Thursday, April 29, 2010

Reconnecting again/still...

I'm in the Bay area this evening, and expect to be here for a few days. I don't really want to expand on it more than that other than to say that it has been a beautiful day here and I've enjoyed reconnecting with people and places and feelings from my past.

It was odd to be flipping thru the latest Bay Area Reporter at lunch today and see my photo in it - there's an article about my wrestling last weekend in it. It's also odd to think that last week at this time I was in Cleveland preparing for my first round match. Where does the time go?

The best part of the entire weekend in Cleveland wasn't winning my first match. It was having a group of friends there so that I wasn't alone. There are so many different things that separated me from every other competitor there - from my age to the fact that I wasn't on a team to the fact that this was my first tournament so I had no clue about how things worked or where I was supposed to be when. And I'm a big girl so I'm certainly no stranger to being alone - if anything it's a constant companion. But NOT being alone and having smiling faces there made all the difference. Thanks to the "gang" from San Diego and San Fran and Seattle and Canton and all points in between who helped to make it what it was.

The event was highlighted on the Gay Games blog, and some of the photos include my posse (read it here).

I'm considering what the future will hold - will I do pursue this any further or am I done? I really don't know yet. Placing in the top 6 at the Nationals qualifies me for the National Team Trials in June (see the list of qualifiers here - we're the 72kg bracket at the bottom). I'd go into that with even less expectation than I did going into last weekend but for some reason I'm left feeling that there is unfinished business to attend to. Who knows - perhaps there's a future for me in WWF at the end of all of this. :)

Speaking of reconnecting - My high school is having a reunion in 6 weeks and I'm hoping/expecting to go to that. Reconnecting with my past was and remains important for some reason. I've stopped asking myself why and have just given in to the fact that it is.

I mentioned at the outset that I don't feel like going into detail about what I'm here to do. I will say that I expect to be feeling crummy at this time tomorrow so positive thoughts are always appreciated.

As usual my life is almost like a reality series - going to improbably places and events on an almost weekly basis. I'm hoping the next few days bring some much needed down time. Next weekend it'll be Norwalk, CT. Then? Who knows. I want to see my son in Austin and my mom in Dallas. And - who knows what else? Stay tuned....


Onwards. And upwards.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Repair....

This entry is cross-posted from

It's Tuesday. I'm finally back to something resembling my normal self. It has taken a couple of days to get back to that after the trip to Ohio although I'm still getting up at 5 something in the morning which I'm not all that thrilled about.

I went to the fitness center this morning for the first time in a week. I was so busy trying to lose weight over the last few days leading up to to the Nationals that I didn't have the energy to go and yesterday I planned to go but never made it out of the house. My shoulder hurts (in the joint - perhaps a rotator cuff?) and my neck is still sore and I just wasn't ready to push things quite yet. Today's workout was a good one - not too strenuous but just hard enough to push things back into gear.

In honor of getting my body back to it's normal state and life in general right now I've been listening to a song by John Mayer titled "In Repair". I particularly like this acoustic version of a song because of the wonderful guitar work on it:

There's also a live full-band version that's pretty bad a$$ as well (see it here).

I didn't leave the house yesterday until after dinner knowing that I needed to at least do something. So, I went to Costco for one of their Frozen Yogurt berry sundaes. Yum. It was worth leaving for.

I've been so disciplined and stingy on what I eat lately that getting to a more "normal" diet has put my digestive system into shock. I'll just leave it at that.

I'll admit that I did watch a bit of "Dancing with the Stars" last night. Typically it's not something that I watch and I haven't seen it before but there were some fine dancers on there. Needless to say, I'm more focused on the women than the men. I have no idea how they move how they do - I'd give anything to have even half of that skill. But no - my lot in life is to wear wrestling shoes and abuse my body. Go figure. I'd go take dancing lessons in a second if I could....

Another "community" event that happened over the past weekend was the IFGE Conference held just outside of Washington DC. There was a time when it was one of the fixtures on my calendar but I haven't attended for several years now. There are a number of reasons why.

I talked with someone today who said that the attendance was way way down - she estimated it at 150 or so which is a quarter of what I remember from a few years ago. I said a long time ago that the organization needs to reiterate what their mission is and deliver something tangible to re-establish some trust. Or, they need to accept the fact that they're a magazine and a conference and focus on that. They brought a number of new members onto the board last year and Bree is a dear friend so I hope they find their way. If anyone attended and wants to send me their thoughts and/or observations I'd be happy to publish them here.

