Monday, December 31, 2012

Kick my butte

Sunday: Dec 30

Groupon and Living Social have opened the door on a whole array of things I've wanted to do but either haven't wanted to make the investment, known that the opportunities even existed, or simply haven't had the time to investigate.

Besides restaurants and tours, there are all kinds of interesting things - some of which I have decided to make part of my world.

One of them is Barre.

I had never heard of Barre until recently, and I don't think it's anything I would have sought out.  I've known for a long time that I need something that tones and stresses flexibility, and although I've only done it once I thought that thing would be pilates.

Pure Yoga isn't my thing.  It's just not.  I bought a small "hot yoga" package thru Groupon last year when I was training for wrestling but never used them.

One of the reasons wrestling appealed to me is that in order to do it well you need to combine a number of things - strength, agility, discipline, aerobics, skill.  That's one of the reasons that it's such a difficult sport to do well, because just doing well at one or two or three of those things will only go so far.

And that same concept is why Barre seemed and continues to seem so appealing.  It's a combination of yoga, pilates, and ballet designed to lift, tone, burn, flex and lengthen.  I've gone to two classes so far, and it kicks my a$$ every time.

Going to these kinds of classes is no small task.  I'd love to say that I'm flexible, and graceful, and that I've got half a knack for any of this stuff.  But we all know that's not true.  I'm strong, I've got way too much thick muscle, I'm in fairly good shape - but as with wrestling those things will only get you so far with this.  In some ways, it's actually a detriment.  The classes are filled with women who look like ballet instructors, who can do a split or bend at the waist and touch their forehead to their knees without even thinking about it, who have a natural grace when they move and bend.  And then - there's me.

I just got back from class although I'm not sure it's a "class" so much as it's a "session".  I've had the same instructor for both times I've gone, and she has been wonderful.  By the time the hour is over, I'm the only one drenched in sweat.  My body is quivering (or convulsing) for a couple of hours, and the muscles between my heels and my shoulders are screaming.  My butt, my thighs, my quads, my tummy, my calves, and muscles I never knew I had.  I get home, take a shower, take two asperin, and lie down on the bed for an hour to recover.  Funny this is, I'm loving it.

I sound like some infomercial for Barre or something, but as I consider my body and moving into new territories - that's the direction.  I'm hoping that 6 months from now I will have continued doing this two or three or four times a week, that I'm flexible enough to touch my head to my knee, and that it's not quite the shock on my poor legs and butt.  We'll see.

Today is sunny and cool - in the 30's this morning.  As usual on Sundays, I drove down to the water and spent a moment appreciating some things.  Since it's the end of the year there's much to consider, and I've got a lot on my mind.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Making memories

It's 6:45am.  Time to get up and moving.

Fourteen years ago this morning I woke up and went to work, only to get a phone call from my mom saying that my dad had died during the night.  He was only 64 years old, but 20 years of diabetes had taken their toll on his body to the point that he was living in an assisted living home that could help with his mobility, monitor his meds, and provide the twice weekly dialysis that he needed.  He hated it all.

It was a beautiful facility.  I made a trip back to Rochester to hang with him for a week several weeks before that and it seemed more like a hotel than "assisted living" - with the restaurant and all the activities and just the general decor.  But he still hated it.  He hated being dependent (reminds me of my comments on accepting help last week).  He hated what was happening to his body while his mind was still as sharp as it ever was.  So although the news that he had died came out of nowhere and was a shock, I think we all agreed that his joy in living had pretty much drained from life by then.

I was the executor of his will, so the next couple of months were spent taking care of all the details that happen when you die.  Insurance.  Finances.  Legalities.  It was depressing to realize that in the big picture a lifetime of a person comes down to paperwork.  And memories.  The goal is to keep and cherish those memories.  So, I do....not just passively but actively.  More importantly, the goal is to make memories with the people in your life that will endure beyond your being here.  I try to do that, as well.

The last weekend in 2012 is here.  It has been a funky week - since I've been off work so there's nothing to differentiate one day from another.  I accomplished some of the mundane things I've been wanting to accomplish around the house.  I cleaned my makeup brushes, something I do with precision and care.  I took my truck to the dealer for an oil change and a check-up.  I've run some errands, and refilled some prescriptions.  I hooked up my AppleTV and have been watching a few things on Hulu+.  I spent time with the neighbors across the hall who only visit Charleston once in a while - I really like them and enjoy it when they're here.  I spend at least a half hour a day playing my guitar, trying to get back into the "swing" and build some callouses at the tips of my fingers....they hurt.

I posted a few photos to my Snaplog from these last few days.

I've been enjoying my mornings - making myself omelettes and homemade waffles with blueberries for breakfast, trying different kinds of coffees, just making sure to linger around the house as long as possible.  All things considered, I'm forcing myself to slow down this week.

As I've explained, I'm not a believer in "New Years Resolutions" as they usually play out.  But I do think the process of thinking about your life and making the beginning of a new year as a good time to begin to make changes as a healthy thing.  It's just that the resoluteness of the New Year gets forgotten over a few weeks to the point that we just fall back into whatever it was we wanted to change.

There are some changes I'd like to see in myself.  I don't know that I'll call them resolutions so much as an awareness of them, and in being aware making the effort to recognize things and change them.  One of the things I try to do is appreciate the moment, because all too often the moment is fleeting.  There are some significant things in my life that I expect to be gone, or majorly different, in my life at this time next year (God willing) just as things right now are different than they were last year.  Such is the nature of's just that sometimes we get to make the change happen, and sometimes it is forced upon us.  Regardless, such is the nature of time and change.

I've got a couple more days before things start winding up with me again.  I had unpacked my traveling suitcase for the first time in months at the beginning of this stay-cation, but I'm starting to pack it again, slowly but surely.  I start work again on Wednesday, Jan 2, and will probably drive up there on New Year's Day.  I need to take the round-about route thru Charlotte so I'll probably leave in the morning, spend some time at a few of the stores I like there, and then head over to Raleigh.

It's either that, or get up at 4am on Wednesday and do the usual drive and I'd much rather take my time.  I typically don't get crazy on New Year's eve, in fact I'd be more surprised if I'm still awake to see the ball fall than if I just went to bed as usual.

But that's all next week.  There's still a weekend left in 2012, and I've got some plans.  There are still some 2012 memories to build.  This morning I'm headed off to use a Groupon I bought for some eyelash extensions.  This should be interesting.  :)

Friday, December 28, 2012

Cinderella Moments

There are few times in life that we get to experience what I call "Cinderella Moments".  Being able to be pampered with something special that provides an almost magical, dream-like quality.  I don't know that I can pin down all the ingredients and conditions that need to come together to create these unique, fairly rare experiences.  Like water-spouts or the Northern Lights or a lunar eclipse...part of the wonder of it is that it doesn't happen every day.

I had one of those Cinderella Moments yesterday.  I've got a wonderful friend who I consider to be very stylish and well-versed on putting clothes and outfits together.  We had talked about spending a shopping afternoon together and that afternoon turned out to be yesterday.  Her daughter, in her early twenties, came with us to provide additional perspective.

We went to one store.  It's in Charleston Place.  Charleston Place is a number of's a luxury hotel.  It has wonderful restaurants and bars.  And it has high end shopping.  Gucci is there.  Godiva Chocolates.  That kind of thing.  Very nice stuff, very high end, and very expensive.

Years and years ago, in Scottsdale, I fell in love with St. John clothes.  Their looks are timeless and elegant - two things that are important to me.  They're made with tremendous quality, using impeccable material, and an eye for flattering the female form in all it's many sizes and shapes.  The problem is that I can rarely afford it.

Well...our shopping excursion yesterday started and ended at St. John.  There's a 60% sale going on which brings some of these things within my budget.  Three hours of bringing things into a dressing room larger than my kitchen and trying them on.  Dresses.  Skirts.  Slacks.  Tops.  Blazers.  Stepping out of the dressing room to the carefully critical eyes of my friend, her daughter, and the two sales women.  It was wonderful.

The good news is that we found a boatload of things we all oooh'd and ahhh'd about.  From the moment you slip into these just know.  You can feel it.  Magical.

The bad news is that we found a boatload of things that, together, when added up without any discounts, came to over $10,000.  Even at 60% off that's painful.  So, difficult decisions needed to be made.  And they were.

These are not things I "need".  I work at a company that is very, very casual and relaxed.  I could wear what I've got and be totally fine there for the rest of my career.  But as I look at myself 15 years into my "new" life I realize that there are several levels of "need".  What I need to do is find opportunities to go our and enjoy these clothes.  What I need to do is expand horizons that will allow me to do new things. That's the message I'm choosing to sense from the universe.

