August 10, 2009

Finally!

Posted in life at 6:30 am by Michael

Yesterday, for the first time in almost 23 months, I flew. I had forgotten how much I loved flying, but it all came right back.

Why so long?

Well, busy for one… too much time on the road for work, too busy at home, too busy to even keep up here (my bad).

But, the other more nagging thing for me is that I was avoiding it. Avoiding it because I didn’t want to deal with “telling” all the people who I needed to deal with – and there were a lot. (The maintainence people, the FBO (parking) people, my flight instructor, the other pilots at the FBO, the FAA). So, I was avoiding it.

But, last week Anh and I went to a wedding up in the San Juan Islands. Getting to the San Juans from Seattle in the summer, you have two choices – drive about 90 mins, wait for a ferry, and take an hour ferry trip – or – fly. The flight is around 30 mins. The ferry/drive may not sound that bad – but in the summer, the “wait for a ferry” part might be between 1-4 hours. So, we asked our friend Alex, also a pilot, if he wanted to fly up.

Sitting in the copilot/front seat passenger seat – I felt super lame. Why on earth did we need to ask for a favor when I should have been able to do it myself?

That was it…

Last week I dealt w/everyone (except the FAA), more on that later…. and I flew w/my instructor yesterday.

I feel like a pilot again!

I also have the weight of one more “thing” off my shoulders – and that feels even better.

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May 12, 2009

Jennifer Finney Boylan On Trans-Marriage

Posted in family, life, transgender at 9:03 pm by Michael

Fascinating NY Times Opinion article by Jennifer Finney Boylan.

Here.

Jennifer’s book – “She’s Not There” was super helpful to me and my family, and was a great support to me in coming to grips with the duality of being transgendered and still wanting (deeply) to stay married to Anh.

In the opinion article she discusses the complexity of marriage laws for transgendered folks and the insanity that can sometimes ensue.

Society benefits when people are co-dependent on each other, and not just on the larger society. Marriage codifies that. (Yes, I realize that marriage started as a patriarchical institution that effectively made women property of men. I’m not advocating that type of relationship, but rather a true joining of equals.)

The situations that Jennifer describes are clearly complex… worth a read! Maybe even deliver an (anonymous) copy to your favorite co-worker, neighbor, or government official who may be thinking about this issue in a less-than-open way.

Anthem?

Posted in life, transgender at 8:50 pm by Michael

Last Friday, I got into my car to go to work, and the radio popped on (surprise!). A song came on that I had remembered – but never knew who sang it, or what the title was. Through the magic of Digital Radio (not as cool as the Magic of the Internet – but still), the radio told me that it was “The Middle” by “Jimmy Eat World”.

Catchy… like it.

Never really understood the words…. Caught a few….

…It just takes some time.. in the middle – in the middle

That night when I went home, I got it from Amazon MP3 Download (love the service – no DRM – plays everywhere). Here’s the link if you want to play along.

I listened to it a few more times over the past week… liked it more. Started to understand the words…

It just takes some time,  little girl you’re in the middle of the ride
Everthing, everything it’ll be just fine
Everything, everything it’ll be alright (alright)

This morning I was running in yet another hotel on yet another treadmill (interesting image, huh?). Was in the last two minutes of my run, and it came on again. I turned up the speed (6.5, I’m slow!), and ran out the song (extra quarter mile!).

I really listened this time.

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out
Or looked down on
Just try your best, try everything you can
And don’t you worry what they tell themselves
When you’re away.

It just takes some time, little girl in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything will be just fine
Everything, everything it’ll be alright (alright)

Hey, you know they’re all the same
You know you’re doing better on your own (on your own)
So don’t buy in.
Live right now
Yeah, just be yourself.
It doesn’t matter if it’s good enough
For someone else

It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride
Everthing, everything it’ll be just fine
Everything, everything it’ll be alright (alright)

It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride
Everything, everything it’ll be just fine
Everything, everything it’ll be alright (alright)

Hey, don’t write yourself off yet
It’s only in your head you feel left out
Or looked down on
Just do your best, do everything you can.
And don’t you worry what the bitter hearts, are gonna say

It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride (over, and over)
Everything, everything it’ll be just fine
Everything, everything it’ll be alright (alright).

