My Luke warm affair with femininity

Good news, everybody!

Tonight, I have turned in enough XP to level up more in my woman class. Sit down and I will tell you the the story of my progression up the skill chain and coming even closer to class proficiency.

It might come as a surprise to you to hear this, but I never really had the competence in being girly. I didn’t hate it, but I was so clumsily female, it was a daunting feat. In my mind, mastery of femininity was something accomplished by Demetyr, Aphrodite, and Helen of Troy embodied in a single goddess.

This was no effort that I could ever hope to achieve. At some point I gave in to my phobias and accepted only putting forth enough effort and appear ambitious and capable.

I went through one phase of my youth wearing pink dresses and pretty hair at the behest of my mother. Since she provided the parts and labour, this was of little pain for me. As I grew more bold, I would request more reasonable attire that did not require effort to wear not have repercussions if they were soiled. Finally, I came to the point in my life where I could wear practical and comfortable clothes. Ah, those were the days. It was tadpoles and Legos by day, books and Johnny Carson by night.

Those were the simpler days. It was only remembered I should be an adorable little girl on Easter Sunday, and the rest of the year was comfort. I got teased in school a bit, but mostly for my name and weirdness. Boy did hormones ever ruin that silver lining from my childhood.

Suddenly it became urgent to me that I looked pretty. I was sending a peace envoy to my old nemesis. I bravely waited, hoping to receive favourable terms. I watched with longing as my Barbie collecting gender peers were becoming more pretty and less cherubic.

After so long, I became rather ambivalent with my unanswered petitions to my inner goddess. I decided to be comfortably novel instead. I got picked on a great deal, and it was certainly difficult to remain apathetic and self deprecating enough about it. I became an expert at being the most mundane bullying target ever.

My unrequited inner high school crushes were comforted by the eternal friend zone status I had obtained. The love sick teenager in me was kept occupied by Anne Rice novels and the objects of my juvenile affections also being my eternally platonic buddies. Some of them exceptionally competent at fitting in and not standing out. I learned a great deal. It was like I had just bought into a comfortable low risk stock.

Somewhere after high school, I became aware of her majesty, the essence of femininity again. I decided it was easier and less risky to attempt an attractive enough imitation of a female than try to fully master the art. I learned many skills and costume tips. For a while I did a pretty good job. A child and full time military employment quickly changed that ambition for me.

During my years in the military it was pretty easy to want to be lazy about hair and makeup. It also made me apathetic again about clothing and girliness. It was futile to want to be more feminine while wearing unflattering and boring camouflage uniform. BDUs (battle dress uniforms), were so unflattering that they could negate any benefit makeup would have.

It was once again kind of nice to be rewarded for competence and skill. There was zero social impacts from being unapologetically dull in one’s relationship with being a woman. So long as I appeared competent and content with myself, that was all that mattered. There was some bullying. I didn’t quite fit in every social group, but I always managed to find some peers who were good to be around.

Over the past few years, my inner goddess and I became estranged. As I aged, I became sentimental of my applaudable attempts at being feminine. I remembered a time when I would have come in with at least an honourable mention in the sport. I was more confident to make a comeback attempt.

Today, I am comfortably tomboyish with moments of feminine ambition. I think I have become too old to be concerned with mastery. I have once again returned to that utopia of novelty. Except this time, my little garden of Eden will remain even if I were to bite into the forbidden fruit.

I have rationed small bites of the Apple of Female Wisdom. It was deliciously acceptable. Today, I wore a vulgar programmer male shirt (that was printed on a girly tee) with the pants and jacket from my suitjamas, my Mary Jane vibram shoes (which strangers have compared to driving gloves on my feet), all finished off by a rather well done decoration of eyeliner and mascara.

All of this is why, I presently revel in the irony of the evening I spent tonight. I had a lovely time sharing my female DIY knowledge. The sort of corners and hacks I have learned about makeup. Even some factoids and instructions to accomplish things I fail miserably at.

I have come a long way from tadpoles and Legos. I have opera gowns and play with filled server racks! That’s uh, gotta count for something?

