Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Simple Joys

I've been meaning to update my blog for a while, but the funny thing is....I've just been too busy.  Not too busy doing anything in particular.  Just busy....doing.  And being.  I have enjoyed the last week quite a bit.  Here's as far as I got last week.....

Thursday 1/26

It was 63 steamy degrees as I made my way to my car at 6:30 this morning.  It's supposed to get into the mid 70's today.  Again.  I don't think it comes as a surprise to anyone that this is my kind of mid-January weather.  I wish I had time to be out enjoying it but that's another matter altogether.  I have this thing called a job that's keeping me very busy and is actually pretty intense right now.  But the good news is that I'm still loving it.  I look forward to getting there in the morning, and sometimes I don't get out until after 6 and the day flies by. 

Charleston was the only US Mainland destination listed as part of Fodor's Go To List for 2012.  It \Sprovides 21 suggested destinations ranging from Paris to Milan to South Korea (see the List here).  What's the number one attraction they mention?  The food.

Anyway...I dunno why I needed to share that but I obviously did.  Next topic....

I'm scheduled to have a root canal tomorrow.  It's not really a big deal, but still I can name hundreds if not thousands of things I'd rather be doing. Yuck.

Speaking of Yuck, this legislator in TN who said he'd "stomp a mudhole" in a transperson if they ended up in the bathroom with him, his wife, or his daughter is still at it (see it here).  All I can say is that some of us are more than capable of defending ourselves, and I'd love to see the look on his face if he were to have the opportunity to realize that first hand.


My week has been full of some amazing little moments.  I suppose none are special in the bigger picture but somehow, just recognizing them as special makes them so.

I'll share a couple of them:  I have come to know the people at the local MAC store and went in for a while on Saturday to do eyes.  Makeovers are one of those special things.  I don't do them very often, but for some reason this one was particularly so.  I can't explain why....  I've made a list of all my MAC "stuff" and came to realize that I don't even know how to use it all.  They're helping me, and I'm really enjoying it.

I went for a nice long run over the weekend.  It was my first outdoor run in a while.  The weather here has been just amazing....sunny, highs in the 60's and low 70's with crispy cool nights.  Anyway, while I was running I could see my shadow directly in front of me and my pony tail was wagging back and forth to my gait.  I've seen that in others, but never in myself. It was cool.

I spent a late Sunday afternoon before wrestling practice walking around The Citadel campus.  It's a very pretty place, and I took some nice photos.

I could go on, but in the end it's all just trivial stuff special to nobody but me.  And it is still special.

The week has had some less than wonderful moments, too.  I need a root canal, and I'm headed to the dentist later in the week for that.  After wrestling last night I was absolutely exhausted - I've been doing 6 minute matches and was disappointed about how things unfolded.  I stopped at one of my usual restaurants downtown afterwards for a medicinal glass of wine and a shrimp cocktail.  By the time I got home I felt better.

I attended a big-deal all-day resource planning meeting for work today.  There were twenty of us in the room.  Only two of us were women.  I notice these things, and it rocks.

I weighed myself today.  The last Olympic Qualifier tournament is 2 months from tomorrow and it's time to start the unnatural process of getting down to my competition weight.  Today's weigh in was not pleasant, but I suppose it wasn't a surprise either.  Regardless, I'll be where I need to be when I need to be there.

I watched the movie "The Time Traveller's Wife" on DVD.  It was ok, but I'm glad I didn't go see it in the theater.

I haven't been online much which is probably a good thing. The more I'm out doing stuff, the less I'm in front of a computer.  That's just a good thing.

My friend Michele Angello asked me to do a little video for a class she's teaching back in 2007 or so (it's on YouTube). 

Well, she called over the weekend and asked if I could do an update.  So, on my way to work this morning - I did.  Nothing profound other than my ability to talk and drive at the same time, but I think it's interesting to compare...

What I suppose I'm trying to say by sharing any of this is that life feels as though it has found a pretty good groove and I'm very aware of simple things going on. 

While my Simple Joy week has been going on I've noted more than once (partially due to people writing about it on FB) that the Creating Change Conference has been going on in Baltimore.  It brings together ~3,000 LGBTQIAA activists of all kinds from all over the country and has become THE place to come to learn to create change.  I've only attended twice, and I suppose I create change in my own way.

The reason I mention it is that what I'll call "formal" activism isn't part of my life balance any more.  I'm not on any boards.  I don't attend conference calls.  I don't go to conferences unless I have a reason to be there.  The notion of goind to "see and be seen" escapes me at this point.  I really have no formal ties to anything and, in fact, decided a while ago that the best thing I can do to further the message that a fulfilling, sane, happy life IS possible is by actually living one.  That's what I'm trying to do....

Wicked is coming to town and I can't say the last time I saw a play but the cost of a ticket is about the same as the cost of a good pair of biking shorts.  Life is very much about trade-offs, and I'm very comfortable with the ones I've made lately.  :)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Weekend TAT (This and That)

Saturday 4:30pm:

It's Saturday.  A weekend.  And as I sit here typing this afternoon over lunch at my favorite local pub I'm contemplating the next couple of days I realize that there is no urgency to do anything.  I have to admit, it's a little unnerving.  These kinds of days don't come along for me very often.

