January 3, 2008

Milestones

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

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

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

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

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

At Work, January 3, 2007

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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

November 29, 2007

Why? Alternate Title: Itchy!

Posted in Identification, schedule, surgery, transgender at 12:31 am by Michael

Ok, here’s goes – here’s one of the pictures Dr. O (more accurately Tatiana) took last Monday as “before” pictures.

Headshot

Great, huh? (I updated the Pictures page with a few more, plus the ability to see not just thumbnails.)

(Please NB that the crazy Alfalfa look going here is not at all a regular hairstyle for me. Since my hairline will be impacted, the Dr. wants a “before” shot to clearly show said hairline. There are bobby pins in my hair to create this super groovy effect.)

I’ve been on hormones (estrogen (primary female hormone), progesterone (breast development), finasteride (anti-androgen – helps lower the dose of the other two, and reduces/reverses hair loss)) for eight months – with good effect. My skin is softer. I lost a lot of chest and arm hair (before even the laser death ray was employed). I had some breast development (I liked to think of them as “A Minuses”). I had laser on my face, chest and arms, and I shave my legs. I started electrolysis on my face since the white hairs (I had a bunch) don’t get zapped by the death ray – only the black ones (and even those take three plus treatments to get rid of). (As an aside – and it feels like this whole blog is a big aside-  I can’t have electrolysis for two weeks before, three months after facial surgery because of infection risk. This is freaking me out for two reasons. One, I’m not done. My neck and parts of my cheeks haven’t been touched. Second, even the “done” places need retreatment. Over the past two weeks, the little black dudes have been showing up over my top lip again – lovely. Second, to have electrolysis you need to grow out the to-be-zapped hairs for a couple days so they can be seen and zapped. I get the ever-so-lovely C. Everett Koop look from that. We’ll have to strike some arrangement to only do certain parts so I don’t get despondent for those days).

However, even dressed like Megan (I think we have a winner in the middle name contest btw – “Jenna”), I read, no SCREAM “guy in women’s clothes”.

I was feeling pretty good about myself today when we headed to lunch (read the earlier post). I was strong, confident, and ready to face the world. Anh called me Megan, so did friends and fam – wow, this is really working! Yea Me!

As I said before, I went into the women’s room – more than once! Again, progress.

Then, we go to order.

First off, the maitre’d gives me the wine list. Huge tell – especially since we were out w/two other guys.

(Time check: It’s now 12:00 Midnight – I’m now NPO).

Secondly, when it came time to order, the waitress looked at me, said “Sir, can I take your order.” And, in a moment of, well, a moment, I said nothing (as one other person needed to order.) He ordered, then it came back to me. She says: “And what would you like?” It was clear that she was unclear in the pronoun department. Schoolhouse Rock NEVER covered this situation (http://www.schoolhouserock.tv/Rufus.html).

Oh well… not surprising.

As I talked about earlier, post lunch, and requisite “A Frame Hugs” (Paul, you are super buff – clearly you have been working out), Anh went off to the market and I grabbed a cab home. The first side of the hotel that I tried to get a cab from didn’t have cabs or a cab line. I had already put on my jacket, I had on jeans (clearly women’s jeans), and a North Face fleece, which while not tight, wasn’t completely showing nothing either. Without skipping a beat, the doorman said to me: “Sir, the cab line is on the other side, and we’ll have one ready for you when you get over there.” He calls on the radio and I hear him say to his co-worker (very politely) that there’s a gentlemen coming over who needs a cab. So, as you can imagine, when getting over to the other side, “Right This Way Sir!” was the call-out I got.

Now, to be clear, 100% of these people never gave me a dirty look, a sideways glance, or in any way weren’t completely polite at all times. They were great.

I just look like a guy. I get it.

Even with breast implants, and wearing women’s clothes, I look like a guy. Now, I wasn’t wearing a dress, or makeup, or heels or a purse, or any other huge tell… but just as me, it’s no contest. The Y chromosome wins hands down.

