Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I'm Coming Out, Part 2

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.
Joseph Campbell

The last time I came out here was to drop the bomb that I was getting divorced.  That post, too, was preceded by a long period of silence.  Still waters run deep.  If I am honest with myself, my silence again has much to do with my desire for things to be different.  But they're not.  I can no longer deny the path I am headed down. It is out of my control.

In looking back on all the years of raising the kids, I think I struggle(d) with the idea that somehow good parenting could control the outcome.  In some ways it can, for sure.  But in other ways, these beings are clearly of their own mind.  The older they get, the more independent.  In a strict logical sense, it's perfectly normal and expected.  Emotionally, I've carried this thought that their outcome, what they are in life, is on me.  I think most would agree that's a fairly large burden to carry around.

I have good kids.  They know right from wrong.  They exercise good table manners (at other people's houses).  They are always polite to people they meet.  All of them are still in school, learning to better themselves.  The two oldest are actually working too.

But, and there is a but, it is interesting to note that the older two are not going down the path I wanted for them.  That is not to say that their path isn't right for them, but that it's not the path I imagined twenty years ago when I started this journey.

I struggled when my oldest didn't go to a four-year right out of high school.  It was disappointing.  I saw it as him not reaching his potential.  I also recognized that he just wasn't ready!  My path for him was not his for himself.  And that's okay.

He's still at home.  Still delivering pizzas in between community college classes.  I enjoy his company immensely and am so happy to have him around still.  I am fortunate.  He is now applying for his transfer to a 4-year and I'll support him on his path.

More recently I've been on a journey with my middle child.  Nearly two years ago I came home from the Christmas party to a note on my pillow saying that he was experiencing "gender dysphoria" and wanted to start "HRT."  My immediate reaction was being incredibly scared for my child.  The world is a mean and nasty place, and kids can be the worst.

There were a number of factors at play at the time.  Danny had been suffering from depression and anxiety for quite some time.  Earlier in the year he confided in me that he had been cutting and doing self-harm.  He entertained thoughts of suicide.  He also lost his entire social network his freshman year of high school, was bullied by and ended up quitting his lacrosse team.  He was in a dark, dark place.  It broke my heart to know how severely he was hurting.  To add another reason for kids to be mean to him seemed like it could push him over the edge.  I did not want this life for my child.

We talked and had conversations.  My initial reaction was that I didn't want him to make any big changes in his life when he was so fragile.  Also, considering he was only 15 at the time, there was no way I was going to let him make a permanent decision about his life.  At 15, you have no idea what your life is going to be like in 5 years, much less 10 or 20.  How could he be so sure?  But he was, and later that school year actually came out on Facebook to all his friends.  And the kids were amazingly supportive.

I finally managed to find Danny a therapist that he could connect with and he started going consistently.  It took far too long to be honest.  Dealing with insurance companies and then finding a therapist that will actually call you back was no small affair.  Then, of course, Danny needed to be able to connect with the therapist as well.  Over time and regularly weekly appointments, the self-harm stopped.  And the topic of transitioning became the crux of the issue.  I wasn't opposed, but I wasn't running Danny to a doctor either.  I had the cover of an unsupportive father for the meantime.  It allowed me to bury my head in the sand. (As I type this, I realize how stupid that sounds but it was my excuse at the time.)  I wasn't going to bring up the issue or push it at all.

I have my brother-in-law to thank for bringing the statistics to my ex-husband, and to me.  The reality we needed to understand: would I rather have a dead son or an alive daughter.  If put in terms like that, it seems clear as day, a complete no-brainer.

So over the course of this past summer, we did some investigation and there is a transgender clinic at UCSF.  His father made the appointment and the three of us, as a family, went in September, on Danny's birthday as a coincidence.  Two weeks ago we signed all the papers to allow the hormone therapy to begin. Signing those papers was hard.  Harder than signing anything else in my life, including my divorce papers. I wanted to cry, but I needed to be supportive for Danny.

I am handling this okay.  I am not sure Danny would say the same.  From his perspective I'm sure it's taken way too long.  And I still haven't switched the pronouns.  I have more than 20 years of being a mom of boys - even a mom of three boys.  That's part of my identity. This isn't a change that just affects Danny.  It affects the whole family.  Danny has had a tough time recognizing that - he is, after all, still a teen.

Where do we go from here?  Well, the next step is the implant.  I just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  I know eventually I'll walk across the floor.  Pronouns will come.  It takes time.  I've had 17 years of a boy named Danny.  I deserve some time to get used to my girl named Danielle.  By the way, I have no idea how to parent a girl.  FML.  This is not the life I'd imagined for her or me but we play the cards we've been dealt.

Here's a pic.  I did her hair.  That was a big thing for me.

Friday, February 28, 2014

the past eight months

I've been missing this space.  I miss the community.  I miss the therapeutic nature of writing.  I miss deep thoughts (and stupid ones too).  I can't say my absence isn't without cause.  It's actually been deliberate.

When I started at Twitter, I was unprepared that my personal Twitter account was going to be connected to the company, my employer.  It didn't have to be.  I could've setup a separate account, but it all just happened so quickly.  I didn't think it through.  I've since removed the blog URL from my profile and have been playing a waiting game.  Hopefully enough time has passed (and that Google Reader ceased to exist) so any co-workers that might have been paying attention aren't any longer.   Regardless, I want to play catch-up.

My last post was Sammy's graduation in June.  Crazy.  And since then there have been a lot of good times.

I've made new friends to golf with.

