Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mooved

This will be short.  I'm too tired to even type.

Today was moving day.  I mentioned in my last note that I was moving and some wanted me to be more specific.  I'm actually being as specific as I want to be, so suffice to say I'm moving from one place to another - both here in the Charleston area - to be closer to downtown.  Anyone who read my posts from last May thru October may remember my love affair with the area, and I've got a unique opportunity to get back here and I took it.

It seems like I move every year.  Today's version was mild in comparison to some, and in fact the big move coming up later this summer is to go back to AZ to pick up all my "stuff" and drive it back here.  That'll be a bear.  The thing that made today's move so tiring is that I'm up on the third floor so there were lots of steps between the car door and my apartment.  Honest to God - I must have gone up and down those stairs 100 times today.  My legs are going to feel it tomorrow - I've got a feeling.

I travel pretty lean these days so there wasn't much furniture or heavy stuff.  And there's still some things left that I'll need to fetch over the next couple of days.

But tonight is my first night in the new bed.  My laptop is tethered to my iPad.  Now, that's pretty cool.  :)

Tired.  Gnight!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

BDA - Busy Day Ahead

I was planning to go to Bikram hot yoga this morning.  I've never been to a yoga class in my life, and my body seems to be made to do everything that's contrary to what yoga represents to me.  I'm the most not-flexible person I know.  During wrestling the guys had to push on me to help me stretch out.  Balance is questionable.  Way too much bulk.  But I bought a membership on Groupon and I'm going to try it.  Just not today.

Lots going on.  I do need to go to the gym, so I'll do that.  I need a mani/pedi, so I'll do that.  I'm moving soon (same city, different place) so I've got some packing and errands to run.  I need to do laundry.  I've got a date tonight - we're meeting for dinner than going to a play - so I'll need to have time to shower and dress for that.  With everything else going on, it just didn't seem like a good day to try to do something new.

I posted a picture of myself on FB and I'll share it here as well as my picture of the day.  I'm generally liking my "look" these days.  I like being blonde.  I like that I've gained some weight back from being too skinny for wrestling.  Since I work in a "professional environment" my morning ritual of shower/hair/make-up/lotion/getting dressed takes an hour and a half but I'll admit that it's my favorite time of the day.  It's my "me" time.



I've got a few photos in a jpg on this compute from various stages over the last few years...


I still pinch myself that this is my life.  It's still friggin' unbelievable.  I've said before and I'll say for as long as I can that the physical development that continues to happen is only a fraction the amount of deeper change.  Still.  I hope it never ends.

I'm not a child anymore.  I'm not even a young adult.  I'm in my 50's.  Although neither my mind nor my heart perceive that as a limitation in any way that's still the reality.  Starting this week I found that my ankles were swollen for some reason.  Why?  Dunno.  It's the first time it has ever happened.  The point is that although I've still got lots of kick left the tide of age continues to roll in.

In that same vein, I'll mention a show that's going to debut on the National Geographic Network this week.  It's title is "American Transgender".  A link to a little about it is here.

I mention it for a couple of reasons.  One is that I know the people that are featured in this piece, and all are down to earth and just living their lives.  I'm hopeful that the outcome reflects that.  But on that particular page there are photos of Claire and Eli from "before".  There are people who bristle at the fact that showing "before" photos is a staple of these kinds of things.  There's sometimes a sense that it panders to sensationalism, or that it's unnecessary.  I appreciate those perspectives, although I don't agree with them.  I, personally, have no problem with photos at various stages of my life and I still believe it helps to put things into perspective.

This journey is an amazing one.  If people were going to use the photos by themselves that'd be a shame.  But the photos are there as part of a bigger story and are almost like props.  There was a time when it seemed like a new trans documentary came out every 6 months or so but nowdays they are few and far between.  We're becoming blase, old news.  And that's good.  But I'll set my DVR to record this and I'll watch it.  As I say - I'm hopeful it's well done.

Gotta run.  Busy day ahead.....

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pink Light

Today is Tuesday.  That means it's half-price burger night at my favorite burger place downtown.


It has become almost a ritual for me.  I left work on time, went to the gym for a little pre-pennance, and then headed downtown for my weekly burger fix.  Everyone knows me there so it's not like I'm a stranger.  When Maggie was here we both went there and ate on the back porch.

Don't ever let anyone tell you you can't go home again because you can.  In fact, the simple fact you can is what  makes it home instead of just someplace.  There was a time not all that long ago when I never thought I'd see another Tuesday night half-price burger here again but now it's just as comfortable and natural as ever.

I was a little disappointed that I had to share my yucky looking desk in today's photo, but the scene outside the Pub more than made up for it.  As you may be able to tell by the clock on the church it was almost 8pm when I took this, and the setting sun cast a pink glow onto the white western-facing side of the church.  I'm glad the photo turned out ok because the light was there only briefly.

In a ruling that's making quite a ripple at the moment, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that workplace discrimination against transgender people is, by definition, sex discrimination (story here).  Although things have been moving in this direction for a while the fact that the EEOC unanimously clarified this situation is potentially huge.

