Yesterday, I wore a t-shirt to work for the first time! It was glorious. I have been back to work for two weeks now, after being out for 9 weeks recovering from top surgery. It has been going more smoothly than I could have possibly imagined! Physically, I’m back to 100%, and in terms of work dynamics, I’m right back where I left things, which is better than I could have hoped for. I pictured I might be the odd person out, after being away so long, but everyone genuinely seems happy to see me. Our supervisor even got muffins for the day I came back!
So, work uniform: We have four styles of shirts we can wear – all of them are navy blue with the school district’s seal embroidered in yellow. The choices are:
long sleeved button-down
short sleeved button-down
Every 2 years, we can order 5 more. I had been down to only 5 total, though, for years, because I continually ordered more and more size S short sleeved button-downs, and they kept being too big. I had 5 that my spouse had tailored and hemmed (thank you!!!), and that was it. I had 2 t-shirts and one polo shirt, which I had ordered at some point, but never wore. Until yesterday!
Why didn’t I just wear a t-shirt immediately upon returning? This might be mild paranoia, but I didn’t want to change things up immediately for fear of fanning whatever rumors might be going around about the type of surgery I had. I only told 2 people at work, and I didn’t really want to talk about it. The short sleeve button-downs have pockets with buttons that just happen to fall right where my nipples are! Haha. So, I looked pretty much the same before and after surgery, in those shirts. I wanted a little time to pass before I moved on to what I really wanted to do: Wear a t-shirt!
I gotta say though, t-shirts are not as conducive to this hot weather. (It is soooooo hot in the school.) They are 100% cotton, and they get wet with sweat. The short sleeved button-downs are cotton/poly blend, and they are billowy and wick away moisture.
Once it’s fall, winter, and spring, I am going to be loving it though. I just need more shirts though! I think this is one of the years we get more – I’m going to order 5 small t-shirts!
In other work related news, I added a new page to my blog. It is called, glossary of janitorial words and phrases. I’m sure I’ll be adding to it as I think of more. Check it out – it might make you laugh (or possibly gross you out)…
Three years ago today, I made my first post on this blog. It was this:
low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life.
At that point, I was feeling very unsure of myself. It was more like, “low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life???” Being able to do that was of utmost importance; it was something I was strongly identifying with. But, if too many physical changes were happening and I didn’t like it, I felt like that meant I failed. I hadn’t heard of anyone else trying to maintain an inbetween-ness through hormones before. The only resource online I could find at the time was this series, through the Original Plumbing blog:
I Was a Teenage Unicorn
I had also met Micah at the Philly Trans-Health Conference. His blog was a goldmine of information.
I decided to start my own blog, to add to the conversation. And I really could not have fathomed how much it would help me connect with others and gain confidence in my choices. Thanks for connecting with me, everyone!!! There’s really nothing like it, at least for me, as someone who expresses myself easiest through writing and likes to read what is going on in other people’s heads.
Three years later, I already haven’t been on low-dose testosterone for the rest of my life, but that’s no big deal in the larger picture, I can now see. I had been off of it for about 6 months. Actually, as of 5 days ago, I am back on it, on a day-by-day basis, just because I feel like it.
So, to celebrate 3 years, I thought I’d pick out a few posts, and then also talk about some future writing goals.
According to my stats, my top 5 most visited posts are these:
28 risks of chest binding – I wrote this recently. And then I posted links to it on a couple of facebook groups (first time I’ve really done that), and it kinda took off. This is probably the closest I’ve gotten to “going viral,” haha. It has 3 times as many views as my next popular post, which is:
Can hormones change my sexual orientation? – I wrote this early on, and I’m glad it continues to get a lot of traffic on a steady basis. A lot of people are curious about if and how hormones could maybe shift sexual orientation.
Bathroom anxieties: a genderqueer janitor’s perspective – I also wrote this early on, and I think that if I were to write it over again, there would be lots of edits. But I’m leaving it as is, for now. It’s a document of a time, I guess.
