Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Best and Brightest

Today I served as a judge for the annual Best and Brightest competition sponsored by the local newspaper, The Patriot News.  These are the kinds of things that I really enjoy and find worthwhile - being involved in mainstream efforts as just another person (not defined by any one aspect of myself), doing something worthwhile for students, and just generally being around positive energy.

I was asked to be a judge prior to my resignation from The Center, and I'm thankful that they still wanted me to participate to represent the community.  There were 8 judges, including the Governor's wife.

When you do these kinds of things it really strikes you how amazing some of these kids are.  When you read these stories and see what some of these kids have had to overcome in order to excel at scholastics and at life in general.  It really puts things into perspective.

Next topic:  Social networking is like fire.  In moderation, and when properly used, it helps.  But when it's out of control it's a disaster.

I like to think of myself as being somewhat technologically saavy, but a more accurate statement is that there was a time when that was probably true.  I was programming using dBase II way back in the day, remember Lotus 1-2-3, learned Fortran as my first language, and I remember when an acoustic coupler modem was a "nice to have".  But, here we are in an age of Tweets and assumed online identities.

I've set some boundaries around my own personal online social networking.  Some of them are probably pretty arbitrary.  For example, I sometimes get requests for professional networking via LinkedIn, but I don't get involved there.  Not my thing.

I don't use Twitter, and don't expect that will change.  I don't want it to change.

One good friend recently gave her Facebook account to her husband and I was a little surprised to realize that I have a problem with that.  All these people who became her friend because they knew her or in some way wanted to stay connected to her now find themselves Friends of someone else.  Even though her husband is a friend of mine as well, the concept of this kind of thing bothers me.  It feels like misrepresentation to me - he should create his own FB profile if he wants one.  Anyway - it makes things that should be simple complicated.

In an exciting personal development I've been granted media credentials for the US National Wrestling Championships so instead of competing this year I'll be taking photographs there.  That's way cool.  Thanks to those who helped this to happen.  :)

Between now and then I have a number of travels.  There's a storm threatening the northeast that could well bring some snow here between now and the weekend.  That's not funny....

There's lots going on in the advocacy world right now.  ENDA was introduced today.  But my big contribution today was to review a pile of applications sent by a group of amazing kids from around the Central PA region and make decisions that will help to shape young lives.  Somehow, I feel like I've done my part today...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011


As always, things are busy.

My ex-wife and I were talking over the weekend (that in and of itself can be news depending on where the conversation goes) and she asked if I ever slow down.  I tried to explain that I'm too busy living life to stop - that there's so much to see and do and experience the only limiting factors are my own creativity and energy level, money, and the number of hours in a day.

Saturday I went to Washington DC.  It was an honor to celebrate Amanda Simpson's 50th birthday with her mom and other good friends.  I spent the rest of the day with a friend enjoying a very pretty afternoon at the Cherry Blossom festival.  It was awesome.

Cherry Blossoms and Jefferson Memorial

And Sunday I drove to Rochester to celebrate my niece's 20th Birthday and for one more appointment with my dentist there.  My idea of slowing down was to spend an hour getting a Spring pedicure, and melting into the massage chair.  Most of my stress seems to localize in knots between my shoulder blades and the way that chair kneads and pushes is pure heaven.  I SO needed that.

Today I'm headed to Philadelphia for a day-trip.

Tomorrow I have been asked to be one of the Judges that will help review the finalists for the annual Patriot News Best and Brightest. Apparently it's a big deal and it's certainly an honor to participate.  I and other local notables review the finalist applications submitted by graduating high school seniors from around the region.

I've got trips down the east coast and out to Phoenix in my near future as well.  I need to do my taxes.  I've got some interviews to do.  All told, busy days.

What next for Donna?  I'm not sure yet.  Still considering options.  It's not a decision I want to be hurried into making but practical realities will force a decision sooner rather than later.  The key is to have options.

I had a wonderful chat with my oldest niece yesterday.  We haven't had an opportunity talk like that in a number of years.  When I first came out to my family she took it as a personal mission to help me learn a number of the social aspects that I had missed in my upbringing.  She attended Keystone with me a couple of years ago and has a very special sense of empathy.

She's engaged now and all grown up and we talked a lot about things like love and relationships and future.  I explained to her that although I have some amazing friends I don't know that I've found "that" person in my life yet.  I'll be honest in admitting that I know some people with whom I feel a special bond for one reason or another but won't let myself investigate opportunities to explore deeper intimacies.  She found it fascinating that I could control my emotions like that.  I found it fascinating that she can't.  Anyway - it was a great chat.

Part of it was instigated by a song I heard recently:

It speaks for itself.

There's lots going on in the advocacy world at the moment.  I don't feel connected with much of it at the moment.  Somehow, just living and doing and being is keeping me busy enough.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Gone Baby Gone

I watched a movie tonight.  It came from Netflix.

I have no recollection of ordering it.  It showed up in the mailbox a few days ago and I honestly had no idea what it was.  Now that I've watched it - it's almost like someone with knowledge of a bigger picture of things thought I should see it and somehow made it show up here.

