December 26, 2007

Christmas – So Yesterday

Posted in Christmas, family, food, surgery, transgender at 1:21 pm by Michael

You know that Christmas is officially over when there is the “Christmas Music Rebellion”.

Happens every year. This year, Anh started it. At about 8pm, while listening to Johnny Mathis, aka “Mr. Christmas” (he has someone else call him that on the record – WOW) – Anh said:

“Megan…. Can we PLEASE listen to something else? Please.”

I scanned the room – looking for unindicted co-conspirators (the people who LIKE Christmas music) and found no support.

On to the ‘Best of Frank Sinatra’. We’ll teach Samwich about the classics now…. not just the Chipmunks (although this *is* classic). As an aside, “Summer Wind” is by far my favorite Sinatra song. I can’t NOT dance to that….

Samwich has his first crush – Feist. When the song “1234” comes on, he immediately looks toward the source of the beautiful angelic music, and immediately stops what he’s doing. Crying, eating, pooping, whatever. It’s a fun party game now.

He gave us a nice present on Christmas Eve – two steps. Not totally under control, not bad for 9 months though! Also, his first tooth is a day or two from coming out… that will be fun!

Over the past couple of days Anh’s brother James (professional stylist in the Bay Area – he’s awesome!) performed two mitzvahs for me – cut my hair and did my eyebrows.

I will post more pictures today. I have been reluctant to do so for two reasons – one my upper lip was swollen from laser – so swollen I kind of looked like “The Cowardly Lion”.

Cowardly Lion

(Why does the Cowardly Lion have a ribbon in his hair – was “Cowardly” the closest that Victor Fleming could get to “Gay” in 1939? (Ed. Note – Anh read this post and said – it wasn’t “Frank Blum – it was Frank Baum.” She was of course, correct.  Full name was L. Frank Baum however and he died in 1920. Victor Fleming was the director of the 1939 “Wizard of Oz” movie, that the above picture is from.))

Secondly, while the laser had some *immediate* results, the remaining hairs get big and angry, until they fall out. We are mid-angry phase right now….

In any case though, I will post some shortly.

It did snow in Seattle yesterday – first time since ’96 on Christmas Day.

Some other food comments:

– Pistachio Waffles – very interesting (mix the crushed pistachios into the butter). Dip in butter if you are into that sort of thing.
– Berry Waffles – microwave frozen berries first, then mash them, then mix in w/the batter. Works great – the taste is throughout.
– Beef Wellington – good idea, hard to make work. Puff pastry is soggy on the bottom – do you cook it on a rack?
– Verdun Chocolates – from Portland – super fun at a party – each kind is a uniquely wrapped color/shape, and you get a large guidebook – so its like a party game to find what you like.
– Duckhorn Cab from ’98 – I loved it then, I love it more now.
– Champagne is always good to have in house. The French stuff is better – way better. Pol Roger – nice. Also, Rose Champagne – try it out!

Ok, one serious bit of “Trans-business”.

We have lots of pictures around our house. We have wedding day pictures, a picture I love from Hawaii, pictures of me with the big kids when they were young – lots of stuff.

I look at myself, and see the same face as I see when I look in the mirror today. I kind of expected a “bigger” change – it was very scary as a result (read the posts from right before facial surgery – I was super scared!).

(Other People – while they recognize me, say I look a lot different. I don’t see it.)

My face is still pretty angular.

The swelling on my nose and chin/jaw is coming down.

Even with no facial hair, I don’t think I will by ever by default “pass”. E.g., just with a “Headshot”.

I’m coming around to being ok w/that. It’s honestly hard to admit.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel *great*. I know I made the right decision (Yes Dave(s), I did!).

But, I’m going to be in the middle, probably forever. Dress, makeup, voice, “more surgery” – all these things could change that. But, I don’t want to do any of it.

I’ve done enough.

I’m satisfied…. Even if a bit surprised.

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December 22, 2007

The Holiday Season

Posted in Christmas, family, food, friends, Pro Club Laser at 3:48 pm by Michael

Ok, things are a little frantic, but a little “normal”, so there hasn’t been a bunch to write. However, there was a comment that I got late last night that I wrote a long response to (below), and enough has happened since Wednesday to write some stuff! It’s like a smorgasbord – what could be more in the holiday season than that!

One of the stories that I heard from a co-worker is a solution they found to how to refer to things that I’ve done pre-transition. Michael? Megan? He? She? Nah, they simplified the problem – they just referred to me, for the sake of that conversation as “Wallent”. Works for me! Honestly, I’m not trying to erase “Michael”. I did a lot of stuff… When people talk about interacting with me “Before”, it makes sense to say “When I was talking to Michael…” or “Megan” – whatever works. I have a very pragmatic perspective on this. Whatever works.

Wednesday night we brought a few friends out to dinner as a thank you for their support, specifically the folks who came to visit Anh and I when we were in San Francisco. We went to Chez Shea in Seattle, near the Pike Place market. The company was great, the food was ok, but the service, well, it was a distraction. Maybe it was because we were in the lounge, but honestly, it felt like the waiter had better stuff to do. Huh, no extra tip for him.