Yesterday's Cinderella Moment was about more than just beautiful clothes.  It was a shopping experience with friends.  It was about potential, and opportunity, and moments to reflect that these kinds of things are even possible.  I wish my dad were here to see - I think he'd be almost as amazed as I continue to be.

So - yesterday, I had my Cinderella moment.  Afterwards we went to the bar to celebrate with a glass of wine.  And today I have a subset of the clothes we all agreed were wonderful and amazing.  But it's not just a one-day thing.  I will create opportunities in my world to wear them, and enjoy them.  They make me feel, um, Cinderella.

We all have our pumpkin moments, too, when the magic ends and everything turns back into ordinary.

Some people will get what I'm saying without further explanation.  Others, I fear, never will.  That's ok.  It doesn't change what I'm doing or how I'm feeling about it.

It is also motivation to stay in shape.  Some of these clothes fit perfectly, so allowing myself to outgrown them would be unwise.  I will be at the gym later today to do my part.  :)

I've got another Cinderella Moment later today.  As I mentioned, when I buy new "stuff" from the MAC Store it usually involves a half hour lesson on how to use it, and what can be done with it.  That appointment is for 5 today.  I must be going through some kind of phase.  Regardless, I'm likin' it.

In the meantime - today is a day for takin care of "stuff".  Oil change.  Some running around.  Fitness Center.  There's a movie I'm still trying to see that I suspect will be out of theaters soon.  My appt. at the MAC counter.  Then....someplace I can go and have some fun with it.  I slept until almost 7:30 so I got a late start on it all.  Regardless.  I'll get done what I can.  :)  There will be more time tomorrow to do the rest.

Lovin' life!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas 2012

It's over.  Christmas is done.  Phew.  Like as I know it won't begin again until after New Year's, but at least the hurdle of Christmas is past.

Honestly, Christmas was actually very pleasant.  Breakfast with a friend.  A visit to the ocean.  A wonderful dinner with part of my Charleston "family"....the second year in a row.  

The morning was especially notable.  Charleston was like a ghost town.  Nobody was out except the dog-walkers.  No traffic.  No runners.  No tourists.  No traffic.  There were no cars in the 24-hr. supermarket parking lot.  It was eerie.  Actually, it was wonderful....

But it's all back to normal today.  Tours are going down the street.  Shoppers are out.  The strong storms that made their way across the south passed thru with some rain and thunder but now it's just cooler and windy and sunny.  I feel like I should be at feels odd to not be.

Something insignificant but telling happened a couple of days ago.  I had a big box with a TV in it that I brought over to the apartment from my storage unit.  It's big and bulky, and sort of heavy, but I'm used to doing things by myself and I've carried it in and out of here several times...up and down the stairs.  Anyway, I was getting ready to pick it up on the sidewalk in front of where I live and a man walked by and asked me if I needed help.

Now, I knew I could do this by myself.  But really, it's easier if there are two people.  And, for some reason, I said no....that I've done it before and I'd be fine.  He asked me if I was sure and I picked it up so he went on his way.

I should have said "yes".  In fact, there are times in the past when there have been things that I've needed to carry into here that are too big for just me where I've stopped the first person walking past and they've always helped.   But in the split second where this guy asked if he could help or not in my mind I knew I didn't need it so I didn't accept it.

As I say...not a significant thing.  But it retrospect I find it telling.  I find it hard to ask for or accept help even though I know I need it sometimes.  It's hard for me.

Today has been a quiet day.  There have been a couple of times when I've thought about going to the gym but the reality is that another of my "problems" is that I don't know when to just slow down.  So - I spent part of the day visiting with my neighbors across the hall (wonderful people), park of it putzing around here at home, and part of it hooking up an Apple TV.  I'm going to spend a quiet afternoon, and learn to do that more often....if it kills me.

The Holidays are a time of introspection and reflection.  It's a time to look at your what you've done as well as road left to cover.  I think it's also a time to look at your life and consider things about yourself that you'd like to (or need to) change.  That process is ongoing.

I stopped to see my friends at the local MAC store this morning.  They had several new collections come out today and, as I've said, everyone who works there has become a friend.  There are genuine smiles and hugs when I stop by...on both sides.

One of the collections is called "Strength".  The particular reason I mention it here is the promo photo for it:

That's one of the things I love about the company.  Recognizing that strength and femininity are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  Unsurprisingly, the photo has generated a number of comments - both positive and negative - if you look for them.

Anyway - I bought my usual small stash.  And on Friday I've got an appointment to actually learn how to use it.  :)  That's another thing I love about them.

I don't know that I've come up with a theme for Christmas 2012.  It was just a day.  I spent part of  it with people who have become pseudo-family on a number of levels.  I spent part of it comfortably alone.  There was no pressure.  There was no agenda.

Monday, December 24, 2012

' Tis the Season

It's Christmas eve.  6:30am

I was out and about for a while yesterday and don't know if people were more filled with joy, anger, anxiety, or relief that it's almost over.  I think the so-called "Holiday Season" brings out both the best and worst in people.  It's days like this I'm happy to be away from it all.

It can be quite the time to endure.  I recently read on article on Huffington that I'm sure many of us can relate to (read it here).  One friend sent Christmas gifts to rejecting family and they were returned, unopened.  I could go on and on with those kinds of stories but what's the point?

I'm fortunate because my family is wonderful and I could certainly go and spend the Holidays with them.  But truth be told I'm enjoying my "me" time right now.

As the year winds down there automatically some level of analysis.  Over this past year several of the relationships in my life have shifted significantly, while others that weren't in the picture have become more important.  Physically, I'm still in good shape but I am noticing that it's not the same as it was.  Mentally, I'm feeling good.  And generally, the thing I'm most thankful for (after my health) is having a generally good sense of balance right now.

Christmas eve 9pm's not an evening unlike other evenings.  I'm watching a movie that I've been wanting to see.  It's an animated movie that came out a couple of years ago that I didn't get to see in the theaters: "How To Train Your Dragon".  I'm really enjoying it.  It's cute.  Plus - there's lots of it I can identify with.  I only hope it doesn't make me cry.

For years, our family quote-unquote Christmas Movie was the old "A Christmas Carol" with Alastair Sim.  But I haven't even seen it available on any of my channel for years.  I remember all of us watching it together - my brother and sister and dad.  There's all kinds of newer versions....but it's not the same.  Like many of my other Holiday memories they're now just that - memories.  That's not a bad fact I cling to them.  I don't have to keep reliving them year after year.  I think the key is to make new ones.

It was a good day.  I was out early and said "Merry Christmas" to a few friends around town.  I did a couple of last minute shopping things.  I took a nap.  I had dinner with a certain friend, and her family.  Now I'm watching my movie, and feeling good.  I've had a couple of invitations to do things this evening but, to be honest, this kind of simple thing is exactly what I need right now.  I'll be in bed early.

My only Christmas decoration is my trusty stocking that my sister made for me.  It doesn't have anything in it, but at least it's got my name on it.  And the one of the two presents I bought for myself is under it by the fireplace.  A new camera.  I'll open it tomorrow, so I'll have something to play with.

As you can see - I've gone to the dark side.  This is my first Nikon.  I had to get myself one thing....and this is that thing.  Photography makes me happy.  It always has.  And if I have my way it will be a profession more than a hobby at some point.

Last year I got myself a bike.  The year before....well, I can't remember.

Anyway - time for an egg nog concoction I've come up with....egg nog with a "touch" of Baily's Irish Cream, Kahlua, vodka.  Then....sleep.

Tomorrow - a bit of breakfast, a bike ride or a run, some time here at the apartment, some time playing with my new "toy".  I've got dinner planned with some friends at their beautiful house.  It's supposed to rain in the afternoon...but the high will be 65.  We'll see how it unfolds.  That's half the fun.

I've talked with a couple of friends today who are struggling with family issues.  As many of us know....the Holidays seem to bring things to a head sometimes, for better or for worse.

But - to whoever out there reads what I write - Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, and I hope that wherever you are and whatever you believe you're at Peace.    As far as I'm concerned - that's the goal for all of this.


Saturday, December 22, 2012


I'm on vacation.

I'm not on a vacation-vacation.  I mean, when I think of going on vacation there's a certain aspect of getting away and "doing" something.  But the company I'm working for in Raleigh closes down as of today thru Jan. 2 so you couldn't work even if you wanted to.  Thus, I'm on vacation at home.

I've got some plans for my vacation - one of which is to unplug as much as possible.  Another is to rest.  A third is simply to do some things I've been wanting to do for a while but that my odd commute schedule (and my own procrastination) has left either undone or unfinished.

Health is part of it.  I signed up for some Barre classes thru Living Social and went to my first class this morning.  It was tough...a mixture of flexibility and working muscles that don't usually get worked.  But I enjoyed it - especially the patient, supportive approach of the instructor and all the other women there.