It just takes some time, little girl you’re in the middle of the ride (over, and over)
Everything, everything It’ll be just fine (over, and over)
Everything, everything it’ll be alright (alright)

This song…. it’s pretty connected to how I feel about my transition.

And, it made me run faster (maybe to get out of the middle?)

April 30, 2009

Yuk

Posted in life at 11:22 pm by Michael

Tonight is the last night of MMS 2009 (Microsoft IT Management conference) in Vegas. To *celebrate*, I was playing blackjack at the Mirage. (Shoe, stay on soft 17, surrender)

Well, a guy, probably in his late 20’s, and D-R-U-N-K sat down in the seat next to me. First hand I lost (20 to dealers drawn-to 21), he says:

“You want a backrub?”

Me: “No thanks.”

Couple more hands….

“It will be relaxing.”

Me: No reply.

“Really”

Dealer: “Hey, She’s Married!”

“Backrub’s ain’t cheatin'”

YUK!

April 28, 2009

Vegas Taxi Price Guide

Posted in life, travel at 3:31 pm by Michael

I’m in Vegas this week for the Microsoft Management Summit – our yearly IT confab related to the stuff that I work on day-to-day.

You learn so much at conferences – about customers, your competitors – but this year, I learned something in an area I wasn’t expecting – how much it costs to puke in a cab.

Now STOP! I’m better than that, I did not in fact puke in a cab. However, we did hear firsthand from an expert – our cabbie last night – about the suggested price schedule. Nancy from Western Cab was full of fun facts.

She was complaining about a group of drunken girls she picked up the night before – with one of them having set their alimentary canal in “two way” mode as opposed to the more normative and societally acceptable “one way” mode.

“She wanted change. Up the strip, and wanted change for a $20. Unbelievable!”.

The fare was about $10 – so, we established that the cleanup fee should have been $10.

However, she didn’t puke “in” the cab – but on the door.

What about inside, what’s appropriate for that?

Nancy says that depending on the degree of offense, the fee for that is between $50 and $100.

When Anh and I were in Paris at the beginning of April, in the cab from the airport downtown, Samwich lost it in the cab. He had had some suspect milk, the traffic was stop and go, and the diesel fumes were bad, and he didn’t make it. Most of the damage hit both him and me, but some hit the seat. We cleaned it all up with wipes, but I still gave the driver $50.

I told Nancy this story, and she said:

“You are such a bullshitter.”

“Who, me?”

“Yes, you.”

From the backseat – “No, that’s Joe Biden”

April 17, 2009

Bad Day

Posted in life at 4:40 am by Michael

I had a bad day yesterday. Not a galactically bad day – nothing *bad* happened, but I didn’t have a good day.

Maybe it was the jet lag. Maybe it was being stressed at work (first full day back in two weeks).

In a meeting of about fifty or so people, someone referred to me as “He”. This is not new, and yes, it still happens. This time it really bothered me… a lot. Maybe it’s because I hadn’t worked w/this person before, and he never knew “Michael”.

I think it bothered me so much because it reflected how I was feeling inside: Not Cute. Not enough running, too much food, not enough electrolysis (what an utter pain in the ass), my eyebrows are out of control, and I need new hair (cut and color).

Deferred human maintenance isn’t a good thing….

March 27, 2009

Oh, The Humans

Posted in life, travel at 1:43 pm by Michael

I love traveling. I love observing the differences, the similarities, and everything in-between.

For the last week I’ve been working in our Microsoft office in Israel. One cool thing is that our badges work everywhere. It’s kind of odd to walk up to a building eight thousand miles away from home, swipe your badge: “Boop – Green Light”.

(On the subject of badges, here’s a story that I’ve heard about an old-school Microsoft manager. When told that they didn’t give enough positive feedback, they replied:

“Positive feedback? Positive feedback? I give you positive feedback every morning. Every morning, when you walk up to the door and swipe your badge, you get the green light. Isn’t that positive feedback enough?”)

I digress.

Israel is an interesting place. Service comes from a totally different frame. The customer is *absolutely* not always right.

The first night after arriving, we were looking for a place to eat. We went down to the concierge to ask for a recommendation. He asked what we’d like to eat – we told him “Meat, Hummous, Kebabs, that sort of thing.”

“Oh, you want to go to Benny the Fisherman – very good. They have meat too.”

We go to “Benny the Fisherman” – known for the finest of meats in all of Tel Aviv.

We walk in, sit down, and the waitress walks over after a bit.

