Sunday, December 26, 2010

Xmas 2010

I've had some "interesting" Christmases in recent years.  One year I started editing some video and found that the day passed in a blink before I knew it.  There have been a few years where I've been recovering from this or that - I refer to one year in particular as the "Lost" Christmas because I don't remember anything from that week.

To be honest, I wouldn't mind NOT remembering yesterday.  It was a grueling, up and down, one step forward two steps back kind of a day that didn't end until well after midnight.  It didn't have anything to do with romantic notions of families gathered around a table or a fire, or kids waking early to get down to the Christmas tree to see if Santa had visited, or with the religious aspects of the day.  I negotiated with the airlines to try to get to the East Coast ahead of the winter storm and found myself involved in a day that tested patience, creativity, luck, trust, and resolve.  I found myself routed and re-routed to avoid Atlanta, first through Miami and later through Charlotte.  I got on planes only to be told that the plane was broken and then filing off again.  Not once - but twice.  I sat on a plane for almost two hours before we left the gate to be de-iced.  In North Carolina, of all places.  It was stressful, taxing, frustrating, but ultimately what I'll remember is being greeted by a smiling face that made it all worth it.

I won't have much to say on things over the next few days as I've made a point of keeping certain aspects of my life private.  But I've started my annual purge - of things and people in my life.  I culled the contact list on my phone - including my ex-.  I'm doing some personal end-of-year cleaning of things that seem to pile up all year long.

One thing that kept me sane yesterday was editing some of the photos that I scanned when I was visiting my mom.  I scanned a few dozen photos of my son, of me, of my wedding, of my family - it was a much needed walk down memory lane to keep myself from getting too wrapped up in the events of the day.

I may make a slideshow of some of them.  We'll see.

For now, I'm enjoying my time here.  Today was much more like traditional Christmas for me.  It was worth the trip.  :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Xmas

Last year on this day it was snowing like crazy here in Dallas.  This year it was chilly but not cold enough to snow so all we got was rain.  Lots of rain.  But not enough to dampen the Holiday spirit.

I had an enjoyable day with my mom.  We ate breakfast out together and I ran some errands with her (swhe bought tickets to the Senior Center New Year's Eve Dance - so cute!).  We looked through a box of photographs she found in her closet and reminisced for a while.  I made salmon for dinner.

I wish I could say that everything was calm but I'm feeling a level of anxiety at the moment regarding the next step of my Holiday travels.  I was originally supposed to fly east tomorrow afternoon to visit a certain someone,  and even received an email from Delta yesterday indicating that I had been upgraded to First Class.  My happiness was short-lived, however, as a subsequent email indicated that my flights had been cancelled.  Well, I've since received notification that my re-booked flights have been cancelled too and I've been re-re-booked on a flight that leaves here at an unGodly early hour on Monday.  It might just be the earliest that I've ever been booked on a flight but in this case it's probably a good thing as nobody in their right mind will be at the airport.  I'm told the the problem is due to wintry weather in Atlanta although I've got more than a sneaking suspicion that it's because they didn't have enough passengers to make it worth their while.  Either way,  all I can do is hope that things go smoothly on Monday.  The good news is that I get to spend a little more time with mom which is something that's fairly rare.  So I'm not complaining too much, but still....

I drove down to Austin early yesterday and spent the middle of the day with my Son and puppies.  We had a similarly wonderful visit except that I left a couple of things there that he needs to mail back to me now.  It was great to see him and the pups.  The pups couldn't get enough playtime - it was crazy.

Tonight I've been scanning some of the photos that we looked at this afternoon.  There are some photos of my grandmother when she was a youngster, some of my dad, some of me, some of Andy - kind of fun.  I don't have most of them so I've been enjoying this.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Xmas Eve Eve

Two years ago I arrived in Dallas the day after Xmas and it was lovely.  Last year I got to Dallas on Christmas eve and it was snowing like crazy.  The year, thankfully, I arrive into Dallas in mild weather again.   I appreciate that there are people who enjoy the romanticism of a traditionally white Christmas and I can be one of those people - so long as I'm not traveling.

Mom and Me
I was up at 4am yesterday to make it to the airport for my flights.  It was my first experience with Harrisburg being my "home" airport and everything went fine.  I think I beat the Holiday rush by a bit and things weren't too crazy.  The planes were full but other than that I was both happy and relieved to land in Dallas and see mom's friendly face there.

We had a very pleasant day.  She had some errands to run so I helped with that.  We had a nice dinner at Outback.  We even ended up at the mall last night and I can't say the same thing about avoiding craziness about that.  The parking lot was insane and I wouldn't be surprised if there are still people there (a) looking for their cars or (b) still stuck trying to get out.  Yeesh.

In the bigger picture the President signed the repeal of DADT in Washington DC yesterday and needless to say I'm thrilled about that.  Several of my friends were there to attend the signing but honestly, I wouldn't have gone back to participate even if I could.  I recognize the historic nature and I'm sure it would have been a thrill but I'm very clear about where my priorities are right now and having the opportunity to spend time with Family and special friends over the Holidays is time that is non-negotiable.

Speaking of family - it's 6am as I type this and I'm about to get ready to hop in the shower before driving down to Austin to spend the day with my son.  The traffic on I-35 can be horrible, especially near the outlet center about 60 miles from here, so I'm going to try to beat the worst of the traffic today.  We'll see.  I'm just looking forward to seeing him, to having a chance to hang for a while, and to spending some time with the dogs.  I'm sure I'll have something to share about it a little later.

As for now - onwards.  It's Christmas Eve Eve.  So much to do - so little time.  :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

More Home Stretch

There was a time standing in line outside the White House on Saturday night when all I wanted to do was leave.  I was freezing - absolutely positively freezing.  In recent years I've become aware of a circulatory issue I've got and although I've had bouts with it before nothing approached what happened in line that night.  I was actually a bit concerned for a while.  Thank God I had a chance to stand in a hotel across the street for a few minutes to warm up.

I spoke with a few friends today that I've known for several years.  One of the best parts of being involved with the community for a while is watching friends "blossom" in their lives and then move on.  Still, the unique bond that gets formed doesn't get dulled over time or distance.  It was nice to catch up with my friends - it sounds like everyone is doing ok.

I've also done some thinking about how long I've been doing this blog.  It will be 7 years in April.  Seven friggin' years.  I was looking back at some of my earlier entries, especially at some of the photos that are embedded in there.  I've seen blogs come and go, people come and go, and still here I am.  Crazy.  Just as I've watched others "grow up" and move on so too have I watched myself change and move to various adventures in my life through my writing here.

One of my goals for the Holidays is to finally replace my website with the new version that has been out there for a while (see it here).  It's time for it to evolve to whatever comes next.

I watched the 4th quarter of the Giants/Eagles game yesterday.  It was wild.  All I can say is that I'm glad I wasn't emotionally invested in who won.  But it sure was exciting.

Tonight they say there's a full lunar eclipse.  I'm sure THAT will be exciting.  Or not.  I dunno - I'm just not seeing the excitement in this.  Let's just say it's after midnight as I type this but I'm hoping to be sleeping by the time it happens.

With that - time for bed.  Tomorrow is another day.  :)

Home Stretch

So here we are - the last couple of weeks of the year.  That's just crazy.  Last night was the last relatively "quiet" night I'll have for a while so I took some time to actually enjoy it.

The highlight of the past several days was a quick trip to DC for a White House Holiday event.  The place certainly does get dressed up for Christmas.  Even better in my world was the opportunity to share it with a certain someone - that was truly the highlight.  But the lowlight was absolutely freezing in line waiting to get through the security checkpoints.  I've got circulation issues in fingers and toes that have gotten worse over time so this was the first time I can remember in my entire life where a finger froze to the point of not being able to move it.  Ouch.  It's still sore, two days later...