EEOC spokeswoman Justine Lisser said the unanimous ruling from the five-member agency does not create a new cause of action. It clarifies that charges of gender stereotyping are considered claims of sex discrimination under existing law.
Until now, Pizer said, it was common for transgender workers to have their complaints rejected by EEOC regional offices and state civil rights agencies due to confusion about the state of the law.
"This is a confirmation that the courts are correct, so public and private employers coast to coast now have the benefit of the EEOC making this clear," she said.
Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Washington-based Family Research Council, said the EEOC's decision is misinterpreting Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
''Those who are discriminated against because they are transgender are not discriminated because they are male or female, it is because they are pretending to be the opposite of what they really are, which is quite a different matter," he said.


The irony of that last statement is that these people agree that it's discrimination.  It's just that they find it acceptable based on their own limited definitions.  Regardless, the EEOC ruling carries potential big clout.

I don't know if this is as big as people are making it out to be, but it's certainly a big deal and one that is both welcome and that sets the stage for other advances.  I felt for a long time that by the time ENDA finally passes it will be more symbolic than substance because the rights it ensures will have already become validated in other ways.  I suppose we'll see.



Disclose or Share?

Today's photo is a view I see almost every day.  I wish it were more scenic, but it's my home away from home.  It's the view from my desk at work.



I provided some photos several months ago of the view outside our windows, and that was certainly nice.  But a group of us were crowded around a large conference table and all the windows often meant that it was as cold as a meat locker or as hot as a sauna there.  Now I've got my own desk, my own office (with a door!), and all the creature comforts I need to do what I do.

As often as not I'm off at meetings at any number of local facilities but this is home base.  Next - putting things on the walls. 

On one of my monitors you'll see Pandora.  I listen to it pretty much every day - whether at work, at the gym, at the beach, on my bike - it provides a backdrop of my life.  One song I've heard a couple of times in the past few days is a song I remember from writing my book.  I'd get home from work and write until the late hours of the night (or the early hours of the morning, depending on how you want to look at it).  I'd listen to Staind, and this particular song, over and over.  If you listen to the lyrics you'll probably recognize the deeper meanings....



So far away.  Good stuff....

I've got a number of things to talk about today:

I saw an article on the CNN website that articulating something I often ask myself.  It's titled "Are Men Stupid" and it deals with the seemingly endless stream of men who have achieved some significant level of visibility in their lives or their careers who throw it all away in some careless sexual escapade.  I suppose when you think with anything other than the brain in your head (or, perhaps your heart) you're bound to get into trouble but it's really incredible how fallible this makes people.

I also can't help but think of the women involved.  Whether it's the prostitutes in Columbia, the women that the Arkansas football coach was seeing, woman who mothered a child with John Edwards while his wife was home dealing with cancer, or any number of other women - it's all just a mess.  Anyway, I'm not trying to disparage men.  I suppose what I'm saying is that, given my past, I still can't get this although I'm sure most men couldn't get what I've done either.

My own life has much less drama than that.  Thankfully.  My career, my personal life, my limited advocacy efforts at this point, my family, my hobbies - they all seem to exist fairly peacefully right now which leads me to believe I've got good balance for now.  Of course, all it takes is one thing to throw it all out of whack but for now I'm simply appreciating it while I can.

I still get email from people who are struggling with the early phases of their transition.  Do it or not?  Strategy? Advice?  I'm constantly reminded how glad I am to have those things behind me, and at the same time how those things have helped to shape me.  

Another topic:  One of the reasons I enjoy my job is the people I get to work with.  Don't get me wrong, doing anything within the government can be a frustrating experience (not news to anyone), but the key as with most things is having good people with good attitudes and we do.

One in particular works in the same office as I do, and the two of us are typically the only women in any of the meetings we attend day in and day out.  We both lead large efforts as part of this program, so there's no way to avoid getting us involved.  And the two of us keep ourselves sane sometimes by sharing with one another.  She's a hoot. 

I've explained in the past that I have no problem "disclosing" my unique past given the right circumstances.  As far as I'm concerned, those circumstances include medical necessity, increased intimacy, and legalities.  In her case, I gave her enough information to do research on me several months ago and I didn't know whether she had done anything with it until some time later.  Our relationship didn't change, and that's the biggest concern - that where there had been a fun relationship that provided a seemingly safe context to share personal information a level of discomfort of creepiness comes into the picture.  Thankfully, that didn't happen here.  At all.

Some would argue with me that there are no circumstances under which they would disclose, and that's fine.  I don't even like to use the word "disclose" as that implies that you're divulging a secret, or that you're hiding something.  I far prefer the word "share".  Some would say it's simply symantics but I think it's more than that.  Words have deeper meanings than simply their definitions.

Anyway, this co-worker is a fashionista.  I mean, 5'4", slim, full of life, and always fashionable.  From her jewelry to her shoes and everything in-between.  Not most days, but every day.  I've learned lots from her, because I've never been around anyone like her before.  Honestly.

I have never been fashionable.  I can do ok, but her day-in-day-out coordination of accessories, outfits, and general looks is something I've never experienced.  Even when I was married.  So when I shared that I was getting into shoes a few weeks ago she's partly to blame/credit.  She rubs off on me.

So, today she's wearing a very nice skirt outfit.  I can't remember the last time I wore a skirt to work.  Dresses yes...but skirts, no.   So I told her - I'm going to break out a skirt shortly and although I'm certainly not going to be the petit thing she is I'm going to expand that boundary for myself.  Long story short - I'll probably share a photo of that when it happens.

I've gotten back onto a regular diet after my wrestling adventure.  For a while I was starving myself to make weight.  Then, I was eating anything and everything for nearly 3 weeks.  Now, I'm back to normal again - going to the gym 3 or 4 times a week, still fit, still in my size 4 or size 6 slacks, not eating everything in sight.  It all feels good and I'm thinking the general life balance I'm feeling right now has something to do with that.