That doesn't mean I don't have anything to do.  I've made arrangements for a wrestling sparring session a little later afternoon.  I'd like to go to the movies, and I've already been to the gym.  I made some travel arrangements that needed to be made.  I plan to watch some football tomorrow.  Syracuse is playing later this evening in case I find myself near a TV.  But honestly, that's it.

The South Carolina Republican Primary is happening here today.  Finally.  Thank God.  Maybe there will be an opportunity to watch a half hour of TV without some one of these buffoons slapping each other down in the never-ending stream of ads.  It still amazes me that this is the way our country does politics in the 21st century.  Anyway....

There was an article in the NY Times on Thursday that I found amusing, and true.  It's about South Carolina and the spotlight we're in right now thanks to the Primary (read it here).

Given the conservative nature of the state I have to admit initial skepticism and surprise upon learning that South Carolina is offering an Equality license place (story here) to support LGBT Rights.  Someone wrote and asked if I plan to put one on my car.  The short answer is no - I have a general aversion to paying extra for license plates in general.  If there was any license plate I would have paid for over the years it was a Buffalo Bills license plate in NY, but I just put whatever I'm compelled to do on the car and that's that.  Anyway, kudos to the state for making this available.

Change of topic....I mentioned that I've been enjoying Charleston Restaurant Week.  It ends tomorrow.  This area is truly blessed as having an abundance of culinary options as options.  I noticed that OpenTable compiled a list of the 100 favorite restaurants of 2011 and six of them are here in Charleston.  That's amazing.  But it's true.  We've got food food here so if anyone reading this finds their way here let's meet out for dinner.  :)

And good schools.  The College of Charleston is a beautiful place with a very good reputation.  I've thought for a long time that I'd enjoy going back to school again but the problem is that I don't know what I'd go there to do.  Early in life going to college was the means to an end.  Despite the fact that I didn't end up in a career that was consistent with my degree that was the goal at the time.  And I met my ex- there.  But now I'm almost at the age where some are getting ready to retire and I'm very happy with my career right now.  Not sure what I'd do there, but it's something that's in the back of my mind that I expect to at least investigate before next year.

I went out to dinner with a friend last night, and we had a good chat about Friendship.  We've been friends for a long time and I suppose when you've been around each other as much as we have the resilience of the friendship has been forged thru the travails that life experience.  The tide of any relationship comes in and goes out, and in some cases the relationship itself drifts away.  I'm thankful to have a handful of relationships that remain constant.

Sunday 6am:

Well - I didn't post this so I may as well add a bit...

Since I wrote this yesterday Newt won the SC Primary, Syracuse lost, and my wrestling session was cancelled.  I went to see "Haywire" last night (see trailer here).  It was absolutely bad-ass.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

It has quite the star-studded cast.  Michael Douglas.  Antonio Bandaras.  Ewan McGregor.  Bill Paxton.  But there's no question that the focus of the movie is on newcomer Gina Carano and, in this viewers humble opinion, she's a natural.  I expect that this will the the first of many of these kinds of movies for her, and I'll be honest that I'm already looking forward to her next effort.

Gina Carano is like a female Jason Bourne (and I LOVE that trilogy).  Her performance in this movie embodies all the things I'd like to achieve in my own sense of self as a woman - strong, confident, physical, capable but feminine and vulnerable at the same time.  There's a scene where they tell her to be "eye candy" with another agent at a party and she complains that she doesn't wear a dress, but when she does - wow (see this!).

One of the things that struck me is that she's really the only woman in the entire movie.  Anywhere.  She's surrounded by guys in every single scene but there's no doubt who's in charge here.  And I enjoy the way the focus on her face.  When she's running.   Even when she's fighting.  She's tremendously expressive, and you can feel her character so much more thru her face.  The entire first 5 minutes of the movie is already online (see it here) - just watch her face and you'll see what I mean.

The fight scenes are pretty brutal, but not "avert-your-eyes" bad.  When she kicked a guy through a glass door I found myself audibly saying "Whoa!".  But let's be honest, this film isn't intended to be anything more than it appears to be - an intense action flick.  And I enjoyed it more than Mission Impossible so in my view, it succeeds.

This is Gina's first movie.  She's a women's MMA fighter turned actress and her unique pedigree is oh-so-evident from the very beginning.  The first time I saw her was in an off-the-wall interview posted online where a very uncomfortable interviewer asked her if she'd ever fight a transsexual (about 2 minutes into this).

Anyway.  I enjoyed the movie.  I'm already looking forward to buying the Blu-Ray...

It probably says something about my tastes that I enjoy this kind of movie far more than something deeper, artsier, or more affecting.  But for me to pretend otherwise would be disingenuous.  The funny thing is, the movie opens this weekend and there were less than a dozen people in the theater on a Saturday night.  Fine by me.  All the more space to stretch out in.

I don't go to the movies all that much so when I go there needs to be a compelling reason that motivates me to go rather than wait for the film to come out on DVD.  I won't go see horror films of any kind.  Never, no-way.  I don't pay to go to the movies to have nightmares.  Romantic comedies are ok so long as there's more comedy than romance.  I'm not feeling the romance thing right now and don't need to be reminded of it in the movies.  Sci-fi is iffy - has to have adventure.  Comedies work for me but I don't like stuff too simple or too high-brow.  Kids movies usually work well for me too - looking forward to Finding Nemo in 3D.

