Friday, August 31, 2012

Blue Moon

Tonight is a Blue Moon.  It's the second full moon of the month.  After tonight the next one will be in 2015.  It was absolutely gorgeous here in Raleigh - huge and bright.

At the moment, when people ask me where I live I say Charleston.  My connection to Raleigh at the moment is nothing more than an office, a hotel room, and as yet unrealized potential.  I work in Raleigh, but home for me is still South Carolina right now.

Identity is a complicated thing.  Accepting my identity as more than simply a visitor in South Carolina took years to develop.  And I can't/won't relinquish it for a long time, either, as it's something that keeps me grounded.  "Home" is a complicated thing, too, but regardless of how things play out I plan keep my foothold back "home" for a long time.  I didn't know how much I'd miss it.

In the meantime, this is a Holiday weekend.  I'm headed back "home" - to Charleston - tomorrow.  I'll be on the road early - by 6.  I don't know what kind of Holiday traffic to expect but I'll hope to beat most of it.  I brought the truck to the dealer for a 5,000 mile check-up and an oil-change this week, and all is well with her.  And with me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Little Things

Wednesday.  It's hump day.  Not a problem....just another day here.

I've been at work long enough to start stirring the pot.  I took a good week to soak up the situation that I've been injected into and now it's time to start talking.  As a project manager people look to me to "manage" but in an environment that hasn't had anyone like me before it's going to be interesting.  Regardless - I'll tell anyone who asks I've got no problem being the bad cop if there needs to be one.

I got my badge today.  I turned in my temporary one and got my picture taken and everything.  It actually looks pretty nice.  Maybe I'll put a copy of it here soon.  In the meantime I did take a picture in my truck on my way to work this morning.  It was a good hair day, but I'll have to admit I can't believe I don't have enough hair for a pony tail anymore.  The shorter hair thing is still seeping in...

I uploaded the picture to my SnapLog.  It turned the picture vertical and stretched it out a bit but I don't have the time or the patience to fix it right now.  It's ok on the Contact Sheet....but the picture itself, well click on it and you'll see what I mean.

Most of the other pictures I've taken are "everyday" kinds of things.  I still like to dress up for work.  I still like to put my makeup on in the morning...none of that has worn off.  I didn't wear any for half the summer and generally don't on weekends but I don't feel any pressure to "have" to.  The kid-in-a-candystore feeling of it all still hasn't totally gone.  I was reminded of it this morning as I was putting on lipstick at a stoplight near work.  I looked over into one of the other cars and there was another woman putting on her makeup.  I so remember seeing that before transition and my heart just ached....the freedom to be able to do that seemed like such a simple thing...but something that would forever be unfulfilled.  Well....sometimes forever isn't really forever....

I want to revisit the drama thing for a minute.  I've had a couple of people write to tell me sometimes Drama just happens and Lord, don't I know that.  I've had more than my fair share.  There were times when I felt like I'd explode from it all.  But there are also times when it's just important to close your eyes and focus on simpler things.  Things you know, or can control.

As I look at places to live....well, there are just places that reek of "drama" for one reason or another.  I can control that to a certain extent.  When my ex- wants to pick a fight or get snippy - I can control that.  When it comes to dating or some of the other complexities of "relationships" - I control that to a certain extent.  Let me be more FEELS like I can control that to a certain extent.  Perception is reality so things are actually fairly drama-free in many regards right now.  Because I choose to believe that.

The reality is that I've still got some potentially significant decisions to make over the next couple of weeks.  Big, big decisions that - if they come to pass - I'll need to make with as much faith that they're right as I can.  But tonight - here in my little hotel room - things are actually pretty simple.  My world is pretty small.  For now.  I realize it won't last.

I can't believe that September is around the corner.  How did that happen??  The month is already looking fairly "active" for me.  I'm doing a workplace training in a couple of weeks.  There's a bunch of music I want to see around here.  I still need to get moved to wherever I'm going to move.  It's fall....I love fall.

But if there's a theme in my world's that the little things are really the big things.  Like the make-up thing.  Or purposefully going for a walk on the beach to watch the sun go down on a beautiful late summer day.  Or watching my niece get married.  Little things I can do for others, and little things others do (or don't do....just as importantly) to/for me as well.  It's easy to just move on in life, I suppose, and forget how wonderful the little things can be when in search of bigger things.  But collectively, the value of simple things that provide value and comfort and fulfill deeper needs are just as important as any "huge" thing.  They matter.

It surprises me how much they matter to me sometimes.  Little, stupid things.  But it's one of those things about me I wouldn't change even if I could.

Today is my mom's birthday.  She turns 83.  In 1999 she turned 70 on this was the first time my brother "met" me.  I wasn't even full-time yet.  But I had already had FFS and I was living as Donna outside of work so I was getting ready.  But mom's birthday that year is the thing I'll remember.  It was life changing.  (Read my diary entries from that day here....with photos).  Talk about SHORT hair!!

Anyways, those things weren't little things.  They were huge things.  Difficult times, when simple gestures of acceptance met so much.  I hope I never forget....

Happy Birthday, mom.  And Thank You!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Hold the Drama...

My life has been complicated lately.  I've shared some of it here.  Some of it is past, some of it not.

Part of it has been making decisions about my career and my need to set some "roots" the complication is fairly minimal when compared to some of the past complications I've dealt with (like my transition, or the death of my dad, or my melanoma).  I think part of life is simply keeping things in perspective.

I've said before that when you're clear on your priorities, or at least you've got an over-arching set of guidelines, even the tough decisions become more obvious.  There have been times when my priority was to preserve a relationship, or to do some of my advocacy work, or to wrestle.  And right now I've got a number of priorities helping to guide things.  But one of them stands out.....No Drama.

I don't have the time, the energy, or the patience to deal with "extra" right now.  There's probably no time that anyone WANTS drama, but there are times when we know we don't want to deal with it.  I doubt it's possible to completely separate drama from an active, dynamic, complicated life.  That's like separating the night from the day, or tides from the moon.  They are inherently intertwined.  But that doesn't mean you can't try.

Speaking of drama, it's probably good to NOT be in Charleston today.  They got lots of rain today...not lots compared to what New Orleans is getting.  But compared to what we got here today (none) - they got lots.

