January 14, 2008

Samwich Update

Posted in family, Samwich at 9:45 pm by Michael

Samwich 

Six weeks ago, Samwich was Typhoid Samwich. His victim count was ~20. They suffered. Damn rotavirus!

Luckily, he’s over that.

Here’s some positive Samwich news…

Walking/Standing:

One: He’s standing – max time is ~ 5-10 seconds. Not bad one day short of his 10 month birthday.

Two: He’s “walking” – two to three steps, he can do. He gets so excited, he falls forward. Classic toddler walking failure mode – self inflicted loss of balance.

Three: He can do “Touchdown”, aka “So Big” aka “Yea Samwich”. I think of it as “65 Yards, Brady to Moss! Touchdown!” He can do this while standing without support.

Talking:

One: He says “What’s That?” However, when you answer, he repeats said question. He’s “speak only”.

Two: If you say “I love you” he can work out “I luh”. Close enough. He says “I love you”.

Affection:

He gets hugs, and will give you “kisses”. However, his kisses include grabbing both sides of your head (hair, ears, whatever), and pulling you in to bite you in the chin, jaw or lip. This was cool, except for the hair pulling part, until he got a tooth. Now, he uses the tooth as a puncture weapon. Its a shiv in disguise.

Sleeping:

He’s the frigging terrorist. No negotiation. He’s killing us.

However, we love him.

This morning, Anh said that he went to the corner of the kitchen where my laptop is when I’m not working, and started crying. She interpreted this as “Where’s my maddy?”

He was very happy to see me when I came home tonight.

It was all good. Slobber and all.

January 9, 2008

Jet Blue 498 to Boston

Posted in family, work at 3:51 am by Michael

Work proceeds pretty much as normal. Interestingly, it’s normal seemingly not just for me, but for the people who I work with. I had two interesting interchanges today at work that really pointed this out to me. I went over for a meeting with one of the senior tech leaders in the company, and after the meeting, I was talking to his technical assistant (TA in MS-Speak), and she was asking me how it was going since I was back. I told her it was going really well, but sometimes people weren’t sure what they should call me (I was thinking that they wouldn’t know because even though they had “heard” they may not have remembered what my new name is – I don’t think that EVERYONE at Microsoft plows through my blog blather on a regular basis). She gave me this look like “DUH!” and said “Uh, Megan?!” I took this as a super sweet comment, in that for her, it was clear that I am in fact, “Megan” and to think otherwise is non-sensical.

Later in the day, I had a meeting with the human relations person who supports my team in Redmond (there’s someone else who supports the team in Boston (technically Cambridge… just for clarity – there is a difference!) and she was talking to someone else who was an avid reader of this space who said:

“Wow, you are supporting Meg [Ed. Not a nickname I expected, but hey, whatever works] Wallent? That must be exciting!”

Her reaction: “No, not really. It’s just like supporting any other GM here.”

Again, I took this as a really clear sign of how normalized and accepted my transition has become at Microsoft. I’ve talked to a few co-workers and friends about that, and the reaction is pretty universal – both that the culture here is much more open than you would expect, and in general the public reaction to me (Crappy Look Counter at 6 still) restores faith about the overall state of the general public and acceptance. Maybe I was overly cynical, but I did expect if I was “read as male dressed female” that I would have issues. I haven’t.

On the topic of “Things Might Be Getting Better”, we were having a conversation with the big kiddos tonight about the New Hampshire primaries. When we picked them up from school, there weren’t any results yet, but Peri was VERY interested to see how Hillary Clinton was doing. Finally, when we heard to results that Clinton won, and Obama was a close second, Peri was thrilled. I don’t think she gets the overall primary system and was it means, but she gets that it has something to do with being President, and its important. She’s super interested to know when she can vote for real. After learning about the results, Peri said: “Well, a girl should get to be president FOR ONCE at least. All the other presidents have been boys you know.” (She had to learn all the US Presidents by heart last year in school).

Anh said to her: “That’s true; she would be the first female President if she got elected. But, might be even more historic if Obama was elected, since he’s African-American.”

Peri says: “Why does that matter?”

Us: “Well, No African American has even come close to getting elected as President before.”

Peri (incredulous) “That’s CRAZY. Why would that matter? Who would care about THAT?”

I said: “Well Peri, up until just before I was born, there weren’t laws in the whole country that guaranteed the same rights for all people, no matter what color their skin was, or where they came from.”

This dialog continued for a few more minutes, with Peri being JUST FLABBERGASTED that anyone would care about something as irrelevant as skin color.

Peri then said a couple of funny things. First “Well, I would NOT want to be President because I would NOT want to be famous. I wouldn’t want anyone who I don’t know to know me.”