Speaking of wrestling, there was a story in the NY Times this morning that the Olympic champion from my weight class got married after winning the tournament in Iowa over the weekend (story here).  I'm genuinely thrilled for her for both achievements.

The first time I saw her was at the Nationals in 2010.  She won.  But it was the relaxed, cool way that she approached the championship match against Iris Smith that really impressed me.  After the match was over the announcer brought the microphone onto the mat and asked her if there was anyone she wanted to thank.  She thanked her partner, and that struck me.

Steph has never hidden her sexuality.  She and her wife have several kids.  She's very much a free spirit, and has gotten herself into trouble a few times but always seems to find a way out.  When she falls behind she ALWAYS finds a way out.  Every time.  I've seen her fall behind in a match, only to end up pinning her opponent with a quick flurry right at the end of the period.  She's amazing like that.

I think you'll hear a lot more about her over the next few weeks because of the gay thing.  She doesn't hide it, but doesn't let it define her either.  It's just a thing.  And we've had brief discussions about my background but that's just a thing, too.  She complained that she had gone into a store and the clerk had called her "sir".  She hated that.  I told her I could relate - but for different reasons.

Steph will be a great Olympian for this country.  You heard it here first.  My prediction: she will make history in London.  I suppose time will tell.







Sunday, April 22, 2012

Protection from the Storm

The cool thing about rain here is that it can be an absolute deluge one minute, and sun peeking through ten minutes later.  And the skies are VERY expressive.  It's way cool.

A line of storms is drenching pretty much the entire east coast from what I've seen.  We've been spared the brunt of it, but I've heard that they're actually expecting snow - like LOTS of it - back in Rochester tonight and tomorrow.  Oh, hell no.  That's more than cruel.  No complaints here, I assure you.

So, today's picture.  I've been talking about how the flowers and how pretty downtown is.  I went for a walk during one of the breaks this afternoon and was taking a picture of this flower when I noticed this little guy inside.  He seems to be protecting himself from the rain.  It's actually kinda symbolic of some things.

Anyway - it's today's photo. (Click on it for a larger version)


I am so not ready for the weekend to end.  How did the time go by so fast?

One of my favorite ways to spend Sunday mornings is to make a decent breakfast.  Since I didn't go to the beach I had some time to actually do it this week.  Pancakes, with fresh strawberries, topped with a blueberry syrup from Maine.  Oh. My. God.  Loving life.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Cloudy Beach

Get ready, Kenmore West Class of 1977.  Our 35 year class reunion is coming up in August.

I can't believe that the 25th reunion was 10 years ago already.  I remember going - Dr. Christine McGinn was my "date".  Well, it wasn't a date date - she was there for moral support.  Anyway, the reunion is one weekend and then my oldest niece gets married the next weekend.  It's the first wedding in the family since....well....since my brother.  The previous one to that was my own.

Today's photo is from my weekly walk on the beach.  I go there for a number of reasons.  One is that it's simply beautiful  Another is the vastness of the ocean helps to put things into perspective.  And still another is the need to connect to my spiritual self and that seems to happen best either on mountains or near oceans.

I try to go on Sundays but they're calling for rain tomorrow.  Today was a cloudy, but very pleasant day, but clouds just give the photos more personality.



I had a busy day - some cleaning and errands, a trip to Costco, a visit to the gym, a wine tasting event downtown.  Now it's almost time for bed.  My days of getting ready and going out at 11 on a Friday evening are long gone.

A news story in Canada is that the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal agreed with an earlier recommendation by the Ontario Human Right Commission saying gender markers should be changed without surgery (story here).  My response - of course!  Sheesh.  It's happening every day on things like passports, driver's licenses, and other legal documents.

“This decision is a welcome step forward in recognizing and promoting the dignity and equality of trans people,” Chief Commissioner Barbara Hall in a statement. 
Many in the transgendered community may not be able to have surgery for physiological reasons, or they may not want it because, for example, they may want to have children. 
Ursel said the transgendered face “significant” discrimination when it comes to jobs and housing, and are frequently victims of violence. 
The recent headline-making case of beauty queen Jenna Talackova, who was booted from the Miss Universe pageant because she was born male, was a high-profile example of such discrimination, the lawyer said.



Friday, April 20, 2012

Back

So.  DonnaRose.com is back online.  I'll be spending time over the next few weeks to re-tool her, but I've decided to keep her around.  I do appreciate the kind words - she has been a trusted friend over the years.

Many of the sites I used to visit during my own transition are long gone.  The irony is that the people who ran the sites are now actually personal friends in many instances.  So although some websites are significantly scaled back for one reason or another, or gone altogether, others have taken their place.  And, mine will endure for at least a few more years. 

I'll be updating the website.  More to come on that....

I've also decided on a couple of things about this blog.

One, I don't know how often I'll be updating it but it seems to happen fairly regularly.  I'll try to keep that up, but it often just flows with life.  I've got lots and lots going on right now - as usual - and I've learned to NOT put too much personal stuff here.  That won't change. 

I've also decided that each entry will have at least one photo.  I find my world to be a smorgasbord of sights and sounds and smells and often I'll take at least a photo a day.  Plus, I just love photography.  I'm still hoping that it's a future career....believe me, I'm working on that.  In the meantime, my blog will become more visual.  And, each photo will have context, or a story, to go along with it.