Duh!

Ok, but remember the title of this post – “Why?” and I’ll get to the itching thing in a second.

There are trans-folks who deal with this every day – who present in their non-genetic (non-birth ) gender and who simply do not pass in their true gender.  They are 100% stronger than me. No doubt. Sorry, I can’t do it.

I can’t have the first thing that people notice about me is that I’m a guy dressed like a girl.

I just don’t think that I could deal with every time I meet or just encounter someone new: getting a coffee, checking into a hotel, buying groceries – have that be the *first* thing that crosses their mind.

If that makes me shallow, or weak, or somehow less of a person, then so be it (but have you WATCHED “The Housewives of Orange County”?)

This impacts more than just me though. This impacts Anh, Samwich, Peri, John, and the rest of my friends and family. Anh didn’t choose to be married to a woman. Anh married a 6’ 2’’ man. It’s a huge leap to go out in public now, “with” a woman. And, she can do it. Wow. She’s amazing. The kids chose this even less – Anh at least has a choice – but like it or not, I am the kids “dad”.

So… now we get to the nut of “Why FFS?”. FFS (facial feminizing surgery) is the way (that I know of) that I can be who I am, on the inside, on the outside, and in society in a way that’s not first and foremost about me being trans.

I’m a lot of things – a lot of things that I’m proud of – parent, friend, sibling, kid, traveler, engineer, etc. I want to be those things. I don’t want to always be “transgender .XX”.

Now, this is not to say that I’m trying to hide. Which clearly, I’m not. If I was trying to hide, this would be the worst example of hiding in he world history of hiding.

But hiding, and always being transgender first are two different things. I want to be me first. I will always be transgender, and I will always be (and I am) proud of it, but I don’t want to be always “transgender + XXX”.

Hopefully that makes sense.

Anyway, the itching. Right now, I have an ace bandage wrapped around a bra, which underneath has some sort of gauzy, tape stuff in some places (I know because I looked). Basically, between the compression, and not taking this off in three days, and everything else, it itches like hell. I feel like I want to tear my skin off with a garden hoe.

However, I will refrain from that, and I look forward to FFS tomorrow because I know that I get these bandages off. I unfortunately also know they get replaced with even more uncomfy ones, but hey, its progress.

I can’t wait to be home.

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

Monday Recap

Posted in schedule, surgery, transgender at 12:15 am by Michael

Yesterdays’ posts weren’t tremendously coherent, so let me try to recap yesterday, in as much that I remember.

My mom and sister showed up at 5am yesterday and we hung around for a half-hour, since we were due at the hospital at 6.Anh and I were especially groggy, only having an hour’s sleep or so.

We drove over to the hospital, found admitted, and started the process. Fifteen minutes later, I was up in a room (which I think I went back to when I was done, but I can’t be sure)

The nurses and the other staff were just incredibly nice. You can tell that they do this a lot, because there is conscious effort to use the right pronoun. (Anh is no over to she 98% of the time…)

After taking my history for what must have been the fifth time that morning, and asking when I ate/drink last, the nurse offered me a valium, and started my IV. I always think its funny (but caring) how almost universally, blood draws and IVs are done with a huge amount of care for causing pain. I’m thinking – this is a needle stick. I’m about to get way worse. If I can’t deal with this, then….

One of the proprietors for the guest house is an ER nurse for the Dr, so she came by, asked how I was doing, and I think she was surprised that Samwich is with us, and staying w/us. If stuff gets ugly, he’ll stay w/my oldest sister, middle sister and mom (Ma), but for now, having him here is great.

Dr. O came into visit – said “Things are going to go *perfect*! See you there!”. Ok… I love the PMA, I’m in.

At 720am or so, they say that they are ready for me, Anh and I say bye (ok, it was more personal than that), and they wheel me into the ER. I had been warned to have an empty bladder for surgery, so when they got me on the gurney, I admitted I needed to go about. I was offered a “Flower Pot”, which I took.

