Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas Bounty

Tonight I'm sitting in a hotel near the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, NC.  It is the end of an amazing week.  I'll share some highlights.

I escaped the single-digit cold for the comforts of South Carolina on Christmas eve.  I was up at 3am to catch my 6am flight.  Everything flowed like clockwork and I was home by dinnertime.  I had Christmas Eve dinner with some wonderful friends there....

Christmas Eve, Chicago skyline in the distance, zero degrees....
When I arrive I had no pre-conceived notion of structure for my time home.  There were a number of things I wanted to achieve, but I find planning things out too much block opportunities for spontaneous circumstance.

I wanted to use my last two barre class sessions while I was here.  Barre is my favorite overall workout.  They don't have a class for it anywhere in Nebraska.  Or Iowa, for that matter.  The closest to me when I'm in Omaha is in Kansas City...3+ hours away.  The best explanation of Barre is that it's a cross between ballet and pilates that focuses on targeted, little movements on specific muscles and groups.  It's incredibly effective and by the time an hour is up I'm typically shaking from the exertion.

Going to barre is a significant test of self-confidence.  Only women seem to attend these classes...typically women who are long, lean, limber, lithe, and graceful.  Needless to say - I am none of these things.  That's why I go.  It's very much about proper form - head and shoulder alignment, pointed toes, graceful hands - and the instructors are wonderfully patient when correcting bad form.  The ultimate compliment is to hear, "very pretty, ladies".  You can see in the mirrors that circle the room that everyone is moving in unison.  It's wonderful.  Regardless of how difficult it becomes or how much it hurts hearing that re-energizes.

Anyway - I hope I've shared just how much I enjoy Barre.  And - I did use both my sessions.  I'll get more next year....

I wanted to spend Christmas morning walking through downtown taking photographs.  I've learned over the past few years that nobody - and I do mean nobody - comes out until at least 11am.  Downtown is like a ghost town.  Places that are typically full of people are empty.  Scenery that you often can't see becomes obvious.  The city dresses up to celebrate Christmas, and it's never more accessible than on Christmas morning.

I spent 3 hours walking around downtown - admiring the scenery, taking pictures, soaking up the energy.  It was a magical way to spend Christmas.


The weather was wonderful, so I went for a good long run along my usual route.  I loved that, too.

The rest of the day was spent sharing Christmas with a certain someone and her family.  It was wonderful, too, as our opportunities to re-connect have been all too few over the last few weeks.

I visited some dear friends in Asheville, NC.  I got my hair done with my usual stylist.  I took care of a number of things that have needed closure.  I mentally prepared to close the book on 2013, and open the book on 2014 - new beginnings, new opportunities, new pathways.

I realize that none of this is special to anyone but me but that's fine.  I share it here to provide a glimpse in to the things that keep me going, that make me happy.  There are all elements of my soul food, and it's times like these that demonstrate to me that I exist ok when in Omaha, but I live fully when here.

That said, I've alluded to the fact that some changes are coming and that I expect to be back home soon.  To be more specific, I expect to be back by the end of January.  There are a number of significant things that need to happen between now and then but the groundwork has already been laid and an offer has already been made.  At this point it's a matter of details and logistics.

If things play out as they seem to be leaving will be somewhat bittersweet.  As I've shared before, I really do enjoy what I'm doing.  The guys in our group have become close.  There are some very exciting things happening.  But, as I've explained, my life there is more about existing than living and I'm ready to embrace what comes next.

There is a back-story here that has unfolded over the past few days that was truly unexpected, but is very welcome.  Details will go untold because it's still developing and personal beyond the point I'm willing to share.

So - it is in the shadow of all of that that I sit here and relax - preparing to leave where I'm supposed to be to go to where I need to be right now.  Temperatures back in Omaha are in the single digits.  I've got my alarm set for 3:15am and a reservation on the 4:30am bus from the hotel to catch my 5:45am flight.  It's going to be a loooonnnngg day.  But I'm buoyed by some of the significant things that have happened in my world over the past few days.  My Christmas bounty has been more than I could have imagined.


Friday, December 20, 2013

Chapters

Temperatures soared into the 50's here this week, a far cry from the previous week where our average temperature was 9 (not our average low....our average temperature).  We're in the lower teens today, heading down to zero this weekend.  I've gotten pretty good at saying warm so far.  I'm coping fine.  But I expect this to be my last "cold" winter so I can do this.

I was thinking a little about Christmas today.  I can't believe it's coming next week.  It really doesn't have any impact on my world anymore.  For a long time it was about my son.  On Christmas in 1998 I had no way of knowing that my dad would pass less than a week later, and it would be my last Christmas with my wife and son.  When I lived in Scottsdale when I needed minor surgery I'd typically do it over Christmas - I called the week between Christmas and New Year's the "Lost Week" because I'd often be on pain killers, recuperating.  Now - it's just a day....I don't like it, I don't hate it....it's just a day.

I'll be headed to Charleston on Tuesday, and I'll be there for almost a week.  Charleston is beautiful over Christmas (link here) and I expect to spend part of the day with dear friends, part of the day biking, and part of the day just walking around downtown taking photos and soaking it all in.  I haven't been back in quite a few weeks so I'm overdue for the psychic rejuvenation that my visits provide.

I'm going to share a little about my world at the moment.  I'm here in Nebraska working at a secure military facility housed at an Air Force base nearby.  It's an extraordinary thing - I can't do it anywhere else and I'm very much enjoying it.  A highlight of my day is typically driving through the guard gate and chatting with the sentries in the morning.  I like the job, I like the people I work with, I'm doing some really fascinating things in a one-of-a-kind environment, and I have no regrets whatsoever coming here.

I work in a big room with 50 or so engineers of various flavors.  Most of them have some things in common.  Most are retired from the military as it's one of the easier ways to get the security clearance required to even set foot in the room.  Another similarity is that most are men - there is only one other woman and myself.  We're outnumbered, but we hold our own.  These guys are a great group, even when they're burping or making other disgusting noises.  Some of us have grown close.  That's what will make leaving the most difficult.

I originally signed on for 6 months.  That date passed at the end of November.  I can't believe it has been that long already - still not sure where the time goes.  It would be easy to ask, if I'm enjoying it so much why leave?  Well, this isn't home.  This is someplace I came to do a job but it's almost time to go home.  Lately I've started to thing - what next?  Well....I have a feeling that I'll be able to answer that here very soon.

My son had his 28th birthday this week.  I'll be driving the 8 hours from here to Denver tomorrow morning to spend a little time and have dinner with him before doing it all in reverse on Sunday.  Lots of driving, but I'm looking forward to seeing my man.

Speaking of "my man"....recent experience has validated for me that I'm really not into guys.  I think part of me would like that, but the reality is that it's just awkward and forced for me.  I'm not into it.  I did meet one guy a couple of years ago that I felt differently about but that lasted as long as it took for me to share my unique history.  That was the last time we talked....

So - as we head into the home stretch for 2013 I'm getting ready to watch another chapter of life end while another begins.  I've watched a number of these things over the years and part of it is knowing that it's coming.  I can feel it.  It's not like it's a surprise as I've made all this happen.  But knowing that and seeing the reality of it are two different things.  Kind of like coming out.


Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Back in the Saddle again

Hello again.  Long time no chat!

I'm sorry for my extended absence from my blog.  We've become pretty "close" over the years so being away for a little while was a little odd.  There was no compelling reason for my recent inactivity other than life events.  I'm well and have no major complaints other than the cold.

I had written a fairly long entry several days ago that I was planning to post but it somehow disappeared into the ether.  I was frustrated and gave myself a couple of days to recoup.  All better now.

I do want to take a moment and share my deepest appreciation for those who wrote to express concern for my well-being based on the gap between my posts.  I truly appreciate the fact that we all look out for one another, and that includes for yours truly.  I'm used to thinking of myself as a Weeble - it never falls down.  I know it's not true and that one day this Weeble will, indeed, fall.  But I don't think that day will be today.

