Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hot hot hot

It's Thursday morning and I'm enjoying my first cup of coffee. I enjoy coffee, and it's the unofficial beginning of my day each morning. Although it's not even 7am yet it's already 92 degrees outside. They've issued an "Excessive Heat" warning for the Valley for today and tomorrow with highs expected to reach 112. Welcome to summer in Phoenix.

It's also July 1 today. It's hard to believe that the first 6 months of 2010 have come and gone and the year is already half over. Sheesh. Before you know it it'll be Christmas. I think my next entry will be a "mid-year" review....

I'm not a technology "junkie", per se, but the convergence of photo, video, smart phone technology, and all the other "gadgets" that are based on technology are amazing to me. I suppose my single most techie gadget is my iPhone, and it scares me a little to admit that it has become an integral part of my day to day life. It would be a significant challenge - perhaps even a crisis - in a number of ways if I lost it, or if something happened to the stuff on it.

So, it was not without some sense of trepidation that I installed the new operating system, iOS 4, on my iPhone a couple of nights ago. I've seen some of the problems that friends have had installing previous new versions of the OS and the thought that something would go wrong and that I'd spend a day or more trying to recover was a real concern.

It took overnight to complete, and I'm both happy and relieved to report that everything looks ok. There were a couple of error messages that initially seemed to indicate that something was awry, but so far as I can tell everything is actually working as it should. Phew. I'm still on my original iPhone 3G so I'm a couple of versions behind, but I'll upgrade at some point.....

It's a shame upgrading our own internal "Operating Systems" isn't that simple although I suppose that's what makes us different than machines, or robots. I

In yesterday's blog entry I mentioned attending SCC this year. The latest bit of news about the conference is that Chaz Bono is scheduled to attend:

The Georgia Voice
SCC is a conference that serves the transgender community with seminars, workshops, as well as vendors and special theme nights and parties. ..

I have come to look forward to SCC every year, and this year is no exception.

Although the year seems to be racing past there's still lots of ground to cover between now and then. I'm hoping to visit my son and mom in TX one more time. Our one annual family get-together is for my mom's birthday at the end of August so I'll be back in upstate NY for that. I've got a couple of speaking obligations. And, I've got some things I'd like to do. I expect to be chillin' for a little while, though, which is actually a bit of a relief. And, of course, things can always change depending on circumstance....

Then, of course, there's always the fact that I need to figure out what comes next for me in terms of income. Some seem to marvel at the fact that I do so much without having a "job" but I marvel right back at how so many people forego living their lives for the sake of their careers. I realize the challenges on both sides of the fence so I don't need anyone writing to me to challenge me - we all make decisions in life and I've made choices that involve balancing the my need to live life to its fullest with the financial and other practical implications involved. Those are my choices, and I've made them.

I'll tell anyone who asks that I refuse to die in a cubicle. My last day on earth will not be spent there - that's just the way it is. My next "job" will be different from anything I've done before. It will be a new chapter. It will be interesting and fulfilling and challenging and will serve deeper needs. It will leverage my skillset as well as my provide opportunities for interpersonal interaction. It will be a job where I don't need to dumb down my resume to the purely technical aspects of what I've done. My so-called "career" as an IT Project Manager is none of those things so if I end up doing it again it will be recognition that (a) I've run out of options or (b) I admit that I'm not creative enough to do something else or (c) I'm desperate.

There are lots and lots of online resources for finding jobs. One that I'm finding particularly interesting at the moment is a website dedicated to non-profit and government agency jobs. It's The reality for me is that if I follow that path I'll most likely end up having to move to the Washington DC area. There was a time when I felt that I'd end up there. That's still a possibility. I'd do that although I have to admit that Austin, San Francisco, and a number of other cities are higher on my "livability" wish list.

I'm also actively looking for ways to leverage photography into something that provides income. THAT'S one of my passions and after a week like last week in Oregon it burns brighter than ever. I'm ashamed to admit that I don't read much - many of my friends are voracious readers who always seem to have a book but I read maybe one or two books a year. I know - that's sad - but it's true. Anyway, the book I'm currently reading is "The Photographer's Market Guide to Building Your Photography Business". Stay tuned.

I know some people who say that they love their jobs, and they actually mean it. If you're one of those people, I envy you. I really do, because it's a rarer quality than many realize. By mid life so many of us get trapped in our careers that it becomes like sleep walking. Changing that can be difficult, and sometimes you get to choose but other times you don't. Either way, when you're doing something you enjoy it's not even like it's actually work. I look forward to the day when I can say that and mean it, too. And, I realize that I own making that happen. Have no doubt - I will.

Lastly for today - there was a story on the local news this morning about how exercise has a number of other important benefits besides improving overall health. It lowers stress, creates a sense of "euphoria", provides greater focus, and is good for body image. I make it a point to get to the fitness center 3 or 4 times a week and I don't know that it creates "euphoria" but I do know that it's just generally good for me. I feel guilty when too many days pass and I can't get there for some reason....

Monday, June 28, 2010

Getting Back

I'm sitting here this evening watching "The Proposal" with Sandra Bullock. It's the 3rd or 4th time I've seen it and there are still times when it makes me laugh out loud. I realize it's not cinematic genius or any sort of classic but it still makes me laugh and there's something to be said for that. I suppose it says something about my personality. I'm just not quite sure what.

The movie has a marriage scene near the end. And although it may sound trite to some I have no problem admitting that one of the main life goals that remains unfulfilled in my world is I expect to be a bride someday. I watch these kinds of things with hopeful anticipation more than with despair or with sadness. Each of us has our time. I truly believe that. And, as with so many other things in life the key to making it happen isn't wanting it. It's patience. And, thankfully, I have that. In spades.

After the better part of a week "getting away" today was full of "getting back". I had breakfast with Maria. I had a tire changed on my car. I stopped by the doctor's to get a copy of the X-Ray report on my neck. I went to the fitness center, and to Costco. I caught up on some email. And, I took a short nap. All things considered - it was a pretty tame day but it was certainly a million miles away from the serenity of sitting on the edge of a deep lake formed by a glacier.

I was talking with some of the people who live in little Joseph about how they ended up there and the song was the same. People went there to visit, fell in love with it, were living unfulfilling lives in the "big" world, and went there to get away. I can so relate. There's something oddly appealing about that to me these days.

I registered for SCC today. One of the questions they ask during the online registration is how many previous SCC's you've been to - this is the 20th anniversary event. As I counted back over the years that I've attended it was humbling to realize that this will be my 8th conference. Wow. I've said it before - I never attended any conferences during my own transition and that's a shame. It would have been such a helpful, empowering thing. Many of my dearest friends are people I've met at conferences and that continues to this day so I encourage anyone who can attend to be there.

This weekend is July 4. I expect to actually be home for a change - what a concept! I've already got plans that involve a grill, burgers, and maybe even fireworks. I'm also hoping to go to the Grand Canyon to do some hiking sometime soon. That's high on my need-to-do list.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Lake

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm chilling in the Portland airport. I've got a couple of hours between flights - I arrived from Boise an hour ago and will be headed to Phoenix in a little while.

When I'm away on these trips it's like the world as I know it doesn't exist. Being surrounded by trees and mountains and nature for as far as the eye can see puts things into a unique perspective. The sad fact of the matter is that I've got a number of significant things to address over the next few weeks so I'm well aware that my escape from it all was only temporary. Much needed, to be sure, but temporary.

A highlight of the trip for me was our hike on Friday. It was probably one of the most significant hikes I've done in years. As I mentioned yesterday it was 6 miles each way and increased in elevation over 3,000 feet. It was a physical and mental test, in a way, with the end goal being a lake tucked way back into the mountains that we hoped would provide some opportunities for some good photos.

We got to the trailhead shortly before 10am in sunny, comfortably warm weather. Over the course of the day the mountains would become engulfed by storms not once but twice and we experienced wind, thunder, rain, and hail - and then it would all blow over at it would be sunny again. It was wild.