Speaking of conferences, I have accepted the role of managing sponsorship for SCC this year. That includes the program guide. This is the 20 year anniversary of the event which is a big deal and I expect to make this year's guide the biggest and best yet. I'm looking for corporate sponsorship, social networking advertising, organizational support, and even personal messages of "Congratulations" or "Support" or "Thanks". A portion of the proceeds goes towards the scholarship fund which makes it possible for people who otherwise wouldn't be able to attend to be there. Anyway - please spread the word and contact me for details if you or your company or someone you could recommend (a friend, a service provider, a caregiver, etc.) would be interested in knowing more.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Calmer Thoughts....

This entry is cross-posted from

I'll tell you something...I slept well last night. I'm also still on east coast time as I was up and moving before 6am here. After the temporary insanity of the past few weeks I've got some readjusting to do.

The good news is that I'm not nearly as sore or mentally and physically exhausted as I found myself to be last night. I'll admit to being a bit surprised by that, but nobody (even me, I think) really realizes the energy and focus that went into doing what I did in Cleveland. It would be easy to trivialize it but sometimes there are tests we set for ourselves and for some reason this was one for me.

After I won on Friday night I was scheduled to face the #1 ranked US wrestler in the weight class. Her name is Iris Smith, and she's a 5-time US freestyle champion. Her resume of accomplishments in the sport is extensive is extensive and I can't tell you how much I respect her for all she's done.

In 2005 she was written up as the USOC Athlete of the month:
Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo.) won a gold medal at 72kg/158.5 lbs. at the World Wrestling Championships, the most important international event of the year, Sept. 30 in Budapest, Hungary. Smith scored a major upset in the gold-medal finals, defeating five-time World champion Kyoko Hamaguchi of Japan, 3-1, 1-1, 1-0. Smith was the only U.S. woman wrestler to win a World gold medal this year and became only the fourth U.S. woman wrestler ever to win a World title on her way to leading the United States to a strong third-place finish in the team standings at the World Championships.

Smith won four matches on the way to her historic win. In her first bout, Smith stopped Stanka Zlateva of Bulgaria, 3-1, 1-0. In the quarterfinals, Smith stopped Angnieska Wieczczek of Poland, 2-0, 6-0. She also had a strong semifinal win over Anita Schaetzle of Germany, 3-1, 2-0.

Smith was competing in her second World Championships. She is a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program.

She was featured as a US Olympian in a PSA all about sportsmanship:

Anyway - competing at this event involves competing against elite athletes like Iris. And for someone of my unique circumstance at this stage of life to compete against her is more of an honor than anything. Someone asked me if I was nervous stepping out there with her and the answer was "of course not". All I can do is my best, and given the circumstances that's what I did.

The irony is that, despite her amazing list of achievements, if you type "iris smith wrestling" into Google (there are over 300,000 hits) number 8 on that list right now is the video of our match from Saturday morning.

Wrestling Videos on Flowrestling

Admittedly, it wasn't much of a match for her and it's a little embarrassing to watch myself do this. But, I left with my pride (and my face!) intact. Until this weekend I had never wrestled another woman on a mat. Now I've competed with some of the best. The question I need to ask myself is whether I want to do it again or whether I'm done. Honestly, I don't have that answer yet.

On the bright side Chloe got some good video from the match on Friday night which is much more flattering. I hope to share that here sometime soon as well.

Speaking of more flattering, they did a brief video shoot at the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce Dinner in Washington DC last November and recently posted it online:

Needless to say, I'm much more in my comfort zone sipping Cosmo's, talking about LGBT Business issues, and wearing a gown than I am on the mat these days. Still, I think the combination of the two demonstrates a remarkable range of skills. :-)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Friday at Last

This entry is reposted from

I wanted to throw my scale at the wall this morning. I typically don't weigh myself - ever - but since I need to make weight I've been doing it every day. I'm busting my butt to get down there but have hit a plateau near where my body likes to be and I'm not seeing the results. It'd be easy to say "it's the scale", and I do plan to check at the fitness center when I go there, but it's just frustrating.