I do have more to share but I'll need to postpone that until my next opportunity.  I'm between obligations at the moment and just wanted to drop a quick note to say "hi", "I'm fine", and "Thank you."    :)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Stop This Train

I've felt pretty crummy for most of the week.  I don't know if it was the diving, the crazy schedule, the airplane, or what.  But my lungs got full of yucky, phlegmy stuff and I just felt bad.  As I've mentioned in the past, I don't own a thermometer and don't think I had a fever.  But that doesn't change the fact that something is still draggin' me down.

Yesterday was the best day since Monday.  I went to see John Mayer in Lincoln Friday night.  Lincoln is about 60 miles from here.  He's one of the people I've wanted to see for quite a while and he didn't disappoint.  If anything, the disappointment comes from the fact that I like so many of his songs that he didn't play a half dozen or more that I would have loved to have seen.  I suppose the secret of performing is to leave people wanting more.  Well, he succeeded.


I've got a ticket to see him in Charleston next month, too.  :)

Winter has arrived in Nebraska.  An arctic blast caused temperatures to drop from 50+ degrees on Wednesday to the 20's on Thursday to single-digits these last two mornings.  Rain turned to sleet turned to blowing snow.  Thankfully, there was only a couple of inches of it but there's no mistaking it....winter is here.  I've been staying warm - I HATE being cold.

My schedule gets as crazed again over the next several weeks.  On Wednesday I'll be hitting the roads (along with 45 million other drivers) to spend Thanksgiving with mom (~650 miles).  I'll head back later Saturday or Sunday.   I'm praying for good driving weather (both ways) and sane roads.  

The following weekend I'm scheduled to be in Phoenix.  I haven't been there since early May and have been missing dear friends there.

The weekend after that I'd like to go to Boulder see my son - his 28th birthday is coming just before Christmas.

Over Christmas I'd like to be back in Charleston.  In mid-January I'm scheduled to take a training in Phoenix.  And on and on it goes...

That said - things rarely go as planned in my world, so I reserve the right to change any and all of this should situations warrant.  I implied a few posts ago that change might be in the air.  That's still true.  Did I mention - I don't like being cold?!

One of my pups has given indications that he's got something funky going on in one or both of his ears.  I took him to the vet yesterday....turns out he's got a yeast infection in both ears.  He's on the road to recovery....

Lots to be Thankful for this week.  I take it very seriously....it's easy to forget as the speed of life increases.

I'll end this with a clip that someone posted online from the John Mayer concert in Lincoln Friday night.  As one point his band went offstage and he sang a couple of acoustic songs.  One of them was "Stop this Train".

Stop this train.
I want to get off and go home again.
I can't take the speed it's moving in
I know I can
But honestly, won't someone stop this train....


Amen....

Monday, November 18, 2013

Deep

I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport at the moment - halfway thru my return trip back to Omaha after my long Scuba-Diving weekend.  I wanted to document some thoughts while they're still fresh in my mind.

When I was 12 or 13 years old I wanted to Scuba Dive.  I started taking lessons to get my certification, but shortly before the certification dives I found that when I dove to the bottom of the deep end of the pool there was a very sharp pain in one of my teeth.  It turns out that it's something called "tooth squeeze", caused by a bubble of air under a filling that reacts to the extra pressure that comes with deeper depths.

I put that dream on hold.

Fast forward to earlier this year.  I decided that it was time to dust off that dream and try again.  A certain someone and I took the course and traveled to Florida with the local Scuba shop and obtained our Open Water certification.  It was a big deal.

Well - the way I look at it getting Open Water Certification is getting permission to get your feet wet, but for those wanting to do and learn more it requires additional learning and experience.  The next level of certification, Advanced Open Water, allows a diver to descend to more than double the depth of Open Water and includes specialties such as wreck diving, underwater photography, underwater navigation, and other areas of interest to people looking to get more involved in the sport.

So - the opportunity to get to that point presented itself.  Although there were a number of reasons - logistical, financial, and "other" - that it might not be a good idea the fact of the matter is that this dream had been on the shelf for too long to wait.

That's what this past weekend was all about.  I had done all the class work.  I had gotten as far in the process as you can get without going into the water.  This weekend was about getting into the water and "doing".  It was wonderful.

I learned as much of more about diving over these last three days than I have in the entire rest of my lifetime.  Equipment, knowledge, experience, camaraderie....I could talk for an hour about it all.  And the funny thing is that none of it happened as planned.

It was supposed to be pretty simple.  The Charleston Scuba school had arranged for two days of a scuba charter out of Pompano Beach, FL so the two days were scheduled to be cull of 6 dives.  There were 10 of us in the group - a small family whose son was being Open Water certified, a gentleman who flew in from New York just because he wanted to go scuba diving and this fit his schedule, a couple of guys who seemed to be pretty experienced divers, a couple of Dive Master candidates, the owner of the store, and me.

Since I was the only one pursuing Advanced Open Water I got lots of one on one time.  It was great.

The two major elements for me included a night dive (including underwater navigation), and a deep dive (greater than the 60 feet max for Open Water).

Well - Saturday morning the weather in Pompano was dangerous for diving.  8-10 foot white cap waves, a Rip-Current alert, and there was no indication when things would get better.  Within an hour we had re-planned the trip at spots that allowed each of us to do what we had come to do and, frankly, probably provided a better experience all around.

There are too many highlights to mention. One was diving in a current, watching the long see grasses slowly wave back and forth almost as though pushed by gentle winds.  When you look up at the surface it's amazing to see that they're reflected downwards the same way that things above the watewr are reflected upwards.  It was very peaceful...very calming and relaxing.

For yesterday's deep dive Sally and I were the only two divers.  We went to the bottom of a deep spring - ~80 feet down.  She put an empty plastic water bottle into one of the pockets of my BCD and we looked at it at the bottom....it had been absolutely crushed from the pressure.  Going down, down, down was surreal.....thankfully I had no problem equalizing the pressure in my sinuses.  This time there was no problem with the teeth.  There was only calm.

At the bottom of the spring there was a deep fissure and water was rushing in causing quite the current.  We went down to it and watched it for a while....it was fascinating.  And when we finished - there were hugs and high fives all around....it was the last thing left to do for my Advanced Open Water cert.

I find diving to be everything I enjoy.  It forces you to face fears to the point where there is relaxation and calm.  It opens a whole new world that many never get to see in person.  It is focused on having a "buddy" and is very much about community - everyone I've met doing this has been friggin' awesome.  In short, I think the dream was waiting to be realized.

I've met many people who have been certified over the years but life eventually steered them away from diving.  I won't be one of those people.  I feel like a kid with a new toy and am actually disappointed that I won't be able to do this again for a few months.  But make no mistake - the passion will not dim.

Another highlight.....

Back when I first met my electrologist, Maria, she told me about one of the trans-women she had been working on who had gone on a trip with her, her mother and family, and a group of others.  She said that nobody on the trip had any clue that this woman was trans.  The thought of fitting in and not setting off signals was absolutely incomprehensible to me.

As I headed to the airport today I found that it was the first time I actually "thought" about my unique background over the whole trip.  I was busy being one of the gang, Sally's roommate, just another diver with a passion for the water.  I couldn't help but think back to that story the Maria shared all these years ago.  And in doing so - I was reminded of another dream that has come true....the ability to simply "be".

Anyway - I need to go catch my flight.  Just wanted to capture some of this stuff while it's on my mind.  The thing I'm looking forward to most right now is getting back and seeing the pups.  I've missed them.  :)





Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veteran's Day

I talked a little about the pups yesterday.  Another aspect of their world is that they're on a schedule.  That's why today is a Holiday so there's no reason at all to be awake before 6am but we've already gone for our usual walk and they have eaten.  I could go back to bed now...still might.....but enjoying my cup of Pete's morning magical coffee too much at the moment.

I talked a little about my sense that change is about to happen in my world.  One thing I'll say is that I don't envision myself lasting the winter here, but at the same time unless something surprising happens I don't see myself back in Charleston either.  Wherever I end up, tho, will become home base for me for the foreseeable future as I'm tired of moving, of having my various worlds scattered around the country, and of not having the roots I've talked about for the past few years.