Each of us had a backpack that had to weigh 40 pounds or more. It was filled with water, food, camera gear, and some extra stuff but I have no idea how it weighed so much. After carrying it for the entire 12 miles my back, shoulders, and neck were more than ready to be done. My legs had about had it, too. I'm happy to report that I'm only a fraction as sore as I thought I might be. All I can say is that it's a good thing I'm in pretty good shape because I can't imagine attempting that without having done some kind of physical training.

The trail was exactly the kind of trail I like. It was well marked and provided a steady climb into the mountains. As we got higher the trees got more sparse, and smaller. The views were wonderful. And, then there was snow. Even at this time of year there's quite a bit of snow up there to the point where the only way we'd know how to find the trail was to follow footprints of people who had come before us. The snow was waist deep in places and it's a good thing we only sunk into it a few times.

It took us four hours to get to the lake. It was well worth the effort. The view at the lake was spectacular, and the angry skies looming in the distance made the photography all the more dramatic. Of course, those same skies opened up on us shortly after we started back down the trail. Anyway, I haven't had time to upload many photos yet but here are a couple from my smaller camera:

It was wonderful.

Yesterday we did a short hike to a waterfall, and spent most of the rest of the day driving. We had a couple of hundred miles to cover to get to Boise where we spent the night. We marked our last evening together by cleaning up, going out to a nice dinner followed by a very pleasant walk, and I had one of the best sleeps I've had in a while. Sometimes you don't realize how tired you are until you let your guard down. The combination of getting up at 5am to take advantage of the early morning light for photos, very busy full days, and getting to bed late took a toll.

This morning she dropped me off at the airport and went on her way, and here I am - halfway back to Phoenix.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Amazing so far

I expect that this will be a relatively short entry. It's after midnight and I should be sleeping. Today was another long day and I'm physically exhausted. For some reason I can't fall asleep, tho.

This trip to Oregon has been absolutely wonderful. I'm traveling with the same friend that I went to Glacier National Park with 3 years ago, and for a week of camping and hiking when our car got broken into at Canyonlands last year. We're very travel compatible and share a number of passions most notable of which, for the purposes of this entry, are hiking/camping and photography.

We've done quite a bit of both on this trip. Thursday was dedicated to doing some exploring of small towns near here as well as a spectacular river gorge. At one point we ended up on this incredible adventure down a gravel road from the top of what seems like a mini-Grand Canyon to the bottom where we followed the Grande Ronde River for a while - into Washington State actually - before coming all the way back up and out again. The scenery was spectacular, the clouds in the distance became stormy and amazing, and all in all it was a fantastic day. I took lots of photos. Here's a candid photo my traveling companion took of me after a day of driving:

Today was hiking day. There is a lake named "Aneroid Lake" that's accessible by a fairly difficult 6 mile (1 way) hike (see a photo someone took in nicer weather here). Each day here starts out sunny but by afternoon there are thunderheads and sheets of rain that engulf the mountains. Today was no different. It was sunny when we started the hike that goes up over 3,000 feet over the 6 mile distance but we stopped to wait out two thunderstorms (one on our way up and the other on our way down) and a bout of hail. We ran into a significant amount of still-deep snow about 2/3 of the way there so (a) finding the trail and (b) keeping our footing slowed us down quite a bit.

When we got to the lake it was spectacular. There were storm clouds all around which made the reflections of the peaks and tall pines even that much more spectacular. It was well worth the hike, although the last several miles seemed to last forever. As I lie in bed and type this my legs hurt, my back and shoulders are sore, and although I'm still in very good shape carrying a 35+ pound pack (stuffed with camera gear, water, snacks, etc.) that far will test even the best athletes. I'm very proud of how we both did, and despite the various aches and pains the hike was well worth it. We got to the trail head at about 10am and finally got back to the car shortly before 6pm. It was a LONG, hard, exhausting day.

We've been up at 5:30am to catch the good early morning light for photos and we don't get to bed until fairly late (my friend did Karaoke at a local bar last night - all I had was a double shot of Jack Daniels) so we make the most out of every hour here. It's hard to believe that we're leaving tomorrow.

The B&B here has been amazing. If anyone wants to come out this way - to northeastern Oregon - don't hesitate to write me and I'll send specifics. Their breakfasts are incredible, the entire house is immaculate, the rooms and the services are awesome, the location couldn't be better, and the people who run it are just amazing. We've had the best time here and would recommend it to anyone and everyone.

There's something fun about B&B's. I was doing the guest recovery house for Dr. Meltzer for several years so I had a taste of what having short-term guests is like. On a side note - I was hoping to start up the recovery house again and we had started the process of making that happen but it suddenly died and hasn't been discussed for several months. Although I think it's a wonderful opportunity to make the surgery "experience" in Scottsdale more enjoyable I'm disappointed to think that it's not going to be available again. C'est la vie, I guess. That could certainly change but if you're coming to Scottsdale to see the Doctor and want something other than a hotel feel free to write to me. There are always options....

On our entire hike today we only ran into 2 different couples. One was an almost picture-perfect man and woman with their dog. He was handsome and she was pretty - they were both in shape, and the puppy seemed to be having a wonderful time. We bumped into them on the snow up near the lake and they seemed like the "perfect" couple. Oh - that each of us could find that. Anyway, although we were very tired and very ready to be at the lake by that point we stood and chatted for a few minutes before heading our separate ways. Meeting them energized us and helped make the last half hour go by quicker for some reason.

If my photos come out nearly as well when they're loaded onto my hard drive as they appeared thru my viewfinder I'll have some very special prints. Speaking of prints, some have asked where I find the time/money to do these kinds of things. I perceive these trips to be active efforts to plan for the future because many of the photos I've taken will become part of my portfolio. I've written in the past that my passion is photography so getting that effort off the ground - which is something I'm actively working to do - involves going places and getting amazing photos. This trip has been a smashing success in that regard.

Believe it or not there's already a Donna Rose doing photography ( so I'll have to be a bit more creative when I give it a name. That's probably not a bad thing, although it's ironic to have someone with the same name doing the same thing I'd like to do. Anyway - more on that in upcoming weeks. I'm very excited about it all. I'll upload an album of these photos sometime next week after I've had the chance to upload them all to my hard drive. Stay tuned.

Tomorrow we leave here and make the 6 hour drive to Boise, Idaho where I'll catch my plane to fly home on Sunday. The denoument of a vacation can be a bummer. I have high hopes that this trip will continue to amaze until the time I have to get on my plane.

There was an LGBT Reception for Pride Month at the White House yesterday. I've been to White House functions twice over the past year - the Holiday Party and the Easter Egg Roll - and I'm glad to see that the President is actively reaching out to our communities. He's saying all the right things - the real worry is whether or not they'll happen in time before the November elections. I still have faith in him and will defend him as needed.

I think I'm finally ready to sleep so I'll close this now. It's 1:17am and breakfast is scheduled for 7:30 so there's still time for a good night sleep as long as I can finally drift away.

I'll close by sharing that the hike today was a significant accomplishment for me. It was a long, challenging hike spiced by the constant threat of thunderstorms but we did what we set out to do. I'll admit that I was thrilled to see the parking lot - finally - when we finally got down. It's amazing how much a hot shower, some pain meds, a cold beer (I don't usually drink bear but I made an exception tonight), and a little time can do to make a person feel human again.

Trips like this are my building blocks of living life to the fullest. I need to take advantage of them while I can, and I can't thank my friend enough for asking me to come along. This is our 3rd long trip together and I'm already looking forward to a fourth.

Oh - one last thing. Today's hike has emboldened me to do the Grand Canyon from top to bottom sometime soon. If you live in the area, are in good shape, and would be interested in talking about it feel free to drop me a line. The key phrase there is "good shape" as it's a very demanding hike so getting people capable of actually finishing it is important. I'd be happy to discuss with anyone who might want to participate.