Military Tales: The Christmas that Almost Wasn’t

I haven’t written a good military tale in a while, but this particular military tale is one that brings tears to my eyes every time I tell it to some one face-to-face. I decided that it was about time to share it with the web. To give you a bit of background on this story, it was Christmas of 2003 and it was the first year I became a single mom. I was going through my divorce at the time and my finances were horrible. I’d rather not go into the details, but I can assure you that the financial hole I was in wasn’t due to carelessness. I was cutting coupons, receiving WIC benefits and going through a very nasty divorce on a salary of about $1200 USD a month in the San Francisco Bay area.

During this period of Airman Tia’s life, she was far away from her family and the majority of her friends were people she smoked with outside at the military hospital on break. For those non-smokers, smoke breaks are a great bonding exercise. Lots of topics would come up and I got to know some really great people and folks who could share common woes. During this particular Christmas I was feeling rather lonely and stressed. It was going to be my first Christmas as a single mother and the only person I had in my life was my 2 year old son (some of you know him as @the_clone).

Unfortunately, due to my financial woes, I couldn’t afford Christmas at all. I had reserved myself to skipping it entirely because I figured my kid wouldn’t hate me too much at 2 for not getting anything for Christmas. I didn’t make a very big deal about it either, I felt pretty horrible deep down about it but logically I knew it wouldn’t be the end and I wasn’t terribly religious any how. When asked by my peers at the smoking patio about what I’d end up doing for my son for Christmas, I’d just say it’d be a light one because money was tight. This was accepted mostly, until one particular individual pieced together a bit more of what was going on from other stories and had gotten me to admit that I was a bit more stretched than I let on, the reason I was in a financial bind and my exact christmas plans. I wasn’t really close to this person but we spoke regularly during smoke breaks.

Skip forward to Christmas eve, December 24th. I was sitting at home alone with my son because I had been talked out of working by my boss and there was a knock on the door. I didn’t really get visitors often so I was pretty reluctant to answer the door, thinking it would be some one asking me to come to work after all. When I finally opened the door, there was no one there. I gave a look around and eventually my eyes fell upon the ground, where in front of me was a large box filled to the brim with wrapped gifts (I’d estimate at least 10 – 15) all addressed to my son from Santa.

I maintained my composure as I offered a confused smile to my porch light and pulled the box inside and sobbed. The next morning, my son destroyed the wrapping and there was a lot of great toys for a little boy of his age to play with. To this day, not a single person has claimed responsibility for that charitable act. I know it had to be my military coworkers from the smoking patio, folks I wasn’t terribly close to but because the military was a family, they took care of me. I have even retold that story (years later) to one of the individuals I believed to be responsible for orchestrating the gifting and he said nothing.

I think that was one the most meaningful thing anyone has ever done for me in my life and it’s the reason I’m a sucker for charity and doing things for people I care about. It was the best and most memorable Christmas I’ll ever have. Thank you MSgt. Anecdote & friends, you’ve touched my life forever with such a simple gesture.

Military Tales: There’s no crying in medicine

Note: I've changed the names of people to keep their identities anonymous for reasons of 1. Not being a jerk and 2. HIPAA regulations. 

By the age of 18, I was a young Airmen in the United States Air Force and living nearly 3,000 miles away from home working at the training hospital on the base.  It was a very large training hospital (I believe the second largest in the United States) so we saw a great deal of patients both active duty, retired and their dependents.  

The first memorable event that happened to me while I was in the military was at this hospital.  I was very young at the time and still learning the ropes of medicine and the hospital.  I had the chance to meet some very interesting people while doing work on the various wards of the hospital.  

One lady in particular I'll never quite forget, for the purposes of this story we'll call her Amihan Smith.  Amihan was an elder asian lady married to a retired Air Force officer.  The amazing thing about Amihan was that she was a survivor of the Bataan Death March, she had met her husband shortly after.  The two had been married for quite a long time and were each other's first loves.  After he husband left in the evenings, I spent my free time talking to Amihan to keep her company during the sleepless nights and hear her tell stories of her journey on the March, it was a heart wrenching story and hearing it first hand from a real survivor was something that the history books could've never taught me.  

Despite her failing memory, she recounted the entire thing in nearly perfect detail and had many stories about her husband.  She was taught English by her husband and he took very good care of her, he was the only thing she had in the world as her entire family was either killed during the initial attack in the Bataan peninsula or were tortured and killed during the march.  

