Message from the SHELBY.

START LOG: 043011

L-Hemingway Reporting: Addendum

(At this point I have been notified that the SHELBYwill be making some entries itself. Please know the communication and opinions expressed by the ship as a whole are not endorsed or approved by the specific Neural Lizard crews of the HMS SHELBY)

“Certainty and Fear”

Hello, this is Shelby, not the SHELBY, as I am referred to when the blogs are coming from the fictional Neural lizards in my head. (L-Hemingway edit: We are not fictional.)

It’s been a rough couple of weeks leading up to the Easter weekend meeting.

I am happy to announce that both my fiancé and myself have survived and have come through the ordeal more devoted to each other and with greater confidence in our lives and our choices. So yay for that. Needless to say it’s a long story so I’ll sum it up for those of you out there. They came, they pretended I did not exist, everyone was very tense, a great Salmon was made and a butter sauce was ignored, they left. There you go.

Lately my life has been defined by a constant low level of fear. It is sometimes focused on particular things such as going out dressed up and worrying that I look like a wreck, or on far more vague things like if I am doing the right thing here.

The more vague things are the hardest ones to deal with because the decision doesn’t have an immediate way of being resolved. Also they are the most internal. As I go through this shift change the greatest part of it isn’t the physical changes. Those are easy. Your body does it all automatically. (L-Hemingway Edit: Easy!? Tell that to the guys in the Endocrine system.)

Stop that.

(L-Hemingway edit: Fine.)

Anyway. The point is that it’s automatic. You take a pill, or inject a drug and it happens. Why you do these things is the big question. The idea that anyone just decides one day that ‘Hey I want to live in fear, limit my access to things and endanger myself in comparison to the general public.’ is insane. This is a huge process and I was naive when I thought that once I had begun, this course of action would just be all forward looking.

It’s not.

I recently watched a video of a friend who just finished her SRS (Sexual Reassignment Surgery), you know, the BIG one. She stated that she was so at peace and the tiny doubts had fled.

I was surprised at this. I thought she had no doubts at all. I suppose that’s a goofy way to have thought about it but I did. Most of the other Trangendered people I have spoken with seem to have some defining moment that stands out like a three story neon pink arrow pointing to a sign that says “You are female.”

I don’t have that. I have a cardboard square tacked up to a lesser part of my cerebellum that reads “Have you seen this girl?” and all the brain lizards walk by it and look for her as they go about their days.

(L-Hemingway edit: Told you we exist)

Get out of my analogy. (L-Hemingway edit: That… would be impossible.)

The point is I am always in doubt, in a state of possible confusion and definitely in a state of low grade fear.

So why do this? Good question. Basically one day during a rather casual conversation I began thinking about the long list of masculine traits I have, or think I should have. First was the way I spoke, and I remembered the year I changed that to blend better with the males I was with. Then I thoughts about the hyper-vigilant way I was in school when I was younger and I studied other guys movements specifically to avoid ‘moving’ in such a way as to be seen as ‘wrong or swishy’. Then I thought of another and another and things just fell apart. It is actually hard to describe.

(L-Larry edit: I can describe it! PANDEMONIUM!)

Shut up Larry.

But the biggest part of it wasn’t realizing these things, it was realizing how authentic I felt when I let them go. It was the lack of this masculine ‘overlay’ that suddenly freed my brain. I literally changed overnight. Things I had liked were now a turn off. Not in passing but drastically and completely. I was happy. Which was a pretty new thing.

Am I happy now? Yes. Does that mean I am without a care in the world?

(L-Larry Edit: Hell no!)

Shut up Larry.

Wait, no he’s right on that one. Between public attacks, possible discrimination and the simple idea of not doing this right I am a wreck a lot of the time. But behind it all there is a strange sense of certainty. Does that help most of the time? I don’t think so, but the one thing it’s doesn’t allow is retreating. For the first time in my life I have something internal that is to dear to me to discard when it gets difficult to handle. I am lucky to have a perfect partner and a fantastic circle of friends who support me. The one person I am most worried about not paying attention to is myself. Which tends to result in a lot of talking to myself.

(L-Hemingway edit: There’s a shock.)

Shut up Hemingway.

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Battle Stations!

START LOG: 041711

L-Hemingway Recording.

Today in light of stress and possibly conflict, we aboard the SHELBY are preparing for a fight. Despite movies and books depicting otherwise it is actually quite rare for the average ship to find itself in real combat. Most conflict and stress is dealt with through conversation and subtler actions. Not that these aren’t a form of combat themselves.

There is a lot of stress lately, above and beyond what the retrofit is causing. This has alarms ringing in the Amygdala which is where the Self-Preservation Lizards work. The Fight or Flight crews have been running a LOT of drills. They are all very high strung and hand-picked for their quick response time, although they are a simple and single minded group. Their only concern is keeping the SHELBY alive and safe. They have been busy for a few reasons.

The first reason is new fuel injection system, or Estrogen delivery.