There are places to upload photos in a kind of diary thing, but I'd rather do it this way.  So, every entry will contain a photo or two.  I expect I'll take most of them with my iPhone, as it's always with me and it's the easiest way to get them here without too much extra work.  I'm not looking to make this a big effort where everything needs to be perfect - it's simply part of my own enjoyment in doing it.

That said, here's today's photo.  I took it while strolling downtown last night.  Living here in Charleston is like being on constant vacation sometimes, and although I've never been to Europe this is what I'd envision a back road in a European city might look like.  As I mentioned in a previous post, downtown is bright with spring colors and the air is thick with aroma.  The little white flowers are jasmine, and the sweet smell is absolutely intoxicating.  Anyway - here's today's photo from my world.


This weekend the Olympic Trials for Wrestling are happening.  They'll be streaming on NBC so I'll be watching.  Anyway, in a way I'm glad to have my life back.  I've been on an eating bender since I got back from Iowa.  As soon as I finish this I'm headed off to the gym.  :)

As I've moved to fill that spot in my world with other things I've also gone through a process of deciding what's there, which things are energy suckers and which provide energy back, and what other things I want to leave behind.  Pretty profound stuff, and some big changes in some areas.  But the process of taking the time to take life inventory on a regular basis is important....


10pm Update

A couple more things...

There are a couple of good concerts coming to Charlotte, NC in July that I'm planning to see.  Coldplay is coming, and so is Train.  There are other good bands, as well, but those are the two I'd shell out the bucks and would travel the 200 miles to go see.

I went to see Daughtry in Columbia last week.  I realize that they're very pop-rock kinda formulaic stuff, but for some reason I like pretty much everything they do.  I was surprised at the age distribution of the audience - the average age was probably 30 something.

For some reason, several of his songs hit home for me in a number of ways.  Some are of the angst of relationships.  Others are of deeper needs.  Somehow, we connect.  Here's a clip from the concert.

video


I wasn't all that far back, but it makes him look teeny.

Here's another song that strikes a chord in me.  I guess it's the romantic in me that tries to get out sometimes...I dunno.




I'm going through a "phase", or at I should say I'm going through several phases right now.

One is that I realize how much I miss live music.  Charleston doesn't have the most active live-music scene so I'm willing to travel to Charlotte, Myrtle Beach, Columbia, Asheville - I'm not picky.  In that respect, I miss Austin.

Another is that I'm also going thru what I'll call a "feminine" phase.  It's hard to feel feminine when you're wrestling, or at least it was for me.  Now I've got my nails back, I'm enjoying dressing up for summer, my hair is nice and blonde - it's a good thing.  I do find that these kinds of things happen in phases so now the pendulum is swinging back in the other direction.

The biggest "phase" in me right now is the need to let go of some things, and the need for home.  I'm taking active steps in both regards.

It's deeper than that, but that's enough for now. All good as far as I'm concerned....


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Relevant?

Monday Night

I'm kinda sunburned.  I spent quite a bit of time over the weekend outdoors, mostly taking photos.  But the end result is rush from having this kind of a chance to play with a camera on a picture perfect day.  And glowing cheeks.

I was at the College of Charleston campus downtown by 8 yesterday morning.  I figured that's the best time to get the campus without any students there and I was right.  It felt like I had the entire campus to myself for a couple of hours, and I had a great time.  It's an incredibly beautiful place with old oak trees, moss, beautiful buildings, quaint walkways....just amazing...and doubly so in the early hours of a pretty Sunday spring morning.

 Then, I went downtown by my old house and spent a couple more hours just wandering.

The air downtown is sweet with the scent of blooming Jasmine and bright flowers in wondowboxes everywhere.  Not good if you've got allergies, I suppose, but amazing if you don't.  It was amazing, a cornucopia of color and sights. All day.

I had my macro lens with me so I took close-ups of everything.  You get a whole new level of appreciation for things when you reduce it to a super-close-up....pollen inside a flower, the fine details of a leaf, textures....it's actually pretty fascinating. I probably took 200 pictures over the course of the morning and early afternoon.

On the way home I stopped at the beach to contemplate a few things. 

One of the things I've been forced to consider is my website, and whatever role it provides to anyone anymore.  My hosting package and my domain name are up for renewal so I need to make some decisions.

As I think about it , I've been doing this for a long time.  I started my original website in 2001.  The reason I created it in the first place is that I was acutely aware that I literally owed my life to those who shared online and provided a glimmer of hope where there had been none before.  At the time I wasn't sure whether that glimmer was a blessing or a curse because, up until then, I was comfortable with the fact that transition was impossible for me so I was doomed to an unfulfilling, frustrating, unrealized life.

Fifteen years ago doesn't seem like all that long ago in the scheme of things, but those of us who searched for resources at the time found pioneers like Dr. Becky Allison, and Andrea James, and others who provided resources unavailable anywhere else.  More than that, though, they provided the real-world stories and perspectives that made them real, and in turn made Donna real.  Their path was not necessarily my path, but the fact that they had crossed the abyss of fear and confusion, and had overcome the seemingly endless obstacles that prevented everyday people from getting from "here" to "there" was a source of inspiration and strength.