Sometimes movies resonate with me.  Like "Up in the Air" or "Azatar" or "The Matrix" and I can watch them over and over.  If they hit too close to home I often close my eyes...I just do.  Movies can make me cry at the most surprising times and I actually learn quite a bit about myself that way.  But the overriding factor that compels me to spend good $$$ to go to a theater to watch a movie is the entertainment value.  Haywire was 10 out of 10 for me in that regard.

Decisions we make or don't make can provide insight into what's important in our lives.  For example, it's probably also telling that I'd also rather spend money on electronics than jewelry.  I saw a $2,000 watch at Costco yesterday and couldn't help but equate that to the price of a half-decent digital SLR camera, a large HDTV, a good bike, or an iMac.  I won't scrimp when it comes to getting my hair done so I'll pay $150+ for a cut and color with someone I trust before I'll splurge in other places.  I'm a loyal consumer in some things - for example MAC make-up and Costco.  Anyway....I'm fairly consistent in some aspects of my life if nothing else.

Other topics:

In Massachusetts the Governor had a ceremonial signing of the recently passed Transgender Rights Bill there. There's an effort to pass similar legislation in Maryland, and as always it's facing opposition because of the "Bathroom Issue".  The Montgomery County Police Chief refuted allegations that anything inappropriate has happened involving trans people in bathrooms since passing protections in that county last year(see it here), and it's refreshing to see facts being used to combat these unfounded fear-based allegations.  There's an excellent  piece by Autumn Sandeen on the "Bathroom thing" (read it here) as it is often used as ammunition to deny rights.

As for me - I'm headed off to make a nice breakfast, do some laundry, get to the gym for a run, catch up on some "stuff", and then settle in to watch some football.  It's a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Head, Heart, Spirit

I'm tired.  I haven't had time over the last several days to get to the gym and I'm not quite sure if that's a symptom or a cause.  I've got plans for this evening so I made a specific effort to get up early and go to the gym first thing, before work.  Ugh.

I'm not a morning person.  It's not that I'm grouchy or even unproductive in the mornings so much as I really don't like significant physical exertion while it's still dark outside.  My body (and my mind) generally needs to get warmed up a bit before doing that.  Prime fitness time for me is anywhere between 10am - 5pm.  Typically - lunch works well.  But these days my schedule is such that there is no opportunity to fit it in so it's gotta happen before work or after work.  I expect to do the morning routine more regularly as perhaps that'll make it so it's not so painful...

I went to the dentist yesterday.  I need a root canal.  And a crown.  Oh joy.  Neither is really a surprise, but that doesn't make it any more pleasant.  Any idea how much those things cost?  Ridiculous amounts of cash.  Getting this unpleasantness done is on my horizon....  Yuck

The South Carolina Republican Primary happens on Saturday.  There's another in the seemingly endless parade of debates here in Charleston this evening.  One of the ironies is that Rick Perry declared his candidacy here in Charleston a few months ago to great fanfare. Today he was in the state again when he announced that he is withdrawing (details).  Shocker there.  But it has practical implictions to the dynamics of what's happening (Romney Lead At Risk...) right now.

The city is clogged with candidates stumping for support (schedule of who is where).  As for me - I'm considering going the the Stephen Colbert rally at the University of Charleston tomorrow afternoon (details).  That might be amusing.  Stephen Colbert lives in the area so it's not difficult for him to get here.  There aresome interesting/amusing numbers involving the enigmatic Mr. C - see them here.

In my work world - busy busy busy.  Without sharing too much detail I'm an IT Project Manager in a huge program to replace the infrastructure upon which healthcare services will be built in a very large Federal organization for the next 10 or so years.  It's big stuff...very interesting, very challenging, lots of visibility and pressure, good people.  I'm loving it.

I had a team from one of our software partners in town earlier this week so we had an entire day of planning/discussion.  Then - out for dinner.  That's how it works.  We went to a nicer downtown sushi restaurant.  I'm a relative neophyte when it comes to sushi and sushimi, but everything we had was wonderful.  It was a long day - got there to set-up for the meetings before 8 and didn't get home until almost 11pm.  No wonder I haven't had time to get to the gym...

Speaking of loving it, and food,  I'm very much enjoying Charleston Restaurant Week.  I've eaten at several of the restaurants already and have reservations for tonight and tomorrow before it ends on Sunday.  There are a few places downtown where I'm enough of a "regular" to know people on a first-name basis and actually gave one person enough information to Google me.  I suspect that I'll prorbably know if and when he does....

I watched the movie "Source Code" last night.  Interesting....and enjoyable.  I'm thinking of going to the movies this weekend.  We'll see how it unfolds.

That's really all I've got for today.  I'm in a generally good place in most respects - head, heart, and spirit are all doing well.  I can see me moving away from some aspects of the past to embrace other elements of a future I'm hoping to build.   And, for the first time in a long time, I'm thinking about long-term plans.  Go figure....  

One last thing - I've been listening to the music of Matt Nathanson on Spotify lately.  Here's a song that I'll often replay more than once for some reason...

Saturday, January 14, 2012


My reactions to things sometimes surprise myself.

I was at the Apple Store yesterday for a One-on-One appointment to migrate my MobileMe account to iCloud.  I explained to the person I was with some of my concerns and we were working hard to make sure they didn't happen.  She had a question for one of the other guys who came over and started to try to take over.  In the process he started making happen everything I had said I wanted to avoid.  I raised my voice.  He got snippy.  I told him I wanted him to stop what was happening because it was messing things up.  He went away.  And in the emotion of the moment it became apparent what was going to happen.  I was going to start to cry.