Of course, the broader highlight was the festive mood thanks to (a) the general spirit of the Season and (b) the historic repeal of DADT earlier in the day.  I'm absolutely thrilled that this stupid, ridiculous policy is a thing of the past and hope that it provides a learning opportunity for the future.  Most significant, tho, is the fact that it's the first piece of stand-alone LGBT legislation to pass both Houses and garnered bi-partisan support.  Given the logjam in Congress these days it's a small Christmas miracle and I, for one, have to admit that it was a very pleasant surprise.  I actually started to believe during a DADT conference call w/ the White House on Friday where they made it sound like it might actually happen.  Raising expectations like that can have significant backlash if the outcome doesn't come to pass.  Thankfully, this time it did.  Congratulations to the President, to all who supported it, and to the broader community for activating and engaging.

As for those who don't perceive this as a good thing, the Politically Correct portion of my being says that I respect their right to have an opinion even though the overwhelming evidence indicates that it was time for what happened to happen.  But my more authentic reaction is one of satisfaction and I suppose it shows a childish component to my personality to admit that the more vehemently they protest the more satisfied I feel.  One blogger wrote that this was part of the Democrats "War Agains Christianity".  Ugh.  And another noted the blasphemous nature of doing this during the same week as the "Birth of Christ".  It's the end of another battle in this culture war we're fighting and despite threats and condemnations to the contrary it's all over but the crying...

Here's another: the repeal of DADT "will usher in a sea-change of pro-homosexual political correctness — not just on our Armed Forces, but on the rest of society, as a Brave, New, ‘Gay’-affirming Military will be held up as the new 'civil rights' paradigm for the rest of America (God help us)."

I refuse to put links here to the hateful stuff.  I don't want to provide whatever additional credibility or visibility to them.  One wrote that "the joy has been taken out of the Holidays".  I'm not sorry about that. She says that normalizing gays and lesbians is part of the "pornification of our culture".  She warns of "hell to pay" in the 2012 elections for anyone who supported it.  Yawn.  Another writes: "How can you possibly be allowing for the flamboyancy of effeminate male soldiers to engage in sexual conduct and their notorious ever wandering lust for the new...?".  Yawn again.  One last example of The-Sky-Is-Falling mentality: "Rarely can you point to a moment in time when a nation consigned itself to the scrap heap of history. Today, when the Senate normalized sexual perversion in the military, was that moment for the United States. If historians want a fixed marker pointing to the instant the United States sealed its own demise, they just found it."  Actually - No.

On to other topics:  Another highlight in my world - my son turned 25 years old yesterday.  I wished him a Happy Birthday, and I'm thrilled that I'll have the opportunity to celebrate it with him in person later in the week.

I recorded a little ditty late last week so I'll include it here.



Ha-Ha-Happy Holidays!

I mentioned the craziness that's upcoming in my world.  Here's a taste:

I'll be here today and tomorrow.  The schedule is busy finishing up with things that need completion for the end of the year.  Lots of tying up loose ends.  I've also got lots of packing to do.

I fly out of here at 6am on Wednesday.  Destination: Dallas, to spend Xmas with my mom.  I arrive mid-day.  I flew into Dallas last year on Christmas eve and it was snowing like nobody's business.  The extended forecast seems to indicate a much more hospitable welcome this year with highs in the 70's.

I should note that flying on the Holidays can sometimes be painful.  The headline at USA Today.com this morning is all about the pain of delays (read it here).  I can only control getting to the airport on time, finding patience, and hoping that everything goes smoothly.  I'll do my best in all three regards.

On Thursday I'll drive down to Austin and spend the day with my son.  I also get to spend some quality time with the pups - I haven't seen them since May and I'm very much looking forward to sharing some loving with 'em.  And, of course, son and I will celebrate his birthday as well as Xmas.

I'll spend Xmas eve with mom.  She says she wants Salmon for dinner so that's a wish that's easy to make come true.  Salmon with a pesto butter sauce - yumm....

On Christmas Day I've got an afternoon flight out of Dallas to an undisclosed location to spend some time with an undisclosed special someone.  I really don't have more to say about it than that.

Shortly after the New Year I've got a trip to head back to Arizona for a few days to take care of business back there.  Although I have no idea how the logistics of it all will work themselves out (they always somehow do) I miss dear friends there and am looking forward to seeing everyone even though it'll only be a short visit.

And by that time, it'll already be the middle of January.

I suppose the bottom line to all of this is that there's lots going on, I'm doing well, and I look forward to next year already!  Bring it on.

One more thing - a friend and I went to see Tron in 3D on Saturday.  I'll admit I was pleasantly surprised.  I enjoyed it.  Not that it was any earth-shattering in any particular way but it was just fun, visually interesting, story was convoluted but not horrible, and the characters were well cast.  As I say - all things considered, I enjoyed it.

All that said - time to get busy.  So much to do - so little time.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Lists


This seems to be a time of year for lists.  What do buy.  Who to buy for.  Stuff to do.  Stuff to get done.  Year end "10 Best Of" Lists.  Lists lists lists.  Well, I have my own list to share.

The NY Times ran a story last week that touted 2010 as "The Year of the Transsexual".  Why?  Because it has been a transformative year in a number of ways.  Looking back over the year there have been a number of significant stories and efforts for/about/involving trans people.  Some of them happen loudly while others of them happen quietly.  Off the top of my head these are one casual observer's thoughts about the Top 10 Stories/Events in the Trans World over the past year.

1.    Changes to the Rules for changing the Gender Marker on Passports
2.    Transgender Athletes
3.    The Nikki Araguz situation in Texas
4.    Changes to the Corporate Equality Index that will require Workplaces to remove ALL trans-related exclusions from at least one wellness plan.
5.    Amanda Simpson goes to Washington DC as Presidential appointee.
6.    Teen bullying / It Gets Better
7.    End of an era: IFGE Cancels its 2011 Conference (click on the link to see what happens)
8.    End of another era: Marci Bowers leaves Trinidad, CO
9.    Increasing visibility in mainstream media
10.  Despite initial promise, Inclusive ENDA goes nowhere

I'm sure there are others.  But these are ten that immediately come to mind.

Talking about the passage of time, I was talking with my ex- tonight.  Twenty-five years ago this evening we were doing a test run from our house to the hospital as we approached the delivery date for our son.  He was born less than a week later.  It's hard to believe the my son - my little boy - will be a quarter century old in just a few days.  I'll see him to celebrate with him in person next week.

Time waits for no one....

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday bites

Today was Sunday.  It was also my first day of nothing-planned in a long, long time.  I suppose it was my last of them for quite a while as well.

What do I do on a down day?  I have to admit that it felt wonderful waking up at 8:45 and laying in bed for another half hour.  I did a little bit of shopping.  I went to the gym.  I watched a little football.  I went out for dinner.

Some quick bits to cover for this evening:

Weather:  The weather here was warm and wet today - highs near 50 but raining since mid-morning.  I suppose that's not such a bad thing given the weather I saw in Chicago during the football game on TV today, which was the same storm that collapsed the room of the stadium in Minneapolis.  But I also noticed that the weather back in Phoenix set a record for warmth, and the ten day forecast there is typically beautious.  Sigh.


60 Minutes:  I haven't watched CBS 60 Minutes in years.  Now I've watched two weeks in a row and saw some fascinating stories.  Last week they had an extended story on Facebook that was tremendously intriguing.  This week there was a story about Brazil (oops - originally said Argentina here.  My bad) - culture, economy, topography, politics.  I'll have to admit, it made me want to visit Rio.  I've never really had that urge before.

Ipad:  I see that the next version of the iPad is supposed to have a camera on it (details here).  That's exactly why I didn't buy one the first time around - not having a video camera on it means that it's not worth the investment for me until it does.


Gingerbread Martini:  I had a Gingerbread Martini at Outback tonight.  It was double delicious.  I asked the waitress for the recipe and all I can say is that I hope to make some of my own sometime soon.  When I got home it made me start thinking about other types of Martini's I'd like to try.  Like an Eggnog Martini.  Yumm.

