November 23, 2008

Thankful

Posted in family, life at 5:01 pm by Michael

Barcelona!

Barcelona!

Thanksgiving week, this year quite a bit different from the last.

Many people have asked how I’ll celebrate my “One Year Anniversary” (November 28). The fact is that I probably won’t. It’s another day…

Many people have asked about how work has been – how traveling both domestically and internationally has been. Pretty unremarkable actually – we’ve had both our quickest return trips through customs, as well as the first time that we’ve ever been pulled out. (That was coming back from Spain – it turns out that there is a lot of “Ham Smuggling” – not a euphemism – and the customs folk are on the lookout for smuggled sausage.)

At work, day to day in Redmond, no one really cares about my gender (or transition). They care that I’m competent and do my job (which I try to do!)

At home, well, there I’m truly fortunate. Thankful even. I won’t gush, but it wouldn’t be the same without Anh… nuff said.

I’ll be back soon with a full recap of the year.

Thankful.

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August 19, 2008

Vacation Tidbits

Posted in family, Identification, life, transgender, travel at 12:13 am by Michael

We are on a beach vacation this week (not to be confused with Blogcation).

This presents an interesting challenge for me.

What. To. Wear.

Short answer – shorts and a UV top (no sunburn).

So far, in my experience, the more clothes I’ve got on, the harder it is to “pass”. Big winter stuff – not so much. The hardest group to pass with – kids and teens – without a doubt. Dirty (not crappy mind you) looks are highest per-capita in this group. The beach should be great then, right? Well, add in my outfit, and wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap (Red Sox, of course!), what should be easy becomes, well, less than that.

So, given that context, a few interesting bits so far on this trip:

(NB on the whole “Passing” thing. This is not my raison d’etre. I am who I am. However, I find the reaction to me to be just plain interesting. It doesn’t bug me not to pass (mostly)…)

– When we got here the other night, we were at Safeway getting some stuff for lunch. I was at the deli counter (no jokes please), and the very nice guy behind the counter was *overly nice* to me. This hadn’t happened to me before. It was o-d-d. I was not prepared for this. I was nice, and smiled, and got my turkey and roast beef, thank you.

– Peri broke a toenail today (kind of bad actually), and I went to the little nail hut near the beach to borrow a nail clipper to fix it. As I was sitting there, trimming her nail, a little girl (probably 6?) came up to me, and strated asking lots of questions:

“What are you doing?”

“Do you work here?”

When I said no, and I was just fixing her nail because it broke, she said:

“Oh, you are just her Mom, and you are fixing her toe then? Does it hurt?”

Peri and I just exchanged glances, she smiled, I smiled, and I said:

“That’s right… she’ll be ok!”

And that was enough for her! She smiled and was off.

As we were walking away, Peri said “Was I that nosy when I was that age? I don’t think I was.”

Oh yeah Peri, you were!

(NB. I’m not Peri’s mom. I am not confused on that point. Peri and John calling me “Daddy” all of the time generates quizzical looks, but that’s no biggie.)

(NB II. The little girl above was a sweetheart. She was genuinely concerned about Peri, which was super nice. I hope no one takes away anything remotely negative in my tone.)

– John was getting a Henna tatoo (fish skeleton) this afternoon, and when I went to pay, the tatoo lady was taking down my info.

“Last name?”

“Wallent”

“Ok, first name Mr. Wallent”

“Megan”

“Oh, I’m sorry… I’m a kayak guide in the morning, and with a wetsuit on, I get sirred all the time. Isn’t it funny?”

– We were at dinner tonight, and I was up, walking around with Samwich. Our server, who was a nice middle-aged lady says to me:

“Are you the grandma?”

“No… no, I’m not.”

“Oh.”

DUUUUDE!

That’s worse than asking someone when the little bundle of joy is coming and the answer is negative six months!

Needless to say, Anh has been calling me “Granny” all night…..

August 15, 2008

My Summer Blogcation

Posted in life at 1:13 pm by Michael

“She’s alive!”

Alaska

Alaska

I really appreciate the kind pings and questions asking how I am, and why I kind of dropped off the face of the earth (at least from a blogging perspective) for the last three months.

My and the top of Samwich's Head

My and the top of Samwich

I’m good! Anh is good, the kids are good – its all good.

I will be back in the blogging spirit soon, and writing about our many summer adventures including:

– my high five lessons

– Alaska: Cold no matter when you go

– The examination of all parts of my stomach

I’ll leave you with this nugget – Feist counting to 4….

Happy Summer!