Her adoration for her husband and the length of time they had been together was incredibly touching it had a very romantic feel to it to meet a woman who had sought safe harbour in the US as a victim of war crimes, fell in love with her and had been each other's one and only up through their elderly years.  

Amihan was the first patient that I grew attached to and I was taught many things because of her.  That's why, when I got the call from the ward that she had passed away, I had taken it especially hard.  One of the side tasks that I did as part of my first rotation in the hospital was initiating death certificate paperwork and everything that went along with a patient's death (organ donation stuff, autopsy stuff, coroner case determination and getting the doctor to sign off the cause of death and such), problem was I had never actually done one before.  It was the first time I had a patient die on my shift.  It was also the first time I had to deal with a death since my friend Tilde had died in high school. 

I read through the manuals and gathered what emotional fortitude I thought I had and went up to the ward.  Getting the doctor to fill out the death certificate was the easy part, going into the room with Amihan and her husband was the hard part.  

I stepped in the room thinking I was prepared to deliver the messages I had to, get his signatures where I needed to and go.  How wrong I was.  I stood there in silence looking at the lifeless face of the woman I had grown so fond of and admired.  Her cooling hand was being held in between Mr. Smith's hand and he called me over in a quiet and defeated voice.  He said to me, "Airman, did Amihan tell you how we first met?" 

I was paralyzed with emotion, I bit the inside of my lip hard in an attempt to hold back any emotion so not to make things harder on him.  Mr. Smith didn't want to sign or answer anything until he recounted in his words a brief summary of his life with Amihan.

I cried.  I wept the first tears I had wept since my mom had died when I was 16.  The only thing I could think of was how unfair it was for him to have lost the only woman he had ever loved.  My first death case toppled up with some emotions I had been holding back for a while wasn't as clean as I had hoped it would be.

Trying to compose myself, Mr. Smith did something even more unexpected. He stood, wrapped his arms around me and patted my back and said, "She led a good life and she won't be alone for long.  Don't cry, she's better now." I was taken back as he then went and took my paperwork and filled out what he needed to do and simply asked me, "Can I stay with her alone a bit longer?" I just nodded and backed out of the room a bit puffy eyed and shocked at how it had all went down.  

After he had left, I insisted on helping the med techs clean up and get Amihan's body down to the morgue, helping clean everything off of her and remove the various tubes and needles that had been attached to her and making sure to careful remove her personal affects and place them into neat little containers to have for Mr. Smith to pick up later.

Later never came.  I kept her things down in my department in the safe where they should've gone and asked daily if Mr. Smith had come down and called his number and left messages.  I found out that two weeks after Amiha's passing, Mr. Smith had passed away in his sleep at home.  It was almost like he had decided on his own that he had no purpose past being with Amiha.  

Military Tales – The party that quite wasn’t

The military (or at least the Airforce) is adamantly against underaged
drinking, the base that I was stationed at made it their personal
mission to make sure that anyone caught drinking underage would get an Article 15 and get treated like an alcoholic.

Now, I wasn't the example of a shining troop. I guess one could actually call me somewhat of a Dirtbag
airman. I didn't go out of my way to be an ass, well… perhaps I did
depending on who you asked. I wasn't winning Airman of the quarter but
I didn't get a dishonourable discharge either. I did my thing and
didn't really go out of my way to be above and beyond, but at least I
followed the rules.

That being said, all of my bosses thought I
went out of my way to break the rules. So when the night of my 21st
birthday came along mixed with the up coming going away of a close
friend… the rumour mill amongst the higher ups believed that I would
be planning something huge and filled with opportunities to punish!

Sexy wasn't 21 yet, she'd been caught drinking underage in the past and
I knew that she was going to be at my shindig. I had actually decided
to pull a non drinking party so that we could take Airman PunkRocker
(my nickname for my friend who was separating and leaving) to the
hospital and pull some antics. It was tradition for the Med techs who
worked at the hospital to get a nice dinner and thrown into the
fountain fully clothed. Airman PunkRocker
didn't get this so some of us decided to treat him to it. We brought
the video camera, because we knew that much hilarity would ensue and
Airman PunkRocker needed it documented to remember we loved him.

The night went well enough and Airman PunkRocker
did end up tossed into the fountain, everyone was sober and we had a
grand clean time. I gave the video evidence of the evening to PunkRocker and he went on his way to Arizona to leave the military for good.

thought I had heard all I would hear about that night… until a month
later. I was drug into my Superintendent's office (he was a Master
Sergeant who was buff to say the least, he had to have his uniform
shirts specially tailored to fit around his massive muscles…
incidentally he was a bit intimidating and didn't like me).