Egg Nog:  I LOVE Egg Nog.  Not watery, low-fat, no-taste egg nog.  Heck no.  I'm talkin' about good, thick, rich, spiced egg nog.  From time to time I'll even mix it with something more potent but that's not really the point.  It's the Egg Nog itself that counts.  It's one of those addictions that we're fortunate only happens for a short time each year.  Perhaps that's what makes it special.  Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I gave in to my urges to have some and bought a  half gallon of it at Costco.  I told myself that I'd have a small drink of it from time to time and actually believed that it'd last me until the Holidays.  Hah.  I've got a small glass-full left and will be headed back to Costco for another half gallon.  If I were still in Arizona I'd buy the ingredients for the Gingerbread Martini while I was there.  Here in PA they don't sell wine or liquor in most stores so that'll have to be a separate trip to somewhere....

Fitness:  I've finally gotten back into the groove with my fitness.  There were several weeks during and after my move across country where I took a bit of a break and I ended up feeling big and flabby a couple of weeks ago (partly due to the egg nog??).  The break actually did me some good and I'm back to it with vigor and purpose.  I've made time to be there each of the last 3 days.  I'll take tomorrow off.  The next challenge:  Each of the last three years I go for a 60 minute run on the treadmill on or around New Year's Day.  I try to average 6.4 or 6.5 mph and it makes me feel pretty good to be able to accomplish that year after year.  I'm planning to do it again this year.

Athletics:  Trans athletes are getting more and more visibility.  Not because we necessarily want it, but because it's an intersection of world that tends to draw the spotlight of public emotion.   There's an article on Advocate.com at the moment about a trans triathlete (read the story here).  Part of my training is anticipation of competing again this year.  No guarantees.  But I'll be as ready as I can if and when the spirit moves me again.

Holiday Plans:  The flavor of the Holidays changed for me a dozen years ago when my son wasn't around anymore, and when my dad died during the week between Christmas and New Year.  It has become a time of more introspection and analysis - not in a morose way but in a positive way.  I've gone to visit my mom for the last two years and I'll be doing that again this year.  My son turns 25 years old a few days before Christmas and I expect to see him as well.  I've got a few other plans that I'll keep to myself - deeper soul nourishing plans.  And I hope to be headed to Phoenix for a few days early next year....

TransCentralPA:  Last night I attended the TransCentralPA monthly dinner and meeting.  As I expressed to them least night, in a very real way that group is responsible for my being here now.  They asked me to speak at the last two Keystone Conferences and I was and continue to be impressed by their passion, their organization, their purpose, and the humanity of their members.  Last night there was a gal who's been full-time for a week and a half.  Another gal read something that she wrote for school to introduce her authentic self to her class - she had half the place in tears.  It's really amazing to be part of these kinds of things.  If you're in the area and want to be part of a special event - the Keystone Conference is quickly becoming one of the most well planned and run events in the country.  I'll be there again this year - God willing.

The Week Ahead:  I've got a busy week ahead.  I've got a Young Professionals Meet and Greet event on Tuesday.  I'll be in Lancaster PA for a meeting on Wednesday evening.  I'll be headed to DC next weekend - I've been invited to a Holiday event at the White House.  If it's anything like last year's - it'll be amazing.  Last year I had to travel two thousand miles to attend.  This year it's almost local.  What a difference a year makes.   :~P


That's more than I planned to write when I first started.  Time for a cup of team.  Then, time for bed.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Typically Atypical

It's Friday!  Woo Hoo.  As I look out my window on the 25 degree weather and the Susquehanna River I notice how different cold water looks when it's flowing than warmer water.  I'm told that the river will freeze over at some point and the glassy sheen on the surface makes it look like it's already on the way.  I'll know we're really in trouble when I see an iceberg float by.

Today ends my 6th week on the job.  I often marvel on how fast time seems to be passing but in this instance I've got to admit that it seems like I've been here for much longer than that. That's not a bad thing - it's just that I've packed a lot into a fairly short period of time.  I'm still very much enjoying things and I look forward to going into work every morning so as far as I'm concerned that's the main thing.

Sometimes people ask me what my job entails on a day by day basis.  This is a big change from the cubicle, structured, "corporate" world that I was used to.  My days go from early until late evening - last night there was a Central PA Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Mixer, tonight there is a Youth Holiday mixer, tomorrow night I'm talking at the TransCentralPA monthly meeting.

No two days are the same.  Yesterday included follow-up work to a planning meeting for our Fall Banquet.  I spoke with a guidance counsellor who called to ask for resources for a student in his school who identifies as trans.  I drove to York - about an hour from here - to meet with some people about an event we're planning for February.  I had to deal with the post office about our non-profit mailing permit.    I'm working on our budget and on Program Plan for 2011 and beyond.

Today is more of the same.  I've got a grant writer coming in to talk this morning.  We've got a Technology Committee meeting over lunch.  And the list goes on...

But I enjoy it.  I do.  And I finally feel as though I'm pretty much ready to hit my stride.  Anyway - all good there.

In all of this I'm still carving out some "me" time.  I find a way to get to the fitness center 3 or 4 times a week.  That's a key component to my sense of balance so it's got to be a priority.

I really don't want to get into details right now but I'll share that I'm proud of my sport.  I'm proud of wrestling.  When people ask me what about the sport attracts me the bottom line is that it's all about the people.  It truly is a community, and my experience is that for the most part the connections are based on your heart, your dedication, and your motivation more than ability or age or other less important details.  I've found resources that are nearby where I may be able to train next year and I'm thrilled...

Yesterday was the equivalent of a slaughter for our President.  Between the collapse of the negotiated tax deal because his own party refused to consider it, the failure of the effort to end "Don't Ask Don't Tell", and the failure of the "Dream Act" to move - it was a mess.  I hate to say it but what it says is that the next couple of years are going to be a stalemate of gridlock.  It's not going to be pretty.  Where did the promise of two years ago go?  Well, it's gone now.

I've gotten email from all the various LGBT organizations about what happened (and didn't, and why) yesterday but my favorite is from GetEqual (read it here).  That about sums it up.  Ineffective leadership opens the door to chaos and that's what's going on.  We've moved from a situation where some are happy and some are not to one where everyone is unhappy.  Not good.  Scary, even.

All that said - next weekend I'll be heading to DC for a White House Holiday event.  I went last year and it was a blast.  I don't know if they're having the same kind of thing this year but there's a time to set aside the daily travails and to celebrate the sentiments of the Season.  I'm looking forward to it.  A special someone is coming into town to attend with me which makes it doubly exciting...

Well, gotta go.  So much going on.  But ya know,  I wouldn't have it any other way.  

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Late Tuesday....

It's Tuesday.  It's almost 7pm and I'm just getting ready to meet a friend for a drink and a bite to eat before heading home.  These are long days.

I spent time a couple of days ago "nesting" a bit.  The place where I'm living is furnished but I moved furniture around so it's more open and useful for me.  I also found the few Christmas decorations that I have, including a very nice stocking that my sister made for me a few years ago.  I hung it on the mantle above the fireplace, although I don't expect that Santa will find it.  :)

I'm playing a bit with my little "Flip" camera and the software that comes with it.  I uploaded a short little video from my office yesterday.




I'll admit that the quality looks fine to me (although the green tint of the florescent lights can be a bit tiresome).  The main problem I've got with it is the audio.  I'm investigating options....

Some who have followed my website for a while may remember me mentioning my sister's youngest child, Kyrie.  She was born with a number of significant birth "challenges" and even now - at 11 years old - she's got a G-Tube in her stomach and a trachea tube in her throat.  She's one of the most amazing people - wonderful energy, positive spirit, uplifting courage.....she's truly a hero.  Anyway, I've got a new photo of her that so much looks like her, with the attitude to match!  Kyrie rocks!!




