Donna's Blog Archive
The View From OTHER Side.
Saturday, December 31, 2005
It's a few minutes after 10pm here in Arizona, and I just watched the ball slowly fall in Time Square. It's 2006 on the East Coast. One thing I can say is I'm glad to be here - at home where it's quiet and safe. It was only a couple of years ago that I was visiting my friend Christine in Philadelphia and we decided at the last minute to drive to a party in New York City. I suppose I should mention that the woman standing in line in front of me - waiting to get in - was wearing a feather boa. That's it. Good thing it wasn't a cold evening. :)
It has been a quiet day. A good day. And, it has been a nice evening. As I sit and type this I'm sipping on a glass of bubbling Asti - I expect to be in bed by midnight - so I'd like to take a minute to reflect on things before I get to a point where things become incoherent.
Margaux stopped by today and we chatted for a couple of hours. I don't think I've been my usual self these last few days - not that there's anything actually bothering me so much as I think I've explained before that I tend to internalize things sometimes. I'm actually as fulfilled and "happy" as I've been in quite a while. Anyway, as we talked I explained a little about my dad - about how he had so many plans to do so many things but he always found himself busy doing other stuff. And, by the time he had time to actually do things he wanted to do in life his life had passed him by. His life was gone. I can't let that happen.
I remember New Year's Eve in 1997. It was right around now - a little after 10 - and my wife had already gone to bed. I remember it so vividly - I was writing on the computer, and the dog was sleeping next to me. I was writing about how scared I was - about how afraid it made me to think that the tidy little world I'd known for so long might soon be gone. Life had become so "comfortable" - so easy - so pointless. The thought of what might lay ahead for me made me sick to my stomach. I wish I could find that document....
The next year, my dad died. He died the week between Christmas and New Year's - and on New Year's eve my wife my son and I went to see Shania Twain in concert here in Phoenix - as scheduled - as though nothing had happened. That entire week still seems surreal. I was just going through the motions - numb from the knowledge that dad was gone and it didn't really hit me until I flew back to Rochester on New Year's Day for his memorial service.
Then, the following year was the bicentennial. I had just started my transition. The calendar changed from 1999 to 2000. I spent all of New Year's Eve day putting all of my old guy stuff into bags to deliver to Goodwill. I watched New Year's come and go across the country. And, I drove to the Grand Canyon on New Year's Day.
The next year I was in Rochester with my son - just the two of us. My girlfriend at the time called so we could be talking to each other as the ball dropped.
Last year, I was in Austin packing up what was left in my house and getting ready to drive it back across the no-man's land of Western Texas. I was dead tired, staying in a Red Roof Inn, and I remember watching the ball drop with a wine cooler in one hand and a cookie in the other.
From this litany of recently passed New Year's adventures one might think I lead a pretty boring life and maybe so. Actually, I prefer to think of it as mature - not boring. Oddly, though, I look back on all these New Years of recent years with an odd sense of warmth - of satisfaction. These are days I'll remember for a long time - as boring or mundane as they may or may not be. I've gained a sense of comfort in being with myself and somehow New Year's gives an opportunity to enjoy that. I don't know that I can explain it. It's just the way it is.
Who knows what 2006 will bring? I guess that's the mystery of life - in finding out what lays ahead. But, rather than living in a world where life happens - where it unfolds itself BY itself - I like to think that we each have some ability to actually steer. Or not. And, next year at this time I expect to be having a similar conversation with myself looking back over 2006. I hope I have the same sense of peace that I do right now.
I'm listening to music on my computer and perhaps it's oddly fitting to end the year listening to the song that's playing right now. It's an oldie (although I remember when it was new - where has the time gone??) by America - called "Lonely People". I mention it here not because I'm lonely or morose or anything - that's not what the song is saying. I find that every time I write something that even remotely implies I might be lonely people write to me and get all worried - that's not what this is about so don't read more into this than I'm saying here. If you listen to this song two or three or four times I think you'll find that it's actually a positive, hopeful song. It's about taking risks, taking chances, pushing boundaries. As far as I'm concerned, it's a good way to express my frame of mind heading into 2006:
This is for all the lonely people Thinking that life has passed them by Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup And ride that highway in the sky This is for all the single people Thinking that love has left them dry Don’t give up until you drink from the silver cup You never know until you try
With that, I'll say goodnight. It's almost 11 now so if you live in the Central Time Zone it's almost 2006 for you.
Friday, December 30, 2005
A couple of things to mention today.
First, I'm planning to sit down to write a year-end piece tonight or tomorrow. Basically - I'm feeling at a point where it's important to consider the year that has just passed while at the same time to make some plans about the year coming up. I'm planning/hoping to make some changes in my life, so this provides a good opportunity to take stock in where I've come from and where I think I'm going. As anyone who follows my writing will know - Change is good, and a continuing process.
Second, I'll show a couple more before/after lip photos and that will be it for that. I'm still healing - as you can tell from the photo I took this morning I'm still bruised and swollen (and hurting). These photos are certainly not flattering - I'm not crazy about photographs even in the best of circumstances - but this is me without any embellishment and it is what it is. If you see me just after I've woken up - wearing my favorite red sleeping shirt - this is what you'll see and I'm actually pretty happy when I look in the mirror first thing in the morning. As for the lip thing, I've talked about it enough here so unless something major happens with it any more mention of it will probably just come as part of some other discussion. If anyone has any particular questions feel free to write and ask. As always, I'll do my best to answer. If you've got specific medical questions about it I can't answer that - I'll ask that you forward those questions to Linda in Dr. Meltzer's office.
Dec. 21 - pre Lip Aug.
Dec. 29. 7 days post-aug. Still bruised, swollen, and healing. I've still got a mouth full of sutures.
The thing I find interesting about surgeries on any specific part of the face is that they can change the context of the entire face sometimes. Lips, in particular, are such a central thing that changes to them can make an entire face look different. I'm interested to see how it all plays out. And, I'm interested to see what happens when I go back to work next week.
One funny thing - I've had people visit who have come for some significant facial feminization surgeries - BIG surgeries (much more substantial than my little lips) - and they somehow think/hope/expect that nobody will notice. I find this odd. It seems to me that if you're spending thousands of dollars and going through all the pain and emotional distress involved in significant facial feminization procedures and nobody notices then the big question that pops into my head is, "Why??" It's not like anyone needs to justify it any more than I feel I need to - but this thing continues to fascinate me. I'll have people stay with me who are living stealth but who still want more stuff done (apparently, so they can be even MORE stealth) - so they don't tell anyone at work why they're gone and they think they can explain it when they get back somehow. I had one friend last year who looked totally and absolutely different after her FFS - and she figured she could explain it to co-workers that she was on a diet. And, she got some different frames for her glasses. Sure. I don't know any kind of diet where half your face re-molds itself but if there's one of those out there - please tell me. I think it'll be big.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
I'm alone tonight for the first time in I-don't-know-how-long. I've had guests here non-stop since before Thanksgiving, so it's actually kind of strange to have the place so quiet.
A week ago at this time I was just getting done with my lip surgery. I still hurts, and although I'm still looking pretty beat up but it's getting a little better every day. I tried to go to work yesterday - I only made it until noon before I had to come home. My energy level is still pretty low.
For some reason I seem to have come down with splotchy, itchy hives tonight - I'm not sure what caused it because I haven't eaten anything yet today other than some Chai black spice tea and some chocolate pudding the I made this afternoon (I love the hard film that forms across the top of it). And, of course, my meds. I spoke with one of the nurses a little earlier who told me to stop taking pretty much everything so we'll see if that clears things up. I hope so. I'm all splotchy and red at the moment - to be perfectly honest it's not a real attractive look for me.
I'm getting closer to the day I do my first Podcast and I'm actually having fun planning it. I'm doing it more because I really enjoy that kind of stuff - my major in college was radio/television/film - than anything. Times have changed since then - the technology is completely different but it still feeds some deeper creative need in me. As with most things I do I'm not looking to do this half-assed, so it'll be interesting to see how it progresses once I get it up and going. Santa gave me several of the pieces of equipment I need....
Well, the Benedryl is kicking in for the hives and I'm
suddenly getting tired so I'm going to end this while it's still somewhat
coherent and move along to bed. Today was the 6th anniversary of my dad's
death, and I've been thinking about him all day. I hope he's found peace.
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I got my computer a Christmas present. I upgraded the RAM. You'd think that this would be a pretty straightforward process and in most cases you'd be right. It's generally not hard to upgrade RAM even for someone as dangerously functionally inept as I can be. In past blog entries I've shared the fact that I'm not handy in any sense of the word and I've come to a very profound sense of peace with my clutzy self. But, when it comes to adding RAM - that I can do.
My home computer is a Dell desktop that I bought several years ago and we've actually established some history together - a friendship of sorts, if you will. Lord knows we spend enough time together. I wrote my book on this computer - way back when - and it still seems up the the day-to-day things I need to do on it. For all intents and purposes it still does the job - not that I push its limits with any extreme gaming or multimedia needs. Certainly, there's bigger/better/faster/cheaper computers out there now and I sometimes get a little lusty when I go into the Apple store and see all the cool things there. But, truth be told, I can't justify the difficulty of moving off this computer because there's really nothing wrong with it.
Well, I was doing a much needed "pruning" the other day - old files, old programs, things I just don't need anymore - in preparation for setting up by podcast studio. I'm still healing, and there's really not alot I can do right now. Anyway, in the process of cleaning it out I noticed - to my horror - that it only had 256MB of RAM. That's not alot of RAM. In fact, some might say it's the bare minimum. So, I decided to add some. Well, easier said than done.
Believe it or not, this kind of Dell computer takes a special kind of RAM called RAMBUS. It's not like you can just go out to Best Buy and buy some because it happens to be on sale there for cheap (I tried that last night and ended up making a second trip back there to return it - that's how I know this stuff). Oh no. That would be way too simple. This special RAM is kind of unique, hard to find, and as you might expect - expensive.
We took a trip all the way across town to visit Fry's Electronics this afternoon to get some.
So, tonight, you may not be able to tell it but this computer has more memory in it than ever before. It's got memory to spare - almost a full gigabyte full. Of course, the CPU can crap out at any minute or the power supply can decide to give out. But all in all I'm hoping that this computer is like a trusty used car - doing routine maintenance will keep it roadworthy for quite a while to come.
My lip hurts. It's not excruciating or anything - it's just uncomfortable, I suppose. More like a tightening...a burning. And, there are loads of stitches in there. I've got a big bruise right in the middle of the top lip - I'm not sure where it came from but by the end of the day I'm looking forward to some pain meds to take the edge off. I've had more jello, pudding, and soft foods in the last few days than I can ever remember having before. I've even gained an appreciation for Chai Spice Black tea - I'm really liking that.
The thing that's surprising me, I think, is that I find myself getting tired easily. Even this surgery has taken something out of me - and in the scheme of things I don't really see this as all that major of a procedure. Either I'm getting older and I just don't have the stamina that I used to or it's more invasive than I thought. Either way, I find myself running low on energy come late afternoon and in need of a nap.
Sunday, December 25, 2005
Merry Christmas! I hope Santa was kind to everyone.
It's has been a pretty tame Christmas around here so far. We've got smooth jazz playing Christmas music quietly in the background, I've had a little egg nog with rum, and I talked with my mom for a little while but otherwise it's just a very relaxing, quiet day. It's 75 degrees and sunny outside - just beautiful - and I'm thinking I may try to collect enough energy to go for a little walk later but we'll just have to see what the afternoon brings. Dr. Meltzer stopped by briefly to take a look at things, and besides some bruising right on the top lip everything seems to be healing well. I'm thinking it's still way too early to tell what the eventual outcome will be. The good news is that the swelling and pain isn't nearly as significant as the journal write-up prepared us for - which is a good thing. I'm still pretty sore and puffy, though, but it could be much worse.
A friend invited me to spend a little time with her family yesterday evening - they had a Christmas Eve party which was actually very nice. I was feeling marginal, but I wanted to at least make an appearance so I did. The North Scottsdale home was actually fairly close to where I used to live and was absolutely lovely - some people just seem to have a knack for holiday decorating and entertaining. And, the people were very, very nice too - there were over 20 of her friends and family there and it seemed like a very interesting and fun group. I only stayed for an hour, partly because I was tired and partly because a couple of her friends were getting a little crazy (and/or drunk) and were trying to make me laugh (which is against doctor's orders). One was hoping we could play 'show and tell' at some point in the evening so I made a strategic getaway before that got too out-of-hand.
I called a couple of friends on the drive home to make sure everyone's doing okay - the Holidays can be a difficult time even for the strongest of us and there's really not much any of us can do to soothe that kind of pain other than to offer a sympathetic shoulder. Thankfully, my own day has been a relatively comfortable one - both in body and in spirit. I've got a friend staying with me who is recovering from her own surgeries, and I think it's been nice having each other here as company.
We've been taking afternoon naps these last few days but today Dr. Becky and Margaux stopped by so we had a nice visit instead. It was nice to see them, and it gave me a reason to actually get out of my pajamas. I'm still on a liquidy diet so I've been eating soft and mushy things all day. Apple sauce. Jello. Soup. Popsicles. It's certainly not the Christmas Dinner I would have prepared under different circumstances. A nice piece of ham and pie for dessert would so hit the spot right about now. Oh well. Maybe I'll be up to it next week. I'm good at this healing thing by now - patience is the key - so as always I'll just take it a day at a time.
Friday, December 23, 2005
The deed is done, and apparently all went well. Now, all that's left is to recover.
To be perfectly honest, I'm not as bad off as I had prepared myself to be. I don't feel terribly terrible. I'm not at my best, mind you, and I've certainly felt better but I've felt a whole lot worse, too. The swelling is pretty significant, but not to the point where I can't open my mouth. The pain is there, it's tolerable, but in comparison with other pains I've had it's not even in the same league.
I'm including a few photos here just for comparison. None of them are flattering - most show me at some stage of distress so I assure you that it' has been a significant effort to overcome my vanity to put them here. But, for better or for worse, here they are:
|Out with the gang - with Elizabeth and Dr. Becky at the Transamerica screening on Dec. 13 (photo by Margaux).||Self-portrait the night before lip aug surgery.||Self-portrait - the day after lip aug surgery||Profile shot after getting home from surgery|
I'm happy, so far. Dr. Meltzer stopped over a little while ago and said he was very pleased, as well. Now, of course, we need to see if any complications arise. And as time passes we'll get a better idea of the end result as the swelling goes down - that could take several weeks. I've got sutures all inside my lips - top and bottom - and I haven't gotten brave enough to run my tongue across them yet to do much investigation. They're still pretty sore, especially given that I'm not even 24 hours post-op yet. I even still have the blue-ink diagramming that they used to draw everything out before they did it still on my face. It won't come off. But, as I say, I don't expect to be very social for a while so it's not a big deal.
The next several days look to be pretty tame. It's after 4 now and I'm still in my pajamas. I spent almost a full day online doing work, took a brief nap, and I'm generally taking life easy. I've had jello, water, and I've iced down my lips as much as I can. I've got a friend in town from Seattle to visit family for the Holidays who I'm hoping will stop by in the next day or so. It'll be nice to see her.
Tonight's dinner consists of broth and - well, that's it. Clear broth. Somehow, I can see a medicinal dose of frozen margarita in my not too distant future. But, not tonight.
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Today is the first day of winter. It seems odd to say that on a day where our high temperature soared to 77 degrees - it was absolutely beautiful. In fact, we'll be flirting with record warmth over the next several days. I don't want to come across as though I'm gloating or anything. I'm just saying that it sure doesn't feel like winter.
I have surgery tomorrow. It's scheduled for 2:30 local time, and although it's really just a soft-tissue cosmetic procedure it's the most significant thing I've done to myself in a long time. I'll admit, I'm a little anxious. I was fine until Dr. Meltzer's office called mid-morning to discuss some of the specific details.
I'm having some lip augmentation work done. I've never liked my lips - thin little things that seem to get lost in that big jaw of mine. Somehow, the cartoon character "Clutch Cargo" comes to mind - if you've ever seen it you'll have an idea of what I mean. This isn't the first lip procedure I've had - it's just that they all seem to go away. So, in the progression of invasiveness the procedure I'm scheduled to have today is the Mount Everest of lip procedures. It involves cutting inside the mouth to provide contouring, and it provides fat injections as well. I'm not going to be in good shape come this time tomorrow.
The procedure is described as FATMA. It involves a traditional fat transfer, and at the same time a musosal advancement of the lip tissue. If you want to read a little about it there's an abstract of the article that perked our interest in the first place - Click Here to read it. Dr. Toby Meltzer will be performing the procedure. It is the first time he's done one exactly like this - but my admiration and affection for him is only surpassed by my respect and confidence so I'm comfortable in that regard. Certainly, there are risks in being the first of anything but I've never let that stop me before and I'm not about to start now.
I specifically scheduled it over the Holidays because the swelling and general "messiness" is so severe from this that some patients have been unable to resume their normal social routines for from 2-10 weeks. Can you imagine that? 10 weeks???!? I'm certainly not counting on that but I suppose it's a possibility. I'm being put on a strict regimen over these next few days to reduce opportunity for complication - including little or no talking for 4 days, and no "sucking". I'm on a liquid diet for several days before graduating to a mushy one. All in all, I have a feeling it's going to be unpleasant.
Getting new lips is like trying to learn to walk again. You bite them by accident because you forget where the edges are. Talking is different. Even brushing your teeth and flossing changes somehow. In past experiences I've found myself self-conscious about them for a while the same as I did after my breast aug and I suppose - based on what I'm being told about the results - that I better get over that.
This is one of those times when you're damned if you do - damned if you don't. If the results are so minor that nobody can tell a difference than what's the point? But, if it makes a huge difference it tends to freak people - namely, me - out. Shortly after my last lip aug - which involved Alloderm implanted beneath the lips - Maria took a look and asked me if they'd go down. They did. In fact, as near as I can tell they're back to where they started. Time to turn it up a notch. All I can say is that I hope I don't go too far. But, if I do, it won't be the first time.
There are those who tell us that we don't need any more surgeries, that we look fine, that we should just move on with our lives. I certainly hear that, and I understand that, and in some ways I agree. In many ways, though, these decisions are not rational ones, they're emotional ones - so trying to explain them to someone rationally really won't get anywhere. In the end, it comes down to many complicated issues for us. Fine-tuning little details here and there is just something we feel we need to do - not necessarily for anyone else but for ourselves. It's not a matter of justifying it, it's a matter of being comfortable with it.
I've been thinking about how I want to share this - if at all. I mean, there's a line somewhere where sharing ends and privacy begins and I'm generally good at maintaining that boundary. But the more I've thought about it, the more I think that this should fall on the sharing side of that line. I'm not ashamed about it, if you see me I expect that you'll notice a difference, and somehow there just seems to be something healthy about putting this out there. So, I'll give updates here the same way I give updates on other things. It's just part of my life.
I'm not sure when I'll feel up to writing again. I
expect it will be at least a couple of days. I just want to say I
appreciate all the good wishes coming my way, and as always all we can do it
have faith and hope for the best. Some might say all they want for
Christmas is their two front teeth. I'm getting new lips.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
Yesterday was my son's birthday. He's 20 years old. I can't believe that. It's funny how I can remember so much about the night he was born - but I have a hard time remembering back to last January sometimes.
His girlfriend is here visiting from Seattle, and the three of us went out to dinner last night to celebrate. It's so funny to watch them together. I won't invade their personal space by going into detail about either of them here other than to say we had a nice time. The waiter brought a sundae with a candle in it. My family generally sings a very off-tune rendition of "Happy Birthday" - we actually take great pride in that. My son was spared that this year. Tonight the three of us went to the mall for a couple of hours and tomorrow is the last time I'll see him before he heads back home with her for three weeks.
I'm completely finished with shopping, cards, letters, mailing, and all the other miscellaneous stuff I needed to do for the Holidays. I even got a little present for my ex-, I don't know why other than it just seemed like the right thing to do. Some people wrote to me after she gave me a "Thank You" card for Thanksgiving, thinking that it might represent some kind of thaw in our relationship. Not so. It was an anomaly, a blip. I can't say why, other than I think the spirit of the Holidays made her nostalgic.
The holidays can be difficult times. People who are "different" aren't the only ones who feel it, and I think far more people experience some level of discomfort with it than many would suspect. Family obligations. Financial obligations. What to buy? Who to buy for? Managing the memories of days gone by, of happier times with people who are no longer in our lives for one reason or another. It's not easy, and I can rattle off name after name of dear friends who nearly met a self-induced demise during the holidays because of the pressures involved. Thankfully, they survived. Sadly, some don't.
The important thing, I think, is to recognize that it's going to be a difficult time and to take steps ahead of time to head off as much of the pain as possible. That's a far better way to handle it than to think you'll be okay all by yourself only to wake up on Christmas Eve to learn otherwise. The key is to reclaim the day - or the season - and to begin making new memories.
It's time for bed. I'm already beginning to get ready for my surgery on Thursday by cutting back on the food. It seems like the last couple of weeks have been an orgy of eating, but it's not good to go into surgery with too much food in your stomach. Tomorrow after work we have our department Christmas Party at a local restaurant, and I'll make a special effort to miss that. In some ways I wouldn't mind going but by this time tomorrow I'll be eating only soup so it's better not to tempt myself.
Sunday, December 18, 2005
I slept until almost 8:30 this morning. That's almost unheard of. And, as much as I enjoy having Elizabeth here when she visits it was so nice to have a long, peaceful, comfortable sleep. It was much needed. I also hope to finish my Christmas cards, catch up on some email, make some updates here, and to generally catch up on things. It's hard to believe that Christmas will be a week from today.
I did most of my Christmas shopping yesterday and it was actually relatively painless. I need to get everything wrapped and mailed in the next day or so. The fact that I'm spending the Holidays here at home instead of jetting back north to be with family actually takes some of the pressure off.
There are two other big milestones for me over these next couple of weeks. Tomorrow is my son's birthday - he'll be 20. And, Dec. 29 is the 7th anniversary of my father's death. I'm still thinking about how I want to observe that, and a drive somewhere (the Grand Canyon?) is not out of the question.
I'm having a little "procedure" done on Thursday that will most probably keep me pretty tame for at least a couple of weeks. It's an elective procedure so there's no health issue going on - it's more about fixing a little something that I've wanted fixed for a while now. Kind of like "home improvements". I'll give more information about it as it gets closer because I doubt I'll be able to explain things that happen over the Holidays by leaving it out. At this point I'll share that it's above the neck and there will most probably be significant swelling for from 2-4 weeks, so I'm being told to limit my activities to give it a chance to heal. We're in uncharted territory here in that I don't think that many people have had this specific procedure before - the target isn't unique but the specific procedure apparently is - so we'll see how difficult it is to recover as well as how the ultimate results turn out to be. The reason I'm having it done at Christmas is that it just so happens to give me the downtime I'll need.
My participation in the half-marathon (Jan 7) is in serious jeopardy. But, as with other "procedures", the key is to just go with the flow and I'm happy to just walk it if I'm feeling up to it so we'll see. I'm fully expecting those early "Oh my God what have I done??!" feelings, only to be replaced by a more reasonable perspective as it heals and time goes by (I hope). I figure I can cloud much of that with early time as possible with good pharmaceuticals.
But the bigger issue is that many of us find opportunities to tweak and fine-tune for the rest of our lives. We're not satisfied with "good enough" when it comes to some things, so we embark on a constant improvement campaign to "fix" some of the less critical physical things about ourselves. Why? The answer is simple. Because we want to, and because we can. Others often don't see these things as problems and encourage us to just move on with life but many of us don't. I've got several friends have had two, three, four surgeries on different (or even the same) body parts to get them just so. The danger, of course, is that there is a fine line between enhancement and plastic, and you don't realize you've crossed that line until you've crossed it. I've had discussion with many people about a term I hold near and dear - that many of us become surgery "sluts". For some of us it certainly fits.
At this point in my life I balance the invasiveness of any procedure, the difficulty of the recovery, the cost, and the potential ultimate outcome for anything I consider. But as with most things I think the key is to be able to keep things perspective. These kinds of surgeries don't make problems go away. But, as my sister and I discussed this last week she conceded that she thinks people who have been through this mind/body dissonance have automatically earned the right to as much plastic surgery as we can afford - free from the condemnation typically associated with plastic surgery procedures. I thought that was funny. But I'll tell you what - people who have made decisions to change our bodies as much as we do, who go through all the mental moves associated with these physical procedures, generally don't have a problem making these kinds of decisions. Risks? Sure. But in the end, being able to make, and feeling comfortable about, difficult decisions in the face of risk is one of the things that I think makes us particularly special so we'll see how this one works out.
Someone sent me some links about different things I've done that I didn't know were out there. Looking at some of this stuff is nostalgic, even though it didn't really happen all that long ago. I suppose any opportunity to go "stealth" is probably already out of the question....<wink>
Michigan HRC Presents an Evening of the
Anyways, as a follow-up to my post about "Transamerica". One thing I find particularly interesting is learning some of the background story. If you have a little time you might want to read the production company "Press Notes" from the film. You can read them here....
Oh, one more thing. I thought my Horoscope the other day was particularly intriguing:
The world's full of sparkly possibilities at the
moment, with the potential for joy right around every corner. It's time to open
yourself up to something new, something completely of the present, something in
which you let your expectations go and embrace the moment. Allow the past to
rest and the future to take care of itself for the time being. This may even be
a romantic thing you're embracing. How appropriate!
Friday, December 16, 2005
I'm so sorry for being so delinquent in my updates here. It seems to be a combination of having Elizabeth here, and days that go from early morning to late evening without a break. Here it is, not even 5am, and I'm finally finding a quiet moment to catch up. Yeesh.
As I say, Elizabeth has been here and we've been trying our best to coordinate schedules while she's here. She's doing some work during the day and of course I have a job (which is actually pretty busy at the moment) so the better part of the day is spent doing what we need to do. Evenings have been full of any number of social activities - meetings, happy hours, movie premiers, Holiday parties, visits to friends in the hospital. I don't think there has been a day when I've been home before 10pm in the last week.
I suppose the most significant of these social events was the premier of "Transamerica" here on Tuesday evening. We had tickets to a pre-movie cocktail hour but the bad news there is that Felicity's plane was apparently delayed (more likely, she got stuck in rush hour traffic) so she didn't arrive for that. There was all kinds of press there standing by the door with cameras and television equipment and we kept watching them to see if they gave any indication that she had arrived, but she never did. Bummer.
The good news is that she strolled into the theater down a red carpet that they had for the occasion, and I was able to catch up with her there. I've included a photo that Duncan Tucker, the writer/director of the film, took of us (see below). He seems like a really nice guy - approachable, fun, interesting, relaxed - not the type of guy I generally associate when I think of "Hollywood". The same is true about Felicity - very gracious and friendly. Both were wonderful.
The movie was wonderful. I do have a couple of minor quibbles that I won't go into here - detailed movie reviews are better left to others - but I really, really enjoyed it. I think many of us are far too close to the subject matter to be able to watch things like this objectively but the nice thing is being able to see it on another level - as a movie about relationships. To be honest, that's how they're positioning this movie - that it's not about being transsexual and in a way it's really not - in order to lure more mainstream viewers which of course they'll have to do in order for it to be successful. I suppose if you find Bree to be a sympathetic character or not depends a lot on your mindset when you walk into the theater. Either way, though, Felicity does a wonderful job bringing Bree to life and I think the overall story is a compellingly human one.
I suppose you're too close to the subject matter when you've actually met some of the people in this movie: Andrea James is in it, as is Calpernia. I can say from experience that the dilators that appear briefly in one scene are Dr. Meltzer's dilators - different surgeons have different specifications. I can point out one of the things that's really NOT true to life is the fact that Bree is taking hormones the week of her SRS, when in the real world conventional wisdom dictates that you be off hormones for 3 weeks prior to the surgery. Many of us have experienced the highs and lows that Bree experiences - the simple pleasures and the devastating emotional traumas.
To her credit, I think that Felicity does a wonderful job pulling it off. Some have questioned the wisdom of casting a genetic woman in this role and to those people I would say they need to look at the bigger picture here. Felicity gives as realistic and as heartfelt a portrayal at being one of us as anyone has ever done - and I have absolutely no qualms about that. The fact that she is being nominated for major acting awards is proof of that. But the reality of the situation is that we need people to see this movie - we need people to be able to connect with it in some way - and the thing that is going to do that is the pulling power of someone like Felicity Huffman. Certainly, a discussion about the fact that there aren't any accomplished transgender actors/actresses in Hollywood and why that is can be an interesting discussion. But, I think to discount what this movie is, and the impact it will have, by pulling out our usual victim mentality does it an injustice.
Anyway, I think each of us needs to bring one or two or three friends to this movie - people who may not be quite so understanding. Movies like this can help people to empathize and that's what we need. We don't want pity. We don't want people to feel sorry for us any more than we want to feel sorry for ourselves. We don't want to be treated "special" (although in some ways I really think we are). But in order for people to actually get it they need to see things like this, they need to put themselves in Bree's shoes. Once they do that, they have a window of opportunity to finally connect to any one of us - not as "things" but as people. Living, breathing people who are more like them than not.
There was a question and answer period with Felicity and Duncan afterwards which was interesting and fun. I had some comments and a question and I think they did a good job answering. All in all - I had a great time.
Next subject: My son's birthday in on Monday. He'll be 20 years old. I can't even believe that. I popped one of our old Memories videos into the VCR the other day and watched his 6th birthday party, and Christmas shortly afterwards. There was a time when the thought of watching those memories was far too painful to consider, but today I watch them with a smile on my face. Those days were not horrible days - I didn't live a life of constant anger and frustration as some of us do. And, watching them now - being so comfortable in who and what I am - provides a special sense of satisfaction and peace. Besides watching my little man being his old cute self I think the most fun was watching myself from back then. Elizabeth thinks I was a "hunk" - I don't know that I see that - but it's actually fun to watch this person that I know was me but who isn't really me. I think it's important to reconnect with your past at some point - to find a way to integrate all of our lives into something that provides a healthy sense of perspective. I think I'm surprised at how much I enjoyed watching that little bit of tape. I think I'll curl up on Christmas Day and watch more of it...
My son's girlfriend is flying in today for a week, and then the two of them are flying back to Seattle to spend Christmas and New Year's up there with her family. Way cool. My son and I negotiated the logistics of how he's going to meet her at the airport tonight, and how I'll pick them up and bring them back. Dr. Meltzer's holiday party is this evening and I'm looking forward to that but I'll have to tear myself away to go and pick them up. No matter how old they get, it's still nice to be needed as a parent.
Well, it's almost 6am now so I better go and get into the shower. Yesterday was the first day I finally felt really better - over the cold that somehow snuck up on me last week. I've been operating at 75% for the better part of a week now so it's nice to be back at full power. The weekend is ahead, and I've got tons to do. I think I'm ready for it... :)
Monday, December 12, 2005
Well, another week dawns. I'm still feeling the lingering effects of whatever cold/flu thing blindsided me last week. I'm not sleeping well. And, although the days tend to start out okay I find myself feeling worse as the day goes on. I remember my ex-wife complaining that men were babies when it comes to being sick. "YOU go through twelve hours of labor and lets see how YOU feel!" she'd say. Frankly, after everything I've been through, I think we're probably even in that regard.
Elizabeth arrived on Saturday for an 8 day visit. While we don't have a regimented week planned somehow all our evenings seem to fill up. Saturday we went to Maria's Christmas Party - it was a blast. Tomorrow we have the Transamerica event here, Wednesday we're going out to dinner with some friends, Thursday is a happy hour with other friends, and Friday is Dr. Meltzer's Holiday Party. The week will be gone before you know it. She had originally mentioned something about going to Las Vegas for a couple of days but I reminded her about the fact that I've got this thing called a job that tends to fill my weekdays.
Tomorrow some good movies come out on DVD that I'll be sure to buy. "The 40 Year Old Virgin" comes out, as does "The Island". I'm hoping we can find some quiet time to watch them sometime before the week is up.
Speaking of buying - I'm a little behind on my Christmas shopping. I hope to be able to dive into it feet first this weekend.
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
Whereas Monday was one of those go-go-go days, today was one of those no-no-no days. Sometime in the last 24 hours a nasty cold has somehow burst onto the scene and I feel like a Sudafed commercial. It's not pretty.
I felt fine last night - perhaps a little bit of a scratchy throat but nothing really to speak of. But after a night of fitful sleep and feeling progressively worse I was not doing well this morning, I was doing even less well at noon. And, I was home from work and in bed by 4:30. I'm awake now - eating some soup and trying to feel a little better - but I don't expect to be up for long.
I heard on the news that Jennifer Anniston and Vince Vaughn were pulled over for a minor traffic infraction at the corner near where I live a couple of nights ago. Apparently they're in town because Vince has family here, so there are news reports on where they eat, where they go, where they have run-ins with the law. I'm thinking that that would really suck - being followed around like that. Anyways, if they read my blog and perhaps they were looking for my condo just to drop in and say 'hi' - all they need to do is call. I'll make time for them even in this weakened state. :)
There's a big brou-ha-ha going on because Ford pulled all it's advertising from "gay" media for most of its luxury lines - apparently as part of a secret agreement with the American Family Association (one of those groups who actually want to put anyone who is different on an island somewhere and then sink it). What a mess. To be perfectly honest, one of the reasons I bought a Volvo is because of the support they provide for the GLBT community - and believe it or not Volvo is owned by Ford (it's one of the lines that they're not pulling from GLBT media, by the way). HRC published a Buyer's Guide last week that encouraged GLBT shoppers to shop at GLBT friendly companies - if you've got a choice between Best Buy and Circuit City it encourages you to shop at Best Buy because they've got more supportive GLBT policy. I'm told it was downloaded over 70,000 times during the first week. Apparently, there's lots of Christmas shopping going on out there
Well, it's time to finish off this cup of tea, take more meds, and pour myself back into bed. I can already tell it's going to be one of those nights....
Monday, December 5, 2005
It was another one of those go go go days. But you know something? It was just fine. One thing just seemed to lead into the next. Nothing too crazy.
As I mentioned in yesterday's entry I have a new office. It's in a building in Tempe, and I had a map of all the cubicles to help me find my new desk. Moving is a hassle - making sure the phones are hooked up, network drops are done, learning what's where - but at least all of my stuff was there waiting for me which was a pleasant surprise. The odd thing - this building is about a half mile from where I worked at Motorola shortly before I transitioned. I actually considered approaching Motorola about transitioning but for some reason I decided that the company was too big - that I'd be just another face or something - that they wouldn't give my transition the attention it deserved.
One thing I did do way back then, though, was to find a modeling school nearby and the person who ran it worked with me for almost a year before she found out what I was doing and suddenly got uncomfortable. That hurt - I had never been rejected like that before. And, I suppose it did its job to toughen me up - to make me realize that even people that I considered friends would turn their backs because of this.
Back when I worked here before - almost 10 years ago - the highway system that makes the drive so much easier today wasn't built yet. I had to drive city streets from way up North to way down South for most of it - probably 45 miles. During rush hour it took me well over an hour and I had to find ways to make that time constructive. I re-learned French from some tapes I bought at Costco. I listened to audio books. I needed to do more than just sit there and waste 3 hours of each workday sitting in a car.
The big news of the day is that the Phoenix Film Festival will be sponsoring a special screening of Transamerica here next week. Better yet, Felicity Huffman and the director of the film will be here to attend as a special guests. Better yet, there is a small cocktail reception for her before it and - perhaps best yet - I got a couple of tickets to it. I'm really looking forward to this. If you live nearby and want to get tickets for the show let me know - I'm happy to forward the details.
BTW - as far as I can tell we're down to the last couple of hundred copies of Wrapped In Blue. Once those are gone - there will be no more (unless, of course a miracle happens). My doctor is a funny guy - every time he sees me he tells me they had better hurry up and make a movie out of it because if they wait too long Brad Pitt will be too old to play him. I'll probably find other ways to distribute it - but it won't be the same. There's something special about a book. The moral of this story is that I better hurry up and get busy on the second book. I've already started writing, I'm full of ideas, but all I need is time. Hopefully, I'll have some over the Holidays.
My son's car died last week and it has been in a parking lot not too far from here ever since. I keep telling him that it's going to be towed one of these days if he doesn't make arrangements to get it to the shop, and he keeps telling me that he's saving his money for some things and doesn't want to put any money into it. Oh - to be young and naive again.