One year on testosterone without physical changes – This got a lot of traffic because it got a boost from Micah. I asked him if he’d share it on his social media outlets. Thanks, Micah!
A story about what it feels like to be bigender – I’m also really glad this gets a lot of traffic because I worked pretty hard on it, and I think it’s really illuminating and informative. I don’t identify as bigender, but a lot of people are curious about what it means to be bigender.
Two posts that I’m considering deleting, because they pop up in people’s searches too much and are probably off-topic:
Ruling with elf wisdom – People want to know what it means to “rule with elf wisdom,” and this post isn’t going to tell them anything about that. It’s actually about a name I was considering going by, which means “ruling with elf wisdom.” But then I nixed that name. So it’s not even relevant any longer…
Office work and trans-YA fiction – People search for “office work” pretty frequently, but I’m not sure why! And this is barely about that – it’s about how I volunteered in the office at my local gay alliance for a while, but it’s more about some YA books I was reading while sitting there, bored, in the office.
Other than that, most of my search results have seemed relevant, which is good! A lot of questions about taking testosterone while on other psychotropic drugs, about being trans and using the bathroom, about different terms under the “genderqueer” umbrella… It seems that just as many searches are about janitors as they are about being trans. I guess I feel kind of weird about that because even though being a janitor is a big part of my identity and a semi-big part of this blog, I don’t feel like I’m representational of janitors in general, for when people are searching for info about janitors… Oh well.
Here are some of the more bizarre search terms that have led people to my blog:
“commercial work schedule disorder” – I once wrote about shift-work disorder, so that’s probably where they landed.
“literotica drag king” – I like that word! I’m going to start using it!
“MTF tree house transgender” – Once my spouse and I stayed in a tree house while on vacation. And I mentioned that. Haha.
“images of scrap books to be made for bf” – Not sure. I’ve never mentioned a scrap book or a boyfriend.
“are janitors off on snow days at school” – YES THEY ARE! PAID DAY OFF!
“why would another male janitor pee all over your bathroom” – Damn, I do not know dude.
“queer mullet” – I am queer and I do have a mullet. More information about this can be found here: Queer/Trans- visiblity: (flannel + mullet).
For the future, I would like to continue to take academic papers and studies, and distill them into something that is relate-able. That’s probably my favorite thing to work on. If anyone knows of any, let me know! I’ll continue to document my life too, of course.
I am on a roll! It feels like the end of “coming out at work” is in sight. This may have been the biggest hurdle, because it seemed the most unpredictable – I wasn’t sure how she’d react. Or rather, I could deduce how she might react at different times – I just had to make sure to pick a good time…
She had been out on medical leave for 6 weeks, and I expected there to be a transitional period when she came back. So I didn’t plan / put any pressure on myself to say anything in the foreseeable future. But once she was back, I realized it did seem to be good timing. I dreaded approaching her while she was in her office (if I could even catch her in there). It seemed so daunting to start such a conversation from scratch, but that’s exactly what I planned on doing, since we’d be in a semi-private location.
Last Wednesday, however, I was running the auto-scrubber in the cafeteria, when she came up to me to explain some extra work my co-worker and I would be doing that night. I then turned the auto-scrubber back on, but she came back to me with something else. She had some news about someone who used to teach at our school years ago. She was relating to me as another worker with history in the building, something she has never done before. Sort of, “I knew you’d remember her, so I thought I’d tell you.” It was a bonding moment, as much as seems possible between us. I realized, this is the time to tell her! We were already conversing (not a common thing) and all I have to do is segue, as opposed to start from nothing.
I said, “Oh, I’ve got two things to run by you.” I told her about surgery and needing time off first. She was totally fine with that and didn’t ask any questions. I was concerned she might. I dreaded telling her I was taking off more time, since I took so much time last year. It went so smoothly! Then I added that I have something else that is more of a long-term thing. I told her I’m changing my name and pronouns to he/him/his. That I already have, in fact, except for at work. She said that this must be a long term thing because this is the first she’s heard of it! I assured her she was one of the first people I’m telling. (I strongly suspect that she already knew something, because I came out to the head of the kitchen a couple of months ago, and they talk about everything. That may have been somewhat strategic on my part.)