Thursday we got to find out how picky Seattle zoning is. We are trying to get some landscaping done in our yard, and a failing driveway wall fixed. However, it seems like no matter what we want to do, there’s a rule about it (or not doing it!). The folks we are working with are super knowledgeable, but still, wow! That’s a lot of rules. Maybe the yard will be just fine as is!

We were having some friends over (John and Cait) for dinner on Friday, so we wanted to make something nice. Cait is a fantastic cook, and they both are fantastic hosts (I do remember this, even though the last time we saw them I think we drank 9 bottles of wine in 8 hours (we slept there – no Drinking and Driving). We were all hurting big-time the next day). It’s been super cold here in Seattle, so we wanted to make a great winter dish. So, Anh made Tomato soup, which we planned to finish with a crouton with melted (in the broiler) cheddar and parm on top. I worked on braised lamb, onion, mushroom and tomato (garlic and rosemary too), that we’d then mix in with pasta (penne – our last bag that we got from Italy). I am very much the sous chef in our house. So, to say I “worked on” it may be an exaggeration. I am the sommelier and bartender – but just the sous chef. One has to know their place. We cooked all of this Thursday night – we pulled the lamb an hour early, planning on finishing it for an hour the next day, and got the tomato soup base done.

Friday morning was the long appointed crazy laser appointment. Now, I’ve had laser a bunch of times (five?) in the past six months, all at a different place. However, the second to last time I was there, my right arm got hypo pigmented in a weird pattern, and they stopped talking to me. I wasn’t mad, I wasn’t even upset, they just decided not to talk to me anymore. Very odd. Friday the appointment was at the Pro Club in Bellevue. I wasn’t worried about this at all. Laser is uncomfortable, but it’s not unbearable. I actually thought it was worse than electrolysis, but not a lot more.

So, I went in (got Sir’ed twice), and filled out the requisite forms, and went in to see Stacey, who was awesome. She asked how long I had (30 minutess), and a little history. I told her, told her the hypo pigmentation story, and she said “no problem”, and we agreed to work on my upper lip, lower lip and chin. She then got an ice bag, and asked if I wanted to get numbed.

Numbed? Ice? Wha? I’ve done this before, my whole lip/chin area is numb because of nerve issues from surgery, and I’m thinking “Who do you think you are dealing with here? Some sort of Wuss?”

She says: “No, really.”

I say (foolishly) “I’m SURE I’ll be ok.” (Smile and Wave!)

She says, smiling and sighing “Okay… we’ll just have to see how this goes!”

She started on my chin, from the outside.

Grabs the laser, puts in on my chin, and presses the trigger.

“JESUS FRIGGING CHRIST! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?” (calling on the FSM in this scenario seems pointless)

Where the “other” laser feels like a little elastic snap, this felt like five or six needle pricks (hard), all at the same time.

She got halfway across my chin, toward the middle, and I had to have her stop, and give me a minute.

She said “You want to see what it looks like so far?”

I’m thinking “What’s this about? Usually it just looks a little red, so what am I looking at here?”

She gives me the mirror, and “MY GOD – WHAT IS THAT?”

Basically, it looks like my hair has literally jumped out of my skin, some all the way, some partially, and is now stuck to my chin.

She says: “You have great ejection happening.”

I say “Eja-wha???”

She says: “Well, the courser hairs that we do, especially the dark ones on people with light skin, they tend to just “jump” right out. That’s called ‘ejection’. You get results immediately for at least half the hairs, and the rest come out in about a week.”

I say: “Well, this hurts like hell, but I love you. Keep going!”

I iced the rest of my chin, and she started working on my upper lip, which is SUPER numb.

That also hurt like hell. The nerves got an interesting wakeup call yesterday.

We finished up, and I spent the next two hours with ice bags/packs on my face. The treated area is still swollen (but less so) more than a day later.

Stacey said that the laser she was using was an older type (but new model) and was patented ( https://www.proclub.com/default.aspx?tabid=1243 ). Basically, the other place had a different model, and while it hurt less, was a different wavelength that was less efficient.

 I will post some new pictures shortly – I don’t feel like I have “Lion Lip” on top anymore – although it is still swollen.

After laser, with ice bags at the ready, Anh, Samwich and I went to lunch with our friend Val at Malay Satay Hut in Bellevue (good place!). I had a beer. My face hurt like hell still.

Anyway, Val’s a sweetheart, and has been super supportive through this whole process. She also gave me a special present that I will value forever. (Sorry, I can’t say what it is. When I get back to work, it will be in my office though, prominently displayed).

We went home after a little Christmas shopping at U Village (cold!), and then finished up with dinner. Food ended up coming out the way we wanted, and it was a lot of fun.

This morning, we simply finished up with Christmas shopping and shipping… and life goes on.