Things are starting to get crazed at work.  I have a desk now.  Not a phone...which is fine...But a consistent place to dock my laptop when I'm not at meetings.

I was triple booked in meetings for most of today, so my "desk" time is minimal anyway.  This really is a hit-the-ground-running kind of place and my legs are going as fast as they can.  So far so good.  But I've been a contractor for the better part of 30 years so I've seen everything from an office with a door to a converted closet shared by a half-dozen people.  It comes with the territory.

I had two options.  I could sit upstairs with the other project managers, in a fairly large but very generic cubicle, or I could take a small desk by the window in the back corner near the folks working on the projects I'm managing.  I learned a long time ago that the size of my desk is immaterial and, in fact, I enjoy being away from "stuff" so I'm happy to choose the window seat.

The Republican Convention is on today.  I won't watch.  I really don't want to get too political here at the moment but the best thing for keeping my blood pressure down is to focus on other things.  It's not like there's a difficult decision to be made here....for me, it's clear. 

I've been so over the election for a year now.  TV, FB, the radio...everywhere you look.  The presidential process has become such drudgery.  As November gets closer it's just gonna get worse.  I may become a total recluse by then.  :)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

One weekend does not balance make....

8am - Charleston, SC:

There was a time when I fell into the trap that long hair is a necessary feminine cue.  It, in itself, didn't necessarily convey a message of feminity but that cue along with others was an important "definition".  My earliest wigs were long, when I first tried to transition and didn't feel my hair was sufficiently long enough I got hair extensions, and the end result was more about being overwhelmed by my hair than feeling "feminine" about it.

Five or six years into my transition I had most of my hair cut off, and up until fairly recently (the last couple of years) I found that shorter hairstyles flattered facial features that I like about myself.  But the beauty of having hair is that you can grow it and you can cut it depending on your needs or your moods.

Well, yesterday I was in one of those "moods".  My hair is typically up off my neck - either in a pony tail or in a clip.  When it's down there isn't all that much "style" to it (as in, layers).  So, after a full day of "stuff" yesterday I went to a salon and showed them a picture I've had on my laptop for a while of a medium layered bob.  I asked if they could do it, and if they thought it would look nice.  They said they could, and that it would, and so they did.

Waking up the second day after having 3 or more inches of hair cut is when the buyers remorse kicks in.  That's when the euphoria of a different hairstyle wears off, and you say to yourself "what the hell have I done??!"   Thankfully, I didn't have one of those moments this morning.  I'm happy and comfortable with my hair right now.  It just makes sense for me.

So, as I type this I'm in Charleston.  I got up early yesterday and drove here to take care of some things....pick up my mail, get some things I need from my storage unit here, run some errands.  But I also took an equal amount of time to just enjoy it here.  I went to the beach for a long walk, and to watch sunset.  I went to one of my favorite local restaurants for a nice dinner.  I stopped to see some friends.  I went for a good 3-mile run.  And I treated myself to a late-evening gelato and a walk downtown.  I still love it here.

I'm coming to peace with a concept I know and accept in other aspects of my life, but somehow seems to have gotten lost in this whole "roots" thing.  I don't find everything I need from other people in any one person, so I have a number of people in my life who help me by filling different "roles".  Some of my dearest friends are shitty communicators, and I need people I can talk with and share with, so I've come to NOT expect that from them as they either can't or won't do it.  The same is for other intimacies...there's no one person.

Would it be nice if there WERE that one person?  Perhaps.  And maybe one day there will be.  But I find it's easy to bypass others who aren't that one person in the fruitless pursuit of everything-or-nothing.

So, too, is it with "roots".  Part of the goal this weekend was to experiment with what it's like to drive the 4 hrs. from there to here.  In a way, it's the best of both worlds.  And as I type this over breakfast my sense is that it's something I'd like to do.  It's not necessarily here OR there.  In my mind, it's here AND there.  Each addresses different needs, and I'm not unhappy sharing worlds at least for a while.

It was a good week at work.  I had my laptop by Wednesday and I'm becoming productive quickly.  It's a very "chill" place....people wear shorts and sneakers and flip-flops pretty much every day.  It's not business's just casual.  It's all part of the culture.

To show how unique it is, I've mentioned before the "food" culture there.  Well, there's also a "fitness" culture there as well.  Next to the elevator there's a sign encouraging people to take the stairs by displaying how many calories you burn.  It multiplies it out by 3 trips up and down over the course of a day, so in a year you'd burn 17,000 calories (or some crazy number like that).

There are treadmills on each floor, with big desks attached, so people can walk on the treadmill while doing their work.  Honest to God - I've never seen anything quite like it.

Too funny.

Anyways..this unique corporate culture suits me well.  Week two begins tomorrow.  Today I've got a few things to do here, I'm heading to Myrtle Beach, then I'll turn west for the 3-hr drive back to my little hotel room.  It's certainly not the life I hope to be living 3 months from now but for the mo just works.  I'm fairly content, and after all the craziness and uncertainty of the past few weeks that's a minor miracle in and of itself.

9:30pm - Raleigh NC:

Well, the day is nearly done.  I've had my obligatory margarita, and a couple of cookies from my Trader Joe stash.  I'm pooped.

My world is significantly more cramped right now.  That is, I brought a lot of stuff back with me in the truck and it's all up here in my hotel room at the moment.  It took me four or five trips with the luggage cart to bring it all in.  So, the packing and the driving and the in-between stuff....all makes for a pooped Donna.

I got a lot done over the past couple of days.  Some of it was stuff I needed to do, and other stuff was simply enjoyment to balance it out.  There was over 500 miles of driving in there, too, but the weather for these last two days was simply incredible so it wasn't that big a deal.  The driving was actually some of the most relaxing part of the weekend!

I have an 8am meeting tomorrow morning.  Most of the time if someone schedules me for an 8am meeting on Monday morning I'm going to let them know it's not cool.  But for this new kid on the block....I'll save the histrionics and just show up.  I don't have much to add at this point, but I've got a vendor onsite this week so we need to make the most of the time.

Still at the top of my list To-Do - find a place here in Raleigh.  I've sent a dozen or more notes and visited a couple of the homes.  One I didn't go it.  The other....not really sure how I feel about it as it's kinda far from where I want/need to be.  So, that process continues.