The movie is "Gone Baby Gone".  I've never even heard of it before.  It was directed by Ben Affleck and has a great cast - Ed Harris, Morgan Freeman,

It's a haunting story that has so many under-plots that it'll have me thinking for days.  But the one over-riding theme that came thru loud and clear to me is all about doing the "right" thing.  Is there a right thing?  What if the right thing is really the wrong thing done for the right reasons?

This movie affected me as someone who likes to think they're a good person.  It affected me as a parent, and I think parents will feel this movie the strongest.

I don't want to give away too much, so I'll end this little review by saying it's a movie I'll most likely watch again.  I know I'll think about it for a while.  And, frankly, it's one of those movies that I think I enjoy most because it reinforces that there are no easy answers, and it forces you to think about difficult things.

At the end you can't help but ask yourself if the ending is a happy one.  And, like the word "right" the word "happy" becomes a subjective one as well.

Anyway - however the movie ended up here whether it be luck, purpose, or mistake - Thank you.

It was a cold, rainy, raw, nasty, ugly day here today.  Yuck.  It's a stark difference to the sunshine and the warmth and the ocean of the weekend, and that other parts of the country enjoyed today.  But even though it's after midnight I bundled up and took the dog for a walk because they've been pretty cooped up for most of the day.  It's one of many ways my life has changed since my pups arrived a month ago.

The next weeks are full of logistic challenges centered around days and events where I have to be somewhere doing something.  For example, I need to be in Rochester NY on Sunday and Monday to celebrate my niece's 20th birthday party, and to go to the dentist before my dental insurance runs out.

On Tuesday I need to be in Philadelphia.

On Wednesday I agreed to be a judge panelist on a local event titled "Best and Brightest" that selects 20 local high school students to be honored.  It's apparently a big deal around here - an entire section of the paper is devoted to it, and I'm honored to be asked to be a judge even though I'm no longer officially related to any local organization.

Thursday I need to hit the road on a trip that'll last thru Sunday.  And I expect to head to Phoenix for a few days.  I need to be back in Harrisburg by April 8 to attend the Rush conference here that night.  My brother and I have great tickets and I can't wait.

Even at all this - I feel like I'm being rushed on a number of things I'd prefer not to be rushed on.  The point of all that, I guess, is that I don't see any reason to hurry some of this stuff and so it is becoming quite the logistical nightmare.

I wish I had more to share about bigger picture stuff, but all I've got tonight is the fact that I had a few good phone conversations, I went to the fitness center for a TOUGH workout, and I watched my Netflix movie.  It feels as though it has been a pretty busty day.

Now- time for bed.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Full Plate

I think I passed out last night.

I don't mean that in a medical sense, or in some sort of a drunken stupor kind of sense.  I had been up and going for 21+ hours and the last thing I remember was beginning to type a text message that never got sent.  I fell asleep in mix-text.

Yesterday was another of those crazy kinds of go-go-go days for me.  I decided on Friday to take a weekend break.  I needed some "soul" food after the craziness of the last couple of weeks.  I wrote an introspective sort of "good-bye" note that was posted to the website of the local LGBT Paper here (read my thoughts here), I finished up some last minute things (a grant proposal, some other stuff), and I made a mad dash for the ocean.

The ocean is a source of unexplainable energy for me.  By Saturday I had driven almost 700 miles to get to where I wanted to be, I made my way to the beach, and I stood with my feet in the surf, the warm sun on my face, the gentle breezes gently caressing my skin, taking deep purposeful breaths to soak in as much of the energy as I could - it was truly magical.  It was worth traveling 700, or even 7000, miles to experience.  And given everything that has happened in the last couple of weeks (my job, my mom's health, my own health - etc.) it was the perfect opportunity to put all that aside and simply cleanse.  It's a shame we don't take enought time to do that in our daily lives on a more regular basis, but perhaps is just because of that that makes these kinds of opportunities so special.

Saturday night we went to the beach to watch the full "Super Moon" rise over the Atlantic.   It was pretty amazing for a number of reasons.

The entire deeper meaning of spring as rebirth has never had deeper meaning for me than it does right now.  Long story short - it was a magical couple of days not for any particular event, thing, person, or reason.  Just because it was much needed, and it was EXACTLY what I needed at exactly the right time.

Of course, there's always a need to pay the piper and that happened yesterday.  I was up at 2am, on the road by 2:30, the long drive seems even longer when it's dark outside so daylight couldn't come fast enough.  I arrived in Harrisburg at 1pm, I had the dogs to the vets for a check-up by 1:30 (both are healthy!!), I got to the airport to drop off my rental car by 5, I had a get together with a friend from 5-7, I spoke at a local PFLAG Meeting until 9:30, I finally got home shortly after 10, and the last thing I remember was getting in my pajamas, slipping into bed, and starting to write a text.  I had been awake and on the go for 21+ hours and apparently my body was ready to shut down for some rest.  So it did.

I've seen a number of people talking on a number of trans issues.  People are taking sides on some legislation in Maryland (HB 235) that does not include protections for Public Accommodations (read one entry here).  Apparently there is a trans character in a network TV episode tonight and there is some disappointment that the character is not being played by someone who's actually trans (read one take on it here).  I'm not going to wade into either subject right now other than to share that this stuff is going on....