Although I've got more than my fair share of muscles, toning and strengthening certain ones (my butt, thru my abs, my thighs) has been elusive so I'm hoping that this will help.  And I very very very much need to find something to help me get more flexible.  Anyway, I expect to be doing this three times a week.

It was a very pretty day here and I wanted to avoid going near a mall, so I went for a nice long run/walk through downtown, over the bridge, and back.  As I type this it's 7pm on a Saturday night and I should probably be getting ready to go out and do something festive.  Instead, I just finished some tea, and some soup, and I'm in my PJ's.  I'm pooped, and I suspect that I'll be in bed early this evening.

I went to see the movie "Lincoln" last night.  I enjoyed it.  I won't say it was my favorite movie of the year but it was certainly interesting and well-acted.  It was timely, too, as watching the Republicans and Democrats fighting with one another over the 13th Amendment is very fiscal-cliff"esqe".  Anyway....well done.

I don't see many movies coming out this month that I really want to see.  Pity.

Friday, December 21, 2012


So.  It's 6:30am on end-of-the-world Friday and the world as we know it is still here.  Shocker.

Today is the first day of winter.  I'm just glad I live in a place where winter isn't really winter (or at least, not the way that I know winter).  I made it back to Charleston yesterday before the storm got here and we had 50 mph winds last night but thankfully (a) it's not a blizzard and (b) I don't need to either fly or drive anywhere for a while.  I know many in the middle of the country are not so lucky.

A "cold" front did pass thru and low temperatures tonight are forecast to fall into the twenties (wind chill in the teens) but no big deal there.  Yawn.

In my last post I mentioned that people on FB are getting goopy.  Let me explain...

There are a number of consistent topics at the moment:

* end of the world - Not
* guns
* fiscal cliff
* the fact that people you don't know will be able to send you messages for $1
* happiness over the holidays
* sadness over the holidays

All are certainly relevant and timely.  But it can all be overwhelming....  Goopy.

I was in bed by 9 last night.  In MY bed.  Well...technically not my bed but the bed in MY apartment.  I woke up at a sip of ginger ale...and went back to bed for another 4 hours.  I needed the sleep.  I hope to get lots of it over the next few days.

As for all this Fiscal Cliff stuff...11 days and counting.  My own personal prediction is that we're going over it.  Hold on.  Our government is too dysfunctional to stop it, and it should have acted on it a long time ago.  The fact that we are where we are is as much an indication of procrastination as dysfunction.  Anyway....we'll see how it plays out.

With all that said....I'm going to bundle my little self up and walk down to the ocean.  I need the spiritual deep breath it provides.  Watching sunrise on the solstice is a special thing. :)


So....this is the reflection of the solstice sunrise in some of the windows across the street from the ocean.    I'll call it "Solstice Reflections".  :)

I got to bundle up in my Columbia winter jacket that I bought to make it thru the winter in PA a few years ago.  I don't get many opportunities to wear it (thankfully) and probably didn't need it this morning but it certainly kept me warm.

One other thing...

I stopped at Victoria's Secret last week because I had a credit there I needed to use.  I've mentioned before that I buy all my bras there....they just fit me well.  I typically buy what I'll call "practical" bras as well....everyday bras that are comfortable and that I can wear to work or with whatever.  I like bras that have a little bit of girls like some Body By Victoria and I get along very well.  I'll admit that I've got a couple of frilly, "fun" ones as well but I don't consider those to be practical.  Anyway....

So, I have this credit and need to use it and was talking to the salesgirl.  She brought me over to some new style that she said was a little of both - fun and practical.  It's called "Bombshell", and says that it will add 2 cups to your size (see it here).  I am the proud new owner of a black one of these things - just like the one in the photo if you clicked on that link.  I have no idea how the scientists/architects/engineers or whatever you want to call the people who design bras are come up with these things, but it's actually pretty amazing.  Putting this on is very comfortable, and truth be told it's a little embarrassing how big these things make my girls look.  Anyway....I'm not really sure why I shared that, but there you go.

Time to begin the day!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

No Pressure


Today is my son's birthday.  He's 27 years old.  That's a trip.

It feels like being a parent to him was a lifetime ago.  I suppose in some very real ways, it was.  We haven't had the "family" thing in quite a while but no matter how many years go by he'll always be my little man.

When I talked with him earlier this morning I mentioned all those birthday parties where his little friends would come and we'd have to do the whole "party" thing.  One year we had it at a Chuck E Cheese kind of place and I was ticked because the Bills had a playoff game that day.  Us Buffalo Fans won't see another of those for a looonggggggg time.

His mom sent him a care package full of some "stuff", plus what he really wants.  Cash.  I didn't get so creative.....just a card and cash.  I suspect he'll be happy whether or not there are extra shirts or socks stuffed into a box hiding the real present.  Mine is just easier to find, and more to the point.

I'm in Raleigh - closing up some projects here before year-end shut down.  The entire company closes starting Saturday thru Jan. 2 so I couldn't do work even if I wanted to.  So, all the year-end stuff is getting done now like paperwork, tying off loose ends, finances....none of it fun but all of it necessary.

I've had a couple of friends write to talk about strategies for "surviving" the holidays.  I don't know if I've got a strategy.  Some years it was a week for healing, as any surgery I'd have I'd save for that week.  I never, ever listen to Christmas music.  Humbug on that.  I typically won't watch anything on TV too overly Holiday-ish either.  It's not because it brings me down - it's just that it really doesn't do anything for me either way.

Our group has adopted a "Secret Santa" thing where everyone put their names in a hat and chose someone for whom they will leave little gifts here and there.  I chose not to participate so there's no pressure there.

People are getting all goopy on Facebook so I'm avoiding that.  Instead I'm focusing on more positive pursuits. 

 The weather sometimes plays a part.  A couple of years ago my mom wanted me to come and visit and a blizzard made flying back across the country tough.
Today, in fact, the nasty storm that has made its way across country is supposed to reach Raleigh and Charleston so I'll be leaving a little early in hopes of beating it.  I'd prefer to play it safe.

 Last year a highlight was a long bike ride, then dinner with some friends.  I'd love a repeat, although the weather on Tuesday is looking kinda iffy so we'll see. All things considered....I look forward to this as down time....not pressure time.

I will admit that my wardrobe enjoys this time of year.  It's when I replenish things.  I'll be headed back to SouthPoint mall tonight and I already know a couple of places I need to visit - not for anyone else, but for me.

I've got some simple goals for my 10-days of shut-down.  I want to migrate as much stuff off my old iMac onto my external hard drive as I can, and clean it up.  Same is true for my laptop.  I want to install Lightroom 4 and play with some of my photos.  I want to play guitar each day.  I want to do something physical each day - whether it be go for a walk, or a hike, or to the gym, or kayaking....I want to see 3 or 4 movies.  There's some real and symbolic cleansing that needs to happen.


Ever since I signed up for Groupon and Living Social my in-basket gets tons of extra email.  Since I travel as much as I do I get offers from both Charleston and Raliegh/Durham/Chapel Hill.  It surprises me which ones will catch my interest and become impulse buys.  I've recently done a couple of those and will share how they come out.

One that comes on every 6 weeks or so is the opportunity to do a skydiving thing.  I'm going to sign up for that.  I've got a "buddy" who says she wants to do it too but my confidence that she'll really take the step when it comes to jumping or not is not high.

I signed up for 4 Pure Barre classes in Charleston to tone my core.  I'm actually looking forward to getting going on those.

That's the key - core strength.  Your arms are one thing but shoulders, stomach, butt, trunk....those are critical for so many things.  I'm actively trying to make more lean muscle so we'll see how this goes.  

Speaking of birthdays - in 2 months and 2 days I'll turn 54 (God willing).  Oy.

The storm making it's way across the central US is on it's way.  I'll leave here at lunch time in hope of escaping most of it.  At least rain is better than snow. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Lightning, then calm.

A loud peel of thunder just made it's way down my street.  A bright light, followed by an immediate rrrrriiiipppppp-boooooooom!  Now, it's raining and the thunder and lightning is much more "normal".  Ironically, I was waiting for my power to flicker off and I got a note on my iPhone saying there's a Severe Thunderstorm Warning.  Um.  I know.

I'm in Charleston, today.  I can hardly walk.  On Saturday I decided to start working some muscles I haven't focused on in a while.  My calfs.  So now that I'm focusing on my legs more I spent some time working my calves.  And, in my "go big or go home" kinda way I apparently overdid it.  It didn't hurt yesterday.  But today?  Oh my God.  It feels like knives stabbing  them.  I spent a half hour massaging them and that helped a little.  It has made me realize that one thing I don't have here is a bathtub.

It's surreal that next week today will be Christmas Eve.  Between now and then I'll drive to Raleigh for 3 days and back, and the weekend will be another weekend.  My son's birthday is the day after tomorrow.  He'll be 27.  27 friggin years old!!  Then 15th anniversary of my dad's death is the end of next week.  He's been gone for 15 years.  My dad.  How can that be?