Good night. It's way past my bedtime. Time for some Z's.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


As I type this I'm in my sleep clothes, sprawled across a very pleasant bed with a down comforter in a very cute Bed and Breakfast in southeastern Oregon. Getting here involved a couple of flights and a full day of driving - but this is one of those times when the most important aspect is the journey, not the destination.

The drive across Oregon today was just gorgeous. We stopped a number of times to take photos, and the day was capped by wall of showers moving across the mountains followed by a double rainbow and a spectacular sunset. We were almost giddy trying to take photos of it all before it disappeared. And, this was just the first day!

The only significant "issue" so far is that one of my hair products opened and leaked into the plastic bag where I keep my spillables when I travel. Everything else has been wonderful, including this house. There are cookies and brownies on the dining room table downstairs and it's testament to my willpower that I haven't snuck down there a time or two. They looked delicious.

The next couple of days will be filled with hiking, picture taking, and enjoying some quiet time before heading home on Sunday. I got some wonderful pictures today and hope to upload a bunch of them when I get home. If today is any indication I'll have lots to choose from.

As I think back over the last couple of months or so it amazes me how much has happened. I've trained hard to compete against people half my age, traveled to Cleveland and Iowa for my first competition in 30 years, traveled to San Francisco for what turned out to be some fairly significant jaw surgery and am still recovering from that, went to Connecticut twice to speak at events, went to South Carolina to collect things I had there, drove a thousand miles each way to visit my son in Austin and my mom in Dallas, and here I am in a B&B in Oregon. Crazy stuff.

I made a promise to myself to live life to the fullest and feel like I'm doing that. I didn't transition to hide and Lord knows I'm probably more active now in my various "stuff" than I've ever been. People ask me when I'm going to slow down and take a break, but most of this stuff is stuff I actually enjoy doing - I actually caused most of it to happen. In any event, I'm looking forward to some quiet days here although we're planning to meet downstairs at 6am in the morning to get photos of the mountains in the early morning light.

With that - I'll head to bed. Getting "down" time includes a good night sleep. I hope to get one of those tonight. After the day I've had, I think it probably won't be that difficult to achieve.


Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers, and Babies

I went to my first baby shower yesterday. My dear friend and electrologist, Maria, will be becoming a grandmother soon (it feels funny to even write that) so there was a shower for her daughter and their soon-to-be new daughter.

Since I've never been to one of these before (all the husbands were asked to leave when my ex-wife had the baby shower for our son - we were more than happy to oblige). There were all kinds of games, and gifts, and a wonderful group of people. And cute, little girly baby clothes.

When I was at the store, in the baby section, getting all the "stuff" I was amazed to see how things have changed over the years. Needless to say, the baby section that I don't usually walk through so it was interesting to see all the stuff there. I'll admit that it brought back memories. But I'll also admit that now that I'm the parent of a grown child I wouldn't want to go back to the beginning again for nothing....

That leads to today's holiday - Father's Day. It's kind of ironic to go to my first baby shower on one day and then celebrate my own role as a parent the next. The highlight of the day? My son called. And, I thought about my own dad today. There were several other highlights - I went to the fitness center and had a GREAT workout, I went to a friend's for dinner who cooked Jalapeno Chicken (Yum!).

I recorded a brief video blog today.

I got a CD full of photos and video from the Wrestling tournament in Cleveland last month. Many thanks to Chloe for taking all of them, and for sending them along to me. One that I particularly like in my initial review is while I was standing off to the side of the mat waiting for one of my matches.

I dunno why I like it. It's just about as raw a photo of me as you'll find. I just do....

Anyway, tomorrow is another busy day and then I fly to Oregon on Tuesday. I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Inner Child

I sometimes tell people that all you ever needed to know in life is in the animated Pixar classic "Finding Nemo". If I could only keep one single movie - that would be the one. Why? Lots of reasons, but that's a movie I've seen 50 or more times and hope to see 50 more more times.

I went to see Toy Story 3 last night. It was wonderful. I don't generally provide detailed movie reviews here but I'll make an exception here.

I'll admit that I tend to have a perhaps unfair sense of doubt when it comes the the third installment in a series of movies. Often, by then, the creativity and care that made the first in the series wonderful has long since been drained so what's left is a disappointing death march more appropriate for direct to DVD than to a theater. I'm a little concerned that Shrek 3 is on that path....

There are certainly exceptions to this rule. For example, I feel that each of the Bourne movies was great in its own way. Lord of the Rings? That too.

But this movie last night may well have been the best of the already stellar Toy Story series. Although I've already used the word to describe it the one word that comes to mind to describe it is "wonderful". It was another Pixar masterpiece that somehow finds a way to make you laugh and cry, that makes you appreciate the adult messages but also tickles your inner child, and is as visually stimulating, creative, and just generally "fun" as anything you'll see any where any time.

The "score" of this movie on (that's where I go to get information about movies) is 99 - see it here - that's the highest I've ever seen. In my opinion, it's well deserved.

There were a number of trailers for upcoming movies prior to the film that I'm also very much looking forward to seeing.

Here's one:

Here's another one (from Disney):

There were a couple of others, as well. It was a fun night at the movies, and another enjoyable evening with a very special friend.

On a more serious note, I was enjoying my first cup of coffee this morning and there was a story on TV about a young Yale woman who has cancer and is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant. Those kinds of things really move me, and this one did as well. A group of friends have rallied around her to help in a worldwide search for a donor match. They've dubbed it "Become Mandi's Hero" (read about it here):

There's a website for the effort that gives the simple steps to follow to become part of the network of marrow donors (see it here). I'm going to sign up as I'm sure that there are many, many people like Mandi who are in need of donors...

Lastly for this morning, I'm headed to my very first baby shower today. I'll have more on it later, but this is another "first" for me. I'm not quite sure what happens at a baby shower, but I've asked friends and am looking forward to this. A friend who has grown children and I were shopping to buy diapers for the event and we both agreed that we enjoyed our parenthood years when our kids were young, but we're both glad that those years are done.

As Father's Day comes and goes I'm sure I'll spend a little time thinking about my continuing enjoyment of being my son's dad. People can assign whatever words that make them feel comfortable to it but the fact of the matter is that my son has one dad and that's me - it's a role I very much enjoyed when he was a kid and it's a role I continue to enjoy today. I'm very much enjoying the opportunity to relate to my son as an adult now but no matter how old he gets (or I get) he'll always be my little man. Anyway - I'm sure that I'll have some of those flashback moments to my own experience of being an expecting parent today.....

Gotta go. Lots to do before the baby shower. :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Not Afraid

This morning I got a call from the doctor's office. Apparently they got the results of my neck X-Rays and were calling to tell me that the doctor needs to see me to discuss them. That's like being asked to go into your manager's office and to close the door behind you - it's generally not a good thing. I went to see him this afternoon.

He didn't have the X-Rays, but he had the analysis. It included (a) chronic arthritis in my neck and (b) recent muscle trauma. I knew about the arthritis so that's no shocker. However I was surprised that they could glean muscle trauma from an X-ray but apparently they can. The words I was concerned I'd hear included fracture or rupture or tear, and none of those were to be found. Thank God. The treatment includes anti-inflamatories (ibuprofin), heat, and rest while the muscle heals. It could have been far worse.

My BP was good. My weight was good, too. I've gained back most of the ten pounds I lost to get to my skinniest, lowest weight a week ago. I'm exactly where my body likes to be and where it finds a healthy balance point. I plan to stay here until there's a reason to leave.

One of the things that has made an impression on me these last couple of days is the comfort I have felt here in the Valley being around friends. Yesterday was a good example. I've known the service guy at the car dealership (the good guy, not the guy who gave me crap on Tuesday) since I first bought my car and we've got a good rapport. I stopped by to see the always wonderful Maria, and a good friend was sitting in the waiting area. An online friend sent me some roses at her office....

I had dinner with good friends and even graduated up a notch in my sushi-ness - I ordered seared Mahi sushimi. And, there was a fun little meeting with a guy parked next to me who needed to flirt a little and show me his muscular calves.