I went to the website to see what's going on with them them and was a little surprised to see that it's down.  Or at least, it's not working.  I'm wondering if that's a temporary glitch, or an indication of what's going on behind the scenes.  Their conference this year is canceled, and I'm still waiting for someone to explain me what relevance they have right now, or what their mission is at the moment, or why anyone should care.  If you've got something on any of those topics feel free to share - I'm all ears.

I haven't heard boo about NCTE's Lobby Day in Washington DC last week and I don't know if that's because that I'm more out of the loop than I used to be with that kind of thing or that there just hasn't been much "boo" to talk about.  Typically there is a follow-up email blast from NCTE indicating how many people showed up, has some sort of a photo of everyone standing on the Capitol steps, and that kind of thing.  I haven't seen that yet.  If anyone has anything to share on that front, feel free to send that along as well.  I did find a blog entry about it, but not much else.

I've got some significant decisions to make over the next few months, but I'm not in a hurry.  I'd rather make good decisions than fast ones.  I also find that when you open yourself to opportunity they make themselves available in unique and interesting ways rather than simply trying to manage things.  Anyway - lots going on.  Just need to see what's real, what's possible, what's necessary, and what's next.

* * *

I've gotten a couple of interesting emails recently.  One if from a producer casting for a series on Lifetime about Weddings.  Part of her email:
The series follows couples who are in unique situations or compelling lifestyles.

For this particular episode, we are looking for a couple where one or both are transgender. Our subjects would be either getting married very soon, or willing to push up their date and get married in the next few months. We follow the couple on the days leading up to the wedding, and of course, on their big day. We would also follow the couple to highlight their challenges/uniqueness in preparation for their wedding day. Our goal is to highlight compelling lifestyles and to expose our viewers to various situations.

If you know anyone who might be interested or who would want more information please ask them to contact me.  As for me - no wedding in the near future.

* * *

For those who might be interested in doing a workshop at SCC, they've send out a note asking for proposals:
Welcome to the 2011 Southern Comfort Conference seminar proposal process! Each year you help make this the premier transgender conference in the US and perhaps the world.

We will be in the same hotel for the conference as last year and the presentation facilities are excellent. The planning process for the 2011 conference has begun and our presenters are a crucial part of the success of Southern Comfort. Each year we make the difficult decisions of presenter selection, scheduling and to try and provide our attendees with the most up to date information regarding issues affecting our community. Every year we strive for varied and different topics that will meet the needs of our audience.

If you would like to submit a seminar proposal go to:

Should you need additional assistance please contact me at

In order for us to complete all preparations for the conference and meet various publication deadlines, your submission is due by MAY 15, 2010. There will be no exceptions to this deadline.
* * *

People sometimes send me "interesting" email or leave comments on some of the videos I've got on YouTube. Sometimes they're worth sharing a taste here. Like this one:
transsexual are a cosnspiracy against men i hope the get aids
the are satanic faggots
Wow. Someone actually took the time and energy to write that?  Jeez.  I've been called lots of things but I've got to admit that a "conspiracy against men" is a new one.  One of the videos - it has nothing to do with trans anything - has over 235,000 views!  Crazy....

* * *

Anyway - lots going on.  As always.  I had a wonderful group come to listen at the local PFLAG Meeting last night.  I speak at Shippensburg University tonight.  I drove almost 1,500 miles over the weekend, and there is more travel on the horizon.  Good thing I'm feeling pretty good.  :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Today is St. Patrick's Day.  I hate to admit that I don't own a single green piece of clothing.  Well, that's not really accurate.  I have some that are kind of pea green, or sea foam green, but not the deep, rich green that people tend to want to wear to "celebrate" the day.  Frankly, it seems to be more a day of drinking than anything else, but that's just a general observation....I'm just sayin'

It's a beautiful sunny warm day here in Harrisburg today.  I even brought my running clothes and hope to go for a run along the river during lunch.  I haven't done that before and people tell me that spring is the nicest season here.  If many of the days are like today I'd have to agree.  Tomorrow it's supposed to reach 70. 

This weekend winter officially ends and spring officially begins.  Spring is symbolic of rebirth, new life, and new beginnings.  I suppose that's certainly appropriate in my world at the moment.  People have been asking me what comes next for me and I haven't had time to think about that much yet.  We'll see.

I've had some time time to reflect on events leading up to where we are now and I'll admit that I've learned a thing or two.  Some of the things are things I already know but have been re-emphasized.  One lesson is that communication is the fundamental life blood of relationships and when that breaks, the relationship itself is seriously compromised.  When the blood stops flowing, the body dies.  Similarly, when the communication stops - it either needs to be recognized as a critical indicator of deeper issues and addressed or people need to come to the realization that things are about to end.

I can look at personal relationships in my life that have ended and if I had to choose the single most important element in them it's communication.  And when that communication breaks for some reason the relationship itself often gets irretrievably altered, or dies. 