It seems we always talk about the passage of time.  But starting now - as in - this week - thru the end of the year - my life becomes full of life anniversaries that have helped to shape me in very profound, ways.

I change during the Holidays.  I know I do.  And I apologize in advance to anyone I might bite between now and then.  I become fairly solitary.  I turn inwards.  I don't let the way that other people choose to celebrate it derail my own experience of it.   I realize that the Holidays can be tough and I've come to peace that it is fitting to end the year with these kinds of quiet, reflective, opportunities.

I haven't even left yet and I'm already looking forward to getting home and nesting on Thursday.

Anyways, the storm has passed.  Things are quiet again in downtown Charleston.  I'll need to start packing for my trip, I'll watch a little TV, and I'll be in bed by 9 or 9:30.  I'll be on the road by 5:30 in the morning, so 12 hours from now comes quickly.  Too quickly.  Time doesn't slow down for any of us....

I was thinking the other night about what I'm missing in life right now.  I miss my mom's fruit cake.  I realize that there's a negative "aura" to fruit cake but my mom used her grand-mother's recipe and for years her cakes were definitive of of Christmas for me.

I miss my sister's Christmas cookies.  The closest I've had recently was one that a friend's daughter made but these aren't things you can buy.  There's something more to it than that.  I may spend some time on Christmas making some of my own.

Some things don't seem to change.  For example, I graduated from Syracuse University in 1981 in in all my years there we had one head basketball coach.  Jim Boeheim.  Well, Jim is still there - still doing what he did all those years ago.  He has coached athletes there, and then eventually coached their sons. As he closes in on 900 victories, and eventually becomes the winningest coach in NCAA basketball history he remains one of those reminders that some things can and do last.  SU has moved up to #3 in the most recent coaches poll and we're currently playing Detroit.  Go 'Cuse!

Another interesting skin.  For all the years I didn't take care of my face you'd think it'd be a mess at this stage of life.  It's not.  There's not a day go by that I don't moisturize now - it's just part of getting ready for the day - and I'm constantly amazed at how smooth it is.  That said, age is certainly taking a toll on it and if I do have one more "procedure" left it'll be to tighten up the extra skin that covered all the facial bone that was removed.

I watched the president's remarks at the Elementary School where the kids were slaughtered in CT yesterday.  He is incredibly eloquent, and both his words and the way he said them really hit home.  As I said in my original post on the subject I find these things to be symptoms of much deeper problems and I hold out hope that we, collectively, have those discussions.  I perceive the current discussion on gun control as the solution as a knee-jerk, simplistic, reaction.

As a gun owner myself I certainly have feelings on the issue, but I'm far from what I'd consider to be a radical in that regard.  Watching some of the current conversations on FB on that particular issue is very heated....I'm not wading into any of that.  One of my own ironies is that I don't think that I'd own one if I weren't trans.  I was never around them growing up, and actually I never felt vulnerable before.  At my first support group meeting a number of the girls were discussing that fact and it scared me a little bit.  Now, I get it.

I believe that if someone gets it in their mind to do something horrible - they'll find a way.  Part of that is the price we pay for some of the freedoms we enjoy.

Back to the main theme....time happens.  It's a constant.  I'm committed to ensuring that I make the most of the time I've got.  My bucket list is very real, and my biggest goal for 2013 is to got to Europe.  The rest....well, we'll see how it unfolds.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


So - it's Friday and I'm in Raleigh.  That's a bit of a rarity for me as my typical schedule sends me home on Thursday nights so I typically work remotely on Friday.  But not this week.

Part of the reason for the change was a mandatory all-day off site event scheduled for today.  That was cancelled last minute, so it's just another work day.  Actually, it's more than just another work day as one of the projects I was originally hired to manage is implemented today so it's nice to reach that milestone.

I am going through some interesting "moods".

The companyis having their official Holiday Party this evening afternoon and evening.  It's down at our new headquarters building downtown, and I had originally made arrangements to spend an extra night here to attend.  I have also been invited to a holiday event later this evening by my manager at her home.  Realistically, although I just drove up here yesterday I suspect I'll be on the road home by the time the party starts.

Why?  I dunno.  I'm really not feeling all that festive - although that's neither good nor bad.  Going alone to these things is a bit of a drag - and although I already know that for some reason I continue to think things will change at some event or another.  Regardless....I'd rather be home than anywhere so that makes it an easier decision.

I will also admit to feeling particularly "girly" lately.  I don't get accused of being girly all that often but truth be told I go through phases.  I'm in one of those phases.  And - when I say that - I immediately open myself up for charges of being stereotypical but I'm ok with that.

For example, I've probably bought a dozen or more pairs of shoes in the last 2 or 3 months.  Pumps.  Boots.  Wedges.  Darn you, DSW!  The good news is that I'll only buy stuff that is on sale so at least I always feel like I'm saving some money.  But this particular DSW in Raleigh has a wonderful selection of size 10's and 11's so my chances for finding something I like are higher (I'm still not sure if that's good or bad).

Same for make-up.  I've bought quite a bit lately.  More than I either can possibly use.  But I still enjoy learning how to do it....

And dresses.  I'm feeling particularly "dress needy" and my typical source of therapy in that regard is Banana Republic, or Nordstrom's Rack.  Another part of my "mood" is that I'm back into the swing of things about getting to the gym regularly so far so good.  But I need to get this figure a little more under control to fully appreciate the dresses and the shoes.  It all fits together.

So, back to the here and now.  If I had a crystal ball I'd sat I'll be in my truck shortly doing the 300 miles back home and I'll be in my own bed tonight.  I've got a phone conference at 4 to dial into so that'll keep me busy part of the way.  Hopefully whatever they consider as "Holiday Traffic" hasn't started up yet...

Saturday 7:30am
My crystal ball was true.  I skipped the Holiday party and drove home.  I'm glad I did.

I've been watching the reactions to the elementary school shootings in Connecticut yesterday morning.  I can't think of words horrific enough to describe what it must be like for someone to target a school full of young kids and to shoot them, or to be a parent of a child there.

What this person did was the ultimate of cowardice.  He went to a school - a place where no firearms are allowed, and targeted the most vulnerable people he could find.  Kids.  It was a slaughter, and I refuse the let my mind go to what it must have been like as those innocent kids were killed one after another.

I think of other Isreal...where people get on a bus or walk own a busy street unaware that they're about to die in a massive explosion.  But here - we live under an increasingly false sense of security that we can come and go in our daily lives and we, and the people we love, will be safe.

We've seen other senseless situations like this with alarming frequency.  And the conversation always turns to gun control.  I'm not going to wade into that right now, but frankly as far as I'm concerned this is a much deeper problem.  How people like this are walking around, whether it be due to mental illness or rage or whatever.  I have no answers on how to stem the tide of horrific violence.  But I sincerely hope we, as a society, look at the bigger picture rather than particular symptoms of what is happening.

One story on CNN was talking about how these things feed on themselves and I think it's true.  Disaffected, angry, frustrated, mentally unbalanced people who somehow get it in their mind that they're going to spend their last few moments of life slaughtering others.  You can only watch so much of these news's so emotional.  Sadness, anger, psychologist was just talking about how kids are going to be afraid to go to school and how important it is for parents to ensure them that they're safe there.  Before long people are going to get hunkered down in their houses thinking that it'll keep them safe.

One of the things it reinforces in me is to live each day as though it's your last.  It very well could be.  My ex- wrote to me last night about one of the parents from our neighborhood who had a son in my own son's class.  This father has had 3 heart attacks, and she says he's gray and looks like he's 90 years old.  I feel fortunate to be able to go at the pace I do.  It could all end in a minute.

I've got a busy weekend here planned.  Of course, I've got a list of things to do.  It includes some "me" things - a pedicure, some time at the gym, a little bit of shopping (thank God for the person who invented the Gift Card!), maybe a movie.  I'm looking forward to a nice day here....

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


This contains two I started last night and one I wrote today.  And they're both FREE!  As always.

Mon 9:00pm

As a follow-up to my post from this morning....

The crown thing went fine.  The places where she injected the painkiller hurt a bit when the painkiller wore off (how ironic is that?) but the temporary crown feels right at home in there and I'm none the worse for wear.

The interesting thing about living in downtown Charleston is that we live on a peninsula.  I live right near the tip so I can get to the ocean in a couple of minutes in a number of different directions.  .One problem we don't have here is sprawl - there's no place to sprawl to except the sea.

There is one place to do grocery shopping.  If you want to meet anyone who lives here....hang out at the Harris Teeter on E. Bay for a while.  It's a nice store - thankfully - although I'll admit that I've been spoiled by living in Rochester and getting to know Wegmans.  But, I regress....  I sometimes walk to it, or ride my bike there. It's that close...and the walk never gets old.  Plus, the exercise is good.