Right now the temperature outside is 40 degrees and skies are clear.  An arctic cold front is supposed to blow through later today causing temperatures to plunge....the temperature at this time tomorrow is forecast to be anywhere between 10-15 degrees.  There is a possibility of the first flurries of the year later today.  Not liking this....

I may have shared this in the past, but I work in a military facility.  I'm surrounded by 50 IT engineers, (99% men, by the way) most of whom are ex- military because it takes a certain level of security clearance and knowledge of how the DoD works to do what I do.  The reason that's pertinent today is that today is Veteran's Day so for the people here it's more than just a day off.  Places that have large bases nearby find that the military presence is embedded into the culture of the area.  That's true here so Veteran's Day is truly a time to appreciate those who serve.

Here - it's personal.  It's families who are separated, it's people who are away from those they love, it's worry about the dangers - it's real.  It's not just a day off.  There was a moment at the Colts/Rams game yesterday that actually brought tears to my eyes (story here).

To see that wife and those kids....man oh man.

Many of these people serve for 20 years before retiring, yet they're younger than I am.  The typical path is to enlist after high school and to retire in their early 40's.  It feels odd to work with people who have already "retired" from a career but it's true.  For some, though, the military becomes a way of life so now they're back as civilian contractors.  They've been stationed in places around the world and somehow end up here.

I live close enough to the base to hear Revely play over the loudspeakers at 7am each morning, and the plaintive notes of taps each night at 10.  I live in the flight path of planes that come and go all day and all night, and sometimes even go out back to see what's flying overhead when the roar is particularly loud.  That's not a complain at all.  In fact, it's pretty cool.  I have a very cool existence here.

In one of my recent posts I broached the topic of "selective disclosure".  The only visible indicator about my unique history that I've got at work is that I use an HRC mouse pad at my desk.  Why?  Because it's just not important there.  Some of the people I work with have subtly shared indicators that they're aware - some have seen videos of my wrestling, another asked how I got my book published.....but it hasn't affected anything at all.  It's a non-issue.

There was a time when I had a picture of Elizabeth at my desk which invited questions or discussion.  Others I work with have pictures of their family so it's not out of the ordinary.  Regardless of specifics, all are aware of my liberal political and social views and it's probably no surprise that I'm a distinct minority there in that regard.  Still, the minute anyone disparages same-sex marriage or other things I'm passionate about I'll speak up 10 times out of 10.  They know that, and in fact I'd go so far as to say that they respect it.

I took the dogs to the doggie park and one of the engineers was there with 3 big, beautiful German Shepards.  I grew up around German Shepards for most of my life, and getting Maggie (an Australian Shepard) was my effort to downsize.  I think Cody is part Shepard.  But, of any breed, the one that I still find amazing is German Shepards.  He rescued these 3 - one of them had been thrown out of a moving car!  I would have taken one of them in a second.  They're amazing, graceful, intelligent, animals.

Later in the day a Colonel that has become a friend invited me to go shooting with him.  He's got quite the impressive collections of firearms, and my own highlight of the day was shooting his M4 Carbine.  I do well on a gun range, but I've never had what I'd call "formal" training.  Until yesterday.  It'd be a horrible pun to say I had a "blast" but I did.  And I had almost as much fun last night - eating pizza, watching football, and cleaning the guns.  It was just a fun day....


Sunday, November 10, 2013

I've Got a Feeling

One of my FB friends recently had FFS and is recovering.  She is writing about her struggle to reconcile her "old" self with her "new" self.  I find is fascinating that we use these significant milestones in our lives to try to put what seem like rational boundaries around portions of our lives.  I suspect she'll come to realize that she's already got dozens, if not hundreds, of "old" selves and equally as many new ones.  It is the progression, and the overlap, of these selves that define a lifetime.

I suppose there is a natural tendency to logically minimize the number of "selves" we become over a lifetime.  It provides some semblance of continuity, or stability I suppose.  I realize I'm not the same person now as I was a year ago, or five years ago, or a dozen years ago.  There aren't any specific anchors to define starting and ending points, but that doesn't make it any less true.

I don't try to fight the natural progression of change.  It's going to happen whether I/we like it or not.

I've got a feeling things are about to change in my own life.  I can feel it.  There is about to be a disruption in the force.  I can't explain specifics yet, as I honestly don't know what's going to happen.  Gears are shifting.  Winds are changing direction.  But there's change, and there's CHANGE.  The fact that I'm feeling it as acutely as I am implies to me it's closer to the second kind than the first.  Some of it I will bring about, and some of it will happen external to me but affects me.




I can feel myself mentally and spiritually getting ready for it.

In the meantime, life has been relatively quiet for me lately....

I've written and posted photos of my pups here before.  They are my "family" here...we eat together, sleep together, and their unconditional love each and every time I walk thru the door is truly something to come home for.

They're no small responsibility, and they require significant effort and $$$ to take care of, but.....well....they're family.  That's just what you do.

They have established a unique dynamic between themselves.  A sense of doggie "politics", if you will, of attention, guarding perceived territory, and other things.  Maggie is the "smart" one, although the fact that she happily munches on the little turds in the lawn left by the many rabbits in the area makes me wonder sometimes.  Oh well.  It doesn't seem to make her sick.

She doesn't have a tail.  When she's happy she wags her entire but, and watching it sometimes can still make me laugh out loud.  Codie, on the other hand, has a tail that curls up and around and is a barometer of how he's feeling.  When it's up and curly - very happy.  When down and straight, he's a little concerned.  He's the sensitive one...

Their life here is fairly uneventful.  Most days are the same for the....Codie sleeps in my bed, but when Maggie hears me moving he hops up.  We go out for a bit of a walk so they can do their business.  I take a shower while they eat.  I get dressed and ready to go - goal is to be out the door by 7.  We go for a bit of a walk just before I leave.  They do whatever they do all morning long.  I come home at lunch if I can for an hour.  Then they do whatever the do all afternoon long.

When I get home we go to a trail where they can run and there are no people.  Here are a couple of photos looking forward and backward along our usual stroll....




Usually it's dark by the time I get out of work, but it's still pretty.  Then dinner, then....well...then it's my time.

It's not heaven, but it's not horrible.  They seem happy, they're healthy, I'm still enjoying my job, and we're doing ok.  All things considered...it could be lots worse.

When I drove back from Charleston several weeks ago I brought a number of things I've wanted back with me.  One of those things is my guitar.  It's here in my apartment and I pick it up at least a couple of times every day.  I'm trying to build up some calluses on my fingertips so I can only play for 20 minutes or a half hour at a time.  Current songs I'm learning to play are "Wish You Were Here" by Pink Floyd, and "Night Moves" by Bob Seger.  I'm enjoying being able to play, and I'm glad to have it with me.

I also brought back my blood pressure gauge.  My blood pressure was a bit high a few years ago after during and after a difficult time and I always assigned the blame to the stress of the time.  Eventually, after it didn't go down, my doctor suggested that we do a low dose of something to lower it and I reluctantly agreed.  It was under control for a while, and I weaned myself off the meds to see if it would stay down without them - I don't like meds.   My mom takes her blood pressure a couple of times every day and although I'm not that crazed about it I do have a blood pressure cuff so I've started doing that, too.  I just took it a few minutes ago and it's pretty low - 106/65 with pulse of 65.  Sunday morning is a pretty chill time for me, so I'm good with it all.

Change.  It's in that context that the big news of the day is that ENDA passed in the Senate this past week.  Some would say it's purely symbolic since it has little likelihood of passing in the House.  I do not share that view.  This was a big deal.  I'm not sure whether it's a good thing or a bad thing that we become de-sensitized to how monumental it is when federal legislation containing trans specific language gets passed in that kind of forum.  The reason that gender identity was pulled from the Bill in 2007 is because it was deemed unlikely to pass with it by the bill sponsor.  It had no chance of passing then, either, - regardless of whether we were on it or not - but the fact that we got chopped from it was a big deal.  Ergo - this is a big deal.