“So, what do you want to eat?”

(Israel, even though it is an English speaking country, is fiercely, loyally, a country of Hebrew speakers. It is not uncommon for signs and menus to be only in Hebrew. This restaurant did not have English menus – this was the reason for the question.)

Thinking that we were going to a place featuring meat (oddly named after a fisherman), we said:

“Well, meat, kebabs, salad?”

“Eh? What, no fish? You come here, you don’t want fish?”

Eyeroll. Dismissive hand wave.

“We have fish. You want fish, I will bring it.”

Me: “Can I have some meat too?”

“After the fish. I will bring it. You will see. You will like it.”

What, is Sam I Am our server?

We were given meat after two fish courses, begrudgingly.

“The fish was good, no?”

I’m not sure they liked me.

It added insult to injury that as we were there, it started to pour. Biblically. (It is the land of the Bible after all). On the way out the door, while trying to run for the door, I planted my left foot, starting to run, and it slipped out from underneath me, dumping me unceremoniously on my meat-eating ass.

I’ll eat the fish next time, I promise.

While there, our local team had scheduled a team event which included a walking tour of Old Tel Aviv. We got to hear about how Tel Aviv came to be, built by five original families from the sand outside of Jaffa. Interesting…

There were less interesting bits. It turned out that a highlight of the trip was the stop in front of the tourguide’s childhood apartment house.

For fifteen minutes we got to hear about all of the neighbors, where they came from, where they are now. All the time, I was wondering, what the point was – who famous was there? How had this house played into the founding of Old Tel Aviv?

Not in the slightest. Really.

We did hear about the elderly neighbor from across the street. Her house was described as an exact replica of her childhood home in Poland, but with the addition of a Star of David over the door.  Invited over for Easter, she ignored the advice where to sit, and sat in the seat in front of the bowl of very hot horseradish. After sitting down, she asked what this dish was exactly, and was told it was very hot horseradish, and that it should only be eaten sparingly, and later with the main course. She blissfully ignored the advice, got a big spoonful, and took it in whole.

Her face was said to explode in a cataclysm of gagging and spitting. The party’s attempts at reviving her with water and matzo were not enough. The neighbor did not speak to them for five months. (Not four, not six – five. Seven would have been more locally appropriate).

Look, I was paying attention to this story. This story was a load of crap.

First off, it’s a Jewish neighborhood. Our tour guide was Jewish – she said as much.

Other problems with story:
– Invited over for Easter. Yes, Easter. Not Passover. Jews do not celebrate Easter. They celebrate Passover.
– Sitting places. Again, this is a Passover thing. See above.
– Horseradish. This is a *staple* of the Seder. I’ve been to two Seder meals in my life and I know this. How the neighbor from across the street did not know about this, given that she too was Jewish (Star of David on the house), is beyond me.
– Matzo. Another proof point of the non-Easterness. Does the Easter Bunny bring Matzo? NO! Unleavened bread… leave the house quickly…. It’s Passover!

Anyway, on our walking tour we stopped at a number of small food places, which was cool. We got to experience the oddly named “Hummous Sticks” – which are like potato sticks made out of dried mashed chickpea and tahini. I need to increment the Crappy Look Counter after going there though, the elderly lady at the front looked me up, down, up, down, and then went “Beah!”. I think I need to rename it the “Crappy Look and Beah! Counter”. We also had some fresh marzipan, which was melt-in-your-mouth yummy. No crappy looks.

Anyway… the actual walk was fun and the commentary while odd, was at least blog-fodder.

Our flight out was at 10:30pm, and keeping with the tradition of Israeli airport arrival, we planned to get there at about 7pm. (Really, you need to leave that much time). After spending a lovely hour and a half getting through the pre-security, bag security, checkin, passport control, and gate security lines, we were through.

At the airport we had a last Israeli meal of pita, hummous and schwarma at “Cumin”, which was a far better choice than Kosher McDonalds.

Traveling brings out interesting traits in people. I’ve seen some pretty selfless behavior, but also some super wacky behavior too. In my humble experience, elderly travelers can be *the worst*. We were in the passport check line, waiting, when an elderly eastern European woman and her husband got in the adjoining line. (I saw her passport cover). She quickly sidled over to half-cut in front of me. I saw it coming.

As the line moved forward, she inched forward – cutting further into line, while her husband proceeded in the adjoining line. Like no one was noticing.

