Donna's Blog
The View From OTHER Side.



Saturday, December 30, 2006

OK.  So now I'm cold.  It's probably hovering right around freezing today (we had a good dose of snow showers this morning) but I'm chilled.  I'm about to take a hot shower before the evening festivities get under way.

I spent a good part of the day being nostalgic about years past.  As usual, I visited many of the places that meant something to me during the 15 years I lived here: our old house, the old neighborhood, the area along the canal where I used to rent office space, the center of Pittsford.  I had breakfast at Perkins - my son and I used to eat there every Sunday morning for 10 years or more.  To be honest, I can't think of a more appropriate way to end the year. 

Part of what made it special was that I was alone.  I wasn't looking to share that time, those memories, or those thoughts with anyone so I left the house before anyone offered to go with me.  Although I certainly have a social side, I have a part of me that still values my "me" time - where i can be alone with my thoughts, where I don't have to rationalize or explain, where I don't have to be anything to anyone.  One of the things I'm re-learning is that this part of me is still there and still needs attention.  I need a certain amount of "me" time that necessarily doesn't involve anyone else.

My relationship with Elizabeth continues to evolve, although I'll have to be truthful and say that I feel it was closer a month ago than it is now.  At least, for me it is.  I don't know that I can or need to articulate the reasons.  I don't dwell on these things other than I'm slowly learning that I still don't really want to live with anyone full-time right now, or move to South Carolina full-time and I expect that will put some limits on where the relationship can go.  We'll see.  If I do spend more time in Charleston I'll seriously consider finding an apartment there - it's a "space" thing (re-read the previous paragraph if this somehow doesn't make sense).   I think I miss the way it was so uncomplicated over the past couple of years, although I wonder if things have gotten past the point where we could keep it there even if we wanted.  I dunno.  I prefer to use New Year's Day to consider the past more than to guess the future so I'll let that go.  For now. 

Tomorrow I'll visit with some ex-neighbors who remain dear friends, go to my brothers to watch the Buffalo Bills game, and come home to my sisters to participate in the family ritual of doing a New Year's Eve jigsaw puzzle.  I have no real desire to stay up to midnight - I suppose we'll play that by ear.  Then, I have a mid-morning flight home to Phoenix on New Year's Day.  I'll probably do something special for dinner on Monday, as I expect to begin a diet on Tuesday.  How many of us make New Year's Resolutions to get into shape?  Between all the eating I've been doing for the holidays, traveling, feeling crummy, and just taking care of things I feel like I've just let myself go.  I feel horrible about my body right now.  I haven't worked out in 6 weeks or more.  That all ends on Tuesday when my diet gets much stricter and I'll be at the fitness center no matter how good or bad I feel.  I've got an HRC event to do in Chicago on Feb 3 and I vow to make significant headway by then.

Friday, December 29, 2006

The trip yesterday went like clockwork.  I was on the road by 4:30am, parked in long-term parking in Charlotte by 7:30am, through security and at the gate by 8am.  I was asleep by the time our wheels left the ground and got an hour of much needed z's for most of the first leg of the flight.  The only downside is that a zipper got ripped off my suitcase but thankfully nothing was lost.  It's amazing how much damage can happen to luggage in a relatively short period of time.

My sister and oldest niece were at the airport to pick me up and it was wonderful to see their smiling faces.  They came running up to me as soon as I got off the escalator down near baggage claim to smother me with happy hugs and kisses, and we needed to inch our way over to let the rest of the passengers past. 

Late yesterday afternoon we stopped at the local supermarket.  There is a chain of grocery stores here that's more than a place to do shopping - it's a local institution.  It was started here in Rochester and has grown to several locations down the East Coast as far as Virginia.  I'd drive 50 miles or more to shop there if I lived near one.  I can't describe it - you have to visit one for yourself.  The name of the supermarket is Wegman's, and over the course of the 15 years I lived here (and the ensuing 10 years since I left) I've seen it grow into something special.  It was chosen the Number 1 Place to Work by Fortune magazine in 2005 and I suppose people develop a love/hate relationship with it.  I happen to love it.  Every time I come back to Rochester I buy things that are uniquely local there and stuff it in my luggage to bring home.  I'm sure I'll do it again this trip.

My sister's house is a relatively small one, so space is at a premium.  This is especially true as my nieces have grown, and they've accumulated a small menagerie of wildlife (several cats, a dog, a ferret, a very large cage with 8 or 10 parakeets in it).  They've changed things a bit since I was here last and I'm sharing a bedroom with my 15 year old niece, Rhiannon.  She has gotten so tall and adult looking - it's amazing.  We spent an hour talking late last night before going to sleep - I really needed it - and it was so nice to be back with family.  I don't realize how much I miss it until I get back again which, in this case, was far too long ago (last autumn).

The family is doing well.  My sister's youngest daughter, Kyrie (I wrote about her in another section here) is simply amazing.  She has been mainlined in school and has friends, and is living an almost "normal" life which is absolutely remarkable.  She can't talk.  She still has a trachea tube in her throat, and a g-tube in her stomach.  She has hip problems and walks with the aid of special braces and shoes.  Despite everything she has faced, she smiles, she's doing well in school, and she seems to be enjoying life.  She won something from the "Make A Wish" Foundation - she really enjoys plants and greenery - and will be taking a trip to the Pacific Northwest next year as part of her wish.   

A group of my nieces (including Kyrie!) is going ice skating this afternoon with my brother-in-law, although I'm opting out on that excursion.  My blood has thinned over the past several years of living in a warm climate and I really have no compulsion to do things that are inherently chilly.  Instead, my sister and I are going to spend the afternoon together - shopping, having lunch, just enjoying each other's company.  That's more my style.  Part of the good news is that it's relatively balmy here at the moment - mostly sunny with high's in the 40's which is a relief because I remember this time of year when the weather has been frightfully cold and snowy here.  My sister enjoys keeping her house cold, in fact I sometimes joke that it's warmer in the refrigerator than it is in her bedroom (she often keeps a window open, and a fan on, all winter long).  I come here prepared with warm clothes, and my sister does a masterful job piling blankets on my bed so I can burrow my way beneath them to hibernate for the night.  There is a night nurse here all night long for Kyrie and I bought a space heater during one of my previous visits.  They all use it to keep themselves thawed during the winter and have thanked me profusely.

Later, the entire group of us (there will be 9 of us) will be having dinner tonight at a restaurant here that my dad really enjoyed.  Today commemorates 8 years since he passed away, and it's a healthy thing for us all to get together to celebrate his life.  It isn't really a melancholy thing although there is certainly an undercurrent of sadness (we all miss him).  We choose, however, to remember him as the healthy person he was for all those years when he was 'dad', not as the person who's body was ravaged by diabetes and whose enjoyment for life had faded.  His memory continues to burn brightly in each of us. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

It's 9:30pm and I'm just getting ready for bed.  The alarm is set for 3:30am.  I have a 3 hour drive to Charlotte to catch a 9:45am flight, and you never know what to expect during the Holidays so I'm leaving myself a little extra time.  I'm headed to visit family and friends in Rochester for a quick visit before going back to Phoenix next week.  It seems like my trip here to South Carolina has been a brief one, and I suppose it has. 

I'm looking forward to seeing the gang in Rochester again.  It has been over a year since I was there last - I can't believe that.  My father died sometime during the night or early morning of Dec. 28/29, 1998 so we're planning to get together as a family to celebrate his life and remember him.  It's 8 years now that he's been gone, and that single event has transformed the entire focus of the Holidays for me.  I don't approach it in a sad or melancholy way so much as it provides an opportunity to escape the commercialism and the "Christmasy" aspects and establish a more personal relationship to this time of year.

I really don't have much news to share.  I hesitate to say too much that involves Elizabeth's family out of respect for their privacy.  Having 4 kids around is certainly a big bundle of excitement, and I can honestly say I don't know that I've ever done as much laundry as I have over these past few days.  It's just amazing how fast kids seem to get clothes dirty. 

I suppose I will share that I've certainly got lots to think about over the coming weeks.  My concern was and remains that by allowing the relationship to become more regular the spark that made it special in the first place would fade.  Once some of these boundaries are crossed it's hard to get back again, and I've struggled with that for quite a while.  I continue to hold out, refusing to allow myself to let go.  I sometimes question whether I even want to let go.  Anyway, these are deep difficult questions that nobody can answer but me. 


Monday, December 25, 2006

I have no idea who reads this (I know there are at least a few people out there) but whoever you are, wherever you live, I hope you are having a pleasant Christmas.  This has been a quiet one - well, it has been as quiet as Christmas can be with 4 kids up at 5am to see what Santa brought can be. I far prefer a low-key day (actually, I prefer low-key to most things in life although it may not seem like it) and this Christmas has mostly fit the bill.

The last few days have been busy ones.  I finished my drive on Friday morning in a driving rain that made the last 200 miles the most challenging part of the trip.  Between the rain and the road spray all I could see was the tail lights of the car in front of me for a good part of the way.  With the drive fresh in my mind I have some questions.  Why do 18-wheel semi's pull out to pass anything at all when they're going up a hill?  They can't go very fast uphill and just constipate all the traffic that doesn't have a similar problem.  Also, why don't more people use the miracle of cruise control?  There were times when someone would zoom past me (which is a feat, as I'm generally a pretty fast driver) pull in front of me, and then slow down.  Since I'm on cruise control I'd pull out and pass, only to have the car zoom past again a few miles down the road.  Go fast or slow, but that game of leapfrog is tiring.  Anyway, I'm glad the drive is over.

What else have I done over these past few days? There was a large family Christmas dinner Saturday night (my Bourbon-Kissed Sweet Potato Casserole was a hit, again) that was very pleasant.  I spent some time Christmas shopping.  The weather was very pleasant Sunday afternoon so one of Elizabeth's sons helped me rake and bag all the leaves on the front lawn.  I seem to have caught a bit of a cold (again).  The kids have been around so we've spent time with them.  All in all, although I've only been here a few days it seems like more.

As for today, I'm not sure what to say.  Christmas has meant different things to me at different times in my life.  My for the first twenty plus years it really had very little meaning other than the fact it we had a couple of weeks off from school.  Recently, any importance of the day is more centered around the family aspects than anything else.  I spent several Christmases over these past few years visiting family in upstate NY which is truly the bosom of my family.  Last year I think I slept through Christmas - I was recovering from a minor procedure and really didn't pay much attention to it and it was nice to escape the pressure and the stress the day can bring. My most vivid memories, however, were the years when my son was young and we'd spend the day unwrapping/building/playing with whatever toys he had received during the day.  Today was more like that for me than anything in recent memory, and rather than make me wish I had those days back again it simply made me smile.  Life has moved on.  I have moved on.  My son has moved on.  It's not about keeping things the same.  It's about appreciating them for what they were.

I suppose the thing I'm most aware of is how difficult the Holidays can be for so many people who find they aren't able to spend the Holidays with those they love most for any number of reasons.  The trans-factor is simply one of them.  And, even though I'm not with my own flesh and blood this year we're together in spirit and that's all I need.  Elizabeth and her family have made me feel very welcome and accepted and I have enjoyed watching the day as an interested but still somewhat disengaged spectator.  As I say, I like low key, and I've made it all as low-key as I can.

This afternoon Elizabeth wanted to get out of the house for a while so we drove around the South Carolina countryside for a couple of hours.  It was a very pleasant way to spend the day. It was a highlight for me.... 


Thursday, December 21, 2006

This has been a long couple of days.  I decided to pack the car and leave at dinnertime on Tuesday.  It was either do that, or hit the road at 3am so I could get to Dallas in time to have dinner with my mom.  I drove 5 hours (350 miles) before stopping in a small New Mexico town.  The weather in northern New Mexico was dangerous - they were in the midst of a blizzard and Interstate 40 (the east/west interstate that goes through the city) was closed.  It was certainly cold (30 degrees) and I hit a brief snow squall but thankfully the drive was otherwise without incident.

I drove 800 miles in 11 hours yesterday, across New Mexico, west Texas, and into the Dallas area.  West Texas is the most barren land you can imagine - it was a cold, windy day and I spent part of the trip trying to avoid the big tumble weeds that were rolling across the highway.  The only scenery is the oil pumps that dot the landscape for miles.  The traffic isn't horrible and the speed limit is 80 mph, but the time just seems to drag without anything to look at.

The good news is that I made it to mom's house in time for us to go out for dinner, and we both enjoyed our evening.  The bad news is that the visit was a brief one.  I was up at 6 this morning and on the road by 7.

Today's drive was the longest part of the trip.  I considered doing the entire 1200 mile in one swoop as I did on the way out a few weeks ago, but a combination of  wet weather, an accident that brought traffic to a standstill for an hour, and the fact that Elizabeth needs to be up early convinced me to stop for the night to get a good night's rest.  As I write this I'm in my hotel room just west of Augusta, GA. I drove 14 hours today, an I've probably got 3 hours or so left to go.  I'll finish it tomorrow morning.

When I checked in they offered me a standard room or a "Deluxe" room for $10 more.  The deluxe room is larger, has a king sized bed, and (most importantly) has a Jacuzzi in it.  It only took a minute to rationalize treating myself - I've earned it. I'm tired, I'm stiff, and I need pampering.  When I'm done with this - I'll be taking a hot bath.  Then, I'll pour myself into bed.  It'll be the perfect way to end the day.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Today is my son's 21st birthday.  Few things really make you realize the passage of time more than watching your child reach various milestones in life.  Turning 21 is one of those milestones for my son, and I hope he has a great day.

His birthday dinner on Sunday night was certainly interesting . He wanted to eat at a local Japanese restaurant where they have Teppan Yaki (the chef cooks at your table).  That was probably a wise idea as it provided a buffer so my ex-wife didn't really have to deal with me and vice versa.  Lord knows things were unseasonably cool down at our end of the table.  My ex-  was generally civil, though, so I'll give her that.  Of course, she had to make a point of saying something to the chef: "I don't want any bean sprouts - you can give mine to him," she said, pointing to me.  Whatever.

Last year I got her a gift Visa card that she could spend at any of the local malls or restaurants and she seemed to enjoy that.  I decided to get her that again for her Christmas gift.  As I considered what I'd buy her it struck me that I don't really know her any more.  In some very real ways, we're strangers.  It seems odd to realize that about someone you spent almost 20 years with but I'm sure she came to that same conclusion about me a long time ago.

So, all in all is wasn't a big deal.  It wasn't a significant change in things.  If anything, it drags me back into a time in my life that I've generally escaped so it's not something I need on an ongoing basis.  If she wants to join me in the here and now that's one thing, but I've long since given up on living in the past.  The good news is that my son's birthday remained the focus for the get-together and the unique circumstances didn't diminish that. 

Now. I'm in crazed mode trying to get stuff done around here in preparation for my trip back across the country to South Carolina later today or (more likely) early tomorrow.  I got all my Christmas card stuff done, which was a relief.  Sometimes the craziness of the season puts me into early January before I get around to it.  My friend Bobbie is visiting and took a few photos the other night as we prepared for Dr. Meltzer's Holiday party.  I actually like one of them so I put it on the front page of my website.  It's nothing special - just me at the moment.

I got an email last night from a friend named Michelle.  Michelle was, among other things, my "pen pal" all during transition.  I found her online at the very beginning, and writing to her once, twice, three times a day became an outlet as important as anything my psych provided or that I got from my friends.  Many of the passages in my journal are directly taken from our email exchanges, which involved every facet of my existence for more than two years.  Our paths eventually split for no other reason than life tides took us in different directions.  I haven't heard from her in quite a while so it was wonderful to see an email from her pop up in my in-basket. 

I've got various errands to do today (Little Miss Sunshine is out on DVD!!) and, based on how that goes I'll hit the road later this afternoon or I'll set my alarm for 3am and get an early start tomorrow.  This will be the first time I've done this drive backwards - from Phoenix heading east - but I'm sure it's pretty much the same as the other direction.  On one hand I want to take my time and avoid pushing myself too hard (my mom thinks my bout with infection a couple of weeks ago was a direct result of my long drive).  On the other, I want to get there and rest a little before the Holiday hits like a tsunami. 

I'll be in SC for a week before heading back to Rochester for a few days to visit with family and friends there.  Then, I'll be back in Phoenix for New Year's.  I can't think of many things I enjoy less than traveling over the Holidays but I miss my brother and sister and their families more than I dislike the travel.  So, I'll take my chances and hope the weather is decent.  Otherwise, it'll be a mess.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

I think I'm generally over my little jag of frustration as expressed on Friday.  It's not that the frustration is gone - it's just a part of life - so much as whatever temporary fragility or sensitivity I was feeling seems to have smoothed itself over for now.  Phew.

I attended Dr. Meltzer's annual Holiday party last night.  As with most things Dr. Meltzer does it was top shelf all the way.  It was nice to see such a nice collection of people - former patients, community friends who were visiting from around the country, other doctors, people who work at the hospital, Dr. Meltzer's staff, and various other friends and family.  Dr. Meltzer reserved a local wine bar, brought in a very talented band, provided wonderful food, and (of course) plenty of holiday cheer.  I was there longer than I expected.

A particular highlight for me was running into someone I remember meeting on her first night out.  At the time she was just a teenager and came to a local event with her supportive mom and brother.  Fast forward to last night: she was beautiful, had a wonderful smile, and seemed to be incredibly happy.  Those kinds of stories just warm my heart.

Speaking of reconnecting.....I got a call from the Arizona Republic this week saying that they'll be following up with several people they've profiled over the past couple of years in a "Whatever Happened To..." series that will be running in the paper during the week between Christmas and New Year's.  Apparently, they want me to be one of those people.  It was nice to hear from Angela, the woman who wrote the story, as I felt that we had established a special relationship during the time she was writing the story.  She even traveled to Rochester with me to meet my brother and sister and mom - we bonded somewhere along the way.  Anyway, I trust she'll do a better job with it than they did with the Echo article about Transition.

One thing I wonder about sometimes is whatever happened to the people who were profiled in the documentary "What Sex Am I?".  Old timers (I use that term carefully) may remember the 1985 HBO documentary that was narrated by Lee Grant.  It represented a HUGE event in my own journey, as it was the first time I saw trans people outside the typical boundaries of talk shows or "freak" shows.  It profiled a number of people spanning the various flavors of "trans", and even followed one gal through the process of working as a dancer to save money for SRS through her surgery (her mom was there to support her).  I sometimes wonder what happened to these people.  I hope that, wherever they are, they have found happiness.

My life is full of interesting people.  One is a college intern (she is the niece of my next door neighbors of 15 years from Rochester) who has been staying with me in one of my spare bedrooms for the last couple of months.  She's just finishing college and is working with other interns from around the country on the Fiesta Bowl and the BCS Championship game (college football, for those who don't follow sports) which will be happening here in Phoenix in January.  She's got cool, young friends and a group of them are always coming or going.  It's funny, but in a way I get to live vicariously through her and it reminds me of what being young and in college and at the front-end of a career and a family was like.  Anyway, she got home this morning with a friend and the latest story is that the two of them ended up crashing at someone's place last night.  I don't want to embarrass her by sharing too many specifics but we've been laughing about what happened all morning.  Too funny.

Today will feature a potentially significant event.  My ex-wife, my son, and I are planning to meet for dinner.  My son's 21st birthday is this week so I floated the idea that there should be no reason we can't sit together as a family to celebrate this life milestone with our son.  To my surprise, my ex-wife agreed.  So, we have reservations for dinner tonight.  One friend said she'd love to be at the next table to see this.  I'm not sure how it will all go, but something tells me it will be anti-climactic.  We'll see.  During my own birthday dinner when I turned 40 she abruptly stood up in the middle of the meal, indicated that she couldn't deal with it any more, and left.  I don't expect a similar situation tonight, and I hope we can keep things light and friendly.  Stay tuned...

Friday, December 15, 2006

Another weekend is upon us.  It's the second to last weekend before Christmas.  Here in Phoenix a cold front is expected to blow through.  It might even rain - something I don't think we've seen here in months.

One of the emotions I'm feeling today is frustration.  I'm feeling frustrated that people don't do as they say they're going to do, and that people who I think should know better do things to violate trust, and that although I realize things don't always go as planned it gets tiring when that becomes the rule rather than the exception. 

I don't necessarily hold the people who are involved in these little dramas responsible for whatever disappointment or frustration I feel.  I own that.  Perhaps today I'm just feeling more hormonal, or perhaps I have a mild case of the Holiday Blues, because these kinds of things actually happen quite often - it's just a part of life - and I rarely let it dent me.  Whatever the cause, I'll get over it.  Those who have read my book may remember that one of my rules to live by is "Manage Your Expectations," as unfulfilled expectations are the key to frustration and disappointment.  I suppose I need to manage them better.

I think the root of my frustration has to do with the fact that, in a roundabout way, all this reminds me how alone I feel sometimes.  As I start to depend on other people I find myself jerked back to the realization that the person I can count on most is me.  The bad part of that equation is that it fosters a very lonely existence. 

I certainly haven't gotten into the Holiday spirit yet - if there is such a thing.  One thing I've decided that I'm going to do, and this probably sounds selfish, is to focus on my own needs more than I have been.  Elizabeth and I were going to drive back to the east coast early this week.  I'll probably take my time to get a little more done around here and won't head back until later in the week, when it's more convenient for me.  Also, I miss spending time with my brother and sister and their families back in upstate NY (although I certainly don't miss the winter).  I took some time today to schedule a trip  to visit with them over New Year's.  Those trips are usually good for my soul.

I got a call last night from a dear friend saying that her partner has an aggressive form of cancer.  That was very distressing news.  I still haven't wrapped my brain around it yet.  I suppose it certainly put the more mundane complaints into perspective.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

My son stopped over for a visit this weekend.  His 21st birthday is right around the corner and he wanted to pick up his present a week early.  Go figure.

He brought a friend with him.  My son works in a store and apparently this kid, a 16-year old, was living on the street.  He says that he came home one day a few weeks ago and his mother had basically abandoned him and wished him best of luck - apparently the mom had a history of drugs.  Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when the kid wandered into the store where my son works and they started talking.  Apparently my son bought this kid home, gave him a place to sleep (on his couch), went with him to get a job (which he got), and basically helped this kid get on his feet.  I met this kid on Sunday, and he seemed to be very nice.  I was so proud of my little man and how he stepped up like that.

I told my son that I'd like to buy his "roommate" something for Christmas.  I don't want the day to come and go and him not having something special to open.  My son asked him what he wants and he says he never got a Christmas present before so he wasn't quite sure how to answer.  So, he said he needs socks.  We'll fix that this year.  He'll be getting a present.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

As of Friday it felt like I was starting back at the beginning of this illness thing all over again.  Dry, scratchy, very sore throat. Chest congestion.  Just like the onset almost two weeks ago.  I'd had about all I was ready to handle of it so I went to the doctor's office and sat there until he could see me.  He got me on a cocktail of prescription antibiotics, nasal spray, and eye drops and finally see the end of this thing in sight.  It's really been quite the ride, and although I'm still not 100% yet I'm not sorry in the least to see it go.

The weather here yesterday was absolutely amazing so I spent the day in my garage.  When I moved here from Austin a couple of years ago I had far more "stuff" than I had room for where I live.  My home there was much bigger than my current digs so I have boxes, appliances, furniture - you name it - filling my garage.  You'd think that if you haven't used something for a couple of years you probably don't need it, so I spent the better part of the afternoon going through things.  I packed 9 large garbage bags full of clothes and shoes, many from the earliest days of my transition when I was searching for my style, to bring to Goodwill.  I've got a friend's sister coming today to take my washer and dryer, so that'll free up some space.  With any luck, I'll be able to fit a car in there again soon.

I also spent some time yesterday writing.  Something happened here in Phoenix that really got me miffed.  Rather than explain here, I added it to my Op/Ed for those who are interested.  Technically, it's about trans workplace rights and work we've been doing in the city of Phoenix for over 2 years.  In the bigger picture, however, it's about Leadership or, more specifically, the failure of Leadership. 

The VP where I work is a guitar player in a band made up of several current and former co-workers.  They were playing on the patio at a local pizza place last night so I headed over there for a couple of hours.  The company was good, the pizza was good, the music was good - all in all a very nice time.  I couldn't stay late as I've been dog-sitting a friend's two little Yorkshire Terriers this weekend who needed some loving.  These dogs are the cutest things you can imagine, one is 4 pounds and the other is a whopping 6 pounds.  Dogs are good for the soul, and I have enjoyed sharing my weekend with these two. 

In fact, I have enjoyed all of this quiet weekend.  Things will start gearing up again this week.  Elizabeth will fly here later in the week.  I've got Holiday obligations on Friday and Saturday.  We'll be celebrating my son's 21st birthday next Sunday.  Then, it's time to drive back across the country to spend Christmas on the east coast.  At some point in there I'll need to do my Christmas Cards, some holiday shopping, and take care of various other outstanding details.  Still, the drama quotient in my life at the moment is fairly low which is a good thing.  It's not that I'm necessarily drama averse as I find many of the situations I encounter to be dripping with drama and I just deal with it.  I think it comes with the territory.  It's just that it's nice to take a short vacation from some of it for a while. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

This is one pesky illness.  It continues to take the scenic route around various membranes in my head and throat.  The good news is that my eyes seem to have calmed down, or at least the swelling has gone.  They bright pink in them is slower to recede - I still look a little like an albino of someone who has been up for two or three days.  My throat is still sore, and when I wake up in the morning I never know what area is going to be clogged.  Today it's my front sinus cavity and I've got a headache.  And, there's a drip, drip, drip in the back of my throat that makes it tickle that makes me need to cough.  And my vision is blurry.  And, things don't smell very good right now.  Oh well.  I'll survive.  I'm popping Advil and taking the day an hour at a time.

I started my new job on Monday - bright pink swollen eyes and all.  Actually, it's the same job that I've been doing for the past 18 months, it's just that now I'm an actual "employee" rather than a contract.  I'm sitting in the same cube, using the same laptop, working with the same people.  There's a different mindset, though, in being an employee - kind of tough to explain.  I'm happy at the way things seem to be working out, especially with the flexibility to spend some time here onsite as well as time telecommuting from South Carolina.  It'll be interesting to see how that actually works out.

I had hoped to get back into running - I haven't exercised for weeks.  No go - not feeling up to it. 

One thing I do need to do today is pick up my car.  I had some warning lights come on in the car I left here in Arizona while I was away over Thanksgiving, so I brought it to the dealer as soon as I got back on Friday.  The good news is that the engine and transmission are fine - the warning lights were false alarms.  The bad news is that desert "critters" ate through some of the wiring under the car causing all kinds of problems.  We use the term critters to describe various rodents (rabbits, pack rats, mice, etc.) that live in the desert.  Back when I owned a pool you never knew what you'd find floating in it in the morning - what had blindly stumbled into the water in the dark during the night and couldn't get out.  Anyway, this expense isn't something I need right now but such is life. 

There are a couple of significant things to highlight today.

First, there is an excellent article in the current version of Fortune Magazine about GLBT issues in the workplace.  Overall I think this kind of visibility is incredibly important to legitimize these efforts in more mainstream venues, although I'm a little disappointed that the "T" aspect seems to get shortchanged in the article.  Still, I'd rather look at the glass being half full (or more than half full) so that's a minor complaint at this point.  This article has been in the works for quite some time and I'm glad to see it get as much space as it does.  You can read the online version here, although the printed version has more photos and I think overall is more impressive. 

Secondly, the city of Phoenix has fallen on itself and exhibited a tremendous lack of leadership in terms of trans inclusion.  It's maddening, frustrating, can choose whatever emotion you want.  I'm writing a more in-depth explanation of what has happened, but the short version is that we've been working for over 2 years to help the city update its discrimination protections for city employees.  We've been incredibly patient as other priorities have come and gone, as assurances have been made, and when our moment finally arrived we were basically told that they don't see the need to change anything.  This demonstrates a significant lack of leadership that cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged. 

Sunday, December 3, 2006

I don't get sick very often.  That actually surprises me since I often seem to be stretching myself in any number of directions and putting myself into harms way when it comes to picking something up.  However, when I do get sick, it's usually a doozy.  Such is the case this time.

This virus I seem to have caught is taking the scenic route visiting various parts of my anatomy.  It started in the back of the throat and the ears where it spent a couple of days.  Then, it took a direct route into my chest.  As of yesterday morning it had wrapped itself around my vocal chords.  And, throughout the day it progressively moved into my left eye. 

I've never had a case of "pink eye" (which, apparently is a kind term for "eye infection").  At least, I can't remember ever having one.  As the day progressed the eye did get pink, but as I've since learned a case of this can be so much more.  Green goobers were coming out of the corner, and it was started seeping nasty brown pussy stuff.  As the day wore on the entire area around it got puffier to the point that by dinnertime it was a horrid looking mess.  Really. The eyelid was closing.  The area underneath was swollen.  It looked like I had been punched in the eye - it was pink and red and puffy and just sore even to look at.  It hurt to keep it open so I put a patch over it, but all of this nasty stuff seeping out would cement the entire thing closed.  The only word I can think for it is nasty.

The good news is that I got some much needed sleep.  The bad news is that it has spread to the other eye.  When I got up this morning it wasn't pretty.  The left eye was 95% swollen shut, and the right eye was about 50%.  Things seem to have gotten a bit better throughout the morning.  I hope they improve by tomorrow.  Otherwise, it'll be an interesting first day.

All of this nastiness actually concerned me a little until a friend mentioned that it sounded like a form of "pink eye" (conjunctivitis).  I did a little research on the web and came to that same prognosis.  Based on the descriptions of the different kinds, it seems to be bacterial.  Yeesh.  I don't think I'll be going out much today - don't want to scare innocent women and children.  I'm getting a prescription to deal with it, so we'll see how that goes.  And, I'm told it's very contagious so I'll need to keep a low profile for a while.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

I got to sleep in my own bed last night.  There's something to be said for simple pleasures.  Of course, there was nobody there to snuggle with and it was chilly outside, but I've come down with a doozy case of Elizabeth's congestion thing so I wouldn't have made good company anyways.  My warmth consisted of a capful of Nyquil and an extra blanket.

Austin had been at the far southern tip of the artic air mass that caused so much grief across the country this week.  When I woke up on Thursday the temperature had dropped 40 degrees from the morning before - into the low 30's - and a series of heavy rain storms had apparently passed through overnight but other than blustery strong winds we weathered it pretty well.  I had a couple of errands to run, including a visit to my hair people, before hitting the road to drive 400 miles of the return trip before bedding down for the night.

I'm sure that there are those who consider it the ultimate in self-indulgence that I look forward to going back to Austin to get my hair done there, but my hair people there are more than simply people who cut or color my hair.  They're dear, dear friends, and they've been with me for a long time.  We've been through a lot together and I'd look for any excuse to visit them.  The salon where they were working (they have since moved to a new one) sort of adopted me as one of their own at a time when I needed that very badly.  They invited me to their Christmas party for a number of years.  We went out for dinner, or dancing, or any number of things that really meant a lot to me.  They always spent extra time showing me stuff that I never learned to do anyplace else - on Thursday we spent extra time with a curling iron.  In short, I love my hair people and it was great to see them.  In fact, I took a picture of them in front of the new salon (it was verrrry windy but I think it adds to the photo).  The person on the left is Jon D who is a master stylist (a true artist) and in the middle is dear wonderful Heather, my colorist.  For those who ever have an opportunity to travel through/to Austin, I can't urge you strongly enough to make an appointment with either or both - they absolutely rock.  Make sure to say 'hi' for me.  :)

The gang at in Austin.  They rock.

After visiting with my hair people it was mid-afternoon and I hit the road. Literally.  I made a reservation little Fort Stockton, TX which was about 400 miles of the 1100 mile trip back to Phoenix.  I got there at about 10:30pm.  The bad news is that this wretched cold made me miserable and by 4am I realized that I wasn't going to get more than the couple hours of restless sleep that I already managed.  So, I packed up the car and started driving.  It seemed like forever before the sun came up, but once it did I felt a little better and the rest of the drive just seemed to happen. 

I pulled into my home just after lunch - the entire trip was a little less than 2,500 miles.  I had driven across South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  The good news is that the trip passed with very little drama.  The bad news is that I'll need to do it again in reverse as I had back East in a couple or three weeks. 

This morning my voice sounds horrible.  The congestion from my chest seems to have surrounded my voice box so I sound like Isaac Hayes.  It's not pretty, although I think I sound worse than I actually feel.  I do have some errands to run but I'll spend as much time as possible here at the house - drinking tea, sipping soup, cleaning, and resting.  One thing I recently bought that I'm enjoying quite a bit is a new concert DVD by David Gray titled "Live in Slow Motion".  The live treatment of his songs is fun to watch, and I particularly like the added touch of the cello player.  Anyway, I'll be watching it a few times today.


Wednesday, November 29, 2006

My visit with mom was cut short - I left a day earlier than I had planned.  The threat of dangerous weather in the form of a wintry cold front meant that the wise move for me was to leave a bit early to avoid the threat of ice/snow/sleet/freezing rain that is forecast to move through the area overnight.  So, I finished the last of the items on mom's Honey-Do list and kissed her good-bye before packing the car and heading south to Austin for the night.  If all goes as the weather people are warning the farther north in Texas you go, the more treacherous the roads will be. 

One of the more humorous highlights of the visit was when mom asked me to put up her Christmas lights.  I can't remember my mom ever having Christmas lights, so this was a new one.  My mom had a mishmash of lights so before you knew it I was up on the roof trying to make this happen. By the time I finished it was after dark, so we could actually see how things looked and get them just so.  She was so pleased with the way things turned out - just watching her be so happy made it all worthwhile.

The good news is that I may have a chance to visit with her again in a few weeks as I drive back across the country the other way.  I'll need to get my car back to South Carolina and plan to spend Christmas there with Elizabeth so a return trip is in the future.  I'll just need to make sure the trip goes through Dallas.

I have a couple of appointments to take care of this morning and have changed my plans so that I'll hit the road again by mid-afternoon today.  I expect to spend the night in West Texas someplace, and then finish the last 650 miles or so of the drive tomorrow. I know this drive well and it's not nearly as entertaining as the drive from South Carolina to here.  There's very little scenery, very little of interest along the way.  So, it probably makes good sense to break it up a bit.

One thing I'm REALLY looking forward to doing when I get home is running.  When I'm with Elizabeth I just can't/don't find the time and I can feel it.  I'm certainly not a runner, per se, but there's a certain feeling to your body when it's doing physical things that I enjoy.  It also affects how you feel, and I just don't feel the same when I'm not exercising somehow.  All the extra holiday eating makes it even more necessary.  Anyway, I expect to be running both Saturday and Sunday. 

A producer from one of the talk shows is asking for Elizabeth and I to be guests on a segment later this month.  I really don't like television very much so it really needs to be a special event for me to say 'yes'.  At this point they don't seem clear on the specific focus of the show or how they expect us to fit into it so I'm not sold. 

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

It's Tuesday morning, and I'm in Dallas.  Yesterday was a llloooonnnnngggg day.  I got on the road at 7am ET and felt good enough to do the entire 1,134 mile thing in one day.  It took almost 17 hours.  When I do those kinds of drives I don't stop very often or very long and I made good time.  Perfect weather, nice roads, scenery, easy traffic, good car - all made the drive pleasant.  Of course, those last couple of hundred miles drag (it started to rain a bit Swhich is no fun in the dark after that much driving) but they eventually passed.  I'll be here today and tomorrow before heading down to Austin early Thursday, and then the other 1,000 miles to Phoenix on Friday.

Elizabeth stayed behind - her sinus thing has her down.  I'm feeling a scratch in the back of my own throat so I wouldn't be surprised if I have it, too.  I'm pretty hardy with these kinds of things so we'll see what it turns into.  I hope it's not something that will make driving unpleasant - we'll see.

There are a couple of news items of note to mention.  First, the first openly transgender role in a daytime Soap Opera will be introduced today on "All My Children".  It has caused quite a bit of buzz.  My initial concern is that this character is a "rock star".  I can't wait for a role in which an every day neighbor like you or me comes out and is featured as a transgender character.  Small steps...

Soap to feature transgender character - Yahoo! News

In a story unusual even for a soap opera and believed to be a television first, ABC's "All My Children" this week will introduce a transgender character who ... - 33k - Nov 26, 2006 -

How to Talk About Sex and Sexual Identity
ABC News - 17 hours ago
As 'All My Children' Introduces a Transgender Character, How Can Parents Field Questions About Gender and Identity? This undated ...

Second, CNN did a story yesterday on Transgender teachers (read it here).  It prominently features dear Lily McBeth who has been amazing in her strength and leadership, and who has been able to maintain her dignity and calm despite a whirlwind of activity around her.  These are the kinds of things we need more of.  The article is popping up in newspapers all over the world.

Lastly, the American Medical Association has announced a project they've been working on in conjunction with HRC to develop a rating tool similar to the Corporate Equality Index for Health Care providers and institutions.  How many of us have faced issues with our health care providers?  I think this is an important tool, although when we originally discussed I was disappointed that insurance concerns were not included in it.  That continues to be a huge issue for many of us that needs to be tackled in short order.    To learn more about what they're doing visit the GLMA website, or I can forward a press release from Joel Ginsberg, the Executive Director of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association to those who are interested.

There's lots going on, but today is a day to focus my attention on mom.  She's got a list of things she needs help with (including putting up her Christmas lights) so I expect it will be a busy day. A cold front will be moving through over the next couple of days that is expected to push the temperature down into the 20's at night.  I need to get as much outside stuff done as I can while it's still warm.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Elizabeth had her tribe of children this weekend (all 4 of them) so it has been a go-go-go weekend.  We all had fun.  It seems eerily quiet now that they've all gone.

Tomorrow I leave for a cross-country week long drive back to Phoenix.  It's 1,100 miles from here to Dallas where I'll spend a couple of days with my mom.  Then, a day in Austin visiting friends.  Finally, that God forsaken thousand mile drive I know so well between Austin and Phoenix.  I expect to get back sometime next Saturday.  It's a real-life TransAmerica.

I'm all packed and pretty much ready to go.  I'm looking forward to spending a little time with mom; I haven't seen her since Easter.  Elizabeth is planning to come along but is feeling a bit under the weather at the moment.  We'll see how she feels in the morning...

As I probably mentioned, I start my new job a week from tomorrow - next Monday. This is only the 3rd job I've had as an actual employee instead of as a consultant so there will be a difference in things.  Our discussions have included my need for some flexibility, both in telecommuting from South Carolina from time to time and in participating in community "events". We'll see how it all works out.

Friday, November 24, 2006

It was a busy Thanksgiving.  I suppose it started on Wednesday as we did last minute errands and shopped for Thanksgiving dinner.  The dinner was at Elizabeth's ex's house - it was her birthday, too, so there was double reason to celebrate.

For most of my adult life I've been the person directly responsible for Thanksgiving wherever I was.  My own ex- would have just have soon gone to a restaurant than go through all the work to cook for and then clean up from Thanksgiving dinner.  Not me. Like so many things in life, it was all about the journey, not the destination.  The parades.  The football.  The smell of the house as the turkey cooks.  Getting everything done on time.  It was an annual experience unlike any other.  It has been and continues to be important to me.

Elizabeth had other family obligations, as well, so the entire day seemed to be spent eating here or there.  I suppose the thing I'd most like to mention is the fact that the Thanksgiving traditions here seem to be different than any I can remember.  We spent an hour and half on Wednesday night de-veining collard greens (Lord knows that was a first for me) and then cooking them down so we could have them for Thanksgiving.  Apparently, they don't stuff the turkey around here.  They make cornbread dressing in a separate bowl which I find to be funny because I'd buy an extra turkey just to stuff it. I decided to look in one of Elizabeth's South Carolina cookbooks for something interesting, and chose a Bourbon Kissed Sweet Potato Casserole recipe.  It came out wonderfully.  All in all, it was a wonderful and memorable Thanksgiving.

This morning we were among the crazy people out and about - ready to shop - by 5am.  We had originally intended to get up even earlier to get some of the Best Buy door buster sale stuff, but the combination of a cold night and a warm bed kept us from getting up and out as early as we had planned.  No matter.  We did well.  Elizabeth had never experienced the throng of people out and about at that early hour, so she was a first-timer.  It's something you've got to experience to believe.  In fact, the simple bonding experience of it all is worth getting up for. 

BTW: Those who are interested can view the photos of the Battle of Secessionville Re-enactment that we attended a couple of weeks ago here (I finally had a chance to upload some of them). 

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

It snowed in South Carolina this morning.  The snow wasn't your typical fluffy flakes slowly drifting to the ground.  They were like little snowballs plummeting from the sky.  It was actually pretty funny to watch, almost as funny as watching everyone call each other to share that it was actually snowing here, too!  Apparently it was the first time they've ever had snowfall before Thanksgiving here - ever.  At least, since they started keeping track of this kind of stuff.  It was a brisk, wet, cloudy, day here.  But, as with most things, you take it in stride and do what you have to do.  We went to the kids' school to watch a Thanksgiving play and potluck lunch, we did some errands, and somehow here it is late in the evening and it's already almost time for bed.  Where did the day go?

The good news is that it looks like my unemployed days are numbered.  I have tentatively been offered a job (I may go into some details at some later date) that will provide the flexibility I need, both in terms of community work and in terms of sharing my time between Phoenix and South Carolina.  I'll be a full-time employee at this company which makes it only one of three or four companies I've actually worked for over the past 25 years.  All the rest of the time I've been a consultant, so there will be a bit of an assimilation process here - it's a different mindset.  Still, it's very promising and I'm happy with the way things are potentially working out.  These talks have been ongoing for a while now so it's nice to see that they've finally come to fruition.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

It's almost funny.  Here I am updating my blog, and here I am at an airport at an unGodly early hour.  It's 6:30am and I'm at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport to catch my flight back to Charlotte so I can drive the 200 miles back to the coast.  The Thanksgiving holiday airport traffic is already picking up, and most of this week will probably be a good time NOT to travel.  Still, I do enjoy my Sunday flights and things haven't gotten too crazy around here.  Yet.

It has been a jam packed few days.  Some highlights:

The event in Salt Lake City was wonderful (and brief).  They did a great job of organizing the event - it was held at the impressive City Hall building in the City Council chambers - and it was nice to meet a wonderful group of people there.  I'll have to go back when I actually have a little time to visit and see the sights.  The flight from SLC to Phoenix has got to be one of the most visually stunning that there is in the entire country.  Flying over the snow-covered Utah mountains, Lake Powell, the Grand Canyon on a clear day is well worth the $79 it cost to book the 70-minute flight.

I met my son for breakfast yesterday and it was great to see him.  He thinks that he'll  be working on Thanksgiving (he gets paid double time and a half) so he probably wouldn't have had an opportunity to stop over for dinner even if I were in town.  Still, Thanksgiving is the most important holiday in my year and I'm already anticipating missing him.

I traveled to Tucson yesterday afternoon to participate in a Transgender Awareness Week there.  I can't imagine a more perfect day: bright sun, mid-80's, slight breezes, and the turnout was great.  That kind of day is why people suffer through the furnace that is summer to live there.  That, and the fact that there will be day after day like it until Spring.  I finally got to meet Loren Cameron, we've traveled in similar circles for a while but somehow just never seem to end up at the same place at the same time.  All in all, it was well worth the 125 mile drive each way.

Dr. Meltzer had an event at his house on Friday to support the University of Minnesota Department on Human Sexuality.  Former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was one of the guest speakers - she was fired by President Clinton for a comment promoting masturbation as an alternative to actually engaging in sex (and the risk of pregnancy or STD).  Dr. Meltzer did a typically classy and wonderful event, and needless to say there was quite a bit of talk about sex (more than usual!).  It was great to see the wide collection of guests there, and in a way was the informal start of the Holiday season for me.

Friday was my last day at work.  As of Monday I'm officially unemployed.  The contract I have been working for the past 18 months in Phoenix is over - if would have ended whether any of the South Carolina stuff happened or not as part of business factors - and my refusal to sign the C-2 form killed that opportunity (I'm told that I'm the first person they have encountered who refused to sign, which shocks me).  I'm actually not all that worried, yet, as I've got several irons in the fire, and I hope/expect one of them blooms here soon.  In the meantime, I'm going to enjoy a week of much-needed downtime with Elizabeth for Thanksgiving, and then I think I'm going to travel to Dallas to spend a little time with Mom.  I never seem to be able to find the time to get any stretch of quality time visiting with her because of work, community obligations, or just the general flow of life.  I want to take advantage of this down time to do things I've been wanting to do but haven't been able to fit in.  Once the new year starts who knows when I'll have the opportunity again.  Still, I can't afford to be idle for too long so we'll see how it all pans out, knowing that I have a Plan B firmly in my pocket.

I was an IT consultant for 20 years before actually taking a permanent job just prior to my transition so I'm well acquainted with the ebb and flow of the business.  It's just one of those things you accept as part of the territory - the price for the flexibility it provides.  Life would be much simpler if I had less priorities, if I could focus on fewer things, but such is not my world.  My needs are special, so my solution needs to be special too.  It is a heavy burden, one I would gladly hand over to others who could or would do the job, but nobody is there to take the baton.  We each face opportunities to do things that need to be done in our lives and the decision is a simple one - do it or don't (and hope that someone else will).  Our world is full of the latter when it needs so many more of the former.

As I turn my thoughts to giving thanks this week I do realize how truly fortunate I am to have a network of dear friends, my health, marketable skills, special people in my life, and the opportunity to do things I want to do.  If it all ends tomorrow it will have all been worth it.

I've got some thoughts on next steps (as far as a job is concerned) but that will have to wait until the next update.  It's almost time to board the flight (and I'll finally be able to get some sleep) so I'm off to the sky again.


Wednesday, November 15, 2006

It's shortly after 7am and it has already been a long day.  I'm sitting at gate A2 in the Charlotte, NC airport waiting for my flight to Salt Lake City (thru Denver).  Flights to anywhere near here are so much cheaper thru Charlotte (for example: RT between Phoenix and Charleston is often $500, while RT between Phoenix and Charlotte can be found for as little as $209) that it's usually worth the 3-hour drive to get here.  The problem, though, is that it means getting up at unGodly early hours for morning flights.  I set my alarm for 2:30am to get up, get ready, finish packing, drive, find the airport, park, take the bus to the terminal, check in, go thru security, and get to the gate for an 8:30am flight.  So, here I sit. 

This will be a long day.  I'm scheduled to speak twice in Salt Lake City today (3pm and 7pm) as part of a week-long educational program that they've scheduled around Transgender Awareness Month (details here).  My piece of this effort is to talk about workplace issues and I've actually been looking forward to this.  I really appreciate that they've been able to pull together a line-up of people from around the country and arranged for them to come to Utah to speak - that's fantastic.  I hope I a) get some sleep on the plane because I'm dead tired and b) have a little time to freshen up between the time I arrive and my first talk).

I was told that I have until today to submit my signed C-2 form, a deadline that I'm allowing to pass.  My efforts yesterday to identify other opportunities leaves me optimistic - I hope some of the positive initial discussion follows through to something concrete.  The Holiday time is not a good time to look for work in my field as companies a) are often near the bottom of their budgets and b) just aren't thinking about starting new efforts at this time of year.  Often, we're faced with less-than-ideal timing and that's just the way things go.  It adds more drama to life than there needs to be, but I'm comfortable with what I've done. 

Speaking of being comfortable....the US Catholic Bishops today released some documents on core Catholic doctrine yesterday in response to what they say is complacency by U.S. Catholics.  Part of the document is all about sexuality - specifically Homosexuality (read the USA Today story here).  I continue to believe that the main source of prejudice, discrimination, and ultimately violence, faced by those who are perceived to have an alternative sexuality (that includes transgender people) is organized religion.  There is fault there.  A highlight of last year's Day of Remembrance event in Phoenix was a local clergy member who acknowledged that terrible harm has been done by those who would preach about community, love, and authenticity and he publicly apologized.  It was a very powerful statement.

I tend to avoid arguing religion here because it's one of those things that's really not up for debate and I will continue that practice.   I very much agree with the statement that PFLAG released about this yesterday.  There is so much work to be done in communities of faith to promote understanding and to battle ignorance - and as some communities take great strides forward in terms of women and other minorities others take great strides backwards.  I would argue that the reason that these Bishops feel the need to come out with a statement like this is that they're out of touch with what's happening in the world and with their congregations.  That's the issue.  People are becoming more accepting, and somehow these religious leaders see it as a bad thing that needs to be "fixed".  Go figure.

Anyway, it's almost time to board my flight so I'll leave it at that.  Time to grab a blanket and catch some Zzzzz's.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

I can't bring myself to sign the C-2 form.  It's a hurdle I'm just not willing to jump.  It has caused me significant angst over the past day, and I find myself surprised that others don't seem to have the same concerns about their personal privacy as I do. They're willing to give the government free access to their most personal records, about the people in their lives, even their medical and psychiatric history, without a second thought.  I'm sorry - but my privacy is worth more than any job to me.  They're demanding the letter before I can return, so I'm spending the day looking for whatever comes next.

I thought long and hard yesterday about why this is so difficult for me and it eventually became apparent.  I don't trust what the government will do with my information.  It's that simple.  If I had trust I wouldn't have such reluctance.  But I don't, so I do.  It's not that I have anything to hide - it's the principle involved that's the nut.  I suppose every once in a while over the course of our lives our principles will be called in to question, where we'll find ourselves at a decision point where we'll have to actually prove the things we say we believe.  This crossroads has become one of those times for me, and I'm not going to forfeit.  At the end of the day each of us needs to look in the mirror and like ourselves, we need to be able to sleep at night knowing that we're true to what we believe.  That's fundamental to my self-respect, and is non-negotiable.

I've turned my unhappiness towards my consulting company.  Every other person in the orientation group knew ahead of time that a C2 was required, and had actually filled it out.  If we had had this discussion a couple of weeks ago it would have saved a lot of difficulty.  Still, here we are.  I can't allow the pressures I'm facing to force me to make a decision I wouldn't have made a couple of weeks ago. 

In the scheme of things, this may be no big deal.  I like to believe that things happen for reasons, and that if this were meant to work out it would be working out.  Either way, I'm headed to Salt Lake City tomorrow to participate in a wonderful week of education as part of their Transgender Awareness Month, and then I'll be back in Phoenix for a few days.  Much of my efforts will be spent looking for another opportunity.  Or, I'll need to see if I can come to peace with signing this thing.  We'll see how it all unfolds.

On a more festive note, Elizabeth and I took her 4 kids to see "Flushed Away" on Sunday.  It was way cute - lots of bathroom humor but then again what would you expect from a movie about toilets and sewers??  We finished the day at the Festival of Lights.  We took a train ride, we toasted marshmallows, we went on the merry-go-round - it was one of those family events that's so simple but somehow feels so special.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

I don't know if I've mentioned it here before, but Elizabeth has 4 children.  All of them are under 7 years old.  She's got a great relationship with them, as she does with her ex-wife as well.  The entire circle of relationships is something many of us spend our lives hoping we could have but so few of us are able to achieve.

Last night Elizabeth's daughter slept over.  She's the cutest little thing you ever saw.  We had a great evening, and this morning it was so cute to peek around the corner to watch her as she tried on my shoes. 

Whereas last night was about Elizabeth's daughter today was about her sons.  The group of us went to a civil war re-enactment of the Battle of Secessionville - a battle for Charleston in the early part of the Civil War.  These re-enactors take their work very seriously, and it's more than humorous to me that Elizabeth used to be one of them.  From the clothes they wear, to the weapons they use, to the food they eat - all of it is expected to be as authentic as possible.  It's a big deal, and if you've ever attended one of these re-enactments you'll know what I mean.  There were dozens of merchants selling various things from clothing to muskets to medical supplies to tents to whatever.  It's a big deal.

There were hundreds of re-enactors gathered for his battle.  And, when the infantry started moving towards the fortified embankment I really had no idea what to expect.  Soon, the canon blasts were so loud and the white smoke was so thick - it was great.  Afterward, we spent some time chatting with the men down by their tents and wandering the grounds of the plantation where the re-enactment was held.  It was an absolutely, positively wonderful day 

And, to top the day off, the group of us went out for BBQ for dinner.  It was marked by another first - fried okra, and collard greens.  Add that to pulled pork, BBQ sauce, sweet tea, corn bread. Mmmmmm.  Elizabeth has taken it upon herself to introduce me to some of the southern "delicacies", and so far I don't have anything to complain about.

I took dozens of photos from the day.  I'll hope to post a few of them here soon.

Friday, November 10, 2006

I'm facing a dilemma.  Generally, I wouldn't share it here but it's something that's pertinent to many of us so I'll overcome my reluctance.

There is a difference between maintaining a sense of privacy and concealing/sharing something, in any given situation.  In my opinion, we're living at a time when the biggest risk we all face is the erosion of our rights to personal privacy.  We're living in a time when the need to balance security concerns against personal freedom and privacy concerns is a constant tug of war, and unfortunately privacy is losing.  In a wired, digital, terrorism-conscious world there is more information about you here and there and everywhere than you'd care to know. 

In my new role I'm doing some work that, in a roundabout way, sorta/kinda/might involve the government.  To get this position I went through two background checks - one by my employer and another by their client where I'm actually working.  The reason I'm allowed to here in the first place is that my background is clean.  In addition, I've signed confidentiality agreements, non-disclosure agreements, and any number of other things to protect the sensitive nature of the data I could/might be working with.

Apparently, because this role can/might somehow bring me into contact with government data I need to go through a government background check, as well.  There is a form called a C-2, a "Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions".  If it were as simple as other background checks I'd have no problem with it as I don't have anything to hide.  The question of whether to disclose your past name, which then opens the door to people's prejudices/ignorances continues to be a thorny question where there is no easy answer.  I generally choose NOT to disclose in those types of situations because it's not germane to the discussion. 

This particular form, however, is 9 pages that requires you to disclose personal information about yourself, and about others in your life as well.  It wants name and contact information for dozens of people - people you've worked with, lived near, who are related to you, who can vouch for your character.  I don't want to share that kind of information about the people in my life.  I value whatever shreds of my own personal privacy I have left, and I value my friends' privacy as well. 

The kicker?  There is a warning that knowingly concealing information on that form can be considered a felony and involve prison time and a hefty fine.  I'm not sure how much I'm willing to push this.  We'll see how it all works out.

Others probably fill his out and never give it a second thought.  I'm having some significant difficulty with it. I figure it'll work itself out somehow but I think it's symptomatic of other, larger concerns.  Sadly, there is no easy answer.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

Day 4 down.  One more day and this week will be over.  I thought it'd never get here.

It's not that is has been a "bad" week.  It seems there's little in my day, though, except driving, working, and sleeping ( I suppose lots of us know that routine).  I've made some living arrangements closer to work but probably won't be using them until next week - a short week for me due to trips to Salt Lake City and then back to Phoenix. 

The 110-mile drive to work Tuesday was particularly unpleasant. It was pouring out, and there were several cars that had skidded off the road.  It was truly a white knuckle adventure I would have been happier not taking.  That same drive this morning, however, was absolutely stunning with bright early morning sunshine on vivid late autumn leaves.  This entire adventure has already been a major culture shock for me - not just because I'm in a new part of the country but because the culture of where I'm working is almost like a time warp.  I'm seeing things I haven't seen in over 20 years in terms of technology, mindset, and direction.  It's spooky.  I suppose I'll get used to it but it sure is different.

I couldn't be happier about the election.  If it didn't send a clear message about the country's dissatisfaction with our overall direction I don't know what will.  The fact that we've got fair-minded majorities in place for the first time in a half generation paves the way for some significant opportunities.  It is still a long, difficult road.  But what transpired on Tuesday night truly changed the landscape.  There is more than a glimmer of hope that the GLBT community and other marginalized communities that have been on the defensive for so long might finally be able to play offense.  We'll see how it pans out.  Plus, the so-called "Marriage Amendment" in Arizona was defeated which is absolutely amazing.  The Arizona Together team rocks!

With that...time for bed.

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Elizabeth got home yesterday - it's nice to have her back. 

I mentioned that I would share some details about Elizabeth's surgery from a couple of weeks ago.  She had a fat-transfer procedure: from her thighs and waist to her butt and hips.  Many of us offered to be "donors" for this procedure but unfortunately she needed to make her own fat.  This was a first for Dr. Meltzer who was originally skeptical about the long-term viability of the results, but over the past couple of years additional research and Elizabeth's own unique persistence has helped him to become more optimistic.  The good news is that the initial results look wonderful.  The bad news is that the recovery includes not being able to sit, lie, or otherwise put pressure on your butt or hips for 2 weeks.  That means standing or lying on your stomach are your only possible positions which can get very old very quickly.

If the results stay as they are the procedure offers additional body sculpting possibilities to those who feel they need it.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

I did a dry run of my first day of work tomorrow.  Although the logistics of everything remain a work-in-progress, for the moment there's a significant commute between Elizabeth's house and where I will be working (as in 100 miles worth of commute).  That kind of drive will get real old real fast so I'm investigating options - I'm all about options.  I've been in a similar position before and, as with most thing, time is not my enemy right now.  Better to make sure I like the new opportunity, they  like me, and provide time for whatever else is in process to come to a conclusion, before making longer-term more definite decisions.  In the meantime, I've got quite the drive on my hands.

Today was a gorgeous autumn day here - sunny and crisp with a high temperature right around 60 degrees.  The drive on the Interstate is actually a very pretty one - the leaves on the trees are changing and is probably right near peak color here right now.  At least the drive was pretty today.  Somehow, as with flying (see my previous post), things are different on weekends than they are on weekdays.  I have a feeling there will be much more traffic come tomorrow morning so I'll give myself quite a bit of time to get there these first few days.

I enjoyed watching CBS This Morning as I drank my morning cup of coffee.  One story was about Robert Redford and what he has done at Sundance, CO.  And, another was about our favorite comic, Lewis Black - it was interesting to see him actually somewhat "calm" for a change.  If you missed them, I'm sure they'll be available online - either on the CBS website or on YouTube - before too long.

When I think of Lewis Black I think of politics, which reminds me: the elections are in a couple of days.  I'm hopeful that the American people have had enough and mandate a change.  I'm not going to get on a political soapbox but the stakes have never been higher.  The events of the last few weeks/months would be a laughable circus of errors if the things that are happening weren't so serious.  I hope the American people make a statement that is loud, clear, and unmistakeable.  I was hoping the same thing 2 years ago too, though, and look where we are.  Just when you thought it couldn't get worse.....

Anyway - wish me luck tomorrow.  It'll be an interesting day.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

If you really have to fly, it seems to me that Saturday afternoon is the best time to do it.  There's a big difference between traveling on weekends or on weekdays.  The fact that there are fewer business travelers on the weekends gives the experience a whole different dynamic.  I'm not quite sure how to explain it - it's just what I've noticed.

