Friday, February 21, 2014


Last week at this time the area was digging itself out from under Snowmageddon 2014.  Yesterday we tied the record high temperature for the date at 73 degrees, and today we broke it as we almost got to 80.  The remaining piles of snow are still there, but they won't be for long.  These have been beautiful days.

Tonight I'm sitting in my hotel room, as has recently been the norm.  The dogs are here, finally asleep around me.  This will be the last night of this chapter of our journey.  It has been like this for a month.  Tonight I stopped for gas as the same station that we stopped at when we first arrived with the trailer behind us a month ago.  It seems like much longer ago than that.

Tomorrow morning I get the keys to the new apartment.  I've already started moving stuff out of storage unit #3 (here in Charlotte) to the patio to make the move-in easier.  We'll see how that goes.

If all goes according to my plan I will have vacated 2 of my 3 storage units by the end of the month.  That's no small feat.  I've also done my homework on this apartment - it's more like a condo than an apartment.  It was recently been "upgraded" - marble counter tops, stainless steel appliances, plantation shutters, attached garage, huge patio, all kinds of little things that made it different from the others that I looked at.  Of course, these things come at a price but my goal this time around has been to pick something that would last for a long time.  This contract is scheduled to run for 2 years so we'll see how it all plays out.

My birthday is Saturday.  I was thinking back to recent birthdays and most of them have been pretty unremarkable.  My 50th birthday was very special.  The following year I was driving from Charleston to the University of Virginia and we stopped at a Cracker Barrel.  Another year I was in Phoenix and worked all day - my mom and sister were visiting and we had a nice dinner.  Another year a certain someone and I met after work for a happy hour and dins.  Another year I drove 800 miles to meet my son and stopped to visit my friends in Asheville on the way back.

This year will include moving - I've already rented a trailer.  Ugh.  But as with most things it's important to dwell on the outcomes rather than the drudgery involved in achieving the outcome.  The goal of finally surrounding myself with MY stuff, and be completely OUT of the storage unit thing, is a significant one.  I haven't had that in a long, long time.

I'm also reminded of significant birthdays past.  On my birthday in 1998 I decided to shave my legs - not an insignificant thing considering the fact that my wife was less than keen on the idea.  At the time my need to express Donna was pushing me further and further down the path, and this was more than simply about hairy legs.  It was a step towards identity.  Needless to say, they have been smooth ever since.

On my birthday in 1999 I turned 40.  We had talked about doing something for our 40th birthdays for years.  However, at that point we were barely speaking and I had no idea whether we'd do anything at all until the night before.  We met for dinner at Morton's Steak House but she got upset in the middle of it and left.  I tried to explain it to my son but the thing he was most interested in was whether or not we were going to stay for dessert.

Anyway - it's a day that comes and goes and carries some symbolic significance to it.  I will take a few moments to stop, assess, and appreciate.  More important to me isn't what I do, it's who I'm with.  I expect to be with the person I want to be with, so everything else is fine.

I've got passes for several days at Disney in Orlando but we probably won't use those quite yet.  No hurry there.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Speaking Of

It's amazing how a little sun can completely change things.

Right now it's 44 degrees outside with deep blue, sunny skies.  It's beautiful.  Yesterday the high was 44 rainy, gray, raw degrees.  It was, well, yucky.  I realize that the northeast is currently saying bye-bye to the remnants of the storm that froze the south but here in Charleston the forecast is nothing but bright.  High will reach 60 today, gradually rising into the low and mid 70's by this time next week.

Today is Valentine's Day.  I've already said my piece on this so-called "holiday".  The best part of my day is waking up next to a certain someone - it really is that simple - whether it's today or any day.  I won't delve into that much here because that's part of my life I choose to keep mostly private.  One of the things that drives me crazy is people on FB who feel a need to profess how much they love and appreciate their "other" over and over.  Why don't you just tell them in person?!  Anyway - neither of us needs much in the way of "stuff" to celebrate this day, or any day.

Here's a photo I included in my blog entry for this day in 2007.  It seems like forever ago.

Speaking of forever ago, my most memorable V-Day event was doing the Vagina Monologues with a group of other transwomen in LA in 2004.  I'll never forget that.  I still see that event as something special...I'd love to see that group get together and do it again now that it's 10 years later.  Part of the important piece of trans-life is recognizing that there IS life after trans.  I've mentioned before that I often wonder what happened to many of the people that have been featured in various documentaries I've seen over the years.  Are they happy?  Have they moved on in life?  Are they even still alive?  I realize that it can be difficult - I've been there.