Although one of the tendencies people seem to have when a relationship breaks is to find fault or blame.  I take full responsibility for what has happened between myself and the Center.  I'm not blaming anyone but me.  Sure, there are things that have happened which have led to where we are now but I'm not about to point a finger at anyone.  That would be the chickensh*t way out.  But a key word in ALL of this - and I do mean ALL - is accountability.  And that key responsibility isn't mine alone.  It is shared.

That being said - we have both publicly acknowledged that our parting is amicable and it is.  We have both publicly confirmed our mutual continued dedication to the strategic goals of the Center and that's true.  We have both publicly stated that a key element to this outcome is significant differences in strategy to achieve those goals and setting priorities.  That, too, is true.  I'm not about to engage in a blame game in any sense with an organization that took a significant risk when it hired me, and to whom I made significant life changes to join.  That would not be productive, nor is it necessary.

This organization has never been more visible than it is now.  Not surprisingly, expectations have never been higher as well.  I'm hopeful that the organization can move forward the way that it wants and that the local community gets the Center that truly lives up to its unlimited potential. 

One of the things I want to consider today is a concept we commonly call "Passion".  It is a topic as old as humanity itself, and the balance between the percieved polar opposites of Passion and Reason has been source of significant contemplation from Plato to modern times.

I find Kahlil Gibran's writing in "The Prohpet" to be particularly compelling on a number of topics, including Passion:

Your reason and your passion are the rudder and the sails of your seafairing soul, if either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas. For reason, ruling alone, is a force confining; and passion, unattended, is a flame that burns to its own destruction.
Is there such a thing as being too passionate?  Frankly, I think there is.  Passion sometimes overshadows reason but there's a Yin and Yang balance that often needs to be maintained.  Sometimes, though, one overshadows the other.  Is that something to apologize for?  I think not, as it's simply being human. 

There's a line near the end of the movie Serendipity that I particularly like.  One of the characters wrote a eulogy a friend and noted:  You know the Greeks didn't write obituaries. They only asked one question after a man died: "Did he have passion?".  Whether I like it or not, passion is a key element to my personality, to what drives me, to what fulfills me, to what disappoints me, to what enables me, and sometimes to what disables me.  Can I explain it?  Not really.  But as with coming to peace with my trans nature a dozen or more years ago I've stopped having to explain some things and have learned simply to accept them because they are.  The "why" is unimportant.

Passion is to character as communication is to relationship as blood is to life.  When passion dies, it's tragic.  It's a symptom of some deeper problem.  And, in this case, I'm happy to say that my own personal passions remains as strong and as bright as ever.  Events of this past week have re-affirmed that.  I'm not just talking about events here at the Center, but the fact that my mom ended up in Intensive Care, and that I'm having tests for potential kidney issues, and that people half a world away in Japan are facing unimaginable horrors.  To have passion is to feel, and I feel acutely. 

So back to my original hypothetical question - is there such a thing as too much passion, too much feeling?  Probably.  But that's something to be nurtured rather than diminished.

Another of my favorite Kahlil Gibran quotes:

“Rest in reason; move in passion”
I do. And I am.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Uncommon Sensical

I see that estimates of the dead from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami is currently around 10,000.  I, personally, can't for the life of me believe it's that low based on what I've seen.  I expect it to be at least 5 times that amount.

I saw the results of an HRC poll yesterday saying that a majority of voters oppose the Republican defense of DOMA (details here).  I, for one, lost trust in any survey that HRC ever does on anything after the disgraceful poll that they published to justify their support for a non-inclusive ENDA in 2007 (details here).   As much as I'd like to believe it, I just can't.

I also saw that local law enforcement and the FBI have come to the conclusion that the recent murder and dragging of a trans woman in Arkansas was NOT a hate crime (read here).

I, for one, can't believe that either and more than I believed Angie Zapata's brutal murderer "didn't know" and acted in a fit of rage.  What good is a Federal Hate Crime law if you're going to close the door on it as an option so soon when investigating a crime like this??  Anyway, I'll be shocked if they ever arrest anyone for this....

The LGBT Center released the news yesterday that I will be leaving (details here).  For those who have written asking how I'm doing - I'm fine.   I'm the one who submitted the resignation after a number of significant issues and concerns came to a head at our last board meeting.  In leaving, I wish the organization nothing but the best.  I like to think that I can work through pretty much anything, but sometimes there are show-stoppers and in this instance there was more than one so what happened is in the best interests of everyone.  I'm a bit disappointed and frustrated, but the organization will survive and so will I.

On the flip side of that, my mom got home from the hospital yesterday. She had been in the Intensive Care Unit since being admitted on Saturday evening and I'm sure our collective happiness at having her home is topped only by her own joy of being there.  This is a huge relief.  She had internal bleeding after re-starting to take her blood thinner meds following some tests a couple of weeks ago.  She goes home with 2 additional staples inside her to keep the area closed.  Her voice sounded strong so I'm very relieved.

Some have asked me what I'm planning to do next.  Honestly, I haven't had time to think that far ahead.  I do know that this afternoon I have a meeting with the city Mayor which should be "interesting".  But other than that I'll focus my attentions on tying off loose ends at the Center before making strategic decisions on next steps.

