March 23, 2009

New Picture

Posted in life at 7:42 am by Michael

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

Napa Happy

Napa Happy

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


Posted in life at 7:38 am by Michael

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

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

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

“I’m sorry…. I don’t know you.”

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

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

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

“Sue, it’s Michael. I transitioned.”

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

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

“You look great!”

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

“No, no one told me….”

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

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

Happy and Sad.

Trans-Prarie Home Companion

Posted in life at 7:37 am by Michael

Read in an email from a friend and a frequent blog reader:

“I’ve liked the little stories you have written lately. It’s like Trans-prarie Home Companion.”

I thought I’d share.

March 15, 2009

Mistaken Identity

Posted in Identification, life at 4:35 am by Michael

Last weekend I brought Peri to American Girl Place in Los Angeles as a birthday present for her.  She had been asking to go to one for the last three years at least, and honestly now at 11, it’s not clear how many more years she’d love to go at all (least of all with a parental unit).

“Filled with awesome-full-ness!” is how she described it.

While Peri and I were waiting in line at one point, one of the salesladies behind the counter said to us:

“Let me guess….. Mother and Daughter! I never get this wrong!”


Peri shoots me this smirky look like, “Oh lordy…”

If only the saleslady knew *why* she was smirking.
\The saleslady continues:

“I bet you both get this all the time – you look like peas in a pod.”

Peri is on smirkfactor 9.

“Cut from the same cloth.”

Me (in my inside voice): Its Dr. O’s best work!

Me (Outside Voice): “Thanks so much!”

Saleslady: “Have a nice day ladies!”

Peri, even though she calls me “Daddy” all the time, is aware enough to not correct someone in that circumstance. I wonder if that will be one of the memories that she has of that place.

February 7, 2009

The Half-Life of Names

Posted in Identification, life at 11:53 am by Michael

A few weeks ago we got what has become a commonplace, but ultra annoying notification from our bank – one of their credit card processor’s systems had been broken into, and our credit card data may have been compromised.

So, a week later, our debit/credit card was going to be deactivated, and they would send us new ones.

As promised, a new card for me (but not Anh… odd) came in the mail. I opened up the card, and went to activate it, but noticed that the name on the card was “Michael J. Wallent”. Odd, it was addressed to “Megan Wallent”, but the card said otherwise.

Oh well, another trip to the bank…

Before I had a chance to go get a new card at the bank (they can print them right there!), we were out at a restaurant that didn’t take Amex, and I had to use the new (Michael) card.

When the bill came back, the name on the receipt was “Megan J Wallent”…

Super odd… the envelope was addressed right, the card was printed wrong, but the magstripe was right.

I went to the bank (finally) yesterday to get a new card, and they thought this was odd too. The person who I ended up talking to was the same woman who processed my name change last year, and she remembered me… Surprise! She said that they likely had three systems, all of which needed to get updated, and there was a problem somewhere.

This isn’t the only time I’ve run into “Mismatches” – my health info at work was wonky for a while – and the internal Microsoft charity site still isn’t updated. (Many of the sites that are “extranet” – and hosted by third-parties haven’t been updated).

I went to go get a new phone yesterday too. I hadn’t ever updated my name with the wireless company. When I gave the sales guy my phone number he said

“Is this account under ‘Michael Wallent’?”


“Is Michael here?”

“I changed my name, its me.”


And we proceeded on… No biggie.

I’m glad that the mismatched name thing has never given me grief… Your “old” name has a “half-life” – like Plutonium. My guess is that the half-life of a name is about 9 months… if you have your name on 50 things, it would take more than 5 years for all of the kinks to work out of the system…

February 6, 2009

Watches (Or, Why Megan is Sentimental)

Posted in life at 10:18 pm by Michael

Watches have always been special to me.

I remember my dad having the same Timex gold watch while I was growing up. It had a twisty band, and I have a vivid image in my mind of my dad’s watch on his nightstand.

As a graduation present from college my parents bought me a stainless steel Rolex. I wore it every day until I married Anh in July of 2005.

As a wedding present, Anh got me a beautiful Breitling watch – a “Cosmonaute”.

It’s a pilot watch… 24 hour mechanical, with a slide rule for calculation and conversion and a stopwatch. I’ve timed more than one VOR approach and hold with it (piloty stuff!).


I absolutely love it.

Well, until last year. Last November.

I got a bunch of feedback that it was “too manly” (It is!)… and I stopped wearing it.

For a while, I wore the watch my parents got me then I just started wearing a simple digital Timex.

Anh and I had talked a lot about the watch and we had agreed that I would pass it on to Samwich. (John would get my Rolex).

Anh wanted to get me a new watch… we looked. A lot. Nothing felt right.

Then, just before New Year’s, I made a resolution.

I hadn’t been true to my beliefs about this whole transition thing. I had said from the beginning that transitioning wouldn’t change me fundamentally. The stuff I loved, I still loved (or wanted to love…)

I love the watch. Manly or not.

I started wearing it again.