May 22, 2008

Six Months

Posted in family, life, transgender, travel at 10:24 pm by Michael

Ok, I’m a few days early.

November 25, 2007 – Michael
November 26, 2007 – Megan

Talk about a step function! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Step_function)

I know that I tend to go micro in the blog (as in microeconomics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microeconomics) but this entry is a little more macro (as in macroeconomics http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroeconomics).

As an aside, Christine (and you know who you are), encouraged me to write this by asking “When are you going to start blogging again?”

Why am I writing this four days early? Well, Anh and the kids are in Hawaii this week. I was at a training class for ‘softies since Monday night (three nights, four days), and she took the opportunity to depart for warmer climes (back tomorrow night – yea!) We are going to be busy this weekend, so I probably won’t have a chance to blog much, so therefore… the update!

Me and Anh

We are great, thank you. I was talking to someone at work a week or so ago who I hadn’t seen since early November, and she asked how Anh was doing, and basically said: “Do you still live together?”

I said, “Yup, and we are really *together* too…”

“Really?”

“Yes, really.”

“Wow, Anh must be an amazing person!”

I could not agree more….

The Kids

Peri and John, in the end, I’m sure I’ll find out what they really thought about 10 years from now (or 15, because I’m sure in 10 years when they are 20 and 18, my IQ will drop, followed by the inevitable rise as they age) but, by all measures, they seem to be doing just fine. They still call me Daddy, because I am.

Samwich is just the Samwich. He’s 14 months old now, cute as a button and sweet as pie – except when he’s yelling at you. He likes that. I think he calls me “Da”… but, it’s not consistent, and he doesn’t call Anh anything. We were talking about this the other day, and postulate that he doesn’t call either Anh or I anything (esp Anh) because he doesn’t see us as separate from him. We *are* him (to him). As a result, there is no need to name us.

He now is attached to his blankets (especially a green fleece one… he *loves* to snuggle it).

The kids are just kids… just like any other kids….

Family

Besides the normal ups and downs of any family, my trans-ness is old news. Nobody really cares. I can’t imagine a better situation.

Friends

Besides the fact that our schedule has been INSANE, and we haven’t seen our friends any where near enough, there’s no friend problem. If anything, we’ve gotten closer to a whole set of people.

Work

I was worried about this one. On so many levels. Would I face “to my face” hostility? Would I lose credibility as a leader? Would this just continue to be a topic *forever*?

You know what? As long as I’m effective, I don’t think anyone cares….

The training that I was at over the last couple of days was a great example. Like with any leadership training, a lot of the learning is from your peers, not just the instructor lead stuff. The instructor lead stuff was great, but I felt like I could still be really effective (and got feedback to that effect) doing peer coaching and mentoring. Did anyone care or notice that I was trans? Well, they all knew, because I told them back in the first part of the class in March, but I think they all knew anyway….

My work challenges have so little do with my trans-ness… its just part of the mix. Work is hard (duh), but not because of anything since November. If anything, the self-reflection that I’ve *had* to do has helped me… Do I have room to grow – no doubt!

Community

Our local community here (our neighborhood), is completely cool. In fact, we saw one of the mom’s from Anh’s mommy group last weekend at the park (when it was 80 deg F and super nice here), and she hadn’t seen me since right when we came back in December. The first thing she said to me was “Good to see you! You look great!’. What a sweetheart… she made my day.

As far as the trans-community goes, well, I think I’ve been more visible than I ever expected. I didn’t expect any notice really. The whole ABC thing was surprising. I think it worked out ok…. I still feel like a newbie.

I’ve also been invited to speak at the Out and Equal Workplace Summit (http://www.outandequal.org/summit/2008/default.asp) in Austin in September, and Southern Comfort (http://www.sccatl.org/main.htm) in Atlanta in October. I plan to do both. Will anyone care what I have to say? I think they’d rather hear Anh talk, but she is a woman of mystery. 

Me

Physically, I’m recovered from my re-face-ification. My noggin is still numb, although a smaller part than before. Underneath my nose (the part on the same plane as my nostrils (bottom) is numb. My ears are a bit numb on the top 10%, and my lower front four teeth have lost some sensation. That’s it. Everthing else is just fine thank you…. No complications.

Surgical moratorium still stands….

Emotionally, yeah, I’m a little more sensitive. Ok, fine, I admit it. I was walking in the grocery store tonight after I had dinner, and listening to music on my phone (NOT AN iPhone), and this little interstitial instrumental that had a baby (6 months) babbling in the background. Ok, yes, I got a little sentimental, both for the days that Samwich, Peri and John were that young, plus given that they are away, I missed them. I called Anh and told her that and I felt better. I told her I was going to be cheesy in advance, and that was ok.

