Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Retrospect 2014

Tonight the curtain comes down on another year, just as it opens for the next.

I typically don't make a big deal of New Year any more than I do of Christmas.  Both represent opportunities to think back over years past and take stock in life more than than they contain any celebration of deeper relevance.  Last year I was in bed by 10 on New Year's Eve - I wouldn't be unhappy if the same is true tonight.

I can think back to many Christmases over the course of my life.  Only a handful of New Years are similarly memorable.  Perhaps the most relevant New Years Day was on Jan 1 2000 - the new millennium.  I spent New Year's Eve packing up all my guy "stuff" in preparation to give it away.  My transition was a few months old at that point and I had gained enough confidence that I was on the right path to make that commitment to the future, and to begin moving away from the past.

I was living in Arizona at the time and had decided to spend that historic New Year/New Millennium day doing something spiritual.  I took my dad's ashes to the Grand Canyon and threw them into the deep cavern as part of my quest to sprinkle his remains at places he'd enjoy as a final resting place.  The weather was horrible and it was a long, scary day.  In retrospect, that's one of the things that makes it all the more special.

I'll spend tonight with a certain someone.  Over all the years we've known each other I can't remember spending a New Year's eve together.  That's actually hard to believe given all the other time we've spent together....I'm not sure if my difficulty in recalling is due to the fact that there's nothing to recall or that my memory is failing me.  Regardless, I'll remember this one.

2014 was a transformative year...where one significant Chapter in my life ended and another began.  As the year unfolded I was in Nebraska planning to come back home.  Now, as it ends, I'm closer to home and poised to finally make it back soon.

I've spent part of the Christmas holiday looking at houses.  I haven't even thought about getting a house for a long, long time....partly because I haven't had any confidence that my life was ready to land anywhere long enough to make it worthwhile.  But, as I've said before, the thing I need most in my life right now is stability and that starts with a place to call "home".  As I pack up to leave my apartment in 6 weeks I'll be headed to the 12th place I've lived in the last 10 years.  Good thing my mom writes my addresses down in pencil....I hope she can start using a pen this next time. and never have to change it again.

My health seems good, I enjoy my job, my heart is happy, and I'm excited about the future.  My family is doing well, dear friends in my life seem content, and I can't think of any better place to be in at this point in life than I am now.  If this somehow turns out to be my last New Year all I can say is that I'm good with it.  I'm not trying to be morose or dark, but the realist in me constantly realizes the need to live each day as though it were your last.  And, I do.

I've got a long list of things I want to do this year, and as I look back at this time a year from now I hope most of them come to pass.  I'd like to get a house, and to settle down.  I'd like to have a little more stability in my professional life.  I'd like my relationship with my life partner to be burning brightly just as it is now.  I'd like to visit Europe.  I'd like my hobbies to flourish in my life - my photography, my scuba diving, my motorcycle riding.  I'd like my health to be good....and my family to be happy and healthy.

I could never have imagined much of what constitutes my life right now at this point last year.  But then again, that's part of the beauty of life.....letting it unfold in ways you never imagined.  I realize that life is made up of good stuff, and not-so-good stuff too.  But as long as more of it is good than not - well - that constitutes a good year.

Some misc shots from house-hunting over this past week...



Christmas 2014 was wonderful.  It was quiet...which was just what the doctor ordered.  And the best part is that I spent it exactly where I wanted to be.

Christmas Dinner
On a trans note....

Someone posted something on FB about having no respect for people who de-transition.  I find that kind of talk fairly silly and ignorant.  They seem to lose sight of what transition is meant to be - demonstrating to yourself that you can lead a happy and productive life in your authentic gender.  Some are wise enough to realize that they just can't - for any number of reasons.  That's not something to be judged...by anyone.  There's no need to justify who's "real", and who's not...it has nothing to do with courage or desire or validity.

My own life was mentioned in the long conversation that followed.  The fact that I was poised to transition, called it off, regrouped, then did it again was used as an example that there's no one right way to do this.  All too often we approach this from an emotional perspective and the practical elements somehow get lost.  This is an incredibly difficult thing to achieve and it still blows me away to see where I started and where I am now.  But the fact is that it's very much like the Matrix - you need to take the Red Pill and unplug to see for yourself what's real and what's fantasy.  Many aren't ready to be unplugged yet...

Anyway - 

All things considered - I'm very content right now.  And, I'm excited about what comes next.

Whoever reads this - Happy New Year to you.  May 2015 bring happiness, health, and peace.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Some Random opinions...

It's hard to believe that Christmas is less than a week away.  Last year I came to Charleston from chilly Nebraska and the trip turned out to be a life-changing one.  The decision to come back east and everything that has happened since were a direct result of that trip.

I've made another life decision.  The lease on my apartment in Charlotte runs out mid-February and they need 2  months notice of my intentions.  I gave official notice that I will not be renewing it.  I'm not sure of the specifics of where I'll be come my birthday in a couple of months - expecting it will be Charleston (although my job in Charlotte will keep me busy thru the end of the year).  But what I do know is that I've got quite a bit of work to do between now and then to move out and make arrangements for "what next?".

I'll also share that I have started to investigate the possibility of buying a house.  I'm at the early discussion phase but at least I know what my options are and what would be involved.  I haven't had these kinds of discussions since late 2001 so even considering this is a big deal me.  Anyway, I expect there will be more to come on that.

I wanted to weigh in on a couple of things that seem to be fairly controversial at the moment.  Nobody asked me for my opinion but I'm going to share it anyway.

First, I wanted to say something about the recent bru-ha-ha about the movie The Interview and yesterday's decision to shelve it as a result of threats (presumably from North Korea).  There is quite a bit of sentiment that Sony shouldn't have caved to these threats, and that it sets a bad precedent.

Well, I think it's only the most recent bad decision that Sony has made in this mess.  The fact that the movie depicts an effort to assassinate the leader of North Korea inherently put it directly into the crosshairs for some kind of international confrontation.  They should have known that.  I would have expected that the movie would, perhaps, use some fictitious character based on North Korea's president who leads some country that's very similar to North Korea as part of a satire.  But to make a movie that specifically mentions killing real people is begging for trouble.  Can you imagine the international outcry if the movie depicted killing Putin in Russia?

If the shoe were on the other foot - if someone in some country made a movie that depicts an assassination attempt on Barak Obama there would be a huge outcry here for sure.  Well - in my book this was ill-concieved from the get-go and shouldn't have been made in the first place.  Sony put themselves between a rock and a hard place and now they're dealing with the consequences.  I realize my opinion may not be , but Sony doesn't get a free pass in all of this in my book.  They tempted fate and fate bit 'em.

The second topic of the day is a recent song by B-52's siren Kate Pierson titled "Mister Sister".  It's the first song from her upcoming solo album.  Kate made the mistake of saying that she hoped the song would become a sort of "trans anthem".  Not wise.  (story, and the video, here).

