The year of going out!

There have been a few twists in the past weeks.

As I’ve told before, I managed to go out for a short smoke early in January. Then I had a chat with my wife and she allowed me to go out for a drive again. The chat was a mixed blessing really, but there were some good points — namely, that I was somehow allowed to go out more often and even plan ahead for, say, Mardi Gras (which we call Carnival around her; same as in Brazil, the only difference is that we’re in mid-winter and there is no scanty dressing possible!!), or even for a short trip with my wife to a LGBT-friendly hotel or something.

Well, today is the Tibetan New Year — one day after Mardi Gras — and the past few days and the upcoming ones are completely crammed full with activities. Nevertheless, there was a small break on the last Saturday: my wife’s mother went for a short trip through Spain with her own sister, and our “usual” Saturday dinner was off. That was a good starting point. The local CD community around Lisbon did also announce a “girls’ night out”, since during Carnival celebrations, we’re sort of “allowed” to go out in complete freedom, because nobody will care, and we can even go to “normal” restaurants and “normal” bars — nobody will mind. They might taunt us, but everybody taunts everybody else’s costumes anyway, so it’s all part of the fun.

I have to say that I used to hate Carnival as a child. There was a good reason for that: it was actually traditional to crossdress one’s kids, and I was already having some mixed feelings about that, even when very young — I feared I’d enjoy it too much, so I sort of stopped going out in a costume when I was very young, telling my mother I didn’t want to do it. I remember going out with some friends in my teens, with a “normal” costume though, but since then I pretty much refused to “celebrate” Carnival, because I felt it was, well, ridiculous.

After so many years I lost the sense of “ridiculous” and don’t take myself that seriously any longer 🙂 Also, of course, it’s the only opportunity for a crossdresser to go out in public and enjoy herself without any silly “fears”. Even if I get recognised, there’s no problem! Unfortunately, as I said before, Carnival tends always to be during the Tibetan New Year celebrations, so it’s difficult to coordinate plans — there are too many activities and too little time left for crossdressing.

But this year things seemed to be going rather well. Now, unlike Brazil — where Carnival is a national institution and celebrated everywhere — not all Portuguese cities celebrate it. In fact, very few do anything at all. But there are a few major Carnival celebration areas in the country, and the nearest town is around an hour’s drive from my home. That was the spot picked by the local CD community to hit this year.

And yes, I got permission to go with them. I just got it at the last possible moment, but I got it 🙂 My wife even briefly considered coming with me, but, in her words (and I hope nobody gets offended…), she was not in the mood to “be with a lot of gurls talking about the latest makeup tips and what they have recently bought”. She’s an intellectual and not very feminine in that regard, although she enjoys some gossip with the closest friends. But she was fine with me going alone, so that was what mattered!

Unfortunately, as such things happen, I literally collapsed from exhaustion on Saturday — which started for me very early, by sunrise, and went all day long until 6 PM. By that time I was already feverish (usually my tell-tale sign of exhaustion) and so I had to cancel my going out, and went to sleep instead.

There I was, driving in my car...

In truth, I was not too disappointed. Deep inside myself, I never really believed that I would make it. There is always something that goes wrong! This time, well, it was my body that didn’t cooperate (in fact, I had been feeling exhausted for several days, and it still goes on — today I spent more time in bed than standing up!). But I managed to rest a bit on Sunday, and on Monday I decided to get dressed and at least go out for a bit on the Night Before Carnival, which is usually when there is a lot going on, even though I’d be alone.

Well, this year’s Carnival was a bit different. For the second time in my entire life, Tuesday (Carnival day) was not a holiday, as it usually is — due to the ongoing financial crisis, a lot of public holidays have been cancelled. A lot of companies still gave their employees the day off, to keep in spirit with the tradition, but I suppose that over time, the tradition will die. Instead, people celebrated Carnival over the weekend. Just my luck… still, the nice surprise was that even in my area, there are a few places celebrating Carnival — I didn’t need to drive much far. In fact, there was a nice, free “Carnival concert” at the local Casino, and I was intrigued — would I dare to enter such a public place, where everybody has to show an ID card to get admitted?

The issue was actually solved by the time I took to finally get ready to go out. My wife was agreeable — another surprise: this time I didn’t get much grumbling and complaining, just a comment — “you take full responsibility for what happens to to you!” which is, obviously, a factual statement and not even an accusation. By mutual consent, I just go out when she’s asleep; sadly, for some strange reason, the days I crossdress are the days she stays up the latest — and when I finally went out of the home, the concert at the Casino was practically over.

