Monday, March 2, 2015

Mess

I'm a mess.  Admittedly, I'm less of a mess today than I was last week.  Still....the operative word is "mess".

In between storms in Dallas last week there was a window of opportunity to leave on Tuesday.  The smart money indicated that adding a couple hundred miles to the trip by taking the southernmost route - along I10 - was most prudent given all the other junk that seemed to be tracking along I20 through Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina.

What I wasn't ready for was the tidal wave of grief at having to leave one of my pups behind.  I'm tearing up even as I type this.

Cody was the energy in family.  He was always happy, always excited.  He was very much a momma's boy and kept me in his sight pretty much at all times.  He's the one who hopped onto the bed and slept with me, and who was the most loving.  But, like many things, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

I can rationalize why I've done what I've done forever.  The fact that I feel guilty about leaving them alone in an apartment all day, that I have to take them to a dog sitter most weekends, and that I've only got a few hours to spend with them each evening - that they deserve more.  They deserve someone who will be around, a backyard, and more out of life than simply waiting for most of it.

When it came time to leave I cried like a baby.  It was the first time my mom has seen me cry in almost 50 years.  It wasn't little crying, either, it was "I can't talk because it's so difficult" tears.  And then, being stuck in that truck for the 1,300 mile drive back with nothing but guilt, sadness, grief...not good.  The dynamic of the family has changed, and I don't know if it's in a good way or not.

I've left the dogs in the care of others before.  My son watched Cody for several months a few years ago.  My sister watched him for 6 months a couple of years ago, as well.  I didn't feel anything resembling this before.  But my mom said that if she was going to take Cody it needed to be a permanent thing, that she didn't want to get emotionally attached and then have him leave, and I agreed.

Until recently I could honestly say that I have very few regrets in life.  I've actively tried to ensure that.  And although it's still too painful for me and too early to assess clearly this might be one of them.

I've got a lot of emotional energy in me....and not all of it is positive.  Most of the time I do a good job keeping it all at bay.  But, when there's a crack in the containment system, it all comes pouring out.  That's what happened last week.  Years of sadness, frustration, anger, resentment...it's all in there and I suppose it needed release.  Well, last week it got it.

Last night I came full circle.  I pulled back into the hotel where we stayed just before leaving for Dallas a couple of weeks ago.  But there is one fewer of us, and it's not the same.  I miss my little man.

On the more practical side - the trip was ok but was a huge huge huge energy drain.  Between the emotion spent over this trauma, the challenge of a long trip on the road, and the general pull of work and other life demands I very much needed the weekend. 

I'll be in Charlotte for the first half of the week before heading back home for the tail end, and the weekend.  I could have used another couple of days to recover.  Ready or not, though, Monday is here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Plan D

Sometimes, life cicrumstances force you to be creative.

I'm already on Plans C, D, and E to get back home to Charleston.  This winter storm that has thrown DFW, and the southeast in general, into a slippery slidey chilly mess has already forced me to delay the return trip by a day.  But following it east (and potentially catching up with it) or getting hit by the next batch (DFW already has a Winter Storm Watch for tonight -  possibility of an additional 1-4 inches of snow) are both are concerns that need to be considered.

The most direct route back is the route I took - along I-20 thru Atlanta, Birmingham, and Shreveport.  But the farther north I go, the more likely I am to have weather issues.  So, I'm planning to head east to Shreveport and then detour south to I-10 which goes through Mobile, New Orleans, Pensicola, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville.  It adds a couple hundred miles to the trip but is the safer option.  I'm also going to take my time and plan to do the 1300+ miles in 3 days instead of 2 - on top of everything else I need to balance doing work into all of this.

As I type this I've got the Weather Channel on in the background.  They just mentioned that they've closed I20 west of Atlanta....I'm relieved that I'm not heading back into that mess.

I went out for a bit yesterday afternoon and the entire area was like a ghost town.  Nobody was out on the roads.  The mall parking lot was empty.  It was pretty remarkable.