I owe much to those who helped me without ever even knowing it, simply by sharing openly and honestly to a world of faceless strangers.  And, I felt a strong sense of responsibility to pay it forward similarly.  I never imagined anyone would ever find my little website, but simply the process of sharing seemed important.  The internet was different then that it is today, but I found that sharing online feed some deeper inner need in me, as well.

In 2004 I started my blog.  It was originally a way to show that the website was alive, that it hadn't been abandoned.  One of the ironies is that now - 8 years later - I update this blog on a regular basis but I rarely update the website.  There's an irony there.

Back to the issue at hand...Managing the website and the blog has been a labor of love for a long time.  If I counted all the words I've typed here, and in various emails and other "stuff" that has sprung from it all, I'm confident that it'd be well over 6 figures, and hundreds if not thousands of hours.  

So here we are - making decisions about its future.  It's a world of online communities, social networks, blogs, and any number of other significant changes that have altered what any one website can provide.  The question at hand isn't merely one that involves the cost of hosting, the time to maintain, and the general implications of simply having a website out there.  It's one of relevance.  Is my website relevant anymore?  If yes, then it should and will endure.  If no - then there are two options.  Either make it relevant, or take it down.

Nobody can answer those questions but me, but I am perhaps least qualified to do it.  Still, that's what needs to happen in order to determine next steps.

There's a lot more going on in my life than this.  But the two things I've got deadlines on right now are my website, and my income tax.  I'll take care of both of them tomorrow....

Tuesday Morning

Donnarose.com has expired.  It is offline for the first time in a long time.

I talked with the hosting folks, and we came to an agreement.  I've decided to keep it alive, and to make the commitment to making it more relevant.  It will be back online by tomorrow.

So - one decision made.

As for my taxes....I need to finish them up over lunch.  I'm going to see the band Daughtry tonight so I won't be home to send them in.  I owe $$$, so I'm happy to wait until the last possible second.... 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Crud

I feel like.....crud.

When I wrote my last entry on Friday I was starting to feel yucky.  I by Sunday, and into Monday whatever I caught settled in my chest and throat and I sounded more like a toad than a person.  I went to the doctor who said that I had a sinus infection and prescribed an antibiotic but as of right now the only thing that's happened is that I sound better but feel worse.  It's moving north and has now settled in my nose and my sinuses, meaning stuffy nose and headaches.

The doctor told me to stay home and stay horizontal but that's not possible this week.  I actually laughed when she offered to write me a note -- I haven't needed a note since grade school.  I had my Microsoft architect in town this week and needed to be sure we made good use of his time by connecting him with our vendor partners and our engineers.  I've heard more technical acronyms over these past few days than I can remember - DAGs, STIGs, LUNs, DNS, it's crazy.  But everything seemed to go well and although it's just after 6pm I'm already thinking about bed.  I'm crazy tired.

I don't get sick very often.  But I suppose I place significant demands on my body which probably weaken my defenses.  So at some point it's bound to catch something.  I'm actually surprised I don't get sick more often but I suppose I should thank my lucky stars.  I'm not a baby when I don't feel well, but I sometimes wish I just had the time to re-energize.

The weather here has been steadily improving since Friday's chill and the ten-day forecast looks to be positively Eden-like:



I'm luv-luv-luving it.  Maybe an infusion of Vitamin S (S=sunshine) would help melt away the crud.  I dunno, but it certainly couldn't hurt....

I've had some interesting yearnings lately.

Over the weekend I got a hankering for some Potato Salad.  Not any potato salad, but my favorite: Wegman's Mustard Potato Salad.  I miss that, and since the the closest Wegmans is 476 miles away I figured I'd try to find the recipe online and hope I can re-create it on my own.  I did (here it is!), and after 2 hours of cutting, boiling, peeling, and mixing I've got the closest I can think of to the real deal.  Maybe even better, as I added a couple of extra spices to add a bit o' zing.   I'm loving it, especially when combined with my stash of Zweigel's hot dogs for Easter.  Yummm.

It reminds me of how much I enjoy cooking.  With my hectic schedule it often gets forgotten.  And cooking for one can be a drag sometimes.  But cooking this potato salad made me realize how much I enjoy it so I'm going to get back into it.  And baking.  I love baking.  This weekend I'm planning to make a sour cream coffee cake.  Yummm again.

I took a picture of myself in my new glasses while I was headed out on Saturday.  Nothing spectacular, but I suppose it's worth sharing.  I don't know if they make me look any smarter, but it's taking me a while to get used to them:

April 7, 2012
That's it.  I'm purposefully not including anything on National News:  Miss Universe, Rick Santorum,  the Trayvon Martin shooting.

I'm focused on my own little world right now.  On Easter I decided a healthy way to end the day would be to drive to a relatively unknown spot a little north of here to watch sunset.  The results were spectacular.  I hope I never feel so crummy that I forget to take the time to appreciate these daily miracles.    I shared one of these on FB, but I actually like this one best as it captures the sun just sinking below the horizon.  God, I love photography....

So I'll end with one of my iPhone photos from the sunset.

 

Amazing to the point of forgetting how crappy I'm feeling.  For a while....

Friday, April 6, 2012

Autumn-like

So, today is Good Friday.  It's Passover, too. 

Here in Charleston it feels more like autumn.  Yesterday it was 84 degrees.  The cold front that brought tornados to Texas earlier in the week went thru here last night and the temperature is twenty degrees cooler.  With cloudy skies and brisk, chilly winds it really does feel more like Thanksgiving than Easter.