I'm convinced that Kate had good, if misguided, intentions (and yeah, I know what they say about the road to Hell....that's not applicable here).  I saw the B-52's at the HRC National Dinner a number of years ago and they were wonderful...they're very supportive of the community.  But I could list at least a dozen reasons why this song is bad, starting with the title.  To take that at face value and then take take the leap to label her as "transphobic" is wrong.  She's not. 

The subsequent outcry on social media targeting Kate Pierson was unnecessary and misguided as far as I'm concerned.  This was an education moment, not an attack moment (see one response here).  It seems as though many who demand that the world recognize that gender is NOT a binary adopt a reaction approach that has only two flavors....allies and transphobes.  It doesn't work like that.

A similar pattern is happening over a recent landmark Candy magazine cover featuring 14 prominent visible transwomen as role models.  We've already started attacking that.  Not good.



This has been an incredible year for the trans community.  I was recently friended on FB by someone who helped me a great deal in the early days.  Her willingness to share her story online helped me find the courage to finally begin accepting myself before transition, and became a reason I felt a need to pay it forward.  She published a very detailed account of her life and her transition online and it was one of only a half-dozen stories or websites that resonated with me.  That was almost 20 years ago and I sometimes forget how different things were back then with compared to now.  I hope this rate of change continues.

I'll be headed to Charleston today on my usual weekend trip home.  I'm very much looking forward to it....



Thursday, December 11, 2014

Filling the Gap

It hasn't been lost on me that I haven't been posting as much as I used to.  Frankly, I just forget most of the time.  At various points in my life this blog has served a number of roles (which is why I've kept it going for so long) - it's as much for me as for anyone who cares to read it.  Things are pretty tranquil at the moment, comparitively, so there really hasn't been much to say.  I realize that the mundane day-to-day narrative of my comings and goings really provides no value.  But this blog is a pretty good history of my life over recent years so I don't like to leave big gaps.

It has been 3 weeks since my last post.  Over that time I went to Dallas to spend a very pleasant Thanksgiving with mom, and to Denver to spend a wonderful weekend with my son.  I've met up with a couple of FB friends, and another couple of "real" friends (as in, we've actually met before).  Mom is in good health, son seems happy and well, so all told this most recent bout of travel has been well worth the hassle that traveling can often be.

Here are some pictoral highlights:

My son - a day of Bills football in Denver.
I've got a half dozen jerseys that I don't get to wear very often.

We did a beautiful Saturday motorcycle ride to the Santee Canal
A day of skeet shooting. 
Shem Creek is always picturesque and beautiful

It's hard to believe that Christmas in only 2 weeks from today. I've written in the past that I don't really do much different over the Holidays than I do the rest of the year.  It's just not that big a deal to me.  I'd just as soon spend it quietly with special friends, or by myself, than do anything big or flashy.  I realize that it can be a difficult time of year for those of us who are displaced from where we want to be, or from loved ones, and I'm thankful that I don't feel that pain.  Anyway - I'm hoping to wind down as the year draws to a close, and before another year kicks in.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

So Far

Ten days have passed since I last posted here.  Lots has changed.

My new contract is in full swing.  In my professional life I seem to find interesting things to do (my last contract was the exception to that rule).  That's true this time.  I'm managing a portfolio of projects in the IT Risk and Information Security organization at a Fortune 100 company with a beautiful campus here in Charlotte.  I'm loving it, so far.

It requires a bit of a lifestyle change.  My previous contract was only 4 miles from my apartment.  This contract is all the way on the other side of the city - 30 miles each way.  I've learned that my morning traffic window of opportunity ends at 7am - so I've been leaving earlier.  Not a bad thing, so far.

We had an all-day organization meeting yesterday.  Part of the ice-breaker during the introductions was to mention something interesting about ourselves.  I wasn't quite sure which interesting thing to mention.  I suppose that's a good thing.

We've got a very good group.  Two other women and I spent the first couple of days getting ready for a monthly portfolio review for the Chief Security Officer and his direct reports.  It was a good way to get to know one another and I already feel more good mojo with these people than I have with anyone since Nebraska.  It's good.

I'm hoping this is the beginning of a beautiful (long-term) relationship.

I still can't believe it's almost the end of November already.  I've made arrangements to fly to Dallas to spent Thanksgiving with mom next week.  That seems to have become the tradition in recent years.  Her special man-friend spends Thanksgiving camping with his family so she gets lonely.  My brother and sister have families and spend the Holiday at home.  I enjoy spending Thanksgiving with her, but I'll be honest - there are very few people who could motivate me to travel on Thanksgiving weekend.

The next weekend I travel to Denver to spend some time with my son.  He turns 29 next month.  That blows me away, too.

They're forecasting a new record low here tomorrow morning.  It's supposed to get down to 17 degrees overnight so the apartment complex sent an email to all the residents on what to do to keep your pipes from freezing.  Last year at this time I was in Omaha and they were in single digits earlier this week.  As far as I'm concerned we're getting off easy.  I see how cold it's getting elsewhere so this is nothing.

Buffalo is getting crushed by a snowstorm for the ages tonight.  Some places there are expecting 6 feet of snow.  6 friggin' feet!  That's absolutely insane.  I've been having fun looking at all the pictures that people are posting.  The funny thing is - people in Buffalo just take it in stride.  As someone who grew up there I know how it goes.  Anyway - I hope my friends there are safe, warm, and have enough food to wait until things die down.

I'll have some decisions to make soon.  I'm living in an apartment in Charlotte and the lease comes up for renewal in the middle of February.  I don't think I'm going to renew it.  There are several reasons, none of which has to do with this place.  It's a comfortable place to be between going to work and going to Charleston.  The pups seem to like it, too.  And the thought of packing up again and going somewhere else is difficult to even consider.  But in keeping with the goal of ending up in Charleston I'd rather investigate other options.  So, although I may not know what the answer it yet I think I know what it's not.  And, if that's the direction I take, things will get busy (again) in a couple of months.

As I've said before - I typically don't have trouble making decisions.  The decisions I make may not always be the best ones, but they're the best ones I could make at the time I made them.  We'll see how all this plays out - it's just a preview of some of what I expect will be key elements of my world over the next couple or three months.

For now, I'm just glad that things have gotten back on track.  For now.



Monday, November 3, 2014

It's not over....

So much to talk about....

I think I'll go in sequential order.

Last weekend:  There were a number of highlights from the weekend, culminating in the Scooters for Hooters ride Sunday.  It was a fund-raiser for Breast Cancer, and 250+ bikes joined into the fun.  It's the first time I've done something like this and I had a blast.  I just love riding my bike - it's just such an energizing, fun, exciting thing.  And the weather?  It couldn't be nicer.