There's an Op-Ed piece in the Toronto newspaper - The Globe and Mail - titled "Why Canada Should Protect Gender Identity".
While Canada has made great strides in opening marriage and adoption to same-sex partners, there is still a case to be made for ensuring vital social and legal protections to members of transsexual and transgendered communities. Adopting Bill C-389 would not end discrimination. But it would go a long way in protecting those who still face physical violence, economic disadvantage and social ostracism for being perceived as different.

There are multiple reasons why society struggles to understand the regular challenges many transsexual and transgendered persons face. Society takes for granted that there are two distinct sexes, with two corresponding ways of expressing gender identity. And we have concocted a range of stereotypes to reinforce the supposed chasms of difference between men and women, boys and girls.

Despite the fact that biologists such as Brown University professor Anne Fausto-Sterling have demonstrated that “nature” itself yields not two distinct sexes but as many as five in a small but still significant number of cases, we still think male or female is something constant and unchanging. Sex is not only something viewed as uncomplicated and self-evident, but masculinity and femininity are tied to one’s birth-assigned sex. To many, men are from Mars and women from Venus, and “normal” sexual desire is focused toward the opposite sex.
Very well said indeed.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Wig, Pony Tail, and other Hairy Situations....

Early Early Early on 12/5 (or Late Late Late on 12/4)

As I type this it's almost 1:30am on Saturday night (or Sunday morning depending on how you look at it).  I'm in Northern Virginia at a after attending the TGEA Holiday Gala in Alexandria, VA earlier this evening.  I'm chilling for a few minutes before going to sleep....

One humorous thing from tonight.  I suppose I should start by saying that I'm digging my hair at the moment.  I'm trying to grow it out and it's at a good length right now.  I finally had it colored a couple of weeks ago and I've just been pleased with it lately.  I even put it into a pony tail for the first time yesterday at the gym.  Over all these years I've never felt that I had a decent looking pony tail, and in recent years my hair hasn't been long enough to do it even if I wanted to.  Anyway, I digress....

I was talking with a couple of gals when one of them says to me, "That's a beautiful wig!"  I looked sort of incredulously at her and told her it wasn't a wig - that it was my real hair.  She seemed to not believe me so I offered for her to tug on it, which she did.  She proceeded to ask me if I've had any surgeries.  Oh brother....where to start.  Later someone stopped by to tell me that "She's new".  No worries.  :)

This is my first weekend at "home" in well over a month (which is odd to say given the fact that I'm in a hotel room that would seem to indicate otherwise).  I could very easily have driven home after the event tonight but I decided that it'd be nice to do just what I'm doing - relaxing for a little while - rather than get back into my car for the two hour drive back north.

Speaking about my car - I had some more work done on her last week.  Little by little I'm working through the list of things that need to be done and have to admit that she's driving like a dream.  The car has been quite the investment in recent weeks but I've mentally made the commitment to stick with her while she gets better.  Friday's fix was "upper spring seats" - something having to do with the front suspension - and an oil change/fluid top off to get it ready for the months ahead.

One of the things that's hard to learn is when to let go of something and when to stick with it.  That's as true of a car as it is of relationships and other aspects of life.  Even when you approach things logically and weight all the pro's and con's in the end it's little more than a crap shoot.  In this case my fingers are crossed that getting past this jag of expense will keep her happy and healthy for quite a while.


Monday 12/6

Man - it's brisk outside.  The temperature isn't that big a deal.  It's the wind that's killer.  I hear that Buffalo got 2 feet of snow, and Rochester got almost a foot today.  So by that standard I suppose we're fortunate.  We haven't seen much more than a stray flake here and there.  But it's friggin' brisk out there.

Last year when I left PA to go back to the Phoenix area I got rid of most of my winter stuff.  I never expected to be back in this climate again (which is probably silly of me) so as I decided what to keep and what to give away almost every wintery jacket I owned ended up finding a new home.  I've got a couple of nice coats, but what I don't have is a good, warm, all-purpose winter jacket.  I mean, what do you put on when there's a foot of snow outside and you need to go out and shovel?  That's the kind of jacket I'm talking about....

So yesterday, with all this chilly wind going on, I decided it was time to get a new jacket.  Comfort was important, as was warmth, fit, and of course cost.  It took the better part of the day.  I tried on dozens of them.  Long ones.  Short ones.  Puffy ones.  Down filled ones.  By mid afternoon I was at REI with a couple of friends and we found "the One".  It's made by Columbia - a good name.  It was on sale - that's a big plus in my book.  It was comfortable.  All things considered - it seems perfect.

I don't think the fact that it's technically a man's jacket should matter.  I tried on women's jackets but typically they were shorter and tighter.  Men's jackets seem to have more room, be more comfortable, and be generally longer.  I don't really care one way or the other as to the "gender" of my jacket.  I'll be the first to admit that I like men's bikes too - the ones with the bar across the top - better than women's bikes any day of the week.  Perhaps it's just what I'm used to but I don't assign gender-ness to my athletic gear any more than I do to my jacket.  Anyway, for anyone who's curious as to what I bought, here's a link.

As I type this I'm listening to a mix of Christmas music.  Chloe Prince has put together a very nice collection on the PinkEssence website.

To revisit something I said earlier: Part of what I'm thinking about at the moment is this process of letting go.  Learning to let go of things in life is an important skill.  Somehow it's easy to forget that and there's often some misguided sense that letting go is a sign of weakness or of failure.  Even if that's true, so what?  How does anyone expect to be able to grab new things if they're unable to let old things go?  We often outgrow things during the course of our lives but we can't or won't recognize it.  Relationships.  Careers.  Interests.  Lots of things.  That's not to say that any of us should give up on something the moment things get hard.  Learning when to let go is probably harder than learning how to do it.

The reason this has any relevance to me right now is the need to let go of parts of the life I led in Arizona until recently.  Many aspects of that life are gone forever.  They just are.  I could certainly go back there and live there again but aspects of my life that were simply part OF my life there are gone.  In a way, a good example is the transition process itself.

There are some examples in my life right now of things that I've let go of, but that I have subsequently come to embrace again.  Like wrestling.  That doesn't change the fact that part of my own survival instinct involves consciously letting go of things rather than allowing them to fester too much.  Granted, things can bubble over in my world before I shut it down but that's a whole other discussion.  The main point is that letting go is sometimes followed by subsequent engagement again.

That's probably a bunch of mumbo jumbo to most, but some will know what I mean.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Who Dat?


Who Dat?

Today is Tuesday.  It's that nether time between Thanksgiving and New Year that we commonly refer to as December.  How can it be December already??  Jeez.

My vast experience as a northeasterner involves memories of snow by now.  Tonight the thermometer in my car said that the temperature outside was 38 degrees but there were definite flakes of snow in my headlights.  It was our first bit of snow, and I'll admit that it was actually kinda nice.  I'll also admit that it was nicer than the inch of rain we had here today.  By and large, tho, the weather here recently has been wonderful.  I have no complaints at all in that regard.

It's hard to believe that today is the beginning of my second month on the job.  I'm still enjoying it, so that must mean something.  We've got a lot done in the last few weeks and there's a long way to go on this journey.

My brother called yesterday to tell me that Rush is coming to the area in April fand asked if I wanted to go.  Rush was the second band I ever saw play live (Jethro Tull was the first) way back in 1978 and I've seen them play a dozen times or so over the past 30 years.  Bro wrote today to say we got tickets in the 9th row dead center.  I'm already looking forward to it.

The reason I was out tonight is that I FINALLY made it to the fitness center.  A month ago I was in the what's probably the best shape of my life and lately I've been feeling like a big blob.  The difference is that I had the time to go to the gym for months and months and months, and lately I'm lucky to get there once a week.  That, and the constant eating out, Holiday fare, and general unhealthy eating end up taking a psychological toll.  I feel GREAT tonight after an hour at the gym, and am already planning on getting there tomorrow as well.