I have come to believe that things happen for reasons.  That's not to say that our lives are predestined from day one, but I don't think that everything that happens is purely chance either.  I've met some wonderful people here and I think we started something special.  I hope whoever drives it next has better luck than I did.  Regardless, this has not been a waste of time or energy.  I remain committed to the things that brought me here in the first place, and I'm confident that I'll land on my feet.  Again.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Raining and Pouring

This has been an interesting last couple of weeks - and last couple of days.  This entry may be a bit rambling but I've found that when there's a lot on my mind it's sometimes helpful to express it in writing.

They say that when it rains it pours.  In a purely literal sense, last week we had over 4 inches of rain in 2 days and the Susquehanna River is at or above flood levels.  We were absolutely soaked, and the last couple of days have provided some much needed (and appreciated) time to dry out.

In a metaphor sense - it's true as well.  I've got so many irons in my fire at the moment that it's scary, but I'm doing ok.  Let me share a few of them....

Last month I did an interview with Cate Barron, the Executive Editor of the local newspaper, the Patriot News.  She wanted to interview me for a story about my vision for the LGBT Center that she hoped to include in a monthly glossy magazine that they publish titled "In Central Pennsylvania".

Excerpts from the interview appeared in the latest edition that came out a couple of weeks ago. See it here.  I don't typically feel like a "rock star" but I'm glad that my work over the last ten years stands on its own.

The reason any of this is relevant at the moment isn't about self indulgence or ego.   Today the organization will finally make the fact that I have resigned my position with the organization, and will be leaving, public.  It was a decision I made shortly after careful consideration following our last board meeting a couple of weeks ago for a number of reasons.  Regardless of specifics, the most important consideration remains ensuring the ongoing healthy operation of our youth program component.  The last few months have been full of growth and direction, but at the same time I'd be lying if I didn't admit that they have been full of frustration for everyone concerned as well.  I'll have more to say on the subject when I can.

Do I have other plans right now?  No.  I don't.  This move isn't something I predicted of planned.  It's something that needed to be done so I did it.  The next couple of weeks will be spent finishing up my work here, deciding what's next, visiting my mom to make sure she's ok, and most likely going back west.  As this news becomes public today I expect the reality of it will begin to set in - I don't think that it has yet. But for a number of reasons - some of them being practical ones and others being simply life direction ones - there is a need to take care of things and move on.

I mentioned last week about some concern for my kidneys.   Recent lab tests indicated the potential for some serious problems but the results of my sonogram have relieved some of those fears and provide hope that things are ok.   That was a huge relief.  The next step is to visit with a urologist so the fun's certainly not over yet, but the news could have been much worse so I choose to look at the positive.  Stay tuned on that as well.

A friend and I went to the movie "The Adjustment Bureau" yesterday.  It was very interesting.

I've heard it described as a modern-day Matrix.  I don't know if I'd go that far, but there are certainly a number of things about coincidence and choice that are thought provoking.  I enjoyed it, especially given  my current life situation.  One interesting note: In the middle of the movie I had to go to the bathroom so I left the theater and began walking down the hallway towards the restrooms.  I suddenly asked myself, "Where am I?"  "What city am I in?"  The hallway was a generic one so there were no outward indications of location and through all my travels I sometimes find myself waking up wondering that same thing.  It was actually a fairly profound thing to have to stop for a moment to remind myself where I am right now.  I think the fact that it even happened at all is indicative of what's going on in my subconscious right now.

The Keystone Conference here over the weekend was well-done and very enjoyable.  Including the Butterfly Ball for youth on Friday night there were over 300 people registered which is amazing given the current "climate".  I'm told that the Colorado Gold Rush in Denver had significantly less than half that number of attendees which continues the trend where older, established events struggle while newer ones that started out as regional events grow by leaps and bounds.  This was only the 3rd year for this particular event and the growth nearly doubles each year which is testament both to the planning and to the community throughout the entire northeast (and beyond) who come to attend.

This year the event attracted community stalwarts such as Dr. Meltzer, Dr. O, and others who you typically find at only the largest events.  That is more than symbolic of how this event (and others like it) have grown.  It is a real indication of how things have changed, and continue to change.

I made some new friends.  I had the chance to spend time with friends I don't get to see that often.  I had some time to get to know Dr. Beck, a professor from the LA area (Rachel Levin) and her team who are doing a fascinating study, and others that I've previously only known thru email or reputation.  My talk on Friday during lunch went well.  I had fun.  And all in all it seems like the entire thing lasted far longer than the 3 days that I attended.

My lunchtime keynote on Friday was titled "What is Community and Why is it Important?", and my feelings on the subject are clear.  I'm glad that the words that came out of my mouth clearly articulated a number of important things, and that the overall message was one of empowerment.  Given the backdrop of some of the things that I'm sharing here, I'm relieved that things went as well as they did.