One thing this weekend provided was a sense of what life can be like spending my weekdays in Raleigh and my weekend in Charleston.  One weekend does not balance make, but so far so good.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Who Could Ask For More?

It's Friday, and the week is almost over.  Things have picked up significantly now that people know I'm here, I've got my laptop and email, and there's much to do.  I have already been triple booked for meetings which makes for a crazy day, but all things considered I've hit the ground running and am already loping at a good pace.  

I've done this before and though it's not easy to come into a new environment, with new people, and new ways of doing things I suppose my ability to do that quickly is how I've been successful over the course of the contracts that comprise the 30+ years of my career.  This is a little different because the toolset is unique, but the people here are wo default helpful so the onus is on me to get help if/when I need it.

A "Welcome" bag arrived at my desk yesterday with a coffee mug, a mouse pad, office supplies, and some general fun stuff.  That was a nice touch...

I'm still living at the hotel, although honestly I don't get back there until 9 or later.  My after-work hours have been spent learning my way around the area a bit, going to the gym, meeting some people, and generally decompressing a bit.

Some observations....

I talked to a guy at Lifetime Fitness the other night.  He was a nice guy who did a good job with me.  I've joined gyms since before he was born and he wasn't t arrogant or pushy.  He gave me a week pass.

So, yesterday I went to one of their other locations in the area to try it out.  It's a higher "level" of their gyms, a premier huge posh place, but the staff there was universally arrogant, rude, and very uninviting.  Although it was more like a spa than a fitness center I wouldn't go there if it were free.  

I'm starting to meet people.  I'm going to say something totally off the wall, without any other context.  Kissing a man who likes to kiss, and who has a day's worth of whiskers, is like rubbing sand paper on your face.  But when they're good at it - it doesn't hurt until later.  I'm just saying...

This weekend I've got a number of things on the burner.  Part of what's happening in me behind the scenes, and I've alluded to this before, is the gradual letting go of some things I've tried to hold on to in life.  Things and people are like tides so sometimes they're close for any number of reasons, while other times they drift away.  Times like this that involve relocating and re-settling provide opportunities for both.  And, both are happening.

I also see friends who look like their struggling or thrashing around a bit and I'd typically expend some emotional energy on that. But at the moment I won't. I've got some specific needs right now and things that feed into that is worth stretching for.  The rest - well, it's none of my business. 

So, as week 1 comes to a close I'm relatively comfortable, I'm pleased, I'm optimistic, and I've got good energy.  If I could say that every Friday - well, who could ask for more?

Monday, August 20, 2012

Food for thought

In my experience, day one of a new job is typically pretty anticlimatic.  All the build-up, all the excitement of actually getting the job, in this case - the process of actually relocating to do all starts for real on Day 1.

Today was Day 1.  I met several people.  I got a temporary badge, and a parking pass.  Laptop not ready.  Don't know about emails or logins.  But I listened in on a couple of meetings and spent a good part of the day reviewing documentation.  All in all - good Day 1.

This company I'm working for has a food culture.  There's free food everywhere.  Candy.  Cookies.  Chips.  The same for drinks.  It's like having vending machines full of "stuff" thatyou don't need to put any money in for.  After a few Twix bars today I realized I'm going to have to be careful.  It's like having an open bag of peanut M&M's take two or three here and there almost unconsiously.  Anyway - I need to be good.

Home for me right now is a hotel room.  I'll be here for at least a week, but honestly I wouldn't be surprised to be here for two or three or even four weeks.  I'm investigating options of "what next" but until that happens this is fine.  It's a fairly large room, good bathroom, fridge and microwave, enough closet space, free breakfast, washer/dryer, pool, fitness center....for anyone who has traveled for work you know what I'm talking about when it comes to spending weeks on end in a hotel.

They say that home is where the heart is.  Perhaps.  My heart is firmly under control right now, right here.  I do miss Charleston.  But I'm not looking back over my shoulder at this point.  Too much going on in front of me....

When you get home to a hotel room there's not much to do that doesn't involve TV.  I don't usually watch much TV, so I'm watching "Diners , Drive-In's and Dives" on the Food Network.  That's leading me to investigate good local places for burgers, and breakfast.  Uh oh, there I go talking about food again.

As far as I'm concerned, that's one of the best ways to get acquainted with an area.  Through its food.

Sunday, August 19, 2012


I'm back where I was less than 36 hrs ago - a seat (with a plug!) near gate B3 in BWI airport on a layover between flights.  Friday night it was the outbound flight that arrived into Rochester at 11pm.  This morning it's the flight "home" that left at 7:15.  It was was a wonderful wedding whirlwind, and the main reason I'm as perky as I am right now is some combination of coffee and a much-needed nap between the ceremony and the reception yesterday afternoon.

As I've mentioned in recent posts, that concept of "home" is a complicated thing in my world to the point that I feel compelled to use quotation marks around it.  Raleigh is becoming "home" in the sense that's where I'm going to be living and working.  But honestly, although the area generally feels comfortable I have no clue what's what and where's where there.  The only foothold I've got there at the moment is the clothes and toiletries that I could fit into my truck - I'll need those for work.  Other than that, "home" is a hotel room for at least the next week.  

Now that all the craziness of actually getting here in the first place is past, there are two main priorities right now.  New job.  I've got what feels like a great job, with a great group of people, who are all very excited about an established company on the launchpad to wonderful things.  Of course, all of that is "potential".  But after 2 hrs of phone interviews and 8 hrs of face-to-face interviews with nearly a dozen people over two days I've got better sense of what I'm getting into than typically happens.

Home.  These past few days have been interesting regard.  I left Charleston on Thursday.  That's still the place that feels most like home to me at the moment.  I'm going through withdrawals in that regard because I want to maintain that connection.  And Rochester is probably the place that I'm most comfortable in the world.  We lived there for 15+ years, our son was born and grew up there, and the wedding was a sobering reminder about the passage of time.

I remember when my niece was born.  They featured a photo that I took of my dad holding her - sitting in our family room - at the wedding to include my dad in the celebration.  My son is just a year and a half younger than Rachel so the two of them had some of the same friends, and I typically see them when I get back to Rochester for what I'll call "milestone events".  Prom.  High School Graduation.  And now...a wedding.