There are a couple of things that I find endlessly intriguing.  One is people who are grown adults who seem like they've never flown before.  When they go through security it's like the first time they've ever done it - if you're not in a hurry it can be quite amusing.  You can tell the seasoned travelers because we're already half naked by the time we get halfway to the X-Ray machine - sweater off, shoes off, belts, jewelry, and other metallic accessories off for X-Ray.  Laptop computer in a separate bin.  We could do it in our sleep.  Of course, getting behind a newbie when you're in a hurry can be quite the aggravation - it's like being hungry and getting stuck behind someone studying the menu at McDonalds like it's the first time they've been there, too - like they're overwhelmed by the selection.  Too funny. 

On one of my flights a couple of years ago I did actually meet a twenty-something woman and it was her first flight. She was sitting next to me, and it was interesting to watch her try to guess where each new noise was coming from: flaps, wheels down, flight attendant beeping.  I guess when you do it as much as I seem to you get kind of jaded - I'm usually asleep by the time they give the safety presentation on how to fasten the seatbelt.

I've also developed a list of favorite airlines.  The irony is that I'm a Gold Passport on American Airlines which means I get to board earlier and I can upgrade to first class cheaply, but that's not one of my preferred airlines.  They don't have pillows - I need a pillow behind my back.  They never ever have movies or other in-flight entertainment (these flights can get long!). Their planes generally seem older.   And, they don't generally provide snack boxes or anything else to munch on. 

Delta, on the other hand, has all those things.  Sometimes, US Airways does, too.  Southwest is OK, too, although there's a love/hate relationship with that A/B/C group boarding thing.  The one time I flew on JetBlue was great - they had DirecTV in all the seats.   I don't know why more airlines don't copy that. Today I flew on United.  I did get a pillow, which is a plus.  Besides 10 minutes in a holding pattern waiting for air traffic constipation to clear up over Charlotte, NC everything went flawlessly.  I was a little disappointed that it was cloudy while flying over the Rockies - on a clear day that view alone is worth the price of the trip.

I flew into Charlotte, collected my luggage, rented a car, and drove 3 hours to get to Elizabeth's house.  It was almost 1am when I arrived, and I'm relaxing for a few minutes before crawling into bed.  It's freezing here, and I mean that literally. Unless the temperature thing on the car was broken it said it was 32 degrees outside for a while.  Brrrrr.  That's a far cry from the 85 degrees in Phoenix when I left.  If was funny to watch people walking around the airport in coats and jackets, and there I was in the flip-flops I was wearing when I left. 

Tomorrow I'll drive to Columbia to explore a little bit.  I want to get back at a reasonable hour, get ready for tomorrow, and get to bed relatively early.  I haven't met any of these people - I got this job after a phone interview (this is the 2nd time that has happened) so it'll be nice to actually meet them in person. 

Friday, November 3, 2006

It must be the nearly full moon or something.  I've had a number of people call me, leave me messages, send me messages, or email me in the last day with any number of issues or problems.  I wish I had more answers, or more time.  Both seem to be in short supply sometimes.

Today was my last day at work.  At least, it was my last day for now.  They approached me several weeks ago about the possibility of being hired as an actual employee (I'm a contract consultant) and from what I understand those discussions are ongoing internally.  For the moment there is no more time, and I'm on to whatever comes next. 

Specifically what will come next is a flight that will bring me to South Carolina by this time tomorrow.  There is more than a little irony in the fact that Elizabeth will be here, in my Scottsdale home, and I will be in South Carolina in hers.  The timing was a little off, but as with most things in life things don't always go according to plan.  I'm very much in go-with-the-flow mode right now and all I can say is that it's a good thing I'm comfortable that way.  It can be more than a little unnerving for those who need more structure.

I'll be starting a new consultant position in South Carolina on Monday.  In some very real ways I'm looking forward to that, as I truly do enjoy doing new things.  I was at this last position for 18 months and perhaps I had become a little stale in it.  Still, as I headed to my car today for the last time I'm not convinced we've seen the last of each other.  I suppose the future will tell.

I remember being in a similar position a little over 2 years ago - sitting at my desk in Austin the evening of my last day at Dell.  I specifically remember writing about how I was totally alone as I prepared to pack up and drive from Austin to Scottsdale to begin the next chapter in my life, the chapter that now appears to be ending.  My son was gone, the dogs were gone, the house was empty, and there was nobody on my horizon.  The irony now is that I'm closing this chapter specifically because I'm not alone, because I do have someone in my life, and because I'm looking forward to spending more time to be with her and around her.  Her life, her family, her world all hold a unique place in my heart and I look forward to becoming a part of that in new ways.

We talk about being able to take evening walks on the beach, weekend camping trips on the outer islands, time with her kids and with her family - things so many of us yearn for but so few either find the opportunity to do or find the time to do it.  We each need to prioritize the things in our lives and steer ourselves toward the things that mean most - they don't just happen by themselves.  The anxiety of leaving stability and "comfort", the excitement of moving on to something new, and the juggling act of managing the logistical challenges we all face in our lives is all part of that unique balance that is such a critical component for me.  With that said, we'll see what tomorrow brings....


Wednesday, November 1, 2006

I spent an hour last night watching old home videos of my son and our family on Halloween.  It was nostalgic, and also sad in a way.  It's not that I miss my old life - at least not in the sense of regrets or remorse.  I do miss how simple things seemed back then, though.  Perhaps I was simply happy in my ignorance, but at the time all that seemed to matter was my family, my son, our future, and our health.  I miss when my son was young, and being part of a family.  I never imagined that things would change for me as they have, and in some very real ways there is nothing left of that old life.  Nothing at all.  My son is grown and on his own.  The place in my soul where my wife once lived, and where I felt I belonged, isn't simply empty - I think it's gone. 

I like to think that's just part of the stages of life.  Maybe, maybe not.  But  life sure has gotten a heck of a lot more complicated.  And interesting.  There are times when I appreciate the challenges and the opportunities they pose.  There are other times when I just want to sit and relax, to catch my breath, to retreat to the simplicity that once seemed so abundant.  It's a good thing I'm a go-with-the-flow kind of person.  I've got lots of flow in my life.

We didn't get a single trick-or-treater here last night.  I had a bag of candy at the ready just in case, but as with last year and the year before it looks like I'll be bringing it to work to avoid having to eat it myself.  Still, these last few days have been quite the "eat" fest and I'll be on a treadmill at some point today.  I need to pay my penance for all the indulging I've done.  I went for a late-afternoon run on Sunday and realized it might be one of the last I do here for quite a while.  My running route is a pretty one down quiet palm-tree lined Scottsdale streets, past immaculately manicured golf courses and ponds, desert mountains in the background - it's just a beautiful run.  The sun was setting when I finished my run and it somehow seemed symbolic of this chapter of life for me.


Monday, October 30, 2006

Halloween in the Northeast can be a cold, wet, long evening.  Somehow, the thing I remember most is trudging from house to house in our neighborhood with my son for what seemed like hours.  Both of us were bundled up as protection from the autumn chill, and more than once I remember a think dusting of snow on leaves clogging the drainage along the side of the road and on the lawns.  One particular house nearby always had a CARE station in their garage, giving hot coffee, warm ciders, and donuts to chilled parents dutifully chaperoning their costumed kids.  They I almost feel guilty admitting that the weather forecast here for Halloween is sunny with a high in the low 80's and a low dipping to the mid-50's.

I did something new over the weekend.  I cooked grits.  I've only eaten grits a couple of times in my life and never felt they had any personality of their own.  It seemed like soy, or shrimp, in that it seemed to taste most like whatever was served WITH them.  Butter, salt, whatever.  It was recently explained to me that grits are actually the part of a kernel of corn on the inside of the husk - the small, hard center.  Anyway, at one point Elizabeth brought a bag of real southern slow-cook grits from home so we took an hour the other morning to cook 'em up.  The verdict?  Creamy, tasty, and actually enjoyable.  I will admit that a) we made far too much for one meal and b) it doesn't seem to be one of those foods that reconstitutes itself when you re-heat it in the microwave.  No matter.  It was good.

Elizabeth is feeling well and getting better every day which is all good.  I'm headed off to work today so I have a feeling it will be a long, boring day for her but such is the life for those who are healing.  If all goes as currently planned this will be my last week at work here before heading on to whatever comes next by the weekend.  There are still any number of things that can happen to change that, though, so we'll see how the week progresses.


Friday, October 27, 2006

I was in Best Buy the other day and there was one of those High Def television displays along one of the aisles.  They were featuring one of the new Blue Ray super high def DVD's; this particular DVD was shots of a watch maker working with all the teeny, intricate parts of a watch, set to music.  The quality of the thing was extraordinary (perhaps even dazzling) - in most cases I wouldn't think twice about stopping to watch something like that but the incredible detail, the amazing colors, the jaw-dropping clarity, the and the overall visual stimulation of it just grabbed me and held me for 20 minutes.  It was fantastic.  It looked better than the actual thing!  At the same time, though, it helped me to decide that I really don't want one.  If I had something like that I'd be stuck to the TV like I was at the store, which is something I just don't have time for right now.  When I need my Blue-Ray DVD fix I'll just have to go to Best Buy and stand in the aisle to watch whatever is playing. 

Elizabeth is here, and had some surgery yesterday.  It was a medium-sized tremor in the overall seismic scale of cosmetic procedures (with FFS being a 10) but it took almost 5 hours, was fairly complicated, and was more than mildly invasive.  I sometimes worry that many of us become surgery sluts, tweaking and refining various physical elements of our bodies, to the point where it never ends.  My sister is of the opinion that trans people should be given an exemption from the general social stigma that still remains regarding cosmetic procedures because of the unique nature of our situation.  Whether others agree or not isn't the point - many us tweak, augment, sculpt, rebuild, replace, enhance, or otherwise do things to various parts of our body to do things that nature wasn't kind enough to provide in our original "husk".  Whether others think we need it or not isn't really the point - we often do these things more for ourselves than for others. 

Elizabeth and Dr. Meltzer before surgery

It's not my place to share specifics of her procedure at this point but I'll tell you that it's something new that pushes an envelope in a way that hasn't really been addressed like this before.  She got it into her head that it was possible well over a year ago and after research, consultation, investigation, prodding, and pleading it finally became realized yesterday (Lord knows she can be very persuasive).  We'll see what the results yield once everything has had time to heal.  I may be discussing it in a later essay (with her permission of course) but at this point suffice it to say that she's one sore puppy.  She spent the night in the hospital and will be coming here to recuperate for the next few weeks.  The recuperation regimen is very restrictive and invasive so I hope she'll do okay with it.  I'll be here to love on her and nurse her for the next week before I'm scheduled to head to my new job in South Carolina.

I've been wrestling with the logistics of this move - that's my most significant source of stress right now - and the way it's shaping up is that I'll be driving cross country.  It's a 2200 mile drive, and I'm giving myself 2 1/2 days to do it.  It's still a pretty fluid plan so we'll see how it all fleshes out but that's my current direction.  If nothing changes, I'll be leaving a week from today.  There are still some other irons in the fire that could change things, but I'm very much a go-with-the-flow kind of person so we'll see if the flow somehow changes between now and then.

In coming weeks I've got one more flurry of community work before the holidays.  I'm scheduled to speak in Salt Lake City, Utah on Nov. 15 (I don't think I've ever been there before) which I'm looking forward to.  It's another one of those 18 hour visits, and I'm happy to provide details to anyone who is interested.  The next day I'll be headed back to Phoenix to attend an event here on the 17th, speak in Tucson for the Day of Remembrance on the 18th, and then fly back to South Carolina on the 19th. 

There are a couple of things in the news I want to comment on before I get dressed and head over to the hospital.  First, I'm thrilled with the ruling regarding same-sex unions/marriage/whatever-you-want-to-call them in New Jersey from Wednesday.  In my opinion, providing the same legal benefits (and responsibilities) that traditional marriage provides to same-sex relationships is simply the right thing to do.  Whether or not people want to call it "marriage" or not is a whole other issue for me - it's another one of those word problems that seems to undermine the more significant issues involved.  There is a ballot measure in Arizona this year that  would add wording to the state constitution that would not only define marriage as between a man and a woman, but it would outlaw anything similar to marriage for anyone else.  That includes domestic partnerships, which is something that works for many couples - straight and gay.  There is no other word to use for something so sweeping and discriminatory other than "hateful".  This is a horrible, hateful bill, and I hope to God that Arizonans see it as such and vote it straight to Hell.

Secondly, my Buffalo Sabres have started the NHL season with 10 straight wins.  That ties the record for perfection at the beginning of the season.  They can break the record with a victory tonight, and my fingers are crossed for them.  The World Series??  I don't really care.  I just hope my hockey team continues to win. 

With that - I'm off to the hospital.  A great weekend to all....

Monday, October 23, 2006

I had an eye exam today.  Earlier this year I found that I needed reading glasses to read the small print on menus in dimly lit restaurants, which was yet another indication that I am indeed getting older.  I don't really feel older, but as these kinds of unmistakable signs make it ever-so-apparent the only thing to do is to accept it.  Although my distance eyesight doesn't seem to be any different I decided to schedule a detailed eye exam. 

There was a time when my good eyesight was a source of significant pride for me.  I originally planned to pursue a career as a pilot, where good eyesight is actually a requirement, but that didn't come to pass.  One of the questions on the form asked when my last exam was - I think it was 1977 or 1978.  We laughed because that's before the receptionist was even born! I had my pupils dilated - that was a trip.

The good news is that my eyesight is still almost perfect - that's good news - but I'll be checking it much more often.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I'm on a plane again.  This time I'm heading back to Phoenix from Baltimore and yet another visit to our nation's capital.  Somehow, it seems like I just did this trip only a week ago.  I suppose it's because I did...

This trip was to participate in an event at the HRC Building.  It's a two-day event named "Out For Work" and is geared to GLBT undergraduate students.  The first day consists of a number of speakers and panel discussions about different aspects of the GLBT workplace experience, and the second is a career fair.  This is the second year of the event and the second year I've participated - last year it poured and poured.  Almost twice as many students registered this year as compared to last, and the number of corporate sponsors significantly increased, as well.  I can't believe they fly me out and arrange for me to spend two nights in an over-priced hotel so I can attend 40 minutes worth of panel discussion but I suppose I shouldn't complain.  They treat me well and it's very worthwhile so I'm happy they ask.

The flight into Baltimore was actually pretty spectacular.  The landing path took us over some beautiful areas of coastal Maryland.  The late afternoon shadows combined with the vivid autumn patchwork of color to make it almost like flying over a painting.  I really enjoyed it. The trip from the airport to the hotel was interesting, too.  I took the Super-Shuttle from BWI airport to my hotel in Washington DC which sometimes takes a very round-about route to get where you're going.  We had a bus full of people who needed to be dropped off at a number of places around southern Maryland.  One was a young woman whose boyfriend had been wounded by an IED in Afghanistan and had been transferred to Walter Reed Army Hospital in Silver Spring, MD.  The place was just huge, and there were war protesters camped out in front.  By the time we finally got to my hotel it had been almost 2 1/2 hours since we left the airport - it's a good thing I wasn't in a hurry.

Technically, I suppose this is the second last trip I'll be making this year to do "community" work.  I'm headed to Salt Lake City, Utah on Nov. 15 to participate in a weeklong "Transgender Appreciation" event there.  The fact that my year seems to be winding down doesn't mean that my life is about to get any simpler or less busy, though.  I'm at the cusp of some major changes.

As I've shared in the past I'm looking to actively bridge the distance gap that separates Elizabeth and I.  If all goes as planned I'll be co-locating to South Carolina in early November.  I use the term "co-locating" because I'm not actually moving - I've got reasons to maintain a regular and ongoing presence in Scottsdale.  The important work I do with Dr. Meltzer's office, my son, dear friends - all will keep me coming back regularly.  I don't plan to have to say "good bye" to anyone.  Just, "see you later."

I have accepted a new contract opportunity in South Carolina that I expect will provide an anchor for spending more and extended time there.  I wrote an email providing my 2-week notice for my current role early last week and saved it as draft for a couple of days before finally closing my eyes and pushing the "Send" button late last Thursday evening.  We'll see how this all works itself out.  It's huge.

I can't even begin to share the ways that this complicates my life.  The logistical nightmare alone is almost too heavy to consider.  But, I'm comfortable that I've got my priorities aligned and that it's just time to move on to whatever comes next so here we are - at the cusp.  I look forward to this new chapter with a mixture of both excitement and anxiety, I'm headed to unfamiliar, new territory and I can't fathom how I could expect myself to feel otherwise.

There is irony in the fact that Elizabeth is coming to Scottsdale later this week and, in fact, has business that will keep her there even as I travel away to start my new job in a couple of weeks.  Go figure.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The last day of my vacation was a relaxing one.  The last official event on our Air Force Memorial dedication weekend was to attend a moving memorial service on Sunday morning.  Once that was done, it was time for Elizabeth and the rest of the gang to load up the minivan for the long drive back to South Carolina while I spent the day waiting for my 8:30pm flight out of Baltimore.  It was sad to watch them all drive away...

I spent the balance of the afternoon with a good friend.  It was another absolutely pristine autumn day just begging to be enjoyed so we headed over the Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac just south of the George Washington Bridge.  The only way to get to this beautiful island is by foot, so we hiked the nature trails for a couple of hours before heading back for some dinner and the drive to Baltimore for my flight.  It's one of those relaxing destinations that only a local would think up and I can't think of a more appropriate wind-down opportunity.  At one point we came upon a couple of women whose dogs were playing in the river.  I warned Rachel not to get too close, not because these dogs looked like they'd bite anyone but because I know how playful dogs like to jump and sure enough - she took a few steps too close and it wasn't long before she had a nice wet sandy front side.  Oh well.  It'll clean.

The direct flight from there to here is a long one - 5 hours - so by the time we landed, I collected luggage, I caught the shuttle bus to the long-term parking, and I got home it was midnight.  By the time I had unwound and unpacked a little it was after 1am and I was surprisingly spry for someone who had been up since 6am ET (that's 3am local time) the morning before.  Of course, I wasn't so spry the next morning. 

I've spent the last couple of days digging out from the mountain of stuff that piles up when I take a vacation from my life for any length of time.  I think I'm finally there. 

So what else is going on?  I went to a GLBT Advisory Committee meeting last night to hear the chief of the Phoenix Police Dept. chat about hate crimes against the GLBT community.  I have some definite opinions but for once I kept my mouth shut - I really didn't have anything constructive to add.  The murder of the trans-person from early this year remains unsolved and I firmly believe that if anything unpleasant befalls me it would go under-investigated and un-solved.  I suppose my opinion might be a bit harsh but I'm simply being honest.  During the earliest days of my transition one of the things that terrified me most was the prospect of being stopped by the police for no reason at all and having things escalate out of macho-based prejudice and hate. 

Speaking of prejudice and hate, I have a meeting this afternoon with a Phoenix City Councilman.  We've been working to have 'gender identity and expression' added to the City of Phoenix EEO policy - to protect all city employees.  There has been one delay after another after another after another.  It has been 18 months now, and promises have been broken, things that should have been slam-dunked go un-done, and we're still not there.  It's infuriating.  Everyone says all the right things but when it comes time to act all the politicians  stand around with their fingers in their noses making excuses.  If I hear the same old crap this afternoon you can expect an Op/Ed piece about it in the near future.  You can judge true motivations not by what someone says, but by what they do (or don't do).  This is a prime example of that.

I'm headed back to Washington DC on Friday.  I'll be participating in an event at the HRC Building on Saturday before coming home again on Sunday.  Oy.

I've got big changes on the work horizon, too.  It's way too complicated to discuss right now so I'll wait until some of the dust has settled and there's something specific to share.  Every day brings new and "interesting" developments in that regard - and some of the changes I'm facing are significant.  I hinted in one of my entries last week that I expected to pull the trigger on this sometime this week and I still expect that to be the case.  The big question at the moment - what will I choose?  We'll see how it all plays out.

I'll have some photos from the past couple of weeks online in the next day or so.  It's simply a matter of finding a little time....


Saturday, October 14, 2006

This week seems to be filled with memorable and timeless events.  Yesterday, a group of us including Elizabeth, myself, one of Elizabeth's sons, her aunt and her grandmother, got into her minivan for the 700 mile drive from South Carolina to Washington DC.  The reason for the trip was that Elizabeth's grandfather had been a Colonel in the US Air Force (he is buried in Arlington Memorial Cemetery) so Elizabeth's grandmother received a special invitation to the dedication of the Air Force Monument which was scheduled for today.

The 4 generations of us drove north to participate in the festivities, which included a dedication ceremony today and a memorial service scheduled for tomorrow.

Elizabeth and I had driven his same road (only the other way) just last Sunday - all night long.  I'll admit that parts of that drive remain a blur - I still can't believe we did it.  Anyway, the main difference between the two drives is that there was more traffic during the day, more scenery, and more stops to stretch, go to the bathroom, and whatever other reasons we could find to stop.  One similarity is that the drive provided good bonding opportunity, and the various configurations of whoever happened to be sitting wherever at any point in time led to some very good conversation.  Of particular interest was my chance to get to know Elizabeth's grandmother who told me stories of her husband, of the family, and of Elizabeth in years past.  The time seemed to pass quickly.

The event today was pretty spectacular, exceeding my admittedly low expectations.  The monument itself is less than a mile from the Pentagon in Arlington, VA.  It's 3 steel spires heading upwards and then veering away from each other - a design that really didn't impress us all that much at first but did seem to grow on us throughout the weekend.  The main group of dignitaries here to attend the dedication were seated at the base of the monument itself.  There were thousands more of us on seats in the parking lot of the Pentagon and that's where our seats were.  The good news is that there was an Air Force open house, as well, so the group of us spent time looking at aircraft, equipment, historical presentations, and various other very cool stuff.  Elizabeth's son was in his glory, and we all got as much of a kick at watching his excitement as we did from our own.

It was a perfect autumn day - sunny, bright blue sky, a few puffy clouds from time to time, crisp temperatures - the kind of day I really miss.  There was entertainment, food, souvenirs, and all kinds of stuff for young and old alike.  There were generations of Air Force veterans there, drawn from all over the country.  By the time the speeches started at 1:30 I can't begin to estimate how many thousands and thousands of people had gathered to watch.  It was a sea of people.

As for highlights: various generations of Air Force planes flew directly overhead as part of the ceremony.  A huge transport plane, various modern jet fighters, a stealth bomber, several WWII fighters, even a WWI biplane.  The Thunderbirds performed some of their trademark formation flying, and left the crowd of us wanting more.  Various speakers included Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President George Bush himself.  Many people gave a standing ovation when he was first introduced, and as he finished his remarks.  I don't mind sharing that none of our little group was on our feet on either occasion.

Apparently, the entire thing was televised on CSPAN and was reported on all the major news shows.  Go figure. 

Perhaps the highlight of the day for us occurred after the ceremony.  We took the Metro (the Washington DC subway) to Arlington Cemetery to visit Elizabeth's grandfather's grave.  It was a bit of a hike that involved lots of standing, walking and sun - especially for a fairly young child and two older adults - but we all somehow found the energy to make it all happen.  Elizabeth knows exactly where the grave is located, which is a feat in itself considering the thousands of identical white tombstones lined in rows that seem to stretch for as far as the eye can see sometimes.  After spending a little time at the grave we all gave Elizabeth's grandmother a chance to spend a few quiet moments alone there.  It was her first visit to the grave since the funeral 6 years ago, and was an emotional one.  Then we turned to make the long walk back to the Metro that brought us back to our hotel.

Tomorrow, my trip comes to an end.  I have an evening flight back to Phoenix.  It seems like I've been gone for much longer than the 10 days I've been away and in many ways I'm not looking forward to getting back into the grind.  If things work out as I expect they will I'll get confirmation tomorrow about an opportunity that will involve relocation - or, at least, co-location - so I expect the next few weeks will be filled with logistical challenges.  I've faced these things before and somehow it always seems to monumental during the planning but in the end it all somehow happens.  I expect that will continue this time.  I'd be lying if I were to say I weren't a little nervous as this path isn't something I envisioned or planned.  In many ways it's new territory for me.  It's one of those times when you have to have faith - in yourself, in how you feel, in your priorities, in the future.  I do, and I'm ready to put it to the test.  


Thursday, October 12, 2006

Scooter died today.  Scooter was Elizabeth's dog, and his long and full life (16 years) came to an end this afternoon.

The passing of this dog meant different things to different people in Elizabeth's life.  For Elizabeth's ex-wife it was the end of another connection with the life that the two of them lived together.  They bought and raised Scooter together and each had some personal memories of the dog that invariably involved each other.  I can't even begin to say how much I care for and respect Elizabeth's ex-wife.  I sometimes joke that if I had met her before Elizabeth did I would have married her myself and that's not altogether untrue.  She's an amazing person. 

To Elizabeth's kids it was the passing of a friend.  How do you explain death to a 4 year old?  As the evening progressed they'd seem calm one minute and they'd be crying the next.  These last few hours have certainly been an emotional roller-coaster for all.

The entire group of us - myself, Elizabeth, her children, her ex-wife and her ex-wife's husband - brought the dog's body to some property they own where they've buried other family pets.  Using a pick, shovels, and a lot of hard work, we dug a deep hole as a final resting place for Scooter.  The kids each chose a little something they wanted to leave with Scooter, and they put it down into the hole with him.  The highlight of the service was an opportunity for us all to stand around the hole in a circle, holding hands, saying one last message to Scooter.  There were tears, and there were smiles.  And finally, as the sun fell and the mosquitoes made it impossible to stay outside much longer, we filled the hole and drove away.

Scooter will be missed.  I was happy to be involved in this very personal event.  I have felt that pain before so I know what they're feeling. 

I was thinking about other things I want to share because there is certainly quite a bit going on.  After the events of this afternoon and evening, however, I suppose I'll hold off on sharing more until tomorrow.  It's the least I could do to honor Scooter.  For all the obvious discomfort and unhappiness of recent years that dog never complained, cried, or otherwise became unpleasant.  He was loyal, loving, and dedicated to the very end.  I hope the same can be said for each of us when the events of this afternoon happen in our own lives. 


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Today is National Coming Out Day.  I perceive it to be as much a celebration of authenticity as a one-day opportunity to "come out".  I rarely thought about the deeper meanings of this day until a couple of years ago when someone wrote to me and asked me to consider all those - past, current, and future - who could never celebrate due to their own life circumstance, timing, or simply terror.  It's important to be reminded of things sometimes, and I'm glad to say I appreciate it much more now.

In honor of Coming Out Day, HRC produced a video to celebrate it (watch it here).  And, they partnered with PFLAG to produce a booklet titled "Straight Guide to GLBT Americans".  These are important resources, and there are more of them on the way.  For those who want to see some photos of the National Dinner, they've published some online.  The first one give you a good idea as to the size of this thing, probably better than any words I could use.

On another note, I went to the dentist today.  I've pretty much gone to the same dentist for the past 20 years.  He lives in Rochester, NY and I make it a point to see him a couple of times a year when I go back to see my family there.  He's right around my age and we've seen each other age and change over the years.  He has treated my entire family (including my mom and my dad) and I have grown to trust him and even appreciate him.  Once you build that kind of a relationship with one of your health care providers it's a difficult thing to break off - anyone who has moved from one community to another will know what I mean.  I included going back to see him for the first time as Donna in early versions of Wrapped In Blue - it was pretty funny.  They didn't make the final text.

I haven't been back to Rochester in almost a year, so subsequently my teeth didn't get their 6-month cleaning on time.  Since I don't know when I'll be back there next, it became time to go to Plan B and to prepare for the future.  I asked Elizabeth to schedule an appointment with her dentist.  I went there this morning for my first visit.

I guess my dentist must be "old school" because cleanings there are similar to cleaning I had 10 or 15 years ago.  First, there is scraping and picking with sharp metal instruments that invariably make my gums bleed.  It almost makes me laugh when they tell me that my gums are sensitive - yours would be too if you poked them with those kinds of things.  Then, they polish the teeth with some kind of circulating thing and some sickly sweet tasting toothpaste.  Lastly, they floss. 

Well, this morning's treatment was unlike anything I've had before.  It started with flossing.  Then, they used some kind of a concentrated salt water sprayer thing to polish the teeth   (after carefully putting Vaseline on my lips and putting a protective cloth with a hole in the middle over my face).  Finally, they used some kind of ultra-sonic device to scale and clean (instead of the sharp metal instruments) that left my gums tingly.  They had some kind of teeny video camera that they could put in my mouth so they could show me close-ups of my teeth, and freeze the frame to take pictures.  It was all pretty wild.  I think the dental tech was pretty amused by my amazement at all this new "stuff".  We actually had fun (at least I did).

The good news?  No cavities!

The "life chapter" decision I mentioned in my previous entry has been made, and I doubt the real impact of it has hit me yet.  I hesitate to provide details until all the t's are crossed and the i's are dotted which could take a little time (weeks, not months).  As if my life weren't interesting enough, it's about to get even moreso.  I sometimes feel like a spectator watching my life unfold - I think there's some level of safety in that.  The fact that I'm actually more then a casual observer, that I'm actually driving and that many of the things that happen are not simply chance but are conscious decisions on my part continue to startle me sometimes. 


Monday, October 9, 2006

Oy.  I can't think of any other single word that captures these last several days so well as that.  Oy.

I try not to make this blog a blow-by-blow account of my days so I'm struggling a little on what to share from days that are filled from beginning to end with stuff.  So, I'll try to remember the highlights.

I arrived in Washington on Wednesday night - actually I arrive in Baltimore and took a Super Shuttle into downtown Washington DC.  We stayed at the Grand Hyatt there - it's got a huge indoor atrium with waterfalls, and ponds, and trees, and all kinds of stuff.   Very impressive. 

The first several days were filled with meetings.  Thursday was an all-day Business Council meeting where we added a half dozen new members.  Jamison Green and I had an hour to discuss transgender issues in the workplace as an introduction to the topic for some who may not have been involved before.  It was a very positive day, and as always it was nice to see good friends I often only see a couple of times a year at these things.

I had to leave for an hour for a meeting with PFLAG Executive Director Jody Huckabee and some of his staff.  For those who don't know, PFLAG stands for Parents and Frlends of Lesbians and Gays, and is a unique organization in both its scope and its grassroots base.  I see so many opportunities there - it was a very productive meeting and I'm excited about the potential.

Friday and Saturday were filled with Board Meetings.  These are long days - from 8am until late in the evening - with discussions, speakers, meetings, dinners, and such.  A couple of Congressmen came to talk, as well as a couple of candidates running for various national office.  I suppose it goes without too much need for explanation that much of the furor over the weekend was around the Mark Foley scandal that seems to have gripped the Capitol.  That, and the upcoming elections, were the topic of much discussion.

Elizabeth arrived on Friday and, as always, it was great to see her.  I had an opportunity to go to a fund-raiser event or catch a little down-time with Elizabeth before attending a must-attend evening obligation.  I made the obvious choice.

The National Dinner on Saturday night was typically over the top, even by HRC standards.  It's hard to describe the sheer scope of this event to those who have never attended.  The Washington Convention Center is a massive building and it's filled on all floors.  There are seemingly hundreds and hundreds of volunteers.  There's a marching band, a huge silent auction, stars, and - of course - a dinner attended by 2,000+ people.  The stage is absolutely huge, the production work is amazing, and it's as professional an event as you can imagine.  I've got some good photos to share and hope to upload them in the next couple of days.

A couple of dear friends flew in from around the country to attend the event.  I think everyone there had a nice time.  I had to wear the same dress I wore the the Seattle dinner a couple of weeks ago but I don't feel too guilty about that.  I've only got so many gowns and I had decided that this was the one to wear long before I was asked to speak in Seattle. 

I feel compelled to share that the attraction for me isn't the grandois nature of the event.  It's the people.  The main reason I'm effective in the advocacy roles I play isn't necessarily because I'm any different than anyone else.  It's all about relationships, and people.  I've got wonderful friends all over the place in the GLBT community - I'm not sure how that happened but it has and I wouldn't have it any other way.  I wish there were more trans-people sitting in leadership roles but right now there are precious few of us for a number of reasons - none of which are good but many of which are valid.  More of us need more visibility to establish these same relationships, and we need to find ways to make that happen.  That's part of my next series of efforts and an expanded role in some important areas - more details on that in days to come.

Yesterday was as perfect an autumn day on the East Coast as I can remember.  Cool.  Crystal clear.  Bright sun.  We left early to drive to Philadelphia to visit with a friend who has been struggling lately.  It was a low-key, relaxed, day.  We watched football, ate pizza, chatted, and went for a nice walk in the late afternoon sun.  The Philadelphia Eagles were playing the Dallas Cowboys which was big news around here.  The game did not disappoint.

We drove back last night - all night.  Elizabeth and I left after dinner expecting to stop for the night somewhere south of Washington DC to get past the worst of the traffic.  But we kept on driving and time went by - 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am.  It's a 700 mile drive and we finally got to South Carolina somewhere after 8am - we had both gotten an hour or so of sleep and were pretty ragged but none the worse for wear.  Those kinds of trips are good "bonding" time. 

I suppose I can share something that may surprise some, but certainly not others who have been reading between the lines lately.  I am expecting a major life change shortly.  That is, I have been actively been looking for opportunities to co-locate to the East Coast to spend more time with Elizabeth.  I don't expect to totally abandon my Arizona roots, but I do expect to be moving soon to spend at least half time or more on the coast.  Some know where I'm looking, others may not.  And, I expect that these efforts will bear fruit in the very near future.  A major life decision will need to be made, and in many ways I suppose I've already made it.  What happens next is simply the mechanics.

Somehow, I'm reminded of a time from early 2000 - January to be exact.  My life seemed to be spinning as my priorities were changing and life direction seemed to be becoming so murky.  I was living in Austin at the time and came to Arizona for a visit.  One early Sunday morning I drove up to Sedona and ended up in Oak Creek Canyon.  I parked by the side of the road and wandered down by the river where I watched the cold water streaming over the rocks.  It was one of those magical mornings - actually not unlike yesterday afternoon.  Anyway, as I sat on the rocks and considered what I needed to do is suddenly all became so clear.  Simplify.  It was time to simplify.

It wasn't that I didn't know the right answers.  It's that life had become too complicated.  The time had come to actively "prune" things from my life, to prioritize, to get ride of things that were sapping my energy and getting in the way.  That entire process led to a point where I had to make big choices - career choices, where-to-live choices, quality of life choices.  Within a year, I had made the decisions that led me to leave Texas and begin another life chapter in Arizona.

I'm at that point again - facing an opportunity to begin another life chapter.  The irony is - it will complicate things immeasurably.  But these decisions are not intellectual ones or even rational ones.  They're emotional ones.  And, I'm ready to make them.

We went over to visit with Elizabeth's children earlier this evening.  They were thrilled to see me again and I watched them bouncing around on their new trampoline in the backyard.  We were only there for 20 minutes but it was one of those priceless things I can't really explain in words.  You have to be there to see it to understand.  As I typed this Elizabeth was watching her Tivo'd version of the 2-hour Battlestar Gallactica 3rd season premier.  She has been trying to explain it all to me - now THAT is complicated.  Watching her enjoy it, and patiently explain it, and get so into it something I hope to be able to do for a very, very long time.  These are not difficult decisions.

Big decisions are not difficult to make.  Often, you already know the answers - you're only afraid of making them - you're afraid to commit, to make a choice.  There's a big difference.  Too many don't want to do the wrong thing.  The real secret is that there is no wrong thing.  The only wrong thing is NOT making decisions that need to be made.  That's where I am now.  We'll see what happens next.  And, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, October 3, 2006

This will be short.  I've been packing for my trip back east and am on my way to bed. 

George Bush is in town.  Actually, his hotel is only 6 or 7 miles from here.  He's going to be speaking at a breakfast fundraiser tomorrow morning before heading out of town.  I heard on the news that there are "airspace restrictions" in place until he leaves.  I don't know what that is but I hope it doesn't interfere with my flight.  I've got less than an hour between connections in Atlanta so I don't have extra time to spare.

I'm not looking forward to the next couple of days.  I'm looking forward to seeing some friends but I'm actually not looking forward to the business aspect of the trip yet.  Maybe I'll warm to the idea.  I suppose it wouldn't be sharing too much to say that I was unhappy with some things that happened at the last Board Meeting and I'm hopeful that there has been some behind the scenes discussion to clear the air.  We'll see. 

I got a call from my friend Michelle Angelo, who is a psychologist in the Philadelphia area.  We co-presented a workshop together at SCC about doing Trans 101 presentations to groups.  Anyway, she does amazing work with trans youth and was on the Larry King show featuring a host of notables from the community 3 or 4 months back.  She called to brag (all in fun, of course) about the fact that she's going to meet a super model tomorrow.  Apparently she's flying to L.A. to do a taping of the Tyra Banks show about trans youth - probably scheduled for broadcast sometime in the next couple of weeks.  Keep your eyes out for that. 

I guess that's enough for tonight.  Time for sleep.  I've got a long day tomorrow and a long few days coming up.


Monday, October 2, 2006

This looks to be a wacky week.  I'm headed to Washington DC on Wednesday for various HRC obligations and events through the end of the week, culminating in the National Dinner on Saturday evening.  I remember a couple of years ago at this time when I was asked to introduce Jessica Lange for an award at the event - it was a huge deal.  There will be over 3,000 people there - crammed into every corner of the Convention Center.  The cost of the outfit I bought for that occasion exceeds my usual total annual clothes budget.  It was more expensive than my "extra" car - although I'm not sure that says a lot about my outfit or a little about the car.  No matter. Either way, I had a great time and I didn't feel as though I were an ugly duckling that night.

I haven't seen it in print anywhere yet but I suppose I'll spill the beans by sharing that Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, will be introducing one of the award winners at this year's Dinner.  She'll do a fantastic job and I couldn't be happier to see this for a number of reasons.  Mara is a good friend and we chatted tonight about some of the behind-the-scenes stuff involved.  Working with the staff on your remarks isn't as easy as you'd think.  And, what to wear up there, in front of all those people, is always a concern. 

I've got friends coming from all over the country to attend.  Elizabeth is driving up.  Kristin, from SCC, will be flying in from Atlanta.  Another friend is coming all the way from Nebraska.  I know of several local friends who will be there, as well.  I'm glad to see that the trans community is having a more active visible presence.  Believe me, we are noticed.

As busy as this week will become, next week is all about down-time.  I'll be headed to South Carolina with Elizabeth for the week for some well earned R&R. It's the closest I've come to a "vacation" since the I went there to spend some time with her in May.  That visit changed things in my head.  Our relationship changed.  I mean, it had been changing for a while but after that visit there was no denying it.  Perhaps more importantly, there was no more reason to fight it.

I went to Costco during lunch today and made an impulse purchase.  They had a 5-pack of body butter for $15 - I've never seen it there before.  I love everything about body butter.  I like the name.  I like the way it smells, and the creamy way it feels.  And, once all is said and done, I love the results. Body Butter.  Yummmm.


Sunday, October 1, 2006

It's 5:20am and I can't sleep so here I am.  <sigh>  I've got a hot cup of coffee to keep me company and I'll run out in a little while to get a newspaper.  I wish I was still curled up in bed.

The culprit is the fact that I went for a long run last night and didn't finish until a little after 7pm.  I remember a time when my son was young and I'd wait to run until after he went to bed.  I can't do that anymore, or at least if I do I can't be surprised that somehow it charges me up the point that my sleep suffers.  Oh well.  I expect there will be a nap in my future at some point  today.  We'll see if that actually happens.  I've got a lot of cleaning/errands/shopping planned.

I'm listening to the new Elton John CD.  He has re-teamed with longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin.  Those of us who remember Elton way back in the '70s will appreciate that - I don't think Elton's music has been the same since they went separate ways.  I've heard excellent reviews of the new CD and have to admit I'm really enjoying it.  The full CD is online through one of the local radio stations - I don't expect it will be there for very long but take a listen if you want: Click on Elton John: The Captain and the Kid in the bottom left corner of the page.

Since I'm reminiscing a little: Tomorrow is Oct. 2.  It's the 7 year anniversary of my first day full-time as Donna.  In 1999 Oct. 2 was a Saturday and I spent that weekend getting ready for my first day at work (Oct. 4).  I never imagined that I'd ever feel as comfortable and content as I do - simply being me.  I suppose that's the goal, right?  The fact that there was a time when I ALWAYS seemed top be thinking about it, but now I rarely do.  It's funny how that happens over time....

I was pissed on Friday - I had lunch at PF Chang's and saved most of my lemon-pepper shrimp and fried rice to take home.  I left it in the refrigerator at work, and they clean it out every weekend.  I almost went back there yesterday to see if it was still there but that never materialized.  Oh well. 

Speaking of food, I've got a few other quick things: I had dinner recently at a restaurant called the Roaring Fork here in Scottsdale.  It's a very foofy place, but I particularly like eating in the bar area.  They server more casual food there than they do in the main restaurant and I particularly like their pork stew, and the Big Ass Burger.  There is a bakery chef there right at the front, just behind a display case full of cakes, pastries and other decadence.  He's a skinny guy - if I had that job I'd be the size of a mountain with blood sugar through the roof.  Anyway, I shared a piece of the pecan pie - it's infused with dark chocolate and Lord knows what else.  I've never had anything quite like it and it made quite the impression.  I told the chef how much I enjoyed it on the way out.  I'll be back - perhaps just for dessert - sometime soon.

When I lived in Canada years and years ago I had a favorite candy bar that they only sold there.  It's called Coffee Crisp and a few years ago it was bought by Nestle.  Still, you couldn't find it in the States except for rare occasions here or there.  I've bought boxes of it on eBay before, and my niece (she attends a Canadian university) often buys several bars to stuff into my Christmas stocking.  There are quite a few CC "fans" in the US who have been asking them to start selling them here and that finally came to pass earlier this summer.  I see that Nestle recently announced that they'll finally be distributing it nationally in the US, although I haven't seen any yet.  It's about time!!  If you see any wherever you live give it a try - not the Chocolate kind the but plain old Original kind.  It's unique.  And yummy.

Lastly, I had a meeting in a local Starbucks yesterday and noticed that they sell donuts there now.  To my wonder and surprise, they're Top Pot Donuts!  A couple of weeks ago a friend took me there for breakfast while I was in Seattle for the HRC Dinner.  It's like the Filet Mignon of donuts.  Krispy Kreme would be dessert, but Top Pot is steak - a main course.  Meaty, and substantive.  Anyway, I'll be buying more of them now that I know they're there.

When I got home from work Friday afternoon there was a group of protesters along Scottsdale Road not far from where I live.  There must have been 50-75 of them standing on the sidewalk in front of one of the resorts, making noise, carrying signs, yelling, doing all the things protesters do.  They were protesting George Bush - one sign said "Impeach Bush!!".  Another said, "George Bush's Brain is an Elephant's Ass".  There were photographers and news crews there, and people driving by were honking in approval.  The one thing I didn't see is police which actually struck me as odd.  You usually can't sneeze around here without a cop seeing it and they're very fussy about raucous things like protests.  Still, I was intrigued that this was happening.  I hope it happens more.

I recently spoke at the Southern Comfort Conference as the Friday lunchtime speaker.  When I do those kinds of things I generally write out some bullet points of things I want to cover and then I just let the words come.  I'm more effective when I'm spontaneous than when I'm reading. I think the authenticity of the things I want to say comes across better that way, although judging the timing is more difficult (sorry).  I've had several people ask me for copies of my remarks so I've transcribed the audio version, fixing up some of the grammar along the way.  You can read it here, if you'd like.

One last thing:  I've seen news stories that indicate the creator of the television series Nip/Tick is teaming with Brad Pitt to pitch a new transgender-themed series to FX about the "metamorphosis" of a transsexual sportswriter from man to woman.  The articles (read one here and another here) say the show will be titled "4 oz" which is apparently the average weight of a human penis (who knew?).  I'm not so sure that this is a good thing.  I'm hopeful that they'll handle it in a sensitive way.  The fact that the series is envisioned to last 5 seasons long implies that it will take its time to explore the various different aspects of the situation so I'll wait to see how it all unfolds.  Still, the title makes me nervous....


Friday, September 29, 2006

The days have gone by quickly this week.  Sometimes I think they go by quickly every week but somehow I'm surprised that it's Friday already.  I'm certainly not complaining as weekends are good.  Weekends at home are even better.  The next several weekends will be spent either coming or going to other parts of the country so I suppose I better enjoy it while I can.

I don't really have anything specific lined up for the weekend which is as it should be.  I expect that cleaning will take a good deal of the time.  I'm meeting my son for dinner this evening.  I've got dry cleaning to pick up and shopping to do.  And, ironing.  Pretty mundane stuff.

I went to a political fundraiser event at my friend Steve's house on Wednesday evening.  I generally avoid these kinds of things but I talked a couple of friends into going - not because of the political stuff so much as the fact that Steve knows how to entertain better than anyone I know.  His house and his class are distinctive, from the valet service he hires to greet arriving guests, to the candles that light the pathway leading to his house, to the amazing flower arrangements that always seem to be part of his events, to the pianist he hires to entertain on his grand piano.  I suppose the best word to describe it is flair.  Steve has flair.  And, I like the way his face feels when he rubs it against my cheek.  He always seems to have a day or two of stubble on it and it's just so fun to feel. 

The speakers for the evening were Jim Pederson who is running for US Senate and General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of US troops in Europe and former US Presidential candidate.

The first things I noticed about General Clark is that he's fairly slight of stature and he's initially more soft-spoken than I had imagined.  The second was that he has a beautiful smile, and I told him so as he worked the room and shaking hands.  Once he starts talking, though, he's got a powerful presence and I can imagine him doing whatever it is that 4-star generals do.  His military roots and his commander-type style are apparent.

Well, I'm sure I could find a little more to write but it's 7:30am and I need to get going to work.  Until next time.... 


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

These past few days have been busy - catching up at work, on the home front, and generally getting myself back to square one all the way around.  I'm not complaining - these are self-inflicted situations - so much as I'm just saying that I'll finally be caught up on things after this evening.  Tonight I need to provide some input on a video thing we're doing, I need to write and send a workshop proposal to IFGE for their conference in April, and I need to do an HRC Diversity Co-Chair report in preparation for our board meetings in Washington DC next week.  All this volunteer stuff sure can take alot of time.  Anyway, I'm sipping on a glass of Chianti so I'm not making promises that I'll actually get to it all before falling asleep.

Back to SCC...(for those who are interested, I posted a few photos from the event on my Recent Photos page) 

I gave the lunchtime keynote last Thursday.  That was a tremendous honor.  I do my fair share of speaking, but there's something different about speaking to our people and there's definitely something unique about doing it at Southern Comfort.  I was told beforehand that I'd probably begin at around 1:15 and I'd have 20 minutes to a half hour to speak.  In my own defense, I'll say that I ended right at 1:45 as I should have.  What I didn't realize is that I actually started at around 1:05 or so, so it was actually a little long.  Oops.  When I start talking about stuff I'm passionate about time just seems to fly.

When I speak I don't like to script what I'm going to say.  I write out bullet-points of things I want to cover, but once I'm up there staring into the lights and speaking into the microphone however it comes out is how it comes out.  Although I suppose that's more difficult than reading from a script, I think it adds a bit more of a personal connection element and that's important to me.  Once it's over don't ask me what I said because it just seems to flow, and I'm sure it'll never be the same twice. 

Anyway, overall I was happy with the way it went.  I said most of what I wanted to say.  And, based on the response I got for the rest of the weekend, my words seemed to resonate with many.  They came from the heart.

On Saturday morning I facilitated a panel discussion  titled "Dealing with the Media: First Person Experiences".  This is the third or fourth time we've done this particular workshop, and we're fortunate to get any number of people who have had experience and the visibility in the media to be on the panel.  This panel was another amazing group: Marci Bowers, Jenny Boylan, Elizabeth, Mara Keisling (NCTE), Michelle Angelo (a psychologist from the Philadelphia area), Dr. Meredith Bacon (she appeared on Good Morning America, and in People Magazine).  It's a fun workshop to hear behind the scenes kinds of things, but it provides practical advice for anyone who finds themselves in the public eye. 

One of the fun things is to watch the people who are staying at the hotel for some other reason.  They're certainly in the minority, and the scenery in the lobby and on the elevators can certainly be pretty "interesting".  On Friday night there was a person walking around the lobby dressed in a tight pink latex mini-dress.  It left nothing to the imagination, and all I can say is that I'd need quite a bit of alcohol before attempting to fit into something like that.  During happy hour there are usually a group of people looking down into the lobby from the second floor railing - there's nothing to do but smile.

I don't know about any of the other rooms, but my bed was the most comfortable bed I've slept in in a long, long time.  Elizabeth felt the same way.  I'm tempted to call them to ask what the heck it was.  It was heroic just getting out of it in the morning.  Sheesh.

We're already starting to plan for SCC 2007.  One of the main new features is that I'm dedicated to putting together is a real honest-to-God job fair.  Far too many of us are unemployed or underemployed.  It's time for supportive companies to show their support by meeting with us one on one.  It should be interesting.  Stay tuned.

Before closing I just want to thank the people I met, the people I talked with, and everyone involved with the conference.  Ask anyone there and they'll tell you that the spirit of the event is unique and almost magical.  How amazing is it to be surrounded by a roomful of people who have had similar experiences, who understand simply with a look or a gesture?  To be in a place where it's okay for strangers to cry on each others shoulders.  A place of support, of education, of fun, of freedom, of courage, and of love.  That's Southern Comfort.

Jenny Boylan and I have been chatting since the conference.  I wish we had met a long time ago.  She mentioned that she updated her home page with a photo of the two of us from the conference.  She is too cool. 


Sunday, September 24, 2006

I'm sitting at gate T10 in Atlanta waiting for my flight home to Phoenix through Dallas. It's a little after 8am and we'll be boarding soon, but I wanted to provide a short update here before we leave.  Elizabeth dropped me off here about 45 minutes ago and the airport is surprisingly busy for this early time on Sunday morning.  Where are all these people going at this ungodly hour?

I'm dead tired - pooped, actually.  I think it's a combination of the hectic schedule of these past couple of weeks, the non-stop activities at the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC), and general lack of sleep.  Between staying up late last night and getting our 5am wake-up call I'm pretty ragged.  Others are worse - I saw another friend at the front desk as we were checking out and his eyes looked as though someone had sprayed mace in them.  Not a pretty sight.  No matter - I hope to be snoozing by the time our wheels leave the ground here in a little while.

The Conference was wonderful.  I'm told that there were over 780 registrations for it which is just stunning.  The ballroom only holds 600 and the entire hotel was sold-out.  Even though this year's conference is barely over I'm already confident that next year's event will be even bigger.  I think it's a testament to both a new widening sense of pride in and about the transgender community and the leadership and vision of this particular event.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - it is truly an event NOT to be missed.

I'll go more in depth into some of the specific things I'd like to mention when I'm a little more cogent.  For now I'll just say that one of the highlights for me was for Elizabeth and I to spend a little time with Jenny Boylan.  For those who might live under a rock and don't recognize the name, Jenny is the author of "She's Not There" (amongst other works) and has appeared on Oprah, Larry King Live, and any number of other national television shows.  Somehow, our paths have never crossed so it was nice to find her to be friendly, funny, interesting, warm, and generally a great person.  I'm sure we'll find ways to stay in touch more.

That, to me, is the best part of the conference. The friends we meet and make here are often friendships that last a lifetime.  I met Elizabeth at SCC in 2002.  Going back there is almost like a homecoming where I get to catch up with friends I met here in past years as well as to make new ones.  I had people cry on my shoulder here, hug me so tightly I thought I'd bust, and share with me in ways many of us never imagined possible.  I can't describe how I feel about that in words.  Any word I choose would diminish it.

It was wonderful to see Elizabeth's smiling face when I arrived here on Thursday, and there was the usual pang of sadness as she pulled away to begin her 5 hour drive home.   The good news is that we'll be together again in a week and a half when we get to Washington DC for HRC stuff.  Speaking of HRC - they sent two wonderful folks to SCC who had an absolutely fabulous time.  They interviewed some people to include on Joe's XM radio show.  I'm looking forward to hearing what they got.

It looks like we're about to begin boarding so I'll end here.  More to come.....


Wednesday, September 20, 2006

I'm packing - preparing for my trip to Atlanta.  Somehow, it seems as though I just unpacked from the last trip.  For some sick reason I booked myself on a 6:30am flight tomorrow so I'll need to be at the airport by 5, leave the house by 4:30.  That means I'll need to be fully packed tonight, up by 3:30.  That won't leave much time for sleep.  It must have been temporary insanity.  I can't think of any other explanation.

The 2006 HRC Corporate Equality Index officially came out yesterday.  In it, HRC reports that 138 companies got a perfect score of 100.  That's actually a significant achievement given the fact that there are more criteria than in past years.  I'll dedicate a complete essay to this sometime next week because there's quite a bit to share.  Some in our community pooh-pooh the value of this achievement.  The only reasons that I can come up with are that these people are either angry no matter what HRC does or doesn't do, or they're simply uninformed.  From my own perspective, I can't think of anything more significant or important and I'm tremendously proud to be part of this achievement.  Are we all the way there yet?  Hell, no.  Bad things still happen.  There isn't always a correlation between published corporate policy and internal corporate culture.  However, the fact that these issues are getting the visibility they are is a big deal.  I'll break down what some of the numbers mean next week.

The company that I'm consulting at indicates that it has added 'Gender Identity and Expression' to it's EEO policy.  I looked all over the corporate intranet to find any indication that it was true.  I didn't find anything, and escalated to HRC to investigate.  I think it's incumbent upon each of us to hold our employers accountable for the things they say they do.  The value of the HRC 100 score is increasing so there is the threat that companies will take shortcuts to get there has become very real.  Who needs to police this?  I'd answer by asking: If we don't, then who will?

HRC's Press Release explained some of the more significant numbers and led to a significant amount of press coverage.   Here's just one story from the San Francisco Chronicle - significant because of the attention it pays specifically to the transgender components of the survey.  Joanne Herman, who is writing an extraordinary series about Transgender topics for the online version of The Advocate, wrote a special story dedicated to both Out and Equal and the CEI (read it here).  Corporate America is leading the way when it comes to GLBT equality.  It really is a big deal.

Well, time to go and finish packing.  It's almost 11 so even if I got to bed in 15 minutes (which I won't) I'll get 4 1/2 hours of sleep.  As I've said before, it's a good thing I sleep well on planes.  Elizabeth is already in Atlanta - she's giving a workshop tomorrow morning.  With any luck at all, I'll be sleeping at that point.  :)


Monday, September 18, 2006

A couple of weeks ago two new friends that I made at IFGE in April came to visit for a few days on their trip across America.  Dotti and Robbi, and their poodle, are on a cross-country trek that they call "Gay Into Straight America: Two Women and a Poodle".  They stayed for a few days and we had a very nice time getting to know each other.  While they were here they interviewed me for an "On The Road" podcast.  I recently got an email that it's online and available.  I sound very tired in it, but such is life.  You can listen to it here if you want.

I mentioned that I would be facing some life decisions in the not too distant future.  One has to do with my job.  There are several cards at play right now, so we'll see what happens once the last one is played.  As you might imagine, Out and Equal is a great place to make connections, to meet people, and to network.  During O&E, Mara Keisling, the executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington DC (and a dear friend - if you see her ask to see a picture of her new puppy.  It looks like a snowball) was on a panel comprised of several of the ED's from various National GLBT organizations. She shared a statistic that I found to be stunning.  She said that 80% of the people who had been their major donors (major donor level is just $250) were now unemployed.  That floored me.  I approach job decisions in a much more serious way than I used to.

As a side-note, anyone who can possibly afford to donate to NCTE is strongly encouraged to do so.  It's the best investment you'll make all year - they do amazing work.  I have no idea how many people read what I write here - I know there are a few of you out there - but if even 10 people donate it would make a huge difference.  If you do donate, please be sure to say 'hi' to Mara.  She rocks....

I digress.  I got an email today about that the first Television Ad in American history dedicated to Transgender rights.  Read about it here. If you click on the link at the top of the page you can watch it.  It hits home for so many of us.  People sometimes forget that a job is often more than simply a way to make money.  It provides a sense of self-worth, of belonging.  It provides a sense of community.  Some, I think, are so caught up what they do that a significant portion of their self-identity is dependent and interwoven into their careers.  The fact that so many of us are unemployed and/or underemployed remains one of the most significant issues our community faces today. 

That's one reason why I'm excited to be involved with the direction in which the Southern Comfort Conference is heading.  This year, we've attracted several corporate sponsors (read an article about it in this week's Southern Voice).  Next year we're already planning a full-fledged job-fair to give our community direct visibility to supportive companies.  Stay tuned on that....

Speaking of Southern Comfort, I'm scheduled to leave for Atlanta on Thursday.  I'm looking forward to it - it's almost like a homecoming.  Each year I make so many new friends there - it's really wonderful.  I'm giving the keynote address on Friday during lunch so I need to finish up what I'm planning to talk about over these next couple of days.  I don't like to read things from a paper - that's just not my style.  I far prefer to highlight bullet-points on what I want to say and to let the words come as they may.  Somehow, that seems to work best for me.

Anyway, it's 10pm so this little chickie is off to bed. 


Sunday, September 17, 2006

I'm home!  It's nice to be surrounded by familiar things.  I had dinner with my son, and it was nice to see his happy little face.

The visit to Seattle was almost surreal.  They treated me like a rock star or something.  One of the other HRC board members picked me up at the airport and took me directly to the hotel downtown.  We had to go directly to the Grand Ballroom for a sound check, so they had somebody go down, register for me, take my luggage up to my room, and then bring me my key.  The coordinator asked if I had eaten (which I hadn't) so we ordered a bunch of stuff from room service which they brought up on a table.  I had originally hoped to take a short nap between arriving and getting ready for dinner but wasn't really surprised to find that time got away, and it never happened.

Once things got rolling they seemed to go very fast.  There was a VIP reception at 6 - free martinis (I only had 2 since I had to keep my wits about me for my remarks during dinner).  There were nearly 1,000 people there and it was nice to see some friends I don't get to see very often.  Before you knew it everyone was seated, Joe was giving his remarks, my handler came to my table to take me backstage, and then it was show time. 

I actually had one of the more difficult jobs of the evening.  At every fundraiser, someone has to do the "ask".  That is, somebody needs to go out and ask people who have already spent money to be there to give some more.  That's what my job was last night.  It's a very important job, and being successful at it can be a fickle thing especially given the fact that I only had 4 minutes allotted to do it.  Somehow all the right words seemed to come out and I was pleased with the way things went. 

Consensus afterward were that my words were inspiring.  One man told me that I had changed his life.  Another told me I should be a politician - and he was serious.  All in all - I think it would be fair to say it was well received.  I actually really enjoyed it, and the people there were fantastic.  There was a great energy that seemed to elevate things....

Anyway, by the time I made it back upstairs at the end of everything it was 1:30am.  I didn't realize how tired I was until I saw what time it was.  I slept like a baby.