I averted it at the last minute, but the woman who was originally helping me could tell I was upset.  She treated me gently and got things back on track.  By the time we eventually finished up - I was feeling a bit better.  I don't get that way very often and I'm not sure how or why I did last night....Hormones?  Full moon?

A little later I went out to dinner at one of my favorite local restaurants.  They're having one of the special meals as part of local Restaurant Week.  I had one of the best steaks I've had in a long, long, long time.  I had some wonderful red wine.  And I had a delightful time with a guy I've met there several times before. He makes me smile.  He's intelligent.  And all I can say is that I may make another trip back there next week in hopes he'll be there...

All things considered, the evening was a roller coaster.

Today:  I went to a see a therapeutic massage specialist.  I've got a number of aches and body issues that I've been wanting to talk with someone about.  I wasn't looking for a nice, gentle, massage with water flowing, soothing quiet music, and scented candles.  I was looking to identify body misalignment issues, some relief, and some longer term strategies.  I was looking for someone to work me over a bit.  Thankfully, I got all the above.

If you've never had your body analyzed by a sports physiologist, it's an interesting experience.  One side is more flexible than another.  One hip is naturally higher than another.  The skeleton tries to compensate, and causes other problems.  And in the end, like so many things, you end up treating the symptoms and not the root cause.

So now my back and shoulders are (temporarily) looser, we've identified a number of body issues and exercises to address them, and I'll hope this is the start of more regular opportunities to work this stuff.

Other topics:

Work It, The horrible TV show that has been causing a fuss lately, has been cancelled after 2 episodes (details here).  That's no surprise, as the show was universally panned (see the Hollywood Reporter story).  What's also not a surprise is the high-fiving, fist bumping, and self-congratulating by trans and LBGT activists thinking that they had something to do with this outcome.  In my own humble opinion - they/we did not.  It wasn't pressure that killed it, it was the nature of commercial broadcasting in general.  Bad show = horrible reviews = low ratings = low advertising revenue = quick death.  When a show is called "Awful and Embarrassing" by respected, influential industry publications it's only a matter of time before the inevitable happens.

Regardless of whether or not it had anything to do with the cancellation, I think the general public outcry was good team-building and something to feel good about.  But that's as far as I'd go with it.  Just saying....

In Houston, trans widow Nikki Araguz was jailed by the judge for being late to her sentence hearing for stealing a watch (details here).  What concerns me more than her self-inflicted problems is a sentence buried near the end of the story:
Araguz, who has agreed to participate in a documentary about that lawsuit and a proposed reality show, will stay behind bars without bail for two weeks.
All I can say is that I hope the documentary in question never sees light of day, and that any reality show is similarly preempted.  I'm more than fairly confident that neither would be good for anyone, including Nikki.

While I'm on the topic of TV - you should see all the Republican TV ads running here in South Carolina. Every ad is either one candidate ripping the crap out of another, or claiming to be the best opportunity to beat Obama.  It'd all be laughable if it weren't actually serious.  There's a Republican debate here in Charleston on Friday.  As for me, all I know is that I'm planning to go see Haywire next weekend....

Wine and cheese tonight as I watch football.  I have no strong feelings about who wins or loses.  But the early game today was amazing.....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday follies...

The Hair Goddess is a fickle diety.  Sometimes she blesses your hair and things just somehow seem to magically fall into place.  More often, though, she's got a nasty streak going.   Things either start out funky or get funky at some point during the day.  You can do the exact same thing on two separate days - same product, same styling tools, same everything - but the end result can be very different.  Whether she makes things perfect or turns things into a rat's nest seems to have no rhyme or reason but most of us know it's true.  Anyway - that's a long way to share that today is a good hair day in Donna's world. 

It doesn't happen all that often, but I decided to try to take a photo to capture it.  I actually took a couple, and uploaded one of them to FB.  Here's the other one.  I originally thought to delete it because it's out of focus but I like it better than the other one so I'll share it.  Anyway, this is me right now....

Back to hair:  Sometimes no matter what you do to fix it, you just make things worse.  So at some point it becomes easier to just more effective to put it up in a clip or into a pony tail.  If you see me on a workday and I've got either of those things in my hair you'll know that the day most likely started with styling issues.  For a long time I had relatively short hair so it wasn't nearly as hard to style.  But the probability that the hair goddess will lay an egg on your head on any given day seems to be directly proportional to the length of your hair.

Certainly, weather has something to do with it.  My hair very much loved Arizona as the lack of humidity provided more opportunities for better hair.  Similarly, here in South Carolina it can be pretty humid during the summer so not matter what you do by the time you go outside you've got a wild, frizzy mess on your hands.  Anyway - back to the point - today is a good day.  I don't have anything big planned but I appreciate these days when they happen. 

A few interesting updates this morning...

The Girl Scout thing continues to expand (see latest here).  There's a "response" video to the original post that seems to be getting quite a bit of play:

On a separate but related topic: I've got a dear friend here in Charleston who has a daughter in Girl Scouts.  If you'd like to buy cookies through me let me know.  I'm happy to both help her out, and do my part....