So - if all goes as planned I'll be in Baton Rouge tonight. The window of opportunity is fairly short - otherwise I'll be here for another couple of days.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Birthdays past

I'm writing this from my mom's living room in Arlington, TX.  I had planned to be heading back on the road for Charlotte this morning but Winter Storm Quattro will be dropping freezing rain, sleet, and snow on the area all day so it's not safe to be on the roads.  I'm stuck here for at least an extra day.  I'm not complaining other than it's just one of those little money wrenches that cause plans to change from time to time.

This is a bitttersweet trip.  It serves several purposes other than provide an opportunity to spend time with my mom.  She's 85 years old and I try to make sure I get to see her in some capacity every 3 or 4 months.  She told me yesterday that she has resigned herself to the fact that she's happy and healthy enough to make it to 90 - that's a good sign.  But in reality, none of us have that power so it's important to appreciate each day as though it were the last.

The last time I was here was for Thanksgiving.  Yesterday was my birthday (56 years and counting) so it provided another reason to celebrate.  We went out to Outback for dinner and headed back to the house for some cheesecake for dessert.  I'm on a high protein/low carb diet at the moment but I allowed myself the luxury of having a small piece of cake to celebrate.  It was a very pleasant day.

On the challenging side, the other reason for the trip is that my mom will be taking one of my pups.  Her dog is getting very old and she's already dealing with some preparatory separation anxiety from the little guy.  Her dog provides wonderful company for her.  At the same time, my life is transient to the point that I feel tremendously guilty for putting my dogs through the craziness I do.  They need stability - a yard, a fixed place to be, someone who can be with them more than simply on evenings.  Cody is the more loving of the dogs so we agreed that it would be a good fit.  So - I expect to be headed home with fewer dogs than made the trip out here.

I'm good at keeping my vision focused on the most pressing tasks and keeping things that will be happing in the future from creeping in to mess things up.  I have been totally focused on the tasks that have consumed me over the past few weeks - moving out of my apartment in Charlotte and cleaning to meet the Feb. 19 deadline.  It's a delicate balancing act of keeping enough "stuff" in the apartment to live there but not too much so that you can't finish it all up relatively quickly.  By the time I checked into the hotel on Thursday night I was spent....physically, emotionally, just flat-out drained from trying to get everything done.  And I did.

Moving sucks.  And the older I get (a) the harder it is and (b) the more it sucks.  I expect that I'll need to do it at least one more time in my life but I'm hoping it won't be for a little while.  I need a break.

Well, now that that's done it's time to turn attention on this trip.  I've been dealing with the emotional separation anxiety that comes from these kinds of things but try to focus on the positive.  He's a loving guy and I'm convinced I'm doing something positive - both for Cody and for my mom.  But that doesn't make it any easier.

I went to the gym yesterday and was thinking back to Birthdays past.  I remember my birthday in 1997 where I made the decision that the life I was beginning to believe could be a reality needed some sort of tangible existence in the world and shaved my legs.  It was a symbolic gesture that was the best I could offer at the time, but was an important step towards things that would happen later.

Two years later, when I turned 40, my life was in total upheaval.  My ex and I have long planned to do something special for our 40th birthdays but by that time we were barely speaking, and when we did speak it was typically angry and hurtful.  I expected I'd have to celebrate my birthday alone and went to see Shakespeare in Love at the movies the night before.  I cried like a baby at the pain of it all, but got home to find a note wishing me a Happy Birthday.  We met for dinner that night, but she got up and left in the middle saying that she just couldn't pretend to be happy anymore.  My son was confused by it all - he wouldn't learn about what was happening for several more months.

There were some "big" birthdays - my 50th was very special thanks to a certain someone.  One year my ex- and I spent it in Acapulco and I've got a picture somewhere drinking a fruity tropical adult beverage out of a pineapple. I can remember several that included driving for all or most of the day.  But, for the most part, it's a pretty low-key day in my world.  It's a good time to reflect on things in life -  on things done and things not yet done, but the days of "celebrating" it in the typical sense have been gone for a while now.