I made my travel plans for the Holidays today.  I was pleasantly surprised that airfares were relatively reasonable.  I would have expected more of a premium on travel during the last couple of weeks of the year.  Thankfully - not so.

Part of the trip includes visits with my mom in Dallas and my son in Austin.  Speaking of my son - he turns 25 years old a week before Christmas.  That's a quarter century!  Omigod.  How can that be?  Anyway - so many things to achieve and so little time.  The key for me is to make sure to include a healthy dose of quality "Donna" time.  And, I have.

Speaking of Donna Time, one thing I've said in the past that perhaps needs to be reiterated is that I'm fairly careful about the things I choose to share here in my blog.  I've learned many lessons over the years about being TOO forthcoming on some things.  That said, I've learned that I sometimes wear my emotions on my sleeve and they come out here.  I suppose what I'm saying is that I have come to enjoy this outlet for my thoughts and experiences but what I share here is NOT all there is.  Nuff said.

Kudos to Lana Lawless on helping the LPGA become more inclusive.  Here's an article from the NY Times:
“She can compete if she can qualify,” Kerr said. “We certainly don’t want to discriminate against anybody; that’s not what the L.P.G.A. is about. And if she can qualify, she’ll be able to play.”

The L.P.G.A.’s policy shift follows similar changes made by other sports bodies to allow transgender athletes to compete, including the International Olympic Committee, the United States Golf Association, the Ladies Golf Union in Britain and the Ladies European Golf Tour.

The N.C.A.A. has also said that it is reviewing its policies regarding transgender athletes. A member of the George Washington women’s basketball team, Kye Allums, came out this season as a transgender man. Allums has been permitted to play on the women’s team because he has not undergone hormone treatments or sexual reassignment surgery.

Dolan said the L.P.G.A. players’ decision reached beyond golf. “I think it’s a victory for the transgender community,” he said, “and that hopefully other women won’t have to go through this just to have the right to play golf or any other sport.”


Read the story here

There are three important things in this snippet. First is the recognition that Lana first needs to qualify to participate. She's not asking for anything special. Second, is recognition that the clause that specifically prevented her from competing was discriminatory. And third is the fact that this decision does indeed reach beyond golf.

Special recognition goes to Lana for all the hateful crap she's had to deal with.  She's been under attack from every knuckle dragger who's still stuck in the 1970's.  She's also facing some/many in the trans community who somehow feel that she shouldn't compete.  I've said before and I'll reiterate that I'll respect that opinion however I don't and won't share it.  Expect more from me on this in upcoming weeks....

Lastly for tonight - where I'm living now has one of those large LED TV's and it's just amazing to watch.  Good thing I don't have much time for TV.  It's so visually stimulating that it just could become addicting.  :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Not so Black Friday

Friday 11/26

I had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  It was relaxing and peaceful - two words I don't often equate with a day that often involves frenzy of one kind or another.  I spent the day with a dear friend, and all things considered I can't imagine myself anywhere else right now.

The DonnaNater at the Rifle Range on Black Friday 2010


This morning throngs headed to stores to take advantage of Black Friday specials during the wee hours of darkness.  Not us.  We got up early, got some things together, and found ourselves at a rifle range by 7am.  We spent a couple of hours shooting which - I must admit - was a first for me.  I had a blast (please forgive the pun).




I've never been to a rifle range before.  Heck, I've never spent much time around guns at all partly simply because I never had anyone to teach me or take me.  I took to it like a fish in water.  We had a number of firearms to shoot with and I'll admit to the thrill of aiming at something 50 yards away, pulling the trigger, and watching it jump when you hit it.

I can't imagine hunting, though.  I couldn't before and that's even more true now.  But to go to a range and to practice for a couple of hours this was fun.  I'll even admit that cleaning the guns afterwards was fun.  All in all, a morning I won't forget.

I've done a number of "new" things on Thanksgiving over the years but this one was unique in many ways.


Saturday 11/27

I'm relaxing on the last night of my Thanksgiving trip.  Tomorrow I'm hoping to make it to the beach for a bit before beginning the daunting drive north.  The last time I did it it took 10 hours.  I expect it'll take a couple of more hours tomorrow thanks to Holiday traffic.  I hope not, but I'm expecting it....

I've had a wonderfully relaxing time here.  After the craziness of the last several weeks it was much needed and much appreciated.  These kinds of things revitalize the psyche and the soul and although I'm already feeling pangs of sadness over leaving I'm also looking forward to all the things that are on my plate at the moment.  Lots of challenge.  Lots of opportunity.

I had someone write to me recently and ask me when I was finding any "Donna Time".  This is my Donna Time.  It's the Yin to my Yang.  When I'm doing what I do I'm on and I'm focused and I'm tireless.  But when I let myself relax, which believe it or not I do from time to time, I do it fully.  I'm fortunate to have a few people in my life who provide the spiritual nourishment I need.  Thankfully, I'm visiting one of them now.

So tomorrow I'll be driving.  I'm hoping that everyone who happens to stop by here had an enjoyable Thanksgiving.

Oh - one more thing.  My oldest niece, Rachel, got engaged last night.  I really like her boyfriend...well, her fiancee, Andy.  Both of them are truly blessed to have each other in their lives.  Congratulations to both of them.  And welcome to the family Andy.  :)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanks

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.  Each year it's the most significant Holiday in my calendar.  Why?  Because there truly is so much to be thankful for and life sometimes goes so quickly that it's important to set aside some time each year to reflect, to re-prioritize, to give thanks, to appreciate, and to tell others that your life is better because they're part of it.  In a perfect world every day would be Thanksgiving, or perhaps there would be no need to set apart a day for it because it would organically happen by itself all year long.

Where am I this year?  Where am I spending Thanksgiving?  Without going into specifics - I'm in South Carolina.  I've got a turkey in the fridge ready to cook tomorrow, I've got some special people in my life sleeping upstairs as I type this, and all I can say as I get ready for bed is that it's nice to be here as it feels very much like home in many ways.  And (in my best Forrest Gump accent) "That's all I have to say about that...."

I suppose part of the reason I feel the way I do about Thanksgiving has to do with some emotional attachment to memories of this day forged over the years.  I don't have a similar attachment with any other day - not Christmas, not my birthday, not New Year's.  Over most of the years that I was married Thanksgiving happened at our house, I cooked, and the next day was reserved for putting up our Holiday stuff.  My first day at work as Donna was in early October so the first real time I spend with my family after that was Thanksgiving.  I remember crying as I packed to go back home afterwards - I didn't want it ever to end.

But the fact it, it does end.  Endings are part of life, as are beginnings.

I'll enjoy a couple of days of chill time before heading north again.  I just wanted to take a minute here to give thanks to friends and family, to possibility, and to Life.  During the storms that occasionally blow into life those are the things that will keep us moored.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Going with the Flowing

I was thinking tonight that my life has been pretty interesting in recent years.  Lord knows I never planned it like this.  All I ever wanted was just to be me and to be left alone.  It's amazing what a pesky little social consciousness can do.  Anyway, I probably have enough interesting experiences and knowledge to write another book.  I suppose the only thing missing is time.

CNN did a segment on Joy Behar tonight titled "Transgender in America".  Personally I'm not a Joy Behar fan but that's just me.  It felt a little like a Trans 101 thing but whatever - this is what came out.



The first thing that stands out for me is the obvious diversity of the group of people talking.  I recently did a panel and everyone on the panel was white FTM.  The mix of perspectives here is nice to see.

There was an incident in Houston last week that didn't get much visibility but that has me very cranky.  A trans-woman was arrested for using the women's bathroom in the Houston Library.



The fool who says that as long as this woman has a "male organ" she should use the male bathroom needs a serious lesson in safety, dignity, and law.  If something like this happens anywhere around Harrisburg I'll be all over it like you wouldn't believe - it's just not right.  According to the report the case may move to higher courts as well it should.  As I say - it's just not right.