A bill has been introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly specifically aimed at keeping transpeople out of bathrooms.  It refines wording of the existing statute by declaring that a person must use the bathroom of the gender matching their birth certificate (see additional detail here).  Furthermore, Tennessee is one of the states that won't allow transpeople to change their birth certificates so the entire issue becomes problematic.

This is hateful legislation.  It is a law that has no reason to be.  It's not in response to anything, it doesn't solve any percpeptible problem, and it's clearly one legislator's misguided and thinly veiled effort to solve a problem that doesn't exist.  Given Tennessee's current record for LGBT-phobia it becomes part of a number of stupid, misguided bills being floated as "laws".  But make no mistake - it is specifically aimed at keeping transpeople out of bathrooms.

I have no friggen' clue how they think they'd enforce this thing even if it did pass.  How many people carry their birth certificates with them?  And the fine even if they could enforce it is only $50 so it's not like this is a felony.  But the intention is bigger picture - to put a law on the books and set a precedent that somehow implies that transpeople are dangerous in bathrooms.  That kind of thing has larger implications.

One of the things I find disturbing is that there will be transpeople who will support this bill.  There are people who can somehow rationalize that, "Gee, of course we need to keep people who don't have the appropriate documentation out of bathrooms so this is a good idea."  For anyone who feels that way - you're certainly free to have that opinion.  But my own opinion is that ANYONE who supports this - trans or not - is as misguided as this bill is.

Here's an update on the bill from this morning (see it here).  It lost one of its sponsors and will most likely die.  But the idiot who submitted the bill in the first place....he's a piece of work.  If  you had any doubt about his intentions, read this and look at the embedded video.  All I can say is that pity this fool if he even raised his ignorant voice at a transperson when I was around.  He's not the only one who can stomp a mudhole.

Next topic:  I had someone write to me (a guy) who indicated that he was attracted to the notion of meeting and dating a post-op transwomen.  Over the course of a couple of days we exchanged emails back and forth and this person seemed genuinely surprised when I told him that transfans were generally not held in high esteem in the community.  I told him that most post-op transwomen I know who are interested in guys would not be interested in a guy who was specifically attracted to the fact that she was trans.  Anyway - it's an interesting dynamic but it's very true.

There was an interesting workshop to discuss this at SCC a few years ago.  And it's a shame because some of the guys I've met who attracted to transwomen are really, really nice guys.  But some of them are pretty creepy, too.  Like many things everyone gets lumped together and the general stereotype is not a flattering one so the good ones need to work harder to overcome that. 

My first experience with a guy was with someone named Ralph in the early days of my transition, and my memories of him continue to be wonderful.  I suppose by most definitions he was a fan because Lord knows I wasn't the first nor the last transwoman in his world.  But he was the most patient, gentle, loving, knowing, caring man I've ever been with.  Ever.  And if someone like him came into my life again I'd be open to getting to know him.  I just would.  But the point is that I'd be a hypocrite to somehow imply that every man who's interested in transwomen is somehow tainted.  I know from experience it's not true.  He was the first man with whom I had sex post-op, he helped me to learn some important things about myself, and he set the bar very high for every other man after him.  Ralph rocks.

Anyway - I'm not quite sure how I got from hair to news to guys, but there you have it.  What have I got planned for the weekend?  I'm taking a training course all three days of the long weekend from 8-4 which is a bit of a drag.  It's Restaurant week here in Charleston so I'm planning to try a couple of restaurants I've been wanting to sample.  Football playoffs are happening.  I've got an appointment with a therapeutic massage therapist to help work out some of the knots in my back and shoulders.  I'll be at the gym a couple of times, and wrestling on Monday.  I've got an appointment at the Apple Store.  So - no shortage of things going on with me this weekend.  The bigger problem is how to fit them all in....

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Drum Beats On

My neck hurts.  Not just right now at this very second, but generally speaking all the time, every day.  There's one specific spot high up where the skull connects with the spine, only on the left side, that's been a problem for a while.  It causes me pain when I look over my shoulder, or when I look down for too long (ie doing Sudoku puzzles on an airplane), and certainly when I wrestle.  I don't think it's anything specific to my neck getting hurt at the World Team Trials a couple of years ago so much as simply one of those aches and pains that seems to generally come with getting older. 

I usually don't pay much attention to it.  I've learned to live with it.  I've come to expect when it's going to crack or when I need to move slower because there's a "crick" there.  Still, it doesn't slow me down all that much and I don't pay it too much attention except perhaps when I'm on the wrestling mat.

Friends have told me for years I should go see a Chiropractor to "align" my back.  I've never been to one and perhaps that's something I should consider.  We'll see. 

I suppose in the bigger picture it's one of those symbolic things, too.  How many of us have these kinds of chronic aches (physical, mental, emotional, or all the above) that we just accept and live with?  Sometimes we just deal with it as best we can and the only time we give it much thought is when it flares up worse than usual, or if we get too many of them piled up at the same time.  I'd argue that my gender "gift" was one of those things for a long time - it was always there, it was always a "bother", it sometimes flared to the point where I had to do someting.  But eventually, something changed and I couldn't ignore it any more.

Anyway - I digress.