Anyway - back to the present.  I'm hoping to get back on the road tomorrow and be back on the east coast on Wednesday before the next storm finds its way across the south.  It's these kinds of days that makes me really appreciate how much I enjoy winter in Scottsdale. 

One of the things I had hoped to do on this trip was visit a burger joint featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives.  I enjoy the various places they feature (especially the burger places) and one of them is near my mom's house.  I had hoped to go yesterday (they have free Birthday burgers) but they were closed.  I don't know if the roads will allow me to get out today, but if things clear up at all I'm planning a visit before I leave.  :)

56....and counting!



Friday, February 20, 2015

Back to the Same Places

The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy.  During a moment of calm last night, walking the pups outside the hotel on a 10 degree Charlotte evening, it struck me how life flow keeps bringing us back to the same places.

I had to be out of the apartment as of yesterday so we spent last night at a La Quinta here in Charlotte.  I've stayed at this particular hotel many times before - it's near the airport so it was a natural place to stay during flights in and out of town.  When I came into town in December 2014 and it looked like I might actually be relocating back here I stayed here while scouting out the area.  When the pups and I drove across country from Nebraska with a big trailer full of stuff behind the truck it's where we spent the first few weeks of our time here.  It's only a little ironic, I suppose, that we spent our first night there after pulling up the stakes that we set during that time.

 I've written about moving here before - I'm no stranger to it.  Sad to say, I'm a veteran of it I suppose.  This one was a little different because it's the first time I've had all my stuff in the same place in a long time so it was much more labor intensive than most recent efforts.  I've been slowly moving stuff to Charleston for several weeks now, a little at a time, culminating in moving the big heavy stuff last weekend.  It's sad to admit this but there are a few things we didn't have room for at the moment so I've got another storage unit, again.  I'm hoping it's only for a month or so...

The energy I've put into this has been significant.  All the moving, the cleaning, the logistics, the driving - my world has been jumbled for quite a while now and I'll be glad when it gets simple again.

To complicate things, we had snow and freezing rain here in Charlotte earlier this week.  Behind that is frigid cold temperatures....it was 9 degrees outside this morning when I woke up.  Given the brutal winter that others are experiencing I can't complain too much.  And it's certainly not as though I haven't been through this kind of cold before.  Still -  I'll be glad when spring arrives.  I saw a robin yesterday....freezing it's little feathers off.

The next phase of this project begins today.  My mom will be watching one of my pups so I've got an 1,100 mile drive on my hands.  It's my birthday on Sunday and I typically don't make much of a fuss about it but it's be extra nice to be able to spend it with my mom.  I'm expecting to leave later this afternoon and spend the night in Birmingham, AL before doing the last 10 hours tomorrow.  I'll rest on Sunday...although I've spent several birthdays in my car all day I'd prefer to spend some quality time with mom before I head back.

I've been on a high protien diet since the beginning of the month.  I feel like a bloated fat pig - I haven't been able to find time to exersize and somehow weight just seems to happen.  Anyway, I reached my breaking point late last month so I'm on my way back down.  I can attest to the fact that it's harder to lost weight as you get older but I'm firmly dedicated at this point.  Three weeks in - so far so good.  I rarely weigh myself so I don't try to micro-manage it.  I do know where I started, tho, and the best part of the whole deal is feeling pants you've been wearing get looser and looser....

That said, several weeks ago I bought Girl Scout Cookies from some of the people at work who have daughters and were selling them.  I'm always happy to help out when it comes to those kinds of things.  They got delivered yesterday and I was surprised to learn that I bought 15 boxes of them.   Good thing they stay fresh for a long time....given my current mindset I won't be touching any of them for quite a while.

I haven't been good at keeping up with life here lately.  I realize that.  I've had half a dozen blog entries started and saved as Draft that I plan to add to later but eventually the moment passes so I just delete them.  I'll try to be better.  I find it interesting to review past entries sometimes just to revisit things I've done or said or felt so I don't like big gaps. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Simplify

Hello, old friend.