One article in particular is interesting (read it here).  I remember back almost a decade ago, in 2004, when a group of trans leaders was invited to speak to the HRC Board about inclusion in ENDA (story here).  I believe that group of people in that room having that conversation changed hearts and minds that day.  It was simply another step on a path that started long before that day and will continue beyond our lifetimes.  SO - the passage of a trans-inclusive ENDA in the Senate IS IS IS IS IS a big deal.  

We all realize that it's only a matter of time before it passes.  Maybe not this year, or next year, or the year after.  But as trans people get more and more engrained into our culture it just becomes less of a big deal.  We're not going away and it's not going to happen all by itself.  But at some point the phrase "Liberty and Justice for all" will mean a lot more to some of us than it does today.




Thursday, October 31, 2013

Faded

I wrote this on Sunday but never finished it or posted it.  I suppose I should share it here before adding anything newer.

Sunday, Oct 26

I slept until 8:30 yesterday morning.  That's almost 10 hours.  I so so so needed it.

Last night was a different story.  It was the worst night I've had in a long time.  I think I had a fever but I don't own a thermometer so I'm not sure.  Regardless, I slept horribly.  I felt like crap.  I'm still not over it....

I attribute both to my drive to (and from) Charleston.  3000 miles over 6 days culminating in an 800 mile drive on Thursday.  I've said it before and it's as true as it ever was - long road trips take a significant toll on the body.  It sounds odd to say or consider that simply sitting behind a wheel for 6 or 8 or 12 or 14 hours is exhausting but it is.  Lord don't I know.

It led me to consider that I don't remember the last time I've been sick.  I mean....sick sick.  There are times I don't feel well - scratchy throat, no energy.  But I don't know the last time I was sick.

Yesterday I ran 4 miles so I must have been feeling ok as of mid-afternoon.  But by evening I was tired to the point that I was in bed by 9.  Oh well - I'll take it easy today.  Lord knows I need it.

I had a list of things to accomplish this weekend.  Vacuum the truck (lots of doggie hair after the trip).  Go shooting and clean the gun - I did that.  Go for a run - did that too. Unpack.  Clean my make-up brushes.  I achieved most of what I had hoped to do.  But it's not even 6pm yet and I'm already in my pajamas.  I suspect tonight will be an early night, as well.

On the drive back across country we crossed the Mississippi River in St. Louis.  The World Series is being held there.  It's backed up right to the highway....

We stopped at a local restaurant that serves roast beef sandwiches....Lion's Choice.  It was excellent....



Thu. October 31

Today was Halloween.  I don't know if it has ever been more of a non-event for me.  There was a time when it was the one day of the year that Donna got to come out and "be" in the world.  I'd think about it for weeks.  Now....I would have pretty much forgotten about it except that you can't go anywhere and escape it.  

No costume.  No party.  No big deal.  I actually took the opportunity to run some errands after work hoping that crowds would be minimal.  I was right.

I made some changes tonight.  I got a new cell phone.

That probably doesn't matter to anyone else but me, but there was a time when I was absolutely dedicated to my iPhone and to AT&T.  Well, AT&T done me wrong a couple of years ago and I've never forgotten.  So, they are now history for me.   

The same is true of my iPhone.  As I said when they announced the new version I would have been far more impressed with a stronger screen and better battery life than fingerprint technology.  Well - I am now a Samsung Galaxy S4 user.  They lost me, too.

I've got quite the learning curve to feel comfortable using this thing.  But I'm comfortable that I've made the right decision for me.  It'll be interesting to see how this goes...two years from now.

Another thing that was a big deal in my life for a number of years happened this week...the Out and Equal Workplace Summit happened in Minneapolis.  That's where it was the first year I went to it - in 2003.  It was a transformative experience and set the stage for a number of things that happened over subsequent years.  I wouldn't have known it happened this week if it hadn't been for a few posts on Facebook.  I hope it went well.  I suppose I've moved on to other things in life....

Things that once took up significant portions of my time, energy, focus, and life have faded.  They have been replaced by other things.  I think that's a natural part of the circle of life.  I think sometimes we try to hold on to things too long out of perceived safety or stability.  But like it or not - things change.  The key ingredient in it all is time.

I didn't plan where my life is today.  I doubt I could have imagined it.  There are things I wish would be more a part of my life that aren't.  And there are things filling those voids.  Where is it all leading?  I don't know.  I'm still having fun watching it all unfold.

What I'm not having fun doing is mentally preparing for winter.  They said tonight was the mildest Halloween evening in 25 years here.  Temps were around 50 or so at sundown - a beautiful evening.  It's supposed to last through the weekend.  But...as with life tides...it won't last.  It's just a matter of time.....


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Impetuous

Impetuous:  Characterized by sudden and forceful energy or emotion; impulsive and passionate. 

I suppose I could be called impetuous.  My filter between thinking something and doing something is sometimes very thin or non-existent which has both it's good and bad points.  I sometimes consciously remind myself to slow down to consider things more carefully when I sense that something might be taking that path in me. 

The reason any of that is relevant right now is that I had a trip home to Charleston planned and it struck me that the answer to several of my conundrums was to drive instead of fly.  I already had the flights booked, mind you, and the 1,300 mile each-way drive is not for the faint of heart.  I really did try to stop to consider the options but the right answer that kept popping up was to drive - so here I am.

We (as in me, and the pups) did almost 800 miles on Saturday and 500 miles on Sunday.  We were up at 3:30am and on the road by 4 to get here quicker - as always they were wonderful traveling companions.  The weather was wonderful, the roads were good, the truck behaved flawlessly, and there was some spectacular autumn scenery along the way....especially along I-40 northwest of Asheville NC and I-26 just south of it.  

It typically takes me a couple of says to recover physically from those long drives and this was no different - I'm finally over the lingering effects.  But barring unforeseen delays - and honestly the chance for one is 50/50 - we'll be back on the road at this time tomorrow to do it all in reverse.

The thing I want most right now is to bring my worlds together.  That seems to be an ongoing story for me.  For years it was the gender thing.  Now, it's the home/career thing.  Regardless....one of my worlds often seems to be traveling a different path than the one I'd like it to be on so aligning them into a single direction seems to have become a life constant.  That's not a complaint so much as an observation.  I realize it, I see it,  and I've come to peace with it.  I've got a good job, good health, a nice place to live that I truly enjoy, and I'm looking forward to the future.  The only problem is that some of those things happen to exist across different time zones....

All that said, I realize that I've got two very good worlds going on, as I have for quite a while.  It's not like I need to flee one to get to the other.  They're both there and the situation will rectify itself in its own time - not in my time.  The best I can do is remain patient, sip from both my worlds, and keep a good spirit about it all.  I think I do that pretty well most of the time although as my Nebraska world heads into winter this entire dynamic may change.  We'll see.

Some of what I've got on my To-Do list today is practical...I'm getting my flu shot, registering my car, I'm getting my hair done, I need to pick up my wet suit from the scuba store, I need to move some things in my truck, I'm meeting some friends for dinner and I've got a ticket to see Matt Nathenson tonight.  All said - a busy day.  The weather here has been wonderful - highs in the 70's - and I'll take this any day of any week.  Love it.

Speaking of Matt Nathenson - there was an article in Towleroad yesterday about his latest video (see it here).  Apparently, it features a trans-woman.  


I typically feel "blah" for a day or so after having my flu shot so feeling blah while doing a 1,300 mile two-day drive is something I'd prefer to avoid so we'll see how I'm feeling tomorrow.  Regardless of my physical health - right now everything I'd want to be here in Charleston is here....my truck, my pups, and me.  But my job is waiting patiently for me to get back and I need to heed that call until such time as the job thing is here too.  

Until then - and probably even afterwards - impetuous is typically something you are not something you do.  And...I am.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

It's in the air.


It has been quite the week....

I ran 7 miles around a local lake with a friend on Saturday.

I went to Kansas City for a couple of days of relaxation over the long weekend.