And....Speaking of Facebook, I noticed a story on CNN indicating that they've updated their profile options with regards to gender.  Now, instead of having to choose one of the two options there is a 3rd option - Custom - that opens the door to 50 other variations (story here).  I realize that some may feel this isn't a big deal but I do.  Getting FB to recognize that gender is more complicated than simply 2 flavors is another in these ongoing demonstrations of cultural relevance.  I don't plan to change mine, but I'm glad to know that I could if I wanted to. For those of us who are as old as I am, the question ask yourself is whether or not you can imagine having this kind of recognition a dozen years or more ago.

And....finally, speaking of a dozen years ago I'll be speaking at the annual Out for Work conference in Washington DC this fall.  I spoke at several of the early conferences so it's nice to see how the event has grown.  Riley and his team have done a wonderful job.  Anyway, this is their 10th anniversary event and I'm looking forward to this.

At the outset of my transition I was so socially awkward and uncomfortable I can't even begin to describe.  Part of getting comfortable with myself was simply becoming comfortable with my discomfort.  I think I did that pretty well...more out of necessity than anything.

One of the things that scared me was going to the car dealership.  Needless to say, I'm not nervous about that anymore.  In fact, my service guy at the local Toyota dealership has become a friend.  He serviced my Camry when I had it and has been great providing guidance and maintenance on my Tundra.  One of the reasons I bought the Tundra where I did was because of the great job he has done with me over the years.  It's about building trusting relationships than simply dollars and cents.

I mention all of this because I brought the truck in for its service today.  I haven't seen him in a while due to my time in Nebraska, and it was good to catch up with him.  I needed a bulb changed - he did that for free.  My backup camera hasn't been working so he called the people who installed it and told them to take care of me.  They identified that the camera was bad so they installed a new one - for free.  All things considered, I appreciate having people I not only trust, but that I like, taking care of me and my vehicle.  Since my dependence on driving is no secret, it's just one less thing to worry about.


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Gulp the Moment

I've followed sports my entire life.  It's one of the things I very much sports as simply part of my world.

I'll admit that sports don't play nearly as big a role as they once did.  Growing up in Buffalo we had 3 professional teams...the AFL Bills, the NBA Braves, and the NHL Sabres.  Buffalo doesn't have much to be proud about so the entire city rises and falls on the fortunes of its sports teams.  Unfortunately there has been more falling than rising over recent years so being from Buffalo has been a difficult, frustrating experience.

No matter.  I'm not a bandwagon kind of girl.  My teams are my teams - for better or for worse.  I'm dedicated for life....In good times and bad, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.  In that same vein, anyone who knows me will realize that I'm passionate about things that are important to me.  Ergo, I can be passionate about sports sometimes.

Typically, my sports teams only do marginally well so I've learned to manage my expectations.  The only team I've followed that ever won a championship is the Syracuse University basketball team.  I've followed them ever since graduating from SU in 1981....we still have the same head coach.  Over the years there have been fair teams and good teams....even a couple of great teams.  Well, this year we've got a good team that's playing better than the sum of it's parts.

All that being said, perhaps people will realize why that makes me so happy.  I'm used to losing, or choking in the last minute, or wondering what it will take to get my team going.  So when times are good, I don't merely sip the moment I gulp it.  I don't simply appreciate it I savor it.  So last night's thrilling last-second half-court shot the kept Syracuse as only one of two unbeaten teams in NCAA Div 1 basketball is something I watch over and over.

It still give me goose bumps to watch. That's why I enjoy college basketball this time of year.  Go 'Cuse!

Charlotte was in the cross-hairs of that big winter storm that hit the South yesterday.  I had two options.  Either sit tight and accept that I was going to be stranded in my hotel room for at least a couple of days, or try to get away to Charleston before the worst of the storm arrived.  I picked the latter, and it was a wise choice.

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day.  I think I make mention pretty much every year that I don't put much importance on this particular holiday.  I'd go so far as to say that I consider it to be a "manufactured" holiday, and the only thing it caters to are loneliness and guilt.  For those who don't have a "special someone" there's the dread of being reminded of that.  And, if you haven't invested enough money in the flower/card/candy/dinner thing, well, you're made to feel as though you somehow don't measure up.  To both of those I say "Bullsh*t".

If you love someone don't wait for one or two or three days a year to remind them.  Remind them every day.  Love isn't measure through gifts, it's measured through sincerity and commitment.  Love is in and of itself an incredible gift, to give and to receive.  I far more prefer to celebrate that simple concept.  The rest is just window dressing and noise.

Live is still a bit in-flux with the cross-country move and the various logistics/expenses/planning that comes along with it.  But it seems to be ironing itself out.  I'm pretty accustomed to doing these kinds of things.  The good news is that I'm where I want to be.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Cynic speaks...