When I lived in Scottsdale I could do everything I wanted or needed without ever going to another part of the Valley.  I'd go into Phoenix proper once or twice a year, but everything else was right there in Scottsdale.  But I couldn't walk there.   Here - although we live downtown most other things are someplace else.  Whether it's W. Ashley or Mt. Pleasant or N. Charleston, or even out towards Summerville I find myself out somewhere most days I'm here.

Right now, as I type this, it's 8 something pm and there's a night time tour in front of the house.  I can hear the guy talking through my open windows.  I'm not quite sure why you'd take a tour of this historic city in the dark, but I'm sure there's a good reason.  Some of the night tours are "haunted" tours, but night or day whether on foot or in a carriage or in a bus, people are up and down the streets.

Tuesday 4pm

I got my annual card from the White House today.  Last year it was pretty.  This's a picture of the dog wearing a scarf running in the snow on the front lawn. I'm pretty sure it's an old picture because so far as I know they haven't had that big of a snowfall yet this winter.  And it's as out of focus in person as it looks.  Very interesting...

Regardless - I do appreciate it.

Now that it's the end of the year all kinds of "Best Of" lists will be coming out.

I've been thinking of  my own "Best of" moments for the trans community in 2012.  This is what I've got so far.

1)  Canadian beauty queen allowed to compete is Miss Universe pageant.
2)  GID Removed from DSM 5
3)  Continuing corporate growth of insurance benefits for trans wellness
4)  9 trans delegates at the DNC
5)  Trans athletes.

I mentioned a recent USA Today article about a trans basketball player.  Needless to say, it has generated quite a bit of talk.  I've said before and I'll say again - that's what I was worried about during my wrestling adventures - so glad it didn't happen.  Of particular interest are the very trans defamatory remarks of 2 DJ's for ESPN Radio in Washington DC.  They have since been suspended (story here).  It's one of those instances where the right thing happened.

As for me - I went to the gym today - ran 3 miles.  I'm headed to my usual half-price burger place tonight.  Got a good day of work done.  I bought a couple of dresses at Banana Republic (40% off!)  I appreciate the help of the can dislocate a shoulder trying to zip the silly things.  And their help narrowing the 4 dresses I liked to the 2 I bought was much appreciated.

I bought a couple of pairs of new shoes, too.  One pair has a leopard print on it that's a little out of character but they look and feel good, and the prices was right.  Now I just need to find an opportunity to wear them.

All things's just my life and I wouldn't have it any other way.....

Monday, December 10, 2012


I went to the dentist this morning.

It's not a visit I've been looking forward to.  I've got a couple of teeth that need crowns.  At a thousand dollars a pop it's something I need to save for, and I'll admit the reality spending that kind of money on my mouth hurts more than the procedures themselves.

Some may remember that last spring I had a root canal - no fun there either.  But I've got my mom's teeth and she's had the exact same "problems" so I try to convince myself that these investments in my teeth are actually good things.  Which they are.  I just wish it wasn't so bloody expensive.

I've basically had two dentists in my adult life.  One was back in Rochester, and I made it a point to go and see him whenever I went to visit in the years after we left.  He's my sister's dentist, he was my mom's dentist, he was my dad's dentist, and I've known him ever since we were both 20 something year olds....we're around the same age.

But I've gotten comfortable with a dentist here in Charleston so for all intents and purposes, she's in charge of my teeth now.  It's another of those things that comes with settling somewhere and making it feel like home - finding a hairdresser, and a doctor, and a dentist....  I have those things here.

While this dentist works she provides headphones and an iPod to listen to music. One song that played today while she was working left a lasting impression.  It's a wonderful version with a unique, soulful treatment, of an old Cure song:

It's well worth closing your eyes and listening.  For me, It's haunting.  A question - when you listen to it does someone in your life immediately come to mind, without actually thinking about it?  Not necessarily an "I'm in Love" with you kind of person, but a person that you can honestly and truly tell that you love them?

Anyways,  I will admit that it's much more fun to listen to without a bright light in your eyes and a drill in your mouth.  I suppose that's true with most things in life, tho.

I went to the Mt. Pleasant Holiday parade yesterday evening.  It was actually pretty nice...they make a big deal of it.  Fireworks, floats, was quite the production.  Very festive.

My schedule this week is a bit "off" because of a number of things.  I'll be going to see Hall and Oates perform here in Charleston, I've got a number of meetings at work on Thursday, then there's an all-day off-site work event Friday.  The week is topped off with the company Holiday party on Friday evening.

The only thing I didn't get done yesterday that I had planned was a visit to the gym.  That's actually pretty good, I think.  My my weekends seem to take on a life of their own and I don't try to "plan" them so much as set flexible goals.  I'll catch up on the things I didn't get done today and tomorrow.  :)

I did some little things to get settled more lately.  For example, I took all the little keychain bar-code thingies for the various grocery store chains in Phoenix off my keychain.  I've still got old Wegmans/Chase Pitkins ones that I wouldn't get rid of for anything, but when it comes to Albertson's or Fry's or Basha's....I don't expect to need those anymore.  Same is true for my Blockbuster card.  Old news.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

My Own Drum

It's 8:30am.  I woke up about a half hour ago, and am sitting with my first cup of coffee.  I slept for almost 9 hours....that's just mind blowing for me.  I suppose it's a function of needing it, being wonderfully relaxed, and having the opportunity to do it.

Ironically, I don't know if I'd do it every day even if I could.  There's something special about the rare nature of it, about the rarity.  Anyway - it was nice.  I hope my day unfolds in a similarly nice way.

One minor cloud.  I have a pimple this morning that I didn't have last night.  Puberty is a bear....

I was watching something on Bo Jackson.  The interviewer asked him if he would have made any different decisions in his career.  As the only player to play in both the NFL Pro-Bowl and the Major League Baseball All-Star game his career was cut short by a horrible hip injury in his late 20's.  He honestly said 'no' - the length of his career wasn't important.  What was important was that he broke rules about professional athletes that others didn't think could be broken, and he showed that you could be good at more than one thing.  He lived his life to the beat of his own drum.  Amen.

I sometimes find it difficult to reconcile the need to march by my own drum and at drums that others play.  It's a constant balancing act.  It'd be easy to say that I don't think about it but I do.  Who and what I am is me - drummers be damned.

Yesterday was full of nothing special, which is what made it SO special.  I spent time at the gym.  I did a little shopping.  I spent a good chunk of time running errands and hangin' with a certain someone.  It was a good day.

Oh - and when I got home last night I parallel parked my truck in a space that had a foot of room in the front and 2 feet in the back.  That might not sound like much, but this is a big friggen truck so being able to maneuver her like that and estimate that I could even do it was no small feat.  I was right up next to the curb, too, so it was almost a perfect park.  As I stood there and looked at it I was admittedly proud of it.  It's progress.

We are looking at the possibility of record warm weather here today - the high is forecast to be 76%.  I'm already looking forward to getting out in it.  On the second Sunday of each month they close King St. to traffic so it's full of shoppers, musicians, the restaurants spill out onto the's like a street festival.  Anyway, I'm going to get that done.  I need to spend a little more time in the gym.  The rest of the day?  It will unfold itself....

I talked with a dear friend for a while last night.  She was on her way home from her company Christmas party.  We talked about our common sense of maintaining a sense of distance from most of our co-workers because we're "different" and we don't want worlds over-lapping.  It is a feeling that she and I share because I find those same social blockers at play in my own life.

I've got two work-related Christmas parties coming up.  I will go to both, but I suspect my experience will be similar to hers....make an appearance, socialize with a few people, then go.  I still can't believe that Christmas is less than two weeks away.  If I'm going to do Christmas Cards this year I better get at it...

Right now I'm not worried about it.  I'm sipping on coffee, sun is streaming in, and the possibility of a good day is at hand.  I suppose I couldn't ask for anything more.

The Keb Mo concert on Friday was excellent.  It was a solo/acoustic show, so it was just Keb, his guitars, his music, and a full theater.  By the end people were dancing in the gap between the stage and Row 1.  As far as I'm concerned, that's the mark of an amazing musician.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mo Stuff

Too bad there's no such thing as a life-GPS.

When I went to visit my mom in Dallas over Thanksgiving she mentioned that she was thinking about getting a GPS, or a GPS-enabled cell phone.  Technology is not my mom's strong suit as evidenced by the fact it took me years just to get her off Microsoft Windows ME because she was just comfortable there.  Now, I suspect she'll hold onto Windows XP until her last day.

