Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wandering Soul Syndrome

There are people who find a spot in life and make themselves comfortable there.  I was one of those people until the day I had my first injection of estrogen.  I realized, deep down, that I was crossing a threshold from which I could not retreat and would very likely lead to upheaval in every element of my world.

Until that time my life was very clearly divided into 3 parts.  I call the first my "Transient" Phase, and it covered the entire period from my birth until my high school graduation.  My father was an academic in a very specialized field and was paid to come to universities on one year fellowships to help establish biophysics departments there.  As a result, we moved almost every year.  When I think back to my time in grade school it's all based on where we were living at the time....6th grade Buffalo NY, 7th grade Santa Barbara CA, 8th grade East Lansing Michigan, 9th grade back to Buffalo.  Over a period of 5 years I attended 5 different schools.  Whereas kids of those in military service sometimes to refer to themselves as "Army brats" I referred to myself as an "Academic brat".  Different specialty, same result.

The second part of my life covered my 4 years of college.  I was anxious to live on my own but circumstance had other ideas.  I went to 3 colleges in 2 countries, and took an entire semester off, before graduating from Syracuse University in 1981.  Those years seemed to continue the theme of Transience that had dominated my life until then - the difference being that until that time I couldn't get away even if I wanted because I wasn't "of age" but for those four years, I was simply being practical.

That all ended one night in November 1990 when I met a woman who would eventually become my wife.  With her I found the stability that had eluded me to that point in life, and after a year of getting established we bought our first house near Rochester NY.  We lived in that house for 15 years - that was my Stable Phase.

Artists rendition of "home" on Cottonwood Ln, in Pittsford NY....
My son was born there.  My career grew from nothing and became successful there.  I had a side business that hatched and thrived there.  We made lots of friends there, and eventually the entire rest of my immediate family came to live there (only briefly).  My father died there.  The roots that had eluded me to that point in life finally took hold, growing deep and strong.

In 1995 we decided that we'd had enough of the harsh winters there and bought a house in Scottsdale AZ.  It seemed like paradise, and we expected to live there for the balance of our lives.  That calm lasted until the moment I described earlier, in 1997, when I got that first shot.  Everything that followed was a gradual but accelerating trajectory into the theme of my early days - no roots.

I left the Valley in 2000 with the expectation of setting new roots in Austin, TX.  I had been hired by Dell, and it was my first job ever as me - every job before that was thanks to the exterior I presented before transition.  I envisioned setting those same roots that I had established in Rochester there but time and circumstance had other ideas.  After 4 years I was back in the Valley.

Over the past 10 years I've had more than 10 addresses.  People have

The Valley seems to have a way of calling/bringing me back.  It's the most fertile place I've lived as far as career opportunities go.  I've got more dear friends there than anywhere else.  I love the weather, and the quality of life.  I've learned the hard way that there are specific areas of the Valley that energize me, and others with which I feel no connection whatsoever.

All that writing is a round-about way of saying that I am hoping that my history of Wandering Soul Syndrome is finally coming to an end.  Ever the optimist, I'm approaching what happens over the next several months cautiously and for many significant reasons I will refuse to fully relinquish my connection to the the Low Country.  But if and when the stability I'm seeking proves to be more than a mirage I'll do what needs to be done - whether that be in Phoenix or in Charleston.

I'd be lying if I said I haven't grown weary of all of this.  But I'd also be lying if I said I'd allow that weariness to determine where I ultimately land.  I suppose time and circumstance will work their magic, as usual, to help make the decisions clear.  Until then, onwards.

Last week a group of us spent a week in Phoenix to attend dear Maria's Holiday Party.  Dear friends came from all over the country to attend, and I had a wonderful time.  It reminded me how much I miss life there and was a very much appreciated pre-welcome back.

Some of my dearest friends in the world converged in the Valley recently for Maria's Holiday event
One of the highlights (among a week of highlights) was a weekend run along my old running route.  In the earliest days, before transition, I started to train my body in an effort to re-shape it.  All the muscle I'd built over the years needed to go, and I needed to lose 20 pounds to get to a place where I'd be comfortable moving forward.  In order to achieve that I trained as hard as I've trained for any physical event or competition I've ever entered.  A key part of that involved early morning runs near our north Scottsdale neighborhood - up near Pinnacle Peak.

It's gorgeous country.  Unspoiled, large saguaro cactus everywhere, largely removed from "civilization" - even after these many years since I ran with a keen sense of purpose.  I took an hour on Saturday afternoon to re-trace those steps and although I'm not as fast as I remember the run was more enjoyable because of the appreciation of what those many miles along those roads have led to.

The beauty of the Sonoran desert along my running route - a truly magical place for me.
I've had some of my most introspective moments on those runs, where the mind just wanders and goes places it doesn't seem to go when the body isn't in motion.  My most recent run was similarly magical, and I look forward to doing more of them in the future.

On the medical front I went to the surgeon today to get the results of my recent CT scan and was told I've got a clean bill of health.  My discomfort is likely due to physical exertion but there's nothing that needs to be "fixed".  I'm glad, and relieved.

I talked with my mom today.  I've got a lot on my plate, and a lot on my mind, and talking with her helped.  I expect to see her again sometime between now and the New Year, on my way to Phoenix.  I appreciate the opportunities I've got while I can.  Like so many things - you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Planning Within the Headlights

It has been quite a while since I have checked in here.  I have no idea if anyone even visits anymore, although I know at least one person (hey Sophie!) misses me.

I have no explanation other than I haven't felt the need to write.  I think there are a number of reasons.
Two contributing factors:  (a) the availability of other avenues to do it and (b) my need for a little time and space.

The main "other" area where I share elements of my day-to-day life is Facebook.  Over the years I've established a definite love/hate relationship with FB and admittedly don't share with the same depth or detail there as I typically do here.  Although I've got many "friends" there, most don't know me or haven't followed my life other than what the see or read via what I share there.  I've reached a point where I don't share much there anymore - if I post a brief update more than once or twice a week that's a lot.

A lot has happened in my life since my last post.  There's no way for me to catch up here on everything between then and now so I won't really try right now.  I think a year-end retrospective is probably on the way so I'll fill in the necessary blanks a little later.

That said - I'm back because I NEED to write.  I've got a lot going on in my life right now and writing has always been a pathway to clarity for me.  I've always felt that if you can take the time to articulate complex thoughts and emotions you provide yourself the opportunity to make sense of it all. What I'm about to say here is only available here.  Less than a half dozen people know any of this, but heading into what's about to happen I've got a lot to work out.  As a result - I'm back.

Two events have shaped my current mindset this past year, and have affected decisions I've been making.

The first was when I ended up in the ER in April.  I was in Charlotte, where I've been working for the better part of the past two years.  When I was lying in that hospital bed, curled up in pain, the nurse was asking me intake questions. This is what I wrote in my blog entry at the end of May:
As I lay in the hospital last week the nurse asked me if I had anyone locally that they could call, or who could pick me up if I needed it.  As I thought about it the depressing reality was "no".  I really have no friends in Charlotte.  I work there.  My co-workers and I get along great but we're not on a level where I'd want to share too much personal medical information.  For all intents and purposes, I was all alone.  And that sucked.
Over the course of the last several months that singular realization has felt like a wake-up call.  It said volumes to me about the trade-offs we make in life and the fact that I was accepting my dual-existence of home/career where bulk of my time is spent away from home as "ok".  It isn't.