Then, this morning, a friend picked me up at the airport and we went to a place called Top Pot Donuts for breakfast.  She mentioned that place to me the last time I visited Seattle - a couple of years ago - and it was way cool.  Lots of unique personality.  Very tasty donuts.  Bright, airy place.  Delicious coffee.  It was the perfect end to a whirlwind weekend, and a whirlwind week.  Actually, the incredibly long lines at Security that almost made me miss my plane was a more official end to the weekend but we'll forget that part.  In the scheme of things it didn't really matter, anyway.

Something I did want to mention from earlier in the week....

One of the sponsors at Out and Equal was Hallmark cards.  They included some of their new cards that seem to be specifically targeted to the GLBT community in the goodie bag that each attendee received at the beginning.

One card has the rainbow colors along the left, and the words on the front: 
        One of the most difficult things we can do is to
show our true selves to the world.  Yet, you found the courage to say, "this is who I am."

When you open it, the text reads:
        There's no telling what changes will follow.
        But living with the strength that comes from
being everything you are brings its own rewards - and you deserver them all.

There's another card that starts:  My partner in life, my partner in love...

Can you believe this stuff??  At this rate, can it be long before we really do have Transgender Parent Day cards?


Saturday, September 16, 2006

When I'm traveling like this I sometimes need to stop to think of where I am and what day it is.  Today is Saturday, and I'm in Seattle.

It has been quite the whirlwind week.  I suppose I'll try to share the highlights.

I flew to New York City last Monday.  The reason for the trip was to do a couple of trainings for someone who will be transitioning at work there.  With the change in time zones, these west-to-east cross-country trips take the better part of a day.  I will say that my flight from Phoenix to JFK on JetBlue went flawlessly.  No delays.  No bad weather.  No problems.  This was the first time I've flown on Jet Blue and I was impressed by the comfortable seats and the DirecTV.  I wonder why more airlines don't to that - it really made the time pass quickly.  I watched TV for the better part of the 4 hour flight - it felt a little odd to be watching Monday Night Football at 32,000 feet.

They hired a car to take me from the airport to my hotel.  I was a little surprised to learn that the drive was almost an hour, and very surprised to see that it cost almost as much to drive from the airport to the hotel as it had cost to fly from Phoenix to NYC.  Go figure.  Perhaps the highlight of the day was to drive across the George Washington Bridge, looking at the crystal clear nightime glow of Manhattan, and see the beam of light from Ground Zero aimed straight into the sky.  It was magnificent.  I remembered that it was 9/11, and I got goose bumps thinking about what had happened there on that day just 5 years before.

By the time I got to my room it was after 11pm, and by the time I got to bed it was almost 1am.  I really wasn't all that tired, though, as the three hour time difference made it feel much earlier.  Of course, when he wake-up call came at 6am I wasn't quite so chipper (3am Arizona time).  Thankfully, the day was so busy I never had a chance to remember how tired I was.  I did two trainings on Tuesday - one from 9-11 north of NYC and then another at 2-4 in Manhattan.  The cross town drive was an interesting one - I don't know how people who actually work there deal with it every day.  I couldn't.  I used the time to do an interview for the Southern Voice, and we grabbed a quick lunch.

Both trainings went well - the people were great.  And as soon as I finished I grabbed a car to take me to LaGuardia for my 6:30 flight to Chicago. 

Weather in NYC was absolutely wonderful - sunny, crisp, and cool.  Weather in Chicago was just the opposite - wet an dreary.  The plane was delayed over an hour so I didn't get to the hotel until late.  And, when the wake up call came again at 6am I was even more tired than the day before.

The reason for my trip to Chicago was to attend the Out and Equal Workplace Summit.  I've described it here before.  It's one of my favorite conferences each year - this is my fourth one.  Most years it really cramps my style because it happens to fall on the same weekend as Southern Comfort.  Thankfully, a week separates the two this year.  People from companies all over the world come to this thing - there were over 1,500 attendees this year - and the people and workshops are absolutely fantastic.  I can't recommend it highly enough to anyone who can beg, borrow, or steal a way to attend.  Next year's edition will be in Washington DC at the end of September.

On Wednesday Jamison Green and I co-facilitated a Leadership class training people to become Out and Equal Building Bridges Transgender trainers.  I always enjoy working with James, and continue to consider him the pre-eminent educator and advocate of our time.  He absolutely rocks.  The training went well, and we had a great group of 22 people. 

Thursday and Friday were jam packed, from morning Plenary sessions starting at 8am to dinners and receptions lasting way into the evening.  Many attendees did quite a bit of partying, but I'm way past the point where that provides any significant allure for me.  Still, I didn't get to bed most nights until shortly after midnight, so mornings tended to come a little too quickly for me.

It was great to see good friends there.  Joanne Herman was there.  Calpernia Adams and Andrea James gave a talk.  Lynn Conway was there.  Amanda Simpson, Mary Ann Horton, Lori Fox, Mara Keisling and any number of other wonderful folks were there.  Many of the workshops were specific to transgender themes, and the 2006 Corporate Equality Index surveys were pre-released there (more about that in another entry).

A number of significant discussions are taking place, most of which are still works in progress so I don't really want to share too much yet.  The fact that they're taking place at all still half amazes me sometimes.

The awards gala was last night.  I was thrilled that my dear friend Emily Jones from Kodak won the Trailblazer award.  That particular award has special meaning.  She's amazing.  By the time I got back to my room, packed, and got into bed it was almost 1am (again).  Somehow, the wakeup call this morning was a little late but no matter - I was in a cab to the airport by 6:45 and landing in Seattle 6 hours later. 

I'm here to talk a the HRC Dinner here this evening, so we did a sound check before I came up to my room to relax for a few minutes before getting ready to do it all over again.  They're expecting 900 people so I hope I don't suck.  I suppose it's a good thing that I don't get too nervous about these things.

Speaking of HRC Dinners, I wrote an email to HRC senior management a few weeks ago to make sure that there is transgender diversity in the speaker line-up at the National Dinner in Washington DC in a few weeks.  I found out this week that there will indeed a transgender speaker, and who it is.  I'll share more specifics as the time gets closer.  I also wanted to share that Dana Beyer lost in the primary in her bid to become the first transgender legislator at a state level.  Her courage, her perseverance, and her tremendous sense of dignity will not be forgotten.  Her hard work is paving the road on which others will follow in the future.

I'd write more, but I need to start getting ready for this dinner.  It's almost showtime.

Tomorrow at this time I'll be back home.  Amazing.  It won't last long, though, as I'm headed to Atlanta for Southern Comfort in the middle of the week.


Saturday, September 9, 2006

It's the weekend!  And - not a moment too soon.

I'm sitting here this morning listening to a band from my youth.  I'm listening to Bread.  For some reason I've been listening to them quite often in the early mornings.  I know they're sappy and I suppose by today's standards my son would call them emo, but there's something special there for me at the moment.  The particular song that's playing is "If a Picture Paints a Thousand Words". 

I remember waaaayyyy back when I was in 8th grade.  My family was living just outside East Lansing, Michigan and my dad was doing some work at Michigan State University for the year.  We rented a house there.  I was 13-14 years old over that year and some big things happened.  I started wrestling.  And, I got my first girlfriend.

Her name as Patti Stevens.  I don't remember exactly how we met, but we playfully teased each other at school and I suppose it was obvious that there was some kind of flirtatious attraction there.  However, I was much too awkward and uncomfortable with those things at that stage of my life to take the lead.  It probably would never have gone past that if she hadn't pushed things, which she did at one of the school dances.

There was a printed business-card kind of thing called a "Wolf Card" that said something to the effect that you owe the person who gave it to you a kiss OR you could tear up the card.  The card was made of some special kind of paper coated with plastic and was almost impossible to rip even if you wanted to.  Well, we were off alone at some point that evening and she gave me this card.  She could look at me in the most sensual way - even at that age - with her head down a little and looking upwards at me (I'm told this look is called the Pensive look in modeling).  Where do girls learn to do that, anyway?  She told me I didn't have to follow through if I didn't want to, but I did.  The thing I remember most is that she had the softest, fullest lips.  And that was that.  Things changed.

Fast forward to the end of the school year.  We were getting ready to move away because my dad's work there was done and a group of friends had a going-away party for me in the basement of their home.  As it got late many people ended up leaving and somehow the event shifted gears, changing from a party to a make-out fest.  Lights went down.  Couples scattered to the different chairs and sofas around the room.  The sounds of kissing and and soft voices were the only sounds.  And, The Best of Bread was playing in the background.  I remember opening my eyes at one point and seeing Patti's tears sparkling in the faint light.  Oh, those innocent days of youth.

The potential side trip for late next week that I mentioned in my last entry isn't going to happen right now, which is a blessing.  And, although my shoulder is still not 100% it's feeling significantly better.  At least it's functional and doesn't just hang there aching.  Both are positive developments.

My son spent the night here last night.  He hasn't been feeling wonderful lately so he's here for a couple of nights.  I'm pumping him with some TLC before I have to leave town for next week's events.  I hope he's feeling better by then.  He's lost ten pounds over the past couple of weeks and actually looks very good at this weight.  My ex-wife and I exchanged emails yesterday about him and she finished her last email by signing it "Love You!".  As much as I'd like to, I can't respond in kind.  Those words do not come from me frivolously, or if I don't really feel it.  They're not words of convenience.  Anything akin to what I can honestly describe as "love" towards her died a painful death a long time ago. 

I went to get my hair done yesterday.  I generally try to find ways to justify going to Austin to see my people there but right now that's just not a happenin' thing.  Constraints of money and time make it impossible.  My hair stylist here is wonderful as well and it was as nice to have the chance to catch up with her as it was to get my hair done.  She did a wonderful job, as always.  I really like my hair at this length.

I stood looking in the mirror as I was getting ready for bed last night and it was one of those times when you just marvel at things.  I'm so comfortable being me.  I'm at peace with how I look, with how I feel, with what I am and I'm constantly amazed at that.  I sometimes get notes from people telling me that I need to slow down, to enjoy life, to stop and smell the roses.  I assure anyone who cares that I actually do those things quite often.  In fact, I think finding times to appreciate the peace is part of my overall balance that keeps things from getting too crazy in my world.  I guard my personal peaceful time fiercely, as it provides the energy I need to do the other things.  As much as anything tangible or explain-able, that's the fuel.  There were years and years where that deeper peace and that appreciation for life were non-existent.  Life was a series of events to be accomplished and endured rather than to be savored and appreciated.

My energy at that point came as much from the need to fill my life with things to keep my mind off the deeper issues that were plaguing me.  I was constantly trying to do things to prove to myself, as much to anyone, that the superficial achievements and appearances somehow had deeper value.  I think that for many people, it's not until that emptiness becomes overwhelming that we're forced to confront the fact that we're not finding the deeper connections we so desperately need.  Worse, if we don't do something about it we'll never find it.  We'll die without ever experiencing it and that's more than sad.  It's tragic.  

It all goes back to that magical concept: Balance.  Finding it.  Keeping it.  Enjoying it.  It's everywhere.  Enjoying the past and savoring the present.  Finding fulfillment outside as well as inside yourself.  Giving as well as taking.  I'm in a good place right now.  I hope it lasts for a while. 

Thursday, September 7, 2006

As if my week next week weren't already busy enough, there's a chance it will get even crazier.  If it does happen I suppose I can take solace in the fact that it will be self-inflicted pain - I could just as easily say '"no".  There is the potential for a brief side-trip late next week, but nothing confirmed at this point.  As I consider this potential "opportunity" I vacillate between enthused and not so enthused depending on different possible scenarios.  It adds drama to the entire week, and at the moment I'm feeling drama-averse.  We'll see how it all pans out.

On the "Who Cares?" front: I see that Rosie O'Donnell started as one of the co-hosts on the ABC television talk show The View this week.  Big deal.  I met her at the HRC National Dinner a couple of years ago and frankly was underwhelmed.  I found her to be brusque, aloof, and generally too egocentric.  Whatever. Generally I am pleasantly surprised when I meet these star types at events I attend.  Not with Rosie. 

A couple of nights ago I must have slept on my right shoulder in an awkward way or done something that hurt it because I woke up yesterday morning and it was killing me.  I could hardly lift it above my head - it's got a shooting pain at a specific spot right in the joint.  It severely curtails the things I can do.  Washing my hair.  Blow drying.  Even getting a coffee cup out of the cupboard becomes an ordeal.  You know how you take the simple things for granted?  Well, this is one of those things that reminds you of stuff like that.  This is day 2 and it's still hurting.  Although I've had my fair share of mysterious aches and pains I haven't had anything like this in a long, long time.  I don't feel like I'm getting any older, but from time to time my body likes to remind me otherwise.  I bought some Motrin this morning so we'll wait until that kicks in.  I hope it helps.

I rarely discuss personal family stuff here, but it seems that the stars are aligned in such a way that several of the people in my life are struggling right now.  My son.  Even my sister seems to be having some difficulty. I wish I could make it better for them but I can't.  I hope it blows over soon.

Lastly for this morning - sometimes you get to make difficult decisions about your life, and sometimes they get made for you.  That's life.  I remember finding ways to justify not telling people in my life about the gender stuff and eventually something inevitably happened where they'd learn in a round about way.  Or, sometimes we're stuck at a job we don't really like and we talk about leaving but we never actually make moves to do it - and eventually we lose the job anyways.  We delay, or we put things off until tomorrow, because it's easier to decide not to decide on things than to actually make decisions.  Sometimes you run out of tomorrows.  I'm coming to that point in a couple of different aspects of my life.  I'm not really ready to share specifics other than to say I'll be making some life decisions over the next couple of weeks.  I'd rather make them when things are a little quieter in my life but as I say, sometimes you don't have that luxury.

I've proven to myself time and again that I have no problem when it comes to prioritizing things and making difficult choices.  I remember a meeting with my Vice President at Dell who wanted me to make a choice between making my work for her my #1 priority or moving on.  Whereas when I first moved to Austin I really had no life outside of my work (so my career there flourished) I was getting more and more involved in other things and she was concerned about losing some of my focus.  I actually started to develop a life which, despite all the hubbub many companies make about work/life balance, is something corporate America doesn't seem to appreciate in many of us.  Some would say that's a difficult choice.  For me, it wasn't.  Sure, I was sad to find myself in that position but the decision itself wasn't difficult to make. I appreciate the fact that we could talk honestly with each other like that and that I found myself at a place where I needed to be anyway.  So, here we are.

Many of us can look at our lives and see decisions that need to be made.  Or, we can look back on our lives and see decisions that should have been made but weren't.  They should teach that as a critical life skill in high school: Decision Making 101.  The follow-up would be Life Ownership 201.  I think the confidence to actually make them starts with the first one.  Jobs, relationships, new beginnings, new life directions - those can be terrifying decisions.  Until one of two things happens - either (1) our discomfort raises us above our terror or (2) a decision gets made for us - we'll be stuck.  Each of us owns that in our lives.  I don't know about anyone else, but I'm happy about that.  I'd much rather be accountable for decisions I make than for ones that get made for me.  In fact, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Monday, September 4, 2006

Today was one of those non-pressure days to do whatever, whenever.  I slept until after 8am which is rare for me.  And, I spent a good portion of the morning catching up on email that I've been meaning to return for over a week now.  I've still got a couple more to go, but I'm feeling better about the backlog.

The highlight of the day was spending a couple of hours at the mall.  I've held off visiting any of these Labor Day sales because I don't really want to spend a lot of money on clothes at the moment.  But I'm a sucker for a sale.  I went to the mall today with the goal of visiting 3 of my favorite clothing stores: J Jill, Express, and The Limited.  All 3 were having special season ending sales with extra money off the already marked-down sales prices.  I reasoned that if I waited until near the end of the long weekend it would provide the best of both worlds - much of the stock I would have bought if I had been there earlier would already be gone (thus saving me money) but there might still be something there that I like.

There's nothing like clothes shopping.  It really is remarkable.  For many women it's a unique social opportunity.  Sometimes, the only thing better than shopping is shopping with a friend.  One of the sales girls came to the back where the sales racks were.  "Ladies," she said to the group of us searching through the clothes, "today is the last day for 30% off the red line and there's still some wonderful bargains here."  That rocked.  I can't explain it any more than that.  That kind of simple thing has made all of the stuff I've had to overcome worthwhile.  I'm glad to say that the newness and the wonderful-ness of it hasn't worn off at all.  Not a bit. 

I remember how terrified I used to be when buying clothes in the early days - I wouldn't even bother trying any of it on.  I'd buy it, try it on at home, and if I didn't like it for one reason or another I'd return it.  Now, trying it on is the best part of the whole experience.  It can certainly be a humbling experience because it inevitably  exposes physical "issues" we don't usually have to face.  Some things just don't fit right, or I don't have the body type to fit into things I'd really like to fit into.  That's just the way it is.  But when something fits, is on sale, looks good - it's a great feeling.  I came home with a bagful of booty from each of the 3 stores.

I must be on a hormone spike or something as there were a couple of emotional things these last couple of days.  One was watching Andre Agassi end his tennis career yesterday.  He was overcome by emotion and just sat down and buried his head in his hands and cried while the crowd stood and cheered.  It was all I could do to hold back my own tears.  Last night I watched the second half of "Cinderella Man" and I still get goosebumps at parts of that movie.  It's one of those movies that I've seen the last half several times, but I still have yet to see the beginning.  No matter.  Finally, the Crocodile Hunter was killed today.  My neice, Kyrie, just loved him to death.  She watched his shows over and over again - drawn by his energy, his passion, the variety of wildlife, and the lush scenery of his adventures.  We spent many a day watching Steve pick up snakes, reach out to touch alligators, let spiders crawl on him - it all fascinated her.  He has left a lasting legacy, and he will be missed.

Tonight, I ran.  6.33 miles in 60 minutes.  I'll sleep well. 

Saturday, September 2, 2006

I was in Costco this morning and they were putting up the Christmas display.  The lady in front of me in the check-out line was buying a whole basket of Xmas decorations for her house.  It seems more than a little odd to see life-sized snowmen being loaded into cars when it's 108 degrees outside, but such is this surreal life we lead in the desert.  They say this hurricane in Mexico may affect our weather tomorrow and Monday.  I can't remember the last time a hurricane impacted us here.  It's just not something you typically think about when you think of Arizona.  There are some very ominous clouds off in the distance so we'll see...

I'm dog sitting for a friend this weekend.  These dogs are the cutest little things you've ever seen.  The two of them together weigh ten pounds.  You can't help but fall in love with them.  When I was young my dad used to tell me that the best way to meet girls was to have a puppy with you.  These dogs stop traffic, they're so cute.  See for yourself...

I did some squats at the fitness center after work yesterday.  I haven't done any since before the Gay Games so I'm pretty sore today - getting more sore by the hour.  I sometimes see these guys squatting with three or four or five 45-pound plates on each end of the bar.  Very impressive.  Not this chick.  Light weights for me, thanks.  I remember talking with my hair colorist in Austin - she had a perfect bum - and I asked her how she got it so nice.  The secret, she said, was squats.  Head up, back straight, focus on the behind.  Anyway, I've learned the hard way that the second day is usually when you feel the sorest.  I'm already planning a late day run tomorrow in hopes of loosening up.

I know there are many people - trans and not - who seem to avoid exercise for one reason or another.  If I were to suggest two things that kept me sane during the difficult times they would be exercise and writing.  Exercise is one of those things that allows your mind to wander, to escape.  It causes all kinds of endorphins to kick in.  It affects the way I feel about my body.  I've found that there really is a correlation between how I'm feeling mentally and what I'm doing physically - and vice versa.  Exercise provides an opportunity to challenge yourself - whether it be on a treadmill for 20 minutes, a late evening brisk walk, a hike, bike riding, sit-ups - whatever. 

Whereas there is no such thing as a transgender "lifestyle", incorporating athletics of some kind into an overall healthy life approach DOES become part of a healthy lifestyle.  I take my running shoes with me whenever I travel, and more often than not I find time to at least go for a run.  I hope more of us look at our lives holistically and realize that the most obvious source of discomfort at any given time can be addressed in any number of seemingly non-connected ways.  Exercise is one of those ways.  Sadly, in the trans community we often consider athletics of any kind as somehow competitive or masculine so we shun it at a time when we should be embracing it.  I was disappointed to see that the transgender contingent at the Gay Games was a very small one.  That's really a shame.  So many of us were athletic at different points in our lives.  Why doesn't that carry itself forward?  It should.

Speaking of healthy, I've been tinkering around with the Banana Cream Pie Smoothie recipe I mentioned last week.  I add a little more banana, a little less yogurt, and a little less milk (it was a little too runny for my liking).  In this last batch I also added a scoop of Low-Fat Almond Praline ice cream.  It was the best batch yet.  I've got little baggies full of frozen banana in my freezer.  Too funny.

I got a call from one of my HRC Board friends in Seattle inviting me to speak at their dinner.  It's in a couple of weeks - on Sept. 16 - which means I'll have to go there directly from the Out and Equal conference in Chicago which ends that day.  The trip has become a complicated one: from here to NYC to Chicago to Seattle and then back home again.  All in less than a week.  I suppose I should enjoy this "down" time while I can.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I think it's Newton's Third Law that states: "Every action has an equal and opposite re-action".

Rephrased, one could say everything that makes you happy makes someone else unhappy.  Or, vice versa.  There truly is recoil in this social struggle we find ourselves fighting - just as there has been in every social struggle before us.  Just look at what's happening with gay marriage if you want to see a recent example.  As some of us work to ensure equality, fairness, education, empathy, and respect there are those who would turn each of those noble goals into something bad, or evil.  Our victories are their defeats, and their triumphs are our setbacks.  It is a war - there is not other word for it - for hearts and minds.  Thankfully - time is in our favor.  These people will eventually die.

The places that I'm starting to see this infantile rhetoric are places I've seen it in the past so there are certainly no surprises there.  People who have proven to be judgmental bigots in the past continue to demonstrate why, in some species, mothers kill their young.  The fact that human beings have evolved past that is the only reason that some of these buffoons survived to reach adulthood. 

I'd like to highlight one person in particular.  He is by no means special, and if you follow the comments on the link I'm about to give you you'll see that he's got a small army just like him.  Everyone is entitled to an opinion - the fact that his is different from mine on any particular issue isn't the problem.  It's the words he uses, his motives, and his overall approach that are so vile.   I hesitate to even waste my energy typing about it here as it doesn't deserve more visibility than it already gets.  But I think it's important to see that the world is full of these people - no matter what you believe in or what you do.

The topic: The Batavia High School teacher.  The good news is that the school district has posted a basic "Gender Identity Disorder" presentation that will be given to students on the first day of school on their district website (see it here).  I don't know that I've ever seen anything like this before.  It's amazing.

Of course, since I'm happy about it there must be those who are unhappy.  One of those people is a talk radio guy on WHAM 1180 named Bob Lonsberry.  I've mentioned him in the past, as he outed a dear friend who trusted him with some very personal news almost 4 years ago.  Bob felt compelled to share the news with his listeners, and it became a huge mess (see his remarks here if you've got the stomach for it).  That's the kind of guy Bob is.  A year later he was suspended after he called the Democrat African-American mayor of Rochester a "monkey" (what a mess).  His outrageous, hateful rhetoric has attracted an army of conservative droids waiting to  lap up his every idiotic word.  Plus, it sells advertising time so he wasn't gone for very long.  Pity.

Anyway, most of us from the Rochester area knew it was only a matter of time before he decided to share his views on the Batavia teacher - it's only 60 miles away and well within his radar range.  It didn't take him long, and if nothing else it's reassuring to see that some things remain constant: He's still an ass. (Read "School Should Fire He-She Teacher" here).  If you're really into getting riled up - click on "View The Comments" at the end of the article.  I'd leave a comment myself, but that kind of talk doesn't deserve a response.  My dad once told me: "Avoid getting into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent".  It is advice that has served me well.

As that new-age comic/prophet Lewis Black said in the video clip I featured in yesterday's entry: "That's complete and utter prejudice and ignorance at a level that is staggering at this point in time."  Amen, brother.

Onto other topics: I made some travel arrangements today.  I'll be flying into New York City on Monday, September 11.  Go figure.   I suppose it's probably not a big surprise that I was actually flying on the tragic morning of  9/11 2001 and found myself stranded at the Baltimore airport.  I'm not superstitious about these kinds of things so I don't feel any more at risk than I would at any other time.  And, when it's my time it's my time.  I have come to peace with that.  As I pointed out during my opening - there are those who will welcome that that day.  I hope to frustrate those people for as long as possible. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Wassup with upstate NY?  Over the past several weeks it seems to have become a hotbed for trans news.  As many may know, I called the area from Buffalo to Rochester (and even all the way to Syracuse) home for a significant portion of my life.  I've still got family and friends there and always look forward to my visits back there.  Who knew that so many "trans" things would bubble to the surface there all in such a short period of time?  Maybe it's in the water...

It started in early July when an Female-to-Male in Rochester petitioned for a simple name change and was denied until he could prove the medical necessity for it (read details here).  This is absolutely horrendous and outrageous - that he should be held to a different standard than anyone else who would seek to change their name.  The ACLU has stepped in to help, and an appeal was filed yesterday (Read the story).

Later in July Rochester-based Eastman Kodak announced that it had added insurance coverage for SRS and other transgender-related medical expenses to its employee health benefits plan.  This was huge news and is further proof of Kodak's leadership in terms of providing a diverse an inclusive workplace environment.

Kodak updates health benefits for transgender employees in ...
The Empty Closet, NY - Aug 25, 2006
... This change is further evidence of Eastman Kodak Company's support for all elements of diversity.It serves to reinforce Kodak's commitment to Equal Opportunity ...

Over the last week the story of the teacher in Batavia (halfway between Buffalo and Rochester) who is transitioning and will be returning to class next week as female has made national headlines.  I wrote to the district superintendent yesterday to commend him on his level-headed and sensitive handling of the situation.  They've implemented a very well planned proactive education effort for parents and teachers.  We'll see how it all plays out once school starts next week:

Batavia takes on transgender issue
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, NY - Aug 25, 2006
... American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, said ... New York Transgendered Rights Organization, said the Batavia school district is ...

Transgender Teacher Issue Mirrors Fight In Jersey
WBEN 930, NY - 3 hours ago
Buffalo, NY (WBEN) - The case of a transgender teacher intending to return to a high school classroom in Batavia is similar to a case in New Jersey, where ...
Parents Mixed On Transgender Teacher In Batavia WBEN 930
Meeting to address Batavia High School teacher WHEC-TV
all 3 news articles »

Lastly, there was a related story in the Buffalo News yesterday about a friend who is actively involved in many aspects of transgender activism in and around Western NY.  She works at city hall in Buffalo, and is helping the Batavia School District with the myriad of issues surrounding the teacher transition there.  As you might suspect, it is a big deal.  An article of about claims of workplace harassment appeared in the paper there yesterday (Read it here).  Such is the price for standing up and speaking out.

The fact that all these things are considered news is an indication of just how sensational it is still perceived to be.  I suppose it's better than having bad things happen without visibility or awareness, but I look forward to a day when a teacher who announces that he/she will be transitioning is just another thing - when the main issue is the teacher's credentials and history as an educator instead of argument about whether that teacher should even be allowed into the classroom again.  I wish I could be there with her in her classroom during the first few days of classes.  Actually, in an indirect way I will be there.  I'll be there in spirit. 

I want to end this entry with a video clip from one of my favorite satirical comedians, Lewis Black.  I've mentioned him here before.  In his most recent HBO Special from Washington DC he spends a few minutes talking about many of the issues at the heart of what much of this is about.  Misplaced priorities.  Misguided blame.  Unfounded fears.  Lack of representation and role models.  I include it because he uses the same word for it all as I do: Prejudice.  I hope you find it as funny, as true, and as ridiculously sad as I do.  As you watch, realize that anyone even "considered" gay is targeted here.  That includes us:

Video: Lewis Black - Gay Banditos


Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Today is my mom's birthday.  She's 77 years old today, and is visiting with my brother and sister in Rochester for a couple of weeks.  They're all going out for dinner tonight to celebrate.  I wish I was there.  I originally had hopes to get there for at least a couple of days but it hasn't worked out.  I can't remember the last time that all of us were together - I'm actually kind of sad about it.

My mom's 70th birthday in Rochester was really my most major "coming out" event.  It was the first time the rest of the family had an opportunity to see me as Donna.  I suppose coming out at work (not once, but twice) was big, but somehow allowing myself to BE myself in front of my family was more stressful and important in the scheme of things.  Workplace peers come and go, plus I had very little emotional attachment to their acceptance.  Family is forever.  It was the first time my brother and I had an opportunity to get together after I told him.  I'll never forget his comment...."This is a little awkward, but I'll get used to it." 

I think my hormones are messing with me today.  I'm in a bit of a funky mood.  Someone from work sent a work email late yesterday that somehow hit a nerve with me.  Those things happen from time to time and I've learned the best thing to do is to hold off on responding until I've had a chance to think about things a little more clearly.  I didn't do that last night, and there's usually no question as to how I'm feeling when I send an email that has been fueled by hormones.  Such is the case this morning.  Oh well.  I don't regret feeling the way I do.  Maybe I should just go home and try to sleep it off.  I'm tired, too, so that could be part of it.

I'm still overcoming the smarts from a set of new tires for my car.  $650!!!  Can you spell "OUCH??!!"  That's not an expense I had budgeted for and is one of the reasons I can't get to Rochester this week.  Speaking of expenses, I called the County Court today to get an official amount of my outstanding Spousal Support.  I've been paying this ever since my divorce and it has been the bane of my existence.  I think there's another year and a little bit to go on it but I need to know the exact amount left to pay.  I'm going to start counting down and when the clock strikes zero dollars I'm going to have a party like you won't believe.  Anyway, as you might imagine there is a cost for an "Arrearage Calculation" ($41) and they tell me it usually takes 3-4 weeks. 

One last thing for today: I posted a couple of relatively new photos on my "Recent Photos" page.  I was having a little fun with my new camera while Elizabeth was here.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

There are a couple of things in the news that I want to mention this morning (one event in particular has prompted me to write a new Op/Ed piece) before heading off for a new set of tires.

First, I'm glad to see that Mara from NCTE has made a statement about misguided news stories linking the Jon Benet Ramsey confessor to a "sex change clinic" in Thailand.  She's right on the mark and I hope her words get even half as much visibility as the original story has apparently gotten.  Fat chance. (Read it here).

Secondly, another school year is upon us.  School started for kids here in Arizona last week.  In other parts of the country it won't start until shortly after Labor Day. Book covers aren't even on books yet and there have already been a couple of news stories about teachers who are either in the process of transitioning, or who have already transitioned.  This one hits particularly close to home as I'm from the upstate NY area.

Batavia takes on transgender issue
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - Rochester,NY,USA
... James Esseks, litigation director for the American Civil Liberties Union's Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project, said the cases of bias his group ...

These stories tend to get significant visibility because it panders to people's worst fears about transsexuals and children.  When I see these things I find out who the superintendent of the school district is and try to contact them to voice my support.   They often get bombarded by people who are angry or concerned and they need to hear that there are people out there who appreciate their level-headedness and fairness. 

Friday, August 25, 2006

So this is what it feels like to actually be in the city where I live for a full day.  I had almost forgotten.

I should have big my lip when I said that the traffic in Simi really wasn't so bad.  In fact, it was actually pretty tame.  The problem is that I left to drive home yesterday - from North of LA to Phoenix - shortly before rush hour.  I did fine for the first 25 miles or so until I hit the 210 near Pasadena.  It was a crawl for well over an hour from there.  By the time I finally walked through my front door it was a little after 11pm - a 7 hour drive.  Oh well.  The weather for the entire week - and the drive - was fantastic, I had some good music, and once I escaped the grip of LA the time seemed to pass pretty quickly.

Speaking of weather, Scottsdale got absolutely crushed by some severe thunderstorms yesterday morning.  I'm glad I missed them.  Apparently it rained a couple of inches here in less than two hours.  I saw some footage on the news this morning and the lightening and torrential rain looked pretty spectacular.  It knocked the electricity out for over an hour.  As I've shared in the past, they don't build storm drains here so the water goes wherever it wants - generally downhill when it can.  There are things called "washes" that are bone dry gullies for most of the year, but can turn into roaring rivers when storm waters rush through them.  I live right on the edge of one of these washes (the Indian Bend Wash) although you'd never recognize it as a wash because it's disguised as a golf course.  No matter. When it rains heavily enough the lakes that look so pretty most of the time quickly overflow their banks and turn into rushing rivers that are often 3 or more feet deep.  That's what happened yesterday.

Check out these news pieces:  Read this one from the local Fox affiliate.  As you look at those photos - realize that where all that happened is about a quarter mile from where I live. I drive past there pretty much every day, except for this morning when the road was still closed.  Watch the video, too, if you can.  It's pretty amazing to see all that water.  I guess I should mention that the two brainiacs who tried to cross and had to be rescued both got tickets.  That made news, too.  Here's another story about it.

The weekend?  I'm going to run both tomorrow and Sunday.  I need a new set of tires on my car which will set me back a bit.  The most dangerous part is that I buy them at Costco so I stroll around the store for the hour or so it takes to put the tires on.  If I'm not careful I'm liable to spend as much money on things I find while I'm trying to pass the time as I am on the tires themselves.  I still say they pump something through the ventilation system to make people spend money without even realizing it.  I'll do my best to control myself.  I won't make any promises, though.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

It has been a long day.  As I write I'm sitting in my hotel room north of Los Angeles after a full day and a filling dinner.  Although I wouldn't normally think to use the words drive and pleasant in the same sentence when it comes to Los Angeles, I suppose this isn't technically LA and I'll admit that the drive from the hotel to work these past couple of mornings has indeed been surprisingly pleasant.  It's about 20 miles from here to there, from Thousand Oaks through Simi Valley near the Ronald Reagan Library.  The sky has been blue and sunny, there's the remnants of nighttime haze clinging to the hillsides, everything is green and vibrant - even the traffic has been moving without incident. 

Those who travel for work quite a bit will know just how long these days can be.  I find that traveling for work is much different than other traveling - that there are really only 3 parts of the day: work, eat, sleep, then do it over again.  Tomorrow there will be an added component to the equation: I've decided to drive back to Phoenix after work .  I don't expect to get home until shortly before midnight, so if I think this day is long I don't even want to think about how long tomorrow will be.

If I hear another word about this guy who apparently confessed to killing Jon Benet Ramsey 10 years ago I'm going to scream.  Unfortunately, this is only the begining  This guy is being held at the jail in downtown Los Angeles before being shipped off to Colorado.  It's nuts.  You can't turn a TV channel without seeing either Jon Benet or Mr. Karr it.  I don't know about anyone else, but I still haven't seen a piece of credible evidence against the guy other than the fact that he decided to say that he did it.  They say he has "secret" knowledge that nobody but the killer could know.  Others have said that the only time he was ever in Colorado was when his car broke down while driving through it years ago.  And this guy has a look on his face and moves like he's in some kind of a trance.  Great.  How do you spell the word "nutso"?  It's spelled K-A-R-R. 

Perhaps not surprisingly, I've seen a couple of stories that indicated that Mr. Karr had been visiting a gender center in Thailand (a NY Daily News article is here).  They refer to it as a "gender bender center".  Very creative.  As reporters dig into every aspect of this thing you watch to see where this goes.  It's not going to be pretty. 

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Sometimes the Flight Goddess smiles upon you.  Other times, she's a cruel and callous b*tch.  Those who travel frequently will know what I mean and although I say this with my tongue firmly in my cheek I can assure you that the times that you're stranded someplace trying to get home it's certainly not at all funny.  I generally try to avoid stop-overs as much as possible because it significantly increases the opportunity for trouble - missed connections, lost luggage, any number of unpleasant things.  However, the fact that I booked this brief trip to San Francisco at the last minute gave me only two affordable choices:  return flights without a layover that didn't get home until midnight, or return flights that left at more reasonable times but included a change of planes in Los Angeles.  I chose the latter.  Thankfully, this trip has gone remarkably smooth.

As I write this I'm flying over the shoreline just south of Los Angeles.  It's a bright, sunny day and I can see the Queen Mary and that big round building where they used to house the Spruce Goose just off to the left side of the airplane - far below.  My flight situation today was tremendously fortunate:  the Super Shuttle picked me up at Cocoon House and got me to the airport a couple of hours before my flight was scheduled to leave.  The security screening went fairly quickly and as I arrived at my gate I saw that the flight that was loading there was also heading to Phoenix.  United Airlines has a wonderful policy where they allow passengers to change to earlier flights on the same day (if there's room) without any additional charge at all.  Most other airlines rape you for doing that.  Anyway, surprise of surprises they did have room for me so I saved myself a 2 hour wait at the airport.

When the flight arrived at LAX I looked at the monitor in the terminal and saw that there was an earlier flight to  Phoenix - just a few gates away - and that it was in the final stages of boarding.  Surprise of surprises I went there and, although the flight was completely full two passengers hadn't shown up yet.  The gate agent waited a minute or two and gave me one of their seats.  I got on board, sat down, and within 5 minutes the door was closed and we were taxiing out towards the runway.  Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom.  So - here I am headed home three hours earlier than I had planned.  That may not sound like much, but I've got a boatload of stuff to do today and this will make a huge difference.

The pilot just came on the intercom to say that it's 102 degrees in Phoenix.  That's a far cry from the weather in San Francisco.  I think the high may have hit 65 yesterday afternoon - just maybe.  People were walking around with jackets and long pants as though it were winter.  It really wasn't so bad - kind of refreshing, actually. 

The reason for my trip was to spend a little time with a friend who had the full menu of FFS with Dr. O on Wednesday.  Needless to say, she wasn't up to doing much socializing but that's as I expected.  Sometimes just having someone there who can empathize (and sympathize) has a healthy affect.  She didn't look as horrible as others I've seen at a similar point in there recovery - certainly not as swollen or bruised as I've seen - and I enjoyed being able to spend a little down-time there with her.  She dozed on and off during the afternoon, and eventually we shuffled to he backyard to sit outside and enjoy the garden for a little while.  As an added bonus I had an opportunity to meet someone I've emailed with for several years which is always nice.  All in all - it was a very enjoyable and worthwhile adventure.  I am SO glad I decided not to drive it.

The irony is that I just had a brief layover in Los Angeles but I'll be driving back here again tomorrow morning.  I suppose I could have arranged to stay there but, as I say, I've got a busy day ahead of me so I'm just not ready yet.  I'm hoping to get an early start - 5am maybe - to beat as much of the local traffic as I can.  This is a trip for work.  In fact, with all the traveling I do it's the first trip I've taken for work in a long, long time.  I've rented a car for the drive - I could have had a Mustang convertible but chose something a little more comfortable.  I enjoy driving as long as I've got good road, good traffic, and good tunes.  I expect to have at least two out of the three tomorrow.

At the airport this morning a woman was going through security in front of me and she had the cutest little dog in this little carry-on case.  I asked her what kind it was and she told me it's a "Havanese", sort of like a little Bichon Frise (except different).  I really o miss having a dog, although with the schedule I keep it really wouldn't be fair to have one right now.  Just for kicks I did a little research on these little rascals.  I've had big dogs for most of my life - German Shepards, Golden Retrievers - larger dogs.  I expect I'll be downsizing one of these days, so I've tucked the information away for later.

One humorous thing from the week.  I was at the little airport in Newburgh, NY earlier this week to fly home after the training there.  When I say little, I mean teeny.  There were 2 luggage carousels, and I 'd be surprised if there were more than 6 gates.  There's no need for a loudspeaker - you can just yell and everyone in the entire gate area would hear you. When I arrived I was waiting for my suitcase when they announced that the TSA station would be closing at 6pm so if passengers hadn't gotten through security by then they were out of luck.  Anyway, as I was waiting to leave there was a guy using this big vacuum cleaner on the carpets - listening to an iPod.  Well, we loaded onto the plane and lo-and-behold, there was the same guy - outside my window - helping to guide the airplane back from the gate.  I was a little concerned that perhaps he would be piloting the plane as well.  If he did, he did a good job.


Friday, August 18, 2006

TGIF!  I've changed my travel arrangements.  Rather than drive to San Francisco tomorrow I found a flight that's fairly reasonable so I'll be flying there instead and returning Sunday afternoon.  It looks to be another of those 24-hour trips but at least this one doesn't cross multiple time zones - those are killer.  I've got a good friend recovering from FFS there and I want to go and make sure she's ok.  I remember making similar trips for Elizabeth and my friend Mel.  Some things never change.

For those interested in listening to the XM Radio interview from Monday (8/14), here is the text and a link to the audio from the HRC website.  I thought it went pretty well:

Two amazing transgender authors and leaders joined us in Point of View  to give us the 101 on being transgender in America today.
Donna Rose and
Paisley Currah talked about transgender lingo and gender stereotypes and shared their personal stories.

Listen to the fascinating conversation.

Since I've let myself become a media whore this week I may as well share the link the the PlanetOut article about my experience at the Gay Games.  I've gotten a fair amount of email from it - all of it positive so far.

That's about it tonight.  I'm doing laundry, catching up on email, and I'll be in bed early so I can get up and catch my plane in the morning. 

Thursday, August 17, 2006

It's late.  These last couple of days have been a bit of a blur, and in a few minutes I'll be in bed.  The Los Lonely Boys concert on Tuesday evening was great.  We only knew a couple of the songs but they're very capable musicians, and perhaps most importantly this trio of musical brothers looked like they were actually having fun.  The opening band, Lifehouse, has a few popular songs - several of which have special meaning to me at the moment: Hanging By  A Moment, You And Me, and the Smallville theme song Everything (which I was surprised and disappointed that they didn't play).  All in all, both Elizabeth and I enjoyed very much.  Here a couple of photos I took using my cell phone.  Certainly, not the greatest - I just like the colors.  :)

After the concert was over things kicked into high gear.  So much to do - so little time.  Home from the concert at 11.  Packing and enjoying a few last minutes of Elizabeth's visit until 1am, alarm went off at 4:15am, at the airport by 6, flight at 7, arrive in NY at 5pm, rent a car, drive a half hour to the hotel, check in freshen up, have dinner with a sister there (Kathleen), in bed at midnight local time.  It was a long 24 hours.  All I can say is that it's a good thing I sleep well on airplanes.

A couple of things perked my interest on my flights.  Ever since these new airport restrictions preventing passengers from carrying liquids and gels onto airplanes went into affect, people are checking much more luggage than they used to and carrying much less on the plane with them.  I had a small roll-aboard with me that I normally would have brought on board with me but I decided to check it because I refuse to travel without my hair stuff.  The upside is that boarding goes much quicker because fewer people are searching for bin space so they get to straight to their seat and sit down.  And, the overhead storage bins are practically empty - it's really extraordinary. 

The reason for this trip was to meet with people from where Kathleen works.  She'll be going full-time as part of her transition in a couple of weeks so the management wanted some training to help things go smoothly.  There were about 25-30 people there, including the national director of diversity from TX and the regional management.  The big discussion point, as it often is, centered around bathroom concerns.  All in all, however, I think things went very well.

I can't stress enough how important these kinds of things can be.  Based on the feedback I heard before dashing out the door the people who attended found it very informative and valuable.  I enjoy doing these kinds of things and based on some ongoing discussions I expect I'll be doing more in the future.  I especially enjoy meeting our brothers and sisters who are just about to transition - it seems as though we've got as many questions as the people that we're educating.  I'm happy to help.

As soon as the training finished at 4 the craziness started again - this time in reverse.  Navigate rush-hour traffic to get back to the airport, get gas for the car, and return ithe car in time to make my 5:30 flight.  We were late getting into Chicago so I had 10 minutes to catch my connection to Phoenix (I ran) which was waiting for me, home at 9:30 local time, eat, unpack, and unwind.  It's almost midnight, and time for this tired puppy to get some sleep.

Tomorrow looks to be a normal day - but it won't last long.  I'm scheduled to drive 800 miles on Saturday to see a friend in San Francisco who recently had surgery there.  Then, I'll drive another 400 miles early on Monday to get to Los Angeles where I'll spend most of the week for work.  Oy.  All I can say is - time to get to sleep.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

We're quickly approaching the end of my latest stretch of down time.  Tomorrow, things get busy again.  Elizabeth heads home, and I head to New York for a 24.5 hour trip. I've said it before and it's more true now than it ever was - the joy of the time Elizabeth and I get to spend together is balanced by the inevitable goodbye's at the end.  Actually, our good-byes are more like see-you-again-soon's, but that doesn't change the fact that they're still difficult.  Our next rendezvous will be in Atlanta for Southern Comfort next month.

We've got tickets to go see Los Lonely Boys downtown this evening (12th row!), but the fact that we've both got a busy day ahead of us, packing to do, and early flights tomorrow is never far from our mind.  One good friend is VERY pregnant so we'll be stopping by her house for a brief visit today - that is, if she doesn't go into labor first.

I did a 20-minute Trans 101 talk with Paisley Currah on Joe Solmonese's XM Radio show yesterday afternoon.  I thought it went well.  I'm going to try to get a copy of it if I can.  One question they asked was whether I thought that GLB and T was one big, happy 'queer' family.  I think I may have surprised them to say that I don't believe that we've gotten to that point yet.  Although things are certainly changing, by and large I don't think much of the Gay and Lesbian community really gets the T thing.  They're no different from the rest of society in that regard.  I find that there are far too many of us who aren't accepted in the Gay/Lesbian community any more than we are outside of it, which is certainly a difficult and frustrating experience.  At the same time, there is a significant percentage of the T community that doesn't want anything to do with the Gay/Lesbian crew.  They don't "feel" gay/lesbian and they just can't see the connection.  This discussion is far deeper than the 90 seconds or so that we had to discuss it on the program, but I think it's fundamental to so many things that are happening right now.  Anyway, the show will be replayed at various times throughout the week for those who want to catch it...

After dinner last night Elizabeth and I went to visit with our electrologist and friend, Maria, for a little while.  Maria started laser on my legs several months ago and I can count the number of times I've had to shave them over the past year on one hand.  She absolutely rocks.  If anyone finds themselves in town to see Maria, please let me know.  I'm happy to try to meet up if I'm around. 

Late Day update:

It's late afternoon and I'm going to post a couple of updates before we head out to the concert:

A few weeks back the folks at asked me to write a 700-word article about my experience at the Gay Games.  Apparently, they just published it online because I've started getting a bunch of email from it.  I went to check and sure-nuff, there it was - right on the main page (you can See It Here).  I found the comments that have been posted (see the bottom left corner of the screen) particularly illuminating.  There are those who are absolutely NOT on board in any way, shape or form - some very ignorant stuff.  And, there are those who step up to my defense.  I find it interesting because I think it graphically highlights the conversation on XM Radio yesterday that I mentioned earlier about "one big happy queer family".  NOT!  At least, not yet anyways.

Speaking of the XM Radio interview, I spoke with Joe Solmonese at HRC today and he says he'll make sure I get a copy of the 20-minute segment on Transgender 101 that I can share here on my website.  We both thought it went well, and he mentioned that he'd like to have more of these in the future.  The topic is just so broad that it can't be confined to a 20-minute discussion.  I absolutely agree, and I hope to see that come to pass.  Stay tuned...

I don't know the reason for this sudden upswell of attention lately - it must be the moon or something.  Who knows.  As long as the forums are generally positive ones, I'm really not complaining. 

Sunday, August 13, 2006

I don't know how we do it, but when Elizabeth visits we seem to cram more than 24 hours into each day.  Looking back over the last couple of days makes it seem like more than just 48 hours.  It's not like we plan it that way, or that either of us somehow feels rushed or overwhelmed.  It just happens.

Take Friday, for instance.  I had to work for most of the day as I'm in the midst of some important stuff that is keeping things there very busy for me at the moment.  Dr. Meltzer called mid-afternoon afternoon to say that he had 2 tickets for the Arizona Diamondbacks/Florida Marlins baseball game downtown that he couldn't use and wanted to know if Elizabeth and I would like them.  Less than two hours later we were downtown, sitting at a TGI Friday's that's built into the ballpark overlooking the outfield, sipping on Long Island Iced Teas chatting with guys who had come for the game. 

The seats were great - 17 rows up behind home plate, looking down the right field line.  I've never been that close to a major league baseball game before - it's fun to watch these guys hit the ball and see it as it curves towards the outfield almost as though you're down on the field.  To be perfectly honest, neither of us really paid too much attention to who was winning or losing - people watching was far more interesting and fun.  There's something special about watching kids at baseball games - I remember those days with my son.  And, we chatted quite a bit with the medical guy sitting on the stool directly in front of us.  His job is to rush over whenever a ball gets hit into the stands to provide medical assistance if necessary - some of those balls are hit pretty hard!  He said that two people had been taken to the hospital the night before, so we were pretty vigilant to make sure any foul balls hit near us didn't somehow bean us.  The Diamondbacks lost 4-1.

We left in the 8th inning to meet some friends at a local resort for some cocktails.  It was quite the lovely scene - sitting out on the patio overlooking a bright blue lighted pool, lightning from an electrical storm flickering in the sky off in the distance, huge late-summer moon beaming through the clouds, warm summer breezes keeping things relatively cool.  It was a perfect way to wind down a busy day.

Yesterday:  shopping, eating, napping, just hanging out.  I went for a run at the fitness center.  The Arizona Cardinals football team played the first game in their shiny new stadium in Glendale so I watched a little of that. 

Last night I was craving Italian so we ended up at a restaurant near here named Maggiano's.  There was an hour wait wait to be seated for dinner, but there was an open table in the bar area right next to the piano player so we sat there and had dinner.  The piano guy was very nice and played a wonderful selection of music.  We even requested a song: Brown Eyed Girl by Van Morrison (guess what color Elizabeth's eyes are...)  The portions there are absolutely monstrously huge - the piece of lasagna they brought for Elizabeth was the size of a loaf of bread.  Really.  There was enough there for a small family.  Needless to say, we have at least two more meals of Italian in boxes in the refrigerator.

And, to end the day we decided to stop by one of the local dance clubs.  Scottsdale has more than its fair share of glitzy nightlife, and to be honest I don't go out much when I'm here so finding a place the played our kind of music and that catered to an older crowd took a little work.  Elizabeth asked a police officer who recommended a place to go not far from here.  We waited in line for 20 minutes before finally getting to the door  One of the things that NEVER gets old is not having to pay a cover charge at the door - for guys it's $10, but we walked right in.  However, one thing that does get old is the nightlife scene.  Yuck.  We weren't there for more than ten minutes for me to remember now how much I've always disliked it:  Loud music, pretty people preening for each other, smoke.  I LOVE live music, but this was about as far from live music as you can get.  If the music had been danceable that would have been one thing, but it wasn't so we were home by midnight.

Our relaxation is mixed with business.  I've got a call later today to review a Trans training presentation that I've been asked to review.  Tomorrow night I'll be interviewed on the weekly HRC XM Radio program, "The Agenda".  They're planning to do a segment on trans stuff, which I think is a good thing.  I was a little surprised to visit the HRC website earlier this morning and there at the top of the page 's my picture, big as day.  I guess they don't have any big-name talent lined up this week.  :)

Gotta go.  Fresh homemade waffles are waiting!

Mid-day update:

We went to the movie this afternoon, and I couldn't wait until tomorrow to share our review of "Little Miss Sunshine".  My son sometimes teaches me useful and timely phrases, and I've decided that one of them perfectly sums up how I feel about this movie.  It was "BADASS"!!.  If you really want to see a hilarious, offbeat, dark, twisted, fun movie - I can't think of a movie that fills the bill more than this one does.  And, who doesn't like hilarious, dark, offbeat, twisted or fun??  I know I do.  This movie puts the "dys" into dysfunction.  Of course, if this movie hits close to home you might not want to admit that publicly - just a hunch....

We had tears coming down our cheeks we were laughing so hard.  I think the lady sitting next to me peed in her pants.  The movie is in limited release at the moment but apparently is scheduled for wider distribution this fall.  The online trailer only hints at the fun! (View It Here).  It renews my faith in the people who actually get paid to review movies for a living when their opinion and mine are actually similar - it doesn't happen all that often (Read Some Reviews Here). 

The bottom line: people generally don't laugh enough.  Get your daily dose of laughs and go to see this movie.  You'll be glad you did.

Friday, August 11, 2006

It's Friday!  I am SO glad the weekend is here. 

Yesterday marked the 6th anniversary of my SRS.  I got a text message from a friend wishing my vagina a Happy Birthday.  Too funny.  As usual, it was a pretty mellow day.  In past years I have chosen to celebrate quietly by myself.  One dear friend used to call me every year without fail - she never forgot it.  She passed away and I think one of the things I miss most about the day is her calls.

Elizabeth arrived yesterday.  With all the new security stuff going on I was concerned she'd have a problem.  Lord help the person who tells her to throw away her favorite perfume because they won't allow it on the plane.  Apparently, there wasn't any delay at all for her so it all went well.  We went out for a nice quiet dinner last night.  And, after all was said and done I had the best night of sleep I've had in quite a while. 

This morning there is a training for the all the Resident Assistants at Arizona State University.  Other than that, we've got various social opportunities over the weekend and we're just looking to relax. Life is about to get very busy for both of us.

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

I recently had a new experience.  I was on a treadmill in the fitness center at work, and my manager hopped onto the elliptical trainer next to me.  I'll tell you this now - there's nothing dainty about the things I do when I'm in a fitness center.  I dress to sweat when I work out: long sweats, sweatshirt - I'm a sweaty mess by the third mile.  There are those who would argue that it's just water weight and I just gain it back as soon as I drink afterward.  Perhaps.  I still think that it had something to do with my ability to lose much of my muscle mass.  I'm not looking to debate the health benefits of it - it just works for me. 

One day I was doing some weight lifting to tone up a bit and a girl there approached me to ask if I competed.  I told her no.  She told me, "You should!  You'd win!"  I smiled and thanked her.  I told her that I couldn't help it - I had too much testosterone as a kid.

I took my car in for some service yesterday.  I cringe when that happens, because even if I'm just going for an oil change by the time they've checked things over and fixed this and that I rarely get out of there for less than $400.  Thankfully, when I bought my car it was one of those "certified" cars that came with an extended warranty.  The expensive stuff they found yesterday was all covered by warranty.  I was almost shocked when the bill came to less than a hundred dollars.  The funniest thing is the way they talk to me - like I'm a total idiot.  To be perfectly honest, when it comes to cars I'm clueless, but I'll never let them know that.

Back to my entry the other day on Dana Beyer, who is running for State Delegate in Maryland.  I got an email today from the Victory Fund profiling her and her district race.  The Victory Fund is a wonderful organization that supports GLBT political candidates, and gaining their backing is a significant achievement.  Just because a candidate is GLB or T doesn't automatically mean that the Victory Fund will support them - they've got a stringent assessment process before official candidate endorsements are made.  Anyway, I'm publishing the Victory Fund profile of Dana here, so if you haven't had a chance to see what she's up against please take a look.  Also, here is a recent Detroit newspaper story by Deb Price entitled: Candidate is Milestone for Transgender Americans.  Thanks in advance for supporting her.  It is hugely important.

I'm headed to a small town outside of NYC next week to do a corporate training there with the folks from Out and Equal.  An employee is transitioning on the job so the employer is bringing us in to help educate the company.  I think I'll be there for a total of 24.5 hours by the time it's all over - certainly a fast trip and lots of miles, but I'm looking forward to it.

Well, time to get to bed.  I've got a doctor's appointment in the morning.  It's one of those mid-year physical things.  Thankfully, unlike when I bring my car in for a check-up I'm generally pretty optimistic about getting a clean bill of health.  I better enjoy having that piece of mind while I can.  :)

Sunday, August 6, 2006

It's another Sunday.  My usual Sunday morning routine (when I'm home, that is) involves cleaning, ironing, watching a DVD, and homemade waffles.  I hear people talk about a "transgender lifestyle" sometimes.  Maybe this is what that is.  I dunno.  It seems pretty normal to me. 

This morning I watched Disney's Beauty and the Beast.  I remember watching it with my son when he was a child.  Of course, he eventually reached an age when he'd never admit ever enjoying it because it was for "kids", but I know better.  I don't find it odd to admit that the character I've always most identified with in it is the Beast.  That's still true.  I don't see that as necessarily being a "bad" thing, as the Beast is simply a victim of misunderstanding and appearances.  Once you come to know him as a sympathetic character, which in fact he is underneath all his defensive "armor", it's easy to see yourself in him.  It is for me, anyways.

I find it so sad that people can watch movies like these that stress the need to look deeper than simply outward appearances, that stress the need to overcome fears and misconceptions, but at the same time they apply those very things in everyday life.  Some would say it's just the way people are.  I don't buy that.  Frankly, to me, it's a choice.

The thing I most self-identify with is the Beast's appreciation for the small things in life.  The touch of a hand.  A smile.  Someone to share dinner with.  Despite his hard exterior he's still very naive and child-like underneath.  He's very vulnerable, and he knows it.  He masks his vulnerability with anger - something I know only too well. 

On to other topics....I want to share a couple of things this morning. 

You may have heard about the recent situation in Florida where parents enrolled their biological 5-year-old son in kindergarten as female.  This child had shown persistent discomfort with the male role and the entire situation has caused quite the uproar.  Needless to say, there are very strong opinions about this - on both sides of the fence.  Some of what I read about it makes my blood boil.  Take a recent example:

In Our View: Stand Fast, Schools
The Columbian - Vancouver,WA,USA
... His parents, with the aid of a transsexual lobbyist, are asking for the school's cooperation in the matter. ... Some transsexual advocates disagree. ...

Finally, let's chat for a minute about Dana Beyer.  Dana is a retired doctor living in Maryland.  We met several years ago at some event or another - I don't even remember exactly when or where - and we've stayed in touch ever since.  The biggest most recent news about Dana is the fact that she's running for State Delegate.  For some of us, that's similar to the state House of Representatives.  Perhaps the biggest news is that she's a very viable candidate, and recent conversations with political friends indicate that she's got a very good chance of winning.  If so, she would become the first transgender candidate elected to a position of that level.  Dana rocks.

Dana is intelligent, articulate, passionate, and hard working.  She tirelessly goes door-to-door to introduce herself to the people of District 18 - giving people an opportunity to get to know her as a person.  Her efforts are paying off big time.  She knows the issues.  She's got answers that people want to hear.  She has a message that people can identify with.  She's doing all the right things to make this happen.

The issue at hand - running a campaign like this costs money.  There's no way to sugar coat it.  Although Dana is running to represent the people of Maryland District 18, in a way she represents much more than that.  Her victory would set a precedent that others will follow, and it would send a message that fair-minded people ARE able to accept people who are different based on  what they bring to the table, not based on their one fears and prejudices as so often happens.  A victory for Dana would be a victory for all of us. 

Please take a moment to visit her website:  Most importantly, if there's any way to swing it I can't urge you enough to send her a check.  Even twenty dollar donations add up, and Dana will need all our help to maintain her momentum as the elections get closer.  Send her an email to tell her you support her.  Send her some money (there are easy links on her webpage).  Share her story with friends in hopes they'll help her, too.

The most difficult thing to for each of us to overcome isn't necessarily forced upon us from others.  It's our own apathy.  We're living in a time when none of us can afford to be apathetic.  Each of us needs to care, to realize that we're at a tipping point.  Dana is doing the hard work.  She's putting herself out there, spending long hours campaigning knowing that she can and will make a difference.  It's the least we can do to show her that we appreciate it, that we care, and that we support her. 