A friend who has become active in advocacy recently lamented about all the in-fighting within the community with regards to doing almost anything.  I mentioned yesterday how many things have changed.  Well, that has not.  The so-called "community" remains as fractured and divided as it ever was when it comes to pretty much anything.

I used to tell a half-joke....Q: What do you get when you put two trans-people into a room?  A: An argument.  That's actually not far form the truth.  That's one of the things that eventually chases the people who SHOULD be doing this important work away.  

I didn't know any of this when I naively waded into the shark tank shortly after my transition.  My intentions were good and pure.  I had no agenda other than to champion issues that were important to me and where I thought I could help: workplace issues, youth, internal support, and the the overall umbrella of increased visibility.  I had to grow so quick skin real quickly because those who dare to do these things get nearly as much flack from within the community as from outside it. 

The key is to stay true to your beliefs, to be able to focus on what you've set your sights on doing, to know when to be a delicate politician and when to be a hammer, and to maintain your cool at all times.  That's not as easy as it sounds.

As I gradually stepped out of those roles a few years ago I did so with the expectation that others would step up.  They have.  But I don't know if we've become less dysfunctional (or more?) as time has gone by.  If recent events are any indication, I'd have to say we haven't moved much.  

This is a photo of this morning's sunrise in my rear view mirror.  Too bad photos don't do it justice.  It was a deep amber/orange color.  Anyway - very pretty. 

I hate to admit that the Winter Olympics don't do much for me.  The barometer I use for these kinds of things is that if I wouldn't stop channel-surfing to watch if it weren't the Olympics doesn't mean I'm any more interested just because it is.  That's probably not always true but after three or four teams going down the bobsled run, I'm sorry, but it just gets boring.  I realize that the cynic in me becomes very apparent when I admit these kinds of things but it's true.  I'm sadder that there won't be any more football until fall than I am excited at watching two weeks of winter sports.  Just sayin'

I head for Charleston tonight.  Looking forward to my weekend there, as always.  

Thursday, February 6, 2014


My dad used to tell me, "Never engage in a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent."  As with many of his pearls of wisdom, this is good advice.

When I was growing up, the only place to see transpeople of any flavor was once a year or so on Phil Donahue.  That was it.  I used to buy TV Guide every week and look at the topics for the upcoming week so I didn't miss that show.  One of the ironies is that I eventually did some work on the Phil Donahue show, but that's another story.

Needless to say, most of the depictions of trans people at that time (1970's and 1980's) was unflattering, unrealistic, and never really scratched the surface of anything that I'd call substantive.  That's partly why I had so much difficulty trying to identify what I was - simply because I knew I wasn't like them.  I had nobody to relate to.  Still, I looked.

In the 1990's and into the early 2000's that changed.  We became the subject of bi-annual documentaries (usually, right around the ratings sweeps period).  These were typically formulaic productions focusing on the whole "manly man becomes woman" thing).  Some were better done than others, but they served a purpose.

Well - now that trans people are becoming much more mainstream it appears we're becoming much less interesting.  I can't remember the last one of those documentaries that I saw.  The main source of these things has switched from featuring unfamiliar faces to newsworthy notables, often produced by CNN.  They did one on Susan Stanton a few years ago, and more recently one on Kristen Beck.

We have also become much more articulate at expressing our realities.  And, not surprisingly, we've become much better at defending ourselves when the boundary separating willful ignorance and simple mistakes gets crossed.

It is in that context that I find the recent Piers Morgan interviews with Janet Mock so remarkable.  The first, on Tuesday evening, caused a torrent of outcry and was strongly denounced by Ms. Mock (details here).  So a second was arranged (link here) so Mr. Morgan could get an apology.  It didn't go well for him (link here).  He's no match for her.

As for me - the hotel that I call "home" for the moment is one I've stayed at several times before.  Most recently was the weekend after Christmas when I came here to look around - knowing that I'd probably end up coming to town for a more extended stay.  The thing I've learned over these past few days is that it's particularly good for the pups.  There's quite a bit of open area for them to visit when we go outside for their "stuff".  Anyway, if things go as I expect my last night there will be tonight.

Besides the general upheaval that moving brings into a life, it's also an expensive proposition.  I'm still paying the cost of breaking my lease back in Bellevue.  The expenses of the trailer, the gas, and the other travel expenses are not insignificant.  Putting down security deposits for the new place (it's an extra $350 just for the dogs!), start-up costs for various services (electricity, DirecTV, internet), etc. put quite the strain on the financial chain.  I'll be glad when this hump is past and all is calm again.

