December 9, 2007

First Full Day of Part III: Life goes on, and its good!

Posted in family, food, friends, goooofy stuff, NE Patriots at 11:14 pm by Michael

This blog is now officially about a love affair. Mostly between me and Anh-O. But with Samwich, with Peri, with John, with all of us, with life, with the world, with what we own and what we can change. Just FYI. Hope you still love it. Oh, by the way, my nose still hurts.

Anh and I are sitting here watching SportsCenter (in HD, of course), laughing our asses off. (Note that Anh-O’s fave new fact for today is that when a ball is fumbled, it’s relatively common when in the scrum pile that the players are dirty bastards. Eye gouging and man parts grabbing being the most common (no kidding) (this was what made her belly laugh))

About what else were we laughing? Well, we want to make custom t-shirts for each of the kids (and for us, of COURSE) as Christmas presents.

So far, we have two for sure ones.

Samwich: “Boot and Rally Baby” There’s just no doubt about this one. This last couple of weeks showed that. It wasn’t just the Booting. It’s more about the Rallying. This dude  just rallies. Falls down – rallies. Ok, though my favorite non-rallies though (remember, my nose still frigging HURTS when I laugh and if I’m not laughing, I’m crying.) was at Nordstrom, when I was trying on stuff and there was the three-mirror deal, with the “platform” in front of this whole deal.

Ok, temporal breakin – Anh-O is sick of watching SportsCenter (even in HD? Wha?) we channel surfed and got a DirecTV Gift. U2, Vertigo Tour Recorded Live on channel 79 – just started. Love it. Bono in mid “Running to Stand Still”. U2 Joshua Tree at Foxboro Stadium (gone) was my first concert. It was spiritual. Everyone singing “40” on the way out… (“How long… how long to sing their song?” Forever baby! Yes, I know this is Psalm #40 – I got A’s in religion in Catholic Boys High School. Hello Irony?) These guys are amazing. Read what Chuck Klosterman (in Spin) wrote about Bono and picking up random kids and giving them a ride around Dublin and tell me you think Bono is a poseur. Dude is transparent and open and he is who he is. Love him.

Ok, back to our show. (Where The Streets Have No Name, Africa Version) So, Samwich, well, lets just say that he doesn’t have self-image problems. How do I know this? Well, if you put him in front of a mirror, he plays “Kiss the Baby”. Guess who he’s kissing? Duh, himself. How do I know this? Well, if you take a magazine and have a face sized pix of some other random – even beautiful baby – and do you think that he kisses that baby. Uh, the answer is NEGATORY! Dude loves himself, and that’s not a bad thing.

However, sometimes he goes a bit too far. The problem here at Nordy’s is that the little platform (Bono is now ragging on Bush and Blair, after saying that his first impression of America was with Kennedy and the space program and how that rocked. Now, into ‘One”, which is perhaps my favorite song…. Yes, I’m going to keep doing this. Sorry! You GO Bono! Anh-O and I are now singing this song together. It’s an official bloggable moment.)

Ok, sorry, another mid-entry – (Mysterious Ways – first encore). But, here’s the thing. I just touched my forehead. Sometimes I feel crunchy. EWWWW. Have localized said crunchy spot. I need to frigging restrain myself.

Ok to Samwich and his self-lovin’ little self. So, anyway, he’s in multi-Samwich world, which for him is like freaky land. “I get to kiss three of me? Wow, what a treat! Thanks Maddy!”. However this whole thing is a baby trap. (Its Bono’s birthday for this concert – they are going to play some new song – “original of the species” that they don’t play a lot – its for one of their daughters – they don’t specify. Sweet.) There is about a 1-4 inch gap between the little raised box

(OOH – “40”… this rocks)

Now, he goes in for the smooch, so gentle… so gentle. BLAM! He falls off and wacks his head. WAAAAH. Repeat. Frigging ad-infinitum. I say to Samwich, with all the love in my heart – “Honey, doing the same thing, the same way and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity. I can’t have an insane baby. Knock it off.” Needless to say, this didn’t work, and me not wanting to be “Hello, this is the pot, kettle, you bitch, you are black!” with Samwich on this issue, have Samwich removed and restrained to prevent this love/hate relationship that he’s developing with himself. But, the topic was t-shirts, and even though I have now played the “exception proves the rule” game, he IS the Boot n  Rally Baby

(Ok, they are walking off to the crowd singing “40”. They get it. This was the best way to end any concert ever. They are geniuses. See screed on capitalism. Give them money. Sad its over. You are prob v-glad.)

Anh-O just tells me that she loves me, and that today (and yesterday) have been two of the best of us ever. Wow. Wow. Wow.

(Anh comments that perhaps that instead that this should be the Hate Story blog, where we describe all the stuff that pisses us off. Hello, Anh-O? – have you seen the Rants n Raves page – that’s where we do our hatin’)

WSOP 2007 on ESPN – no play-by-play… I know you are not sad. If something about the Pats crushing and humiliation of the Steelers (esp of the one dude who “Guaranteed” a Steeler win (and who got beat, what 81 times today – postgame interview: Brady, with a look on his face like “butter doesn’t melt in my sexy mouth”: “He is the one who has to go back to his team and face them”. Ok, please do yourself and your progeny a favor. If, at any time, any opponent of the Pats this year, in the time preceding said crushing says anything that might be construed as anything other than completely deferential, please do the following.

1. Go to the bank
2. Get all your money
3. Get all the money they will give you
4. Ask again. Beg if possible.
5. Go to closest airport. Fly to Vegas.
6. Go to nearest casino (a nice one though – like the Venetian)
7. If the points are less than the Pats -52, take the Pats with the points with 90% of all your money.
8. With the other 10% get drunk. Super drunk. You never know.
9. Wait for the money to roll in.

Its WAY easier than Underpants Gnomes. Do they know what step 2 is yet?

Ok, three pages, one t-shirt. More verbs, huh?

Ok, John – “Shut UP Samwich”. Samwich tends to love to sing whenever John is talking. And I mean sing in the most dolphin calling (but your friends can’t help you!) way. He does great for minutes, then launches into a stream of “Shut UP Samwich”, etc. He will think is funny.

For the rest of us, Peri, Me, Anh – still working it.

Oh, before I forget, I’m a total goon for data. I love watching the info about how people get here. Two days ago I was looking for search terms, and saw this:

“Poop in Hair”

Lets review. For me to get this, a human has to go to a search page (like Live.com –please?) And type that in. And see my site in some part of the list of results. My site is clearly not about “Poop in Hair” Is this some sort of odd fetish? Was this person trying to find “Remove Poop in Hair” but just want a little wonky and typed the wrong thing – I just don’t get it. But I laughed so hard that I almost blew my forehead off.

Ok, so this morning we had wanted to get up early, and walk about 5 miles… I succeeded on part #1 – the 256am wakeup, but the rest was not to be. By about 10a I was in the Tully’s shake state. Had some food, felt better, but not good enough. We eneded up blowing this off – and driving to Sorrentino for lunch which was great, Marena, who is always working there and also PG w/a boy was super happy.  That’s good for her!

Ok, I need to go to sleep. Don’t make me us this computer in a bad way. In part II, you get to read about Samwich and the blueberry pancake.

I’ll also talk about the ad-hoc wine tasing that we brought to a mom’s party, and how it was great.

Sleepy time now. See you all tomorrow.

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We’re There – Life Goes On

Posted in family, food, friends, Sammamish, surgery at 6:03 am by Michael

(Ed. I’m still working on yesterday’s post. Don’t give up on me. Today’s post is a little different. It’s just about our day today, and I’m adding a new tag, “Family” (and some others too), and this will be my first post here that I will not tag with transgendered, because that’s just not what this is about right now. Also, this one may be a little more “inside” than usual, because unless you are in our family, or are some of our close friends (and we have a lot! Thanks all!), it may not all make sense. But that’s ok, because that’s what I was trying to do. But, its an important closure point for me, so please bear with me and read on.)

Ok, its 3:49am, and I’m blogging again. What the heck? Well, I was lying in bed, processing yesterday, and I was just so happy, and I couldn’t sleep.

Yesterday in a nutshell: Crazy, Amazing, Loving, Amazing, Funny, Almost Passed Out,  Nose Almost Fell Off, Amazing, Crying from Relief, Exhausting, Loving, Exuberant, More than Hopeful – Convinced, Cured, Sleeping.

Now, Blogging.

Well, I learned one thing yesterday. When you write as much crap as me, and your friends read it, you need to spend very little time catching up on your own crap – they already know it! That was great. Even though we saw a ton of people yesterday, it was like they had all been there for the last three weeks (and a lot of them had, but that’s a whole other thing). Hey, this blogging thing works.

I also learned that when you write….

WHOA. Crying Samwich – had to deal – LOVED IT. It’s life. It’s my life….

…as much crap as I do, when you ask someone “Are you caught up?” they get this glazed look like “Which ten page missive should I have read?” Anyway, the Conehead style of blogging may not work (consume mass quantities!). I will try to be briefer right now, hence the short summary above.

Ok, so this morning was nutty, trying to get out to see Peri and John at their Mom’s house before Peri’s first concert. But it started great – I woke up, looked out our bedroom window on the first sunrise in almost two weeks, and it was clear and crisp and lovely as the sun rose over the Cascades. One not great thing – I weighed myself and I have lost ~12-15lbs – which is too much (More on that later. Anh even did my hair (thank you Schmoobie). Samwich didn’t get his pancake – that’s today – not enough time! We did get out on time, even had time for coffee (Caffe Vita – we LOVE you!). Anh drove – because it was super sunny, and I can’t wear any glasses for another six weeks – small price to pay. We got there, huge hugs from Peri, John was repairing a propeller on a model plane and we talked a bit about that, then he came over and gave me a HUGE HUG. Angelina and her fiancée were fantastic, and it was great.

Then we were off to the concert at the school, saw some moms and dads, no weirdness at all – pointed some to my blog, lots of interest! Was FANTASTIC. Thanks folks – and you know who you are – you made me realize that there is love in this world in lots of places, for lots of people, lots of the time. You rock.

Me, Anh, Samwich, John, Angelina and Nick went into the cafeteria and sat down to wait for the show. I took off my four layers (it was cold for Seattle today – clear and low 30’s – but the houses and buildings here aren’t made for it, and it’s cold when its that cold. I know, in Boston it would be balmy at 30. Here its like the frigging Arctic Circle. But, I digresss…) John decided to sit next to me. YOU ROCK John, you made my day (as did so many other people too – but he started the trend!)

The choir (including Peri) came in, and started to sing their first song. I started to get weepy (happy!) and leaned over to Anh, who was sitting right there, holding my hand, yes that’s my Anh-O, and said “I’m so happy.” Ok, tears over, now just big smiles (and back straight! I have crappy posture and I need to fix that). Peri was singing and smiling, and Samwich was smiling and loved it, and John was smiling, and it was awesome. Concert over, Peri comes over, big hugs for all – Great Job Winkle!

Ok, on to the next show, John decides to drive with us, Peri with Angelina, and we stop at our friends Chris and Leslie’s (www.calmbyleslie.com) to pick up some stuff she made for us to give as gifts, and say hi. These two are among my most AVID readers – they were up to date – and I had posted 10 pages at 5am, and it was now 1035am. Big hugs and smiles, tears of joy… thanks! We love you both! See you real soon, got to run to Peri’s show at RTC!