The rest of the conversation centered around her advising me about what I would be able to do, when. She said I’d have to wait until I’ve legally made changes. Then I should go to the principal, and she will deal with it in her own way. I don’t believe I do need to wait until my name is legally changed (and I’m not planning to change my gender), and I think I have some say about how I come out and when, but I’m not about to jump ahead to the next steps anytime soon anyway. I told her I am going by Kameron, and she even said, “I like it.”
We wrapped up the conversation, which went so well, considering. I turned the auto-scrubber back on and could not stop smiling. I had been dreading this for so long, and it just organically occurred in the moment. I was on turbo charge for the rest of the day. In my mind, I kept jumping ahead to what I would have to do next, and then reminding myself to just be in this moment, and feel this elation that doing this thing had created.
I really can’t envision what I’ll be doing next. Which means I should just wait for a while until it seems clear. (It would be talking to the principal again – something I can tell I’m not ready for right now.)
For now – WHEEEEEEE!
Other related posts:
*Back to school is in quotations because as a janitor, I didn’t actually leave school. We’re just gearing up for everyone else coming back.
I spent this summer waking up at 5:20AM every day, working to get the school ready for students and teachers. We are winding down from that (we’ve been wound down for a while – we started out really fast and got done early). I’m back to late nights (2-10:30PM) without much to do other than dump the trash of the few teachers who have been coming in to set up every day. It’s been nice that the cleanliness of the school is at a standstill. We can just look around and say, “we got all that done.” And we don’t yet have to work to maintain it. Kids start back on Wednesday, so that will all change in a couple days.
While we were busy though, we were rushing through things. We scrubbed every desk and chair. We cleaned surfaces in the rooms, shined the sinks, dusted. We scrubbed the old wax up off the floors. I single-handedly waxed every floor. 3 times over. I’d like to know how many square feet that was. Tens of thousands? Maybe even a hundred thousand? Or a lot more?
It has been a relief to drop back to the later shift and not feel like I’m stumbling, half-awake, in the mornings, just to come home and start dreading about waking up early again. I had been going to bed at 8:30PM! My mental health has been better overall, but not great. I’ve been mildly depressed all summer.
Going back to late nights has been lonely, and strangely, a lot of my worries have centered around what to eat before work. I need to fit in breakfast and lunch. I don’t know what to eat. I also don’t really know what to do, all by myself, other than oversleeping. I’m forcing myself to do some things I don’t really feel like doing, as of now. I guess the hope is I will grow into it; I will like it once I’m doing it. I’m going to be a radio DJ starting pretty soon. I’m also going to take a writing class.
I’ve been realizing that I’m living with a lot of dread lately. Whether that’s residual from mental health issues earlier in the year, or whether that’s just me being me, I can’t really figure out. It’s been helpful to notice it while it’s happening though, and just focus on the here-and-now. Remind myself that I’m actually fine in whatever I am doing presently, so just be more involved in that, rather than thinking about all the perceived horribleness ahead.
For example, I’m dreading going back to doing the exact same thing, at work, every day. But, it really is what I make it, from moment to moment. Unlike most jobs, I don’t have unpredictable things pop up daily, or new challenges to tackle, or people to deal with. It’s just me, in my head. I need to remember that it’s important to change what’s on my iPod frequently – new music, new podcasts… And to talk to people on the phone. And although I don’t believe her, my therapist keeps telling me that I’m actually in control of my own thoughts. So I can choose to keep obsessing about something negative, or I can move on to more interesting topics. In my mind, I am powerless to whatever my brain ends up dwelling on, and I get stuck feeling whatever feelings those thoughts conjure up. I should work on that…
It’s been a while since I’ve written anything about work. During my depression, I was in and out of work a few times, totaling 8 weeks of sick leave. It’s been difficult to get back into the swing of things. Some changes were made, and I wasn’t in the best place to acclimate to new routines. It’s starting to get a little better, just in time to get disrupted again for summer cleaning (switching from an afternoon/night shift to a day shift starting the week after next.)