My days these days flow.  That is, they're one thing after another after another.  I had an evening discussion to do at a local university last night but made sure to take an hour of "me" time.  Where did I spend it?  On a treadmill.  And it was wonderful.  It's constantly amazing to me how my psyche and my physical self are connected.  Anyway, the opportunity to run for an hour, do some sit-ups, and work these legs did me a world of good.


The article I mentioned that would be coming out in the local paper was on the front page yesterday (read it here).  I'll admit that I didn't read the entire thing but what I did read was well done.  Thanks so much to the reporter and the editors.  The thing I'm happiest about is the needed visibility it provides for the Center.

I got a bunch of email from it, as you might imagine, and it was overwhelmingly supportive.  I don't read the comments on things like this because it can make you crazy and from what I've heard there have been some doozies which is certainly fine.  If someone wants to come and say that kind of ignorant crap to my face they know where I work.  Come on down.  It may surprise people that based on current counts the number of comments on the story is more than any other story in the last two days - twice as much as on a story on PA Legislators getting a pay raise.

I spoke on a panel at a local University last night.  It was fun.  Thanks to everyone who arranged it and attended.  These kinds of things make for long days but that's not a complaint.  I'm pacing myself so all is well.

As for Thanksgiving, I'm traveling.  I've got 600+ miles to drive in hopes of getting from here to there by mid-day tomorrow.  If I leave at 4am perhaps I can make some headway before too many people get on the road.  As I say - I'm pacing myself.  It's the only way I know how to do it all....

BTW - I realize that the Holiday Season is here and that times are tight for many but we'll be doing a phone-a-thon to raise year end funds here at the Center.  If you can spare a hundred bucks send me an email and I'll give you a call to get your information.  Know that it's going to a wonderful cause and I will be much appreciative.  :)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Off My Last Board

I'm pooped. As I type this I'm propped up in bed waiting to sink into sleep.

Me and Jenny Boylan meeting up for brunch today...

The last three days have seen trips to DC and back again and Philadelphia and back.  I attended the NGLCC dinner in DC on Friday night, I got 2 new tires on my car yesterday, I spoke at the TDOR event here in Harrisburg at dusk yesterday, I had brunch and a very pleasant afternoon today with the always fab and wonderful Jenny Boylan, and I attended a very pleasant Meet and Greet event this evening.  Bedtimes over the past two evenings was 2am both nights.  Thank God for coffee.

Some things to note:

The NGLCC National Dinner 2010

After 2 2-year terms on the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce board I am stepping away.  Although I have enjoyed watching the organization grow from next to nothing to being on the brink of some wonderful things it's time to focus on other endeavors.  As a result, at the moment I'm not on a single board of directors for the first time since 2005.  In some ways I feel like I've done a tour of combat duty and have finally been called back home.

The dinner on Friday night was another wonderful chance to meet up with friends I only see once or twice a year.  The Building Museum is a classy, elegant, very nice place to hold these kinds of things.  I hope they don't outgrow it because I think they'd lose something important if it were held somewhere else.  In any event - I had a nice time.  The City Council member from Ft. Worth TX who started the "It Gets Better" stuff was there with his daughters.  So was the gay student body president from the University of Michigan who was targeted and harassed by an Asst. Atty General there who eventually got fired for it.  So was Martina Navratilova.  So was dear Amanda Simpson.  All in all, a stellar evening.


Gathering for TDOR on the steps of the State Capitol Bldg


We estimated that there were 80 people or so at the local TDOR event on the steps of the state Capitol Building yesterday at sundown.  I'm told that's twice the number who attended last year.  Thanks to everyone who braved the chilly temps to participate.  The sunset was spectacular, and the full moon was equally amazing.  A special thanks to Jeanine and the gang at TransCentralPA for all their work to put together an awesome event. 


Lastly for now, I probably won't have to come out to many people here in Harrisburg.  At the dinner this evening I was told that an interview I recently did with a reporter for the local paper will be featured on the front page tomorrow.  I hope it came out well and provides the needed visibility for the Center.

This will be another busy week.  I'm looking forward to Thanksgiving.  Lots of things to do before then.  First things first, though.  Time for bed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

T-Day Minus Six

Thanksgiving is less than a week from today.  How the heck did it creep up so fast??

Living in the desert you get used to having it NOT feel like Thanksgiving.  For those of us who grew up in climates where Thanksgiving often involved cold and snow I don't know if you ever get used to it being just another sunny 82 degree day.  But now I'm living back in the northeast and it still doesn't feel like itself.  Hmmmm.  I wonder why.

For those following the saga of my car - I picked it up yesterday.  New timing belt + New tire +  New O2 sensor + A few other minor things = Big OUCH!  It still needs some things in the front end suspension which all add up to another OUCH but I'll wait a couple of weeks before dealing with that.  The good news is that when I picked her up she drives like a kitten again.

My life has been a whirlwind lately.  I realize that my life is often very whrilwindy but this is a different flavor or it.  My days are full from early to late and then it starts over again.

Here's a synopsis of my last couple of days:

Wednesday I worked all day, then I had to drive the 100 miles from here to Newark DE to speak at the University of Delaware.  After I finished we went out to dinner and they had gotten me a hotel room to get some sleep.  But I knew I had an 8am meeting back here in Harrisburg so I drove the 100 miles at midnight to get back home.  I was finally in bed and asleep by 2.

Yesterday: The alarm went off at 6 so I could be at work by 7 to prepare for an 8am meeting.  In mid-morning I had a state Human Rights Commission meeting related meeting on bias related incidents.  That went thru lunch, then I had to be back at the office to finish up a couple of things.  Someone came to pick me up at 4 to drive me the hour it takes to get to Carlisle PA to meet with the LGBTQA Faculty group at Dickenson College there.  I was back at my car by 7:30, and made it home by 8:30.

Today I work for half a day, then I drive the couple of hours from here to DC to attend the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Dinner there tonight.  I'll spend the night there.

Tomorrow I drive back home, I'll participate in the Day of Remembrance event on the State Capitol steps and then I'll drive to Philadelphia to meet up with a group there.  I expect it will be a late night.

Sunday I have to drive back to Harrisburg.  There's a Meet and Greet event here on Sunday afternoon.

Monday it starts again....

People ask me if I'm enjoying the new job and I'll admit that I am.  But things go so quickly there's always something going on.  And the combination of having a job that involves food and drink with a lack of opportunity to get to the gym on any regular basis is making me feel like a blob.  I hope things settle out but it's not likely anytime soon.

In the bigger world, things are happening as well.  I was gratified, but not surprised, to see that the LPGA is in the process of removing the clause from their rules that prevent trans-women from competing (details here).  The comments are pretty ignorant, as you'd expect, but such it the world in which we live.

I was on a conference call with Dept. of Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius a couple of days ago to discuss a new directive on hospital visitation for same-sex partners (see story about it here).  One of the questions during the Q&A was about what are the consequences of hospitals that do not comply, or what are the teeth to make sure this happens.  I'm dubious that most hospitals even know about this, much less that they have the power to push this kind of stuff down to their staff.  When a trauma happens things happen quickly so I'd be interested to see how his all plays out.  Don't get me wrong - it's a step in the right direction and I very much appreciate the attention and energy that is being given to issues that affect LGBT lives.  I'm just concerned that the way it plays out in the chaos of real life isn't the same as the way it does in the controlled world of planning.

Gotta go.  Lots to do.  It's going to be a busy weekend.

Oh...and did I mention next week is Thanksgiving?  I've got plans, and I"m looking forward to enjoying some relaxing time.  And - LOTS of food.  :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekend in Donnaland

It was another wild and crazy weekend in Donnaland.

Last Friday night was my last night in hotel in I don't-know-how-long.  Between driving across country and being here there past two weeks I've been living an existence that feels more like dorm living than anything.  It hasn't been all terrible since I'm actually not around all that much but I've talked in the past about the deeper comforts of being surrounded by your "stuff" and having a place that feels like home.  The place that feels most like home to me at the moment is a long way away, but finding somewhere here locally to land has been the next significant logistical hurdle in settling down here.

