March 22, 2008

Recognition

Posted in life at 6:46 am by Michael

Ok, maybe a few people do watch Good Morning America and Nightline.

Neither Anh nor I really thought that anyone would recognize us from the show. This is why I was so surprised for us to get recognized on the subway in Boston, and what lead to my non-great response to the person who said hi to me.

(Non-great in that while we said thank you, and smiled, we didn’t take the opportunity to engage with him. I should have at least asked “What did you think?” and had that conversation if he was willing. Lesson learned, see below.)

Last Sunday, as we were at the airport in Boston, I stopped at the food court to get some food to go for the flight. While I was standing at the register, one of the servers came by (she wasn’t waiting on me), and said “I saw your show on TV last week, good for you!” I smiled, said thank you, and then asked her “What did you think!” She said it was interesting, thought Anh was great, and thought it was a good piece overall. She had hot plates in her hand, so our conversation was brief.

I went to Malay Satay hut for lunch on Wednesday with a co-worker. When we walk in, the hostess asks me “How was your TV show?” She had been amazingly helpful in letting us get taped there, and I was really appreciative. We talked about it for a minute or two, and she asked “Well, what was it about?” I explained a little, and she just said “Ooooh, that’s interesting!”.

I have probably heard either directly or indirectly from half the crowd that was in the restaurant the day that the taping happened. It’s funny to hear about the different interpretations that people had about what was going on. Dating show? Recruiting Video? The fact is that people *were* looking at us – but because of the cameras!

Anh has been recognized a couple of times without me there as well… this I never expected either.

Oddly, most of the times that this has happened haven’t been in Seattle. (For both of us) I have two explanations for this: 1) People in Seattle don’t watch those shows 2) We do get recognized here, but for some reason (cultural difference here?) no one says anything. Maybe because it’s clear that we are from here. Who knows.

March 7, 2008

Overnight Mail

Posted in family, life, work at 9:01 pm by Michael

Mail! 

This was an odd week to be on national TV. From Tuesday night until Friday afternoon, I was at a training course for work. It was at the “Sleeping Lady Mountain Retreat” in Leavenworth, Washington, which is about two and a half hours east from Redmond, on the eastern side of the Cascades.

It’s a beautiful, picturesque place, with two drawbacks for the maniacally connected – a) little/no cell coverage b) no in-room TV.

So, there I was, trying to stay focused on this course (which was great!), and at the same time trying to see what was going on as a result of the airing of the Good Morning America and Nightline pieces yesterday. (btw, the streaming link is here: http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=4402130)

In many multiday Microsoft and other management/leadership courses the morning of the second day and subsequent days start with “Overnight Mail” – that is an opportunity to tell the group how you are feeling based on the previous day’s learnings or questions.

I’ve hesitated to post much since the stuff on ABC aired – both to give it some time to sink in, but to really think about what I have to say.

Here goes.

First off, I have to thank all of you who have been so amazingly supportive and posted incredible comments and thoughtful emails. That was so nice to see.

Both here, and on other sites (like the comment stream on ABC.com), there were more questions than comments, and these merit there own posts, which will follow.

“What about the kids? How did you tell them (the older ones), and how are they doing?”

“How on earth did you tell Anh? What did she do? What did you do?”

There were other comments, oh yes there were. I’m not going to dwell on the negative though, and I’m going to just let it go. If you think there is some other big question, that’s not answered on the FAQ, or that I’ve dodged in some way, please post it, and I’ll do my best.

March 5, 2008

ABC News, Part II

Posted in life at 10:02 pm by Michael

Neal and Alyssa (the producer) came to our house on the 24th (Sunday) to meet with us for the first time face-to-face, and plan out the day a bit more.

After a few more iterations, we worked out a schedule for them to meet us at our house at 545am, go running with us, then tape us making breakfast for Samwich (although no pictures of Samwich’s face were allowed (or Peri and John for that matter)). After that, we’d drive to work, with them in the car part of the time, and then follow me inside for about half of my day. I’d then have lunch with Neal (recorded), then when I got home, out for dinner, then back for the formal “interview” with me and Anh.

Wow. Long day.

They were there right on time at 545am, camera crew and all. We went for our run, being followed by a sound and camera guy in a black suburban (Mike and Rob), but other than that, it was normal. Well, that and being asked to run by the Space Needle four times so the Rob could get the shot right (it was a really cool shot, and he really did want to make it right. He said to us: “You can always tell when you are shooting what will ABSOLUTELY make it in, and let me tell you, this will get in.”).

We were both pretty nervous during the run. We had wireless microphones on (which made both of our pants fall down from the weight of the battery packs on our back – if we look like we have baggy pants on when this airs – now you know why), but it was one of our quietest runs ever. Typically, our runs are the time for us to talk about what’s going on, and work out any issues that we have to deal with – with us, with family, with the kids, etc. We came up with Samwich’s name on a run. Anyway, not this one – we were pretty quiet.

We got back to the house, and went upstairs to get ready, leaving the crew downstairs. One of the big TG “clichés” that I didn’t want to get into was any shots of me getting dressed or ready. So, I really wanted to skip any part of that.

Mercifully, I made them coffee.

After coming downstairs with the baby, I started to make him breakfast (banana pancakes). Between being nervous and hurrying a bit, this was probably the single worst pancake I ever made for Samwich. It didn’t taste bad, it was just a mess. He had been in the middle of a “no eating week” – he basically would take two bites, and then be done, every meal. This breakfast was no exception – not a lot of the pancake was consumed.