I haven't posted here in over a month - since before New Year.  It's not as though there's any pressing reason for unusually large gap between entries here.  It's just that life just starts going and keeps going, and there's noting much more to say.

Lots has happened over that time, though.  I had a very pleasant Christmas and New Years here in Charleston.  As usual, I was in bed before midnight on New Years Eve so I didn't watch the ball drop - I figure those kinds of parties are a young-person's sport and it's just a more relaxing way to close out a year and begin another one with peace and quiet. 

Work has been going well - it's a very busy time of year as projects gear up for delivery throughout the year but  much of the foundational stuff happens near the beginning.  The good news is that days just fly by, and I actually look forward to going in most mornings.  I'm not sure how long the honeymoon lasts but I'm hoping it will for quite a while.  All feels good there.

That's critical.  Because that's the reason I spend my weeks in Charlotte.  That is the single-most significant complicator in my life these days and I'm trying to find ways to make it work better but no matter how I slice it - it's still complicated.

Over the course of my career - especially over the past half dozen years or so - I've found contracts based outside of Charleston, as the city just doesn't have they quality of opportunities for my skills that other, more IT focused, cities like Charlotte or Raleigh do. 

I will be leaving the apartment I've been in since I got here a year ago when the least expires mid-month.  I have been packing and moving out little by little, but I need to pick up the pace to be out in time.  It's just too expensive and too far from my work to make it worthwhile.

My birthday is in a few weeks and I'll be turning 56.  I recently asked someone where middle age ends and old age begins.  I realize that they're just numbers and you're only as old as you feel blah blah blah - but realistically, when are you past the "middle age" milestone.  Is it from 30-55?  Older? 

Regardless of the age, from time to time I just stop and put the brakes on things.  One of the most significant elements of my transition was that it forced me to re-evaluate everything, and I mean everything, in my life to determine whether or not it still fit.  The fact that we simply accept things in our lives because they've always been that way is the pathway to more and more baggage.  It's time to shed some baggage.  I will be taking active steps in an effort to Simplify over the coming weeks.

I suppose the most fun news of the past several weeks is that we bought a new Corvette Z06.  This is more than just a cool car for me....it's the first new car I've bought since before my transition and divorce.  I had one back when I was still married, in the mid 90's, but it became a victim of the divorce.  So although it's a beautiful, bad-ass car that turns heads and tears up the road wherever it goes - for me it represents something bigger.  It's recognition that I drive a lote because I have to, and although my Tundra does a great job for me it's far more a working/practical vehicle than a fun one. 






To make things more interesting - this car has a standard 7-speed manual transmission. The first manual transmission anything that I learned to drive was my motorcycle, but this is different. So now, although I've been driving for 40 years and likely have at least a million miles under my belt, I've got a high performance car that I can't comfortably drive yet.  I need to learn.

Finding a place to learn to drive a manual transmission car is harder than you'd think.  But I'm actively seeking a solution as I don't want to make all the beginner mistakes in the Z06.  I'll eventually crack this nut....

We were out on the Motorcycles for almost 100 miles yesterday. One of the things I noticed is how comfortable and natural driving it feels now. I can't help but think back to last spring when I started and couldn't imagine mastering all the elements that are involved in riding a motorcycle...shifting, getting to know your engine, working the relationship between the clutch and the gas, turns, hills, traffic....it all seemed so overwhelming at the time. But I've been doing it regularly for quite a while now and that discomfort and clumsiness has largeley given way to ability and skill. That helps when I think those same thoughts with the Corvette. 

I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I've watched every one so far, and attended 4 in person.  But now begins the long stretch leading up to training camp and next year.  Sigh.  I'm already looking forward to it.

Anyway - there will be lots going on over these next few weeks and it has been good to reconnect here.  I'll try to be around more.  :)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Retrospect 2014

Tonight the curtain comes down on another year, just as it opens for the next.

I typically don't make a big deal of New Year any more than I do of Christmas.  Both represent opportunities to think back over years past and take stock in life more than than they contain any celebration of deeper relevance.  Last year I was in bed by 10 on New Year's Eve - I wouldn't be unhappy if the same is true tonight.