I can still find my way around Rochester with my eyes closed.  Thankfully, it hasn't grown over to the years where the charms that made it a good place to live and raise a family have gotten lost.  The fact that so many of the people there that I've known since the early '90s or before are still there is testament to its charms.  It'd be easy to find a reason to go back there, but somehow I sense that's not where I'm supposed to be.  It's great to visit although this particular trip was rediculously short.  I suspect my next trip there will be in the fall sometime.  Perhaps Thanksgiving depending on whatever else is happening...Anyway, I'm far too focused on the short-term right now to make plans with any sense of confidence beyond the end of next week.

The wedding itself was wonderful.  I've got an admittedly dulled perspective on love and commitment but things like this keep the spark of hope alive.  Rachel and her husband, Andrew, are amazing together.  They've been together for a number of years, they bought a house last year, and I suppose at this point the wedding is merely the exclamation point to two souls who were meant to find each other who actually did.

When I ask, "Why ruin a perfectly good relationship with a marriage?" I recognize the voice of the cynic in me rearing her ugly head.  But I'd be lying if I said I didn't wish for a similar connection with someone in this world.  I remain hopeful, and given everything else going on I'll acknowledge that this other person is going to need to find me because I'm way too crazed with other things right now to make searching too hard a priority, or even work it into the schedule.  I've gotten comfortable with managing by myself and will continue into the foreseeable future.  It all seems to work and that's the important thing.

Anyway, I've uploaded a few photos from the event to my Snaplog.  

My niece describes herself as "untraditional" and I think the general theme of the wedding demonstrated that both she and Andrew are made from that same mold.  She didn't wear white...Andy's mom made her dress (she looks beautiful in blue).  Andy is Scottish so he (and all the groomsmen, his father and grandfather, and my brother!) wore kilts.  They cut the wedding cake with the little sword/dagger that's part of the outfit.  From the vows, to the general flow of things, everything had an imprint of their personality, their originality, their uniqueness.  It was wonderfully renewing to be part of it.

Anyway - that's that.  

The events of the last few weeks have been frenetic, to say the least.  That's probably true of my summer in general - with the two-week cross-country drive, the week of hiking in the Canadian Rockies, and then the process of finding "what's next" it's been a crazy, wonderful, sometimes nerve-wracking couple of months.  I can truly say that I enjoy it, but I've always known that it would end.  Summer eventually fades  Everything ends.  The point is to enjoy it while you can and I like to think I made the most of the time I had.  But now it's time to shift gears and focus on the task at hand.  Get  foothold in Raleigh.  Get up and running on the job.  Make other life-direction decisions that need to be made as the tide-shift of people in my world carries some away, and brings others closer.

I've said it before but it doesn't hurt to reiterate from time to time.  This blog has become very much like my own private journal.  The fact that I share it with people who may or may not know me is always in the back of my mind while I'm typing so I'm cautious about specifics.  For example, I'd love to share where I'm going to work but I choose not to as it's really not pertinent.  Certain other aspects of my life are similarly off-limits because they involve others who may not want "stuff" about them here.  

Still - what I do share I share simply because I find it therapeutic to express things in words.  Times like now, with lots of change and lots of uncertainty, involve lots of thinking and lots of emotion.  I'm a thinking and emotional person, and I don't have anyone to share most of this with.  Not that I want or need feedback - it'd be easy to judge based on the limited amount of information I share or other agendas.  It's the outlet that I need.  That helps to keep me ticking.  And I plan to be ticking for quite a while to come....


Friday, August 17, 2012

Wanderer Revisited

So - I suppose this is my "first" morning here in North Carolina.  So far so good.  I slept like a baby.

I was thinking about what I shared yesterday, and I feel a need to refine a couple of things.  One is that I'm not sure that my soul is "restless" in the typical sense so much as it is wandering, looking for something.  The key to being a wanderer, I think, is to have a grounded sense of self and in that regard we're good.  While everything else may be moving that's always set and stable.

I also don't want to seem melancholy or overly down because that's not it either.  The key for me in Charleston, and in other places I've lived, is that when the end of my time there comes to be able to look back over it and not have regrets.  I suppose in a way that's true of life in general, too, but I've always been conscious of making the most of my time anywhere with a general understanding that someday it will end.

If we can look back over portions of our lives and say that we did our best, that we made good decisions and bad, but that we weren't afraid to try then that time was well lived.  The bond to the area that brought me to the area in the first place is still there.  But at some point practical realities play into the equation and, for me, that point is now.

But for true wanderers, more time needs be spent looking forward than back.  I've already met with a woman to look at homes to rent, and I've got an appointment on Sunday with someone who's looking to share their home short-term.   Part of this process is all about discovery and I don't feel pressured or hurried to make those decisions.  I'd rather take my time and make good ones than make quick ones that I'll regret.

That word, no - that concept, is a significant motivator in my life.  Regret.  It's a big, big thing.  There was a time when I wanted an ordinary life just like everyone else but now that I've done what I've done I've come to realize that ordinary isn't part of my nature.  My transition was as much about breaking free of boundaries and shackles as things specific to gender to the point where I've simply grown comfortable being me.  There is a price to pay when you can't or won't fit into "ordinary" but that's a price I'm willing to pay.  I'm fortunate to find others from time to time for who "ordinary" doesn't fit either, and those are kindred spirits along the path of life.

I'm a very self-sufficient person.  Part of it is that I've had to be out of necessity, and part of it is that I know what needs to be done and I do it.  It's 7:30am as I write this and I'm just back from breakfast here at the hotel.  The day will include a run on the treadmill before taking a shower, packing, and checking out.  I need to be in Raleigh to sign paperwork at 10:30.  I expect to be on the road back to Charlotte (2 hrs) by noon - I've got a 5pm flight to Rochester.  I land at 10:30 this evening.

Tomorrow I'll start the day by visiting.  Wedding is at 11.  Reception is at 5.  I've got a 7am flight back to Charlotte Sunday morning, then a two hour drive to get back to Raleigh.  I've got an appointment to look at a house Sunday afternoon, and will finally be able to relax a bit before I start my new job.

So - let me say something about my job.