Regardless, I offered to give her my GPS.  Which I did.  While I was there I showed her how it all worked and she seemed truly impressed.  The funny thing is that I'm willing to bet money that the next time I visit - whether next month, 6 months from now, or beyond, it'll be where I left the box.

The reason it's pertinent for this post is that I needed a new GPS.  With all the driving I do finding things is just a necessity, and I don't like using my iPhone as my main source of navigation.  There are a number of things that I wanted in a GPS that I didn't have in my last one so as usual I did my research and waited for Black Friday to make the move.  Which I did.

Now, there's a 5-inch Garmin GPS on my dash.  She's very polite...and I use the pronoun "she" because she's got a female voice.  She's very polite...she even sometimes says "please" when providing directions.  The funny thing is that I find myself talking back to her sometimes....kinda like Siri....but of course she doesn't answer.  But I think it's probably telling of how much time I spend in it and how much I depend on her.  As far as I'm concerned the GPS is up there with the microwave oven, cell phones and laptop computers as life-changing "appliances".

I suppose it would be nice to have similar navigation guidance through life.  A GPS Unit that says "Um...don't do that" could be helpful.  Or, when you  meet someone it urges you to follow-up with them because it recognizes the potential for the future.  I suppose the closest thing any of us has to a life GPS is our gut, but the funny thing is that even though we know better than the GPS how to get from A to B yet we still trust it I don't know that we have a similar level of confidence in our gut.  Just saying...

After getting out of work yesterday I did the 4 1/2 hr. drive home, so today I'm in Charleston.  I've got a busy, hair appointment late this afternoon, today is the December Art Walk downtown which is always special, and I've got a ticket to see Keb 'Mo tonight.  That doesn't include all the little things.

There have been a couple of interesting things on Huffington Post over the last couple of days.  One is that Ellen DeGeneres seems to have again earned the ire of the conservative group "One Million Moms" with her most recent JC Penny ad (article here).  I had't seen that ad, but frankly I find it pretty funny.  And their problem can't be with the content - it's with the fact that Ellen is involved at all.

Speaking of Ellen, Finding Nemo comes out in Blu-Ray this week and I'll be sure to get my copy.  I've been waiting for this for years.  It's still one of my favorite "feel-good" movies.

So - I'm going to see Keb 'Mo tonight.  I've followed his music for several years, and tonight I finally get to see him.  I'm looking forward to it as he plays a unique style of blues that I particularly enjoy.  Kind of Robert Cray-ish, but he's a little rougher.

It surprises me how many people have never heard of him and that's ok as far as I'm concerned.  It means getting a ticket wasn't as crazed as it might have been, and he's playing in a relatively small venue so there's more opportunity to be up close.

Since this entry seems to be filled with video I may as well add one more to the mix.  I used my iPhone to take a little movie during lunch yesterday.  It's fairly self-explanatory...

There's a little story behind this.  The guitar in question is a SeaGull S6.  It's at the top of the scale of what I'm willing to pay.  Anyway, I went to Guitar Center during lunch, where they have a special isolated "Acoustic Guitar Room" that's somewhat calmer than the frenetic noise of electric guitars, drums, and other "stuff" in the main store.

There was a guy sitting in this room playing this specific guitar.  And he made it absolutely sing.  It sounded gorgeous.  We started to chat a bit and he acknowledged that he owns several guitars for a variety of reasons, but that his S6 was his most "fun" to play.  Well, one of the key reasons I'm looking to get back into this is "fun" I had a deposit on it while it was still warm from him playing it.  It all just felt so....."right".

This afternoon, after work but before Keb Mo, I'm going to my hair salon.  I suspect that the dark roots so evident in my little video will be gone by tonights.  I truly enjoy my salon experiences, so perhaps I'll share something from there.

In the meantime that's all for now.  Gotta get busy.  :)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Cuppla More Things

So - there's something fun about girl-shopping.

I didn't go girl-shopping tonight, but I was in Nordstrom's Rack and was around a couple of young women who were out shopping together.  I've had those kinds of adventures, and they're fun...

While I was there (bought a couple of little things....just love it there) there was someone I'm fairly confident was another trans-woman shopping there, too. At least, I'm fairly confident that she was.  I've lamented in the past how we've got no secret wink or any other way to say 'hi' to one another that's not somehow inappropriate.  It sometimes feels like the phrase from the Sixth Sense where the kids says "I see dead people".... I think we're sensitized to seeing one another for no other reason than...well...we just can.

This particular mall - South Point - is wonderful.  It's halfway between Raleigh and Durham and on both sides of the street there's pretty much every store I'd want to shop at, except for a real MAC store.  But I was thrilled that the traffic wasn't bad, that parking was easy, that there were no crowds.  Except at Maggiano's.

I went there, and there was a 45 minute wait at 7:30.  So, I ate at the bar with a couple of guys in town on business.  It was very pleasant, and as usual I brought food home with me.

As I was walking thru the mall tonight it struck me how this time of year can get depressing.  Honestly, I haven't felt least not yet...but it reminded me of my first year starting my transition around this same time of year.  They put me on a traveling assignment and I remember staying a week and over a long weekend in Birmingham, Alabama at our mail-order pharmacy there.

I went actually went back to my old journals to find the entry from that time and coincidentally, it was 13 years ago today:

12/5/99 =================================================
December 1999 – Birmingham AL 

It's Sunday morning at about 8:45 and I'm at work.  We have a huge building here, and I think me and the security guard are the only two people in it.  Sheesh.  

For some reason, I'm feeling kinda down this morning.  I don't know if it's from feeling alone, or stress, or what...but I can feel it.  I was planning to go for a run at the fitness center at the hotel this morning, but I just don't have the motivation or the energy.  On top of that, I have a scratchy throat, and a bit of a sniffly nose, so I may be at the early stages of a cold.  Great....  

I worked here yesterday from 7:30am-6pm, and actually got alot done.  Unfortunately, the computer that this program runs on is physically located inside the pharmacy, and that area is only accessible as long as there is a pharmacist here.  The pharmacist was scheduled to leave yesterday afternoon and not return until Monday morning, so I had to get a cart and take the system apart and lug it to a cube outside of the pharmacy area and set it back up again....  

When I left here, I really wasn't hungry for dinner, and I didn't want to go and park myself in my hotel room for the rest of the night, so it was a tossup between going to a movie or going to the mall.  I decided that I wanted to walk around a bit after being cooped up here all day, so I went to the mall.  It is a very nice one, and needless to say was VERY busy.  

Hotel life.  The gym.  A cold.  Long hours.  So much has changed, but so much is the same.

My ex-wife called me last night and we chatted for a while.  It was pleasant, but I don't miss her anymore.

My son texted me today to ask me what I wanted for Christmas.  I still can't believe that his 27th birthday is 2 weeks from today....

And, the one person I do miss right now....well, thankfully it's not a chronic situation.

My day today was a good one.  Tomorrow I pack up, I work all day, then I drive the 300 miles back to Charleston.  If all goes as planned I'll be at home in my own bed at this time tomorrow.

So - time for bed.  As I said - it was a good day.  I just got through several days of ebb, so I need to enjoy the flow while it lasts.   :)

Cuppla Things

I've got a couple of things to say this afternoon.

Over the last few days I've felt like I've been getting my butt kicked.  At the end of the day things happen and you just feel drained...

Today it's a whole other story.  I'm feeling like the kicker, not the kick-ee.  There's no real's just the emotional ebb and flow of life, I think.  But I'm managing a steering committee meeting in a little while so there's still time for things to change.

I've decided that I'm heading to Sephora later.  It's like Costco for cosmetics, and walking thru it is just good therapy.  They sent me a coupon that needs to be used (by today, I think) so I'm going to indulge.  It's a little way from here, but it's near the Nordstrom's Rack and the REI so it's well worth the trip.  We don't have a "real" Sephora in Charleston....there's one in the middle of a JC Penny but it's just not the same thing.

I've gotten some feedback on the Canon/Nikon thing.  I've found people have some very strong opinions about it, but frankly I'm trying to approach it from a company-agnostic perspective.  My main goal is to get something that is full-frame, and where image quality/features is more important than video quality/features. 

This is the bad boy that I'm leaning towards - the Nikon D800.  A close second is the Nikon D600 (they've got a package at Costco).  On the Canon side is the Canon 5D Mark III, and the recently announced Canon 6D.  I've already got some Canon lenses, but I'm planning to keep what I've got so it won't be wasted.  Regardless, any of these cameras is a serious investment so it's not that simple.

That's it for now.  I've had my mid-day Mountain Dew so I'm good to go for a few more hours.  Steering Committee meeting coming up....we're scheduled to go into production at the end of next week.  Wish me luck....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


I saw a quote today that I like:
Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of  things which matter least.

For reasons I don't plan to explain, it has particular relevance for me today.  It's a reminder about priorities, and perspective.