Anyway, that's it for tonight. If you've written to me lately and I haven't responded have no fear - I'll get to it. I'll be catching up on my email over these next few days.
Sunday, December 4, 2005
For one last time this year, I'm flying as I write (or, I'm writing as I fly depending on how you want to look at it). I'm on my way home from Orlando after 3 days of HRC Board Meetings there.
I had originally hoped to turn this trip into a little mini-vacation. I thought perhaps Elizabeth could tear herself away from South Carolina and we could spend a little time enjoying the many attractions that Orlando has to offer. But Elizabeth is busy, and my own schedule didn't really provide a chance to get away early - so it turned into just another business trip.
The weather was fantastic - beautiful is too mild a word to describe it. Good thing, too, as I did quite a bit of walking. The hotel where our meetings were held was in the middle of downtown and was a little too pricey (and foofy) for my tastes. I stayed at a Marriott Courtyard about a mile away and found myself making the walk up and down Orange Street from one hotel to the other upwards of four times a day.
There's a certain "class" (I use that word for lack of a better one) of hotels that I enjoy. They're moderately priced. They've got a fitness center of some kind that's got equipment in it made within the last decade. The rooms are nice, and quiet - not necessarily fancy but not a dive, either. It seems that these hotels provide all kinds of things for free that the fancier hotels actually charge extra for: internet service, parking, continental breakfast in the morning. The bargain hunter in me needs that - knowing that I'm being frugal.
The 20 minute walk between hotels got more and more "interesting" the later in the day it got. Last night was perhaps the most interesting of all, as there are any number of clubs, bars, tatoo parlors, restaurants, and other establishments all along that walk. Last night there were police everywhere, the sidewalks were packed with people (mostly younger), sound (mostly loud), color, and activity. I didn't bother anyone, and they didn't bother me, so it all worked out fine.
I think the Board Meetings went well. We took care of some important business. We enjoyed a nice reception at an art gallery that was hosted by the local new Steering Committee. We socialized, as always. And, we said goodbye to several board members who's terms have expired so they're rolling off the board.
There was one particular piece of business specific to the trans community, but I'll need to see if they're planning to announce it officially before I comment on it here. What I will say, though, is that I'm going to facilitate an opportunity for some community leaders to meet with the HRC Executive Director at some point in early 2006. Part of the problem is that too many people hear and convey their own version of what's actually happening, and this will provide an opportunity for everyone to hear the same thing together. Plus, to my knowledge, as a community we haven't had that kind of access to the Executive Director of HRC before so this is a good opportunity to build some bridges.
Anyway, it was a good trip, and I'm looking forward to getting back home. This flight goes from Orlando to Albequerque, and will take 4 hours and 5 minutes. The second leg of the trip - Albuquerque to Phoenix - should only take an hour or so.
I've got a pretty busy week lined up. I'm having a little "procedure" (I use that word for lack of a better one) done soon so I've got a pre-op meeting tomorrow. I've got several meetings in the evenings. My office at work is moving to another building site - a building a few miles closer so there's a little less of a commute. Several friends will be coming to the Phoenix area for any number of reasons and it will be nice to see them. Elizabeth arrives next Saturday for a week,I've got a hair appointment, and Maria's Holiday party all fall on the same day. All in all, it looks to be just another week in paradise.
Well, we're descending into Albuquerque so I'll end here. As always, more
Monday, November 28, 2005
I had a very pleasant weekend. I think the word that best describes it is "nice". It was a nice weekend. Not too frenetic. Nothing really all that special (unless you count an entire day of cleaning/straightening to be special) except for the fact that they're domestic things I've wanted to do for a while now. I feel like I've straightened up my little world, and that feels good. No, it feels nice.
Often on Sunday evenings when I'm home a group of us get together for a dinner out somewhere. We descend on some poor, unsuspecting restaurant somewhere with 10 or 12 or 14 people. Sunday was a smaller group - only 10 - that included friends like Becky and Margaux and any number of people here from out of town. Some were at a stage of healing after surgery, while others were here as support. The unique dynamics of these groups is generally really good, and this Sunday was especially fun. I think these things are healthy all the way around...
One friend gave me a really nice gift. It's a book called "Legends: Women Who Have Changed The World - Through The Eyes of Great Women Writers". If you see it at a bookstore and have a chance to thumb through it I encourage you to read some of the stories. They're pretty amazing.
An odd thing - I went to pick up my son on Saturday and he had a Thank You card from my ex-wife. We don't even talk anymore - I can't remember the last time we said two words to each other - so this was certainly unexpected. It was a very nice note, and I'm thinking about how to respond.
From a relationship that crumbled under the weight of a gender transition to one that didn't....As a follow-up to her appearance in People this week, Meredith and her wife appeared on Good Morning America on Saturday. For those who'd like to see it, there's a copy of it online (click here), and there's a text version of it, as well. It's so nice to see a loving couple - a real, authentic, down-to-earth, healthy, intelligent couple - who is able to overcome everything that a transition can bring into a relationship and continue to thrive. They're able to do what so many of hoped with all our hearts we could do but couldn't. More than that, it's amazing to see them do it in such mainstream public forums. It's just so important, and Meredith and Lynne do it so well. They did a great job, and I'm so happy for them. To so many of us who want to be authentic, and who don't want to believe that the cost necessarily involves losing the people we love most in the world - they represent hope.
Looking back in time - today was my first day at Dell way back in 2000. I left Rochester, NY with a car full of whatever it could carry and it took three days to get to Austin. Of course, the Sunday after Thanksgiving is probably the worst time to be on the road, and in some ways I think Interstate 35 between Dallas and Austin is probably one of the worst stretches of interstate in the entire country. It's boring. It's packed with 18-wheelers going way too fast. And, there's an outlet mall about an hour south of Dallas that brought traffic in every direction to a standstill. That 185-mile drive usually took me 3 hours. That weekend, it took over 6.
Speaking of traveling, I'm here at home for the next couple of days before I head down to Orlando on Thursday. I'll be attending the HRC Board Meetings there. I had originally planned to get there a couple of days early so I could spend a couple of days at Disney World with sister Elizabeth. Those plans never materialized so it'll be mostly business now. It's my last trip of the year before settling down to a few weeks of rest and recuperation. And shopping.
Friday, November 25, 2005
It's amazing how a plan comes together sometimes. Between all the logistics, all the cooking, all the timing to try to get everything done at the right time - it all came together somehow. We had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner - there were 11 of us - and here it is the next day and I'm still full.
I had originally planned to be out shopping early this morning but the truth of the matter is that I didn't see anything in those "Early Bird Specials" that I was really willing to wait in line for. I'll venture out a little later today to pick over what's left. The thing I'm really interested in is a good digital video camera - the key word there being good - because I'd like to get back involved in some digital video editing. I think it helps feed this creative need I've got somewhere in here - I dunno - but it's something I'd like to reconnect with.
I've got some grandiose hopes - to start producing video and audio podcasts available for download from my website, to do some training work, to do interviews with people from the community in an effort to tell our stories in a way that's never really been done before. Of course, the bigger question is whether I've got the money or the time to do it right. The problem, you see, is that sometimes all I need to do is to think about something - then I make it happen. That's what I see here. It's just a matter of time.
Mom heads home tomorrow and we enjoyed our last day together. A little shopping. A little sight-seeing. They have a spectacular light display at the Phoenix Zoo called "Zoo Lights" - we went to that tonight. It was a beautiful evening after a beautiful day - 80 degrees and sunny - so the weather is perfect for pretty much anything.
Maria stopped over after dinner for a few minutes. She's got a busy schedule but she wanted to meet my mom before she heads back home tomorrow. They both feel like they know each other - they've both been so instrumental in my life - and it's wonderful to see to people so important to me have a chance to actually meet in person.
I got a copy of People Magazine today. There is an
article about my friend Meredith and her wife - it's near the back. I'm
told she's going to be on Good Morning America, and in Newsweek - or maybe
that's already happened. Anyway, it's nice to see her doing so well.
It's funny - I thought the article was going to be in last week's edition so I
bought it at the airport to read on the plane only to find that it wasn't there.
It was the "Sexiest Man in America" edition. I suppose you've got a pretty
good idea that you're attracted to women if you can read that edition - full of
half dressed hunks - and the thing you stop to look at the longest is an ad for
Canon cameras featuring tennis star Maria Sharapova. Go figure.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
It's been one of those days....
I went to the post office this morning to check on something that was mailed to me last week but hasn't arrived yet. The person who sent it paid extra for "Delivery Confirmation" from the post office - something I actually do quite often. I checked the tracking online, and it indicates that the letter was delivered on Saturday. I don't know who it was delivered to, because it sure didn't show up in my mailbox.
So, I went to the post office to check on it. I explained all this to they guy behind the counter, who basically shrugged and seemed to think it really wasn't a problem. "What's the point in getting delivery confirmation," I asked loud enough for people around to hear, "when you don't actually confirm that it was delivered, and you can't tell me where it is?" He trudged into the back to see if anyone could help and came back with my postal carrier. The two of them shrugging and passing the buck was a pretty pathetic sight. Anyway, I still don't know where it is.
Then, I went to the Volvo dealer to have an oil change and a rear light bulb changed on my car. I've been meaning to do it for a while now so I called the dealership to see if they could fit me in. When I got there it was a little before 10am and I asked the guy how long he expected this to take. He thought about it for a second and said I should be out in an hour and a half or less. So, I decided to wait it out.
Time ticked by. An hour. An hour and a half. Two hours. Two and a half hours. I finally tracked the service guy down and asked him how much longer?! I had to get to work and didn't expect it to take this long. It was still in the shop, he said, and it should be out shortly. Another half hour goes by. I track him down again. At this point it's almost 1pm and I REALLY need to get going. He promises it'll be out in 20 minutes. 20 minutes later and it's still not out so I tell him to get it because I need to go. They generally wash the car, and clean it out, but at this point all I wanted to do was get out of there. He could have come to tell me how things were going, that it was taking a little longer than expected - but no. They think I don't have anything better to do? That my time isn't worth anything? Thing again, bub. Do all women get treated like this? It was a frustrating experience, and I'll be writing to the general manager to share my unhappiness - keeping all that frustration in isn't healthy.
It's a relatively new car, still under warranty, and the kicker of the thing is that he says I've got a slow leak in my radiator so I'll need a new one. Not at that dealership, I won't.
THEN - on my way home I stopped at Best Buy to buy the new Rush DVD. Later in the evening I realized that my debit card wasn't where it was supposed to be -which is NOT a comforting revelation. It could only be so many places, so I started to backtrack to when I saw it last. I went back to the Best Buy and bingo, it was there! I heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Anyways, the good news is that mom is here. I fetched her from the airport late yesterday afternoon. If she had waited to arrive until tonight it would have made a crummy day a REALLY bad one, as I saw on the news that traffic in and around the airport was like a parking lot. I'm so glad not to be traveling right now...
We've got a big dinner planned for tomorrow. I think
there will be 9 of us there. It's a good cross section of friends - some
from the community, some old friends from "before", my mom and my son - I'm
really looking forward to it. I plan to eat myself into a coma. In
case I don't have a chance to update this for a couple of days I want to wish
everyone a very safe and peaceful Thanksgiving holiday.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
I've been remiss in updating my blog in recent days. I don't really have an excuse other than my schedule has been nuts. I either find myself on the road, or going from early in the morning until 9 or ten at night so whatever spare time I find is spent relaxing. I suppose I'll share some of the highlights of the last couple of weeks.
||Last Thursday (Nov. 10) I flew to Detroit to speak at the
HRC dinner there. Transgender Michigan scheduled a 'meet and greet' for
Friday night which was very pleasant. I really enjoyed meeting the group,
there was some wonderful music, and all in all it was lots of fun. On the
way back to the hotel we passed a White Castle Burger - although I've heard of
them I've never even seen a White Castle Burger before, much less taste one - so
I convinced the people who were driving me to stop there for a taste.
Frankly, I don't see what the big deal is.
The dinner itself was great. I asked the people at HRC if a transsexual had ever been a featured speaker at one of their dinners before and they told me this was the first time. Anywhere. Ever. That's huge! Special thanks to Rachel Crandall and to the dinner committee leadership for making this historic event happen,
The big name of the evening was Joan Rivers who was actually very nice. She was very small - I towered over her.
I had been working very hard to fit into a skirt that I had planned to wear to the event and I've got to tell you it was touch and go until the last minute. I tried it on earlier in the week and I decided I'd be okay as long as I didn't need to actually sit down. But by the time event rolled around I was actually better off than I thought I'd be.
I was asked to speak for between 8-10 minutes and I'll admit that I surpassed that by a bit. But, there was so much to say! I started by thanking the local dinner committee for making me feel so comfortable and at home by including me in a group with people who have actually had more surgery than I have.
I've had some wonderful feedback on my talk - it seems like so many in the GLB community still need educating about who and what we are. I really felt as though they appreciated having me there, and I can't thank everyone enough. It was fun. And, Joan Rivers was a hoot.
Afterwards we were talking about the fact that speaking at events like this becomes more and more polished the more you do it. There's really no other way to get there. I hope there are other opportunities down the road...
The day after the event we met for a brunch reception at a local country club. It was nice to have time to actually chat with some of the people I had met the evening before. The weather was actually pretty balmy considering the time of year, and I really had a nice time.
One funny thing - I had an interesting hotel room where there was a jacuzzi in my bedroom. Not in the bathroom, but right there in the bedroom. I could have jumped off my bed and into the jacuzzi. I've never seen that before - I suppose if you're there with the right person it's a nice touch.
I got home from Detroit on Sunday, and the past week seems like a blur. I've had friends visiting. I've had my usual work to do. I've had meetings in the evenings. I spoke at the Arizona State University Transgender Day or Remembrance event on Wednesday. And, I flew to Rochester NY on Thursday to speak at an Advocates leadership event they had planned.
It was nice to be back in Rochester, although the first couple of days were ccccooolllld (low 20's) and snowy. The temperature soared into the 40's today and it felt almost balmy. When I arrived and checked into my hotel room they had left some roses there for me (that was a wonderful touch) - I had a great view of downtown Rochester from the 22nd floor of the Hyatt. The event at Kodak was very well organized and run - I've actually never seen anything quite like it before. Very, very cool. And, between that and dialing in to do my day-job there really wasn't much time for socializing. I was back on a plane to come home this afternoon.
There are a couple of other notable events from the week. I bought my first pair of reading glasses. I brought my sister to the store with me to ask her opinion - I feel as though I've passed some symbolic threshold on growing "old". I've eaten myself silly over the last few days, and I expect to be paying for that for that until Thanksgiving when I plan to do it again. And, I've got some interesting things happening on the job front that I'm really not ready to talk about at the moment other than to say I expect to be writing more about it over the next few weeks.
The flight today was long. An hour from Rochester to
Washington-Dulles, and 4 1/2 hours from there to Phoenix. I got home and
decided I wanted to cook or bake something so I'm in the process of making some
home-made Tapioca pudding. As I sit typing
this I can see my own bed, and I'm looking forward to slipping into it here in
just a couple of minutes. As much as I really do enjoy traveling, and
meeting people, and doing the things I do, I think it makes me appreciate coming
home to the simple things like waking up in my own bed even more.
Wednesday, November 9, 2005
The oddest thing happened this evening...
I suppose I need to set the stage in order for this to make sense. I've always had really good eyesight. Always. There was a time when I was specifically really proud about that. My mom and dad both had glasses, my sister had glasses - but at one point my eyesight was 20/10 - better than 20/20. A couple of years ago I had something go wrong with a piece of electronic equipment and I had to get the serial number off the back. For some reason, I couldn't focus on the thing - it was too small - and I had the hardest time figuring out what it was. I chalked that up to eye strain, darkness, or any number of other factors that made it difficult to make out.
I've had similar problems with small writing since. Not things far away, but things about 12 to 18 inches from my face. That seems to be the zone where I've had trouble.
So - back to tonight. I was at Happy Hour with a couple of friends and one of them got a text message that she wanted me to read. She gave me the phone and it happened again - I was struggling to focus on the thing. My other friend joked that I could borrow her reading glasses so I took her up on that and put them on. Immediately, the thing was in perfect focus! I sat there for five minutes moving the phone forwards and backwards, looking thru the reading glasses and then without them, and the difference they made was amazing! I asked her about her prescription and she said that she bought the glasses for less than $10 at the drugstore - they were basic everyday reading glasses. I'm going to get myself a pair and investigate this further...
It's tough getting old. :)
On another topic, you may have read previous posts about the movie "Transamerica". It stars Felicity Huffman (Desperate Housewives) as a transitioning Male-to-Female transsexual and has won all kinds of awards at film festivals around the world. Apparently, the US release date has been set (December 23) although I've seen a number of premiers and previews scheduled before then around the country. You can read about it here, and you can even watch the trailer for it by clicking on "Trailer 1" (note: you'll need Quicktime installed on your computer to play it).
This is going to be big.
Monday, November 7, 2005
The B-52's were playing a free outdoor concert on Saturday night just west of Phoenix. and I planned to go and enjoy the nice evening listening to music and be-bopping the evening away. Well, as I got ready to leave - right around 6 - Boom. The power to the entire area went out. It was pitch black. So...I felt my way back to where I keep my flashlights and continued to get ready to leave. As I found my way out to my car and drove towards the gate I was glad to be leaving all the darkness, expecting that the power would be on by the time I got home. Not so fast.... I live in a gated community - and guess what makes the gate open and close. Electricity. So, guess what....the gate wouldn't open! I couldn't get out. I sat there for a few minutes hoping the power would come on but it didn't so I came back home and lit every candle I have (which is a lot). The power came on an hour later but it was too late to make it to the concert. Bummer.
So, to make up for the fact that I was all dressed with no place to go I did the second best thing. I went to the mall. :)
I'm telling you....Holiday shoppers at the Scottsdale Fashion Square Mall are the best dressed shoppers I've ever seen. Sitting watching people there is like watching a fashion show - even at that time of night. And, make no mistake....it IS the best time of day to do Holiday shopping. I had been to Costco earlier in the day and the place was mobbed - people buying Christmas decorations of all kinds - trying to get an early jump on their Holiday shopping. Saturday evening at the mall is nice and calm - and as I watched people browsing over the pre-sale items at Neiman Marcus with I just had to smile.
I only made one purchase - not so much out of any amazing display of self-control as the simple fact that the budget is tight this month. I called the TV guy about my TV and explained the 4 blinking red lights to him and he told me it sounds like $300-$400 to get it all fixed. Yeesh.
Another thing that came out of my shopping adventure is a renewed sense of purpose to lose 15 pounds. There are so many nice things two or three sizes down from mine - I swear I'm gonna get there. It's a never ending battle, and for those who might wonder it IS harder for women to lose weight and keep it off than it is for men. I used to be able to drop 5 pounds in a couple of days. No more.
Yesterday morning I did something I haven't done in a long time. I went to church. My ex-neighbors and still-dear-friends Sally and Ray belong to a Presbyterian church north of here and they're always talking about it. So, I decided to go and check it out for myself. It really is a beautiful church, and the people were very nice. I actually enjoyed it...
My son and I had dinner together before I called it a day. Of course, I didn't get nearly as much done as I had hoped but the things I did accomplish were things I've been wanting to do for a while but I'm just never around long enough to get them done.
I've gotten some feedback on my last blog entry and I want
to reassure people that I'm not lonely. That's not it. At least,
that's not the right word for how I was feeling. I've got friends, I've
got special people in my life - but that feeling of being in love...that
special kind of love...that's what I miss. Of course, Maria was quick to
remind me that there's a flip side to that too - specifically, drama - which I
certainly realize. I daresay this need to intimacy, to be loved, to be
in love, is one of the greatest single sources of pain for many of us.
We certainly don't corner the market in this regard but this journey can be a
difficult trade-off. As I sometimes say, if it were easy....everyone would
Saturday, November 5, 2005
Can you believe it's November already? Now that we're past Halloween we're on the fast track to Christmas. That's hard to believe.
First, though, we celebrate one of my favorite holidays - Thanksgiving. Although I do stop to say thanks for the things in my life quite often, this day is of particular importance to me. I'm not quite sure why. Perhaps it's because the extra added component of "family" that the day has taken on for me. This year my mom will be coming to celebrate it with me here in Arizona - it'll be the first time she's been here since Thanksgiving in 1998 which was before my transition. It has been a long time, and I'm looking forward to her visit.
It looks like we'll have quite the group here for Thanksgiving. There will be several of Dr. Meltzer's patients at various stages of the healing process so we'll try to make it a little more homey for them. I've got a couple of friends locally who are displaced from their families so they'll be here. And, I've invited a couple of friends from out of town to share here too so we'll see how large this actually becomes.
I went for a run yesterday afternoon and found myself in one of those melancholy moments that comes along every so often. I was reminded of some words I wrote in an essay a couple of years ago ("Things I Miss") and I realized just how much I miss being in love. Certainly, I'm not the only one in the world to lament this but it was just one of those times. I think a combination of things set it off. First, I ran past an older couple who were walking down the sidewalk enjoying the day, holding hands. Such a simple thing - but I really do miss that. And, at the same time I was listening to a Craig David CD (it's really good running music) and the song "Once In A Lifetime" was playing. Anyway, I'm glad my little pity party was short lived...
Last night a friend and I went to a party at my friend Steve's house. Steve knows how to entertain better than anyone I've ever known. His beautiful house overlooks the city and is just amazing. He has an eye for decorating, and a particular penchant for art. At his 50th birthday party last year I commented that I really enjoyed the champagne (I don't usually like Champagne - it's too dry for me). Someone whispered that it cost $200 a bottle - that's how Steve entertains. Yeesh. (If you want to see a picture of Steve look at my March 2 post earlier this year - that's him on the left).
Anyway, last night's affair was a cozy little thing and it was nice to see several friends there. I didn't stay out late, restrained myself and didn't eat very much, only had one drink, and was home and in bed by 11:30. I was tired, and the last thing I remember before falling asleep was the cool air blowing through the open window by my bed...
I think the biggest event of the week was the launch of a landmark trans educational effort launched by HRC and the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington. This is a huge milestone for us. If you've been reading here long you'll know that education is my passion point, so I'm particularly tickled to be able to help in these efforts. I wrote about it in my most recent Op/Ed piece, Trans-formed.
Monday, October 31, 2005
It's Halloween tonight. Perhaps not coincidentally, it appears that my TV must be haunted because it turned itself off in the middle of Dave (the movie with Sigourney Weaver and Kevin Kline) tonight and now it won't turn itself back on. Poltergeists? Perhaps. Or, maybe this is the Godess's way of telling me it's time to graduate to a large flat-panel HDTV. Hmmmm.
Last night we found a scorpion taking a stroll along the carpet. That's one of the things that freaked us out when we originally moved here - that there were actually scorpions that somehow found their way inside the house!!! For those of us not accustomed to desert "critters" that's almost enough to pack up and move back home. Last night's visitor did surprise me, though, as there really isn't a lot of wilderness around here and I haven't seen one in quite a while. Anyway, the bad news (if you're a scorpion, that is) is that it didn't survive a couple of whacks with a shoe.
Halloween. How many of us remember Halloween's past where we dressed up as women? You could always tell those of us who took it more seriously because we were the ones who had to look good - the ones who paid attention to detail. I remember one friend who couldn't believe that I actually painted my toenails - I'm sure he realized that it was more than a costume. For many of us it's like letting our inner self out of her cage for a few hours once a year, and she needs things to be just-so. It wasn't just about the clothes for me. It was way more than that. Oddly, now that life has somehow made an abrupt left turn I don't know what I'd dress up if I went out for the event. Oh well.
I bought some candy to pass out but didn't get a single Trick or Treat-er here tonight. Oh well. My son will eat the leftovers. I remember taking him from house to house back in Rochester when he was young. We nearly froze to death a couple of times. This time of year is generally wet, cold, and sometimes slushy. There was one house in the next neighborhood over who served hot toddies and donuts for the parents in their garage - I always made a point of stopping by there for a few minutes. Those are actually very fond memories.
The B-52's are doing a free outdoor concert not far from here this weekend. I'll bring a blanket and make an entire day of it. The weather looks to be wonderful (check out our 10-day forecast - if you dare) and Lord knows I deserve some quality down time.
BTW - get ready for some more exposure for our community. Dr. Meredith Bacon is a much respected professor at the University of Nebraska, and a dear friend. It's been wonderful to watch her from those early days at conferences around the country to where she is now. There have been any number of well-done supportive articles about her (and her amazing wife) in recent months (here's one, here's another, and another). Apparently, it caught the eye of editors for People magazine so they've written a story about her. She says they took 2000 photos for it! Anyway, the story should be included in the Nov. 14 or 21 editions, so keep your eyes open for that.
Friday, October 28, 2005
I feel like a whale. I'm probably not all that far over my usual heftiness, but I feel like I am. I bought a scale (Elizabeth asked me to) but I keep it in a place where I won't have to actually use it. Those who have been reading this for a while might remember that I don't like scales - I gauge my general fattiness based on how I'm feeling and how my clothes fit. Either of those things will tell me what I need to know.
Thanks to my cold I haven't been able to exercise for a while which somehow makes me feel pudgy. Yuck. I'm slowly getting back into it, though. I was at the fitness center yesterday, and I suppose I'll share something silly. I was in the shower and noticed that the height of the nozzle is designed only for those who are 5' 2" or shorter. The place where the pipe comes out of the wall is the same height as my forehead, and by the time it curves down and has a nozzle attached it's down about chin height. For those who are taller to wash our hair becomes an awkward feat of dexterity - I can't wait until someone tall falls while trying to rinse her hair and sues them. Obviously, a man designed this.
I feel compelled to slim down a bit by Nov 10 as I'll be headed to Detroit to speak at the HRC dinner there. Comedienne Joan Rivers will be another of the speakers, and I remember all the fat jokes she used to make about Liz Taylor (Her favorite food is seconds. She has more chins than a Chinese phone book). Not good.
I suppose I'll share what I'm listening to at the moment: The CD currently playing as I type this is Plans by Death Cab For Cutie. I'm particularly taken with the songs Soul Meets Body (track 2) and I Will Follow You Into The Darkness (track 5).
By the way - for those looking for more photos I've
uploaded the pictures from the HRC National Dinner and the Dallas
Black Tie Dinner to my Webshots photo pages.
They're here, if you want to see them.
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Something happened again today that irks me a bit. I plan to write about it in greater length at some point soon but I just want to highlight it here briefly. I probably wouldn't have mentioned it if it hadn't happened again - this is the second time in just a couple or three weeks. I hadn't seen it before, but, it needs to be stopped before it gets any further.
Today, I got an email from the Lambda Literary Foundation asking me to fill out an online survey. Fine. I'm not even a member any more but I'm happy to fill out an online survey. So, I clicked on the link.
Before it gets to the real questions it has some other questions just so it can get some background information. One of the first pages comes up asking for my gender. And, there are 4 choices on it. Male, Female, M2F, F2M. This is the second time I've seen this.
I sat there looking at it for a second. I don't know about you, but in my culture we only identify 2 genders. Male and Female. Why would we marginalize ourselves like that? I stopped to think that perhaps someone who considered themselves gender queer or something might choose something else but in my vernacular the terms M2F and F2M specifically relate to transsexuals.
The way I read this is Men, Women, and Other. It implies that we're not real men or women. We're something other. Certainly, I'm different than genetically born women in many many ways. But the bottom line is that I'm female - my driver's license says so, my birth certificate says so, even my paycheck says so (I make significantly less than when I was a guy) - I went through more than many can imagine for just that one thing. People like me just want to be considered as part of our authentic gender. I think the fact that these questions are here like this is a reflection of the mindset of many people - that we're not real. Each of us needs to stop this when we see it.
The last time it happened I wrote back and politely mentioned it - I'm really not offended by it - and they thanked me for bringing this to their attention. The acknowledged their need to be educated. The fact that they're recognizing trans people at all is a huge step forward. The problem, though, is that using "Gender" to do it isn't the right place.
The last time I saw this there was another troublesome question. The category was "Sexuality", and the choices were GLBT or Non-GLBT. I wrote back saying that GLBT is NOT a sexuality. At least, the T isn't. Just because I'm one of the T's doesn't tell anyone anything about my sexuality. They fixed that, too.
As the transgender community integrates more with the larger GLB community, and with the rest of society, these things will happen. Mistakes will be made - not out of any malice but simply because most people don't know any better. It's up to each of us to politely point it out when we see it. It's our job to educate. And in the process, perhaps more and more people out there will actually get it.
Monday, October 24, 2005
The Dallas Black Tie Dinner
I'm tired. No...I'm dead tired. And, I'm glad to be home.
I'd actually be in bed right now other than the fact that I need to pick up my son at the airport in an hour. He has been in Seattle visiting his honey for her birthday so I somehow got talked into picking him up and driving him home. Oy. I should be in bed.
The last few days have actually been very pleasant so I'm not really complaining - at least not very loudly. These wounds are certainly self-inflicted.
I think this trip came at an opportune time. You may remember that I mentioned the fact that my sister's dog, Jazz, had started bleeding from her nose and had been diagnosed with cancer. She died on Monday, and my sister needed something to take her mind off of it. I'm just what the doctor ordered.
On Friday I attended the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley Equality Leadership Conference at the wonderful community there, and enjoyed lunch where the keynote speaker was Maggie Stumpp. She did a wonderful job (as always).
My sister and I spent my last evening in Rochester at the mall, doing a little shopping. We weren't really looking for anything specific so much as just wandering around having fun on our last night together. I got a call as we were getting ready to go home that my friend Diane was scheduled to be featured in a segment on ABC News 20/20 so we hustled home to watch it. They've been working on the story for months so i was a little surprised that I didn't get more advance notice.
Diane was a Special Forces commander in the Army, and is transitioning. After retiring from the military she had been working as a terrorism consultant and told her bosses that she was planning to go away for facial feminization surgery. They said, "Oh no you don't. If you do that we'll fire you." She did, and they did. Subsequently, she was interviewed for and was offered a job at the Library of Congress in Washington as a Terrorist Analyst - a job she's uniquely qualified for. She accepted the offer and mentioned that she planned to begin work there as Diane, not as Dave. They rescinded the offer the next day. A discrimination lawsuit has been filed by the ACLU over it.
Anyways, I thought the story was well done. Diane came across very well, and I think they generally treated her in a positive way. There were, of course, the obligatory shots of her putting on makeup, getting dressed, and walking walking walking but I won't indict the entire segment over that. I especially enjoyed her two brothers - I'd love to actually meet them some day. I thought they provided a good look at the difficulty that some family members experience as they try to come to grips with this, but in the end they continued to love and support her. They rocked.
Of course, when I had to get up at 4an to catch my 6 o'clock flight it wasn't so fun and I was sad - as I always am - to say goodbye.
My mom is so funny. She had a bunch of things that she needed my help with so I landed in Dallas, got to her house, and she had me up on her roof cleaning out gutters within the hour. We spent a couple of hours out back in her garden, tilling dirt, fixing the fence, pulling weeds - my thighs are not happy about all the up-down-up-down that was involved. Of course, my energy level was only so high due to continued slow recovery from my cold and general sleep deprivation so I ended up taking a nap before showering and getting ready for our big night.
Saturday night we drove to downtown Dallas to attend the Black Tie Dinner at the Adam's Mark Hotel there. It's a huge event - I'm told they were expecting over 3,100 people. The main draw of the night was Sharon Stone, and Lily Tomlin - and tickets were completely sold out back in August.
This is the first GLBT event that my mom has ever attended with me. I think it was the fanciest thing we've ever done together, and I smiled as she tried on 4 or 6 different outfits as we dressed for the event. I told her the key was to be comfortable so whatever made her comfortable would work. We strolled around the silent auction for an hour. Once the banquet doors opened we found that our table was near the front.
I got some great photos of the event. A few are listed here. Sharon Stone looked phenomenal. The newspaper said she was a Ford Model and I can certainly see that. However good these photos make her look - she looked better than that. She came out and helped with the auction and did a smash up job. She helped to sell a Harley motorcycle (she called it "thunder between your thighs" and kissed the girl who bought it). She sold a Labrador Retriever puppy. Someone even asked if she'd sell her shoes (they were beautiful) so she was a good sport about it and put them up for auction - and they sold for $12,000. And, Lily Tomlin was as sharp and as funny as ever.
I think my mom had a great time. Some of the things Sharon Stone said made her blush, while I think that she really enjoyed the sharp wit of Lily Tomlin. Come to think of it - my dad would have really enjoyed this night, too. I remember watching Laugh-In when he was alive. He always liked Lily Tomlin.
We didn't get home until midnight - which is actually pretty early for events like this - and we both slept great.
One thing that I may have mentioned before is that my mom grows irises. Actually, she does more than grow them. She loves them. She hybridizes them. Her backyard is a shrine to them. She's an international iris judge, and travels around judging them. She knows more about irises than most people know about anything. When it comes to her irises, she's amazing.
Mom is in her mid-70's and works in her garden all day long. Up and down. Digging. Carrying. Watering. Planting. Pulling weeds. And, I think when I call it simply a "garden" I'm really not doing a good job at painting a picture of what it really is. It's a huge fenced off area in her back with raised beds, walkways, underground watering system, roped off 20' by 20" squares, each square has a label in it with the name of the plant and what it looks like - it's pretty wild.
Anyway, we spent time in the garden again on Sunday, and just enjoyed our day together. The last time I visited was over Easter - I can't believe it was that long ago.
The reason these gardens represent so much for me now is that as long as my mom continues to plant for next year, she's still enjoying her life. She's planning on being around for a while. Every time I leave her these days I wonder if it will be the last time I see her, and I'm determined to make sure we make the most of our time together. Hopefully, she'll be planting and looking forward to "next year" for a lot of years to come.
Thursday, October 20, 2005
I've got a couple of things to mention today....
First, I hate to get political first thing in the morning but I just want to mention something. I got an email from the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington about the Trans-inclusive Hate Crimes legislation currently in play in the Senate. It includes a list of all the many organizations that are supporting it - it's really a pretty incredible list and represents a huge groundswell of support for our community. I've included it here for those who want to see it. Notice that many of the organizations on the list are mainstream groups - not specifically GLBT organizations - which is critical for us if we're going to get the support we need as a community. Despite what naysayers like Chris Crain (from the Washington Blade) might want to say his narrow view of things isn't widely shared by those in a position to actually make policy decisions (thankfully!!).
Second, I got a couple of emails saying that I appeared in Transgenerations on the Sundance Channel last night. That's too funny. It's a reality show that follows a year in the life of 4 college students dealing with various gender identity issues. A film crew was at the Colorado Gold Rush conference in Denver last February following one of them around and she ended up attending one of my sessions. The camera guy came up to me afterwards and told me how he felt she needed to hear what I had to say - I never expected to actually end up in the finished product. Go figure.
Lastly, from time to time I like to highlight the "other" side. I like to provide visibility to people who are NOT so supportive, who have unpleasant things to say, whose ideas may be different than my own. I do this for a number of reasons, one of which is just to show what we're up against out there. Although things are certainly getting better (see the first and second paragraphs - those things would never have happened even a couple of years ago) we can't fool ourselves into thinking the world has suddenly become a safe place for people who are different.
Today's missive is from the Catholic Herald, and is titled Straight Answers: The Morality of Sex Change Operations. I'm not here to argue religion - I'll leave that to others. I'm just showing what's out there...
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
I should have realized that this extended "down-time" would throw my system into a tizzy. I've come down with a cold and I just want to spend the day curled up sleeping. Several friends seem to have come down with pretty severe flu-like illnesses lately (including Sister Elizabeth) but I don't think what I've got is really that bad. I'm all stuffed up, my nose and throat are all scratchy, my eyes water for no reason, and I just have no energy. And, my legs ache. But, Lord knows I've felt way worse so I guess I'm really not complaining.
There was a time in gradeschool when I had ear infections all winter long - I think I missed more school than I attended one year before they decided that the culprit for it all was my tonsils and that was that. I still remember how horrible I felt time and again, and I don't know if it's because I was young and everything seemed worse than it was or if it was really just that yucky but I haven't had that kind of debilitating flu in a looonnng time.