My living arrangements over these past couple of years have been a little less than ideal, given the fact that I typically commute over 200 miles a week between Charleston (where I live) and Charlotte (where I work).  It has taken quite a bit of time, energy, and money to maintain this dual life.  But the fact of the matter is that my deepest need in recent years has been to set roots as "home" and I had decided (for a number of compelling reasons) that those roots need to grow in Charleston.  The unfortunate outcome of that decision - and one that I had simply accepted - was acquiescence that the cost necessarily involved travel.

Starting the night I was in the ER, I headed down a path that stressed the importance of surrounding ourselves with our support networks - our dearest friends, the people who care most about us, the people you can count on or can call any time night or day and they'll be there.  Having those people around you is more than simply convenience - it's critical.  So - coming out of that experience I found renewed dedication to surround myself with my support network.

There are 3 places I've lived in this world and have those kinds of friends.  First - there's Rochester NY.  That's home.  Second, there's here in Charleston - but the problem has consistently been that I can't find a job here so I end up traveling and making my life complicated.  Third - perhaps the largest group of those people in my life are in Phoenix.

The second event was much less dramatic, but equally as affecting.  To be honest, I still don't know what caused it and if I were to try to explain it my words would only trivialize it.  It happened over Easter when plans that had been made got changed.  It wasn't so  much that they changed that caused the upheaval in was HOW that week unfolded that caused the uproar in my world.

In that same blog entry from late May I wrote:
I look at the various events and people from my life who have led me to where I am now.  Some of those people and things have faded away, others have weaved themselves into the fabric of my world, and others have become foundational elements.  Good decisions, bad decisions, wisdom (or lack of it)  in choosing friends and placing trust, strongly held beliefs that transform themselves into life decisions....they're all part of this tapestry that makes up my life right now.
The key phrase in all of that is  "Strongly held beliefs that transform themselves into life decisions".  As the beliefs change, so too do the possibilities worthy of consideration and the subsequent decisions that get made.

Both those events have led me to question whether or not the foothold that I thought I had in Charleston is really the long-term "roots" I've been seeking.  It still might be, but whereas I once felt sure now I've got questions.  When I've set my mind to something I can be pretty tenacious about it, but when something causes me to stop and take a step back it becomes time to reassess given the appropriate opportunity to pause.

The next natural opportunity happens at year-end, with the end of my contract in Charlotte.  I've been there for two years now, and a number of decisions needed to be made about "what next?"  Given my mindset - there are more options than simply accepting that more of the same is ok.  I was offered a 3 month extension, which I turned down - more of the same ISN'T ok.  I've exhausted efforts to find something worthwhile locally.

Without going into all the details - I have accepted a long-term opportunity that will bring me back to Phoenix at the beginning of the year.  The logistics of how that is going to happen become overwhelming to this little brain whenever I try to wrap my mind around them.  I'm sure they will be the source of future entries here.

If getting myself back across the country in two weeks weren't enough - there is the potential complication of a medical procedure that may need to happen between now and the end of the year as well.  I had an appointment with a surgeon late last week who sent me for a CT scan to get a better idea of what's going on.  I've got an appointment with him tomorrow to review the results so I expect I'll know more then than I do now.

I've very good at considering life in short-term bites.  I call it planning within the headlights.  It's like driving on a dark road at night - all you know is that is illuminated by your headlights - the rest is just dark.  You react to each turn as it appears in front of you, and you can't really get too far ahead of yourself.  That's how I approach things like this.  I'm gauging everything that needs to happen between now and the day I'm supposed to start my new job in Phoenix (Jan 4).  The rest is just the details (although I'm told that's where the devil lives).

There is quite a bit of irony in all of this.  Most of my life "stuff" lived in a storage unit in the Valley for several years until I finally went to get it 18 months ago.  I truly expected that my days of calling the Valley "home" had come to an end.  And even as I write this I'm not saying that my time in Charleston is over, either.  We'll see how all of this unfolds.  What I am saying, however, is that life as I know it is about to change.  Again.  It's a good thing I deal well with change.....

Lastly - it's nice to be back!  :)

Friday, August 14, 2015

Spare no expense

As I type this I'm sitting in a hotel room near Birmingham, AL.  I'm on my way to Dallas to pick up my other pup and drive him back to Charleston.

There is quite a bit of emotion wrapped up in this.  Leaving him with my mom in early February was one of the hardest emotional traumas I've experienced in a long time.  One of the things that allowed me to leave that house without him was justifying to myself that it was in his best interest....that my mom's stable world was a better fit for him than my own gypsy life.  Anyway - without going into too much detail - I'm headed back to get him.  I don't mind admitting - I'm excited.

Cody man!!!

There are a few things in life where I spare no expense. I have no problem justifying additional cost, distance, or effort if I can convince myself that I'm getting what I need.

My make-up is one of those things. 95% of my stuff is from MAC. They earned my loyalty many years ago and I've probably got a small store's worth of their stuff.

Another of those things is my hair.
Over the years I've put my hair into the hands of a number of people who ultimately became dear friends.  It's typically more than just a service-related thing for order to give my hair some "personality" it involves knowing a little about me.  It's a relationship....a long-term relationship.  And, in some instances, a long-distance relationship.

At the very beginning of my transition I had convinced myself that in order to be percieved as feminine I needed long hair.  As wrong-minded as that was, learning that I was wrong was an important step in the development of my ideals of feminity, masculinity, and who-the-heck-cares.

I'll never forget my earliest wigs.  While I tried to grow my hair out to a sufficient length I wore them to my first support group meetings, and on my initial tentative steps out into the world.  Funny thing is, they probably drew more attention my way than they deflected but that's the thing about a's not a rational thing, it's an emotional one. 

I will never forget the night I took my wig off...and it hasn't been on since.  I had recently come back from seeing Dr. O and my own hair was still very short.  But the wig was hot, it was unruly, and most importantly it put pressure on the spot in the hairline where Dr. O had made his incision.  It hurt. 

I decided then and there that whatever hair I had was the hair I'd use.  In a way - it became part of my identity.

In the early days I kept it long.  Eventually one of my hairdressers in Austin asked if I wanted to be bold and change things up and we cut it pretty short.  It stayed that way for 3 or 4 years before I eventually started growing it out again.

I've done some research and found a hairdresser that I wanted to entrust with a little bit of a shorter, layered, lighter style. Here's the result (pardon the crude's hard to take a good side picture of your hair in a hotel room bathroom mirror).  The mark of a good hairstyle in my book is that it looks just as good when you style it yourself as when the stylist does it at the salon, and how it looks a week later.

So far - I like.

I'm getting to ready to leave the hotel for the 10 hour drive to Dallas.  If all goes according to plan I'll see my mom tonight!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Time in a Bottle

Today is my 15th anniversary of SRS.  I didn't even realize it until someone sent me a congratulations text.  Lord, how time flies.

In the year leading up to this day I had a countdown on my computer telling me the number of days left until SRS.  When it got less than 100 I was thrilled.  When it got less than 30, I couldn't believe it.  And with it got less than 7 - well, I was amazed.  The good news is - I'm still amazed.

In the years that followed I celebrated this milestone date for the significant role it played in my life.  I typically celebrated it alone as it was a time for reflection, introspection, and appreciation that really didn't need anyone else to be special.  I'm sure I could look back over my blogs to see the things I've done over this last decade to mark this milestone.

Not surprisingly, it has become just another day.  I'm more aware of my FFS anniversary than my SRS anniversary as that actually had the larger impact.  I don't want to minimize or trivialize SRS but by the time it arrived I needed it as much for congruency and closure as anything.