Muscles wove a tale of epic debauchery. Apparently the rumour mill
(which he fully believed) had talked about this epic party that
happened a week ago at my house with drugs, alcohol, underaged
drinking and lots of other things. Apparently we had drug this party of
great sin to the hospital where we were running around naked in the
halls, with a video camera!

Muscles thought he had me, he /knew/ there was video evidence… I
looked at him and stared blankly trying to fully digest the epic night
that I apparently organized and took part in. All I could say was,
"Will all due respect Sir, that sounded like one hell of a party… I'm
sad I missed it."

And this is the crux of why Tia was a dirtbag Airman. The end of the story goes as follows: Tia didn't get an article 15, however, her big mouth earned her a LOR and apparently the entire base still believed that such debaucherous party took place, yet no one has proof.

Military Tales – The Superhero

Once upon a time at the base I was stationed at stateside, I was
working in a department where it was very common for me to come across
people's names regularly. Usually on some type of paperwork that I had
to mess with during my mundane duties.

In the department I
worked at we had a hobby that whenever one of us would stumble upon a
name that was particularly comical we'd share it with everyone else who
was interested. This really only consisted of myself and Airmans
Hollywood and Sexy. Now I've given them nicknames to protect their
identities but let me take a quick moment to talk about Airman
Hollywood and Airman Sexy, because I know I will be talking about them
again in the future.

Hollywood was a young guy from a rather
rural area who was fairly attractive but full of himself and had
aspirations of being an actor. When I first met him he was
exceptionally virginal and used to come to me for advise about women
all of the time. He originally was thinking of 'saving himself' for the
right woman but soon decided that he was far to pretty to be holding
back and just wanted to get laid. I never really understand what his
problem was, because he was fairly attractive. He also just wanted to
become a 'pimp' and pretty much get not buy the cow because he got the
milk for free. So… I taught him all about the power of how to
manipulate females. In hindsight, this was a very bad idea. He soon
used his attractiveness, charm and the knowledge I gave him for evil.

was a young lady who had a terrible crush on Hollywood. She also was
really pretty but a tiny bit neurotic and also had come from a more
rural area. She had an incredible figure, a tiny waistline and these
perfect but very large breasts. She also was such a do gooder. Both
Hollywood and Sexy's goal in the airforce were to be superstar troops.
It kind of made me sick, I was generally the Hawkeye Pierce of the
airforce and I really didn't care about winning awards or being awesome
in everyone's eyes. I just wanted to do my job, get through and have a
good time.

Anyhow, Hollywood and Sexy were in on this hobby. It
was more like each week one of us would try to top the other in finding
verifiably funnier names than the last. One day in particular I came
across the most awesome name I had ever come across in my life and I
had to immediately notify Hollywood. I dropped everything I was doing
to go over to Hollywood's desk to present to him the paper with the
most awesome name and rank in the world: MSgt. Firehammer.

and I became instantly enamoured with MSgt. Firehammer's name. I mean
who wouldn't? We had pretty much declared our little game over from
that point because we knew that we had stumbled upon the coolest name
we would ever see again. To top things off MSgt. Firehammer had a son
named "Gunner Firehammer". How freaking cool is that?

and I used to come up with like scenarios involving MSgt. Firehammer.
He became our Superhero and we had this tale about this Rambo like
soldier and his sidekick son saving the world from terrorists, aliens,
Russians…and really anyone who needed a good asskicking. There was no
situation to hard or to dangerous for the Firehammers. Eventually we
came up with an entire family (we didn't know the names of the rest of
his family) and their warheroish ways. The wife was an ex-KGB spy and
Gunner was an expert marksmen who at only the age of 2 had learned to
fire his first snipper rifle. I believe at some point we invented a dog
I just can't remember what we decided to name the dog but he was a
drug/explosive sniffing dog who could even sniff out like anthrax and
other deadly diseases. The entire family was just filed with win.

stories and talk about MSgt. Firehammer and his amazing family
continued for nearly 3 years. I'm serious, it never stopped getting
old. He had became larger than life in our eyes. I think I got a chance
to meet him face to face. I can't recall what the setting was, but I
was like all wide eyed and couldn't believe that I was face to face
with the man that we pretty much heroworshiped. Not that he had
actually done any of the things we'd described but he still had the
coolest name in history.