Anyways, to top it off, I'm in the middle of some dental work. I've been going to see my dentist for most of my adult life - since shortly after my son was born (my son ill be 20 in December) and I'd have to say we're the same age. He's taken care of most of my family - my dad (when he was alive), my mom still comes to see him, my sister and her family, my son when he was young. I was there for an hour today, and I've got another hour scheduled for tomorrow. Oh joy. You'd think that someone who has been through everything that I have would take this stuff in stride but for some reason I'm squeamish about things happening to my teeth and gums. Go figure.
Back in the day - let's say 15 years ago now - I cracked one of my Wisdom Teeth and it was so badly broken down he could't fill it so he suggested I have it "extracted" (I hate that word). He told me he could only give me Novacaine - that if I wanted anything more potent than that I'd have to go see an oral surgeon. Hell yes! There was no way in HELL I was going to let someone pull out one of my teeth while I still had my wits about me. I considered myself to be pretty tough, but my dad used to point out that there's a fine line between tough and stupid.
So, he recommended an oral surgeon whose office was nearby. I went to see this guy and he tells me he can give me gas, IV, any number of sedations and he asks me which one I want. I told him I wanted them ALL. So, he tells me that since I'm going to that length I may as well have all 4 of them out because he was confident I'd be back in another year to have another one out. It only took me a moment to explain that my teeth were like a team - a close-knit team - and I really wasn't looking to lose more players than I had to. If it's not broke, don't fix it. I told him thanks but no thanks.
I hardly remember that "extraction". I remember when they put the IV in, and I remember that they gave me a CD player and some headphones, but the thing I remember most about the whole ordeal was the yucky taste in my mouth for days afterwards.
Of course, he was right and I was back in his office a year later. He wanted to take out the remaining three of them, and again I told him no. So, we went through it all again.
Finally, a couple of years later I was back a third time. I had a wisdom tooth that was halfway through the surface with a cavity in it, and another that hadn't even made it's way through the gums. He wanted to kill them. So, I let him. THAT one I remember - crunching and pulling. Yuck. I was so proud when my wife came to pick me up. I kept telling her that he had pulled out two of them, and then I'd say it again a few minutes later not remembering that I told her the first time. We used to laugh over that.
The moral of the story is that I don't have any problem letting people re-arrange my face, or my anatomy. I can give myself estrogen shots with 2 inch intra- muscular needles that at one time would have made me faint. I've had electrolysis on my face and down "there" without anything to numb it. I'm no slouch when it comes to pain. But when it comes to teeth, I guess I've still got a ways to go...
Saturday , October 15, 2005
This is the first Saturday I've been home in I-don't-know-how-long. It feels a little funny. It'd be nice if I could just hang out and relax but the day is already pretty full. Cleaning. Ironing. Shopping. Go to the fitness center. A large group of us are meeting for dinner. I'm certainly not complaining - in fact it'll be nice to finally get my world straightened up for a change.
There's a DVD being re-released on Tuesday that's got some special meaning for me. I bought it in the earliest days of my transition and it somehow embodied all the difficult emotions I was feeling at the time. I watch it now and it yanks me back there - although I've come a long way since then and I've seen it dozens of times it can still make me cry. At one time I felt that any Transition Welcome-Wagon goodie-bag needed to include two specific things: 1) the CD Fumbling Towards Ecstasy by Sarah McLaughlan and 2) the DVD of Disney's Tarzan.
I find that being different is a theme common to many animated feature films. Some, in fact, are a celebration of difference (The Incredibles immediately comes to mind). This version of Tarzan hits me straight in the heart, as all he wanted was to be accepted. He wanted to be like the other gorillas but no matter what he did or how hard he tried he was never accepted by some of those most important to him. The thing I have a hard part understanding is that our culture seems to reinforce this idea that difference is a good thing, but at the same time it judges different.
The scene were the leader of the gorilla pride, Kerchak, rejects Tarzan saying "Look at him! He will NEVER be one of us!" still strikes deep in me. And, as the confused child flees in sadness, looks at himself in the water and laments, "Why am I so different?" I know just how he feels. And, the scene where he meets Jane and realizes, for the first time, that there are others like him - that he's not alone - I still get choked up. Anyway, the themes in this movie are close to my heart, the music by Phil Collins fits perfectly, and it's another example of a cartoon that's fun entertainment on the surface but also has a deeper meaning. This isn't one of Disney's better known films and has been unavailable for 3 or 4 years now, but if you've got some time on your hands you might want to watch it. It's wonderful.
It's funny how things in our lives help us to reconnect to days gone by in profound ways. A song, a movie - they can represent so much. One of my earliest memories is when I was in 3rd grade - mid-1960's - during the middle of the summer. My mom used to hire one of the teenage girls on our street to take us to one of the large public pools in Buffalo to keep us busy. She took us to the Delaware Pool (it's not there anymore) and I remember one day - coming up the steps out of the pool - and the song 25 or 6 to 4 by Chicago was playing on the speakers hanging from the upper deck of the pool. Somehow, that moment and that song are forever tied together in my mind. I'm not sure why it has survived all these years - it wasn't a special moment - but in an odd way it has come to represent the innocence of my childhood for me. Summer day, 8 years old, at the pool, no worries, a world of possibility on the horizon.
This particular baby-sitter was one of three girls who lived at the end of our block. Each of them took turns baby sitting for us as they got older. Eventually, they were all away at college. Susan, Peggy, and Lori. I still remember their names. They had a brother, too, who was drafted in the Vietnam War. He was a helicopter gunner, and he was wounded at some point although at that young age I had no idea what was involved in war.
Like I said, it's funny how a simple song can bring us back to times long ago - good times, bad times, feelings, emotions, thoughts. I think one of the saddest things I can imagine happening to me is for something to happen where I lose touch with all of that. The ability to re-live those things provides important fuel for me these days. I know those who try hard to forget the past. Not me. The past is part of me.
On another topic, the editor of the Washington Blade (Chris Crain) wrote another op-ed piece about the Trans community in yesterday's edition ('Trans or bust' is still a bust). This is the second one he's written about this topic in a little over a year, and needless to say I responded last year and I responded again yesterday as well. My most recent response to him is on my Op/Ed page. Anyway, he wrote back to me and he seems confused at why these things trigger an outpouring of anger towards him. One of his sentences to me: "Why not take me at face value, as a gay man who FAVORS trans rights but disagrees on the strategy employed by trans activists and accepted by some gay activists?"
If that's what he's trying to do, I certainly support that
- I think we all need to be mature enough that we can agree to disagree on
things. That's not what comes across in his writing, though, so I have a
hard time buying it. I don't see him in as harsh a light as many others in
our community do, I think (we have some pretty rabid people in our community).
As soon as someone somewhere says something that is perceived to be an injustice
to the trans community everyone attacks (I am not immune from these attacks, by
the way). But the key in this case, I think, isn't necessarily to attack
for blood. Certainly, he needs to know that there are those of us who
strongly disagree with his position. But I think the real key
here is about education. One of these days he will write an article
actually supporting us. I predict that.
Thursday , October 13, 2005
|It has been a good week. I was in
bed shortly after 9 a couple of nights ago and by 10:30 last night, so I'm
catching up on some much needed sleep. It's funny how the world looks
so much brighter after when you're all rested. I really don't need all
that much sleep. I can function on 4 or 5 hours of sleep for days at a
time - although I find that it eventually catches up with me.
I've made it a priority to get to the fitness center, too, so I've been there these last two days. I've even started lifting weights a little again - more for toning than anything. But I've always had a body type that builds thick muscle quickly so I need to be careful. My muscles have memory, and if I'm not careful I'll bulk up and end up looking like a "she-hulk". There was a time when I was so sensitive to my shoulders and arms I did everything I could to hide them. But, one of my first girlfriends after SRS told me that they were "sexy" and somehow I came to a sense of peace about them.
I'm in the middle of "dinner" season. A couple of weeks ago there was the Southern Comfort Conference gala. Then, the next week was the HRC National Dinner. This Saturday there is a dinner here in Phoenix called the "Glitz" that I'm going to. The following Saturday is the Black Tie Gala in Dallas, and my mom will be going with me to that. The week after that is the Phoenix Stonewall Democrat dinner - we need to have a transgender presence there so I'll be going. In early November I'll be headed to Detroit for the HRC dinner there. I think I'm going to need to get a couple of more gowns before it's all over!
Yesterday was National Coming Out Day. I've had a half-finished essay on Coming Out for quite a while now so I'm putting the finishing touches on that and expect to have it up soon. "Coming Out" is such an important topic - there's so much more to it than meets the eye.
The photo to the left is the one I got at the National Geographic building in Washington DC last weekend. Don't go out searching for this edition in your local bookstore or library. It's a very limited edition. :) The scan doesn't do it justice - for some reason I like it.
Saturday, October 8, 2005
I'm in Washington, DC again. What a difference a week makes. Last weekend was sunny and perfect. This weekend I've seen more rain in a day than I've seen in the last 6 months combined. I'm told that yesterday rained some record amount - well over two inches. It's the remnants of one of these tropical storms that has apparently stalled off the East Coast. The word for the weekend is "wet".
My flight from Dallas to DCA yesterday was delayed for over 2 1/2 hours because of it. They didn't tell us this unpleasant news until we'd all gotten onto the plane so we sat there at the gate for quite a while. Then, they took us for a slow drive to a secluded spot on a runway somewhere to chill until the coast was clear. I spent the time sleeping, working, and watching a movie (I brought the Matrix with me) on my little portable DVD player. Once we finally took off the flight itself was almost 3 hours. As you might expect, since we were so late arriving our gate was occupied so we had to wait for that to fix itself. Oh well. You really can't be in a hurry on days like that.
My main reason for being here is a GLBT Leadership and Career Fair. Students from the Washington, DC area have signed up to attend this two day event. We took some time this afternoon to get out and enjoy the day - it was actually a wonderful hair-day for me and even all the rain didn't mess it up.
I suppose one of the highlights of the day was the time we spent at the National Geographic buildings on 17th Street. There is an exhibit there about Napoleon Bonaparte. Although you might say to yourself, "What's so interesting about Napoleon Bonaparte?" both Sally and I found it fascinating. It was incredibly well done. To top it all off, my memento from the afternoon is that I had my face put onto the cover of a National Geographic magazine - superimposed over the Taj Mahal. I'll have to post it here sometime soon - it's kinda fun.
Speaking of mementos, one of the things I've been collecting lately is these large Starbucks coffee mugs (and bears) from the various cities I've been visiting. Elizabeth got me started on it a couple of years ago and I'll acknowledge the fact that the collection has recently become too large for the cupboard where I keep my coffee mugs. I find that the mugs remind me alot of the kind of mugs my dad liked - as his diabetes progressed he found it harder to grab things with his hands so he needed mugs with big handles. Anyway, Starbucks has a couple of series of different collectible mugs from various cities and I've been slowly buying them as I visit those cities. At dinner tonight a friend gave me one that the she bought for me in Istanbul. I doubt I'll find one more "exotic" than that.
Thursday, October 6, 2005
I'm in a bit of a pensive, melancholy mood this evening. I'm sure it's due to a combination of factors - not the least significant of which is the fact that I went to the movies and saw a romantic comedy this afternoon - I've learned the hard way that they tend to put me into a bit of a funk. Ever since I started to transition they seem to have this power to get to a place in my heart where I don't like to go very often and dredge up feelings I tend to keep locked up there. It probably sounds silly, but that's just the way it is. I think I'll really know I've achieved something when I can watch one of those things and actually leave the theater without being sad.
My hectic schedule caught up with me yesterday - I got up and went to work and somehow just couldn't connect with the world. I was in this odd haze - tired in a strange sort of way. And, I had a headache that just wouldn't quit. So, I came home at lunchtime with the intention of laying down for an hour in the hopes that things would get better. I fell into a deep sleep and didn't wake until 4pm. Thankfully, I felt much better. That's the good news. The bad news is that I was supposed to be somewhere at 4pm so things kicked into high gear real fast....
I'm headed back to Washington DC tomorrow morning - I have a 7am flight so I'll be headed to bed shortly. I'm participating in a GLBT Leadership Conference and Career Fair there for students, which I think is a really important thing. Kids are truly our hope for the future. I'll be back home Sunday night.
Today is my sister's birthday. I called her to chat with her for a while and she told me about her dog, Jazz. Apparently, Jazz suddenly started bleeding profusely out of her nose for no apparent reason last weekend so my sister brought her to the Emergency Vet to see what was going on. They did a couple of tests and told my sister that Jazz has cancer - that there's probably not alot that they can do. This dog is at least 10 years old now and it seemed like they wanted my sister to leave her there. But, she took Jazz home and thankfully she actually seems to be doing better. My sister says they've thrown all the rules out the window - Jazz can have as many treats as she wants, she has all kinds of people food, they take her for more and longer walks than they've ever done before. We both lamented how it's sad that we wait to realize we're almost dead before we actually start to live - and by then it's too late. We both agreed not to let that happen to either of us.
To finish up some old business - for those who'd like to watch some of the tremendous moments from the HRC National Dinner last weekend the videos are online now - you can see them here. I particularly suggest watching Cyndi Lauper, Julian Bond, and perhaps the HRC 25 year Anniversary Video. It was truly a wonderful evening, and I can honestly say I plan to be at every one of these until either we do achieve equal rights so there's no more need to fight for them, or until I die. Sadly, I'm afraid the second will happen before the first.
Monday, October 3, 2005
Elizabeth and I had the most pleasant day yesterday. A friend we’ve never met – someone we’ve come to know thru email over these past couple of years – came to meet us. He was tremendously sweet and kind - he brought roses, and the three of us went out for a delightful breakfast. It wasn’t awkward or goofy – it was genuinely fun and I think the three of us had a delightful time chatting and getting to know each other a little bit.
Elizabeth’s grandfather is buried in Arlington National Cemetery so we took advantage of the beautiful weather and the nice company to visit his grave for a few minutes after brunch. And, by mid-afternoon, it was time to get to the airport to come home.
The airport was like a mini-reunion of the night before as
everyone was catching flights back home. There were at least a dozen HRC
partiers on my flight to Dallas – many of whom I’d never met before. My next
dinner event is the Dallas Black Tie Dinner later this month. My mom will be
attending that with me- she’s never gone with me to a GLBT function before. The
speakers will be Lily Tomlin and Sharon Stone, and I’m told it’s a huuuuge event
(everything is bigger in Texas, ya know). Hopefully, my feet will be healed by
then although I think the chances of my mom and I dancing the night away are
Sunday, October 2, 2005
The HRC National Dinner was last night. It was a blast.
There were any number of highlights in a night full of them. (The official HRC photo gallery is available here. A few of my own photos from the entire weekend are available here, too.)
Cyndi Lauper accepted an award and for her acceptance speech she just started singing “True Colors” – no instruments or anything to back her up. She started quietly, but as the song progressed it gained strength and by the end the entire place was in tears. I have goose bumps remembering it now as I write about it. Last year they put video of the event on the HRC website so if they do, and If you have a chance to visit their website to watch it, I highly recommend it.
Julian Bond, the Executive Director of the NAACP gave an incredibly powerful and important speech about how the GLBT struggle for equal rights is no different than the struggle that African Americans had to wage. I’m going to see if I can get a copy of the text to post here.
They showed a highlight video from the first 25 years of the organization and there was a couple second snippet of my moment in the spotlight with Jessica Lange last year. I find these kinds of things tremendously empowering – watching these things surrounded by 2,500 people who “get it”. Being there – in that group, talking about those things, can’t help but change you. It’s like being home.
And, last but not least, the after-dinner party entertainment was the B-52’s. Elizabeth and I established a position near the front of the stage and hopped and danced for an hour and a half – it was nuts. The floor was bouncing (or maybe that was my thighs?) under the weight of everyone dancing and singing. “My Own Private Idaho”. “Channel Z”. “Roam”. “Rock Lobster”. “Love Shack”. They looked and sounded great…
By the end of the night I was a sweaty mess. And, my feet
hurt. By the time we got home and into bed it was just before 2am. I don’t even
remember falling asleep – I was sooo tired. But, the good news is that today is
the first day I haven’t awoken to the sound of an alarm clock interrupting my
sleep in I-can’t-remember-how-long. Life is good.
Friday, September 30, 2005
It’s interesting to get a “taste” of life somewhere else. I feel that’s what I’ve gotten here in the Washington DC area these last couple of days.
Back in Arizona I live in a world where people get into their cars to go pretty much wherever they need to go. For me, there’s just no other options. I use a car. Or, I stay home.
Well, I’m staying at a friend’s house in Alexandria, VA which is very close to Washington, DC. Mapquest says that her home is 7.5 miles from Reagan National airport, just to give a sense of how close all this stuff is.
Anyway, I’ve had to get myself to downtown Washington DC for HRC meetings these past couple of days. My friend is out of town, and the cost of renting a car for what little I’d actually drive it just didn’t seem sensible. So, I’ve learned to walk the two or three blocks down to the Bus Stop, to pay $1.25 to get onto the bus that goes directly to the Pentagon, to make my way down to the Metro Station, to take the Yellow line to Ferragut West, and to walk a few blocks to get to where I need to be.
It was actually a little comical yesterday. I got to the bus stop and found a “buddy” to help me learn the ropes – someone who got to the bus stop shortly after I did and who seemed friendly and helpful. She didn’t seem to annoyed by my unfamiliarity with it all – I think she may even have been a little amused. For example, I didn’t know how much it cost to get onto the bus, and apparently neither did any of the other dozen or so people waiting at the bus stop. They all have passes and tokens. To top it off, if you’re paying cash you need exact change so a couple of people pitched in coins of various denominations to help me get onto the bus. Who knew? I did better this morning.
I carry around a Metro Pass from my last visit to Washington so once I get into the Metro station I’m okay. There are swarms of people coming and going during rush hour so looking confused and lost is not a good thing – nobody has time for that.
Coming home is a little more challenging. I couldn’t find the bus to get from the Pentagon to Alexandria. So, I had to catch a cab. But, at $13.00 (fare + tip) that’s still a huge savings over the gas, parking, and overall frustration it would take to bring a car there.
The meetings have gone well. There are any number of social events going on but I’m not really too keen on getting involved in any of them. Life over these past couple of weeks has been so regimented with places to be at certain times that I’m enjoying the freedom of getting home, slipping into my night shirt, putting my feet up, catching up on my work email, and relaxing.
|A highlight of the day was the official
release of a new booklet that HRC created in partnership with the National
Center for Transgender Equality and the Transgender Law and Policy Institute
called "Transgender Americans: A Handbook for Understanding". It's a
6 inch by 6 inch booklet filled with 49 pages of photos from Mariette Pathy
Allen's book The Gender Frontier, a good overview of information
about the many challenges our community faces, and a number of poignant
first-person stories. The printer rushed a pre-release box of them
over to us to review - you could still smell the ink on them. And, for
our first combined Board session tomorrow morning there will be a copy on
It's important stuff like this that makes me crazy when people criticize that HRC isn't doing anything for the trans community. Anyway, I'm sure there will be a version of it online shortly, but I'm happy to forward requests for the booklet to HRC if you'd like them to mail you a real copy.
Anyway, the thing I’m having a little trouble with is the jet lag. A couple of nights ago I was wide awake at 1am, and had to set the alarm for 5 in order to catch the bus to the train to get downtown. I’m tired, but the days have been busy and I’ve been getting my minimum daily allowance of coffee so I’m actually not all that drowsy once the day gets going. Phoenix is 3 hours earlier than it is here so my body-clock is probably pretty futzed up with all this cross-country traveling. Oh well. I just hope I don’t get sick.
Dear Elizabeth arrived here today. We had a nice dinner
with some friends before heading home (on the Metro) to relax. We’ll be headed
to bed in a minute..
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
It’s Wednesday, it’s the end of September, so I must be on the road again. And, I am. As I write this I’m 36,000 feet above someplace – on my way to Washington, DC for several days full of various HRC functions. I realize this is the 2nd entry I’ve made in a week that was written high in the sky but I think that’s just because I seem to (a) be in a plane quite a bit and (b) it’s the only place I really have any time on my hands.
The first flight today – from Phoenix to Dallas – was fine except for the person sitting next to me. Several things became obvious to me at the outset. First, she doesn’t get out all that much. Her social “etiquette” seems to be broken – if she has any to begin with. Second, apparently she had been in Scottsdale – at the Mayo Clinic - because she’s sick and they can’t figure out what’s wrong with her. I’ve been itching ever since I got off the plane. I was afraid to ask too many questions. And lastly, she just wouldn’t be quiet. When nobody would listen to her that didn’t really seem to matter – she had a conversation with herself.
She decided that she was going to do her nails in the middle of the flight and asked everyone in our general vicinity if it was alright. So, she broke out a manicure kit and started to file her nails. That was going well until she started polishing them and the flight attendant stopped by to tell her regulations prohibit opening nail polish on the plane. Frankly – I never knew that before. Maybe it’s a fire hazard? Maybe some people can be overcome by the fumes? Who knows. Anyway she needed to find another outlet for her energy. So, she started drinking whiskey.
She pushed the flight attendant call-button 4 times during the 1 hour and 53 minute flight. That’s got to be some kind of a record. Eventually, they just stopped coming – they seemed to be able to turn it off remotely. She got concerned when they read the connecting gate information and they didn’t include Tulsa – apparently her destination. She needed club soda to clean her shirt – she spilled a smoothie on herself. I was just waiting for her to spill something on me – specifically, her whiskey.
The guy next to her on the other side had the right idea – he had his headphones on for the entire trip. Including most of the taxiing to the terminal. His fatal mistake was that he took them off before we docked. She was all over him like a swarm of piranha attacking some sap unlucky enough to fall into their water. In less than 15 seconds she introduced herself, asked him if he was anti-social, found out that he wasn’t feeling too well, and offered to tell him about all her medications. It was all I could do to keep from laughing.
So, here I sit. Listening to Sade on my laptop, taking a break from doing some work, writing this. The pilot just came on and I think he said we’re flying over Denver I don’t want to doubt him but I don’t see any mountains. Perhaps they’re on the other side of the plane….
This trip will have several components to it. First the HRC Business Council meeting is tomorrow. We meet in person twice a year – there are 25 of us and we’re in charge of providing direction to HRC when it comes to workplace initiatives. Our most important function, I think, is to oversee development of the Corporate Equality Index. It’s changing for 2006 and our overall role is maturing from that of simply administering the survey and compiling the results to one where we’re actually looking to become a center of competency to help companies improve their workplace policies. I’m passionate about this stuff, and these discussions fuel my fire.
The HRC Board Meeting begins on Friday and spills over to Saturday. We’ve got quite a bit on the agenda so those days look to be very full. Elizabeth is arriving on Friday so we can spend a little time together, and to prepare for the highlight of the weekend – the HRC National Dinner. This is the event where I introduced Jessica Lange last year (sheesh, I can’t believe that was a whole year ago!). I don’t have an actual role in it this year so I won’t have a “handler” telling me where to go when. Except Elizabeth, of course. They’re expecting over 3,000 people again this year. Can you imagine the challenge of feeding 3,000 people at a formal event? I can’t. The after-party entertainment is the B-52’s which should be a ton-o-fun.
We had originally planned to rent a car during our stay but I just can see how that’s a good idea. First, the cost is almost $200 and once you add gas and parking you can probably add another $100. That’s a lot for 4 days – and it’s money I need for other things at the moment. So, I’m sure there will be some taxis involved. The last time I took a taxi here he got lost. The meter kept going while he tried to find where we were going – I didn’t know what to say. And, of course, there was the limo incident a few months ago where the driver got pulled over and I was positive he was going to end up in jail. As the poor guy tried to talk his way out of it Elizabeth’s main concern was that the trunk of a police cruiser isn’t big enough to handle all her luggage. That was at this airport, too.
And then, Elizabeth and I will head back to Arizona on Sunday so Elizabeth can visit for a week before heading home…
Monday, September 26, 2005
I'm adding this entry to talk a little about the newspaper articles that appeared in the Arizona Republic yesterday. The story "Valley Woman's Story of Change" started on the bottom of the front page, there was a teaser with a couple of photos on A27, and the story continued for all of A28 and most of A29. A second story specifically discussing Transgender issues in the Workplace, appeared at the bottom of A28.
I was still in Atlanta - packing and getting ready to come home - when the sun finally came up here in Arizona. My phone started ringing and didn't stop for much of the day.
Woman hopes story of change helps others
Arizona Republic - Phoenix,AZ,USA
... lived her life as a female, as a successful manager for a leading high-tech company, keeping her identity as a postoperative male-to-female transsexual a secret ...
More Employers Address Transgender Issues
Arizona Republic - Phoenix,AZ,USA
... created a policy to protect transgender employees ...
The feedback I was getting was positive, but I called my sister to get the real story. I can always count on her to be brutally honest with me. She took some time to read it and called back - she liked it a lot and wrote to the reporter to thank her. I don't know which emotion I felt more - satisfaction or relief.
It's an odd feeling to be out-ed on the front page of the newspaper. It's not that it's a bad feeling - it's just.....odd. I can't think of a better word for it. It blows my mind that more people read this article than will read my book. I went to my manager at work this morning - we've never discussed this before. As we reviewed things we need to do this week I asked him if he by any chance happened to read yesterday's paper. He got this funny little grin on his face and told me the he did, but that he already knew because he had seen the article in USA Today a couple of months back. We chatted about it for a few minutes and that was that - we had other problems to deal with.
The guy in the cube in front of me is kind of interesting. He's got an 8x10 photograph of Ronald Reagan as President decorating the wall of his cubicle and a Fox News coffee mug on his desk. If that doesn't scream 'I'M A REPUBLICAN SO LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE" I don't know what does. Surprisingly, he seemed to feel that the article was well done and we even chatted about it for a few minutes.
All in all, today was a good day. I've gotten quite
a few emails and phone calls about it. The reporter called to see how I
was doing, and says she's gotten quite a bit of feedback, too. She said it
seems to be 90% positive. Of course, the 10% of negative feedback is
Sunday, September 25, 2005
As I write this I'm 36,000 feet in the air sipping on Ginger Ale and munching on pretzels - somewhere between Chicago and Denver. I'm headed home after a busy week on the road - most recently at the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) in Atlanta. Unfortunately, my route home isn't the most direct one. My first flight was actually from Atlanta to Chicago. This leg will take me from Chicago to Denver (it feels like a week ago since I left there - actually it's only been a couple of days). The last leg will get me from Denver to Phoenix - I'm scheduled to finally arrive home a little after 9 tonight.
I really enjoyed my time at Out and Equal. The sad part is that I didn't get a chance to attend many of the workshops. I had hoped to attend 4 or 5 of them, but for any number of reasons that didn't happen. I did have some important conversations, I did some important networking, I had chances here and there to spend time with friends (both old and new), and my panel discussion on Friday went well. As we rushed from downtown Denver to the Airport on Friday I felt like I could have spent another week there doing the things I wanted to do but at the same time knowing that the time I had spent there was worthwhile. I'm already looking forward to next year's summit in Chicago.
By the time my plane landed and I got my luggage in Atlanta it was midnight. I had a choice to spend $40 on a cab to get from the airport to the hotel, or $1.75 on MARTA. I chose MARTA. So here I was - on the subway with my luggage with all the other late nighters trekking across Atlanta. After I got off the train at the deserted "Arts Center" station I trudged the half mile up the hill and down the street to the hotel.
Elizabeth was sleeping by the time I got to our room - she had driven there earlier in the day. She looked so funny - she was propped up on the pillows looking at the tv, with the channel changer in her hand and actually still pointed at it, but she was sound asleep. It was so nice to see her, although she had set the alarm for 6 so I could have used a little more sleep.
For those who have never been there, Southern Comfort is something you need to experience to really "get". They announced that the paid attendance this year was 640+, which is really amazing. There are all kinds of people there - you name it and it's there. And, some pretty amazing things happen. You name it and it happens there.
People go there to meet with friends - it's amazing how many people have been there for 10, 12, 15, or more years. It's like an annual pilgrimage. Others go there to learn - the workshop topics are tremendously diverse and are given by some of the key names in the community. Some are just starting out (I met Elizabeth there three years ago) while others are "veterans". It's a one-of-a-kind event. I wish I had attended back in the early days of my transition - I never realized what I was missing.
My sessions seemed to go well. One was a new topic - a panel discussion on "Dealing with the Media" with Elizabeth, Dr. Marci Bowers, Jamison Green, and myself. I think this is a particularly important topic as more and more of us get approached for media coverage for one reason or another. The other workshop was one I've given once before.
A particular highlight for me was Jamison Green's keynote talk during lunch. He said he'd send me a copy of it to post here - it was tremendously powerful and needs as much visibility as it can possibly get. James has such a clear vision of the issues facing our community.
Now, I'm headed back home. My cell phone started ringing shortly after ten and hasn't really stopped - the article in the Arizona Republic came out today. We're on page 1 - Hurrican Rita, and Donna. I don't know what I've done that makes this story worthy of the front page and I suspect the newspaper will get some cricicism because of that. Actually, I suspect they'll get quite a bit of feedback and I'm interested to see what happens with that.
As for the article itself, I haven't seen it yet and I'm not sure that I'll read it right away. Everyone who called (including my sister) loved it. That's all the matters - if my sister likes it then I'm sure I will, too. I liked the reporter from the first time we met and I'm glad to see that she was able to capture the important points of all of this. Angela rocks.
It'll be interesting what fallout, if any, I can expect this week. As far as I'm concerned it's business as usual. I'm headed to Washington DC on Wednesday afternoon so it'll be a short week at home. Maybe that'll be a good thing...
Well, we're on our descent into Denver so I'd better wrap this up. It was great to see so many friends over these past few days - if any of you are reading this I hope your trips home were safe and uneventful. Be well -
Thursday, September 22, 2005
"You don't have to
sacrifice excellence for diversity, and you don't have to sacrifice diversity
Mayor John Hickenlooper of Denver - in today's Welcoming remarks
As I write
this I'm in downtown Denver, Colorado on the 7th floor of the Adam's
Mark hotel, site of the 2005 Out and Equal Workplace Summit. This is the 3rd time I've
been to this conference, and it's one of my favorites.
My travels to Denver were uneventful, and the weather looks to be beautiful here all week. Events like this don't really provide much time for sight-seeing, although it does give a good opportunity to visit with friends from around the country - many of whom you're meeting for the first time after talking via phone or email.
I'm one of the facilitators at the pre-summit Leadership Seminar tomorrow, and I'll be participating on a panel discussion on Friday before rushing off to get to Atlanta for Southern Comfort. They had a nice group dinner for us this evening and I'm told that over 1,000 people have registered for the event. That's amazing. I doubt how many of us really realize what an incredible time this is...
This event is
dedicated to Best Practices for GLBT Workplace initiatives. Companies from
around the world come here to share their experience and collective wisdom,
while others come here to learn and to bring their gained knowledge back to
their own companies. Attendance here is a unique blend of GLBT employees,
Employee Resource Group reps, corporate HR and diversity people, and GLBT
community leadership. Companies who think they're on the leading edge in
terms of GLBT diversity can come here to be humbled at what the real leaders are doing.
I'll tell you here and now - if you can get to this event next year in Chicago - do it. It can't help but change you. To sit in a room with over 1,000 other people who have come from all over the world to celebrate diversity is a truly amazing experience. Standing in the ballroom this morning, listening to the Mariachi band onstage and scanning this huge room full of people, is something each of us needs to experience for ourselves. I don't have the words to describe hearing Judy Shepard talk about the murder of her son, Matthew, simply for being gay at the opening Plenary this morning. And, I doubt that there was a dry eye in the house.
I've spoken with people who have never been to one of these and who have come based on the amazing experiences that others have shared about their experiences at previous Out and Equal conferences. And, I've spoken with people who's company wouldn't pay for them to come - so they took vacation time and paid out of their own pocket. If you have a job - if you go to work each day - the people you meet here, the things you learn here, and the overall experience of being here will change you. I can't put it any simpler than that.
I'm taking photos and will have them on my photo page once this whirlwind of travel is over. In the meantime, I need to head back downstairs for the next session. I want to make the most of every minute here.
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Today is the day that the 2005 Corporate Equality Index was released. It's amazing to see how far we've come. This year, 101 companies received a 100% rating - compared to just 56 in 2004! Those 101 companies employ 5.6 million Americans, each of whom go to work every day safe from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Additionally, 116 major American corporations now prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity and expression; this includes the 101 who received a 100% rating, because a company can't score perfectly without doing so.
You can see the full report here to see how your company
If your company's score isn't what it should be, I challenge each and every one of us to become change agents in our own workplaces to help them become more inclusive. It's so each to think that someone else will do it, that we don't know what to do, it's too big to accomplish alone. But, the key ingredient to facilitating change is passion, and if you wait for someone else's passion to make things happen you may be waiting forever. Each of us can profoundly affect our companies - and by doing that we can change our world. If you don't know how, I'm happy to help because I do.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Every once in a while one of those odd things happens that just makes you scratch your head. I was in Costco today (go figure) and as you might guess for the time leading to Halloween it's full of candy. But as I was making my way out of the store I noticed this a guy with a big Snowman thing in his cart. When I got out to my car I looked at the temperature gauge - a relatively balmy 102 degrees. Sometimes you've just got to smile.
Actually, I was there to get a new, smaller digital camera. These next few weeks are typically full of wonderful photo opportunities - Out and Equal and Southern Comfort in particular, so I'd like something call I can carry around in my purse. The camera I've had for the past few years is too big and clunky.
I spent Friday night and Saturday on a short but much needed visit to spend a little time with friends in Austin. It was great to see Lisa and Sister Annah - everyone seems like they're doing well. And, perhaps equally as important, I got my hair done with wonderful Heather at Avant. I stayed at Lisa's house and she's dog-sitting this huge Great Dane - it was the largest dog I have ever seen, more like a small pony than a large dog. It's head alone is bigger than most small dogs, and she could stand in the kitchen and rest her big chin on the top of the kitchen counters. The funniest part about it is that this dog still thinks she's a puppy - she'll come up to you with this squirrel-toy in her mouth and when you throw it she frolics after it as though she was a month old - all awkward-like - except she weighs two hundred pounds. She's as gentle as a baby - but she's certainly got some bark. I think her name is Sasha or something like that - I just call her "Big Dog".
BTW - the cost of gas in Austin is $2.59. The cost here seems to be pretty consistent at $2.95-$2.99.
My athletic juices will have lots of opportunity to flow over the next several months. I signed up to run in the P.F. Chang's Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon here in Phoenix this January. I've never run 13 miles before, so this gives me something to shoot for. And, I'm in the process of signing up to compete in the Gay Games to be held in Chicago next July (more info here). I can't really say that I'm gay or not for sure - I guess it's more a subjective label than anything - but I'm looking forward to it! And, I've reserved a cabin on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon again next spring to hike rim to rim to rim. I refuse to grow old with my butt in a chair....
Speaking of arses, I read about something that made me both cranky and amused while I was in Austin. When I lived there I actually lived in a small town about 20 miles north of downtown Austin called Round Rock. And, although it's only a short distance away in terms of driving there, it's a million miles away in terms of mindset. It's in a different county - Williamson County - that's one of the most conservative in all of Texas. How could that be? How could a place like Round Rock be so close to a place like Austin? And, how could someone like me live there? I suppose those are some of the great mysteries of life....
Anyway, apparently one of the coffee houses in Austin had a drag show there last week. I'm told it was the first drag show ever in Williamson County. The place was jammed. And, it was such a big deal that it made the news. Well, people in Round Rock were not happy about this in their own backyard so they made a huge stink. I'm told it filled the newspaper for two days. And, in response, the Mayor ordered the fire marshal to inspect the club (perhaps not coincidentally, this was the first time ever) and made a personal "visit" to the owner of the club to express his disapproval.
Take a look at some of this...
Round Rock Drag Show Draws Out Gay Community - Mixed Crowd of 150+ Makes History at Downtown Coffee House
Round Rock Drag Show Prompts Fire Inspection
Kelso: Women's clothing? No thanks, the heels screw up my posture
There's more where that came from if you really want to see it.
Lord who knows what would have happened if they ever realized that they had a real bona-fied
transsexual living there! I wonder if the mayor would have come to visit me, too.
Friday, September 16, 2005
I can't believe it's the middle of September already. Where has the time gone? So much has happened since my last update here - this could be a fairly length entry...
Last Friday I flew to Rochester to visit my family. The trip was timed around a couple of events taking place last weekend - it was my niece's 21st birthday on Saturday, and the Buffalo Bills home opener was on Sunday. The weather for the entire trip was absolutely wonderful - perfect early autumn warmth and sun in the days and cool, crisp nights - and as in past trips back home where I actually have time to enjoy it I find an odd opportunity to re-charge my batteries there.