The Cooper River bridge connects Charleston with Mt. Pleasant

I, for one, am thrilled it's Friday.

I don't say this very often but I'll say it now:  I don't feel well.  I think it's my body's way of telling me that it doesn't appreciate all I've put it through in recent weeks and now that I've allowed myself to put down my guard - bam.  Sore throat, low energy, tired, just feeling "blah"....I'm glad I don't have to do anything too strenuous this weekend so I can let it play itself out.

When I was married and had a family Easter was a big deal.  It was a big family day.  As a result, perhaps the lowest day in my entire life was Easter 1999.  It was shortly after my wife invited me to go find a new place to live until I could come back and forget all the "foolishness".  I was aiming to go full-time at work and was in my little apartment, healing up from some surgery, supposedly getting ready to show up at work for my first day as Donna shortly afterwards.  I was isolated, sore, sad, confused, frustrated, and generally alone - all of which compounded themselves because it was Easter. 

I abandoned transitioning less than two weeks later.  It was a matter of self-preservation....

Easter doesn't have the impact on me that it used to have.  If I'm feeling ok I think I'm going to go to Charlotte tomorrow to do some shopping.  There will probably be a nice breakfast on Sunday morning.  Some photography is on my list of things to do, as well.  And a beach.  Thankfully, we're past the depressing years.

In the interview I did with the CBC we talked about my High School reunion.  One of the things I tried to explain was my need to establish and maintain links to my past.  It's much deeper discussion that I'm really looking to have right now, but I truly don't want to forget the past.  Remembering is empowering.

Jenna Talackova, the Miss Universe hopeful from Canada, will appear on 20/20 with Barbara Walters tonight (details here). 

As for me - I'm headed out for pizza.  I've got a Groupon that expires tomorrow so I need to use it.  I don't know if that'll help me feel any better, but I'm pretty sure it won't make me feel any worse.  :)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Smack

My mom lives in Arlington, TX.  I just got word that a huge tornado blew thru Arlington this afternoon.  I talked with her a short while ago and she said the storm was amazing, but that she was fine and there was no damage anywhere around where she lives.  I was incredibly relieved.

At the time all this was going down I was at a sound studio doing an interview for a radio piece scheduled to air this weekend.


The theme of the interviews is reunions - I'm getting ready for my 35th HS Reunion this summer.  I really enjoyed the recording studio and talking with the guy there.  I'm a total geek for that kind of thing - the microphones, the sound boards, the computers....it gets me all happy.  This was a remote interview and it's crazy cool how the technology of it all works....the woman who was doing the interviewing was in Canada and I was here in SC.  Anyway, they're doing the editing and it's scheduled to be broadcast on Saturday.  I think it went pretty well.....I'll share a link to the audio here when I get it....

It's nice to be back into some semblence of flow back in my life.  I don't plan to go to a gym, or work out, or otherwise stress my body in any way this week.  I suppose injecting my body with fat, carbs, and calories could be defined as "stressful", but the first thing I did yesterday when I landed was stop at Five Guys for lunch.

I mentioned Five Guys earlier.  Well, here's Five Guys.  Or, more specifically, here's a photo of my lunch.  Yummmm....


Man oh man oh man.  Is that good. Maybe it's because I deprived myself for so long, but know that there's not an ounce of guilt here.  And even after that, I still fit in my Size 4 slacks this morning.  :)

The Miss Universe saga continues to burn up the airwaves (latest here).  As I said yesterday, regardless of whether anyone thinks this has received too much attention or not, I don't think that this has finished playing itself out yet.  Jenna held the press conference she planned to hold today, with her attorney (see photo).  I do think Jenna needs to be careful not to lose the amount of sympathetic support that her situation has generated but she hasn't asked me for any advice so I'll just see how it plays out.

In unrelated, but still related, development a Minnesota court ruled that same-sex marriages involving trans-people were still valid (details here).  That's not the thing that connects these two things.  The common connector is the reason that the health insurance company that denied benefits that spawned the case in the first place:

In court, the health fund lawyers argued that Christine was not actually a woman, that she falsified her birth certificate in her home state of Wisconsin and in her resident state of Minnesota, and that her marriage was illegal. They alleged that the Radtkes’ marriage was illegal based on the state’s Defense of Marriage Act.


So, here it is again.  Some organization or entity denying equal access and participation because of some self-imposed right to overrule appropriate legal documentation that they neither understand nor agree with.  Thankfully, in exdpressing his ruling the judge in this case provided the appropriate smack down.
“The Fund’s role was to ascertain Minnesota law,” Davis wrote. “It was not the Fund’s role to impose its own definitions of gender and marriage upon its participants. In this case, the Fund ignored all evidence of the State of Minnesota’s view of Plaintiff’s sex and marital status. The Fund’s decision was not only wrong … it was a flagrant violation of its duty under any standard of review.

“The Fund’s interpretation of Minnesota law was unreasonable and wrong,” Davis continued. “Minnesota law recognizes the Radtkes’ marriage as a marriage between a man and a woman because Minnesota law recognizes Plaintiff’s sex as female. Every piece of evidence related to this Plaintiff that was presented to the Fund supported the conclusion that the State of Minnesota recognized her marriage – from her name change order, to her Goodhue County Court order requiring amendment of her birth certificate, to her marriage license and marriage certificate.” 
Right on.

I wrote something on FB today expressing my displeasure at people who add me to groups without asking first.  I'm generally NOT a group joiner, and whenever someone adds me without asking I'll automatically leave it no matter what it is.  It just rubs me the wrong way. 