I'm typically pretty careful about what I'll share about certain things in my world.  My job is one of those things.  I've taken a position managing large IT projects at one of the tech companies here in the area.  I've contracted for the better part of 30 years, and although this position starts out as contract after 6 months there is an option to become a full-time employee.  I've avoided that kind of thing in the past for  number of reasons.  But my optimism both for myself and for this "relationship"is such that I'm willing to change.  That's one of the reasons I'm here over other opportunities that presented themselves...

So - as I look forward I'm looking to rent someplace I can bring all my "stuff" to and call home.  I'm looking to be settled for quite a while.  And although there are certainly no promises when I look back at these posts at some point in the future with the benefit of time and hindsight it will be interesting to see how that actually translates into reality.  It all starts between your ears, and in that regard - I'm good.

Oh - one more thing.  I went to see the new Bourne movie the other day.  I liked it.  It got kind of hokie near the end but overall it's the kind of movie I expected it to be.  I don't think anyone will ever replace Matt Damon regardless of how many of those they make and I just hope they don't try to connect too many dots in subsequent sequels.  In my opinion, the subsequent Matrix movies after the first one diminished the first one.  At least for me, it did.

In any event, before the movie there were 7 trailers of movies coming out during the Holidays.  I had never seen any of them before.  And, after watching them - I want to see all 7 of them which I found sort of wonderful.  After the 5th I really didn't want to see any more trailers for fear that there would be a lemon among them but truly I expect I'll go see all 7 of them.  I'm sure they choose the genre of movies to show trailers for based on the expected audience for the featured movie and in this case they hit a bullseye 7 times in a row.

Now - it's time to let the day begin.  There's a treadmill calling my name.  :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Restless Soul

I am resting on my bed in my hotel in Cary, NC.  It still seems surreal that this area will be home for me as of Monday, for the foreseeable future.  I go to sign all my work papers tomorrow, and start work on Monday.

I've done this before....going to a new place, living out of a hotel for a week or two or three while I get settled, and gradually gaining a foothold.  That doesn't make it any less difficult or emotional, although the experience of how it works does help on subsequent efforts.

One of the key elements of making the mental and emotional adjustments of these kinds of things is to focus on today, and tomorrow.  Those are things you can change.  It's counter-productive to look back over your shoulder at places you've been, or hopes you had that never materialized, or how difficult it can be to develop a sense of "home" somewhere.  In a very real sense it's like starting a new relationship after an long, dear one has just ended.

It is in that spirit that I approach what is happening.  I am looking to put my full effort in making this work.  Today, tomorrow, and beyond.  If the roots finally set - I'll be glad.  If not - I may find myself doing this again someday.

But I find that places I've lived typically become part of me.  I've made an investment there that keeps me coming back.  Rochester.  Phoenix.  Austin.  And of course Charleston.  Charleston is only 4 hours and a bit away from here and I'm hopeful of being able to get back from time to time.

If I were to put all this into music, a couple of songs come to mind:

Here's another:

This has been quite a week.  My fender-bender.  A number of "uncertainties".  More has happened than is necessary to share here.  But the end result of it all is that here I am, in North Carolina, getting ready to being the next chapter of my life.  And, again, out of necessity, I am turning inwards to focus on me.  I've tried to focus on a number of things over recent months.  But I've been here before and I know what I need to do now....

I've done quite a bit of introspection over all of this.  I suppose that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, especially  me.  But what I've come to accept is that I've got a restless soul.  More than jobs, or relationships, or any one particular "thing" - finding whatever it is that helps a soul become grounded eludes me.  It's not for lack of trying.  But what I've learned is that when you're not quite sure of what you're looking for it's hard to find it so the best thing to do is simply keep on keeping on....

I think some people try to find "it" in any number of places.  And if they find "it" there, if even for just a while, that's wonderful.  But there's something that keeps me from getting to the top of my Maslow Pyramid of Needs....keeps me from becoming fully self-actualized for any significant period of time.  Anyway.....

As sometimes happens when I start to try to articulate these things this probably makes sense to nobody but me.  That's ok.  I get me.

I have been full of emotion for a while now, as all of this has played itself out.  Lots of different emotions.  I've wanted to cry several times but won't let myself.  I suppose part of it is the realization that I can't afford to let myself fall apart right now.

I remember my first day in Austin, back at the end of October 2000.  I was in a hotel - just like now.  I didn't know a single soul, and I realized a new chapter of my life was about to unfold.  I had been hired by Dell and was ready to start my life as me, as Donna, without the emotional baggage that I left in Phoenix.

I sat in that hotel room and cried and cried.  I was sad, lonely, scared, confused, was not a good beginning.  The thing that got me out of it was a phone call from the apartment hunter guy that Dell had assigned to me to help me find a place to live.  He was energetic, and positive, and he was the friendly voice of someone I had never even met.  But talking to him is what I needed that day.

You know who contacted me tonight to help stave off the blues?  My ex-wife....

I've also come to realize that I've done this for the better part of my life.  My dad was an academic so we were constantly moving - I attended 6 different schools in 7 years at one point as a child.  I got married right out of college and what I need now is what I needed then.  Roots.  So my wife and I bought our first house in 1982 and lived in it for the next 15 years.  That's the longest I've ever been anywhere.

I can't help but wonder if that kind of gypsy lifestyle has deeper affects.  For example it was hard to make deep friendships when you knew you were only going to be leaving in a few months.  I suppose there's some kind of emotional defense mechanism thing at work, too, but that goes back to my point about not focusing too hard on the past.  At this point it truly was a lifetime ago.

Back to the present.  Today I stopped by my storage unit (the one in Charleston) to get enough "stuff" to last me through the week, I drove to Raleigh, and I checked into this hotel.  I had dinner at Olive Garden, and stopped at the REI across the street.  I'm flying to Rochester tomorrow evening for my niece's wedding, and then back again on Sunday.  Then....whatever comes next begins.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fender Bender

There is still quite a bit of uncertainty in my world that needs to be straightened between now and Thursday.  It's more complicated than I can say.  But the good news is that it's complicated because there are difficult decisions about a number of potentially good options to be made, not because there there are bad choices (or no choices) on the table.

Part of the problem I'm dealing with is that people who have filled various trusted roles in my world are changing, or are forfeiting their trusted role.  It's not anyone's "fault", but it's just the way it is.  Things change.  People change.  Time changes things.