There was a time when I was a die-hard Bills fan. If I had to use a half dozen words to describe myself ten years ago - those words would have been two of them. It was just that important to me. I had a closet full of clothes with red, white and blue Buffalo Bills logos on them, and we traveled anywhere within 400 miles (sometimes more) to go and watch them play. I've been to all 4 Super Bowls (they lost - I'm still in group therapy for that because every time I see a replay where Scott Norwood misses that field goal I start to sob - just kidding...) and to be perfectly honest if they go again in my lifetime I'll be there, too. I've had to trudge out of the stadium after 4 losses - sadder than sad - you know damn well I've earned the right to celebrate.
Thankfully, my fervor for football in general has waned quite a bit in recent years (go figure!). That's not to say I don't enjoy it - I do. But, it's no longer a center piece of my weekends the way it was. When I pruned my closet only one or two pieces of team logo T-shirts survived. My brother, on the other hand, has gotten absolutely nuts. He's involved with online fan chats and seems incredibly involved. Every year one of the many groups he seems to be involved with has a huge party at the first home game - people come from around the country to be there. In fact, my brother drove to Buffalo a day early so he could help set up the big party tent on gameday by 6:30 am to begin tailgating. I'll be honest - if I started tailgating at 6:30 in the morning I'd be unconscious by game time.
This is the 4th or 5th time since I moved away that I've gone back in early September for the home opener. In 2001 I was flying back home the Tuesday morning after the game - it was 9/11 - and my plane was diverted to Baltimore. I was stuck there for a week. And although the game is certainly part of the reason I like to come back at this time of year perhaps just as big a reason is the fact that I miss autumn. More specifically, I miss autumn there. It's almost like it calls me back home.
Trips there are very nostalgic. I enjoy visiting places I used to go and doing things I liked to do during the 15 years that I lived there. For some reason, it has become important to re-visit them now - as Donna - as I've found an odd need to re-connect with my past. I find an odd sense of closure when I find people or places that were important to me as Dave and I can re-visit them now as Donna. I can't explain it. But you know what? I find I don't need to explain everything anymore. I just know that it's true and I figure perhaps the reasons may become clear over time - who knows...
The other evening I went for a run along the Erie Canal between Bushnell's Basin (there's a one lane bridge over the canal there) and Pittsford. It's a route I've done hundreds of times over the years - I lived near there for a long time. I remember doing it with our German Shepard back when she was a puppy almost 20 years ago. And, I remember the constant feeling that would drive me to run farther and faster, almost like I was in training - training to be Donna. Again - I can't explain it. I just remember how it was, and how amazing it is to be able to revisit places like that now.
I'll tell you this - it didn't take long to remember why I generally avoided running along the canal at dusk during the summer. There are swarms of billions of little teeny flying bugs that come out of the moist greenery to enjoy the cool evening air along the water. For some reason, they seem to congregate just around head height off the ground and you can't really see them until you're right there in the midst of them, so running along the canal is a constant opportunity to get a face full of bugs if you're not careful. In your eyes. Up your nose. In your mouth. Yuck!! So, in order to avoid that fate the key is to run looking at the ground, almost as though you're running head-first down the canal path. It's actually kind of dangerous, as you might run over some poor kid strolling along the path or run off the edge into the water.
As I ran back an interesting thing happened. It was almost dark - with a clear sky and a very bright moon almost like a spotlight up in the sky. As I ran I could see the outline of a big bird just off the canal path to my right - it was a big Blue Heron. As I got close it gracefully opened its big wings and flew away - skimming just above the water in the canal before landing and coming to rest just along the canal path about 100 yards ahead. As I got closer, it did it again - gracefully and silently flying forward another hundred yards. I could only see the outline of the bird in the moonlight - it was wonderful. And - this happened at least a half dozen times. It was almost symbolic - as though this graceful bird was leading the way through the night. And, eventually - it just kept on flying.
I had a chance to have coffee with Deborah - one of the people who helped me deal with my gender gift for so many years when I lived there. I've known her for a long time and I'll never forget her - she helped me in ways too deep to explain. It's so nice to be able to re-connect a little later in life - it seems almost like we were kids way back when - sitting in her studio doing make-up and I'd get the faintest of glimpses of what might be possible for me.
And, I had a chance to visit what - to me - is the shrine of autumn: Power's Farmers Market. Powers is a couple of miles down the street from where we used to live, just across from the cemetery, and somehow represents fall to me. They build these huge teepees out of straw and fill them with spooky pumpkins. They have hundreds, maybe thousands, of pumpkins of all sizes out front. They have chickens, and goats, and a small horse that will eat out of your hand. As it gets closer to Halloween they have a haunted hay ride where a tractor pulls groups through the forest. And, they sell the best fresh donuts and cider you can imagine. I remember going there when my son was just a couple of years old to pick out pumpkins, to walk through the teepee, and to feed the animals.
Anyways, I'm home now. The trip was great - I'm invigorated and re-charged. Now I face two solid months of craziness. I'm scheduled to be on the road more than I'm home - for some reason many of the GLBT events seem to be in the fall. I'm headed back to Austin this weekend (a social trip) - back on Sunday. Then, I leave for Denver on Tuesday thru Friday then I'll fly directly to Atlanta for Southern Comfort before getting back home the following Sunday. I get two days at home before heading back East to Washington DC for the HRC Business Council and Board meetings - Elizabeth will be meeting me there for the National Dinner. I'll be back in Washington again that following weekend for a GLBT Leadership Conference....it's just a very busy couple of months.
To top it all off, I think I mentioned that a reporter had called and was following me around for a few weeks as part of a story she was writing. Her story is scheduled to print next Sunday (9/25) and I'm not sure what that will do - other than to piss my ex-wife off. I've done a little work to prepare people I normally wouldn't discuss this with because I don't want them to be surprised. But in the end these kinds of things are a crap shoot - you just go on and whatever happens happens. This kind of stuff makes me feel awkward because contrary to appearances I don't like attention. My life doesn't need that. My biggest concern isn't with the fallout that might happen - I can't control that and I'll just deal with it. My main concern is making sure the article is a good one - and I've grown to like this reporter and I think she's really trying to do a great job for us. She seems to be talking to all the right people and asking all the right questions. We'll see.
One last thing....There's a new series on the Sundance Channel starting up next week (first airing is Sept. 20). It's called "TransGeneration" and it's about 4 college kids dealing with various gender gifts. The Sundance website has a good description of it (click here to see it) so if you do get that channel I'd be interested in your thoughts. One of the people (Gabbie) was at Colorado Gold Rush this year and there was a camera crew running all over the place so it'll be interesting to see how it comes out.
Saturday, September 3, 2005
Today was a wonderful day. From beginning to end. There's no particular thing that happened to make it wonderful - I think it's a combination of the everything that happened, the rarity of these kinds of lazy relaxing days, and just the positive mindset that I've been in lately.
A few weeks ago I was having dinner with some friends at a local restaurant and I really liked the hairstyle on one of the waitresses there. I called her over and asked her where she got it styled and she told me - and my appointment with her stylist was this morning. One of the things I enjoy most about women in our culture is that there is a much greater freedom of self-expression - opportunities to do different things and look different ways. I told Becka to do whatever she wanted with my hair, and the end result looks fabu. Of course, I'll never be able to get it to look this way myself again so I may as well enjoy it before I go to bed. But just knowing it CAN look this way given the proper expertise is enough.
Then, I went to pick up my son. He's had an internet "pan pal" (for lack of a better term) from the Seattle area for over 4 years now - they've come to know each other very well given all that has happened. He went to visit her for the first time last weekend, and she came down here for these past few days. So, the three of us spent the afternoon together.
We went shopping. We grabbed some lunch. We went to the mall. And, we went to a movie that's one of the funniest I've seen in a long, long time. We went to see "The 40 Year Old Virgin". It was hilarious - I'm still chuckling over some of the scenes.
I've been very careful with my eating lately, and that's completely blown today but really - I don't care. I'll be good tomorrow (and I will).
There something laying on the horizon that's in the back
of my mind that I suppose I'll mention. A local reporter wrote to me a
couple of months ago wanting to do a story on the transgender community.
We met and we just "clicked" so I've been helping her put a story together.
She has been following me around - here and there - for the better part of a
month and I think she's fascinated by it all. I think this story has
somehow grown into something big - they even paid for her to come back to
Rochester with me last week to watch the Kodak session and to talk with my
family there. She's spoken with Millie Brown (True Selves), Lynn Conway,
and any number of others of us across the country. Anyway, she's putting
the finishing touches on it and apparently it's scheduled
to run in the Sunday paper in a couple of weeks. I think I'll make arrangements to be away that day...
Friday, September 2, 2005
Like everyone else, I can't believe what's happening in New Orleans. I'm completely blown away by it - and no matter how bad any of us thinks it is there I think the reality for the people who are still there is that it's worse than that. It's unimaginable. It's unimaginable that something like this could happen at all - the fact that it's in a major city in the heart of the United States makes it all the more incredible.
I can't really get it out of my mind. It just seems so incongruous that my day goes on pretty much like it always does when a tragedy of such unspeakable proportions is happening right here in my own country. In one sense I've generally stopped watching CNN for hours on end because it's just too heartbreaking to watch. On the other, no matter how bad I think it is something happens to prove that it's just getting worse. My heart and my prayers go out to those still there, to those displaced and dispersed to all corners of the country, to those who have friends and loved ones there, and to those trying to help.
Difficult times bring out the best and the worst in people. I think many of use re-learn that time and again throughout our lives. It brings out tremendous heroism, courage, and humanity while at the same time it exposes the darkest side of the human beast. Reduced to chaos - no structure, no support, no food, no hope - New Orleans is providing lessons many of us never wanted to learn in the first place.
I saw a heartbreaking interview of a diabetic woman - she hadn't had anything to eat in three days and didn't have any insulin left - and she was sobbing, "I don't want to die like this". I saw an entire hospital of elderly, sick patients that had been evacuated to the roof in the expectation that helicopters would come to airlift them out - but the helicopters never came so they sweltered on the roof. Several died. I saw people returning to homes in small towns that just don't exist anymore. Gone. Everything. I saw people looting stores, trying to find food for their children, losing patience and hope and faith.
Sadly, it often takes tragedy to make you really realize things you always knew but those to ignore until another day. This entire experience - however it ends - will fundamentally change the world. I don't know that we really realize that now, but I see it as clear as the nose on my face. I went out looking for gas last night - driving around Phoenix, Arizona - the 5th largest metro area in the country - for 45 minutes before finding a gas station that actually had gas and when I did the price was $3.08 a gallon (whoever says the average price per gallon here is currently $2.72 must have old data). And it's going nowhere but up. We've had opportunities to move away from our ongoing dependency on gas for decades but we've become complacent. The streets here are filled with huge shiny Hummers - I'll be it costs $150 to fill up that gas tank right now.
This facade that the government - any government - will take care of it's people is shattered. All of this infrastructure that we build as the underpinnings of our orderly world is far more fragile than any of us want to believe. And, like with 9/11. we have a choice to learn from this and actually do something important or we can wait it out until things get better and we can gradually let it fade away. The ones who need to prevent that from happening are all of us.
My sister is funny. A few years ago there was a situation when an entire power grid in the Northeast went out and they were dark for several days. Everyone was dark, and hot. She hated the feeling of vulnerability that had been exposed - her dependency on electricity - so she started to investigate ways to change it. She had several people over to the house to provide quotes about what it would take to put some solar panels on the roof. She was so serious about it - she had plans drawn up, investigated the financial benefits provided by government tax credits, and even worked out an arrangement to actually sell power back to the electric company. But, as time went on and the memory of the that time faded I think the urgency faded, too.
None of us can afford to allow that to happen here. First and foremost we need to help those directly affected by what is happening, but in the longer term we need to learn from this. We need to be changed by this. We need to MAKE change happen because of this. Otherwise, the next time something like this happens - and somehow, somewhere it will - we'll have nobody to blame but ourselves.
Tuesday, August 30, 2005
I started something new last night. I went for a walk.
That may not sound like earth-shattering news, but it actually represents something pretty big for me. In my entire life, I've never really considered walking to really be exercise - at least not exercise in the way I've always thought of it. I mean, deep down I know it is but when I think about it like that for some reason I'm reminded of people walking the halls of the mall before it opens - that looks more like shopping than exercising. I'm sure it's a macho leftover from all those "guy" years; those years of wrestling and football somehow forged an unbreakable connection in my mind between exercise and pain, sweat, and exertion. Without those elements, how could it really be exercise? There has always been a physical-ness to exercise for me - Always.
Well, last night I wanted to do something physical but I didn't want to punish myself. It was already 7pm and I wasn't in the mood to get all sweaty and exhausted, but at the same time I really wanted to get out and do something to get my heart and lungs pumping. So, I got in my workout clothes, I grabbed my headphones and some music, and I walked.
Late summer evenings here are HOT. The sun was already pretty well down and it was still 105 degrees - very toasty. No humidity, but the heat of the day comes up at night - off the pavement. It's like cooking on a concrete and tar stove. Anyway, I walked and walked - arms and legs pumping, wind in my hair, beautiful clear sky overhead - for almost two hours. It was great, and by the time I got home I knew I had had exercise even though I wasn't a complete sweaty exhausted mess. And, I enjoyed it so much that I'm going to do it again soon!
And, perhaps even more important - I slept like a baby. Usually when I exercise any time after 7 I have difficulty sleeping. Not last night. I think I've turned a corner here...
Speaking of turning a corner, I have never considered myself to be a picky eater but I do have favorites and I'll go to a store specifically to buy that one thing if I can't find it anywhere else. For example, I really like Brown Cow Cream Top yogurt. There are those who may roll their eyes and say that yogurt is yogurt - and I won't argue with you on that. But for someone who really actually likes yogurt, there's a difference. And, in my opinion, Brown Cow just rocks. It's like a whole new food. Brown Cow is to yogurt as White Castle is to little burgers. Yumm.
I almost feel guilty talking about such mundane things
knowing how horrible things have gotten in Mississippi and Louisiana from
Hurricane Katrina. I watch the incredible scenes on CNN and can't even
imagine what I'd do in a similar situation - it's just mind boggling. It
sure puts things in perspective. But at the same time, I think part of the
beauty of life is taking time to appreciate the simple things. Like taking
a walk on a star filled night, or enjoying a favorite food....
Sunday, August 28, 2005
The event in Prescott was fun. I drove there Friday evening so I didn't have to rush myself yesterday morning before the program. When I got to the hotel - the Prescott Resort and Conference Center (featuring Bucky's Casino) - they gave me room 502 so I went up to the 5th floor to unpack and rest from a long day. Well, I got there and found that room 502 is one of their large suites - in fact it's larger than my condo! There was a huge mirrored fireplace, a big bar, a kitchen, a formal dining room, a gigantic bathroom - room enough for a dozen people or more. It seemed way too much room for just one person - it was very nice. Perhaps the nicest thing about it was the view - the resort is on the top of a hill overlooking Prescott valley and seeing it first thing in the morning when the sun was just coming up was pretty spectacular.
The fact that this topic attracted almost 50 people in little Prescott, Arizona on a beautiful Saturday afternoon is pretty incredible. To me, it's another indication of just how the world is changing - how much people want to understand difference, to appreciate difference. Politically, things suck. But, where it counts - in workplaces, and in communities, and in the hearts and minds of thinking and caring people - things are changing. Unfortunately, the people who come to events like this and the one earlier in the week at Kodak are there because they want to be there - it's like preaching to the choir. People who should be there aren't there. But the key ingredient here - time - is on our side.
On my drive home I listened to Craig Chaquico - his CD "Acoustic Highway" is the perfect music for that drive down out of the mountains back to Phoenix - and just soaked in the moment. I find myself becoming somewhat philosophical over these past few days - wondering what the future holds, how long I'll be as involved in all of this as I am, lamenting the fact that I don't have anyone to share drives like that with. I think it's after affects of my visit home to Rochester. I figure I'll snap out of it in the next week or so.
I'll be spending today with my son. He started college last week and we're going to the Mac Store to look at laptops. He's hoping to turn his interest in music into something he can actually make money doing - as a sound engineer - so he's taking courses locally. They uses Mac's to do mixing and whatever else is involved in recording and he wants to be able to do it at home, too. So, we'll go spend the day together and enjoy ourselves.
As I write this I'm enjoying a quiet Sunday morning, sipping on a cup of Community Coffee shipped direct from Louisiana (thanks Julie!). The movie "Phenomenon" is on TV again. It's just such a powerful, moving story - it still gives me goosebumps. Too bad we don't have more George O'Malley's in the world. Near the end of the movie he talks about the fact that if he throws an apple to the ground it won't take long to rot and fade away. But, if we take a bite out of it it becomes part of us, and it endures with us forever. We need more people willing to take a bite of the apple (the ironic symbolism of the Garden of Eden is not lost on me here), but perhaps even more so we need more people willing to be the apple. The song at the end of the movie "Change The World" by Eric Clapton is just such a perfect exclamation point....
Friday, August 26, 2005
My flight back to Phoenix yesterday was long, and uneventful. In a way it's nice to be home again - there's nothing like waking up in your own bed. But in another way I'm sad - I always seem to get sad when I leave there - because it's just so nice to be surrounded by love and people who actually care the way they do. I suppose my trips there are like recharging my batteries - giving enough juice until the next time I can get back for a visit. My mom actually arrived from Dallas on Wednesday evening for a couple of weeks, and we had a nice (but all too short) visit before I had to leave.
I'm sure there is a mountain of email waiting for me at work, and I've got a couple of hour drive this evening to Prescott - a city about 100 miles northwest of Phoenix, for an all-day trans- program tomorrow. The neat thing about Prescott is that it's really not all that far away, but whereas Phoenix is in a Valley and is generally pretty warm - Prescott is up around 5,000 ft. in elevation up in the mountains and is often 20 or more degrees cooler than it is here. My ex-wife, my son and I visited it in autumn several years ago to visit someplace where we could experience "fall" - leaves turning color, cool brisk air, Halloween pumpkins.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
As I write this I'm back home in Rochester, NY. I lived here for nearly 15 years - my son was born here, in many ways I became an adult here, my brother and sister and their families still live here, my father died here...in short, I have history here. No matter where I go, and despite the fact that it wouldn't disappoint me in the least to never experience another upstate NY winter, it's still home.
Those who know me will know that I still enjoy football. Specifically, I'm a Buffalo Bills fan and have been for as long as I can remember. I don't know how that happened - I think I was born that way. Lord knows it's certainly not a choice, as there have been years of crummy teams and heartbreaking Super Bowl disappointments enough for years of therapy. But Buffalo Bills fans remain a very loyal and hardy group of people - and I'm happy to say that although my fanaticism for the team has waned somewhat over recent years I'm still a big fan.
Whatever level of excitement I've lost for football - it seems that my brother has gained it. He's a maniac. Elizabeth and I have tickets to the Bills home opener next month so she'll be able to taste some of this for herself. I'm sure she'll be amused by it all.
One of the ironies is that the Bills moved their training camp to within 5 miles of where we used to live here in Rochester shortly after we moved away. Their open practices here draw large crowds - upwards of 5,000 people per day, and it has become a state-of-the-art practice operation. My brother and I attended one of their last training camp practices on Monday night, and had a ton-o-fun. It was a beautiful summer evening here - almost frigid by Phoenix standards but crisp and cool and comfortable. There's something soothing about sitting in the stands, munching on a Zweigel's white hot, and watching football. At least, for me there is.
Although the much-needed family time is nice, the main reason for this trip was to do a Transgender Workshop at Kodak. Kodak has always been a leader when it comes to GLBT diversity, and the fact that this event came together as quickly as it did is an indication of just how serious they are about these issues. It's odd to come back here and talk about these kinds of things - I used to do consulting at Kodak and used to wander those very same halls trying to find my way around the maze that is Kodak office.
The event went well, and even received significant local media coverage which is nice. It's good to see companies can get positive press simply for having supportive policies - I think that's huge. If you've got any interest to see, there's a video clip from last night's 6 o'clock newscast and a newspaper article from this morning's paper. I can't thank the folks at Kodak enough - the group from Lambda (the Kodak GLBT Employee Resource group), the HR staff - everyone. They really do things right.
I'm glad to say I'll be back here in Rochester for one reason or another at least 3 more times between now and Thanksgiving. I'm already looking forward to it.
Friday, August 19, 2005
Today is a good hair day. I'm not sure what it is in the universe that helps decide whether your hair looks really good on one day and crappy the next but it's a reality of every-day life these days. The Hair Goddess can be a fickle deity, and she's got a twisted sense of humor. Thankfully, I have found the magic ingredient to cure (or at least minimize) bad hair days. It's Mousse. Scrunch it into your hair, dry it a bit, put in a couple of clips, and you're good to go.
My son is in the hospital today. Although he's only 19 he's got high blood pressure and they think it has something to do with a blockage in the artery to one of his kidneys. They're doing one of those angiogram-like things to go in there and check it out - not high risk or high pain but still surgery nonetheless. At the beginning of the week my ex- was reluctant to tell me what hospital he was going to be in but I think we've gotten past that hurdle. I'll go visit him tonight.
Life gets busy (busier, anyways) as of Sunday. I'm headed home to Rochester to do a training for Kodak - and I'm really looking forward to that. I used to do Information Technology consulting there and I think several of the people I knew way back when are still there. It'll be nice to catch up on things. To top things off, my mom is coming to Rochester in the middle of the week - it'll be the first time our entire family has been in one place in quite a while -a couple of years, anyways. I'm staying there a couple of extra days so we can meet up before coming home.
Saturday, August 13, 2005
Another week seems to have zoomed by. Where does the time go?
I had a relatively minor surgery "procedure" on Thursday so I've been taking it easy while I recover from that. "J" from Trinidad has been here to help - I met her at one of the conferences and we've been chatting ever since. I can't thank her enough - I'm not used to having people around while I recover from surgeries but she's been a Godsend. I hope I've been a good patient.
It's fun to be around people who have never visited Arizona before. One of the unique things here is that there are little bunny rabbits everywhere - kind of like squirrels back east. I've got one particular rabbit who spends time on my patio each morning or when it's raining - she gets through a little opening in the wall and checks things out before going on to whatever she does with the rest of her day. She even leaves me presents sometimes, little ball-bearing sized "gifts" to let me know she's been there. "J" says she thinks it's a girl rabbit, although I have no idea how she can say that without a closer inspection.
One of the neat things about the wonderful group of people we've got here in the Valley is the opportunity to meet for dinner on a regular basis. I've included photos in the past of previous field trips. The size of the group can grow to a dozen or more depending on who happens to be in town on any given weekend. Last night there were 7 of us - including several of the usual suspects (Dr. Becky and Margaux were there!) - and it was very pleasant. I hope I never take those kinds of opportunities for granted.
While we were out shopping yesterday I bought the new CD by Staind. The singer for Staind is Aaron Lewis, and there's something about some of his songs that speak directly to me - I don't know how that is. I suppose that's the beauty of writing - being able to connect to people like that no matter what the specifics of their situation. And, I think part of it is his unique voice. Anyway, one of the songs on the new CD (It's titled Chapter V) is like that - it's titled Schizophrenic Conversations. I'm including some of the lyrics here...
Are you afraid Afraid of the truth In mirror staring back at you The image is cracked But so is the view here And the strength of a tree Begins in the roots That I tend to bury into you At least now the storm Can't blow me away So crawl inside My head with me I'll show you how It feels to be To blame like me Should I be afraid Of this face that I see In the mirror staring back at me So cold were the days When I listened to you And you say that I'm weak So show me the proof Because I still exist in spite of you But I won't compete With you every day
My son is coming over tomorrow. Half of my world is in my garage here - I think I have a whole other house-full of stuff in there as part of everything I moved here from Texas. Sofa, TV, appliances, dining room table and chairs, armoir - tons of stuff. My son thinks one of his drum cymbals is there somewhere so I told him he can come over to look, and to help me find my bike (and a couple of other things) in all of that. I'll want to start riding it more once the weather cools a little bit.
He wants me to make him one of my fruit smoothies while he's here - it's funny the things that make us "bond".
Tuesday, August 9, 2005
Tomorrow is my Rebirthday. Tonight marks the night - 5 years ago - when I drank a gallon of disgusting stuff and spent half the night on a toilet. I suppose, in the scheme of things, it was a small price to pay. In retrospect, I can honestly say that I wouldn't change a single thing.
I've got a visitor staying with me for a few days. She lives in Trinidad, Colorado by way of beautiful Lake Charles, LA. If you've ever been to see Marci Bowers you will probably know her. Her name begins with a "J" and that's all I'll say. There's something fun about mystery.
I don't think we're going to do anything too exciting to celebrate this milestone - I've got a minor "procedure" coming up on Thursday. Past rebirthdays have been celebrated alone - I find it to be a good time to spend some quiet reflective me time. I suppose we'll just have to see what tomorrow brings...
Before we think too much about tomorrow, let's think about yesterday for a sec. I got an email from the organizer of the vigil from Saturday night. In response to the vigil the Phoenix newspaper ran an online poll about hate crimes and transgender. Here is his note:
Thank you all for your participation in Saturday’s vigil at the Arizona Capitol. You all were amazing. I’ve copied the Arizona Republic story below. We also received coverage on 365gay.com and most, if not all, of the Phoenix television stations.
The Arizona Republic also had an online poll the day the story ran with the following question: Should federal law be expanded to include violent crimes based on gender identity, thus allowing the FBI to track transgender violence?
The results: 62% - Yes; 38% - No
This is an accomplishment we should all be proud of. Together, we are having a positive impact on public opinion.
Sunday, August 7, 2005
Today is one of those lazy Sundays that only seem to come around once in a blue moon. And, I did the thing I do most Sundays when I'm home. I went to Costco.
For those who don't know what Costco is, it's a Wholesale Club. It's one of these warehouse stores like Sam's Club - only in my mind it's in a league of its own. Anyone who knows me will attest to the fact that I'm a Costco "slut" - I just love Costco. I can't help it. It's just the way it is.
My first contact with Costco came when I moved here to Scottsdale 10 years ago. I'm not sure how our relationship evolved the point it is today - where as soon as I need anything major the first question that comes to mind is whether Costco sells it or not. But I assure you there are some funny stories involved.
The day I got my name changed - back in 1999 - I immediately went across the street to get a new driver's license. Then, I went to the bank and changed my name there. Finally, on my way back home, I made sure to stop at Costco to get a new membership card there, too. The photo on my Costco card was from day 1 as Donna (officially) until only recently when I needed to turn it in - I was a little bitter that they wouldn't let me keep it as a memento.
When I moved to Austin there wasn't a Costco there, which was cause for serious withdrawal until I learned that they were building one not too far from my house. I used to stop by the building site from time to time to chat with the construction foreman to make sure it would open as scheduled - and I was there on day 1. If that's not nutso, I don't know what is.
Of course, one of the drawbacks to buying things at a Warehouse Club is that they often come in bulk - which means they're extra large packages/portions of whatever you're buying. It's like super-sizing your shopping, and when you live alone it's hard to find a place to store all the "extra" stuff. This is especially true for frozen food - the freezer above the refrigerator is only so big. Well, I'm only a little ashamed to admit that I bought a separate freezer from Costco so I could store all the extra frozen food that I bought at Costco. Oy.
One time, I saw this fine pink purse in one of the display cases. It was totally cute and I just loved it, so I filled out the paperwork to buy one. The way it works for stuff in the display cases is that you fill out a form, bring it to the cash register and pay, and take the receipt to a caged area where they keep all the "stuff". Then, someone goes into the cage and gives you whatever it is you bought. Well, this woman who works at the "cage" goes into it to get a purse for me and comes out empty handed - apparently that the one in the display case was the last one. She assured me that it was totally new and I didn't see a reason to not believe her so she called one of the stock guys on her walkie-talkie and asked him to get the fuchsia purse out of the case and bring it up to the front. It was quiet on the other end for a couple of moments before he responded. "Uuuummmmm. What color is fuchsia?" he asked. The cage lady and I both answered him at the same time, "PINK!" We both got a good laugh out of it.
When you get a membership there you get a free second person on your account. For the longest time that person was my ex-wife. In fact, I wrote to her once during one of our heated unhappy exchanges and lamented that the only thing we share any more is twenty years of memories, a son, and a Costco membership. Well, it wasn't too long before we fixed that, too. Wonderful sister Elizabeth is now my "spouse" as far as Costco is concerned. I just talked with her this afternoon (she's home in South Carolina) and she was on her way to Costco, too. I guess it must be a family thing. :)
The food at Costco rocks. I sometimes go there just to eat a slice of pizza, or to get some of their fat-free soft frozen yogurt. On weekend afternoons you can fill up on samples - they taste-test lots of stuff there. It's amazingly effective, too, as I end up buying half the stuff I taste. I buy wine there, too - they've got a huge selection at the one in Scottsdale. My friend Mel (we affectionately call her 'The Wine Snob') sometimes complains that I don't have any of the high-end wines in my wine rack and I tell her with total honesty that if Costco doesn't sell it, I don't need it. I make her buy the snooty wines.
I swear that they pump something through the ventilation system there to make you spend money. I mean, I've gone in there with the best of intentions to buy one or two things before, only to get home and realize that I've spent a hundred dollars (and that's getting off easy). I may as well just give them my credit card at the door and ask them to be easy on me. Remarkably, I got out of there today after purchasing one single item. I bought the Eagles Farewell Tour I DVD (I'm watching it as I type - it's very nostalgic) for $18.95. The Eagles are coming to Phoenix sometime this autumn and tickets are selling for well over $100 each. As far as I'm concerned, Costco actually saved me that money today because now I don't need to go see the concert! That's how my mind justifies things like this....
On another topic,
the vigil last night was well attended. The group that is arranging all
this stuff is doing a wonderful job at creating awareness. There were
probably 150 people or more there. All the local TV channels sent news
crews. It was in the paper this morning. It was a very diverse group
of people - all different ages and types. As
usual, our community was very poorly represented but I've learned to keep my
disappointment about that to myself - I learned my lesson about that after the
Day of Remembrance here last year. It wasn't for lack of getting the word
out - no, it's about apathy. Kudos to the half dozen local trans gals/guys
who showed up to show their support. You rock.
Saturday, August 6, 2005
I'm tired. In fact, I think as soon as I'm done with this I'm going to take a nap. To be honest, a "nap" is one of those life luxuries I almost always need but almost never get to enjoy. It's kind of like a good deep massage or a pedicure - simple pleasures that somehow just never seem to happen.
The president of HRC, Joe Solmonese, has been in town for a couple of days so things have been busy juggling my regular life with all of the events scheduled around his visit. One of the highlights came last night at a town-hall discussion on religion that was held in the auditorium of the Phoenix Art Museum. There were well over 200 people there - it was very encouraging to see.
One of the panel members was Daniel Karslake, the producer of a movie currently in production titled "For The Bible Tells Me So" (I've added a hyperlink to their website). We watched a 7-minute sample from the film, and I can tell you this is going to be big. He interviews people like Desmond Tutu, Bishop Gene Robinson, the Gephardts - in a very, VERY powerful film about being GLBT, spirituality and Religion. They're hoping to have it ready to premier at the Sundance Film Festival in January.
I sat next to Becky Allision and Margaux, and somehow when I think of a spiritual center in our community I immediately think of Becky. We were both very jazzed about what we saw - I think it's really going to be something major. It's something important. No - it's more than important. It's critical. When you see the scenes of hate that are captured in this film - in the name of God, in the guise of religion - it will amaze you. It will scare you. If you consider yourself religious, it may embarrass you. And, I think, it will enrage you.
I've avoided talking about religion on my website for quite a while as it is bound to open a whole new can of worms once I put it out there. But, my reluctance to say what I feel - to say what NEEDS to be said - is weakening. If you see this trailer (I've got a DVD copy of it and will gladly make copies to send out if I get that permission) you'll see why. To think that we face problems in our workplaces, in our homes, in our relationships, and in society as a whole without getting to the underlying REASONS for many of these things is simply applying triage to the symptoms and without addressing the real source. This movie will do that. This movie will help untold thousands of people see the "other" side that has heretofore remained unsaid, or at least unspoken, in a large forum for any number of reasons.
There are so many important scenes/quotes in that short 7 minute trailer. One I find particularly compelling quote is from one Reverend: "Jesus always puts the word of truth into the mouths of people that are not acceptable in their society." Another person says, "God is counting on you to bring a new consciousness into yourself, and into the rest of us as well." No matter how you classify your spiritual self, it's all very powerful stuff.
This is all particularly timely because I'm also thinking of sharing my 2-cents on same-sex marriage, too. Frankly, those in the transgender community who somehow feel that this issue doesn't have anything to do with them are as naive as a newborn baby. It does affect us, both directly and indirectly, and it sometimes amazes me that so many of us can't see that. One Martin Luther King Jr. quote that I heard at a dinner not too long ago continues to ring in my ears: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere". When injustice is grounded in hate and bigotry, as it is here, nobody is safe.
Stay tuned on that as I'm sure I'll have more in the months to come. (BTW - they need $$$ to finish the film so if you go to their website and can spare even a small amount, please please please contribute even if it's only $20. It's a very worthy cause.)
Anyway, I had breakfast at a friend's house with a small group including Joe and the mayor of Phoenix this morning. Of particular interest to me is one of my next adventures here - getting 'gender identity and expression' protection added to the local city nondiscrimination ordinances. We did it in Austin, and there's no reason why we can't do it here. I've already started to do the legwork, so once the elections are over in September it will be full steam ahead. The mayor is supportive to the level that he can be at this point, so we'll see how things go.
And tonight, of course, is the vigil at the State Capitol. We're hoping for a good turnout there.
As I reread some
of the things I've written it becomes obvious why my naps seem to be so few and
far between. On the plus side, though, I can assure you that when I do
sleep - I sleep a peaceful sleep. After having lived the life I have,
learning first-hand what true inner peace feels like has made it all
Thursday, August 4, 2005
It's almost midnight, and I just got home from the concert. It was wonderful.
I suppose if I wanted to nit-pick I'd say that there wasn't enough Don Henley, but I think it turns out that I misunderstood the concert bill. I thought there would be a set by each - Don Henley and Stevie Nicks - and then perhaps collaboration on a song or two. But the reality is that this was a Stevie Nicks concert, and Don Henley sang with her on some of the songs (Leather and Lace was particularly wonderful). No matter. It was still wonderful.
We were in the 28th row of the Dodge Theater in downtown Phoenix. I was actually supposed to be at a fancy dinner at a particularly nice local resort tonight, but I spent a lot of money on these tickets and really didn't want to cancel out. I'm glad I went. Sitting there, waiting for the concert to begin I made some observations as I scanned the crowd around us.
First, it was interesting to see the ages of everyone - there were teenagers who couldn't be more than twelve or thirteen and there were people that had to be at least seventy years old. How many acts can bring in that kind of an age range? Everyone knew the words to the songs (Rhiannon, Edge of Seventeen, Sara, Stop Dragging My Heart Around) - in some ways many of them have helped to define my generation - and was singing along. It was almost as fun to watch the people around us as the stuff going on on stage.
Second, this was the nicest dressed crowd for a large concert that I've ever seen. People were in skirts, dresses, nice shirts - it was amazing. Very few t-shirts or jeans. Good thing I was still dressed from work - I think I fit right in.
Third, it was one of the most talented (and nicest looking) bands I've ever seen. The lead guitarist is someone I recognized right away from years ago - his name is Waddy Wachtel and I think he's played with every band in music. I specifically remember him with Linda Ronsdtadt (can you believe she just turned 55?!!). The drummer had a funky hair thing going on, but everyone looked buff and the sound was just so tight. As my son would say, it was "bad ass!".
Another thing, it's amazing how visually interesting concerts can be. There was a simple w-panel backdrop at the back of the stage and they showed any number of great visual effects on them - very colorful, always moving, always interesting. For example, as she sang the song "Landslide", which she dedicated to her father, they showed photos and videos of Stevie from throughout her life and career. It was so fun to watch. And, there were two large video screens on both sides of the stage that were absolutely crystal clear.