And, this morning, although getting a call from your doctor that he wants to see you is probably not the best way to start the day I've been with my doctor since the earliest days of my transition so there's a significant comfort level there, as well. I'm sitting in a Borders as I type this waiting for rush hour traffic to thin a bit before heading back across the Valley to get home.

I'm going to my first baby shower ever on Saturday and am looking forward to seeing other friends there. Another friend and I are going to the movies this weekend and I'm talking with still another about getting together for dinner on Monday. All in all - the comfort level of being around friends can't be underestimated.

I'm generally not a fan of rap music but the latest Eminem song has some lyrics I can so identify with. It's titled "Not Afraid":
It's been a ride
I guess I had to go to that place to get to this one....
Now, some of you might still be in that place
you're trying to get out
Just follow me - I'll get you there
...ain't no way I'm
gonna let you stop me from causing mahem
When I say I'm
gonna do something I do it
I don't give a damn what you think
I'm doing this for me
so f*ck the world
Feed it beans - it's gassed up
You think you're stoppin' me
I'mma be what I set out to be
without a doubt
And all those who look down on me
I'm tearing down your balcony...

I'm not afraid
to take a stand
come take my hand
We'll walk this road together
through the storm
Whatever weather
cold or warm
Just let you know that
you're not alone
Holla if you feel like
you've been down the same road...

Several annual calendar "events" happen over the next few days. The first official day of summer is right around the corner. Weather here in the Valley is consistently 104 and sunny - every day. Later next week it'll heat up to 107 or 108 but when you get this warm a couple of degrees doesn't really matter all that much. We've got 8% humidity so the days are actually fairly comfortable. I've got no complaints in that regard.

Father's Day is around the corner, too. Several years ago I did an interview with someone from some news service about Father's Day. He was interested in talking to me as a transgender person, and about how my son and I celebrated it. Anyway - he writes to me every year around this time to talk about it again, and again, and again. I ignore the requests because it just sensationalizes something that transcends the simplistic words and concepts that they use to try to explain it. We've got way too much of that going on as it is...

Speaking of press, I'm still on the Board of Directors for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC). We recently made news by severing our relationship with McDonalds (see details here). It was only a couple of years ago when we had a VP from McDonalds on our board and there was a brou-ha-ha over that (see details here). AFA called for a boycott and shortly afterwards the VP resigned from the board and McDonalds ended support for the NGLCC (more details). Anyways, I don't expect that this is over yet....

Lastly, I chatted with a friend from high school tonight. There's a reunion to celebrate my high school's 70th birthday in Buffalo this weekend and although I'd really like to be there the reality is that I've got too many things going on and just can't make it. Darn. Anyway, this friend and I haven't spoken since 1976 - it has been a LONG time - but she's one of the people I've been hoping to reconnect with. It was GREAT to chat with her, and I look forward to seeing her next time I'm back in Western NY.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I registered to compete in the Gay Games in Cologne, Germany late next month today. With all the craziness of the past few weeks I missed the original deadline so thanks to the "late registration" process and the help of some friends I'm locked and loaded. I'm actually pretty stoked about this.

I've never been to Europe before. In fact, I've never been off this continent. And whereas I'd love to turn this trip into a much longer visit I don't expect that's in the cards. I haven't even started looking at airfare prices and other expenses so I'll need to be realistic about what can and can't happen while I'm there this time.

Getting to Europe is on my "Bucket List" of things to do during my lifetime but make no mistake - I hope that this is the first of several visits.

And, my Gay Games experience from 2006 was just a whole lot of fun. I posted a Gay Games Diary from our time there - I can't believe that was 4 years ago already. It includes other events that happened in Chicago while I was there, as well - several very special memories.

Today I followed up on my car situation and, thankfully, ended up getting "satisfaction". The entire story is too long and mundane to share so all I'll say is that I'm comfortable with the outcome. I don't know why something that should be simple needed to get so difficult but I wasn't going to let this go.

I also went to my neck X-Ray appointment. One of the x-rays they took was of the first vertebrae, which they take through your open mouth. Yeesh. Anyway, they're going to send them to the doctor in the next couple of days so I'll schedule an appointment to look at them with him on Monday.

Next week I'm going to disappear for several days. A friend and I are getting away and I'm planning to take that opportunity to unplug as best I can. After a very busy last several weeks the opportunity to disappear for a little while is more than a little alluring.

I received an email yesterday acknowledging that I'll be doing a workshop at the Southern Comfort Conference (SCC) in Atlanta in September so I expect I'll be there for my 7th straight year. I'm also scheduled to present at the TransOhio Conference in August (details here).

I'd write more but I'm tired and ready for bed. Sometimes the day catches up with me. This is one of those days....


Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I have no idea where the days go. When I think back over everything that I accomplished it seems as though I've been busy busy busy.

There are those who would tell me that going to the fitness center is a "luxury", or something that they don't have time to do. In my world it's a priority, a necessity - I remember watching my father slowly deteriorate from the effects of his diabetes and decided that anything I could do to delay or prevent the onset of a similar fate in my own life was worth it. As far as I'm concerned my own best defense is physical fitness so the time I spend working out is an investment in my continued quality of life. It really is that simple.

Of course, the wrestling part of the picture would seem to contradict that because it involves pushing and bruising and crunching of necks - all of which should NOT be part of a "healthy" lifestyle. Speaking of which - I have an appointment for a neck X-Ray in the morning. I'm not expecting anything terribly bad other than the fact that I'm getting older but it's a precaution worth taking.

The night I got hurt I wrote that my competitive wrestling career is over. I reserve the right to rescind that heat-of-the-moment comment at some future time.....

I got an interesting email today from someone who apparently has one of my old cell phone numbers. I change them pretty much every year so I'm pretty much a moving target in that regard. Part of it is just that I'm in different parts of the country at any point in time. Anyway, this person made the effort to track me down and said that I had received at least a couple dozen calls over the past few weeks to encourage me during my "hard times". I really appreciated that this person took the time to try to find me and contact me. I'm told that there was even a singing telegram in Italian - I know who that was. And, apparently, it wasn't even real Italian. :)

One CD I seem to be listening to quite a bit lately is the latest by John Mayer. I've featured a couple of his songs here in previous posts (one of his older songs that has particular meaning for me is "Say" from the movie The Bucket List). The song from his latest effort that I'm currently finding to have the deepest meaning is titled "War of My Life". As with most of the songs with which I feel a deeper connection, the lyrics of this one have special significance:
I'm in the War of My Life
At the door of my life
Out of time and there's nowhere to run.

I'm in the war of my life
At the core of my life
Got no choice but to fight til it's done...

No more suffering, no more pain
Never again......

Good stuff.

Tomorrow is another full day. Early morning Oil change. X-Ray. Training session at Apple. Dinner with friends. I hope to get a run in there sometime, or a hike.

I've got a couple of trips coming up as well. And, some friends visiting from out of state....

I said before that I refuse to live out the rest of my life in a cubicle. It'd be relatively easy to retreat to the safety (and the money) there. I'm doing my best to break free. I really am. But it's not as easy as you'd think. Thus - some of the relevance of today's song....

Sunday, June 13, 2010


I wrote this last night:

I met up with a group of Facebook friends from around the Omaha area for brunch today. It was the first time I've been able to eat without worrying about what I'm putting in my mouth for weeks. In a word - it was wonderful. I'll get back to being more disciplined when I'm home again but today was a day to re-balance and that's what I did. And, I don't feel a bit guilty about it. And, it was wonderful to be able to spend some relaxing time with some really cool people. I had a great time....

If all had gone according to plan I'd be landing in Phoenix right about now but as usual things didn't go as planned. After they boarded the plane from Omaha to Denver they announced that it was broken and told us all to get back off and make other arrangements. So, after considerable effort that I don't feel like re-telling in all its painful detail, I've got reservations in the morning and we'll try it again. Thanks again to Meredith for coming back to save the day. This is the 3rd or 4th time this has happened to me in the last year - thankfully I wasn't stuck in some strange city or stuck on a park bench.