Friday, August 4, 2006

Phoenix has it's fair share of violent crime.  I suppose being the 6th largest city in the country comes at a price, and part of that price seems to be violence.  I realize that if I were talking about major cities in Canada or in other parts of the world perhaps size and frequency of crime would not be linked.  Here, they are.  I live in Scottsdale, which I suppose is insulated from some of the crime.  In the bigger picture, however, you can't get away from it.  It really is everywhere.

Recently we've been making headlines because there have been some serial killers wreaking havoc around the Valley.  One has come to be known as the "Serial Shooter" and has been linked to 36 shootings of people, horses, and dogs since May 2005.  Most have been pedestrians who were simply walking along the road, or riding a bike, and were shot for no apparent reason.  This victim count includes 6 people who have died from their wounds - the most recent of which was a young woman walking home just this past weekend.  It has made national headlines, and has put the city on edge.  One report indicates that as many as 200 law enforcement officers are actively working on the case.

Well, they apparently made arrests last night and the entire valley seems to be breathing easier.  They've identified two guys who appeared to have no accomplices, and who picked their victims at random.  It's really pretty scary when you think about it. 

Police are still looking for a second serial killer, dubbed the "Baseline Rapist".  This wacko has been linked to 23 crimes over recent months including robbery, sexual assault, and at least 8 murders.  Stay tuned for more on that...

Some better news:  I got an email from my friends at Eastman Kodak today.  It reads as follows:

In a July 2006 update to the health care benefits Kodak offers its employees, Kodak will now cover sex transformation procedures,
services and supplies provided on or after July 1, 2006, including therapy, sex hormones and transsexual surgery. In Kodak's view,
this is a medical condition that the company believes warrants coverage under its medical plans.

Wow.  To me, these two sentences say it all.  Bravo Kodak!  I couldn't be happier or prouder of the wonderful people there who helped to make this happen.  It's not like they're trying to hide it, either.  This kind of statement puts it out there for everyone to see.  They absolutely rock.

I published a list of companies who said they cover SRS several weeks ago, and I expect that list to grow in leaps and bounds over the coming months.  There are a couple of reasons:  first, the HRC Corporate Equality Index is coming out next month and that always motivates companies to enact new GLBT policy to get a better score.  This year, for the first time ever, we've included transgender wellness criteria that companies MUST have in order to achieve a perfect rating.  I think it's going to make a huge difference and I doubt we'll know the true impact for years to come.  When companies begin to cover these procedures they're doing more than just helping to defray the costs - they're helping to legitimize it as more than simple elective cosmetic surgery.  The fact that companies have done the due diligence to understand the issues, to quantify the costs, to make the internal changes necessary to make this happen - it all adds up to one thing.  Dignity.

I never imagined that I'd see these things happening in my lifetime.  I suppose I've always taken it for granted that the medical costs of these procedures put it out of reach of all but the most fortunate.  That is changing, and it's changing fast.  What's even more amazing to me is to be part of this effort.  I have no idea how ordinary people like me find themselves in the middle of things so huge as this.  I like to call it "Life Tides".  Mine have carried me to some pretty incredible places.

While I'm sharing some of my email from today I may as well share part of another one.  Each Friday I get a weekly message from Joe Solmonese, executive director of HRC.  This week's message was particularly timely because of some things going on with several friends at the moment.  It has to do with the difficulty they're having in reconciling their faith as Christians and their identity as some flavor of GLBT.  Some would say that the two cannot intersect, and that is a significant source of pain for many.

Here's a paragraph from Joe's Weekly Message from 8/4:

Because so many of our challenges lie in the way Christian leaders are teaching faith, a new tool called Out In Scripture offers distinctive
insights into the Bible, week after week, from an LGBT and straight-supportive perspective. Developed by a team of skilled and prayerful
scholars, the Human Rights Campaign-offered resource will give faith leaders positive ways to interpret the Bible from perspectives that
value LGBT lives. Know someone who might be interested? Send them to: To request a copy of this or the living
openly guide, e-mail

While I'm talking about Joe I may as well give him one last plug.  He has a brand new show on XM Radio each week called "The Agenda".  You can see a little about it here.  I smile when I see the photo of Joe on that page - he doesn't look quite that "macho" in person.  If you listen to it and hear something you like, something you don't like, or something you want to comment on - I invite you to call or write to Joe.  Feedback is important.

Since I somehow got onto an HRC tangent - I have two more things to mention.  First, they produce a daily news blurb called "Equally Speaking".  It highlights some of the more important ant topical GLBT news of the day.  I'm really impressed with the way HRC is using its state-of-the-art media center.  I think these kinds of things represent the next stage of communication over the internet.  It's not just about static, one-dimensional, text based web pages anymore.  It's about video, and motion, and timeliness.  These are exactly the kinds of things I expect to be providing on my website over the next few months.  Even so, I'll be pushing HRC to have a regular feature on Equally Speaking about news of interest to the trans community.  Stay tuned on that.  These videos are new every weekday so check them out if you can.

Lastly, I'll be posting some job openings at HRC here in the near future.  It's important for the trans community to be represented at the higher levels of HRC staff, so as opportunities become available I'll post them here to provide visibility in the hopes that someone from the community will apply.  Diversity inside of HRC is a key initiative, just as it is in major corporations around the country so ensuring a diverse set of perspectives and talents that reflects the broad constituency is more than important - it's vital.  Stay tuned on that, too.

I'm in town again this weekend.  I think this makes 3 in a row.  That's got to be a record.  This is the calm before the storm, though, as life is about to pick up steam again.  In coming weeks I'll be heading to California for work and to support a friend there, to New York for 2 days to do a corporate training event, to Chicago for five days to participate in the Out and Equal Workplace Summit, to Atlanta for 4 days for Southern Comfort, and to Las Vegas for a couple of days with Elizabeth.  I'm also trying to get home to Rochester for a few days - my mom will be visiting for a couple of weeks and I can't remember the last time that we were all together as a family. 

One trade-off I made was that I had tentatively planned to head out of town for another of these big gala dinners I get invited to, but I also wanted a particular piece of equipment for my growing podcast/video studio.  With all of that other travel coming up it was easy to bargain with myself to put the money that that would have paid for dinner ticket/airfare/hotel towards the equipment.  :)

I have more to talk about but I've written enough for one night.  Plus, I'm tired and I can almost hear my bed calling me.  Not a problem - I'll just save it for another time.

Thursday, August 3, 2006

First, I suppose I'll start with some fun stuff.  Someone sent me a link to a couple of online videos.  There's one of Elizabeth, and one of me.  Both are snippets taken from a documentary we did with The Learning Channel in March of 2003.  It's funny to watch them now, especially given the fact that they've apparently been translated into what appears to be some flavor of Arabic. You really never do know where this stuff is going to end up.

I suppose the big news of the day is that I spent 90 minutes with my ex-wife today.  It was only the second time she has allowed herself to see me in 7 years, In fact, the first time she saw me was probably 7 years ago this week.  I had gone to the house to do some things and she made an effort to reconcile things - until she saw my still swollen and significantly changed FFS face.  I think the fact that these changes were happening, were significant, were permanent, and couldn't be explained away hit her like cement wall.  She couldn't bring herself to do that again until a couple of years ago.  And then now.

My son is moving into a new apartment, so the last couple of days have been spent managing the logistical challenges of renting a truck, packing his stuff, making sure cars are where they should be, and working around the schedule of the apartment complex.  They were supposed to paint and clean his apartment before he moved in, but apparently none of that was done ahead of time so they did it yesterday and today.  This put a crimp in our tight planning schedule, so the only way to get all this done would involve the three of us.  That's how it worked out.

She didn't say anything particularly nasty, although each time she uses the wrong pronoun I immediately utter a "she" to correct her.  And, I suppose it could have been much more uncomfortable or tense than I think it was, for me anyways.  In a way, it was actually kind of anticlimactic - a "no big deal" kind of thing although my son came to me at one point and whispered, "I can't believe she's actually here seeing you!" 

As silly as this game has been for these past several years, this is actually a pretty significant achievement.  The lengths she's gone, which I've done my best to respect, to avoid me over the years passed the ridiculous mark a long time ago.  Originally she gave me a list of stores she frequented and forbade me from going to any of them on the off-chance we might bump into each other.  I told her I'd shop wherever I wanted and she told me I was being selfish.  Whatever.  One year we were still filing a joint tax return that she needed to sign it so I drove out to our house, left it on the front stoop, rang the doorbell, left for an hour so she could look at it, went back there to pick up the signed forms that she had left out front for me, and driven away.  Every holiday, big event, medical emergency - there has been an implicit understanding that the two of us would be involved separately.

I don't expect any significant changes after today.  The way things typically work is that we'll start chatting about something on email (usually having to do with our son - he's really the only connection we share these days), things will seem to get cordial, but before long she feels a need to (a) interject how she feels that I have "fu%*ed them over" and ruined their lives or (b) she'll say something that will elicit a direct response from me that gets her angry.  Either way, the emails become testy and then we just stop talking for some number of months.  She has been particularly chatty over recent days on email leading up to today so we'll see what happens this time.

To be perfectly honest, I don't trust her and I know she doesn't trust me.  I try to accept what she does and says at face value, but there's always an under-current that wonders what motivations are at work.  I suppose time will tell.  Originally I hoped I could transition and still be her husband.  Then I hoped I could still be her friend.  At this point, she's been out of my life for so long it doesn't really matter.  Those who believe that true love lasts forever are dreamers - mine was extinguished a long time ago.   It's nice to be able to get together as a family, though, so we'll see if it takes another 7 years for the next occurrence or if this marks a new direction. I suppose time will tell.

On another topic, Elizabeth will be here visiting next week.  She hasn't been here in several months, and it will be nice to see her.  As always.

Wednesday, August 2, 2006

I saw a news story recently that has gotten my attention.  It is about a trans-woman cyclist from Canada who has expressed an interest in competing at the Olympics:

Downhill mountain biker suspended for T-shirt mocking transgender ...
CBC News - Canada
WHISTLER, BC (CP) - A downhill mountain bike racer has been suspended for three months for wearing a T-shirt that mocked transgender cyclist Michelle Dumaresq. ...

Transgender mountain biker says she was shocked by comments ...
SLAM! Sports - ON,Canada
VANCOUVER (CP) - Transgender mountain bike racer Michelle Dumaresq says she was shocked by the unsportsmanlike conduct exhibited by a competitor who wore a T ...
See all stories on this topic

The odd thing is, I know many transpeople who agree with this thinking - who seem to agree that it's not fair for someone raised as male to ever compete as female because there's some sort of unfair advantage there.  I find it ironic that people who bristle at the thought of being marginalized, or who expect to be able to do things that other women do,  then turn right around and marginalize themselves (and others like them) for being different. 

In the bigger picture, though, this really isn't about competing in a cycling event.  It's about integrating into society as active, whole, healthy, vibrant people.  I would have loved to have seen the headlines back in the day - when African American athletes started breaking the color barrier.  If I remember correctly, in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin Adolph Hitler felt that Jesse Owens had "unfair advantage" too, because "those kinds of people" were inherently better athletes.  There's no difference between that kind of brazen, unfounded prejudice, and this. 

We've seen it every single time a trans athlete begins to compete at world-class levels.  Renee Richards.  Mianne Bagger.  We don't fit into any neat little category, and the world wants to continue to consider us as our former selves, or as freaks.  The fact that, physiologically, by the time we reach that point we are far more like women than men is lost in the hubbub.  I have more estrogen and less testosterone in my blood today than most genetic women my age.  My musculature has lengthened and softened.  In all the ways that count as far as athletics is concerned, there is absolutely no evidence that transpeople  have ANY sort of unfair advantage.  I think the fact that the International Olympic Committee ruling that allows us to compete as our authentic gender is truly a testament to fact over prejudice and hysteria. 

In fact, if one accepts that the physical balance is pretty much the same, then it gives rise to an argument that perhaps somehow genetically born men are simply mentally tougher or better than women - that that's their unfair advantage.  Perhaps there are those who believe that all those years of testosterone have created a competitive "spirit" that does not diminish once the testosterone flow is gone - that it is permanent.  I daresay that there are any number of women who would take serious offense to this kind of thinking, as do I. 

The fact of the matter is that world-class athletes need to be at the top of their game.  The traits and attributes that make people successful in life, at negotiating the difficult waters of a gender transition, and of being a successful athlete are all one and the same.  Discipline, courage, focus, desire.  They're all the same ingredients - they're simply pointed in a different direction.  That's where this discussion needs to go - because it's another one of those things that becomes so infused with passion and prejudice that logic is merely an afterthought. 

I expect we'll see more and more of this.  As we mature as a community the next step is to move out into broader society - as parents, as workers, as neighbors, as athletes.  That's all most of us ever wanted in the first place - to be able to be who we want to be and do the things we like to do without having to apologize for it.  The fact that those who would dare become successful in any of these roles become lightening rods for people's insecurities is more about the need to keep us locked away than anything having to do with athletics.

I expect this kind of myopic thinking from the broader society.  I don't from inside our community.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, how can we expect to be taken seriously as men and women in our authentic gender out in the world until we can do it in our own heads?  How can we stop being treated like second class people until we escape that kind of victim mindset ourselves?  The answer is - we can't.  Congratulations to Michelle Dumaresq for carrying that torch.  I hope she has an entire army of people behind her - because the trail she is blazing is bigger than a bicycle.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

It is midnight - straight up - so I don't know whether to post this to Saturday or Sunday.  In the big scheme of things, I guess it doesn't really matter.  It just started pouring outside - that makes the fourth night this week that we've had rain.  A couple of the storms were pretty severe - the road adjacent to where I live was closed due to flooding less than a mile from here.  Other than a minor blip where the power went off and came right back on again we really didn't have too much drama.  Other parts of the valley were not so fortunate.

In many ways this was the most "normal" week I've had in a long time.  No traveling.  No having to be two or more places at the same time.  No rushing around between here and there.  It's actually been nice to have some time to re-charge my batteries a bit.  I've needed that.

I'm back to a more stable regimen of eating/exercising, too.  One of my mantra's is: Life is all about dessert, and I've had more desserts over the past couple of weeks since the Gay Games than I've had over the three or four months leading up to them.  Thankfully, I've been faithful on my exercise regimen since getting back, too, so I don't feel quite so guilty about it.

I ran on the treadmill today.  That in and of itself isn't really big news.  The thing that made today's run special was that I felt as though I could have run forever.  I was on the treadmill (outside too hot) and ran for a full hour - 6.44 miles.  I could have run more, too, except that the silly thing turned itself off after an hour and I realized that I had things that still needed to get done today.  I don't know where all the energy has come from - probably the fact that I had a warm white chocolate brownie with ice cream for dessert yesterday, or pancakes for breakfast this morning.  Lots of sugar energy to burn off.

I went to Verizon today to sign up for their wireless broadband service.  Elizabeth has this card that fits into her laptop and gives her access to the internet no matter where she is.  The last time I was visiting her we were driving all over the state, and it was easy to find directions, look up phone numbers, and generally find whatever we needed to find right there from the front seat of her car.  It was so cool.  And, I find that I spend way too much money on internet access at the various hotels I stay at because I need to dial in for work.  Well, today I rectified that.  I'm now "hooked up".

I also did a little clothes shopping this evening.  One local store was having a really good sale (Back To School is in full swing around here), but unless I feel as though I'm getting a GREAT deal I can't justify to myself buying much in terms of attire lately.  They had a bunch of stuff on Clearance that I just couldn't pass up, so I got 3 pairs of shoes and two tops - for 75% off.  That's the kind of savings I'm talking about!!!  GREAT savings.  Somehow, the more I save, the better I like what I actually buy.  It's funny how that happens.  And, to top it off I still liked it all once I got home and tried everything on.  That's, like, a double bonus.  No returns.

I was looking through some of my old emails and journal entries today that are part of the original manuscript for Wrapped In Blue.  I'll have them online sometime in the next week or so - there's still a little formatting to do.  I noticed that today - July 29 - was a Friday in 1999.  It's the day they announced my situation to all my co-workers.  I remember sitting in the airport in San Francisco waiting for the flight home after my FFS there - knowing that while I was in the air this discussion would be going on.  I was truly at peace with it, which is a significant change from several months before. 

Speaking of peace: I've gotten a couple of emails in recent days asking if I've got any regrets on transitioning - whether I ever miss being Dave, or whether I have times when I consider my life today to be a mistake.  I can absolutely, honestly, truly say - No.  I don't.  I outgrew that life, and my life today fills me with inner peace and contentment.  There are certainly challenges and trade-offs, but I accept that and I'm at peace with it.  The fact that it took me longer to get here, that I had to fight to get here, makes me appreciate it all the more.

But the fact that I know I made the right decisions for me doesn't mean anything in terms of what's right for anyone else.  Nobody can make those decisions for each of us except ourselves.  None of us can afford to be the Pied Piper of transsexuals, beckoning people to come out and transition because it's so wonderful.  The fact of the matter is that there are those of us who are happy, who have found our place.  But there are also those who have had incredibly difficult experiences and who find themselves unable to find that peace.  When you've lost your family, your friends, your job, your life savings, your faith - it's hard to say all of that outweighs the frustration of being forced to live an un-authentic life.  There are no guarantees.  I have several friends that I know for a fact would make different choices if given the opportunity to turn the clock back - knowing what they know now.  How many of us can't say that about any number of things in our lives, though?  Our careers, our relationships - it's easy to second guess any number of life decisions we make. 

The key point, though, is that without trying to find our answers - we'll never know.  And, not knowing will continue to eat us up and haunt us to the day we die.  That's what this has always been about for me.  Finding answers.  Overcoming the fears that prevented me from that in the past.  Experiencing things for myself.  Taking control of my own life to be who and what I need to be to find peace and happiness.  I think those are pretty universal goals.  The fact that my path involved gender simply makes it more unique than some others.  None of us can be told who or what we are, or how to be.  Each of us owns that for ourselves.  Whether we do anything about it or not actually has little to do with me - and everything to do with you.  That's just the way it is.

To visualize this, go back to Psychology 101 and study Maslow.  That's what this is about.  There's nothing in the Hierarchy of Needs specifically about gender, or sex.  It's about becoming self-actualized, and the many building blocks involved.  Sadly, if we can't satisfy the more basic human needs - which some people never achieve no matter what decisions they make (for any number of reasons) - we simply can't get where we need to be.  I think the thing each of us needs to understand is that the goal here is to put ourselves in the best position to make the right decisions for ourselves.  That involves risk.  That involves making wrong choices.  But, that's the only way any of us will ever get there.

Also, I think far too many people spend far too much time looking over their shoulder in life and second guessing themselves. This is not productive.  In fact, it's DE-structive.  We've got to get past that mentality.  I think if we do our homework on the front end, and if we truly get to know ourselves throughout all of this, we'll know what decisions to make.  We may not like it at the time, but that doesn't mean we don't know what to do.  The only thing left is to do it.  Or, to accept that we can't for whatever reasons, and learn to live with that. 

For some reason, lyrics to a Keb 'Mo song come to mind:

        There's more than one way home
        Ain't no right way, ain't no wrong
        Whatever road you might be on
        Find your own way, 'cause there's more than one way home.

With that, I'll say goodnight.  It's definitely Sunday now.  And, I'm definitely ready for bed.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

It has been a quiet week so far, which I suppose is a good thing.  A dear friend of mine, who moved here to Arizona about a year ago, is packing to head back east to be closer to family.  We had a group get-together last night to say good-bye - a farewell dinner - and we had a good turn-out for a week night.  I will really miss her.

I bought the new Tom Petty CD today.  I'm a Tom Petty fan from way back - his music is so simple yet it has an irresistible way about it.  I haven't gotten past track 2 yet - Square One.  I think I've listened to it 4 times so far.  I'm not quite sure if it's the lyrics or the tune that has me hooked.  Oh well.  Perhaps it's a little of both.  I expect to get past it to some of the other tracks tomorrow...

I want to put something out there for those who are interested.  I gave a talk at Eastman Kodak last August.  It was video taped for use as a Corporate Trans 101 DVD that we were talking about creating at HRC.  The talk went very well.  I subsequently got a copy of the video and although I generally don't like to see myself on screen I was pretty happy with the way it turned out.

It has been almost a year between then and now.  Things have progressed much slower than they should, and although I'm told that there is an edited version of it somewhere at HRC (they edited an hour out of the original hour and 45 minute footage) the fact of the matter is that this footage is too important to allow it to sit on a shelf somewhere.  A friend has copied the version that I have to DVD, and I'm happy to distribute it as needed until the finished version is delivered (if ever).

I mention this because there are companies that desperately need trans education who wouldn't know where to find it.  If you work for one of these companies, or you know someone in HR or diversity who might benefit from some trans education, feel tree to have them contact me.  I have about 20 of these DVD's so I'm happy to provide them until they're gone.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

It probably sounds odd to say we're having a heat wave when we live in the desert, and mid-summer temperatures here are ridiculously high all the time.  It's a given.  Summer here is like winter in other places - you endure it.  You stay inside as best you can.  You plan your outdoor activities around morning and evening, although even then it's often over a hundred degrees here until midnight.  The beauty of the rest of the year here makes suffering through our summer months bearable - although some people handle the heat better than others.  I rarely complain about the heat because it's just a given when you live here.  It's like complaining about cold if you live in Minneapolis or Green Bay.  If you don't like it there are plenty of cooler places to live, and in fact very few warmer.

Speaking of places to live, I recently saw that the Money Magazine list of Best Places In The USA To Live for 2006 is out.  I was glad to see that Scottsdale, where I live, is #7 on that list.  So, the intense heat here apparently doesn't affect the livability in terms of everything else this area has to offer.  I must admit that it is a very nice place - I think is surprises people who have a certain preconception of what a city in the dessert must be like.  The one thing I think I miss most here, though, is an overall sense of "community".  Rochester has that.  Buffalo had that.  Even Austin has it.  But everyone here comes from someplace else so there's no deeper sense of belonging or being part of the community that I've experienced in other places, or at least I haven't experienced it.  I don't know what kind on intangible value you can give to that kind of thing in terms of ranking or describing the quality of life in cities across the country, but that's something I miss.

Anyway, back to the heat wave.  On Friday the temperature officially reached 119 degrees in Scottsdale.  It was one of the 5 hottest days ever recorded here, and shattered the previous record of 112.  Friday night we had some intense storms blow across the valley that cooled things down briefly.  Some areas north of here experienced torrential downpours and damaging winds, although I live south of all that excitement and didn't see anything more than ominous grey clouds in the distance and gusty winds. Yesterday we hit 116 -  another record.  The high today is forecast to be 115 so it looks as though there is no respite in sight.  All I can say is: "Thank God for air conditioning!"

This has been my first down weekend in quite a while.  There was a time yesterday afternoon when I had no idea what to do with myself - I didn't have to do anything, or be anywhere.  It was weird.  So, I went to the mall to stroll for a couple of hours.  I bought some shoes at DSW Shoe Warehouse.  And, I stopped at Costco.  I had originally planned to spend a little time on the treadmill but by late in the day I just didn't have the motivation so I let that pass.  I'll do it today. 

I didn't wake up until after 8am this morning.  That's almost unheard of.  Even on days that I don't have to get up and do anything my internal clock somehow seems to go off at 6am and that's that - I can't get back to sleep.  This morning I was up at 6, turned over, went back to sleep, and was shocked to see that it was after 8 by the time my eyes cracked open again.  That's one of those simple pleasures you just can't quantify - sleeping in late.  The only thing missing that would have made it absolutely and totally perfect was Elizabeth.

Here's a portion of an email that I sent 7 years ago today - after my FFS.  At the time there was no such thing as the Cocoon House, where most of Dr. O's patients go today to heal, so they put us up on an unused floor in the Hospital that was very dreary.

 Hi Melissa:

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.

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.  Two of them have their spouses with them.  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.

I thank you so much for your concern.  I'm doing ok....far better than yesterday and hopefully not as good as tomorrow.  I'll keep you posted on how things are going.  I can't wait to get better and come home....


I've threatened to do a couple of things for a while now and I'm actually on the verge of making them happen.  The main missing ingredient in actually closing the loop has been time, and I finally have a little bit so I can get these things done.  The first thing is to upload an early version of Wrapped In Blue to this website.  The early manuscripts used many more emails, diary entries, letters, etc. to tell the story of my transition, and in a way I think they do a better job than putting it all in the first person.  I don't necessarily see this as a deterrent from anyone who wants to read the book (a 3rd printing is currently underway and will be available by the end of August).  In fact, I think the two actually compliment each other to tell the whole story.  Creating commercially viable books involve making any number of editing decisions - about length, about flow, about particular words.  I think there's tremendous value in the raw, unedited story - as uneven or as unrefined as it might be.  Look for it here shortly.

Secondly, I'm on the verge of creating my first Podcast.  I have all the equipment I need to do it the way I want.  Now it's simply a matter of learning some of the tools, collecting my thoughts, and getting the first one out there.  I realize that you can do it with a $15 microphone, some shareware tools, a computer, and a website.  I wish it were that simple for me.  My background from college is in Radio/Television and I'm still enamored by sliders, buttons, lights, microphones, cameras and all that stuff even after all these years.  I have a professional condenser microphone, a Mackie mixer with pre-amps, several audio conditioning boards, and software.  I tell you here and now that any shortcomings from the Podcasts certainly won't be from a lack of production equipment - it will come from the "talent" (that's me).  As with the Manuscript, look for it here shortly.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I often remember anniversaries.  That is, I often remember what happened in my life back on a particular day.  Some might tell me that this is living in the past, and I would reply that they just don't get it.  I remember a time that really wasn't all that long ago in the scheme of things when everything in my life seemed to be moving in slow motion.  At the beginning of my transition everything seemed to happen so gradually that it was like nothing was happening at all.  But, it was.  Like a flower growing, budding, and blooming - a key ingredient in so many things is time.  And, as time worked it's magic to help me understand myself better, things gradually started moving faster to the point that it seemed like a train barreling down the tracks.

Through all that, I learned that the best way to gauge your progress on any particular journey was to look back to see how far you've come rather than focus on how much farther you think there is to go.  The road ahead seemed to incredibly huge, so frighteningly daunting that to see it stretch before me was to fear that I'd never be able to make the journey.  Each journey begins with the next step, so moving towards whatever awaits is usually happening whether you realize it or not.  The only way to gauge progress is by identifying milestones in life and considering the distance traveled from them.  I daresay that those who can't see much or any distance have one of three issues going on:  (1) they haven't let enough time pass, (2) they're not looking carefully enough at the changes in their lives between then and now, or (3) they really haven't moved very far in which case I'd say they've probably stagnated.  The sad truth is, I think the far more prevalent condition is scenario 3.  People find a point in their lives and they spend far too much energy simply trying to stay there.  In my world, they're simply waiting to die.

I share all this because today is another of those anniversaries for me.  Today marks the day I had my Facial Feminization Surgery in 1999.  Seven years.  Yesterday marks the day that I left a note on a kitchen counter telling my wife that I couldn't be David anymore, and that I was leaving to make decisions about my life.  She had made it abundantly clear that the only person welcome in that house and in our relationship was the man she thought she had married, and I simply couldn't be that for her anymore.  I needed answers that could not be found there, with her, at home, in that life, so I went to find them elsewhere.

My FFS experience remains the single-most transforming event in my life.  Those who argue that these are simply cosmetic procedures have no clue as to the depth of these profoundly changing events.  It's almost as though they unlock the door that has been restraining our authentic selves, as they allow us to perceive ourselves in a whole new way.  I didn't realize any of this at the time - it's sort of like taking the red pill in the Matrix in that nobody can tell you what it is, you have to see it for yourself.  But this day, July 21, truly marks the end of a life I had lived for 40+ years and that I had outgrown, and the beginning of a life that was still yet to be defined. 

I look back on those days with nostalgia now.  To be sure, they were filled with physical and emotional pain that, at the time, seemed almost on the edge of overwhelming.  But time has passed and has worked its magic.  I have healed.  I have grown.  I have found my life.  Or, better year, I have made my life what it is today.

I will take some quiet time today to remember.  In an odd way, this is a sort of Thanksgiving Day for me (without the food, or the football).  I cannot imagine life any other way, so pausing to help my spiritual self connect with the flow of my life from time to time is a very healthy thing for me. 

On another topic, I got home late Wednesday night from the Gay Games in Chicago.  HRC had schedule a Trans 101 talk for me and I really enjoyed the wide range of people who attended.  Outside there was a huge Immigration protest, but I think the conversation was interesting to the point where we didn't really take much notice.  I even had a couple of sign-language interpreters which was a very nice touch.  I thank everyone for coming, and I thank Donna for making me an honorary "Island Girl".  Now all I need is a beach and a tall, cold rum punch.  Mmmmmm - that sounds like the perfect way to celebrate the significance of today.  :)

My flight home was delayed for 3 hours - 2 of which were spent on the plane parked at a remote area of the runway - because it rained somewhere within a hundred miles of Chicago.  That entire operation seems to be the most fragile thing to me - and the airport is so busy that when flights are delayed it quickly becomes a huge traffic jam.  We had over 30 planes ahead of us waiting to leave, so actually getting into the air took a long time.  Thankfully, I had things to do that kept me busy and I didn't really need to be home for anything (except to sleep) so the time passed relatively quickly.  I got home a bit after midnight, and I finally slipped into my own comfy bed at about 2.  Needless to say, the alarm at 6:15 came much too early, but that's okay. 

Rather than try to capture the highlights of my Gay Games experience in Chicago I've put them into a sort of Diary on a page of its own.  It's more detailed than I typically want to do here on my Blog, but I want to be able to remember it so I've taken the time to write it down while it's still fresh.  It's really more for me than for anyone, but I don't mind sharing.  If you want to read it, please feel free (Donna's GGVII Diary).  It captures the events of the entire trip, not simply the Games themselves.  There are photos there, and I suppose I should warn that they're pretty rough.  Being sweaty and beat-up like that is really the least flattering thing I can think of, but that's just the way it is.  I should also warn that as of this morning I'm still not done writing it so I'll be revising it several times over the next few days.  I just wanted to get it up there now that it's at a point where a significant portion of it is complete.  Anyway, if you choose to read it I hope you enjoy....

With that, I need to get ready for work.  A Friday is ahead of me, and I've got some big things to do today.  I'll share more about what they are and how they fit in some other time.  The problem with Blogs is that people often share way too much. 


Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Not that it has any meaning any more, but today would have been my 25th wedding anniversary.  Sheesh.  That makes me feel old.  And, that life seems so far back in my rear-view mirror of life as to seem almost surreal at this point.  It's hard to believe that something so totally encompassing as my role as a husband and my relationship with my wife have gone and been replaced with other, deeper things. 

Anyway, I'm here in Chicago and write today as the Gold Medal winner at 82kg Women's Wrestling Masters division.  To be perfectly honest, winning this medal was never really in doubt.  I was the only woman registered at this weight class so in a way I won by default.  And, to be even more honest, winning a medal was never really a goal.  As I've written in the past, my goal was more to meet my own expectations for myself and to compete.  And, in that context showing up here, making weight, and participating at all was the threshold for success.

I did have 2 exhibition matches, however, so I did have an opportunity to compete.  In the first I won, which was great.  And, in the second I lost to the Gold Medal winner in one of the men's divisions.  I enjoyed both of them, and other than some aches, pains, and small bruises my main goal of getting through these games without getting hurt seems to have been met.  Phew.  As far as I can tell, this is the first time a transsexual or any flavor has wrestled competitively in a sanctioned event like this.  If nothing else, I'm happy to achieve that.

I've got quite a bit more to say about the experiences over these past few days, but I won't have the time to actually formulate them here until tomorrow.  However, there are a few things I can mention in passing....

The opening ceremonies were amazing.  The entire processional thing at Soldier Field was like a dream, and walking out onto that field is something I'll never forget.  Most of the rest of the evening was pretty forgettable,  but such is life.  :)

Apparently, there was a fairly large article about my wrestling exploits in the Chicago Sun Times yesterday.  I didn't know about it until mid-afternoon when a photographer at the competition approached me and asked if I was the person featured in the article.  He gave me a copy and sure enough, there I was.  By the time I got home last night I had a ton of email from it...

Transgender wrestler seeks more acceptance
Chicago Sun-Times - United States
... Rose, the only transgender member of the Human Rights Campaign board, says the gay community isn't always accepting of people who consider themselves ...

Elizabeth is here until tomorrow.  (As I type this she's sitting on the bed and says 'hello').  It was her birthday on Saturday and I wish I could have spent more time being with her, but between Opening ceremonies and various other obligations we had to find time to celebrate where we could find it.  I suppose the biggest news is that I gave her a very pretty diamond ring as a gift - 13 diamonds, totaling a karat and a bit in a platinum setting.  The bad news is that it's a little small so it needs to be sized, but that's okay.  It made her happy and that's what counts.

Tonight there's a meet-and-greet event for Wrestlers at Touche, and we're planning to head out for dinner afterwards.  And tomorrow, Elizabeth leaves and I have an HRC Trans event to do.  Then, I go back home.

With that, I'll say bye for now.  More to come...

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

It's almost midnight and I need to get to bed.  These last few days have been chock-full, and I'm headed to Chicago tomorrow so if I don't bring things up to date tomorrow it might be a little while before I have an opportunity again.

Between work, meeting people, evening meetings for various organizations, working out, work, and a few precious moments to myself it seems like things have been going from 6am to midnight non-stop lately.  I don't know where the time goes, but it sure does go somewhere.  I did take an hour on Sunday to do something I haven't done in a long time - I lay out in the sun by the pool for an hour.   I know it probably sounds pretty insane to actually want to be in the sun when it's 110 degrees outside, but the fact of the matter is that I was hoping to get a little color.  The parts of me that were covered with suntan lotion did get a little color.  The few parts where I had somehow missed got LOTS of color.  RED color.  Needless to say, they're peeling now.

I went to a clothing store to get a pair of shorts for the Opening Ceremony, and was amused to see that they were already having a Back To School sale.  Here it is - not even the middle of July yet - hotter outside than a proverbial oven - and they're already getting ready for school.  Yeesh.  If I were a kid that'd send shivers up my spine.  Next thing you know they'll be selling Halloween Candy - there aren't many holidays between the 4th of July and Halloween.

There have been a handful of things in the news over the past few days that I'd comment on if it weren't so late and I didn't have to get up so early:

Transgender man's name change denied
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - Rochester, NY, USA
(July 12, 2006)  A transgender Rochester man must provide medical evidence to justify his request to change his first name from Sarah to Evan, a local judge ...

Transgender story not fit for paper
Montgomery Advertiser - Montgomery, AL, USA
Your story about Janus Freeman -- who was a husband and is a father -- who now claims to be a transgender woman is preposterous and does not belong in a family ...

5 year old 'girl' starting school is really a boy
Miami Herald - Miami, FL, USA
Broward County schools' progressive policy on transgendered children will be tested by the admission to kindergarten this fall of a boy who believes that he's a girl.

I do have more to say on these things, and I hope to get to them when I have a little more time (and energy!).

Tomorrow I fly to Chicago.  The time there looks to be as crazy as these last few days have been.  Between my obligations as an athlete in the Games, my involvement in the HRC Board Meetings, an HRC Trans 101 event on Wednesday, some quiet time with Elizabeth, and various other social functions there really aren't many holes in the schedule.  I'd like to schedule some time to get together with whoever from the local community can make it - probably for dinner on Tuesday - so if you think you'll be in the area and want to have dinner with Elizabeth and I write to me and I'll give specifics.

The wrestling competition itself is actually in Evanston, IL.  We'll be there all day Sunday doing a rules clinic, some open sparring, and weigh-in's late in the afternoon.  The wrestling  competition itself happens on Monday.  As I've said from the outset, I won't be surprised if there's not another person in my weight class.  I expect that they'll schedule exhibition matches for those who don't have anyone to wrestle - winning or losing doesn't affect medal standing, but it gives an opportunity to at least get out on the mat and compete.  Anyway, I've prepared myself for whatever happens. 

The goal for me has always been more about doing, more about challenging myself, reconnecting with parts of my life gone by that once were important to me.  I don't see this event in male/female terms.  I don't see it in win/lose terms.  Although it probably comes across as cliche, I truly believe that simply by being there I've gained something.  As with most people, my single-most difficult opponent is myself - my fears, my insecurities, my doubts - and by setting sight on this almost a year ago and following thru with it is simply huge for me.  I'm in better shape than I've been in in a long time, I feel good, I'm happy - I don't know what more I could have wanted out of this (other than an injury-free experience, for which my fingers are already double-crossed).. 

These Games aren't so much about competition for me as they are about socialization.  I remember the spirit and camaraderie of being part of a team, of being involved in something.  I enjoy that spirit, and perhaps this effort is a little about reclaiming some of that.  Somehow, I can't get the movie "The Natural" out of my head - with Robert Redford as Hobbs returning to baseball after life took him on a detour.  Through the admittedly sappy magic of Hollywood he showed that you're never too old to follow your dreams, to do things with your life, to re-invent yourself, to shake off the doubts of others to do and be what's in your heart.  That's what I see when I look at the athletes taking part here.  I see a sea of Roy Hobbs.  I see a celebration of community, not afraid to try, and certainly not afraid to fail.  That's why I'm looking forward to participating.  It's not about winning or losing - it truly is about doing.

Next stop - Chicago.  G'night.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

It's nice to wake up in my own bed on a weekend morning for a change.  Although I had originally considered going to San Diego this weekend for some last-minute training for the Gay Games, I decided that the relaxation of actually spending some down-time at home was more healthy for my overall psyche (not to mention my health) at this point than 12 hours in a car sandwiched around 3 hours on a mat.  It's not going to make any difference in the grand scheme of things.

As I look for new and fun ways to get aerobic exercise I decided to spend a little time hiking Piestewa Peak in the morning before the heat of the day made it impractical.  I've discussed it here before - it's a good hike and actually pretty strenuous.  This morning I'm not feeling any after effects other than my upper calves are sore.  The views from the top remain some of the most spectacular panoramas in the entire Valley, and at the same time it was a very good work out.

So good, in fact, that I felt absolutely drained for most of the rest of the day.  I had absolutely zero energy and would have just as soon lay down to take a nap as do anything else.  I had lunch with my son, did a couple of errands, and generally did some stuff around the house but it was all I could do sometimes to stay out of my bed.  I was feeling more perky around dinner time, but the overall energy drain surprised me a little. 

This entire process of cutting weight to get to the weight class I've set for myself is more than simply making weight.  The reality of the situation is that I don't expect anybody to be in my weight class no matter which of them I'm in so if I miss the one I'm shooting for I'll just find myself in the next highest one.  No big deal there.  But I'm very goal oriented and very driven to do things I've set out to do so this entire thing is as much my own need to keep my focus and my sense of discipline as it is anything specifically related to the Games.  I certainly had the weight to lose (as far as I can tell I've lost almost 20 pounds in the last 8 weeks) and I'm feeling MUCH better about my overall self at the moment than I was when I started.  The good news is that I'm a pound away from the upper limit of the weight class, so it's well within reach.  Of course, it may put a damper on my ability to indulge at the various social events before the Games but that's okay.  I can manage.

I did a little furniture moving here at the house yesterday, as I'm outgrowing the living space I'm in at the moment.  For the past several weeks I've been using part of one of my spare bedrooms as an office where my Mac and my growing audio/video "studio" lives, but I need that space back as a bedroom so the only place to move it was to the dining room.  I took down my nice Ethan Allen dining room table and replaced it with computer gear, audio racks, and technical "stuff".  If that's not geeky, I don't know what it.  Anyways, it's a shock to come out of the bedroom and not see a dining room in the dining room anymore.  I'll have to make some longer term plans here over the next few months - somehow having computer equipment in my dining room rubs my sense of feng shui the wrong way - but for now this should work okay.

My time in Chicago for the Gay Games continues to get busier and busier which isn't a problem so much as a logistical challenge, and opportunities to do new things continue to arrive.  They ran a story in the Chicago Sun Times last week about the games in which they quoted me and mentioned that I wrestled in Canada.  I got an email yesterday inviting me to a reception for the Canadian athletes at the Canadian consulate in Chicago.  I'm doing an interview in my role as National Diversity Co-Chair for HRC while I'm there.  I'm doing a Trans101 event as part of the official Games activities next Wednesday.  Between all the many various social activities, the HRC Board meetings on Friday and Saturday, and all the activities surrounding the actual competition itself there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day. 

To top it all off, Elizabeth will be there and I'm looking forward to spending a little quality down-time with her.  Her birthday is coming up soon so we'll celebrate it while we're there.  Last year we went to Las Vegas for a little get-away, and I expect we'll do something fun like that a little later.  I've got something nice to give her, so I really haven't gone through that awkward "what should I get her?" process - when I saw this thing I immediately knew it was right.

Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Another day, another airport.  It's 9am and I'm sitting patiently at Gate 8 in Austin Bergstrom Airport waiting for my plane back to Phoenix.  I'll hit the ground running when I get there (after collecting my fire-engine red suitcase, of course) as I've got a full day ahead of me.  Part of the problem for traveling so much is that it often takes the better part of a day to play "catch-up" on things just to get back to normal.

I'm remarkably alert this morning given the hectic nature of the past day or so.  For some reason I've been waking up early at mom's house, so I quietly sneak out to get myself a coffee.  As I've mentioned I have been following the Atkins Diet for a few weeks now as part of my final push to get down to the weight I want to be at for the Gay Games, and a real test of that resolve came yesterday when I drove to Krispy Kreme for my early morning java.  When you actually take the time to get out of your car and go into the restaurant they usually entice you by offering you a free, piping hot, right off the conveyor belt, sugar-dripping donut.  Once snared, it's almost impossible to resist buying and eating more - one just isn't enough.  There have been times when my son and I would buy a dozen of these things and six of them would be gone before we even left the parking lot.  It's easy to rationalize that they're best while they're still warm, but the fact of the matter is that somehow I think the sugar rush of that initial freebie titillates some sensory area of the brain so you're at the whim and mercy of the sugar.  I could probably find evidence to suggest that some type of temporary insanity is involved.  No matter.

I had two very good workouts at the fitness center near my mom's house while I was there.  We did a little shopping together.  We ate out at restaurants she enjoys.  All in all, it was just nice hanging out with my mom.

As usual, she had a list of things for me to do.  I spent time up on the roof cleaning out her gutters and putting gutter-guards on them.  I gave her doggie a bath.  I fixed a few simple things around the house that a) she had the tools to fix and b) I had the skill to avoid screwing up.   It makes me feel good to be able do things to help, and I think she enjoys the fact that she can still do motherly things for me (I brought a couple of pieces of clothes that needed simple mending), too.

Yesterday was an odd weather day around the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex.  There were thunderstorms all around the area for most of the day, although we didn't actually see rain at mom's house until late in the afternoon.  It was almost tropically steamy - 90 degrees with 95% humidity - and the air actually had a fog of moisture hanging in it.  We considered passing on the fireworks event, but mom paid $21 for these tickets so we decided to hope that the rain in Ft. Worth had already passed and that things would go off without a hitch.  They did.

This event was called "Concert in the Garden", and perhaps not surprisingly it was a concert by the Ft. Worth Philharmonic Orchestra in the Ft. Worth Botanical Gardens - followed by a 4th of July Fireworks display.  The orchestra was set up on a huge stage at the front, and there were rows and rows of reserved tables set up for people to come and eat and relax.  Behind that there were lawns of people sitting on blankets and generally enjoying the clearing skies and the spirit of the day.  I must say it was very enjoyable - mom and I went with a couple of her friends from church - and we had a delightful time.  There were thousands of people there - sitting at tables, sipping wine, eating various picnic-type delicacies they brought.  The fireworks were actually pretty spectacular and everything went off without a hitch - the moon even peeked itself out for a while.

After the fireworks I had to hug mom good-bye, hop in the car, negotiate the post-firework traffic-jam, and drive to Austin to spend the night (or at least, what was left of it) before getting up early to return the rental car and catch my flight this morning.  It was an uneventful drive with the sparkle of fireworks in the distance all along the Texas landscape.  Fireworks are legal in this state and there are huge warehouses selling them all along Interstate 35.  Some had signs saying "Buy 1 - Get 11 FREE!!" out front, and the rockets were visible until after midnight.  It's a 200 mile drive and passed quickly and without incident, and sometime around 2am I finally faded away to sleep. 

It was a wonderful trip - I really enjoy and appreciate these times I get to spend with mom.  I only wish I could do it a little more often....

PS - As I sat on the plane waiting for the rest of the passengers to file on a friend from Austin recognized me and sat down next to me.  She's  coming to Scottsdale to hang out for a few days.  What are the chances of that?

Monday, July 3, 2006

Donna's Texas road-trip continues through the Dallas area today.  The drive here on Saturday was uneventful, and it's nice to be visiting with Mom.

I think the last time I spent the 4th of July with mom was in 1999.  My life as Dave was gasping its last breaths, and one of the most significant things that remained was to come out to her.  My ex-wife and I went back to upstate NY to visit with family and spend the 4th of July Holiday there, and I told Mom during the trip. 

In fact, this entire month is filled with anniversaries of milestones in my journey that happened in that month.  Later this month will mark the 7th anniversary of my FFS, of coming out at work, and of leaving my life as a husband and a father behind.  As anyone who has faced these events will know, each was filled with equal parts terror and exhilaration.  Looking back on them now fills them with a sense of nostalgia that only time can create.  That being said, it truly was a defining time in my life, and I'd do it all over again a hundred times over.

Each year Oprah does a show on something having to do with the Transgender community, and apparently she did a show last Monday about identical twins where one of them had SRS.  I went to and looked at the discussion boards for the show - some of the posts there are still as ignorant and just plain stupid as they have ever been.  We're making good progress in changing the way that we're perceived and treated, but Lord oh Lord there's still a long way to go.

Since when did religion ever mean that people should disengage their brains and stop thinking?  It just blows me away.  Faith and Intellect are NOT mutually exclusive.  (For what it's worth, the phrase I use to describe people who have lost all capacity to actually think and/or reason for themselves for the sake of religious dogma is God-bots). 

Last week HRC released its State of the Workplace 2006 report which got quite a bit of national visibility (I saw it on CNN, in USA Today, and my mom even clipped the story out of the Dallas newspaper).  The big news is that over half of the Fortune 500 companies are providing domestic partnership benefits to their employees.  Transgender protections continue to make significant strides, and I think there will be some important developments when our Corporate Equality Index for 2006 is released later this summer.  Stay tuned.

Tomorrow night we're going to the 4th of July Firework display in Ft. Worth.  Somehow, I envisioned a big lawn, a blanket, some snacks, and fireworks.  Apparently this is something where you have to buy tickets, you're assigned a seat at a table, and there is music somehow involved.  I'm not sure how it all will work, but Mom is excited and when Mom's happy I'm happy.  Now all we have to do is hope it doesn't rain...

Friday, June 30, 2006

I'm in Austin this morning.  Somehow, Austin has a certain feel to me to it.  I don't know that I can explain it as it's not a logical thing - it's a feeling.  Anyway, I got here late yesterday after a no-complications flight and I'm just up from a good night's sleep.

The Phoenix airport is a huge one - I've read that it's the 6th busiest airport in the United States with over 40 million people passing through it yearly.  They've been renovating some of the terminals for a while now and it really looks nice.  They're even building a new control tower which is absolutely huge - you can see it rising above everything else around it from miles away.  One of the things I particularly like about the airport is that the traffic flow to and from it has always been a snap for me anytime I've gone there.  Some airports I've been to have been traffic nightmares, but I've never had that experience at Sky Harbor which I think is pretty remarkable given the size.

One criticism I have is that I generally rate airports by the size of their bathroom stalls.  I'm not saying that's necessarily indicative of the overall quality of the airport,  but I find there is often a correlation.  Phoenix has not been kind to travelers in that regard - there's barely enough room to get a roll aboard into the stall and close the door.  The accommodations are very skimpy for women travelers, and other airports I've been to are far roomier.  I must say, however, that the recent upgrades at the airport seem to be making their way into the bathrooms as I was in one of the newer ones yesterday and it was noticeably much nicer.

Another thing I really like about the Phoenix airport is that they have Free wireless internet.  That's FREE.  No charge.  No cost.  No intermediate hosting company charging $6.95 or $9.95 to connect for an hour or a day.  The entire city of Tempe is wireless, and that includes the airport.  Frankly, I think that's just smart because I'm far more inclined to get there a little earlier for my flight knowing I can do work there, which in turn means I have a better chance of spending money there.  Anyway, I really like that.

I bought a new suitcase at Costco last week.  It's made by the Swiss Army knife people, and took the place of another suitcase that eventually succumbed to the rigors of baggage handlers and air travel.  It was a hard-sided Samsonite case, and believe it or not it eventually got a split in it.  Something hit it so hard that one of the sides split (and no, it wasn't because I overpacked it).  I can't see buying really expensive luggage because it's just going to get trashed anyway. 

This new suitcase is fairly big and is bright, fire-engine red.  I certainly won't have trouble finding it on the carousel.  You could probably see the thing with the lights off.  As I boarded the plane yesterday I saw the cart full of baggage being loaded onto the plane and there, among all the bland black, green and gray bags was my bright red suitcase.  I had to smile at that.  I try not to stand out too much but my luggage screams "HEY!!  LOOK AT ME!!".  Too funny.

I'm staying with my friend Lisa here, and as I've mentioned during past visits with her I'm so glad I don't have HDTV at my house.  It's just so visually stunning that I'd get nothing done - I'd be watching it.  Last night there was some show about life under the ice in Antartica and it was just amazing - the colors, the detail, just the overall feel of it.  And, when it comes to sports - forget it.  Sports are just so wonderful to watch on it that it's better than being there.  I'm glad to have the chance to have visitation rights to HDTV, but my productivity is not ready to suffer as a convert yet.

Today looks to be pretty tame.  I'll be dialed into work for much of the day.  I'm planning to head over the the fitness center this afternoon.  I have appointments to color and style my hair late this afternoon and into the evening.  Lisa and I will probably grab some dinner and perhaps we'll go out for a little while.  We'll see how we're feeling.  And that, I think, will be that.

Tomorrow I'm renting a card to drive up towards Dallas to spend a few days of quality time with my Mom.  I can't wait to see her.  Over the years she's certainly gotten older but I've never heard it in her voice until the last 6 months or so.  She had always sounded the same until just recently and that scares me.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to doing a whole lot of nothing with her over these next few days.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

If you visited my website anytime in the last 24-36 hours you may have noticed that it was taking a short vacation.  It was "down".  I think this is the first significant lapse I've had since I set it up in 2002.  I'm in the middle of changing hosting services (it's a long story) and I should have planned a little better.  Oh well.  If you sent me an email in the last day you probably had it returned and I didn't get it, so if it's something important please send it again.  If any of the links are broken or photos are missing from anywhere in my website please let me know because everything has been completely moved to another server.  The technical support staff has been great in helping me to get it up and running - really helpful and friendly.

So, after this brief stint of "down" time - it's good to be back.  :)

As for my ongoing training - I'm focusing totally on aerobics at this point.  I took yesterday off after three pretty good 4-mile days.  My legs needed the rest, and they bounced back today and actually really surprised me.  I ran 5 miles in 48 minutes - certainly not blazing speed but when you take into account that I run in long sweats and a sweatshirt - you'll see that speed isn't my goal here.  My goal is consistency - keeping a consistent speed mile after mile.  And somehow, it works.  I think my next actual mat-time will come next weekend - I'll head to San Diego for a day to work out with the club there before heading off to Chicago.

I got a call today from a reporter for the Chicago Sun Times.  We had a nice chat.  He's doing a story about the Gay Games and we talked a little bit about why I'm participating and my perspective on things in general.  I don't know that anything we discussed will make the final copy, but he says it's scheduled for print on Sunday.  I'm glad to see that more mainstream media are covering the games - not just the GLBT press.  There are going to be some extraordinary people and stories there.

As I type there's a Lewis Black comedy special on HBO in the background.  He's one of my two favorite comics these days - the other, of course, being Larry the Cable Guy.  Somehow, the comedians I end up liking end up becoming popular, and then fading away.  Rita Rudner - where are you?  Sam Kineson - gone.  I hate to say this but I thought Ellen was a whole lot funnier way back before she had a talk show.  Oh well. 

Monday, June 26, 2006

Another work week starts.  I can't believe the 4th of July is just around the corner.  How do these Holidays sneak up on me so quietly?  Maybe it's because I'm always doing something so I just don't notice.  Ya think?

The trip to Atlanta went well.  On Saturday, after a brisk run on the treadmill - a friend picked me up from the hotel and a small group of us went out for lunch.  She took me to a restaurant in a place called Atlantic Station which was actually very impressive.  I'm told it was the site of the Atlantic Steel Mills years ago and was basically a toxic waste dump and general eyesore for decades once the steel mill closed down.  Developers bought it and are building a "city within a city" and it's actually pretty amazing - condos, trendy shops and restaurants, underground parking decorated almost like a subway system, high rises - all brand spanking new.  I was really impressed, and I'm looking forward to having a little more time to look around there next time I go back.

 We couldn't dilly-dally all day because I wanted to spend some time at Atlanta's PRIDE celebration which was held this past weekend.  It was great.  I've been to several PRIDE's but I've never seen one quite like this.  The hundreds of vendor tents lined the sidewalk in a park - along a small lake and all the color of everything as it wound along into the distance looked almost like a rainbow ribbon.  To walk the entire thing must have been at least a couple of miles, and the sidewalks were absolutely packed with people.  Thankfully, the sun hid behind the clouds from time to time giving a brief respite from the 90+ degree heat and humidity, and the fortunate vendors were the ones who were actually in the shade of the trees for the most part. 

On Friday I got back to the hotel after the event at Cox and was on the treadmill when the news reported that a late-afternoon storm packing high winds had ripped through the park and toppled all the lighting and rigging on the main stage.  Thankfully, we didn't have a repeat of that on Saturday and I'm hopeful that the weather for Sunday's parade (I'm told it's one of the largest PRIDE parades in the country) was equally as inviting.  I was a little concerned that late day storms might delay my flights but none of that ever materialized so the trip home was actually pretty uneventful.  Although I was only in Atlanta for 48 hours or so it really did seem like so much longer.  In a good way.

Yesterday was spent doing any number of things.  Cleaning.  Unpacking.  Shopping.  Ironing.  I went to the send-off party for Team Arizona for those of us participating in the Gay Games.  I even met another wrestler there - apparently we're the only two from Arizona who will be competing.  It was hotter than Hades outside so I didn't linger very long - just long enough to get my uniform and my pins.  And, I spent some time at the fitness center before coming home to spend a relaxing evening here.

I think one of the highlights of today is the fact that it was a good hair day for some reason.  Who can explain why one day is good, and another day using the exact same products and styling techniques just won't turn out right now matter what?  The Hair Goddess is a fickle deity, with a cruel sense of humor.  I'm headed to Austin soon for another trim and color, although I kind of like the general length at the moment.  We'll see what happens.

Tonight I treated myself to a nice, simple dinner.  If you've ever been to dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House you may know that they have an appetizer salad that is basically Beefsteak Tomato slices, pieces of sliced red onion, crumbled blue cheese, and a nice vinaigrette dressing.  It really is nice.  Anyway, tonight I made my own version of it and I must admit it tasted just as nice as the restaurant fare.  For the main course I had small shrimp cocktail.  Somehow, it all hit the spot just perfectly. 

I have more travels planned this week, and I'll be visiting with mom in Texas soon.  In the meantime, I'll just enjoy being home.

Friday, June 23, 2006

For the first time in a long time, I've got some time to myself.  It's actually kind of nice.

When the wake-up call came at 6:30 this morning I was in a deep sleep and it took me 30 seconds to figure out where I was, what day it was, why I'm here, and why I needed to get up.  Of course, my internal clock (set to Arizona time, which is 3 hours earlier) made it feel like 3:30am to me so it's no wonder I was a little groggy. 

The event today went very well.  It was held at the Cox Communications headquarters here in Atlanta which was actually very impressive.  There's a kind of Japanese Garden thing happening in the courtyard which is really pretty impressive with running water, greenery, flowers, a gazebo, and secluded benches/chairs/tables.  It almost seems out of place surrounded by a big building as it is, but it really looked nice.

I've seen more than my fair share of employee cafeterias and based on my short visit to the one at Cox  this morning it has Donna's 4 star rating.  I got a fresh-made 3-egg ham and extra cheese omelet for $2.49.  I only planned on eating half of the colossal thing, but it was just so moist and tasty and dripping with cheese that it was gone before I realized what happened.  Mmmm-mmmm. 

My thanks go out to everyone who participated in today's event.  I think it was very worthwhile, and I expect it will become a model for others in the future.  The speakers were very knowledgeable and interesting, the topics were varied and important, the pacing was brisk without being rushed, and the information was first-rate.  All in all, I can't think of anything I would change.

I arranged to stay here in Atlanta for an extra night - originally based on the possibility that Elizabeth might be able to drop by (she can't) but also just to relax.  This is PRIDE weekend here in Atlanta and I'd like to see that, so my flight home isn't until tomorrow evening.  I got back to the hotel, did some work, had a wonderful run on the treadmill in the fitness center, showered up, took the shuttle bus to the Perimeter Mall, and now I'm tired.  Go figure.  While I was at the mall I bought some lip gloss at Victoria's Secret (on sale: 2 for $10!).  The sales girl suggested one called Birthday Cake.  It's really pretty and she said it really tastes like birthday cake and it does!  Too cool.

All the folks from HRC National have either gone back home or moved to another hotel closer to the PRIDE activities so things are pretty quiet here now.  I'm not the partying type so the thought of going out on a Friday evening really holds very little allure to me.  I'd much rather make a little time to take a nice warm bath which I think I'll do just as soon as I'm done here.  And then - I'll just slide my warm, relaxed, rested self into bed.  I don't have to be up at any specific time tomorrow which is a rarity for me so the coast is clear to catch up on my sleep. 

Thursday, June 22, 2006

I'm in Atlanta tonight, and my hair sure feels the difference that a little (or in this case, a lot) of humidity can make.  It reminds me of living in Texas, where you could spend an hour on your hair but within ten minutes of stepping outside it was all for naught.  Humidity does odd things to hair - it's almost like a chemical reaction happens to make it become totally unruly and frizzy.  I suppose if you live in a place where there's lots of moisture that's just something you have to come to peace with.

My travels today were fairly painless today other than a half hour in a holding pattern waiting for some thunderstorms to move through the area.  One of the things I sometimes bring to amuse myself on longer flights is one of those portable DVD players (from Costco, of course), so I watched "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" during the portions of the trip when I wasn't a) sleeping or b) doing Sudoku puzzles.  I must admit that the particular seat I was in (12B) was one of the most uncomfortable airplane seats I can remember in a long time.  No matter - my butt seems to be none the worse for wear.