I got goose bumps as she sang "Rhiannon". I have a niece named after that song (she has never liked her name, complaining that my sister should have given her a normal name) and as she sang I closed my eyes and soaked it all in - I remember the day she was born (she's in high school now). One of her very last songs was particularly fun, maybe because it was so unexpected. She sang Led Zeppelin's "Rock & Roll" and did a terrific job. It was a highlight on a night full of highlights.
On another topic, I want to thank everyone for the tremendous response to the call for people to share their stories with CNN. I'm in the process of passing along the contact info to the producer and I'll her take take it from here. I'll keep everyone posted if I hear anything else.
Wednesday, August 3, 2005
HOT!! I got a call from CNN this
morning. They're planning to do a story on workplace transitions and are
looking for people currently near the beginning of their transitions who might
want to talk with them. If this might be you, or anyone you know, please
contact me and I'll forward your contact information along. I'm just
acting as the middle person here - she can give you more details on what they
need and what they're planning so expressing an initial interest isn't a
commitment to actually be involved. They're looking to do this story over
the coming weeks but would like to identify potential participants by the end of
this week, so if you're interested in being involved there's a sense of urgency
here. Thanks in advance....
Tuesday, August 2, 2005
We just had a doozy of a monsoon storm here. Sheets and sheets of rain. Wind gusts up to 60 miles an hour. Lighting everywhere. Thunder that shook the windows. It was pretty spectacular. On the news they said that they got 1/3 of an inch of rain at the Phoenix airport all of last August, and so far over the last hour they've measured over 2 inches. In fact, we've gotten as much rain in the last hour as we generally get in all of July-Aug-Sept combined! Temperatures dropped 20 degrees in the last two hours - it's down to 74 degrees now. That's unheard of for this time of year...
Whereas most monsoon storms are pretty localized in the valley, this is a huge storm that is engulfing the entire Valley. The news says there is flooding, flood rescues, trees down, house fires, transformers exploding, power outages, car crashes - I'm so glad to be at home right now. The worst of it seems to have past. But it's not over yet.
I've been sitting here answering email and munching on Kozy Shack Rice Pudding with my patio door open so I can listen to the sound of the rain slapping against the ground. There was a time when I felt Kozy Shack made the best rice pudding going - even better than home made. It was creamy, and tasty, and just perfect. I'm sad to report that it seems as though they've changed their recipe and I can't find even one single piece of whole rice in there now. It's like Rice Goop - little pieces of broken rice and lots of other "stuff". It still tastes good, but the consistency is off. I don't know if it's just this batch or something they're doing everywhere now. I hope it's just me. Anyways, the entire tub seems to have disappeared over the last hour so it's not like it's terrible or anything. It's just not like it used to be.
I've got tickets to see Stevie Nicks and Don Henley at a Benefit Concert they're doing here in Phoenix on Thursday. I got my tickets within ten minutes of the time they went on sale so we've got pretty good seats. I'm looking forward to this - I'm not sure exactly why other than I love to see live music. If there's one thing I miss about Austin (other than my friends) it's the live music there.
Then, on Saturday
evening there's a vigil on the steps of the State Capitol for Agnacio Corrales,
the young man who was killed in Yuma back in May. I hope we have a good
turnout to pay their respects, so if you're in the Phoenix area please try to
attend. I can forward specifics to those who need it.
Sunday, July 31, 2005
I didn't make it to Dallas this weekend. I had hoped to be able to spend a couple of days visiting with mom, but the flight arrangements got a little too complicated so I'll reschedule for another weekend. In one sense, I'm glad to be home for a change. I had lots around here to catch up on, not the least important of which was sleep. It's been far too long since the last morning that I didn't wake up to an alarm clock for one reason or another.
Between errands, cleaning, catching up on a little email, and generally being a home-body I did make sure to save some me time for a change. This afternoon I went to see "The Island" with Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. The movie itself was okay - typical summer adventure stuff that really didn't rise above the rest or stink more than average other than the fact that it was pretty stunning to watch. The special effects were well done, the characters were likable, and there was lots of action - but if I saw another jerky shot of people running I was going to get a headache. The storyline itself was pretty feeble - but then again I usually go to movies because I like to be entertained - for the movie "experience" - not necessarily because it all needs to make sense. I think the term "suspension of disbelief" applies, and once you've done that I think you can enjoy these kinds of films a whole lot more. The thing that stood out the most, for me, was Scarlett Johansson. If I wrote a list of 5 people I'd love to be - she'd be one of them.
There's another movie I want to go see - a romantic comedy titled "Must Love Dogs" with John Cusack. It just came out so I'll give it a few weeks for crowds to die down and hope I can find another weekend to get away. I've got a friend coming to visit in a couple of weeks so I'll see if I can drag her out to it.
Anyways, I made it to the fitness center after the movie - that makes two days in a row! Outside one of our typical summer monsoon storms was moving into the area so things looked pretty ominous - very gray and dark, with howling winds - making me glad I was indoors. These kinds of things are typically pretty localized - it rained a bit but I got home when I was done without too much difficulty.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
I've got a couple or three things on my mind tonight....
First, I watched the segment featuring Mianne Bagger on ABC Primetime tonight. I thought it was pretty well done - nothing earth shattering but thankfully no shots of her putting on makeup, walking her dog, putting on stockings, or any of the other typical goofy stuff. She handles herself tremendously well - I'm a new fan - and I could listen to that accent forever. Visit her website to see more about her... Renee Richards was there, too, complaining that trans women shouldn't be allowed to compete against "female at birth" women. She's certainly not the only person to feel that way - but it sure seems like calling the kettle black to me. I can't wait until they add more weight classes to women's wrestling - then we'll really have some fun!
Second, tomorrow represents another big milestone in my life. It's the day - 6 years ago - that my HR people called all my co-workers into a room and told them about my little "situation". As I think I've mentioned several times I measure progress not by how far there is left to go in any journey, but in how far I've gone. Milestones like this give an opportunity to pause to look back, and I'm continually amazed at how life has gone. Sometimes I'm a little worried that it has all been a dream - that I somehow fell asleep during halftime of a football game or something - and I'll wake up still trapped in the old life. If that's true then all I can say is that I hope I'm in a coma - I never want it to end.
Third, I've given some consideration to an opportunity to run for public office here in Arizona. There are several possibilities, and I've taken some tentative steps to investigate them. I think the thing I'm realizing is that this would seriously disrupt my sense of 'balance' and I need to make some very difficult decisions as to whether I want that or not. My initial feeling is that it's not what I want - that it would derail some of the things that are important to me. But, as with most things - I don't see this as an all or nothing decision. There are any number of ways to become politically active in more traditional ways and I think that's what's at the root of all of this. I need to make some serious decisions in the near future, so we'll see where my heart leads me.
Anyway, another weekend is nearly upon us. Weeks seem to fly by these days. I remember a time when summer seemed to last forever. The time between the last day of one school year and the first day of the next seemed to go on an on - they're all ready having 'Back To School' sales here. My dad used to explain some theory that the perception of the passage of time was directly related to age, and that it naturally changes as we get older. I don't know about that - I like to think that the difference is that as I get older I get to appreciate time more. I don't want it to run out and still have life left to live...
Speaking of lasting forever, dear sister Annah is a guitar Goddess and is part of a band in Austin. They've been working on a CD for what seems like years, although it's probably been only a year now. It's a complete CD of original material, and is finally available for sale. She's an incredible artist, too, and she did all the artwork on the CD jacket. If at all possible, please visit her website and support her by buying a copy and saying 'hi' - I think you'll be amazed at what they've done. We'll all be able so say, "I knew her back when...." :)
When I go to bed at night I generally fall asleep with the TV on. I have only recently learned that the Sleep Timer on a TV was one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. An entire generation would be walking around tired without it. Tonight I'll fall asleep watching one of those movies that I like, and I can't really explain why. You can buy it in the discount bin at Best Buy for $4.99 sometimes, but it's just got something that hooks me - music, romance, fun characters, good story. I just like it. It's That Thing You Do. And, without further adieu...I'm off to bed.
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Tonight is the first night I've actually been home at 7:15pm in I-don't-know-how-long. And, I'm alone - all my guests have gone home (including dear sister Elizabeth). I actually don't know what to do with myself. It's really odd. I think I'll go for a walk, as all this traveling and hostessing has taken its toll on my exercise regimen.
I know what I SHOULD be doing. Answering email, that's what. Besides taking it's toll on my fitness the other thing I'm way behind on is my email. If you've written me over these past couple or three weeks and haven't gotten a response back please know it's not from lack of trying. It's lack of time. But I've vowed to catch back up. I just hope I can do it before Christmas. :)
I'm a board member for a local HIV/AIDS group and tonight was a mixer/award presentation to honor the volunteers that keep the agency going. Some have been there 7 years or more. It's a pretty amazing group of people, and I was glad to have an opportunity to honor their hard work and dedication. Volunteerism really can be an incredibly fulfilling thing - especially if you're lonely or isolated, so I can't stress the need to find ways to get involved enough. Of course, if you get TOO involved you'll get like me - very little free time. But the flip side is that it's very rewarding, you have an opportunity to meet the coolest people, and sometimes it's just nice to be involved.
Things kick into high gear again this weekend - I'm planning to visit my mom just outside of Dallas, TX. I haven't seen her in quite a while - I can't even remember specifically when it was (I think it was Easter) - and although I'm not looking forward to another weekend away from home I'm certainly looking forward to spending some time with her. August looks to be a relatively calm month before things get really, really busy in the fall. I sat down to plan it all out and begin making my travel arrangements a couple of days ago and all I could do was laugh...
BTW: There will be a "trans" story on PrimeTime Live tomorrow (Thursday) on ABC - 10pm ET. The write-up is as follows:
Also: A Transsexual Woman Who Is a Professional Golfer Discusses Her Challenges and Triumphs, While Dr. Renee Richards Explains Why She Believes Transsexuals Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Compete Against Women Athletes
Monday, July 25, 2005
The trip to Washington DC over the weekend went well. As usual, it was fast and busy - but ultimately very rewarding. I have a little DVD player that I sometimes watch movies on long flights like these. The woman next to me was very nice, and she plugged her headphones in so we watched "Kill Bill, Vol 1" together.
I am now officially on the HRC Board of Directors. The vote by the full Board was one of the first orders of business on Friday night, and I'm proud (and relieved) to say it went well. Somehow I'm reminded of the saying, "Be careful what you ask for, as it just might come true"...
The meetings didn't get out until late in the evening. My friend stopped by to pick me up afterwards in her convertible, and she took me home "the scenic way". It's really neat to drive past all the Washington landmarks at night. There's little or no traffic, there are very few tourists by then, the weather was nice, and they look amazingly white all lit up like that. I really enjoyed it.
This friend of mine is one of my first friends in the community, and our friendship remains a treasured part of my life. Ironically, I met her 6 years ago - in San Francisco just after FFS. She had her surgery the day before I did, and we've stayed close despite the fact that we usually only see each other three or four times a year. Difficult experiences like that tend to forge special friendships, I think, and we've both experienced some pretty profound things over these subsequent years.
Our time together over these past couple of days made me go back and look at my journal for this day 6 years ago:
I'm actually feeling almost human again today. I don't look so hot, but at least I can move around a bit rather than just lie in the bed in a stupor. It was really bad for a while there.
The surgery really took alot out of me. I sat through some of these nights wondering if I'd even make it through them...I was just so miserable and time seemed to creep so slowly. But now I'm able to walk around, and I spent some time visiting with some of the other girls on the floor, and I'm not in so much pain, so there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Today is Sunday, and there's not much happening around here. They discharged me from my hospital room yesterday to my "guest" room on the third floor. They have me on a "pureed" diet due to all the sutures inside my mouth, and I must say it's pretty nasty. For lunch they sent pureed chicken and mashed potatoes and pureed beans....basically it was baby food. I haven't seen Dr. O since yesterday morning, and I don't think I'll see much improvement in my situation until Tuesday. That's when I think they unpack all this stuff out of my nose, and take out the staples in my head, and hopefully I can take a shower. My eyes are still very swollen and get tired pretty easy, so I can't really concentrate on anything requiring my eyes (like reading) for too long. There is a nice view of the bay from the back of the hospital, so I've gone down there just to sit and enjoy the wind in my face a couple of times. It has helped to deal with the monotony.....
The other gals who are here are just great. We all ended up chatting and looking at pictures for a couple of hours yesterday evening before going to bed. Two of them have their spouses with them. One of them works in Europe but they are in the process of moving to Washington DC. If I end up looking half as good as any of them I'll be more than happy. One of my friends from Wisconsin is coming down to visit me tomorrow, but I have a feeling I won't be at my best for a while, yet. Also, my friends from back home have called to check on me, so I haven't felt quite so alone.
Well, I think I'll lie down for an hour before dinner. I measure my day by the meals....breakfast at 8, lunch at noon, dinner at 6. I bought myself some sorbet, so I'll treat myself to something special tonight.
Those days seem like a lifetime ago.....
After all this jetting back and forth across the country, I overslept this morning. Actually, I didn't oversleep so much as I slept an hour longer than I had planned. No matter. I was at work at my usual time - I just didn't have the time to take my time and enjoy the morning.
Thursday, July 21, 2005
Whereas Monday was my wedding anniversary, today is the 6 year anniversary of my FFS with Dr. O in San Francisco. I can't believe how my life has changed between then and now. It has been an absolutely amazing journey.
As I suspected, there are those unhappy with my Op/Ed piece. I received email from someone who at one time was a friend who called me "pig-headed" and a "wet-behind-the-ears non-activist". She said that my views will "make your name synonymous with the word traitor." I find it interesting that people think these kinds of things will get to me. I'm comfortable in the things I'm doing and I have no problem taking the high road.
I'm headed to Washington DC tomorrow for the weekend. It'll be nice to escape the record-setting heat we've been having, and to see some dear friends there. Although it will be mostly a working trip (HRC Board Meeting), I've set aside some time to actually relax.
For those interested in our get-away to Las Vegas this past weekend, Elizabeth and I are posting a couple of fun photos from the trip. We hope you have as many smiles looking at them as we did doing them. Enjoy! (Click here to see them)
Monday, July 18, 2005
Today is my wedding anniversary. If my marriage were still alive it would be 24 years old. Even though it's deader than a dinosaur and we've all moved on to whatever comes next in life I still remember this date - it was engrained in my memory for all those years. I only consistently remember a half dozen dates - a few birthdays, my SRS date, the day my dad died - and this one (as the years go by the number of dates I remember gets less and less - either as a function of getting older or blonder or both). I don't plan to mark it in any other way other than to comment on it here - my ex- and I are not on friendly terms which makes it easy to move past meaningless milestones like this with little more than a brief acknowledgement.
Elizabeth and I had a fantastic time in Las Vegas. It took us a little over 5 hours to get from door to door. Perhaps not surprisingly, it took us longer to negotiate the Friday night traffic between the highway (and along the Strip) to the hotel than it did to get from Hoover Dam to Las Vegas. No matter, we were down in the casino by 9:30.
Elizabeth plays slots, and it was amazing to see how much Slot Machines have changed over these past ten years. Back in the day casinos were filled with the ding-ding-ding and ching-ching-ching of slot machines paying out quarters or dollars to lucky winners. Those sounds are basically gone - winners get paid with a bar-coded piece of paper instead of real money. It's funny. And the games have gotten so complicated. Back in the day you could bet anywhere from one to three or five lines. Elizabeth's favorite machine is "Jackpot Party" (it's kind of scary to have a favorite slot machine, I think) and you can play up to 20 lines on the thing!
I never liked playing slots and sitting there watching her play reminded me why. I like to feel that I've got some say in whether I make any money, and slot machines have always seemed to be money-vacuums to me. Money goes in, spin after spin, until gradually it's all gone. No skill - all luck. And, eventually, luck runs out.
We played until almost 2am - in the casino at the Mirage, over at Treasure Island, over at Bellagio - the strip never sleeps. Thankfully, we slept until almost 9am on Saturday to recuperate. And, we spent the entire day Saturday shopping at the Forum shops by Ceasar's Palace - had a great time there, too.
It is so neat to see how different people relate to us now as compared with before. Neither Elizabeth nor I had ever played what I consider to be the more "difficult" games - craps and roulette. Friends play them, and rave about how fun they are. So, this was our opportunity to learn. Early in the day Saturday we found tables where nobody was playing and asked the casino staff to explain them to us. So, when Saturday evening rolled around we decided to play craps using the simple strategy we had learned.
We put a bet on the Pass Line, and after the Come-Out roll double the bet behind the line. Very simple, relatively safe, and amazingly - very effective. We started winning. The staff at the table was absolutely wonderful - helping us by making suggestions, recommendations, just being fun. When we started we were the only two at the table and at one point the entire table was full. The guy next to me had never played craps before and started with $400. He left the table about an hour later with over $5,000! It was amazing. So, as we watched what was happening we started making other bets and winning, as well. It was so fun.
By midnight we had been there for almost 4 hours - and we were tired and hungry so we said goodnight and headed to the restaurant for some dinner. It was almost sad to say 'bye' to the people at the table - it felt like we had bonded over the time we were there.
The ride back was uneventful other than the fact that it was unseasonably hot here - they were predicting temperatures near 120 which is hot even by Phoenix standards. But there was a late afternoon storm through the valley with strong winds that blew over trees and was pretty intense for a little while there.
I'm including a few photos here, and I'll be posting a few more in the days to come when I have a little more time.....
Friday, July 15, 2005
It's Friday again. More than that, it's Elizabeth's birthday today.
We were trying to figure out a fun way to celebrate it so last night we decided to do a quick getaway to Las Vegas. We've been talking about doing something like that for quite a while, so now seems like the perfect time to actually DO it. We dabbled with some potential flights, but it started to get complicated so in the end we decided to drive - it's only 300 miles from here. It's not like driving from Austin to Arizona where the scenery is more like Mars than of this planet - I'm told it's actually a pretty drive and time goes by quickly. And, there's something about road trips that are just kinda fun.
So, at this time tomorrow we'll be at the Mirage. I'm not expecting to gamble too much - mostly because I don't have too much to gamble. I'll watch Elizabeth gamble and live vicariously through her.
The last time I was in Las Vegas was 10 years ago or more. And, the last time I stayed at the Mirage was before many of the huge hotel/casinos on the Strip (including Treasure Island) were built. My wife and I were in Pasadena for the Super Bowl (that's the year that the Buffalo Bills got absolutely creamed by the Cowboys) and decided to make a quick side-trip to Las Vegas for a couple of days. How time flies...
Anyway, I hope Lady Luck has a reservation at the Mirage tonight, too. :)
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
I can't believe it's been a week and a half since I last updated my blog. I suppose I should take moment to share some of the highlights.
I spent July 4th with my son. In one of those odd bonding opportunities, we spent the evening watching "Hitch" (it's a really cute movie) while I soaked my acrylic nails off. How's that for a fun?! He's doing well, and we had fun together.
I made a quick trip to Austin - left Thursday after work, spent Friday, came home early Saturday. Fast, but fun. I got to spend some time with a good friend, Lisa. Her new house is soooo cute (actually, she's been there for several months but I haven't seen it yet so it's still new as far as I'm concerned), and I met her niece. I had a chance to visit with sister Annah for a couple of hours (she's doing well - her band's first CD will be available beginning next week). I got a chance to see some friends I haven't seen in a very long time (one is pregnant with triplets!!). And, one of my main reasons to justify this trip - I spent an afternoon at my favorite hair salon in Austin (Avant) getting my hair done. Unfortunately, other friends were busy and there weren't enough hours to see everyone. So, I'll just have to go back again sometime soon.
Elizabeth got back to Arizona on Monday just in time for our record heat - it's consistently 114 degrees here with little relief in sight. I got in my car the other day and my thermometer told me it was 145 degrees - I didn't know whether to drive it or to bake cookies in it. I realize this sounds pretty extreme - it probably is - but I've got to confess that it's really not that bad. I've spent enough winters in Buffalo, NY and I'll take this over that any day of the week.
I've decided to start a new page here on my website, and I should have it up in the next day or so. I'm planning to devote it to regular op/ed pieces on various things that are on my mind. I've got some things to say that I just can't keep inside - although it's probably better for my overall health if I just keep quiet I just don't know how to do that. I don't want to pollute my blog with them, and I really don't know where else to put them so I suppose it's just the next step in the evolution here.
Otherwise, all is good. As you may or may not know the key word in my life is "balance", and somehow pretty much everything has been in balance lately. The new job is good. My increased activity in political circles is comfortable. I seem to find just enough personal time. The things that have been hard to fit in lately are a) time to exercise and b) time to update my blog. Somehow, in the scheme of things, I can handle that for now. We'll see how long it all lasts. The cynic in me guesses it'll last until just after I start sharing my opinions on my op/ed page. We'll see.
Monday, July 4, 2005
Well, today is Independence Day. I hope everyone is having a safe and relaxing long weekend.
On an introspective note, I feel an undercurrent in myself that feels like a good cry coming on. I'm not sure how to explain it better than that. It's not that anything particularly bad has happened, or that I'm "sad". It's just that things tend to build up in me to a point where they need to come out, which may be as much hormonal as it is physical but it's there nonetheless. It's been quite a while - maybe because I've been too busy and maybe because I've had too many people around. But it's rumbling around down there - a churn of emotion that will eventually come out in a good cry. It's such a powerful source of relief. Now, I just need to let myself go there....
The world is becoming more and more "interesting". I wrote in a blog last week about the horrendous judgment in Utah supporting the firing of a woman who was transitioning at work for using the woman's bathroom. Well, to provide some positive news to show that the entire world hasn't totally lost it's sense of reason and empathy, let me share some better news that I hope is more representative of the direction we're heading.
The first is from my hometown of Rochester, NY. The Rochester Institute of Technology should be congratulated for the work outlined in "RIT Adjusts For Transgender Students" (read it here). This needs to become a model for other schools and businesses to follow.
The second is the fact that Spain recently announced that it has legalized same-sex marriage. Not only that, it is taking active steps to acknowledge its transgender population including the possibility of providing government-funded SRS! (read it here). Things like this show just how far behind this country has fallen (and continues to fall) as a leader for Freedom. The "Leader of the Free World"??? You've got to be kidding.
I'm going to share something that I've known for a little while now, but that I've hesitated to share because I don't like to jinx things that haven't actually happened yet....
I have been nominated to be on the Board of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in Washington, DC - and the nomination committee recently unanimously approved it. I will be traveling to Washington later this month, where there will be a vote on the nomination by the entire board. When approved, I think I will be the first openly transsexual member of the Board which I think says volumes about the commitment that this organization is making to our community. I am tremendously honored and energized by this.
As many know, there has been history between HRC and the transgender community. There is still some bad blood by people choosing to hold on to past events and real or perceived slights. I'm sure I will be portrayed as an "Uncle Tom" by some - as a pawn. All I can say to these people is - I hope you can let go of the past and begin moving forward now. Times are changing. We need to face the issues that confront us all together, not alone. However, if you choose to perceive me an enemy, so be it. I can't help that, and I suppose all I can say is that I hope to prove otherwise. I support our community in the best way I can, and I'll stand in harms way for the passions I believe in. Ten times out of ten.
When I came out to my son I explained that his mother would probably say some unpleasant things about me. I told him that she didn't like that I was doing what I was doing and there's not telling what she'd say - that I thought she'd do everything she could to make him think poorly of me, and to hurt me. I urged him to ask me about anything he heard so he could make up his own mind about what was real, or what was true. I say that same thing again now to those who are reading this. My dad told me to believe nothing of what you hear, and only half of what you see. That advice has come in hand many times, and I urge all of us to remember it.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. The only way to change things is to become actively involved. I know what I know, I trust my instincts, and I'll do everything I can to ensure that HRC uses its significant clout and energies to support the entire GLBT spectrum - including US - in workplaces, courtrooms, legislatures, and places of worship around this country. HRC is but one part of the effort to secure rights for GLBT Americans, but it's a part where I (and we) can make a difference.
There are those in our community who argue that the gay marriage issue is not our fight. I strongly disagree. It may or may not affect you directly, but in the bigger scheme of things it is very much our fight, and to argue otherwise is to view life with blinders on. To me, the struggle at hand is not so much about marriage as about Freedom. It is about a mindset that can justify taking basic human rights from every-day Americans simply because you don't understand or approve of them for whatever reason. Our government is trying trying to dictate not only who can love who, but who and what you can and must be. In order to pass resolutions about same sex marriage, the government will need to tighten it up and explicitly define what constitutes a man and a woman. That affects YOU.
These volatile times require pragmatic thinking. They require strong alliances. They require courageous, passionate leaders. They require common direction and broad-based support. Our Independence Day struggle for freedom is coming - have no doubt about that. The question we each need to answer is what we can do to help.
At a very minimum, the thing that each of us can provide is money. Efforts like this cost money. Statistics gathered on the transgendered community show that - as a group - we're oddly apathetic as far as our financial support is concerned. That needs to change. There are any number of organizations that deserve our support - who are doing wonderful things both nationally and locally. HRC is one of those groups. The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) is another. PGLAG, GLSEN, GenderPAC - they all do amazing and important work and they need our financial support. Memberships typically cost $40 or less, so give them much needed financial support and join as many as you can.
If you do join HRC either as a member, a Federal Club member, or as a major donor - please indicate that your membership is based on the new support they have been showing for our community. I assure you, if enough of us take the time to say that, that message will be heard loud and clear, and it will have an impact. Your financial support for any organization is your vote, it's your ballot box of support - it entitles you to have a seat at the table. Through July, one of the board members will match your donation with his own money (check here for details), doubling your contribution, so the time to get involved is now.
I don't plan to talk about this much in the future. I don't want to turn my blog into a political forum - I didn't start it for that. But, as I consider what Freedom means to me on this Independence Day I felt obliged to share this.
Saturday, July 2, 2005
If all had gone according to plan, I would be back in Austin tonight. I had standby tickets on a flight there for the weekend, but the crazy travel schedule for the holiday weekend filled up the plane so I didn't make it there. I'll try again next week.
It's probably just as well - I could use a long weekend to get things done around the house. These last couple of days have been the first days I've been alone in nearly a month, so it's nice to have the opportunity to get caught up on things. Temps this weekend are hovering around 112 degrees so it's surely toasty - there's a large wildfire north of the city and the horizon is covered with smoke from it.
I was thinking back to some past 4th of July weekends and realized that some pretty big things have happened. This was the weekend that I came out to my mom back in 1999 - I can't believe it has been 6 years! The year before that I was supposed to see Dr. O in San Francisco for a consult but had similar flight problems so I had to delay it for a couple of weeks. My marriage was in its death throes, so my ex-wife and my son went to fireworks that weekend - I stayed home. The following year I lay on a blanket behind Brighton High School with my sister and my nieces and had one of the best 4th of July's I've ever had. I remember snacking on Fried Dough, looking up at the dark sky, and remarking how amazing life was becoming.
This weekend doesn't look to be remarkable. Just quiet.
While I was at the airport yesterday there was a special on Fox about weight loss. One of the segments was centered around some study that found that people with a stricter sense of faith had a harder time losing weight than "others" (whoever that might be). Anyway, they were talking with this fairly young girl - probably in her early twenties - who was worried that she wouldn't get into heaven if she was overweight. Somehow, she got it into her head that this made a difference to God. I just sat there and shook my head, as I'm constantly amazed how people somehow think that they take their bodies with them into the afterlife. In fact, that's the hardest thing to try to explain to people who seem to think I've done something that God somehow won't like.
I try to explain that I perceive these bodies to be containers, or husks, for the real essence of who and what we are. It's our spirit that's key here, not our bodies, and to be perfectly honest my own spiritual belief is that God doesn't really care what any of us do with our bodies. I believe that He (or She) could care less whether this body has a penis attached to it or not any more than He (or She) cares what color my hair is. We're the ones preoccupied with it because it's all we know. We learn to think that the things we can see is all there is - that it somehow matters in the grand scheme of things. That's a physical thing, not a spiritual one and I believe that it's what's on the inside that counts. So many people can't seem to see past their own four walls, they've got no ability to move past the physical to the spiritual. They take what they see as all there is - here and everywhere - so it's no wonder that people changing sexes just blows their little worlds.
I'm not trying to argue religion on this, so if you're a fundamentalist please don't try to explain it all to me. I'm pretty comfortable in the health and direction of my spiritual self. I'm not trying to sway people if they believe other than I do, and I apologize profusely if the fact that I believe differently than you is somehow offensive. Either way, I suppose we'll all find out what's the real deal someday...
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
The oddest thing happened last night. I hesitate to even print it here because I'm still a little freaked by it.
Elizabeth and I have had long, busy days lately so it was nice to be in bed before 11 for a change. I got up at 4:55am yesterday morning and was on the treadmill by 5:15 - that's actually the nicest part of the day in many ways. Anyway, the point is the days are long so when bedtime rolled around last night I was tired. I took a Tylenol PM and hopped in bed. To be perfectly honest, I don't even remember falling asleep.
Apparently, at some point between then and 2am, I got out of bed. I walked across my condo to the other side where the guest bedrooms are, cleared some stuff that was on one of the spare beds away, got a blanket off the top shelf of the closet, lay down, and went to sleep there. I didn't wake up until Elizabeth came in at 5:30 - worried about me and asking why I was sleeping in there.
I don't really even remember going in there - it's more like a dream than it is real - and I have no clue why I did it. It's very puzzling. I've never done anything like it before. I remember a time when my dad had some sort of diabetic reaction and ended up on the opposite side of the city, in his car, crashed into a wall. He had no recollection of how he got there. I'd think it was funny if it wasn't so odd.
I read something in the news this morning that got me totally cranked, and I'm glad to see that HRC issued a public statement on it. A woman in Utah was transitioning on the job (she worked for the Utah Transit Authority) - had her new driver's license that said the was female, and was fired for using the women's bathroom. Fired! Anyway, they took UTA to court over it and the judgment just came down - on behalf of UTA. It's absolutely horrible that these kinds of things can happen and I immediately wrote to the reported (her article is here) to thank her for her balanced reporting. We'll be hearing more about this. If anyone out there knows the person in this case I'd love to correspond with her to get some of the details - please let her know. HRC came out with a public statement about it shortly afterwards (read it here) - I think it's one of the first I've seen specifically related to the trans community and I'm heartened so see it come so promptly. Good job.
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Have you ever spent time with a family who has just lost a child to a brutal hate crime? We did that last night. In another one of those life ironies, I found it to be heartbreaking and uplifting, both at the same time.
If you've read the blogs over these past couple of months you may remember the murder of a transgendered man in Yuma, AZ in early May. His name was Amancio Corrales, and he was only 23-years old. He self-identified mainly as gay, I'm told, although he often dressed and entertained in his female personna, Delilah. One night, as Delilah, he disappeared from a bar in Yuma. The next morning he was found floating in the Colorado River, and the cause of death was identified as "severe trauma".
There are any number of rumors about the case, many of which I'm told are not true. What is true, however, is the fact that there are no suspects in custody, very few leads, and the threat that this case will remain forever unsolved is very real. As a result, a local group has formed to ensure it gets the appropriate level of visibility and scrutiny to keep it fresh, to ensure that justice is done, and to prevent Amancio from becoming forgotten.
There was a candlelight vigil in Yuma last night, and a small group of us drove the 200+ miles from Phoenix to Yuma (it's located right at the intersection of the Arizona-California-Mexico border) to demonstrate our support. On the way we hit a bird that was silly enough to fly in front of the car and turned into an explosion of feathers, and nearly hit some furry animal in the middle of the road (my co-pilot thinks it was a skunk, but I'm skeptical).
There was a group of 75 or so people in a Yuma park right beside the Colorado River on a warm summer Saturday evening. When we arrived people were milling around, quietly talking, or huddled in front of a large television that was playing music and showing photographs from Amancio's life. He seemed to be such a happy, vibrant person - hate crimes like this are just so horrible. As the sun went down several speakers had an opportunity to say something. One was a local representative from the Arizona Legislature. Another represented an Arizona Congressman. The Arizona Leadership Institute - the group that organized the vigil - spoke. A woman whose brother was killed in a still unsolved hate-crime ten years ago gave an emotional talk. And, I was asked to say a few words. It was an honor.
The key for all of us is to ensure that this murder does not get lost. Hate could choose any of us, or our loved ones, as a random victim of a brutal hate crime at any time. The media was there, and provided some coverage (see the stories here). There are a couple of things that people can do to help. One, is to contact the detective in charge of the case to let him know that we encourage continued vigilance on this case (contact info: Detective Raul Garcia, at 928-783-4427. The other is to send money. The Arizona Leadership Institute has someone working on this, and that needs funding. The family needs support. Please take some time to look at this document about the Amancio Project, and at these photos of the event (taken by Margaux Schaffer). And, if you can, please send a donation.
We didn't get back to Phoenix until a little after 1am. But I can't imagine not having gone. I never met Amancio, but he is a brother.
Hate is hate. And, it's times like this when all people need to speak out against it.
Saturday, June 25, 2005
I had planned to update this Blog a couple of times during the week, but here it is the weekend again and I'm finally getting a chance to sit down and catch my breath. It's amazing how much can fit into a week sometimes.
On Thursday Elizabeth and I went to an HRC Happy Hour event at the Wrigley Mansion which was fun. We met up with some friends I had worked with at my previous job, and it was wonderful to see them. The Wrigley Mansion has a pretty unique history, and as beautiful as it is I'm told the Wrigleys only lived there for 4-6 weeks each year. The cocktail waitress was a petite little thing, and someone backed into her as she she tried to make her way through the crowd carrying a tray full of drinks. I felt to bad for her as they all fell and exploded over everyone who was standing nearby. As we left we watched one of those summer storms begin to blow across the Valley with the sun going down in the background. With all the lightning and blowing dust, it was pretty spectacular, and just before bed we got our first rain in I can't tell you how long. Some parts of the Valley were hit pretty hard. All we got was some wind, a brief downpour, and that wonderful aroma of the desert after a rain.
The Discovery Health specials featuring Elizabeth and Annah were on again, and we did our best to try to watch but kept falling asleep. I've got to admit, with everything that's going on sleep has been in short supply lately.
Friday night Elizabeth, I and another dear friend went to see Hall and Oates at the Celebrity Theater. I really enjoy seeing live shows there - it's small and intimate but still large enough to draw national acts. It's got a round revolving stage in the middle so every seat is actually pretty good. We were in row 8, and it felt almost like you could reach out and touch the band. I've got to admit I still enjoy their music the old stuff AND the new - Daryl Hall did a solo album a couple of years ago that was one of my top 5 favorites for the year, and Hall and Oates recently did an album featuring some older soul/Philadelphia Sound classics. And, as they came out to the stage it was nice to see that they still seem to enjoy playing to a live crowd.
The concert had the makings of being one of my favorites in a long time until Daryl Hall acknowledged that he had the flu (you couldn't hear it in his voice) and left the stage in the middle of the concert to recuperate for a few songs. I enjoyed the improv that John Oates did - I'm sure it wasn't something they practiced and he did a wonderful job - the audience gave him a standing ovation. I suppose my only complaint is that they seemed to finish early and there were several songs I was hoping to hear but they didn't play (ie. Sarah Smile, Rich Girl, You Make My Dreams Come True). When you have as many hits as they do I'm sure people are bound to be disappointed not to hear songs they like, but it seemed like they could have played longer. I'm not sure to attribute this to the illness, or if they planned it that way. Oh well. We all really did enjoy the show.
Afterwards the three of us went dancing at a local nightclub called Barcelona's and had a blast dancing into the wee hours of the night. It was a ton o' fun. If you ever want to see sharks massing and circling fresh meat, go to a dance club with Elizabeth on a weekend night. I could expand on this, but I'll just leave it at that. It's a sight to behold.
My dear friend, Christine McGinn, arrived last night, as well. I met Christine while be both recovered from SRS. She had her surgery the day before I did, and was being featured in an MSNBC special so there was a camera crew running all over the place. She lived in Dallas at the time and I ended up moving to Austin, so we had a chance to get together from time to time after we both returned home from SRS. She has been doing her surgical residency in Philadelphia over the past few years and she's kind of fallen off the radar screen with work overload. Sadly, we've had difficulty coordinating our schedules to find times to get together and I think the last time we had an opportunity to meet up was at V-Day in Los Angeles last February. It's wonderful to see her again. We've got alot of catching up to do.
