day.

We got up around 4:00am and got to the hospital by 6:00am. I was a bundle of nerves. If there’s one thing to be said about my friend and I, it’s that we feed off each other. She was just as bad as I was, and had tummy problems before we left the house.

We took an Uber to get there to save both of us the stress of trying to take public transit while really tried and super stressed out. Smart move. The Uber driver loved us to death, and offered to come pick us up on the way home, but I declined because I didn’t know when we were going to get home. He understood.

While we were in the car to the hospital I started a large texting group with a bunch of people, and the handed my phone to my friend. She kept the group informed of how I was doing. I asked them to treat the group as read-only, but, uh, my friends are furs, and they did was furs do. Talk. Lots. Oh well. 🙂

Once we were at the hospital we got all checked in, and then sat around for a little bit. After the nurses got there (we got there super early, not knowing what traffic was going to be like), they took us up to my room and started the pre-op stuff, like weighing me, getting an IV in, etc.

Surgery itself was not that big of a deal.

They wheeled me into the pre-op “holding area” and I got to see the surgeon and the anesthesiologist while awake. They both asked me a lot of questions. I was in there what felt like forever, but I don’t really know because I was sooo nervous. They never did give me something to calm me down, unlike other times I’ve had surgery.

When I got to the OR itself I was impressed how small it was. The table was very small. There was a thingy blowing warm air on it when I got there, so it was super warm once I got on the table, which was nice. They made me get on the table myself, which I thought was odd, but whatever. 🙂

The table was so small that they had to go get things for my arms to rest on, which they hooked up and strapped me into it. I thought that was also odd. They hooked up a heart rate monitor, and it showed my heart was going 160 BPM, which didn’t surprise me as I was so nervous.

Shortly after the heart rate monitor was connected they put a mask on me and did the “I’m going to give you some oxygen” thing, which of course isn’t oxygen at all… and the next thing I remember, I’m in the recovery room.

I was in recovery quite a while. I came out of if it really slowly. I remember sitting there with a nurse slowly feeding me ice chips, which I liked, because my mouth was really dry from the breathing tube they put in while I was under.

Coming out of it is always a weird feeling. I was only aware of a tiny bit of myself at first – just my head and my chest, but I slowly started becoming more and aware of the rest of my body. I remember panicking at one point as I came out of it because I couldn’t feel anything, but it passed quickly.

After this they wheeled be back to my room. My friend was waiting for me out in the hallway, and you have no idea how good it was to see her again. She followed us up to my room, and we hung out there for a while while I woke up all of the way.

The nurse brought me a few little things of juice, which I quickly finished. She could tell I was super thirsty, but warned me not to drink too much just yet. That didn’t last long, as eventually my friend went somewhere and turned with three 20oz bottles of Coke Zero, which I consumed before we even left the hospital.

As we were getting ready to leave we learned a bit about my nurse, Betsy. She had an HRC sticker on her ID badge, and she outted herself to us as gay as we were getting ready to leave. We also found out she was also a huge rabbit person (she called rabbits her “spirit animal”), and we talked about buns for a little bit. She was the perfect nurse for me, I think.

Once I got on my feet I was able to go use the restroom in my hospital room alone, which was great. Then I got dressed, and we walked out to the front. It was around 2pm at this point. Another Uber was dispatched, and we began the ride home.

The ride home was hard. There was a stalled car on the Bay Bridge and it created a lot of traffic. I nearly had a panic attack in the car (not sure why – most likely because I was still coming out of it), but we got home in one piece.

Upon arriving we sent one final text to the big group letting them know I was home safely, and then recovery began. Dinner that night was Chipotle, delivered by my new friends at Darling Courier.

The rest of the week is kinda a blur. For the most part it was just my friend and I at my house watching movies, eating meals, and enjoying each other’s company. Lots of jokes were told at my expense (things like “I’m a little less nuts,” “I feel like someone just cut my balls off,” and of course, lots of silly references to babyfurs with my friend having to “change” me – meaning replace the feminine pads that were soaking up blood from the incision).

We built a blanket fort one night and laid on the floor having fun watching movies. It was a really comforting thing having someone here to be with me that week. I’m sure I could have managed it solo, but with someone else here… it was just so much better. I knew things were going to be okay.

So that’s that. I’m now on the other side, and it feels wonderful. ❤