But this post isn’t really about that work stuff. It’s about something that brightened my day yesterday. A parent of a student saw me as male, and it made my day. I know the term “passing” is problematic because it connotes a deception is taking place and it sets up a discrepancy amongst those who “pass” and those who don’t – it shouldn’t be about that! We are who we are. Despite all this, I really like the word and feel like it describes my experience.
Here’s a few past posts where I talk about it:
Recent instances of passing
Passing as a teenager yet again
Thirty-one year old kid working as a school janitor
Rumors flying around the kindergarten classroom
I feel like people generally see me as female. I gotta say I’m even (very pleasantly) surprised when I’m seen as male; I feel I am not masculine enough. When I am seen as male, “passing” accurately describes the experience, because I am not male (I am definitely not female either).
Yesterday, a dad and his son approached me while I was cleaning. The son forgot his spelling homework and had to get access to his classroom. I said sure and which room and we went there. I unlocked the door, turned on the lights, and stood waiting, because that’s what we’re supposed to do. The kid came back from his desk with a book but no spelling homework. The dad asked,
“Where’s your homework?”
The kid sputtered, “I guess when we were clearing out our desks I must have put it in my bag? But I do need this book.”
“So we just bothered this gentleman for no reason?”
I said, “That’s totally fine. At least you got your book!”
The dad continued, “Tell him you’re sorry.”
“Not a problem. You guys have a good night.”
I was conversing with these people and spending more than a second in their presence. And the dad saw me as male!!! And whether the kid knows I’m biologically female (I’m not out at work… yet!) he didn’t say anything one way or the other. It felt really validating. I held onto that feeling as long as I could.
In other news, the NY Times is giving trans-people an opportunity to tell their story in 400 words or less. It’s totally awesome! Here’s the link to what’s out there already, and a chance to share your own story: Tell your story. I already told my story!
This blog is largely about working as a janitor and about living as a non-binary person. I’ve struggled with the chronicling-of-my-job side of it, and with melding the two aspects of my identity. Largely this is because I am not out at work. It’s hard to write about work if I feel a block. Also I’m not always sure what to share about work… I feel tentative about it.
I am out in other areas of my life – friends all use male pronouns; relatives at least know I prefer male pronouns. In new situations, I plan to let people know about male pronouns whenever I feel like I comfortably can. But work has been a challenge, in my mind.
A big part of that is, what would I be asking for, exactly? Male pronouns, and a name change down the road. What about bathrooms? What about my appearance? I won’t be looking any different, as opposed to other trans-people who transition from one gender to the other. Is this too much to ask for? And what about kids and parents? Where do they fit in? I see teachers getting on board (Maybe? One day?), but how much can I hope for it to trickle down to students and their parents? Does it matter to me that much?
Right now, this is hurting my head. BUT, a couple of weeks ago, I took a first step! I had been wanting to fill the principal in about my recent hospitalization and absence. At the time it happened, I was vague and just left it at I was hospitalized. I did want to let her know the nature of the occurrence and just touch base about where I’m at. I figured it would be a good time to also give her a heads up about my trans-identity. I didn’t plan to ask for any accommodations or change-overs at this time – just wanted to let her know.
So I waited for a good time after school when she was still in the building. I’d been psyching myself up for a few days, so the day I decided I could do it, it was definitely going to happen. It wasn’t perfect – I knew she was getting ready for a kindergarten registration event that evening, but it kinda had to be NOW! I kept it short, knowing she had other things.
I just popped in her office, said I’d like to touch base about where I’m at – she asked me how I was doing and I said, “Much better.” Which was kinda true in the moment, but not true later on. I’ve been on a roller coaster with new med adjustments and things, but I didn’t get into all of that. I just told her that the reason I went out was that due to personal stress and work stress, I could sense my thoughts getting extremely confused and disorganized. I sought out help from my therapist, and she’s the one who brought me to the hospital. I’m on new meds, for now at least (the principal asked about side effects) and seeing my therapist more often for the time being. The principal was open and supportive.