Tonight there is a vigil in Yuma for a transgendered person who was brutally murdered there last month. I've written about it in blogs, and I think it's critical that we show our support. Yuma is a small place and I'm not sure if there will be others from our community there, but we've got a carload of people going and I'm happy to do what I can. I've been asked to be one of the speakers, and I'm honored to help.
Sunday, June 19, 2005
The craziness that has been my last couple of weeks is almost over. My last major commitment for the month was a dinner last night at the Arizona Biltmore to support the Arizona Human Rights Fund. This group is a statewide GLBT organization and is currently mobilizing to fight an effort to ban same-sex marriage in Arizona by writing discrimination into the state constitution.
There were 1,100 people there last night, including our Governor, Janet Napolitano. I had a speaking part, as I awarded an Individual Award to Amanda Simpson, a friend who lives in Tucson and who ran for the State Legislature last year. She was there with her mom, and she looked fabu - for some reason the word "radiant" comes to mind.
Someone asked if I get nervous speaking in front of large groups like that and I really don't - I'm not sure why. I think the one time I would have gotten nervous was when we did V-Day in Los Angeles last year - that was kinda scary - but somehow once things get rolling the bright lights block out the fact that there's a big room full of people looking at you and you just do what you need to do. I think the more I do these kinds of things, the more relaxed I feel but there's no other way to get there except to do it. I've been invited to be one of the speakers at the big HRC Dinner in Detroit this November (along with Joan Rivers - yikes), so the more opportunities I get the better.
Our community had a good showing there last night. I have a friend staying with me for a couple of weeks from Philadelphia, and another friend flew in from San Diego specifically for this event. A co-worker/friend from my last job was there as well, and she was so funny. She wanted some jewelry and a piece of artwork in the silent auction so she kept going back to check on who might have outbid her. Eventually the piece of artwork got a bit pricey so she let it go, but she stood guard over the jewelry until the auction closed. I think she had a good time, and she actually enhanced my own enjoyment of the evening, too.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - these kinds of community events are tremendously empowering. If you have chances to get involved in larger GLBT organizations, there are any number of opportunities to make a difference and to be a part of something bigger - something important. One of the speakers last night quoted Martin Luther King, Jr.: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." I really like that quote. Half of the audience there last night wasn't G, L, B, or T. They were supporters - "straight allies" - who believe in equality, dignity and respect.
My trip to North Carolina on Thursday/Friday was far too quick but well worth the trip. I spoke at the monthly dinner meeting of the Triad Business and Professional Guild of Greensboro/Winston-Sale/Highpoint NC. I was up at 4am on Thursday for a 6:20am cross-country flight, arrived there at 2:30pm, attended the event from 6-10, got to bed around midnight, was up at 4am again on Friday (which was really 1am according to my internal time zone) for another 6am flight, back home by 9am in time to meet Elizabeth for breakfast before dropping her off for her flight and going to work for the day. Thankfully, now that all the excitement is done I can catch up on some much needed sleep.
When I speak to groups I really don't have prepared notes. I think the spontaneity of being able to talk about personal things without having to refer to notes or prepared text is part of what makes these opportunities fresh. Everyone I met in Greensboro was just fantastic, and I can't thank everyone there enough for their gracious hospitality. I was also happy to be able to spend a little time with a dear friend from Mebane - which is a apparently a half hour away from Greensboro - a doctor who grew up there and who had practiced there for over two decades before coming out and being removed from the practice she started. Faced with the option of leaving and starting over somewhere else where people might not know about her past or staying in the area where she had spent her entire life, she chose the latter (and, I daresay, the more difficult path). She moved across town and started fresh again, and it's a tribute to her spirit that her new office is thriving like never before. She's an incredible success story of courage and dedication, and it was so nice to be able to catch up with her.
Today is Father's Day. I'll be getting together with my son later, and although we don't really do much to celebrate the day I appreciate the opportunity to spend some time together. A reporter called me a couple of years ago to ask whether my son and I celebrate Father's Day or Mother's Day, and I found it odd that someone would actually care about that. To be perfectly honest, I think part of the problem is that we really don't have very many words to describe all the non-traditional family structures so who really cares which day(s) we celebrate. In some very real and important ways I am my son's father - and that is something that continues to be very important to me. The fact that the word "father" describes a male parent doesn't get in the way of the deeper meanings of what the word represents. Parenthood is the most important thing that many of us will do in our lives, and I think the relationship that my son and I have is pretty extraordinary. We don't really care if others can understand it or not - it works for us.
To be honest, though, Father's Day for me is more about taking time out to remember and appreciate my own father than thinking of myself in parental terms. My dad never made a big deal about Father's Day when he was alive, so consequently we never made much of a big deal about it, either. I don't remember special meals, or cards, or presents for him. In fact, I think his perfect Father's Day would have been the opportunity to spend a quiet day alone.
I really don't think my dad ever really thought of himself as a dad. After I had moved out of the house and was in college he actually apologized for not being a better father for me, which was certainly unnecessary but I think it provided an indication of the inadequacies he felt. Somehow, like speaking to large groups, nothing can really prepare us for parenthood other than actually doing it, and I don't think my dad felt he ever really got the hang of it. I never felt that way - I just accepted him for him and I've got no complaints - and I appreciate him now more than I ever did.
That being said, it surprised me - no, it shocked me - that the first Father's Day after his death blindsided me with a flood of emotion that I was neither expecting nor prepared to deal with. Suddenly, my dad wasn't there any more. He was gone, and perhaps I had taken him for granted. Whatever the reason, Father's Days over these past few years have been spent as a celebration of my own father and have provided opportunities for us to "talk" that I somehow don't get in my day-to-day life. They are not times for sadness, although I do miss him terribly.
Since he's not here to talk to, I call my sister, and my brother, and my mom to share and to talk. Perhaps not surprisingly, we're all thinking of him on this day. It's his day.
Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Today was a long day. Not because anything "bad" happened so much as there just seemed to be more hours in it than usual.
Elizabeth is visiting this week and is still on East Coast time, so she wakes up early and is ready to begin her day. I tried to explain that 4:30 isn't even morning yet - it's still night - and I'll admit she does her best to avoid waking me up. But the sun comes up in Arizona sometime shortly after 5am so it's really not worth trying to fall back asleep. Mornings and evenings are the nicest parts of the day during the summer here. My car is one of those fancy ones that tells you what the temperature outside is, and by the time I went home from work yesterday it said the temperature was 145 degrees. Of course, that's not what it REALLY was (I'm told it got to 111 or 112, though, which is still mighty toasty) but that shows why mornings and nights are the best times to actually do anything outdoors.
There's a mountain here named Piestewa Peak. It used to be named Squaw Peak, but it was renamed after a native American female soldier killed in an ambush early in the war with Iraq. It's a pretty challenging climb - the elevation from the base to the summit is about 1,200 feet and the trail is very rocky, and sometimes steep. The total trail distance is only about 1.2 miles (2.5 miles round trip), but it's a very good workout. Parking is always difficult, and there are usually quite a few people on the trail - some are regulars who have done it consistently for upwards of 15 years. (Read more about it here.)
I used to climb it when I lived here before my transition. In fact, it's where I went the day after I learned that my father had died. I found sitting up on top, looking out over Phoenix in all directions, provided some sort of comfort for me.
Well, Elizabeth and I decided to hike it this morning. It's the second time we've done it during her visit here, and I think she likes the way it tones legs and butts at the same time it works the heart and burns off calories. The park gates open at 5am, and we were there shortly after that.
People are very social on this trail. There was one woman there who was trucking right along - she had to be 80 years old. Elizabeth chatted with her for a while and she said she's been doing it pretty much every day for 15 years! One woman told me I look like a friend of hers named Crystal. We chatted for a bit and she acknowledged that she doesn't like heights, although it's probably best to avoid going up trails like these if that's really true. On the way down some older guy saw Elizabeth coming towards him and said (loud enough for everyone around to hear), "Looking good, mama! Looking VERY good!" Oy.
So, by the time I got to work we had already hiked Piestewa Peak, made coffee, showered, had our morning Smoothie (yumm), and done any other number of things. So, you see why it seems like the day is longer than usual.
Things are very busy. After work tonight there's a political fund raiser that we've been asked to attend. We need to duck out early to meet a friend who is in town with the intention of moving here soon. We can't stay out too late, though, as I still need to get home and pack. We'll need to be up at 4 again tomorrow so I can catch my 6am flight to North Carolina - I'm speaking in Greensboro tomorrow night before catching a 6am flight back home on Friday. And then on Saturday I'll be doing an introduction at a big dinner here (1100 people, including the Governor) so I'll need to gear up for that. Thankfully, I think things calm down considerably after that...
Saturday, June 11, 2005
Today had some interesting moments....
Sodexho had arranged for a limo service to pick us up at the hotel to take us to the airport. The car was supposed to be there at 8:30, and our flight was scheduled for 10:30.
So the guy shows up at the hotel in this big black Lincoln Town Car. Very pretty. And, he loads our stuff into the car (I'm so proud of Elizabeth - she always over-packs but this time it didn't seem quite as much as usual) and off we go. This guy is obviously in a hurry - he mentions that he's got a meeting to get to after he drops us off - and he's on this winding road getting near Reagan National. He's tailgating, and zipping in and out - quite the Mario Andretti. Well, don't you know that it's not long before we see flashing lights behind us, and the driver pulls off the road.
As we wait for the officer to come up to the car, the driver is getting a little frantic. "Uh-oh," he says. "Of all days to leave my driver's license at home." So, the cop comes up to the window and he doesn't seem to be in a mood for any pleasantries. "I got you going 70 in a 40, and reckless driving. Those are arrestable offenses."
The driver explains that he's taking us to the airport, and the cop proceeds to tell him that he needs to see a driver's license, a hack license, and an insurance card, right now. He says that if everything checks out we'll be allowed to proceed so we don't miss our flight. Otherwise, he said he'd make other arrangements for us while they had a "nice long talk".
Things do not go smoothly at first. This guy doesn't have his driver's license. As he fumbles for some ID two different Social Security cards come out. "Is this yours?" the cop asks. "No." "No? The whose is it?" "It's my consin's." "Your cousin's? Then what are you doing with it?" "Um, he asked me to hold it for me." Not a good answer.
"Is this your current address?" "Um, no." "OK. Then what IS your current address?" The driver had a hard time remembering what it is. The cop asked him to step outside so they could talk. Soon, a second police cruise is behind us, with it's lights on. We're bracing for the worst.
Elizabeth says to me, "It's killing me not knowing what's going on back there but I'm afraid to turn around." So, she took out her compact and pretended to be powdering her face so she could watch what was going on in the small compact mirror. She provided some play-by-play, and things seemed to be looking pretty grim for our hapless driver.
Somehow, this guy must have found some verbal skill that was not evident while he was sitting in the car. After about ten minutes, he comes back to the car, the two police cruisers go on their way, and we're off again (much slower now) for the airport. All he got was a ticket. And, we made our flights with plenty of time to spare.
Friday, June 10, 2005
The article about Transgendered Issues in the Workplace was in USA Today this morning. It was originally scheduled for yesterday, but somehow it was delayed by a day. I'm actually glad to see it's part of the weekend edition - that means it has a shelf life of 3 days instead of just one. I thought the article was very well written, and I had to smile that the part of our 45-minute conversation that I had with the reporter that she used was the part about the M&M's.
Most importantly, I think the kind of visibility that we've been getting lately signals a whole new era for us. We've struggled to gain credibility for so long, and here we have workplace issues being discussed at the HRC Press Conference on Monday (televised live on C-SPAN), in USA Today, and in an article soon to be printed in the NY Times. It's really extraordinary.
I'm in Gaithersburg, MD with Elizabeth, and I talked with a large group of folks at Sodexho. Sodexho is a large food service company that manages cafeterias and other food service operations for corporations, universities, hospitals, etc. I'm told they employ 120,000 worldwide and as far as anyone knows they haven't had a workplace transition there yet.
I had an opportunity to talk for two hours, which seemed to be very well received. Even the CEO of the company sat in on my talk and asked questions. There was a very good energy in the room - I can't really explain it more than that - and I'm confident that some of the things we talked about will last beyond the two hours we were together.
Wednesday, June 8, 2005
It's pretty sad when a perfectly healthy adult needs to take the elevator down to the main floor in a two story office building. But, that's what I did on Monday (I'm much more limber today). I have learned that the soreness in my calves didn't come from going UP the canyon as one might assume. It came from going DOWN and DOWN and DOWN. When I got to work I could slowly make my way up the steps to the second floor okay. But when it came time to go back down, there was just no way. Too sore. All I can say is Thank God there was an elevator.
Monday, HRC released a publication called the "State of the Workplace" report (you can download it from their website). It provides all kinds of metrics about workplace GLBT policy and trends. The press conference was televised live on CSPAN, and Maggie Stumpp (a Sr. VP at Prudential who transitioned there a couple or three years ago) spoke about her workplace transition experience. She's a very eloquent speaker, and did her usual wonderful job. Although it probably won't win an Emmy, I think the fact that it was televised live is a big deal.
Speaking of the workplace, USA Today is scheduled to run a story in tomorrow's Business Section about some transgender workplace "stuff". I'll be interested to see how it turns out. We seem to be all over the place these days.
The GLAAD Media Awards are being held in San Francisco this weekend. I have attended for the past two years, and had originally planned to attend this year as well. But the combination of other "things" and the fact that GLAAD just hasn't seemed all that welcoming to our community have helped me decide to bypass it this year. It's an expensive affair, and Lord knows our community needs to have a presence there. But when I look at all the other organizations that need money and who actively involve our community, I have difficult $$$ decisions to make. Oh well.
headed to Maryland tomorrow to speak at a company there. Elizabeth will be
meeting me and we'll head back here for a week. All in all - busy
Sunday, June 5, 2005
I'm waddling in the most interesting and unique way this evening - I look like Fred Sanford stumbling around with his arms flailing on Sanford and Son (for those of you who can visualize that). That's what happens when muscles in your legs and butt that you never knew you had revolt at getting called into action. If you were here to see this I'm sure you'd laugh. Since you're not, I'll just leave it to your imagination.
I'll write more about the trip when I have some time to absorb it all. At this point, I'll just share some details:
A group of four of us drove to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon on Friday (a 6-hour drive from Phoenix) and checked in at our small (some might say quaint, or rustic) cabins that are part of the North Lodge there. The weather was absolutely perfect so after lunch we went on a "warm-up" 10-mile hike along the rim on the Widforss Trail. It was spectacular.
Day 2 consisted of my friend and I heading down into the canyon on a 20-mile (round-trip) hike down the North Kaibob Trail - past Roaring Springs, through Cottonwood, and down to Ribbon Falls. And back. I wish I had the words to describe it. I'll admit that I this was the farthest I've hiked in my entire life, and I was feeling tremendously positive about the way things were going for the first 3/4 of the trip. The temperature on the floor of the Canyon was 95 degrees and although I think we did a pretty good job of staying hydrated the strain of the trip began to take its toll on the long steep hike up. My thighs began to cramp. The last couple of miles were not fun. BUT - I somehow found energy to put one foot in front of the other - up and up and up. We made it to the trailhead at 6pm - 10 hours after we started. I've never been happier to see a parking lot in my entire life.
I've trained to do this for months. I run 6 miles two or three times every week. I've done more squats and leg presses than I care to remember. But sometimes nothing can prepare you for what you face except the real thing. That's true for lots of things in life, I suppose. There were a couple of times when I wanted nothing more than to stop, lie down, look up at the sky through the lengthening shadows of the canyon, and let my battered body drift off to sleep. But something pulls you along - something gives you strength.
Today I'm none the worse for wear. I'm very sore in my calves and butt and oddly on the inside of my ankles. Nothing major. I'm tremendously happy that I was able to do this - I'll never forget it. In many ways it was the trip of a lifetime - a dream come true. And, as with most things in life, I find that I'm particularly happy at having done this because of how difficult it was to achieve. I felt truly physically and mentally pushed to my limits, and I did what I needed to do. There's tremendous satisfaction in that.
The Grand Canyon is an amazing place. If you ever want to go somewhere to really put things in perspective, this is it. It really makes us realize how insignificant each of us is and how unimportant the issues in our lives are in the grand scheme of things. Compared to all its ageless vastness and beauty, each of us is like a mere speck of dust. As our problems and our issues grow to engulf our lives, I think we each need to be reminded of that sometimes.
As we hiked, my friend and I chatted. In less than two weeks she'll be undergoing surgery to remove cancerous tumors. We talked a bit about life and death. I think the reason so many people fear death so much is that they know, deep down, that they haven't even started living yet. The only one who can change that is each of us; there are only so many tomorrows. Death is something that is as much a part of the human experience as life is, and it's sad that so many of us spend our lives waiting to die. No matter what happens, she's one of the lucky ones. Although few of you know her, please keep her in your prayers.
I'll be posting a page full of photos from the trip, but for now this will have to do. Unfortunately, photos can't begin to do the panorama of the Grand Canyon justice...
Wednesday, June 1, 2005
Yesterday was the first day on the new job. I'm happy (and relieved) to say that I think this is going to be a good fit. As with most new jobs, I still don't have online access so I'm up to my ears in reading things, listening in on phone conferences, and meeting people but so far I'm more enthused than ever about the possibilities.
One thing - the place is FREEZING. It's like being locked in a refrigerator all day. It's weird to go to work in 100 degree heat wearing a sweater, but that's the name of the game for now....
Tomorrow I'm headed to the Grand Canyon with a woman I worked with at IBM and two of her friends. This friend was recently diagnosed (as in last week) with cancer, and this is her last big event before surgery. She seems to be handling it better than I can imagine handling it. She's an amazing woman - she's in her mid-fifties and runs marathons. For her fiftieth birthday she ran the Pike's Peak Half Marathon on a Saturday (12 miles up the mountain), and the next day she ran the complete marathon (24 miles up and down). THAT'S amazing.
I'm sure it will
be a trip of a lifetime. Wish us luck...
Saturday, May 28, 2005
It's a little after 11pm and I just got home after watching Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith. I enjoyed it. Visually, it was absolutely stunning. I'd love to watch it in an IMAX Theater someday. But mostly, I think, it was sad. It's sad to see how things so pure and potentially beautiful can become so misguided and dark.
There was a line in it that struck me as so profound that I had to find a pen and scribble it on the back of a napkin in the dark: "You must train yourself to let go of the things that you fear to lose."
I watched it in a theater a few miles from here, at the corner of Scottsdale Rd. and Shea Blvd. Before the movie, as I walked from my car to the theater, I remembered other times I had visited there.
The first time was when my wife and I went there to see something on the trip we made to Scottsdale to look for a house, before we even moved here. We were staying at a nearby Hilton and wanted to relax by catching a movie after a long day of house-hunting. Oddly, the thing I remember most about that evening isn't anything to do with the movie (I don't even remember what we saw) - I remember leaving afterwards and going across the street to fill the rental car up with gas. I remember waiting for the tank to fill, and the feeling of the cool Arizona evening breeze on my face, somehow knowing that this just would become home.
Another time, I went there in the middle of death-dance that had become my marriage. It was 1998 - four years later and I was still living at home - but I hadn't really started to transition yet. Needless to say, things were not pleasant at my house. My wife knew that I was seeing a psychologist, that I was on hormones, and was doing things to express this budding freedom that Donna was beginning to feel. That infuriated my wife, who would tell me that I "walked like a fag", or that I disgusted her. Needless to say I found reasons to stay away from the house and the potential for fighting as much as I could.
The thing that made her the angriest is the fact that I had had been shaving my legs for some time. I started on my 39th birthday, and it was easy to keep it hidden under long pants in the winter. Once it got hot, though, there was no hiding it and it provided a constant reminder about what was happening. For someone who had lived a lifetime with disgustingly hairy legs, the feeling of freshly shaved legs in those early days was pretty intense. Somehow, they seemed ultra sensitive once the hairiness was gone to the point I could even feel the air swishing past them as I walked. Anyway, I digress....
At first I had been self-conscious about going out in shorts with shaved legs. But gradually, that pretty much died away. And, nobody ever said anything about them. Until one night, walking into those theaters at Scottsdale and Shea. I was in the parking lot walking from my car to the ticket windows when a group of teenage kids caught sight of me. "Holy sh*t. Look at that. That guy shaves his legs!" One of them says loud enough for me to hear. "Goddamn faggots..." another said. And they all had a good laugh about it.
It didn't really phase me. I just kept looking straight ahead and eventually got away from them. But that was the first and only time anyone said anything I could hear like that. Those days seem like a million years ago now - a whole other lifetime ago. And as I walked from the theater to the car after Sith this evening, smelling the impending rain in the cool evening air (of course, I washed my cars today), it was with satisfaction and peace at being able to return to places like this after having been thru what I have.
I've said it before and I'll say it again - the only way to really tell how far you've come on any journey is not by looking forward and measuring the distance yet to go. it is by looking back and measuring the distance that you've come. And by that measure, I've come a long, long way.... :)
Friday, May 27, 2005
Since I'm on the topic of fruit, let me share that I've found the key missing ingredient to make the perfect Smoothie. It certainly took a little experimentation to find it, but now that I've discovered it my Smoothies have ascended to a whole new level. Those who have visited me lately can attest to this...
Admittedly, some of my early experiments ran into some challenges and really weren't drinkable. For example, I remember one batch where I wanted to use a whole mango - so I bought one. I think it was the first mango I bought in my entire life, an oversight that I blame on the fact that we were not raised with any sense of mango-appreciation that I can remember. My parents bought all kinds of melons and we LOVE melon, but for the life of me I can't remember a single mango in the house. Ever. And, I didn't just buy one mango. I went to Costco and got a whole bunch of them. As my dear sister Kate says, "Anything worth doing is worth over doing," and in this case, oh so true.
So I buy this mango and decide it would make a good ingredient in the Smoothie. As I began to cut it up it the fact that it has a skin on it really ddidn't phase me - it seemed more like a peach skin than a melon rind. I had never seen or heard of anyone skinning a mango, so it must just be part of the fruit. And even if not, I figured that my blender would make quick work of it. So, I cut up the Mango - skin an all - and into the blender it goes.
The lesson learned from this experiment is that Mango skin doesn't blend well. In fact, it's almost impossible to call the result a Smoothie with all those little pieces of skin floating around in there. Yuck. So, I did the next best thing. I bought a bag of frozen tropical fruit from Costco and that takes care of that.
Another odd thing is that not all fruit mixes well together. You'd think that if you like all the ingredients individually then you'd like the result if they were all mixed together. Wrong. That's like saying you like peanut butter, steak, scrambled eggs, and bacon so if you put it all into a blender the result would be yummy. Not so. Believe it or not, it took me a few tries to learn this first hand. Different kinds of fruit thrown into a blender do not automatically come out tasting good. Try it. You'll see what I mean.
Anyway, the key ingredient to my most successful Smooties is.......Malibu Caribbean Rum. Something in the coconut flavor is just exactly right. Of course, the key here is not to go overboard. Many of us are certainly creatures of excess so I understand the tendency to pour a pint or two into the thing. That's not the goal here. One person to whom I explained this revelation argued that as soon as alcohol goes in it's not a Smootie anymore - it's a cocktail. Whatever.
I like to think of it as healthy. Whether it is or not really doesn't interest me so much as it tastes good, it's made out of natural ingredients, it's filling, and it's summery. Yummm.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
It's dinnertime and I'm about to eat something I really enjoy during this time of year. I first had it while sitting on the patio of Aladdin's Greek Restaurant along the towpath on the Erie Canal back home in Pittsford on a sunny, cool summer evening. And although I modify it depending on what's ripe and what I have on hand, it has become a dependable staple in my summer menu.
I suppose the technical term for it would be a "Fresh Fruit Yogurt Plate." It's some amount of Vanilla Yogurt topped by fresh fruits, walnuts, raisins, and honey. Tonight's version includes fresh strawberries, perfectly ripe cantaloupe, and a banana. By the time it's all sliced up and put into the dish it's almost too pretty to eat with the honey dripping all over the top of it. Yummm. And to top things off, I just pulled to cork on a fresh bottle of a Washington state Riesling to add the punctuation point. This is the most civilized part of my entire day.
I've got a To-Do list that's a half mile long that I've been trying to make a dent in all week long. It seems as though as many things go on it as fall off it, but that's okay. There's nothing terribly time constrained on it, so at least I've got the flexibility to work through it all on my own pace.
Tomorrow is my last day at my current job, and I leave with a little sadness (I'll miss some wonderful friends I've made there) and some anticipation at what the future brings. My role at IBM had tremendous promise for a while, but eventually key people fell away, funding dried up, priorities got shuffled, and the promise that once seemed so rich never really came to pass for me. So, here we are....
Last days are typically spent carrying boxes full of personal effects out to the car, turning in keys, badges, and workstations, and saying goodbye. Tomorrow will most likely be no different. I've been training a replacement for the last two weeks and I think she's ready to take the wheel and drive by herself now; I won't be too far away if she needs me. I start my new job on Tuesday and I'm already becoming focused on it.
I've come to the conclusion that I thrive on 2 things: challenge and change. If something can't stimulate me or keep me interested I have a natural urge to find something that will. My entire career, and indeed much of my life, is testament to that reality and I suppose I've come to some sense of peace with it. I've had to. The key to me is to find ways to channel those qualities, ways to focus them on something that provides a deeper sense of fulfillment for me. If I can find ways to do that, my natural resourcefulness and creativity can make me tremendously effective.
Challenge and change. Although both are certainly paths less taken I don't think people like me would have it any other way. I sometimes think that I wish I could do something the easy way from time to time. But deep inside, I doubt I really mean it.
I got a call
yesterday evening to tell me that Jenny Boylan and her wife were on Larry King
so I turned it on to watch (I've since been told by an unreliable source that it
was a repeat). I could only stomach it for a few minutes before I had to
turn off the sound. Don't get me wrong - Jenny did her usual wonderful
job. But, if I heard Larry ask about orgasms one more time I was gonna
wretch. Jenny would say something insightful and Larry would follow it up
with, "So it's true you can really have an orgasm?" Why is it that most
men can't imagine any possible use for a vagina other than to put a penis in
it? You'd think that Larry would have more important things to ask but
you'd be wrong; somehow it always kept coming back there. Yuck. I
really think part of the problem is that Larry really didn't know what to say or
ask, so he said the first thing that came to his mind. Over and over
again. There's so much work to do....
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
It's funny. I've been on a creative bender for a couple of weeks now. I've got this compulsion to write and write, ideas popping into my head that I want to write about at an alarming rate. It reminds me of the days when I lived in Austin, and out of the flurry of activity my book somehow got born. At any point in time I've got any number of partially developed pieces, and as soon as I start working on one something else will come to mind. I had planned to go running tonight but I've just had way too much thinking going on so I haven't been able to break away.
I wonder what causes these creative "spurts". Some alignment of the moon and stars, maybe (did you see that big full moon yesterday??!). Perhaps it's some unique hormonal balance (or imbalance, as the case may be). I suppose it doesn't really matter. I just wish the speed of my writing could keep up with the pace of the ideas in my mind. Maybe I feel a need to write it all down before the ideas all dry up again and I just sit there staring at my monitor with writer's block. Oh well.
I was driving to work in my new car the other morning, listening to Craig Chaquico and zipping along the 101 Loop, and I had a flurry of thoughts I didn't want to lose. I fumbled for a pen and the only thing I could find to write on - the back of an envelope. I managed to scribble something without swerving off the road for lack of enough hands. Sadly, I haven't been able to find the darned envelope! It'll turn up somewhere.
I get an email from Amazon every week to tell me how the book is selling. Believe it or not, in today's email it says the Sales Rank of my book is the #14,688. Out of all the millions of books that Amazon sells! What's up with that? It hasn't been that high since it first came out. By comparison, the current sales rank of She's Not There is #93,977. And, True Selves is #17,975. Maybe inclusion in the anthology by Jonathan Ames has given it a boost, but the sales rank for that book is #113,636 so I'm not sure where the momentum is coming from.
I'm beginning to look for a larger more established publisher to pick up subsequent printings so if anyone has connections with agents or publishers, feel free to send them my way.
On another note, one thing I'm thinking of doing is making all my source documents from the book available online. I've got pages and pages of emails, journal entries, and any number of other correspondence that together document the day-in/day-out progress of my transition. I'm not sure it wouldn't be terribly boring, because I'm certainly not going back into it all to pretty it up. That's what the book did. I'll have to think about it and see if it would have any value...
Monday, May 23, 2005
ACTION ALERT: The time to take action is here. We need to demonstrate our support for this important legislation. Click Here to find out what you can do. It's simple, it's quick, and it can make a difference. And, please share the link with others. The more who actively speak out against hate and violence, the louder the message will be.
For the first time, explicitly trans inclusive Federal Hate Crimes legislation is being presented in the Senate. Mara Keisling, Executive Director for the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) in Washington DC, sent out this Press Release:
Explicitly Transgender-Inclusive Federal Hate Crime Bill to
Be Introduced in U.S. House
Historic First for Transgender People
The National Center for Transgender Equality celebrates the planned introduction of the first major explicitly transgender-inclusive piece of federal legislation.
Scheduled for introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives this Thursday, May 26, the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2005 would help protect against bias crimes based on gender identity, sexual orientation, gender and disability. The bill would also add gender identity to the Hate Crimes Statistics Act.
“This is an historic moment,” said NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling. “The introduction of this bill marks the first time members of Congress have openly expressed the need for explicit federal protections for transgender people.”
NCTE’s staff, board, members and supporters have worked tirelessly for years to educate Congress and our allies on the importance of clear transgender-inclusion in this and other federal legislation.
“We are seeing the efforts of transgender advocates and allies reflected in this legislation and in the growing understanding that we desperately need federal assistance to end the continuing epidemic of bias violence that too many of us face,” Keisling said. “Transgender-inclusive hate crimes legislation sends a strong message that violence based on gender identity and expression is not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
Currently eight states and the District of Columbia have hate crimes laws that include coverage for transgender people. And already this year inclusive state hate crimes bills have passed the Maryland and Colorado General Assemblies and await the signatures of the respective governors.
NCTE congratulates trans advocates and our allies whose hard work made the introduction of this bill possible.
We also applaud and thank the lead sponsors of the legislation: Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass.; Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla.; John Conyers Jr., D-Mich.; Christopher Shays, R-Conn.; and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
Saturday, May 21, 2005
For those who think that times are getting better to be "out" and transgendered, there are any number of events in our country to jerk us back to the cold, stark reality of our world. Here's a very recent incident that hits close to home, in Yuma, Arizona - a couple of hours west of Phoenix on the California-Arizona-Mexico border. Be careful if you read it - it's graphic and it's brutal....
It's an incident like this one, early in my transition, that I think planted the seed that has become my impetus to become actively involved more than I ever imagined I would be. Dana Rivers, who at the time was one of the best known of us thanks to her very public firing as a high school teacher in Sacramento, came to Phoenix to talk with a large group of us. She shared the fact that, more than any other group, the transgender community is the target for the most hate crimes. And these hate crimes aren't just meant to kill us. They're meant to hurt us. They're meant to make us suffer. They're meant to disfigure us to live the balance of our lives thinking about what has happened.
"Boys Don't Cry" happened in real life. So did the brutal killing in "Soldier's Girl". Gwen Aurajo's murder happens over again to any number of us each day. And, until someone recognizes that we're valuable, that these are hate crimes of the worst sort, we'll continue to be targets. That's a scary thought, and each of us needs to keep that in the back of our minds.
It kills me to know that crimes against our community are not considered Hate Crimes in this state, or in most states. That's why the bill that I explained in my May 18 entry is such an important thing. And, each of us needs to decide what we plan to do about that. We can sit back and hope that we're not discovered - that if we blend in well enough we'll be safe. Or, we can get angry and we can do something. And, to be perfectly honest, this stuff makes me madder than hell.
Friday, May 20, 2005
I went to get my Arizona Driver's License today. I originally went to do it shortly after I moved back here but I didn't get very far - they told me my Texas driver's license wasn't good enough to get one here in Arizona. I needed to show a birth certificate or passport, too. At the time I joked that I knew Texans considered Texas to be its own little country, but I didn't know that others recognized that, too. The lady didn't think that was funny.
So today I went back, armed with my passport, to finish the job. I just had to smile as I pulled into the parking lot at the DMV and I noticed a big van parked out in the street with a large yellow sign with red writing: "Elk Jerky!!". "Fresh and Delicious". Elk jerky? I never even knew that elk jerky was a food, much less that a pickup truck would want to sell it in 110 degree heat just outside the DMV. I guess that's just Arizona.
Once I got inside things went pretty quickly. I took an eye test, and the good news is that my eyesight is still good. On the application they ask your weight and even include it on your driver's license (doesn't seem quite right to ask a woman her weight, and I wonder how many people actually admit anything close to the truth). They took my picture (thank God it was a good hair day) and I got my new license right there and then. I'm actually pretty happy with it, and it a good thing because it expires in 2029.
I remember going through a similar exercise in 2000 when I changed my name and got my first driver's license with an "F" on it. It was an exciting day. And, even though this was pretty mundane in the scheme of things I still enjoyed it. Oddly, I've gone back into my purse more than once to take it out and look at my new license. It's funny that it still has that kind of effect.
It looks to be a quiet weekend (Thank God!). I'm running pretty much every day to get ready for the Grand Canyon in a couple of weeks so I'll be at the fitness center both days. I've got lots to do around the house, and I'm meeting my son for dinner tomorrow. He recently finished high school so we're going out to celebrate.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
There's a trans-youth here in Phoenix that I've met and with whom I'm setting up a local support organization. Trans Youth is a whole different ballgame from your garden variety transgendered person. Being young is hard enough with all the pressures of being a kid without all the pressures of dealing with this. If you think transitioning at work is hard, try coming out at school and see how long it takes to get the crap beat out of you. My friend is 16, is some flavor of female-to-male, and has a remarkable sense of self-awareness and maturity even at that young age. He says he wants to work in a hospital when he gets out of school, specifically in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) because he's got a very strong empathy with children. Anyway, I got a very poignant email from him, written sometime shortly after midnight, indicating that he's struggling at the moment and he needs some support and help.
Shortly after I read it, as I struggled to decide how to reply, I heard a song that really reminds me of how I think many of us feel sometimes. As those who visit my website often will know, I'm particularly in-tune to music, lyrics, and how they relate to things in my own realm of experience. This song is by 3 Doors Down, and is titled Away From The Sun. I'm listening to it over and over again now. It's like a theme song for disaffected youth....
It's down to this I've got to make this life make sense Can anyone tell what I've done I miss the life I miss the colors of the world Can anyone tell where I am 'Cause now again I've found myself So far down, away from the sun That shines into the darkest place I'm so far down, away from the sun again Away from the sun again I'm over this I'm tired of living in the dark Can anyone see me down here The feeling's gone There's nothing left to lift me up Back into the world I've known 'Cause now again I've found myself So far down, away from the sun That shines into the darkest place I'm so far down, away from the sun That shines to light the way for me To find my way back into the arms That care about the ones like me I'm so far down, away from the sun again Oh no, Yeah, Oh no... It's down to this I've got to make this life make sense And now I can't tell what I've done And now again I've found myself So far down, away from the sun That shines to light the way for me 'Cause now again I've found myself So far down, away from the sun That shines into the darkest place I'm so far down, away from the sun That shines to light the way for me To find my way back into the arms That care about the ones like me I'm so far down, away from the sun again Oh no, Yeah, I'm gone
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
I got some very welcome news in an email today. It's from Chris Labonte, the Deputy Political Director and Legislative Director for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) in Washington, DC.
Subject: Hate Crimes Update: House Bill to have explicit transgender inclusive language
Good News! After years of work with the Hill by HRC and a coalition of organizations, including many of you, we learned this morning that a hate crimes bill that explicitly covers the entire GLBT community by including a new protected class for gender identity will be introduced in the House of Representatives. Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), John Conyers (D-MI), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Christopher Shays (R-CT) have indicated that they will introduce the measure next Thursday (May 26, 2005).
HRC is working with those offices to line up co-sponsors and supporters for the bill. We will continue to work towards a transgender inclusive hate crimes bill in the Senate as well as to build transgender-inclusive legislative history on the current Senate bill to ensure coverage for the entire GLBT community. Grassroots support for the House bill is critical, please contact your representative and ask them to co-sponsor the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act in the House at introduction next week. Please do not hesitate to contact me or Darren Fenwick, our lead lobbyist on hate crimes at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As always, we look forward to continuing our work together.