When I left Charleston on Monday morning I said good-bye to the bike.  I didn't expect to see her again for a while as I had plans to fly to Phoenix to start my new job there on Wednesday.  A number of things happened on Tuesday that changed the balance of opportunity for me.  As a result, after considerable thought I did not make my 5:30am flight Tuesday morning.

There was no one thing that caused that.  Part of it was continued concern over what needed to happen with my apartment in Charlotte and the dogs - some things have happened to complicate matters there.  Part of it was the huge upheaval it would cause in my world to try to make being so far away work.  And part of it was another opportunity in Charlotte that made itself available to me at the 11th hour.  When there is only one option the only decision that needs to be made is to do it or not do it.  When other options become available - well - more thoughtful decisions need to be made.

It's a good thing I deal with stress well, as this entire week has been a stressful one.  I feel like a schmuck for indicating that I'd be in Phoenix this week to start a contract there, and then *not*.  I've called a number of people, including my mom, who all agree that staying here for this opportunity seems like the best long-term decision for me.

So the bottom line is that any celebration about my planned return to Phoenix may be premature.

I don't like not having a job.  It's stressful and the financial pressures weigh on me.  Finding a job becomes a job all to itself and I've already expressed how I feel about that.  I'll be happy when this unexpected "vacation" is over.  If everything works itself out, that'll be tomorrow.

The highlight of this past weekend was the annual Carolina Coastal Fair.  A certain someone and I go there pretty much every year and it has become something of a tradition.  I suppose there's nothing special about it - it's just a fair.  But it's one opportunity to binge on fried food, visit the photo exhibit, and just get out and about.  We only stayed for a couple of hours yesterday but it was very enjoyable.

We rode the motorcycles there.  Getting into the parking lots was a nightmare for the throngs of people who were arriving when we were, but there's a special entrance and up-front parking for motorcycles.  The fact that it was 40 degrees or so when we started over there didn't dampen the ride. It was an overall wonderful day.

And, of course, the annual costume-fest we call Halloween happened this past weekend.  As usual, it was no big deal.  There was a time when it was the only time that my "other" self got the opportunity to express herself and was very important in keeping me sane.  Now - no big thing.

I received an email from someone last week about a blog post I did last summer about dilating (read it here).  Truth be told - I can't even tell you the last time I dilated.  It has been months.  I realize that there are those who say that they've regained a significant amount of lost depth once they started again but I'm fairly dubious of that.  Regardless, I have no reason to regain what I've lost.  As I said in my post it's absolutely fine for what I need it for.

One thing I think would be absolutely fascinating would be a study of people who are 10 or more years post-op.  It'd be interesting to see how their "parts" hold up after some significant period of time and get thoughts after it's not so new anymore.  There is very little attention paid to life after transition which I think is a very unfortunate thing.  Health issues, employment issues, relationship issues, family issues, faith issues, general quality of life issues - I think getting an accurate picture of some of these things would be helpful for all of us.  I'm just sayin'........

Gotta go.  I've got a number of things to do today.  This is already shaping up to be a big week.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Decisions, decisions.

I'm an energy person.  One of the things that I know about me - I know I need outlets for my energy.  Sometimes, that's as simple as pacing.  So, I'm here to admit to anyone who cares - when I have extra energy that needs to be released I pace.

These last few days have been really interesting.  As I mentioned earlier this week I'm facing some big decisions that need to be made.  The process of investigating opportunities, getting to know recruiters, submitting your paperwork to hiring managers, hoping to get an interview, interviewing one or more times, then waiting for feedback and decisions is that soul-sucking sound you hear when you start this.  But that's how it works.

This week, two opportunities that have been in play, working their way through this process,  got near the end and seemed promising.

Over these past few days I've been on the phone quite a bit during the negotiations - pacing.  Back and forth, back and forth along the length of my apartment.  The dogs are a little confused by it all.  But it has all been worthwhile - positive outcomes, good energy released into the world, and perhaps even a few extra calories burned in the process.

So - yesterday it seemed to boil down to a decision between these two opportunities....each different and with a number of attractive components (and complications, as well).  One happened quickly, easily, almost effortlessly.  The other started that way but ended up getting a bit more complicated along the way.

I'm a believer that, often in life, the right things typically just happen - they make themselves obvious - if we're open to seeing them.  We live in a culture where a "good things are worth fighting for" mentality can sometimes cloud the simplicity of the obvious, but it's really true.  Career decisions, relationship decisions, general life direction decisions.....Simple is often better.

That said - the decision has been made.  An offer has been accepted, and my next contract is scheduled to begin next week.  There IS joy in Mudville today.

I don't know if there's a right or wrong answer, or a "better" one.  Thankfully, I'm good at making decisions without constantly second-guessing myself or looking back over my shoulder.  That's not the same thing as actually making good decisions, I suppose, but the ability to make a choice and go with it is not something I lack.

There are a couple of "bigger-picture" things that have played a part in all of this.  I called one of my old neighbors last night - my dear friend Sally - to talk through some of what's flowing in my mind.  That's another thing that helps me...to either write things down or talk things out.  As long as they're trapped in my head it's sometimes harder to make sense of them.  I'm thankful to have people in my life who are detached but know me well enough to look at things objectively.

I realize this might sound morose, but one of the things I told her is that I'm getting to a stage of life where a consideration in decisions I make is that I don't want to be in a city where I might die alone, not knowing anyone.  For some reason, that possibility really bothers me.  Although I'd prefer to be home in Charleston as second best I don't mind being in Rochester, or Phoenix, or in any of the places that I consider to be "home" in one context or another.  But I don't want that to be in Charlotte or some other place where I'm just there to work.  That may not make sense to some, but Sally understood even before I finished the sentence.  I knew she would.

None of this should be a revelation to anyone who has been here for any length of time.  My blog is 10+ years old and lots has changed over that time, but the things of which I speak are constants.  I filled out my background check paperwork yesterday and had to list all the places I've lived over the past 10 years.  Any idea how many different addresses there are?  11.  I've lived 11 different places over the course of this past decade.  That's ridiculous.

The central theme over these past several years is doing whatever I can to maintain my center of gravity in Charleston.  The perfect answer for me would bring me back home and keep me there.  However, that's not an option right now.  I've tried, but it's not meant to be.  So, more creative options need to be considered and the choice I made yesterday provides the best opportunity to get there.

My new project will eventually allow me to work remotely for some of the time.  But when I'm not in Charleston I'll be in........[drum roll]......Phoenix!  Yahoo for that!  The logistics of making that happen in the timeframes I need them to are fairly daunting at the moment but it will all work out.  Somehow, it always does.

I feel blessed sometimes.  I realize how fortunate I have been in so many ways.

The irony that only 3 months ago I finally removed my last physical footprint from the Valley is not lost upon me.  But - next time this week I expect to be in Arizona.  And I'm very comfortable with that.