As we are in the car, I tell John that my secret for going around SFO and feeling normal (when I had all this crap on my face) was “Big Smile and Wave, Big Smile and Wave!” – he loves it!

I also call Hillel, who we really want to see (and his whole fam), and say “Hey, we are on the eastside now, but we’ve love to stop by on our way back – around 330-4?” Great he says, but “How’s the little Demon of Germs?” I almost lose my nose again I laugh so hard. I say “He’s great!” (and he is, he’s much better!) I also say – you need to say these exact words to Anh – she’ll love it. I hand the phone to her he does, she laughs so hard she almost drives off the road, and we are hooked up. We also work out to have our other great friends Alex and Kat (who also came to SFO <love>) to meet us there so we can see them too! Woo Hoo! This day is getting better with every minute.

We get there, park, walk up (it’s outside). They just start. It’s just cold, even in the sun. I have on a shirt, a sweater, a fleece, and my ski parka, and I’m shivering – deep shivering. Hello – weight loss? I went into Starbucks, got a venti drip – both to warm my hands and inside and came back out. I passed it around to others around as a big hand warmer! More smiles, great concert! Damn, it’s cold! Other parents who I hadn’t seen at the school were there, big smiles, no problems! Angelina was *introducing* me to folks – “Hi, you remember Michael, now she’s Megan!”. Wow. You Rock!

Ok concert over, thank FSM (more on that later too!), we get the kids, walk to Red Robin (which is a 4 block walk, but its very cold), and we get there, and I’ve never been so happy to be inside in my whole life. At this time, my nose feels like its going to fall off, and I’m in serious pain. The combo of not having eaten enough or drank enough, loss of sensation in my lower nose has just taken a lot out of me, and I’m a pretty strong gal! We have a great lunch. I ramble a bit, don’t ask enough questions, but Anh looks at me with this look like – Honey? What are you doing? Kids are super happy, it’s all normal, we eat, then its time to run. I ask Anh for her scarf on the way out (because we need to walk back, and my nose is still killing me).

Every year we do this thing where we go shopping for toys to donate, with the kids. The deal is that we go as a fam, they each buy two presents for kids that they think would be cool. The kids love it, and this year, we have to have Samwich get two as well! We stop at Borders, were we get some DVDs (Shrek III and Ratatouille to donate) and I also get a bunch of Christmas CD’s (including the Chipmunks, which the kids don’t see. More on that in a minute. We stop at the toy store, get a bunch more stuff, and I say to Anh on the way out, “I think I want to get a shake at Tully’s – I’m not feeling good – I need more calories.” She notices that I look like crap, and says (in a voice which says – this is not a discussion – do this) – “Go across the street” (Tully’s – I meant to get one in a while, but because she loves and dotes on me, she realized I was being a dumbass) “get a shake, and I will walk back w/the kids and get the car and pick you up right outside.” I went into Tully’s, ordered a short vanilla shake. Sorry, Vanilla is broken. No prob – coffee? Yes, they have that. Big Smiles, no Problem! I get it, and its super thick. D’oh. I ask “Is there any way you can make this thinner, I have this jaw thing, and I can’t suck that hard… happy to pay more.” Big smiles, no Problem! The barista’s hook me up so much that they have to put it in a Venti cup, plus the bubble lid. (Ask – pay more? No – it’s cool) Wow – you didn’t have to do that – they could have just poured the weaker one into the short cup, but no – why waste it? Tully’s gals, you rock! World Class Customer Service!

Just as they finish, I look out the window, and Anh is pulling up, I get in the car to go back up to drop off John to change for his basketball game. Drinking shake, feeling much better. Anh, being honest says “You look pale honey, you need to slow down.” I love you Anh-O. Kids are all in-car, doing great, but I pull out the Chipmunks CD, pop it in, all the kids are beaming! Including the Samwich. After we listen to the intro song, I say “I’ve got a special one I want to play for John!” I find “All I want for Christmas is my two front teeth”, select it, and the entire back seat erupts in laughter. Why? John is missing his top two front teeth, and I’ve told him about this song but because I make songs up all the time (it’s part of my charm HA) he thinks I may not be telling the truth. Now, he knows, Daddy (yes still Daddy!) was RIGHT! I made his day. I love being a parent.

Drop off John at Angelina’s, Anh changes Samwich (blowout! But only because we still have him on a very bland diet – normal) Turns out Peri has been invited to play at a friends’ house, she wants to, so she goes to do that instead. Big hugs and kisses (gentle though!) for me, Anh and her favorite baby brother. Big smiles all around! Bye Peri, see you Tuesday – Love You!

We’re off to the bball game, Angelina’s driving John. We all get there, sit together, have the best conversation in 3+ years about old friends we used to have in Boston and who now have all these crazy wonderful things going on. Super. Angelina says: “If I thought about the best possible way that today could have gone, its gone 100x better. This has been great.” Thank you. That was sweet.

John has a good game, is super into it, comes over to us a bunch of times to give me a hug (sweet!), big smiles! Game over, we all leave – John goes off to his end-of-season party, big hugs, big smiles all around – Bye John, see you Tuesday – Love You!

We say bye to Angelina – she was great (THANK YOU!), and we are off to the Westside and Hillel’s.

For the record, number of weird looks from all folks encountered to date – zero. Number of happy smiles – tons. Thanks Sammamish, you all rock! I loved living there, and I love living in Seattle now.

I ask Anh “What should we do for dinner?” as we are driving. She says “Lets get takeout – how about Green Leaf and some Pho?” Sure, NP, lets invite Jenny and Adrian to come up and eat with us? (They live less than a block from us on QA, and also Demon Virus Boy infested Jenny with one smooch when she was in SFO last Monday… and she’s just better. Soup is just the right thing.) We call her, they say “Great!” see you soon.

I call Debra to say hi and se if she was ok about what I wrote about her yesterday, realize she’s prob not back, and leave VM.

As we are driving, and I’m resting, I notice how now that my top lip is shorter, you see my top teeth more, and I think they are a little crooked (and slightly yellow). One of my friends from work got veneers last year, and they looked great. That’s what I was thinking about. I mention this offhandedly to Anh. (more on that later).

We get to Hillel and Deb’s, its fantastic, big smiles – all around! I say “You can touch anything but the nose – that hurts.” They say I look great! Was awesome to see them. Its Hannukah, and their son has just gotten the MTT Lego thing and is putting it together, I ask him about that, and he’s super excited. I say “I missed you!” (We see them all the time, and I really did!) Big Smile! “I missed you too!” Big Smile!

However, Typhoid Samwich got Hillel on last Sunday too in SFO. Here’s how. Hillel being the dad of three is quite familiar w/babies and he was holding Samwich facing out, with his hand under his butt. He says “Samwich is wet – can you change him?” (To Anh) He then smells his hand. That was enough. This little dude is toxic.

So, they basically clear out all the toys, except for five or so, which I assume are being incinerated as I write this, and while they all LOVE the Samwich (and who doesn’t?), no want wants a repeat – even though we think he is totally clean now – no big smooches for Samwich on this day.

Alex and Kat show up, big smiles, hugs and kisses (although not for Typhoid Samwich – they KNOW better – they were in SFO too. We catch up, Deb and Kat are asking about my forehead, and as soon as the talk goes surgical, Hillel and Alex go “LA LA LA LA” and escape to the music room. Wusses! (I love you guys – you know it.)

Soon its time to go, we leave, I can drive now because its dark, Anh calls Green Leaf and orders, we drive over to get it. We get it, and while we are driving back I’m just so so happy. Today has been great!

Anh says: “I want to tell you something, but I don’t want to hurt your feelings. Please know that. You know, earlier when you said you wanted veneers, I was really upset. I don’t want our whole life to be about making Megan beautiful, and always chasing some ideal. It’s a slippery slope. You already are beautiful; you just need to realize this, and get over thinking you are not.” I can tell by just looking at her she really means it. I think about it – realize she is completely right, and say “Ok, this is the shortest argument ever. You are totally right. Thank you. I love you so much both for what you said and how you said it.”

We declare a voluntary surgical moratorium till at least age 50. I meant it. She meant it. We meant it. We are together until we turn to dust.

I can’t believe how lucky I am to have this woman in my life. I learn so much from her every day.

We get home, I clean up, she works the Sam-man, Jenny and Adrian came up. Big smiles, hugs, kisses all around. These are our newest super close friends, and you know, we love them. They bring up a bottle of champagne, and we all get dinner ready (take out Pho – super hard!)

One of the things that we got in the mail while we were gone was this beautiful little catalog from a small clothing design house. From the second I saw it I said “Jenny would love it – we have to show her!” She’s a great visual designer, and loves beautiful things, and this is one of them. I show her, and I was right, she loved it, and poured over it. I love stuff like that.

What we thought was going to be a quickie dinner turned into a long super intense, all over the map awesome discussion from our experiences in SFO, to Microsoft to why the Pats seemingly weren’t the same team the last two weeks (Adrian – awesome theory about that BTW) to Vegas (as in, when are we going?), to my Dad and doing early computer stuff around nesting (and about the fact that he had a HUGE potty mouth and loved it) to everything. You know what, I loved it. It was normal. It was our life, and I loved it. And it had nothing to do with being an [adjective] person. It had to do with being a person who is interested and passionate about [noun or verb].

One thing that I will expand on is that we had this super intense discussion about all of my FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) references in this blog. I’ve said I’m an atheist, and I really am. However, I don’t hate religion, its just not me. I get that it works for some people. I did see something in the past year though that made me sad. (Ok, this is going to be controversial right in the middle of the love fest, but I’ll tell you anyway). I saw Jesus Camp. It made me cry. It made me cry because I felt so bad for the kids who were told that unless they did exactly the right stuff, they were going to hell – which was a real place that sucked super bad. These kids were scared shitless.

I have a lot more to say about it, but I’m not going to. You decide.

Adrian and I agreed that Dawkins has gone into screed mode, and he’s not helping, but I told him to read the Hitchens (god is not Great) book, because it was way better.

Look, I love humanity. I really do. I’ve gone to temple with Jewish friends, I participate even, I will go to church and be respectful, I loved learning about eastern religions (lots more there). Someone yesterday gave me a hard time for the FSM thing and said “Chinese religion says that God is the sum total of all sentient consciousness.” I say amen to that brother! I can get behind that.

What I get sad (not angry) about is when people fail to own their lives and be responsible for their actions because they are expecting some external force to do it for them.

The day I became an atheist was the day I was at an adored great uncle’s funeral wake. I loved this man – he was my paternal GPA’s brother, and I saw him all the time. All of the other generational brother and sisters were there and the priest was talking to them and while trying to be comforting basically said “[uncles name] is in a better place. You should be craving the day that you join him.”

I lost it. I got so angry. What he should have said, and I probably would still be a Catholic today (maybe not – but I wouldn’t be like this) was “[uncles name] is in a better place. But this world is important to, and you should go enjoy your time, tell your stories, hug your kids, tell em you love em, hug your grandkids, experience this world, because while the next world is great, this one is important too.”

I’m crying as I’m writing this btw…..

That’s it on that topic.

Anyway, it was late, those guys left, lots of hugs and kisses, Adrian is coming over tomorrow to watch the Pats/Steelers (scary game for the Pats – which team will show?), and while we do that Jenny and Anh will go downtown for a bit w/the Sam man.

Anh and I sat down, we had our moment, pledged our love to each other and Anh said to me: “You know, I keep saying that things will be ok, it will get better, that this is hard, but I have hope. I don’t feel that way anymore. I’m there. Things ARE ok. You are beautiful. I love you. I love us.”