Now that I'm back - it's very autumn-like....brisk, cold, gray.  The low tonight is supposed to be 39.

That said - the last week feels like it has been a month.

The run was farther than usual for me - I've made a new friend who pushes me farther than I would have otherwise gone.  It was almost fun.  It has helped me to set some new goals - in case you haven't noticed I'm very goal driven.  Goal #1: I plan to get into shape to hike the Grand Canyon - down Bright Angel trail to Phantom Ranch next spring.

I drove to Kansas City - 3 reasons.  Shopping....relaxation....and BBQ.  I achieved all 3 in spades.  I've got a "thing" for backpacks, and a "thing" for REI.  Put the two together and....well...there's 45-minutes of backpack-trying-on.  Now, I need a place to wear it.  I'd hike up Squaw Peak to train if I were in the Valley but, needless to say, we've got nothing quite like that here in what's about to become a tundra-like landscape.  So, I'll run.

The running was, like, pre-penance for the amount of BBQ I ate.  Sunday night I had dinner at Jack Stack.  I ate every bite.  Then, Monday I had something called a Z-man sandwich at Joe's BBQ (voted the nations "Manliest" BBQ over several impressive contenders, including my favorite - The Dinosaur)..

The Z-man Sandwich - brisket, provolone, BBQ sauce, and two onion rings.

It's heaven on a bun.  All I can say is that I'm glad they don't sell those things here because it would all be counter productive to the afore-mentioned training.

They're pretty happy - almost giddy - in Kansas City these days thanks to their undefeated football Chiefs.  Everything is red.  I remember similar excitement in Buffalo...nearly 20 years ago now.  Sheesh.

On the way home I stopped in a little town by I-29 to visit a friend's mom.  She's 97 years old and the last time I saw her was probably before I transitioned.  Anyway...it was so so nice to see her, and she was happy to see me too.  She's spunky, full of good energy and good attitude - I hope I can be half as spry in 10 years.  Anyway - it helps bring things back into perspective.  True friends, family, health.  Those things are truly priceless, and should never be forgotten.

With Lucy....

The pups had a good trip, too.  We had some good playing - and they had some good BBQ as well.



I'm making some large strides forward at the moment.  It's never too late.  In fact, when I stop moving forward I move backwards and I'm not going in that direction right now.  I'm not sure where tomorrow leads, but I'm headed there.

I've been emotional lately.  I watched an HBO special on Joe Namath the other night and almost cried at a couple of points....not sure why.  Tonight I'm watching one of those movies that I've seen dozens of times and would watch every time it's on - A Knight's Tale with Heath Ledger.  It makes me laugh out loud, even after as many times as I've seen it.  One of the theme's of the movies is being able to change your stars, or your destiny.  It's something some of us know all too well.

Anyway - I am in touch with the breadth of my humanity right now.  I am breathing it deeply

Speaking of breathing deeply, when I lived in cold winters I had cold induced asthma and had an albuterol inhaler to protect my lungs.  I can already tell I'm going to need one.  I'm not ready to stop this breathing right now - cold, or warm.  It's the air that's important.

On the national level there's a story that's the kind of thing that makes me crazy.  A trans-woman in the Denver area was denied free local breast cancer screening because she's trans (story here).  She's gonna teach them a thing or two.

Change is in the air.  Know it.  Embrace it.  Savor it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

For every season....

Yesterday was chilly, wet 50-degree autumn.  Today was bright, sunny 75-degree autumn.  I suppose both come with the territory.

I'm still diggin' work.  For a Monday - today was good.  Many (but not all) of my co-workers affected by the government shut-down were back at work today.  It was one of the few times that I was happy to see the parking lot mostly full when I got back from lunch.  I still don't think it's going to end anytime soon.

I'm still on my cooking bender.  Tonight I made a home-baked white pizza I enjoy.  I start with one of those Baboli personal size pizza bread thingys.  I drizzle olive oil over the entire thing topped with a sprinkle of garlic salt and cracked pepper.  One of the things I've started doing recently is adding a thin layer of creamy Caesar salad dressing - it adds a little something - topped with a sprinkling of feta cheese.  I top that with a layer of mushrooms (and sometimes diced tomatoes).  Lastly, I cover with a layer of shredded mozzarella cheese.  Bake it in a pre-heated oven (450 degrees) for 8-10 minutes and - Voila.  Mmmmmm......Delicious!

That it.  I realize it's not much but that's my day.  I'm fine with it.  It could be a lot worse.  :)


Sunday, October 6, 2013

This is me.

Anyone who has ready this blog for any period of time realizes that I continue to celebrate annual milestones in my life.  The date of my FFS.  The date of my SRS.  Each continues to remind me where I've come from, and each continues to be a foundation pillar of my year.  I never want to forget.

Friday - Oct. 4 - marked my first day at work as Donna in 1999.  I've shared this before (it's from the compilation of emails and journal entries from that time I've hidden online)....but it's still relevant.  It will always be relevant:

How long have we talked about this day? I can't believe it's here. I can't believe this is me. It's as if I were just a spectator watching this person do these things, and to realize that it's me is really amazing to me. I have no idea where I have gotten the strength/courage to actually show up here  today. It has built itself up over time, because I know it wasn't here too too long ago. It's one thing to want it and talk about it, and another to do it. And still another to feel comfortable about it. How many people actually follow it through? Pretty amazing.

I guess that's it for now. I may write more tonight. I can't remember everything right now....it's all like a blur. I made a promise to myself to keep my head up, and look people in the eye, and display on the 
outside the happiness and satisfaction I feel on the inside. So far, I have done that. And when this day is  over, those are the things I will remember. Not necessarily what I wore, or what I did at lunch....but how I felt. I will never forget this day. 

I never will....And I will never lose appreciation for that particular milestone.  I have come a long way.

Speaking of remembering.....I remember when I was in college and had to write an analysis of the movie Raging Bull.  It was such a complex film that it was actually easy to find things to write about.  And the more you thought about it, the more you realized how many layers made the complex character played by Robert DeNiro such a compelling figure.

I remembered that yesterday, as I watched the new Sandra Bullock/George Clooney movie Gravity.  Deep, complex, compelling....for much of the movie she's all by herself so watching the roller coaster of her development through terrifying circumstances is more than simply a technical and visual wonder.  At its heart it is a reminder of the resilience of the human spirit.  Anyone who is down, who is facing seemingly unsurmountable challenges, who feels hopeless.....they need to see this movie.

I've said in the past that I want to build an IMAX theater into my house.  Anything in IMAX is a sensual onslaught, and this was no difference.  The ground shaking sound coming from every direction....the huge images...the stunning 3D...I'm definitely an IMAX junkie.  This movie was probably the best $12 I've spent in a long time.  I can see myself going back again.  Not for nothing, but I liked all the previews they showed before the movie, too.

At the end of the year, when it's time for Oscar nominations, Sandra Bullock's performance will be featured prominently along with Kate Blanchett's character in Blue Jasmine.  The scene where she's crying, and the tears roll out of her eyes and float away as weightless droplets is particularly affecting.

Anyway - suffice it to say I share the superlatives that seem almost universally used when discussing or reviewing this movie.

The remainder of the my was excellent as well.  I went to a new local shooting range and gave all 3 of my handguns a workout.  If I may say so myself, I was sharp.  It's

I stopped at Costco and Trader Joe's to buy my favorite cookies - nobody else sells them.  In my continuing cooking jag I made a tasty fresh mushroom, ham, and Colby Jack cheese omelette for breakfast and I met someone out for dinner.  It was even a good hair day - you need to appreciate those when you can.

To close out the evening last night I watched a show on Paladia that's part of the CMT series "Crossroads".  The gist of the series is that they typically pair a well-known country act with a well-known act from some other genre to play their songs together.  Previous episodes have featured Sting and Vince Gill, Train and Martina McBride, John Mayer and Keith Urban.  I love these.

Last night's episode was particularly entertaining.  It was Stevie Nicks combined with Lady Antebellum.  The full episode is available online (link here).  If you get an hour of quiet time, it's an hour well worth spent watching this.