Another pet peave: Chat.  I had some guy write to ask me if I'd like to chat sometime.  I sent him a simple response...."No, I don't chat".  And I don't.  I don't even like its evil step-sister, texting.  More often than not I'd rather just talk, but unfortunately people seem to want to text.  Not me.  Anytime a text message strays into the space where (a) voice or (b) email would be more apprioriate I can only remain engaged for so long.  And the politics of Texting can be oppressive...who texted last, do you need to respond in similarly long sentences, what happens when meaning gets misconstrued, and what about simply NOT responding?  It has it's place.  But there's a reason I have limits on my texting plan.  I'm just saying....

I'm headed out for a bite to eat, a well deserved drink, and then home for early bed.  All 3 sound wonderful to me right now.  Time to make it so....




Monday, April 2, 2012

Home again. And happy....

This will be short....

I'm home.  I had a full day at workI've unpacked.  And I'm getting ready for bed.

The small cut on my face seems much larger today now that it's scabbed over and healing.  I've had a throbbing headache that started as a dull pain when I got up at 4 this morning to catch my flight and has steadily gained steam all day long.  Now that I'm home I've had a chance to lay down for a while and it is feeling a little better.

I'm tired.  I'm a bit sore.

But mostly, I'm glad to be home.

I appreciate all the kind words that have come my way on this last little adventure.  A couple of people have written expressing concern that I might be significantly disappointed and, honestly, I'm not.  There's a peace that comes with knowing that you've done your best regardless of the outcome.  I truly don't measure what has happened by wins.  I measure it be simply being there.

Some may argue that that's what people who lose say.  Perhaps so.  But it's true.  I'm really fine, and for the first time in a long time I can put things in my mouth and wonder when I'll be able to burn them off....

I've done my best to regain the ten pounds I lost last week.  Not really, but my body is much happier there.   I expect that's where it will eventually settle.

In bigger-picture news, I see that the Miss Universe pageant has reinstated Jenna Talackova by backing off the alleged "natural born woman" requirement (details here, and here).  They've said she can compete so long as she can provide appropriate gender recognition documentation just like any other competitor, and similar to other competitions.  That is absolutely the way it should have been all along, and it's nice to see that all of this pressure has had an impact.

Jenna had retained legal council in both Canada and the US, and was planning to hold a press conference tomorrow.  Do you think that had something to do with it??   That, and the worldwide visibility that this has received.  Now THAT was amazing.  This kind of stuff happens all the time, but it's typically glossed over or hidden so it never gets that kind of momentum.

Regardless of how it happened, I applaud the Miss Universe people for ultimately doing the right thing.

I'm happy that things have played out as they have although I have a strange feeling that this isn't over.  I think there will still be some interesting developments.  I can envision that she won't want to compete now.  How can it be "fair" after all of this?  Anyway....stay tuned.

The current installment of "In The Life" is about life with Trans families.  It's called "Becoming Me", and the entire thing is available online (watch it here).



Sunday, April 1, 2012

SAOK (Simple Acts of Kindness)

I'm back at the hotel I checked out of yesterday morning.  But time has blurred over the last few days so it doesn't like just yesterday.  The front-desk lady must have taken pity on me when I checked back in because she gave me a two-room suite.  It's actually really nice.  And very much appreciated.

Wrestling is done, and I've got some things to say so this make take a couple of minutes....

Lots has happened over the past 36 hours.  From the drama of getting here to the business of taking "care" of business to business of heading back home.  I've got a couple of things to say while it's still fresh in my mind - before I take my shower, go out for dinner, and start getting ready for my 6:30am flight.

There have been some highlights of note this weekend.

Yesterday at weigh in's we were sitting in a line and the one person who has approached me at events came up, and sat down next to me.  Her name is Laura.

Being at these things is inherently lonely.  I'm not part of a team, which is the one ingredient very much missing from the sport for me this time around.  The reason I enjoyed the sport in the first time around is that it had all the ingredients I needed: it was an individual sport but at the same time it had the team camaraderie of a team sport.

Being who I am this time around is isolating, and the only reason I've been able to get to this point is thanks to dedication, creativity, patience, perseverance, stubbornness, extraordinary healing capabilities, and no small amount of temporary insanity.  I've held my head in my hands more than once wondering what strange drive it is pushing me to continue.

It's not the first time I've had an un-yielding force driving me, but that's another story....

Back to last night.  So, Laura sits down, and we start chatting.  She's 26, the same age as my son, and nice as can be.  Her mom is there too.  They drove down from the upper peninsula of Michigan thru Chicago (to pick up mom) and over the Cedar Falls.  Very cool people.  She mentioned my "past" and that was fine - I actually appreciated that.  It's not a secret.

After weigh in I went to Olive Garden to eat as many carbs as I could.  Who do you think walks in?  Laura, her mom, and another young wrestler.  I was eating by myself and Laura came over to "tell" me to come over to eat with them.  There's not many people who tell me to do things, but this was so cute.  So I did.  It was touching, and in the scheme of things I won't remember the outcomes of the matches as much as the simple acts of kindness.

This tournament was a big deal.  It was held in the UniDome - the domed football stadium for the University of Northern Iowa.  Competing in these things is not for the faint of heart, although more than once I've pinched myself....