I typically wouldn't share so much about something that hasn't happened yet.  Although I don't think of myself as supersitious - somehow the word "jinx" comes to mind.  On the other hand - so does the word "Faith"...





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

About to Happen.

In my business - looking for a job is a lot like online dating.  It can be an ego-deflating, energy-sapping, frustrating, soul-sucking, infuriatingly tedious exercise.  I can't say it any more plain than that.

I introduced a dear friend to the world of IT Contracting a couple of years ago.  She had seen me go through this process before and seemed confused about why I feel the way I do.  Well, after she had been part of it for a little while she understood.  Needless to say, she's not contracting anymore.

The hope is that whatever match you make will be (a) timely (b) financially worthwhile (c) enjoyable (d) interesting and...if all the above are true... (e) long-term.  There are a number of potential down-sides to the equation but we won't dwell on this right now....let's just keep this simple.

This last contract wasn't a good fit.  Technically it was fine, but many if not all the elements that made my last contract so wonderful are missing here.  I'm not saying it's anyone's fault...that's just the way it is.  I go in, I do my job, I go home....and that's what they paid me for.  It'd be nice to get more out of it than that but in all honesty there really wasn't anything more to "get".

This process can be a fast one or a slow one.  I remember writing a blog entry a couple of contracts ago when I went to Raleigh for an all-day interview.  Getting past the introductions, the phone screen interviews, the eventual submittal to the hiring manager, some number of phone interviews often followed by an in-person interview, and ultimately getting a decision is no small feat.  That's how it often works, tho, so it's just part of the game.

Some of the positions I've been pursuing are finally at the interview/decision stage this week so it will be interesting to see how it all plays out.  I went to a face-to-face interview this morning.  And - truth be told - it went really well and would be an excellent fit.  Good people, interesting work, beautiful campus, excellent energy.....I really enjoyed it and am allowing myself to be optimistic.  I'm told I'm one of two finalists and he has pledged to make a decision by mid-morning tomorrow.

But another opportunity came from out of nowhere and is leading the pack.  I first chatted with the recruiter last Wednesday, I sent her my resume Thursday and she sent it to the client.  The client scheduled a phone interview for first thing yesterday.  That went well, so they scheduled a follow-up with that manager's manager.  That went well, too.  I strongly believe that things that happen almost effortlessly are exuding positive karma that outweighs many other factors.  Anyway - it's a little more complicated than that but the fact of the matter is that the smooth way this has happened is not lost on me.

Stay tuned.  I expect to make decisions on "what next" for me tomorrow.  Some of it might be surprising.

We had a very pleasant weekend.  We had originally planned to head to Daytona for Biketoberfest but cancelled those plans due to current events.  We were both disappointed but sometimes life just gets in the way of doing things you want to do.  The weather was gorgeous and it would have been beautiful.  Instead, we stayed close to home and did some things around Charleston.

Saturday night a certain someone and I went to the annual fundraising gala dinner for the local LGBT organization, AFFA.  As we got dressed I was reminded how many times we've done this in the past....how many dinners we've been to together.  But we haven't been to one in a long time (at least three or four years) - we've both moved on from those kinds of things, I guess.  Anyway, it was a very nice event.

A certain someone and I at a dinner event - a decade ago
A certain someone and I - at the AFFA Dinner Saturday night.

Get ready.  Things are about to happen....

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A tough nut

It has been a while since I have posted here.  Apologies.

There has been a shift in the Force.  I can't say whether or not it's a good shift or a bad shift yet - but that's not for me to "guess" right now.

I've written in the past how I struggle with my career sometimes.  I made a decision early on to be a consultant and the one time over the past 20 years or so that I found a company that I was ready to settle down with - well, that relationship only lasted 4 years.

As a result, the way my industry works is that companies identify that then need "supplemental labor" (call them what you want:  consultants, contractors, temps....all basically the same thing) for some special project or some period of time so they hire one on as an hourly employee.

The good news is that, due to the temporary nature of the need, the $$$ is usually pretty good.  But the reality is that these assignments come and go and once you're stuck in them the way I am it just becomes a way of life.  It's an entire process to find some that would be a good fit, to interview and agree on terms, to start, and eventually....to end.

The fundamental problem in my world over recent years has been the fact that opportunities that I would want to do, or that would want me, are relatively scarce in or around my chosen home in Charleston.  As a result most of my recent projects have involved some level of travel.  Two projects ago I was commuting back and forth from Charleston to Releigh, NC (that got old after a while).  One project ago I was commuting between Charleston and Omaha, NE.  And, most recently, I have been commuting the 3.5 hours between Charleston and Charlotte, NC.

I struggle with this whole arrangement.  The fact that my career keeps me from the place and the people I want to be with bothers me more than I can express.  Most days I don't think much of it and simply accept it as the way things need to be right now.  Given a whole lot of factors I feel fortunate to still be enjoying a career that pays me well and that I enjoy more often than not.  I enjoy a certain level of flexibility that I need.  But I'd trade it all for a career that had some promise that kept me in Charleston.

Many people reading this probably already know most of this.  It's nothing new, and I've talked about all of this here in the past.  It's the complicated set of needs and balances that typically drive my world on any given day.

So...

My contract here in Charlotte - my reason for being here - has come to an end.  It is time to find something new.  The timing of it puts me in a bit of a bind at the moment and I'm trying to deal with that.  But the process of finding "what next" has already begun.  I continue to be hopeful that the next (and final) "what next" brings me home to Charleston, but there are a number of things at play right now so we'll see how it all plays out.

I am not sad that things have ended, and there are no regrets.  It complicates my world right now, but  it will not be a highlight on my resume.  In contrast - my last contract (the one in Omaha) truly WAS a highlight....interesting work, wonderful people, positive environment.  I left that needing to be closer to things and people that are important to me and, if nothing else, it did that.  I wouldn't trade some of the things that this contract has enabled in my still-growing world over the past 10 months for anything.

One of the complexities to all of this isn't simply looking for work as a woman with a trans history, it's looking for work as an older worker.  Ageism is very much a reality once you get to a certain point and that weighs on my mind.  I decided early on to focus on things that I can change and my age is what it is.  Barriers to employment come in many flavors, and at some point in life that's just another one many of us face.

I'm not sure what point in a career a person passes "experienced" and gets perceived as "old".  There is one company in particular in Charleston that would be an excellent fit for me (and it leverages my Security Clearance, which I'd like to do), but they project a younger more fun work environment.  I continue to apply to opportunities that become available there and hear nothing back.  I sent an email yesterday inquiring what do I or don't I have on my resume that would at least provide an opportunity for some face-time with someone.  It's very frustrating.