As the lined moved to its conclusion, with a big kerfuffle, she tapped her husband on the shoulder, and dramatically moved fully in front of me. Look, we had been in this line and others for an hour and a half and I was done.

I tapped her on her shoulder….

“Excuse me. You were in that line with your husband. You cut in front of me. Move back to your line.”

Oh, the Crappy Looks….

Then, a grumble fest from the other line-standers “Yeah… no cutting….”

Shockingly, she complied.

Other line-standers turned around and smiled at me, like I had fought some silent injustice that they themselves had suffered silently.

Thirteen plus flight hours later, we arrived into Atlanta….

It’s fun to travel – love the food – but after that long of a flight, comfort food is needed. I found to my delight that in the Atlanta Airport, in Terminal A is a Dunkin’ Donuts.

“Large iced regular please….”

Welcome home…..

March 23, 2009

Samwich and the iPhone

Posted in life, Samwich at 8:04 am by Michael

The Object of His Affection

The Object of His Affection

Lots of our friends have iPhones. Samwich remembers which ones do, and tends to see them, give big smooches, and then go for the phone. He’s a “Bubblewrap” addict.

Last week, after absconding with our friend Angie’s phone, he demonstrated that he not only loved the games, but was able to navigate (back, and the direct flick motion).

Anh gave me this look like:

“Are you going to deny our son any longer?”

We talked about it, and decided to get a family iPod Touch, and load educational apps on it.

I went to the local Apple store to get it, feeling genuinely sheepish, given my overall attitude on buying “local” (i.e., Microsoft stuff).

I walked in, and was greeted by a super perky Apple greeter.

“Hey, can I help you.” (I loved the casual “Hey” – very Cupertino).

“Yes, I’d like to buy an iPod Touch, 32 gb please.”

“Ok, all of our experts are busy, but one should free up in ten minutes or so.”

DAMMIT! I don’t want to hang in this place any longer than necessary.

“I don’t need help. I just want to buy one. Can I do that?”

“Yes, but I can’t do it. You need to wait. What’s your name, and I’ll get you on our list.”

DOUBLE DAMMIT!

“Um……. Megan?”

“Ok, well, just enjoy the store, and we’ll call you as soon as someone can help you.”

Enjoy the store…. Yeah, like a million pins poking me…..

I was able to acquire the goods, and called Anh:

“I have the package.”

I brought it home, set it up, copied over a bunch of content, and got a few apps for Samwich.

He loves them, and he can really use it.

Technically, it’s a beautiful device, no doubt.

Samwich gets the direct connection of touching stuff on the screen and a result. The touch effect is so much more learnable than the indirect model that the keyboard/mouse/pen combo on other devices.

I hope he lets me borrow it sometimes.

New Picture

Posted in life at 7:42 am by Michael

We were in Napa a few weekends ago for some eating and drinking with friends. My friend Hillel took a bunch of pictures, and got this one.

Napa Happy

Napa Happy

I like it. I was super happy at that moment, and I’ll always remember it fondly.

Who?

Posted in life at 7:38 am by Michael

I stepped into the 21st century recently and got a smart phone. No, not an iPhone, a Samsung Windows Mobile phone. While at the Verizon store, I saw someone who I had worked with a ton, but hadn’t seen in a while. Let’s call her “Sue”.

I walked up to her, big smile, and said “Hey Sue, how are you? Long time no see!”

She looked at me, looked around, looked past me for the person who said that, and then looked at me, straight in the eye and said

“I’m sorry…. I don’t know you.”

“Really? It’s Megan, we used to work together.”

Both a little scared and annoyed: “No, really. I don’t know who you are.”

The dude behind the counter was listening now. Very interested. I didn’t want to out myself like this, so I leaned over to Sue, and whispered to her

“Sue, it’s Michael. I transitioned.”

I leaned back and smiled warmly, as Sue is just a super nice person, and I felt bad that I had surprised her.

Her face quickly changed from blank to a huge smile, and she cocked her head to the side, and put her arms up to give me a big hug, which I obliged.

“You look great!”

“Thanks…. “ sheepishly… “you didn’t know?”

“No, no one told me….”

We caught up a little, she had to run, I had to run. We later friended on Facebook.

I still see Michael when I look in the mirror, I guess that’s not the case for most everyone else.

Happy and Sad.

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