As a pilot, I pee into a bucket all the time. Not a lot of places to pull over at FL180, plus, going up/down and slow. The “Little John” it is. Now, this is not w/o mishaps. About four years ago, flying home from Vegas, I spilled a half-full one right into my lap. Dumb doesn’t even begin… Anyway, I was soaked. Autopilot on, I took off my pants and underwear, threw the underwear in the back, and pull the nylon (and quick drying) pants on. All set, right?

No.

Then I had the worse encounter with in-flight-icing, along with moderate to severe turbulence that I’ve ever had. (Oh, and this was over the mountains of Northern Cali, Southwest Oregon and Nevada. Not the most hospitable terrain.) I was thinking to myself – “Wow, when they find me and the plane at some point smashed into the side of a mountain, I can just imagine what they are going to think about me having pants on, but no underwear, which can be found in the rear cabin. Given the dry way that the NTSB presents everything, ( http://www.ntsb.gov/ntsb/month.asp )  I can only imagine.

Anyway, I told this story to the surgical staff before they started. They loved it!

The next think I know, the anesthesiologist is injecting stuff into my IV, and I’m out. No dreams, nothing.

I wake up in recovery, my chest hurts like hell, and following earlier instructions from the anesthesiologist (if it hurts, tell us, and it won’t anymore). I told them, and within 5 minutes I was comfy again.

I demo’ed sitting, waking and peeing, and some degree of alwake/alterness, and they gave me back my clothes and we were done. Back to the car, drive to the house, went to the bed and got trail mix to eat, My favorite.

Shortly after we got home, I called Peri and John, who yesterday I told that when I called I needed them each to tell me their favorite joke, and they were excited to do that. I’ll talk to them again Tuesday, then they are here this weekend. (We’ll see if I’m ready so see the.m…)

In the last ten hours I’ve been gradually returning to the land of the living… I’m feeling way better. It was hard to stay up later than 8pm, and I was super close. Anyway, with my new load of anti-biotics, pain med and valium, I went nighty-night for now.

Thanks to everyone again who commented, or sent mail. Each one is like a little present, so thank you very much…

More updates shortly.

BTW, on the pictures, I won’t be posting chest pictures (lots of reasons – sorry). I will however post the Dr. O “before” headshots, then daily updates post Thursday.

And yes, I did change my IM name to “Megan” – although, as previously reported here, Michael sill works too.

November 26, 2007

Resting

Posted in schedule, surgery at 7:46 pm by Michael

Been back from surgery since about 2PM PST.

I am having a real hard time typing/spelling with the pain meds and valium.

Having Samwich here with us is a treat — just seeing him makes this easier.

I’ll write more when I can compose at a reasonable level…..

Anh’s Here

Posted in schedule at 12:59 am by Michael

Just arrived…

One less thing to worry about….

In San Francisco – Almost

Posted in schedule, surgery, transgender at 12:55 am by Michael

Its 12:42 am, and I’m in the arrival lobby at SFO writing this post. Anh and Samwich are inbound on the flight that we were originally going to take.

Turns out that the plane that we were supposed to leave on at 725pm was having mechanical problems. The altitude reporting systems were inop, and they had to fly a new part up from SFO, fix the plane, and then it left. It finally left just past 1115pm.

I ended up taking one of the last seats out of Seattle on a Southwest flight into Oakland, and taking a cab here to SFO to wait for Anh and the baby.

Should only be a little more time, then we’ll cab it to the place we are staying, then shortly thereafter we’ll be off to the hospital. My mom and sister are coming over at 5 to say hi, then stay w/the baby while Anh comes with me.

Like we all needed more stress.

I have surgery #1 in less than six hours, and I’m now NPO – which sucks because my mouth feels like cotton, and boy, would I love a beer right about now. No can do.

Saying bye to Peri and John before we left was harder than I thought. We were all upset, John especially.