Look, I’m totally convinced that I did the right thing. It’s not easy every day, but every day is easier…..

May 19, 2008

Politics at Work – Probably a “Bad Idea”

Posted in Identification, life, work at 11:17 pm by Michael

Remember the SNL skit for “Bad Idea Jeans“?

I felt like I was in that skit last week.

I was at a work thing (I won’t go further…), but it was at the time “non-work”, in that people were talking about stuff that was non-work related.

The conversation, just like many conversations these days, turned to politics – the Clinton v. Obama race, McCain’s running mate, etc.

There was discussion about the polarization that was evident in the recent Democratic primaries – the high numbers of voters unwilling to vote for the other candidate:

“Barely a third of Clinton supporters say they’d vote for Obama over John McCain in a November matchup. As many claim they’d vote for Republican John McCain and a quarter said they would not vote for president. If that horse race were Clinton vs. McCain, half of Obama backers say they’d vote for Clinton, about three in 10 say they’d back McCain and the rest would stay home.”

I *really* tried to stay out of it. Really.

About half the folks in the room were Republicans, about half-Democrats.

Remember, I *really* tried to stay out of it. It’s work.

Then, someone asked me:

“Megan, who are you going to vote for?”

“Well, that’s a good question. I have to say that I can’t vote for someone that doesn’t think that my family should be a family.”

“That means either Obama or Clinton, right?”

“Well, it’s hard to tell because it’s hard to get a straight answer from any of the candiates, but Clinton and Obama are more open than McCain.”

(Here’s the chart)

On the positive side, some people who were on the McCain side actually commented that yes, this was a problem…. I honestly don’t know sometime how “activist” to be, and how much to just silently live and lead… it’s a tradeoff.

(BTW, I met Sen. McCain in 2001, while doing work on internet privacy. We had about an hour meeting, and I remember him as fiesty, but that one side of his face and one of his arms was more significantly injured than I had thought from seeing him on TV. I’ll hand it to the guy, I may disagree with his positions, but he’s honorable, and has served our country both in the service and in politics.)

April 6, 2008

We’re Back

Posted in family, life, travel at 6:31 am by Michael

Disney

We got back late last night from Orlando – about an hour and a half later than expected due to thunderstorms in the Orlando area…

I know I’ve been dark all week – no, I didn’t stop the blog, get eaten by aliens, or do something crazy. I unplugged for a week…

So, over the next day, I’ll post about our experiences in Disney, from going with three kids (1, 8, 10), the food, and the “experience” (oh, and getting recognized, which is *odd*)….

March 28, 2008

The Opposite of Into the Wild

Posted in family, life, travel at 12:33 pm by Michael

Today starts “Spring Break” for my older kids.

It’s snowing. It’s cold. It’s gray. It’s Seattle. Its March.

The View From My Office, 3/28/2008

Time to get away.

We are going to the polar opposite of Alaska (at least in the USA) – Florida. More precisely, Disneyworld. All five of us.

Now this, this should be interesting.

Anyone want to guess what the “Crappy Look Counter” over/under will be for the next 7 days?

FAQ: Yes, we do plan on getting Samwich Mickey ears that say “Samwich”

FAQ: No, I will not be getting Minney ears that say “Megan”

March 22, 2008

By Popular Request

Posted in life at 10:05 am by Michael

Ok, feedback heard. No posting about new hair w/o posting shots of said new hair.

Note that this is not what Sue did, this is me w/a blowdryer, which is dangerous.

Here’s some, click for bigger versions.

March 22, 2008March 22, 2008

Peri picked out the sweater and shirt for me…

March 22, 2008

Hair

Posted in friends, life, transgender at 7:30 am by Michael

I hadn’t had my hair colored since mid-November. While it’s not falling out, and is pretty thick, the sides of my head are probably 80% gray. If hair grows at half an inch a month, and it’s been three months, that yields a good inch and a half of gray. Root City! At least for me, I don’t have it on top of my head as bad, creating the part line gray.

Why no color for three months? Well, remember I have this whole crazy incision/scar line thing running from ear to ear up over top of my head? I was waiting for it to heal completely, which it finally did about two weeks ago (yea!). I really didn’t want to get the chemicals into the scarline – I thought that might not aid in healing.

Anyway, I made an appointment for Thursday night, after work, at Gene Juarez in Redmond. I’ve had my hair colored there before, and this is also where I got my hair cut all the time.