Its clunky. Big. I love it. Its me. (Big and Clunky!)

N4151P came out of annual today… I can’t wait to time my next approach with the watch that my lovely wife gave me….

January 28, 2009

Where Do You Feel At Home?

Posted in life, transgender at 10:14 pm by Michael

I was back in my hometown of Wickford, Rhode Island recently for the weekend with Anh and Samwich. We went to visit my mom after I had been in Boston for work.

I’ve been back probably five or six times in the past year.

Just about every place else that I go, I have no problem at all feeling at ease – at work – out and about – whatever. I don’t feel self-conscious.

Today I was in a business meeting with a group of customers from Japan. No problem! I still know how to be culturally polite!

However, turn me loose in my hometown, where I grew up from third grade, and I’m a mess.

The local pizza place that I absolutely *love* (Filipou’s) – I even remember the phone number by heart still (401-294-4737) – I almost freeze when I call to place my order.

I went to middle school with Tim, who’s place it is. I went there all the time. I remember when my dad died, the day of his funeral I ordered a pizza to share with Anh and some of my close friends (I’ll never forget that Hillel flew out from Seattle to RI for one day to be there for us…). I walked in to pick up the pizza and Tim asked how I was.

“Well, my Dad passed away, and today his funeral.”

“I’m sorry to hear that. Have a baklava. Give my best to your mom.”

It was sweet actually. You had to be there.

Back to the weekend, I call for the pizza.

4-0-1 2-9-4 4-7-3-7

“Hello, Filipou’s”

“Yes, I’d like to order a small pizza with meatball and peppers and a meatball grinder”


“Uhhh….. Wallent?”

(It had always been “Mike” before)

“20 minutes.” Click.

I was relieved that it was cold, and that I was wearing a thick coat when I went to pick it up. I hate to admit it. I feel like I’ve let myself down – not being honest…

I’m not sure why.

Maybe it’s because I have so much history there. Creating a new identity is easier when you are less known.

We moved from Sammamish to Seattle right before I transitioned.

At work, I moved to a new team right before I transitioned.

Work is also easier because honestly, most of the time, I’m “The Boss”… power does make it easier.

Back in Wickford, I’ve got lots of history, but no position.

We’ll be back in March. Improvement is needed.

Megan needs to order a pizza.

O Ya – Oh Yeah!

Posted in food at 9:36 pm by Michael

La Ratte Nigiri

La Ratte Nigiri

If you are in Boston, and if you like sushi (or are willing to try sushi), if you have one dinner, go here.

Anh and I are big sushi fans. We have had the fortune to try sushi from a lot of places – Seattle, New York, LA, Las Vegas (yuk) and of course Tokyo.

Even given that, probably the most memorable experience has been at O Ya.

Its non-traditional – one of the funkiest things they serve is “La Ratte potato chip” nigiri style (in the foreground of the picture). La Ratte is a type of potato made famous by Joel Robuchon with his whipped potatoes Robuchon. (If you go to any Joel Robuchon restaurant – you MUST have them – world famous).

Here, they create a La Ratte potato chip, and serve it nigiri style with a little black truffle and truffle oil. Sounds absurd, and it is.

Dessert was a roasted fois gras on top of a sweet rice roll with a little bitter chocolate on top. I can’t even explain.

Make a reservation.


Get the chef’s menu.


December 22, 2008

Snow Report

Posted in life at 5:23 pm by Michael

Road Skiing

Road Skiing


This is a ski report for today, December 22, 2008, for Queen Anne at 4th and Garfield. This report was prepared at 9:00am.

Base: 18 inches
Temperature: 30F

New Snow in past 24 Hours: 8 inches
Surface: Powder, packed powder, both car and foot groomed.
Run of the Day: Garfield from 4th, Connecting to 5th, Connecting to Galer

Be mindful of pedestrian, stroller and car traffic.

All runs are reached only by hiking.

Oh yes, we are trapped without a car but we skied Queen Anne today. Peri, John and I all hiked our stuff up to the top, and skied down.

Given all of the sled traffic, it was very nicely groomed.

December 19, 2008

Pearls of Wisdom

Posted in humor, work at 7:36 am by Michael

The Thinker Puzzles Over The Pearls of Wisdom

The Thinker Puzzles Over The Pearls of Wisdom

There was a manager at Microsoft who over the years many of my friends and I worked with and for.

He had a certain way with words.

His collected sayings were known as “The Pearls of Wisdom”.

Malapropisms? Blindingly obvious? Wise?

You decide.

“I am the champion of perceived performance.”

“We should be like Junkyard dogs on this one.”

“You should underpromise, but don’t under-underpromise.”

“Don’t be #2.”

“It’s clear that we need to be clear.”

“This is the dark part of the tunnel. The light is always getting closer. But it’s still dark.”

“The people in this room are the glue and the grease.”

“It’s a full round trip.” (As opposed to a partial roundtrip.)

“He’s an infinite distance from getting promoted.”

“You’ve got to let the pendulum swing up.”


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