If I had to put a one-word title to today it would be "Temptation".  By temptation I don't mean anything seedy or gross.  I mean I've been doing so well on my latest adventure with the Atkins diet, and today I found myself tested over and over again.  I'm pleased to say I was up to each challenge, and tonight my willpower remains unbroken.

When I got to the hotel this afternoon they offered me a fresh baked, warm, chocolate chip cookie.  The aroma alone was enough to satisfy the Atkins carb limit for the day.  I somehow found the will-power to decline.

A group of us went out to dinner tonight.  Where?  The Cheesecake Factory (not my selection, by the way).  For anyone who has ever been to one of these restaurants, it's like a brick wall of cheesecake.  The portions for the meals are outrageously large, but on top of that they have fantastic cheesecake that they flaunt at every opportunity. 

People have come for this event from all over the country, so the group was ready for cocktails as soon as we sat down.  One thing I'll say about gay men - they can be very specific when it comes to their drinks.  Listening to them all order was actually pretty humorous - it was like listening to Elizabeth order her 7 pump non-fat blah-blah-blah-blah latte at Starbucks.  Very specific.  Very precise with their brands, with their garnishes, and just with they way they ordered.  These people, I decided, drink too much.  I, of course, had nothing.

I did a good job during dinner - lots of protein - but the real test came at dessert.  The guy next to me ordered a hot fudge sundae, which came with an extra little cup of warm fudge on the side.  Ummmmm.  They ordered a couple of pieces of cheesecake for the table - one was something like Chocolate Turtle something-or-other.  And, as much as I wanted to jump into these delicacies, I kept my distance and watched in amusement.

I don't want to give the impression that by the time dinner was over I was some poor drooling, tortured, self-denying soul.  It's not that at all.  It's just that I'm a very disciplined person when I set my mind to something and that's all there is to it.  I'm focused (for now). And, when the Gay Games are over I'll celebrate by over-indulging.  Right now, though, I have other priorities so it's all business.  It's all about balance.

Tomorrow is REALLY all business.  We're talking about GLBT workplace issues for a group of local corporate leaders.  Atlanta is home to several large companies: Coca Cola, Delta Airlines, Home Depot, Deloitte, Sun Trust, Cox Communications - and others. I'm told that they've collected quite the group of executives to participate in the event tomorrow.  The entire afternoon is dedicated to trans issues in the workplace, which is very exciting.  I'll let you know how it goes....

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

It's mid-week already.  I almost can't believe that.  It seems like just yesterday I was writing the previous entry.

What have I done so far this week?  I went to see Cars.  I was one of 5 people in the entire theater.  It was like having my own theater.  The movie was amazing.  How do they do animation like that?  It's absolutely wild.  I really enjoyed it.

I go to the fitness center pretty much every day, but I'm at a point where I need a couple of days off.  I've earned it.

The registration on my car is expiring soon so I went to the Department of Motor Vehicles to renew it.  When I lived in New York there was a flat fee of, like, $24 to renew a registration.  Here in Arizona they base the fee on the blue book value of the car.  To renew my car for one year cost over $300!  Ouch.  Plus, whereas in NY your car needs to pass a safety inspection where they check the brakes, the tires, and all that kind of stuff - here in Arizona you have to pass an emissions test.  The car could be death on wheels but if it's not polluting then it's good to go.  It's funny to see how different states handle these things differently.

When I got outside the DMV there was a table there registering people to vote.  Here in Arizona there is a conservative group trying to get 250,000 signatures to add a Defense of Marriage amendment added to the state constitution.  Anyway, the woman at the table asked me if I'd like to register to vote and I told her I was already registered.  Then, she asked if I'd like to sign the petition to add the despicable hateful marriage bill to the constitution.  I told her that I'm strongly in favor of same-sex marriage and wouldn't sign that petition even if she pulled out a gun and put it to my head.  She didn't say much after that....

I'm headed to Atlanta tomorrow to do a corporate event with the Human Rights Campaign there.  Leaders from many of the large local corporations will be there.  The entire afternoon is dedicated to transgender issues in the workplace, and I'm looking forward to seeing how this goes.  We did a similar event at Starbucks in Seattle last year, but I'm hopeful we do 3 or 4 of these a year.  Anyway, I'll be back home on Saturday.

This looks to be a good weekend to be away from here.  They're predicting high temperatures of 113 on Saturday and Sunday.  Even by Phoenix standards - that's hot.  You haven't lived until you've gotten in your car that has been sitting in the sun for a few hours.  Or, when you walk across a parking lot the heat is coming down, but it's also coming up from all the black asphalt.  It's just nasty.  The best bet - just stay inside.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

It's 9am on a clear, sunny Sunday morning in the desert.  Today is Father's Day.  One thing about my dad is that he really made good eggs.  I can't imagine him cooking much else, but when it came to eggs - he knew his stuff.  I made myself an omelet this morning - mushrooms, onions, cheddar cheese.  And ham.  It's all very "Atkins-friendly", and it was delicious.  I've found that the secret between a good omelet and a wonderful one is really blending the eggs and a little cream until it's frothy.  My mom gave me a hand blender thingy that's perfect for the job, and I've found the only way to screw it up is to a) add too much cream or b) cook it too long.

I have to admit that while my father was alive I never gave Father's Day much thought.  Probably that's because my dad never made a big deal of it either.  We never went out to eat, and thinking back I don't know that we even got him a card (my sister probably did, but I guess I just wasn't paying much attention).  It just wasn't his thing.  The year after he died Father's Day rolled around and hit me squarely in the face - out of nowhere.  Somehow all the memories reminded me how much I really missed him and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was a pretty messy day.  I think it's one of those "you don't realize what you have until it's gone" things, and it hit me hard that day.

I did a radio interview yesterday about Father's Day and they asked if my son and I celebrated it.  I explained that I think Father's Day and Mother's Day are just opportunities to highlight our parents, to show them we love them, and to really appreciate them.  I'm certainly my son's biological father - it's actually something I'm very proud of.  And although things have changed significantly for me in recent years our bond is probably as close or closer than it ever was.  He has a biological mother, too, and I don't want to steal any of her thunder on Mother's Day so I'm happy to concede that turf as far as my son goes.  It doesn't diminish me in any way - in terms of my role as a parent, as a person, or as a woman to be sensitive to these things and have pride in the role I play in my son's life.  The fact that our language doesn't express non-traditional families well, or that there's very little outside the father/mother binary, doesn't mean we can't find ways to accommodate them.

While I was at my doctor the other day we were talking about this and we agreed that a wonderful (and much needed) business would be to create and distribute card celebrating non-traditional families.  Same-sex parents.  Trans parents.  Children who are raised by their grandparents or someone other than their biological mother and father for whatever reason.  These kinds of parents deserve the appreciation and love that these holidays are meant to celebrate, but Hallmark really doesn't think outside the box in this regard.  Anyway, if anyone wants to draw up a business plan on this count me in.

I've got a pretty relaxing day lined up.  I'm doing some work around the house this morning, which I actually enjoy.  I'm finally getting the upper hand on all the cleaning and other stuff I've been wanting to do around here.  I've got a couple of brief errands to run.  This afternoon I'm going to go and see "Cars", the Pixar animated movie.  Later in the afternoon my son and a friend from back in Rochester (he's here doing an internship for the summer) will get together and have some dinner.  Most of the restaurants are likely to be crazy-busy, but I'm thinking a good burger would hit the spot - plus, it's Atkins friendly!

Then, to close the day once things get a little cooler I'm planning to go for a run.  Temperatures around here have been pretty steady at 108-110 in the late afternoon, which really isn't a big deal unless you want to do something outside. 

Last night I attended the Arizona Human Rights Foundation gala dinner at the Arizona Biltmore.  It was the 3rd of the big GLBT dinners held here each year, and I must say this year's event was head and shoulders above last year's.  When you go to lots of these things you're aware of pacing, production value, organization, quality of speakers, etc.  I can honestly say I can't think of a single thing to complain about.  The speakers were all well-deserving and tremendously articulate.  The videos on the huge screens were just perfect - well done, interesting, adding the right amount of background support for what was happening on stage.  The set and overall decor was simple but very effective.  All in all, big congratulations to everyone involved. 

The highlight was featured speaker Kathy Najimy.  The thing I remember her best for was her role in Sister Act, but I looked at the list of things she has done and she's one busy woman.  She was funny, interesting, sometimes profane, but always on target.  I'm sure she does quite a few of these kinds of things but she made everything she said seem genuine and spontaneous.  She told a story of her first job as a costume bunny telegram delivery person.  We're not talking Playboy bunny here - we're talking full chubby bunny outfit with whiskers and the whole deal.  It was hysterical. 

Just like dessert, her talk was the perfect piece-de-resistance to a wonderful meal.  Oh, and I even won something in the silent auction.  I'm not really ready to divulge exactly what it is, but I think it'll probably be part of my blog sometime in the coming weeks. 

Friday, June 16, 2006

I went to see my doctor today. It was one of those good news/bad news things.  One piece of good news is that my blood pressure was 110/70 which made me happy.  The bad news is that I need to go back in a couple of weeks for a full physical (it's been a year since my last one).  Some bad news was that they had to draw some blood to check my hormone levels and my cholesterol.  But, the good news is that the person taking the blood (his name was Brian) made it the most painless blood experience I can ever remember.  All in all, it wasn't a bad experience and I suppose it's all part of routine care and maintenance of my body.  Oh - and one more piece of good news.  I finally got on a scale - I had my eyes closed but eventually opened one of them and was pleasantly surprised to see that I've lost 12 pounds in the last week and a half!  Ten more to go. 

I did a radio interview on the Don & Mike Show this afternoon.  Apparently, it's broadcast all over the country.  I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I think it went okay.  We had some fun.  They gave my website address on the air and I expected every loony who listens to the show to write, but I was pleasantly surprised to get some wonderful e-mails.  I think it was a worthwhile thing to do.

Then, I spent an hour at the Apple Store learning about the basics of non-linear editing with Final Cut Pro.  I can see that I have my work cut out for me.  I'm really looking forward to getting started.  In fact, I had two different events to be at this evening and I decided to skip both of them.  I wanted to spend a little time working on my Mac - giving an opportunity for us to get to know one another - and it turned out to be a very pleasant, calm, relaxing evening. 

There are two things of interest I want to mention.  First, the Gwen Araujo story will be broadcast on Lifetime on Monday evening (June 19).  The title is "A Girl Like Me" and all I can say is that I really hope it's well done.  It's such an important story to tell, and I know that Gwen's family has been involved in the production so I'm hopeful.  I'll have my Tivo all set.

Secondly, I don't know how many people read The Advocate but there have been some positive gains there in terms of trans inclusion.  Frankly, I don't find the publication trans inclusive in any substantive way.  Every time I see them refer to a trans person they refer to us as "Gay".  A couple of months ago I was featured as a "Gay Corporate Leader".  I don't think they asked me about my sexuality during the interview.  This month they include Andrea James as a "Future Gay Leader".  Somehow, the saying "When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail" comes to mind in that they perceive the entire GLBT community to be Gay.  This is a stereotype that needs to be broken.

At the Point Foundation event in West Hollywood last week we talked with Bruce Steele, who is the Editor In Chief for the magazine about the fact that the masthead reads "The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine".  Most leading organizations are becoming more inclusive by using the term GLBT instead of just "gay & lesbian" so if the intent is really to be inclusive, that needs to be changed.  He indicated that it's a difficult process to change it, but that there are "discussions" about it.  I don't know - it seems to me that if Fortune 500 companies can change their EEO policies to be more inclusive then a magazine can make the business case and make it happen.  I suppose we'll see.  Frankly, it seems to me that it's just not a priority - probably because there's nobody to champion it inside the organization.

The good news is that they're carrying a column by one of our own, Joanne Herman, about trans issues.  The first of them was actually published in the print edition, but the remainder are only available on the Advocate website.  They come out every two weeks and there have been 6 of them so far.  If you're interested in reading them the best place to go is Joanne's website:

Thursday, June 15, 2006

It's Thursday evening, and as odd as this may sound I don't really have all that much to share tonight.  I'm sure if I think hard enough I can find something, though.

I stopped by my doctor's office today to get my hormone prescription refilled and the nurse said I needed to schedule an appointment to see him.  Their records indicate my last visit with him was last March, and I could swear I've seen him since then but maybe not.  Oh well.  I enjoy seeing him so I'm not really complaining.  They slipped me in for tomorrow.

My first week on the Atkins Diet has been a success, I think.  I'm feeling pretty good, and I've handled the temptations of the week very well.  I met some friends for lunch today and had salmon, and met some other friends for dinner and had steak (I only ate half - the rest will be dinner some other evening).  I exerted significant self-control as I watched a friend enjoy Peanut Butter Gelato for dessert. 

Some have been asking me how much weight I've lost and I really can't say as I don't weigh myself.  It's just not a productive thing.  I think we've had this discussion before.  I find the daily ups and downs of measuring weight to be detrimental to the health of any weight loss plan, so I just don't do it.  I can tell things are going in the right direction by how I feel, and how my clothes fit, but as for actually stepping on the scale I'm just not there.  I'll get around to it in a couple of weeks or so because I'll need to see how things are going in relation to reaching my weight class for the Gay Games, but otherwise it's really a non-issue for me.  My goal is to lose 15-20 lbs total by the middle of July, so we'll have to see how it all plays out.

There is another of the big local black-tie dinners on Saturday.  This one is to benefit the Arizona Human Rights Fund (AHRF), and will be at the Arizona Biltmore.  I'll be delayed a little because I've got a radio interview to do, but I suppose it's good to be fashionably late.  Kathy Najimy (from Sister Act) will be the entertainer.  That's one of my mom's favorite movies, and any movie mom likes is ok in my book, too.  I usually have someone here to zip me up before we go, but not this time.  I can see myself wandering out by the pool asking whoever happens to be there to zip me.  I still haven't mastered the art of zippering any more than I've come to understand why people put zippers in places that a single human all alone can't reach.  I think is has to do with making women feel inadequate and needy - that we need someone to HELP us get dressed.  Yeesh. 

Speaking of mom, I'm making arrangements to visit with her for a few days next month.  I'm really looking forward to seeing her again.  It has been way too long.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Well, I'm back.  Although this trip was only a couple of days long it somehow seems longer - not in a bad way but maybe because things just seemed to flow so well.

I drove to Los Angeles on Sunday afternoon.  I left Scottsdale at around 10 in the morning, and Mapquest said it was a 400 mile trip.  The scenery was actually very pretty (well, as pretty as the desert can be) and time passed quickly.  I suppose the biggest surprise of the drive was getting to the outskirts of Palm Springs and suddenly seeing a forest of windmills off in the distance.  As I got closer I saw that's what it really was - windmills of various shapes and sizes stretching as far as the eye could see.  The entire landscape seemed to be a whir of motion as they turned.  As I got closer I saw that the seeming random positioning from afar was actually neat rows, kind of like corn fields, that extended all the way to the foot of the mountains.  And, the largest of these windmills was HUGE.  (There is a picture of the windmills here). 

The roads were clear, the weather was fantastic, and the speed limit in Arizona is 75 mph (so, of course, I actually go a little faster).  But, as I got into California I noticed to my horror that the price of gas there makes the price of gas here look absolutely cheap!  Some places I saw out there were 75 or 80 cents or more per gallon than it is here - upwards of $3.65 in some places.  Geez Louise.  I don't know how people can afford to drive out there. 

I arrived at the hotel just before dinner time, and had arranged to stay with Joanne Herman who is a trustee for the Point Foundation.  We stayed at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, which is a very foofy place.  I did a little research on it and wasn't really surprised about what I found (read it here, if you want).  Our room overlooked the pool area which was a sight to behold - the weather was gorgeous and so were the people by the pool.  Oh my.  And, I must say that the beds were among the most comfortable I've slept in at ANY hotel.  Really.  Just amazingly comfortable. 

After I arrived we walked a few blocks to Rodeo Drive, past all the fancy designer stores and jewelers to a cute little restaurant that the concierge recommended.  The walk was almost surreal - I remember being there a long time ago with my wife and my son as a child.  To top it off, dinner was very pleasant, and we both really enjoyed it.

Anyway, the reason for the trip was to attend a Gala event for the Point Foundation last night.  The Point Foundation provides college scholarships to GLBT youth who have been rejected, kicked out, and otherwise separated from their families.  It broke your heart to listen as a few of the students shared their stories with the audience.  They're such amazing kids - so resilient.  So hard working.  If these are our leaders of tomorrow than I think we're going to be in really good shape.  For anyone looking to get involved with a good cause, check out their website - click on the picture of all the students and then on any individual photo to read about these kids.  They're incredible.  And, if you're a GLBT student you might want to learn more about them....

The event was sold-out - 600 tickets - and it was as much fun to people watch as anything.  There were all kinds of Hollywood types there.  One thing in particular that I notices was this sort of messy guy haircut that seemed to turn into a short little Mohawk in the middle of their heads.  Calpernia said it's called a "faux-hawk" which I thought was pretty cute, and there certainly were some very pretty people there.  The main speaker for the event was singer K.D. Lang who joked that she's a better singer than she is a speaker.  I think she did a wonderful job. 

The fact that I'm on Atkins meant that (a) I couldn't drink anything but water (which was so hard considering everyone else was drinking champagne) and (b) I couldn't go anywhere near the dessert table for fear of doing something impulsive I'd regret later.  I did an excellent job of controlling myself.

There were actually some people there that I knew - through HRC, through GLAAD, through any number of other events I've attended.  I hadn't seen some of them in a few years so it was really nice to catch up on things with them.  Andrea James and Calpernia were there, and it was nice to catch up with them on things.  They seem to have this Hollywood thing down pat.  To top it off, events like this usually give a gift bag at the end full of little goodies, and this particular gift bag was an Armani Exchange purse/bag.  It's really nice.  That alone was worth the entire trip.  :)

We did fit in a little sight seeing.  Believe it or not, Joanne had never been to a Costco and wanted to visit one so we found the closest one and spent a little time there.  Go figure.  And, I spent some time at the fitness center in the hotel which was just wonderful.  You know how many hotels have a couple of old creaky treadmills, some weights, and perhaps a stationary bike or something in a little closet and call it a fitness room?  This hotel has a fantastic fitness center and I had a great workout.

Today, I decided to visit some co-workers that I've never met before who work out of the Simi Valley location before driving home.  It's nice to finally actually put faces to names who are on the various conference calls that I attend each week.  Everyone was very nice.  I only stayed for an hour and a half, but it was well worth the visit.  Then, I started the 6 hour drive home.

On the way I stopped at Best Buy.  The movie "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is out on DVD today and I wanted to get that.  Also, the HBO series "Band of Brothers" is on sale for half of what it was originally selling for so I bought that.  I also noticed that one of the bands I listen to, the Corrs, has a new DVD out.  The band is comprised of brothers and sisters from an Irish family, and they're tremendously entertaining (did I mention that they're all very easy on the eyes, too?) - both to listen to and to watch (see some video here if you want to see what I mean).  As part of my own unique musical Yin/Yang, one of my favorite songs out at the moment is by an edgy band called "She Wants Revenge", and is titled "Tear You Apart".  Go figure.

Anyway, now that I write it all down, no wonder it seems like more than just a couple of days. 

When I got back home this evening I was surprised to see that there were 9 messages on my answering machine in just the short span of time that I was away.  That never happens.  Well, apparently an interview I did several weeks ago about being trans and celebrating Father's Day was sent out over a news wire yesterday, so my machine was full of messages from reporters who want to talk about it.  One if from Dublin, Ireland.  Another is from CBS Radio in Washington, DC.  Another is from ABC.  Others are from local markets.  Sheesh.  I've got my work cut out for me returning phone calls in the morning.

With that, I'll say 'goodnight'......

Saturday, June 10, 2006

There was full moon out tonight.  It was absolutely stunning.  I waited until the heat of the day had passed and the moon was like a huge beacon low on the horizon to start on one of my late-day power walks.  When I say that the heat had passed I mean it was still in the mid-ninety's, but with the sun out of the sky it doesn't really feet like it.  I walked about an hour and a half, at a pretty good clip, and I'm pooped (and even a little sore).  I'll pour myself into bed here in a few minutes, once the Tylenol PM's kick in.

Serendipitously, Flashdance is on TV.  If there was ever something to energize (or depress) a person to get back in shape it's the scene where she's exercising near the beginning.  Her body is so so  perfect - muscular, tight, feminine.  Lord, I think I need a shower.  I started the Atkins Diet a few days ago and am neck deep in protein at the moment.  I find the induction phase really works to shed pounds and I finally have some time when I'm not traveling like crazy so now's as good a time as any. 

I drive to Los Angeles tomorrow for the Point Foundation gala on Monday.  The Point Foundation is an organization that provides scholarships to GLBT Youth and is a very worthwhile cause for those looking for ways to extend their philanthropy.  I'm going at the invitation of Joanne Herman who I met several years ago at one of the transgender conferences and who is now on the Board there.  I called her on Friday to inquire what the dress will be for the event, and am a little scared to find out she's not quite sure.  She made a couple of phone calls and says she has settled on a pant-suit but I'm sorry, there will be no pant suit in my future.  Since I'm driving I can overpack so I'm taken a couple or three different potential outfits to try. 

I had originally planned to turn this weekend into an entire Los Angeles experience. LA Pride is this weekend, and the weather is absolutely perfect for pretty much anything, so it would have been a good weekend to relax there.  But the combination of wanting to save a little $$$, the need to relax at home for a little while, and just general travel burn-out helped to curtail it to something shorter.  I spent most of my day today cleaning, laundry, ironing, catching up on mail, and generally getting stuff done around here.  There's still lots to do, but I feel as though I made some headway.  In the scheme of things, it was a very worthwhile day.

On another topic, one of my favorite places to shop for clothes is Steinmart (good selection, good quality, good prices).  I went there yesterday on my way to the fitness center and was happy to see that they're having a shoe sale.  Surprisingly, there were 3 pair that fit me, looked good, were comfortable, and were 50% off!  That almost never happens.  When you have larger feet (mine are anywhere between a 10 and an 11 in Women's sizes) the pickings can be pretty slim.  I chose to believe that these were there thanks to fate and I was being told to buy all 3.  So I did.  I love feeling as though I'm getting a bargain.  :)

Anyway, wish me luck on the road tomorrow.  400 miles is not a long trip for me.  Once I load the car up with CD's and something to drink it'll go by quickly.  As I've said before, I enjoy road trips.


Friday, June 9, 2006

It has actually been a pretty good week. I've been sleeping well, I've been eating well, I've started running again, my overall schedule seems to be pretty balanced - I'm in a very good place at the moment.  Certainly, it's only temporary but I'm really glad to be here none the less.  :)

At work I have a pair of headphones to listen to music or whatever while I work. I work better with music. I really do. I know people who are distracted by it but somehow all the ambient noise of the office - people talking, phones ringing, miscellaneous other office noise - is more of a distraction to me than the isolation of a pair of headphones and good tunes. Lately I've been listening to one of those internet radio stations on, specifically the station titled "The Coffeehouse". I don't know who picks the music there but whoever they are, they're one of my heroes. Song after song it's exactly the music that I like.

I'm headed over to my electrologist Maria's today for another blast of laser on my legs. I can't tell you the last time that I shaved my legs or my underarms - it's really amazing. Some of the hair is light and I doubt that it will ever ALL go away, but for the most all the darker hair has dwindling away each time we've done it. I'm down to a precious few and I'm hopeful this will take care of it. I plan to get some sun on my legs after this (I really need it, which was never more apparent than the day at the beach in South Carolina last week) which isn't conducive to laser. It's so nice not to have to shave every few days (I know some people who say they shave their legs every day!) or to have nubs to deal with.

I have flight reservations to fly to Los Angeles tomorrow. The main purpose of the trip is to attend the Point Foundation gala there on Monday. I'll be at a table with Calpernia and Andrea James. The editor of the Gay and Lesbian magazine "The Advocate", Bruce Steele, will also seated with us. I'm looking forward to meeting him and I'm hopeful to hear that they're planning to become more trans inclusive in coming months.

The more I think about it, I may decide to pass on the flights and just drive it. I was originally planning to do Disney or something on Sunday but truth be told I'd really like to spend at least part of my weekend at home for a change - just being a homebody. I'd leave on Sunday to do the drive - Mapquest says it's exactly 400 miles and I'm told it takes about 6 1/2 hours or so. I'm seriously considering driving back immediately after the event on Monday evening but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I wouldn't get home until 3 or 4am, but that really doesn't phase me.

The flights are less than 90 minutes, but once you figure in the time to get to the airport early, park, go thru security, squeeze into a seat, fly, get there, get a rental car, and all that other stuff the entire thing is so much more complicated than just getting in a car and driving. Gas around here is still ridiculously high (I see it ranging from $2.93 to $3.09 locally), but still - I enjoy doing road trips.

Lastly, I've gotten several emails over recent weeks asking how I met Elizabeth. She is consistently in my Blog and in my life, so I suppose some history is in order. I've added a section about how we met and a little of our history together  to my "Donna's World" page.


Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Today is 6-6-06.  For those who are superstitious I suppose it's a good thing nothing terrible happened.  Some believe that this particular number is evil.  Thankfully, I'm not one of those people so it was just another one of those days.

Before catching up on more recent events I want to go back to my last night in South Carolina with Elizabeth.  We had been at the beach for a good part of the day and eventually got home to catch a brief nap before deciding what, if anything, to do with our evening.  By the time we were both up and moving again it was pretty late, so we decided to head out for some dessert and then a moonlight walk on the beach.

I'll tell you now - it was one of those nights I won't forget.  I'm not sure exactly why - other than the fact that it just seemed magical.  As we strolled the dark beach - starry tapestry above, sand under our toes, waves lapping the shoreline down a little ways, wind rustling the shoreline grasses, lighthouse sending a beam of light into the horizon just off from where we were walking, lights from boats flickering across the watery horizon, holding hands - it was just one of those things. 

Elizabeth brought a flashlight with her and we eventually wandered down near the water where we noticed that the sand appeared to be moving.  When she turned on the flashlight we saw dozens of pretty good sized spider crabs doing whatever spider crabs do on the beach in the dark.  They weren't thrilled about having light shined on them - they'd stop dead in their tracks as though we couldn't see them, and as soon as the light was off they'd go scurrying back towards the water.  It was all just too cool.

Of course, good things come to an end so I flew back home the next day.  Now, it's back to the daily grind.

I helped to do an Out and Equal training today at JD Edwards and that went well.  Tomorrow, I'm scheduled to speak for the nursing staff at a local hospital.  Then, the rest of the week looks to be quiet.  That's a good thing.  I'm really looking forward to finally catching up with things around the house.  It's all long overdue.

With that said....I'm off to bed.  One of the things that really needs some stability for more than a day at a time is my sleep.  I'm pretty good at running on a low tank in that regard, but every once in a while I need to catch up on my rest.  Hopefully, I'll have a chance to do that over these next few days.


Sunday, June 4, 2006

I'm in South Carolina visiting Elizabeth again.  This was one of those quick trips that just seemed to happen out of nowhere, and I ended up canceling my scheduled trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon to do it.  Her family is involved in the local community and she got an invitation to a local politician's daughter's wedding for this past Saturday.  She was a little nervous about it, and I hadn't been to a wedding since transition and I was really honored to go with her.  We've been through so much together, and this was another one of those unique experiences we can share in a way that few others can.

We decided to turn the evening into an entire day, so we spent most of the morning and afternoon shopping.  What do you wear to a formal high society wedding?  It's not the same as going to a gender conference where a tutu or a fucia dress from Ross will do, or even necessarily the same as any of the large GLBT banquets I attend each year.  There are some unique sensitivities involved that neither of us had dealt with before so Elizabeth called around to some of her friends to get their thoughts.

There's a store downtown that's apparently a local institution when it comes to these kinds of things and they seemed to be the first words off people's lips.  It's one of those places where you walk in, tell them what kind of an event you're going to, and they assign a little team of people to work with you to find your style and do the whole thing.  For those who have never had that kind of experience - I'd recommend it even if you don't have a formal event to go to.

Anyway, Elizabeth and I got there first thing in the morning and before you knew it we were back in a big dressing room getting naked and people were bringing dresses and skirts and all kinds of thing - just chit chatting away as though there wasn't anything odd going on.  They were absolutely fantastic.  It's more than shopping for clothes - it's a social experience, but I'll tell you this, though - it's truly a test of how comfortable you are with your body.  After an hour, we didn't find anything that knocked our socks off so the next stop was Sach's 5th Avenue.  We did it all over again.  This time, we found what we were looking for.

Then, it was time for shoes.  The local shoe store that people were recommending was having a sale but it didn't take long to realize that 25% off of $600 is still far too expensive for one single pair of shoes.  I think my entire shoe wardrobe costs about that.  The sales woman was great, though, and brought out a pile of boxes to try on.  I even found a pair that I actually liked, although of course for me to like them enough to spend that kind of money it would need 4 wheels, air conditioning, a radio, and good gas  mileage to boot.

The good news is that by the time late afternoon rolled around - after shopping, and getting our nails done, and various other errands - we were back at the house with all our newly purchased "stuff" and we were getting ready.  Poor Elizabeth was really pretty nervous about it for a number of reasons, but we found humor in it all that kept the tension down a bit. 

As for the wedding itself, I really enjoyed it.  I found it ironic to be attending a wedding in a Baptist Church in South Carolina the weekend before the Federal Marriage Amendment vote in Congress in a couple of days, and to be perfectly honest it really hit home why marriage is such an important thing for everyone.  The church was packed with people there to celebrate this couple's love, and as I sat there with Elizabeth looking around it hit me just how much I hope to have another chance at it myself. 

The wedding couple was about as ideal a couple as you can imagine.  In a former life I used to video tape weddings and I've either attended, edited, or seen nearly 1,000 of them in my lifetime.  The genuine love and happiness of this couple was contagious to everyone there.  Really.  And, by the end of the night - after all the travel and all the nervousness and all the details - we both felt it was one of those events neither of us will forget for any number of reasons.  It was just that kind of night. 

Today, we went to the beach.  I can't even remember the last time I swam in the ocean, but the incredible sand beaches here, the warm water, and the sunny skies made it a natural choice of how to spend our afternoon.  Funny thing - I live in a city that's sunny for 330+ days a year and I can't remember the last time I actually got sun on my legs, either.  I'm sure I glowed like a bright moon on a dark night - I can't remember the last time I felt like I stood out so much.  I need to find a way to get a little color down there.  Yeesh.  Other than that, though, and the fact that I'm a little pink this evening, it was great.  We got home, took a nap (how the heck do people get so tired by going to the beach, anyways?), and here I sit watching Larry The Cable Guy on Comedy Central - updating my blog.  I admit it - he makes me laugh so hard I have tears running down my cheeks sometimes.

I head home tomorrow, and although a weekend at home would be nice it's not in the cards.  Next weekend - Los Angeles.  I'm headed there to attend the Pointe Foundation dinner on Monday.  I plan to get there a day early to relax a little - perhaps visit Disneyland or Universal Studios or something.  That might not sound relaxing to some, but I suppose we'll see how it goes.  :)

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Perhaps I spoke too soon when I said I escaped my training adventure in San Francisco pretty much unscathed.  I felt ok - sore, but ok - on Monday.  But yesterday morning I woke up and I had a distinct sharp pain on the left side where my rib attaches to my ribcage.  I remember during my last match that I tried a move and ended up landing on that side, with Calvin on top of me, and I felt this odd crunching sensation.  It didn't hurt after the match or Monday so I figured it was nothing.  We'll see.

The one thing I did learn from this is that I don't bounce so well any more.  In fact, I think there's more thud than bounce when I hit the ground these days.  Who knew?  I think I'll do what I can to stay on my feet as much as possible and not have to test the thud/bounce rule.  My bones and muscles will thank me for it in the end.  Hopefully, this is simply some kind of deep bruise or something - the last thing I need right now is internal bleeding or cracked ribs.  Those who know me know that I am drama averse, and both those scenarios involve way too much drama (and pain).

To add insult to injury, I came home last night and took some pain meds I've saved from any of my various procedures to ease the discomfort.  That was a mistake.  Before I could say 'Kukamanga' I had a stomach ache, and it just made things worse.  I'll just say that it was a long night, and I'm still not feeling like myself yet.  Here it is 5pm and I'm about to head back to bed.  I'm beat. 

I have a cry in me waiting to come out.  I can feel it.  It's been a long time since I've had a good cry and I'm not sure exactly what will trigger it, but there's an emotional outburst there waiting for a reason (or a shoulder) to burst forth. I get tired holding it back sometimes,,,

I'm headed back across the country to see Elizabeth this weekend.  She was invited to a wedding, and I'm her date.  This ought to be interesting.  I'm actually pretty excited about it, as it will be my first wedding as Donna and I'm sure there will be some intrigue as far as Elizabeth is concerned.  Buckle your seat belts....

Speaking of Elizabeth, I wanted to post a few photos of her from my visit with her last week.  She's just so darn photogenic.  I posted them to my Recent Photos page. 


Monday, May 28, 2006

The Golden Gate Wrestling Tournament gang


Sweaty and hot

Well, it's over. And, I survived. As simple as that might sound, that was seriously one of my goals. To survive. To participate here, to learn, to reconnect, and to get back home without serious injury. It looks like I've been successful on all counts.

One of the goals was NOT to win. And, to be sure, I did a good job at that, too. If I've learned anything from life it's to manage my expectations, and to think that someone of my age, physical condition, and general life circumstance can just pick something as physically and mentally demanding as this up after a lifetime away from it is absolutely and totally crazy.  I'm not a teenager anymore. 

When people ask me why I'm doing this it's difficult to explain in words about the need to reconnect with parts of my life long since past that were once really important to me - core aspects of myself.  I firmly believe that the mental and physical discipline I developed specifically as a result of my identity as a wrestler was (and remains) a critical component of being able to manage some of the things I've faced. 

I suppose it would be easy to argue that those days were long ago and far removed from my current life, and in many ways that's true.  But despite outward appearances this exercise isn't about wrestling or competing so much as it's about reconnecting.  It's about personal challenge.  It's about nostalgia for team spirit, and the excitement involved in the singular focus of training for something.  It's about demonstrating that you're never too old to begin new things.  It's about my own personal belief that people put far too much value in the "masculinity" or "femininity" of any given activity and that judgment restricts our freedoms to do them.  Those are all key aspects of this little stutter step of life. 

It's hard to explain what drives me to constantly challenge myself. And, truly, that is the real opponent here. It is me. Regardless of the outcomes on the mat, the only match that has value to me is the one in my head. The fact that I've set my sights, and that I'm here, and that I'm enjoying myself (in an odd kind of twisted way) is a source of pride and satisfaction.

The more I think about it, the more this reminds me of the half marathon experience in January. I don't know why, but I constantly find opportunities to push myself to do new things - to prove to my mind that age and gender and circumstance are all pretty irrelevant in the scheme of things. The biggest barriers in our lives are in our own minds.

The tournament yesterday was wonderful.  It was well run, well organized, and well managed.  It started with a rules clinic, and it's amazing to me to see how the sport has changed - from the scoring to the strategy.  That in and of itself was worth the trip. 

I'm told that the average age of the competitors was 40 years old, and the fact that we're not physically what we were at one point was certainly evident from time to time as the stress of the competition took its toll on our bodies.  The paramedics had to come and take one of the competitors off the mat - later on he said he had simply fainted but they didn't take any chances.  There were a couple of times that blood appeared on the mat so they had to stop the match to find out where it was coming from.  There were two or three rib-area injuries.  All in all, there was some intense competition.

I'll be doing a little more writing about my own matches, but I'll give an overview.  The fact of the matter is that there weren't any other women my size there so both Erika and I were had to wrestle the guys which was certainly fine.  I was hoping to be able to wrestle another woman between now and the Games, but apparently that experience will have to wait until another day.

My first match ended so quickly that if you were out of the gym when it began you missed it. The ref blew the whistle to start it and I was thinking to myself, "I can't believe I'm out here on a wrestling mat again."  I was having flashbacks to dozens of experiences from years gone by.  And, as I was savoring these remiscences I suddenly found myself up in the air, and then down on my back.  Apparently, my opponent - a big guy in his 20's - really didn't share my appreciation for the moment.  He had work to do and he did it.   It was all over in less than a minute. 

My next match went almost to the end, and in fact I think I was even winning at the end of the first period.  But, again, I did something stupid and that was that.  The good news is that I was beginning to feel more comfortable, and that was actually the most important thing.

My last match went the distance and I lost to one of the best wrestlers I've met - in all my years.  His name is Calvin and he just absolutely rocks (he's the big guy next to me in the photo to the left). 

By the end of the day I actually felt a sense of satisfaction, and of thanks.  The guys treated me wonderfully, and somehow I feel as though I made some lasting friendships over the course of the weekend.  During the "roast" last night I won the "Tina Turner" award for the best comeback by a woman.  And, one of the guys gave me the best back massage that I've ever had.  Lord, I needed it, and man oh man did it feel good.  It still felt good this morning - until I started carrying luggage.

Tomorrow, it's back to work.  And, at the end of the week I'm headed back to Charleston again for a few days back there with Elizabeth.  As I said in a recent entry - "From sea to shining sea."


Sunday, May 28, 2006

I had the nicest evening last night.  My "Big Sister" Kate and her honey came to take me out to dinner.  After a long day on the mats I didn't know how much energy I'd have to go out, but a hot shower and a couple of Motrin helped me to feel almost human again. 

We went to Fisherman's Wharf.  There's a really nice restaurant way out on the end of Pier 39 and our table overlooked the water.  On one side there was the sunset over the Bay, and Alatraz just off in the distance.  On another were the wharves full of sea lions sleeping, posturing, and barking.  I can't imagine a nicer way to spend an evening - the view, the friends, the food - it was all fantastic.

As we sat in the lounge waiting for a table a cocktail waitress came over to take our drink orders.  She was friendly, and pretty.  And, she was trans.  There wasn't anything specific that "outed" her other than the unique ability I think we have for spotting one another.  After dinner we went back into the bar and chatted with her for a while - she was just so pleasant and friendly.  I would have loved to have stayed a little longer but her Mahi arrived (her employee dinner) and my strength was just about gone.  I needed sleep.

I haven't been sleeping all that well - mostly because my back is hurting and the beds are harder than I like.  Oh, how I miss my own bed.


Saturday, May 27, 2006 two of this training "opportunity" is done and I'm still alive and kicking. So far, it's everything I had hoped it would be. There are about 50 guys there, and one other gal, from all over North America. They've got all kinds of backgrounds and they're all different ages and skill levels - just a great group of guys. The goals are to learn and to have fun, and we've all been doing that which is so cool.

I do have some battle scars. I've got big, purple bruises on one of my biceps where it looks as though someone grabbed me around my arm and squeezed too hard. My muscles are sore, but not nearly as sore as I expected. My body is sensitive to the touch - it hurts to push on my shoulders or arms - from all the abuse. The top of my head is a little sore, but my face and my lips have gotten through both practices unscathed.

I'm generally pretty happy with the way things have gone. Things come back and although I forget the names of some of these things I remember how to do them. One of the key elements to the sport is keeping your hips in the right place and that's something that's a little slower to come back. And, although I've been running quite a bit and lifting weights a little for some aerobic exercise, there's nothing that really gets you prepared for this kind of thing other than getting on the mat and doing it. It's a total body thing, and I find myself needing to stop to catch my breath sometimes. I expected that.

There are a few things that I didn't expect. I suppose I may be uniquely qualified to make these statements. First, boobs get in the way. My boobs feel as though someone has used and abused the poor things, and it has taken some getting used to as far as spinning and moving. Secondly, my hair is not happy when I wrestle. I have a headgear to keep it all out of my face but I think little clumps have come out here and there. I suppose it's par for the course. Thirdly, the strength is gone. I'm not disappointed about that in the least, although it does change strategy a bit. There was a time when I could muscle my way to things. Not anymore. I'm not all that fast, either, and I'm certainly rusty. This could be a pretty humbling experience. But, most importantly, I'm having fun. And, I've met a great bunch of guys (I'll post a photo when I get home).

The weather here has been fantastic - a little cool but I'm certainly not complaining. I'll take bright, sunny, crisp days over rainy warm ones 9 times out of 10. It's a little odd to be here at Cocoon House because the whole area brings back memories. The last time I was here was a couple of years ago when Elizabeth and Mel were in the downstairs suite, and then before that when Elizabeth was here the first time in 2003. I'm walking from here to the training center that's right in the heart of the Castro - down 24th Street to Castro and then over. It's a little less than a mile and a half in distance, but the thing Mapquest doesn't show you is the huge hill between here and there. Just walking here and back is a workout in and of itself.

Tomorrow is the final day of the training weekend, and then I fly home on Monday morning. I have about three days of catch-up back at home - unfortunately I don't have three days to spare. It'll have to wait for a few more weeks. Sigh....


Friday, May 26, 2006

From East to West - sea to shining sea. Today I head to the Bay Area for my training "opportunity" in preparation for the Gay Games in July.  I've had a couple people write me with suggestions to dull the pain, and I thank you for that.  I have a feeling that my body is going to be none too happy about this and I'll be interested to see how I'm feeling about it all once the weekend has come and gone.  I'm pretty good when it comes to aches and pains, but my body isn't used to being abused like I have a feeling it's going to be in a long, long time.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to this and there's some anxiety about it there, as well.  We shall see.

Weather in the Bay area is forecasted to be 40 degrees cooler than here over the next several days so I'm certainly looking forward to that.  I've arranged to stay at Cocoon House while I'm there - it isn't too far from the site in the Castro where we'll be working out.  I'm not planning to rent a car so getting to and from places (Airport to Castro, and back again) is a little problematic but nothing that can't be overcome.  On one hand I'd really enjoy a "down" weekend to get my little world back in order after a busy few weeks but on the other I really need some time to do this.  I have a feeling that this will be very much a test of my "go with the flow" nature.  It's a good thing that's one attribute I've always been able to call on. 

Although the weekend looks to be full of wrestling stuff, I'm expecting a couple of opportunities to meet up with friends and do a little HRC business as well. I truly enjoy my trips to the Bay area - there's an odd sense of nostalgia there for me.  It somehow recharges my batteries, and I have a feeling that after this weekend they'll certainly need it.

Wish me luck - and I'll let you know how it all goes when I get back home on Monday.  :)


Wednesday, May 24, 2006

I just returned from my visit back East today.  I can't believe it has been 10 days since I've "blogged".  It has become apparent to me that the busier my personal life becomes, the less time I have to pay attention to my web "duties".  Oh well, I'm back now - but not for long.

Rather than provide a blow-by-blow account of the trip I'll provide some highlights.

I'm pooped.  I had to get up at 5am East Coast time (2am Phoenix time) to catch my flight - and here it is nearly 10pm and I still haven't stopped going yet.  That's nearly 20 hours.  I've got a busy day tomorrow and then I'm off to the Bay area on Friday to attend a training event there for the Gay Games.  Wish me luck.  I hope I don't get killed.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Today is Mother's Day.  Happy Mother's Day to everyone.  More than simply a celebration of Moms, I see today as a celebration of motherhood in all its forms.  The maternal instinct exists in many of us, and today is our opportunity to recognize that in ourselves and in each other. 

As with other holidays, I brought a bouquet of bright, colorful roses to my ex-wife's house.  I left them on her front doorstep in hopes she would rescue them before the heat ate them up (the high today was 102 degrees, but significantly warmer in the direct sunlight).  Some have questioned why I do this, that I might be sending mixed signals.  Although I do not feel compelled to justify acts of thanks or kindness to anyone, the fact of the matter is that I appreciate the sacrifices that she has made (and continues to make) for our son, and this is an opportunity to express that.  Any differences we have had or have now in terms of our relationship doesn't diminish the fact that our most significant role in life is as parents, and in the end that's something that will never go away.

Tonight I have guests over and we're watching a movie that seems almost the perfect Mother's Day movie - March of the Penguins.  The sacrifices that these mothers (and fathers) make for the sake of their chicks is incredible, and I can't think of a better way to spend this evening. Of course, afterwards I watched the Saprano's on HBO which is the antithesis to motherhood, but I suppose such is the Yin/Yang of my world. 

Night For Life 2006 - Bobbie and Donna

Last night was another of the many formal dinners that I attend each year.  This one is to support a local HIV/AIDS organization named Body Positive.  I was on the board until about 6 months ago when I felt compelled to  resign - I just didn't have the time to devote to it that I felt was necessary so I gave up my spot to someone who did.  I remain on the Board of Advisors, though, and I'm happy to be able to be involved.

This particular dinner is one of our favorites each year.  It is held at The Phoenician Resort which is an absolutely incredible place.  If you ever get to the Scottsdale area I highly recommend at least an afternoon visit here - it's well worth the time simply to see the wonderful landscaping and color.  This dinner is 1,200 people strong and the room is filled to bursting.  Dignitaries of all types are there (from the Governor, to local political leaders, to business leaders) - and it is a class event all the way around.

My table included Dr. Toby Meltzer, his wife and daughter, several from his office, my friend Bobbie who came in from out of town to attend, and a couple of other new friends.  The food was very well done, the service was good, it was so nice to see so many friends looking so good, there was a big bright full moon - it was just great.  The entertainment last night was a 15+ piece band (complete with string section, horn section, dancers, and singers) who were just phenomenal. 

Events like these are why I think it's so important for the transgender community to get involved in other groups and organizations.  If nothing else, having the opportunity to socialize at these kinds of events and get the support and validation that pervades them is something many of us struggle for a lifetime to experience.  Plus, if they're done right they can be a whole lot of fun.

I wanted to briefly highlight a couple things note that happened late last week.  First, the Human Rights Campaign released a template for companies to develop workplace gender transition guidelines.  We've been working on these for almost a year, and it incorporates the best of several existing company policies plus input from several of us who were active in it along the way.  These are a big deal, so if your company doesn't have anything like this it might be you who points them to this as a resource.  You can read them here.

Secondly, there is a Gay fraternity (Sigma Phi Beta) on the Arizona State University campus and we've been working with them to develop trans-supportive guidelines.  They want to be inclusive to anyone who identifies as male regardless of their physical existence.  These are truly groundbreaking guidelines, so putting it all into words to communicate it has been a delicate process.  Thanks so much to Sam Holdren from Wingspan in Tucson and the always amazing Jamison Green for their leadership in developing these.  The SPB board unanimously approved them this afternoon, and a Press Release about them is going out tomorrow.  Bravo!!

Well, I have to pick a friend up at 5am tomorrow morning to get her to the airport so I better keep this short.  Morning always comes too early.    I'll be leaving town myself on Tuesday so I've got a bunch of stuff to do tomorrow before I go.  I have a feeling it's going to be a loooonnnngggg day.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Last night I had the best sleep I've had in a long time.  It's a stark contrast to (and probably partly caused by) the really crummy night I had the night before.  I don't know if it was because my exercise took  me past my 8pm window but I doubt it - if I work out too late I sometimes have trouble getting to sleep but in this case I was up all night long.  I'd doze for an hour - get up, pace, grab something to drink, and then try again.  All for naught.  By the time I got home at 9 last night the fatigue hit me like a wall and I hardly remember falling asleep.  It was wonderful.

I've had some exciting developments in recent days.  In fact, I'm feeling downright chatty so this could get a little long-winded.  Apologies in advance...

First, my re-blooming interest in multimedia has taken on a specific plan and direction.  In my former life I considered myself to be very logical and methodical in the way I approached things.  Although some newer aspects of my psyche often interject other still-confusing ingredients into that strategy I'm glad to be able to apply it when I have to.  As I prioritized and strategized how best to apply my limited funds to the many things I need/want to do, I realized that a focal point of it all was the editing platform - not the camera.  Using that rationale, I went out last night and spent the money I had originally targeted for a new camera and bought a new 20" iMac and the full version of Final Cut Studio software.  They kept it overnight to add extra RAM for me so I'll go today to pick it up.  I'm psyched. 

I've never had a Mac before so this is all new for me.  I find the world divided into camps who would defend their favorite platform to the death, but in this case I'm planning to use this machine specifically for multi-media work. BTW - if you want to watch some humorous ads highlighting the difference between Macs and Windows visit the Apple website (see them here).  Funny stuff. 

I met some friends from work at a local wine/cheese bar afterwards and we celebrated.  I think I was still in shock from it all (spending on anything that has four or more digits tends to get me queasy) but as the night wore on the shock gradually changed to excitement as I knew I had done the right thing.  And, by the time I got home the excitement had turned to exhaustion - thus, my wonderful night sleep. 

What else...

I found a GLBT wrestling clinic/tournament over Memorial Day weekend in San Francisco so I've been chatting with them.  In fact, I've booked my flight and I'm signed up to participate.  I'm psyched about that, too.  As I've dug deeper I've found training opportunities in Los Angeles and San Diego - both of which are within driving distance for weekend training excursions.  All in all, I think I've done a pretty good job of finding opportunities since the local scene is zippo for me - now all I need to do is keep my weekends free enough to be able to use them to train.

Truth be told, there are a couple or three things going on with regards to this.  First, what others consider "masculine" or "feminine" really has no impact on the decisions I make.  I think each of us needs to make decisions about things we want to do based on the simple realization that we want to do them - without fear that others will question our masculinity or femininity (or motivations, in general).  I've said time and time again that the single-most important thing any of us gain during this process of self-discovery is Freedom.  These freedoms to be who and what we want is hard-fought, so I'll be damned if I'm going to give that back to anyone for any reason.

Secondly, I find it exhilarating to be starting new things at this point in my life.  Even better, I find it endlessly intriguing to re-connect with parts of my life that have long since passed into the shadows.  The reality of my world is that I haven't competed like this in 25+ years which is more than half my life ago.  At one time a significant portion of my own self-identity was as a wrestler, and I don't for a minute apologize or feel bad about that.  The fact that I'm middle-age, that I'm at a point where I'm doing new and exciting things, and that I'm not afraid to fail, is big for me.  Somehow, the movie The Natural with Robert Redford really hits a chord in me (if you haven't seen it, check it out).  This entire thing isn't about winning, it's about doing.

Thirdly, I can't even begin to explain the value of the social aspects involved.  In my earlier life as a wrestler I truly felt as though I had the best of both worlds.  I had the self-determination that comes with an individual sport: me vs. you.  If I screw up I have nobody to blame but myself.  And, at the same time, I had the benefit of the team spirit that is really wonderful.  I'm already finding that spirit again - the way others are helping to steer me to training opportunities and encouraging me.  If I get pinned in the first 20 seconds of my first match I'll have absolutely no regrets about any of this. 

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

My schedule over these next few weeks looks crazier each day.  I wanted to take a minute to share some of it in hopes of meeting a few of us here and there on my travels.  Someone locally contacted me about getting together for lunch to discuss some things.  I'm not joking when I say that my first open date to meet her is in mid-June.  The good news is that some of this craziness is actually "me" time - time I've set aside to do things I want to do.  At the same time, though, it still makes things complicated.

Next Tuesday (May 16) I'm scheduled to fly to Washington DC for some HRC business.  I'll be there all day the 17th, and I'll fly out to Charleston, SC late that afternoon.  I've got a week hanging out with Elizabeth that we've both been looking forward to for quite a while. 

When that's over I leave Charleston to come back home the following Wednesday (May 24).  On the 25th there's an event locally to celebrate the release of Transamerica and I've been asked to speak at it.  I'm really honored to be able to be there for that.

I leave the next day - Friday May 26 to go to San Francisco.  I have been reaching out over these last few days to find opportunities to train prior to the Gay Games in July and it just so happens that there is a wrestling clinic and tournament  for GLBT wrestlers there that weekend.  They have been wonderful steering me towards other possibilities in San Diego and LA - and I hope to take advantage of those at some point in June, as well.  I'll be there thru Monday for that.

On Monday I fly directly from San Francisco back to Washington DC to finish up my HRC business, and then I fly back to Phoenix late the next day.  These are 5+ hour flights, and with the time change they seem to last forever.

After one "quiet" day I'll drive to the north rim of the Grand Canyon for 3 nights.  I've rented a cabin on the North Rim again and hope to do some more hiking and relaxing. 

The following Saturday I'm scheduled to fly to LA on Saturday June 10for the Point Foundation dinner there on June 5.  I was hoping to spend a day as Disneyland or something, but if there's an opportunity to wrestle while I'm there I won't be able to pass that up.   I fly back home to Phoenix that Tuesday.

I guess I'll stop there for now.  I'm  hoping for a couple of weeks of sanity in June before things kick into high gear again in July.  And, throughout all this I need to find time to continue training, doing work, and tracking down corporate sponsorships for SCC.  All in all - crazy.  The odd thing is - I don't think I'd have it any other way.


Monday, May 8, 2006

It's early evening, and I'm getting ready for bed.  It'll be nice to be in my own bed, under my own covers, at a reasonable hour for a change. 

I spent a couple of hours at Gold's Gym in Austin yesterday, and had a good workout.  I ran 6 miles on the treadmill.  I did some lifting designed to build some upper body strength but at the same time avoid actually growing muscles again.  At some point I did a not-too-heavy set of squats and all I have to say about that today is "ouch".  It seems like my legs and but are getting sorer and sorer as each hour goes by.  I have a feeling that it'll be really interesting getting out of bed tomorrow, and I'm already counting my blessings that I don't have any stairs to climb in my day-to-day world.

I've been exchanging emails and phone calls with people around the country who might be able to arrange for some training opportunities as I prepare for the Gay Games.  At a minimum, I'd like to have at least a dozen hours of mat time under my belt before the competition begins in July.  Of course, once I actually get on the mat I may realize that this isn't such a good idea after all so the less time out there the better.  I guess we'll see.

In case anyone is interested, the DVD of Transamerica will be released on May 23 (you can pre-order it from Amazon).  I wonder if we're ready for that.  The film had such limited release even when it was in theaters that I think the number of people who will see it once it becomes available on DVD will be a hundred times the number of people who saw it in the theaters.  I'm happy about that, but I think there's real opportunity there. 

Get ready for a little "drama" once it gets released.  If you look at the cover art of the DVD perhaps you'll notice what I notice - that the plain-Jane face of Bree that made the movie so believable has been replaced by a glamorous shot of Felicity Huffman.  I saw an ad for the DVD in the current edition of The Advocate where a buff naked shaved guy is holding the DVD in front of his private parts (with the caption, "Anatomically Incorrect") and the cover photograph is the Bree we came to know and love in the movie.  I wonder why that is??!  Are there two covers? 

I did a little quick research thanks to the magic of the internet and found that it's actually one of those gimmicky morphing 3-D things.  That saddens me, and I agree with the writer at one website I visited (see it here) that it completely misses the spirit that the movie seemed to remain true to so well.   On one hand I guess I shouldn't complain, because if people are drawn to see the movie simply because they see Felicity on the cover then that's a good thing.  On a deeper level, though, I'm disappointed in that tactic.  Somehow, I expected better.  Apparently, a different group of marketing monkeys is in charge of marketing the DVD than was in charge of marketing the movie.  I'll bet this group didn't even watch it....Sigh.

On another topic (and in keeping with the added bonus of the educational efforts of my Blog), I was getting ready for work the other morning and some Einstein on the radio mentioned that we just passed the anniversary of the the first gender specific bathrooms (I guess they have way too much time to fill).  I was surprised to learn that that didn't happen until 1739, and it didn't become widespread until the early 1800's!!  In the scheme of things that really doesn't seem all that long ago.  There are some things we think have been in place for as long as mankind has been around, but for the better part of history people went to the bathroom in the same place and society somehow didn't implode on itself.  Go figure.  In fact, for a long time public bathrooms were social places where people met, visited, did business, and generally hung out (kind of like malls today, I guess).  For those who want to learn more about the thoroughly engrossing topic of bathrooms throughout history, I again highlight one of the wonderful educational opportunities of the internet: (read it here).  :)  

The weather in Austin was pretty volatile.  The weather here is same-same as always.  Sunny and warm.  We're supposed to hit 100 degrees for the first time this year on Thursday, and be into the low 100's thru the weekend.  The dog days of summer can't be far behind.  It's a little shocking to see the difference in gas prices between here and there.  I paid $2.75/gallon to buy gas in Austin.  Typical prices here seem to be anywhere between $3.09 and $3.17.  That's absolutely nuts.  Good thing I'm traveling around the country so much.  It saves me from having to buy gas here at home.  Who can afford prices like that for long??

Well, it's time to shuffle off to bed. 

Saturday, May 6, 2006

I arrived in Austin on Thursday evening, and every night has been like a major fireworks display here. Less than 5 minutes after I got to my friend Lisa's house from the airport the sky opened up and wreaked havoc around here like you wouldn't believe. There was softball-sized hail in some parts of Austin, wind gusts up to 80 miles per hour, torrential rain coming down like sheets of water. The sky was a constant flicker of lightning with loud cracks of thunder rumbling almost continuously for over an hour. It was unbelievable.

Somehow, Lisa's house didn't lose power. Homes in neighboring neighborhoods weren't so fortunate, and in the light of morning it wasn't hard to see how fortunate she really was. There were trees and parts of trees down everywhere. The ground was littered with debris. One large tree in Lisa's backyard split in half and landed across her fence and into her neighbor's backyard. The sound of chainsaws was in the air as people cut their way out - there was even a tree down across the road leading out of Lisa's development that had to be removed.

There was another storm last night, and a third one this evening. These latest two had the amazing rain and thunder/lightning shows, but they didn't have the same ferocious winds or dangerous hail - at least not near where we are. It's kind of exciting in a way - nasty weather always seems to have that kind of an effect on me as long as I'm in the relative safety of my own home. I hope we don't get this craziness again tomorrow - I have a flight to catch to get back home.

This has actually been a very nice visit. The only real "business" on the trip (and I use that word very loosely in this case) was a hair appointment at Avant on Friday. Other than that, I've been doing a little work, doing a little shopping, doing a little visiting, and basically just spent time decompressing. Although I haven't had a fixed schedule of things to do the days have still gone from early until late. It's just that they're filled with things I WANT to do rather than things I HAVE to do. That's a nice feeling for a change.

For example, I got up yesterday and just felt hungry for some good old pancakes. So, I headed to an Austin landmark not too far from here named "Magnolia Cafe". There's a sign out front that says "Sorry, We're Open" ( see a photo of it here) that's just too funny. It's one of those local places that oozes character, and the food is even good to boot. I sat at the counter and just enjoyed my pancakes for lunch - yumm.

Today I spent the afternoon shopping at the mall. I bought a few nice things on sale, and had to exhibit quite the self control to avoid buying more. It was a ton of fun, and I've come to the conclusion that I enjoy being a returning visitor to Austin more than I enjoyed actually living here. That's not to say anything negative about the place - it's to say my own feeling of belonging never really took root here for whatever reason but I still enjoy coming back for visits.

