December 7, 2008

One Year Post FFS

Posted in surgery, transgender at 9:02 pm by Michael

Enough with all that emotional stuff, what’s going on with my face? This post is probably of limited interest to most, but I figured I’d post it anyway, as a record of my process.

Today is the one year anniversary of coming back from SFO, back to Seattle. Today is better. 🙂

Here’s the compare/contrast – before, last year, today.

November 29, 2007

November 29, 2007

 

December 8, 2007

December 8, 2007

December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

 

December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

December 7, 2008

Ok, I admit it. I look a lot different.
The Issues.

I was most concerned with having any sort of nerve damage/sensation loss. A year later, its relatively minimal, and in line with what Dr. O predicted. Right underneath my nose (the flat spot that’s parallel to the floor when you are standing up – I’m sure there is a name for it, but it escapes me) is still totally numb. That numbness goes a bit up to the point of my nose, but not “around the corner”. It’s still cold sensitive – we’ll see how skiing this winter is. I have a bit of surface numbness on the top part of my upper lip, but it’s not bad.

On the very top of my right ear there is a little bit of numbness at the top – the right one is totally fine.

The top of my head, roughly the size of my fist, going back from my hairline is still numb on the top. I notice this most when we are walking/running and branches rub the top of my head. It just feels odd.

That’s it.

Generally, everything came out even. Skin isn’t clay or metal, and there’s bound to be little imperfections. There are three little unevenesses. On my hairline, the actual hairline itself isn’t quite even. It dips down in one direction a bit, but I think I’m the only one to ever notice.

Hairline, December 7, 2008

Hairline, December 7, 2008

Secondly, when I scrunch (technical term) my nose up, one of my nostrils is a little lower than the other one. This is not noticeable w/o scrunching. I have airbrushed out my nose-inside for the faint of heart, and also made this super small by default. Click for a bigger image (IF YOU DARE!)

Nose uneven-ness

Nose uneven-ness

Lastly, there’s sometimes a little tiny divot that appears along one side of my jaw, lust past my chin. Its a little bit noticeable in the profile shot for the right, but only when I smile. (Which is hopefully more and more!)

Unrelated to the actual FFS part, but definitely important has been facial hair removal. It’s still a work in progress. I have done two laser treatments in the past year (last December and January) to deal with the black hairs, and I’ve been having electrolysis on average 3x a month for about an hour. Honestly, my schedule hasn’t really allowed for much more. The progress here has been *slow*. Luckily, most of the black hairs are gone, with a few cropping up occasionally (Pluck!). My upper lip and lower lip are now hair-free enough so that I don’t have to shave those areas. Around my chin is 80% done, but my neck is still white hair central. I have to shave every day, and I’m still a little self conscious about it.

The Fair

My nose… hmm… it works. It’s different. Instead of being convex when viewed from the side, it’s now a little convex. Was it a big difference, hard to tell.

The chin and jaw – its so hard to say, but the shape is different. I think my face is rounder now, and that’s all about the jaw.

My Adam’s apple is way less prominent, although not gone. I appreciate the fact that the scar for it, right under my chin has basically disappeared. Not having the scar on my lower neck makes it significantly less noticeable.

The Good

I love not having ears that stick out. I *always* hated them, and now they are safely back and locked.

The combo of the hairline modification plus the hormones has left my hair in a good state. It’s thicker, and growing out nicely. I actually like wearing it back now.

My brow ridge is totally gone. Whoosh. It was relatively prominent before, but it’s not any more! I think this trait is an interesting one – it’s true that the majority of Caucasian women do not have one – however we were watching “Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew (Season 2)” (Yes, Anh and I can be addicted to trashy reality TV) and one of the patients – “Amber Smith” who is/was a model (with a serious narcotics addiction) has a very prominent brow ridge. You would not think she was ever a man in any way.