I kind of smiled, there was a pause, and Anh said to Peri and John both “Well, in a way, you both are known by people who don’t really know you because Daddy [Ed. They still call me Daddy as documented previously, and we support that 100%] writes about stuff that we do as a family, and people read about it.”

Peri thought about this for a second, and said “Oh, like you posting a picture of Sculpey Samwich, and people thinking that was cool?” Answering her own question: “Well, that is pretty cool, I like that! Maybe that would be ok then…”

Sculpey Samwich

(As a note, Peri and John are not yet allowed to read this blog, but I do tell them about stories that I post about them. I did get a few nice comments about Peri’s Sculpey Samwich, and I let her read those. I’m sure someday when they are older and ready, I’ll give them the whole archive if they are so inclined.)

Peri then added: “Well, I wouldn’t want to be President because the White House is just too Big. It would take me four years just to find out where all the rooms were!” Always interesting to see a kid’s perspective on the world….

Right now, Anh, Samwich and I are currently on our way to Boston where part of my team is. This is our second (and a half) trip since my transition, and again, our ventures through the airport with TSA have been total non-events.

Anh made an interesting observation/question as we were getting on the plane tonight – “Does the fact that we travel as a family make it less likely that anyone would give you [Megan] a hard time?”

This is an interesting question. I haven’t yet flown solo, but I’m sure I will over the upcoming weeks. Boston will be our fourth city visited post transition (San Francisco, Seattle, Las Vegas were the others). I’m very interested to see if there’s a difference in the reaction to me and us as a family (more out and about than at work) once we get there and I’m working there for a few days.

January 5, 2008

Who Are You?

Posted in family, Identification at 12:31 am by Michael

My first mini-week of work came to a close today with not a bang, but a whimper.

But, today started pretty early… Samwich got up before 5, and was very excited to get up and start his day. He’s got a really funny schedule these days – goes to sleep at 7:30 pm, and gets up near 5am. He’s been getting up a couple times a night these days as he’s cutting teeth, and not as restful as he normally is. Anh dealt with him last night a couple times, and was super tired, so I got up w/him at 5, and we went downstairs to play.

Now, this is one of my favorite times of the day to play with him, because this is when he seems to do the most new things. Last week, he started pointing. He’s also started making more “talking-like” noises. He often says what sounds like “What’s That?” And, most enderingly, if you say to him “I love you!”, he mumbles something that sounds a lot like that – at least to me and Anh.

Plus, making him breakfast is just fun – blueberry pancakes again today – a good choice for him as he loves it, and he can feed himself if you cut it up.

Anyway, time to go to work came and it was time to depart. Work today was just like before – lots of email, meetings, couple of calls and 1:1’s with folks on my team. Some planning for my work trip to Boston next week – should be great the week before the Pats first playoff game!

So… I went to my last meeting for the day, and got there a little late, but before the exec who’s meeting it was came. I sat in the back, and saw someone who I had worked with on and off since I started at Microsoft. I said “Hey Sam!” (not his real name). He looked around, looking for the source of the voice, and since there were about 20 people in the room, and it was loud, I said “Hey Sam, I’m over here!” again. He looked right at me, and said “Who are you? I’m sorry, I don’t recognize you.”

I was floored.

He got up, walked over, looked at my badge (only a day and a half old  ) and said “Oh! Good to see you, how are you doing?” I said I was doing great, and just as we started to chat, the meeting started.

I sent him mail apologizing for the surprise – I hate to surprise people. But he said something very interesting – that he had heard – but that honestly, he just didn’t recognize me.

Ok, here’s one of the oldest pictures I could find of me (digitally, at home), side by side w/the headshot version of my office pic yesterday. Unrecognizable?

Paris 2002 Office 2007

Now, I’ve lost probably 60-70lbs since the ’02 picture was taken, and clearly, other changes to, but would I not be recognized? Its funny, because everyone else – even folks who barely know me, say “Hi Michael (or Megan if they know” when they see me).

It was interesting… not sure if this is the first (or somewhat first time) that I actually “passed”. But, I’ll certainly remember this for a while.

January 3, 2008

Reflecting on Day 2 at Work

Posted in coworkers, family, transgender, work at 10:39 pm by Michael

After you live for 38 years in one gender, and then, pretty much overnight start living in the other, it’s the little things (not to go TOO Pulp Fiction) that are super easy to screw up.