December 15, 2007

Name Calling

Posted in Christmas, coworkers, family, Identification at 2:21 am by Michael

Today at work, one of the folks I was talking to was asking about what my experience was like with people calling me “Megan” and “She/Her” vs. Michael and He/Him. As is in my FAQ, I said what I’ve said in that I’m not bothered by in the least it unless that there is real intent (to be mean/cruel/not accepting) behind it. I think I’ve introduced myself as “Michael” at least 5 times this week (on the phone, not in person).

Anyway, this person had an interesting insight. Basically, that while it may not bother me, to expect it to bother the “Name Caller” a lot if they make a mistake. The point was that people, especially at work, will want to be so kind, so accepting, that it will really bother them if they just make a simple error that really causes no stress in my life at all.

I said “Hmm… I hadn’t thought about it that way!”

Not an hour later, a co-worker, at the end of our phone call, ended the call (which was great!) with “Thank You Sir!”. I said “No problem, talk to you soon!” I did hear the ‘Sir’, but it bothered me not in the least – it was a manner of speech, and this person hasn’t seen me f2f yet, and we were on the phone, where I certainly *sound* like Michael (no changes there!).

An hour later I got an apology email. Wow wow wow. For the person who said this (who I know is at least an occasional reader of this space) I know you will recognize this story – and I don’t do it in a negative way at all – really! I bring it up because it’s a counter example (this whole thing really) of transitioning and being shunned. I’m being accepted, with open arms. Not only that, but people apologize or feel bad when they don’t do it “100%” right.

Maybe that’s why the “Crappy Look Counter” is only on 5 still? (There was a potential Crappy Look sighting today, but I’ll put it in the Curious Look bucket, which isn’t bad – and is not tracked).

We have the big kiddos (Peri and John) this weekend, so I picked them up at school after work (short day, I’m still on “vacation”). We came home, they played, Anh and I made dinner. Anh and I had some wine (Darioush 2004 Napa Cabernet  – we both like it – its super big and chewy). This was a great dinner (mashed potatoes, broccolini, chicken and lamb skewers) not only because we were all sitting around the table talking (Friday tradition), but even Samwich was in on the action – he had exactly the same food we all had. This was a bit of a first – we have given him table food a lot – but this was the first time that his meal was 0% supplemented, and he ate 100% of what we served (at least a bit – cut up – no teeth yet you know!).

Anyway, we are cleaning up, and John says to me (out of the blue):

“I’ve decided that I’m going to call you Daddy, Forever! Because that’s what you are, my Daddy.”

Now, you almost had to hear this. He said this with such gusto, and conviction. It was almost the way he said “I am going to call him Samwich! Why? Because its FUNNY!”.

The conviction and excitement is what made this – not the words. You can imagine these words being spoken a number of ways that would be concerning – not here.

I say: “Great John! That’s good with me, I am your Dad, and will always be!”

For the parents reading this, as a total aside, if you want to bawl, just get and read “I’ll Love You Forever” by Robert Munsch. ( http://www.amazon.com/Love-You-Forever-Robert-Munsch/dp/009926689X/ref=pd_bbs_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1197712663&sr=1-1 ). Here’s what the momma says to the child every night while rocking him, as in infant, and then as he grows up:

I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
as long as I’m living
my Baby you’ll be.

Warning: read this book a couple of times to yourself first, get the tears out of the way, then read it to your kids. I still can’t get through the whole think w/o loosing it. AND that was pre-hormones.

Ok, back to the main thread.

So, after John says this to me, I’m thinking “Maybe we should walk to get dessert?” I had this flash in my head “You’ll have to change clothes. (pause) Wait, I don’t have to!” For the last few months, when I was “fulltime” (I know, improper use of the word) at home, whenever we went out, I would have to change, and then change back. It was a pain in the bumtacular region, and I generally always felt “bad” when I did this. NO MORE! No changing. I said this to Anh, she smiled, and gave me a hug, and said “Well, Never Again, huh!” Exactly!

But we didn’t go out – kids had ice cream in, and instead we watched “The Polar Express”. Yes, I know, mocap is scary – the mouths and eyes look dead. However, as a holiday movie, its pretty fun. Samwich was awake long enough to see the “Hot Chocolate” scene and was mes-mo-rized. During the whole third act with the North Pole and the Bell, and that whole deal, John and Peri were just mes-mo-rized as well. They had these angelic looks… This was especially poignant since this year is the first year that they raised, and were confirmed in their suspicions about the existence, or lack thereof of the Jolly Big Man. For the last two years, Peri *knew*, but she wouldn’t admit it. (Proof – two years ago, her big “Santa Present” was a nice art easel w/supplies. I got it at Lakeshore Learning, and on the leg, there was a small imprint that said “Lakeshore Learning”. In the spring of the following year (3-4 months later), I noticed that she had carefully taken a pen, crossed out the “Lakeshore Learning” imprint and neatly written “Santa’s Workshop”. She never said a word to either Anh or I about this. She knew, but still believed.) Last year, John was extremely suspicious, but went with it, because hey, how can something so good, be false?

I think Peri and John still hear the bell… and I know I do as well.