And with that my friends, the perfect day ended.

Hi, I’m Megan, and this is my life, and I love it.

I will tell more stories, like about getting a new name (Megan Jenna Wallent), or a new passport or license, or what its like to go back to work and how people respond to me, but this blog is no longer about being Transgendered. It’s about being me, and living my life. I am a woman – a transgendered one – but I’m a person with great passion and interests and a love of life and all things about it first. Person [nouns, verbs], not [adjective] Person [nouns, verbs].

I will get deeply involved with causes that involve equal rights and treatment and privileges for all people (even folks like me). I get it. I will help. With money, with time, with passion – I’m there.

I hope you have enjoyed being along for the ride for this part of my journey, but its over.

December 8, 2007

It’s Over

Posted in epic blowouts, food, friends, Identification, schedule, transgender at 4:04 am by Michael

(Ed. note, 830am Sat… I wrote this very late last night and was almost falling asleep as I finished. I had a lot of stuff in my head I wanted to get out – some very important like our relationship to the trans community, and the community overall. I tried to express it lovingly. Sometimes I screwed it up, and I’m sorry. I’m already in process of editing this, and have changed a bunch of stuff. We are just about to leave for a super busy day, and I won’t be able to get back to this for a bit. So, please accept my apologies in advance if complex thoughts and feelings didn’t come out ok. If that caused any offense I’m deeply sorry. For now, please consider this a draft of someone writing between 1 and 4am, after a very long day, after a very long and emotional period. With great peace and love to all…. Megan) 

As I write this, I’m sitting at our dining room table (at 12:36am – we’ll see how long I last!), right next to our Christmas tree, looking out at downtown Seattle (we live in the Queen Anne neighborhood, and are blessed by the FSM with a killer view). I’m listening to the Vince Guaraldi music from “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, drinking a diet coke, and having some water. Anh is upstairs, catching up on mail. (She gets lots of supportive mail too!), and Samwich, oh the little Typhoid Samwich (our great friend Jenny is the latest victim), is sleeping (finally).

I feel amazing.

We had a great night, but a crazy day. The first set of pics from today are posted – these are the ones that Dr. O’s office that are the official “after” pics (sorry, no boobie shots – even blurred). I put these on side-by-side w/the originals taken pre-op. When I get a few minutes tomorrow, I’ll make the SBS thumbnails between 2x and 3x bigger to make it easier to do the comparo. Anh took a TON of pics of Mira removing my last remaining stuff today – I’ll create a special page for those and post those as quick as I can. (and Mira – you missed ZERO staples in my thick noggin – coolio!)

Sleeping 2-3 hours a day, but blogging for 5 – not a great combo. Not good work/life balance, huh? Anyway, I’m sleepy, but I have so much in my head that I need to get out, so I’ll do my best to not bore the crap out of anyone who cares to read this.

Fundamentally, I feel great because we got home on time basically on time (more on our flight home later – URGH United Airlines URGH). We called a bunch of folks (HAPPPY BIRTHDAY ROD! Sorry we couldn’t be there for you tonight dude… I’ll save some wine for you!), saying we were home (Oh, and Hillel – please go and tell Veronica, its time to celebrate Hannukah). We had a great chat with Peri and John, then we ordered Pizza, came home, had some Pagliacci pizza (South Philly) and salad (slowly), had an awesome bottle of Silver Oak 2001 Napa Valley (I think this is my favorite. I’ve even got some left.) We sat at our table, talked, cried, played with our Samwich. Anh even holding his head so I could nuzzle him without risking mortal damage to my face (Little dude moves his head like a bucking bronco sometimes – his fave move is the bi-ear hair grab, then the pull-in for the “smooch”, which is more like a big chin/jaw bite. But – because this move means “I love you!” we don’t care. Today, (and for the last week), I would care. A lot. (Anh accidentally – and I truly truly mean that – elbowed me in the chin yesterday while we were both mid-Samwich changing (not a blowout), and I sobbed so hard for about 15 minutes from the mind numbing pain that I didn’t think I would stop – ever.)

Anyway, we are back to our life, and back to what we hope will quickly become the new normal. While I (and Anh too!) care very deeply about LGB and expecially Transgendered causes (e.g. anti-hate crimes, equality provisions, fixing some of the goofy “gender” label problems), and will likely dive in to try to help move those causes forward as part of our overall family volunteer plan. We’ve already encountered a set of folks in the past week in person and email that we’d love to get to know more, and spend more time with) I know that a lot of people find great support in chat rooms, support groups and the like – but that’s not me, and its not us – and I don’t expect that to change. I’m not saying it’s not cool – it’s just not me. E.g. World of Warcraft – I don’t get it. Not into it. Know a lot of people who are – glad they like to spend time that way!

Tomorrow we go do a bunch of stuff about just general house maintenance (like get non-rotten food), and spend a bunch of time with Peri and John too… It should be a good day.

I was up early this morning – and late to bed. Probably didn’t go to bed till at least 2 because I was writing a 10 page blog (duh), then I got up at 5am, too nervous to do anything but write. I ended up writing a “Rants” page (At the top banner). It was a release to write this. Some people have said some not so nice things about me – on public sites. Some who have met met, some who have no idea who I am. I was and am upset that some people went after my kids, and other folks who seemingly were going after me with over-general, old commentary. I’ve been bottling up inside, and that was no good. Lots of people said “Let it go”, but I was having a hard time with it. As a result, I wrote Rants (which in the end included some fun raves – but more on that in a bit), but just before I started this post, I edited it and removed some specifics from one of the Rants that I didn’t feel was appropriate or in the tenor of this space (peace and love baby, peace and love). Read it anyway, I think you till get the point

At about 6, Samwich woke up (he’s nothing if not reliable on morning wakeup time), and we quickly all showered and dressed and also started packing for the trip home, and headed out to muni to catch the J line to Dr. O’s. Now, I’m under what Mira called the “10 pound restriction” – I’m not supposed to carry more than that for another week. However, Anh is carrying Samwich in the ErgoBaby (look at yesterday’s post for a link and our review – awesome!), and I have my laptop bag (loaded for travel – hardcover books and all), and Anh’s loaded-for-travel backpack (at least 20 lbs). AND the walk up from the muni stop we had to take was straight uphill. Now I love Anh to death. But when walking, no matter how much weight she is carrying (and we have carried 70+ lb packs in the backcountry) she has one speed – rapid. I’m barely 7 days postop from FFS, which is pretty grueling surgery. Mind you, I’m feeling good – but I have my limits. About three-quarters of the way up the hill, I said to Anh “Honey… please, just a little slower.” I was starting to huff a bit… I didn’t want some literal blood-blowout in my face minutes before we were done. She looked at me (lovingly) like “Suck it up!”, but relented, and we marched on. I made sure my resp rate was normal when we walked into the office. Bad form to flaunt Dr’s instructions to your face. (Later clarification from Mira indicated that for super in-shape folks like us, the real instruction is “don’t strain” – I would strain lifting more than 50 lbs today – so that’s the limit. One more week till I am (legally) allowed to get my HR to 140. So, our walk was ok…. On the limit – but ok.)

When I got there I excitedly told Mira about the post someone made (its on the Rants page – but it’s a non-rant – you have to read it) about the medical issues with the mushrooms. Dr. O had known that they were bad, but hadn’t seen the scientific issues – so both he and Mira were super excited. Ah, the Internet adding value again.

Anyway, I get brought to the chair so that Mira can do the suture, staple and nose stuff removal. She started by removing my head staples, and was all excited to show me. I said “Oh, those. I’ve seen a ton of those. Remember my crazy lung thing?” She said – “Oh yeah”, and then started to remove the sutures still under my nose, then the chin suture.

(Anh was taking pics the whole time – to be posted! I promise.)

Then, the big reveal. She removed the nose splint, which although you couldn’t tell from the pic was hard – like a real cast. Looked nice! The interesting thing is that she said that it takes up to 18 months for a nose to stabilize post-surgery (cartilage swelling – like your tip is the slowest). Every day is different. She said that if I didn’t like it in 6-12 months, then come visit.

Now more fun parts – removing inside nose sutures (not bad), then these plastic footballs, about an inch long, and maybe one third of an inch wide that had been keeping pressure “out” – while the cast kept the pressure “in”

Removal there wasn’t bad at all. I wouldn’t do it as a spa treatment but it was bearable. I was shocked when I saw them – just the size. Immediately, I could REALLY BREATHE. The last two days have been ok, but I felt stuffy, an was mouth breathing still at least 50% of the time.

Turns out that no glasses for another 6 weeks – real crunchy food (like the stuff I love), a bit longer than that, and running – a bit longer than that. But, we’ll still do a 3 mile walk tomorrow.

After seeing all this, Mira and Dr. O were super confident that things would end up fantastic for me…. I trust them, although like I said yesterday in this space, I’m not yet overwhelmed. I’m waiting to be overwhelmed. I’m patient, and I have a lot of work to do.

We said our goodbyes to the gang there – we really loved them and they were super at every step. BTW, he’s not just for t-girls, I’ve met quite a few GGs who go to him, and say that he’s the MAN. I believe it. Remember that whole world-class thing yesterday. Cut and paste here. These folks are not just world-class  – they are THE BEST (IMHO).

One example. I have a TON of stitches in my mouth still – all dissolvable. Guess how many I’m having a hard time with? Uh, zero? Yup. A while ago, I got a blocked gland in my lip and had a dermatologist remove it (from the inside). She cored it like an apple, the sutured it and did some sutures on the outside. I never even made it home before my lip started blowing up like a gushing balloon. I was in the hospital for half of he next days in the next two weeks getting new sutures, in the same place until I finally just gave up. Big difference,

While I was getting cleaned up, Anh talked to Tan (who lives in SJC), and she decided to come up, meet us, then have us go back to SJC to have lunch at Da Lat, another of Anh’s fave places that serves this special soup. As a result, we were now in a bigtime hurry. I really appreciate Mira in particular for getting us what we needed in time to make it all work!

Mad dash back to Cocoon house, goodbye call to Mary-Lou – again – these folks – also World Class, and just lovely lovely people. We will visit them (and promise not to get them sick again), when we are in SFO again (although I plan on no more surgery for me!). I will write a whole separate post about how amazing, smart, loving, caring, thoughtful, supportive, understanding, and just plain funny they both (Mary-Lou and Tricia) are. Thank you so so much to both of you.

We got back, got all packed up (not easy!) Tan showed, Mira showed, we loaded the car, and off we went. On the way down (and on the way back) we had a big heavy-deep-real convo about my mega post yesterday, which I was still recovering from doing…. It was good. I still can’t reread the whole “Merry Little Christmas” thing without crying. I’m so looking forward to Christmas – now with the real me! Live and in person!

Da Lat in SJC was interesting. Anh has been going there with Tan since ninth grade, and they both still know the owner/servers. The server who helped us had burned the top of his hand bad. Anh burned her hand bad with hot oil a few years ago so we were talking about that for a bit. Now, I was clearly dressed like a girl today – still jeans – but a bit of cleavage was showing – and I DO have Breasts. Yes, it’s true. I still had my fleece jacket on, but it was totally unzipped. As we were talking, it became clear, he was oblivious to my breasts, and just saw me as Anh’s hubby and Daniel’s Dad. Ok, I’m cool. No prob – I just thought it was interesting, As we finished and walked out, I made sure to zip up my fleece and walk over to him (he was sitting at the “owner” table – you know how small places are) smile, shake his hand, and wish him the best with healing his hand (it was his left that burned – reg handshake ok.)