I moved what little bit of stuff I have into my new place yesterday.  I'm on the bottom part of a house so I've got a large walk-in closet, a small bathroom, a queen size bed, a fireplace, a dining room area - it's pretty much everything I could want given the circumstances.  It's 3 miles from work which is a piece of cake....

In between Friday and yesterday I had quite the social weekend.  I drove up to Rochester to attend a wedding and spent some time with my family while I was there.  Plus, I got a pedicure - my toes NEEDED some loving.

I sometimes share things that show up in my in-box.  Here's an email I got yesterday in response to the article in MetroWeekly last week:
Concerning the interview with David/Donna Rose in the November 11, 2010 Metro Weekly:

Transgenderism is a psychological disorder springing from faulty early-life bonding and identification with the same-sex parent, and compensatory cross-sex bonding and identification.

Autobiographical works by James/Jan Morris and Chastity/Chaz Bono confirm this.  Clinical writings by Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D. and others do as well:  "Gender Identity Disorder in Children" and "The Desire for a Sex Change" at www.narth.com.

Gender development is a function of both nature and nurture.  In homosexuals and transgenders, the problem is one of NURTURE.
My response:
I appreciate your opinion but almost all current research contradicts outdated Freudian notions regarding gender identity development.

I'd go a step further to point out that many of the words that you use - "psychological disorder", "problem", "faulty" - are also part of outdated approaches that attempts to pathologize difference. In reponse I'd argue that I'm probably as intelligent, psychologically well-adjusted, mentally healthy, spiritually comfortable, and generally peaceful as you are - if not moreso. Whether you want to believe that or not is another matter.

Regardless of how you and I may disagree about the "cause" we are reaching a point where people who may not fit traditional gender norms no longer ask for tolerance, but demand acceptance. We are no longer ashamed or guilty about who or what we are. Nor will we allow ourselves to be defined by one single aspect of ourselves. We are far more complicated than that.

My right to be me is no threat to your right to be you and if we can agree on that then all is well. It's when people (I mean people in general, not specifically you) step across that boundary by thinking that self-righteous, judgemental bigotry cloaked as anything else somehow empowers them to be ignorant is when people like me say "enough is enough". I'll stand up to that challenge ten times out of ten.

Thank you again for your opinion. And, best of luck to you.
Yeesh.

My Buffalo Bills won this weekend!  Yay.  Miracles do happen.

The weather here continues to be autumn-magical.  According to forecasters it's about to end.  I've really enjoyed it, though.  The drive from here to Rochester up Rt. 15 into New York State was absolutely stunning.  I wish I had my big camera with me but I really didn't have the time to stop and appreciate it.

There was a Meet 'n Greet event for me in Lancaster, PA yesterday.  Even the Mayor and his wife were there - it was nice to meet everyone.  I once mentioned that I wished my career had a more "social" component to it.  I'm happy to say that this role provides that and more.  That's not to say there aren't some difficult things to do but it really provides an opportunity to mix many of the things I find both interesting and fun.  Here's are a couple of pics from the mixer yesterday:




It was way cool.  Thanks to everyone who helped to plan it, and took time out of their weekend to be there.

My car is still getting some loving (expensive loving).  I expect to have it back tomorrow.....

I'll be speaking at the University of Delaware on Wednesday so if you want specifics feel free to write and I'll send them along.

Also, people write to me from time to time and want me to call or otherwise chat.  I wish I had time to do all of the things I'd like to but I rarely do.  Still - when people are local and want to meet I do my best to make that happen.

Other people contact me looking for ways to help.  I have all kinds of ideas and I'm happy to provide input.  Lord knows I do what I can and being on the front lines can be "interesting" but it's a role I've become comfortable with.

What I'm leading up to is that one of my main roles here is as a fund raiser so if you could help the organization out as a donor (a) I'd be personally thankful and (b) I'm happy to contact you to thank you in person.  Keep that in mind moving forward.  My goal is to make this organization something exciting.  I didn't come here to do nothing and although I rarely ask for much this is more something to keep in the back of your mind than an ask.  :)

And, to keep things fun - for those who are generous enough just know that there may be kisses involved.



(After all - Hershey is 15 miles away!)

Friday, November 12, 2010

AutoPains

My poor car....

It has served me well.  In the last couple of weeks I've driven almost 4,000 miles in it.  It's got over 120,000 miles under it's tires.  It's finally paid off.  But it's not new anymore, and it needs some stuff.

It's had a few symptoms lately that have been a cause of some concern so I brought it to the mechanic today.  Diagnosis: It needs an O2 sensor.  Since it's got over 100K miles it needs a new timing belt.  Tires?  Yep.  And recently the front end has started acting funny so it needs a bunch of stuff up there too.  Ouch.

When a car gets to a certain point you start to question if it's turning itself into a money pit or if this investment in it will keep it healthy for a while.  I'm hoping for the second scenario as it has behaved wonderfully for me and I feel compelled to try to bring it back to health.  But it's a BIG investment, and given that I'm in the process of moving and other expensive changes I can only do so much at a time.

I'm headed to Rochester for a quick wedding trip.  My ex-neighbor's daughter, who used to babysit for my son when he was young, is getting married.  This is the first wedding I've been to since I transitioned as an invited guest.  I've been to a couple as the plus one for someone who was invited but this is my first event as the invitee.  I'm looking forward to it.

The big news of the week is that I found a place to live.  It's a huge weight off my shoulders and I'm really looking forward to being there.  The trip to Rochester will be a fast one as I've got a Meet and Greet event on Sunday afternoon...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hit the Ground Running

I've had to hit the ground running here and so far I'm feeling good that I'm keeping a pretty good pace.

What does an Executive Director do on a typical day?  That's hard to say because in my case no one day has been like another.  Every day is full of new "stuff" which is what makes it all so interesting.

Take yesterday as an example. I met with the director of the local Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce for lunch.  A local newspaper reporter came to the office for an interview.  I visited with the sales manager at one of the large local hotels to gather pricing and facilities information for planning our big Autumn banquet next year.  Someone from NCTE who specializes in Health Care policy came to town so a group of us met for dinner (thanks to the local AIDS alliance!) before she talked.  Then, out for a glass of wine with some friends.  I finally got back to my hotel room at 10.

Today?  Vacation day.  I'm going to the gym.  I'm catching up on bills.  I've got several places to look at to live and hope that tonight is my last night in a hotel.  It's supposed to be 60 degrees and sunny here today which is absolutely amazing for this time of year.  I keep joking that it's going to stay like this all winter but we all know that it's not.  Still, I'm enjoying it while I can.

For some reason I've been doing a lot of media stuff lately.  It's not like I go out and seek it - it just happens.  For example, earlier this week I got a call from a reporter at ABC who wanted to talk about a story out of the UK about someone who transitioned from M2F and ultimately transitioned back.  That's certainly their right.  What made news was this person's assertion that they had been coerced to transition by doctors and therapists.  Furthermore, she asserted that transsexuals were "delusional" and needed to be stopped, surgeries needed to be banned.

The reporter and I had a good conversation but one of the things about media is that, despite the best of intentions, the ultimate goal is to attract readers.  How?  Sensational titles.  Editing the interview in a way that focuses on extremes.  As frustrating as that can be sometimes that's just the way it is.  So, when you do what you think is a good interview and the end result is very disappointing you can't get too bummed.

All that said - the interview appeared on ABC.com yesterday morning (read it here).  From the title to the photos to the general slant of the story - fairly typically sensational.  But it is what it is and I'm hopeful that the ultimate message is a positive one, not a freakish one.