I can think back to many Christmases over the course of my life.  Only a handful of New Years are similarly memorable.  Perhaps the most relevant New Years Day was on Jan 1 2000 - the new millennium.  I spent New Year's Eve packing up all my guy "stuff" in preparation to give it away.  My transition was a few months old at that point and I had gained enough confidence that I was on the right path to make that commitment to the future, and to begin moving away from the past.

I was living in Arizona at the time and had decided to spend that historic New Year/New Millennium day doing something spiritual.  I took my dad's ashes to the Grand Canyon and threw them into the deep cavern as part of my quest to sprinkle his remains at places he'd enjoy as a final resting place.  The weather was horrible and it was a long, scary day.  In retrospect, that's one of the things that makes it all the more special.

I'll spend tonight with a certain someone.  Over all the years we've known each other I can't remember spending a New Year's eve together.  That's actually hard to believe given all the other time we've spent together....I'm not sure if my difficulty in recalling is due to the fact that there's nothing to recall or that my memory is failing me.  Regardless, I'll remember this one.

2014 was a transformative year...where one significant Chapter in my life ended and another began.  As the year unfolded I was in Nebraska planning to come back home.  Now, as it ends, I'm closer to home and poised to finally make it back soon.

I've spent part of the Christmas holiday looking at houses.  I haven't even thought about getting a house for a long, long time....partly because I haven't had any confidence that my life was ready to land anywhere long enough to make it worthwhile.  But, as I've said before, the thing I need most in my life right now is stability and that starts with a place to call "home".  As I pack up to leave my apartment in 6 weeks I'll be headed to the 12th place I've lived in the last 10 years.  Good thing my mom writes my addresses down in pencil....I hope she can start using a pen this next time. and never have to change it again.

My health seems good, I enjoy my job, my heart is happy, and I'm excited about the future.  My family is doing well, dear friends in my life seem content, and I can't think of any better place to be in at this point in life than I am now.  If this somehow turns out to be my last New Year all I can say is that I'm good with it.  I'm not trying to be morose or dark, but the realist in me constantly realizes the need to live each day as though it were your last.  And, I do.

I've got a long list of things I want to do this year, and as I look back at this time a year from now I hope most of them come to pass.  I'd like to get a house, and to settle down.  I'd like to have a little more stability in my professional life.  I'd like my relationship with my life partner to be burning brightly just as it is now.  I'd like to visit Europe.  I'd like my hobbies to flourish in my life - my photography, my scuba diving, my motorcycle riding.  I'd like my health to be good....and my family to be happy and healthy.

I could never have imagined much of what constitutes my life right now at this point last year.  But then again, that's part of the beauty of life.....letting it unfold in ways you never imagined.  I realize that life is made up of good stuff, and not-so-good stuff too.  But as long as more of it is good than not - well - that constitutes a good year.

Some misc shots from house-hunting over this past week...



Christmas 2014 was wonderful.  It was quiet...which was just what the doctor ordered.  And the best part is that I spent it exactly where I wanted to be.

Christmas Dinner
On a trans note....

Someone posted something on FB about having no respect for people who de-transition.  I find that kind of talk fairly silly and ignorant.  They seem to lose sight of what transition is meant to be - demonstrating to yourself that you can lead a happy and productive life in your authentic gender.  Some are wise enough to realize that they just can't - for any number of reasons.  That's not something to be judged...by anyone.  There's no need to justify who's "real", and who's not...it has nothing to do with courage or desire or validity.

My own life was mentioned in the long conversation that followed.  The fact that I was poised to transition, called it off, regrouped, then did it again was used as an example that there's no one right way to do this.  All too often we approach this from an emotional perspective and the practical elements somehow get lost.  This is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve and it still blows me away to see where I started and where I am now.  But the fact is that it's very much like the Matrix - you need to take the Red Pill and unplug to see for yourself what's real and what's fantasy.  Many aren't ready to be unplugged yet...