That's the big news in my world right now.  Some of the direct impacts is that we had been planning to go to Daytona for Biketoberfest this weekend but now won't be doing that.  My cash-flow is a delicate thing at the moment so it's an expense I can't justify.  But we will see how this all plays out.  All I really want to do is to go home, but unfortunately that seemingly simple needs has proven to be a touch nut to crack.

If I've proven anything to myself it's that I can crack touch nuts.  And my biggest concern heading into this "what comes next" thing is the very real possibility that my worlds will continue to be separated.  Sigh.  We shall see....

Some photos from the past couple of weeks....

Selfie - October 2014

This is the result of a single ant bite.  Don't ask how it got all the way up there....

Low Country view...we took a long motorcycle ride stopping in Savannah and Beaufort


Monday, September 29, 2014

Krud

The last several weeks have been pretty nuts.  I went to Rochester for my mom.  In the middle of October I went to Cleveland for the Gay Games.  At the end of the month I flew to Rochester for my mom's birthday.  I was back in Charlotte for a few days before driving to Atlanta for SCC.   Last weekend we drove to Orlando for a few days in Disney.  Then, this past weekend I was in Washington DC to speak at Out for Work.

Things calm down now for a while, and none too soon.  I've been dealing with a nagging "cold" for the past ten days and I've been waiting to it to run its course so I can feel better.  But it hasn't been getting better and, in fact, over the weekend it started to get worse to the point that I went to an Urgent Care Clinic for the first time in my life.  I'm taking two lessons from this - (1) I don't heal as quickly or as easily as I used to (maybe I've lost my super powers?!) and (2) slow down when possible.  Now all I need to learn how to do is to take my own advice.

Despite not being 100%, the trip to Disney was fun.  I'm not sure if all the go-go-go involved contributed to this krud hanging on for so long but, if so, it was worth it.  Every year Epcot does their annual Food and Wine Festival thing - each country has special samples of foods and drinks.  We ate and walked ourselves silly (thankfully, we kept the drinking part pretty much under control).

Some misc shots from around Disney:

Giraffes snacking in Disney's Animal Kingdom



Hanging with the DC Gay Men's Choir this past weekend.  They're awesome.  




Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Give it a Chance

I drove to Atlanta to visit with some friends at the Southern Comfort Conference a couple of weeks ago.

This conference and I have history.  The first year I attended was 2001, shortly after my transition, and from that point through 2010 I attended every year.  I've given keynotes there, I've raised sponsorship money for it, I've met a number of dear friends there (including a certain someone, in 2002) - as I say, we have history.

This year's visit was a fairly informal one.  I didn't attend any of the Conference events....I didn't even stay at the conference hotel (anyone who has been there knows what it can be like waiting for elevators).  I don't think I told many people I was going as I didn't want to disappoint anyone hoping to hang for a little while - it was a very brief trip.

The main reason - to see Dr. O.  As I've previously written here, he has now formally retired.  He has closed his office in Davies Medical Center and is no longer actively seeing patients.  I felt compelled to visit him at least one more time to consider old times.  Plus, he was using this year's conference to introduce the surgeon he is working with as a "protege" of sorts.  Oh - and he had a wine tasting of his wine....

There were a couple of headlines worth mentioning from this year's event.  The first is that HRC President Chad Griffin was the Friday lunchtime keynote speaker.  I'll have more to say about that in a subsequent entry here.

The other was the announcement that the conference will be moving away from the only home city it has ever known - Atlanta - next year.  The 2015 SCC will be held in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (story here).

There was no small amount of emotion expressed over this move.  On Sunday morning, after the conference, I was invited to two different 7:30am meetings.  One was to begin planning for the 2015 SCC in Ft. Lauderdale.  The other was to discuss the possibility of creating another conference and keeping it in Atlanta.  I understand both points of view.

The fact of the matter is that this is the right move.  Nobody asked my opinion, but it is.  Truth be told, the days of these kinds of huge conferences that depend on attendee fees and sponsorships are numbered.  We've talked about this in the past - conference attendance has been falling steadily for years.  There are lots of reasons for it, but the bottom line is that if it doesn't change itself soon there won't be any SCC to save.

The trans communities are far more complex now than they were a decade ago.  It's difficult to put together a conference that appeals to the broad spectrum without neglecting others.  One of the reasons they've lasted as long as they have is that they've done a pretty good job of it.

Ft. Lauderdale made this an easy decision, thanks to its sponsorship $$$.  Those who are angry and say they won't go simply because it's not in Atlanta should re-think once the emotion dies down.  For a community that's all about change we don't seem to handle change so well sometimes.  Anyway - time will tell how this plays out.  All I can say is - give it a chance.

For those of us for whom SCC holds lots of memories - well, we'll never lose those.  That's what SCC represents to me now - good old memories, and the opportunity to create new ones.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

85 and counting

I wrote this on 9/10

The main reason for the trip to Rochester, or at least the excuse for it, was my mom's birthday.  She turned 85 years old on August 29.

Mom and me



My mom's birthday has special significance in my world.  Part of it is that it provides the only real opportunity for our family to get together each year.  With mom living in Dallas, my brother and sister in Rochester, and me - well - wherever I happen to be, it's not something that happens by itself.  And with my mom getting older these kinds of trips get harder on her.  This was the first year she arranged for a wheel chair to meet her on the plane and take her to her connecting flight.

My mom is a rock.  She's healthy, she enjoys life, she's happy - and at the same time she seems to have come to peace with the stage of life she's in.  Her friends are passing away one by one and I suppose that once you get within striking distance of 100 that's to be expected.  But she doesn't dwell on it, and she's always planning for the future.  That's how I know she's ok.

The main way I can sense that she's aging is in her voice.  She moves slower, too, but I suspect that's to be expected.  She bought something called a HurryCane that she absolutely loves - she'll talk about it for 20 minutes if you let her.  But the one constant is that her purse still weighs a dozen pounds or more.  It's more like a small suitcase full of various aspects of her life - books, keys, who knows what else - than a purse.

My mom, the birthday girl....and her monster-purse
Another constant is that she LOVES to sew.  She brought a bunch of stuff to keep her busy over her two weeks in Rochester.  And, she loves to read.

Her birthday that was perhaps most memorable for me was her 70th, in 1999.  I had come out to her in early July at breakfast in Rochester and it would be the first time I would meet the entire family after beginning my transition.  My FFS with Dr. O was scheduled for late July so I would be 5 weeks or so post-op - but not even full-time yet.  I was slowly but surely gaining confidence living as Donna outside of work until early October when the life I had known would be gone, and the life I was about to embark on would become real.

My mom made it clear that she didn't want my transition to be the main focus of the visit and I was fine with that.  I came out to my brother in mid-August, and the first time he saw me was when he picked my up so we could go to mom's birthday dinner together.  Mom picked out a dress she wanted me to wear, and I looked nice in it.  There was no tension, no apprehension, no jitters - at least on my side (and I didn't sense any in the rest of the family).  My brother acknowledged that it was a little awkward at first, but that we'd get past it.  And we have.