One of the things that heartens me is when I see transpeople included in broader society in healthy and uplifting ways. That's a huge goal of mine, and I suppose my efforts at the wrestling tournament next week is simply a part of that. There are people who shudder at the thought that transpeople will become normalized and do everything they can to perpetuate the ignorances that have kept so many of us from participating in society but little by little we're overcoming them.

One recent example is an article about a trans-woman in Glamour Magazine (read it here). This is good stuff, and although some may disregard it as simply "fluff" this is the kind of social visibility that's necessary to make inroads in overcoming the barriers we traditionally face.

CNN recently carried a story about a transwoman which involved some follow-up on their website, as well. They invited readers to share their stories of being transgender which was well received (see some of the feedback here).

The defense that others are using to try to deny us our rightful place as contributing members of society is a two-prong strategy: (1) fear and (2) lies. Here's a good example of the kind of baseless crap being used to try to stir the pot (see it here). There was a time when this kind of stuff would make me angry. Now, it's simply an indication of the untenable desperation that comes with knowing you're going to lose.

Unfortunately, many of us pay a horrific price for it. News came out yesterday of the arrest of a man in connection with the brutal murder of a transwoman in NYC (read story here). THIS kind of stuff does still infuriate me.

On the home front I picked up the results of my recent blood labs and am unhappy with the results. It'd be easy to say that it's just a one-time blip, the same as it'd be easy to blame the scale for my plateau, but I'll need to follow-up on some of these things with the doctor the next time I go see him.

I get quite a bit of email about people inquiring about hormones and many doctors use blood chemistry to manage dosages. It's not rocket science and sometimes it doesn't provide the kind of answers (or results) that people are looking for but the numbers don't lie. My estrogen is a little low at the moment - it's in the range of woman in the first 10 days of her monthly cycle. My testosterone is low too - the "normal" range is from 6-82 and mine is 11. Anyway - although I certainly don't feel my age other indicators provide reminders of the need to monitor and manage my ongoing health in an ongoing and vigilant way....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Crunch Time

It's Wednesday, or more specifically - it's the day before tax day. I still need to do mine. Uhghhh....

I received a letter from my Network Hosting company confirming that my blog had been hacked (Duh), that they had restored from backup, and that it should be up and operational. If you've been there lately you'll see that it may be "up" but it's far from operational. As I get more comfortable with this platform the less I can find reasons to go back. Anyway - the saga continues in the background.

Speaking of challenges, I'm going to share something here that I've been working on for a while now but haven't really felt the need to share. I have a feeling it's going to become public knowledge sooner or later so I may as well bring it up. I figure that most people haven't found this blog yet so it's not too big a deal.

Some may remember that I've been training to wrestle again. I have a coach/trainer who is a tremendously accomplished wrestler - he's badass with several US and world championships on his resume in addition to the fact that he's also a very good coach. I've been working very hard to get into some kind of shape and have actually been enjoying myself tremendously despite the ongoing bumps, bruises, cuts, muscle aches, and other ailments that seem to be amplified by my age (and/or by estrogen). It gets pretty intense sometimes.

I've set my sights on actually competing. Specifically, I have registered to compete in a women's Freestyle tournament in Ohio next week. I'll be competing in the 72kg (158.75 lbs) division and am within striking distance of actually making weight. For wrestlers, making weight is often the bane of our existence. I'm a few pounds away.

This move is admittedly an act of sheer insanity on my part as this particular tournament is a very big deal and attracts the elite wrestlers in this country. I expect thar the US Women Olympians will be there. Now there will be a 51 year old woman - probably at least twice as old as anyone else competing - who last set foot onto a mat in a serious way over 30 years ago. As I say, sheer insanity.

Many may question "why?" and I don't know that I can provide a rational explanation other than to say that it's a personal challenge that I have set for myself. As far as I'm concerned setting and working towards growth goals is key to a healthy overall life so goals can take any number of forms. The last significant physical challenge that I set for myself was to enter and finish a half-marathon. I did that in 2007. It's time for another one.

I hold no illusion that competing against athletes who are half my age, who train hard-core all year long, and who are the best of the best in this country will yield anything more than a good butt-whipping at best. I'm ok with that and just hope I don't get hurt.

However, when I first started working with my coach I told him I had two goals. First is to get myself into shape so I can stand in the center of that mat before the first whistle blows knowing I've done the best I can to be prepared to be there. It takes tremendously hard work and I've been working very, very hard. A second, more difficult "stretch" goal, is to actually win a match. The fates will have to decide that one - I'm ready to give it my all but we'll see how it works itself out.