I mentioned the other night that we were having some intense storms come thru the area.  There was an EF4 tornado 100 miles north of here as part of it.  I went to the top of the hill where I live and watched the lightshow of lightning in the distance - it was pretty incredible.

The Lightning Show

Now, it feels like fall.  Real fall.  It's gray, windy, and the high temperatures are in the low 50's.  It's wet, too.  I took the pups to the dog park and took a picture of the basketball court.  I looks like a swimming pool.  That's not a complaint....I enjoy fall.  It's what comes after that I'll complain about...

The basketball court after the rains....

Today is a new day.  This morning I made some home-made waffles with fresh strawberries.  I brought my favorite waffle-maker back with me and it did what it doest best....makes yummy, warm waffles.  I've already done my shopping.

Today, I'm unwinding.  I think I'm going to make and upload a video to my YouTube channel later....it has been far too long.  I'm planning to go for a run at the gym.  I've got some cleaning to do.

All things considered.....Life is good.

Oh....one more thing.  I still can't believe that this is me.


Thursday, October 3, 2013

I continue to believe....

It is Thursday night.  I'm watching my Buffalo Bills - about to blow their 10 point lead.  Sigh.  

I have a bunch of disassociated, mostly mundane, things to write about tonight.

The trip home to Charleston over the weekend was wonderful, as usual.  It' was one of those rare weekends where I accomplish EVERYTHING I had intended to do.  Plus some....

Of particular note was my dermatology appointment.  After I was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma in Feb. 2009 one of the significant life changes was enhanced vigilance to ensure that if it re-appears we'll catch it early.  I find the sun to be a non-negotiable source of life in my world, so I refuse to hide from it for fear of making something bad happen.  I live in places where sun is abundant.  I don't hide under hats, or long sleeves, or SPF 100 lotions.  I'm aware of things, but I'm not afraid of sunlight and I think I balance things pretty well.

I go to the dermatologist every 6 months to endure a detailed screening.  They check my skin from my scalp to between my toes.  They check my lymph nodes.  As often as not they'll find something - usually on my back - that attracts their attention so they'll cut it off and get it checked (6 months ago it was a small cyst).  This time - thumbs up all around.  I didn't expect otherwise, but getting validation on these kinds of things is always reassuring.

My flights - in both directions - were on-time and without incident.  I'm hoping that means I've regained my airport mojo.  I seem to have lost it based on my experiences on my last few trips but this time it all went smoothly.  All in all - no complaints.  And, as usual, I was as sad to leave as I was happy to arrive.

Next topic: the government shut-down.  I'll share here that I work in a government facility.  As a result, the shut-down affects me directly.  I'm not furloughed - that is, I still get to show up and do my job - but at least 2/3 of the people I work with aren't so fortunate.  Some are government, some are contractors - but there are thousands facing an uncertain future where they don't know when they'll be allowed to return to work, or get paid again.  It's absolutely ridiculous.

I find that I've been on a cooking bender lately.  A couple of nights ago I made pork chops and Spanish Rice.  Last night I made baked ziti with Italian Sausage.  Tonight it was BLT's.  I'll need to control myself tomorrow as part of the problem is that cooking for 1 generally involves left-overs.  I'm thinking that tomorrow night will probably be pork chops again.  Good thing I enjoyed it first time around.  :)


A friend recently wrote to ask me why I'm always so "driven".  I honestly don't know what pushes me.  There seems to be so much I want to do in life, and only a finite amount of time.  Maybe it's making up for lost time, maybe it's stored up energy, maybe I'm compensating for something, maybe it's just the way I am.  I honestly can't answer.  But I know that my passion and my gusto are undimmed.  As I approach my 55th birthday in a few months I continue to believe that my best days are in front of me - not behind me.  

This coming weekend will be a quiet one.  I want to go see "Gravity" in IMAX 3D.  I plan to get to the gym.  I may get together with a friend for dinner.  I want to go shooting.  I can't imagine having a weekend happen - and not having at least a couple of things that I want to do.  Since I'm not traveling this weekend - well, I consider that to be a quiet one.

We're in for some significant "weather" over the next 48 hours.  A tornado warning just came onto the TV.  They said there's 3-inch hail.  If that hail finds its way to my truck Ima freak out.  We've had some very warm days recently and the Weather Channel is calling for some major changes.



I'm in the red area.  Sigh...  I hope the red is just for weather - not for life as well.  I'd rather not deal with stormy weather right now although I suppose in each life some rain must fall.

A couple of friends are in the relatively early stages of their transitions, and are dealing with the incredible highs and lows many of us experience during this profound time.  This includes you, Sophie.  I remember those days, and I thank God that I'm long past that stage in my own journey.

It reminds me, though, of a quotation that meant a lot to me.  It's by Amelia Earhart, of all people.  People often use only the first part of this.....I find the entire thing is worthwhile.

“Courage is the price that Life exacts for granting peace,
The soul that knows it not, knows no release,
From little things;
Knows not the livid loneliness of fear
Nor mountain heights where bitter joy can hear
The sound of wings.”

Anyway.  That's enough for tonight.  Time for bed.  Tomorrow is Friday!!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A few of my favorite things....

From the moment I landed in Charlotte a little over 24 hours ago I've been like a kid in a candy store.  I've been doing all my favorite things.

I landed at 7, and rented a nice car with only miles on it 911 miles on it.   I almost didn't take the car because it could be a bad omen......Whether it's 9/11 the date of 911 the emergency phone number it just seemed to tempt fate.  I decided to tempt her.

There are a number of stores in Charlotte - relatively near the airport - that I enjoy.  Specifically: DSW Shoe Warehouse, Nordstrom Rack, and REI.  So, I decided to take some time to visit each one and take my time this evening....it's more about the journey than the destination for once.

I made it to all 3 stores.  It was wonderful.  I especially enjoyed REI....there's just something about outdoor people that I miss....people who are passionate about things like backpacks, and tents, and trekking poles.  Those are my kind of people.  Genuine.  Excited about the outdoors.  Generally just...fun.

Today I visited (in no particular order) my friends at the gun store/range, the marina (boat people are cool, too), the scuba shop (same for scuba people), my favorite little wine and cheese store (love 'em like family), I visited the Apple Store (to see one of the new iMacs), I visited Victoria's Secret (to use a 20% off coupon on the nicest sports bra I've ever seen), and I just strolled downtown for a couple of hours.  I had an amazing steak dinner at my favorite local steakhouse.  I ran a few errands, and and I enjoyed the simple fact of being here.

Tomorrow I've got some yard work to do.  I'm going to go for a walk along the ocean.  I may go to a barre class depending on how the morning goes.  I had hoped to go scuba diving in the afternoon, but that's on hold for a month or so.  I'm meeting some friends for dinner.

Monday morning I'll pack up, I've got my bi-annual melanoma skin-check, then I'm off to CLT to return the 911 car (now no longer a 911 car) and fly back to my "other" world.  It's waiting for me - a time-zone away.

Good days.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Days....

These are the days....

I've enjoyed "the days" before.  I think the important thing is to (a) recognize 'em when you see 'em and (b) appreciate them before they're gone.

Simple things.  I sit down on the grass and the dogs want to lick my face so badly they won't be denied.  It makes me laugh out loud.  I took them for their last walk tonight - beautiful evening, pup chased a bunny in the dark but came bounding back because she didn't want to lose sight of me for too long.

Spending time with my son was energizing more than I realized.

There's a weekly thing at work called "Major Project Reviews" - I sit through it each week.  It can get pretty brutal depending on how well prepared and how consistent the PM presenting that week can be.  Tomorrow is finally my turn.  I'm as ready as I can be....we'll see how it goes.

Resilient.  There's a spider living in the bed of my truck.  He's been there for weeks.  Every night he creates a big, intricate web back there.  I marvel at it as I head off to work.  And every morning, by the time I drive the 3 miles from door-to-door it's destroyed.