15 years represents over 25% of my life.  That's crazy....

One of the things I came across recently while unpacking was a stack of video tapes that contain my family "home movies".  They're called "Memory" tapes because theyt're labled "Memories 1", Memories 2" and so on....sometimes with the accompanying dates.  I used to have a video production company so I always had a video camera around.  As a result - there are a significant number of Memories tapes.

When I was told I was no longer welcome in my house I left without taking anything with me.  In retrospect, I would have done that much differently as there are things I would have wanted if I had known then what I know now.  Regardless - I didn't have any of the Memories tapes.

In the years shortly afterwards my son brought me a pile of the tapes on one of his visits.  He said his mother would never watch them so he brought the ones he could find.  I've brought them with me here and there and everywhere, but it's time to transfer them to DVD.  I'd like a copy, my mom wants a copy, and I'd like my son to have a copy as it covers everything from the day we found out that we were pregnant to the day I left home in 1999. 

I brought the first one in to see what the output is like earlier this week - I'll let you know.

My ex-wife and I haven't spoken in a couple of years now.  She has her life and I have mine, and the only thing we've got in common is 20 years of memories and a son.  Although I had a strong suspicion that it would be wasted energy I wrote to her last week to tell her what I was doing, to inquire if she was interested in a copy, and to ask if I could borrow the Memories tapes she still has.  Needless to say, I haven't heard anything back yet and I don't expect to.  That's a shame, and I'm still hopeful that I can get them.

I'm actually looking forward to seeing what's on them.  Things were much simpler back then, or at least that's how I remember it.  Anyway - stay tuned on that front.

I've got quite a bit of traveling coming up.  Later this week I'll be starting out on the 1,100 mile drive to Dallas.  I'm headed there to pick up my dog, Cody.  I left him with my mom in February and was heartsick over it for months.  Anyway, my mom has asked me to come and get him and it is without hesitation that I'll be coming home with one more furry friend than I've got now.  But it will involve a 2,200 mile round trip over 4 days - yuck.

Then, I've got a dear friend coming to visit for a few days.

Finally, I'll be headed up to Rochester NY at the end of the month on my mom's annual birthday pilgrimage.  She's turning 86 this year.  It's the only time that our entire family gets together so I wouldn't miss it for anything. 

I'll travel back to Dallas in early October to participate in a conference there.  And I suspect I'll have another trip - or two - in between.  Now that summer is coming to an end, it appears that I'll need to dust off my suitcase. 

Back to the significance of this day.  For years there was only one other person who knew what this day was and she called to congratulate me every year.  She was a wonderful, very special person in my life who passed away a number of years ago.  Thanks to those who still remember and who remind me. 

Some who visit here regularly know that I've posted all the various correspondences, emails, diary entries, and background "stuff" that eventually ended up as my book.  When significant anniversaries pass - like today - I go there to re-live them (Trapped In Blue).  I hope I never forget where I've come from, or lose the appreciation of what it has taken to get here from there. :)


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

To "Feel"

I've got an interesting topic tonight.  Hormones.

I will never, ever, ever forget the day that my therapist told me she was ready to recommend me to start hormones.  Or, the day I visited the doctor who would become my transition-doctor for the first time to inquire about his hormone regimen.  Or, my first estrogen shot.  All were earth-shattering, life-changing experiences for me.

My doctor from those days is still practicing.  He's Dr. Ken Fisher at First Family Medical in Phoenix.  I make it a point to go and visit him every time I visit the Valley.  He never fails to complain that they need to make a movie of my book soon, or Brad Pitt will be too old to play him.  Too funny.  When I stopped by in June he said his trans practice was's hard to believe I first started seeing him in 1997 ir 1998...almost 20 years ago.  THAT makes me feel old.

At the time his regimen was a strict one.  High dosage of Premarin twice a day.  Spiro.  And, bi-weekly injections. 

Those injections became like crack to me.  I'd drive the half hour to get to the doctor's office at lunchtime from work, and I'd be both excited and nervous.  The excited part came from how they made me feel....especially the growth in the breast area.  The nervous part came from the fact that I still hadn't come out to my wife yet, and it became increasingly difficult to hide what was happening.

After SRS there seems to be no singular definition of what HRT for post-op transwomen should be.  I stayed on the injectibles for a long time.  Early on, I was too queasy to give myself my shots so I had my girlfriend at the time do it.  Eventually, though, I learned to do it myself and that's how it happened for a long time....until the vials of estradiol became too expensive.

Not long ago the price of a little vial had gone up to $200.  I can't afford that.  So, I switched to pills which were cheaper than candy.  But it's not the same...the effects aren't the same, the feelings aren't the same.  It might be the same drug but you couldn't prove it by me.  It was almost like taking my morning asperin...

A few months ago I found that the price per vial had come back down to reasonable territory so I started back up.  It was great....and all those same effects came back.  Sore breast tissue.  Emotional roller coaster.  I could "feel" it again. 

I don't have an explanation.  It has nothing to do with my blood chemistry, as my most recent levels were very high after almost a year off injections.  But these is something else there that can't be measured.  At least, for me there is.


When I was a child we moved pretty much every year.  My dad was an academic in a very specialized field, and we went from university to university for my dad to help establish biophysics departments - not unlike being an "Army Brat", I suppose.  I went to 6 different schools in 7 years, and when I think back to my childhood it's all centered around what grade I was in and where we were living.  6th Grade: Lindberg Elementary in Kenmre NY.  7th Grade in Santa Barbara, CA.  8th Grade near East Lansing, MI.  9th Grade at Kenmore Jr. HS.  10th and 11th grades at Kenmore West HS.  And 12th grade at Queen Elizabeth HS in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 

I hated all that moving.  If you ever get a chance to talk with my mom she'll tell you that the mark of making a place "feel" like home is putting stuff up on the walls.  After a while, we knew we'd have to pack everything up again in a year so we didn't even both unpacking some of it, and we stopped putting stuff up on the walls.

When I got married one of the vows I made was to change that - to live a more stable life.  And I succeeded, too.  My ex- and I bought our first house near Rochester NY in 1982 and lived in it for 15 years before moving to Scottsdale.  Needless to say, anyone who has followed me for any length of time knows I've got my traveling shoes back on and I've live in more places than I can remember since being asked to leave home in 1999.

The reason I mention any of that is that I've spent the last few days putting things up on the walls.  My lease on this house is only a year (although I'm hoping it will be longer) but it's critical to me to make it "feel" like home.  I don't care if I'll need to pack it all back up again....for now I'm home.

As I've unpacked I've come across all kinds of interesting things that have been tucked away in boxes.  I really do need to go through some of it and throw some of it away - but that task will have to wait.  I'm still enjoying the discovery part.

With all this recent attention on Caitlyn Jenner I've seen lists of "Transgender Pioneers".  I think it was Groucho Marx who said, "I'd never join a club that would have someone like me as a member."  Well - I've got two things to say on those kinds of lists. 

First - it's good to recognize some of our history.  I'm concerned that the history will get forgotten, and that would be a shame.  I'll never forget speaking at a University and being asked to talk with the cast of a student production of Rent.  It became apparent very quickly that none of those kids knew anything about the AIDS epidemic in the '90s and the huge impact it had.  It was central to the entire plot, but these kids were born afterwards and had no memory of AIDS, or the quilt, or any of the history of their community.