We took the scenic route back from the airport and Omaha is actually quite the pretty city. I really enjoy having the opportunity to actually "visit" some of the places that I go these days and the drive back from the airport provided the opportunity to get to see things I wouldn't otherwise have seen. I really enjoyed it.

Today's update:

I'm back home today. And, as they say, there's no place like home. I've spent the better part of the afternoon catching up on things and haven't moved off this couch more than a couple of times. It's nice to have a little time to relax.

I recently learned that my wrestling exploits were featured on a website called "" (see it here). The website itself shows some pretty interesting muscle pics. I've got a few pics of my triceps from a few weeks before I lost all that weight for Nationals that I'm sure they'd just love. I can't help but smile. And - I actually have no problem with it. As I said in one of my other recent posts I've always been athletic and my body is happier when it's toned and tuned.

I spent some time on the plane today writing out some of my thoughts on recent events. Specifically - what happened over this past weekend and the bigger picture of things. I've said before and I'll say again that writing is probably my own best therapy. It just helps to get things out of your head and into words that you can read and digest and consider. That probably makes no sense to anyone but me but it has helped me for a long, long time and is probably the root of why I wrote what became a book and why I continue to write what I write here on my blog.

While I was on the plane today I also watched the movie Avatar. Again. The entire movie is something I could talk for hours about.....

Blogs seems to be more "interesting" when there is a visual component so I'll share a pic that I took a while ago.

The theme of the photo is about blending in. I can say that because I took the photo so I get to decide the theme. :)

The irony is that there was a time when that was all I ever wanted. I just wanted to blend in - to be just like everyone else. And, I thought that my transition was the best way to achieve that. What I didn't know at the time was that it's not what I really wanted at all. Furthermore, that my transition would eventually do more to help me appreciate being a unique blend than of being any one thing who looks and talks and thinks the same as everyone else. I've got no time for that.

There are a few things on Facebook that are a little "odd" besides some of the people there. For example, on the right hand side of my screen it suggests new "friends" based on shared friends that we have in common, and I've had more than one interesting surprise there. It also recommends that I "connect" with people who are already friends and at least two of my friends have passed away in the last year - but it still recommends them. I need to make sure that somebody removes me from FB when my time comes....

One last thing for tonight. There's an article in this month's GQ (of all places) titled "New Mike, Old Christine". It's a critically important story that has relevance for all of us, but it hasn't been told well yet. Until now. The entire story isn't available online but it's worth going out and buying this month's issue to read.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bite sized

It's mid-morning on Saturday and I'm sipping on my third cup of coffee after a breakfast of French Toast and blueberries. Thanks to Meredith and her wife for their wonderful hospitality while I've been here - they've been amazing. The fun thing about these kinds of trips is that often I have friends with whom our patch only cross at conferences or other events around the country. Spending a little "down" time together provides a much better opportunity to spend some quality personal time. This visit has been wonderful in that regard.

I'm moving pretty slowly this morning. Although my neck moves ok in some ways there are specific pain points that when you reach them it quickly reminds you that you're hurt. There's one place in particular that's very sore. The closest thing I can compare this to is probably a car accident although in this case my opponent specifically put pressure on my neck so it took the brunt of the impact. Ouch.

After the exertion of the past few days I got a good night sleep which was much needed. Part of the issue with how I was feeling by last night was physical but part of it was certainly mental and emotional. Having worked as hard as I felt I did and have it end up like that was a bitter pill to swallow. I certainly didn't expect to win but I didn't expect for it to end like that, either. I can be very hard on myself. I'll also admit that it was some combination of resentment mixed with embarrassment/frustration/disappointment to be forced to confront my own physical frailty but I suppose things happen in our lives for reasons. However, the reality of my situation is that I like to think I'm wiser than I was at earlier stages of my life and I had nothing more to prove.

As I mentioned yesterday my first opponent in the day was the US Olympian in my weight class in 2008. I went to her website to look at some of the photos from her Olympic experience (see it here). It looks like it was quite the wonderful time. I was talking with one of the coaches of one of the women's teams about the fact that recognition of women's wrestling as a legitimate sport all its own is a fairly recent thing. Oh - I so wish that I was 25 years younger than I am.

The name of the woman who won my weight class is Stephany. She also won at the Nationals and I can't imagine anyone beating her except herself. Watching her wrestle is to watch her approach it in a very workmanlike, direct way. She gets herself into trouble but has an uncanny way of getting out of it, or better yet of turning a challenge into an opportunity. One second it'll look like she's in trouble because she's given up a leg or seems to be in a bind but the next she's somehow on top. It's really extraordinary and seems like a good way to approach life in general. Here's an interview with her last year (see it here).

I like her style.

I know friends who would have wanted to get into ballet or gymnastics or other more "traditional" girly things had they had the opportunity while growing up. I doubt that I would have been a girly girl even if I had been born that way. I can attest first hand that I've competed against the best athletes in this country in this sport and they are tremendous, well-trained, focused competitors in every sense of the word.

There is more wrestling today over in Council Bluffs but I'm done. I watched the finals last night and will spend today resting. My friends are in the other room watching World Cup soccer - I'll admit to having little or no interest. I may go for a walk or for a drive to see some of the local sights but that'll be the extent of my exertion today.

Tomorrow we're planning to get a group of local friends together for brunch, and then I fly back to Phoenix later in the day. When I wake up on Monday I'll start to make decisions about what comes next - I've got several things a-brewing. I approach life in bite size chunks these days so it's time to start considering what that next bite will be.

Friday, June 11, 2010


Resilient: (adj.) 1. Marked by the ability to recover readily, as from misfortune. 2. recovering readily from adversity, depression, or the like.

As I type this I'm sitting in the stands at the US National Team Wrestling Trials in Council Bluffs, Iowa. They are introducing the finalists with spotlights, music, and all that associated pomp and circumstance that is appropriate for the best of the best in this sport in this country.

Most of these athletes are "kids" - of the 4 that are on in the finals on the mat as I type this three are 23 years old and one is 28. That's the oldest athlete other than me that I've seen here.

I wrestled one of the finalists in my weight class earlier today. Her name is Ali Bernard and she is the most recent representative of the US Olympic team in my weight class (she finished 4th in Bejing). She has a long list of impressive accomplishments in the sport. She beat the previous Olympic team member (Iris) - who I faced in the Nationals - after beating me earlier today. It will be interesting to see how she does in the Finals against someone I've never seen anyone even score a point against.

I have been injured several times over the course my life, although thankfully none of them have been very serious. I don't count my brush with melanoma last year as an "injury" per se, but growing up and playing football and wrestling I've had my fair share of bumps and bruises. I broke my nose one year playing football. I've dislocated both thumbs. I've certainly had my fair share of medical procedures and recoveries. But I don't know that anything equalled the pain or the sense of concern that I felt this morning when my neck was put into an awkward position and cracked with a subsequent stab of pain during my first match here.

I'm a pretty sturdy person - certainly few would describe me as "frail" even though I'm a fraction of what I once was in terms of size or thickness. The friend I'm staying with here has used the word "resilient" to describe me more than once in recent days and I'll agree that's true. I'm a very resilient person.

But - as far as my body is concerned - I'll admit that I've got one significant weak spot. My neck. My neck and back and shoulders creak and ache and make all kinds of clicking sounds that they never used to make. I've just accepted that as part of getting older. But I've done my best to protect myself and in day to day life the most significant strain on my neck is doing sudoku puzzles on a plane for hours on end. And, as I entered this wrestling competition I'll be honest that my most significant concern wasn't my neck - it was my jaw.

I'm not sure what I'll remember more - the sickening cracking noise in my neck just below where the skull intersects with the spine, or the pain of it. The crack happened first, and as soon as that happened - all bets were off. I was done. My coach walked me to the medical tend where they made me lie face down and put ice on it. We checked to make sure I was ok in my toes and my fingers. And I cried.