The Reaction

The most biased first. I went to see my mom last month when I was in Boston, and she said – “Ok, let me take a good close look at your face.” After inspecting it, she said “Huh, I don’t see any masculine features in your face at all.” I think that’s a little pushing it, but hey, she said it!
At work the other day I was having a lunch meeting w/my friend Val and another co-worker, and she was sitting next to me. After the meeting she remarked how totally gone my brow ridge is.

In terms of how the FFS contributes to passing, I think it was pretty important for me – but other stuff was needed too. The bigger issues were making progress on the hair removal, since my hair was so dark and my skin is pretty light (contrast!), and also having my hair grow out. I’ve noticed that passing has a lot to do with what I’m wearing too. With a heavy coat on, I’m more frequently “Sirred” – but without, it’s become infrequent.

In the end, I think that FFS (in combination with moderate dress – see previous post on “Passing”) has helped me to just go about my daily life, and to not stick out (as much).

Am I happy that I had it? Yes. Was it absolutely necessary? Probably not. But, I transitioned post FFS so I don’t have a reference point.

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December 26, 2007

Christmas – So Yesterday

Posted in Christmas, family, food, surgery, transgender at 1:21 pm by Michael

You know that Christmas is officially over when there is the “Christmas Music Rebellion”.

Happens every year. This year, Anh started it. At about 8pm, while listening to Johnny Mathis, aka “Mr. Christmas” (he has someone else call him that on the record – WOW) – Anh said:

“Megan…. Can we PLEASE listen to something else? Please.”

I scanned the room – looking for unindicted co-conspirators (the people who LIKE Christmas music) and found no support.

On to the ‘Best of Frank Sinatra’. We’ll teach Samwich about the classics now…. not just the Chipmunks (although this *is* classic). As an aside, “Summer Wind” is by far my favorite Sinatra song. I can’t NOT dance to that….

Samwich has his first crush – Feist. When the song “1234” comes on, he immediately looks toward the source of the beautiful angelic music, and immediately stops what he’s doing. Crying, eating, pooping, whatever. It’s a fun party game now.

He gave us a nice present on Christmas Eve – two steps. Not totally under control, not bad for 9 months though! Also, his first tooth is a day or two from coming out… that will be fun!

Over the past couple of days Anh’s brother James (professional stylist in the Bay Area – he’s awesome!) performed two mitzvahs for me – cut my hair and did my eyebrows.

I will post more pictures today. I have been reluctant to do so for two reasons – one my upper lip was swollen from laser – so swollen I kind of looked like “The Cowardly Lion”.

Cowardly Lion

(Why does the Cowardly Lion have a ribbon in his hair – was “Cowardly” the closest that Victor Fleming could get to “Gay” in 1939? (Ed. Note – Anh read this post and said – it wasn’t “Frank Blum – it was Frank Baum.” She was of course, correct.  Full name was L. Frank Baum however and he died in 1920. Victor Fleming was the director of the 1939 “Wizard of Oz” movie, that the above picture is from.))

Secondly, while the laser had some *immediate* results, the remaining hairs get big and angry, until they fall out. We are mid-angry phase right now….

In any case though, I will post some shortly.

It did snow in Seattle yesterday – first time since ’96 on Christmas Day.

Some other food comments:

– Pistachio Waffles – very interesting (mix the crushed pistachios into the butter). Dip in butter if you are into that sort of thing.
– Berry Waffles – microwave frozen berries first, then mash them, then mix in w/the batter. Works great – the taste is throughout.
– Beef Wellington – good idea, hard to make work. Puff pastry is soggy on the bottom – do you cook it on a rack?
– Verdun Chocolates – from Portland – super fun at a party – each kind is a uniquely wrapped color/shape, and you get a large guidebook – so its like a party game to find what you like.
– Duckhorn Cab from ’98 – I loved it then, I love it more now.
– Champagne is always good to have in house. The French stuff is better – way better. Pol Roger – nice. Also, Rose Champagne – try it out!

Ok, one serious bit of “Trans-business”.