We are now injecting the Estrogen directly with a needle rather than taking it via pills. This technique is less painful than expected. However after 30 minutes of staring at the leg, then trying to move the arm, then staring at the needle, not much was happening. There are a lot of hardwired resistance to stabbing yourself apparently. It is still difficult to override all the safeties but eventually Allen(Arm/Hand Driver Starboard side) did it. All the while Larry is screaming about air embolisms, muscle damage, slicing some unknown nerve that will make the heart stop or other such craziness. It is also not to fun when the psycho L-Harry escapes and keeps offering suggestions like “Hey, just stab it in your heart, that’ll make it work faster.” Yeesh. That guy is creepy.

Larry just sat in the corner with his hands over his ears yelling ‘La la la’ until it was over.  I know we Lizards don’t have actual ears, but saying hands-over-the-tympanic membrane is clunky.

Larry’s possibly justified panic aside, the leg stabbing procedure saves wear and tear on the kidneys having to deal with the ingested type. The crew down in digestion and filtering are a lot happier now with the new fuel injection. Eventually we would like to go to the skin patch as it is even easier on the body.

However Estrogen isn’t the real concern. It’s Progesterone. This stuff is commonly used for Birth Control. Even with all the radical changes happening no one aboard the Shelby thinks it’s going to get pregnant. Aside from Larry. But the effects of this chemical are a powerful boost. All the same things like fat redistribution and  skin changes keep happening but the secondary sexual characteristics are expected to change faster.

However, this chemical is known to have some drawbacks. It can make the Command get all kinds of crazy readings and these are exhibited as sharp mood swings, uncontrolled emotional outbursts and the like. Command aboard the SHELBY hardly needs a new reason to be crazy. It basically tries to convince the system that the Shelby is pregnant. Which has predictably strange effects beyond Larry’s insistence that ‘IT COULD HAPPEN’.

So far we have been processing the Progesterone for 9 days and haven’t experienced any of the negative effects so we are optimistic.

We took the SHELBYout again last week into the public and she handled well, wandering down busy streets and going into a store to do some shopping. I hear that we even hailed another vessel and it went fine. This was the first interaction with an unknown ship completely as the SHELBY. Does wonders for the confidence levels.

With the recent chest growth and structural changes it’s becoming more difficult to travel about as a Jack class ship. We have 6 weeks of the current University training quarter left and the SHELBYstill travels there in the old HMS DAVID design. We will soon have to make stronger efforts to ensure we are seen by the other ship as a Jack class for a little bit longer. The official ship title and legal rechristening is planned for summer. Then the paperwork will be in process to drop the DAVID name and become SHELBY full time.

Now, the event that has reduced Larry to a whimpering puddle. On Friday the 21,  there will be a gathering at our home-dock. This is a group 6 members of the fiance’s family, or her fleet. Currently the ships of that fleet are classified as hostile. This fleet does not support the SHELBY’s retrofitting, so our vessel is just attempting to make this gathering pass with as little combat as possible.

No Lizards here think there will be a an actual war, nothing like that. However from what I know of the situation we expect a lot of arguments and passive aggressive actions. The ECM (Emotional Counter Measures) crew is running simulations non-stop to prepare for fights, comments or possible histrionics. I think that Renfeld’s (Imagination and Simulations) dramatic simulations of these worst case scenarios a bad idea, as it seems to make things worse, but what do I know about fighting, I’m just a clerk in the memory division.

Harry has recommended going into the meeting very drunk. While attractive, this is not an option.

Up in the brain pan Command is telling everyone to remain calm and that projections show the meeting as being far less damaging than expected. However while the retrofit makes the Shelby a prime target of aggression, we fear the real combat will bear down on our partner ship. Her mother-ship has made it clear that her sadness lies more in the fact that the upcoming fleet creation ceremony(or wedding) is between two Jill class ships. Technically a “Marriage” not legal between two Jill class vessels in our current location. However we will be completing the paperwork for the event while the SHELBY is still technically a Jack(Male) class vessel. So there are no legal issues with the marriage.  When the SHELBY’s official gender designation changes to Jill, the government has no legal means of nullifying the marriage just because it is NOW between two female vessels. So there. Pbtbtbtb!

Sorry, that was hardly dignified. I take my liberties in this log when I can.

The Judy Garland Effect

START LOG: 040411

L-Hemingway Recording

The ship is back on track at the university and the daily attempts at uploading new data continues. Yet another electrolysis session has come and gone and the skin guys pretty much just gripe and suck it up now.

The retrofitting is a lot of hurry up and wait. And those of us in Memory and Interpretation are being asked to do a lot of archive retrieval duty lately. Command is constantly running checks to determine the retrofit status. I don’t think anyone expects us to find something to bring the process to a halt but everyone, in all the departments, wants to be sure we are doing this right and for the right reasons. However the parameters for “doing it right” are staggeringly vague.