I don't have any one person in my life who fulfills all my basic needs.  To be perfectly candid, I don't know that I ever did, or if it's even possible (or desirable).   Intimacy needs.  Someone to discuss difficult decisions with, who actually cares and will provide good feedback.  Someone I can vent to, or explain to, or simply ask questions.  There's a whole range of them.  Not having someone else to fill them leaves me mostly to my own devices to either have a trusted friend who can help, or simply do it myself.

Anyway - among everything else that is changing right now, roles (and perhaps needs) are changing too.  I'm not sure if it's coincidence or not.  It's just a fact.

In the midst of all this - picture this.  I'm running around doing errands yesterday, heading to the gym this afternoon near rush hour on one of the local highways.  Traffic isn't going all that fast, but we come to a stop.  Except for the guy behind me.  Boom.  Right into the back of my truck.

I haven't been in an accident in years.  The last moving "incident" I had was when I hit a deer full on back in 2003.  That was pretty traumatic.  But this was a "fender bender" in the most literal sense.  My rear fender is bent.  His truck wasn't nearly as large as my truck - and half of his front bumper is coming off.

I didn't get hurt.  I got more frustrated than anything, because I just don't need this right now.  But here we are....I've got an appointment tomorrow with the collision guy to tell me what's involved to fix it.

Back to this roots thing for a second....

Once my wife and I moved into our home outside Rochester, NY in 1982 we were there for almost 15 years.  We left there and were pretty settled in Scottsdale when all hell broke loose in 1998.  I've been trying to count all the different places I've lived since then - how many times I've had to pack and/or unpack.  I lost count at 12 and think it's probably closer to 15.  That's crazy.

I suppose it could be said that my life has been "unsettled" simply because there are more moves than years.  I don't think I'd deny that.  Part of it has been a process of trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, and where I want to do it.  My career as a consultant is inherently fluid - and there's always a specific start and end to the projects I manage.  But as I've shared in recent emails - I'm finally tired of that, and looking to settle down.  Donna's ready for some good nesting time.

No nesting in the short term.  Headed to Raleigh tomorrow to look around and sign papers.  Then, I'll drive to Charlotte.  I've got a 6am flight from Charlotte to Rochester, NY on Friday.  Wedding stuff and family stuff kick in when I get to Rochester.  My nieces wedding day is on Saturday.  Then I do it in reverse - 6am flight from Rochester to CLT, then drive to Raleigh to start work on Monday.

It's going to be a busy next few days.  :)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Wrap my brain

So.  Here it is.  Sunday night.  The end of one week, and the beginning of the next.  Things have changed.  Things that were unclear a week ago have gained a significant amount of clarity over the past week, especially over the last several days.

Specifically, the company with whom I interviewed on Wednesday and Thursday made me an offer on Friday.  Barring any unforeseen glitches or turns, I'll start work there within two weeks.  It looks like my next mailing address will be in Raleigh, NC.  The implications affect pretty much everything in my world.

I suppose there's still time for things to break.  There are always things that can get in the way.  But I'm feeling comfortable enough about this to mention it here.

Business Week thinks very highly of the Raleigh area, voting it the Number 1 city to live in the US (link here).  Of course, ratings like this are tremendously objective but everyone I spoke with there had wonderful things to say.  The thing that most enthuses me about what's happening right now is my overall good "feeling" while I was there.  And then, of course, there's the rainbow....

So, although I was supposed to be at my class reunion last night, I wasn't there.  Between all the things I need to do to finish up in Charleston, make plans in Raleigh, and then get to Rochester next weekend for my niece's wedding - I just couldn't do it all.  I couldn't be everywhere.  And although a highlight of my rebirthday weekend would have been the reunion - something I've been looking forward to for months - I wasn't there.

This is a big deal for me.  It's probably too big for me to talk about right now.  And I don't even think I've had enough time to wrap my brain around it.  Yet.

I'm also not ready to abandon Charleston yet either.  We're not done yet.  Part of the challenge will be finding ways to maintain that connection.  Anyway - lots and lots in the air.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Do you believe in fate?  Or signs?  Things that you can't really put your finger on but just believe are meant to show the way to a destination?

I do.  At least, in a way I do.  I think it'd be easy to attribute whatever you see that in some way supports whatever you want to do as a sign and that's not necessarily a bad thing if it helps you come to peace with where you're going.  I remember the stormy time just before my transition when I was still fighting it, still looking for something to help me to know what to do.  I looked for signs everywhere - in the church, in nature, in everyday "stuff" that would provide some justification to NOT transition.  Needless to say, I didn't get them.

So, here I am.  I'm in Raleigh, NC.  Actually - at the moment I'm at a friend's in Chapel Hill but that's just a detail (thanks Sarah!)....

I've got a number of potential opportunities, each of which would lead me in a different direction.  That's actually one of the reasons I'm here.

I digress.  So, after a long day of interviews on Wednesday I went back to my hotel, changed into some comfy clothes, and went out for a bite to eat (and a drink).  It was absolutely pouring when I came out, and when I got back to my hotel room and looked out.....there it was.  A big, bright rainbow.

It's too bad the photo doesn't do it justice.  But there it was.  In all it's glory.

The past couple of days have given some clarity where there was murkiness before and that's a very good thing.  There's still lots to ponder, lots of things that need to fall into place, and lots of things to consider as opportunities, directions and decisions are considered.  But it's nice when things that you do simply because they "feel" right at the beginning turn out to actually be right in the longrun.

I realize that's a lot of words and very little detail, or substance.  But in the same way I believe in signs I also believe in jinxing a potentially good thing and I don't want to do that, especially if it doesn't turn out to materialize.  But this trip has felt good, things have gone tremendously well, and as i leave today I'm more comfortable in a number of things than when I arrived.

In the bigger world, the Obama administration re-affirmed it's commitment to trans health care by emphasizing that discrimination agains trans-people by organizations that receive federal funds will not be tolerated as part of Obamacare (story here).  These kinds of things are hugs steps.  The fact that there's even visibility to the issues many of us face and our unique needs all the way up to the White House would be amazing enough....but the fact that the President is making these bold statements in the election year is truly remarkable.