Today I went to the cafeteria right across from my building for lunch. I got my lunch, and went to pay. Salad by the pound – $5.99 –  D’OH! No wallet! Wallet (new one) is back in my office, in another building, in my jacket. WOO HOO! I have a fiver in my pocket… but I’m $0.99 short. You can’t really put part of your salad back. I told the cashier that I’d come back and pay (which I did). Back outside, back to the rain, down the hall to my office, repeat. Lesson learned – remember to have cash in pocket or wallet in hand.

One of the metrics I used back in September to figure out how “normal” things were is if the first thing that people asked me about when they saw me was transgender stuff, or work stuff. Back then, for the first couple weeks, the curve spiked, and very slowly dropped off. It took about two weeks until half the people started with non-trans stuff, and just pure work stuff.

I was expecting an even higher peak, and an even shallower drop off when I came back to work. I was fully prepared to be answering questions for quite some time. But, this is not what happened. Already, it’s been more than 50% starting on “work”, and not on my surgery “vacation”.

Part of the “normal”-ness of this all seemingly is related to the fact that while lots about me physically has changed – I dress about the same (see picture below), my voice is the same, and the email and f2f conversations that I have with people are pretty much – you guessed it – the same. While I’ve not tried, I’m going to guess that going to work dressed “ultra-femme” (besides being not at all me!) would generate much more of a reaction. I still have the opposite problem, in that I dress so conservatively – even still masculine according to some – that I’m still “read” as male.

I do also think that part of the “normal”-ness is about being comfortable. I *am* comfortable, I feel comfortable, and from what people have said – they see it too. As a result, it leads me to think that it reduces the discomfort, and also helps folks get through this with me much more quickly.

One thing that has been odd though is when people who I run into ask questions about things that I blogged about, but I know I never told them. E.g. “How was Vegas?”, “How’s the Samwich feeling?”, “How’s the Samwich’s tooth?” It’s kind of scary to think about how much you generally remember about conversations, and how experiences like that cause a total double take.

Tonight I brought the big kiddos to see their new cousin at the hospital (Anh and Samwich and some other family and friends were already there). Baxter is super cute, and we welcome him warmly to the family. After the visit, we went down the street to grab something to eat. When we were ordering, the waiter, who was looking down at my chest (I saw him look), said:

 “What will the Gentlemen have?”

I said, pointing to Samwich (hoping he would get a clue):

“Who, the baby?”

He said:

“No, you!”

I said:

“Well, most people don’t call me a Gentleman!”

He looked clueless, and continued to Sir/Gentleman me the rest of the night. Usually, I don’t bother to correct people, but it’s rare when I do, and it doesn’t even register. This doesn’t count as a Crappy Look, but it’s damn close.

Again, I realize that there’s lots of stuff that I still need to do – more hair removal – earrings – maybe a little jewelry – maybe not as conservative clothes (but see above…) – more healing – longer hair. I get it. I’m not asking people to get it by default – but wow, if someone says “I’m not a sir, I’m a ma’am” – why not take ‘em at their word at that point?

Anyway… today was another crazy traffic spike day here in this space – both another article from Valleywag ( http://valleywag.com/340222/what-it-feels-like-for-a-girl ) , and also a Microsoft MSDN blog – (One Louder – Heather Hamilton at http://blogs.msdn.com/heatherleigh/archive/2008/01/03/transgendered-in-life-and-at-microsoft.aspx) – so the comment stream went up both here and in the Valleywag article especially. One thing that’s really remarkable though, is as of 10:30pm PT tonight, the comments are very very supportive and positive. Again, my faith in people is increased. I really do appreciate the positive comments and notes of support. Even the challenging comments – its all good – I’m a fan of transparent and open conversations.

So, for those of you who have spent the time reading and those of you who have spend the time to then comment – thanks!

Milestones

Posted in family, Identification, schedule, work at 11:23 am by Michael

This morning, besides being my 2nd day back at work ended up being pretty eventful…

Mary and Arthur’s baby was born (below). Congratulations!

For the first time since surgery, Anh and I did our regular morning run. One lap shorter than normal (only 3 miles), and Anh pushed the jogging stroller, but we did it! This was only 4 weeks, 6 days postop from FFS – more than a week (by a day, ok) ahead of when I was told I’d be able to do it.

We got ready, I drove to work, and got my cool new badge (new name, new picture). Here’s me at my desk at Microsoft here in Redmond, new badge and all!

At Work, January 3, 2007

Congratulations Mary and Arthur!

Posted in family at 9:59 am by Michael

Anh’s sister Mary and her husband Arthur welcomed their first baby this morning at 5:10am!

Baxter, a.k.a. “Pickle” was 7lb 12oz, and is cute as a button and sweet as pie!

Samwich is very excited about his new cousin… he told me so!