We have lots of pictures around our house. We have wedding day pictures, a picture I love from Hawaii, pictures of me with the big kids when they were young – lots of stuff.

I look at myself, and see the same face as I see when I look in the mirror today. I kind of expected a “bigger” change – it was very scary as a result (read the posts from right before facial surgery – I was super scared!).

(Other People – while they recognize me, say I look a lot different. I don’t see it.)

My face is still pretty angular.

The swelling on my nose and chin/jaw is coming down.

Even with no facial hair, I don’t think I will by ever by default “pass”. E.g., just with a “Headshot”.

I’m coming around to being ok w/that. It’s honestly hard to admit.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel *great*. I know I made the right decision (Yes Dave(s), I did!).

But, I’m going to be in the middle, probably forever. Dress, makeup, voice, “more surgery” – all these things could change that. But, I don’t want to do any of it.

I’ve done enough.

I’m satisfied…. Even if a bit surprised.

December 19, 2007

I Got No Strings on Me!

Posted in family, food, surgery, Vegas at 5:41 pm by Michael

Yesterday was a bit of a milestone in my recovery from FFS. Two things really – the bruising on my face is basically gone. (I have a little tiny spot under my left eye – but given that it was swollen shut and totally purple less than three weeks ago, I’ll call that good!). And, for the first time since November 29, all of the sutures in my mouth are gone!

Just as a note, if you are squeamish, skip the next paragraph. I’ll get into some detail.

I only ended up with three visible scars on my face – under my nose (nose work, plus upper lip), under my chin (adam’s apple removal), and right at my hairline (ear to ear scar, only visible at the top – hairline modification plus brow sculpting). I also have scars behind each ear, from having them tucked back. But, inside my mouth was the real masterwork. All of the jaw and chin work was done from in there. No visible scars as a result, but a ton of sutures (dissolvable) inside my mouth. Basically, I had a top to bottom “Z” incision on each cheek, and along the bottom edge of my jawline, where the skin on the cheek meets the gum, there was an incision, and dissolvable sutures.

Yesterday, the last of those dissolvable sutures “dissolved”, and were gone!

I thought of the song from the Disney Pinocchio movie: “I Got No Strings”. I’ll do my best to remember the lyrics:

I got no strings to hold me down
To make me smile
To make me frown
I got no strings to hold on me
I got no strings on me!

Not totally apropos, but still – this felt like a milestone!

Last night Anh and I went to Bradley Ogden for dinner at Caesar’s Palace. We had been there for dinner before, a while ago w/friends, and Anh had been there for dessert again recently and said it was great.

Well, it was great. It was amazing. The service was spectacular – it was a discussion between us and our waiter Berke .We started with a fresh Alaskan King Crab appetizer that came with these little bits of gold – nuts, deep fried potato, just amazingly well put together and beautiful. Of course, the split each thing we ordered into two, with great presentation, insuring that we both had the full effect. This is not something we see super often, but it was appreciated. Our waiter also thought that the crab would work best with a sparkling wine, so he served us a generously portioned taste of a California Rose sparkling wine.

We then had a salad with this amazing little blue cheese soufflé. Yes, that’s right a blue cheese soufflé.

Berke and Bradley Ogden’s son had helped us to pick out a great ’96 Dunn Cabernet, that was so silky smooth, it was an experience.

Next there was a ribeye steak that we split – amazingly plated, with winter veggies underlying.

Berke recommended trying the Kobe steak as well – from Japan – really. He said that they ship over porterhouse cuts, then butcher them to just get the strip cut. Its prepared on a teppan style grill, seared three times – first with soy, then with a salt/pepper mix, then finished with soy. The serve by the ounce, so we got four, and went for it.

Wow… like eating fois gras, without the guilt! It was an amazing experience.

Dessert was killer as well – chocolate three ways, a meringue, and an amazing Far Niente Dolce.

It was dead in the restaurant, just like Vegas in general this time of year – right before Christmas, right before New Years. So, the waiter was chatty. We liked it.