I met Annah for dinner tonight and it was great to see her again. She's looking fantastic, and has this sense of real happiness about her. She's trying out for a new band, she's nearly done writing a book, pretty much everything seems to be going well for her - it's so nice to be able to reconnect like this. We had dinner at Outback and I mentioned to one of the waiters that I liked his Texas Longhorn Outback pin. He gave it to me! What a sweetheart. Needless to say, his tip reflected his generosity and friendliness. Anyway, Annah and I are tentatively planning to meet tomorrow to go to the movies to see Mission Impossible III. There's a big arts and crafts festival in downtown Austin called the Pecan Street Festival that I'd like to spend some time visiting if the weather is accommodating. And, I'm planning to spend a couple of hours tomorrow morning at the fitness center. Lots to do, so I suppose we'll see how the day plays itself out.

One thing I suppose I'll share is that I had a minor procedure on Wednesday so I'm still very much in the healing mode. It was kind of a follow-up to something I've had done before and although I may write more about it at some point I'm really not up to it at the moment. I'm sharing it because I hadn't warned Annah about it before I got here and I think it startled her a little. The wounds and bruises are still fresh, and the swelling is still pretty scary, but everything is healing okay so at this point I probably look worse than I feel. Annah was so funny - she's never seen me like this and she couldn't keep from smiling. I've gotten to a point where I don't really care what others think when they see me so that's not a big deal. Nobody seems to pay much mind anyways. Many of us are so worried about what others will think when we're out in public - that somehow others will know our "secret" - but the trugh of the matter is that most people are pretty self-engrossed and really aren't nearly as observant as you'd think. Anyway - Annah and I had a good sense of humor about it and had a couple of good yukks.

Last night I spent a little time visiting some of the few friends I still keep in touch with from my years at Dell. One of them seems particularly intrigued by me, and had invited some other friends over for a drink and see their beautiful new kitchen. It wasn't long before she "outed" me to them and the entire conversation turned to trans stuff. I really don't mind that, I guess, although it would have been nice to have had the opportunity to bring it up myself if I wanted to. Everyone there was cool so no problems - but I had to cut the visit short so I could get home before the thunderstorms arrived.

Lisa has one of those large screen HDTV sets, and I swear to God if I had one of these things I'd never leave my house. I know I said that last time I was here, but watching it is just so visually stunning I'm just hypnotized by it. Watching the Tonight Show, or David Letterman is so colorful and interesting. Discovery HD is just the most interesting thing you could ever imagine seeing. And sports! Sports looks absolutely out of this world on HD. Even if you don't like sports you have to admit that they look stunning on these TV's. Right now Game 7 of the Phoenix Suns/LA Lakers game is on and I think I'd rather watch the game on HD than actually be there at it. I swear it's clearer and more visually stimulating on the friggin TV than it would be in person. I better not buy one for quite a while. I don't have the time to spend just watching it.

Speaking of sports, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that the Buffalo hockey team is in the playoffs. I don't actively follow them the way I used to, but I was glad to see that they won game 7 and moved to the next round of the playoffs. Pretty soon all basketball and hockey will be done so all that will be left until autumn is baseball. It's a darn good thing I've found other things to fill my life other than sports.

Elizabeth arrived in Atlanta today for an event there. I think she'll be there until mid-week before heading home. I'll be headed out to see her in a week and a half. I just learned that I may be headed to Washington DC sometime between now and then to take care of some HRC business so this upcoming "hole" in my schedule doesn't look to be as big as it used to. Oh well. I just hope I heal up a bunch between now and then.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

So, 2006 is officially a third over.  Can you believe that?  It seems like just yesterday we were talking about Christmas and New Year's.  Sheesh.  Where does all the time go??!

Well, there a few things better to fix a funk than to shop.  I made a "major" purchase on Monday - I bought a new laptop computer.  I traded my outdated laptop to my son's roommate a few months back in an effort to help my son with his rent, so I haven't had one for a while.  My new audio and video work needs a Firewire connection so I had the option of buying a Firewire card for my desktop computer, or of buying something newer since most computers these days are equipped with one.  Plus, I need something faster and more powerful than my desktop in order to truly do some of the things I'm hoping to do.  Given all that, I was able to convince myself that the latter strategy just made more sense, and the fact that there was a coupon for $150 off a fully featured one at Costco this week just sealed the deal.

Speaking of major purchases, I need to make a decision on my "other" video camera.  I've decided which one I want and I need to make a decision on whether to buy a gently-used one locally and save a few dollars or to order a brand new one and take advantage of a rebate currently being offered.  Decisions, decisions.

I think I mentioned that I hired an audio engineer to provide tutoring every couple of weeks and he stopped by yesterday for another session.  This was our second one.  He's a very cool guy - reminds me of my son in some ways and actually can't be much older than that - with flame tattoos up his arms, a very unique looking piercing through the center of his nose, and a long mustache/beard.  He's very knowledgeable and patient, and seems to have a way explaining things in simple terms I can grasp.  We had this place looking like a recording studio with microphones, cable, rack mounted gear - it was cool.  We hooked everything up and tuned to get the best sound.  

Now that May is here I've kicked my training for the Gay Games into high gear.  There are ten weeks to go.  Of course, I haven't actually found someone to train with me so that remains an issue.  Believe it or not (I almost can't believe it myself)  I've started lifting weights a little bit - I'm hoping to build some strength and muscle endurance.  The thing I'm trying to avoid as much as possible is to build mass but I've always had the kind of body where I just have to touch a weight and I seem to grow muscles.  That's true even now, despite the fact that I only have the teeniest sliver of testosterone in my system and that I've been on estrogen for as long as I have.  There's a delicate balance on what I'll allow myself to do because I worked unGodly hard to lose as much mass as I have and hell if I'm going to put it back on.

Speaking of "putting it back on", weight and endurance are a key concern.  I'm running quite a bit, too, although endurance on the mat isn't necessarily the same as endurance on a treadmill. 

I'm headed to Austin tomorrow after work, and I've got an appointment at my favorite hair salon there on Friday.  It'll be nice to see some good friends there and it's nice to be traveling simply for enjoyment for a change.  I rarely get to do that.  My major trip is coming up in mid-May when I'll be headed to the Carolinas to visit with Elizabeth for a few days.  It will be my first time out there.  The last time I planned to do what was several years ago, but my son wrapped my car around a fence  the day I was supposed to go so the trip got scrubbed.  After the accident he came back to the house saying that it had been a hit and run accident but it didn't take very long to find out what really happened.  It's a wonder both of us survived those times.  Teenagers.  Oy.

Things have been very quiet at work lately, which is generally good news except for the fact that I'm a consultant so if there's no work to do there's really no reason for me to be there.  I was brought in to help clean up a messy situation and I've done that.  Sometimes, we do those things and work ourselves out of a job.  Such is the nature of the business.  I'll need to sit down with them in the next couple of weeks discuss short and long term needs so we can both do appropriate planning.  I've been there for almost a year, and I have really enjoyed it there.  We'll see what comes next.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

I'm in a bit of a funk today.  I'm not quite sure why, or even how to explain it.  Maybe it's jet lag, or at least that seems to be as good an explanation as anything else I can thing of.  I didn't feel it yesterday, or the day before.  The Southern Comfort planning meetings were productive, and it was nice to see some old friends and meet some new ones.  After arriving I had to take MARTA from the airport to the hotel, as I've done before so it's certainly no big deal.  My room had a very nice view of Atlanta from the 19th floor of the Sheraton.  It's the first time I've seen the hotel without hundreds of "colorful" people everywhere and it was certainly much more low key than in past visits.  Anyway, we discussed some exciting things, and it will be interesting to see how it all comes together.

I had a 5am wakeup call this morning to catch a 7:30 flight that that took 6 hours to get home (after a brief stopover in Memphis) and I've had no energy or drive to do much of anything.  That may sound "normal" to some for a quiet, lazy Sunday but it's just so out of character for me.  At one point I planned to go running this afternoon but I just didn't have the motivation.  There were a couple of things I wanted to do on the computer but, again, just no drive to do it.  I don't have anyone visiting for the first time in a long while, so things here are quieter than they've been in a long time.  So, besides a couple of loads of laundry and a brief trip to the store it has really been a pretty low-key day. 

I suppose I should thank my lucky stars.  How long has it been since I've written that a day has been too quiet??  Maybe it's more that I just haven't seen one in so long we've forgotten what each other looks like. 

Friday, April 28, 2006

I met actor George Takei (correctly pronounced Ta-kay), his partner of 18 years Brad, and HRC Coming Out Project Director Mark Sheilds downtown for lunch yesterday.  It was very pleasant, and both George and Brad are two of the nicest most down-to-earth guys you could ever want to meet.  George has this amazing voice (apparently he was asked to be the announced on Howard Stern when it moved to Serius earlier this year, among many other voice projects) that booms and carries, while Brad is quiet and completely happy in the background.  We met in the restaurant of a hotel downtown, and the funny thing was to watch as the hotel staff and other diners began noticing who exactly was at the table - I'm talking about George here, not me.  :)

The waitress couldn't wipe the smile off her face, and people came to the table to check on us every 3 or 4 minutes.  Soon, cooks were coming out of the kitchen to get autographs and people were huddled near the door looking over and talking.  It was so funny.  Eventually, I invited several of them over and took photos of them with George and told them I'd email them back.  It was funny.  Oh, and in the process I did a short interview with George for my soon-to-be podcast.  Very cool.

Last night George talked at Arizona State University, and the auditorium was packed.  Afterwards he signed autographs, and from the line I saw as I was leaving he might actually still be there signing autographs this morning.  People had brought all kinds of Stark Trek stuff for him to sign.  There were people dressed in Star Trek garb.  There was even a couple dressed as Darth Vader and Wookie from Star Wars who had the most realistic costumes I've ever soon.  These people take their Sci-Fi very VERY seriously!  George talks about the similarities to being rounded up and herded into internment camps as a Japanese-American during World War 2 without any trial or other due process simply because of the fact that they had Japanese ancestry.  He compared that to the current attack on the rights and of GLBT Americans for no other reason than bigotry, ignorance, and hate.  It's a powerful talk.

In between lunch and George's talk at ASU I came home and met a reporter and cameraman from the local CBS affiliate for an interview.  She sent an email last week saying she'd like to talk to me.  I asked her how she found me and she mentioned that she saw the article in the Arizona Republic last autumn and was waiting until the moment was right to run a story, and for some reason she thinks the moment is right.  I Googled the reporter to make sure she was legit and found that she had been a cast-member on Survivor.  Too cool.  Anyway, she was very nice and I thought the interview went well so we'll see how it comes out when it airs sometime in the next few days. 

Reporter Tammy Leitner and cameraman from Channel 5 news


Actor George Takei (Mr. Sulu from Star Trek) and his partner, Brad

Thursday, April 27, 2006

I'm getting ready for work, and figured I'd jot down a couple of things before the day gets too far along.  These next few days look to be busy ones so I'm not sure when I'll have the chance to catch up on things.

I'm having lunch with George Takei today.  For old-time Trekkies, he's Mr. Sulu from the original Star Trek.  I always enjoyed those "old school" Star Treks better than the newer series.  I think part of it is because my dad enjoyed the show so much - watching it with him was almost like a bonding experience for us kids.  Anyway, George is here as part of a "Coming Out" speaking tour he's doing in conjunction with HRC.  He really hasn't had any time to talk with a trans person so I'm interested to see what his thoughts are.

I've got a news crew from the local CBS affiliate coming over this afternoon.  I got an email from a reporter there last week so we've been chatting a bit so I understand what the goal of the interview is.  She seems cool - I Googled her and found out that she was a contestant on one of the Survivor shows.  I don't know how I get to meet such neat people, but I seem to be eternally fortunate in that regard.  Anyway, keep your fingers crossed that our chat goes well. 

I've made some decisions on the video equipment that I want and actually picked up one of the cameras last night.  Someone had a gently-used one for sale on so I bought it.  Now all I need to do is find the time to learn how to use it.  I've decided to get a second camera, too, for any number of reasons.  I'll most probably hold off on that for a couple of months but we'll see where this goes.  I'm actually pretty jazzed about it all.  I've got so many ideas buzzing in my head on opportunities that I think would be both important AND fun, so we'll see how many of them I can actually reign in and make happen.

Tomorrow I head to Atlanta.  I'm working with the Southern Comfort Conference board to do some corporate outreach.  We're hoping to establish some pretty exciting things - a job fair, some corporate sponsorships, some workplace training opportunities - so pulling that together has been on my plate for a little while now.  They're having a board meeting this weekend so I'm going there to give them a report, to ask some questions, and to get away for the weekend.  I'm told we're scheduled to hit triple digits here in Phoenix next weekend.  The continual furnace that is summer can't be far behind.


Monday, April 24, 2006

A friend visiting from out of town took me out to dinner this evening.  We went to Ruth's Chris Steak House nearby here on Scottsdale Road.  Today was a picture perfect day here - temperatures in the mid-80's with bright blue skies.  They seated us near the windows that overlook the patio, the tops of the palm trees nearby, and the mountains in the distance.  It's amazing to do things like this and remember the difficult days - the hard times when you doubted you'd ever feel comfortable showing yourself in public again.  When these thoughts strike me these days - as they still do from time to time - I take it as a sign to stop for a moment and appreciate life.  And, I did.  As I write this I'm bloated from dinner, and the sense of thanks has still not waned.

These last few days have been odd in that they've provided unexpected opportunities to reconnect with important people in my life that I haven't seen in quite a while.  Yesterday it was my neighbors from back in upstate NY.  Today I got a call from one of the 4 people in my life that I've ever told that I loved them (you know what kind of love I'm talking about).  One was a high school sweetheart, and I wonder if that was really love or what I wanted to believe was love.  Another was my wife, and that really WAS love but we all know what happened there.  A third person was the first person I loved post-transition - and that's who called today.  We met while I was living in Texas and dated for nearly a year.  Our lives have headed into different directions but I think one of the neat thing about loving relationships we've had in our lives is that they don't need frequent feeding or proximity in order for the special friendships and the memories to survive.  It was really nice to talk with her.

Over the weekend I got an email from a dear friend from the days of my transition who I haven't heard from in at least a couple of years or more.  Her name is Michelle - at least that's the name I know her by - and I somehow stumbled across her small web-page during the earliest days of even imagining that this was possible.  Her writing was wonderful, and for some reason I felt compelled to write her.  She wrote back, and that started one of the most unique and special relationships in my entire life.  Over the course of my entire transition she was the single-most important person in my day-to-day life which sounds odd to say about someone I rarely met except for a few occasions when business would take me to a city near where she lives.  Somehow, we just connected at deep, deep level a time when we both needed something and although the term "pen-pal" somehow seems to describe the prevalent nature of our relationship it doesn't begin to convey the intense emotional attachment we developed through the years.  I wrote email to her every single day - sometimes, twice or three times.  Emotional, gut-wrenching emails.   In fact, I still have them all and one of these days I may share some of them here.  I think people who go through difficult things together build a special bond and I don't know that our language even has a word to accurately describe it.  Anyway, it was so wonderful to hear from her. 

I went to brunch with my friend Mel yesterday and she played me a couple of songs from the new Pink CD.  One song in particular had caught her interest so she played it a couple or three times as we drove to and from the restaurant.  I don't believe in coincidences, but this morning another friend sent me an email with a link to a live performance of the song.  It's one of those songs that comes around every once in a blue moon that really make you feel.  The title is Dear Mr. President, and the words are amazing.  Watch the performance here.  And, if you like it pass the link on to friends who you think might appreciate it, too.  If this song gets the visibility it deserves it will come from people like you and me sharing it with our friends, because the "system" is just too chicken sh*t to give it widespread airplay.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

Another weekend has come and gone.  They seem to go by so fast these days.

When I lived in Pittsford I had some neighbors who lived in the house behind ours.  I've known them since 1982 - their kids were in elementary school and in many ways we watched them grow up over the 15+ years we lived across the fence from each other.  Mr. T used to come by our house on cold winter mornings and snow blow the bottom of our driveway before I was even out of bed sometimes - they were those kinds of neighbors.  They'd do anything for you - incredibly caring and giving people.  Anyway, we've stayed in touch through the years and we got together tonight here for dinner.  These are the kinds of friends that you might not see for a year or two but when you finally do see each other you pick up just where you left off.  It was so nice to see them and catch up on life.

Speaking of the "old days", I see that the Buffalo Sabres are playing the Philadelphia Flyers in the first round of the National Hockey League playoffs.  I suppose I should mention that I can't remember the last time I watched a hockey game.  I used to really enjoy it - especially as a kid growing up in Buffalo.  One of the favorite things in our neighborhood was for a bunch of us to play street hockey in the backyard during winter evenings.  I enjoyed being the goalie.  Anyway, I remember when the Sabres first started.  No, I remember before that - to when the Buffalo Bisons were playing and if memory serves for some reason they had a soda bottle cap as the emblem on their jerseys. 

I mention this because when I was a junior in high school - in the mid-1970's, the Sabres played the Flyers in the final round.  The winner of the best-of-seven series would claim the Stanley Cup.  Both teams were full of incredibly talented players, and it was a very competitive series.  In fact, some of the games were downright eerie - one of the Sabres swung his stick at a bat that was flying around down near the ice and killed it, and one of the games was played in heat that caused a foggy haze all along the ice.  The Sabres lost the series, but I still remember the excitement of those games.  In fact, I saved all the sports sections of the newspapers for each of the games, and I still have them.

On to more recent stuff.....

Little by little I'm getting up to speed on doing some audio work on my computer.  I think I've mentioned in the past that I'm planning to begin pod-casting at some point - more because that kind of stuff interests me than anything else.  I buy most of my audio gear at Guitar Center, and they recommended someone who freelances as an audio engineer for people needing guidance and tutoring in these things.  He came by the other day and I really enjoyed the couple of hours we spent talking about the things I'm hoping to do, looking at the equipment I've got and what I still need.  My university degree is in broadcast production, so this kind of feeds some of that old passion.  Anyway, I'm looking forward to moving ahead with this stuff.  And, the video stuff is moving forward, too. 

You know why I'm so excited about this kind of stuff?  Because I see it changing our world in the same quantum leaps that the internet did.  For many of us who remember growing up thinking that we were the only one - without any sense of community, without books, without support, without role models or success stories that living a happy live was even possible - the internet was the single-most transforming factor in our path to self-acceptance.  There is no way to over-emphasize its importance - it was THAT huge.  These new opportunities to present living, breathing, human faces to a world that otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to see are the next step.  It will provide opportunities to step off the one dimension of a web page to become three dimensional people.  The opportunities are only limited by our own imaginations.   Mark my words - these next few years are going to be HUGE.

Speaking of pod-casting, I'm told that the audio-cast of the Transgender 101 panel discussion at the University of Kansas a couple of weeks ago is up and online.  They'll be uploading them in 3 episodes, and this first one is about 45 minutes long. 


Friday, April 21, 2006

I don't watch much TV these days.  Somehow, there's not much on that I'd make the effort to actually watch.    I have no time for reality TV in any way, shape, or form.  I'm of the opinion that once a TV camera comes into any situation it ceases to be reality and it becomes some hybrid of staged drama.  End of story.  Crime drama seems to be everywhere, and I never ever felt myself to actually be in any kind of danger until I started watching CSI.  So, I don't watch it any more.

I have a Tivo but I disconnected the thing shortly after I bought it.  It tried to take over control of my TV so I had to resort to drastic measures just to get my TV back - I unplugged it.  One friend told me it transformed his life.  I suppose if it worked right it would be nice to have.  Unfortunately, I've never got it to work right.

I bring all this up because I've started watching The Sopranos.  I never watched it in previous seasons but for some reason I watched the season opener this year and now I'm hooked.  Maybe it's because Tony looks a lot like my brother (or, maybe my brother looks a lot like Tony).  Whatever the reason, it keeps my attention week after week.  It's almost like I'm supposed to like it because it seems to be on every time I turn on HBO.  It's like fate or something.   No matter.  It's good.

One of the current plotlines is particularly interesting.  One of Tony's most trusted guys - Vito - was seen with some guy at a gay bar.  Needless to say, this has spiraled to the point where the poor guy has fled his wife and family and is clearly contemplating suicide.  Some of his "friends" in the family want Vito whacked - they say it would send a very unfortunate message to do otherwise.  Tony is trying to take the high ground in this thing, but I can't see anything good coming of it.  It's nasty. 

Speaking of nasty, I got gas here three days ago for $2.68 a gallon.  Today I see it at stations for $2.95 - and that's pretty much the cheapest you can find.  This entire gasoline thing is way out of control.  Why?  Why has this happened?  It's absolutely insane.  My poor son stopped by tonight - he's a struggling student - and he barely has enough money as it is.  Now, he can't fill his gas tank and eat - he has to make a choice.  That's ridiculous.  And, what's even more ridiculous is that we always new this was going to happen eventually, and we let it.  How long will this last?  Somehow, visions of Mel Gibson in Mad Max, with that gasoline tanker he was guarding in a world where gas was like gold, come to mind. the more I see these days, it doesn't seem all that far fetched a possibility in the not-too-distant future.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

I've got a few things to share tonight.  They're not all necessarily related but I suppose I'm just in a sharing mood.  Go figure.

First, tonight was an interesting evening.  I'm trying to train for the Gay Games in Chicago in July, and I've been doing quite a bit of cardio lately.  In fact, I ran six miles a little earlier this afternoon - it was a killer.  Anyway, the challenge has been to find someone to actually wrestle with - someone who will train with me.  I contacted the local wrestling club a year ago looking for somebody and at the time they were in the middle of building a brand new facility right down on the campus of Arizona State University so they weren't optimistic.  The head guy there was honest - I'll give him credit for that - and said I just don't fit in.  We've never talked about my unique history and the fact of the matter is that the system just isn't set up for women my age to have opportunities to wrestle.  I told him I'd spar with pretty much anyone and he was sympathetic, but said that the bigger challenge was finding someone who was willing to spar against me.  So sad.

Anyway, now that wrestling season is over there's a period of time between then and the time it gets too warm to do much that they're doing training there 4 nights a week.  I was pretty excited about this, but the problem lately has been actually finding time when I'm here in town to actually go and do it.  Well, I went there tonight in hopes of signing up and beginning next week even if only a few times.  The sad thing is, about 20 youngsters (high school and college) showed up but not a single "adult" was there so even if I was ready to wrestle there wouldn't have been anyone there to spar with.  They don't allow adults to spar with the younger wrestlers.  So, I find myself in the same boat I was in before they built the new facility.  Sigh.

I don't give up easily.  I'm planning to show up every night next week in hopes that there will be somebody there to work out with.  In the meantime, I sat there for an hour with all the parents and younger kids watching.  And, it struck me that it's been 27 years since I've done anything on the mat.  27 years!  I was watching all these people work out and I had flashbacks to a time long, long ago.  There was a time when that was me out there.  And, as I watched it struck me just how much I used to know - how comfortable I was stepping to the middle of the mat to wrestle.  The difference between a really good wrestler and an ordinary one isn't necessarily strength or even how many moves you know.  It's being able to think two, three, four moves in advance.  It's going into one move and starting a second one based on the reaction before your opponent has even had time to finish reacting.  That's the difference in the mat, and I think that's part of the difference in life, too.

Anyway, it was actually pretty fun just watching.  I felt like I got something out of it.  I'm sure I'll be a total klutz when I finally have a chance to get out there - that my mind will have all kinds of plans that my body and my experience level just won't carry out.  But somehow this whole thing has become one of those "tests" that comes along every once in a while.  I've decided that the key for me is to practice a dozen standard moves and just leave it at that.  Time is getting tight and the main thing at this point is to build stamina, to get back out there, and to see how things go.  For all I know I'll sprain something or pull something early on and that will be that.  I need to pace things, so stay tuned.  I have a feeling this is going to be interesting (as though I need more interesting things in my life these days).

Topic #2:  I got a pedicure this week.  It's my first one of the new year, and it's one of those me things I'm happy to make time to do.  The weather here has already spiked to the upper 80's so it's time to dress up the toes to go out.  It's almost like a springtime ritual - like robins, and daffodils, and setting your clock forward.  It was nice to see Imelda and catch up on things.  I started going to this particular salon shortly after I moved back specifically because it was convenient to where I was working at the time.  Now that I'm working on the entire other side of the city I still go there despite the fact that it couldn't be much less convenient.  The people there are so nice, and Imelda does such a good job, and the price is right.  Anyway, there's something wonderful about a nice pedicure.  My sister says she's never had one so one of these days when I'm visiting there we'll both need to spend a day pampering ourselves.  She doesn't know what she's missing.  I remember secretly painting my toes back before, scared to death that something would happen and somehow somebody would find out.  Now, I just enjoy the fact that I can do it whenever I want, and it just feels so right.

Topic #3: Hormones.  Sometimes people ask me whether post-op Male-to-Female transsexuals need to continue taking hormones for the rest of their lives.  I generally explain that physiologically we're very much like post-menopausal women, so if we want hormones we need to take them.  Most of us do. I think there's still quite a bit of confusion on exactly how much is helpful, though, as I see a huge disparity between dosages just among my friends.  For quite a while I was giving myself estrogen injections, but eventually (about a year and a half ago) I got tired of using my butt as a pin cushion so I switched back to an oral version.  Giving yourself those injections really sucks - the needles are long intra-muscular suckers that look like darts - upwards of an inch and a half long or more.  The mere thought of it gets me woozy - the fact that I stab myself with them still amazes me.

The first time I considered giving myself an estrogen  injection was shortly after SRS.  I was visiting my friend Christine McGinn in Dallas who was doing injections on herself.  I have always felt, and continue to feel, that the injections have something that other kinds don't.  I can't quite explain it, but somehow I can actually feel the injections.  It affects my body in ways other kinds don't - even now.  It's hard to explain.  And, I don't get that with the oral kind.  After a while the  pills just seem like candy.  And, it's that feeling - that heightened sense of whatever it is - that makes me jab myself in the butt every two weeks to feel it. 

Anyway, Christine asked if I had ever given myself an intra-muscular injection before and of course I hadn't.  I hate needles.  I absolutely hate, hate, hate them.  It's not that they hurt so much as some irrational response left over from childhood.  Truth be known, I've fainted at the sight of a needle before.  Thankfully it's not that bad anymore, but it's still not good.  Well, Christine said I needed to learn how to do it so we were going to practice.  We went to the bathroom, and she said she would jab me with the syringe - I was getting sweaty just thinking about it.  Then  - Boom, the friggin needle is in my hip/butt all the way.  So, she says to me, "You need to get used to this so look at it in the mirror - look at that syringe just buried in your muscle".  And I did.  There is was - bigger than life - jabbed all the way into me.  And, it didn't really hurt but it certainly wasn't pleasant, either.

After a minute I reached around and grabbed the thing, pushed the plunger to actually inject the estradiol, and pulled the crazy thing out.  That was my first time, and I've done it dozens of times since.  Good thing my hynie has enough fat to push it all the way in there (and more!).  Yeesh.  It's like being told to torture yourself.  But we do.  Some of us find friends to jab us because we just don't want to do it ourselves.  Frankly, I don't know anyone that I trust more than me when it comes to this stuff so I'll just do it.  And, when I'm done, I lay down until the blood goes back into my head.

I mention this because I just went back on the injectable estrogen.  And, oddly enough, I feel it again.  I went for a run today and my boobs hurt.  And, I can feel it in my head.  I can't quite explain - I don't know the words.  But, I pulled the thing out the other day and there was a stream of blood right after it came out.  Yuck.  Not fun.  But, I'll do it again in two weeks.  :)

Tomorrow I've got a meeting with the mayor.  He has invited a group of local "leaders" to City Hall to talk about something having to do with City of Phoenix Discrimination Ordinances.  I hope he knows what he's getting himself into.  I have an entire folder ready for him.

One last thing.  Another transgender person was killed this week.  This happened in the Chicago area (read about it).  It's just so sad.  And, we're approaching the one year anniversary since Amancio Corrales was murdered in Yuma.  There are still no leads or suspects.  I got an email about planning for a vigil to recognize the passing of one full year:

The Amancio Project

Two events are planned for the first anniversary of the murder of Amancio Corrales, a fine young gay man who was murdered on May 6, 2005. As of this date there are no suspects and the Yuma County Sheriff's Office says it has exhausted all leads.

The first will be a Graveside Memorial and Vigil at 5:00pm on Saturday, May 6, 2006, at Amancio's Gravesite located at the Desert Lawn Memorial Park(Cemetery), 1415 S. 1st Street, Yuma, Arizona. The Yuma Community is encouraged to attend and demonstrate its support for Amancio's family and close friends as well as send a silent but powerful message that bias based crimes should not go unpunished..

The second will be a Memorial Mass at 7:00pm on Sunday, May 7, 2006, at the Immaculate Conception Church, 505 S. Avenue B, Yuma, Arizona. As with the Graveside Memorial, the public is invited to attend to show their support.

This information may also be found at The Amancio Project <> website.

On behalf of the family, thank all of those who have steadfastly shown support for this project in an effort to keep the pressure on law enforcement to find the murders. If you wish to join The Project, please contact me at

Warmest regards,

Michael H. Baughman

The Amancio Project <>


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I went to the GLBT Advisory Council meeting last night to hear an update on the murder of Maurice "Mo" Green in Phoenix almost a month ago.  The Phoenix Police department was there in force - there were 5 people there who identified themselves as detectives of some type.  And, I'd estimate that another 20 people showed up to hear and to ask questions. The lead detective is someone named Ira who gave a detailed description of the facts he's got so far.  He did a good job of just putting it all out there.

For those who are interested:  Apparently Maurice is best characterized as a cross-dresser.  He lived as Maurice and spent most of his days as Maurice.  However, he did have a feminine persona so he'd sometimes go out while dressed as female.  He was a 22-year old African American who lived in a not-so-nice part of the city, and on the day of the murder he spent most of his time with a friend (dressed as male) at an adult bookstore in the area.  Sometime later in the day he went to his mother's house and changed into a wig, a halter top, a skirt, and some sandals and then he and a friend went for a walk.

Based on eyewitness accounts, they were walking down the sidewalk when two young Hispanic males came out of a convenience store just up the road and started coming towards them.  Maurice's friend apparently sensed that something wasn't quite right about these two guys (ages estimated at 15-20) so he started to cross the street to the other side.  Maurice continued down the sidewalk.  These two "kids" (that's how one person referred to them at the meeting last night) passed Maurice without incident, but then one of them simply turned around, drew a small to medium caliber handgun, and shot Maurice once in the back.  There was no altercation, there were no words exchanged, there was no provocation, there was no indication that any of them knew each other.  From the way it was described it seems unlikely that Maurice even knew what hit him.  He fell to the ground and, although fire and paramedic response was characterized as timely, he bled to death there on the sidewalk due to the nature of the wound.

There were apparently at least 3 people who witnessed it.  One witness indicated that he knew one of the assailants, and he said his name is "Ceasar".  The detective has since done some checking and has identified a possible suspect.  He did say that he was reaching out to the community for any additional information.  He explained the difficulty of getting information in that kind of a setting, but he concluded by saying that he's confidence that they'll find who did this and bring them to justice. 

The thing that remains unclear is motive.  Was Maurice killed because he was cross-dressed and someone didn't like it?  Was it gang related?  Were there drugs involved somehow? Did this person kill him because he was African-American?  The motive remains murky, and although some of the discussion last night centered around the topic of a "hate crime", there is no indication that this murder was one of those. 

I brought up the fact that I felt that communication following the crime was almost non-existent at a time when it needed to be "out there".  I questioned if there was anything in the story that was different today than it would have been if he had done this last week, or the week before.  I was concerned that precious time for witnesses to remember details and come forward had passed, and that we needed to find ways to share this kind of information much sooner than a month after the fact, or in a room where only 5 people attend a monthly meeting and it didn't go any farther than that.  I still feel that way, and I'm hopeful that we can find solutions as a community.  One person there hit the nail on the head when he said that we - as an overall GLBT community - need to own that.  We do - I'm not blaming the police for not doing their job or for treating this lightly.  In fact, I'm not necessarily blaming anyone.  As hard as I find it to believe it has become apparent that those I would have expected to be sensitive to the broader impact of these kinds of crimes are not, so part of this needs to be to build that awareness.   I'm hopeful that the next time one of these tragedies happens here we'll have learned from this one, and we'll be able to react with facts in a widespread and effective way.

The bottom line is that an innocent person was shot and killed for no apparent reason.  Nothing we do or say now will change that.  All we can do is make sure that the things that should be happening are indeed happening, and that the people who did this are brought to justice.  As time passes we'll be sure to keep our eye on this and I'll be sure to provide any updates that come along. 

Anybody with information on this crime is urged to contact the Phoenix Police Department through the "Silent Witness" program.


Monday, April 17, 2006

Tomorrow night there's a meeting to get an update on the murder of a transgender person here in Phoenix that happened a little less than a month ago.  Getting information has been like pulling teeth and it continues to amaze me that other people around here don't see that there's something wrong with this.  Apparently there will be a deputy there to provide some details, which is good news.  But that doesn't change the communication problem.  And I hope the people who attend approach this with an eye on making sure we don't have a similar situation the next time one of us gets killed.  I'm not quite sure why I'm so torqued by this but I am.

It's kind of nice having a fairly normal week ahead of me for a change.  No traveling.  I don't have a single free evening but that's okay.  An old friend from Rochester is vacationing here with his family and we're planning to get together on Wednesday.  I've known he and his wife for 20 some years which amazes me - life sure was different back then.  Before we both had families, and when life just seemed to be simpler somehow.  My old neighbors from Pittsford live here during the winter, too, and they're still wonderful friends.  They'll be heading back north next week so we're planning to get together over the weekend.  It's nice to be able to keep those links alive - links with my past, with people I truly cared about and with whom time and change hasn't been a bad thing.  I really don't have many of those.  I suppose in some ways I'm fortunate to have any.

Yesterday didn't go quite the way I originally planned.  I got to a point in mid-afternoon where I faced a choice of going for a much-needed run, or taking a much-needed nap.  Run, or nap.  I hate to say, but a nap is a luxury I rarely have so it really wasn't a difficult decision.  I got a couple of hours of wonderful rest.  It was pure bliss.  Usually, the only time I get to sleep during the day is on a plane, and that's usually because I didn't get much sleep the night before.  At dinnertime I was still full from my traditional Sunday fresh-made waffle breakfast (with strawberries!) so we decided to put off baking the ham until some time when we're still hungry.  I've got a house full of guests and I think we were pretty unanimous at that point. 

On another topic, some have heard me talk about the Out and Equal Conference before.  It has grown into quite the huge event, and is the premier conference dedicated to GLBT Workplace policy, efforts, and Best Practices.  This year it will be held in mid-October in Chicago, and they're expecting upwards of 1,500 people there.  I mention this for a couple of reasons.  First, if you work for a larger company and you have any interest in attending you might want to approach your HR people now.  Also, if you do intend to go you might want to make your room reservations early - the block they reserve at the conference hotel always seems to sell out.  Lastly, they hand out awards (called Outies) for exemplary workplace efforts on behalf of the GLBT community and it would be nice to see a trans-person represented in the finalists.  If you know of anyone in your workplace or if you feel that you deserve this honor please consider sending in a nomination (details are here).

Sunday, April 16, 2006  (EASTER)

Today is Easter.  I don't have any big plans for the day other than to continue cleaning, to take a little time for myself, toe spend a little time with some friends visiting from out of town, and to make a nice baked ham dinner.  I spent much of yesterday cleaning and I'll continue that today.  I've decided to indulge in one of those Dyson vacuum cleaners from Costco as my trusty Oreck just doesn't seem to be cutting it any more. 

As I think about what to share today I can't help but think back to Easters past.  I remember working as a waiter during college and the craziness that is Easter Brunch.  I've got video tapes of my son as a child, searching the house for hidden Easter Eggs that will eventually lead him to his overstuffed chocolate-filled  Easter Basket.  I remember going to brunch after church with my wife, her family, and feeling more than a little uncomfortable even in those days at having to wear a suit and tie. 

Re-birth.  Two Easters in particular had a significant impact on the flow of my life, and I think I'd like to share them.  I think they effectively convey the turmoil of the time as I struggled to come to terms with the difficult and painful process of my own personal re-birth.  These excerpts are from early manuscript versions of Wrapped In Blue, so if they differ from the text in the book it's because they pre-date the final version.

The first of these two Easters was 1998.  Life in my house had been very difficult since my wife and I had had the discussion that I was seeing a psychologist.  Being around each other was dangerous, as it wouldn't take much to set off an eruption that neither of us wanted.  Perhaps the balance in this entire equation was our son.  He didn't know what was going on but he had to be aware that there was something wrong.  My wife would end up going into her room and crying for seemingly no reason at all.  There would be unexplainable outbursts of anger.  It all came to a head on Easter Day 1998.


My wife had begun to shun me. Worse than that, she began to ridicule me. She told me I walked like a “fag”, and that I was a “freak”. She told me I made her sick to her stomach. I’m sure that the thought of what as happening to me was indeed repulsive to her, and she lashed out the only way she knew how.

Needless to say, it was not fun for me to be around her, so I avoided her as much as possible. And thankfully, she avoided me. When I went into a room, she left it. If I stayed home, she went out. Weekends, when we both had things to do around the house, were the worst. I dreaded them.

Easter was on Sunday April 12th, the day before my wife's birthday. We had a tradition of going to Easter brunch as a family, and this year was to be no different. We had made arrangements for a late morning meal at the Hyatt.

On Easter morning I was getting ready to go. Despite the fact that it made me so uncomfortable, I was wearing a suit and tie. As I finished getting ready I could hear my wife in the bathroom; she was crying. I went in to ask her what was wrong. Our son was right behind me. As soon as I opened my mouth she exploded at me. She told me that she couldn’t go to brunch with me; that it was just too painful to see all the happy families there and know what I was doing to ours. She told me that I was fucked up, and my entire family was fucked up. She said that I had lied to her before we got married, and that our entire relationship was a lie…. that I was never the person she thought I was and that I would go to hell for doing this to her and Matt. She told me the only thing for her to do was to get a divorce. She told me to take Matt [our son] and to get out, to go to brunch without her. Then she slammed the door.

Matt witnessed it all. The level of discomfort in our house must have been obvious to him, although he never said anything about it. Now, it was out in the open, and he was full of questions. What did mom mean? Why was she crying? How did I lie to her? Why did she want a divorce? Who would he stay with? He and I still went to brunch, but I did everything I could to deflect his questions, as I was still too stunned myself to think straight.

That night, I put pen to paper to try to collect my thoughts while they were still fresh. I had found that simply talking to Sheila [my psychologist] helped give things in my life a sense of clarity that they never seemed to have as they rumbled around in my head. I hoped that writing them down in the “heat of the moment” would help me come to grips with the dramatic events of the day.

I can’t believe this is really finally happening. After all the times I’ve thought about it, and worried about it, and wondered when and if the pieces would all fall apart, I think it’s happening. And the weird thing is, I don’t know whether to be glad or sad. Inside, I feel like crying, but I also look forward with anticipation (and some fear) to what the future will bring.

As I think back over 18 years with my wife, it really tugs on my heartstrings. And to think that the bond that held us together so tightly has come so completely unwound so fast is really mind-boggling to me. But it seems as though she has decided that our whole marriage has been a lie and a sham. That I was never the person that she though I was, or who I seemed to be. And because of that, all that we’ve done and been through doesn’t really matter. But I also think she’s afraid as to where that leaves her. Here she is, almost 40 years old with a house and a very impressionable 12 year old and 2 dogs and no source of income for herself...where does she go from here? The thought that I ruined her life, which she as accused me of doing more than once so far, really hurts, but I can see why she thinks that.

I feel like such an outsider. It’s like when you travel to a strange city, and there are people and semi-familiar things everywhere, but it still all feels so foreign. When it’s your own city, you feel so at home, so comfortable and familiar. I don’t have that feeling anymore. Things that I felt sure were forever, and perhaps took for granted, are now nothing. I cannot see past today, much less than into the future. I fully expect to get a call from a lawyer that she is beginning divorce proceedings or go home to an empty house with a short good-bye note.

The hard part is, even if I wanted us to stay together, I don’t think that it’s possible anymore. The trust is gone. The feelings are gone. The familiarity is gone. In its place are two strangers who thought they knew each other, but really didn’t know anything at all. And there’s hurt....hurt at being deceived, at ruining a life, at “choosing” this course for my life rather than all we hoped and planned for, at leaving her in a mid-life lifeboat without an anchor or a paddle, or any sign of land.

But the sad thing is, I knew this day was coming. No matter how much I denied it to myself, or tried to pretend that it wouldn’t be like this, I think deep inside I knew. Every time I went to the doctor’s for my shots, I knew that it was the kiss of death for my marriage if and when she ever found out....and finding out was only a matter of time. So as I weighed what I was doing, I obviously chose the shot and the feeling of moving to my new life, over the marriage. And even if she were to give me an ultimatum that I must stop the shots and all that goes along with them to save the marriage, I know deep inside that I couldn’t do that. And with that thought in mind, it’s clear that my priorities, however screwed up they may be, lie in the direction of my new life, and not my old one.

As I said, I feel like an outsider. And I think it’s going to get worse long before it gets any better.

-- Journal Entry


The following year, I had moved out of our house in preparation to transition.  I had expected to take several weeks becoming comfortable as Donna before actually going full-time at work.  I had had some feminization surgery, so I was recovering from that and I was hurting.  I found myself going to electrolysis almost non-stop in hopes of clearing as much as I could before going full-time.  And, between my face looking like hamburger and the frazzled nerves of the time I had no energy left to get ready for what was to come.  In short, I was a mess.  And, as Easter descended I was reminded more than ever of what I was missing.


Easter Sunday had always been a significant holiday for our family. Perhaps not so much because we were particularly religious, or that we were celebrating the religious aspects of the day as for the general spiritual “rebirth” that it represented.

Most years we would go to church, and then out for a nice Easter brunch. It had been just one Easter ago when my wife exploded at me in front of our son, which marked a huge turning point in our relationship and my struggle. Ironically, it was a significant event in my own symbolic rebirth.

This year, it was Easter, and I was alone. It was dreary and cold outside… so cold, in fact, that some areas around Scottsdale actually got some snow. I was mentally and physically in pain. I was lonely; I was confused; and I spent the morning crying…feeling sorry for myself in my self-inflicted predicament.

Around noontime, Mike [my friend, and my boss at work] called.

“Hey, whatchya doing?” he asked.

“Surviving,” I replied, trying to sound as cheery as possible.

“You don’t sound so good. Are you doing ok?”

“To tell you the truth, it has been a rough morning. But I think the worst is over and I’m feeling a little better.”

“Do you have any plans for Easter dinner?” he asked.

“Nope. Just whatever I have in the fridge.”

He paused for a moment. “Hey. How about if I pick up some barbecued chicken and some salad and some desert, and head over there for Easter lunch. I have plans later for Easter dinner, but I’d love to stop by for a little while if you want.”

It only took a second to think about it. “Yes,” I replied. “I think I’d like that.”

He was at my apartment, bearing food (and beer) before the hour was over.

Over the previous few weeks, as I prepared for going full-time, Mike had done his best to understand. We had had some fairly deep conversations, but in the end I’m not sure he was any closer to comprehending the power of the forces that were driving me.

That afternoon, as we snacked on chicken and drank beer, we had an in-depth, emotional chat. I did my best to verbalize my fears and my discomfort. I explained my loneliness, and my despair. I explained how difficult it was to go from a role in which I felt so secure and “natural” (and empty), to one in which I felt so insecure, vulnerable, clumsy and unprepared. For the first time….he seemed to “get it,” at least some of it. Perhaps it was because I looked and felt so pathetic. Perhaps he had had a sudden moment of clarity. I don’t know. What I do know is that I will never forget the kindness that Mike showed to me that day, as his efforts rescued me from one of the lowest points in my life.

I had very little time to recover from my Easter doldrums. I knew that I needed to go out alone as Donna, as that was something I has still not done. I felt it was critical to overcome this hurdle, both for my shaken confidence and my “maturity”. I understood that a bad experience could have a negative, even devastating effect, but I tried not to let my mind dwell on what could go wrong because it was just too horrific to think about.

One morning I took the day off from electrolysis so that my face would not be so chopped up for this important excursion. It may sound trivial, but I challenge any man reading this to get dressed up as a woman and go to the mall to see the reaction. Be prepared to be taunted. Be prepared to have people point, look and stare. Be prepared to be the target of ridicule, and perhaps even outright hostility. That’s not to say all these things will happen, but as you prepare to go out, these things will be in the forefront of your mind. It can be a terrifying experience.

I planned it out. I carefully got ready, trying to look as “plain” as possible in desperate hopes of blending in. However, with my large breasts, I couldn’t help but feel that I stood out like a sore thumb; as that alone gave people a reason to stare. I planned to arrive at the mall shortly before it opened. I thought that this was the time when the fewest people would be there, so I had the least chance of getting harassed.

As I drove, I tried desperately to keep my mind from facing the fear that was racing through it. I tried to ignore the fact that my stomach was doing flip-flops, and my heart was racing nearly as fast as my mind was.

I got to the mall and parked near the door. I gathered my things together to go in for a short walk. I got ready to go in……

I couldn’t do it. I could not get out of my car. I could not get my mind off of what could happen. I promised myself that I’d count to four, like a swimmer preparing to jump into icy water, and then just go. But when I got to four, there was no going.

I found that the longer I sat there and hoped I could overcome the scenes that raced through my mind, the more I realized that I wasn’t going to get out.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was actually probably only ten minutes, I knew it was over. I knew I had been defeated by my fears. As I sat there, contemplating my defeat, I started shaking and crying. All the fear and frustration and disappointment welled up in me, and my crying became sobbing.

I started the car and drove home. I was devastated with my inability to do something so seemingly simple and harmless as walk through the mall. How could I ever hope to exist in the world as my true self if I couldn’t do something so basic as show my face in public? I felt like the most pathetic creature alive.

That evening, some dear friends wanted to take me out for something to eat, and I accepted, more out of not wanting to be alone than for my the opportunity to go out. At that point I had lost nearly fifteen pounds since the surgery, and my face was gaunt, gray and hollow. That night, too, was a catastrophe in my mind.

The devastation of the day sent me into a tailspin from which I could not recover.

I sit here tonight more confused than I have ever been before. I've had a weekend which has made me question everything in my entire life, and nothing seems real right now.

The bottom line is that I probably LOOKED ok, but I felt more uncomfortable than ever. And I don't know if I'll EVER be comfortable....It really has me perplexed.

I talked to my wife tonight. Her birthday is on Tuesday, and I wrote her a card and a poem. I miss her so much. And my son. And the fear and pressure and doubt is pressing at me harder than ever before. My wife wants me back. Only as Dave (of course). And in some ways I want to go back. We had a good cry together. I feel like calling up a surgeon, having the boobs taken out, and running home. But I'm not ready to do that. Yet.

We'll see if tomorrow brings a new frame of mind. Tonight I am a wreck, and can't wait to take a pill and get some sleep....

Be careful what you ask for because it might come true....

-- Journal Entry


* * * * *

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
                                                                                                                                                                                      - - Franklin Delano Roosevelt

There is no way that anyone who has not endured an impending “transition” can begin to comprehend the pressures involved for those who are not mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually prepared. As I considered my sorry situation, it was obvious that I was not.

The pressures that I had placed on myself were incredible. They were suffocating. They had sapped every ounce of energy and hope and enthusiasm that I once had.

I had originally intended on a gradual transition to a new life as Donna, but the recommendation of the specialist from San Fran had been that the “big bang” approach is more effective for everyone involved. I was doing my best to accept and accommodate that. It was becoming obvious that I couldn’t.

To top it all off, my boss, Mike, had started feeling the pressures of my impending debut, as well. He began to feel the conflict between his obligations towards me as my friend, and his responsibilities to the other 30 people in our group as their manager. He suddenly realized that publicly supporting me could be an automatic “guilt by association,” and that his power, his influence and his position could be undermined. His support for me started to waver.

I don’t know if it’s that I hadn’t planned well, or that my expectations were unrealistic. Maybe I had simply overwhelmed myself. What I do know is that it was a very dangerous time for me. My days were spent in pain, fear, frustration and loneliness. Each day the feelings got stronger and stronger. My emotional state was fragile at a time when it needed to be strong. I was scared at a time when I needed to be confident. Rather than looking forward to my upcoming transition, the though of it filled me with terror. By midweek, I was only a day away from the specialist from San Fran arriving to announce my situation to the world, and I was ready to die.

As the clock ticked down to the point of no return, and the week spiraled out of control, I did the only thing I could do to survive.

I pulled the plug.



Saturday, April 15, 2006

Have I ever mentioned how much I enjoy waking up in my own bed?  It's one of those simple pleasures.  Of course, my bedroom and bathroom looks like it was hit with a cluster bomb - with a half unpacked suitcase and miscellaneous "stuff" sprinkled here and there, but the bed itself is my own little enclave of peace.

Today is a cleaning day.  Based on how much cleaning I've been wanting to do and how little time I've had to do it, it may spill over into tomorrow as well.  I find that when I write a weekend "To Do" list I'm overly optimistic about the things I think I can accomplish.  That's okay.  I'd rather consider myself an optimist than a pessimist.

The weather is absolutely amazing.  As I type it's mid-morning and the sliding door to my patio is open.  I hear birds of all kinds chirping happily out there.  The sky is cloudless and deep blue, and the warm morning sun is pouring in.  I think the temperature today is supposed to get into the mid to upper 80's which actually makes it difficult to be inside.  The good news is that it's like this quite a bit so I can always find an excuse to be outside tomorrow.

More good news - I finished my taxes last night.  I actually started them way back in February but life events have helped me drag finishing it off until the last minute. I remember doing my taxes shortly after I started transitioning.  With everything that was going on I didn't get around to doing it in TurboTax until the last day.  I was still married at the time so I had to have my wife sign it, too.  She was so angry that the names on it were both female names, but there really wasn't any other choice.  She refused to actually see me so we went through this elaborate "game" where I went to her house, left the return on the doorstep and rang the bell, and then went away for a half hour so she could get it, look it over, sign it, and put it back outside for me to pick up.  It was just so silly, but as I think about it I don't think we've moved much past that in all these years. 

As I type I'm sipping on my morning coffee (Peet's coffee, it rocks!!) and I'm listening to a band that I've heard quite a bit on the alternative radio station here lately.  The name of the band is She Wants Revenge and the particular popular song here at the moment is "Tear You Apart".  For some reason they remind me of the Psychedelic Furs from the '80s. 

For those who enjoy photos, I added a few recent ones from the IFGE Conference in Philadelphia last weekend to the Recent Photos page.  I can't believe it was only a week ago.  It seems like so much gets packed into days recently that I seems much longer ago than that.

One last thing, and then I'm off to do some cleaning...

They recorded the event at the University of Kansas on Wednesday evening and are planning to do a podcast of it.  I just got an email from the person who is doing it so I'm just going to copy and paste what she says about it here for those who want to listen:

Transgender 101 Talk - Podcast Schedule

Hi, I am one of the Kansas City Gay Podcasters and I recorded your panel discussion on Wed night. I just wanted to let you know that I will be airing half of that talk (Donna Rose and the legal segment) late Tuesday night, 4/18 and the second half (everything else) two weeks later on 5/2. If you know of anyone who might be interested in hearing this but who was unable to attend, please don't hesitate to let them know about this. You can listen directly from the webpage with any regular browser at, if you have iTunes you can search for Controversial Conversations, or CCcast, or you can plug the feed - - directly into any RSS agrigator. I will also be encouraging listeners from my other show LGBT-KC Weekly to check this audio out too. The information for that show is: Show Notes and listen online at and the feed is at and it can also be searched via iTunes.

I know that John Ong is wanting to do something with the audio as well, but I am not too sure what it is. In any event, you can find his website at or use his direct feed -

Thank you so much, yet again, for allowing us to use this incredible audio to help educate people.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

I'm on my way to bed so I'm only stopping long enough to write a few sentences about these last few days.  I don't have much more energy than that.

I flew to Kansas City on Tuesday evening, where Kevin (he was my handler) picked me up and drove me the 70+ miles to the University of Kansas campus in Lawrence.  Somehow, I don't think I've ever been in Kansas before.  I've been in most of the 50 states but somehow any visit I may ever have made to Kansas escapes me.  When I think of Kansas I think of two things: tornadoes and religious fanatics.  That's probably not fair but somehow those are the first two things that come into my mind.  Now, when I think of Kansas I'll have a third thing to think about - the University.

They created a very busy schedule for me.  I didn't get to bed until 1am on Wednesday morning and the 7am wake-up call came way too soon.  I spoke at a couple of classes throughout the course of the day and I did an interview with a psych professor for a DVD he's creating.  I think it all went really well.  The weather was gorgeous, the campus was beautiful, and somehow everything just seemed "right".

The highlight of the trip was a panel discussion last night on Trans 101.  Kevin and Michael (the organizers) apologized early and often about the fact that the only auditorium they could reserve for the event was huge - holding 600 people - so they were worried that no matter how many people showed up the place would look empty.  To their credit, they did a wonderful job of getting the word out and I think many people were surprised at the wonderful turnout.  The reception afterwards provided a good opportunity to meet some of the folks who had come - I really enjoy meeting people like that.  There's a brief write up of the event in the KU newspaper, and it makes me smile to see what they chose to quote out of aaaaalllll the things that were discussed.  All the panelists did a fantastic job, and I can't imagine having it come off better.

One of the things that has struck me over the last week is that I've met two wonderful kids of transgender parents.  I met one at IFGE, and another came to our event last night.  Both were energetic and excited and totally supportive and that was just so amazing.  Sometimes we talk about how parents are changing to be supportive of transgender youth at earlier ages, and at the same time I think we need to acknowledge that families and loved ones are changing in amazing ways, too. 

By the time we drove back to Kansas City after the event and I got to my hotel room it was 1am (again).  I had a wake-up call at 5, shuttle van ride to the airport at 6, flight at 7, land in Phoenix at 8 (Phoenix time), and I had a class to speak to at a local college at 9.  All in all - it has been a very full few days.  And, I'm very tired.

If you've written to me over the past week or ten days and I haven't responded please excuse my tardiness.  Traveling takes its toll on my ability to keep up with my emails.  I'll be working to get current over the next few days.  I've got a little over a week before I head out again, and I've got trips to Atlanta, Austin, perhaps Washington DC, and South Carolina (my first visit to see dear Elizabeth) in the next 5 weeks.  No rest for the weary.

Speaking of weary, I'm off to bed.  ZZZZzzzz.....

Spring Blossoms

KU Building

Artsy Shot at KU

The Provost's house at KU

Tulips as far as the eye can see

The building where we had the
panel discussion



Monday, April 10, 2006

It's amazing how much catch-up work there is when you're away from the office for a couple of days.  It took me most of the day, but I think I'm finally back at sea-level with everything. 

The biggest issue of the day around here is immigration.  Today there was a huge demonstration in and around downtown Phoenix and I made the mistake of forgetting that and taking the highway that goes right through downtown at lunchtime.  It was not a wise move, and before I realized what I had done it was too late to get away.  We creeped along for a half hour before finally getting to the other side.  Helicopters were hovering above it all.  It was just massive - over 100,000 people converging downtown on the Capitol.   Most were wearing white shirts so it looked like an absolute sea of white.  I've never seen anything quite like it.

I had a couple of interesting things happen today.  First, I was "sir'd" on the phone.  I can't tell you the last time that happened - it's been a long, long time.  I've never felt that my voice was all that wonderful but somehow it just seems to fit.  Oh well.  It didn't bother me so much as it amused me.

While I was in Philadelphia I talked with one of the doctors about my hair.  I've got a patch right on the top of my head that seems to get thinner, and then it tends to thicken up.  It's really odd.  It seems to be sort of cyclical and I'm not sure what causes it - hormones, age, life experiences - but I get self-conscious about it when it's thinner.  Anyway, it has been thin for a while now and although it's not terrible and I can do hairstyles that minimize it it still bothers me.  At one of the IFGE workshops there was a discussion of drugs that help with hair loss, and the one several doctors seemed to prefer is called Avodart.  I got a script for it so I stopped by Costco today to fill it.  When I went to the window to pick it up the woman asked me if I had taken it before.  I said I hadn't.  She looked a little confused.  She asked if my doctor had told me what it was for, so I told her I was taking it to address the thinning hair on the top of my head.  She looked even more confused.  Apparently, the main use for the drug is to reduce the size of the prostate in men - so it's no wonder she was confused.  She said women don't usually take it.  I told her that I was a transsexual so my physiology was a little different than your garden-variety sine-birth woman.  She got this big smile on her face.  "Wow!" she said.  "That's wonderful.  Good for you!  Congratulations!"  She couldn't stop.  Anyway, I got my script and I'll let you know if I notice anything.  And, to top things off, I got a slice of pizza on the way out.  Their pizza is bad-ass. 

There is some interesting stuff coming up.  I'm headed to the University of Kansas tomorrow where I'll spend most of the day Wednesday talking at classes.  There's a Trans 101 Panel presentation in the evening, so it looks to be a very full day. Next Tuesday there's a meeting where the Phoenix GLBT Advisory Council will provide details about the transgender murder here.  I'll be there, and I invite anyone locally who wants to hear or who has something to say to participate as well.  There are ongoing negotiations for HRC to produce and distribute a DVD featuring one of the workplace presentations I gave last year.  I've seen early versions and it really came out nicely - I'm very pleased.  The goal is to provide it to workplaces as an educational tool that will help companies with the transgender education component of the new Corporate Equality Index.  This is a work in progress at this point, but I'm very optimistic.  It has a huge potential.  Lastly, I need to finish my taxes.  It looks like that will have to happen on Friday. 

The Diversity Best Practices organization coordinated a conference call a few weeks ago to discuss GLBT issues with some of their corporate members.  It was a wonderful success, and there were 40+  different companies on the call.  They just released a new booklet titled 2006 WOW! Quick Facts: GLBT (see it here) that's full of all kinds of useful information about the GLBT community.  I just got the "real" booklet in the mail today (as opposed to the download-able one on the website) and it's very well done.  I've got a brief statement in it (page 70 of the pdf version) and there are all kinds of helpful transgender resources. 

Someone asked me today what I was planning to do for Easter.  I had no idea Easter is this Sunday.  For so many years it had a significant place in my world.  Now I don't even know it's right around the corner.  I'll have to think of something nice to do.  In addition, my ex-wife's birthday is this week.  I hope she has a good one.

In closing, I wrote a page dedicated to my friend, Julie, who passed away last night.  It's titled In Memory.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

I'm sorry that the time between updates has been so long.  Life has been going very quickly these past couple of weeks, and will continue to be that way through Friday.  Thankfully, once the weekend gets here I can relax a bit.  For a little while, at least.

I want to start this entry by sharing my Wednesday morning with you.  Last week I was in the middle of trying to take care of some last minute business, pack, take care of some things here at the house, and still get to the airport in time to catch my noontime flight to Philadelphia for the IFGE Conference there.  Well, somehow I got typing so quickly that I accidentally hit two keys in sequence that deleted what I had been working on without saving it.  I couldn't believe it.  But, it was gone.