To make a long story short - as far as we can tell my injury wasn't skeletal - it was muscle. I'm still not sure that I agree with that prognosis - we'll see how it feels in a few days. But what I do know is that it hurts. The doctor eventually put me in something to keep my neck stationary and the best they could do to help in terms of drugs was a couple of Motrin. They've checked on me a couple of times and I've got about 50% of my full range of motion in my neck. That's what you get when you play with the big dogs....

Still - even with that - as I sit here tonight watching these athletes compete in the Finals I'm OK with how things have ended up - both in this tournament and overall. I've had a couple of people who have seen me compete come up to check on me and say that they hope I'll be back again next year - I'm not planning on that. But if there is any message from any of this it's not to be afraid to do, and that winning isn't necessarily measured in points or scores. I said yesterday that I feel honored to even be here and I do. What happened today hasn't diminished that in any way. If you're going to live life to the fullest then you need to accept that there are risks involved and that's just the way it is.

What I do know is that now that this temporary insanity has passed it's time to move on to something new. My body will be much happier when I gain the 6 or 8 pounds that I've forced myself to lose to make weight - I've been way too skinny lately. And I'll be happier to NOT have so many aches and pains. Somehow - hiking, camping, photography, just getting away - all those things seem very appealing to me right now. Recent weeks have been full of intense training and competition, surgery and recovery, travels around the country, significant personal changes, and any number of other things.

All things considered, I think one of the traits I'm most thankful for is that I'm resilient. What other choice is there?

Well, as I close this entry for tonight Stephanie Lee has won my weight class (women's freestyle 72 kg). They interviewed her right after her match about who her inspirations have been to help her get to this point. She named a number of people, including her father and her coach. And, her girlfriend. Rock on.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Tonight I'm in Omaha, Nebraska. I'm staying with friends here in preparation for the US World Team Trials across the river in Council Bluffs, Iowa over these next few days.

Today was the first "down" day in quite a while - if you can call getting up at 3:15am, catching a 6am flight, and flying halfway across the country "down" time. But it was the first day that I haven't done a sit-up, gotten a bruise, ended up on a stair-climber or a treadmill, climbed a mountain, or otherwise done something physical in quite a while. I needed the break.

At some point this afternoon I lay down on my bed in the fetal position and woke up several hours later. Now THAT was much needed.

I brought my scale with me and just before dinner I was almost exactly on weight which is where I want to be. We'll see how it looks in the morning, but I'm already planning to do a light workout workout in the morning so dropping a pound or two if I need to isn't a big deal. These last two nights I've gotten home from my workouts and have been totally exhausted. It's nice to NOT feel that way tonight.

I've got a headgear that I didn't use in the last tournament but usually use during practice. Last night I sparred for a while without it and the guy I was wrestling with kneed on my hair and a big clump of it came ripping out. Ouch. I''m thinking that there will be a headgear in my future from this time on.

My goals for this tournament are relatively modest, I think. First and foremost I hope that neither I nor any of my opponents get hurt. If you watch the video of the finals at the Nationals you'll see people all taped up and bloody. One of the women finalists separated her shoulder during her match. It can get pretty messy to force someone's body into positions it doesn't want to go in.

As with the Nationals I'd like to win a match. Or better yet - two. But they key to this entire thing is that (a) many of these athletes are very, very talented (b) having to compete several times in the same day is harder as you get older and (c) I'm a realist. It's cliche to say "just being here is a victory" but in this case it's very true. I can think of so many reasons why I shouldn't be here. But here I am.

And, I hope that things stay low-key. I thought they did a great job with things in Cleveland so if they can do similarly here I'll be thrilled.

From the "It's a BIG DEAL" Department, the US Government today announced that surgery is no longer a requirement to getting your gender marker changed on your passport. (Details here). This is a huge deal and is bound to have all kinds of repercussions. It's another of those things that tend to somehow get overlooked in the bigger scheme of things but as far as I'm concerned this is as significant a move as anything currently road blocked in Congress. Congratulations and thanks to all those who worked behind the scenes to make this happen. Make no mistake - this didn't happen by itself.

Time for bed. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I'm Too Sexy....

I chose that title because it's the title of a song from the '80s that I don't mind if I never hear again. But it sure does get people's attention.

One of the questions I was asked at a talk recently is whether or not I had some pre-conception about womanhood, or what living as Donna would be like, at the beginning of my transition and if so how different is my life from those early notions. That was a good question and my answer could probably fill a book.

A second question I was asked was by a reporter who asked whether or not men hit on me at bars. I tried to explain to her that men hit on anything that's blonde with 38D boobs once a little soft lighting and alcohol is applied. She replied that it must be tremendously fulfilling to get that response from men, as though it were some sort of validation of my "womanhood". To that - I told her 'no'. It's not.

People's notions of what's "sexy" are unique and personal. I gave up trying to be traditionally "sexy" a long time ago - I found that it's one of those things that if I need to try to make it happen it just feels awkward and silly. I got an email from Victoria's Secret today and the model on there - now SHE looked sexy. But me? It's not something I think about, try to do, try to be, or otherwise consider in my day-to-day life. Others can worry about looking sexy in a short skirt and heels. As for me - I'll worry about keeping my face (and my pride) intact at the US World Team Trials this weekend. Sexy can wait.

Unless, of course, you find finely toned women athletes wrestling with other women athletes to be sexy. If that's the case - you'll be in heaven this weekend. Winners of this tournament wrestle at the World Championships in Moscow....

As I type this it's almost 9:30pm and I need to pack so I can get to bed. My flight leaves at 6am which means I need to leave the house by a little after 4 to get there in time. Yuck. The good news is actually the same as the bad news which is that I'm lighter right now that at any time in my adult life (my body HATES this). When I got back from practice tonight I had almost 4 pounds to spare which is very, very light for me. It means two things, though. First, is that I can eat and drink in moderation over the next couple of days. Thank God. Second, I don't plan to do another workout between now and the event on Friday. I'm done. I'm tired and worn out from doing this for days on end and need to re-energize so that's what I'm gonna do. And - that's that.

No matter what happens, I can't thank the group at Sunkist Kids and ASU enough for their help these last few days, and over through this entire effort. I'm the only person locally who is competing this weekend (but my coach will be there) so they've gone out of their way to make life difficult for me and work me hard. Although I'm paying for it now I'll appreciate it in the long run. They're a great group and everyone offered best wishes as we all went our separate ways after practice this evening. One of the best parts of being involved in organized sports is the esprit-de-corps between athletes. That's really important, because standing out in the middle of that mat prior to the beginning of a match can be a lonely, lonely place. And then - all hell breaks loose.

If all goes as planned, I'll be in Omaha at this time tomorrow and it will be the last sane evening for a few days. Onwards. And upwards.

Monday, June 7, 2010

How Far....

I still can't believe it's June already. 2010 is almost half done. How can that possibly be?

There's an Op/Ed story in the NY Times today that I find to be particularly interesting and timely. It's titled "Is Any Job Better Than No Job?" It's a more complex question than it might first appear, but in my particular circumstance it's very timely right now.

I've talked in the past about how important it is to measure progress not by how far you have left to go but by how far you've come. I spent some time this morning reflecting on the many things that have already happened this year alone and it's pretty crazy. No wonder I'm needing naps. :)

I settled back into the Phoenix area in January. I spent several days in San Francisco and Napa with a friend in February, and my mother and sister came to visit for my birthday. I started to train seriously to do wrestling in March and competed at the US Nationals in Cleveland in April. Now I'm ranked 8th in the country and will participate in the National Team Trials later this week. I never expected any of that....

I went to the Easter Egg Roll at the White House in April. I had surgery on my jaw in last month and have been recovering slowly but surely from that. I have given talks at UCLA, Harrisburg PA, in Tulsa OK, at the University of Connecticut, and at Norwalk CT in recent weeks. Things in my personal and professional life have changed considerably - both of which have required some some significant readjustments. I'm sure I can think of several more big things but that's quite the load for less than 6 months. Funny thing is - I'm still not sure where it's all leading yet either.