If it's Tuesday, then I must have gotten out of bed at 3:45am, been on the road by 4:15, and driven the 300 miles to Raleigh for work.  It is, and I did.

I'm at the hotel where I usually stay when I'm here, decompressing and waiting for my laundry to be done so I can get to bed.  I've been at this hotel for > 20 nights this year.  I don't even have to check in anymore - they just have an envelope with my key in it.  I'm not sure that's a good thing....

Compared to last week at this time I'm actually feeling pretty unphazed by the long day, and by all that has happened over the last couple of days in general.  The combination of pharmaceuticals, rest, time, and cough drops helped immeasurably.   But I'm still not 100% and I don't want to make it worse.   I'm trying to lay low.

The exciting news of the day for me isn't the fact that Kate Middleton is pregnant, or that a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs did something horrific, or even that the realities of the "fiscal cliff "become more imminent with each passing day.  It's the fact that "Gender Identity Disorder" will be removed from the DSM-V (story here).

As far as I'm concerned, this is huge huge huge.  It's more than symbolic.  It's more than substantial.  I doubt the true value will be appreciated for a while - until it's considered in the context of time.   I've written my thoughts on it here for years - and here it is.

Regardless of what happened with the DSM there are those who will be unhappy - that it didn't go far enough, that it's not perfect.  I agree (to a point), and respect all perspectives.  But I, for one, am not going to let what it's not taint what it is.  I'm thrilled that future generations will not have to live with the stigma that is inherent to something officially deemed as a "Disorder".  This hasn't happened by itself.  It is testament to the hard work of many, and it will continue to evolve.

Enough about that, for now.

The fact that I'm living the life that I am is my own miracle.  I enjoy my job to the point I'm willing to go to ridiculous lengths just to do it.  I'm living where I want to live, there are usually more things I want to do in a day than time to do them.  I'm living a life that even I could never have imagined.  As far as I'm concerned that's how things change.  Part of it is by having a voice and by speaking up and I've done my part in that regard.  But another part is simply by living and doing and being.  That's where I am now.

I'm at a couple of mid-life decision points.  For example, I've been a Canon photographer since my earliest FTb - when I had a black and white darkroom in my basement before my first puberty.  Here I am - seriously considering switching to Nikon...

I miss seeing good live music.  I think the last concert I went to was David Gray in Asheville in September.  I've got a ticket to see Keb 'Mo in Charleston on Friday, and the Hall and Oates next week.    My musical cup runneth over.  I should also acknowledge that I refuse to listen to any radio station in my car playing Christmas music....there's just too much of it everywhere else.

I can't believe my son will be 27 years old two weeks from tomorrow.  How does that happen?  I'm trying to come to grips with that fact that he is now half as old as I am (he's turning 27 - I'll be 54).  Crazy.

All things considered - some good and some bad over these past couple of days.  But there are always reasons for things so that will play itself out over the next few days and weeks.  In the meantime...I've got a couple more days in Raleigh before heading home.

Saturday, December 1, 2012


I saw a picture on FB that said "Tears are 1% water, and 99% emotion".  Although I've had lots of emotion that has needed an outlet I haven't cried in a while.  That is, until yesterday morning.

The thing that set it off actually kinda surprised me as I didn't see it coming.  I was drinking my morning coffee, and it was a story on the morning news that started it.

It reminds me of the first time I cried after beginning my transition.  I hadn't cried in well over 30 years, and I was driving home from the movie "Aliens".  Life at my house was hell so I was constantly looking for things to do to NOT be home - I went to the movies that night.  The onslaught of estrogen, the sadness of what was happening to my marriage, and the complicated emotions from the early days of transition combined with a pretty unlikely movie to cause a crying eruption unlike anything I had ever done before....I was driving and had to pull over until I was calm enough to get going again.

Yesterday's eruption wasn't nearly that dramatic, but it was cathartic.  There's still more that needs to come, but for the moment I'm feeling pretty good about it.

I also went to the doctor - again - yesterday.  The most affecting symptom in my world right now is lack of energy although pressure in my front sinuses, watery eyes, and a scratchy throat all lend to a pretty sluggish me.  She put me on some new meds and I'll admit to feeling getter this morning.  Part of me wanted to go to the gym today but the wiser part of me said no...that it's still too early.  So, here I am.

My life would be so much simpler, I think, if I just moved to Raleigh.  But then again, my life would be "simpler" if I had or hadn't done alot of things in life.  I've come to accept that simple isn't one of the key elements by which to make significant life decisions.  Other decisions?  Perhaps.  But although I realize there's some notion that seems to equate simplicity to the natural way of things my experience proves to the contrary.

Today is the first day I've had to just "be" in quite a while.  I'm cleaning, and sorting, and unpacking, and throwing stuff away.  I stopped at some stores this morning (before things got too crazed) but now I'm just at home enjoying being in Charleston.  I can't explain the simple joy I feel when my GPS knows where I am, and I pull up out front and it tells me that I'm Home.

The city is getting itself all prettied up for Christmas, and there are lots of visitors along E. Bay this afternoon.  I suspect that Market St., and King St. are even crazier.  There's some kind of Holiday Parade downtown here this afternoon, and there's a tree lighting event in the big part on Elliott St. so I'm happy just staying put.

There's an article in the current edition of The Charleston City Paper talking about the fact that Charleston is a nice place (read it here).  Raleigh is a nice place, too, and I'm sure if I gave it a chance it would probably grow on me.  But I'm already "taken" in that regard, so it is what it is.

Back to my original statement about life being simpler if I moved closer to where my job is, the fact of the matter is that I just need to keep myself from getting too over-extended.  The rest will work itself out.  Do you know how much it costs to fly the 300 miles between Charleston and Raleigh?  $700!  That's crazy.  I could go to Europe for less.  I could do Amtrak - that's reasonable - and have started investigating options in that regard so at least I'm not driving quite so much.

I'm good for today.  Thankfully.  Tomorrow?  We'll see when it gets here....

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Good Place to Start

I realized earlier today that I don't think I've spent more than 2 consecutive nights in the same place in several weeks.  Whether it's Charleston, Raleigh, or some of the other places that I've had to go recently  I've achieved Platinum and Elite status at a number of hotel chains, and that's not necessarily a good thing.

I also find I drive, on average, upwards of 1,000 miles a week - give or take a hundred miles depending on whatever happens to be happening.  There's a triangle of cities where I find myself and most of the time I'm so focused on doing what I need to do I don't think about the impact that it all has.

Well - I've been feeling like crap lately.  Pressure in the sinuses.  Watery eyes.  Dull headache.  No energy.  And the speed of life I've been living doesn't provide one of the main ingredients of getting better.  Rest.

None of that is a complaint.  My career is going crazy.  Over the last couple of days we've had to account for $2.4 million dollars of a government grant in a project that stalled a while ago and I've gotten back on track - so knowing how much is left and what has been spent on what although very few people who were originally involved are still there has been more like detective work than anything.  It has actually been fairly fascinating.

On another front I've got a million dollar project that's the first phase of a paradigm-shift for a major tech player going into production in two weeks so we're getting all those loose ends tied off, keeping all our stakeholders calm, and managing expectations.  It's the culmination of much of my effort in Raleigh over these past several months....and I'm ultimately responsible.

That's why my feeling like crap over these past couple of weeks has been such a hassle.  I can't do all of this with less than full energy.  And although it was great to spend some time with mom, the Thanksgiving day trip to Dallas and back didn't help.

I realize all this has put me out of balance.  I've said that several times recently and I'm ok with it for some period of time.  But the reality is that now is the time to work on some longer-term plans that aren't nearly so frenetic, that allow for a more stable world, and that provide the opportunity to enjoy the slice of heaven where I live.

Those conversations started this week.  What about the future?  What parts of this are flexible enough to fit into it, and what parts aren't?  It won't change until something makes it change - either I get myself sick, or I can't juggle it all and start dropping the ball, or someone makes a decision.  As I said in my last post - I own that.

I don't define myself by my career.  Those who have followed this blog for any period of time will recognize the ebb and flow there, as well.  I took most of the summer off to enjoy some "me" time expecting that a time of very little "me" time would necessarily be involved at some point.  Well, this is that point.

I've been a consultant for a long time - partly because I need the flexibility and partly because I enjoy doing different things.  There are benefits to that kind of life, but costs as well.  So - one of the costs recently involves going home to a hotel after work or driving a hundred miles or more.

Tonight I'm home for the first time since I left here at 3am Monday morning.  I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow because the antibiotics and the nasal spray hasn't chased this "yuck" feeling away.  I don't know that there's anything she can do to help....she's going to tell me I need to rest.  My goal is to spend at least 3 nights here at home - that'd be a good place to start.

It's going to be 70+ degrees here this weekend.  That's my kind of December.  I'm going to slow my life down and enjoy it...I own that, too.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I own it

So...I'm in Raleigh.  And I'm not happy.