I have no other agenda. I'm not there to make a statement about LGBT athletes. I'm there for me - for Donna, a middle age woman - who has set a personal challenge and is working to address it. It really is that simple. Whether others respect that is a whole other issue. I hope so, but I can see it all turning into a big hoopla. The key for me is to stay focused on the goals I've set for myself. And that's it.

In the middle of it all I'm headed to the University of Connecticut to speak at the Transgender Lives Conference there this weekend. We're seeing more and more smaller, regional conferences being successful and this is one I've been looking forward to attending. It'll be another one of those crazy travel weekends as my flight leaves Phoenix as 11pm Friday night and arrives in Philadelphia at 6am the next morning. A friend is picking me up so we can drive to Farmington together. I fly back Sunday afternoon.

If I work as hard these next few days as I have been I'll look forward to taking a couple of days off from training. Then - it's crunch time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Some Rain Must Fall...

This is the third "kind" of blog I've had in the 5+ years that I've been blogging. I outgrew my homegrown, original blog to move to a more conventional real blog platform. Now that has become problematic, so I'm looking for other solutions. Perhaps this is that new solution. For now.

Someone "hacked" many WordPress blogs last week, and apparently those hosted on servers operated by my hosting provider were particularly hard hit. In one sense I'd like to think I was targeted specifically because someone felt what I was saying was particularly worthy of silencing and thus - the hack. But more likely is that I had a file that was unprotected and became a faceless victim just like thousands of others. Either way - the problem with WordPress is that the mechanics of how it works and how it can be fixed are totally foreign to me so it's either learn those details or move to someplace less vulnerable. While I contemplate the former I'll implement the latter. As I often say to people - life is often about Plan B so I've almost always got a backup plan ready to go.

I haven't updated the blog in over a week and the hack is part of the reason. The other reason is that when I'm with Elizabeth life gallops from waking to sleeping with very little room for the "luxury" of blogging or answering email or otherwise being connected. So, I'll take this opportunity to bring everyone up to speed on events in my world.

The schedule of the past week was impressive. I arrived into Charleston at 9pm last Friday and by 4am we had the kids in the car (sleeping away) and were on the road to DC where we had made arrangements to attend Easter Mass at the National Cathedral and to go to the Easter Egg Roll at the White House on Monday. The mass was wonderful, the Easter Egg roll was a blast, we visited Elizabeth's grandfather's grave in Arlington, the kids re-visited some of their favorite Smithsonian exhibits, and we were generally go-go-going from early morning until night. The weather was wonderfully warm and sunny, combined with the fact that the cherry blossoms and other flowering trees were at their peak and the city was absolutely packed full of people on spring break meant that there were hordes of people everywhere.

Perhaps second most significant is the fact that my work apparently didn't want me to go, wouldn't allow me to work remotely, and so decisions needed to be made. NOT going was non-negotiable for me so - long story short - my employment there is over. I've reached a point in life where my balance involves some level of non-negotiable life experiences and some flexibility to do my job as measured by delivery not hours spent in a cubicle in front of a laptop. I'll write more about this in upcoming entries, but for now the important point is that I'm continually trying to fit myself back into a career that I outgrew a long time ago and it's just not working well. What next? Not sure yet. I'll start working on that this week. As I say - all about Plan B.

On Tuesday we drove to Asheville NC and visited a dear friend and her partner there. It was wonderful to see them, their amazing home, and the beauty that is the mountains around Asheville. I met this particular friend in San Francisco the week I originally had my face re-engineered by Dr. O and she has had a special place ever since. Despite the fact that we don't see each other often it's a connection that neither time nor distance diminishes. Those are the best kinds of friendships.

I left Charleston at 5:30 yesterday morning and was in LA by 10am. I took the FlyAway bus to Westwood to speak at the Out For Work Conference there and was in bed by 9 last night - exhausted. I caught my flight home this morning and as I type this I'm looking forward to sleeping in my own bed for the first time in a long time. It's one of those simple pleasures that is nice to come home to.

There's lots more to say, lots more going on, and I expect I'll have some time this week to catch up here so I'll keep this relatively short. This is an experiment, of sorts, with other blog options so we'll see how this works. I've got my fingers crossed. :~D