Yesterday morning I met my friend Renee to hike Camelback Mountain. Camelback is one of those things I've heard that others have done but in all the years I've lived here I've passed it a hundred times but never took the time to hike it. Until yesterday. Thanks to Renee for her prompting to make that happen....

I often post photos of my hikes up Squaw Peak which is several miles from Camelback. But Camelback is in the middle of Scottsdale/Paradise Valley and is an icon for as far as the eye can see. Yesterday's hike was more physically demanding than I anticipated in that there were sections where you're actually scrambling up sections of steep rock more than you'd typically associate with a "hike". It was a mile and a half from the packed parking area at the base to the summit and very much a test of aerobic health and leg muscles. The key at this time of year is to get done before it gets to be anywhere near noon because getting stuck out there, with no shade, in 110+ heat would be dangerous.

Anyway, it was wonderful. I had a blast. Here's a photo of a sun-drenched, sweat-soaked me on the summit with the panorama of the Valley in the background.

And, there's a little video slideshow I posted on Facebook.

I think you need to be a "Friend" on FB to see it....

As for my training - the best news is that I'm already at my weight. YAAY! I was at the gym by 8am for what I'd consider a "light" 90-minute workout and weighed myself a little while ago. I'm almost 3 pounds under my limit which means I can indulge myself a little over these next few days. I envision some chicken, a little pasta, a small salad, and a glass of white wine for dinner. That's a big step ahead of last time when I was sucking water weight and energy on a treadmill in a plastic suit for two days. I was light-headed, energy drained, tired, and generally FAR from my best by the time I finally got to step on that scale (if you watch the video that Chloe did you'll see how relieved I was to realize I made weight). I was actually dreading having to do that again so I cautiously optimistic that I have avoided that fate this time around. Fingers crossed....

I fly to Omaha early on Wednesday. Registration, physicals and weigh-in is on Thursday afternoon. Then, wrestling in my division starts bright and early Friday and continues all day long. I got an email from the tournament officials indicating that they're considering a rule change that would only ensure only 15 minutes of rest between matches instead of 30. I hope that's not something I need to actually experience as the hardest part of being my age isn't running out of gas in the middle of a match - it's keeping reserves of energy for later. Wrestling 3 or 4 matches in a day is grueling - it really is - so getting as much time between them to recover would be important. And, maybe catching a short nap. :)

One thing I've learned from all of this is the value of energy drinks. Coach saw how much I was dragging when I'd come to practice after having already spent a couple of hours at the gym trying to sweat off weight so he said many of the athletes use them. They work.

I think I'm going to make a little video diary of this entire experience starting later today. Lord knows if I'll ever be this way again so at the very least it should be interesting to capture it all. Although I'm already at weight I've got 90 minutes of wrestling training and drills later today and again tomorrow in a building that gets God-awful-HOT when it's 110 degrees outside. Oy.

I've come to a sense of peace that whatever is going to happen is going to happen. Me training longer or harder than I can over these next few days won't change the outcomes. The thing that will affect outcomes is some combination of skill, strategy, heart, and some level of luck. And God. I'm as physically ready as I can be at this stage so the key for me is to nourish my heart and my mind.

I'll close this entry by re-iterating what an honor it is to be able to do this. How many times in life do we have opportunities to revisit passions from former times? In this case, to be physically and mentally prepared and able to compete at this level at this stage of my life continues to blow my mind. Whereas the safe thing would be to put my medal from Cleveland on my shelf and be satisfied with what happened there, that's just not my way. I've got some unfinished business to take care of. But more than that - to NOT do this would be a regret and for someone whose goal is to live a life without regrets, and who has sacrificed as much as I have in that pursuit, that would be unacceptable.

Most people have no idea of how difficult this is - to dedicate the time and the energy and emotion to step out there alone - one on one - as someone "different" who actually deserves to be there. It's overwhelming sometimes. It really is. Some of us are destined to take the road less travelled. We just are. It can be a lonely journey sometimes, but one well worth taking.

Let there be no question, though, that I'm doing this for me. I'm not making a big deal of many of the unique traits that make me unique, or that are "firsts". I don't need or want that attention as it's just more pressure. Lord knows I've already got enough of that. My coach and I had a discussion early on about how this was a personal quest and it is and I'll let my performance do the talking. But it's just like my writing in that it takes on a life of its own in others who read it or connect with it because there are many of us who feel as I do. The bottom line is that there is no reason to expect less out of ourselves or out of life because of circumstance and that's true here. Anything that happens will happen because I've taken the risk to get involved, because I've totally invested myself to prepare, and because in the bigger picture this brings something full circle in my life.

This is one of those times in life when you'll be called upon to prove to yourself that you truly believe some of the higher ideals that you think you do by putting them into action. Or not. Either way, these kinds of things are tests of character so regardless of the outcomes I'll be ready and I'll find a way to be a peace with it. I started something that's not finished yet, so I'll continue to do my part and see this through.

I've been including music videos that have pertinence to me for one reason or another in my blog entries lately. I'll include one today that won't allow me to embed it so if you want to see it you'll have to go thru the trouble of going to YouTube - it's worth the effort. I had a friend in town visiting over the past week and we watched Katy Perry Unplugged on MTV a couple of days ago and I was totally mesmerized by this side of her talent. One song in particular caught my attention, especially when compared to other versions of it I've heard. I just seems and "feels" so personal, so I'd like to feature it here. It's titled "Lost" (see it here).


Saturday, June 5, 2010

A Bushel and a Peck

I'm watching Julie and Julia again tonight. It's just such a cute movie. The first time I saw it was on an airplane, and that's part of what made it such an enjoyable experience for me. Here's the song from the movie that's playing as I type this - it's not my typical "Song of the Day" but I enjoy changing things up sometimes:

My mom is so cute. When I visit her she often gives me dresses that she thinks would look good on me. Some of them actually even do. Typically, they have shoulder pads so the first thing I do it rip them out. Bigger shoulders is the last thing I need. I also need a tailor to take some of them in. But I've got a half dozen of them in my closet that need some attention. Maybe I'll find some time to take care of it when I get back from Iowa.

Life this week is all about balance. The original word I typed there was "focus" but after some thought I erased it because although that's certainly an important component it's not all there is. I'm a work hard/play hard kind of person and the key to this entire week is far more about balancing the many things that need to happen physically/mentally/spiritually/emotionally than anything.

I was up at 5:08 am this morning and was on an eliptical trainer getting my heart rate upwards of 140 for a full hour by 8, wearing a sweatshirt to shed as much liquid as possible. Needless to say, by noon I needed a nap. I was beat. I'm not a kid any more.....

Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend for an early morning hike at 7am. She promises that this hike will provide a good cardio workout and I have no doubt that she's right. She even talked "smack" to me - something people rarely do - so we'll see how it goes.

Afterwards I'm meeting several other friends for "brunch" at noon. If my balance comes to pass there will be a Mimosa involved.

Then, I hope to find someone to spar with at the ASU Wrestling Facility by late afternoon. It'll be hotter than Hades in there tomorrow. If it all goes as planned - which it never does - I'm going to be bushed by this time tomorrow.

I think "training" is a synonym for "punishment" as it's some combination of discipline, pain, test, pushing limits, mind over body, and desire. This particular sport has the unique addition of making weight as part of the equation which makes it even more sinister. But - it is what it is and now that I've set my sights on actually competing there I'll do what I need to do to be as ready as I can be.

There is preview of my weight class online at the official event website (read it here). The first sentence says it all:
This weight class may be the deepest and most talented in the women’s event.
And, it's not because I'm there (that's meant to be a joke). There are some very accomplished athletes there who have competed successfully at the highest levels - nationally and internationally. And rather than feeling overwhelmed (as I probably should) I'm looking forward to competing against the best. I only wish I was 30 years younger right now...