It might have been for the best, though — the next day, I got an SMS from my sister-in-law, mass-sent to all her friends (which included us both) telling us to join her at the Casino concert! (She’s a fan of one of the singers, a local celebrity). Oops. Now just imagine what would have happened if I did, indeed, enter the Casino, dressed like this, stumbling upon my sister-in-law — a conservative pseudo-Christian — surrounded by all her friends. Uh-oh. That was a close call! (The day after, she told us that, after all, at the last moment, she didn’t go to the Casino… but really had planned to go…)

I remembered a few spots (from my Internet searches) where there was supposed to have been some Carnival celebrations, so I drove around to find them. Unfortunately, it was really too late. Even though I think that most people wouldn’t wake up early on Tuesday, most things were over by 2 or 3 AM — and I was driving through them a bit after 3 AM. I still saw some people in costumes — some guys dressed in drag, too, but clearly non-crossdressers — and cars full with costumed groups, driving very slowly back home. And, of course, the later it was, the less opportunity I would have to find a place worth visiting. Oh well. So I sort of gave up, and just enjoyed a smoke walking first across one of the main streets of the local equivalent of the county capital, and later walked a bit more near the Casino, an hour after it had closed down. Nobody really saw me, and even if they did — it was Carnival night, the safest night for crossdressers to be on the street 🙂 There was a car from an all-night doctor parked near my home (probably doing a late call…) but I was full of self-confidence when I returned to worry about that.

Then I went home for two hours of sleep and back to the grind. I’m still exhausted, and there are still four days left on the Tibetan New Year activities: the upcoming weekend will be an utter nightmare!

So what comes next? Well, for a while I will be enjoying this new stage, where I just get some grumbling and minor insults from my wife if I want to go out, but not an outright prohibition. I might not go out all the times I crossdress — sometimes I’m simply too tired for that, or I might have some things to do early the next morning (it was really stupid to sleep only two hours after Monday’s going out — but what could I do? It was my last opportunity this Carnival…). Being able to go out some more really makes a difference!

I’ve still have plenty of constraints — see, I’m never happy! First, the “agreement” to go out only when my wife is asleep makes things a tad more difficult, if I want to meet up with a CD friend — most will long be asleep, because hardly anyone is awake at 3 AM during the week. Also, most places where I might wish to go will also be long closed (specially during the week). The alternative — going out on Fridays or Saturdays, like everybody in the world does — is not an option: I’m always busy those two evenings. Always. Well… with a few exceptions, which happen perhaps one Friday every other month and one Saturday or two per year. That’s a very narrow window of opportunity! And so many things can go wrong that I feel very reluctant to make an commitment to meet anyone: it’s simply too complicated.

For instance, I have this plan to wear my old human hair red wig the next time I go out, and have pictured the outfit in my mind. But I know that next weekend will be impossible to go out. I tentatively planned my schedule to do a session next Monday. In the mean time, I’ve been notified that an even I was supposed to attend at 8h30 on Monday is PM and not AM as I had scheduled… so there goes my plan. Instead, I’ll plan for Tuesday instead. But should I announce it to my CD friends? Probably not, because between today and next Tuesday, who knows what will happen? My car can break down again; my wife might be in a nasty mood on Tuesday; something unexpected might be scheduled for Wednesday morning; something even more unexpected might appear on Tuesday night; I might be too tired or even ill; or, well, who knows what will happen… the point is really that this “session planning” is truly so far beyond my ability to schedule in advance that I have just to be content about having the possibility to go out and drive a bit around in the early hours of the morning, instead of fretting about being unable to schedule anything worthwhile to do.

My wife prophesied a few weeks ago that I wouldn’t be merely happy with going out once in a while. I was so happy that day (because it was one of the days that she allowed me to go out) that I really didn’t care much for her prophesy. Now I feel that it might have been a curse, not a prophesy! But then again, we’re all “cursed” with insatisfaction — Mick Jagger was right — and the trick to deal with it is simply to be content with what happens and forget about our hopes and expectations, specially because they almost always become thwarted somehow.

Ironically, last week I had an interesting conversation with my supervisor. Once I finish my PhD, there are not many opportunities to get a good job during this financial crisis, but there are a few. But he told me that I had a much better chance in Brazil, where they’re desperate to get professors for an exponentially-growing student population — Brazil is shaking loose from its classification as a “developing country”, they will be the 5th largest world economy in less than two decades, but require a lot of know-how to reach that level, and that means higher education for a substantial part of the population. The trouble is that Brazilians don’t speak anything else beyond Portuguese, and, as an intellectual and research community, they’re totally isolated from the world — in my own country all university professors are fluent in technical English and there are routinely classes and even whole courses given in English, because, well, that’s the lingua franca of the research community world-wide. Well, Brazil has a lot of catching-up to do, and what they require are bilingual Portuguese/English speakers, and they need them fast, and are willing to pay premium for them. So this opened up some interesting possibilities for my future life. It’s not just shaking loose from the mires of poverty and grabbing an opportunity. It’s more than that: being finally unshackled from the “burden” of family and friends, I might consider transition very seriously. Why not? Nobody knows me in Brazil, and for a while, I won’t be able to afford travelling back-and-forth to visit. Brazil is probably not the most tolerant country in the world regarding transsexuals, but everybody knows Roberta Close, even though Brazilian legislation is not as liberal about gender changing as around here in my country. On the other hand, transexuals are commonplace in the large cities, and they have lots and lots of highly qualified plastic surgeons of all sorts, and surgery is relatively cheap. Hmm. This definitely made me think a lot about my future…

Still, I won’t make any plans! I’m learning my lesson: don’t take anything for granted, and just enjoy the few moments when everything happens according my wishes, because they’re so rare and precious.