Second - any list of pioneers that doesn't have the REAL pioneers - people like Jamison Green - on it is an imcomplete - and ultimately flawed - list.  It is unfortunate (but understandable) that all this visibility on celebrities (actors and actresses, models, producers and directors, children of Hollywood) seem to make our history significantly shorter than it is.  The key is that I don't think most of the early pioneers ever really wanted attention in the first place so being overlooked on recent lists isn't a big deal.

Anyways - those are my thoughts tonight.  I'll continue to do's actually kind of refreshing to be back here just writing the first things that come to my mind.  Onwards!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Extended Vacay


I appologize (again) for my extended vacation from my blog.  There's no reason for it other than the fact that I seem to spend less and less time in front of a computer these days and more time out actually doing things.  I suppose that's good news, but know that I very much appreciate those who have written to touch base, check on me, or indicate that they miss my entries.  I'll try to be better at it going forward.

I'll start by providing a brief synopsis of recent events in my world.

First off - my health.  After all those tests we learned three things:  (1) there is a benign "mass" the size of a golf ball on my liver that we'll watch (2) there are no indications as to what caused the internal bleeding that put me in the hospital so we'll watch that, too and (3) I'm generally pretty healthy. 

The downside of all this is measured in both cost (I've got relatively high deductibles so there is quite an OUCH factor) and that dealing with insurance is a pain.  I don't want to go into details because it'll get me riled up, but I'm disputing a couple of claims.  Lordy.

So - health seems to be fine for now.  My heart is good.  My psyche is good.  My overall outlook is good.  There are certainly minor complaints here and there but given the various dynamics that make up my world most of them seem to be in balance.  Plus - it's summer - and I absolutely love this time of year.

The biggest news is that I moved into a house on July 1.  Eternal thanks go to my friend Colin for helping me on that brutal day we moved everything from storage into the house I'm renting.  It's a 4-bedroom house in Charleston and I'm absolutely loving it.  I love the floor plan, I've got a little yard with a lawn, the garage is big enough to handle my various vehicles, it's convenient to things, the master bedroom is huge, it's bright....I can't think of a downside. 

Our neighborhood faces a large pond and there are geese and turtles there.  There's a sign warning of the possibility of alligators but I haven't seen one.  Regardless, it makes for very pretty walks in the morning or later in the day; sunrises and sunsets look amazing when reflected on the water.

Sunset on the pond in front of my house.
Evening storms rolling in make for pretty colors.....The pond in front of my house.

The view from my front porch.
Moving in was a brutal day.  I've moved more times than I care to count, but 90+ degree humid South Carolina days can sap the strength from even the hardiest of us.  By the end of the day we had just finished before some wild thunderstorms opened up on us.  After a shower, some fresh clothes, a couple glasses of wine and some pizza, and sitting on the back porch watching the lightning show it was a day I won't forget.

We move lots of the boxes into the garage so I'm bringing it into the house and putting it where it belongs little by little.  I'm fairiy well along in that, but it's an ongoing process.

Boxes staged for put-away

Work is going well.  I'm still working on contract in Charlotte but have the flexibility to work from home most of the time.  That makes all the difference.  The thing that changed the dynamic of spending most of my workweek there, and weekends in Charleston, was my visit to the ER.  It was depressing being in a hospital in a town where I have absolutely no friends - where I have no support network.  That experience changed everything from being "ok" with the convenience of it all to forcing a better long-term solution. 

I've been pulling my stuff out of the place in Charlotte I've been staying little by little and there's only a small bit of oit left.  I've got one more trip left and need a trailer for that - now that I've gotten rid of my truck I don't have anything to bring the mattress home with. 

The last time I posted that I was in a good place is just before my health issues.  I'm just enjoying this while it lasts.  Honestely - I know I've said this before, but it's true. There are not enough hours in the day to do the things I want to do.

The weather this summer has been a typical Carolina summer.  Hot days in the mid 90's, very humid forcing heat index into the low 100's, and often a late afternoon/early evening thunderstorm blowing thru.  I love it.

A curtain of rain - dead ahead.

In broader community news, Caitlyn Jenner's new reality series started over the weekend.  I'm confident it will be well done and will extend awareness of trans realities into places we've never been before.  I shared on FB that I won't watch it - not for anything it is or isn't other than I don't watch reality shows.  Besides, I'm sure I'll hear enough about it thru other venues so there's no need to watch it myself.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Calm

Good morning.

I had a marvelous weekend.  The weather was beautiful, I spent most of it on a motorcycle, and I got to spend some time enjoying some of the coastal charms of this beautiful state.  All things considered - it's a shame it had to end.

I decided to share my "news" on FB.  People are finding out in all kinds of different ways and I wanted to remove the chance that things get blown out of proportion.  At this point all we know is that there's something in there.  I hope we learn more over these next few days.

Ironically, the liver thing isn't the reason I was in the ER in the first place.  Tests are going on on that front, as well.  Now that I've recovered the pressure to figure that out seems to have waned.  The good news is that my blood is good, and biopsies they've done on various "things" they've taken from inside of me have turned up clean.  That's all good news, but doesn't get to a cause.

One of the frustrating things is that everything seems to take a week.  When all this first happened the soonest I could get into the doctor was a week.  Then, it took another week to do all the tests.  Now, I'll go back to see the doctor a week later.  I suspect he'll want to do a biopsy of the "mass" and that will probably take another week (or more).  I'd like to speed this whole thing up.

That said, I don't know that any of it has sunk in yet.  I "feel" good, and although the weight of knowing what little I do know at the moment is always there I don't let myself dwell on it.  I haven't cried over it yet.  And, I'm thankful to have people in my life to help focus on other things during this time of investigation.

On Friday night I had originally planned to spend the weekend with some of my dearest friends in Charleston - their kindness and love towards me has been one of the reasons the city feels so much like home.  Instead, I headed out for some time alone then ended up in Myrtle Beach for a friend's son's lacrosse tournament.  I probably put 500 miles on the bike over the weekend but it was worth it.

Lacrosse under big, puffy clouds....

On the way home I went through a brief shower.  It was the first time I've ridden in rain, and it actually felt wonderful.  Cooling, cleansing.  I stopped in Georgetown - a quaint little city halfway between Charleston and Myrtle Beach - for lunch.  Watching the boats, smelling the sea air - that's why I enjoy it here. 

The Boardwalk along the waterfront in Georgetown, SC

I am under no illusions that things are not about to get busier than I'd like them to be so I'm treating this as the calm before the storm.

I asked my doctor for a list of therapists I can talk with - I miss having that kind of outlet.  When I transitioned one of the best parts was finally having someone I could talk with who could offer constructive, thought-provoking feedback.  I realize there are many who feel that the requirement for a year of therapy as part of the Standards of Care is intrusive but for me, it was wonderful.

I'd go so far as to suggest that the fact many of us stop seeing a therapist as soon as we can is actually a hole in the safety net.  Once you've made all the moves to permanently be who you are having that continuing sounding board can be very important.  Many of us - including me - don't take advantage of it.

But now that I'm at this stage I've got a number of things on my mind that I need to discuss with someone.  The physical questions currently on the table are part of it but there's more than that.  Anyway, my doctor recommended 4 therapists that she thought would be good for me so I'll choose one and see where that goes...

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Invader

In my last post I shared that one of the outcomes of a recent visit to the ER was that a "mass" had been discovered on my liver thanks to a CT Scan of my abdomen. Actually, the CT report indicates that there are two unidentified "things" on it, but one is significantly larger than the other.
Tonight, thanks to a 2-hour MRI session at the hospital, I got my first glimpse of the invader.
An MRI image of my liver.  I'm told that the "mass" is the white splotch on the left.