We start back to SFO – now really going to the airport – I’m feeling better already! One of our topics of conversation is how much I’m going to “change” through this process. I used to push back super hard on any talk of “change”. I’d say “I’m just me! Same person, different wrapper.” I missed the whole point. I am different. Its funny, almost everyone in Anh’s fam says they like me MORE now. Way more. Before – colder, more aloof. Now, open, chatty, interesting. Going through this whole process has brought on a huge amount of deep deep soul searching – who am I? What’s important to me? What am I willing to lose? One cannot go through this without being a changed person. Do I sill love to do all he stuff I used to? Hell Yeah! But the way I try to interact with people and be more honest with myself now is far different. I feel like this is a breakthrough. Anh looks at me lovingly but with this look like “You dumbass. This is what I’ve been telling you all along.”

I’ll make he argument though that these changes have little to nothing to do with gender change, I postulate that if I decided to become an artist and move to the country I might have to face similar issues. (Given my family situation today. It’s a postulate – and its almost 3am, so cut me some slack….)

The other thing I tell Tan is that last year at this time I was feeling huge amounts of shame about my gender feelings. Today – absolutely zero. Ok, you can call BS on that – but when people “sir” me, or the dude at Da Lat today just thought I was a guy – I didn’t care. Not one Iota. To me that says I know who I am, am not defined by others, and I’m happy.

On the topic of happy, I’m going to drift here for a second. I’m a little scared to do this, because this *will* be controversial. I write these words though with deep caring and love for my trans sisters and brothers and those who are gender conflicted.

I was happy before I came out – successful, happy, high functioning, the whole deal. I loved my life, In fact, I loved it so much I didn’t want to lose it by coming out, and my fear (see Yoda quotes!) lead me to delay far too long. (Although if I didn’t delay Peri, John and Samwich may not exist – and that would be a shame. (see Rants))

My goal was to be happy ‘before”. Happy during the transition, then move on back to real life and not be *defined* by being trans, but by the rest of my life and what I do, achieve, and who I touch.
 
Ok, here’s the controversial bits – again – peace and love, and this is only an opinion, and I’m open to changing it. If what I write strikes you as wrong, then it doesn’t apply to you. I’m not judging.

I have this sign I made on my office wall that basically says “Fewer adjectives. More nouns. More verbs.” I made this because I was tired of asking what someone was going to do, and hearing adjectal descriptions, with zero nouns and verbs. For me, if I start my ID with being “trans” I violate that tenet, which is a deep one for me.

I do not understand going through gender reassignment if you are miserable in your born gender, AND in general are not a well-functioning person. Get whole – or as whole as possible – FIRST. Build on that strength then to be the real you. It took me 38 years to get whole before I could do this.

Before you even write that comment, I know that some people have such severe gender dysphoria that they are suicidal. I’m not talking about them. I feel incredibly sorry that anyone would have to endure that pain, and I get fixing that ASAP. (But please don’t ignore working every other high-functioning personality trait in the process).

Oh, phew. Please don’t fillet me on this. I know not everyone who reads this will agree. So far I’ve had ZERO non-supportive emails. This may change that. This next one may be worse.

In short, supportive communities are great, ghettos are bad. Please, lets not become the trans-ghetto. Lets be the community of people who happen to be trans, but define themselves in other ways primarily. I strongly believe that if we do this, that society as a whole will accept us all far more than they do today. I’m a newbie to this whole thing, so who am I to say this, but being the offspring of immigrants (Polish), and seeing the suffering and stigmatization they went through in the Polish Ghetto of Brockton, MA (late 1800’s – early 1900’s), compared to the future generations, I know that as future generations embraced both the larger society, as well as still held dear their cultural heritage, they were far more successful. My 2nd gen paternal grandmother HATED the Italians. Why? The Italians came to MA first, the Poles later, and the Poles got treated like crap. My grandparents bought a shack on Cape Cod on Dr. Bottero Road (nice Italian street, huh?) in Dennis, MA back in the early 60’s in a dune for a song. I spent many a happy summer there. But I have these memories of my g’ma shaking a broom out the door in her housecoat swearing in Polish at those horrible greasy Italians. Clearly, she had issues, but my central point is my dad thought this was just nuts. He had good friends who were Italian and Irish, and all the other folks from Europe who were here before the Poles. Now my dad, he was a little hard on the Asians, and the African Americans. Not so much on the equal rights amendment either. I thought all of this was JUST NUTS. I was not more than a little freaked out to bring home Anh (who is native Vietnamese – came here at 5) because I had no idea what nutty thing he would say about “Those Orientials”. In the end, it was ok, because Anh showed him that being a good person isn’t about your label but about your actions and intentions. I give him credit for coming around to that near the end of his life. (He passed last August of ’06).

For example, my last boss, who I’ve spoken highly of, is an out, Jewish, lesbian, who is married to her partner and totally committed. She is a lot of things, but she is an executive and a world traveler, a connoisseur and a dog lover, and lots of other things. She’s also a very involved out proud lesbian woman who is super active in the community. This is great. I know, because we have talked about this, that she has a lot of straight friends, and also gay friends. When we talk, we talk some about my trans stuff, but mostly about other stuff that we both are passionate about.

I want to be like her. I think we all should.

I apologize in advance if I offended anyone. My goal was to promote a discussion, and just put forth (maybe) a fresh POV. I’m not going to claim to have read all the literature to know if this is new or not, but I just wrote it, and signed my name on it. Do with it what you will.

I had a little problem once we got to the airport today. Even though I talked to United THREE times over the past two weeks about the screwed up way I got into SFO (read the blog post on Nov 26), and I wanted to make sure that they didn’t cancel my return flight, and I had been reassured no fewer than three times, this was not the case. I don’t have the energy right now to go into all of it, but it sucked. Here’s the lesson. If you are in customer service – listen first – talk later. Don’t assume that the person who you are talking to is an idiot. I travel ALL THE TIME. I know airline rules. I’m a pilot for SFM’s sake! I tried to follow the rules, it didn’t work. One of the ladies, and she was a lady in the truest sense who was trying to help me listened to my spiel (which was TOTALLY documented in my record locator, as well as Anh’s) and I said “Look, I’m not upset. I’m not stressed. I’m honestly giving you feedback that when someone as knowledgeable about such arcane rules does EVERYTHING right, and it still doesn’t work, then things have gone horribly wrong.” She looked dejected and said “I agree. I spend 80% of my time fixing problems that are OUR FAULT that never should happen. I’m sorry.” After talking to the fourth set of people at the airport and being told “too bad, you have a non-refundable ticket and you didn’t take your outbound ticket so your ticket is void” (by a manager no less), I asked to talk to the SFO station manager. This was about to be non-pleasant. I then decided to tell this very helpful Philipina agent who heard the manager yell at me after hearing two words and looked *mortified*) I told her the whole story. Why not getting to SFO on Sun night was a non-starter (breast augmentation at 6am), and if I missed that, my 7 months ago surgery schedule would get blown up – and who I had talked to, when, what they said, what I said. I reminded her that I wasn’t even asking for a refund for the departure leg. Its $150. Whatever. I showed her my stamped/certified Dr. O letters. She looked even more mortified, and said, I will go talk to my manager again to try fix this, I don’t have the authority. She walked down to where he was, and I saw this look of “Oh Crap” on his face. He walked up with her and I had a boarding pass, and as he’s printing it, he starts making excuses about how he has to deal with people who claim medical issues every day, and they are all lying, and they never have documents. At this point I say, “Excuse me. You never asked to see my documentation, which I have and would have been more than happy to show you. Respectfully, I don’t understand why you continue to tell me that I’m wrong when you’ve just said I’m not. I just want to go home with my wife and baby on this flight. (they were sitting and playing across the way).” He handed me my ticket, and started to walk away. As he was leaving, I said to him “You should reward your employee here, she listened, and owned solving this problem. I appreciate it, and so should your airline.” Mr. Patel, you know who you are. Lighten up.

At this point, my guardian angel has my ticket, and I have a big duffel to check. It’s barely underweight and I tell her that. She says to me “Baby, I don’t care how much this weighs, its going on this plane, and I’m not charging you. Period.”

Done and done. However, I’m not sure that I will ever intentionaly fly United again, Too crazy!

Inbound flight was 30 mins late, we were the same or a bit more.

During the flight home, And read yesterday’s 10 page blog missive, but wasn’t into my cool t-shirt ideas “Queen of the Blowout”, and also matching shirts:

“Don’t you wish your wife was hot like me!” for Anh

And

“Don’t you wish your husband was hot like me!” for me!

She loves, and has bought off on “Boot and Rally Baby” for the Samwich. Although I think he needs “Samwich” and “Typhoid Samwich” too!

Seeing the lights of Seattle on approach was exciting! We are home at last!

Anh gets Chowder for Samwich at the N Gates, and we take the train in. The FSM looks out for us on baggage, all three bags are in the first 10% of stuff coming off. As I’m  about to pick up he last bag, my cell rings. It’s Anh.

“Samwich has had another diaper, I’m going to go change him.”

“Wait, I have all the bags, I’ll be right there,.

I get over, its clear he has an up the back blowout, but he has intro-ed the bi-di blowout, Both up the back and down one leg, He got poo into his shoe. We decided to just move to the side, put my jacket down and change him right there. We did. It rocked, She really needs the Queen of the Blowouts t-shirt now.

So we get home finally, and s we were eating our pizza, eating our salad, and drinking the super wine, we were listening to “Oh tannenbaum”, and I lost it. We were both so glad to be home, and I’m so incredible optimistic….

All right so this was another huge one,,, I hope its coherent at the end now, because it’s 4am. I’m going to bed.

Peace out.

December 7, 2007

Last Full Day in SFO

Posted in epic blowouts, food, friends, GPS, Identification, Nordstrom, schedule, surgery, transgender, Verizon at 1:32 am by Michael

I feel kind of bad that I haven’t posted (really) yet today, given how much I’ve been posting over the last few days, but we’ve been out since I posted earlier this morning, and we just got back.

As a result, this is super long, and I hope not boring…. Please please please read to the end… all the way, no skipping, it’s the important part.

(Sorry, a lot of this is going to sound like product placement but hey, that was our day!)

Last night was a late one for us, so we did get a bit of a slower start (even the Samwich), but we had to be out by 930a to get the rental car parked a bit a way and bring it back (had to get the car moved by 10a because of non-resident SFO parking rules).

On the way to get the car we stopped for coffee (sorry, I forget which one… I’ll update when Anh’s awake and I can ask her). I got coffee and Anh a croissant (she was hungry), and while I was putting sugar in my small latte, this guy, kind of burly guy comes up to me and says “How did you break your nose?”. I said “I didn’t – I just had a little surgery done.” He smiles and said, “Well, when I broke mine, it really hurt for the first day, but after that it wasn’t bad. I hope that yours doesn’t hurt that much. It’s good to see you out and about – good for you man!” I smiled and said “Yeah, it doesn’t really hurt at all anymore, and this all comes out tomorrow anyway – thanks!” This was the first time that anyone had said anything about the various wraps and contraptions that I’ve been carrying around San Francisco and San Jose this week – and from the blog, you can tell we haven’t exactly been sitting around in a spider-hole. I thought his comment and question was honest, caring, and extremely sincere. It was honestly a very nice thing for him to have done. It was a  great way to start the day.