He had initially been calling me “He” or “Sir”, but I did correct him, since we’d be there for a while, and introduced myself “Hi, my name is Megan, and I really prefer “She”!”. He said, “Nice to meet you Megan!”

As we were getting dessert, we asked him if he had figured out our story, and he said yes.  He gave me his card, I wrote down the address of this blog, and he started talking.

It turned out that he has two transgendered friends. These were MTF folks, who had transitioned before he knew them. One from where he came from, one from in Vegas. He was clearly a nice guy, and had other interesting stories to tell. 

“You Never Know!” when you meet people about their background, their story, and their history.

I look forward to our next trip to Vegas, where we will undoubtedly go see the fine folks at Bradley Ogden again.

Oh, and after dinner, we went to the Mirage and had great luck at the Double Deck Blackjack table… always good to leave on a positive note!

No strings attached!

December 9, 2007

We’re There – Life Goes On

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

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

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

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

Now, Blogging.

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

I also learned that when you write….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m crying as I’m writing this btw…..

That’s it on that topic.

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

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

And with that my friends, the perfect day ended.

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

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

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

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

December 7, 2007

Last Full Day in SFO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You made my day… and made me feel beautiful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

With love and warmth –  Megan

December 6, 2007

The New Normal

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

Well, if not, then pretty close!

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

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

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

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

 Fave Yoda Quotes – first from Empire:

“Do or do not – there is no try.”

and

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

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

And from Episode I:

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

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

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

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

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

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

She said to me: “Who are you?”

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

“Hi Megan, how are you!”

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

“Oh, but you just look like a girl.”

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

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

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

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

“Why do you have a boy’s voice?”

Kids say the most honest things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 5, 2007

Woo Hoo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New pictures on the “Pictures” link.

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

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

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

December 4, 2007

The Thrill of Victory, and the Agony of Defeat

Posted in surgery, transgender at 5:00 pm by Michael

Vinko Bogataj – anyone remember offhand who this is? As soon as you read it you will immediately remember. He’s the crashing ski jumper from the Wide World of Sports. Year after year, they changed what the “Thrill of Victory” was, but they never changed “The Agony of Defeat”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinko_Bogataj

So, this morning, after a totally sucky sleepless night (more mouth breathing and dry mouth and drooling), I was ultra mega super looking forward to getting the nose packing out this morning. We went to Dr. O’s office to do it, went into the office to have Mira do the work, and she asked how I was and I said “Happy to get the nose stuff out!”

She says:

“Well, one more day!”

I lost it. Tears and all.

I counted wrong.

Today was just some sutures…

I knew that I should have picked “Janet” as a middle name, as in “Dammit Janet!” (no link required for that one now, really…)

Anyway, we went back to Cocoon house, I was um, dejected. So, took a nap, and then we went to go get Dim Sum at Yank Sing (http://www.yanksing.com). Everything was going great – we had a table pretty quick, Samwich was seemingly over the barf-a-thon, and he was chowing down. That little dude loves the tofu!

Then, out of no where – BLAMMO – all of it that he had eaten. Out out out! With extreme prejudice. Good thing that they had paper tablecloths. Back to formula for a while for him, which he’s been able to keep down no problem.

We went home, and went for a walk to get ice cream. We’ve found this awesome place Bi-Rite Creamery (note – I made a mistake (Di-Rite)on the original post and thanks to James, we can now give proper credit where credit is due. Thanks!), on 18th and Delores which makes fresh, organic, amazing flavors. Its about a 10 block walk, and that was the test for today to see if I could make it there and back.

Success!

I have to say that all of the running I’ve done for the past year has made it quicker for me to recover, and get strength back. I can’t wait to be able to run again.

Tonight, more real food – fish is the plan, and we’ll see how that goes. Samwich will be milk-limited again. I don’t think I could deal with another alimentary explosion.