Why is this a big deal?  Because trans-wellness is a big deal.  Because discrimination, or lack of care, based on our trans-ness is real and if affects people's live whether it's getting hormones, an illness, treatment for cancer, treatment in a medical emergency - it's a fact of life.  One of the stories recently publicized is a trans-man who was not only denied treatment for breast cancer because of his trans status, the doctor didn't even tell the guy (story here).

People are certainly allowed to have an opinion.  But as a doctor, this is akin to a cop seeing a beating but turning away, or a firetruck not responding to a fire.  It's criminal.  And I'm glad to see the recognition the issue is getting.  Now, if we can just get and keep a job....

Anyway - it's time to hit the road.  I've got 450 miles to cover today.  No rest for the weary...

Monday, August 6, 2012

G'bye Friend

Heroes come in odd packages sometimes.

I'm going to turn my cable off on Tuesday, and I usually complain (to myself or to anyone who will listen) that there are so many channels but so little is on tv worth spending some of your lifetime watching.  Last night the Olympics were on again.  I didn't watch it.  The beginning of the 2012 NFL preseason was on.  I only watched that for a couple of minutes.  What I did watch was the movie "Hitchcock", with Will Smith and Charlize Theron.

This is the third or fourth time I've seen it, although to be honest I don't think I've seen it from start to end yet.  I seem to tune into it somewhere near the beginning, but I still don't know how it starts.  No matter.

For some reason, I like this movie.  It had only 2 stars on my cable guide and I'm not quite sure what they're (whoever "they" are) basing that on, but it's 4 stars in my book.  It's not a hero kind of movie, but he's my kind of hero. anti hero.  Regardless, I expect I'll see it again.  And again.

These have actually been a fascinating couple of days.  Nothing I can put my finger on.  But now that I'm winding down  the emotion of what's happening in my world is starting to seep in.  I think one of the reasons I keep myself as busy as I do is because there's so much to get done and only me to do it, but also because it helps keep my mind busy.  I'm a fairly emotional person but it can become debilitating if I let it.  So, I mostly don't.

Part of what's driving it all home, I think, is that I sold my car today.  I've had it since 2004 and we've criss-crossed this country together a number of times.  Most recently I drove her out here from Phoenix in February, the last day being the 1,200+ mile marathon all the way from Dallas.  I daresay that she seemed to take the effects of the road better than I did.  But the point is that we have history together so saying "good-bye" to her is letting go of something that has been part of my world for a long time.

I realize that people have lots of bad experiences on Craigslist, but today I met some wonderful folks.  One was a student who brought her boyfriend and was on the phone with her dad as they inspected and drove the car.  She was truly thrilled at the thought of owning her.  Another was a woman recently separated from her husband raising their child who needs to borrow other peoples' cars to get back and forth to work.  We took the car to her mechanic for him to look over and got to know each other a bit.  I could go on...

Anyway, at this time tomorrow she'll be gone - starting her new life with someone who will take care of her and appreciate her the way she deserves.  For the better part of 150,000 miles and seven years, she has been a good friend.  G'bye friend, and happy journeys!

Little by little - letting go.  Of stuff.  Of plans.  Of debris.  I suppose that's one of the results of this effort to simplify that has become part of life these days.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

I Will

I've been in Phoenix for the past week, taking care of some things there.  Today, I flew back home to Charleston.

I'm relaxing a little before going to bed to recover from the long day (Phoenix to Denver to Chicago to Charleston), and the long week.  I've got a couple of very busy days here before heading out of town again.  My 35th high school reunion happens in Buffalo, NY next weekend.

I'm driving there.  It's about a thousand miles if I went straight from here to there.  But I need to make stops along the way in Charlotte and Raleigh NC.  So, it'll be a bit of an extended trip - starting on Tuesday.  And to be honest, I'm not sure when I'll be back.

It would really make my life a lot easier to NOT go to this event.  But I've been looking forward to it for months.  I can't explain why.  What I do know is that I'd regret not going.  I just would.  But the thought has crossed my mind given everything else that is happening right now so we'll just have to see how the week unfolds.

For some reason I went to my home page tonight to look at some things in my old blogs and found, to my dismay, that the link to my Blog Archives (2004-2008) was broken.  It's not as easy to fix as it once was but I uploaded all the files (over 1,000 of them) and made the appropriate code changes.  It works now.

I may have mentioned it here already, not quite sure, but I expect that my days here in Charleston (at least this chapter of it) are down to a precious few.  It feels a little like a relationship that you had hoped would work out, but at some point it just doesn't, but there are no hard feelings.  I still really love it here, and I'd love to be able to call it home.  But the fact of the matter is that the thing I need most right now, as I've harped on for quite a while now, is a place where I'll be able to establish some roots.

The reason I didn't come to Charleston earlier than I did is the simple fact that it's not good for my career.  It's good for my soul, and it has other charms, but it simply does not have the IT environment that can keep me busy, and pay my bills, on a continual basis.  It just doesn't.  At some point the practical question of, "if not here, then where?" becomes something that just can't be ignored.  I've got some really exciting options right now.  But they're not in Charleston.

I remember waking up here for weeks on end here, feeling like I was on an extended vacation.  It strikes me that I probably was and that's the way I'll always think about this city.  I'm not saying I won't be back.  Who knows what the future holds.  But unless a miracle happens in the next week I'll be getting ready for the next step in my career, and in my life.

I've had a lot of time to think over this past week, with long hours going through all of my tangible life "stuff" in a hot storage unit.  I found my dad's wallet, and his birth certificate.  I found lots of stuff from younger times in life.  And it struck me that I feel very much like I did when I moved to Austin a dozen years ago.  Or graduated from college and started my first job.

I had an extraordinary job interview - it lasted 90 minutes the other evening - that was really affecting for some reason.  I've found it a little sad that my industry now relies simply on phone interviews or Skype video calls to try to match people to roles.  I'm all too well aware of the transient nature of contract work - I've done it for the better part of 30 years - but whereas there was a time when I'd do whatever you asked given the right price now there are other needs at play.  Deeper needs.

It's a little sad to admit that the thing I need most now is what I needed most then.  Roots.  I've been looking for a long time for a place to set them.  And rather than get discouraged at each new beginning I'm both relieved and encouraged at the optimism I continue to feel.  It'd be sad if my life ended and I still hadn't set them.  But it'd be even sadder if I hadn't set them, and stopped trying.