On Saturday evening I was visiting with friends in the bar at the hotel where the Keystone Conference was being held when I noticed that I had a message on my phone from my sister.  I listened to it and learned that she had received a call from the hospital near where my mom lives indicating that my mom had been admitted and was in the intensive care unit.  She had some internal bleeding following some procedures that she had a couple of weeks ago and the only information that the hospital would release was that she was "stable".  Needless to say, the mood of the evening changed quickly.

The last couple of days have been spent trying to figure out what's happening with her, help to arrange practical day-to-day things like caring for her dog from afar, and getting ready to hop on a plane at a moment's notice.  The fact that she's in the hospital there and none of her family is there is a significant sadness to me and is something that I'll need to confront moving forward.  But the beauty of the situation so far is that friends and neighbors have formed a wonderful support network for her and are able to provide information and care.  Without going into too many specifics, they stopped the bleeding, her neighbor indicates that she's in good spirits, and she's hoping to be released out of ICU today.  I hope so too.

I suppose on a deeper level things like this and my recent kidney situation are reminders of our fragility, the effects of age, and eventually the reality of our mortality.  My mom is a remarkably healthy 82 years old but she's constantly planning for the future.  She just refinanced her house, she's looking forward to her garden blooming again this year, and one of my most significant concerns is that this incident will have longer term emotional and psychological impacts.  One of the words I've been hearing in a variety of contexts recently is "resilient" and Lord knows it's true.  But eventually, that ends.

It's also a reminder to keep things in perspective.  The fact that I'll be unemployed in less than two weeks, that I'm dealing with kidney concerns and will soon be without health insurance, that my mom is in Intensive Care dealing with significant health concerns, that I'll most likely be moving, and other life realities puts other distractions into perspective.  I've got life things going on right now, family things, health things - it's sometimes easy to forget the important things.

I'll leave it at that for now.  It's time to get the day going.  I expect that the next couple of weeks will be full of upheaval.  The good news is that despite all of what I've shared here I'm feeling fairly calm.  For now.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fat Wednesday.

No word on the sonogram results from Monday yet.  The doctor wasn't in the office today so the next day I can hear anything will be on Thursday.  I'm really not losing sleep over it - I've learned over the years not to worry too much about things you can't change.  My mom is doing enough worrying for the both of us.

Today wasn't much fun.  I drove the 260 miles to Rochester, and then back again - the return trip mostly in rain and snow.  I sat in my dentist's chair for 2 hours for some major drilling.  Yuck.  I've gone to the same dentist for the past 25 years so he knows my mouth.  I trust him, and I like the way he makes decisions and recommendations.  I've needed a number of things done for a while now so today was the day.  We're not quite done, either.  I've got a follow-up visit scheduled for later in the months.

As I type this I'm watching the Big 10 Wrestling Championships.  Next weekend the NCAA Div. 1 Wrestling Championships are being held in Philadelphia and as much as I'd enjoy going to watch both the cost and the time are things I can't justify right now.  Anyway - these are some pretty amazing athletes....

Here's a disgusting and disturbing story.  A trans woman in Arkansas was killed and dragged under a car (details here).  It makes me sick to my stomach to think about.

And here's another disturbing take.  The same way that discrimination protections in this country always seem to get twisted into an argument about bathrooms, a recent ruling in the UK acknowledging some of the unique needs of transsexual inmates gets twisted into the sensational headline "Inmates allowed padded bras".  Gimme a frickin' break....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Interesting Day

Today has been an interesting day.  I'm not sure I can or should elaborate much more than that for now.

I found myself at the doctor's office today to discuss some recent lab results.  She sent me to an imaging lab to have a sonogram - Step 1 of the diagnostic process.  A couple of things made the afternoon "interesting".  One is that the tech asked me at the beginning if I had ever had any surgery on my abdomen and I told her "no" - which was the truth.  I'm sure she was a little confused not seeing things that she expected to see.  Anyways, she said that they'll analyze it and get back to my doctor tomorrow.  Or the next day at the latest.

The second thing that made it "interesting" is that the doctor is already thinking ahead to the next step and doesn't know a specialist who might be "accepting".   A friend on Facebook recently asked a question about whether or not people have been discriminated against because they were trans.  It happens all the time.  The fact that you can't go see someone or that you need to go and see someone specifically because of who is or isn't "accepting" is in itself a form of discrimination.  Just because you surround yourself by a teeny oasis of acceptance so your experiences are mainly positive ones can be to live in a world based on a false sense of security.  Just wait until you're forced outside that comfort zone.

I also find myself disappointed in a number of things and people today.  Some are in response to other events going on in my life at the moment.  And you learn a lot about people at critical times, how they act, what they say, the tone of their voice - the same as you learn a lot about yourself at those same times.  It can be argued that perceptions of both can be clouded by the moment.

Disappointment is an odd emotion.  It's based totally on expectation, and perhaps it's my own fault for having expectations in the first place.  But I've come to appreciate the fact that when I invest myself in someone or something I like to think it's an even-steven equation.  Sometimes, it proves to be so.  Sometimes not.

You know who doesn't disappoint?  My pups.  And my mom.....

And "Finding Nemo".  That never disappoints....