I posted three new “after” pics on the picture page, as well as a new “before”, which was the side view. The three from today include a front, a profile and a chin up view.

December 3, 2007

Progress!

Posted in surgery, transgender at 2:19 am by Michael

It seems so strange to think that a week ago at this time we were just arriving here at Cocoon house after our super wacky airline adventure. Now, here I am, and all the surgery is done, and I’m feeling nearly human again.

The results of the surgery on my chest are great, and I’m not having any pain at all. I have no problems lifting up my arms or with mobility at all. Less than a week post-op on that, its pretty fantastic.

Clearly, still a ways to go on the face. 

3 Plus Days Postop

But, I felt like there was tons of progress today. I put in my contacts (but I don’t dare take them out yet – maybe tomorrow night, I created some extra bruising on the way in the first time). As I wrote about earlier, I got the best hairwash ever… and was even able to take a shower on my own (but no getting my face wet yet). Anh I’ve learned besides being the love of my life, is a rockstar at making milkshakes. (Oh, sorry, time for an aside. Being born in Boston, but growing up mostly in RI, there’s a whole complex terminology about milk+flavor+ice cream that varies regionally, and can take up entire family gatherings with debate. So, I can’t simply use the word “milkshake” and let it pass without futher ado. Since blogging is all about “ado”, here we go. In RI, a “milkshake” is milk + flavoring. In fact, the state drink of RI is a “Coffee Milk”, made with milk and Autocrat coffee syrup. Yes, it true you can get a “Chocolate Milk” which would be milk + chocolate syrup. Other variations include strawberry milk, but that’s an aberration. All of these things would be rightfully called “milkshakes”. Now, if you happened to want some ice cream in with that, you need to specify how much. A “Cabinet” has some (drinkable with a straw before it melts), but a “Frappe” has more (initially not straw-able). However, cross the line into Massachusetts, and milkshake now has ice cream, and the distinction between cabinet and milkshake is lost on me. So, from a RI point-of-view, what Anh made for me was a Cabinet (not to thick, drinkable initially). End of aside. 🙂 )

Anyway, the breakthrough today was how normal I felt. Even with the crazy face dressings still on, I felt normal – I felt like me.

I look forward to the day soon, and I hope really soon that all this trans-stuff is just over, and we live our lives as a family (and a great one!), and we do all the stuff we did before and life is just great (because it was before!). I saw that day coming today. I felt it, and I saw it in Anh too, and that was the best feeling ever. I guess that was the whole point, huh? Being true to myself, and living my life as I felt inside…

Today was a good day.

December 2, 2007

Lazy Sunday

Posted in surgery, transgender at 11:29 am by Michael

Surgery was all day Thursday, so this makes today the 3rd day post-op. Wow, what a difference 48 hours makes.

Lots of firsts today – I put in my contacts – super fun as I couldn’t get my classes on and with about 20/200 vision, there’s not a ton that I can see without some sort of assistance.

Anyway, this wasn’t quite so simple as just poppin’ em right in… oh, no, not that simple. The right eye was pretty straight forward, but my left eye was still a little two swollen. With some cajoling, and an icecube, after about 15 minutes of trying, I was able to get it in. I can see!

Samwich is feeling better this morning – not pukey, but still not 100%.

Anh made me a vanilla milkshake for lunch, and it was just damn yummy. That’s the only way I can describe it!

Here’s what was looking like then:

Surgery Post 3 Days

Tricia came down to give me a hairwashing, then help with the shower. This was quite a sight. She has what can be best described as fish-monger pants. She ends up standing behind you while washing your hair, in order to not get water onto the nose dressings.

When we finished that , I got to take a shower, which was fabulous, and I’m just relaxing watching TV (Anh went out with Tan and the Samwich to get some lunch….)

I’ll post some post-hairwashing pictures soon.

After all this “stuff” that I’ve gone through now, the question may be – how are you feeling, did you do the right thing… and the answer there is really unequivocally yes. I just feel like me… which is fantastic.

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