I've got to give this little guy credit.  He doesn't give up.  I expected that he'd be gone after my long drive to Denver this weekend, but he's still there.  Rock on, little dude.

This weekend I'm headed to Charleston, so that's energizing as well.  I've got lots to do while I'm there, including my bi-annual check-up to ensure that the melanoma hasn't returned, but the weather is supposed to be good and I'm planning to balance the work with the pleasure.

In other news, the California teen who was recently voted Homecoming Queen has had to deal with the difficult part of becoming visible - hatred (story here).  Poor thing.  Sadly, it comes with the territory...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Good Vibrations

The theme of this particular missive is that I really like the area around Boulder.  I had a wonderful day here - almost perfect, in fact.  The thing I'm most surprised about is that it just "feels" so good.  

The damage from last week's storms is still evident everywhere.  But it's not as though it brought the entire area to a standstill.  There was amazing damage all around my son's house south of town, but his house never even lost power.  The storage facility across the street, tho...well...not as lucky.

My son lives in a house that's part of a little "compound" that reminds me of something out of the 60's. From the way he explained it the property was owned by someone who owned/managed a mine here a long time ago and there are other buildings where he lived, for the mine workers, and storage.

We walked along the park path behind the his house that had been flooded the week before.  It was pretty crazy.  I put some photos on FB about it.



My son is sharing the first floor of a house with another guy.  Someone else has the upstairs.  Someone is living in one of the other buildings on the property.  One guy is living in a camper/trailer.  The one I found most intriguing is inhabited by someone aptly referred to as "School Bus Chuck".  And yes - he lives in a school bus parked on the property.  Anyway - everyone I met was cool, the area is beautiful, and I'm glad to be here.



I did have a couple of interesting experiences/observations.

My son and I were driving and I noticed that we were passing an REI.  I love, love, love REI.  Unfortunately, there isn't one within 200 miles or more of me back in Nebraska.  There are none in Nebraska, or Iowa.  The closest, I think, is in Kansas City.

Anyway...what I needed most was a pair of boots "just in case" I'm around for the winter.  I'm fairly particular about my boots, and as luck would have it there was a pair just my size on the Clearance rack (last year's model - but fine by me).  They're mine now.

Second - I stopped at Costco.  It's amazing how different the stuff here is from the stuff I'd find in Charleston, or Scottsdale.  There was winter stuff I've never seen in a Costco.  Helmets and goggles for snow boarding.  Lots of jackets and warm clothes.  Even the Christmas stuff is out.  I had a blast there, but controlled myself.

Change of Topic...

Zoey Sloane wrote an interesting article on FaceBook posing the question "Do Trans Conferences Do More Harm Than Good?" (link here)  I think it's a question many of us ask as we see the double-edged sword for ourselves.  But the fact of the matter is that trans conferences don't just happen....you have to pay and make the effort to attend (I'm told that ~550 people registered for SCC this year).  I never attended one during my transition - it was only afterwards that I attended my first conference.  I've thought for a long time that's probably a good thing, as I don't know that I would have been ready for everything that happens at these things.

Obviously, there is no one right answer, and each conference is different.  One of my dearest friends who hasn't been to a conference in probably ten years showed up at SCC - she had just gotten tired of them as she had moved on in life.  But one of the true conundrums is that these conferences try to offer something for all the various elements in our community and in the process the question is whether they will, or can, succeed in pleasing anyone.

I've seen all kinds of people say all kinds of things about conferences.  I outgrew them.  I don't need them anymore.  They're not my thing.  Etc etc etc.  All are equally valid.  My experiences have been positive ones, but I limit myself to one a year.

I have nothing bad to say about conferences - you make of them what you will.  I've met some of my best friends there, at key points in their journeys.  That continued this year as I met a couple of people I've come to know via Facebook and through email and I hope/expect those friendships to continue.  When I do go I rarely attend any of the programming - I have too much time visiting with friends from around the country.  This year - Chloe, Lana, Maria and Steph, Mel, Sophie, I met up for dinner with my friend from CNN, as I mentioned my friend Sally made a surprise appearance, it was great to catch up with Kristin, Dr. O and Dr. Meltzer...the list is a long one.  I went to the mall.  I even tried to take nap.

BUT - and this is a big BUT - I don't know that immersing yourself into the trans world for any extended period of time is generally healthy in any context.  In my day to day life talking about trans stuff, and general trans "energy", is a rarity.  There's good balance, and dosages are relatively small.  But at these conferences, some element of it becomes the subject of most if not all conversations/interactions/events.  It can be exhausting.  On Saturday at SCC I was tired all day - I just was - and that's what I attribute it to.  I believe in energy transfer between people who have some to share and those who need some (or take some) and that happens like crazy at these events.

I approach conferences the same way I approach Las Vegas.  I have a blast when I'm there because I shape it to fit my own needs, but after two or three days it's time to go home.  I need to get back to my life.

I think the most important thing, though, is that I've got what I feel is a generally positive life to get back to.  I've got a job.  My career is going well.  I'm close with my family.  I get to do cool stuff from time to time.  I'm past the emotional turmoil of it all.  I think it could be pretty depressing otherwise.  So, I can see both sides.

It's 6:30am as I write this and I'm up early.  Time to shower, pack, and get the day going.  I'm meeting a friend for coffee before heading over to see my son for a few hours.  It's an 8 hour drive and I'd like to get home, unpacked, and relax a bit before going to bed so I want to get on the road by early afternoon.

Oh - one more thing - tickets for John Mayer just went on sale and I got one.  He's an artist I've been following for a long time and have been wanting to see.  He's not touring for a couple of months yet, but I'm already looking forward to it.

Back to today.  As I said at the outset, I'm having a wonderful visit.  I wish it could be longer, but I'm willing to settle for the short time I've got here.  I'm happy to be back with my son - it reminds me of how much I miss him.  That alone makes it well worth the trip.  Good Vibrations here...all 'round.




Saturday, September 21, 2013

I Didn't Do It

I feel no need to be first in anything.  I've been first before....it's over-rated.

I'm not in any hurry to upgrade my Apple mobile devices to iOS 7.  People at work were discussing today - they did it.  I chatted with some friends yesterday.  They did it too.  I didn't do it.  I'm in no hurry.

I'm in Boulder, CO this morning on my next adventure.  I drove the 550 miles here yesterday after work and will head back tomorrow afternoon.  I haven't seen my son since February and past attempts have been derailed for one reason or another so I'm looking forward to seeing him.  Per my last post - enjoy the things in your life while you can.  Let them know they matter.  Or, let them go to make room to  embrace things that do.   My son is at the top of that list.

Last weekend there were horrendous floods here.  This weekend is just beautiful - bright blue sky this morning, crisp sunny first-day-of-fall kind of weather.  The hotel is full, mostly with people who have either been displaced by the floods or work crews from around the country that are here to clean it up.

One of the things about driving - it provides ample time to think.  I think about lots of things....perhaps sometimes I overthink them but that's ok.  I recognize road-thinking is not always logical thinking.

I've realized that I'm feeling conflicted about some of the things in my world.  My job is one....

I'm enjoying my job - I really am.  Although I don't broadcast what I do here because of the nature of it - those who know more understand why - but I came all the way from Charleston specifically to do it and it hasn't disappointed.  It's way cool.  I'm enjoying the people I work with.  I have no complaints at all about where I'm living.  All things considered, the conundrum of that might not be apparent.

BUT (it's always about the but...) I'm not looking forward to winter more than I can express.  And I miss being home - my friends, the ocean, the Low Country in general.  Giving this all up to go back to Charleston at some point will be a more difficult conundrum than I thought when I first started.  But life is sometimes full of conundrums.  Over the course of a lifetime it's how you deal with them that determines life path...

But I'll cross that bridge if and when I get there.  So far so good in all ways that matter.

The headlights of my life don't really shine that far.  Typically, they're only a couple of weeks into the future.  And even then - things happen.  Well - plans are made, and plans get broken.  We shall see.