I don't know anything more now than I did before the MRI, other than to see this image of it.  Apparently, a doctor will analyze it today and provide his analysis before sending it to my GI doctor to discuss next steps.  I can't imagine that we're just going to do nothing, so I assume the next step will be a biopsy.  I've got my follow-up appointment with the doctor next Thursday so we'll see what he says.
The good news is that my frame of mind is good and I'm feeling fine.  If I hadn't ended up in the ER a couple of weekends ago I would never know it was there, so that visit may end up being a blessing in disguise.  Regardless - the fact that it's as large as it is seems to indicate that it has been there a while.  The next thing is to determine what its intentions are.
Some that I've shared this with seem to feel that the hormones I've been taking these last 15+ years may play some role in all of the maladies I'm dealing with at the moment.  Perhaps, but I don't know that there's any way to definitively know that.  And regardless - I'm not planning to stop taking them any time soon.  Cut back - maybe - but we'll have that conversation when a doctor who can say with some authority that it would help or not can explain it to me.
That's all for now.  Life goes on.  For now.  The weekend is upon us and I'm looking forward to spending a couple of days with some dear friends and getting some much-needed "down" time.  Somehow I'm thinking that this is the calm before the storm, so I better enjoy it while it lasts.

Monday, May 25, 2015

I'm Back. Again.

It's hard to believe it has been 2 months since I've shared here.  Part of the reason is totally practical - for some reason they blocked my blog at work.  I find that the quietest part of the day is the morning when I first arrive so that's when I'd stop and write something.  Well, I can't do that anymore.

Part of it is that just when I think things are settling down something comes out of nowhere to throw it all out of whack again.  That happened recently - more than once, actually.  I'm not ready to share all the specifics because I'm still trying to figure it all out myself.

For some reason I revisited my "original" blog recently.  I've been "blogging" for a long time.  My first blog entry was June 8, 2004...almost 11 years ago.  I could swear it has been longer than that but that's the first "official" entry I could find.

One page is from 2008, when my puppy Maggie (now curled up next to me) was just a pup.  Here it is.

I look at the various events and people from my life who have led me to where I am now.  Some of those people and things have faded away, others have weaved themselves into the fabric of my world, and others have become foundational elements.  Good decisions, bad decisions, wisdom (or lack of it)  in choosing friends and placing trust, strongly held beliefs that transform themselves into life decisions....they're all part of this tapestry that makes up my life right now.

All that said - I apologize for being away so long.  The story written into my blog is the story of my life, and this is the largest hole in that story that I can remember.  Rather than write one long blog entry to try to plug the hole, or leave it unplugged, I'm going to write a number of entries over the coming days to fill in some of the blanks.

There won't necessarily be a rhyme or reason to them.  They won't necessarily be in any order.  We'll just wee how this goes.

My ER room - I spent a night of my life here.
I'll start by sharing that a week ago tonight I was in the Emergency Room at a local hospital for the first time in my life.  The thing that put me there was a day full of internal bleeding and intense pain that I just couldn't handle by myself anymore.  I had gone to a local Urgent Care clinic and they sent me to the ER.

The "situation" was a sudden one, that came upon me with no prior warning.  I spent all day Saturday in Myrtle Beach with my motorcycle for Bike Week and had a wonderful time.  20 miles into the 3+ hour ride back to Charlotte I was overcome by waves of oddness.  I've fainted before and know what it feels like - what I was feeling are the early stages when everything starts to go all white and that high pitch noise starts up.  It's dangerous when it happens and you're standing up.  It's crazy dangerous when you're heading down the highway on 2 wheels at 65 miles an hour.

The two bikes on the right are my babies.  
I pulled over to the side of the road and collected myself for a few minutes.  As I assessed my options the one that seemed best was to find my way home.  So, somehow, I did.

It was only a week ago, but my 12 hours in the ER was surreal.  I couldn't change the channel on the TV so it was stuck on the infomercial channel - that would be funny if it weren't also cruel to have to listen to that.  They put me on pain meds and antibiotics.  They did a CT Scan.  They kept me there to make sure the bleeding stopped and I didn't spike a fever....and at 6:30 Monday morning they let me go home.

The reason I share any of this detail is that the focus of what happened that night changed when they analyzed what they saw on that CT scan.  The list of diagnoses included a half dozen things ranging from high white blood cell count to internal bleeding.  But the thing that jumps out is that they found a "mass" on my liver.

When the doctor told me about it she emphasized that they don't know what it is, and it's not necessarily something bad.  The first place your mind goes when you hear this kind of thing is the big C - and she said that at this point it's merely something they can't explain that needs further investigation.

Several years ago I lived in Austin and had a dear friend there.  Her name was Julie Nestor.  She was a little older than I was and had transitioned there all by herself.  After I came out at work one of my lesbian friends had a friend who knew her so they tried to make sure we met one another.  We did.

Anyway, I could fill a number of pages of stories of our adventures.  But the one that's important here is an email she wrote me titled "What a life".  In it she told me that doctors had identified a "mass" on one of her kidneys and had determined that it was malignant.  Within a year she was gone.

So - when I left the hospital there were 2 different issues....the bleeding (and pain), and the liver mass.

This past week, when I started feeling a little more human,  I went to the GI doctor.  We're actively investigating both issues.  The most important event in the short term is an MRI of my liver, scheduled for Thursday.

I can't really say how I feel about that because it's not affecting me right now.  I wouldn't have known about it if I hadn't gone into the ER.  But knowing it's there, and that it shouldn't be there, leads to a whole bunch of other questions running through my head right now.

I had an investigative internal procedure on Friday and they knocked me out for it.  They wheeled me into the procedure room and the anesthesiologist explained that he was going to inject something into the IV.  He said it might sting for a few seconds, but then the next thing I'd know it would all be over.

My mind still clings to the many times I've faced a similar threshold.  The first time I had surgery - my tonsils were removed in 1971 - they used ether.  I still remember the black mask and watching the room seem to get further and further away, and the voices in the room echo before everything went to black.

Other similar moments are cherished actually memories.  I'll never forget the OR before FFS, and SRS.  I made it a point to repeat my wife's name as in hopes that, if something bad happened, she'd be the last thing on my mind.

Well, this was nothing as complicated or difficult but it showed me how far we've come.  I was thrilled to wake up and not be in pain.  And I have long since stopped repeating that name.  It means nothing to me now.

So there you have it.  I'm feeling better every day...almost 100% again.  We still don't know what set it off, what caused it, or what is on my liver.  The good news is that we've ruled a number of things out and are narrowing the possibilities.  That process continues.

The mental part of it is big.  As I lay in the hospital last week the nurse asked me if I had anyone locally that they could call, or who could pick me up if I needed it.  As I thought about it the depressing reality was "no".  I really have no friends in Charlotte.  I work there.  My co-workers and I get along great but we're not on a level where I'd want to share too much personal medical information.  For all intents and purposes, I was all alone.  And that sucked.

So -

Regardless of what happens, I am taking active steps to change that.  I need to be around my support network - friends who care about me and who I'd trust to take care of me.  I have active support networks in 3 places...the closest of which is Charleston.

Things are convenient right now.  I really don't want to go into details, but if I could sum up my little world in one word that's what I'd use - Convenient.  Well, this little episode has reminded me that there are more important things than convenience.