She started to wrap things up by talking about cleaning for tonight (with the event), so I knew I had to jump in with my other purpose before the moment passed. I said, “I do have another thing to bring up, about where I’m at. I wanted to let you know that I identify as transgender.” I went on to specify that most people who ID this way transition from one gender to the other, and I don’t feel that – I feel like I am in the middle. That I’ve been in this process for years, and work is the last place. That I’m on testosterone but such a low dose that my appearance won’t be changing. That I prefer male pronouns and plan to change my name at some point. She listened intently and asked what I needed. I said nothing right now, just time to maybe talk to other people within the school and come out on my own terms. Maybe at some point an email but nothing right now. Just eventually a name and pronoun change. I asked her if she had any context for knowing about trans-people, and she said yes. And that was about it. I wrapped it up really quickly and told her thank you. She said thank you to me too.
I don’t know what this means other than one tiny step. Right now everything has felt so hard, this feels like nothing. I think in time, it may feel like I opened doors up to take further steps, but as of now, it just feels like something I got out of the way.
Here’s to happier days ahead. I should be happy about this, and hopefully it will sink in later…
This is pretty much the best type of leave of absence anyone could ask for. Last week, I was in the hospital, but I wasn’t sick or incapacitated in any physical sense. And being out of work for this week, I’m able to get to some stuff I’ve been putting off, in some cases for years.
– I’m getting my car inspected.
– I’m going to therapy Mon. and Fri.
– I’m meeting with my new psychiatrist.
– I’m having lunch or dinner with a couple people.
– I’m working on finally finishing this blanket I started 2 years ago.
– I’m finishing a piece of writing, a collaborative blog post with Michele Witchipoo.
And the big thing I’m finally getting around to: I am cleaning my room.*
My room has been a disaster area for mostly my entire life. I mean, I guess there were periods of time where I kept things organized throughout my childhood, but largely, it’s a watch-where-you-step zone. There is a method to the madness, but it doesn’t work all that well, and there have been times recently where I can’t find something. I have a tendency to not unpack bags and also a tendency to not want to touch things because they have sentimental value and are buried somewhere down there. It’s like an archaeological dig. This room has not been cleaned in probably 2 years – lots of dust and hair and just grossnesses. At least no food or stuff like that – I’m good about that.
I guess I have a confession: I am a janitor who is a messy person at heart.
I have a fair amount of anxiety about returning to work next week. I have never been out of work for this long, ever. People might be asking me questions that I need to be prepared to field. Although it may be tough to believe in my line of work, I was temporarily experiencing quite a lot of stress, and many changes were under way, leading up to being out of work. I think I can manage it better once I get back, but I won’t really know until I’m in it. Either way, I know I’ll be ready to go back – only so much I can do with huge swaths of unstructured time. (I’ve also been playing thought experiments about how hard would it be to come out as non-binary at work? Everyone really likes me there – I think they could get on board. We’ll see…)
*When I say “my room,” I’m referring to the room where my partner and I sleep, and where I store a lot of my personal belongings in big disheveled swirls. We don’t hang out in there or watch TV or anything because it’s not all that aesthetically pleasing, at least for my partner. Also, it is the attic of our house, so it is very cold in the winter.
My co-worker just retired on Friday. This is someone I’ve seen almost every day for the past 8 years – not many people in my life I can say that about! (My partner, and others at work, basically.) I will miss him a lot. Some people have a lot of co-workers. I really only have just one. I have one supervisor, one co-worker, and one other person on the cleaning staff who is only there for 4 hrs a day (more of a higher turnover. A co-worker, but it doesn’t feel the same).