This is fantastic news. And, I expect to hear quite a bit more on this in the weeks and months ahead. Please share it with others. If each of us contacts someone who contacts someone and we all write to our legislators about why we're supporting this bill, we'll have a chance to see what we're capable of doing. We're one of the greatest risk groups to be the target of violence, and at some point we need to make this stop.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
There appear to be some changes in the wind for me here.
First, I gave my notice at work today. For those who wonder what I do - I'm a consultant and I've been managing a program for IBM at a data center they operate for American Express here in Phoenix. The job actually "fits" pretty well - the people are great and it provides the flexibility I need, and I'm not micro managed there - but another opportunity has come my way so a difficult decision had to be made. In my previous life I had a very logical and methodical approach to things, so I'm sure the answer to what I should do would have been clear. Nowadays, I'm learning to trust something I never even knew I had - my intuition. If recent history has proven anything it's that I'm not afraid to make difficult decisions and move forward. Anyways, I'm sad about leaving some people who have become friends and at the same time I'm excited about moving on to something new. We'll see how it all works out.
And, I got a new car today. It's not a new-new car....it's a new-used car. I've needed one for quite a while but the thought of taking on a car payment again has kept me away. Until today. A woman I work with warned me that car salesmen eat up women who come in alone - that she was treated like crap the last time she went car shopping alone, but that when she went back with a man they treated him totally different. I didn't find that they treated me poorly - in fact I even got a "date" out of the deal. My sales-guy is meeting me for a celebration drink this weekend.
For those who keep track of these things, this week looks to be our last week of "spring". Weather forecasts indicate this weekend could get pretty toasty - up near 107 degrees - and we'll probably see temperatures like that thru September. My month of June looks absolutely crazy - especially the early part as I've got trips from Phoenix to Maryland to San Francisco to Phoenix to North Carolina and back home again planned all within less than two weeks. Near the end of the month I'm hoping my mom will come to visit me...
Friday, May 13, 2005
I'm preparing to go on a trip with a small group of women I work with. We're going to hike from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to the bottom and then back up again in early June. I'm really really REALLY looking forward to it.
To be honest, this has been one of my life goals for almost as long as I can remember having life goals - and happens to be one of two associated with the Grand Canyon (the other is to go on a week-long rafting trip along the Colorado River). I really don't have too many of them that I haven't accomplished yet - perhaps the most frivolous being a deep-seated need to wear a wedding gown at some point in this second lifetime but that's another story for another time...
In past entries I've shared the fact that I'm not handy as far as building things or fixing things or power tools are concerned. In fact, it there's a word that means the opposite of handy - that's what I am. The good news is that I've come to a sense of peace with my non-handy side, and I feel no need to try to prove otherwise - to myself or to anybody else. Somebody could get hurt, and it would probably be me.
Well, that's almost how I am with outdoors stuff. The last time I went camping I was a Boy Scout. I remember snipe hunting, and Tang, and freezing on the cold hard ground in a stuffy little tent. Actually, no - I take that back. I think the last time I was camping I was a senior in high school. The details are sketchy, but I vaguely remember a school event that involved sleeping in a tent somewhere. There has been way too much peroxide between then and now to remember much more than that so I won't even try...
The difference between these two things is that I never really cared to be handy, but I've always wanted to be outdoors-y. I suppose I should qualify that a bit. I have absolutely no interest in scaling sheer cliffs, weathering arctic blizzards, or sitting in a tree waiting for something to walk by so I can kill it and get back home to eat it. No. My interest is in the scenery, the smell of wood on the campfire, the sound of nothing but wind through the pines. I want to learn how to do that. More than that - I want to actually DO it before I'm done here.
Sadly, it never fit into my old life. There were always too many other things to do - too many other priorities to juggle and it never seemed to happen. At one point many years ago I bought a tent and a bunch of camping stuff with the best intentions - hoping that actually having the gear would be incentive enough to actually get out there. Nothing doing. Never enough weekends. We sold it all at a garage sale after coming to the sad conclusion that we'd never use it.
All that explanation brings me to today, this very afternoon, when I visited the local REI store (an outdoors store - see more details at REI.com). It's their Anniversary Sale and I got a booklet in the mail showing all these great deals on things I'll need for my trip to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A day pack. Hiking boots. Pants with lets that zipper off. A whole host of things that I'll need for this hike and in the hope of many more hikes after that.
The sales-guy there was very nice. His name was Dave. He helped me pick out a backpack, and a camelback to fill up with water (or Bahama Mama's). He tried to explain all these high tech fabrics that they're made from, but I had to cut him short to tell him the fabric wasn't nearly as important as how I looked in the thing. He seemed to realize that I have serious issues so he became pretty relaxed with me from that point on. I told him I'd like a pink one to match the bright red I'll be once I get all sunburned. He says they don't have one. I asked if they have a suggestion box. (I was just kidding, of course). I told him I'd mention his name on the suggestion in hopes he'd get some credit for it. He begged me not to.
I spent an hour trying on hiking boots and hiking all around the store to see how they feel. They even have a fake hill there to get the feeling of what it's like to go up or down an incline. I must have walked five miles by the time I finally settled on the right ones.
The hat department was huge, with more different kinds of hats than I've ever seen. Sun Hat. River Hat. Trekker Hat. Panama Hat. Sahara Hat. Afternoon Hat. I asked the guy if they had a section titled "Hats For People Who Don't Look Good In Hats." He smiled and pointed to the corner, and believe it or not I found one there. On SALE!
So tonight I have three bags full of stuff ready for my trip. I've been training for weeks now - running whenever I can to build up the stamina. Leg exercises. Sit-ups. Me against the Canyon. And, with no hesitation I can tell you this right now. The Canyon is gonna eat me up and spit me out. But, at least I'll have accomplished another dream.
Of course, seeing the inner workings of an Intensive Care Unit is something that's on the longer list of Things I Never Hope To Experience. Let's hope it stays there.
Thursday, May 12, 2005
I wrote an op-ed piece to the New York Times in response to an article on the continuing flip-flopping that Microsoft has been doing regarding support for the statewide anti-discrimination legislation that was recently defeated by a single vote. They asked me to keep it private until Friday in case they wanted to print it, but I haven't heard anything so I'm sharing it here:
The Real Message In The Microsoft
by Donna Rose
I am writing to comment about an article titled “In a Reverse, Microsoft Says It Supports Gay Rights Bill” by Sarah Kershaw (5/7/2005). For GLBT Americans, I somehow find this news tremendously sad. Actually, it’s not the news itself that is sad as I’m heartened to hear about this change of heart. Rather, I’m sad at what I think this represents for GLBT Americans who take the time to really stop and think about what has happened here.
I am a transsexual. I speak nationally on the challenges my little community faces each and every day – in our families, in our workplaces, in our homes. And, although I generally consider myself to be an optimist - seeing glasses as half-full rather than half-empty - in this case I find it difficult to do.
The message here isn’t that Microsoft finally did the right thing. It’s that Microsoft abandoned its ideals when they were tested, and when they mattered most. They proved what too many of us learn time and time again – that it’s easy to be a friend when times are good, but when times get tough, when you really need a friend, they’re nowhere to be found. They pulled the rug from under those who had worked for years to craft and build support for legislation that would ban discrimination in the state of Washington on the grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity. This is unforgivable.
To me, the subsequent policy reversal is little more than damage control over something that never should have become an issue in the first place. It reminds me of an abusive husband that brutalizes his wife only to apologize afterward. Trust is difficult to build, and easy to lose. Mine is lost. Not only in Microsoft, but this has called into question how other supportive companies will support “the right thing” as our country becomes more and more polarized on these issues. It’s tremendously disheartening.
To compound an already terribly mishandle situation, after years of hard work to explicitly add discrimination protection for transgendered employees to the company’s EEO policy, that protection was announced the very same week they pulled their support for discrimination protection on a statewide level! With one hand they sooth, and with the other they slap. This tremendous achievement is something that should be celebrated, and the people who worked to make it happen should receive credit for all their hard work. Instead, it’s lost in the din of the tempest and feels like a patronizing bone thrown to keep a restless dog quiet.
The message here is clear, but it’s not the one that’s being rejoiced as a victory for GLBT rights. The message is that you need to choose your friends wisely, as they may not be there when you need them. Higher ideals need to be able to withstand tests of convenience. Corporate America cannot choose to reap the competitive advantages in terms of marketing, recruiting, and retention within the GLBT community while at the same time abandoning us when we need them most. I live in a corporate world that stresses accountability, and corporate America must be held accountable – in good times and in bad.
Headlines I could celebrate would have been, “Microsoft Stands Up to Boycott Threats by Conservative Zealots” or “Microsoft Reaffirms Support for Dignity”. The fact that they backed into doing the right thing leaves an emptiness that I just can’t shake. Hopefully, the next company that gets tested in this regard will step up where Microsoft did not. And, when I consider my next computer purchase and this whole episode pops into my mind, I hope my pocketbook supports the higher ideals in my heart and mind. If not, then I’m really no better than they are.
Sunday, May 8, 2005
I went to a very posh event last night. I'm a board member for a local organization named Body Positive that does HIV/AIDS research and treatment. Our annual dinner and fundraiser, Night For Life, was held last night at one of the many beautiful local resorts. It was the 10th Anniversary edition, and one of the foofiest events I've attended yet. At $300 a plate it lived up to expectations.
I must admit that I had 4 or 5 (who's counting??) Appletini's before dinner, but thankfully I'm none the worse for it this morning. I was a table captain, and it's fun to see good friends all dressed up for these kinds of things. There's something about chiseled men and fine women in formalwear. One friend marveled at all the beautiful people, there were well over 1,200 there, saying "It's events like these that make me happy to be bi!" So true. :)
Each place setting had more cutlery and glassware than someone like me can safely manage, so I worked with our server to understand what piece I was supposed to use for what. She was very understanding (and, I daresay, amused). The entertainment for the evening was Wynonna (the singer, not the actress for those who get confused). All in all it was a great event.
Saturday, May 7, 2005
"An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
We live in some very scary times, friends. And I'm afraid things will get worse - much worse - before they get better.
I just read a story in USA Today that highlights where things are going. And, it's not just here in the United States, either (see Washington Blade article). Hatred comes out in terrible ways. How can this be?
I called my Mom last night to wish her an early Mother's Day and she mentioned an op-ed piece she had read and cut out. My mom is so cute like that - she'll see something that interests her and she'll cut it out to save it. Pictures. Articles. You name it - my mom has little snippets everywhere. She sent me an article about "Sex Change in Iran" a few weeks back. So cute.
Anyway, this article that she mentioned is about gays and lesbians, but Iit's true for the entire GLBT community. It was written last week by a writer for the Miami Free Press named Leonard Pitts, Jr., and it's titled Gay Holocaust. It's very well done, and spot on. There are crosshairs on progressive thoughts and ideas - especially the GLBT community - like never before. There is a price to pay for social change, for being part of a movement that challenges traditional paradigms. A unique set of circumstances - 9/11 and the subsequent emphasis on security, a conservative president, a Republican Congress, gradual social ambivalence on sexuality - has led to where we are.
We're under attack - not only as trans or gay or whatever. Thinking people have become a threat. Rights are under attack. Freedoms are under attack. The brave people who founded this country fled prejudice and persecution in their own lands and created a unique melting pot based on being "different". Now, being different makes you an enemy - a target for attack. Our leaders have played the morality card knowing full well that it can't be trumped, and we're staring the Joker right in the face. Sometimes it makes me sad. Other times it scares me a little. Usually, though, it makes me angry.
It amazes me that others can't (or won't) see what's going on, or that they choose to turn a blind eye to it. Isn't that how it starts? I sometimes think that people, in general, really aren't as intelligent or humanistic as I give them credit for (which really isn't much, if you really want to know). Certainly, there are exceptions, but as things become worse and the stakes become higher, those voices may fear for their own selves and fade away. It's already happening in political circles (a recent example: John Kerry's latest). It's happening in our workplaces (see Microsoft's flip-flop). It's happening in our places of worship (see above). People are being polarized by "Traditional Values" as a moral imperative, and those who support Un-traditional values become the villains or worse. It's hate and fear-mongering of the worst order. It's McCarthyism all over again.
Fasten your seat belts. Batten down the hatches. Get ready to rumble. Storm clouds are ahead. And, I find no small sense of irony knowing that one of the best places to hide during a tornado is in a closet. Go figure.
Friday, May 6, 2005
I spent some time with a 16-year-old trans-youth named Myles today. He's some flavor of FTM, still searching for his place, and has had an incredibly difficult life. He has been searching for people or groups who can help him, and is tired of being told how to "be" even by supportive trans organizations. That's sad.
I can see that I'll be getting more and more involved in youth efforts, as the courage of these kids (and their parents) is amazing. It's hard enough being a kid these days without having to deal with all of the difficulties many of us face by being "different". Educators need educating. Parents need support and guidance. Kids need hope. These are our most vulnerable brothers and sisters, and they need our help. I'll find a way to be there.
Wednesday, May 4, 2005
The most nostalgic thing happened this morning. As I pulled out of my driveway to drive to work I noticed that my gas gauge was on "E" for Empty. No gas. So, I decided to pull into the closest gas station to where I live which is a little auto repair place just off Scottsdale Rd.
As soon as I pulled up, before I had a chance to get the key out and my seatbelt off, a guy approaches the car. "G'morning ma'am," he says. "Fill 'er up?" It takes a second, but I realize that I've heard of this place. It's the last full-service gas station around and when I look at the gas prices on the old-style pumps - $2.88/gal or unleaded, $2.99/gal for premium - I decide it's probably better just to get twenty dollars worth.
As he starts to pump gas, two other guys approach the car. One of them starts washing the front windshield while the other starts washing the back. One asks if I'd like him to look under the hood - I politely decline. It probably sounds silly to write about something so mundane, but this really reminds me of times long ago when the thought of pumping your own gas just didn't happen - when you didn't have to pay for water, or for television. Oddly, the memory that popped into my head was of my dad buying gas during any of our cross-country car trips....
So, here I am, feeling like I'm being serviced by a pit crew from the Indy 500, and this guy starts chit-chatting. I told him I'd never been there before and he says to be sure to come back to visit him - he even gave me his card. Needless to say, at those prices twenty dollars doesn't buy much gas so as they all finish up and withdraw back into the little building the main guy says, "Have a nice day, sweetheart," with a big toothy grin. And ya know, it was a fun little experience...
While we were in Austin Elizabeth and I spent an afternoon downtown at my hair salon, Avant. The people there are wonderful, and I consider Jon D and Heather to be dear friends. They don't serve wine there anymore, but Heather found a bottle tucked away somewhere in the back so we spent the afternoon sipping away on a tasty Pinot Noir. Anyway, I became a bit blonder (summertime) and had a cut, and Elizabeth had a bit of a style, too. She said her stylist back home seemed afraid to actually cut her hair, so Jon D. worked his magic with a straight razor - and the end result is simply beautiful (photo below). I kidded her by saying I was going to collect all her pretty curly blonde locks on the floor and sell them on e-Bay.
Between the new highlights, a sassier cut that's easier to style, and some new product I'm in the midst of a string of good hair days. It has been coming out well lately, and I've had a half-dozen people in the last day alone mention that my hair is different, and it looks nice. The hair Goddess is a fickle deity with a nasty sense of humor and a mean streak, though, so this run of good luck could end any time.
Sunday, May 1, 2005
Can you believe it's May already? I can't. Where oh were has the year gone?
I got back from my week-long trip to Austin this morning. It was a great week, but I'm glad to be home. It felt a little odd going back to Austin as a visitor instead of as a resident, and after this week I've come to the conclusion that I think I feel more comfortable with it like that. I miss some dear friends there, many of whom I regretfully didn't have an opportunity to meet up with during my short free time before the Conference started. But overall I'm so much more content where I am - it's much healthier for me the way things have worked out.
One piece of news is that I met with the printing company while I was there, and a second printing of my book will be available later this month. It's slightly updated from the first printing - 4 pages longer - and it fixes some minor irritants and boo-boos from the original release.
The conference itself was wonderful. It was great to finally meet people I've corresponded with from afar but never had a chance to meet. Some of my dearest friends (Elizabeth, Mel, etc.) are people I've met at conferences like this one. Somehow, it provides a unique opportunity to bond with others in a uniquely profound way. It was also nice to spend some quality time with some people I haven't had a chance to spend much time with before or haven't and to meet people who are special to people who are special to me.
I gave two and a half workshops, and I presented a Workplace Diversity award to Dell at the luncheon last Thursday. One of the workshops is one I've done several times before, although it ends up being different each time I do it. Another was a new one, and I wasn't quite sure how it would all come together - somehow it always does. Based on attendance and feedback, things seemed to go well in both of them. Perhaps most importantly is that I think both are unique and important topics and I enjoy doing them, and I hope that came across to those who were there.
I was particularly happy with the entertainment at the dinners on Friday and Saturday; I was part of the planning committee for that. Those who watched Miss Richfield 1981 spell out L-O-V-E with her legs while standing on her head will most probably remember that for a long, long time. The entertainment last night was a Revue, and included some wonderful performances and songs that truly touched me.
It was nice to spend a few days with Elizabeth and Annah before the conference started, as each is amazing and beautiful. Annah had never been to an event like this before, and it was obvious by her sniffles and her tears at the luncheon program yesterday that she felt the energy of support and community that I've tried to describe.
I was at the airport in Austin this morning - I had just checked in and had wheeled my suitcase to the X-Ray machine - and this guy walks up to me and says, "Excuse me, but if you're not in a hurry perhaps you might have some time to have a cup of coffee." At first I'm looking at him to make sure I don't know him, because I've never been approached like that - especially at 7 o'clock in the morning. I wasn't quite sure what to say, and I thanked him and told him I had to get to my gate to meet up with some friends (which was true). On the flight home I was wondering what would have happened if I had accepted...
Anyways, I'll be putting some photos of the event on my website sometime in the next couple of days. For the moment I'll be unpacking, cleaning, doing wash, and getting ready to get back to the real world tomorrow.
Friday, April 22, 2005
I wonder if everyone else is as happy that it's Friday as I am.
I'm headed back to Austin this weekend for the first time since I left there driving a 25 foot truck packed to the gills on New Year's Day. I'll be gone for a week. The main reason for this trip is to participate in the IFGE Conference there starting on Thursday. Before that, though, I'll have an opportunity to take care of some business and to visit with some dear friends I've missed over these past eight months.
Elizabeth is arriving on Sunday, and I think we're both looking forward to some quality down time. Annah is there, too, and I'm glad the two of them - my little sisters - will finally have an opportunity to meet. I've said it before and I'll say it again - these kinds of events are wonderful opportunities to socialize in a safe and supportive environment unlike anything else. I wish I'd had the opportunity to attend one during my own transition - it could have saved me a ton of heartache. I'll be sure to take some photos, so get ready to see some fresh photos here on the website soon.
If you look back
over some of these blog entries you may notice some consistent trends when it
comes to food. There was the soup diet last year. More recently
there was a time when I wouldn't put my new waffle maker away and where I seemed
to eat a lot of fish.
The latest thing I've gotten into is Smooties. A couple of new friends stayed with me a couple of weeks ago and bought tons of fruit, and even some Vanilla Soy milk, and I've been addicted ever since I needed to find something to do with it before it all got too ripe. I even bought one of those monster 600-watt Cuisinart blenders that could crush stone into gravel - just to make Smoothies. It sounds like overkill, I know, but that's just me. I bought it from my most favoritest store - Costco - which is where I think I got 95% of the other things in my kitchen so if nothing else at least I know it all matches.
The neat thing about this little smoothie phase I'm going through is that I'm buying fruits I've never bought before. Papaya. Mangos. Kiwi. Mix it with some bananas, some berries, some fresh Strawberries, some fresh pineapple - yum yum yum.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
There are those who believe that the T does not belong with the GLB. Thankfully, I am not among that group. I far prefer to stress the ways we're alike - both real and perceived - more than the ways we're different. For anyone who has done any work in this area I'm confident that you'll agree that there's a great deal of education that needs to be done in order to get there. We all get beat up, harassed, or otherwise discriminated against for the same reasons.
Attached is an email that was forwarded to me today (click here to read it). I find this kind of stuff ultimately frustrating, and it's proof that bigotry and ignorance comes from inside the GLBT community, as well. Nobody wants to be at the very bottom of society's food chain. The gist of this email is that the author supports T-inclusion as long as a) he doesn't need to do anything or b) it doesn't affect him.
I responded in what I consider to be appropriate and restrained - asking the perhaps the name of the organization should be changed to "Equality Mississippi As Long As You're Not Trans", and I received a very defensive response telling me that I'm childish. Oh well. People like this will never get it, and the most scary part of all is that people like this somehow become leaders.
For those who wish to take the author on his offer to respond, the email address is at the top of the page.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
My body was not built for running. My body type is thick and muscular - not lean and fast - so my short, stocky legs seem to need to move twice as fast as anyone else's to move just as quickly. It's not fair. Sure, I do my best to compensate for my stocky genetics by diet and exercise, but it's a constant struggle. Plus, I love food so I'm triply cursed.
I've been running regularly for several months now, and I just signed up for my first race in many, many years. It's an 8K run in early May. In the past I'd train and train and train to be able to run one 10K per year. My racing goals have always been twofold: a) to finish in the top 50% for my age and sex and b) to get the T-shirt. For a non-runner like me, the first goal is a stretch. The second is easy. This will be my first race since transition so we'll see what happens.
Scottsdale is a very "fit" place. I guess you'd have to spend some time here to know what I mean. Since the weather is generally so nice people wear less clothes to cover up "imperfections", so people always seem to be working out one way or another: Running, Bike Riding, Rowing, Hiking, Walking, Aerobics, Weights - this place is fitness crazed. Plus, it's a relatively affluent area so there are lots of pretty people who can afford personal trainers and the like.
I ran 5 miles tonight in 43 minutes and 25 seconds. Not bad for a slug like me. Graceful I'm not, but I somehow get where I'm going. This last hour I've been recuperating at home, listening to some old Beatles music. There's an acoustic version of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" on the Anthology 3 CD that's just haunting. This music never seems to lose its ability to take me back to my childhood. I'm glad I can still listen to music like that, close my eyes, and visit it from time to time. It keeps me feeling young.
"One day, you'll find that I have gone. But tomorrow may rain, so I'll follow the sun...."
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
I never really appreciated fish as a food until fairly recently. I guess, at least in my case, it's an acquired taste. Growing up, my mom rarely cooked fish of any kind so my only point of reference was either canned tuna or fish sticks - certainly not a wide variety and definitely not the best examples of fish cuisine. One of my early jobs was as a waiter at Red Lobster, and if 8 hours of fishy grease smell each night isn't enough to cause permanent brain damage I don't know what is.
Sometime after I got married my wife introduced me to fresh Haddock fish fry, which I really enjoy. I've decided that if you put enough tartar sauce on it, even dirt would taste good. Later, my mother-in-law cooked Salmon, which is still one my favorite meals to this day. Both greatly broadened my fishy horizons.
Since then, I've become adventuresome and tried any number of interesting fish dishes - as long as they're cooked. Frankly, I still appreciate a nice filet mignon more than anything else but variety really is the spice of life so I enjoy trying new things when I go out to eat.
I had fish these past two nights for dinner and both were just wonderful. On Monday a friend and I went to a local restaurant named Zinc Bistro and we ordered the Special - a pan seared Halibut. It was absolutely delicious. And last night, we went to a local "Hawaiian Fusion" restaurant and I had Butterfish - I hadn't even heard of it before but the waiter said it was his favorite and he didn't steer me wrong. So flaky and tender and tasty - yum.
Today is my ex-wife's birthday. I drove to her house after work to drop off a card and a couple dozen pink/peach roses. She still refuses to see me, so I gave them to my son to take inside. She called a little later to say they were beautiful, and to say thanks. I'm glad she likes them.
Friday, April 8, 2005
It must be sweeps season on TV, because there are a ton of transgendered themed things on at the moment. My son even says Mr. Garrison had a sex change on South Park. That can't be good....
For the past two Aprils in a row, Oprah has produced a show on a transgender topic. In April 2003 she actually produced two shows in a row, with one featuring Jenny Boylan. Last April she produced a well-done show on Transgender Youth that featured sister Elizabeth. So why was I surprised earlier this week to receive a call from a producer at Oprah saying that they're in the planning stages of another transgender-themed show?
When she initially described the topic they were considering it seemed like something that I think is very important. However, a follow-up call indicates that the topic had changed to something that has me a little concerned. This is what they're looking for:
They want to feature people who got married, and subsequently someone realized that one of the partners used to be the "other" sex. It's like if Mary gets married to John, and sometime after the wedding John learns that Mary wasn't always Mary, she used to be Mark. Those situations are few and far between, and I think the sensationalism of it will give the impression that it's something that happens more often than it does. Not good.
Oprah has generally been good to us in the past. I can only hope her track record continues this year.
I watched an older movie tonight that I can totally relate to. It's an older movie. It's "Phenomenon" with John Travolta and Robert Duvall. John plays George O'Malley, this simple guy in a little midwest town sees a bright flash of light and suddenly finds that he's got all kinds of paranormal powers. He becomes smart. He has all kinds of thoughts and feelings he can't explain. Nobody can understand what's happening to him - including himself - even though he's no threat to anyone. One by one, all of his friends become afraid of him and fall away. Except one. His special "power" becomes a burden that ultimately kills him. So tragic, yet so true to life.
Near the end, they find he's got a brain tumor, and he tries to explain something to a doctor who wants to do an experiment on his brain.
George: I’ll tell you what I am. I’ll tell you what I think I am…I’m what everybody can be.
Doctor: Everyone with a malignant, tentacle…
George: No. No, no. That just helped me to get here. Okay? Anybody can get here. I’m the possibility.
I think you have this desperate grasp on technology, and this grasp on science, and you don’t have a third hand left to grasp what is important.
... It’s within us. What I am talking about is the human spirit. That’s the challenge. That’s the voyage. That’s the expedition.
I feel those words to my core.
Tuesday, April 5, 2005
I see a word used more and more often, and I'm not sure I understand why it seems to exist. The word is "transgenderism". What's up with that?
Typically, the suffix "ism" means the belief in something. The dictionary explains it as "a belief, or system of beliefs, accepted as authoritative by some group or school.
So what, then, is "transgenderism"? The belief in transgender? I think not, especially seeing that it's used almost like a lifestyle. The practice of being transgender? I saw it in the first sentence in a recent news article: ".... Students gathered last night to discuss the complex topics of gender issues and transgenderism."
I Googled it, and there are over 51,000 hits on the internet. I see that the Harry Benjamin Institute, the group that makes the rules that all of us adhere to, publishes the "International Journal of Transgenderism". If HBIGDA is using it, then I suppose it must be a word. Hmmm. Well, not in my vernacular.
I'm not here to argue symantics, and I really don't have alternative suggestions. I'm just asking questions. And, sometimes, you come across a word you just don't get along with for one reason or another. :)
I don't feel as unhappy with the word "Transsexualism" for some reason (although I think I'd prefer "transsexuality" in most cases). Go figure....
Saturday, April 2, 2005
This is PRIDE weekend here in Phoenix. PRIDE month is typically June in most places, but June in Phoenix is already a very hot time so they celebrate it early here. Typical PRIDE celebrations in large cities include a parade and a PRIDE Festival of some sort, and Phoenix has both of those. I signed up to assist at one of the booths there both today and tomorrow and nice weather brought out PRIDE-ers in full force. It was sunny and warm, and there were tens of thousands of people walking through rows of tents and booths, snacking at the food tents, sitting around the main stage or any of the secondary stages listening to music, or just generally enjoying the energy of things like this.
It's amazing how tiring a simple thing like standing in a warm, stuffy tent can be - but tonight I'm very sleepy. I'll sleep well.
Of course, I wasn't too tired to watch the documentaries on Discovery Health tonight featuring some dear friends. I'll admit some initial concern that the producers would somehow screw things up - which would really have been a shame given the tremendous people from our community that were involved. I'm happy, and relieved, to say that this didn't happen. In fact, I found the shows generally well done, well shot, informative, interesting and the best I've seen in quite a while. I actually can't find much to complain about.
There are those who may complain that these two shows covered no new ground, and perhaps that's true. There are those who may complain that it stooped to traditional sensational stuff: trans-women putting on makeup, shopping for clothing, having surgery, or the like and trans-men lifting weights, going bare-chested, and generally being guys. There are those who might be frustrated that the people in this show were all attractive, and all were white. Certainly no argument here. To me, though, there's actually nothing wrong with any of those things as they're certainly part of our expression of our male-ness or our female-ness. The difference comes in how it's used. And frankly, I thought this show did a very tasteful job of letting the people do their own talking, share their own stories, and ultimately letting their poignant sense of humanity shine through.
Perhaps it's because I know several of the people who were featured, but I found every single person profiled to be interesting, compelling, and added something different and unique to the overall story. I found each offered something unique while at the same time there were common threads that ran throughout each story.
Do the people that were featured accurately represent our community as a whole? Probably not. Do I fault the producers for that? Certainly not. Ours is a very diverse group that's way too complicated to cover in a couple of hours. The key, though, is to recognize that people like this exist with more and more frequency: interesting, intelligent, articulate, sane, whole people who can deal with the rigors of their gender issues, and move on with their lives without becoming totally submerged in self-pity and bitterness. These people are tremendous role models for many and each comes through this show with their dignity not only intact, but perhaps enhanced.
I hold my breath every time one of these things comes out, wondering how many people will watch it as their "first" one, how many people will watch it with their families, their spouses, or their friends hoping it will help them understand something we barely understand ourselves. I wonder how many people watch these things with a sense of awe at the beauty and courage it takes to expose yourself like that on national television. And, I wonder how many people will complain that it wasn't perfect. But then again, what ever is?
Friday, April 1, 2005
Tonight I attended a support group meeting for a Native American transgender group here in Phoenix. There is a significant Native American population here (there are even casinos on Tribal land) and it came as a surprise to many that this group even existed.
By the time I got there after work, the room was packed. Absolutely packed. There must have been 40 or more people there.
For those unfamiliar with Native American culture, transgendered people are consider to be "two spirit" - both masculine and feminine - and in their culture this situation is perceived as natural - even special. So, as I munched on a slice of pizza in the back of the room I noticed a group of handsome guys just outside the door. I whispered to the person next to me, "Who are all those guys?". They didn't look like the type of person one typically sees at these meetings. And she responded: "Boyfriends." They were the boyfriends of the girls who had come to the support meeting.
In a world where we take it for granted that transgendered people are demeaned, and that those who are attracted to us will have their masculinity or ability to attract a real woman questioned, it was so refreshing to be around people where neither of those things seemed to be the case. These were regular people whose culture didn't buy into things many of us face on a day-to-day basis. And, it was a glimpse of a world that I hope we can achieve (again!) ourselves someday.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
I made a mistake last night and now I'm paying for it. I had several errands to run, and I planned to go for a workout at the fitness center, after work yesterday. I rationalized that I should do the errands first so I wasn't all sweaty and stinky to do my errands. The downside is that, by the time I finished my errands it was almost 8pm so I didn't get finished with exercising until late.
When I work out that late I often have trouble sleeping - no matter how tired I am. That's what happened last night. Thankfully, I can function okay with only a couple or three hours of sleep, but it'll be an early bedtime tonight.
I think I mentioned at some point that there is a new book coming out in mid-April. The title is Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs by established author and columnist Jonathan Ames. As the title suggests, the book includes portions of 13 different transsexual memoirs, from 1886 to the current day. It includes sections from Jennifer Finney Boylan, Calpernia Adams, Caroline Cossey, Christine Jorgensen, Renee Richards, and yours truly (among others). I'm told they have included 18 pages from Wrapped In Blue. I'm looking forward to reading it.
I got an email yesterday from the publicist at Vintage Books indicating that early reviews have been positive.
One is available
at Out.com. For those who are interested you can Read the Review here.
Another is available at FrontList.com. Read the Review here.
Others are available at Amazon.com.
Also, don't forget that the specials on The Discovery Health channel featuring Annah, Elizabeth, and others will be broadcast on Saturday evening. I really hope they did a good job with it. Be sure to tell friends to watch.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
Today is Easter. I spent the last 4 days in Dallas with my mom. It was wonderful....
My mom is 75 years old, and is as spunky today as she was ten or fifteen years ago. She's very involved in growing irises (as in the flower), and her backyard has one of the largest and most elaborate iris gardens in central Texas. It's really very impressive, and in a few weeks when they all begin to bloom it will be absolutely magnificent. She judges at iris shows around the country, and spends a tremendous amount of love and time growing and caring for her flowers. She's upset at the moment because thirty or forty plants seem to have rotted and she doesn't know why - I think she's going to bring a soil sample in to be tested.
Mom had a number of chores saved up for me, and I'm happy to say that I got to each and every one of them - and more. She was having some problems with her computer and her fancy new scanner/printer/copier that I fixed. We cooked together. I even washed one of her dogs for her her. Benji is older than dirt, and although my mom is still pretty spunky she has the hardest time keeping him still while she tried to wash him. He's clean now.
Mom picked out a couple of dresses to wear to church for Easter, but it was cold and rainy so we had to fall back to plan B. No dresses. Oh well - we'll have to find other excuses to wear them.
Mom's friend has a high school exchange student from the Ukraine staying with her. Her name is Alexandra. Anyone who has been reading this for a while may remember that we went shopping together at the crack of dawn the day after Thanksgiving. Anyway, her time in this country is winding down and it was nice to be able to spend some time chatting with her at church on Easter. She's just delightful, and I see big things in her future.
Speaking of Church, my mom belongs to the Unitarian Universalist Church near her house. She's been a member there for as long as she's been in Texas - probably over twenty years ago now. It's quite an interesting collection of people, and I make a point of stopping there to see everyone whenever I'm in town visiting mom. At the morning service my mom did what she always does when I'm there - she raised her hand and shared her joy that I was in town visiting with the rest of the congregation. She makes me feel so good.
I've got lots of Easter memories in this little head of mine - memories of my ex-wife and I before we were married, memories of my son and the Easter Bunny, memories of some terrific brunches, and some not-so-pleasant memories from around my transition. Thankfully, most of my recent memories are memories of my mom, and I hope those memories never fade.
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
I can't imagine a nicer place than central Arizona at this time of year. The weather has been absolutely pristine - temperatures in the high 70's, crisp blue skies, light winds - it's just wonderful. I went for a run the other day and the sweet scent of citrus trees is everywhere - trees covered with little white flowers and laden with large lemons and oranges. The desert is a sea of green - certainly not the deep greens of the Pacific Northwest but very green for here - thanks to a wet winter. The spring flowers are pretty, but will eventually become a danger as they dry out in the hot summer sun.
My house is full of guests at the moment, one of who is a biologist. She points out exactly what kind of birds we see: white egrets, blue herons, koots, specifically what kind of ducks, geese and swans are swimming on the pretty pond on the golf course adjacent to where I live.
Yesterday the group went to a wonderful local consignment store that typically has great clothes at reasonable prices. I met them after work before we parted ways - they went to a spring training baseball game and I went to get my nails done. (A girl has got to have priorities!).
Today I'm headed to Dallas to spend some quality time with my mom. We haven't seen each other since Thanksgiving and we're both looking forward to spending some time together.
BTW - the documentaries with Annah and Elizabeth are scheduled to be broadcast on the Discovery Health Channel. As I mentioned in a previous blog, there are two of them: and . Both are now listed on the Discovery Health website and have been scheduled for broadcast in early April:
Sex Change: Him to Her : Crossing gender is the most revealing journey of all. Annah
used to be Adam. Now, she's flying to Montreal for sex reassignment surgery.
Loren is a body builder and photographer. He appears to be a man's man. Except
this man was once a woman.
Broadcast dates and times: Saturday April 2 @ 8pm and 10pm ET. Sunday April 3 @ 11am.
Sex Change: Her to Him: For twenty-four years Aidan has been living with the body
of a female. But that's about to change when he has chest reconstruction
surgery. Michael is married with four children. A year ago he decided to become
Michelle and will have a gender make-over.
Broadcast dates and times: Saturday April 2 @ 9pm and 11pm ET. Sunday April 3 @ noon.
Please share this
information with others who might want to watch.
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
I don't really have much to share tonight...I just felt like writing something now that things are quiet for a little while. I just finished a huge spaghetti dinner and a nice glass of wine, so I'm winding down from some very busy days.