Anyway - I digress.  There were 20 people at mom's birthday dinner.  It was great having everyone together.

My mom's birthday dinner gang.
And, on Saturday the event at the Rochester Sailing Club was equally wonderful.  The weather was great, there were upwards of 50 people there, and it provided an opportunity for old friends and relatives who hadn't seen one another in a long time to catch up.

The most important thing is that my mom had a good time.

My brother, my mom, and your's truly - after a long day at the Sailing club....

This was a day to remember....I doubt we'll be able to replicate it.  If lives are made of notable days...well...this was one.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Friends with the Past

I haven't posted anything for a while.  My bad.  Life has been very busy lately - in a good way.

I decided that the way I want to catch up is to write a number of posts - each on a topic or a specific aspect of events over the past couple of weeks.  That, to me, is a more effective way of saying what I want to say than to put it all in one long, rambling post.

I'll start with this one.  I wrote it on Thursday August 28 but never published it.

Thursday, August 28 

First things first - I had another very pleasant weekend.  I did some work outside work that needed to be done (it was the perfect weekend for it).  And, of course, there was the weekly motorcycle trip.  We did a 100 mile circle up one of the most scenic roads in the area (and that's saying something).  USA Today recently identified Ashley River Rd. as one of the most Scenic Roads in the South (link here).


I thought about stopping for photos a half dozen times, but I think we'll head back there in the fall to do that.  The weather was perfect for an afternoon ride, and best of all we had the roads to ourselves for a good bit of it.

We bought these Blue Tooth communication devices and tested them out yesterday - it was way cool.  Big thumbs up from both of us.

Now - current events....

I flew to Rochester NY a couple of evenings ago.  The main reason for the trip is to celebrate my mom's 85th birthday.  But my sister has done an amazing job of pulling people who are either part of the family or have intersected with the family from all over the country for a day-long event on Saturday.

One of our ex-neighbors from Buffalo NY in the early '70s is flying in from Florida.  A cousin I haven't seen since 1971 is taking the train in from Virginia.  Cousins from LA are coming.  Other cousins from NYC are coming.  A family friend from Dallas is flying in.  I'm actually looking forward to re-connecting with this group after so many years.

And, of course, as with every time I come back to Rochester I find myself wallowing in nostalgia.  This area is "home" for me more than any other.  We bought our first house here, my son was born here, my father died here, my brother and sister live here, I have lots of friends and memories....none of that has changed.  If anything, time amplifies it.

Just an example...when my book came out in 2003 I was asked to speak at the Barnes and Noble here in Pittsford.  The person who arranged everything is Penny.  I participated in a couple of other events in the years afterwards and Penny was there, too.  I stop in to see if she's still at B&N.  It seems as though she's ALWAYS there.  Well, I stopped by yesterday.  And, as usual - she was there.  So nice to see her.

I explained some of what I've done over the past couple of years.  The wrestling, working in a cold underground bunker at US Strategic Command, the motorcycle, some of the traveling.  She told me to write another book.  I told her I'm too busy doing this stuff to write about it.  :)

I stopped by the old neighborhood - as I always do.  I spent time catching up with my mom, my sister, and my nieces.  I had dinner with the daughter of our neighbors for all 15 years we lived there -she's married now and has a young son.

Dinner with JoElyn and her family.
She used to babysit for us when my son was the age that hers is now.
I stopped to look at the apartments my wife and I moved into in mid-1982 when we first moved to Rochester, before we bought our house.  I had lunch at my favorite BBQ with a good friend from the area I've known since the local paper did a story on me a dozen years ago.  I visited the Harley dealership - a friend bought me a small bell to put on my bike for good luck.  I drove around - noticing things that had changed and things that hadn't.

We drove up to Honeyoye Falls to enjoy the late summer/early fall sights that make the area so wonderful this time of year.

Honeyoye Falls
The Sunflower field on Rt. 64 is nearing full bloom

I stopped to visit the woman who helped keep me sane through the early '80s thru the mid '90s (her name is Deborah).  At the time she had a make-up studio...it has grown into a thriving Brow business (thus the name - Brow Biz).  Although we only see each other once ever couple or three years it's always nice to catch up where we left off - very comfortable and easy with her.  All in all - it's just nice to be home.

Visiting  the always wonderful Deborah at Brow Biz.
Over the course of a decade She helped my "other" self  more than I can express.



One thing that has stuck me over these past few days is how simple my life here was.  My life "before", that is.  I wasn't pulled in a hundred different directions.  Priorities seemed very simple - family first, everything else second.  I wasn't wondering where I'd be living in 6 months or a year, I wasn't involved in extra-curricular activities (other than our wedding video business), it was all very comfortable.  One of the things people sometimes ask is whether or not I would have transitioned if I hadn't moved away from the area and I really don't know - I can't hazard a guess.  The issues bubbled to the surface every few months but otherwise I had come to accept them as simply part of the tide of life - in sometimes, then out.

Regardless - life seems far more complicated these days.  I feel like I'm juggling far more than I was when I lived there - I'm not sure if it's true or not (memory can be pretty selective sometimes) but at least that's what I feel when I go back.  That's not a bad thing - but it's a noticeable thing.

I feel a very real need to visit my past sometimes.  I realize some people want to escape their pasts, or erase their pasts, but that's not me.  My past is part of who I am, and I've made friends with it, I enjoy staying in touch with it whether it's people, places, events, or memories.  All good.

I also find that when I come home to Rochester I tend to turn more introspective than usual.  I think it's due to a combination of things, but part of it is simply the comfort of the familiar, the deep connection I still have with the area, and the joy I feel being around my family.  My brother and sister (and their families) still live here, my father died here, and when my mom visits for her birthday each August it's our only opportunity to all be together.  I appreciate it while I can.

With my little niece, Kyrie.  She's the happiest person I know.
The festivities kick off tomorrow - it's my mom's actual birthday.  A group of 20 of us will be going out for dinner (she enjoys going to a Japanese place where they cook at the table), then there will be an all day party at a local sailing club on Saturday.  I hope the weather cooperates.

Onwards!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dance With the Road

It was another wonderful weekend.

The weather was amazing, wonderful, incredible....in a word, perfect.  It was sunny, highs were slightly north of 90 degrees, and you couldn't ask for a better late summer day.  The kids in South Carolina start school again today so it was a last gasp of summer for many of them.

We spent part of Saturday on the water, pulling the kids on a big inner tube.  They talked me into trying it, as well, and I'm relieved to say that I held on for dear life.  I'm still held together pretty well and far from fragile but this can be a pretty bumpy ride.

And, yesterday was all about the bike.  We decided to go for a road trip down the coast to Beaufort but at the last minute ended up diverting to Edisto Island.  Neither of us had ever been there and we thought it would be a prettier ride.  It was wonderful.