Then, I got a late start heading to the airport so I hustled my butt over to Terminal 2 at Sky Harbor Airport here in Phoenix to catch my United flight.  I found a parking spot, collected my stuff, and trudged through the wind and rain showers to check in for my flight.  There was less than an hour before takeoff.  Well, apparently in teeny little letters there was some writing that indicated that this was a code share flight with US Airways, and I needed to go to their reservation desk to check in.  Well, the bad news is that US Airways is in Terminal 4.  If I had been thinking clearly I would have hopped on an inter-terminal bus to get over there but for some reason my first response was to trudge all the way back to my car and to drive over to Terminal 4.  Since I was now getting perilously late I decided that I needed to park as close as possible - in the short-term parking that costs $20/day.  To make matters worse, it seemed like the entire garage was full so as precious minutes ticked away I was driving up and down aisles and aisles of car with nary an empty spot to be found.  Finally, I found something, made my way to the desk, checked in, somehow got through security in a timely manner, and walked up to the gate just as the flight was boarding.  I was a shaking, wet, wreck.

Thankfully, the rest of the trip went much more smoothly.  Well, most of it did.

As I've said in the past, these kinds of things are way cool.  They provide an opportunity for us to come together in ways we just don't get in other ways.  I saw friends I haven't seen in a while.  Elizabeth and I got to spend some time together.  I met people I've gotten to know online.  And, I made any number of new friends.  Of course, the main reason for being there was to be part of the conference and they certainly did book my time.  I presented at three of the 4 slots on Friday, and thankfully only one slot on Saturday.  The good news is that I really enjoyed all of them and the people there were just great.  I hope they had as much fun taking part in the workshops as I did preparing and presenting them.

One of the workshops was titled "Dealing with the media: First Person Experiences".  It was a panel discussion done by people who have been in the media quite a bit lately, and provided an opportunity for them to share some of the more fun parts of working with the media while at the same time giving some things to be careful about.  I think this is particularly timely thanks to all the visibility that we're still getting thanks to Transamerica.  I collected an amazing group of panelists that included Lilly McBride (the school teacher from New Jersey who has been all in the news lately), Dr. Michelle Angelo (she is very involved with trans youth, was recently featured on Larry King Live, and was interviewed in a recent Chicago Tribute front-page article), Mara Keisling (Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality and perhaps the most often interviewed person of any in the transgender community), Dr. Meredith Bacon (her story as a professor at the University of Nebraska who transitioned was recently featured on Good Morning America, in People Magazine, and in several newspapers), and Elizabeth (she has been featured in several documentaries, as well as appearing on Oprah two years ago).  It was a lively, fun discussion. 

Perhaps the most volatile of all the workshops happened on Saturday afternoon.  Titled "HRC and the Transgender Community", this is the second year we've offered this session.  It provides an opportunity for me and for staff from HRC in Washington DC to share the things that are happening specific to the transgender community, while at the same time listening to concerns and issues that people want to bring forward.  Of course, when it comes to HRC there is no end to the list of things that some people are angry about.  It was certainly a very candid session, but I'm glad we all felt comfortable enough to let it all hang out in there.  My ultimate message was that we're all trying to achieve the same things - it's just that some of us have a little different idea as to how we can best help that get done.  Whether or not you like or trust the organization, that doesn't change the fact that we're far better served by having somebody sitting in on board meetings, bringing trans concerns and issue to the forefront, and providing education to board and staff simply by being in the room.  I'm comfortable with the way things went, and I think the poor staffer that HRC sent to participate certainly got an earful that he won't soon forget.  :)

The highlight for me was Saturday's Virginia Prince Award presentation.  It included a wonderful talk about our community, and I won't soon forget it.  People were wiping tears from their eyes as he talked.  At the end, he read 2 newspaper articles.  One was from 3 years ago and was about a transgendered woman who was chosen as "Best Mom".  She won a limo ride, some nice prizes, and a dinner at a fancy restaurant.  The second article was from this past week.  That same woman had become a recluse because of constant harassment by neighbors, and her body was found in her apartment.  She had hanged herself.  It was a vivid reminder of the world in which we live, how cruel it can be, and how much it needs to change.

All in all, the days seemed to go on forever but at the same time it all seemed to go by so quickly.  As I packed this morning I couldn't help but wonder where all the time went.  Oh well.  For those who are interested, I'll be posting some photos here in the days to come. 

This week I'm headed to the University of Kansas to give a talk there on Wednesday.  They sound pretty psyched by it all, so I'm hopeful that we have a good event.

With that, I'll say goodnight.  I'm still on east coast time so although it's almost 11:30pm by local time, it's almost 2:30am by East Coast time.  I'm pooped. 

Oh, and one last thing.  A dear friend of mine from Austin died this evening.  She was diagnosed as having a lump on one of  her kidneys less than a month ago, and now she's gone.  She was the first transperson I met when I was living there, and we build a very strong friendship.  I'll have more to say about that in the next couple of days.  It doesn't even seem like it can be real.  But it is.  Her name was Julie, so please keep her in your prayers and thoughts.  Her time on earth was way too short.

Monday, April 3, 2006

I had a wonderful (albeit brief) visit to Baltimore over the weekend.  The people at Johns Hopkins treated me royally.  The weather was absolutely gorgeous.  And, the cherry blossoms were just coming out which gave everything an almost fairy-tale like quality to it.  It was just gorgeous.  Of course, a 5 hour plane ride can be an ordeal in and of itself.  But the travels were generally uneventful, and I had a very enjoyable time.

Johns Hopkins University has a long history with regards to the transgender (specifically, the transsexual) community.  It became one of the first universities to create a gender identity clinic, and many of the practitioners who worked there along with many of the theories that they developed formed the foundation of much of the current mindset that continues to treat this situation as a pathology.  Perhaps not surprisingly, there are 101,000 hits on Google for "Johns Hopkins University" and "transsexual".  It was nice to be part of the "enlightenment" and, if the people I met during my brief stay are any indication, they're on their way to a much brighter future.

There was a front-page article in the Chicago Tribune today titled "Transgender Movement Emerging From The Shadows".  One of the sentences in there explains that one of the main drivers of this surge in activism/visibility for the transgender community is on the nation's campuses.  I couldn't agree more.  Workplaces and campuses.  That's where the rubber meets the road.  This month I've got 3 college campus opportunities - this past week at Johns Hopkins, next week at the University of Kansas, and then back here on a campus in Phoenix.  This is huge stuff.

On to juicer fare.  I had a date tonight.  I met someone I had briefly chatted with online for drinks which actually turned into drinks and dinner.  It was a very enjoyable evening and I'm confident we'll be seeing each other again.  I hope so, anyways.  This actually crosses a line I haven't crossed in this blog before when it comes to my personal life and I'm not sure how much of this (or any) relationship I'm willing to share here.  I guess we'll see where that goes.  Suffice it to say that I had a nice time and I think she's a pretty extraordinary person.  Enough said.

I had two drinks and I already have a headache.  I can't believe what a lightweight I've become when it comes to alcohol.  We went to this place that served drinks in a very unique way.  I ordered an appletini (yum) and when they brought it it was bubbling and churning like something out of the Munsters.  Apparently, they put dry ice into the drinks which causes all the fireworks.  If nothing else, it was certainly good for conversation.

Anyways, I'm going to take my little headache to bed.  The morning comes way too quickly, and sleep has been in short supply lately.


Friday, March 31, 2006

You know how it is when sometimes your timing is just off?  It's so frustrating.  Well, that's what happened to me today.

I've been lusting after any number of higher-end video cameras lately - partly because I'm hoping to do some work with them and partly because I've just been interested in these kinds of things since I was a kid.  I got my college degree in video production at Syracuse University based on spending a day at the Ontario Science Center as a teenager - and becoming enthralled with the working video studio they had there.  Visitors were put to work doing the different jobs around the studio - working the mixing board, operating the cameras, all that kind of stuff.  It was just too cool.

Shortly after I got married video production equipment was coming down to a level where everyday people like me could afford it.  I started a small video production company in Rochester - we worked out of our basement.  My wife and I were a great team - she was so organized and friendly and I was so creative and professional.  It just worked, and it wasn't long before our little business outgrew our home and we moved into some office space right along the Erie Canal in Pittsford, NY.  It is a time I remember fondly.  Eventually, though, some difficult decisions had to be made about life direction and that aspect of my life was left behind.

I often wondered what about that work attracted me.  And, it wasn't until fairly recently that I realized that it provided an outlet for my creative needs.  This creative side of myself had always needed to find ways to express itself, and that's what the video work did for me for all those years.  Of course, there was an odd allure to all the knobs, levers, and lights involved as well - but I think that appealed to my inner "geek". 

I've got tons of video of the first several years of my marriage, of my son's life, of me "before".  It's actually sort of interesting to watch - I think that's the best word to describe it.  But, that's a whole other discussion.

Back to the issue today.  There's a video camera that is way outside my price range but I'd jump on in a minute if I could find one at half the usual price.  Well, today I somehow stumbled across a website indicating that was having a one-day sale on this particular camera - for half it's normal price!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  I clicked on, and there it was.  The Sony HDR-FX1!  I started placing my order right then and there - filling in all the stuff on the screen.  There's something inherently exciting about finding a bargain and let me tell you - the endorphins were flowing.  Go figure - some people get excited about Prada.  I get excited about Sony.

For Lease??

Anyways, I suppose I should have learned a long time ago that if something seems too good to be true it probably is.  After filling out that first page I clicked to go to the next one.  Instead, a message came up saying that my transaction had timed out and that I needed to start again.  I tried to, but the camera had disappeared from the entire Apple website.  It was nowhere to be found - suddenly vanished!!  I called the Apple sales telephone number and eventually got somebody so I explained the entire thing to him.  He went away for a couple of minutes and came back to tell me that apparently there had been a boo-boo with the pricing so they had pulled it off the Apple website.  Apparently I was 5 minutes too late.

I explained that if you go to a store and you find an item that's marked in error you still generally get the item at the lower price.  He said I'd have to take that up with customer service so he forwarded my call - I think he was glad to get rid of me.  I explained the entire thing to the customer service guy but he didn't have any sympathy.  I suppose it just wasn't meant to be.  :(

Tomorrow I fly to Baltimore to speak at Johns Hopkins University.  Sunday I fly home.  Short weekend.  Long flights.  I sometimes amuse myself on these flights by doing word puzzles.  Specifically, I enjoy doing Crytograms and I can pass an hour pretty quickly once I get my mind working on these things.  I can buy a whole crossword puzzle book but the only thing I'll usually do is these cryptogram things.  It's addicting.  I've recently discovered a new distraction in this same vein - Sudoku.  It opens a whole new world of possibility when it comes to passing time.

On another topic, local law enforcement finally released details of the murder here last week.  I wrote a bit about it on my Op-Ed page so I won't take the time to re-hash it all here.

And, there was a potentially big decision today in the ongoing civil rights lawsuit against the Library of Congress.  Details are here.  I think we'll be hearing a lot more about this as it slowly winds itself towards whatever awaits it. 

I finally loaded a couple of the photos from the Grand Canyon trip to the Recent Photos page.  I'll be uploading more to my main photo page shortly.  So many came out great.  I think it's almost impossible to go there and take a bad photo.  One particularly funny photo that Elizabeth and I took while she was here and wanted to share is on the left.

Lastly - I want to send along a personal 'thanks' to Tamer at R&R Pump in beautiful Helena, Montana.  I heard about the new color scheme in the bathrooms - pink and lavender with cute little designs.  That rocks!  Anyone passing thru needs to stop by and check it out - I'll be there to see if for myself in July.


Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What a day I had!  Since I've actually got a little time to myself I had the time to bring my car in to take care of some of the little aches and pains that have been piling up over recent months.  Well, today it was time to pay the piper to the tune of almost $700.  OUCH!  Plus, there's more to do.  This was just the most important stuff.  I didn't know whether to drown my sorrow at a bar or on a treadmill.  Thankfully, I chose the treadmill.

Still not a single word on the local murder last week.  My patience is running out.  The fact that we can't seem to get a single detail - not even the victim's name - is absolutely ridiculous.  I'll give it another day or so before I turn it up a notch.  This just isn't right....

Other than that I really don't have all that much to say tonight.  It was a very pleasant weekend.  I did a very nice run on Sunday - probably 8 or 9 miles.  My mouth was pretty dry midway through so I grabbed a piece of fruit off the ground under a citrus tree along my route.  I thought it was an orange.  At least it looked orange.  It tasted more like a grapefruit, or a lemon - I still don't know for sure.  It sure was tart.  Anyway, it got my mouth all moist again so that's the important thing.

As part of my "wardrobe renewal" project I went to Urban Outfitters down near the Fashion Square mall on Sunday.  There was some nice stuff on sale - now all I need to do is find an opportunity to actually wear it.  I think I'll be bringing some of it to the IFGE Conference in Philadelphia next week.  I don't make packing decisions until the last minute so we'll see what happens....

One other thing.  Some dear friends who were married as husband and wife before transition, and whose marriage survived the transition, are visiting.  Julie provided some of her perspective in Can A Marriage Survive Transition.  Anyway, as part of my belief that spoken words are sometimes more effective than written words to truly tell our stories I'm planning to interview them using some of my new audio equipment while they're here.  I'd like to create a CD showcase of "Our Stories", and this one in particular I think needs to be documented and shared.  I've got another friend visiting next month who has done amazing things, as well, so I think she'll be Our Story #2.  Stay tuned for more.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

A a 22-year old transgender woman was murdered in Phoenix last Sunday night.  Apparently, she was shot in the back by a couple of men who confronted her on a busy street.. 

Police seek killers of transsexual today
PHOENIX, AZ   Police are looking for two men in connection with the fatal shooting of a transsexual. A 22-year-old man living as a ...

The problem is - that's all we've heard.  There was a brief blurb in the paper, but nothing else.  No details.  Not even a name (we have since learned who it is through other means, but that in and of itself is wrong).  I've tried to get information from the newspaper, and from the Phoenix police department.  So far - nothing.

Do you know what would have happened if this had been a child who had been killed?  It would have been all over the news.  It would have received all kinds of attention.  Immediately.  The public would have been given details so they could help in finding whoever had done this.  But, here we are a full week later - 7 whole days - and we haven't heard one single thing.  That's just plain wrong, and shame on the Phoenix police department, and shame on Phoenix City Hall, for allowing this to happen.  The fact that they're obviously not sensitized to these kinds of things is a whole other issue - and certainly one for concern.

The cynic in me is angry.  Here in Phoenix we go through all the motions to appear that we're making progress.  The Phoenix Police Department has a GLBT liason, and there is some sort of a GLBT taskforce that meets to discuss issues.  You know what that's worth to me?  Diddly.  Zero.  It's easy to talk the talk, but when something happens where somebody actually needs to prove that progress is being made who steps up?  Nobody.  So, as a community we're left asking questions, and we're left to guess, and we're disappointed that another life had been taken and nobody seems to care.  Again.  It sucks.

This isn't the last of this.  Far from it....

On to other topics....I'm back in my fitness regimen, and I must say it feels good.  There's just something good about feeling physically fit.  And, on the flip side, finding myself unable to work out affects me entire mental attitude.  It's weird.  But, I find the connection between my mental state and my physical state to be a very real one so it's nice to be back in that cycle.

I'm hoping to go see V For Vendetta sometime in the next couple of days.  Perhaps tomorrow.  I think the last movie I went to see in the theater was Transamerica in December so I suppose I'm due for another one.  This is my first weekend at home in a while, and my last one until mid-April.  I'm hoping to do cleaning, run some errands, get my taxes done, and generally catch up on things.  It looks as though we're on the road to warmer weather (no surprise there) - today it's supposed to get up to 85 degrees.  I'm not complaining, other than I wish I were outside.

There's something wonderful about Spring.  Here in Arizona we don't have the kind of spring I'm used to but Spring to me is as much a state of mind - a sense of rebirth, and of renewal - as anything specific with the weather.  I used to joke that the best part of winter was spring, and in fact the promise of spring is the only thing that makes the cold days of an upstate New York winter bearable.  Of course, spring means different things in different parts of the country.  Back home spring was warm days, green grass, daffodils, and tulips.  Here, it's warmer weather and snakes.  One of the front page stories in today's paper is "Watch Out, the Snakes are Back".  Great.

One week after my new hairstyle and I couldn't be happier with it.  If this were a relationship I'd say we've become good friends - comfortable with one another.  Somehow it just seems to know how to style, and where to fall.  And when I move, it moves with me.  It's got a life all it's own!  It's pretty amazing.  I know that sounds like silly things to say about hair, but I've never had anything quite like this before.  My relationship with my hair has generally been more of the love/hate kind.  This past week has been all love - maybe it's that magic feeling of a new relationship or something but whatever, I don't want it to leave.  I've already made an appointment to go back to Austin in 6 weeks for a follow-up. 

I'm going to be going through a bit of a fashion renewal over these next few weeks, as well.  My closet is full of things I've had for quite a while - much of it since the relatively early days of my transition - and the fact of the matter is that I just don't wear most of it.   I've outgrown it, or perhaps I should have never bought it in the first place.   It served a purpose at the time, but I've changed as I've discovered myself so it's time to clean out that space and make room for things that more represent me now.  I can see a big-time trip to Salvation Army in my near future.  I got a gift card from the local mall from my birthday and I've been waiting to spend a day buying clothes with it.  I don't know that I'll get to it today or tomorrow, but when I do use it I'll tell you this - I'm planning to make an entire day of it. 

With that, I'm off to the post office and then to REI to pick up my new tent.  I bought a tent.  I can count the number of times I've gone camping on one hand.  The last time was when I was in high school.  All the times before that was when I was in Boy Scouts.  Too funny.  Oddly, if I had to say the first word that comes to my mind when someone says the word "camping" is Tang.  Remember Tang?  They used to have commercials boasting about the fact that it was the official drink of the Space Program or some such thing.  I remember mixing it up and drinking it in the tent.  Anyway, I've always wanted to do more camping and slowly but surely I'm collecting the equipment to actually do it.  Sometime this summer - I plan to actually use it.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Before I write too much, I'll mention that I've put together a small webpage full of recent photos.  I've collected a few from various events over the past six months, including the most recent event in Austin, and put them onto a page of their own.  You can see it if you Click Here.

Apparently, today is "officially" the first day of spring.  I saw my first robin of the year while visiting with my mom over the weekend.  I think it's also the anniversary of my first bit of surgery on the road to transition.  It seems like a whole other lifetime ago.

My day yesterday was one of those where it's good that I'm a 'go with the flow' kind of person.  Part of the reason is because it turned into a day where if anything could go wrong, it did.  And part of it is because there was lots of "flow".

I saw more rain yesterday afternoon and evening than I've seen in any day I can remember.  The rain in and around Dallas came down in buckets.  It started as mom and I were nearing Dallas after the 180 mile drive from Austin and made the last hour of the drive more interesting than normal.  But mom's car handled wonderfully, other drivers didn't freak out and start driving like idiots, and the road was generally clear so we eventually made it home.

Perhaps the worst of it was within a few miles of my mom's house in Arlington which, apparently, was hit with the brunt of the storm.  Streets were flooded over the curb.  Exit ramps off the highway were closed.  Traffic lights were blinking.  It was almost surreal, and both my mom and I managed a big sigh of relief when we arrived and found that her house was warm and dry. 

The rain gauge in my mom's backyard indicated that she had received over 7 inches of rain from the storm.  Some areas apparently got 10 inches!  At one point it was coming down at over an inch an hour - sheets and buckets of it.  They like to brag that everything is bigger in Texas and in this case they were right.  This was a BIG storm.

Dallas Morning News - Storm Photos
Dallas Star Telegram

I would have hunkered down for a quiet evening at my mom's house except for the fact that I had a plane to catch.  We headed for the airport during a lull in the storm so I got there almost 2 hours before my scheduled 6pm flight.  But it wasn't long before another wave of thunderstorms came roaring through so planes that were supposed to land in Dallas ended up being diverted to other airports and the line of planes waiting to take off got longer and longer without moving a single inch..  By the time all was said and done, my 6pm flight got off the ground somewhere near 11pm. 

Actually, I'm not complaining.  I had it pretty easy - there were many people there who had connections to make in Phoenix and who were unable to make them.  They had to spend a night in a hotel (at their own expense, and without luggage) or on the floor of the airport waiting for the early morning flights.  Most people seemed to take it all in stride, though, and the airline workers at gates B23 and B24 did a wonderful job of handling things.

Finally, we got off the ground.  Then, up in the air somebody apparently got sick.  One of the stewardesses asked that if there were any medical personnel on board to please come to the front.  Hmmm.  This can't be good.  I know it sounds selfish but all I could envision was being diverted back to Dallas.  Thankfully, it wasn't a serious situation so we ended up landing somewhere around midnight.

Next challenge - I won a large framed photograph at the Austin HRC Dinner Silent Auction on Saturday.  It was sort of large and unwieldy so I packed it as best I could and carried it onboard the plane.  When we opened the luggage bin it fell out and landed on someone's head.  The poor girl sitting next to me seemed to be okay, but the glass all broke.  Oy.

Next challenge - apparently, they were doing some roadwork at the airport so all the incoming traffic around Terminal 4 was narrowed to a couple of lanes.  People were 3 or 4 thick on the curb outside the terminal looking to be picked up.  And, when a large shuttle bus arrived it would stop and clog things up for a couple of minutes until it could get going again.  Watching people surge towards these buses reminded me of people trying to escape a Civil War or something - it was crazy.  And, it was a good half hour before the bus going to my specific parking lot arrived.  Double Oy.

So, I finally got home somewhere around 1am.  It had been a loooonnnng day.  It was just another memorable day in a memorable trip.

At work this morning people seemed to genuinely like my new hairstyle, which was nice.  It's certainly a change.  This morning was my first attempt to style it myself.  That's always the challenge - it looks so nice when I leave the salon but I never seem to be able to get that same style back again when I do it on my own.  It's so frustrating sometimes.  But, this hair is short so there's only so much "styling" involved.  I think it came out pretty well, and I think I'm starting to get used to it.

The week ahead looks to be relatively sane and calm.  For the first time in I-can't-remember-when I'm all alone.  I don't have anyone staying with me.  It won't last long as I have visitors coming again over the weekend but it'll be good to be able to get the carpets clean, catch up on things, and generally unwind after a very busy few weeks.  My next trip is scheduled to be April 1-2 when I'm speaking at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, and then I turn right back around to fly to Philadelphia for the IFGE Conference there on April 5.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

If it's the weekend then I must be on the road again. And, I am. This morning I'm in Austin, TX. It's a grey, damp, dreary morning but somehow it's strangely comfortable. And green. Considering the fact that I haven't seen a raindrop since autumn the lush greenery here as I look out Lisa's back porch window is remarkable.

I made this trip for several reasons, and there were several logistical obsticals but none of them were so difficult that they couldn't be overcome. I had stand-by tickets so the only way I could get on a flight was if there was extra room, and the only flight out here with extra room arrived at 1:15am so that's the flight I took. No big deal. There's not a lot of activity at the airport at that time of night. By the time I took a cab to my mom's house it was after 2, and by the time I was in bed it was 3.

I haven't seen mom since Thanksgiving so I needed to find the opportunity for us to spend some quality time together. She's had a bad cough for a couple of weeks that has been giving her some difficulty so I wanted to be sure she was okay in that regard - she went to the doctor on Thursday and had a chest X-ray that came back normal. She seems to be on the mend which is a relief.

I spent the day Thursday in a little Coffee House near the University of Texas at Arlington campus (they have a free wi-fi internet connection there) doing work. I had phone conferences for most of the day so I took care of all that while mom was running errands. It was actually very pleasant. There's something alluring to me about academia - I wish I could go back to school again. I have such a thirst to learn and to do - to be challenged - but the conflicts of time and money conspire to keep that hope on the back burner. Maybe I'll end up back in college someday, but not right now.

I can't remember the last time my mom and I did a road trip together, and I'm not sure that the 200 miles between Arlington and Austin really qualifies as a real "road trip", but we made the drive down here together Thursday night. This city is absolutely rocking this weekend - the South By Southwest music festival is here - so it's almost like a circus atmosphere anywhere near downtown. We're staying with a dear friend just south of the city - she's got the cutest home. And, it's nice to be able to reconnect with her.

It's a little odd being back here. On one hand I think I'm a little sad that, although I lived near here for 4 years I never really experienced Austin. I ended up living is a small city 15 miles north of Austin thinking that it was more convenient and generally pretty much the same as living closer to the city. How wrong I was. Austin is a little enclave of eclectic living surrounded by a sea of conservative Texans. The city itself is a wonderful mix of people whose general philosphy is more "Be Yourself" and "Live and Let Live" than anything else - both of which seem to be rare qualities in other areas of the state. Oh well.

It was wonderful to see Annah the other night - she looks wonderful as always and seems to be doing well. She has been spending quite a bit of time finishing her book, which she says will be ready for publication shortly, so I'll pass along information on that when she's ready. A small group of us went to PF Chang's on Friday which was very enjoyable - even my mom had a nice time - and it was good to reconnect with friends I haven't seen for a while.

The main reason for the trip here was the Austin HRC Dinner which was last night. It was very nice - there looked to be about 500 people or so there which seems to be a perfect size for these kinds of things. I had the chance to spend a little time with some friends from Dell, with some locally active folks I haven't seen for a while, and for introducing my mom. She's so cute at these things - she plunked herself down in a big leather chair but someone came by and told her it was a silent auction item so they brought her a different chair to sit in. She made it her mission in life to help sell that chair. So funny.

I suppose the biggest news of the weekend is that I got all my hair cut off. I went to see my dear friends at my hair salon here - Avant Salon downtown - which I've been waiting to do for weeks. I've needed a color and style for quite a while now so it was nice to finally have the opportunity.

It was St. Patrick's Day and 4th Street downtown was shut off - there was a huge tent in the middle of the road where there was a band playing and green beer was flowing. That, combined with the interesting mix of people here for SXSW made for a very entertaining crowd moving past the window as my colorist (Heather) and I caught up on things as she foiled me. That's the fun thing about going to these salons - I find the entire highlighting process to be a fun thing. Sitting there, chatting about this and that, watching as she does foil after foil - sipping on wine or whatever happens to be available - it all feels so natural now but there was a time when I couldn't even imagine something as simple as that for me. From time to time I'm struck by how my the path my life has taken and by how it just feels so natural and peaceful to do simple things - and that afternoon was one of those times.

I've had pretty much the same hairstyle for quite a while now and it was time for a change. My mom likes my hair to be shorter - she says my best feature is my eyes and the longer the style the more it draws attention downward towards the jaw and away from my eyes. So as Rudolph and I discuss options I put my tresses in his hands. I told him I wasn't afraid to lose the length or to have a drastic change - it's only hair. In fact, I think one of the freedoms I most appreciate about women is their ability to completely change how they look by doing different things with their hair. So, I told him to be bold. And, he was.

Now, I have a new short, sassy, stylish little bob. Did I say it was short?? It is. In fact, some might say it's 'Holy Crap' short. It's really cute (at least I think it is). My mom likes it, which in the scheme of things is all that really matters. It's a big change, and I think it'll take me a little while to get used to it. I'd see my reflection throughout the evening and I'd be surprised by the image staring back at me because it just doesn't look like I've looked for a long time. We took a couple of photos so I'll put them here when I get back home. One funny thing - I feel a constant chilly draft on my neck. My hair has been so long for so long that I haven't had an airflow on the back of my neck in quite a while. It's actually very refreshing (and short), and I think once the heat of summer descends on Phoenix I'll be glad to have this short style.

Mom and I will be packing shortly to drive back to Dallas, and I have an evening flight back home. Although these past few days have been very full they've also seemed very relaxing in a way - I'm not quite sure why. I'm glad to have opportunities like this to mix work with business with pleasure. Somehow that's the unique balance in my life these days. And, in some ways, I'm reminded of things that I've finally come to a sense of closure on. That's a key concept. Closure. I've learned that the key ingredient to finding it is the passage of time. Still, I wonder how many of us make the effort to go back and find real closure on the things in our lives. Relationships. Circumstances. Needs. Fears. If we don't circle back and tie off the loose ends I find we never get to a place where we can move on with a clear mind. This trip was good in that respect. And, it'll be good to get back home.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

As I write I'm sitting at gate G19 in at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport.  It's 9pm local time and a long day continues as I take the "long way" home from Washington DC.  I'm scheduled to get into Phoenix at midnight which should put me in my bed sometime around 1am, but it's snowing like crazy here so I'm a little concerned.  You'd think that they'd be used to snow around these parts, but the prospect of dragging this day out any longer, or of spending any significant time curled up on the ground in the airport does not thrill me.

Speaking of snow, I'm told it snowed back home in Phoenix over the weekend.  Our long drought is over after 140+ days, and I've got to admit I'm glad I wasn't there to see it.  I hear that it was 35 degrees there on Saturday, and that those who didn't actually see white saw a couple of inches of chilly rain.   Snow on the ground there doesn't last long and it sure looks odd to see a snow-covered cactus.

I was in Washington DC all weekend where the weather was wonderful.  It was in the mid 70's on Saturday and Sally and I drove with the top down on  her convertible.  It's such a cool car (this coming from someone who's not all that impressed by cars), and perhaps most importantly she looks so cool IN it.  There's something surreal about driving back to her house after a long day in Washington - past the Washington Monument on the right, with the Capital Building all lit up off in the distance - past the Jefferson Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, and the Pentagon - all within a span of 3 or 4 miles. 

The reason for the trip was the HRC board meetings.  Actually, there were two sets of meetings for me to attend: on Thursday I attended the HRC Business Council meetings and on Friday thru Sunday I attended the Board Meetings/Equality Convention.

The main reason I got involved with HRC in the first place was because of the important GLBT workplace efforts they're doing.  I'm proud and honored to be a part of the amazing team of professionals that we've gathered from all across the country.  And, it's humbling to be an integral part of something as dynamic and vital as the Corporate Equality Index.  To those who complain that HRC doesn't do anything to support the trans community all I have to do is  point them there.  If they can't see the value then I know that they're CHOOSING to not see it because it's changing our world in ways I doubt any of us realize right now.  I have no time for those who choose to live in the dark. 

Mark my words: 2006 is a historic milestone in terms of trans- workplace policy.  I'll be writing an Op/Ed to describe it more in depth, but the fact of the matter is that we're requiring companies to provide at least one of any number of trans health benefits in order to receive a perfect score on the index.  Many companies have exclusions that specifically prevent us from being able to access benefits enjoyed by other employees - ranging from mental health counseling, to pharmacy benefits coverage for hormone therapy, to short-term disability coverage, to SRS itself.  Often, companies don't even realize that they have these exclusions.  If nothing else, this raises visibility and awareness of the issue to a level we've never seen before.

HRC reached out to a small group of trans workplace advocates to address what we felt were the most important next steps for the trans community in terms of workplace equality.  We prioritized.  We carefully crafted the wording.  We had to balance the desire to have it ALL with the reality that change takes time, and that we needed to identify goals that were within reach.  We've had conference calls with companies to test the new companies.  We've identified the places where there was confusion and we've tweaked the criteria accordingly.  It's very exciting.

Most amazingly - a handful of leading companies are now covering SRS as part of their benefits plans and that list is growing longer every month.  I think it's criminal that we've had to shoulder the financial burdens we face by ourselves for so long.  Many of us have become resigned to the fact that these things aren't covered by insurance so we just shrug it off as the way it has always been.  The wonderful thing is that there are those of us who see the inherent injustice in it and who simply aren't willing to accept that.  I'm more confident than I am hopeful that future generations of us won't have to fight these battles because of the ground breaking work we're doing right now.  This is truly a historic time.

How can you find what companies cover SRS?  The list is available on the HRC website, and it's a dynamic list in that as soon as a company identifies that it covers it you'll be able to see it on the list.. I'll be including the instructions on how to find it in my Op/Ed piece but if you can't wait and want me to send a link email me and I'm happy to send it along.  There's much more to talk about on this topic, so I'll leave it at that for now and we'll move on to something else...

The meetings were good, but they work us very hard while we're there.  We generally begin at 8 or 8:30 in the morning and go straight thru until dinner. Sometimes, there are dinners to attend after the session so by the time we get to bed it's late so there's only a few hours to sleep before getting up to do it all over again.  The meetings were held at the Ronald Reagan Building on 14th Avenue which is quite the building - it's huge.  Funny thing - it's made out of stone so there's no cell phone reception anywhere in the building except in the gigantic atrium area so there at any point in time there are 20-50 people strolling around talking on their cell phones there.  It's funny to watch.

As I think I already mentioned, I was recently asked to be the new Board Co-Chair for the Diversity Committee so there was extra work to do there to establish our vision for the future and begin the process of making it happen.  In fact, there were times when I actually needed to be 3 places at once so prioritizing my time there becomes extra important.  The problem is that I'm the only one of  "us" there.  I can't wait for a day when there are more of us.  But, until then I'll do the best I can to be where I need to be and say what needs to be said.  I can say without a second of hesitation and I don't think you'll find a single person on the board or on staff who will argue that my presence there has made a difference. 

At  lunch on Friday we had some guest speakers.  One was Senator Feingold.  Another was George Takei (Mr. Sulu from Star Trek).  The entire place was star-struck over Sulu - it was like a Trekkie convention - and his words resonated for so many of us.  He explained what it was like growing up Japanese in the United States during World War 2.  After Pearl Harbor Japanese Americans were rounded up and forced into internment camps in some of the most God-awful places in this country.  He was 4 years old at the time so it just felt normal for him to sleep in a room with dozens of others.  It felt normal for him to have to line up for food 3 times a day, and to trudge off to the communal shower.  He likened that experience to the experience that GLBT people experience today.  He is very well spoken.

George recently became the spokesperson for the HRC Coming Out Project and will be traveling the country to speak.  They've identified 6 cities so far (Phoenix is one of them) in late March and April so if you have a chance to see him I strongly urge you to do so.  He rocks.

Speaking of rocks, I can't believe it has only been a week since my trip to the Grand Canyon with Elizabeth.  It seems like so long ago.  Part of last Saturday was spent on Bright Angel Trail hiking a short ways down (then up) the canyon.  My thighs were tight when all was said and done. The problem with trips like this one I'm just finishing s that (a) there's no time for working out and (b) there's always food involved.  I need to get back to running again tomorrow - I need to tighten up again.

There was a small contingent at the Board Meeting from the Gay Games.  They're being held in Chicago this year in July.  As I think I've mentioned before, I'm registered to compete in Women's Wrestling.  Of course, I haven't actually wrestled competitively for 25+ years but that's not the point.  It looks like it's going to be fun, and somehow I feel like it's something I should do.  I strongly encourage others from the community to get involved.  It's going to be fun.  They invited me to a dinner there in April - Night of 100 Champions or something like that - so we'll see where that might fall in the overall schedule.  So much to do - so little time.

What else should I say?  A quick follow-up on the Oscars.  Although few actually predicted that Felicity would win, she absolutely deserved it.  That role was by far the most demanding of any of the actresses up for the award.  In a previous writing I explained that we often don't get what we deserve in life and this is certainly one of those cases.  I don't have sour grapes over it - rather, I continue to be amazed (and thankful) at the visibility and awareness it has provided.  There were at least 4 people this weekend who rushed up to me to ask me, "Did you like Transamerica?"  They wanted to know what I thought because they liked it and didn't want to say so if I found something terribly wrong with it.  They seemed almost relieved when I told them that I did like it so they could tell me that they liked it, too.  That was funny.

Brokeback Mountain, on the other hand, was robbed.  It shouldn't have even been close.  It had won every other award and should have won this one.  I think voters were afraid to let it win so they took the safe road.  I was reading the Washington Blade (a GLBT newspaper in Washington DC) and there were several pages of columns devoted to it. 

The coming week looks to be busy (again).  Some things I'm supposed to do - fly to Dallas at some point to pick up my mom and drive down to Austin to attend the HRC dinner there next Saturday (and, get my hair done).  I've got a "standby" ticket which means I need to take a flight that has some extra seats available so I'm not sure about specifics at this point.  I suppose there's a chance I can't go at all.  But, as usual, I remain hopeful.  It'll be good to see mom, and to see friends in Austin.  I hope it all comes to pass.

Well, it looks like the snow has stopped and we're getting ready to board.  It looks like we'll be a little late but I don't see anything keeping us here very long.  I hope there's some extra room in Row 30 so I can spread out and rest.  During busy stretches like this, it's all about pacing.  :)

PS - After some delay getting away from the gate and de-icing we landed in Phoenix somewhere around 1am.  By the time I was finally in bed it was almost 2:30.  Yeesh.

Tuesday, March 7, 2006

I didn't get a chance to watch any of the Oscars on Sunday night.  We had another of our local "group dinners".  I did have a friend watching who called after it was all over to give an update on Best Actress, and any other surprises of note.

I'm not surprised Felicity didn't win, although many (including yours truly) think she deserved it.  There's a big difference in this world between what we think we deserve and what actually happens - I wrote an entire essay on that single topic that I never published here.  If anyone has ever seen Clint Eastwood in "The Unforgiven" there's a line in there that I find to be one of those singular truisms in life.  Clint is standing over Little Bill (Gene Hackman - who was NOT a nice man in this movie) after already having shot him once and is getting ready to finish the job.  Little Bill is trying to wrap his mind around the fact that he's about to die.  He seems more shocked than anything.  He says to Clint - "I don't deserve this.  To die like this."  And Clint, in the way only Clint can, responds - "Deserve's got nuthin' to do with it".  BOOM.  Anyway, it's classic.

Felicity's performance was groundbreaking - a word that I believe is really overused but in this case truly applies - and it has meant more to our community than any of us can realize right now.  Case in point - this weekend when Elizabeth and I were trying to get away for a couple of days the topic came up again and again - we couldn't get away from it even if we wanted to.  On Friday night we were clicking through the channels at the hotel and we came upon The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch (I never heard of him before) on MSNBC.  He had several of the same guests that Larry King had the week before, plus a segment with Andrea James and Calpernia to talk abut the movie.  We watched.

Then, Sunday morning we went to this little teeny whole in the wall in downtown Phoenix for breakfast.  It's called Matt's Big Breakfast and the entire place is about the size of my living room.  Anyway, we were sitting in there and there was a table of two guys and a girl behind us and the started talking about the movie.  Elizabeth couldn't help but wonder aloud if the conversation had been sparked by our presence there but they really seemed oblivious to the other people around them - it was just a topic of conversation.  Needless to say, we did what anyone would do in a similar situation.  We eavesdropped.  They were respectful in their language and seemed genuinely interested and intrigued by what they had seen.  I think there are quite a few people like that.  At one point we felt like turning around and joining the conversation.  The problem was - the place was too small to actually turn around.

I'm off to Washington DC tomorrow for a busy, busy few days doing HRC business.  Thursday I'll be at the HRC Business Council meetings all day.  We've changed the Corporate Equality Index for 2006 that will require companies to add some important components to maintain or achieve their perfect score of 100.  They need to have some formal transgender training, or establish and publish corporate workplace transition guidelines.  And, they need to have at least one of several transgender health care benefits which we often can't use because of exclusions specific to transgender treatments.  It's a huge step forward for us. 

Friday and Saturday are board meetings, and the schedule looks to be full from early morning to late in the evening. One thing I suppose I could share is that I was recently asked to be the National Co-Chair of the Diversity Steering Committee.  When you volunteer for enough things that's what happens - you get a promotion (of course, no pay involved) to more responsibility and more work.  I can't think of anyone more committed to diversity than myself and my other co-chair and I'm cautiously optimistic that we can do some great things.

Before you know it it'll be Sunday and I'll be jetting my way back home. 


Monday, March 6, 2006

Another week begins.  Sometimes it seems like the weekends zip by in the blink of an eye.  This past one seemed to last forever.

Elizabeth and I decided to do a little "get away" for a couple of nights.  At one point we pondered actually going away to someplace - Las Vegas, Palm Springs, Los Angeles, San Diego.  All are within striking distance of Phoenix.  But each has some inherent "drama" in getting there so in the end we checked in to a cute hotel near downtown Phoenix.  It was so nice - so cute.  This particular hotel has a unique character to it.  Elizabeth said it was the gayest hotel she had ever seen.

Perhaps the highlight of the weekend was our day trip to the Grand Canyon on Saturday.  I forced myself to make a decision on a new camera Friday night in anticipation of some beautiful photographic opportunities and I was certainly not disappointed.  We had a delightful breakfast at a diner downtown before making the 4 hour drive to the South Rim.  It was a clear, bright, sunny day - a bit windy and even a little chilly in the shade.  But the scenery there is oh-so-incredible.  There's something about it all that has this unique power to make things seem so insignificant, so trivial.  It make you feel like a little teeny speck in this huge timeless ocean.  If you've been there you'll know what I mean.

We spent the entire afternoon going from one end of the rim to the other.  Elizabeth is an adventurer at heart and that came out in our trek along the rim.  At the beginning we looked at these people who had climbed down a brief cliff and onto an outcropping of rock.  No railings.  No safety net.  Just a sheer drop 6,000 feet straight down.  We joked that the fall isn't so bad.  It's the first bounce that would hurt most.  Elizabeth called them "crazy", but it wasn't long before she was out the very edge...feet hanging off into nowhere.  I couldn't even look, but she was having the time of her life.

Sunday we visited with my ex-neighbors Sally and Ray.  Sal had a group of friends from high school there for the weekend on an informal kind of "reunion".  They were wonderful, and we had a great time chatting.  Poor Ray couldn't stand the din of all the talking - there were three or four conversations going on at any particular point, so he found refuge in the garage with his motorcycles.  It struck me that I didn't have that - that there really wasn't anyone left in my life from my school years.  It's sad in a way.  Often times we lose more than we realize throughout the course of our lives.  Change is good, but keeping connection with threads that run through the course of our lives is healthy no matter who or what we are.

Throughout it all, we got some great photos.  We half-joked that we should burn them onto a CD for people who have never been there and that almost seems like a good idea.  We took well over 100 of them and many are absolutely breathtaking.  I'll try to make some of them available here at some point soon.  The problem, of course, is time.

Elizabeth heads home tonight.  I head to Washington DC for several days on Wednesday.  All in all, the quiet times are about to come to an end.  For now.

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Apparently, I'm being featured in an article in the current edition of "The Advocate" magazine (dated March 14, 2006).  There is an article featuring "Gay Corporate Leaders".  I haven't actually seen it yet but thanks to Joanne for sending me a scanned version (read it here).

Overall, I think they did a good job with the article.  It's important to have visibility in these kinds of forums.  Those who have followed my efforts over recent months and years will know that workplace advocacy is perhaps my most passionate single drive.  Looking at the trail that has led me to be neck deep in all of this actually started with the realization that the workplace is where the rubber hits the road.  Having and keeping a job is key to anything and everything we hope to do - from finances, to feelings of self-worth, to doing things we enjoy with peers we like and respect.  It's where most people are likely to meet one of us, which I think is key to broader understanding and acceptance.  It's where business is business, and where diversity is important because it supports the business case.  It's were we have the best chance to personalize ourselves - to become a person instead of a thing/concept/fear.  I firmly believe that the acceptance we're gaining in the workplace is the kernel that will grow into broader societal acceptance.  I see it happening even now.  Corporate America is leading the way.

My work with HRC started with my involvement on their Business Council where they realized that they actually needed trans involvement in order to consider trans issues and needs.  Although I suppose I never expected it would go much further, I've since learned that all of this is interconnected.  None of these fits into neat, tidy boxes.  Workplace issues affect/are affected by political climate which affects/is affected by media representation and so on and so on.  Thinking that any of us can remove workplace advocacy from the bigger scheme of things is similar to thinking we can isolate our gender-identity from all the other interconnected traits/needs that comprise our overall personality. 

The key, as with most things, is Education.  It is a mantra we all realize, and the continuing need for it shows itself throughout our world each and every day.  We need to educate broader society.  We need to educate the larger GLB community.  And, I daresay that we need to educate within the T community itself.  Again - these things are holistically interconnected so thinking we need to focus on one more than another would be somewhat naive.  Education is education - and it needs to happen everywhere.  Often, each of us becomes an educator simply by being ourselves and in doing so, we each represent the larger community to those who meet us

From time to time I see things that highlight the need for education - things that perpetuate outdated stereotypes that need to change.  If you look at the top of the page of the article you'll notice it's titled "Gay Corporate Leaders".  Who's to say I'm gay?  I'm not saying that it's a label that fits or not other than to say there's an assumption being made here.  They never asked me about my sexuality.  As with many, they are apparently lumping the trans community into the "Gay " community.  I have no problem being identified as "gay" - that's how broader society sees us, anyways - but the problem here is that they're making assumptions about me based on the fact that I'm transsexual. 

The appropriate title would be "GLBT Corporate Leaders".  I identify with the broader group of us where the "T" certainly applies, but where the GLB may or may not.  That's a different question.  Although I perceive myself as a champion of community - as someone who champions the need to establish community based on commonalities and not on our differences - that doesn't mean that I espouse we're all the same.  Education about unique needs and differences is not somehow trumped by inclusion in a larger group.  Rather than being mutually exclusive, I'd argue that the two necessarily must exist in order to establish community in the first place.

The lines that separate any of us are not as rigid as many believe.  They're not boundaries.  They're not barriers.  Rather, they're simply different points on any number of inter-related never-ending spectrums.  They're not confining, or limited, or marked with any number of specific fixed points as many believe.  Each of us moves along these spectrums throughout our lives to find where we fit. 

Many would believe the world is made of safe little boxes.  Those of us who spend our lives breaking down barriers don't see life that way.  The only boxes that exist are the boxes that we, ourselves, see.  They are the boxes that we, ourselves, allow ourselves to be put into.  Sadly, these are the boxes that so many of us spend a lifetime trying to escape.  The problem, you see, isn't that we can't get out of the box.  It's that we even believe that there's a box in the first place.  This is the mindset that needs to change.  We build our own boxes.  And, the only ones who keep us in there is ourselves.

Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Elizabeth and I went out for a nice dinner tonight.  It was actually a belated birthday dinner since she wasn't here last week for the real deal.  We've been looking for an opportunity for just the two of us to get away for a little while so tonight was it.

We went to a really nice steak restaurant in downtown Scottsdale - very swanky.  As I looked around the place it seemed very male dominated to me.  There were tables full of men eating.  Kind of a masculine decor.  All waiters - no waitresses.  Testosterone was everywhere.

Anyway, the food was delicious.  And, they brought me a nice dessert with a candle in it for my birthday.

My favorite part of the evening was watching the candlelight flicker on Elizabeth's face.  It made her eyes sparkle.  She looked relaxed, and beautiful, and elegant, and at peace with the world.  It was one of those things you wish you could bottle to savor again and again.  The combination of right place, the right mood, the right situation, the right person - it was all wonderfully good. 

We're planning a get away this weekend.  Maybe Las Vegas.  Perhaps L.A.  San Diego?  Palm Springs?  Somewhere.  It all depends on the weather, the mood, and the cost.  We'll see how it all plays out...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

I got a new cell phone last night.  Somehow, the antenna broke off of my other one - it almost seemed symbolic in a way.  I've had it for upwards of three or four years now so I suppose it was time to get something new, anyways.

I wasn't looking for lots of bells and whistles in a phone.  I mean, I'm the type of person that feels a phone is a phone, a camera is a camera, a browser is a browser, and never the tween shall meet.  Somehow, phones these days are multi-faceted devices that do pretty much anything and everything regardless of whether you want it or need it all.  I talked with Kenny at the cellular store for 15 minutes to finally make a decision.  Of course, Elizabeth was flirting with some other customer during this entire conversation so the entire experience was actually pretty amusing. 

I have no idea how the crazy things works.  I need to spend a day with the instructions but I really don't have a day to spare.  In fact, while we were talking at the counter my mom called - my first call on my new phone - so it's not like there's lots of time to manage the learning curve.  It rings, I open it and answer it.  So far, pretty simple.  But, it won't be long before I need to do more complicated things with it.  I just hope I'm up to the task.

We went out to happy hour with some friends tonight.  It was lots of fun.  Despite the weather reports warning of rain and clouds all around the valley today, I didn't see a single drop.  Oh well.  As I mentioned before - my car could use a good washing about now...

I added an essay to my Op/Ed page about a recent situation involving a trans substitute teacher in New Jersey.  It's amazing how things like this still bring out the best and worst in people.  Although we want to believe the world is getting better, and I really think it is, every once in a while we get reminded that it's still difficult to be different.  I sometime joke that if it were easy, everyone would do it.  It isn't, so they don't.

BTW - the daytime show "The View" on ABC is scheduled to have a segment on FTM transpeople on Thursday.  As far as I know, it's the first time they've broached the topic.  We'll see how it goes....

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I'm home.  I know that these conferences are only a couple or three days long but they seem like so much longer sometimes.  Although they took wonderful care of me in Denver at Gold Rush it's still nice to be back.

This was my third year at this particular conference, and each time the weather has been wonderful.  In fact, today the temperatures were supposed to rocket into the mid-60's there and the snow covered mountains in the distance appeared crystal clear through my hotel window.  I thought that the conference itself was well done and generally seemed to go without a hitch.  There was a little "drama" as there often is at these kinds of things but that's just part of the package.  It was nice to see friends I haven't seen for quite a while, to meet new friends, to finally be able to meet some people in person who I've only known online for quite a while, and to relax a bit.  The hotel was completely booked and I'm sure that other guests got more than they bargained for, but at least it wasn't the craziness of last year when the NBA All-Star Game was in Denver that same weekend. 

I gave the keynote address after dinner on Saturday.  Generally, I don't like reading the talks I give but this time I had to.  It was too important to risk missing anything.  I've posted the text of it here for those who are interested.

Dr. O was looking very fit and healthy.  It was nice to see him again and to have a little time to chat and catch up.  Christine McGinn was there and was her usual energetic, interesting, fun self.  We met her downtown after dinner on Thursday evening.  Also, there was a group from Southern Comfort there checking things out.  We had a very productive get-together yesterday over breakfast and I'm excited about some of the things we discussed.

Elizabeth arrived late Thursday but her luggage took a different route so that was a little more interesting than it needed to be but in the end everything worked itself out.  Too bad she can't claim some of the extra Frequent Flier miles that her luggage racked up on the trip.  She's had some sinus issues lately and spent much of yesterday in bed, but I think the new meds she's taking to drain things are helping because she looked radiant at dinner last night and seems to be on the mend.  My flight arrived back home a little earlier this afternoon and hers won't get here until this evening.  Then, we'll have a week to hang out before heading here and there again.

Last Tuesday a group of us went out to dinner to celebrate my birthday which was very nice.  I don't make a big deal of it and, in fact, despite the small size this was the largest group I've celebrated with in a long, long time.  As I get older birthdays don't seem to mean much any more other than to act as milestones.  I certainly don't feel any younger or older and I tend to gauge my age by how old I'm feeling rather than how much time I've actually been here.  It's kind of like my weight - I don't need a scale to know that I'm heavier (or lighter) than I need to be.  There are better ways to measure age than the number of years that you've been on this earth.

I got home and see that there is a chance of rain here on Tuesday.  A nasty storm that's supposed to drop between 2 and 4 inches of rain in California over the next couple of days is tracking this way and there's a 40 percent chance we'll see some of it.  I normally wouldn't include such trivialities in my Blog but for the fact that we're on day 130 of our record dry spell.  I don't know about flowers or other things, but my car sure could use a good washing.  I hope it pours.

Gianna Israel passed away last week.  Gianna was a gender counselor in San Francisco, an author (Transgender Care, Temple University Press), at one time wrote a regular column in Tapestry, was an AEGIS Board Member, and was a HBIGDA member.  She wrote some wonderful essays on different aspects of the transgender experience (you can read some of them are here) and even provided a quote for me to use on the back of "Wrapped In Blue".  She will be missed.

Monday, February 20, 2006

It was quite the roller-coaster weekend.  Friday after work I had a very good run - 5 miles in 46 minutes and change - which was a challenge for me but once it was all done I felt pretty good.  In fact, a friend and I had dinner afterwards at a local restaurant called the Roaring Fork.  I like this particular restaurant because they have 2 menus - one is an upscale menu of food that's generally outside my price-range, and the other is food they only serve at their bar area.  The neat thing is that the bar area seating is actually nice tables, and an entire patio.  And, you can order off the main menu in the bar, but you can't order off the bar menu in the main restaurant.

We sat on the patio, looking up at the blanket of stars, and munching on their unique delicious Pork Chili Stew.  It's got a bit of a kick to it, and the pork is so tender it melts in your mouth.  Yummm.

But, as the night went on I started to ache.  And, come morning I was feeling progressively worse each hour  to the point that by night my entire body was one big ache.  I didn't have a sore throat, or a cough, or a headache, or anything else specific to a flu or a cold.  It's just that all my muscles and joints ached.  And, I had a low grade fever (101.1) so I found that I was shivering and I couldn't get comfortable.  I was in bed by 9:30 and somehow I slept relatively well.  By morning yesterday it seems to have passed as quickly as it arrived.  I wasn't 100% but I was certainly feeling much better.  Anyway, it was odd.

We had one of our "group dinners" last night.  As I've written in the past we often collect anyone who happens to be in town - for surgery, vacation, or perhaps just passing thru - on Sunday nights and descend on some local restaurant.  These things are usually really fun - lots of good conversation and people making new friends - and last night was no exception.  It was one of our larger groups - 14 of us - and we had people from all over the country and as far away as England.  I enjoyed myself.  The only downside to a large group like that is the fact that we're all sitting at one long table so talking with people at the other end can be a challenge.  I wish we had a picture of it.  These kinds of things are so healthy.  We've decided that although there may be 7 degrees of separation between any two people in broader society, within the trans community there's generally only one or two.  It seems that most people seem to have some common connection or friend.  It's really funny...

It's going to be a busy week.  I leave to attend Colorado Gold Rush in Denver on Thursday and I'm looking forward it.  I just heard that my friend Christine McGinn will be there.  It will be so nice to see her - it has been a long time.  Elizabeth arrives there on Friday, and then she's coming back to spend a week here in Scottsdale next week.  We've been contemplating going somewhere next weekend just to get away and chill for a couple of days but we'll see how all that shakes out.  Plans are fluid at the moment. 

I had a good dream last night.  I mention it here because it's still in my head.  I met someone.  I met someone special.  It was a woman.  It wasn't actually anyone I've ever actually met real life - in fact if I did end up meeting her at some point I'd be spooked more than I can say.  And although there are several parts that are still in my mind the part I remember most is walking with our arms around each other and how that felt.  We ended up sitting in the grass and she was massaging my forehead, gently.  I've never had that (except, of course when I go to the hair salon but that doesn't count) even in all my years of marriage.  I'm not sure what meaning it has other than I enjoyed it.

BTW - the Discovery Health show with Annah, Elizabeth and others in being shown again this week.  It's on 2/21 and 2/26 (check listing here).  It's one of two back-to-back that they produced and I thought they were very well done.  If you missed it the first time around here's another chance....

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I was at the Health Fair the day before the half-marathon last month and who do you think had a booth there - giving out samples???  Krispy Kreme Donuts.  I hate to say it but I think of Krispy Kreme as the antithesis of "healthy".  Tasty?  Absolutely!  They're melt-in-your-mouth delicious.  Healthy? Hell No.  Anyway, they were there passing out coupons for "Buy a dozen, get a dozen free" so today I decided to buy breakfast for the group at work.  The closest store is 20 minutes in the opposite direction, but that's a small price to pay for a box of warm donuts so I did what needed to be done.  There was a time when I could eat 4 of the sinful little things before even getting out of the parking lot.  I'm happy (and relieved) to say the entire litter made it to work intact. 

I had several interesting events this afternoon.  We had an appointment with an official on the Phoenix City Council to explain transgender issues.  It was actually kind of fun.  Later, I was invited to a small meet-and-greet with a new Arizona state senator.  She was very nice. 

The day ended on a high note after watching the Larry King Live show tonight featuring Felicity Huffman and several people from the trans community.  I generally don't hold Mr. King's interviews in high regard - I thought his interview of Jenny Boylan last year was so excruciatingly bad that I actually had to turn it off (his fault, not hers).  But I found yesterday's show to be very well done.  I thought they collected a very articulate and compelling group of people who found ways to touch on all the important points that the masses need to hear. 

I found it particularly important that Jenny point out that all of this can be very confusing for people who are not familiar with it all.  Larry got confused several times, at one point asking Jenny if she had been a lesbian before SRS (I wonder what her wife thought about that).  One thing I found interesting was the change in Larry's voice and demeanor between when he was interviewing Felicity Huffman (he had a relatively soothing tone of voice, and his questions were more intricate) and when he was talking to any of the trans people on the show (his questions were short machine-gun bursts one after another after another).  Still, the responses came back as quickly as he could fire them and the answers were genuine and intelligently explained.  All in all, good job to all.

One thing I just can't get into this year is the Winter Olympics.  I've tried to watch a couple of times but the interest just isn't there so I've pretty much given up.  I almost feel guilty about admitting that - I can empathize with athletes who train for years on end for these things.  But as far as I'm concerned the main draw for the Olympics isn't the sports - it's the people.   I would rather watch a blank screen than watch one luge run after another after another.  The attraction is the stories - the athletes. For some reason - I just don't feel it this year.

Speaking of feeling it, I'm listening to music (as I often do as I fiddle on my computer).  A few weeks ago there was an episode of Austin City Limits on PBS featuring Coldplay that I really enjoyed.  For those who have never seen this show, it's a unique showcase for musical talent and they get some of the biggest names going as well as some of the up and coming artists.  Whereas I can't get into watching the Olympics I find watching live music on this show - even of artists I've never heard of - to be particularly fun.  Anyway, each artist often invites a "special guest" to play with them and Coldplay invited Michael Stipe from REM.  They really sounded wonderful together, and one of the songs from that particular show is available on iTunes.  It's In The Sun.  Great stuff....

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day.  One part of me likes to believe in the deeper meaning that I think the day is meant to represent.  However, the cynic in me agrees with my grandfather - who felt that most holidays were somehow a conspiracy between the card companies, florists, candy companies, jewelers, and restaurants.  As I got ready for work this morning I looked thru my music library for a song to represent the day for me right now - for whatever reason I ended up selecting Lonely People by America.  I've played it a half dozen times so far.  Perhaps not surprisingly, as I looked through clothes to wear I made a conscious effort to skip past the reds and pinks.  I'm wearing black and white.  It's not necessary a symbolic statement - or maybe it is.

A friend wrote to see if we could get together for a weekend sometime soon and I took out my calendar to see what the future looks like.  Oy. It looks like this extended stretch of home-bodyness is about to end. I head to Denver for Colorado Gold Rush next week, the following weekend Elizabeth and I are planning to get away somewhere.  Weekends in March tentatively include trips to Washington DC, Austin, and Los Angeles.  And, early April includes a couple of trips to the east coast.  It's going to get busy again pretty soon.