The view from the floor of the UniDome


As I was sitting between matches today one girl stopped over to tell me how much she respects what I'm doing.  One of the officials from the World Team Trials stopped by to tell me she remembers me and to wish me best of luck.

Women's Wrestling at the Olympic Qualifier....

And then there was Dave.  I was standing watching some of the matches before mine and the guy standing next to me asked if I had a kid wrestling today.  I told him no - I was wrestling.  He was wonderfully supportive and we started chatting.  It turns out that his two teenage daughters wrestle so he was there to support them and coach them.  During the course of the conversation he asked if I had anyone in my corner....

The sad fact is that I don't.  Well, I've got lots of people who are spiritually and symbolically in my corner, but I had come to peace with the sad reality that I'd most likely be the only competitor there without a coach or someone sitting in their corner.  It's just something that I've accepted without dwelling on.  Dave asked if I'd like him in my corner, and I accepted.  HE was my team today.

It wasn't until I was getting ready to step on the match for my first match that he asked me my name, and I learned his.  I find it a little more than ironic that his name was Dave, and we shook hands.  He was there for both my matches.  Between rounds he gave me advice.  His daughters came over to check on me.  And when it was all over - they went home.  Another simple act of kindness.

I've done a lot of things in my life.  Most people have no clue as to what I've had to do, but one of the things you learn early on is that everyone has a story.  But simple things like this make everything I've had to do to get here worthwhile.  Why?  Because it feeds my faith in people.  In a world that can be mean and hateful and downright shi**y it's so refreshing to experience simple things, and in this case that faith is found at the intersection of Donna and Wrestling.

The lesson I've learned from it is the importance of doing.  And it's not even in the outcomes that we can find the real value.  It's in the doing.  Disregarding the fear, and the doubt, and the loneliness of being on a unique path where you're the only one like you.  But I suppose when you're in uncharted territory those simple gestures get magnified by our need to experience them.

I'd love to say that I feel embraced by my sport, that going to these events is a huge group hug.  I will say that watching these amazing athletes is something best appreciated by someone who has lived that life.  Once, or twice.  But the fact of the matter is that I think the push towards winning dulls some of the simpler opportunities of growing character and helping people along the way.  It's not the sport that's the bond - it's the people.  And today those people have names.   Laura, and David.

I lost my first match 3-0, 5-0.  I tried some moves that didn't work.  I held my ground but faded at the end to a better athlete.  It's that simple.  But those matches are grueling so the hour between matches wasn't nearly long enough to regain what I needed to do it all again.

I made a decision going into the second match to put it all on the line for an all or nothing move.  It failed. And, truth be told, I have no regrets.

Ironically - it's the first match that ended without me bleeding from somewhere above the neck in a long time.  I've got a nice gash on my lip...wasn't sure where the blood was coming from as it was dripping on the mat.  Nothing terrible, tho....

I have no regrets about anything.  That's a life philosophy.  More than that, it's a driving force.  It's something I owe to me, my dad, and to what I've done.  No regrets.  Win, lose, or anything in between.  The failure is in fearing to fail, which leads to fearing (and failing) to do.  I am not afraid.

This chapter of my life has closed.  For real, this time.  I'll need to find new frontiers, new passions, new hobbies.  What I'll remember form this weekend is Laura and her mom.  And Dave.  People whose lives intersected with mine at a wrestling meet in the center of Iowa....

As I was driving to the hotel I checked to see where is the closest Five Guys.  I could SO go for a good burger right now.  You know how far?  870 miles.  Honest to God.  I mentioned it to the people at the front desk and one of them had never even heard of Five Guys, and the other person (who had lived in DC) said the closest is in Colorado.  Really?  Crazy....

So, back to the here and now.  It's time to grab dinner (I'm heading to Red Robin for my burger....it's the only one in the state I think).  Make no mistake, a double Margarita will also be involved.

I'm sore.  Every cell in my body has been stressed this week.  It's going to be weird to give it all a break.  But I've earned it.

Thanks much to Laura, her mom, Gabby, and Dave.  Y'all made me happy today.  That makes it easier to turn the page.....

9:30 update:

Ahhh.  A good burger and a margarita  is amazingly therapeutic.

USA Wrestling already has some videos from today on YouTube.  This video (link here) shows a couple of the wrestlers in my weight class.  The wrestler in the blue singlet is the girl who beat me in my first match.  She was tough....

My head is starting to ache for the first time in a while.  I'm pretty sure it's a neck thing more than a head thing but it pretty much feels the same.  After all the abuse I've put myself through recently I actually expected headaches earlier on.  Thankfully, not.

Come to think of it, most of my body is hurting tonight.  That's not accurate.  It's more like "aching" and just plain ol being tired.  I've been drinking like a sponge all day....I'm on my second 32 oz. Powerade since noon.

I'm looking forward to getting home.  It feels good just to be able to call it home.  Next big event to plan.....getting a more significant place to live in SC, going back to Phoenix, collecting all my stuff, and driving it back across the country.  That good bit 'o fun should happen sometime this summer....

One last thing.  So, I was on the plane flying from Chicago to Cedar Rapids on Friday and was talking with the guy next to me.  Somehow, the conversation turned to sports and he told me about his kids and all the various sports they were playing.  He explained how he thinks it's a good idea because he wants a "mans's man", not one of these "feminized boys" that society promotes these days.  Those are his words, not mine.  Oy.

Well, the alarm is set for 4:15 so I'm headed to lala land.  Finally.