Back to my neck.....  My wrestling coach here is a heavyweight.  By heavyweight, I mean he's a big guy.  We were working out Monday night and I did a move that ended up pulling him onto me.  In the process of being crushed I felt this big "crack" in my neck and I stopped for a moment thinking I'd done something to make the situation worse.  But as I sit here this morning I'm both surprised and relieved to admit that since it happened - it feels a lot better!  I don't think my relief is permanent as it felt better yesterday than today, but I'm enjoying it while it lasts.

Speaking of pain in the neck, I'm sure I'm not the only one already tired of the 2012 Political Circus known as the Elections.  Watching the clowns in the Republican Party has been admittedly amusing, but it's a little scary to realize that some people actually take them seriously.  The next key primary is here in South Carolina in a couple of weeks and they've already started criss-crossing the state to do speaking, polluting the airwaves with their commercials, filling the sides of the roads with signs, and generally taking control of things for a while.  Yuck.  This is a "conservative" state so they've got quite a few people willing to listen.

I appreciate that some who read this may actually be Republican and I respect that.  All I can say is let's not talk politics because the platform of "Anyone but Obama" is not a platform the same as "Anything but a Republican" isn't either.  But the cross-section of social, religious, and financial conservatism that passes itself off as Republican political dogma these days is fundamentally contrary to everything I believe in and support.  As I said in an earlir post I'll do what I can to make sure that President Obama gets 4 more years to finish his work.  Getting through these next several months leading to the elections are going to be hard to take, though.

Some things never die...

The had of ABC Entertainment said he doesn't get why "Work It" is being assailed by transpeople as being harmful to transpeople (read here).  That's obvious - since someone should have stopped this mess from ever being produced in the first place.

There's still continuing conversation about a recent New Zealand tampon ad.  Here's a recent perspective (read it here).  One transwoman wrote an op/ed piece explaining why she found it offensive (read here).   For the record - I personally thought the ad was actually kinda creative and wasn't bothered in the least by it.  But then again, perhaps I've got a unique sense of humor.  :)

And lastly for today, there's more backlash against the Girl Scouts for it's supportive policy on admitting trans kids.  One girl is getting publicity by putting a video on YouTube calling for a national boycott of Girl Scout Cookies because of it (see here).  Oy.

And...the drum beats on.....

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Tune Ends Too Soon

As I type this I'm listening to Rush.  Not Rush the conservative moron.  Rush the band.

Specifically, I'm listening to "Time Stand Still" from the new DVD from the tour my brother and I attended last year.  And I'm not simply listening as my hand and feet are going so I'm actively involved in the thing.  God....this song rocks me.  I've replayed it a half dozen times so far, and I have no problem replaying it another half dozen times before I'm done tonight.

Some have told me that Rush is a "guy" band.  Yawn.  I'm listening to it thru my THX certified speakers, with a subwoofer thumping, and the place is thumping hard.  It's the perfect way to end a very pleasant weekend.

The lyrics to this song - btw - have had special meaning for me for as long as I can remember.  I can think back to being with my "big sister" Kate in San Francisco listening to it as we drove along the coast.  Great memories.

One final observation before I move on....  I was jamming to the song "FreeWill"  (see it here) a bit ago.  If you watch it - check out the solos that begin about 3 minutes into it.  These guys are amazing musicians, and if you ever see them live it's crazy to think that 3 guys make all that sound.  They are without question one of rock music's all-time greatest bands but they have never gotten the respect they deserve.  But here they are - all these years later (the first time I saw them was 1977) - and they're absolutely incredible.  They don't make musicians like this any more....honestly.  They are truly dinosaurs - a dying breed.

Someone posted an interesting article on FaceBook.  It says a recent study indicates that "48% of gay men would sacrifice a year or more of their lives in exchange for a perfect body."  (See the original article here). The resulting feedback is generally pretty negative....

I find that interesting.  It says that the percentage of non-gay men who feel similarly is half that.
The question I've got is who says that the ultimate metric of life is how long it is?  I still don't get that.  I'd argue that each of us is trapped in this thing we call a body so getting it to a point where we're comfortable in it for the duration of our time here isn't necessarily a trivial or simply superficial thing.

What if they were to do a study to report a finding of clinically obese people who'd take a year or more off their lives for a "perfect" body?  Or people with some sort of birth defect?  Or - and perhaps most pertinent to my own situation - transsexuals?

When I was wheeled into the OR for my SRS way back in 2000 I was absolutely ready for that day to be my last day.  I was very much at peace with that possibility, and I accepted that every day subsequent to that would be a gift.  If I took a year, or two, or ten off the duration of my life I'm ok with it.  I wouldn't trade it for anything.  

I'd go a step further.  If a doctor tried to get me to stop taking hormones based on some life-risk - not gonna happen.  It's not negotiable.  I'm a lifer.

My own holy trinity of mind-body-spirit is very much in alignment these days and after 40 years of NOT the serenity that comes with getting here and being here is very much part of the joy of life.  My biggest complaint these days is the my neck gets sore easily, that my joints click and make odd noises sometimes, and that I'm getting wrinkles in places that I'd rather not.  But otherwise - that's it.

Frankly, I think doing what I've done has added years but that doesn't matter.  I'm ok with it either way.

Back to this thing called life...

When I was a teenager I had two favorite bands.  The first concert I ever attended was Jethro Tull, and I followed Ian Anderson and his merry gang through Thick as a Brick.  And, Rush.

I really enjoy seeing these artists now.  They've aged (so have I).  They've matured (so have I).  And in some ways so has their music.