We didn’t actually work “together,” but we worked the same hours and we were still a team. I clean the first floor, and he cleaned the second floor. We probably only saw each other for a total of a half-hour every day. Still, I felt very connected with him. We commiserated together. We listened to each other. If I needed anything, I knew I could go to him. I knew if I helped him out with something, I was being highly appreciated for it.
I’d have to say he taught me more than any other person, in my journey to becoming a janitor who is very good at his job. He always had an opinion about how things should be done. And he had a lot of tricks-of-the-trade up his sleeve. He always wanted to pass those on to me (and anyone else who had the patience to learn from him – most didn’t). He was really difficult to understand. He’s from the Caribbean and has a super thick accent. He also has a speech impediment (I believe) on top of that. Over time, I began to be able to understand every word out of his mouth. Most people – teachers and other people in the building – could really understand roughly half or less of the things he was saying. Even after interacting with him every day for years and years and years. Sometimes I felt the urge to be his interpreter, but I think he might have felt insulted, so I really only did this if it really seemed necessary.
One of my favorite word-disconnects he uttered, was anytime he was talking about someone with Alzheimer’s, it would come out sounding like “Old Timers.” How great is that? I’ve pretty much started using that in my own lexicon. There are plenty of other neologisms and intonations I’ve adopted from him. Just one way I will always remember him.
There was a party for him after school in the library (this is the first “library party” I’ve attended – usually I haven’t felt like I was welcome / I haven’t gone). We ate cheese squares and broccoli & cauliflower. We drank Pepsi and had sheet cake. He made a brief speech and he cried. I was touched. He was presented with a few gifts, including a scrap book the Social Committee made for him. I contributed two pieces for it. This is what I wrote:
I think that he saw me as male. Or at least as not female. He always referred to me as “Man,” or, more like, “Mon” (the Caribbean thing). He was old-school in a lot of ways, but he never once tried to do something for me (unless he was showing me a better way to do it) or told me I couldn’t do something / lift something. I always appreciated that. There’s no way I’ll ever forget him. He impacted my life in ways he may never know…
I recently was at an LGBT film festival and specifically planned ahead to catch a film from Finland called Open Up To Me (Kerron Sinulle Kaiken). If you want to see it, this blog post is going to contain details you might not want to read about in advance, just a heads up!
Super highly recommend this film. It follows the life of Maarit, a transwoman, for a few months, starting at the point of her last appointment with her gender therapist – the tone of that first scene, the therapist’s farewell message, is: now spread your wings and fly. Maarit had been forced through a lot of sacrifices in the process of becoming who she is. She is separated from her wife and estranged from her teenaged daughter (we get the sense the daughter is open and figuring this out for herself; it is the mother who is standing in the way.) She has moved away from where she once lived and worked as a school social worker. She now leads a lonely existence and works as a janitor within a huge office building.
There are only two or three scenes where she is depicted at her work (and it’s just her coming and going. Loading a van, pushing a cart full of supplies). The story is not about that work, other than utilizing it as a plot device for somewhere she has landed and is unhappy about. She (understandably) yearns to get back into her chosen profession of helping people as soon as possible. She wants this so badly that she ends up posing as a therapist (through a series of misunderstandings) while on the job.
Which brings me to a reason I loved this film… It falls back on some unpleasant tropes common to trans characters in the media, but it ends up twisting them and rising above those ideas, to portray Maarit as a very human, very real, complex, well… person.
Transperson as deceitful: Although Maarit deceives someone about her profession (and she quickly comes clean), she never once is attempting to deceive anyone about her transgender status. She is proud, self-assured, and upfront with those around her (on an as-needed basis), even in the face of speculation and slander, discrimination, and violence.
Transperson as hypersexual: Maarit is not portrayed as a hypersexual person. It is clear that she is looking for intimacy, emotional connections, and a long-term partner. Instead, some of the characters around her are hypersexualizing her, and that seems more about them and their own issues, rather than who she actually is as a person. The film makes this very clear.