January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Posted in family, work at 3:53 pm by Michael

Well, today is my last day of “Vacation” before going back to work…

The only real news for today is that Samwich got his first tooth! On top, front right central The next one should be the lower left central – that one is super close too!

(I wasn’t sure what too call these teeth – I thought they were “incisors”, so I looked it up on Wikipedia – turns out that baby teeth have different names. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baby_teeth Check it out!)

Lots more stuff to deal with starting tomorrow:

– Name change at work (including a new badge!)

– Name change with Social Security

– Then the cascade of money-related name changes – bank, credit cards, car loan, etc

– And I have to deal with my Washington DOL “F” issue…

Given the way that work has been so far, and given the general reaction that I’ve gotten while out and about, I don’t expect this to be much of an event.

Knock on wood!

December 31, 2007

December 31, 2007

Posted in family, transgender at 8:32 am by Michael

Last day of the year and two days till I go back to work fulltime and “fulltime”. Now THAT will be interesting, and yes, I will post about it.

What a difference a year makes. Last year on this day:
– we lived in a different house (Sammamish v. Seattle)
– Anh was six months pregnant (and neither were her sister or sister-in-law)
– I had not told a soul about my gender issues and was a week away from my first therapy appointment.
– and, it goes without saying, I had a different legal name, a different presenting gender, an Adam’s apple, and had feeling in all parts of my head and face!

Thanksgiving was six weeks ago, but I certainly feel today that I have a lot to be thankful for. As I sit here writing this on the couch, Samwich is sleeping next to me. He woke up at 4:50am today, and wasn’t going back to sleep. We went downstairs, he played for a bit, and then went to sleep at about 6:30. It’s now just about 8, and he’s starting to stir…

What a gift he’s been.

John and Peri have done so much this year, and grown so much. John got some Exo-Force Lego stuff for Christmas, and was able to build them all himself, without help! Last year, easier stuff he needed help with. I see the budding engineer in him.

Peri got a bunch of Sculpey, and made an amazing little sculpture of Samwich.

Sculpey Samwich

She’s truly gifted, and it’s really come out this year. Just watching her draw on the back of a paper placemat – it brings a smile to my face.

I won’t gush about Anh… much.

In the past year, clearly we’ve been through a lot, cried a lot, laughed a lot, learned a lot, and she’s been a guiding light for me. This is clearly the short version….

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2008, and may you each find joy and happiness, and for those of you searching, the strength to be your true self.

Units

Posted in family, money at 7:42 am by Michael

In my experience, one of the most universal “couple” issues is “Money”.  Merge it? Separate it? One common fund for common stuff with contributions from each partner?

I’ve heard of incredibly complicated models where it seems like a form as long as a tax form would be required.

Money issues get more complicated with people coming together later in life, with preexisting assets and debits. Even more complicated when kids get involved – how do you pay for them?

Our solution is very simple. One account, merged. Anh worked until we had Samwich, but now stays at home with him. We still had one account then.

However, we do have a solution for how to set each other’s expectations about spending. We call it “Units”. Basically, this is an amount, per day, that can be spent by either partner on “personal” stuff (non-basics), without “consulting” the other person. Any purchase (or day) that’s going to be over “A Unit”, we have a discussion. Anh’s Unit and my Unit are the same value (this is important).

The value of a “Unit” can vary over time, depending on circumstance. I think of the amount of a “Unit” being the “amount of money I can spend and not think twice about it”.

Right after I got divorced, money was tight, my personal “Unit” was $5.

As things got better – the Unit value went up. It was useful for my own money management as well.

The “Unit” concept works exceptionally well for us. We talk quite often about what the Unit value is, and also have great conversations about things that we each or together want to do that cost more than the Unit value. More than anything, it’s a communication tool, and also a great way to set mutual expectations.

Yesterday we had an idea about how to manage another common couple issue – managing kid time and alone time. With kids, it’s pretty clear that both partners aren’t going to be with each other and the kids 24 hours a day. Everyone needs alone time (and every couple needs time w/o the kids – but that’s a topic for another day).

However, deciding what the “rules” are around that can be just as complex as the money issue. Since the money Unit works so well for us, we came up with the “Kid Hour Unit”. Basically, either partner can leave the kid(s) w/the other for “2 Kid Hours” without “asking’. For example, if Anh wanted to go out, and we didn’t have the big kids (just Samwich), she could say “I’m going out!” and take off for a couple hours, and it wouldn’t be a “discussion”. However, if I wanted to go flying for the day, and we had all three kids, that would be 24 “Kid Hours” (3 kids x 8 hours). That would be over a Unit, and would require a discussion.

Fundamentally, both of these issues come down to expectation setting and clear communication – these are just tools to enable both!

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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