And "The Blind Side".  I'm watching it as I type this.  That never disappoints either.  There's a scene where these parents are making fun of Michael during a game and he ends up blocking this kid over a fence.  Eventually Sandra Bullock turns to these parents and says, "Hey, Deliverance...."  I dunno - I just find it funny.  

One of these is me.  The other is my sister.
I think I mentioned that my mom gave me a big box of old photos last time I was there.  I've slowly been scanning some of them.  It's fun to see some of these.  They're almost 50 years old now.  So long ago, but still part of my life.  Still part of me.

We set a record here yesterday.  Actually, we smashed one.  Apparently, the record for 24 hr. rainfall around here was 1.8 inches of rain.  Yesterday we had almost 2 1/2 inches.  Then, it turned to snow.  By the time we woke up there was 3 inches of it on the ground.  Funny thing is, sometimes we get that much rain in a couple of hours during a monsoon in Phoenix.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The article in the NY Times on a friend's workplace transition was published online today, and will appear in the print version tomorrow (read it here).  Congratulations to Brittany for sharing her story in such a positive way.  Part of the beauty is that Brittany could very well have kept all that to herself - she didn't need or seek out that exposure.  But when the opportunity to help others presented itself she stepped forward and make no doubt about it - that's why she agreed to do it.  The author of the article wrote to me afterwards and told me how proud she was of Brittany wanting to help.  Same here.

I am the "Diversity Trainer" that they mention in the story.  Brittany's management team and I planned for a month before the first training, and it was several weeks before the second one.  (She writes a bit about it in her blog).  Everyone did a wonderful job of doing things right.  That is, there's no one right way, and there are certainly lots and lots of wrong ways, but in this case things were well planned, well executed, proactive, and the outcome continues to speak itself.

The Capitol building glows against drama skies today
I've had quite the pleasant "down" day.  I went to work briefly, and went to the fitness center.  I took the pups for a nice long walk along the river on a warm but storm cloud filled afternoon.  I also finally updated my website the the newest version.  It's the first major facelift I've done to it in years, and I've got a number of things left to do, but I'm glad to finally have an "upgrade".

In other news that deserves more space than I'm willing give right now, I'm dun.  I just am.  I realize that won't have much relevance to anyone without context but that will come in time. It's like a number of things in life - although you may know it in hour head it somehow seems more "real" when you actually say it.

A friend called to say that Dr. Peter Raphael in Dallas will start doing SRS at his practice there.  According to her he's willing to discount the first 10 surgeries by doing them for half-price before bumping up to the $20K area.   She scheduled with him and is getting ready to go there soon so I'll share any additional information I receive from her.

I made a delicious white pizza for dinner tonight.  I use a small Boboli crust, some olive oil and garlic salt, toppings of chopped tomato and mushrooms, and some feta and mozzarella cheese.  Yummmm.  A friend is stopping by in a while and we're going to watch "It's Complicated".  Unless I fall asleep first.  All this fresh air today has made me tired....

As for March.  Spring - we're expecting 2 inches of soaking rain tonight and tomorrow.   Warm days and cool days.  March Madness - go 'Cuse!  And change.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Win Win?

This is another weekend I'm glad I'm not driving across country.  The weather shows a significant line of rain across the entire middle section of the country and it's moving it's way east.  It'll be here by this time tomorrow.  Yuck.

I went to the free pre premiere of the movie "Win Win" in Carlisle tonight.  It was a special event hosted by Dickinson University because one of the co-writers is a Dickinson grad and participated in a Q&A afterwards.  It was actually kinda surreal because they had all kinds of security there to make sure nobody recorded the movie - they strolled the aisles during the movie, they passed out a warning that they were using "night vision" and "infrared" to detect recordings, there were guards in the booth for the entire thing. The Carlisle Theater was built in the 1930's and is one of those old art-deco theaters that's a centerpiece for an entire downtown.  It's got personality - a far cry from the stadium theater seating that we're used to today.

Anyway, the star of the night was the movie.  It was very well done.  I suppose the fact that part of the plot was about wrestling made it extra interesting to me but wrestling was a backdrop more than a theme.  There's a scene where the coach asks this kid, "What does it feel like to be that good?" and the kid answers, "I don't know.  It just feels like you're in control.  Of everything."  Very well written.  Very well cast.  And very well received.  I did notice a half dozen scenes where the microphones are conspicuously visible at the top of the screen but that's more a quibble than a complaint.

The co-writer guy was actually very interesting.  He's a lawyer.  The story is a combination of things he's observed in his attorney life along with parts from his own childhood.  He put it all together into a screenplay and sent it off and - voila - now there's a movie.  It's one of those one-in-a-million stories but it's proof that they really can (and do) come true.

Anyway - when it gets released nationally I expect that it will be equally well received.  At the moment it has 100% on (see it here).  I don't expect that it will stay there, but I do expect it to be a surprise to many....

In other news, I'm glad it's Friday.  I'll just leave it at that for now....