A week from today is the 12th anniversary of my SRS.  Jeez Louise.  I've fit a half dozen lifetimes into those years.  Chapters.  New things.  Happy things, and sad things.  Encouragement and disappointment.  Beginnings.  And Endings.

So....that's where we are tonight.  I've got some work to do tomorrow and Monday to get things in order.  I've got lists, and I hope I can fit it all in.  One way or another - I will.

Before I started writing I was looking through some of the photos I took in Canada last month.  Two of them struck me, not because they're anything amazing photographically but because of the symbolism.

One is of a Cairn from along one of the trails.  For those who don't hike, cairns are little piles of rocks that people build to show where the trail is....often when there is no trail to be found.  Sometimes, the only way to find your way is to look for the next cairn so in a very real way, the cairns are guides.

It'd be nice to have cairns in life.  Sometimes, I think they show themselves in unexpected ways.

The other was from the evening that it rained.

No explanation necessary.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Order out of Chaos

So, I've been spending a good portion of my days in my storage unit.  I've been going through all my "stuff" deciding what stays and what doesn't.  As of late yesterday I had at least a dozen empty boxes of things I had either thrown away, consolidated into other boxes, or set aside to donate.

Somebody is going to be very happy with all the shoes I'm dumping.  There must be 30 pairs, or more.  There are some nice ones there....many I've never worn or only worn a couple of times.

When it comes to being nostalgic I am very much guilty as charged.  I save things, assuming that years down the road I'll come back to them and they'll have developed some kind of an emotional value.  I've got an entire box of newspapers and magazines of major events from my lifetime going back to walking on the moon, Viet Nam, John Lennon being killed, the Challenger explosion, Katrina - it's like a little time capsule.  I kept that.

I also found a few things I had forgotten I have.  One is a Journal that I wrote for a month in late 1974 as part of an English assignment.  It's all done very neatly, typed (on a typewriter) and double spaced, and it's fascinating to read it now.  It's full of the daily stuff that happened - weather, wrestling, school.

Wednesday December 11, 1974
Wrestling is making a wreck out of me.  I still have my hurt wrist and if it is still very sore tomorrow I may get it X-rayed.  Today I must not have stretched out enough because I pulled something in my back.  I had a wrestle off to see who would wrestle Varsity against LaSalle on Friday.  I did a host of stupid moves and managed to get myself down 7-1 going into the third period.  I knew it would be now or never but couldn't quite get it and lost, 8-7.

Saturday November 30, 1974
What a boring day.  We went out to the Scotch and Sirloin restaurant for dinner to celebrate our good grades.  My brother, sister, and I all made the honor roll.  It was the first time for my sister, who is in ninth grade and doesn't usually get very high grades.  It is also the first time for my brother because he is in seventh grade and it is his first year in junior high.  It is nothing unusual for me, though.  Anyway, I ordered a Filet Mignon and it was the best piece of meat that I have ever tasted.  It is my favorite kind of meat, especially when it is cooked right.

I found copies of the Kinawa Kourier.  It was the school newspaper for Kinawa Middle School in Okemos, MI where I attended 8th grade in 1972-1973.  I was elected as co-editor and there's a picture of our Journalism class on the front page of one of them.  Too funny...

There are newspapers from throughout my high school wrestling career.  A report from the NY HS Sectionals on March 1 1976:  In an opening round match David Rosen shocked second-seeded Bob Root of Ken-East on a referee's decision after the two fought to a 2-2 standoff.  I so remember that.

I found a spiral ring binder of at least 100 carefully hand-pages from a journal I must have written at the end of 1979, shortly after I had met my ex.  It's full of stuff from my time at Syracuse University:

Wed Jan 16, 1980
I got my grades today,  They are really disappointing.  Shit.  I'm embarrassed more than anything....I think my cum is 2.65.  Chem: C. Philosophy: C.  Psychology: B.  Chem Lab: B.  TCM 135: B.  Geometry: B.  Disgusting.  I better get my act together this semester.

then a little later, heading out to a local bar:

We went in and the place was really crowded.  Everyone from my floor came and took the table next to us.  We were just talking and drinking.  I had 5 or 6 drinks.  We got into a little throwing match with Gilberg (from my floor) who was at the other table and I got a drink spilled all over me.  I got up to pour a beer over his head and he got all apologetic.  

None of that serves any useful purpose, but I'll keep it.

Then - I found the box.

I have a shoe box full of cards, letters, and various things people have given me over the years.  It goes back to the mid 1980's, and there are letters from my ex-wife to me from just after we me.  There are Father's Day Cards, Birthday Cards, Anniversary Cards....and she writes a lot in them.

Needless to say, the tone of the cards changed a dozen years or so ago but she kept on writing.  Some of it is pretty mean by that point.

I hope and pray each day that you don't make any more crazy moves that will throw away our future hopes and dreams that we've worked so hard to achieve.  We are supposed to be in the best years of our marriage, not the worst.

The past 20 years have been the best years of my life - but how could I have been so blind?!  I thought you, too were happy.  I guess I really never knew you.  The sad thing is, I don't think you will EVER find true happiness.

All I can do is sit back and wait, and hope, and pray, that we will get the Dave back that we know and love.

It's actually difficult to read some of it because I do remember what it was like, and there were no easy answers.  But it's all there - through all the years.

I'm going to throw that box, and all the stuff in it, away.  Symbolic or not - it really doesn't serve any useful purpose at this point.  There's no nostalgia there.

Speaking of my ex- we were originally planning to get together yesterday afternoon.  Her day got too busy, so it got cancelled.  I'm not going to try to reschedule.

I expect to be here in the Valley for a couple more days - perhaps into the weekend.  It depends on how long it takes to get everything done.  I'm trying to sell the biggest stuff - some book shelves (used to be my dad's - someone stopping by today to pick them up), mattresses and box springs, my grill....Those are things that take up lots of room so things will be easier to manage once they're gone.

But then I've got a lot to do when I get back so even though my days are fairly full here I need to enjoy it while I can.  My next work project is on the horizon, but I'm superstitious about that kind of thing so I'll believe it when it happens.   There's lots to accomplish between now and then.

As for the Phoenix area, this still feels like a safe get-away place so despite all the hubub I'm enjoying it while I can.  It's going to get busier again soon.