He said to me (and I almost lost it completely)

“Daddy, when I get older, I want to find out why this happens, so I can invent a way to make it go away so that you are the same old Daddy as before.”

I gave him a big hug, told him that I was the same Daddy as always, but I’d look a little different, and gave him another hug. I also stole his nose, and told him I’d have to borrow his for a while, because mine wasn’t going to work well for a while. He smiled at that.

Its still hard thinking about the impact that this is having on those that I love the most.

I really appreciate all of the kind mails that people have sent – both friends, strangers, and people who I met once or twice in some wayward place. I can’t tell you how much it means to me.

I’ll probably post one more time before we leave for the hospital, and then again after I’m back at the house tomorrow (Monday) afternoon late.

Today will be interesting.

November 25, 2007

Almost There

Posted in schedule, surgery, transgender at 4:17 am by Michael

Surprise, I can’t sleep again.

Tomorrow at this time we’ll be in San Francisco getting ready to go to the hospital. I say that apropos of nothing, other than wow… its close!

Last night Anh, Peri and I went to El Gaucho for dinner. We had a sitter for the Samwich, and John wanted to stay home and decorate the Christmas tree and watch TV. Not a night to get into a power struggle with a seven year-old. El Gaucho is definitely one of our favorite places – it’s where our wedding reception was, and the combo of food and service is hard to beat. Who would have known that a windowless room could have so much charm?

While we were sitting waiting at the bus stop, Peri says to me “Aren’t you nervous that they are going to cut into you? Isn’t that icky?” Uh, yeah… very nervous!

Dinner was great, crab and shrimp, Caesar salad tableside (plenty of mustard – I’m convinced that’s the key), steak and ribs. Yes, we ate too much, but it was grand. At one point, the wine captain (who’s a woman) comes over to pour for us and asks “Are you celebrating a special occasion?”

I look at Anh.

Anh looks at Me.

I say: “Well, yes. It’s a little uncommon. Are you sure you want to know?”

This was not fair of me to say. Any human with a pulse, and an ounce of inquisition is going to want to know with that kind of buildup.

“Sure! Tell me.”

“Well, I’m transgendered, and tonight is my last real dinner before I have a bunch of surgery next week. This is a special restaurant to us, and we thought it would be great to eat here tonight.”

“Wow! That’s great, congratulations!”

There was more… but I’ll leave that out.

The server leaves, and I say to Peri: “Anh gave me the best advice ever. ‘If you aren’t ashamed, don’t act like you are ashamed’ And, I’m not ashamed!”

Peri: “Cool!”

Dessert was fun, dessert wine was fun too (and they bought us dessert, for no reason, which was very nice.)… cab home, pay the sitter, bedtime. Till 2am… can’t sleep, which brings us to here.

One story from last week that I forgot to mention – glasses. Dr O. strenuously insists that post the nose cast coming off, no glasses (or sunglasses) should be worn for a month. Now, I’m kind of blind. I wear contacts all the time, glasses when those aren’t in, so this should be a challenge.

Now, as you can imagine, Dr. O has a “good” solution for this.  First, take a piece of half inch tape, and wrap it around the bridge of your glasses, leaving about a two inch tail, sticky side in, going up (to your forehead). Carefully stick said tape to your forehead, so your glasses hang, without touching your nose.

This is an awesome engineering solution to this problem. I commend the thought, the effort and the inventiveness of the solution. We’ll see how desperate I become.

I’m bringing 4 sets of contacts.

Twelve hours left in Seattle. Still have to pack.

Earlier, (because I’m still a geek at heart) I was thinking about two of my favorite Yoda quotes, which are apropos for this situation (not sure this is what Lucas had in mind). These may be so common that they are trite, but hey, my blog, my trite quotes.

“Do, or do not, there is no try.”

And

Luke: “I don’t believe it!”
Yoda: “That is why you fail.”

I’m in “Do Mode”, and I do, in fact, believe.

Today should be a busy posting day….

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