Anyway - 

All things considered - I'm very content right now.  And, I'm excited about what comes next.

Whoever reads this - Happy New Year to you.  May 2015 bring happiness, health, and peace.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Some Random opinions...

It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away.  Last year I came to Charleston from chilly Nebraska and the trip turned out to be a life-changing one.  The decision to come back east and everything that has happened since were a direct result of that trip.

I've made another life decision.  The lease on my apartment in Charlotte runs out mid-February and they need 2  months notice of my intentions.  I gave official notice that I will not be renewing it.  I'm not sure of the specifics of where I'll be come my birthday in a couple of months - expecting it will be Charleston (although my job in Charlotte will keep me busy thru the end of the year).  But what I do know is that I've got quite a bit of work to do between now and then to move out and make arrangements for "what next?".

I'll also share that I have started to investigate the possibility of buying a house.  I'm at the early discussion phase but at least I know what my options are and what would be involved.  I haven't had these kinds of discussions since late 2001 so even considering this is a big deal me.  Anyway, I expect there will be more to come on that.

I wanted to weigh in on a couple of things that seem to be fairly controversial at the moment.  Nobody asked me for my opinion but I'm going to share it anyway.

First, I wanted to say something about the recent bru-ha-ha about the movie The Interview and yesterday's decision to shelve it as a result of threats (presumably from North Korea).  There is quite a bit of sentiment that Sony shouldn't have caved to these threats, and that it sets a bad precedent.

Well, I think it's only the most recent bad decision that Sony has made in this mess.  The fact that the movie depicts an effort to assassinate the leader of North Korea inherently put it directly into the crosshairs for some kind of international confrontation.  They should have known that.  I would have expected that the movie would, perhaps, use some fictitious character based on North Korea's president who leads some country that's very similar to North Korea as part of a satire.  But to make a movie that specifically mentions killing real people is begging for trouble.  Can you imagine the international outcry if the movie depicted killing Putin in Russia?

If the shoe were on the other foot - if someone in some country made a movie that depicts an assassination attempt on Barak Obama there would be a huge outcry here for sure.  Well - in my book this was ill-concieved from the get-go and shouldn't have been made in the first place.  Sony put themselves between a rock and a hard place and now they're dealing with the consequences.  I realize my opinion may not be , but Sony doesn't get a free pass in all of this in my book.  They tempted fate and fate bit 'em.

The second topic of the day is a recent song by B-52's siren Kate Pierson titled "Mister Sister".  It's the first song from her upcoming solo album.  Kate made the mistake of saying that she hoped the song would become a sort of "trans anthem".  Not wise.  (story, and the video, here).

I'm convinced that Kate had good, if misguided, intentions (and yeah, I know what they say about the road to Hell....that's not applicable here).  I saw the B-52's at the HRC National Dinner a number of years ago and they were wonderful...they're very supportive of the community.  But I could list at least a dozen reasons why this song is bad, starting with the title.  To take that at face value and then take take the leap to label her as "transphobic" is wrong.  She's not. 

The subsequent outcry on social media targeting Kate Pierson was unnecessary and misguided as far as I'm concerned.  This was an education moment, not an attack moment (see one response here).  It seems as though many who demand that the world recognize that gender is NOT a binary adopt a reaction approach that has only two flavors....allies and transphobes.  It doesn't work like that.

A similar pattern is happening over a recent landmark Candy magazine cover featuring 14 prominent visible transwomen as role models.  We've already started attacking that.  Not good.



This has been an incredible year for the trans community.  I was recently friended on FB by someone who helped me a great deal in the early days.  Her willingness to share her story online helped me find the courage to finally begin accepting myself before transition, and became a reason I felt a need to pay it forward.  She published a very detailed account of her life and her transition online and it was one of only a half-dozen stories or websites that resonated with me.  That was almost 20 years ago and I sometimes forget how different things were back then with compared to now.  I hope this rate of change continues.

I'll be headed to Charleston today on my usual weekend trip home.  I'm very much looking forward to it....