Something I've come to understand is that music has always had a profound effect on my life.  It is, in a way, the backdrop of my world.  It puts things into context.  The lyrics were always as important a component of the song to me continue to play that significant role.  I'll end tonight by sharing another song - a Jethro Tull one - that fits into this notion of life, living, and then moving on.

Life's a long song.  But the tune ends too soon for us all.  Amen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Dancing, or Something Like It.....

One of the things I've wanted to do for several years is to take dance lessons.  I've never had anyone "lead" me, and dancing formally like that doesn't come naturally to me, but it's something I'd like to learn how to do.  My neice is getting married this summer and both she and her fiancee are taking dance lessons already to prepare for the wedding which got me thinking about it....

Well, today's Groupon is a significant savings on some dance lessons.  So, I signed up.  I'm actually pretty jazzed about it.  I have no misconceptions about any innate sense of grace or femininity that I may or may not have.  But it doesn't matter - I'm doing it for fun.

Yesterday I went to have my new road bike "fitted".  It's quite the detailed thing, from measuring the angle of your leg at the furthest point from the saddle (supposed to be 30 degrees) to ensure the seat is the right height, to changing out the spacer bar and the handlebars to ensure you're not overextending your body, to getting used to clipping into and out of the pedals.  It took two full hours and was wonderfully informative....it makes a big difference.

So - today is Friday.  It was allegedly a "short" week but doesn't feel that way for some reason.  The weather here is looking stellar - sunny with highs near 70 - so I'm planning as many outdoor things for the next couple of days as I can.  This kind of weather in early January is just too amazing to waste so I envision a visit to the beach, some bike riding, a good run, a pedicure, and some photography in my near future. 

That's it for today - short and sweet.  I'm heading out to go to the gym before it gets too crowded there (the New Years Resolution crowd gets pretty thick after work) and then off for a half decent dinner.  And a glass of wine.  That's the extent of my Friday night craziness. 

Happy weekend!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gettin' Ready to Rumble

It was 19 degrees when I woke up this morning.  I wore my most warm coat to work, a Columbia ski jacket with a zip-in inner jacket.  Thankfully I don't get an opportunity to wear it all that often, but it did the trick today.  Nice and toasty.

I mentioned that "Work It" was debuting last night.  Imade the observation that everything about it looked horrible - not simply because it was disgusting but because it seemed to lack anything worthwhile whatsoever.  Including humor.  Early reviews are now kind.  One review is headlined "Work It Is Officially the Worst Show on Television".  If it didn't suck it might survive more than a handful of episodes but it does so it won't.  I'd be surprised if more than 10 of these ever see light of day.   Buh-bye....And good riddance.

Another thing that was on TV last night that would be seriously funny if it weren't so serious: the Iowa Republican Caucus.  The most vile of an upleasant group - Rick Santorum - was a co-winner.  Watching this gang fall all over each other has certainly been entertaining but the thought that any of them being in a position to lead this country is scary.  As far as I'm concerned, every fair-minded person needs to re-double their commitment to making sure President Obama has the opportunity to continue in that capacity.  I certainly can't speak for anyone else, but I'm already getting involved and I look forward to the opportunity at hand.

A couple of things...

I became a Spotify Premium member recently and between that, Pandora, and Apple's new music service I may never buy another song again.  Spotify has a huge collection of albums so I can listen to whatever I want without having to own it or get tired of it.  I can cache songs or entire albums/playlists locally to listen to while I'm on a plane or something.  Anyway - it's worth $10/month to me.  I listen to it every day so I certainly get my money's worth.  They've got a free trial going on but be forwarned that once you start you may find yourself getting hooked like I did.

Tonight I'm working with a wrestling coach at a local Academy that until relatively recently didn't even admit women.  In my list of "firsts" it probably won't be at the top of the list, but it's certainly not something that's passing unnoticed by yours truly.  The best part of doing "stuff" is the door it often opens to do other things.  That has been true in my activism, in my athletics, in my career, in my photograph, in ways too numerous to count.  Anyway - it's pretty cool.

In a very sad situation - it was announced today that Kodak is facing Chapter 11 (details here).  For those of us who spent a long time in Rochester it's like watching a friend pass away.  Kodak has been an institution in Rochester for a hundred years, and workers there had been able to count on their annual bonus and a regular paycheck year in and year out - from generation to generation to generation. Kodak is part of the fabric of the city, and watching how it has declined in recent years to this almost inevitable reality has been difficult.

I've worked on contracts at Kodak so I've been part of that family.  The buildings that comprise Kodak Part are truly landmarks, and the little internal city that was Kodak Park included a bus route, a fire department, and all the other services you'd find in a small town.  The Kodak building downtown is a key jewel in the Rochester skyline.

When I worked there Kodak had their hands in lots of things.  Chemicals.  Medical Devices.  Motion Pictures.  Copiers.  And, of course, cameras and film.  As others have supplanted them from their leadership position they've gradually sold off one business after another in order to curb expenses and focus on their core business.  And now - there's nothing more to sell except their patents.

This is as much about change as anything, and realization that things that were great can eventually die.  Who knows what the future holds for the company, but it means change for Rochester - and not simply the 7,000 local employees. I lived in Rochester for 15 years.  So despite the fact that it's almost a thousand miles away - I feel it.
Gotta go get ready to rumble.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Well hello, 2012.  You're colder than I expected....