But that was still when everyone called me Michael.

The same person had been cutting my hair for six years there. Color was a new thing for me, I’ve only been doing that for less than a year, and I don’t have a regular “person” for that.

(Note, I’m going to use fake names for the people there. Really.)

I had stopped going to “Sue” for my haircuts more than a year ago, as I started to grow out my hair – first somewhat unintentionally, then more purposefully as I knew that I would transition. I really like Sue a lot, and loved going to her. She is great at what she does, and we’d chat about any number of things. I did go back a couple of times over the past year, and Sue really gave me a hard time. “Where were you? What’s going on?’. The last time that I saw Sue, I hadn’t transitioned, and I hadn’t come out publicly. I hadn’t told her.

When I walked in Thursday night, who was standing right at the counter? Sue.

“Where have you been?”

Sue is very direct.

She asks about Samwich, and the big kids, and Anh (she’s met them all). She says to me:

“You look different! So stylish, your long hair, your skin, nice jeans, what’s going on?”

Sue was looking right at me. She 100% recognized me, but didn’t notice that I was now presenting female. Not at all.

Sue says: “Your face looks good, but different, what did you do?”

I said: “I had some surgery on my face.”

“Anh let you do that?”

This went on for a minute or so, and then I leaned over, and quietly said to her:

“Sue, I’m transgendered. I’ve changed my gender.”

She looks at me, and says “Why did you do that?”

Oh, this is going to be a long conversation, but neither of us have time….. I say:

“Because it’s who I am. It’s all good. We are all good… really.”

She says: “Ok, but why didn’t you tell me! We need to talk more.”

At this point, the hair color person comes over, and brings me back to start with that process.

About a half an hour later, as I’m sitting under the dryer, Sue comes over, sits next to me, and we have a good long talk – although its honestly hard to talk under a dryer.

She says “I’m going to do your hair when you are done with the color. It could look better, I’m going to fix it for you.”

Again, Sue, very direct.

I agreed, and when I was done with the color process, I went over to see Sue, and she did my hair – little styling, a little cut (not much).

Sue chided me for not telling her, yet again. I told her about the blog, all the stuff we had done. She was first and foremost wondering about the kids – how were they doing. She has kids too….

As she was finishing up, she said “Well, know when you walk down the street, and say to people, ‘Hi I’m Megan’ they won’t even question it. Hair says a lot you know!”

Thanks Sue! Good to see you again…. I’ll be back soon.

Dancing with Samwich

Posted in life, Samwich at 7:02 am by Michael

Anh and Samwich were going out of town to visit family for a few days. Wednesday night, before they left, Anh had gone out, and I was taking care of Samwich. He’s been a bit of a bear lately (don’t blame the bear!). He can walk, he can climb up stuff (stairs, chairs, you name it), he tries to jump, and generally, just in motion the whole time.

At the pediatrician’s recommendation (the common one), we’ve limited his bottle and milk intake to once a day for the bottle (in the morning), and only 4-8oz of milk (either whole or formula) per day. This is to change him over from getting calories by drinking to calories through food, and to help change his food mix as a result.

Well, it’s working. The little dude is an eating machine. Since he never started on a pacifier either, the bottle for him became a calming/soothing mechanism – especially in the hour before bed, and in the morning (we kept the morning for now).

A month ago, if he was cranky at 7pm or so (an hour before bedtime), we’d give him a bottle, he’d drink it, play with it, get kind of relaxed, and then we’d get him in his nighttime outfit, read some books, and he’d do great.

Now, without the bottle, soothing the Samwich is a little harder. We didn’t want to just replace the bottle w/the sippy cup either, since that kind of defeats the whole purpose…

Anyway, after playing with him, reading to him, cuddling him, well, he was still the bear-shaped child.

I had to bring out the heavy weapons.

Feist.

I put the CD in, turned up the volume, selected his song (“1234”), picked him up, snuggled him in tight, and started to sway to the music, singing along to the song, quietly in his ear.

1234 tell me that you love me more

He loves that part. Immediately, he calms down, hugs me hard, and really starts to relax. We get to the chorus.

Ohhh uh oh you’re changing your heart
Ohhh uh oh you know who you are

Now he’s really relaxed, and we are gently swaying in our living room lit by the lights of Seattle.

We get to the chorus again:

Ohhh uh oh you’re changing your heart
Ohhh uh oh you know who you are

He starts singing the “Ohhs”… I thought was going to melt.

I hit repeat on the CD player, and we did the song a couple of more times, swaying along, singing together.

It was a moment.

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