Yesterday's motorcycle adventure to Edisto Island - 160 miles RT

One of the cool things about South Carolina is that everywhere you go is (a) filled with history and (b) very photogenic.  It's easy to stop just about anywhere and there'd be pictures to take (example here).




Anyway - It was a beautiful ride on a beautiful day.

Every time I ride it just gets better and better.  As we were navigating Hwy 174 yesterday it became apparent to me that riding a motorcycle is like dancing.  When I'm traveling on a highway in the car I'm typically 5 mph or more above the speed limit at any given time.  It's all about getting there.

But on the bike, I'm typically 5 mph below the speed limit.  When the road curves you lean into it.  When it's time to slow down you downshift, or pull the clutch to slow the bike.  It's a very active interaction between rider, bike, road, other traffic, and environment that I find intoxicating.  Plus, there's a unique sense of "community" among bikers, whether it's a simple two-finger acknowledgment as you pass one another on the road or chatting at a stop somewhere.  The simple fact that you're both on a motorcycle is enough to forge a bond.

Lunch on the Edisto Island

Maybe it's because it's still all so new, but I really wish I had found this 15 or 20 years ago.  Regardless, I've found it now.  As with many aspects of my life - better late than never.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Amazed

I haven't had any "official" responsibilities outside of work in a while.  It has been nice to have most of my free time to myself.  There was a time when I had very little of it - between HRC, GLAAD, other organizations, other commitments....it was like having several full-time jobs.  I'm still enjoying having my free-time to myself.

I went to Cleveland over the weekend - up on Saturday and back on Sunday.  It's a 530  mile drive from Charlotte - across Virginia, West Virginia, and into Ohio.  Honestly, those kinds of drives are almost "casual" - anything I can do in 8 hours or less really isn't much of a trip.  The drive was uneventful, the scenery was nice, I'm in good spirits - all things considered it was very pleasant.

The reason I went was to accept an Award for being inducted into the Gay Games Hall of Merit at a pre-opening-ceremony reception.  Everything went smoothly, and I had a good time.  It was nice to see some of the wrestlers from San Francisco who I first met when I attended a Memorial Day Camp/Tournament there in 2006.

Golden Gate Wrestling Club - May 2006
Both of the guys next to me in this photo were in Cleveland.  So was the only other girl in the photo.  I didn't stay to compete (for a number of reasons), but it was nice to reconnect with everyone.

I made a bunch of travel arrangements last week.  I'll be flying home to Rochester for Mom's Birthday Aug 26-31, I'll be in Atlanta at SCC the following weekend, I'll be in Washington DC for an event at the end of the month, and I'm flying to Denver to see my son and attend a Buffalo Bills game there in early December.  I also expect to be doing a trip to Epcot next month, and would love to get to Annapolis for the Boat Show in October.  We'll see how it goes.

The news on everyone's mind at the moment is the tragic suicide of Robin Williams.  Topics for discussion on FB these days seem confined to suicide or death, and although sadness seems to be a consistent theme thoughts on those two subjects - death and suicide - seem mixed.

I think about death more these days.  As I get older and see more and more people who die at an age at or near mine it becomes more of a reality.  I've said before and I very much believe that a significant portion of life involves preparing for death.  Whether it be accepting tenets of one's faith as they relate to death and beyond, recognition that life is finite so making the most of our time here, or any number of other very profound realities - it's something we'll all face sooner or later.

My mom's 85th birthday looms on the horizon - at the end of the month, to be specific.  We'll all be gathering in Rochester, NY.  This year will involve a bigger than usual celebration.  We've got relatives, friends and neighbors that we haven't seen for 30 or more years coming.  My sister has arranged a get-together at the local sailing club on Saturday.  I'm actually very much looking forward to it.  But there's very much a recognition that we need to enjoy these times while we can.

As life goes on I feel more and more pressure to do some of the things at the top of my bucket list.  The item at the top of that list is to visit Europe.  I've never been there.

Anyway - I don't mean to make this morose so I'll change topics....

As anyone who has been here for very long knows I mark significant annual dates as landmarks.  Perhaps no date is more significant than the day I had SRS - August 10, 2000.  That anniversary recently passed with little or no fanfare.  It's very much a non-thing these days.

Ironically, when I think of that week I think of three things.  I think of the unpleasant "prep" the night before.  I think of my mom and sister being there.  And, I think of what it was like to finally get out of bed to take a shower after the bandages had been removed.  It was gone.  Finally.  Although many years have passed the amazement I felt at that moment has never faded.  It still amazes me.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Time Capsule

The final phase in the effort to move the rest of my "stuff" across country from Arizona to here is underway.  I'm unpacking boxes and putting stuff away.

I'm actually of two minds about this.  One of my minds realizes that I'm halfway through my lease so the possibility that I'll just have to pack it all back up again in a few months is very real.  The other mind wants to make my apartment as homey as I can, and is actually enjoying re-discovering everything I've been living without these past few years.

Case in point - today I'm wearing a top that was recently unpacked.  It's pretty, and thankfully it still fits. It's like having new clothes!  In fact - one of my co-workers already asked if it was new.

I don't like to think of myself as a hoarder, but at the same time I collect things I realize I'll probably never look at again.  Ever.  For example, I've got newspapers from during all the Buffalo Bills Super Bowl games, covering all the hype leading up to the game as well as the game itself.  They're in 2 mildly heavy boxes.  Why keep them?  I dunno - I just want to.

I know some who would rather forget their past.  I am not one of those.  My past is part of who I am.  Parts of my past brought me a significant amount of happiness.  They were part of who I was, and I suppose in some way I don't want to loose that.  I suppose it took me a long time to realize that I don't have to give it up.  Anyway - that's not an excuse for hoarding.  It's just something about me.

This was a bit of an odd weekend.  A typical weekend these days involves driving to Charleston on Friday after work, then back to Charlotte at dinnertime on Sunday or very early Monday.  Due to some schedule things and some pretty crummy weather in Charleston yesterday I was back in Charlotte by noon.  That gave a half a day here that I don't usually get.  It felt "odd", and I think it's going to throw my whole week off kilter.

I certainly had no problem filling the time.  I did some stuff with the dogs, I spent a little time doing some things outside, I washed all my bed linens, and of course there's the unpacking thing.  My apartment looks significantly smaller now with all this new old "stuff" in it.

I suppose I've got a pretty good life right now.  My career is going well - I'm being well paid and I seem to be fitting in well here.  I'm surrounded by my creature comforts.  Although I'm not in Charleston full-time I'm close by and get home on a regular basis.  My health seems to be good.  My head and my heart are happy.  I suppose I should enjoy this quiet time while I can.  But, to be honest, I'm restless.

I'm not sure why.  I just am.  I suspect I'll have more to say about that once I figure it out.