One of the most fun parts about our morning ritual is watching Samwich dance and to the music (while singing along). However, because of the microphone/sound recording issues, we couldn’t have it on. Bummer.

We headed out, just about on time, with me in front, the suburban following, and Neal and Alyssa in a third car. Just over the bridge, we all pulled over, and Rob the cameraman got in the car with me, and taped me driving into work from the inside (they took outside shots before that).

Getting into work with four visitors, two of them lugging tons of gear was well, interesting. We went up from the garage, and out to the lobby where we met the PR representatives. No problem, we signed them in, and we started the work day.

First off, I do email. Wow. Super exciting…. You thought the Golf Channel was fun, woo whee – check out the eMail Channel!

Anyway, in the morning, I had previously scheduled meetings with my manager Brad (the ubiquitous weekly 1:1 at Microsoft), an old HR contact, and my current HR contact. The crew was there in each of the meetings, and after the meetings, they interviewed the folks I had met with briefly (I didn’t watch…).

I had meetings back and forth between meetings, and for those walks, they were following me back and forth… will be interesting to see how that comes out.

With each of these meetings, they stayed to watch the first parts, but then left. The meeting with Tobin was interesting though, as he hadn’t seen me since I got back, and we had a lot of catching up to do, and they caught a lot of it.

Before lunch, Neal asked me a few on-camera questions in my office – nothing too remarkable, except that he asked me, when seeing all the “Michael” stuff in my office – “Who’s office is this? Michael’s or Megan’s?”. I hadn’t really thought a lot about this before – other than I clearly am not trying to erase my history, and I have a lot of history at Microsoft, so my office reflects that! (It was definitely a fair question though).

We ended up going to lunch at Malay Satay Hut in Bellevue. I can tell you that if you want to get a bunch of looks, walk into a restaurant with a camera crew. Malay Satay hut is an extension of the MS cafeterias at this point, and it’s loaded with ‘softies – many of whom I knew that day. At one point, Neal asked me if I was conscious of people looking askance at me. I said: “Well, today I think they are looking at me because I have this camera crew posse with me!”

After lunch we went back to campus, they shot a little bit in Brad’s weekly staff meeting, then they went out to get some pictures of campus, and then headed back to our house to set up for the interview.

The interview setup was pretty interesting – they basically took apart our whole living room, and reset it almost like a studio – lights and all. They even set lights outside to light the trees, so in the shots of Neal, facing us, you could see the skyline, plus lit trees. It was a trip.

For dinner, we had made a reservation up at Sorrentino up on Queen Anne – they have always been super sweet to us, and we also really like the food. We warned them that this would be a dinner with a camera crew, so they knew what to expect. Our friends Alex and Kat had agreed to come out with us, and we met them there. The crew taped about 15 minutes of our pre-dinner conversation, then went back to the house to continue setting up for the interview (wow, that takes a LONG time).

As a funny aside, while Neal and Alyssa were sitting at the bar eating, one of the owners mistook Neal’s phone for her own, and took it. For the next couple of hours, there was intensive phone-looking (Everyone wanted to blame Samwich, as he has a known penchant for phone chewing!).

Anyway, we got back around 830pm, and the formal interview part started (if we look tired, you know why!). Neal interviewed me first, then me and Anh together. Anh has never done any press work before and she did great! Pretty high stress thing to do for your first time… national TV, on such a personal subject.

The interview lasted for just about 90 minutes, and by the time the crew was done tearing down and cleaning up, it was almost 11.

Long day for us, long day for the crew.

I have to say, that the experience of that day was nothing but positive. Neal and the crew were total pros – treated us with amazing amounts of respect and candor, and were great to work with.

I’m confident that tomorrow’s stories will come out well, and hopefully a few more people will get exposed to a normal family, but one that’s just a little different.

ABC News

Posted in life at 10:33 am by Michael

A couple of weeks ago (actually on my birthday), I got an interesting voicemail at work. It was from Neal Karlinsky, a west-coast based reporter for ABC News. He said on the voicemail that he had found my blog, and was interested in talking to me.

I called him back, and we chatted for a bit, and he asked if I was interested in being interviewed on camera, and if so, he was going to pitch his story idea to the “Folks in New York” to see if they were interested. I said that he should pitch it, but that I wasn’t sure to what degree I wanted to participate, or what participation that Anh would want to have, or what could be done at work.

The next day, he emailed back, saying it was a “go”, and we started talking about what they wanted to do. They were interested in a “long” (8 minute) story on Nightline, and a shorter version to air on Good Morning America. He talked about wanting to “follow” us around for day or so, at home, at work, and out and about. From the beginning he related that the actual “story” was how much of a non-story that this actually is. But, he did feel like being able to talk to and interview Anh was an important part of the story, as her voice certainly hasn’t been heard as much.

Anh and I had a number of long conversations on this topic – deep conversations related to the reasons for and against doing it. We were trying to balance the privacy loss with the potential benefit to getting the story of a “normal family with a transgendered spouse” out to a broader audience.

In the end, we decided to do it – we were either going to do it together, or just not participate at all.

Tomorrow’s the day (planned…) We expect that it will be on in the morning on GMA, and then on Nightline.

I’ll post more about what last Wednesday was like a little later, but here was a shot of Anh and I being interviewed.

Interview

Previous page