I was in Washington DC again last Wednesday thru Sunday for more HRC stuff. It was actually both productive and fun. John Kerry came to speak during lunch on Thursday, and I've decided he's more impressive in person than he is on television. That's just my thoughts, anyways.
Thursday night there was a Congressional reception in the Botanical Gardens. I still can't quite figure out why you need to go thru metal detectors to get into that building. I mean, it's not like people are going to hide shears or a weed whacker in their purse to kill the plants once they get inside. It was fun, too, and I had a chance to meet some congressional interns who are here from Europe. They seem to have so much better of a "what's the big deal" attitude over there.
Part of the big news is that they introduced the new President of HRC last week. His name is Joe Salmonese, and he was the CEO of Emily's List. Throughout the interview process I was impressed with his personal presence and his obvious dedication to diversity in membership, in staff, and in the leadership of HRC. I'm comfortable that he'll make achieving his diversity vision a reality, which I think will go a long way towards engaging groups which may have felt under-represented or under-utilized in the past. I know the transgender community is one of those groups.
I was approached by several HRC Dinner Co-Chairs from around the country over this past weekend about the possibility of speaking at their dinners. I think that sort of visibility for our community is absolutely key. Our community needs to step up by having an active and visible presence, too. I encourage people to contact me if they'd like to find ways to become involved.
Here in Arizona the Republicans are preparing to submit a bill that would add a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriage. This is the same sort of hateful thing that has been passed successfully in a dozen other states over the past year. I'm preparing to become actively involved in the efforts to fight this discriminatory measure. I'll try to keep my blogs from becoming too political in coming weeks and months as these efforts gear up, but as my involvement increases it might be hard to do. I'll try, though.
I'm in the process of creating a new page to my website. It seems that news articles featuring the transgendered community are coming out each and every day. Some will make you feel that the world is, indeed, changing for the better. Others will make you so angry and sad you'll want to cry. But providing visibility to these things is key to seeing what's happening in the bigger picture, so that will be on my website soon.
I remember a time not all that long ago when a well-known psychologist from San Francisco, Dr. Anne Vitale, compiled and distributed a monthly e-mail newsletter comprised of various news items of interest to the trans community. It was called "The Vitale Letter", and it was a regular companion throughout my transition. The problem is that there got to be so much news that it continued to grow and grow to the point where it was too big to fit in a single email, so she divided it into two. Shortly afterwards, by early 2003, it had become so overwhelming to keep up with it all that she had to end it. She just didn't have the time to keep up with it all. I was sad about that. For those who want to go back and see, she's got an archive on her website: http://www.avitale.com/VLarchiveList.html.
BTW - Elizabeth cancelled here visit. She's got strep throat. :(
Monday, March 7, 2005
The documentary on Discovery Health last Saturday was not the one that contains Annah and Elizabeth. Another friend who will be appearing in it sends this update on that still upcoming show:
|I heard the
long-awaited doco is supposed to air in the second quarter of this year,
so not too far off. There are actually |
two doco's, an hour each. They are titled:
seXchange: Him to Her
Both doco's have stories of F2M and M2F. Everybody who has seen them so far thought they were very well done, and really liked the participants.
A little later, Annah sent me this:
I found this info at Beyond Productions' website:
Sounds good so far!
As for the show this past week, it was okay. I'd give it maybe a 6 or a 7 out of 10. They didn't make any significant faux-pas and if this was the first documentary you've seen I'd say that this was a capable treatment of our human stories as opposed to the sensationalism of it all. However, it didn't provide anything new, either. That may sound a bit jaded, but for those who have seen other treatments this show retread ground already covered. There are so many amazing stories out there it'd be nice to see something fresh.
The show profiled Dr. Marci Bowers in a way strikingly similar to "The Sex Change Capital of the World" documentary on TLC almost 2 years ago - down to borrowing the exact same shots (Marci golfing, Marci cooking, Marci getting her hair done, Marci walking around the hospital) and tactics (exposing her bombshell "secret" halfway through the show). Marci is a dear friend and certainly well worth watching over and over. However, she has come a long way since the original broadcast introduced her to the trans community and this program did little to capitalize on that. As a result, it seemed copy cat-ish.
I remember Michaela from a previous show, too. The thing that struck me is that I remember the interviews with her wife and her parents, and the original shots of Michaela playing with her son as she started her transition, from that original broadcast. This time around there were no shots of the supportive wife, and all images of her son were obscured. It seems that the support which seemed so inspiring in the first show has faded, as is so often the case, and the end result is a blurry ball.
I'm going back to Washington DC on Wednesday thru the weekend for some HRC stuff, and then Elizabeth arrives here on Tuesday for a much deserved short vacation. We haven't seen each other since early December which is far too long.
Friday, March 4, 2005
Tomorrow there will be a new transgender documentary on the Discovery Health Channel. The title of the show is "Switching Sexes: The Aftermath", and it may be the show that was taped last year by an Australian crew. If so, it will feature my dear friends (and little sisters) Elizabeth and Annah. Both are a little perturbed that they haven't been able to contact anyone from the show to determine whether or not this is, in fact, that show but I can't imagine Discovery Health would broadcast two new shows on the same topic within a short period of time. We're also a little concerned about the title, but that's what happens when you get involved with media. My only words of caution for those who have these opportunities...be very careful.
I've heard that another friend was in NY City yesterday taping an episode of Maury Povitch to be broadcast sometime in the next couple of weeks. Although I hope it comes out well, my confidence that Maury Povitch will portray us as anything but freakish oddities or clowns is not high so I hope to be pleasantly surprised.
Wednesday, March 2, 2005
A few people have written to ask why I don't post more recent photos. The fact of the matter is that I don't have many opportunities to get new pictures of myself so I really don't have anything to show. A friend just sent me one today from the HRC Gala Black Tie Dinner here in Phoenix at the end of January, so here it is.
Monday, February 28, 2005
I just got back from Washington, DC - escaping just before a late winter storm blew up the East Coast. They were predicting anywhere from 4 to 10 inches depending on how the storm tracked, and although I wasn't scheduled to leave until tomorrow morning I figured I'd get while the getting was good.
I was in the Capitol as part of the Executive Director Search Committee for HRC. Although the process has been ongoing for several weeks now, this was the first opportunity for all 25 members to meet face-to-face. We've set a very aggressive schedule for ourselves, and I'm happy to say that things seem to be going well. More to come...
Speaking of HRC, I'm sick and tired of hearing people in the trans community trash them simply for the sake of seeing their own words in print. When I picked up the latest edition of Tapestry there was an article that didn't have a single ounce of accurate information in it - written by someone who obviously had a chip on her shoulders long before she even put pen to paper. This person wrote an article based on second and third hand accounts of an event they didn't even attend. I knew it was a pile of crap, as I was there.
This kind of misinformation does a tremendous disservice to the trans community. It insults our intelligence, and it affects our ability to make up our own minds on things that affect us all. I was pissed, and wrote an angry rebuttal. I've been working with the leadership at HRC for two years now and I'm constantly impressed by their staff and by their efforts. Although there is certainly some history to overcome, that was then and this is now. They're making active attempts to engage and learn about the trans community, and I'm happy to do what I can to educate and facilitate. The way to make a difference on Capitol Hill, in workplaces, and in the hearts and minds of society is to get involved and to provide direction, not to lob insults from the sidelines.
HRC is certainly not the only game in town - there are a number of proven GLBT organizations who can and are making a difference each and every day. However, at a time in our history where I think the next step of our maturity as a community will be measured by the alliances we make outside of our own little group, we need to have strong leaders who begin to make that effort. We need to be sure our voice is being heard at the table, and that our perspectives are considered. The way to do that is by participating in the process, not by isolating ourselves as angry martyrs. Pragmatists will choose the former path, fools will chose the latter.
There....I feel much better now. :)
Saturday, February 26, 2005
I did something last night that I've never really done before. I ate some sushi. A few years ago I went to a sushi restaurant with my friend Christine, but all I'd agree to eat was the rice. And some wasabi. That really didn't count. Somehow, in my mind sushi is just the Japanese word for squishy, and I'm not all that interested in gulping down squishy food. Perhaps not surprisingly - I'm not a big raw oyster fan, either.
I've resisted going to sushi restaurants because, frankly, I don't consider sushi food. I understand I'm probably in the minority here, that others absolutely LOVE it and I'm certainly not knocking it, but it's just not me. I'm the kind of person who feels that just because you can keep something down doesn't necessarily mean it's food. Sure, it looks pretty and creating it is something more like an art form than food preparation, but I generally maintain a fairly eel-free, tentacle-free diet so the thought that somehow wrapping squishy sea meat in rice and seaweed makes it more palatable really doesn't fly for me.
I have a guest staying with me - he's from Japan and will be heading home today so Linda and I wanted to do something fun for his last night here. We took him to an upscale Japanese restaurant in Scottsdale, which I assumed would be like any of the other Japanese restaurants I've been to where they cook at your table and turn the entire meal preparation effort into a show. There's a Japanese Steakhouse near my mom - it's her favorite restaurant - where they build a little flaming volcano out of onions and the knives flash so quickly you wonder how they generally still have all their fingers.
Anyway, the place was jammed, and I enjoyed a much needed Friday medicinal dose of Long Island Iced Tea while everyone else was drinking some happy hour special called a "saki bomb". It was a small cup of hot saki and you put it inside a bigger glass of Japanese beer. Everyone was drinking the beer, but few seemed to be adding the saki. I had a small cup full of saki just to taste it, and although it seemed to be okay I don't know if I'm ready to have it again soon. My guest says he's never heard of a "saki bomb" - it must be an American idea.
They sat us at the sushi bar and Linda filled out a form that looked like a betting sheet at the horse track to tell the sushi maker (I hesitate to call him a sushi cook because there really doesn't seem to be a cooking component here) what we want. She fills it out, careful to ensure that there are a couple cooked things on it that I might eat there, and gave it to him.
My guest says people in these restaurants usually aren't Japanese, so of course I started to ask. Our server ended up being from Korea. We thought the sushi maker was Japanese, but lo-and-behold he's from Acapulco! He didn't look Mexican. But he sure made pretty sushi.
You know you're probably not going to like the answer when someone invites you to eat something, you ask what's in it, and they tell you to eat it first and then they'll explain the ingredients. That's what happened last night. Eat it first, see if you like it, and then we'll tell you what's in it. Not good. But I did, and I survived.
As I looked around the packed restaurant I saw people of all ages stuffing their mouths with big rolled up balls of whatever. The place was hopping. I tried a few things - even a sliver of big red raw tuna. And although I can't say it has displaced pizza or steak at the top of my food preferences, it was okay. It was an eating experience more than anything. I feel almost more worldly today, having had my first sushi experience.
Saturday, February 19, 2005
Donna and Alexi @ Gold Rush 2005
As I write this I'm in a hotel room in Denver, Colorado to attend the Colorado Gold Rush Conference here. There's a view of the snow covered Rocky Mountains off in the distance outside of my hotel window. It's actually a beautiful (but chilly) day here.
For those who have never attended an organized conference like this, I can't recommend attending one highly enough. It's a tremendous opportunity to meet others and to explore in a very safe, supportive environment. The next big one will be in Austin, TX (until recently, my home) at the end of April, and I'll be there for that.
This is the second year I've been asked to speak here, and it's a little different from some of the other conferences in that it's smaller and more intimate so it allows for more time to sit and actually talk to people. Sometimes these things get so busy that there little time to do the things you'd like to do. I've enjoyed meeting a number of people I've come to know thru email - it's really nice to actually have an opportunity to get to spend a little time getting to know each other as people as opposed to simply pen-pals. I've also enjoyed re-connecting with dear friends I've made at other events and who I only see once or twice a year at events like this. Some us become a sort of loose extended "family". It's hard to describe, but it's true.
There are a couple of people here who have brought their supportive wives, and this is their first exposure to the wide diversity of our community. I respect these couples more than I can express, as it can be a pretty overwhelming (not to say scary!) experience to be thrown into the deep end without a floatie. I'm not so sure it's such a good idea to use an event like this as a first impression of who and what we are, but maybe that's just me. In any event, the people I've met seem to approach things with their sense of humor intact, which I think is key in these kinds of situations. I've also noticed that a significant number of the workshops here are dedicated to SO (Significant Other) and relationship-type issues which I think is an area that really needs to be addressed.
One somewhat humorous but potentially unpleasant note is that this happens to be the weekend when the NBA All-Star basketball game will be played here in Denver. As a result, the hotels are filled to brimming with people in town to participate in any of the various events that are happening to support the game itself. At any point in time the lobby here is an interesting dynamic of sports fans, jocks carrying basketballs, writers/media here to cover the game, and people attending our conference. I'm sure many of the other people find us all endlessly amusing, but so far I've heard of only a couple of minor "incidents" so it seems to be working out well.
It's hard to
believe that it was a whole year ago this weekend that many of us converged in
Los Angeles for the special first all-transwoman performance of the Vagina
Monologues there. It was a wonderful, ground-breaking event and I'll admit
that the powerful spirit of that event still hasn't completely worn off yet for
me. Those who were there can attest to the unique spirit of the event, and
I think taking a moment to reflect on just how far we're coming as a community -
in society, in the workplace, in the overall GLBT community, and in our own
sense of ourselves is sometimes a healthy thing to do. Being involved
remains one of the most tremendous honors of my life....
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Yesterday was Valentine's Day.
My grandfather was very old-school, a very poor leather worker from Latvia who moved to Brooklyn as a young man. He grew up to believe that everything was a scam; that everyone was out to rip him off. From what I remember, he considered one of the best examples of this to be Valentine's Day. He'd bah-humbug it as a conspiracy between the candy makers, the florists, the restaurants, and the card manufacturers to guilt people into celebrating something that they should be celebrating every day - that they needed to put a holiday between New Year's and Easter so this was it. To his dying day he was a very cynical man - I can't say that I can ever remember him smiling.
not quite that bad (although I must confess that I really don't make that big a
deal of it). Over the past week I've talked with friends who have been
depressed that they don't have a sweetie to celebrate with. Certainly,
this loneliness is not localized to our little community...it's just that I
think we're extra sensitive to the prospect of being alone.
I've been listening to Radio VH1 on my computer lately. There's a station there called "Heartbreak: Anti-Valentine's Music". They describe it as "A collection of anti-Valentine's music for those who have recently fallen out of love." It's not that I've fallen out of love - it's just that the music is GREAT.
I'm listening to it as I type. The last 5 songs: "Break Up To Make Up" by The Stylistics. "I Do Everything For You" by Rick Springfield. "Feelings" by The Offspring, "You Give Love a Bad Name" by Bon Jovi. " One" by Three Dog Night (this version was by Aimee Mann). Some of these songs are nostalgic. Some are really bitter and angry - almost funny. All in all, though, it's a really cool mix. Give it a listen.
I celebrated my Valentine's Day on a treadmill, sweating off the remnants of the holidays and watching my alma mater, Syracuse, lose at basketball. It's not glamorous, but it works for me. The good news is that there were only a third as many people in the fitness center as usual.
The fitness center that I belong to here is the same one I went to while I was "training" to be Donna back just before my transition. I used to go there every day during lunch, a sports bra under my shirt to conceal my budding breasts, and run my little butt off. It was incredibly awkward. And now, it's not. Funny thing is, the first time was back there I had to ask them where the door to the Woman's Locker Room was - I hadn't been there before. Too funny.
I did get one Valentine's Day card. It was from my mom. The front shows a picture of a pink and purple smiling cartoon butterfly with cute little bows on her antennas and hearts on her wings. She's got very pretty eyes. The text on the front says "Hi, Daughter. Soar High! Flutter low! Do some loops and spins!" Then, on the inside it says, "Have a day that's filled with lots of happy Valentine grins!". And it's signed, "Love you, Mom". That's all I need to make me smile. :)
Sunday, February 13, 2005
I just got back from a brief trip to the San Francisco area to visit my big sister, Kate. Kate is a sister in the spiritual sense - I met her near the very beginning of my transition and she has always been someone to look up to and to help me become me. Unfortunately, we only get to see each other a couple of times a year but every time we do it seems to come at just the right time. There's always something about my trips there that helps to ground me and re-energize me again for the struggles that I know lay ahead.
This past weekend was no different. The weather was just gorgeous, and spring has already sprung in Northern California. Daffodils are blooming. Fruit trees are covered with colorful flowers. The hills are as green and plush as I've ever seen them. The entire trip was spent seemingly hell-bent on achieving some sort of sensual overload (including breakfast at Marvin's in Novato this morning - home of the best omelettes in Marin county!).
We spent one day looking off the edge of the world, cliffs north of San Francisco that fall off into the sea. And, we spent another day deep in the mountains north of Yosemite, where I was surprised to see that there are still small camps of miners who still pan for gold just like they did a hundred and fifty years ago. It all provided a tremendous opportunity to get back to the simple things that really do matter. Kate has changed profoundly over the past couple of years, and I suppose I have, too and it was great to be able to reconnect and share that. We realized that we've only known each other for just over five years, although it seems so much longer. I guess, if we measure our relationship in life experiences it IS longer, as we've seen each other go through an incredible amount over that time.
Last night we had dinner at a quaint little restaurant in Columbia, CA - deep in mining country. We somehow found the Lickskillet Cafe, and we had the most darling meal. While we were eating Kate realized that yesterday was the 6th anniversary of her rebirth-day, so we celebrated with a bottle of wine and a heart-shaped chocolate drenched dessert. It was yummy.
I've created a Picture Page with a few of the photos I took for those who might care to see.
Tuesday, February 8, 2005
I bought a waffle iron not too long ago, and now that I'm making home-made waffles, I'm addicted. Warm, fluffy, steamy waffles. Yummmm. As my son would say...they're Badass! I don't even waste the energy to put it away any more - I wipe it down and put it right back on the counter. I'll wait until the novelty wears off and I get tired of them. But for the moment, I have one every day. THIS is the reason I'll never go on the Atkins Diet for anything more than a week.
I'm in the process of getting ripped off for the second time in a week. I stopped by Kinko's last week to check to see how much it would cost to make some color copies, and slice them in fourths. They guy priced it out at $18 and change, which sounded reasonable. Well, I went to pick it up yesterday and the woman says, "That'll be $112, please." As I stood there, twenty dollars in my hand, I told her she must have my order mixed up with someone else's. Needless to say, I left without my copies. First, the cabbie. Now Kinko's. Yeesh.
My travel schedule has kicked in again so I always keep a bag pretty much packed and ready to go. Over the coming weeks I'll be headed to San Francisco, Denver, Washington DC (twice), probably Seattle, and I'm hoping to have an opportunity to spend a weekend with mom in Dallas.
Saturday, February 5, 2005
Five and a half hours on a plane is a long time. I just got back from Boston where I spoke at a conference of GLBT MBA Students, and there's no two ways about it....it's a long plane ride. I wasn't supposed to come home until tomorrow but things worked out so I could get back a little early and have a whole day of my weekend left.
There were upwards of 600 people at this conference, and it was good to see some friends there, most of who were speaking on other panels there. One thing I noticed was that, out of all these people - GLBT university students from around the country, accomplished panelists, and corporate recruiters/HR folks - I was the only trans person there. There were several distinguished speakers, and I took note of how many times in their prepared remarks they'd speak about the gay and lesbian community, and leave off the B and the T. They'd talk about the need to fill the pipeline at corporations with "out" gay and lesbian leaders who could then become role models for others - to prove that the lavender ceiling at any corporation is, in reality, a myth and that there are opportunities for everyone. I find that need even more critical for the transgender community, as I can count on one hand the number of corporate leaders at director level or above who can serve as proof that there are opportunities at the highest management levels for us. One speaker compared integration of gay and lesbian leadership in corporations to Jackie Robinson and the integration of blacks into sports. We're in serious need of more Jackie Robinsons.
While I was on my trip I had one of those life firsts that happen from time to time: I was ripped off by a cabbie. There were two numbers on the meter and during the drive from the airport to the hotel he fididdled with them before giving me the total. I thought something seemed fishy, but at the time is was 1:00 am and I was tired. All I wanted to do was get to my room and sleep. My suspicions were confirmed when I took a cab back to the airport this evening and the one questionable number was $4 less. Sheesh.
It reminds me of the first time I had to deal with a car mechanic as Donna. The guy was so condescending it was funny. And frankly, I freely admit total ignorance when it comes to anything having to do with the mechanics of a car. I think I was born without that gene.
One thing I've been noticing is that I'm dreaming quite a bit lately. My nights are busy with all kinds of dreams - and although I doubt any of them are profound I awake on most mornings to a subconscious that has had a busy night. These things seem to come and go with me - I can't pinpoint any pattern - but I'm sure it signifies something. I've got quite a few things going on in life right now, so perhaps there's a connection with something.
Tomorrow is the Super Bowl and I'll be in front of my TV for it. With food. Although my interest in football has dulled a bit over the past few years, there's still something about the Super Bowl that makes watching it non-negotiable in my world. Football, funny commercials, munchies, no pressure on who wins or loses, sunny warm skies outside....sounds almost like a perfect day.
Saturday, January 29, 2005
I have a couple of things to share this morning.
First, it was bound to happen sooner or later. One of the loopholes that we've enjoyed thus far simply because few people know it's there and even fewer know what to do about it, is that those marriages fortunate enough to survive the difficult rigors of a gender transition have remained the only legal form of same-sex marriage in all 50 states. For those who are married and where one spouse transitions, the legal benefits of marriage have remained. I have several friends who fall in this category. But apparently that's coming under attack now, too: (News story). Pretty soon, we'll be told that we can't marry at all. It'd be ridiculous if it weren't so dangerous and sad.
Secondly, I went to see Million Dollar Baby last night. Wow. I guess I didn't realize what the story was really about, which probably added to the emotional impact of it all. I'll be processing it all for days. And, it has prompted me to dust off another of those essays that I wrote some time ago, that has rested in a folder on this computer because I never published for one reason or another. It's about crying.
I hesitate to put it here because it will prompt questions that I don't want to have to answer. But it is what it is, so read it and process it as you will. It's entitled When I Cry.
Thursday, January 27, 2005
I enjoy listening to digital music. I have a little iPod and download songs so I can listen when I run, or when I'm traveling, or just whenever. Although I'm pretty much a novice at this and stick to the basics I have friends who've created some pretty sophisticated digital music jukebox setups throughout their houses. My son listens to some pretty alternative stuff that I think is recorded in a garage somewhere and thrown on the internet to distribute - he's got thousands of them from all over the world on his computer.
When I'm home I often listen to the music from my computer in the morning as I sip my coffee and enjoy a little me time before the craziness of the day - velcro rollers in my hair - as I get ready for work.
Sometimes, mornings just seem perfect for a dose of smooth jazz. Some complain that the format is too formulaic - too bland and commercial. No matter - I find it peaceful, and there's something about a saxophone that I find so warm and relaxing (and sexy). My most recent discovery is Mindi Abair - for those who have never heard her you can visit her website - she's wonderful.
Some mornings I feel nostalgic and listen to music from my youth - Chicago, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, the Beatles.
Other mornings I feel a need for a more powerful start to the day. I'll admit this here, and I'm sure it will come back to bite me somehow, but one of my favorite angry ways to start a day is a Limb Bizkit song titled "Break Stuff". It prepares me for another day out there.
If you've visited my Inspirational page you'll know that I've posted lyrics from songs that have been inspirational somehow in my journey. I find myself putting these songs into the context of my own unique situation, and they've all be a source of strength and affirmation - helping me to refocus on the universally human experience that lies beneath.
This morning I heard one of my all-time inspirational/motivational faves. I haven't heard it in a while, and I think I needed to hear it again for some reason. It's song by John Mellencamp, titled "Your Life is Now". Some of the lyrics:
See the moon
roll across the stars
See the seasons turn like a heart
Your father’s days are lost to you
This is your time here to do what you will do
Your life is now your life is now your life is now
In this undiscovered moment
Lift your head up above the crowd
We could shake this world
If you would only show us how
Your life is now
Would you teach your children to tell the truth
Would you take the high road if you could choose
Do you believe you’re a victim of a great compromise
’cause I believe you could change your mind and change our lives
Those who are struggling with life decisions need to listen to this song about a hundred times in a row. Listen to the words. Focus on the words. I still get goosebumps when I listen to it. If that doesn't give you some direction or empower you to make some decisions about yourself and your life - I fear that nothing will.
On another topic, there are some things coming up I want to be sure to mention. First, the Discovery Health channel is putting the finishing touches on a 2-hour documentary they're expecting to broadcast sometime around the end of March. It will feature dear friends (and little sisters) Elizabeth and Annah, so keep your eyes out for that.
Secondly, there is an anthology of transsexual memoirs slated for release in April. It's being compiled by Jonathan Ames and is being printed by Vintage Books. The title is "Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs" and it will include several pages from Wrapped In Blue.
Tuesday, January 25, 2005
I'm generally not a clumsy person. Or careless. I mean, I don't go around tripping or dropping things any more than any other blonde (just kidding). But something happened today that hasn't happened in a while. I bumped my hip.
It's not like I seriously injured myself or anything. But it reminded me of those early awkward days of my transition - as my body changed in new and wonderful ways but my own sense of body perspective somehow lagged behind. It's like being able to close your eyes and touch your nose - you instinctively know where the end of your nose is without looking and without even really thinking about it. Or, parking your car into a tight spot and you're so familiar with where the ends of your bumpers are that you somehow guide it in without hitting anything.
Somehow, as our bodies change thanks to all the new hormones we're taking, our self-awareness of where our "edges" are is slow to keep up. As a result, you may find yourself bumping into things. I can't tell you the number of times that I'd be walking down a hallway that's wide enough to get through with no problem and I'd somehow manage to smack my hip into the corner of a desk. Or walking through a crowded bar and you just seem to bump into people with your boobs (or maybe they just bump into you!). I can't pinpoint a specific time when it finally all comes back into sync again...it all just kind of does and I suppose you don't really realize it until you think back to the last time you bumped into something for no reason and it was a long time ago.
Short of losing a limb, I suppose the ultimate change of body perspective would have to be as a result of Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). How many of us have phantom pains in the area that would have been our penis if we still had one - little shots of electricity in an area we know we don't have anymore but somehow still feels like it's there? Or, we have an itch somewhere down there and we can't pinpoint exactly where it's coming from to scratch it. It's really pretty odd, but eventually it goes away.
Somehow, as I think about the process of becoming comfortable in the driver's seat of this slowly morphing body I get a mental image of a baby deer that has just been born - struggling to stand on long, spindly legs - teetering precariously and falling over again and again before it learns the basics of balance and movement. That's what it's like. And, as with the baby deer, the key ingredient in gaining our own body balance is time.
The next time you bump into something, smile and chalk it up to the fact that your body is changing. Or, it could be that you're just clumsy.
Thursday, January 20, 2005
The nominations for the 2005 GLAAD Media Awards came out yesterday. (Details here). I've gone to the ceremony in San Francisco each of these past two years and had a wonderful time. This is an A+ organization, and I go each year as much to demonstrate our community's support for their very important efforts as the opportunity to mingle with handsome men and pretty women dressed in all sorts of finery.
Last year I went with my big sister, Kate. We sat at the most amazing table right up front. And Kate actually cried, overcome by all the emotion generated in that room that night. It was truly moving. Kate acknowledged afterwards that the event changed her. If you can attend any of the 3 ceremonies this year (they will be televised on LOGO, the new MTV Network GLBT Channel), I highly recommend it. It will change you, too.
This year, one of the nominations is the Oprah episode featuring my friend, Elizabeth. Oprah won last year for the episode featuring Jenny Boylan. Needless to say, I hope she wins again this year. Another friend, Victoria, and her wife were featured in a documentary nominated for Outstanding TV Journalism. All in all, I think the transgender community is well represented in the nominations.
I wrote to Joan Garry, the Executive Director of GLAAD, several months ago urging her to consider finding transgender presenters for each of the awards ceremonies. I can think of a half dozen people from our community who would make wonderful presenters there. Plus, it would help foster inclusiveness and acceptance for the entire spectrum of the GLBT community. Last year, they had a drag queen from Chicago who was a hoot. This year they need more...
I encourage you to write to Joan to share your support for this idea with her, as well. Her email is email@example.com. Make sure to cc: Nick Adams (firstname.lastname@example.org) on your email. He is the Media Awards Communications Manager.
Monday, January 17, 2005
Now that it's public, I suppose I can discuss something.
Late last month the Executive Director of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), Cheryl Jacques, resigned. She had taken the reins from Elizabeth Birch only about a year before, and I think her departure caught many by surprise (including me).
HRC is putting together a search committee to choose the next ED for this Washington DC based group. It consists of 25 people, mostly selected from their Board of Directors or Board of Governors. And, there's me. (See this article)
I received an email a few weeks ago asking if I would participate in this process, saying that it will include some travel to Washington DC over the coming months. I see this opportunity in the same way that I think about voting - you don't have the right to complain about the outcome if you didn't participate in the process.
Although there are those who will certainly argue, HRC has been making real strides to educate themselves about the transgender community - our unique issues and needs. They've been trying to integrate us more into their membership - as reflected by the invitation to join this important group . Their leadership decisions impact us. So, I accepted.
I take this responsibility very seriously. No matter how it ends up - some will be happy and some will not. I'm already resigned to that. All I can say is that I'll do my best to ensure that our collective voices are heard.
On another topic, I've got a folder full of half-baked essays that have been waiting for me to finish them. They're things that I've thought up over the past couple of years and have wanted to flesh out before posting here on my website. Of course, the key missing ingredient in this recipe is time, so they're in various stages of completion. I've decided to clean some of them up to the point where I can post them over the next few weeks - not that I have any more time than I ever did so much as I've set this as a goal. We'll see if I can actually deliver on it. One that I'm finishing up now is actually already there, but I've never establisher a link to it. It's called New Beginnings, and is particularly a propos at this time of year.
Saturday, January 15, 2005
I went out dancing last night. Actually, I didn't do much dancing (at least not on the dance floor) so much as I went to a dance club and watched people. Scottsdale is a wonderful place to see beautiful people, and there are several top-shelf dance clubs with live entertainment where people watching is the entertainment.
Anyways, I made plans to meet my friend Barb there at 9. Barb was the original realtor who helped my ex-wife and I choose our home when we originally moved here 10 years ago (Lord, has it been that long?). Of course, she was married at the time and so was I - neither of us is now. I remember her as a brunette - she's a blonde now and actually looks GREAT as a blonde - who was bubbly and full of life and had a contagious laugh. I'm so glad we've reconnected since my move back here.
Barb brought her best friend, Mary, who I'd never met before. And the three of us blondes had a great time. We compared all the men walking past. We talked about sex. We laughed. It was a ton o' fun. About an hour into the discussion I told a story about a leasing agent at my old apartment complex who had had been flirting with me - and Mary stopped me mid-sentence.
"She was a woman leasing agent?" she asked questioningly.
"Uh-huh. My age....maybe a little younger. Very bubbly"
Just then Barb, who had been dancing, chimed in. "Donna, I suppose I should mention that I didn't tell Mary anything yet." Oh. Never mind....
One of the reasons that the evening was memorable is was that it was the first time I've ever really worn a thong outside the privacy of my own home. I suppose this is probably an over-share, but frankly I just don't see the allure. Sure, they're sexy. I agree. But frankly, I think they're sexier on someone else.
Confession time: I'm a creature of comfort, and I've never found anything more comfortable than good 'ol cotton panties. Friends like to tease, calling them "granny underwear" and any number of silly names as though I care what anyone thinks about my underwear other than whether they're clean or not.
All my friends out there reading this who have tried to lure me to the dark side know who I'm talking about. Elizabeth, this means you! And Tammy. You two are the worst offenders.
So for some reason I still can't explain other than it just seemed like something fun to do, I decided to put on a thong to go out last night. Not a little stringy thong that looks like pieces of shoelace tied together where you can't even find a front or a back - just a thongy thong. It has a little more substance than a simple piece of dental floss. But frankly, I don't care how you spell it, if you think about if for more than a second, it's uncomfortable. And, it will be a while before I wear one again.
One friend tried to plead on behalf of the thong. "You didn't give it a chance. You need to wear it more often to get used to it. Then it'll be more comfortable." I suppose the day I get used to a piece of string riding me there is a sad day indeed.
"It's so freeing....it's almost like wearing nothing," she argued. And, I suppose that's true. But frankly, as much as I'm a creature of comfort I'm also a creature of habit. I'm used to having something there. That's what underwear is for in the first place. And it's not like I'm expecting visitors. I save my frillier, more fun underthings for special occasions anyways - not for everyday use - kind of like good china or crystal. Otherwise, they don't even feel special.
Religion, politics, and underwear. Three topics to avoid arguing about. Boxers vs. briefs? Thongs vs granny-underwear? I suppose your underwear style says something about your personality. I suppose discussing it on the internet says something even more telling....
Tuesday, January 4, 2005
I made it. Phew. The drive went well. I didn't finish packing the truck until early afternoon on Sunday so by the time I drove 700 miles to New Mexico it was after 1am. Sad to say, the scenery on this drive looks better at night than it does during the day. Oh well.
My football team lost and was eliminated from the playoffs. There were years where that would have send me off a bridge. This year it's worth a shrug and an "Oh well. Better luck next year."
I got here Monday afternoon and gathered some wonderful friends to help me unpack in the rain. How come it takes 3 days of careful packing to load a truck like that, and 2 hours to unload it? Go figure.
It looks to be a busy week, as much as getting into the January mindset as anything. As busy as these past two weeks have been for me, though, I'm joking that work will be a nice change. I need a vacation from my vacation.
Saturday, January 1, 2005
I'm back in Austin, packing up the remaining furniture and things from my house here into a big moving truck to drive back to Arizona. It'll be the fourth time I've done this 1,100 mile drive since the beginning of September. I'd much rather spend the Holiday relaxing at home but I have to get this done. I need to get closure on this.
Thank God for my friends here. Julie, and Lisa, and Linda. They spent the better part of the day helping me move heavy things downstairs and out into the truck. I don't know what I would have done without them. My legs are ready to just fall off of this body. I can't remember when I've been so beat.
I spent just a day in Scottsdale before jetting out here - not because I want to but because I had to. I spent half of New Year's eve fighting the crazies at the airport, and the other half packing at my old house until my friend Elizabeth called at midnight East Coast time to wish me a Happy New Year.
New Year's Eve was really odd for me. It was full of those crazy Deja Vu moments we come across once every so often. I spent a good part of the day going through things - deciding what to pack and keep, and what to give away. That's part of the beauty of moving - "pruning" things that we don't need any more - things that we've outgrown or better yet, never needed in the first place. I've been doing a lot of that lately - both physically and mentally. I'm at a space in my life where I've got too much stuff, so traveling light is the goal. The key isn't just pitching things for the sake of pitching them - it's being intelligent and making difficult decisions about what to keep and what to leave. That's what takes so much time.
I remember New Year's eve just before the Millennium - 5 years ago. I did a similar thing. I went through all of my male things that my ex-wife had piled in the garage - bags and bags of them that she had threatened to throw away. Clothes, and pictures, and mementos - there were lots of important things there. And I spent New Year's Eve going through it all dividing it up - piles of things that really didn't fit the new life I envisioned for myself. At that point I had only lived as Donna for a couple of months, but this day was full of real and symbolic closure of an old life, and beginnings of a new one.
Yesterday was like that. As I went through things I realized that it felt like I was at another one of those chapter-breaks in life where we're moving from one phase to another. My beginning phase is over - and leaving behind the physical stuff that was part of it all was just a tangible reminder about moving on. (I'm not always so introspective and analytical - but alot can go thru your mind when you're alone getting ready to clean out a home that was part of your life for quite a while).
I took a break to go to dinner, and to drive bags of things that I'd outgrown to Goodwill. There were some pretty interesting things in those bags. There was the white dress with the gold buttons that I wore on my first day out as Donna - that I bought at Ross without even trying on because I was far too embarrassed. There were all kinds of clothes that I'd bought during those crazy early days when I had no idea what my "style" would be, so I just bought a bunch of things knowing I'd eventually find my own look. I'd never even worn some of it.
By the time midnight reached Texas I had made my way to the nearby Red Roof Inn where I watched the ball drop in Time's Square (tape delay), with a Smirnoff Ice in one hand and a frosted Wegman's cookie that had survived the trip from upstate NY in the other. And you know what? I was happy, and there is peace.