Late last week I got a call from the editor of MetroWeekly, a very nice magazine in Washington DC, about doing an interview and a photo shoot.  I went to DC on Friday and we did it - they're a really good group of people and I had a very pleasant afternoon.  They asked some good questions and we took a bunch of photos.  Anyway, the end result came out today. (read it here)



I don't think I've never been on a cover before.  Anyway - it's a nice contrast to the sensational stuff.  I'm glad they let me do my own hair and makeup because when other people do it I never look like myself.  For better or for worse - this is pretty much how I look on any given day.  It's the best I could do after driving the couple of hours from Harrisburg to DC, walking a few blocks to their building, changing in a small bathroom, and trying to smile.....

There are a number of things coming up as well.  I suppose doing press is simply part of the job now and I'm no stranger to it but it's nice when things come out well.

Back to living here in the hotel for a minute.  It reminds me a little of living in a dorm room.  Doing my laundry costs $3.00 in quarters.  They provide breakfast.  The room itself is fine.  I've become something of a minimalist in recent years so I don't need too much.

Last night at the talk about Health Care one woman there said something to the effect that I'm technically "Disabled" because I'm trans.  I told her that I'm not.  She told me that I am.  I adamantly refuse to accept that label for myself and in no way perceive my life situation to be disabling in any way.  Challenging?  Yes.  But disabled?  No friggin' way.  I have no problem with others who believe differently or who play the system because they can but that's not a path I'm going down...

Time to get on with the day!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Onwards.

Crazy.  Things have been just crazy here over the last couple of days.

First, I"m still living in a hotel room - not that that's bad or anything because I really don't do much more than sleep here.  But still - it's not a home.  It's a hotel room.  The next major thing to achieve in my world is to find a place to live.  I'm actively working on several options.

I've been exchanging emails with someone about a potential place to live.  In or most recent exchange I shared where I work and they did some research on me and learned about my background - not that I was trying to hide it.  She wrote me an email this evening:
I have no problem with you or your lifestyle or being transgendered. However, I am a young woman with a mother who is very active in my life. To be quite frank, she would have a heart attack if she knew about your transition.

Whoah.  That's heavy stuff.  I respect her decision and appreciate her honesty but it's amazing to me how people make so many assumptions based on nothing at all but their own fears.  I suppose when I worked in corporate America is was easy to simply live life without having to face these realities but the fact of the matter is that working for an openly LGBT organization invites extra scrutiny.  For someone who never knowingly experienced discrimination of any kind until age 40 this kind of stuff is a reminder of why it's so important to do what we do.

That brings me to the second point.  In a county just north of our service area, only 40 miles or so from Harrisburg, a teenage boy walked 13 miles to end his life by throwing himself in front of a semi on a highway.  Details of why this happened are only now coming out, and it is becoming increasingly obvious that at least part of the reason was anti-gay bullying (read about it here).  That's heartbreaking.

From our local news:



Because we're the largest major city to this horrific situation and we house the most significant LGBT Youth Program in the region we had calls and visits today from local TV and radio news shows.  I'll probably have some video from today on my next entry.  Our youth program manager, Louie, did a wonderful job.

The sunset tonight was spectacular.  I stepped out in front of the Center and took a bunch of photos over the Susquehanna that I think came out very well.  I may post one of those tomorrow, too.  Weather here this week is heavenly.  Highs are in the low 60's with abundant sunshine and it's supposed to stay this way thru the weekend.  I realize that something more wintry is certainly on it's way but the fact that it's holding off like this is helping to ease the transition....

Speaking of this work - I got an email today from the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco about some opportunities there:
Can you please help me spread the word about two open positions at the Transgender Law Center? We are recruiting for a leadership-level operations professional for our San Francisco office, as well as a part-time advocate in Los Angeles. These are both incredibly important jobs, and I would appreciate your help finding fabulous candidates.

Thanks tons for your help!

In solidarity,
Masen

Masen Davis, Executive Director
Transgender Law Center
870 Market Street, Suite 400 | San Francisco, CA 94102
415-865-0176 x301 (w) | 323-309-0459 (c)
masen@transgenderlawcenter.org

If you're interested, please contact Masen.

Part of my day tomorrow involves talking with a reporter.  I'm meeting with a local hotel to get pricing for our benefit dinner next fall.  And in the evening I'm participating in a discussion on trans health.  From TransCentralPA:
Don't forget, the Alder Health Services, formerly AIDS Community Alliance, is conducting a Trans Health Forum at the MCC of the Spirit on Wednesday, November 10th at 7:00 pm.  Key speakers include Mul Kim, trans health care expert and counsel for the National Center for Transgender Equality (www.TransEquality.org) and nationally renowned motivational speaker and transgender activist Donna Rose, who recently accepted the position of Executive Director of the LGBT Community Center of Central Pennsylvania (www.centralpalgbtcenter.org).

The Trans Health Forum is free and open to everyone, so come, listen and ask your questions about the current status of Transgender Health.  

This is an important topic and I'm looking forward to being part of the discussion.


Lastly for tonight:  I rarely share humor that gets sent my way here but here's something from my sister worth posting:

The Washington Post's Mensa Invitational once again invited  readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding,  subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new  definition.

Here are the  winners:

1. Cashtration
(n.): The act of buying a house,  which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of  time.

2. Ignoranus
: A person who's both stupid and an  asshole.

3. Intaxicaton
: Euphoria at getting a tax refund,  which lasts until you realize it was your money to start  with.

4. Reintarnation
: Coming back to life as a  hillbilly.

6. Foreploy
: Any misrepresentation about yourself  for the purpose of getting laid.

8. Sarchasm
: The gulf between the author of  sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get  it.



I dunno.  I think that's funny.

Onwards!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Lots. Going. On.

It's 6am on Monday morning.  My most pressing need going into the weekend was to make some long-term living arrangements - I'm still living out of a hotel room.  No progress has been made in that regard - not because I looked and didn't find anything but because I realized on Friday that a more immediate need was to spend a little down time after all of the hubub in my life recently.  So I took a bit of a road trip to spend time in a warm place with a friendly face.  It was much needed and much enjoyed.

Life is in high gear.  Over the next couple of weeks I've got a speaking event at the University of Delaware.  I've got a wedding to attend in Rochester next weekend.  I've got the NGLCC National Dinner in Washington DC a week from Friday, and then I'll be at the DOR event on the steps of the State Capitol Building here in Harrisburg on Saturday the 20th.  I've done some media stuff so that'll be hitting the world over the next few days - I hope they came out well.  The schedule is full of a number of other things, as well - lots going on.

Plus - did I mention that I need to find someplace to live?  That's a big deal right now.

I find it interesting that I was faced with an opportunity to get away for a day and a half - which was totally a spur of the moment thing and involved more time in the car.  Or,  staying put and taking care of business.  It's not as obvious a choice as you'd think and, in fact, what ended up happening was a bit of a surprise even to me.  The good news is that I haven't grown past the stage of enjoying surprises - especially ones as pleasant as this one turned out to be.  Long story short - I had a very nice weekend.

I did an interview on Friday and was asked some refreshing new questions.  Questions about spirituality, and the changing nature of relationships.   I actually enjoyed having the chance to talk about some of that stuff.  As you'd expect there were some questions about the state of some of the work I've done - HRC, NGLCC, etc.  They also asked about my own expectations for how soon ENDA may get passed and I was honest in that I'm not optimistic to see it any time soon - not simply in terms of months but years.  Many years.  The realistic window of opportunity has closed and given the political landscape right now it may be shut for a while.   I also said that I'm not sure that ENDA will be the be all-end all that some make it out to be but that's a longer discussion.  Either way - between now and whenever the window opens again we've got lots of work to continue to do.

Remember that blog post by a woman defending her child last week?  It has made quite the splash.




The fact that the psychologist says that the reaction of having parents confront this mother was a "natural" reaction is ridiculous.  This guy lost any credibility in my book as soon as he said that.

Other than that I don't have much more to say today.  I need to get ready for work.  As I say - lots going on.

The good news is that I'm feeling good and doing well - inside and out.