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Peace, Love, Furniture & Grok

Field Notes In/On Transition

Peace, Love, Furniture & Grok

Transition is, on the surface... all about surfaces, presentation, but of course it goes deeper than that... But it is where you start. I feel like almost all aspects of my life are in transition. Of course one could use that old saw... “the only constant in the world is change”. Definitely true. But my experience of transitioning my gender, has me changing many aspects of my life, and taking chances not just in my appearance, but also my relationships with friends, family, my work are also in flux. 

The space around me is also in transition.

I’ve recently and slowly started to redecorate my small apartment. It’s challenging being an accumulator of Stuff, and keep a tidy living space. Which is what I do, how I live, I have maybe too many books, DVDs, graphic novels, bits of artwork, ephemera and kitschy toys etc 

My furniture is either hand me down... my huge clunky ugly but very comfortable sofa that opens into a less comfortable sofa bed, if needed, or, my cheapest possible futon bed, that occasionally sits upright like it will this saturday for my birthday party, are the main culprits of my being tired of my living space. The now old ikea-esque desk from staples is also tres ugly, heavy and boring. My two office chairs need go go as well, replaced by something actually comfortable and not hideously “found in an alley - looking” (both were bought at thrift stores over 5 years ago) It’s not just my body that needs/is changing. My living space needs a refresher also.

I’m really torn between going into slightly further debt by hiring someone to take those big pieces wherever big worn out furniture disappears to when it’s too old and ugly for use, and buying new and or used smaller versions of the same thing. I definitely need a bed with a bit more space underneath for storage. 

This blog post is taking forever to write, with all the bits and pieces of “fall cleaning” I’ve been doing. I decided yesterday morning (Monday) to pay a removal company to take the big ugly green sofa out of my place. I found a reasonably priced (sort of, but I don’t care, the sofa was free and it’s more than paid for the cost of removal these last 5-6 years) junk removal company, and I’m paying a bit extra so I don’t have to wrangle a friend to help get the thing curbside for the cheaper pickup price. I’m paying the pros to do it all.

I can’t afford to replace all the bachelor/studentish furniture I have, yet. One thing at a time. I’m hitting a couple of local used places that I have had awesome luck with in the past; The Peg, and Attic Treasures, both on my street. I will try to replace huge sofa with an apartment sized sofa/loveseat, or maybe just a nice overstuffed chair, or recliner. If I can’t find anything, I’ll have a bit more space in my apartment for the party of Saturday. 

Speaking of said party, I’ve also got to finish cleaning and reorganizing the rest of my place in the next few days, as well as buy some food and drinks , etc. I’d like to spend some time/money on getting my nails/hair/waxing done as well, but there may not be time or money enough. 

One of the other things that is changing around me, is my relationships with people. I feel like I’m coming out of a very long wound licking phase. Since returning from japan Which is for me, the real start of my transition, slow as it may have been. The real main reason I came back to Canada, like moving to Vancouver in 1991, was to transition my gender. I was not strong/brave enough in the beginning and continued my slow death by food/booze/etc gorging (both in the 90’s and in 2005 upon my return to Vancouver) until 2007, when my blood pressure made me lose the weight, get mostly healthier until I got to the point where I had enough emotional strength and maturity to make the leap into transition last winter.

As far as relationships go, I’ve started to re-emerge from my shell and be more conscious of how awesome my friends are. I was sure I would lose dozens of “facebook friends,” many of whom are more acquaintances than friends, but much to my surprise I’ve done just the opposite: gaining at least 30 FB friends since coming out about transition, changing my display name to Josie Boyce. People are way more awesome than I ever imagined they would be over this issue. Fear is fear, it is often ungrounded and is that thing that holds you back, when in fact it should be the thing that gives you impetus for change.

Speaking of changing relationships, I’ve touched on the fact that the person close to me, that my transition impacts the most is of course, my Mom. I’ve been trying hard to call more often, keep her in the loop, hope that she garners some understanding (or “groks” how) of how happy all this makes me, through my happy smiley picture cornucopia on facebook, and all around less cynical whiny attitude, that finally being able to express who I really am has given me.

She always sends me a gift card (picture, right, is what I got with the gift cards) or two for a book store for Birthdays, Christmas, and this year was no exception, she also included a hand crafted necklace that a friend of hers had made, that after seeing on facebook, I had asked for. My mom also is a fan of surprise gifts, and she included another necklace, a locket, that opens up for a picture, with a picture of my sister Carrie Anne, who died in 1993 at the age of 20 years old.

I cried almost to sobbing when I opened the package and realized what that gift was. I feel like this gift is a Rubicon, the first of many, hopefully that my mother and I can cross together as I transition. The picture of Carrie is actually cut from one of her High School IDs (where me, and my brother also went to high school - Oromocto High School - Go Blues!) I later found out when I called my Mom to thank her for the thoughtful, lovely gift. This makes me even more happy/melancholy to wear her photo that she carried with her all the time way back when.

My Mom, as those of you who know her is pretty awesome. I can’t even express really, the joy I feel in receiving this thoughtful gift that any mother might give her daughter, and even if it’s hard for her to see me as a daughter... in my mind that change is starting to happen. I think down the road, when we can afford to cross the country to see each other again, she will see the woman that I’m becoming, and how I’ve become much more a happy sunny day, than the cynical cloudy rainy night I was as gloomy old Joe.

The one other thing that is being redecorated, besides my apartment, and my style, and mood, is my relationships with my close friends, and the making of new friends in the Trans community. In just the last couple of months I have really felt like I’m learning how to “bond gal-pal style,” to put it kind of awkwardly. I’ve deepened my friendships with a few of my close local women friends, relating, at least on my side, as women together, kvetching, planning, discussing personal issues, and political. 

Leanne, and Becky, you are my Rocks.

I’ve been trying to make as many friends in the Trans community as I can, and succeeding, meeting all sorts of Trans Men and Women who are all so awesomely brave, and making a real effort to build a community in this city, and raise awareness of Trans people as People first, and Trans a close second. Whatever your Gender ID, you are still a person first and foremost, with the same rights as any other person, anywhere. There are some amazing, well spoken Trans people and Trans Allies right in my neighbourhood. I feel blessed to live in the area known as “The Drive.” 

It’s also very eye opening, having a diversity of Trans friends, who express their Gender Identity as publicly and bravely as I hope I’m doing. Some of us are all day in the public eye, working in jobs where we deal with all kinds of people, all day. Retail can drain your ability to socialize outside of work, as all day you are being (hopefully) friendly, open and helpful. Even before I was transitioning, I had withdrawn from a lot of the socializing I had been a part of in the past. No social strength being left over for me after a day, or week of all day yakking, socializing. I value my me time more than any other time I have. 

Now though I’m forcing myself to try a bit harder to keep up with friends, and help build an even more solid trans community, in my neighbourhood, and city.


I use the word “Grok” quite a bit these days, as it is a word I love to say and write; as well, it is eminently suited to many of the experiences I’ve had so far in my transition, doing things like seeing “the real Me” in the mirror, or having people “grok” my transition, without having to be told, or corrected as they mis-gender me despite all the makeup and pink frills. Some people grok.

Grok: a little  history. It’s a word I’ve appropriated, and am trying hard to integrate into my everyday existence, as it’s a word that I grok.


  1. "Fear is fear, it is often ungrounded and is that thing that holds you back, when in fact it should be the thing that gives you impetus for change."

    I love that line! Great post, Josie. All the best to you, and I'm glad you found the strength to be YOU!


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