In an intriguing development I'm not willing to explain in more detail, I am opening myself to some possibilities I've been closed to in the past.  Although I'm not sure where that will lead, it's part of that headlight thing.  I guess I'll see when I reach that point....

Several friends were deeply affected by the passing of Lisa Empanada.  It was tragic, but as one friend noted...she had mourned and now it's time to move on.  I find several elements of her passing important for all of us.  First - you can't tell from outward indications how deep demons go sometimes.  Lisa seemed to have it all, and she was a friend, a sister, and an inspiration to many.  Yet - the way she died wasn't a spur-of-the moment decision.  It required planning, and time to execute.  I'm not saying that anyone or anything could have saved her from herself.  What I'm saying is that we need to be extra vigilant with one another to see signs.

A second point - Lisa was in a position of significant visibility.  With great power comes great responsibility.  I think that's why this has created such significant shock-waves - because it scares people that if it could happen to her it can happen to them.  There is additional pressure with that kind of visibility, tho.  One time Jenny Boylan asked me who Elvis turns to when he's depressed or in need of help or advice, and I don't have that answer.  As I think more about it, I don't know that I've got any one person in my life who I'd rely on in my darkest hours...not sure if that's a good thing or not but it just is (good thing I don't have many dark hours lately).  Perhaps some of my thinking is along the needs of needing to find a person (or persons) to fill that void.  Not sure....

And lastly, it can't be over-emphasized how difficult a life being trans can be.  I saw a story on the morning news here about a high school girl in California who became homecoming queen (story here).  The reason it's newsworthy, specifically, is that she's trans.  The importance of those kinds of social advances is huge, but when the lights fade and it's time to get a job, and pay bills, and deal with bigotry and prejudice, and find intimacy - well - much of the excitement of the moment can fade.  It would be inappropriate to assume that everything "bad" that happens in our lives is somehow due to our trans nature.  But I don't think it can be under-emphasized either.  All I can do is hope that the changes in the world that made it possible for her to do this wonderful thing will continue to open doors for her to live a happy, fulfilling life.

I felt a long time ago that part of the Day of Remembrance should include recognition of those in our community who lost their lives in ways other than to brutality or violence.  There's a conflict there, though, as glorifying the Final Exit somehow makes it more appealing, or valid, as an option to some.  Regardless, over the course of the last decade I can name a dozen or more people I've known who aren't here anymore and I suspect that number will continue to grow for as long as I'm around.  That's why it has been so important to be active - because in order for that to change life has got to get better from a young age.

Anyway - that's pretty heavy stuff for a beautiful Saturday morning in Colorado so I'm going to head off to have breakfast with my son.  The best any of us can do is to live our lives, to pursue our passions, to enjoy what we have while we can, and to realize that change is always on the horizon.  The rest?  Well....it happens.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Your Last Tomorrow.

It has been a while since my last post.  Life goes on sometimes...

And....sometimes not.

I am saddened to hear that a friend to many of us, Lisa Empanada, left this world and became another star shining bright in the sky earlier this week.   Many are looking left looking for reasons, signs, or other indications that this might have been prevented.  There are some things that cannot be undone - that are final.  This is one of those things.

I only knew Lisa through brief introductions.  She was at SCC a couple of weekends ago, and nobody there seems to have been aware of anything the might indicate that this could be on the horizon.  But in a culture where the weight of life pushes nearly half of self-identified trans people attempt suicide - sometimes we succeed.   Our demons can get the best of us, and it only takes one time for that to happen to snuff out a beautiful, rich, bright flame.

Her friends and family are left with the difficult task of coming to terms with grief, confusion, sadness, anger, and a whole set of strong emotions.  I've seen people wondering how they could possibly succeed if Lisa couldn't.  I've seen people asking if they could have done something more.

The real answer is something we all know and sometimes makes itself deadly obvious - being trans is a difficult life no matter how you slice it.  That's true for ALL of us...me included.  Sometimes life can get difficult and the options seem so limited.  In the dark of the night despair, loneliness, sadness, and hopelessness can come out to make unfortunate things happen.  I've been there, and frankly I suspect I'll be there again just as I know most of my dear friends have been there too.  It's surviving those times that dictate whether or not you've reached your last tomorrow or not.  

Lisa didn't survive, and although she's gone she will live on in the many people whose lives she touched, through dear friends who will never forget her, and through a bright smile dimmed too early.  For anyone who has faith that spirits move to a better place after life here on earth, there is little consolation knowing that she's there now.

The rest of us are left to deal with our life realities.  All we can do is help one another get through those times, and mourn one another when we can't.  Most of all - actively appreciate the people in your life while you can. You don't realize what you've got til it's gone. 

Soar high, Lisa.  Shine down on the earth.  And thank you for being who you were during your all-too-brief time here......


Sunday, September 8, 2013

The last ten days...

There has been a bit of a lapse since my last addition here.  Life doesn't always lend itself to opportunities to slow down. Thankfully - things ARE slowing down.  So, here's the Cliff's Notes version of the last couple of weeks.

The long road trip last weekend was busy but uneventful.  That sounds a bit odd to say, but the reality is that 2200 miles of driving combined with some quality time with family doesn't leave much space for "extra" stuff.  The weather was fair, the roads were good, the traffic was manageable, and I was feeling good so the miles and the hours slowly ticked away without too much drama.

It was wonderful to see the whole family.  We don't get many opportunities to all be in the same place at the same time which was one of the main reasons to do this in the first place.  My niece hosted a wonderful Sunday brunch for everyone before I hit the road at noon on Sunday...

The Dinosaur BBQ
I call this one " Sunrise over LaQuinta
Interesting skies ahead...
Across the Mississippi River - getting back into Iowa..

Sometimes it takes a couple of days to recover from these kinds of drives but the main difference this time is that I didn't do any 900 or 1000 mile days.  The longest single day was around 650 miles which is relatively tame by my usual standards.  Thankfully, recovery last week was easy since I only had 2 days of down time before heading to Atlanta for SCC.

I started going to SCC in 2002 - a couple of years after SRS for me.  I attended all or part of the next 8 in a row.  Sometimes there was overlap between that and other obligations but I always found a way to get there.  The main reason to get back was that it provided a singular annual opportunity to meet up with friends, and to make new ones.

I've missed the last couple of them for a number of reasons.  But I've been looking forward to going back - mostly for the same reasons I've always looked forward to it.  Now - as I sit in a plane somewhere over Oklahoma - I'm really glad I went.

One highlight was that a dear, dear, dear friend who I rarely see (for a variety of reasons) suddenly and unexpectedly showed up on Friday.  It was soooo wonderful to see her.  Another was the opportunity to catch up with good, much-loved friends from around the country who were there.  And, of course, there was the opportunity to finally meet some people I've gotten to know through FB and other avenues in person for the first person.  I saw what I hope to be enduring friendships take root.  All things considered - it was nice to be back.

Me and Sally
Tarah and Me
Me, Sally, Tarah
Me, Steph, Maria, Mel




I very much behaved myself. No over-eating.  Not all that much drinking.  Very little to excess.  Not enough sleep or exersize but that comes with the erritory, I suppose.  I'll admit that by mid-day yesterday I was running low on energy and I kept trying to get to my room to take a nap but that never happened.  By dinner time I'd gotten my second wind which was good.  But as each day passed I got back to my room earlier and earlier...1:30am Thursday after I arrived, 12:30 Friday, and 11:30pm last night.  This morning was the first morning I haven't had to set my alarm clock in weeks so waking up on my own was a nice pleasure.

Sunday morning at SCC is a unique time.  As everyone comes to the lobby in various levels of stupor to head back across the country to wherever home is there are good-bye's, and it can be a sad time.  I found this morning to be uplifting, and I'm glad I went.  Who knows when/if I'll have a chance to get back?  
Nobody on Marta this morning...
In a nutshell - that has been my last week and a half.  This was the third traveling long weekend in a row, but now things should calm down.  I expect to be home (not in Charleston - my "other" home) for at least the next couple of weeks so I've got a chance to stabilize a bit before the next road stint hits...