I drove the car back to Avis, and Anh walked carrying Samwich (because that’s just the way she rolls). About a month ago Anh got an “Ergo Baby” (http://www.ergobabycarrier.com/)  carrier because Samwich had become too heavy for the Baby Bjorn to be worn comfortably (it carries the weight mostly on your shoulders – the Ergo Baby is primarily hip, with shoulder straps that carry the load as well). It can be used with the baby in the front or the back, but the baby always faces “In” toward the carrier – a disadvantage over the Baby Bjorn. One of Samwich’s most delightful moment was to be outward facing in the Baby Bjorn. For a while it was the best way to get him to consistently belly laugh (and it still melts me!). The other advantage of the Ergo Baby over a hard frame backpack is that its easier for one person to get the baby in/out – and its also WAY easier to travel with. (Because it’s soft.)

One of our favorite purchases in the past year has been a Garmin Nuvi 270 navigator (https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=9316&locale=en_US). We got this for a trip to Italy this summer – and it was a lifesaver. (The 270 has US and EUR maps preloaded – other versions have different sets) Italian roads are notoriously hard to figure out, especially in the cities (Florence, Rome) and even more so in the countryside (e.g. Tuscany), where the maps are basically useless, and the signs border on maniacally inaccurate. It is/was great when both walking and driving, and is super small. We thought we might just use this sometimes. However, we’ve become addicted. Whenever we travel someplace where both of us aren’t very very familiar, we bring it. Anh has been to SFO a ton and drove, but I’ve been here a lot and used cabs. Today, getting the car from Noe Valley down to Post was a piece-of-cake. It even helped me find the closest gas station to avoid the $6.99/gal charge for them to do it. Anyway, I use Garmin stuff for driving and I trust mine and my friends and families lives to them for aviation ( http://www.garmin.com/garmin/cms/site/us/intheair/ ) (both built-ins (a GNS530/430/transponder stack) and a handheld (the GPSMAP 396 w/XM WX, Music, Terrain – its helped us do trips with safety that I could have only previously dreamed of. I think the big iron drivers wish that they had something like a GPSMAP 396, or the even faster/brighter GPSMAP 496. They are the best thing to happen to general aviation safety in a very long time.) I hate to blather on, but man, their stuff just rocks. And, it just works easily, which says a lot in these days of tech simplicity. (I actually used the GPSMAP 396 as an example of a full-featured, but easy to use product for specialists (e.g. pilots, or IT Pros) at work the other day – as something we should aspire to be as good as.)

I appear to have lost my Verizon Data Card somewhere between here and the hospital – tried a bunch this morning to see if they had it – no luck. Will have to go grovel for a new one when we get back to Seattle, we are not even six months in the contract for that hardware. D’oh! Honestly, I can’t live without one. I love having the Internet, at great speed virtually everywhere all the time. The best is at some offsite meeting where they have “Wireless”, but it can’t scale for the number of people trying to connect. Have Data Card, no worries! If the Nuvi was the best tech buy this year, the Data Card was it for last year. Must replace card of happiness!

Anyway, after dropping off the car uneventfully (thank you Avis!), I called Anh, walked a couple blocks, and found her in Union Square. We went into a few stores – she found a super cool new pair of sunglasses – but didn’t find much else. She said “Why don’t we go through Chinatown?” I said to Samwich – “Samwich, learn this well my son… when your Momma *suggests* that we go to Chinatown, its not a suggestion. It’s a strong, heartfelt request. If you love her, go.” Guess what, we went! Anh sampled a few of the places with buns – Sesame Balls, Hum Bao, and some other stuff. At this point, it had started to rain pretty well, but hey, we are Seattleites, and we were surprised and confused by many people’s uses of these odd items which seemed to be intended to ward off the rain, doesn’t fleece work in San Francisco?

In any case, we worked out way down to the Ferry Terminal to have lunch with another woman staying here at the Cocoon House. We got there first, she was much delayed, so we decided to go to Mistral and have lunch. (No good website/link… sorry!) They have a great selection of roti meats and lots of interesting sides they sell by the ounce (great way to try a ton of stuff). We got a Moroccan Lamb Stew, Couscous with Raisins and Honey, Jambalaya with Chicken and Pork, roasted squash, some mac and cheese (eating hard stuff for me – still a non-starter), and Chicken Noodle Soup. For all that stuff, and a couple of drinks it was only $20 – very reasonable.

Anh started feeding the Samwich, and he was loving the chicken noodle soup. Now, his alimentary canal was one way for almost a whole day, and he held down breakfast very well. All of a sudden, BLAMMO. Emergency stomach evac. Now, at this point, we are wise in the ways of barf. I saw him start to have the barfy face, I said to Anh – “Anh, Barfy Face – quick point it away!” She did, and the overspray was very limited.

I went into Mistral and said “Our son just vomited, can you bring out a mop?” The super nice woman behind the counter had this look like “That really sucks”, and said “I’m really sorry – I’ll be right out.” We covered up the spew w/napkins to do our best to not completely disgust passers by (The Ferry Building is a very interesting super-high end food-courty plus fresh market place. Very few of the restaurants have seating inside – Mistral does not, is out on the very wide hall, across the hall from the restaurant). She came out with a mop and rags and dropped the rags on the stuff, and started to bend down. She grabbed the rags and I thought “No, not another one”. I feel like I’m 28 Days Later (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0289043/)  (not the Sandra Bullock one – although that was also a scary movie http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0191754/ – and its also just “28 Days” ) at this point with the number of people that Samwich (aka the Rotavirus Typhoid Mary – so cute – but so deadly) has struck down. I said “Please wait. Our son probably has rotavirus which sucks, and is very contagious. We both have been exposed, so stop, let me do this, and go wash your hands – a lot – and don’t touch your face at all – or any other part of you if your hands touched the barf, until your hands are super clean.” She said “Wow, ok – thanks – I’ll be right back” I cleaned up the worst of it, then she came back w/the mop and gloves (smart!), and I picked up the rags and paper towels, and um, other stuff, and she said “How about if we just throw that all away?” I said “Good idea!” and she directed me to their industrial dumpster where they don’t put food waste.

Ok, we handled that pretty well… and now Samwich, in the best tradition of the “Boot and Rally Baby” (I need that t-shirt for him from Café Press, just haven’t gotten around to making it – been a bit busy!) that he is, was making his “I’m hungry, you bitches!” noise, and also doing the crazy wrist/hand thing that he does. Anh looked at me like ‘How about more soup?”, and I’m thinking “No frigging way!”. We gave him his bottle, which he has not barfed on in more than four days….

I finished eating – liked the Lamb Stew and Jambalaya the best – although eating the mac n cheese was just good clean fun, so I took the Samwich, and we were playing, and he was sitting on my lap, I was singing him songs (HE LOVES “Must Be Santa”). I felt him poop. At this point, we just know – if you poop, you are flirting with disaster if you don’t catch this RIGHT AWAY (and BTW, the movie “Flirting With Disaster” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0116324/  is just hilarious, and always fun to watch. If I ever see it while channel surfing, no matter what point I stop at watch! Indian Wrestling?).

I say to Anh – “Give me a diaper and the wipes – Samwich just pooped, and I’m changing this before this gets bad.”  (HA HA HA HA). Note that I can still only smell about at a 50% rate – I still have more nose stuff to come out tomorrow – but more on that later. So I can’t smell it – I only felt his bumtacular move.

Anh had just changed him while I was getting food, and said to me as I was getting up “No problem, thanks, there’s a changing table in the women’s room.”. I said, “Great!”. I go into the women’s room (and this is a big one – 6 stalls plus – I’m still at this point a little women’s-room-phobic – realistically I’ve only transitioned for less than two weeks, and for a lot of those days, I went nowhere – or was unconscious)

I go to the drop-down table, pull it down, put him on it and start. Right away I notice – blowout. And it’s a good one – again – shoulder level. Yea! I get to touch rotavirus infested poop again! I take off his shoes and pants, and notice the pants are damp-ish. We planned ahead today – and brought one new outfit for him, so I wasn’t super scared about this. I take off his overshirt, then work on the diaper, gross-mess-ectomy, etc. Quite honestly at this point I’m thinking “Dude, I am the QUEEN of the Blowouts! Bring it!” (I need that t-shirt too). I get him clean enough to get a new diaper on (before I cleaned his back completely – note this tactic – it prevents previously documented “Additional Pee” catastrophies). I stand him up, and wipe off his back, and start redressing him. All through this process, I’m super calm, and singing songs to him. At one point, I say out loud, but to no one in particular (maybe the Samwich) “I’m going to have to blog about this tonight!” At that point, this older (mid 60’s) very proper looking European lady comes up to me and says (and I’m really not sure I heard her right) “Dear, why are you trying to hard to not look like a girl?”. Now, I had on nice jeans, that are clearly NOT men’s jeans (I’m lucky because I’m pretty thin for my height, so the 32 designer jeans fit me, as long as the legs aren’t too small around), flats (black), a white tank top, and a button up sweater. Over this, I have a Northface Fleece (black), which is men’s, but not big on me at all – and it’s not zipped up.. Also, post last Monday, I’m a solid C cup. Now, on the downside, my nose cast is still on, and because I’m not totally done with facial hair removal and of some bruising on and near my top lip, my skin being light, and my hair being dark, my mustache hairs are not non-obvious. Honestly, I’m confused by her comment. I say, as sweetly and genuinely as I can while dealing with Mr. Level 5 Biohazard, “But I am a girl. I’m not trying to hide anything.” She says “Ok”, and walks off. So, if you Ms. Proper European Lady are the one who saw me today, and want to tell me what you meant with a little more detail, I would really honestly like to know. I think I’m pretty good with people, but boy, I didn’t get it.

I pick up the mess of detritus from below, grab the little germ factory, and head back out. While this story written was not as long as last night’s, it still took me a good 15 minutes to do this.

I brought him back out, gave him to Anh, and took the ones-ie back the restroom to clean out. I cleaned it out (hot water – lots – plus soap – lots), cleaned out the sink (just to be sure – DON’T LICK SINKS IN THE FERRY BUILDING).

I went back to Mistral to ask for a plastic bag to put this wet but wrung out thing into. These are hard to come by in San Francisco, as effectively, they are banned (the grocery kind). These folks just rock. They gave me a kitchen garbage bag. I thanked them again for all their help, and went back to our table. We got up, cleaned up, and went in search of coffee and dessert. It was cold and very wet here today, and Anh was in the mood for a hot decaf latte (with one raw sugar – melted), so we started off. Just as we were looking we got a call from the woman we were meeting that she was there. So we met up with her, she, Anh and the Samwich sat down to have her eat a nice warm bowl of soup, and I went off in search of the dessert and coffee Anh had asked for.

I went to Peet’s first – right across the way, and as I was ordering the barista said to me “When I got my nose done [I missed the rest, until] and the boobs too! Those hurt!”. It was pretty loud in there. This was not the comment I wanted to say “Huh?” too. I got Anh’s coffee, brought it over to her, and went in search of said sugaryness.

The Miette French pastry shop had this nice Scharffen Berger half dome that Anh had her eye one, and I got one of those, and also an éclair (I’m a total sucker for a good éclair or cannoli). I’ve noticed that in a retail situation, if when people greet me, I give them a big smile, a friendly hello, and look ‘em in the eye and just go forward. Again this worked great!