It has also reminded me to appreciate the people in my world a little more.

I haven't shared any of this outside of this space.  I figure that if you're reading this - especially after my extended absence - we're connected somehow.  I need ways to express what's happening and how I'm feeling and this blog has filled that void for a long time.  I don't plan for that to change anytime soon.

I'm also paying more attention to the little things.  I'll end with a few pictures I took last Saturday - the day before the "incident" - while in Myrtle Beach.  We had been out riding for most of the day and came back to the hotel for a bit of a rest before heading out for dinner.  I went for a walk along the beach - the later afternoon sun is wonderful for photography.  Anyway - I took a few pictures with my camera I kind of like.  So - I'll share them.

The sun rising over Myrtle Beach

Life is good.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The World Seems Smaller

I'm in Arlington, TX chilling with mom.  It's a very pleasant early spring afternoon here and we're in the brief lull between doing afternoon stuff and making dinner.  Mom likes the salmon dish I cook and has invited her "man" over to have dinner with us.  It has been a pleasant visit so far.

I went down to Austin yesterday to get my hair done.  My dear, dear friend Teresa has done my hair since 2002 and we've qot quite a history together.  It was wonderful to see her, and I'm always reminded how much I enjoyed living here when I come back.  I think I'll be back the next time I need my hair's as good an excuse as any.

I jumped on FB briefly and noticed that the Keystone Conference is happening in Harrisburg PA this weekend.  I remember attending the first few of them and commenting here how well run it was.  It was apparent to me, even then, that smaller regional conferences would eventually take the place of the large national ones.  That has proven to be true for a number of reasons.  The central PA community is a very supportive place and I couldn't help but smile at one of the photos showing snow falling outside.  One year there was a very chilly drizzle...

The thing I'll always remember, other than some of the great people there, is that the conference often coincided with the state high school wrestling championships.  Evenings at the bar or in the lobby were often pretty interesting places to be, where both worlds collided.  The good news is that I thinkm general amusement that many of the wrestling folks often showed at the beginning often turned into a more substantive respect by the time the weekend was over.  Anyway - for those who went - I hope it's still as healthy and as valuable as ever.

My most memorable time there was the third year (I think it was the third year) - in 2009.  I had just turned 50 and during the battery of tests that typically happen when you pass that milestone they identified what they said was a malignant melanoma on my back.  I had made the commitment to speak at the dinner, so I made arrangements to fly out of town on the trip that would eventually end up in the excision of the melanoma the next morning.  My niece came with me.  I'll never forget it.

Next topic.... I went to the movies this morning.  I saw the 2nd movie in the Divergent series.  Based on RottenTomatoes ratings the critics don't seem to like it.  But I liked it.  It was my kind of movie, and I found it to be a good follow-up to Part 1.

The reason I mention it here is that afterwards I couldn't help but be struck by some similarities between a main theme, and our unique "gift" of being trans.

It's about how people get divided into one of six factions based on their personalities and skills.  All people find one and only one faction and once that decision is made, that's where they stay.  The society in which they live is based upon that faction system for harmony, for peace, for stability, and are simply accepted as the general state of being.

Some people can't fit into the faction system.  Some people straddle more than one of the factions and really don't seem to find a way to fit in, no matter how hard they try.  These people are known as Divergent.  They are percieved as a threat to the stability of society, and get actively sought out and killed.

At the end of this movie (spoiler alert) there is a message that the faction system was simply an experiment, and that the future lies in the Divergents.

That's how I see gender.  I see our society as having not 6, but 2 factions.  People are assigned to them at birth and once assigned, cannot choose to leave.  Some of us can't fit into that structure, however, and are percieved as a threat.  We're Divergent.  And, we're simply part of the natural order, trying to fit into a system that just doesn't fit.

I'm under no illusion that outcomes in fiction necessarily predict outcomes in real life.  But in this case I'm confident that it's true. 

Anyways - I enjoyed the movie. 

And I enjoyed a couple of the trailers. 

I'm here in Texas for a couple more days.  Mom asked me to make salmon for dinner and her man-friend was here as well.   It's nice....comfortable, relaxed.  I needed this. 

I am also thrilled to see my little man - Cody.  Leaving him last month was the source of a significant amount of angst and sadness in my world over these past few weeks.  But seeing him again, and how well he is doing, has been good for me.
My mom, in her spring Iris garden.
There's things that still need some settling when I get back home. But for now....I'm here with mom and the world seems much smaller. And for that - I'm glad. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Settling down a bit

Life is settling down a bit.  Finally.

My "family" is smaller than it used to be - now it's just Maggie and me.  I'm getting over not having Cody here somewhat but I'll be honest - it's still a source of significant sadness for me so I don't dwell there too long.  My motivations were good and I do think he's got a more stable life where he is.  My mom says he's adjusting to life with her and that's the most important thing.  Maggie could care less - I think she enjoys getting ALL the attention so not having to compete for it or share it isn't a problem for her.  But I miss him, and feel guilt over any sadness or loneliness he might feel.

Part of the frenzy of the past couple of months was generated by the general life upheaval it caused by moving out of my apartment last month.  The weeks leading up to it were full of craziness surrounding moving out, and the weeks since it were full of craziness caused by lack of center.  Thankfully, both have subsided significantly.

I spent a couple of weeks at a hotel while in Charlotte during the week - similar to the pattern when I first arrived here.  After a bit of a search  found someone on Craigslist who is renting out part of their home to make a little extra income.  I've got a large bedroom, closet, private bath, and shared areas of the house so it's very pleasant.  There's a large fenced yard for the pup which is a big plus.  Anyway, I've only been here 3 nights but so far all is well.

I followed thru on another of my plans - I traded in my Tundra on a new car.  The reasons for having a truck have passed, and given the 14 mpg I get on the highway over the course of my travels it's just not cost effective anymore.  My truck and I have bonded quite a bit over the 4 years and 110,000 miles we've travelled together. As I cleaned out the stuff from the glovebox yesterday it was actually kinda nostalgic. She has been a good truck, and I've been very happy with her.

After much research and thought I bought a new Mazda 6.  A red one.  It gets almost 40mpg on the highway and the reviews are as stellar as the performance.

It's going to take a while to get used to the fact that it's not a truck but I'm confident that I'll manage. I'm comfortable with my decision. 
Work is fine.  Health is good.  Head and heart are good.  I love springtime so I'm thrilled that we've had 2 80-degree days this week.  All things considered, I'm in a pretty good space.

I'm headed back to Dallas over the weekend.  Part of it is to visit mom again.  Part of it is to see Cody.  And it will involve a brief trip down to Austin - I haven't been there in a couple of years or more - since my son left.  I miss it and expect to do a couple of things during my brief stay.

Anyway - the good news is that this time I'm flying.  :)


Monday, March 2, 2015


I'm a mess.  Admittedly, I'm less of a mess today than I was last week.  Still....the operative word is "mess".

In between storms in Dallas last week there was a window of opportunity to leave on Tuesday.  The smart money indicated that adding a couple hundred miles to the trip by taking the southernmost route - along I10 - was most prudent given all the other junk that seemed to be tracking along I20 through Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina.

What I wasn't ready for was the tidal wave of grief at having to leave one of my pups behind.  I'm tearing up even as I type this.