As I sit and type this I'm looking out over late afternoon traffic in what appears to be a bright, pleasant sunset. What the scene doesn't reflect is the cold wind that has taken over, and that temperatures here in Charleston fell from the 70's over the weekend to the high 30's and low 40's today.  Currently the wind-chill makes it feel like the upper 20's.  I'm not saying that to whine (especially given the fact that the current temperature in Rochester is 10 degrees) so much as to share that things aren't always as serene as they might appear.

I like that word.  Serene.  A sense of peace, or calm.  It comes around every once in a while, but like the tides it's elusive and makes itself scarce again. 

In one of my posts from last week I mentioned that I had chatted with a guy from CNN for a story he was writing about the CNN Dialogues event we did in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago.  The article is up and online now (read it here).  I do wish that they'd post some of the video from it - I'm told it'll be coming but nothing yet....

The crux of his questioning, and what he eventually used as his title, was my statement that the LGBT community isn't necessarily a community.  At least not in the way we're most often portrayed.  It came as a surprise to him that some/many who self-identify as trans have encountered issues of acceptance with LGB people.  I certainly have.  And sometimes it's simply ignorance and the lack of opportunity to be around us but sometimes there's more to it.

BTW thanks to a friend on FB for this cartoon...

I'm a big believer in "community" and it'd be disingenuous of me to say I don't think the letters belong together because I do.  But I like the way this reporter put it: LGB and T.  I suppose some would be offended because the T was being kept outside of the 3 other letters.  But frankly, I think it's more representative of how things really are.

Speaking of ignorance...an ABC show titled "Work It" is scheduled to debut this evening.  It looks like a crude, disgusting version of Bosom Buddies from the 80s without any of that show's good nature or humor.  There has been quite the uproar about it in recent weeks, and tonights the night that it finally makes it's debut.  Yuck. (link here)

In a similar theme:  News today that a New Zealand tampon company pulled what has been attacked as a "transphobic" commercial featuring a draq queen and what appears to be a cisgender woman primping in a bathroom....

Both are stereotypical representations.  Both pander to the age-old, dead-but-never-gone, men-in-dresses theme.  And, both are offensive to some/many.

Should either of them be "banned"?  Heck no.  We're not talking about terrorism here.  And I daresay that all the hoopla about "Work It" is far more than it deserves - it looks horrible in every aspect.  But if it's funny and it sells product, it will endure.  That's the nature of the beast.

I'll admit that I smiled when I watched the tampon ad, and I personally don't consider it transphobic (at least by my definition).  Where is that line?  I really don't know, and I expect it's different in each of us.  But I can't help but wonder what would have happened if my favorite Holiday Inn Super Bowl commercial were released today.  Would it be attacked as "transphobic", too?  Even after all these years, it still makes me smile at the end....

What about this commercial for Coors?

It that "transphobic" too? What the difference?

Or, this one....

I could see some humor in the first couple.....but not the last one. 

Needless to say, I won't be watching "Work It" tonight.  I'm headed off to the gym to get back on the wagon.  My eating binge came to an end as of this morning, and so did my "vacation" from working out.  I've been off for a week and I can feel it.  I'm hoping that a good run on the treadmill is just what the doctor ordered.

I'm expecting it to be busy over at the gym.  People make their New Year's Resolutions and it often involves getting in shape or losing weight.  For as long as I can remember fitness centers get clogged during the first few weeks of the year while people still have their new-found resolve.  But by mid-February it'll be over.  It always is.

I have a couple of resolutions myself. Actually, they're more like things to do, or improve on. One guy on The Today Show said that it was far more effective to come up with weekly resolutions than annual ones as people tend to forget them over time. Well, I'll try to remind myself of a few of these things regularly.  We'll see if they're still in effect by mid-February....

Oh - I watched 60 Minutes this weekend and there was a segment on this guy who climbs/scales things without topes.  It was amazing. Watch it if you have a few minutes to spare. (see it here).

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Day One

This should be short and sweet:

Today was 1/1.  The first day of the first month of the year.  Funny - but it felt pretty much like any other day.

Raucous New Years Eve celebrations in my world are a thing of the past, and last night was no different.  I can't for the life of me imagine heading out into the general craziness that seems to be so widespread around this single event.  Quiet times with friends, or even not even staying up to watch the ball drop, is a far more realistic way for me to "celebrate".

The weather here has been remarkably mild since I got here.  That is, until early afternoon.  That's when a storm in advance of a cold front started to move thru.  And, over the next 36 hours they're expecting big changes around here.  They're expecting up to a foot of snow and wind chills that may sink below zero.  Yeesh.  All I can say is that my flight is at 1 tomorrow afternoon and I hope to escape before it arrives.

I went to Wegmans today and stocked up on some local "delicacies" I'll want to bring back with me.  It's interesting to pack a suitcase with pantry items and hot dogs, but that's what I'm doing.

It has been a very pleasant visit.  Now, it's time to get back to business....

Early January can be culture shock for a little while.  With all the hubub and excitement leading up to and through the Holidays getting things back into the usual groove sometimes take a little time and effort.  As for me - I'm ending my Holiday eating binge as of tomorrow and getting back to training.  Other than that,  I've got lots on my plate at work and a number of other things to close out so there really won't be much time to re-adjust.