I generally change the names to keep from irking anyone, but in this
case it was kind of the center of the story. If by chance the
Firehammer family stumbles upon this story and you're offended let me
know I'll be happy to remedy that :)

Military Tales – Larry the Spider

I've been told by quite a few people that I need to start writing some
of the things that happened in my life down, that for some reason what
I would have to say about myself would make a good read. I think these
people are crazy, I've been there I doubt it is very interesting.
However, there are a couple of stories from when I was in the military
that entertained a few people. Let me note that names and locations
have been changed to protect the innocent, not so innocent or are
covered under a non-disclosure agreement I signed upon my discharge
from the Air Force.

Once upon a time in location undisclosed-Istan,
I was deployed during the summer with a group of GIs whose main purpose
in life was to introduce their boots to inanimate objects with hinges.
The temperature in undisclosed-Istan generally
stayed a balmy 120 degrees or more. There were generally very little to
do for entertainment, and let me tell you being the only female amongst
a small group of GIs (from a separate branch) demands that you come up
with entertainment quick else you become the entertainment. I don't
mean that in a bad way, like how the media will portray it, I mean that
these guys thoroughly enjoyed every attempt to embarrass the hell out
of me at every point. They used to play a game called "My ballsack is sweater than a …."
where well I doubt I have to describe it, but they come up with new
comparisons for this statement. It was quite…enlightening to say the
least. I never did very well at this game, not only did I lack a
ballsack but I lacked the appropriate imagination to come up with these
comparisons. There were two creatures that were of great abundance and
great annoyance around undisclosed-Istan, the Camel Spider and the desert Scorpion.

the Camel spider is not a creature to be taken lightly it is a huge
spider which is quite fond of your shadow and they jump. This is a
picture of a camel spider dragging a lizard it had killed off to eat
it. These guys were scary things to say the least and the biggest
worries you had was either getting bitten in your sleep rewarding
yourself with a giant pustule or finding one of these (or a scorpion)
in your boots at night while you sleep.

The question once came,
"Who would win in a fight?" Now granted for you bug lovers this story
turns a bit gruesome, I'm sorry I really am…actually no I'm not
terribly sorry I've been bitten by a camel spider and had to get
treated with antibiotics and such and I didn't do a thing to that
little guy. Anyhow the "Exo-Dome" was a "Thunderdome"
inspired "Two bugs enter one bug leaves" style gladiator fighting ring.
I had my pet prize who I found in my shoe, his name was Larry and I was
mortified by him. Nothing in this world gives me the creeps than
spiders okay maybe snakes. The most important fact is that I hate
spiders with a passion. So you must believe me that the boredom was so
great that I had to keep a pet spider named Larry, and affectionately
named such too. Larry for some reason was quite the formidable
opponent. Even the SAS guys eventually knew Larry by name. I did the
girly thing and put him in a very large tupperware container with holes
and fed him fresh meat every day, I decorated it with pretty flowers
and such. I doted upon Larry a great deal.

I grew to have this
love/hate dichotomy of a relationship with Larry. I even tried to take
him back to the states with me as a pet. This to say the least was not
one of my brightest ideas, he survived the trip but once I got caught
with him in my possession he was taken away from me, it was a sad day.

still to this day am terrified of spiders, camel spiders are still
amongst the most terrifying for me. I will never forget (nor will the
guys I was deployed with) the schoolgirl shriek I let out as I ran
through the sand waving my arms as Larry chased me down jumping at me
to either 'thank' me for all of my love or desiring to hide in my
shadow. My fear was quickly quelled when one of the GIs decided that it
was time to protect Airman Tia by squishing Larry.

In a moment
that I can only describe as pure hilarity (one of those you probably
had to be there to truly appreciate it moments) I threw my gloves on
which were inside of my pockets and ran over to catch Larry. I
whimpered and whined girlishly holding him as far from my body as
possible screaching, "Gimme the box gimme the damned box pleeeaaase!"

did not immediately give me the box and drew my terror out for as long
as they possibly could. If any of you guys read this ever, I still
think you are douchebags for that.

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