Monday, July 28, 2014

Green

I cancelled my car insurance policy today.  I have switched companies.

Under most circumstances I wouldn't mention this.  The thing that makes this special is that I've been with this company since 1980....almost 35 years.  That's a long time by any measure.

It's not that they necessarily did anything wrong.  I've got a few nits to pick with them but in the scheme of thing I haven't felt the need to go shopping for another company.  In all honesty, my insurance company has been the most consistent element of my entire adult life (odd to say that, but it's true).  Ya know what changed things?  The motorcycle.....

This company doesn't offer motorcycle insurance.  They use a 3rd party to quote rates but the rates are high compared to others.  And, it only makes sense to bundle to get the best rates.  So, because of the motorcycle I got coverage thru another company and switched the rest of my policies over as well.

When I called today to cancel the policy I spoke to someone who was 1 year old in 1980.  She apologized that the company couldn't serve my needs and invited me back if I find I'm not satisfied elsewhere.  But what's done is done.  And this is done.

I also went to the doctor today.  Under normal circumstances that's not big news, either.  The thing that made today's appointment unique was that I had decided that I needed a local doctor in Charlotte since that's where I spend most of my time so I needed to go thru the whole new-patient intake thing.  Ugh.

I did some research before picking this guy.  I've been turned down by doctors before....flat out refused because they're not comfortable working with people with my "diagnosis".  The key is finding someone who is going to be ok and who might even have experience working with our unique physiologies (for example, he was astute to ask if I still have a prostate or not).  Anyway, he wasn't phased, everything went smoothly, and I'm glad I've got someone locally just in case I get sick.

The highlight of the weekend was a loooonnnnnggg bike ride yesterday.  It was 98 degrees out but on the bike it felt comfortable.  We did a huge circle thru the National Forest and around near downtown.  Every time we go out I get more and more comfortable, and it just makes me want to go out and do it more.

The big circle route....

We stopped for something to eat and drink, but all told we were gone for over 4 hours.  Did I mention how much fun it was?  I had a blast.

One of the beautiful things right now is that everything is so green.  Here's a picture from near the house...


I doubt that this post will do the photo justice, but the version on my phone is bursting with various shades of green.  That's what caught my eye.  I was thinking of my friends suffering through the dry, brown, dog-days of summer in Phoenix.

Change....get comfortable with it.  It will not be denied.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Quiet is good

When I set my mind on something....when it "matters"....I rarely let it go.  It's part of my personality that I've developed a love/hate relationship with.  I think part of what makes me effective is that once I've set a goal I'm tenacious, creative, and unyielding to get there.  Transition, wrestling, my career...I can think of a whole laundry list of examples.

In the early days of my transition I tried to explain to my wife that I wasn't sure what the outcome of my transition adventure would be.  After all, that's the purpose of the RLT and all the other "stuff" meant to separate the fantasy from the often difficult, sometimes grim, reality.  But my wife knew how I am, and she was right when she said that once I set my mind on something I don't stop until it happens.

The only reason I mention that today is that I passed my North Carolina Real Estate Licensing exam this week.  I failed it last time (its a very hard test), which was a major downer for me. The reality is that it's not something I "need", per se.  However, I set my sights on it and I was going to make it happen.

As I've already said - It was a very difficult test.  The passing rate of people taking it for the first time is a mere 31%, meaning that nearly 70% fail.  Well - I was one of those 70%.  But I've studied, and I've talked with seasoned realtors about some of the things that I find confusing, and ultimately I've found that knowing South Carolina licensing law and practices was actually a detriment here.  There are some significant differences.

Anyway - without going into too much detail the end result is that I passed.  And I'm happy and relieved about that because I would have taken this thing over and over again until I passed it. At $100 a pop it would have gotten expensive.

I've got my mind wrapped around something else at the moment...something I'm not ready to mention yet.  But, if things follow form, I know where it's going.

Here's a hint....



Yesterday I had a follow-up appointment with my dermatologist.  I had a minor "issue" to show him when I saw him a couple of weeks ago and he things I might have a stitch buried from a previous excision.  Anyway, he went in to cut the area out yesterday.  I didn't feel anything after the shots other than a little tugging here and snipping there.  Still, it's surprising how much those kinds of things take out of you.  I was out of sorts for the better part of the afternoon.  Now that the shots have worn off I'm a little uncomfortable, but nothing horrible.

I've got some traveling coming up.  I'll be headed to central Ohio in August to attend the Gay Games in Cleveland.  I'm also scheduled to attend a women's motorcycle group event in Toledo - unfortunately the two overlap.  I'll be in Rochester, NY for a week at the end of the month for my mom's 85th birthday.  At the moment, tho, things are blissfully quiet.  I'm good with that.  Quiet is good.





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Big Big Deal

Every year I make special note of significant milestone dates as they come and go.  One of the most significant is today - July 22.  That's the date, 15 years ago, the I had my FFS with Dr. O.

Every year around this time I call Dr. O's office to catch up with them and see how everything is going.  This year I called and spoke with Dr. O himself.  He said that his last surgery is scheduled for Aug. 15.  He stressed that he is training a protege (thank God!) and expects to be active in both the operating room and the community for several more years to come - he's not going to disappear.  But he is retiring from private practice in less than a month.

He said he'd be at Southern Comfort this year.  To be honest - I wasn't planning to attend.  But now, I expect that I'll probably be there.  My friends Mel and a certain someone will most likely make trek to Atlanta in early September to see him.

The big news in the LGBT world is that the president has signed an Executive Order protecting federal LGBT employees and contractors from workplace discrimination (story here).  This is a significant move for several reasons, not least of which is the fact that the federal government is the largest single employer in the country.

His Order does two things.  First, it adds gender identity to the list of protected classes for federal employees and contractors.  Second, it prohibits discrimination in companies with whom the Federal Government does business.  And perhaps just as importantly - it isn't adding any new religious exemptions.  Needless to say, this is a big deal.

I watched the webcast of the event.  It was nice to see people I've known and worked with there to celebrate this occasion.  I found his comments to be spot on (see text here).


As you'd expect, Fox News isn't happy about this (story here).  I find that, most times, things that Fox News isn't happy about are things that make me happy.

I got a phone call yesterday from Chloe Prince.  She's on a cross-country road trip in a big RV with a production crew as part of a Reality Series that she's doing.  They were in Rochester, NY (my old home town) last week.  Today they'll be in Charlotte, tomorrow in Charleston, and so on.

I'd love to see Chloe - she's a good friend.  But I really have no interest in being part of a reality TV show.  I'm the first to vent that Reality TV is anything but Reality and I'm proud to say that I don't watch anything of that ilk (I don't classify Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives in that category).  I've had more than my fair share of media opportunities so I'm happy to relinquish that platform to others.  Anyway - we'll see if we can arrange a time to meet up during her short visit here.