I brought it all back, and we sampled it all (not bad – not the best), and then headed off to Nordstrom. (Yeah, I know – Seattleites going to SFO to go to Nordstrom (Note for non-Seattleites – Nordstrom is based in Seattle) – but the SFO store is in many ways larger and nicer than the one in Seattle) The woman who we had met had a meeting with a personal shopper (her official title is “Wardrobe Consultant’, but Nordstrom has a “Personal Shopping” department in which she works) who was known to be super-trans friendly, and she had previously ordered and got some great stuff from her. She set us up with a meeting with her too! Thanks!

We took the Muni over (love that public transit), as it was still pouring and we were a bit late, and went to Nordstrom to meet up with Kris Keuttel. Kris’ contact info is 415-243-8500 ext 1452, email kris.keuttel@nordstrom.com. “Megan”, you may be asking “What on earth are you doing giving out info like that?” Well, a number of things. One, Kris is an awesome lady. She made me feel like the most important, most beautiful person today. I still feel like a train wreck survivor, but hey! Two, she rocks at her job. It’s not easy to find great clothes that are refined, stylish, well fitting, and appropriate for trans-girls. (She works with everyone – men, women, whatever). She takes feedback, wants to know what you love, what you hate, what you need, what you need none of. If she doesn’t have it now, she will find it if it is possible to be found. I won’t even start on how hard it is to find great size 13 women’s shoes – it’s hard – and she found me four great pairs, and ordered another one! Also, she (and she worked GREAT with Anh (who is my own personal style consultant!), and doted on Samwich). She worked with us for nearly three hours (basically squeezing me in… while dealing with other clients with appointments – these folks work on appointments that are generally 30-60 minutes. She probably brought up nearly 100 pieces for me to try on. If something wasn’t right – she got the right one. If it was wrong, she brought it back. I ended up with slacks, shirts, a couple sweaters, a couple of nice blouses, and a jacket plus the aforementioned shoes. I did try on some dresses. I’m not ready. If I do get a dress anytime soon, it will be long sleeved (or at least half). I don’t think they look right on me, and I don’t feel good in them. This has zero to do with gender, and all about image, and who I am (which is a girl – duh!) When we were done, a bunch of the stuff needed to get altered – with broad shoulders and being thin, getting nice fitted dress shirts is hard, and almost always tailoring is required. I hadn’t known this before, as even with pretty high end men’s stuff (Pink, which I LOVE), that’s not really the case. While we were going through all this, I said to her that I was having a hard time with slacks, because I felt like I had no butt, and the pants made me look like I had a big saggy bottom. Not cute. We finish selecting the stuff we want to buy – and she says “I want to go get you the best seamstress we have to do the alterations – I’ll be right back!” Lickety-split, seamstress in room, and we are rolling. Kris was right – she rocked! Kris said to her – “Megan wants the butt of her pants to look like mine – nice and tight – with good butt cleavage!” Almost lost the nose splint on that one too. While the seamstress was working on my pants, she was saying that most designers are leaving a lot of extra fabric in the seat of women’s pants these days – they call it “Diaper Butt”. As a result, most of the dress pants they sell need some sort of bumular area alteration. Anyway, we were finishing up, and we were just going to eat there – it was nearly 6, and we all were a bit beat, and Anh headed upstairs to the Bistro at Nordstrom to get a table, and I said to her “Just order me something good!” Anh said bye, thanked everyone, and went up to start on dinner before we had a melty-Samwich. I have this work holiday dinner next Thursday that Anh and I are going to. My boss from most of the previous year (Debra – who I love!) invited me to her staff holiday dinner. Last year’s was my first, and I had just joined the team. Debra was the first Microsoft VP (who was my direct boss at that time) that I had told about being transgender and my plan for transitioning. She has been nothing but supportive from day 1, and this invitation is just another example of that. We’ve gotten closer, even since I left her team. So, I wanted to make sure I had something appropriate to wear. Honestly, I wanted to be comfortable but I also wanted the other people there to be comfortable as well. Me in a black strapless ball gown – not what I’m going for. I really wanted to wear this pair of black pants, plus one of the shoes that we picked out, with a really nice Loro Piana cashmere sweater we got at “The Mall” in Italy (http://www.intuscany.net/guides/the_mall.htm ) (its in Tuscany – that’s what its called – also a “not to be missed place if you are on that continent) One of the cool things about their Personal Shopping service is they ship for virtually nothing. If I remember right, two day is free. From being here for two weeks and bringing back a bunch of stuff already – we have no more space. I told Kris about the event on Thurs, and what I wanted to wear. She said “I will make this happen.” She worked with the seamstress, is getting it all done Monday (it would normally be done Thursday!) and will have it all shipped next-day air to our house so we an have it Tuesday even, but probably Wednesday, We finished up, and as we were chatting she said “You know, I’m just really starting to get used to working with trans-girls, and its been fun!” Getting started! If you call this getting started, then what on earth would be novice or even expert? Our entire experience today was simply world-class customer service. All of it. Every second. Look, I don’t say this lightly. I have been extremely fortunate to be in a profession that I love (and that I’m good at, and helped the companies I’ve worked for be successful), and have been very well compensated. I understand how fortunate (and unequal) it is. When I think about teachers (especially teachers), and how above and beyond many of them go to build the foundation of the very society of the future – and how many of them do it at wages that are sorely inadequate – well, I realize how lucky I am to have my passion, skill and market demand for said same to be aligned. (I’m sorry if this sounded self-aggrandizing – I don’t mean it to be – I just do my job, just like everyone else does. There are far more important jobs that mine…. To those folks – thank you – with heartfelt thanks)

In any case, we travel a lot. We experience a ton of customer service – all over the world I’m willing to pay for great service or products (especially food – especially food – there’s only so many calories you get to eat in you whole life – why make any one of them not be perfect?) I’ve been to incredibly expensive places (Hello, Capri?) were walking into the shops you are made to feel sub-human. Screw them. You aren’t seeing my money – ever.

Anyway, when you get customer service, that’s world class, and it’s FREE. It’s a gift. In fact, she saved us money. She knew what stuff was on sale, that was about to be moved to Nordstrom Rack (its an outlet for Nordstrom) but just hadn’t been picked up yet. One of the nice slacks – originally $500 – now $50. Wow.

So, Kris – you rock. Anyone who needs a Wardrobe Consultant in the Bay Area, or who is in the Bay Area should call or email her. She works Thursday, Friday and every-other Saturday.

You made my day… and made me feel beautiful.

Now, I can imagine that at least one person reading this is thinking “Yeah, right. She gets commission. She’s being nice to you so you will buy more.” You know what, that’s right! It’s called capitalism. It ROCKS! I love China. I love the street vendors in China. They work their butts off to learn English, and learn how to merchandise and sell to foreigners because these are private businesses. The more they sell, the more they make. Compare this to the “Government/Official/Tourist” stores and especially the restaurants. They are 10x more expensive, and THEY SUCK. Especially customer service. English? No way. Look I don’t think everyone worldwide should speak English, but I do think that sellers need to do what buyers want them to do. If your buyers with money to spend will spend more if you or your employees speak Tibetan – go for it! Microsoft doesn’t internationalize our products into hundreds (yes hundreds) of languages because we are nice (well, we *are* nice, but that’s a WHOLE different blog – please lets not turn this into a Microsoft commentary blog – I’m happy to write one of those next year, and there are a lot out there already) – we do it because it makes business sense. It’s what we need to do to sell our products to as many people as possible, and to businesses who work with those people.

Ok, sorry… that was a little soap-boxy.

So, after I left Kris with a big hug, and her plea to ask if I wanted anything – ever – I went up to join Anh and Samwich at the Bistro. The Crab Bisque had already come, and Anh was feeding Samwich (SLOWLY – if we feed him slowly – he may have a blowout, but will not barf. We are not TRYING to make the little dude barf.) Just as I sat down, the rest of our food came (fried calamari, grilled chicken with fries, a salad with blue cheese, raisins, pears and field greens). I ordered us a couple of beers (YUM! Fat Tire on tap), and we started eating.

Anh fed Samwich (SLOWLY), and I fed Anh. We do this a lot. We decompressed, and it was just nice. We can’t wait to get home tomorrow.

When we were mostly done, Anh noticed that Samwich had pooped. She said “I’ll do this one. You relax.” I asked her if she wanted “The Bag” (the garbage bag that had all of Samwich’s clothes that he had somehow soiled today). Initially she said “No, its ok”. Then, the lifted him out of his high chair, and noticed that one leg, right below the butt cheek was soaked. She said “Maybe I should take it. Good think they have a children’s department here!” We were out of clothes.

She left, and I sat there, eating slowly, drinking (no savoring) my beer. I was sad that I realized that I can’t eat French Fries (at least the nice crispy) kind yet (my jaw can’t take it yet) or Tabasco (my nose can’t take it yet), but what I had just tasted great.

As background music, they were playing classic but nice elevator/department store music, and the restaurant was pretty quiet. It was probably 720pm or so… kind of late for a department store bistro to be super busy.

This slow jazzy version of “Have Your Self a Merry Little Christmas” came on, and I had a little moment. I love Christmas. Yes, I know, I’m an atheist, and it’s celebrating the Baby Jesus birthday. I still love it. I love the trees inside. I love the decorations. I love seeing family – some of whom you only see once a year. I love seeing older relatives who you may never see again. I love the fact that people I think when they aren’t at the mall are just nicer. I love getting people little thoughtful things that just make them smile. (I’m sorry, I’m actually crying as I write this….) And you know, this Christmas I got the best gift of all. I got to be me. How awesome is that?

I always think of that song and “White Christmas” as mournful. Mourning for the perfect day that we dream of but doesn’t come. There’s nothing sadder than that….. But, I love those songs.

This line from “Merry Little Christmas” saves it (this is from memory, as Internet lyrics are just horrible – if I mangled this, I’m sorry)

Through the years, we’ll always be together
If the fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
So have yourself a merry little Christmas now

Anh came back, I told her about my moment, which was hard because I know it’s hard for her when I’m weepy. I’m glad she’s not awake now! It was totally fine, and we finished up, she said Samwich’s pants were saveable, and we left. We forgot her super cool Kangol hat, so I went back to get it (we didn’t get too far), and before I even got back to our table I heard “Sir!” from the busboy (yes, I got Sir’ed again… whatever. Words don’t define me.), and the waitress had the hat outstretched for me to take (with both hands no less). Again – world class – all the way. Thanks Nordstrom and all your employees – you rock.

We took muni back, got back just in time to watch Survivor (well, I’ve been writing this now for a lot/most of that time), and then the older kids called (I had talked to their mom earlier – she’s been great too! – and asked her to have them call me tonight when she got home – I wanted to talk to them – just to say hi, and also to talk about Saturday when I’m going to see them for the first time when we get back.

You may think that I should just be calling them every day – I talked to them way more last week early – but they came up Friday-Sunday, and I just could not talk on the phone until late yesterday. I wanted them to hear me sounding like the me they know (no, I’m not doing anything to change my voice) I didn’t want to scare them by sounding bad because I know that they love me, and don’t want to see me sick. I thought it would be worse to call, sounding just horrible (which I did).

Anyway, we had a great talk – both Peri and John (Anh talked to them too), and we are super excited to see them Saturday. We all love you Peri and John (me, Anh and your brother Samwich!).

Anh’s bro James came over to hang, which was very nice. He’s an exceptionally nice person who I’ve just enjoyed getting to know.

But, literally, I’ve been working on this post for more than four hours. I know its long.

Tomorrow at 9 we go for he last time to Dr. O’s office to get all my stuff removed, (Staples, some remaining sutures, nose cast, and remaining interior nose stuff). I get to see what I look like.