I'm about to write something for my Op/Ed page about what I perceive to be one of the significant differences (and misconceptions) between the trans community and the Gay/Lesbian community.  In a word: Money.  There is this perception out there that somehow, collectively and individually, we have some.  My experience is - we don't.  After all the expenses many of us face - divorce, career issues, medical costs, psychology expenses, etc. etc most of us don't have much of this elusive thing called "discretionary income".  We don't have extra cash.  It's all many of us can do to keep ourselves off the streets - much less find ways to donate a thousand dollars here or there.  It's unrealistic to expect that from us, and I have a problem with the expectation being out there in the first place.  And, even if we did have some money what makes one group more deserving of it than another?  Anyway, this ought to go over like a fart in church but it very much needs to be articulated. 

Some guy at work has been writing me emails telling me that I am a "cuttie".  Hmmmm.  I don't know whether to be flattered, afraid, or amused.  I suppose - in the sake of balance - all 3 probably apply.


Monday, February 13, 2006

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  Bah-Humbug.  Not really....I brought a dozen pink roses for my ex and left them at her front door yesterday.  I don't know that this is any sort of indication that our relationship has gotten any better except to say that I just felt like I wanted to do it. Others have questioned the sanity of getting Valentine's roses for someone who won't even see me.  There is no logic here, or any ulterior motive.  It's just something I felt like doing because it's nice - and that's that.

The weekend is over.  It has been a pretty unremarkable one on most counts, which I don't say in any negative way other than to say it was pretty "ordinary".  I spent the entire day yesterday cleaning - bathrooms, dusting, ironing - I actually felt pretty good about it (and tired) by the time the evening rolled around.  I've got a house full of people and and we're actually bursting at the seams.  It's kind of nice.  During ironing we watched "The Constant Gardner" which was a very complicated movie.  It's one of those movies you need to see two or three times before you can really get what the heck was going on.

I don't want to harp on how nice the weather has been - especially in light of the nasty winder storm that blew up the East Coast over the weekend.  It's so odd to see scenes like that knowing that it's sunny and 80 outside here.  Oh well.  It'll rain here, too.  Eventually.

Continuing this theme of the extended visibility our community has been getting, I got a link to a story from over the weekend on the Philadelphia news.  The thing that makes it particularly interesting to me is that it features a re-surfacing of sorts for Dr. Christine McGinn.  Some of you may remember her - she was the subject of an entire hour-long MSNBC special in 2000.  She was a flight surgeon in the Navy and I thought the profile they did on her was very well done.  I know Christine because her SRS was the day before mine, we met at the hospital, and we've stayed good friends ever since.  She disappeared from the community for a few years to complete her surgical residency, but now she's coming back.  I think you'll be seeing quite a bit more of her in coming years.  She's intelligent, she's innovative, she's got tremendous drive - in short, she's amazing.  Take a look at the story if you'd like (click here) - click on the 'Play' button on the top right under the picture.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

I love photography.  When I was a teenager I had a darkroom in the basement.  I remember standing there in the dark trying to wind the film into the developing wheel, fumbling with it for half an hour before the thing was finally safe in the light-tight canister.  Tri-X film.  The smell of the chemicals.  My black and white enlarger, and the safety light.  I have a creative side and photography was the way I expressed it for a long time.  If I could choose anything to do for a living it would be as a photographer - not posed shots but nature shots, people shots, event shots.  I really enjoy that.  And, I hope to do more of it.

I'm close to buying a new camera.  I'm considering two cameras at the moment - a Canon Digital Rebel XT and a Canon EOS D20.  I'm not sure I can justify the extra $$$ for the more expensive of the two, but somehow that's the direction I always seem to go.  We'll see.  As hard as I try sometimes to make sure these decisions are rational, in the end they somehow seem to become more about what I think I want than what I can justify to myself that I need.  I blame my dad for that - he had expensive tastes, too.  I'm keen on a new video camera, too, but that depends on how my taxes work out.  We'll see.

I was watching a little of the Winter Olympics this morning.  There was a women's ice hockey game on - Sweden vs. Russia.  It was actually pretty fun to watch - I can't remember the last time I watched hockey and this was enjoyable.  Growing up a group of us used to play street hockey on the driveway in the backyard.  The garage door was scuffed and dented from the slapshots.  I enjoyed being the goalie.  Speaking of winter, we watched "March of the Penguins" last night.  It's odd to realize that there are places on this planet where the average temperature is 50 degrees below zero, and that things actually live there.  Forecast for Scottsdale over the next week: 80 degrees and sunny.  That's my idea of winter these days.  :)

Friday, February 10, 2006

It almost looked like it might rain yesterday.  No such luck.  The dry streak continues.  You'd never know it by looking around as things are generally green and "spring-y".

Speaking of streaks, I posted an Op/Ed piece earlier this week about the added visibility that the transgender community is/will be getting.  It seems I get something new on this every day.  It continued yesterday when I got a call from  Michelle "Ma Belle" Angello (a dear friend who is a psychologist from Philadelphia) saying she was on her way to New York to tape a segment on the "Larry King Live" show that is scheduled to be broadcast next Wednesday (2/15).  At least, she thought she was.  They told her there was a 95% chance they'd need her.   Well, she called back later to say, "I guess I'm on - I'm in the Green Room and I'm eating their food."  She's too funny.  Funniest thing was that she had to hang up on our brief discussion because they came to bring her to the make-up room.  I've never seen her in makeup (although I've seen her in Pleather - but that's a whole other story). I'm told that other guests were Jenny Boylan (author of She's Not There), Felicity Huffman, Nascar driver Terrie O'Connell (she's writing a book called Dangerous Curves), TJ Jourian from TransGeneration, and Aidan from the Washington Gender Alliance.  

Beautiful Daughters, the documentary about the all-trans Vagina Monologues in Los Angeles a couple of Februarys ago (has it really been that long???) will be on Logo on Saturday night.  See some info on it here.  Apparently, The Washington Blade was under-whelmed with it (see the review here).  To each his (or her) own.

I got a link to a current article written highlighting the current spate of Trans-Visibility projects for Planned Parenthood of all things.  The word is getting out.  It's just amazing:

Trans-Visibility in the Media
Choice! Magazine - New York,NY,USA
Transgender identity has been the subject of a number of films and television documentaries in the last few months, suggesting that this aspect of sexuality ...

I had to go to Dr. Meltzer's office for an injection in my lip yesterday evening.  Yucko.  I suppose in the scheme of things it really wasn't all that bad, although I can think of any number of things I would have rather been doing.  These have been long days this week - it feels like an extra day snuck in there somehow.  I'm looking forward to the weekend - no real plans other than to visit with my former neighbors (and still good friends) for dinner on Saturday evening, and to spend some time visiting my son and his new roommates on Sunday.  Other than that, we'll just go with the flow.  One thing I've been wanting to do is to record my first podcast but I don't think this weekend will be when it happens.  I've got some things to learn and to put together before that happens.  And, of course, there are taxes to do but we'll see how far we get into that....

Monday, February 6, 2006

Did you find the Super Bowl as horrible as I did?  Yeesh.  The refereeing was absolutely criminal.  Are you telling me those are the best in the league?  And, with all those cameras around they can still consistently make one horrible call after another??  Neither team won that game.  The most important things that happened did so as a result of the officials.  Pass interference on a touchdown pass?  You've got to be kidding.  The ball crossed the goal line?  Not in a hundred years.  A fifteen yard personal foul penalty because the quarterback blocked below the knees?  Are you crazy?  For God's sake - that's how quarterbacks tackle!!!  They're fragile!!!  One bad call after another.  On the positive side, you've got to admire the fact that they were consistent.  Consistently BAD.  All in all, I had almost forgotten who played a half hour after the game was over.  Good thing I'm not a Seahawks fan because I might have hanged myself afterwards.

We had anywhere between 8-10 people over - we had food for four times that number. 

I expected to do some serious over-eating so I went for a 10-mile run yesterday morning.  That is the second farthest I've ever run.  After a little rest, a hot shower, several aspirins, and a couple of wine coolers I started to feel almost human again.  It was a cloudy, cool morning and I almost thought there might be some sprinkles here and there.  Not so.  We're on day 110 of our record dry-spell without a speck of rain in sight (see our 10-day forecast here).

There was a big golf tournament here over the weekend.  It was the FBR Open (formerly the Phoenix Open), and over the course of 4 days over half a million of people attended it.  Half a million!!!  It seemed like every single one of them was sitting on Scottsdale Road - what a traffic nightmare.  On Saturday alone there were over 160,000 people there.  I drove 20 miles out of my way to drive around it - I didn't want to get anywhere near the thing.  It was easy to spot from miles around - the Outback Steakhouse blimp circled it around and around almost like a vulture.

One friend at work went there and said it was like going to a fashion show.  Women in high fashion, with high heels and hats - the whole nine years.  He said that by the time he and his group of friends got there, parked, took the bus to the main gate, and found their way to someplace where they could actually see some grass they only saw 4 pairs come thru.  And then getting home was a nightmare.  I hate to say it, but I don't even vaguely see the attraction.  Of course, the person writing this has never played a round of gold in her life.  But still - I'm not sure how golf somehow became a spectator sport.

The good news is that my son has a place to live - with two great roommates.  And, he has a job.  That has been a big deal over these past couple of weeks and I think I've expended more emotional energy on it than I realized.  That, plus the fact that it has forced me to deal with my ex- in a way I really don't want to.  It's all far more complicated than it needs to be, and I suppose that's the heart of the problem.

As I write I'm listening to music.  Music of my youth.  I'm listening to some Kansas: "Dust In The Wind",  "Point of Know Return".  And Jethro Tull: "Life's a Long Song", "The Witch's Promise", "A New Day Yesterday".  Do you think there will ever be music like that again?  Sadly, I doubt it.  Those of us who want to listen to those kinds of melodies, to that kind of simple yet elegant music, will need to satisfy ourselves by listening to Oldies.  Alas - Progress has not done our kind of music a favor.  I'm sure the adults of my parents' generation lamented that same thing when they first heard the Beatles, or the Rolling Stones. 

Lastly: I think I've mentioned that the number of available copies of "Wrapped In Blue" is dwindling down to a precious few.  I don't know exactly how many are left but there aren't very many.  I'm thinking about putting some version of it onto my website - not the version that is the book itself but some earlier version.  Kind of like, "Wrapped In Blue - Unplugged".  Part of the problem with writing books is that there are sacrifices you need to make because of the nature of the medium.  For example, the earlier versions continued well past SRS and into the following year.  And, there were many more journal entries and such.  But I was told that the maximum length for the book was 350 pages so some difficult decisions needed to be made as we "pruned" content to get down to that magic number.  I'm thinking there may be a life after death for Wrapped In Blue.  Stay tuned...


Thursday, February 2, 2006

As I meet more and more people in the transgender community, it's a source of continuing wonder how many common traits we often share.  For example, the percentage of left-handed people in our community appears to be far higher than the percentage of left-handed people in society as a whole.  I'm not sure that there's some sort of correlation there, but also I'm not so sure that there's not.

Many of us find ourselves gravitating to some sort of technical career.  We're involved in Information Technology, or we're Engineers, or we're somehow drawn to other "geeky" professions.  Again - it's certainly not a given but the numbers continue to surprise me.

I've got to admit that, deep inside, there's a closeted geek that sometimes tries to get out.  I'm not saying that I get the urge to wear a pocket protector sometimes, or that I enjoy passing time by translating decimal numbers to hexadecimal, or to binary.  I'm not THAT geeky.  But ever since I was a young kid I've had a keen interest in knowing how things were made - in looking behind the scenes at things.

First off, anyone who has read this for very long will know that I am the opposite of handy.  I have absolutely no knowledge or talent when it comes to building things, making things, or otherwise putting things together that somehow involve tools.  4 times out of 5 I'll do it wrong, and I suppose I should share that I've come to a sense of peace with my klutz-self.  I just wasn't made that way.  It's not that I don't enjoy "handy" things, or that I don't enjoy watching others be handy - it's just that I don't get frustrated about my limitations in that regard any more.

The reason I share all of this is that I was watching TV this morning and it got me to thinking.  As I got ready for work I somehow ended up on the Science Channel, and there was a show titled "How It's Made".  It was so much fun to watch.  It reminded me of when I was young and there was a segment on Sesame Street that showed how things are made - everyday, household things.  Like cheese.  The funny thing is that I assumed that other people were probably as fascinated about this stuff as I was and I envisioned a television show about Behind-the-scenes of making things.  That was a looonnnng time ago - before cable exponentially increased the amount of broadcast time that needed to be filled.

Anyway, this show is exactly what I envisioned and I was transfixed by it.  They had a segment on cold-pressing vegetable oils.  There was another on how they created those huge front-loaders.  There was a segment on how they create the handles for screwdrivers, and put the whole thing together.  And, there was segment on how they make Q-tip cotton swabs.  How cool is that?  I suppose if you're a closeted geek like me you think it's pretty cool - I wonder about that kind of stuff sometimes.  I watched it - and now I'm late for work.  Go figure.

One thing I don't want to see behind the scenes is how my meat makes it from a farm to my table.  I know this sounds nasty but I enjoy eating meat and I'm sure seeing what happens would scar me for life.  My dad used to have a saying about cheese: "If you knew how they made it you wouldn't eat it" and he's probably right.  There are some things I enjoy being ignorant about - like my meat.  And surgery.  I don't want to know the technical details of what happens.  That just scares me to death - even after the fact.  My friend Elizabeth had her entire 10+ hour FFS with Dr. O video taped as part of a documentary she did a few years ago and she got a copy of the entire thing.  And you know what?  She watches it!  She actually puts it on TV to see what happened!!  Ouch.  Not me.  I'm happier not knowing, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, this weekend is the Super Bowl.  I have always enjoyed Super Bowl weekend, and I continue to enjoy it as much as a cultural happening as a sporting event.  I've been to 5 Super Bowls and I'll admit that it's actually more enjoyable to watch it on TV.  All the long commercial breaks kill the continuity of the game so there are long dead spots where you're just sitting there while people at home are seeing some of the funniest, most creative commercials made during the year.  After trudging out of the stadium 4 of those times after my team had just lost I know how painful that is.  There's not other word for it for those of us who care - it sucks.

Sadly, the Super Bowl is no longer within reach of the typical fan.  Getting a ticket almost requires the everyday-fan to get a second mortgage on their house.  It's crazy.  Corporate sponsors and scalping have pushed prices to the stratosphere.  The first year that the Buffalo Bills were there (Super Bowl XXV) I waited in zero degree weather outside the stadium to offer people $500 for a ticket so I could go.  I didn't get a single taker (but I still went, anyway).  Even though my interest in football in general has waned quite a bit, I'm still looking forward to the game and I'm actually happy I don't really care all that much who wins - sitting in front of the TV, munching on appetizers, sipping on wine coolers, and just relaxing.  Once it's over, I'll already be looking forward to next year.  I suppose that's some of my closeted sports-fan deep inside me.  Oh well.  At least all of the many closeted personalities inside of me get along in there.  At least, for the most part.  :)

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

I've been having some pretty intense dreams lately.  When I wake up in the morning they're fresh in my mind but by the time I'm done with my second cup of coffee they're barely a memory.  I remember when I was dating my wife and she'd explain her detailed, exotic dreams.  At the time I didn't dream much, and when I did it certainly wasn't anything worth remembering.  I'm not sure what has unleashed this dream onslaught - it sometimes comes and goes - but I generally attribute it to a combination of life circumstances and hormones.

Speaking of life circumstances, my son moved into an apartment today.  It has been quite the experience helping him to find something what works - fits his budget, convenient, nice people, nice place.  As it turns out, I can't imagine anyplace more welcoming than where he's living now.  He's got two roommates who are just wonderful guys, his neighbors rock, and I can't think of a single thing that makes me nervous.  I kidded with him that if he didn't take it I would, and I'm almost serious with that.  I've invested quite a bit of emotional energy in all of this over the past couple of weeks and it's nice to see it all come together.  I like to believe that things happen for reasons, and I can see all kinds of reasons for this.

I had a couple of interesting things happen recently.  First, I was folding the letter that goes into my monthly alimony check and the paper gave me a paper cut.  I started bleeding.  I thought it was more than ironic that the alimony payment could draw actual blood.

And, on Sunday I went to bed with my eye make-up on.  I guess I forgot it was there because I never do that.  In fact, in my entire life I only did that one other time.  And that other time was special because I was "busy" for most of the night so I really didn't care about taking the time to clean it off.  Sometimes, sacrifices must be made.  I remember someone telling me that each time you go to sleep with your makeup on it ages your skin some amazing amount.  I don't know that that's really true.  But, it's just not something I want to be doing on a regular basis.

On Saturday night a group of us went to the Phoenix HRC dinner.  It was very nice.  I know first-hand all the hard work that went into it and it's nice to see it all pay off.  There were 700+ people there and perhaps the most significant thing for me was the large trans contingent in attendance.  I go to dinners much larger than this with much smaller trans participation.  In this case we had a healthy presence there and I think things like that are critical to making inroads into the larger GLB community.  Anyway, several friends had cameras and I'm waiting to receive some photos of the event to publish here.  Stay tuned for that.

I'm planning out my schedule for the next couple of months and I think I'm going to try to attend the dinner in Austin (March 18) and the one in Los Angeles (March 25).  We'll see how that works out -


Friday, January 27, 2006

It has been an interesting week.  There are a couple of things happening in the background that I'm not really ready to share with anyone yet.  I'm not even sure if it's going to go anywhere but we'll see.  For those whose minds get too active - No, it's not a relationship.

One odd thing I noticed while I was in the Bay Area last weekend.  There's only one theater showing "Transamerica" and it's in downtown San Francisco.  Based on the positive acclaim and the awards it has been getting you'd think that it'd showing in wider distribution than that - especially there.  Not so.  Hmmmm..

I participated in a couple of cool events over these past couple of days.  Last night there was a panel discussion on "Transcending Gender" put on by the local AEGIS chapter that was very well organized and received.  There were 4 of us on the panel and I think everyone did a wonderful job of explaining things that are difficult to explain in very real terms.  The place was packed - it looked to be over 100 people.  And, it's not necessarily the number of people that struck me it was the mix of the audience that I really noticed.  All too often it seems that we put on these kinds of events and the only people who show up are people who are already sympathetic so we end up preaching to the choir.  In this case there was a diverse cross section of people - all ages, all over the spectrum in terms of their gender identity and sexual orientation, people with varying exposure to the transgender was a wonderful group.  Kudos to everyone who participated.  I hope we can do something similar again.

This afternoon I attended the annual Planned Parenthood luncheon at the Arizona Biltmore as a guest of the Arizona Human Rights Fund.  There were over 700 people there, and the crowd included a significant number of local and state politicians.  Even the governor was there.  The "Mistress of Ceremonies" was Wendie Malick - you may remember her as the woman with the active libido on "Just Shoot Me" with David Spade.  Anyway, it was a well done event.

I got my hair done today at a new place.  I'm happy to provide a recommendation to anyone needing a stylist in Scottsdale.  I like it when the stylist isn't afraid to try new things - they have an opinion on what would look good and they do it.  This look isn't all that much different from past looks, I suppose, but it feels really nice.  You know how silky and fresh hair feels after you get it done at the salon?  That's how it feels.  I originally planned to go for a run this afternoon but I changed my mind - partly because I wanted to keep that feeling in my hair for a little longer and partly because I feel like I'm coming down with something.  I've got a scratchy throat and a dull headache which I hope is just a passing thing.  We'll see.

Tomorrow night is the HRC Dinner here.  Then, my place gets very busy with visitors for the first half of February.  I was in my sleep clothes by 7 pm tonight and I've just been relaxing - I'll be to bed in a few minutes. In some ways this is the calm before the next storm.  I suppose I better enjoy it.

BTW - for those who want to see vacation photos from my trip to Sonoma County last week, I've uploaded a few.  Click Here to see them.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

I'm on a plane again.  I'm headed home.  This is my first trip of 2006 and I'm happy to report it was totally a "pleasure" trip.  I went to the Bay area to visit my big sister Kate and her honey, Maureen.  They rock.

The last time I was there was last spring - right around Easter I think.  Each time I go back I get a much needed spiritual recharge and this trip was no different.  It's a place where I can go to get away from my life for a little while.  That may sound odd, but it's the best way I can describe it. I think the technical term for it is "vacation".  Go figure.  When I go back home a few days later the life I left is right there waiting for me and I step back into it - refreshed and renewed.  I don't get many opportunities to do that - but I'm hoping to do it more often this year.

The weather was perfect - just beautiful.  On Sunday morning we had breakfast at a little diner that's part of the Petaluma Airport (the Two-Niner Diner) before heading off to spend the day at wineries around Sonoma Valley.  Generally we pick one winery where we go on the tour, do the tasting, and have a picnic.  This time we ended up at a little gem named Benziger Vinyards.  It's run by the Benziger family and is the cutest little place you could imagine.  The tour involved a tram pulled by a tractor that pulled us around the grounds which was too cool.  I took a bunch of photos and will make them available for anyone who wants to bore themselves looking at them.  All I'll say is that the  photos don't do the views or the ambiance justice.  They're certainly not a replacement for actually going there yourself.

We watched movies.  We ate.  During the day I dialed into work.  I was even able to fit a nice 4-mile run into the trip (to counteract the eating).  I slept great.  And, I got to spend time reconnecting with Kate and Maureen.  It was a wonderful few days.  In fact, one thing we decided was that we're going to hike Half Dome in Yosemite National Park this summer.  If anyone has read my book they'll know that Kate and I went to Yosemite to take some of my dad's ashes there shortly after I started to transition.  This trip will be healthy for both of us in many, many ways.

At the moment we're flying parallel to the Pacific coast in Northern California and the sun is setting across the ocean.  It's a beautiful view, and the perfect way to end a wonderful trip.  I think I'll take a couple of photos out my airplane window before we turn eastward to capture the moment.

Here they are:


Monday, January 23, 2006

I've got 3 brief things to mention tonight - all deal with the media:

First - NPR did a nice job on a story about Dr. Stanley Biber who passed away last week.  Those who'd like to listen to it can do so here (Listen!)

Second - There is a bit of a brou-ha-ha brewing over the treatment of a couple of contestants on the season opening episode of American Idol last week.  I didn't watch it as I make it a point to generally avoid anything that can be remotely identified as Reality TV, but apparently the judges said some insensitive things, and they even played the theme from "The Crying Game" at some point.  GLAAD has gotten involved and now finds themselves defending themselves - it's a big mess.  Anyway - stay tuned.

Third - I got an email that Logo (the new GLBT television network run by MTV) is conducting a casting call for a documentary they will be producing.  Anyone reading this who fits the criteria and wants more information is invited to email them directly:

Do you want your coming out at work story to be told?
Award-winning documentary filmmakers seek dynamic subjects for a sensitive, smart documentary called "Out at Work". This one-hour
documentary will air on LOGO, the LGBT network from Viacom and MTV Networks, and will profile Americans who are planning to come out at
work within the next few months, or are currently faced with challenges because they are out at work.

If you are...

Coming Out: Planning on coming out at work, but worried about the repercussions

Starting something new: Starting a new job or position where you have to come out all over again

Making a statement: Challenging traditional ideas of gender and sexuality by doing a job most people wouldn't expect you to do

Experiencing unfair treatment: Working in an environment that you feel is hostile to LGBT employees

Continuing the coming out process: Only partially out at work, but planning to take a bigger step

...then we want to hear from you!

Please email your story to and include:
Your name
Where you live
Your phone number and email
A photo, if possible

You may just become an inspiration for others embarking on this journey.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A couple things this morning...

First, there was a story on Felicity Huffman on 60 Minutes this past Sunday.  I wish I'd known in advance.  When she was here in Phoenix for the premier of "Transamerica" last month there was a film crew from CBS following her around and apparently they used a little of that footage.  If you want to see the first few minutes of the segment or read the transcript of it, it is available online.

Things have calmed down a little on the family front.  The excitement of the other evening has passed and now it's on to figuring out what to do next.  My ex- and I are communicating for the first time in months.  My son seems to have the singular talent of being able to make that happen.  School started up again this week and we're all working towards helping him get his own space.  It needs to happen in the next couple of weeks.

This weekend I'll be headed to the Bay area to visit my dear friend and "Big Sister", Kate.  I haven't seen her since Easter-time of last year and I always find my visits there to be tremendously spiritually nourishing.  I'm not sure why that is.  Perhaps it's just the unique and wonderful relationship we have that has matured and grown since those earliest awkward days of allowing Donna out little by little.  Perhaps it has something to do with the area, or with my memories of a very profound time in my life.  Whatever combination of things it is, my visits there always seem to come when I need them most - it's funny how that seems to happen - and I'm very much looking forward to spending a little down-time with her and her honey.

Mentally I seem to be bursting with thoughts, ideas, direction.  It's actually funny sometimes - to be going through a creative "phase".  I'm writing like a fiend as I've learned through experience that, just like anything else, these things need to come out.  They need an outlet.  So, the outlet is through my writing.  I'll expect to have several new Essays in the next little while assuming I can find the time to finish them and post them.  Some of them venture into new territory for me, so we'll have to see what happens.

Physically, I'm feeling pretty good.  I can tell that my system is back functioning on all cylinders by the fact that I've got my appetite back.  Now, I'll need to start working out again.  I'm hoping to find some time to do that today.  With that, I'll keep this update short as I need to get out the door and off to work. 


Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - Part 2

Today is indeed a profoundly sad day.  Our community has lost a true hero.  Dr. Stanley Biber, a country doctor and surgeon from tiny Trinidad, CO died this morning.  He was 82 years old.

If you're reading this, then there's a good chance that - whether you realize it or not - Dr. Biber has affected your life in some way.  There are thousands of people who can provide first-person anecdotes of his gentle nature, his good humor, and his tireless dedication to quality of life.  Others may never have actually met Dr. Biber, but are well aware of the profound affect that he has had - not only on the medical community but on society as a whole.  To many of us - his work was magic. 

How many of us could ever hope to affect as many lives in such profound ways as Dr. Biber did?  The numbers are staggering, but they don't begin to touch the magnitude of what he has done. 

How many of us ever find our reason for being here on earth?  Dr. Biber did.  He truly did.  Today, our loss is heaven's gain. 

Sex-change surgeon Stanley Biber dies
Pueblo Chieftain, CO 
TRINIDAD - Dr. Stanley Biber, a world-renowned surgeon who specialized in sex-change operations, died Monday at St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center in Pueblo. ...
Colorado's famed sex change doctor dies, CO 
Doctor Stanley Biber of Trinidad was suffering from pneumonia but the cause of death hasn't been released. He was 82. Mary Winter ...
Sex Change Doctor Dead At 82 CBS News
Colo. sex-change doctor dies dies at 82 Seattle Post Intelligencer
Sex-change surgeon dies in Pueblo Rocky Mountain News
all 38 related »


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's odd how life likes to make things far more interesting than they need to be sometimes.  One of those times was last night.  And, it involves my son.

He has been living nearby - with my ex- in the home that all of us shared as a family - since shortly after I moved back here from Austin.  The home where I live is several miles away, and is NOT conducive to having extended family as long-term residents. He moved back here shortly after I did (read last year's blogs if you want to know details) and he moved into his old bedroom in his old house.  The problem was, the reason he ended up leaving there in the first place hasn't gone away.  My ex- and my son can get like metal-on-metal for several reasons that are too long and personal to detail here.  Anyway, things there have been building for quite a while now and they erupted last night.

My son called to say he had been asked to leave, and he showed up with a car full of his "stuff" an hour later.  At the moment, he's sleeping in the back bedroom.  School starts for him today.  As does, I think, a new chapter in his life.

I don't intend to use this forum to talk about my son or his exploits - I respect his privacy.  I don't plan to try to explain our history together and some of the unique "challenges" involved.  The bottom line of it all is that we love each other, we respect each other and he's at a time when he needs some direction and support.  Those three things.  My job right now is to help him get find and set direction so he can move on to whatever comes next for him.

I have impressed upon him that this is a short-term fix.  He needs to set a course that provides a longer term solution for him.  He needs his space.  He needs to build his life.  And anything I can do to help him do that is fine but, in the end, the person who needs to take the leadership of HIS life is HIM.  Part of the problem in the past, in my opinion, is that he hasn't had that opportunity lately.  Or, he has had the opportunity and he has failed as we all do.  But we all need plans in life - we all need direction.  Certainly, we need to be aware of shifting winds that can signal opportunity to change that direction.  But, to float aimlessly with no goal, no passion, no drive - is not an option.

As I waited for him last night I was shaking.  I can't remember shaking like that before.  Things are a little calmer this morning but we'll see what the day brings.   I can see that my little world has become more complicated than it was yesterday.

On another topic, Felicity Huffman won the Golden Globe Award for her performance in Transamerica.  It was wonderful and incredible and fantastic for so many reasons.  Her acceptance speech was so eloquently graceful and poignant, especially to people who know first hand what she's talking about.  When she was here last month and they had a premier of the movie I asked a question during Q&A as to whether they have any idea how much this kind of sensitive portrayal and the attention it garners affects the day-to-day lives of countless numbers of us in ways we could never achieve any other way.  I truly believe we are at a tipping point in that regard, and I'll have more to say about that in future ramblings....


Monday, January 16, 2006

Just after  I crossed the finish line at the half-marathon yesterday I was overcome by a number of very powerful emotions - all at the same time.  I didn't know whether to be happy, to cry, to collapse, to throw-up.  It was very odd.  And, as I stumbled through the various things that - apparently - people do after pushing their bodies past their limits: getting the timing chip off the shoe, getting a foil wrap around yourself to keep the warmth in, getting liquids and food, and finding somebody in the sea of humanity - I felt like a zombie.  At some point in that process someone actually puts a medal around your neck as a finisher, and as silly as this might sound to some my initial reaction was that I wanted to cry - I felt this surge of emotion that just needed to come out.  In fact, there were people there who were crying.  It was such an emotional relief, and it took quite a bit of self- control to move past that and into the crowd to find the friends I had come with.

It was actually a perfect day for running.  And, my initial plan of simply walking most of it was replaced early on by a fairly comfortable "trot" pace.  I had no business running  -  I haven't trained at all since before my lip surgery in December but at the same time, I found a comfortable pace that seemed to work for me so I stayed there for awhile.   Soon, a "while" stretched into miles, and as I passed mile marker after mile marker: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 - I realized that this was the farthest I had ever run. There were a couple of spurts where I stopped to walk - to get a drink at one of the water stations along the way, or as part of a friend's run-a-mile/walk-a-minute strategy.  I was always worried that my legs would refuse to start up again once they stopped like that but they always somehow found the energy to start trotting again.

That's probably the best term for how I run.  I trot.  While I was at the Fitness Expo on Saturday they were showing a DVD about running and the woman was saying that each of us run's differently - that our running style is like a signature.  My goal is to be steady - not fast, not stylish, not fancy - but steady.  There were people there who had all kinds of high tech clothing on - it was actually pretty impressive to see.  I wore a pair of comfortable sweat pants from the Gap and an old T-Shirt I enjoy working out in.  And, as each mile passed I realized that I was running 12-minute miles.  That's 5 miles per hour - certainly not blazing fast - but steady.  I joked to a friend that a woman spectator going for a walk with her young child in a wagon passed me - not really true - but that's how it felt in comparison to how some of the others were running.

The crowd was huge.  There were 35,000 people registered for either the half or full marathon runs.  It was incredibly well organized.  (You can read about it here).  Thankfully the threat of rain never materialized and it was a coolish, mostly sunny morning.  And, perhaps the saving grace is that the course was very flat so there weren't too many hills to overcome.  But, I'll tell you this - near the end of the race there was a spot where the course came out from under a bridge into the sun, and there was a sea of humanity running as far as the eye could see.  It gave me goose bumps and although there were still three miles to go at that point it energized me.  And, there were all kinds of people along the way urging people on - bands, cheer-leading squads, families.  It was wonderful (special thanks to Jessica and Lauren at the Dairy Queen on McDowell - you Rock!) and it really helped - especially in those last 2 or 3 miles.  I was getting bad right near the end.

Today, I'm pretty well recovered.  My thighs are a little sore, and I have some chafing spots that are still pretty raw under my arms - but other than that I'm surprisingly spry.  And, I was jazzed to learn that I was exactly at the 50th percentile for my age group.  I was 664 out of 1325 runners.  Although I'm competitive in some things this isn't really one of them.  I'm happy just to have finished - it was one of those times where you have an opportunity to prove something about yourself to yourself and I think that's the source of my greatest satisfaction here. 

I'm taking care of errands today.  I'll tell you this - I'll be doing them slowly.  Today is going to be a ssssllloowwww day.  And, I predict a nap in my not-too-distant future.  :)


Saturday, January 14, 2006

I must be crazy to do this.  But I'm actually looking forward to it.  The farthest I've ever actually "run" before is 10K (6.2 miles, or somewhere near there) and tomorrow's event will double that.  We went downtown this morning to get all the "stuff" that apparently you need to be able to compete in events like this: my race number, an electronic timing chip, my T-shirt, a program, a goodie-bag filled with all kinds of neat stuff....and - of course - the Fitness Expo to buy anything even remotely having to do with fitness.  It was held at the Phoenix Civic Center downtown, which is huge, and it was actually lots of fun. 

I'm proud to say I escaped the Fitness Expo without spending too much money, but I only made it as far as the Apple Store.  I've been wanting one of those little Apple iPod Shuffles for running and working out, and as we walked back to the car I decided today was the day.  So, I am now the proud owner of a 1BG iPod Shuffle.  And, I couldn't wait to get home to start loading it up with running music.  It's the cutest little thing - amazing that whatever technology makes it work fits in such a teeny little shell.

We've got a dinner event this evenings with some friends, so I'm told it will be time to do some "carbo loading".  Beats me.  Anyway, I'm told lasagna is on the menu although I'll make sure not to eat too much. 

I got a call from my son this afternoon.  He has been in Seattle visiting his girlfriend since Christmas and is flying home tonight.  I find it funny that it has rained there for nearly 30 days in a row and it's hasn't rained here in so long, and our best chance of rain in a long time just happens to be when he gets back.  Anyway, apparently he needs someone to pick him up from the airport (sore subject warning) so I'll be heading down there.  His plane gets in after midnight and we're expecting to head out for the race by 5 tomorrow morning so it looks like there won't be much sleep in Donna's near future.  Oh well.  I expect to take a nap tomorrow afternoon - or perhaps it will be a coma - and once I wake up from it I may not be able to move but we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

Anyway, think good thoughts and I'll let you know how this thing goes.  It'll be interesting, if nothing else.  Somehow, "fun" isn't a word that comes to mind at this point but we'll see...


Friday, January 13, 2006

Today was Friday the 13th.  With a full moon, no less.  I'm surprised something terrible didn't happen today.  At least, not to me it didn't (not yet, anyway).  It has actually been a pretty good week.  My strength is coming back, my stamina is good, and my moodiness seems to be waning.  Good thing on all counts.

As I mentioned last time, I'm scheduled to participate in the PF Chang Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon on Sunday.  At some point today I realized that perhaps I might want to make sure I can go 13 plus miles in less than 4 hours, make sure my shoes don't make a blister on my feet anywhere, and generally do a dry run.  It was another gorgeous day here - the temperature when I left work was 81 degrees - so I got home from work at a reasonable hour, changed, and off I went.  I made a big 9-mile square, and it took me exactly 2 hours.  If that math holds out (4 1/2 miles an hour), I should be able to complete the race in 3 hours.  Before, when I expected to actually jog most of the race I thought I could probably run 6 miles in an hour.  Today, I brisk-walked for the first 3 miles and spent time walking/jogging the rest of the way (depending on which song was playing in my headset). 

By the time I finished I was still pretty fresh.  Considering it was only a little over a week ago that I came home and curled up in a little ball - feeling absolutely awful - and I haven't done much training in the last month I was actually pretty happy.  As I said earlier, this is as much a social a thing for me as anything although everyone says that once you get there with all the people it really gets you pumped up.  I have to go downtown tomorrow to pick up my "stuff" - and there's a huge Fitness Expo down there too with all kinds of give-aways.  I have a couple of friends staying with me who went downtown to register today and they came home with bags full of stuff.  We'll see.

As I've said in the past the neat thing about these kinds of physical activities is that it allows (or, perhaps it forces) you to go into kind of a mental zone.  I had some good ideas today that I think I need to formulate into something that I can express through my writing.  That's such a huge help - therapeutic in a very real way - to be able to articulate things in writing.  I have people sending me email wondering how I can spend so much time keeping my website up to date, that there much be so much work involved and there certainly is a time element involved, but my writing helps me.  So, I'd probably do it whether I shared it with others out there or not.  Doesn't matter. 

When I got home and started to cool down a got a little worried that perhaps I might have used up too much energy on the training run and won't have enough for the real thing.  So, I did something I haven't done for a long, long time.  I took a bath.  I lit sweet scented candles, got a glass of wine, put on some nice relaxing music, turned off the lights, and I took a hot, steamy bath.  Right now I'm so limp I could just melt.  And, I think I'll do that as soon as I'm done here.

I need to stress that I am not a runner.   I don't really like to run, and when I do run I'm generally happier to do it on a treadmill than outside.  When I move my legs fast I don't really move very fast but it sure gets my heart going.  People with bulky upper torsos and stubby little legs generally don't make good runners - or at least that's the way I always chose to look at things.  When I run, it's not pretty.  It's not graceful, and it never has been.  But, when I started training to wrestle there really wasn't anything quite like running to get into shape.  At the very beginning of wrestling season our coach forced us to play soccer - he FORCED us to - running up and down the field after that stupid little ball for what seemed like hours.  Not only that, he made us run TO the soccer field, and then back FROM it after we were done.  Uuuugh.  My memories of running in those days are not happy ones.  But, it was certainly effective.

Oh, by the way.  Today is day number 87 without rain.  Do you know when they forecast that we might have some showers?  Sunday morning.  Just in time for the race.  I hope not.  So far there's only a 30% chance that we'll see anything wet falling from the sky so the odds are that we'll stay dry.  I sometimes joke that the weather forecasters here start getting bored of the same old thing so they just do that to stir things up.  We'll see. 


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I'm just getting ready for bed but I saw something on the news I wanted to share.  Here in Phoenix we've gone 84 days without rain.  The last drop of rain fell here on October 19, and there's not a speck of rain in sight.  It's amazing how green and healthy everything looks - the evenings are brisk and the days are bright and warm (generally).  The record stretch for no rainfall here is 101 days so we've got another month to go before we hit that.

I'm registered to run in the PF Chang's Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon on Sunday.  Actually, if I do it I won't be doing much running.  I'll be walking.  When I signed up for it in September I didn't have a firm surgery date yet and I'm not recovered nearly enough to try to run it.  I checked to see if walkers are welcome and I'm told they're certainly invited as long as they can finish the 13.5 mile course in less than 4 hours.  I can do that (I think).  It's a HUGE race - tens of thousands of people will participate.  There are Bands playing every mile along the way.  There are cheerleaders.  I'm looking forward to it more as just another one of those things I'd like to remember as my "first" as anything.

I was thinking about that today.  I remember my first wrestling match.  I was in 8th grade, so I must have been 13 or 14 years old.  I had always practiced OK and I think I even thought I was pretty good, but nothing prepared me for my first real match.  By the end of the first period my mouth was so dry I couldn't move my tongue - I couldn't breathe.  And, my stomach was doing flip-flops.  Perhaps not surprisingly, I got pinned.  And, I got a taste of what it's like to try something for the first time.  But, thankfully, as time went by I got more and more used to it to the point where I was a collegiate champion.  Go figure.  Anyway, I'm thinking that I'd like to actually experience one of these things for myself - perhaps even enjoy it - before I try to run in one.

Sunday night, after the Marathon, the band Collective Soul is playing an outdoor concert in Tempe Park.  I remember my very first day as Donna at work - I sat in my cube and with my earphones on listening to a Collective Soul CD.  As those who follow this probably know songs have strong meanings for me and so many of their songs are like that.  Deep, deep meanings from the most intense time of my life.  I'm really looking forward to seeing them.

I guess I should admit that the problem I'm facing at the moment is that I can't find my registration packet with my racing number.  I need that to go and get my race "stuff" on Friday.  In fact, as soon as I'm done here that's what I'm going to look for but my hopes of finding it are not high.  I swear they never sent it, but I wouldn't bet my life on it.  I strike it up more to the dangers of being too blonde than the effects of getting older.  At least, that's what I tell myself.  :)

I've been feeling really good lately - pretty much all healed up I think.  I still have a couple of stubborn small bruises on my upper lip but they seem to be getting less visible every day.  Much of my problem was the lingering weakness and some side-effects of oral surgery in general.  Weaning off the drugs and getting back onto a more solid diet was also part of the problem - my stomach and intestines were NOT happy with me for a few days.  But, I'm thinking that most of those issues are behind me so it's on to whatever comes next.  I'm really happy with the way they look, although the top lip is still a bit "stiff" (isn't it supposed to be a good thing to keep a "stiff upper lip"?)  You've heard of having a uni-brow?  This feels like having a uni-lip.  I've had it before and I was concerned last time, but another example of "firsts" is that I've learned from past experience that it's no big deal.  It softens up over time.  It's all good.....


Sunday, January 8, 2006

Today was like heaven.  I mean, truly like heaven.  I went for a walk - a good, long walk (a couple of hours worth) - and it was truly heaven on earth.  My mind tends to go into like a Zen kind of place sometimes and it did that today - where everything seemed heightened but at the same time it's like some altered state of consciousness.  I know that sounds kooky, and I'm probably lucky I didn't get hit by a car, but that's the best I can explain.

It's like springtime here now.  Weather today was sunny with bright, blue, cloudless skies and a temperature somewhere around 75 degrees.  My walking path has some pretty amazing scenery on it - by golf courses, and ponds, and down well-kept trees lined with huge well-kept palm trees and expensive neighborhoods.  For those familiar with McCormick Ranch - that's where I walk.  One of my favorite local hotels is along my walking route - the Hyatt Regency Resort Scottsdale at Gainey Ranch.  If you click on the link there's a photo of the area that will kind of give you an idea of what the area looks like (although that particular photo has been retouched - trust me).

Flowers were blooming and there was color everywhere (well, as colorful as you can get around here which is actually pretty colorful).  The citrus trees that line the street are heavy with ripe lemons, oranges, and grapefruits.  The sun feels so nice and soothing - it was wonderful.  Today was the first day I've felt totally human in awhile, and in an odd way the walk seemed to be a celebration of that.  That's not what it started out to be, but the symbolism is accurate.

The neatest thing, I think, is all of the birds that migrate here and end up on the various ponds/lakes/waterways that line the walk.  It's remarkable.  It seems like all the birds that migrate south from Canada and the colder northern states come here to spend their winters - at least the smart ones do.  It's worth the flight, believe me.  I've seen shivering ducks huddled in a little pack in the ice - mid January - back on the Erie Canal in upstate NY.  It's actually pretty sad.

Today, there were any number of kinds of ducks, Canadian Geese, swans, egrets, loons - it was like a walk through an Audubon preserve.  And, these packs of geese in groups of 10 or 12 or 14 come in for a landings in perfect formation - it's amazing to see them swooping down and flutter their wings as they all seem to hit the water together.  It really is pretty amazing - I would have stopped and watched for hours if I could but I was having so much fun just walking and finally getting my heart pumping that I just kept on going.

I know that's alot of words to explain my walk today, but it was THAT big for me.  I can't imagine a nicer day, or a recent experience that has made me to feel this truly alive. There were times along the walk when I wished I had a camera with me - but I knew that cameras don't do justice to days like this.  I'm sure that much of the vividness I'll remember from this  day came from the simpler emotional/spiritual aspects as from the visual ones, anyways.  But it sure was beautiful.

I've got some friends staying with me and we went to a cutlery store late this afternoon.  They're doing all kinds of new construction down on the waterfront in Scottsdale that's look pretty amazing - and we walked past this new place on our way to dinner last night so we decided to stop by today to check it out.  I LOVE kitchen stuff, although cooking for one is not all it's cracked up to be but that's a whole other story.  Anyway, the name of this store was Sur La Table, and the place just rocked.  If you go to the one here in Scottsdale say hello to Scott - he joked that he's the Scott in Scottsdale, that his parents really named him Scott after the city.  I actually half believe he was telling the truth.  Anyway, he was cool.

My recent liquid/soft diet has yielded dividends in the weight department.  I weighted myself a couple of days ago - something I rarely do for reasons I've explained before - and from where I think I probably was when this all started I've lost anywhere between 15 to 20 pounds.  It's not like I didn't have the weight to lose, and I'm actually almost where I was for my entire transition.  That's a good thing.  The problem I have, and others I know have, is that we lose weight so our bodies are typically feminine and skinny but that puts us at a weight where our faces become gaunt and hollow.  It's a pick-your-poison kind of thing.  Anyway, I'm slowly going to get back to a more steady diet but my walk today really helped me feel healthy and alive.

There were football playoffs this weekend.  There was a time in life when the world would stop for weekends like this.  Now, my only comment is how nice the colors looked on my TV in the Washington Redskins/Tampa Bay game.  Did you see them?  The color of some teams just look so dreary - the Philadelphia Eagles look dreary no matter who they're playing and I swear that their field is gray - not green.  But the thing that struck me most - out of all the parts of games I saw - was how bright and vivid everything looked with those two teams on the field.  I think it was a combination of things - the brighter colors in the uniforms, the bright green grass on the field, the bright sunny day, the crowd - it was visually stunning.  Anyway, the only other comment I have on the weekend games is that I feel bad for Carson Palmer - the quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals.  He's a good young quarterback with lots of potential and a solid young team behind him.  I saw replays of his knee injury.  Ouch.  Not good.

I get email from people around the world so I'm aware there are people who may be reading this who have no clue about American Football and everything I just said probably doesn't make much sense.  No matter.  It's just sports. 


Friday, January 6, 2006

Do you know what time it is as I write this?  4am.  It's 4 frickin' AM.  It's not even morning yet - it's still night as far as I'm concerned and there's still quite a bit of night to go yet before sun appears.

One could rationally argue that a person belongs in bed at 4am - especially when they don't need to be awake for a couple more hours.  I'm so there with that.  On the other hand, when someone gets home at 6pm and is so tired it's all they can to to turn off the ringer on the phone, grab a quick bowl of clear broth, and crawl into bed to be asleep by 7 - then that's a whole other issue.  In some ways, I've actually already had a full night sleep so here I am - in front of this keyboard.  Pretty pathetic, huh?! That's not to say I'm not heading back to bed to see if there's any more sleep left in me.  It's to say I've got some things to say so now's as good a time as any.

First, 2006 will not be like 2005 for me.  Those who have followed my blog know how crazy my schedule gets - how many things I get involved with - how little "me" time there seems to be in the big picture. 

New Year's Resolution #1 - That will change.  I will be more judicious about my time and energy because I didn't do aaaaalllll that I do to make myself so busy I don't have any time to actually enjoy being me.  I can envision 4 basic scenarios of things that happen to people who end up becoming visible "activists" or "advocates" or whatever word you want to use: 

New Year's Resolution #2 - I need to find new outlets.  I'm not getting any younger and it's time to do things I've always wanted to do.  Travel (I've never been away from North America), hike, camp, get back into geeky stuff like audio and video work, write just because I enjoy writing, cooking, taking a rafting trip down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.  I recently got an invitation to visit some friends in Montana - I'm going to to that.  Arizona is an incredible beautiful state and I've wanted to spend some time exploring it without a laptop, without worrying where the money will come from to pay the continuing alimony this month, without feeling guilty that I should be somewhere else.  We've talked about getting a small group together to go back to Las Vegas - that will happen.  This year I want to take some of my dad's ashes to Wyoming.  I need to make that a priority.  There are some who would say that finding a relationship should/might be one of these outlets and I'd be surprised if that were so - although I'll be totally honest by sharing that several of these things would be more fun to have someone to do them with.  However, iIn my experience the introduction of THAT kind of a relationship into the mix involves drama and Lord knows I've got enough of that in my life (even though I've got a No Drama clause in my life contract).

New Year's Resolution #3 - I need to find someone - or someone needs to find me - that I can trust to drive sometimes.  I'm just so tired of having to be the strong one all the time, and this entire last week of feeling so uuugh has just underscored that.  It's not like I want to be taken care of - I'm a big girl and can do that myself.  It's deeper than that and I don't know that I can find the right words to explain it. I'll tell you this now, though - if that person is out there - that person who compliments me - I'm fairly certain that I haven't met them yet.  If you've followed this blog for a while you'll know that I'm very music oriented so if you want to know the song that comes to mind when I write this resolution go to iTunes and download "Trying" by Lifehouse.  And, I've said it before and I'll say it again that it's not a chronic thing or a lonely thing. - that would be far too simple of a way to explain it  It's like missing another half - a part of me.  Another part of my mind.  Another set of eyes.  Another touch.  Someone to allow me to do and be things that I won't allow for myself.  That's different to me than the far simpler concept of relationship, especially 'physical' relationship.  It's not easy stuff for me - I wish it were.  The caveat here is that, although I recognize the need for another "half", it's not the be-all at this point so that's the good news.  The half that's here now is doing an okay job.

New Year's Resolution #4 - I need to find a role that will combine my passions and my career.  Or, I need to suddenly and miraculously become independently wealthy.  The things I wrote in an essay a couple of years ago, titled "What I want to be When I grow Up" are as true today as they were then.  The good news is that the role I find myself in now allows the flexibility to do the things I do, I like the people I work with, and I find the work interesting.  But eventually, things change.  That role - that challenge for me - is still out there someplace and I recognize that. 

New Year's Resolution #5 - Let Go.  There are some things and people in my past that I've held on to for quite a while but I find that a) the energy or desire to reciprocate isn't there and/or b) I need that energy to do other more productive things.  So, I will be letting go of some things.  That's life, right?  I remember the first time I met my big sister Kate and I naively asked her how many trans people she know and she couldn't answer - too many to count.  "We're like ships passing in the night" she explained and you know what, people in general are like that, too.  Some of us find we're sailing in the same direction at the same speed for some period of time but eventually winds change, seas change, and it's time to sail away.  That's where it is now.  Some difficult decisions face me - about people, things, expectations, priorities.  For example it's almost time to let my book go.  Other than the few that are left at the distributors and my own private little stash - there aren't any more of them.  I'd love to find a way to make it available in any number of forums - but in the end I may end up at that point, and I'll have to let it go.

New Year's Resolution #6:  Simplify (which goes well with Resolution #5).

Anyway, it's after 5am now and Lord knows the kind of stuff that comes out of my fingers at this hour so I'm going to end there.  If you read this, don't be surprised if you come back at some future point and it's gone.  I maintain the right to edit all my stuff here and just because I'm thinking something in a half-insane frame of mind at 4am doesn't mean it's anything I'll want to share by mid afternoon.  We'll see.


Wednesday, January 4, 2006

It's mid-evening and I'm watching the Rose Bowl.  The winner will the the champion of college football for 2005, and the loser will be everyone who laments the fact that there won't be another college football game for 7 more months (unless you're forced to watch reruns on ESPN Classic).  Pity.

Actually, I'm not really watching the game.  My back is to it.  And, the sound is off.  So, I suppose I could say that the game is keeping me company this evening.  I turned the sound off because there was just too much of it - just too much sound.  Too much pre-game singing.  Too much trash talking.  Too much blabbin just for the sake of filling some time.  So, I took control of the game and turned the sound off.  Now, it's much quieter.  And, I look over my shoulder now and then to see who's winning.  In fact, as I typed this I looked over my shoulder and saw a long USC gain - and then a fumble recovered by Texas.  The neat thing about it is that it's so quiet in hear I can hear the fan on my computer.  Ahhhhhh.

Somehow, as they pan the camera across the Texas Longhorn band and you see all these little baby-faced faux cowboy musical students I somehow think that half of the nation is subconsciously thinking about Brokeback Mountain - the movie about the gay cowboys - and they want to see the Trojans pound the crap out of the Texans just because they find it so revolting to even consider such a thing as a gay cowboy.  One one hand we have gay cowboys, and on the other we have a team named after a Condom.  I wonder who's gonna win...

Truth be told, it has been one of those days.  One secret that I suppose it would be helpful to share with those who haven't had much surgery is that healing from surgery is a gradual thing.  It's not like it happens in a straight line - as though one days is better than the next and the next and so on.  In my experience, it really doesn't work like that which seems to come as a surprise for people who haven't experienced otherwise.  Sunday and Monday were terrible days for me here.  Just horrible.  We identified the fact that I needed some extra meds and yesterday was actually the first day I've felt almost human in a while.  Today?  Not as good. A setback, I'd say.  Nothing terrible - again - but not as good as yesterday.

I had to chuckle to myself this morning as I was driving to work, realizing that I had taken one of those big pain pills with a big red sticker on the bottle that says "DON'T DRIVE, MAKE IMPORTANT DECISIONS, OR OPERATE HEAVY MACHINERY AFTER TAKING THIS DRUG!!.  I guess it's a little late to remember that when you're in the passing lane behind a cement truck.  Seriously, though, it seems to me that every decision you make when you're behind the wheel of a car traveling at 75 or 80 miles an hour just a few feet from other people going just as fast - some of whom may not have as much to live for as you do or who may have taken the same drug you did but who may not handle it quite so well - is an important decision.  Don't you think?  The funniest part about this is - and you knew there had to be a funny part - is that I was cranking the stereo listening to the new KORN cd.  I had never been much of  Korn fan until I went to Ozzfest with my son and saw them in person.  They absolutely rocked!!!  In fact, after listening to the new single from their new CD  - especially the first track, "Twisted Transistor" - I'm going to name them the official Hard Rock Band of for January 2006.  I think I'll write to them to tell them so.  I don't care what you think this song was actually written about - this song is soooo about about transsexuals and after you listen to it 10 or 15 times it actually gets stuck in your head.  Go read the lyrics for yourself (click here).

Well, I just looked over my shoulder again and Texas looks like it's about to kickoff.  Either they just scored or the first half went by reeeallly fast (apparently, they got a field goal).

I've got so much to write about - but not tonight.  I'm hoping the game turns out to be a blow out so I can be in bed by 10pm.  I own a Tivo and I suppose I could Tivo the thing but I disconnected it a couple of months after I got it because it kept trying to take control of my television.  It kept suggesting shows for me to record - that I didn't want to record - so it tried to record them anyway.  I didn't want to fight with my Tivo for my television - it all got very confusing.  The confusion ended the minute I pulled out the plug and the silly thing hasn't moved since. Go figure.  I guess I won't have Tivo knocking on my door for an endorsement deal anytime soon.  Pity.

They take football very serious in Texas.  I mean VERY serious.  At this very minute I'd bet you the entire state is shut down for this game.  You had to buy season tickets (with or without a parking pass) to my son's Varsity Football games if you wanted to attend.  I'll bet there's an underground aftermarket for them on ebay.  It's crazy.  The new stadium they built near our house has a Sony Jumbo-tron board in it for instant replays and stuff.  Can you imagine that??  For high school football.  Like I say - they take it very seriously.

Speaking of very seriously, Texas just scored a touchdown and is winning.  Hook 'em Horns!

So, I close this very silly (yet somehow profound) entry of my blog with a few of the lyrics from "Twisted Transistor" by Korn:

Hey you, hey you, finally you get it
The world ain't fair, eat you if you let it
And as your tears fall on
Your breast, your dress
Vibrations coming through
You're in a mess

A lonely life, where no one understands you
But don't give up, because the music do
Music do [x6]


Tuesday, January 3, 2006

Today is the first day I've felt anything close to "human" in quite a while.  These last couple of days have been particularly nasty - I've felt absolutely terrible and those who have seen me tell me I actually looked worse than I felt.  I'm sorry about that.  I usually feel the pressure to be the strong one so I'm not used to being wounded like that.  It wasn't any one thing that particularly hurt or bothered me - it was just a whole bunch of a lot of things.  Whatever it was, I think this latest batch of meds has finally gotten it.  At least, I hope so.

I went to work today and actually functioned like a regular, normal human being (as much as these things are possible for people like me).  I just finished a little dinner, and I'll be slipping into bed here in a few minutes.  It sounds like almost the perfect day.

I'm really liking my lips.  In fact, if today marks the first day that I've felt like a person in quite a while it also marks the first day that they've actually felt like lips since before the surgery.  I told Dr. Meltzer that it's kind of like a really good haircut - you get it just the way you want it and you don't want it to change any more.  Well, I have a feeling these lips will continue to change but I just hope they don't go back to where they were.   That would be really sad.  I've had little pieces of sutures coming out for two or three days now  - that has been pleasant.

I've got a whole log of things I want to write about.  I want to write about all my escapades getting ready to set up my pod-casting adventure because it has been quite the learning experience.  I want to write up some of what I've learned about this lip procedure as a resource for others who may follow on this path.  I want to write about Leadership.  I even saw something today that complained that Barbie (yes, THAT Barbie) was promoting a transgender agenda on her website by asking visitors to tell how old they are (in years) and their sex (boy, girl, don't know).  How can we let something like that pass without comment?  All I need to do is to find the time.

Well, that time won't be tonight as this chicky-poo is off to bed.  I'll hope I have as good a night sleep tonight as I did last night....


Monday, January 2, 2006

Happy New Year!  I guess by now the new year has passed through however many time zones there are in the world so it's officially 2006 everywhere. 

I'm going to start the year on what - some would say - is a down note.  Actually, that's a little bit dark so let me explain that it's not really a "down" note so much as a reminder of the world and times in which we live.  The reason I mention it here is that something happened today - something I'll be writing about in one of my next Op/Ed pieces about real Leadership and the things that would masquerade as such.  It's way too long to discuss in my blog.

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that it immediately reminded me about one of my favorite websites on the internet and, perhaps, it may be one of yours.  Better than any other website I've seen, it seems to capture my outlook on so many things in life.  And, if you haven't been there before it would be my honor to introduce you to it , because it's top shelf all the way.  Without further explanation, I invite you to visit:

The entire collection is here:

Just a few of my favorites:

Don't you think any number of these would look great hanging on the walls in our cubicles??  I do.  If you put one up, tell me how long it takes for management to come and ask you to take it down, or to put you on a Performance Improvement Plan....I'm curious.

Today has been full of little ups and downs.  On the downside I haven't felt very well.  Actually, I haven't felt well for a couple of days now (Perhaps that's the reason for my timrly  remembrance to "").  It's nothing I can put my finger on other than just a general malaise.  It will pass.  One the up side, I got some new meds!  And, better yet - I've graduated to normal food again.  After 10 days of liquid/squishy diet (jello, pudding, tea, broth, applesauce) I wouldn't be surprised if it's simply the fact that my blood needs FAT that's making me feel bad.  Well, we'll see. 

In the kindest gesture of the day, they guy behind the counter at the Costco Pharmacy saw how unhappy and pathetic I looked as I sat there - waiting for them to fill my order.  He thought the reason I looked so horrible is that I had a cold (I don't) so he offered me a brand new pack of cough drops - not just one cough drop but the entire pack!  And, you know what?!  They helped!  Whoever he is - he did his good deed for the day.


Previous years:

Donna's Blog Archive - 2005

Donna's Blog Archive - 2004