Cody was the energy in family.  He was always happy, always excited.  He was very much a momma's boy and kept me in his sight pretty much at all times.  He's the one who hopped onto the bed and slept with me, and who was the most loving.  But, like many things, you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

I can rationalize why I've done what I've done forever.  The fact that I feel guilty about leaving them alone in an apartment all day, that I have to take them to a dog sitter most weekends, and that I've only got a few hours to spend with them each evening - that they deserve more.  They deserve someone who will be around, a backyard, and more out of life than simply waiting for most of it.

When it came time to leave I cried like a baby.  It was the first time my mom has seen me cry in almost 50 years.  It wasn't little crying, either, it was "I can't talk because it's so difficult" tears.  And then, being stuck in that truck for the 1,300 mile drive back with nothing but guilt, sadness, grief...not good.  The dynamic of the family has changed, and I don't know if it's in a good way or not.

I've left the dogs in the care of others before.  My son watched Cody for several months a few years ago.  My sister watched him for 6 months a couple of years ago, as well.  I didn't feel anything resembling this before.  But my mom said that if she was going to take Cody it needed to be a permanent thing, that she didn't want to get emotionally attached and then have him leave, and I agreed.

Until recently I could honestly say that I have very few regrets in life.  I've actively tried to ensure that.  And although it's still too painful for me and too early to assess clearly this might be one of them.

I've got a lot of emotional energy in me....and not all of it is positive.  Most of the time I do a good job keeping it all at bay.  But, when there's a crack in the containment system, it all comes pouring out.  That's what happened last week.  Years of sadness, frustration, anger,'s all in there and I suppose it needed release.  Well, last week it got it.

Last night I came full circle.  I pulled back into the hotel where we stayed just before leaving for Dallas a couple of weeks ago.  But there is one fewer of us, and it's not the same.  I miss my little man.

On the more practical side - the trip was ok but was a huge huge huge energy drain.  Between the emotion spent over this trauma, the challenge of a long trip on the road, and the general pull of work and other life demands I very much needed the weekend. 

I'll be in Charlotte for the first half of the week before heading back home for the tail end, and the weekend.  I could have used another couple of days to recover.  Ready or not, though, Monday is here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Plan D

Sometimes, life cicrumstances force you to be creative.

I'm already on Plans C, D, and E to get back home to Charleston.  This winter storm that has thrown DFW, and the southeast in general, into a slippery slidey chilly mess has already forced me to delay the return trip by a day.  But following it east (and potentially catching up with it) or getting hit by the next batch (DFW already has a Winter Storm Watch for tonight -  possibility of an additional 1-4 inches of snow) are both are concerns that need to be considered.

The most direct route back is the route I took - along I-20 thru Atlanta, Birmingham, and Shreveport.  But the farther north I go, the more likely I am to have weather issues.  So, I'm planning to head east to Shreveport and then detour south to I-10 which goes through Mobile, New Orleans, Pensicola, Tallahassee, and Jacksonville.  It adds a couple hundred miles to the trip but is the safer option.  I'm also going to take my time and plan to do the 1300+ miles in 3 days instead of 2 - on top of everything else I need to balance doing work into all of this.

As I type this I've got the Weather Channel on in the background.  They just mentioned that they've closed I20 west of Atlanta....I'm relieved that I'm not heading back into that mess.

I went out for a bit yesterday afternoon and the entire area was like a ghost town.  Nobody was out on the roads.  The mall parking lot was empty.  It was pretty remarkable.

So - if all goes as planned I'll be in Baton Rouge tonight. The window of opportunity is fairly short - otherwise I'll be here for another couple of days.  Keep your fingers crossed.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Birthdays past

I'm writing this from my mom's living room in Arlington, TX.  I had planned to be heading back on the road for Charlotte this morning but Winter Storm Quattro will be dropping freezing rain, sleet, and snow on the area all day so it's not safe to be on the roads.  I'm stuck here for at least an extra day.  I'm not complaining other than it's just one of those little money wrenches that cause plans to change from time to time.

This is a bitttersweet trip.  It serves several purposes other than provide an opportunity to spend time with my mom.  She's 85 years old and I try to make sure I get to see her in some capacity every 3 or 4 months.  She told me yesterday that she has resigned herself to the fact that she's happy and healthy enough to make it to 90 - that's a good sign.  But in reality, none of us have that power so it's important to appreciate each day as though it were the last.

The last time I was here was for Thanksgiving.  Yesterday was my birthday (56 years and counting) so it provided another reason to celebrate.  We went out to Outback for dinner and headed back to the house for some cheesecake for dessert.  I'm on a high protein/low carb diet at the moment but I allowed myself the luxury of having a small piece of cake to celebrate.  It was a very pleasant day.

On the challenging side, the other reason for the trip is that my mom will be taking one of my pups.  Her dog is getting very old and she's already dealing with some preparatory separation anxiety from the little guy.  Her dog provides wonderful company for her.  At the same time, my life is transient to the point that I feel tremendously guilty for putting my dogs through the craziness I do.  They need stability - a yard, a fixed place to be, someone who can be with them more than simply on evenings.  Cody is the more loving of the dogs so we agreed that it would be a good fit.  So - I expect to be headed home with fewer dogs than made the trip out here.

I'm good at keeping my vision focused on the most pressing tasks and keeping things that will be happing in the future from creeping in to mess things up.  I have been totally focused on the tasks that have consumed me over the past few weeks - moving out of my apartment in Charlotte and cleaning to meet the Feb. 19 deadline.  It's a delicate balancing act of keeping enough "stuff" in the apartment to live there but not too much so that you can't finish it all up relatively quickly.  By the time I checked into the hotel on Thursday night I was spent....physically, emotionally, just flat-out drained from trying to get everything done.  And I did.

Moving sucks.  And the older I get (a) the harder it is and (b) the more it sucks.  I expect that I'll need to do it at least one more time in my life but I'm hoping it won't be for a little while.  I need a break.

Well, now that that's done it's time to turn attention on this trip.  I've been dealing with the emotional separation anxiety that comes from these kinds of things but try to focus on the positive.  He's a loving guy and I'm convinced I'm doing something positive - both for Cody and for my mom.  But that doesn't make it any easier.

I went to the gym yesterday and was thinking back to Birthdays past.  I remember my birthday in 1997 where I made the decision that the life I was beginning to believe could be a reality needed some sort of tangible existence in the world and shaved my legs.  It was a symbolic gesture that was the best I could offer at the time, but was an important step towards things that would happen later.

Two years later, when I turned 40, my life was in total upheaval.  My ex and I have long planned to do something special for our 40th birthdays but by that time we were barely speaking, and when we did speak it was typically angry and hurtful.  I expected I'd have to celebrate my birthday alone and went to see Shakespeare in Love at the movies the night before.  I cried like a baby at the pain of it all, but got home to find a note wishing me a Happy Birthday.  We met for dinner that night, but she got up and left in the middle saying that she just couldn't pretend to be happy anymore.  My son was confused by it all - he wouldn't learn about what was happening for several more months.

There were some "big" birthdays - my 50th was very special thanks to a certain someone.  One year my ex- and I spent it in Acapulco and I've got a picture somewhere drinking a fruity tropical adult beverage out of a pineapple. I can remember several that included driving for all or most of the day.  But, for the most part, it's a pretty low-key day in my world.  It's a good time to reflect on things in life -  on things done and things not yet done, but the days of "celebrating" it in the typical sense have been gone for a while now.

Anyway - back to the present.  I'm hoping to get back on the road tomorrow and be back on the east coast on Wednesday before the next storm finds its way across the south.  It's these kinds of days that makes me really appreciate how much I enjoy winter in Scottsdale. 