Gas prices going up a nickel or more every night and it's not going to stop any time soon.  Why?  Because of the continued unrest in the Middle East?  That would be the most obvious answer, but that's not it.  No.  Because people will pay it.  It's that simple.  It's gonna get ugly.  And the saddest fact of the matter is that it's never going to come back down.  I remember a time when the thought of paying much more than $2.00/gallon was preposterous.  Here we are - facing upwards of $4 or $5 or more a gallon.  I could swear I remember the President talking about stressing alternative fuels.  But here we are again.

The last time we went thru this is when airlines started charging for baggage, and getting rid of pillows.  Just wait until they start charging for carry-on luggage too.  Why?  Because they can.  And they will.

That's not win-win.  That's lose lose.

Back to the writer of this movie - it's amazing how life can bring you to places you never expected.  Sometimes they're good, and sometime not.  The key, I think, is in the trying not the guessing.  I've done a number of things over the years that have worked themselves out to be pretty amazing and I've done things that I thought would be amazing that turned out NOT.

I made the mistake of looking at the 10-day weather forecast for Scottsdale (see it here).  Oy.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Loyalty is more than a word

There was a story in the local news about a guy who robbed a local bank.  They put paint bombs into the bags with the money and at some point shortly after he left the bank they exploded.  They guy got caught when he was trying to use the now paint-covered cash to get onto a city bus.  Oh dear.

This time of year in the northeast is a tease.  It provides nice, sunny, fairly warm days followed by chilly days and the threat of more snow.  It's one of those things where you get your hopes up that you've finally turned a corner just to be let-down again - such is the roller-coaster ride of Spring.  We're going to hit 50 degrees here today, which is wonderful given the chill of recent weeks.  But the weekend outlook is for rain followed by a possibility of snow showers.  Yuck.

I called today to change my car insurance.  I've had the same policy, pretty much, since I got out of college in 1981.  Same company.  Same coverages.  It's just one of those things I haven't checked into and from time to time I see that Consumer Reports rates them fairly highly so I generally find no need to change.

Anyway, lately I've become aware that others around me - including my 25 year old son - are paying considerably less than I am.  When I say considerably, I mean that I'm paying double or triple which is absolutely crazy!  Anyway, I've been on friendly terms with my ex- recently so we went down the coverages line by line and I made the call today to fix things.

I'm sure I confused the insurance guy because he was asking questions about my ex-husband.  The end result, though, is that I'm finally down to a more realistic number.  Insurance is like gambling - when it comes to deductibles and coverages it's all about how much risk you're willing to take.  But realistically, when you have a car that's ten years old and has as many miles on it as mine does it just doesn't pay to have collision on it.  It just doesn't.

I also believe in loyalty.  I've been with this company for 30 years and don't want to go thru the process of starting all over again somewhere else if I can avoid it.  That's one of the main themes in the movie I was talking about the other night, "Up In The Air".  Loyalty.  There's something to be said for it and I've learned first hand what happens when we both offer loyalty and expect loyalty but find ourselves feeling betrayed for some reason.  Not good.

I've been dealing with a cold in recent days, or at least the rumblings of one.  My chest has been tight.  No energy.  I've actually been pretty hungry, which is a change (feed a cold, starve a fever?).  It gets worse when I talk too much so I'm trying to minimize that.  I've always got cough drops at the ready which have been helping.  All in all, it's more of a distraction so far than anything.  I hope it stays that way.

The dogs seem to be acclimating themselves well to being here.  They've proven themselves to be pretty good with change in the past and really enjoy running on the grass.  I'm getting reacquainted with them, as well, and the good news is that they can still make me laugh out loud.  Watching them play is just funny, and it's one of those simple pleasure that provides escape from all the other travails that the world can throw sometimes.  Anyways - it's nice to have them back again both as company and as family.

There are some big things coming up.  I've got a board meeting tomorrow night that ought to be a heap 'o fun.  On Friday there will be an interesting article in a local magazine that I'll wait to see before I comment on it.  And on Sunday there will be an interesting article in the NY Times.  Stay tuned for that...

At the end of next week I'll be at the Keystone Conference here in Harrisburg.  Keystone is actually the event that introduced me to the area and I doubt that if I hadn't gotten involved in 2009 (interesting story there) I'd be here now.  This year they've expanded in some significant ways - Dr. O and Dr. Meltzer will be here so it'll be nice to see them.  Anyways, if you're in the area and can make it by if even for only a day it's very well done.  If you're looking for anyone in particular, including me, the best place to find them is in the bar.  We'll eventually end up there.  :)

Back to the Loyalty thing.  I've had several tests of that concept in my life in recent years and I've found the outcomes to be both positive and not.  I know where my loyalties lie and I've found that when I feel a sense of betrayal (that is, when loyalties are broken) my reactions can be fairly profound.  The entire situation with HRC several years ago was one of those things.  And, my experience with a personal relationship last year was another.  In both cases I learned a lot about myself and my expectations when it comes to that particular concept.

I'm sure I've betrayed loyalties over the course of my life, as well.  I'm sure that if my ex- were here she'd have a huge "AMEN" to that.  I'm sue that a core element of loyalty is trust, and once trust is lost it's difficult (sometimes impossible) to get back again.  Anyway - it's a fascinating concept whether in big picture things like relationships or in little picture things like car insurance....Either way - loyalty counts for something.