Anh asked me earlier how I felt about the facial surgery, at this point, it’s hard to say. I’m very glad it did it – but the results need to be see. Mira is super confident it will come out great, and I am too – but: I need to get my hair done differently to cover the scar – we’ll do that in a couple of weeks. I love my forehead and lack of brow ridge. My upper lip still looks like crap, but that will heal (and the hair will be vanquished!). My jaw feels good – but is swollen a lot still – along with my chin. My adam’s apple is just gone – and doesn’t hurt at all, and my voice wasn’t impacted at all. I REALLY want to see my nose… I think it’s all going to be great – but it would be dishonest to say its great today. I still see me in the mirror – I thought I might not even recognize that person. Anh and others say that I already look a lot different – they are probably right – I just don’t see it.

Tomorrow I promise to post pictures as soon as the nose cast comes off… I think we all are curious.

Anyway, one other short topic. When I started this blog, like I’ve said before, I was going to be like Jack Friday –“Just the facts, Ma’am”. It didn’t turn out that way. Count the number of times I admit crying….

I initially sent this link to about 20 people, and was getting about 60-100 page views a day.

Then Owen from Valleywag posted, and it turned into about 3k views a day for a couple days. That was scary.

It calmed down to about 600 a day, but its growing again. (All these numbers do not count RSS subscribers – I have no idea how many people are subscribed.)

Over the last two days, I’ve seen more than 1k, then 1.3k views. Today it was more like 1.5k, and I posted virtually nothing new.

I have no idea how this now 10 page post (in Word) is going to go over. So, please, if you like it, tell me. Want more of something, tell me. Less of something, tell me.

I can’t promise that I can do it all, but my goal is to tell my story, and maybe show how someone going through this can start happy, stay happy, then be happy and whole. Please know, I am not trying to speak for anyone but me. Other people have different stories and different ideas about this whole trans thing, and thats wonderful. If you want to know – I know a lot of girls who would love to talk if asked.

If you want to speak Tibetian, I will try to learn with you.

With love and warmth –  Megan

December 6, 2007

The New Normal

Posted in food, friends, surgery, transgender at 12:22 am by Michael

Well, if not, then pretty close!

(Quick ed note… this is a two-fer entry – I posted part 2 first “The Epic Blowout” (its immediately below). If you haven’t read it – please please do… its really just part of this post, and I’m kind of proud of it.)

After lunch in San Jose at Vung Tau (off of S Santa Clara and 12th), we all headed to one of Anh’s aunts houses (Anh is the first of 8 (4 boys and 4) children, and her mom is the second of 8 ( 3 boys, 5 girls). This means that Anh’s youngest aunts are basically the same age as her, and they all grew up together, very close. I love the closeness of her multi-generational (and sibling) family (took me a while to get it – but I feel like I finally do!).

During lunch, Anh’s aunt’s son who’s five was there. I’d met him before, but only a couple of times, and he was young (well before I came out). When he saw me, he said “Who are you?”. His mom said “That’s Megan!” He said: “Hi Megan!”.

Anh then said to him: “Megan knows a lot about Star Wars, you should talk to her about that.”. We spent most of lunch drawing Star Wars ships, characters, and talking about Yoda quotes. (As an aside, I gave him my Dr. O pen to use which I used to sign the original contract back in July. I said “This is my special pen… I really need this back after we are done with lunch, ok?” I love that pen. I keep it in my laptop bag (green Tumbuk2 – my first “purse”) all the time)

 Fave Yoda Quotes – first from Empire:

“Do or do not – there is no try.”

and

Luke: (after witnessing Yoda force-move the crashed x-wing out out of the swamp – this scene still gives be goosebumps) “I don’t believe it!”

Yoda: (smirking, dejectedly) “That is why you fail.”

And from Episode I:

“Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering,”

(And isn’t there too much suffering in this world to begin with – maybe Yoda is right – lets start with less fear?)

Anh’s other youngest aunt Tan (who gave me the Gucci purse) was there too. Those two are like sisters. Her mom was also there.

Anh’s family has been fantastic to me through this whole process. Today was the first time that they had seen me fully transitioned (Tan has seen me dressed privately a while ago – she was one of the first and most supportive, but that’s a whole different deal).

In many ways, their support is the most impressive. This was hugely (and still is!) impactful to Anh, and to Samwich. They all love both of them dearly. I’m the one who’s new, and we’ve only been married less than three years! However, I’ve found nothing but support, encouragement and love from them, which is amazing, and I appreciate it with all of my heart.

Anyway, at Anh’s aunts house after, besides updating the blog w/the pictures from this AM, just hanging out, and helping diagnose slow network DSL issues (turtle slow!), the aunt’s older daughter (9) came home from school. I had met her multiple times before, she has met my other kids too, and she definitely knew who I was before (the five year old – probably not so much).

She said to me: “Who are you?”

Her mom said “That’s Megan, say hello!”

“Hi Megan, how are you!”

Anh then asked her if she remembered Michael, and that Michael was now Megan (her mom had told her this before). She then said:

“Oh, but you just look like a girl.”

Which kind of seemed like the most normal possible response that I could have gotten from her.

The rest of the afternoon was just so normal and pedestrian, it barely is worth recounting. But, it was great. Normal. Everyday. All the talk wasn’t about me being trans. Some folks had questions, and we talked about it – no biggie!

My biggest takeaway about this whole experience with the kids today is if the adults around them model the behavior that while yes, this is a change, its ok, and we still love this person, then the kids quickly get it, and its just not a big deal.

Right before I left, he five year old after showing me the super cool Jabba’s Sail Barge (http://starwars.lego.com/en-us/products/classic/6210.aspx ) that he built himself (very impressive for a five year-old) he said to me:

“Why do you have a boy’s voice?”

Kids say the most honest things.

I said “Well, I was born that way, and I like my voice and its ok with me.”

He said “Ok Megan, I like your voice too!”

We left shortly thereafter, and picked up Anh’s bro James in SJC and drove back into San Francisco for dinner. Traffic was bad. I loved the electronic signs along the 101 saying how many years it’s going to take to drive to San Francisco from where you are, then how long the train would take from the next stop (mere minutes), and saying when the next one is arriving (five to ten minutes usually). The title on top of these billboards should be “You Idiots”. At least we had four in one (small) car (which we had rented for the day – its psychotic to have a rental car staying at a house for a long time in SFO – no parking. I’ll go return it before 8am tomorrow.), but why there is no consistent carpool lane from San Jose to San Francisco is just mystifying to me.

We went to have dinner at Incanto (http://www.incanto.biz/) the Noe Valley.

Please read the post below to find out more about it.

But I will add that the pappardelle with the boar ragout that I had really hit the spot, and the wine was excellent.

We took the dessert and the leftover wine to go (2nd bottle!), and all walked back to the Cocoon house, I’ve been writing for almost four hours (this stuff takes time you know – and I had to do some work too). Anh and James watched two new Project Runways, James left, and now everyone is sleeping (except me – surprise).

I’d be lying if I said it was all sunshine and moonbeams. It’s not. Some things are hard. Some things are very hard. Some things make me melt.

My amazing friend Helen sent me mail today about her son who offered a petition (morning prayer at a Catholic school) for me the day I had my surgery (saying that it was for transgender surgery). Wow. I was blown away. I’m getting weepy even thinking about the courage that it took to do that at what, 13?

I’m inspired by those around me to be all that I can be and true to whom I am. I can only hope that every day I get closer to that ideal.

December 5, 2007

Woo Hoo

Posted in food, friends, surgery, transgender at 2:40 pm by Michael

Last night, I had this zen moment about how I was going to get through one more night of mouth breathing. It was going to suck. I knew it was going to suck. I was going to sleep and hour, wake up, have to rinse out my mouth, repeat.

You know what, from 12am to 730am I did it, and I woke up feeling better than I have the whole time we’ve been down.

We got up, Anh showered, showered with the Samwich (daily ritual), I got a shower, and a hair wash. We had enough time, so we went to go get coffee, and a short walk. I got “Ma’am”’ed for one of the first times!

After we got back, Anh said she had a craving for Vietnamese food and started looking for lunch places in the city, but I said “Why not just drive down to SJC and you get your fave stuff there”. We quickly made a reservation with Avis (got to love the Wizard number!) then we went to Dr. O’s to get my first big set of stuff removed. Mira drove me in, and on the way in she said “Wow, you are going to be gourgeous!”. I said “Wow, I still feel like one of the chimpmunks!”.

First step – chin dressing – gone. Most of the sutures for the chin – gone (one left for Friday).

Then she removed many of the bandages for my nose – not the hard dressing, but most of the soft stuff.

She removed the sutures under my nose, which felt a little like electrolysis, but not bad! My job – stay as still as absolutely possible!
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Then, the nose packing (basically soft stuff inside my nose that was blocking me up for the past almost week). First nostril – better, but still blocked. Second nostril – WOW WOW WOW! I can BREATHE!

Mira then took most of the soft sutures out from my forehead, and I was done. Ecstatic! Excited! Only a few things left – and only two more days till home!

New pictures on the “Pictures” link.

We took off then downtown to the Avis office, rented a car, and drove to SJC, we went to one of Anh’s favorite Vietnamese haunts for lunch Vung Tau (in Santa Clara – off of S Santa Clara and 12th).

Sheila (celebrating the big 5-0) met us there, and now we are just all hanging out. I love it. Life as normal.

I can’t tell you how great I feel today. My strength is back, no narcotics for more than 36 hours, and my stomach feels normal. Plus, emotionally, I’m just elated.

December 4, 2007

Normal is Coming, I Can Feel It!

Posted in food, friends, transgender at 9:43 pm by Michael

Today after we got back from “the big walk” – 2 miles – (not much given that a week and a half ago I would run 6 miles 4+ times a week), we hung out for a while, watched a little TV, and kept watching Samwich for any signs of pukitude.

The other thing I started doing was actually starting to work – real work! A couple days ago typing was *hard*. I type every day – probably 10+ hours a day – so when this is hard, this is saying something. Now, I could actually engage on real work problems! Very happy! I even have my first meeting at work next Friday (yes, at Microsoft, in Redmond, in my office). I don’t plan on doing more than one meeting, but I’m sure I’ll say hi to a few folks. (I have a lousy history of actually staying out for the whole period of time I plan to stay out – checking mail, coming in, etc. I love my work, and find it super hard to stay away.)

But, feeling like I was mentally on top of it enough to actually work was an amazing relief. When I was 16 and had my other crazy health problems, and had a couple of big surgeries (its all in the bio), for a while after that, I had a hard time spelling some words. Its so odd to explain, but this always freaked me out that I somehow lost something. Now, I feel like I’m back w/o any losses – this feels great!

Tonight we went to dinner with one of the other girls who’s staying upstairs recovering at a local place – Joey and Eddie’s Pescheria. ( http://www.pescheria-sf.com/ ) It’s an Italian seafood place – really enjoyed it. I had gnocchi in a white sauce with chilies, capers and salmon – gnocci were clearly made fresh and local, and were pan fried and fantastic. I could only eat half. Anh had pappardelle with manilla clams – thought it was good. We also had a side of kale that Anh really liked.

I found out that I can’t eat bread still – not the insides, not the crust – it’s just too hard to chew and swallow without creating uncomfortable nasal suction. (Don’t ask).