I should stay here this weekend to take care of some things but that's not in my plans.  I'm headed home to Charleston.  Charleston brings a deeper peace to things that is unavailable anywhere else.  I'll manage the logistics when I get back next week.  :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014


It's one of "those" mornings.  It's gray and misty outside.  I had a good night sleep but could probably curl up in a ball and sleep some more.  I can't stop yawning - on the third cup of coffee this morning.

I work in a cubicle.  Most of the people who work in my office seem like they're between 25-35.  When I go to work I care far more about comfort than style.  Well, most of the women I work with apparently feel otherwise.  I got into the elevator this morning with a half dozen or so of the women on my floor and they were all admiring one another's shoes.  I'll have to admit, they were all very stylish.  And big.  Nice heels..pointy toes...very trendy.

When I wear those kinds of shoes I'm typically sore by the time I get from my car to my desk.  Ergo - I typically bring them in a bag and wear flats from the car to the desk.  Especially when it's chilly out.  I don't know if it's a by-product of not having been raised having to do that, or my age.  Either way.  I'm good with it.

As I've said before, I manage projects.  IT projects.  Whether for large companies or for the DoD the concepts are the same.  The good news is that I'm well over 30 years into this career and still enjoy it. Well, that's good news for me seeing as retirement is a big question mark.  It's one of the things I gave up in my divorce.

I've written before about cost.  Everything has a cost.  It's a fact of life.  I'd say it's more than a fact of life but most people don't seem to see it like that.

But that's a deeper conversation than I want to have right now.

The currently ranked #1 NCAA Men's Basketball team, my Syracuse Orangemen, play their next game at Clemson this weekend.  That's close.  I'm very, very tempted to get a ticket and actually haven't ruled that out yet.  I'd love to see them in person.

I watch post-Super Bowl discussion of the commercials with a mixture of amusement and shake-my-head disappointment.  They become cultural phenomena and provide a window on various elements of our collective national psyche.  All the hoopla around the Coke commercial that featured people singing America the Beautiful in different languages is sad - really sad.  It reveals the strong undercurrent of bigotry that passes itself off as patriotism in this country these days.  Similarly, the Chrysler ad with Bob Dylan didn't try to hide it's ethnocentric bias.  Regardless - my favorite commercials don't seem to be on anyone's "Top 10" list - the Pistachio commercials featuring Stephen Colbert.

Notice the bald eagle.  Subtle, but funny.  I thought so, anyway.

Onwards.  Now I'll spend most of the rest of the day trying to wake up.....

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

About Choices

I spent the weekend in Charleston, as planned.  It went by way too quickly.

The weekend was divided into equal time sports / food / relaxing.  That seems like a pretty good balance.  But with the SU basketball game Saturday night and the Super Bowl on Sunday I'd have to say that the main focus was sports-related.

The SU game Saturday night was epic/incredible/awesome.  By the last couple of minutes I wasn't sitting anymore.  The kids were there, too, and we all got wrapped up in it.  When Duke sunk that 3-point shot at the buzzer to tie it we all screamed.  Oh - the pressure.  It was like watching the National Championship really was.  And, in the end, Syracuse escaped with it's first #1 Ranking in years.

Much less pressure-packed was the Super Bowl.  I watched without emotional investment in either team, although my desire to see a team that has never won a Super Bowl was a bigger driver than my typical AFC tendencies.  In any regard, I was asleep by the middle of the 4th quarter.

My world is somewhat in flux at the moment (what else is new, right?).  I suppose that's a given when you're basically living out of a hotel room.  As I may or may not have said - my job is just outside of Charlotte NC so I really haven't perfectly aligned things at the moment.  But this area is far, far, far more fertile for my career and is only 3 hrs. from home so I'm ok with the trade-off.  That, plus I'll be able to do some of my work remotely so my time in Charleston won't be relegated to weekend excursions.

The good news is that I've spent some time finding a more permanent landing pad for my time here and I've settled on that answer.  I'm very happy with what I've found.  Now it's a matter of logistics - again.  And finances.  Moving and changing jobs provide stress on financial resources.  I wish I could say I've got a significant amount of $$$ put away for just such occasions but I don't.  Now it's a matter of managing it all for the next month or so...

I've landed fairly smoothly at the new job.  I suppose locking myself into a lease is an indicator that my comfort level that it's a good fit is fairly high.  The place is big enough to finally realize the white whale of my world for the last couple of years - going to Arizona to collect the bulk of my worldly possessions out of storage in Arizona and finally reuniting with it.  That might be an Easter trip.  Anyway - when it finally happens there will be great joy (at least in my little world, anyway).

Living out of a hotel is a drag, especially given that the dogs get bored.  Thankfully a couple of the few programs I watch regularly are on TV tonight.  That should help.  But I'd rather be in a hotel here than in my old apartment back in Nebraska.  Life is about choices, and I'm good with the ones I've been making lately.