One of the things I had hoped to do on this trip was visit a burger joint featured on Diners, Drive In's and Dives.  I enjoy the various places they feature (especially the burger places) and one of them is near my mom's house.  I had hoped to go yesterday (they have free Birthday burgers) but they were closed.  I don't know if the roads will allow me to get out today, but if things clear up at all I'm planning a visit before I leave.  :)

56....and counting!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Back to the Same Places

The last few weeks have been absolutely crazy.  During a moment of calm last night, walking the pups outside the hotel on a 10 degree Charlotte evening, it struck me how life flow keeps bringing us back to the same places.

I had to be out of the apartment as of yesterday so we spent last night at a La Quinta here in Charlotte.  I've stayed at this particular hotel many times before - it's near the airport so it was a natural place to stay during flights in and out of town.  When I came into town in December 2014 and it looked like I might actually be relocating back here I stayed here while scouting out the area.  When the pups and I drove across country from Nebraska with a big trailer full of stuff behind the truck it's where we spent the first few weeks of our time here.  It's only a little ironic, I suppose, that we spent our first night there after pulling up the stakes that we set during that time.

 I've written about moving here before - I'm no stranger to it.  Sad to say, I'm a veteran of it I suppose.  This one was a little different because it's the first time I've had all my stuff in the same place in a long time so it was much more labor intensive than most recent efforts.  I've been slowly moving stuff to Charleston for several weeks now, a little at a time, culminating in moving the big heavy stuff last weekend.  It's sad to admit this but there are a few things we didn't have room for at the moment so I've got another storage unit, again.  I'm hoping it's only for a month or so...

The energy I've put into this has been significant.  All the moving, the cleaning, the logistics, the driving - my world has been jumbled for quite a while now and I'll be glad when it gets simple again.

To complicate things, we had snow and freezing rain here in Charlotte earlier this week.  Behind that is frigid cold was 9 degrees outside this morning when I woke up.  Given the brutal winter that others are experiencing I can't complain too much.  And it's certainly not as though I haven't been through this kind of cold before.  Still -  I'll be glad when spring arrives.  I saw a robin yesterday....freezing it's little feathers off.

The next phase of this project begins today.  My mom will be watching one of my pups so I've got an 1,100 mile drive on my hands.  It's my birthday on Sunday and I typically don't make much of a fuss about it but it's be extra nice to be able to spend it with my mom.  I'm expecting to leave later this afternoon and spend the night in Birmingham, AL before doing the last 10 hours tomorrow.  I'll rest on Sunday...although I've spent several birthdays in my car all day I'd prefer to spend some quality time with mom before I head back.

I've been on a high protien diet since the beginning of the month.  I feel like a bloated fat pig - I haven't been able to find time to exersize and somehow weight just seems to happen.  Anyway, I reached my breaking point late last month so I'm on my way back down.  I can attest to the fact that it's harder to lost weight as you get older but I'm firmly dedicated at this point.  Three weeks in - so far so good.  I rarely weigh myself so I don't try to micro-manage it.  I do know where I started, tho, and the best part of the whole deal is feeling pants you've been wearing get looser and looser....

That said, several weeks ago I bought Girl Scout Cookies from some of the people at work who have daughters and were selling them.  I'm always happy to help out when it comes to those kinds of things.  They got delivered yesterday and I was surprised to learn that I bought 15 boxes of them.   Good thing they stay fresh for a long time....given my current mindset I won't be touching any of them for quite a while.

I haven't been good at keeping up with life here lately.  I realize that.  I've had half a dozen blog entries started and saved as Draft that I plan to add to later but eventually the moment passes so I just delete them.  I'll try to be better.  I find it interesting to review past entries sometimes just to revisit things I've done or said or felt so I don't like big gaps. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


Hello, old friend.

I haven't posted here in over a month - since before New Year.  It's not as though there's any pressing reason for unusually large gap between entries here.  It's just that life just starts going and keeps going, and there's noting much more to say.

Lots has happened over that time, though.  I had a very pleasant Christmas and New Years here in Charleston.  As usual, I was in bed before midnight on New Years Eve so I didn't watch the ball drop - I figure those kinds of parties are a young-person's sport and it's just a more relaxing way to close out a year and begin another one with peace and quiet. 

Work has been going well - it's a very busy time of year as projects gear up for delivery throughout the year but  much of the foundational stuff happens near the beginning.  The good news is that days just fly by, and I actually look forward to going in most mornings.  I'm not sure how long the honeymoon lasts but I'm hoping it will for quite a while.  All feels good there.

That's critical.  Because that's the reason I spend my weeks in Charlotte.  That is the single-most significant complicator in my life these days and I'm trying to find ways to make it work better but no matter how I slice it - it's still complicated.

Over the course of my career - especially over the past half dozen years or so - I've found contracts based outside of Charleston, as the city just doesn't have they quality of opportunities for my skills that other, more IT focused, cities like Charlotte or Raleigh do. 

I will be leaving the apartment I've been in since I got here a year ago when the least expires mid-month.  I have been packing and moving out little by little, but I need to pick up the pace to be out in time.  It's just too expensive and too far from my work to make it worthwhile.

My birthday is in a few weeks and I'll be turning 56.  I recently asked someone where middle age ends and old age begins.  I realize that they're just numbers and you're only as old as you feel blah blah blah - but realistically, when are you past the "middle age" milestone.  Is it from 30-55?  Older? 

Regardless of the age, from time to time I just stop and put the brakes on things.  One of the most significant elements of my transition was that it forced me to re-evaluate everything, and I mean everything, in my life to determine whether or not it still fit.  The fact that we simply accept things in our lives because they've always been that way is the pathway to more and more baggage.  It's time to shed some baggage.  I will be taking active steps in an effort to Simplify over the coming weeks.

I suppose the most fun news of the past several weeks is that we bought a new Corvette Z06.  This is more than just a cool car for's the first new car I've bought since before my transition and divorce.  I had one back when I was still married, in the mid 90's, but it became a victim of the divorce.  So although it's a beautiful, bad-ass car that turns heads and tears up the road wherever it goes - for me it represents something bigger.  It's recognition that I drive a lote because I have to, and although my Tundra does a great job for me it's far more a working/practical vehicle than a fun one. 

To make things more interesting - this car has a standard 7-speed manual transmission. The first manual transmission anything that I learned to drive was my motorcycle, but this is different. So now, although I've been driving for 40 years and likely have at least a million miles under my belt, I've got a high performance car that I can't comfortably drive yet.  I need to learn.

Finding a place to learn to drive a manual transmission car is harder than you'd think.  But I'm actively seeking a solution as I don't want to make all the beginner mistakes in the Z06.  I'll eventually crack this nut....

We were out on the Motorcycles for almost 100 miles yesterday. One of the things I noticed is how comfortable and natural driving it feels now. I can't help but think back to last spring when I started and couldn't imagine mastering all the elements that are involved in riding a motorcycle...shifting, getting to know your engine, working the relationship between the clutch and the gas, turns, hills, all seemed so overwhelming at the time. But I've been doing it regularly for quite a while now and that discomfort and clumsiness has largeley given way to ability and skill. That helps when I think those same thoughts with the Corvette. 

I enjoyed watching the Super Bowl on Sunday.  I've watched every one so far, and attended 4 in person.  But now begins the long stretch leading up to training camp and next year.  Sigh.  I'm already looking forward to it.

Anyway - there will be lots going on over these next few weeks and it has been good to reconnect here.  I'll try to be around more.  :)