This leads to a lot of pressure on us on the memory department. Command asks for confirming evidence for the change around every 3 hours. Really. And we always tell them we cannot confirm, we can only show what the ships historical actions have been and let them do the predicting up front.

See the problem is, if you go into the stacks looking for something to confirm a feeling the Emotion or Logical path, you will find it. Every time. It’s called Hindsight Bias and it’s hard to avoid. The fetcher lizards can quite literally make something out of anything. They are experts at pattern creation and rationalization.

If you look back over your life and think, ‘I should have seen this coming.’ you WILL see things that indicate it was. But that just means you’re good at creating patterns that reinforce your beliefs. It’s part of the Command programming. It has to be or we would go crazy.

.

So the fact that the early HMS DAVID didn’t play with dolls may make the Social Conformity cheer and say “HA! We can’t possibly be a Jill Class ship because we would have!”

Then there are the times that the ship had tried cross-dressing as early as ten years old. “HA!” says the retrofit supporters. “That makes it obvious that we were always going to do this.”

There is one problem with that and it’s a big one.

It is the fact that Memory is not perfect.

Down in the memory warehouse there are long shadowy shelves with boxes and crates full of cards that have stuff written on them. Now the media we store this stuff on is just a white neural poster-board. It’s a 3×5 card but it looks the size of a poster to us. Size and space don’t work for us the way it does for a ship remember? And sometimes the handwriting is sloppy, or gets smeared when its filed. We don’t have the best pens. Sometimes the ink bleeds through onto the next card in the box and they all tend to degrade with time.

There is usually not more than a couple words per card, and a request for a specific memory will call for a series of cards depending on its complexity.Fetcher lizards, little guy with sneakers and really fast reading skills shoot off into the stacks, climbing up, down and sideways over boxes crammed with millions of dog eared old cards. They are something to see. They bring back everything they can find that is thought to be relevant.  Then the Interpretation crew assemble the cards into pictures and  broadcast it on the internal view-screens.

This can also create something we call the Judy Garland effect. Named for a particular fetcher Lizards obsession.

Once while communicating casually with several other ships, a trivia question was sent out. We love those down here in Memory, we get to haul ass all over the warehouse and try to dig up a card that is related. We are pretty good at it usually but sometimes… sometimes things get goofy.

The question that caused this whole thing was “Who was it, y’know… that lady who sang in the Sound of Music? Man I should know this.”

Well this is an easy one, the section on that movie is fairly close and common. We sent out the fetchers and they were homing in on it when…

“JUDY GARLAND!”

We all turned around and this one scrawny fetcher lizard is standing there in front of the communicator panting, holding this Mem-card over his head like a trophy torn from an enemy in battle Now the fetcher lizards are mute. Not sure why but they are. They communicate through basic pantomime or with the memory cards they bring up. Makes them interesting to talk to and flat out deadly at charades.

Well this is wrong. Obviously. We knew that singer did the Wizard of Oz. But when a card is missed it’s usually something close. We turned the triumphant lizard away, he sulked a little and wandered back to hunt.

The search, disrupted by this, was now completely scattered. Luckily for the ship it was one of those moments when none of the gathered ships could figure it out. We knew it was common and probably spelled similarly or sound similar.

We jumped back into the hunt and were sorting rapidly through a huge list of movie and music related searches and *almost* had it.

“JUDY GARLAND!”

Everyone froze and turned to see that little bastard standing there again waving the card over his head like mad and that time the ship broadcast the answer before we could stop him.

We instantly sent up a message that this was NOT in fact correct but the ship had already spoken.

Command deployed embarrassment counter-measures. “Judy Garland. Wait.. no. Duh, I know it’s not Judy Garland, that’s Wizard of Oz.. right.. Man I SO have this on the tip of my tongue.”

It is never on the tip of the tongue. We stopped looking there. There is only food bits and saliva on the tip of the tongue. No words. Ever.

We grab the crazy little fetcher lizard, fling him and his beloved card back into the stacks. Being OCD is practically a job requirement in the M&I. When something like this happens we start getting a bit obsessive down here, especially if we know that we have the info, however every query going into the stacks keeps getting ambushed by the white rectangle of JUDY GARLAND waving from the darkness until we finally hunted the little bugger down.

The worst part is this tends to make a trivial question climb waaaay up the priority workload. Suddenly we are devoting more and more time to this, all background stuff though, not on the conscious level.

So when three hours later the SHELBYsuddenly blurts out “IT’S JULIE FREAKIN’ ANDREWS!!!” in the middle of a restaurant, it scares the hell out of any ship within hailing distance. However this is usually accepted once the reasoning is explained to others and often is accompanied by other ships saying things like “Oh yeah, of course, etc.

Down in M&I we all finally relax. We managed to catch the the crazed fetcher when he wasn’t looking and where was the Julie Andrews card we couldn’t find? It was stuck on the OTHER side of the Judy Garland card. Little dumbass just had to flip it over to show us the side he was looking at.