I'll admit that it's strange to see your name listed among world champions, Olympic medal winners, and other renown names in this sport. The important thing for me is that - even someone at my age with my background can earn the right to compete at this level. And - I'll be there. Or, I should say - all of my selves will be there.

Based on the most recent Official rankings that came out today - I'm ranked 8th in the country right now (details here - I'm in the Women's Freestyle 72kg Division). That just blows me away. And, I'd be less than honest in saying that my goal in this coming tournament is to move up.

In my book I mentioned several guiding rules for living: (1) Don't allow fear to rule your life (2) manage your expectations (3) experience everything (4) dignity is non-negotiable. All come into play this week just as they do pretty much every week. They don't go away. And, all will be at the forefront of my mind as whatever happens happens.

Friday, June 4, 2010


A week from today I'll be competing in Sioux Falls, Iowa at the largest competitive event in my life. Although I think I'm approaching things realistically my focus for the next week will be to prepare, travel, make weight, and compete. When I walk out onto the mat next Friday I'm comfortable that I'll be as ready as I can be.

I can be very focused and this entire thing will require tremendous focus. I don't know that anyone - even me - really understands what this is going to be like. Good thing, too, because I think I'd find it unnerving. Right now I'm just focused on being ready.

I went to wrestling practice at ASU for the past two days and ended up with a cut on my cheek, a poked eye, a half dozen bruises, and some close calls to my jaw. Thank God for Arnica. Still, tonight I'm pretty generally sore and tired - these kinds of workouts involve muscles you didn't even know you had....

For some reason the last couple of days have also been empowering and positive. I generally try to avoid doing two days of training in a row. To be honest, at this age it takes a while for the body and the muscles to recover from the intense workouts but this is crunch time. Today I did an hour of spinning class and there was a puddle around me by the time the hour was over....

As of this morning I was 5 pounds over my weight limit which is pretty much where I need to be. But it won't be a fun week - I can tell u that. There will be a plastic suit involved at some point.

I don't plan to talk much about it all except for here - on my blog. I don't need extra attention focused it and figure this is pretty much contained. As with the event in Cleveland I'm focusing on this as an athlete first and everything else second. My enjoyment and respect for the sport, the athletes involved, and the people from here in Phoenix who have helped me train make me just another competitor, albeit with unique obstacles to overcome. It will all play itself out as it will and my expectations are realistic, I think.

Weather here in the Valley hits high gear this weekend. The high today was 103 degrees but they're talking 110+ temps by the end of the weekend. It's 9:30 at night as I type this and still 90 degrees (humidity is 15%). They said on the news that June is typically the hottest month here which I found interesting. I typically don't get tired of the heat until sometime in July - by then it's time to cool off.

Friends in other parts of the country look like they'll be having an interesting next few months, as well. Forecasters are calling for one of the most active hurricane seasons ever (read story here). I can't imagine what that will be like when it starts to churn all the goop spilling from the oil pipeline in the Gulf. The scenes are just horrific....

Healing is coming along although half of my chin is still as numb as a stone. Today is the 5-week mark and I'm continuing to hope it all comes back. Anyone who gets any facial work done will learn that the chin takes extra time to heal from swelling and general "trauma". I've only bitten my lip a couple of times so I'm being extra careful. I hope it all starts to come back soon. It just comes with the territory.

All in all I'm feeling pretty upbeat for some reason tonight. Of course, each day is a new adventure and things can certainly change but I'm feeling pretty good. For now.

The last 6 weeks have been full of emotional high highs and low lows. Preparing for an event like this requires a significant amount of energy and focus. I expect that, no matter what happens, there will be an emotional let-down after it's all done. I'm ready for that. Then - life goes on.....

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Move Sucka

Despite all the distance we've come collectively as a community in the last ten years one area where I think there's still little or no consensus is on hormones for post-op transsexuals. Especially MTF's.

From the earliest days my doctor had me on a pretty aggressive program that included estrogen pills and injections, a testosterone blocker, and at one point a progesterone. I remember the rush I used to feel when I went to get those bi-weekly shots. It would make my head race, and my breasts tingle, and it felt as if it found it's way to every muscle in my body within an hour. Honest to God.

Now that I'm long since post-op the general wisdom would put me on some minimal dosage of pill estrogen to maintain an even level of it, and we manage that with my bi-annual blood tests. But I'll tell you - I wouldn't give up the injections for anything.

The hard part is that I generally give myself my shots these days. That's not as easy as it might sound. To stick an inch and a half long needle deep into your butt, do the injection itself, pull the needle out (it sometimes involves a little blood), and then finish it up is harder than you might think. There was a time when I thought I'd faint over it all. Now I just get all sweaty. But it's still worth it. At least as far as I'm concerned it is.

Today was a very good day. It included visiting a friend of a friend in town for surgery, doing a workout at the fitness center, doing some job stuff, a quick visit to Costco, a very productive wrestling session, and a home-cooked dinner. I'm not sure why I'm feeling so good about the day - it's probably the shot.

Tonight's wrestling training was my first time back on the mat since my jaw surgery (don't tell Dr. O). I went to one of the trainings a couple of weeks ago but that was just to do some drills and stretching - I was far from ready from contact and even at that I felt horrible afterwards.

Tonight we had a good group of people show up and spent over an hour sparring. It was great. I was VERY careful about the jaw - my coach has a line he uses for us all: "Don't break your toys.". But it felt great to be out there, get the blood pumping, and even though I felt a little sluggish I've stayed in shape and I was felt good about it. We're going to do it all again tomorrow.

As I mentioned, I've officially registered at the US World Team Trials in Iowa next week. I'm eligible to compete thanks to my finish at the Nationals last month but deciding whether to actually go or not was not as easy as you might think (here's the official list - I'm in the Women's 72kg division). It's a big, big, big deal and I have to admit that all the attention being focused there is a little unnerving. But - I'll be there, I'll be as ready as I can be, and I won't be afraid. (Here's the official web page dedicated to the event). I go there with realistic expectations and I'll walk off the mat with my head held high no matter what happens. That's a promise I've made to myself, and a promise I intend to keep.

There's an article on the Gay Games website about my recent wrestling event that I find particularly moving:

She chose this mainstream stage for her first warm-up competition prior to Cologne this summer, as the first-ever transgender woman and very likely the oldest wrestler in the meet, to step up. She grappled with woman less than half her age, younger than her own grown son!

Donna placed 6th in the women's 72-kilogram (158.75 pounds,) qualifying for the World Championship trials later this year in Iowa, where she could qualify to represent the USA. Instead of causing potential controversy and a media frenzy over the two days, she won the respect of her competitors as an athlete that was skilled and well prepared. Donna’s integrity, willpower and skill did the talking.

As I say - it's very unnerving.

If you somehow see me warming up you'll see ear buds in my ears and I'll be jamming to tunes that put me in my own place while getting mentally prepared. I've got a number of songs that I listen to prior to a match but there's one in particular that gets me going like no other. Listening at full blast is almost an out-of-body experience. This is it....

I was watching "Live Free or Die Hard" over the weekend. It's one of my more favorite of the "Die Hard" series of movies. There's a particularly poignant exchange between Bruce Willis and the guy from the "I'm a Mac/I'm a PC" commercials about being a hero. It's about what makes you "That guy":
Do you know what you get for being a hero? Nothin'. You get shot at. Pat on the back, blah blah blah. 'Attaboy.' You get divorced... Your wife can't remember your last name, kids don't want to talk to you... You get to eat a lot of meals by yourself. Trust me kid, nobody wants to be that guy. [I do this] because there is nobody else to do it right now. Believe me if there was somebody else to do it, I would let them do it. There's not, so [I'm] doing it. That's what makes you that guy."
I'd be lying if said I haven't felt that way before.

So, in honor of heros, I'll finish tonight's blurb by sharing a fairly restrained version of a song I like that's my Song for the day..