I'm tired, my sinusitis is still hanging on so I feel like crap, I've got a headache, I want to be home, and I'm just generally ready to bite a head off.  It's probably not good to make significant decisions with that kind of dynamic going on but I do, and I am.

All this craziness over the past few weeks has caught up with me and I'm done.  I've got a 1:1 with my management later today that will include eliminating a significant portion of my unbalance. 

I can generally balance it all ok.  But at the moment my tolerance for it isn't high.  It's self-inflicted, and it won't change unless someone makes it change.  I will make it change, one way or another.  I own it.

That's one of those life things - just own it.  It's one thing to say it when you don't have other options but I'd argue that there are almost always other options for those creative and daring enough to make them. 

Regardless - I own this.  And it should be an interesting day. 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

List People

I've spoken in the past about how some relationships in our lives are like tides....sometimes in, and strong.  Sometimes out and distant - sometimes for a significant period of time.

But when you get back together again - regardless of time or distance between encounters - it's just like it always always was.  Strong.  Comfortable.  Significant.

That's how I feel about my bed.  We were reunited again last night, if even if simply for a night or two, and man-oh-man was it nice.  I slept like a baby.  I woke and lay for a while to simply soak it in.  And I made her with care knowing I'll need to hit the road again but she'll be here waiting.

The trip home yesterday was long and uneventful, and I really have no complaints  I got to the airport early, both to avoid potential delays of traffic or crowds (there was none) and to try to get an earlier flight (couldn't).  So, by the time I landed at 9:30 it seemed that I had been gone for far longer than simply the two days over Thanksgiving.  No matter.  It's nice to be home.

I'm a list person.  I do better when I make lists.  I realize that my iPhone can do lists, too, and I sometimes use her for that.  But in some ways I'm still old fashioned so a piece of paper and a pen are still the two important ingredients of making a list for me.  I think I get it from my mom - I mentioned that she had a list of things for me to do while I was there - and I can remember them from my entire life with her.  Now I do them.

Anyways, I've got a list for today and every few minutes I think of something new and add it.  If this keeps up I'm going to need to start writing on the back of it.  It's not even 7am and I'm getting ready to head out to work on my list.

I expect to update this later....once I've gotten into my list and back home.  :)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Thanks

Nov. 22 - Thanksgiving Day

As I type this I'm in the air somewhere between Atlanta and Dallas. It's Thanksgiving 2012, and as I've mentioned I'm on my way to spend the holiday with my mom. Honestly, there isn't much that could have pulled me out of bed in Charleston at 3:30am today. I was exactly where I wanted to be, doing exactly what I wanted to be doing. But here I between naps.

As I always do, I'll take time to give thanks. I'm thankful for my health, for my life, for the people in my life, and for each day. I'm thankful for people who come and go through my life, carried in and out by circumstance and life flow. Some people come into our lives and then leave, and I think its important to appreciate those connections.

I'm thankful for the many blessings I enjoy but probably take for granted. And I'm thankful for potential - for possibilities that lay ahead.

Nov 24 - DFW Airport

I can't believe that it's only two days since I started this trip.  I'm at the airport...waiting to fly home.  I got here with plenty of extra time to spare not knowing how busy things would be but it's really not all that bad.  As I type this I'm having Soup and Salad in a TGI Fridays embedded in the airport.

The weather for this trip has been stellar....bright sunny skies, warm days.  For some reason I'm chilly so coffee and soup are on my lunch menu.  I think the crud that was making me feel yucky a few weeks ago is still hanging on - hasn't totally gone away.

Everything about the trip was wonderful.  Every single thing.  I'm glad I came.  But I'm looking forward to being at home again, too.  These seem like the best kinds of trips.

Thanksgiving day was crazed.  To finish what I had started writing, I was up early early early to fly to Dallas.  I landed at 8:30, and finally got to my mom's around 10.  Traditionally, I'm the Thanksgiving cook so I  sent mom a shopping list earlier in the week and as soon as I got in the house and we had a few minutes to relax it was time to start slicing, mixing, stuffing, stirring, baking, and generally trying to ensure everything got done at the same time.

Mission accomplished.  Wonderful, wonderful meal.  But by 9pm I was stuffed, tired, and relaxed.  It was great to see mom.  She seems none the worse for her pacemaker procedure from a few weeks ago. And, thanks to a really wonderful man in her life, she's the happiest I've seen in a long, long time.

I was up before 5am on Black Friday, and at the mall less than an hour later.

I wish I could explain why I keep doing the Black Friday thing but there really is no rational reason.  I didn't need anything.  I wasn't busting down the door for anything.  I'll admit that I did buy a few things but I'd be hard pressed to argue that there's anything sensible about getting up at that hour that would make it worthwhile to shop.  For anything.  But there I am - pretty much every year.

There were several highlights.  I went to the MAC store and chatted with someone for a half hour - got some things I can't get at the MAC store in Charleston.  I bought myself a ring.  My favorite silversmith jeweler is there and I don't own much jewelry.  But each year I'll pick something that catches my eye or feels symbolic.  The price point is $50.

This year I got a pinky ring....a simple, interlocked chain.  The beauty is in it's simplicity, in it's unending-ness.  It's so comfortable I forget I'm even wearing it.

My pinky ring, and a tired Donna on Black Friday.

As I say - there's symbolism to it.  And, just between you and me, at some point I can see myself giving it away to someone.  I don't have a "who" or a "why" in mind at the moment....but for some reason I can imagine that.  We'll see.

Mom had a long list of things for me to do to help, as usual.  I brought the Christmas decorations down out of the attic.  I washed her hair for her.  I moved her summer clothes to the spare bedroom and her winter clothes to take their place.  She needed some help on her PC so I helped there, too.  All in all, we got quite a bit done over the short time I was there.  It's good "bonding" stuff.

So now - my flight is scheduled to leave in 50 minutes so I better make my way over to the gate.  I'm hopeful that the next words you'll hear from me are from home.  But the stay will be a short one - I've got a crazy work week ahead.  That's ok.  I'm feeling good right now so I'll face it when it comes.

My speed of life is pretty brisk right now.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Off we go

I'm home in Charleston.  The weather is...well....perfect.  High in the upper 60's and sunny for the foreseeable future.

Thankfully, the drive back from Raleigh yesterday afternoon wasn't too crazy which was a relief.  Driving anywhere on Thanksgiving week can become a challenge, but thankfully the roads were good, the trucks were good, my truck behaved, and I pulled into Charleston early enough to have a late dinner here.

For some reason I'm a little anxious about the trip to Dallas.  I just printed out my boarding passes...boarding time is friggin' 4:50am.  That's insane.  On Thanksgiving Day?  I suppose I should be looking forward to it but as I've mentioned all the way along I'd rather be home enjoying the day than traveling again.  Ugh.

I'm about to unpack from the last trip and re-pack for the next one.  I'm just got back from the gym where I did a little pre-Thanksgiving penance.  I've got a few other minor things to do....all in all I really can't believe that Thanksgiving is happening tomorrow.

I flew to Dallas last year the day before Thanksgiving - as in, a year ago today, - and it was snowing.  Not flurries snowing....but several inches worth of blowing snow snowing. Not cool.  Thankfully, this year the weather appears to be much more hospitable.

I'll be shopping early on Friday - it's a bit of a tradition.  There nothing I really want or need but it has just become something to do.  I've got a couple of things on my list of "To Do", but last year I bought so much stuff I actually needed to buy a Door-Buster deal on a suitcase to get all my stuff home.  Thankfully, I don't expect a similar experience this year.

I'll keep this short, as I've got packing to do and some early sleeping to get to.  Tomorrow is going to be a long day - so I'll close by wishing everyone a very Happy and Safe Thanksgiving, wherever you are!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Night Break

It's a little before 2am and I'm at my usual hotel in Raleigh for work. The good news is that I was dead tired tonight and asleep before 9. The bad that I'm typing when I should be sleeping. No worries, tho. I expect to get some more z's in a few.

I need the sleep where I can get it. I drove to Raleigh Sunday night. Worked all day yesterday. And I've got another fairly full day planned this today. Then, I'll hit the road along with everyone else for the 300 mile drive back to Charleston.

I've got a 5:30am flight on Thursday, I'll be out with the Door Buster shoppers before dawn on Friday, I fly back to Charleston on Saturday, and then on Sunday or Monday I'll need to drive back to where I am now. Busy week ahead.

This is my first blog entry typed on my iPad. Blogger hasn't had an app that worked well on it until recently so this is a bit of a test.

I'm trying to place a photo from back home in this but can't seem to understand how to put it where I want it. It seems to want to put it at the end. Hmmmm. Maybe I'll just have to get a bit more sleep and revisit tomorrow.