Samwich got — nothing. We did not want to have another spew incident. We gave him his bottle, but that little dude needs to earn eating out privileges again! Barfing at the table is super bad form. When the food came, he clearly wanted some. He starts basically making gasping noises, and rotating his wrists indicating a strong need for food. Even though he speaks zero words, he’s a master of communication. He then started calling his dolphin friends with this high pitched noise he makes. When he does that I say to him “Your dolphin friends cannot save you now!”.  I thought this was inventive and original, Anh thought it was a Simpsons quote which I cannot locate through the magic of the interwebs. The tubes may be blocked.

As the pain as subsided on my face (I think I’m now done with pain meds – the headaches are occasional and manageable. Other pain is now gone!), I have noticed a few little numb-ish spots. My lower lip in the middle feels a little numb (This may be the cause of a little drooling problem that I may have. I said to Anh as we were walking today “I feel like I’m drooling sometimes.” Anh: “I know.” I love the honesty!) My chin is feeling a little numb-ish too. We’ll see. It doesn’t feel like it won’t come back.

Anyway – the big thing for tonight, its 9:30pm, and I feel great. Only one nap today, for less than an hour, and I had a *lousy* night’s sleep last night. After everything we did today, that seems like a huge improvement.

So tomorrow – the real day for nasal packing removal – I’ll be happy to be able to talk normally again. Will shoot a full set of pics and post as soon as we get back (11am PT or so)

I called United reservations to insure that we were all set for Friday given the complexity of our trip down here, and it was, um, a little frustrating. Can’t blame the reservation agent at all – I’m hard to understand, I can’t talk very loud, and it hurts.

So, if I haven’t called, and you were wondering why a) Its hard to talk on the phone for me now because of the nose thing b) you probably wouldn’t have understood me anyway!

Tomorrow is my older sister Sheila’s 50th birthday – happy birthday!

December 3, 2007

Noses, Underrated

Posted in food, friends at 9:50 pm by Michael

I’m going to rate the nose as the most underrated appendage that we have. It does so many good things – its part in the whole respiration deal, holds up glasses, warms up cold air, filters dusty air, is another appendage to decorate (not my deal, but hey, who am I to be judgy about ANYTHING).

But, most importantly, your nose makes it possible to breath NOT THROUGH YOUR MOUTH all the time. Now, your mouth, also very good. Eating, drinking, plus smoochin’ your sweetie – all good. Now, when running extra hard, the mouth is great to get extra air in so you can keep going. Yea indurance!

However, ask the mouth to do 100% of the breathing for 5+ days, and little rebellions occur. One, it rebels by being dry. Very dry. So dry that its hard to talk. (I basically can’t really talk on the phone right now without taking a drink of water.) Two, it makes your teeth hurt because of the drymouth thing. Then, there’s this whole breathing/swallowing thing that your nose/mouth have all worked out. Try (with a dropcloth nearby – more on this later) to plug your nose – really plug it – don’t just hold it. Then, try to chug anything. Said anything will get blown out of your mouth with extreme rapidity.

The lips are watching all this action, and wanting their piece, so they become co-conspirators in the rebellion, and decide that they want attention NOW! They want lip balm, they want to be dry and cracky. They get super cranky.

So, it was joyous news to me that tomorrow at 9:30am I get my nose packing as well as some of the other bandages off. I’m very excited.

Anh took this picture of me mid-morning today – its better than the one I did last night – the swelling and bruising around my eyes and cheeks are really starting to go down – this is a very good thing, since the new Alvin and the Chipmunks movie has already been shot.

  Third Day - Midday
Samwich continued his two-way alimentary canal tricks today. Basically, could only keep down two ounces of formula at a time. Tried yogurt… Yum! I love yogurt – 30 mins later – BLAH. Tried oatmeal… Yum! I love oatmeal – 30 mins later – BLAH. Tried moret than two ounces of formula – same deal. However, I came up with something which I’m sure other parents have done, but I was damn proud of both the concept, and the name. Turns out that while Samwich could hold *down* the formula… he would poop it out – at seemingly high pressure. No lie, he had at least seven blowouts (Blowout: n. an uncontained release outside of the diaper area of poop or pee from a diapered baby. If an undiapered baby releases – see “squirting”). Finally, I said “Eureka! We should “double diaper”! It is what it sounds like. Basically two diapers – one baby butt. Anh had the ingenious add to offset the diapers to create max coverage. Samwich was unable to defeat our double diaper scheme.

Just around noontime, our friends Hillel and Deb flew down for the day to see us from Seattle (very sweet! – thanks again guys). As luck would have it, our friend Jenny was in town too (well both luck and design – she extended a stay to see us – also super sweet!).

We went to go have dim sum way over on the other side of town at Ton Kiang. It was worth the trip! (This was also my first real trip out since Thursday’s facial surgery). I had my first non-jello/pudding/juice since Thursday, and boy, it was good. Little bites never tasted so good. (Here’s a link: http://www.tastingmenu.com/media/2004/20040118-tonkiang/default.htm)

Anyway, the adventure wiped me out, so we came back home, I took a nap, and then Hillel, Deb, Jenny and later Anh’s brother James came over and we watched the Pats go 12-0! Whew… close.

Deb, Hillel and Jenny flew back and I was madly SMS’ing the last drives for the Pats to Hillel… He’s potentially more insane about the Pats than me.

Anyway… everyday is getting better, and I’m feeling stronger! I can’t wait to get home. However, with all the rain in Seattle, our roof has a leak now, and we have a bucket in living room to catch the water… yuk.

The Cocoon house is just amazing, have met a ton of very nice people here, but sleeping in our own bed is something I’m counting down to.

November 28, 2007

Less than Twelve Hours Left

Posted in friends, schedule, surgery, transgender at 8:19 pm by Michael

Waking up this morning, I felt almost normal – I was hungry, my energy level was good, and I felt like I was ready to take on the world. What a change from the day before.

We got up just after 6, got ready, and walked to Boogaloo’s, on Valencia and 22nd, which was at least (I say more) a mile. I had some crunchy granola – last time for at least a week, and boy, it was just good.

After that we walked back home, and just chilled out for a bit. At this point, I hadn’t had any pain meds since early in the morning, and I was still upright, and coherent!

My mom and sister came by, and watched the Samwich, while Anh and I went to lunch at the Four Seasons downtown. We took the muni there. I had flashbacks to when I was sixteen and driving back home after my first lung surgery. I thought for sure that my dad hit every pothole, at least twice, in order to toughen me up. I loved my dad, but that’s just the kind of thing he would do!

Anyways, the muni – if you want a bumpy, rattle-y, start-and-stop-y ride, go for it. It had the benefit of being cheap, and probably somewhat faster. It was a little painful.

We found the Four Seasons, and we met our friends. Now, I was dressed in full “Megan” wear – jeans, a shirt and a sweater. However, as previously discussed, I don’t really pass from the neck up. (You can ask Dr. O the technical reasons why, but this will all be moot tomorrow – at least for me.) I used the women’s room, which was the second time I did this (last night at Absynthe being the first). I can’t admit that I felt 100% comfy doing it, but it felt most appropriate.

When I saw Paul, he gave me a big hug, which I appreciated. However, this wasn’t the “A-Frame Hug”, which meant my chest got a little squeeze. Good news – no poppage – and no drainage. Bad News – tears in my eyes.

We left lunch, Anh went to the ferry terminal to get some food for the next few days, and I cabbed it home (I was beat), and took a nap.

Went to dinner at a local Mediterranean place (Fattoush), and it was enjoyable, and now we are back and home, in countdown for the hours. At 5am my mom and sister will be back, and it will be back to the hospital for us.

I’m not as stressed as I was Sunday night, but this is the big one… no going back here. We took a glimpse at the “results” from Monday, and it’s pretty good! Boobalicious?  Not quite. But, pretty good! We’ll see when the drains, swelling, and wraps come off. I’m an optimist.

Anh and I are doing great, as is Samwich. Stressed, but we are in this together. I can’t imagine a better partner.

If I can, I’ll write again before we leave for the hospital in the morning, otherwise, Anh will update when I’m out of surgery tomorrow. First post pictures (and a pre-picture) will be tomorrow.

Thanks for all the positive notes and thoughts; it’s been a lifeline for us all.

We are watching Project Runway w/James (Anh’s bro). Samwich is in his Red Sox nighttime outfit, and the mood is light.

Tomorrow is just another day – the start of a new adventure.

November 27, 2007

Progress!

Posted in friends, surgery, transgender at 10:08 pm by Michael

For more than the past year, I’ve been running (with Anh, then with Anh and Samwich (me pushing) from three to six miles, on average, at between four and seven times a day. There were months that went past in the spring where I wouldn’t skip a day for six to eight weeks.

Here’s the payoff: less than 24 hours post surgery, I was up and walking around the block – multiple times. We walked a couple blocks to a small café here this morning, then went around two blocks, because I was feeling pretty good, and it was a good way to keep Samwich sleeping (he loves to fall asleep in his stroller).

I have to tell you, a cup of coffee and a english muffin with bacon and cheese never tasted so good – yum!

Right now, I have drains in, which makes my chest look kind of odd – there’s the regular chest-y area, then two large catch drains, with thin tubing under the skin. They work in an interesting way. They are like squeeze balls with stoppers, with tubes coming out. You open the stopper, squeeze the ball, the close the stopper. This creates a vacuum, removing excess fluid. After a few hours, some liquid fills the reservoir – you open the stopper, drain it, then repeat. The flow on this has gone to basically nothing, which is great.

Today, Trish, one of the proprietors here at Cocoon house (who is also an OR nurse for Dr. O) who was there for my surgery stopped by to check in on us. First off, she’s ultra nice. (Beyond super nice – ultra nice). She was there to greet me yesterday pre-op, and was in the room for surgery. She said that I might have extra drainage because of my pre-existing chest issue from surgery twenty years ago. Adhesions and all that. I guess it was more work than usual to get the implants in place given the scarring. However, looks like the extra drainage isn’t coming to pass. Nevertheless, these drains get removed on Thursday when I’m in surgery #2. Trish also said that my new breasts were “fabulous”. We’ll see! (She’s seen them, I haven’t – because she saw them pre-wrap.)

I’ve been able to cut down on the pain meds, and have generally felt like a person today. Yesterday is a blur. The entry post surgery on the blog was a mess. I couldn’t type. Took forever, and I’m sure there are plenty of errors.

I continue to get calls, email and IMs of support, both from friends, and most surprisingly from strangers, or people who I only met once or twice.  My faith in (most) of humanity, if not restored, is at least boosted. You folks, and you know who you are, rock! You made my day.

We had dinner tonight with Anh’s brother James, at Absinthe (the cab ride there was painful – bumpy and too much start/stop) (http://www.absinthe.com/), which is fast becoming my fave place in SFO – both for lunch and dinner. We had onion soup, a frisee salad, beef cheeks, and a killer steak. For sides, brussel sprouts with the best bacon ever “Neuski’s”, and also fries. I’ve not had a bad dish there.

What blog entry would be complete without some trans stuff, huh? Since I’ve been here, except on the flight down, I’ve dressed like Megan the whole time. I didn’t even bring Michael clothes. Today, we’ve gone out a couple times dressed like Megan. I just feel normal! I changed my IM to Megan today. Anh calls me Megan and “she” basically the whole time, even to me. It’s taking a bit longer for others to get there, but that’s totally 100% ok. Changing overnight is hard.

And, a first for me, at the restaurant tonight, I used the women’s room (both times). No, I didn’t stand up. 🙂

Progress… and mostly coherent progress at that!

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