Transperson as dangerous and/or tragic: Maarit is in a very difficult place (there are other aspects of her life that have fallen apart. I won’t give away every detail!) and there are certainly scenes where she is in over her head, where she is compromised, where she seems desperate. It feels realistic – it very much seems that some choices she makes are due to (and only due to) being pushed so far into a corner, and she’s just trying to find her way back to where she can live her life. Those choices are not about who she is, inherently. It’s circumstantial. Some of these scenes, although hard to watch, feel triumphant at the same time. For example, at one point, she is attacked by an ex-lover. She ends up punching him in the face and ending the attack. Awesome.
I’m so glad LGBT film festivals exist – opportunities to get out there and see films I wouldn’t have heard about otherwise. This year, I saw this one, and another trans-specific one (52 Tuesdays – sadly, I didn’t enjoy this one all that much. It felt overly melodramatic, the characters didn’t feel believable.) My partner and I have gone to other films over the years, and it’s interesting that it always seems like there’s films for men and films for women. We’ve been to films before where we’re the only ones in the theater who are not cis-men (that’s an assumption, of course, but over and over again, it has been very much divided, and it is so bizarre to me.) At these two films (which were both well attended), there was a very diverse cross-section. I liked that.
Also, the film festival puts out an annual literary anthology, and this year’s theme was personal pronouns. I submitted, and my piece was accepted! I’m now officially published, in an actual book with an ISBN # and everything!!!
The piece was a re-working of these two blog posts:
While I was “out,” part 2 – partly out of the closet, fully out of the loop
While I was “out,” part 3 – coming back
I’m not complaining; it’s not a bad thing! My surroundings sort of facilitate this, which is fine by me. As a janitor at an elementary school, I spend most of my time, during the work-week, with women and children (if I’m with anyone at all). Every teacher I interact with regularly is relatively feminine in her attire, mannerisms, and speech. (There are a handful of men who teach / work at this school; I just don’t happen to see them on a regular basis.) Every child running around me getting ready to head home for the day, is tiny. I wear a work uniform which is super masculine by default. (Like, we don’t have “women’s uniforms” and “men’s uniforms.” We just have uniforms.) In addition to the uniform, I wear men’s pants and men’s hiking boots. I imagine my movements are relatively masculine. I’m working, I’m using big, sweeping motions. I saunter around slowly, sometimes with my hiking boots untied.
I am surrounded all day long by tiny furniture. The classrooms I clean are for kindergarteners through 2nd graders. (My co-worker cleans the bigger kids’ rooms.) Some of these table tops are seriously 2 feet off the ground. I have to essentially bend in half in order to spray and wipe them all down, daily. (My poor back!)
I’m only 5’4″ (or maybe a little shorter than that. I like to think I’m 5’4″ – I’m at least that with my hiking boots on!) but I feel like a giant! Sometimes I sit down in the teeny tiny chair at the teeny tiny table and just catch my breath / think / relax. It’s sorta like I’m in a fun house, where my self-perception is distorted because of my surroundings.
I like this feeling a lot. It helps me feel more like the way I see myself. The only tough thing about it is when I get a glimpse of myself in the mirror (this happens at home too, it’s not just a work thing) and I realize how tiny and feminine I actually am! I seem to especially hone in on my neck, for whatever reason – it’s so dainty and slender and like it could snap right in half so easily. My wrists too; it feels like my hands could snap off at any time. These feelings don’t really translate into me feeling like I should be taking more testosterone and becoming more masculine. They’re just sorta… fleeting, at least for the time being.
Another thing that’s going on at work that’s somewhat related is: age. The kids stay the same; the parents stay the same. (Not really of course. Kids grow up. I just mean I’m perpetually surrounded by kids and parents around the same ages, they cycle through, while I get older and older.) I used to be the youngest person who worked at the school, for years. Now, there’s a teacher who is younger than me. When did that happen?! (It happened last year.) Also, parents keep looking younger and younger. Many of them are, in fact, younger than me now, which is a shift. In fact, just yesterday, a parent recognized me from high school. She was in a grade below me. It was super weird!
It’s just not the same as it used to be: kids and parents these days!