Co-workers who love beer share the joy.

Shared many drinks with friends.

Those who need not be named.

Met some famous people.

Commander Hadfield and my dear friend Lucy

Jean Luc Picard, I mean, Patrick Stewart

Thanksgiving was fun.  The family went to Disney World to meet up with my sis and hers.  Did you know that I love Disney?  I'm kinda a freak about it actually.

Here I am imitating Donald Duck, my favorite character.

Quack Quack!

We actually got to enjoy a nice meal, too.

Teppan Edo in Epcot. 

And it wouldn't be vacation without a little golf (who's on the hat?).

Me and my sis!

I went to a great Christmas party in the City.

San Francisco City Hall in Twitter Blue

And played a little golf around the holidays too (thank you California!)


Finally, I wrapped up the year's end with someone special at a Sharks game.

Birthday boy.

After taking several months off from league, I went back to playing some pool.

And started a new tradition.

"Lasagna at Cathy's" 

Of course there've been more drinks with friends.

Friends forever. 

And someone celebrated his 10th earlier this month!

Why yes, he does love Minecraft.

And there it is, the last eight months in review.  Hope to be around here more often.

Friday, June 14, 2013

one down, two to go

It feels odd to think that one of my boys is now a graduate.  Part of me feels like it's been an eternity; part of me feels like it wasn't too long ago I was dealing with him as a stubborn two year old.  It begs the question "where did the time go?"  But that question has been asked and answered.  

My job is done.  But not really.  I have an (almost) adult child.  Just like my dad said when I got my driver's license, "Just because you got your license today doesn't mean that you're now an expert driver."  My dad always has such sage advice.  The same principle can apply to being an adult.  Just because he's a graduate, just because he'll soon be 18, these things mean something - but not much.  There's still so much growing to do.  I hope he grows throughout his life.

I still don't know what he'll be when he grows up.  He doesn't know either and that's okay.  He has passed this milestone and is on to the next.

Now for some pics:

 The graduate with his brothers and mother.  Clearly I'm shrinking....

The boys and proud mama.

We had the sweet surprise of East Coast family for the affair.  My Dad and sister flew out just for the event.  I couldn't have been happier.

The family (including Auntie Chris and Grandpa).

This post would not be complete without the obligatory embarrassing photo.  I could've found some butt shot from his baby-hood, but instead I chose the picture I took this morning.  Yes, he still loves his Snoopy, a gift from his Auntie when he was born.  He's going to kill me for this.

He's still my baby.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Proust Questionnaire

I have been away from here for so long.  It's weighing on my mind.  Oh the irony of all the things I want to say but cannot.  Some things are just too personal, too private.  This must say a lot because repeatedly I hear, "I can't believe how open you are on your blog."

But I want to continue writing here.  I want to continue participating in my virtual community.  I've been looking for an opportunity to do something light and I found it on Kristen's site - and she was inspired by another friend.  Hop on over to see their answers.  I've posted mine below.

What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Sitting through the middle school band concerts, including the chorus.  
Where would you like to live?
In a shack on a warm, quiet beach.
What is your idea of earthly happiness?
A well-played round of golf.  Snuggling with my kids.  A night out for drinks with friends.
To what faults do you feel most indulgent?
People who are unable to empathize.  Sometimes it's just hard to understand when you haven't lived it.
Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?
Luke Skywalker and Hans Solo, Harry Potter, Huck Finn.
Who are your favorite characters in history?
Catherine the Great (I was named after her), Abraham Lincoln, Red Cloud.
Who are your favorite heroines in real life?
Rosa Parks; Harriet Tubman.
Who are your favorite heroines of fiction?
Hermione (Harry Potter), Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton series), Charlotte (Charlotte's Web).
Your favorite painter?
Tie between Monet and Van Gogh
Your favorite musician?
Really tough to narrow this down to one, but guess would have to say Sheryl Crow but don't feel 100% on that.
The qualities you most admire in a man?
Sense of humor, intelligence, kindness.
The qualities you most admire in a woman?
Intelligence, comfortable with self, confidence.
Your favorite virtue?
Contentment.  Respect.  Generosity. Perseverance.  
Your favorite occupation?
Systems engineer.
Who would you have liked to be?
Myself - maybe a little improved by being less judgmental and critical.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

checking in

Yah, yah.  It's been awhile.  I'm getting it done, out of the way.  Here's my recap for the year including the look back at what I set out to accomplish for my year of growth.   I'm saving the pictures for the end.  (I like to make things pretty with pictures because everyone knows I love pictures.)

Playing more pool.  I score high on the commitment to improve my game.  Unfortunately the result was not as I had hoped.  But that's okay.  I'm not giving up any time soon.

Getting my swing on.  Major success in this department. I think I've logged more hours on the course this past year than in the past 3 years.  And it shows in my swing and my score.  Index is down over three points!

Exercise - Indeed a positive note here.  Walking the golf course more frequently than not is definitely a checkmark in the exercise bucket.  Even better than that?  I've started running again.  Not one, but two races - logging my best 5K time yet!  The weather lately has hampered my running but not for long.  The garage is getting cleaned out and my treadmill soon will be running or, more accurately, I will be running on it.

Writing.  Ah, yes.  This is my epic fail for the year.  I haven't decided what to do in this regard.  Only time will tell.

Reading.  Hmmm, cannot say epic fail but definitely not where I want to be.  On the plus side, I recently started a book and I have a few others on the nightstand waiting for me.

Friendships.  I think a plus on this one.  At least I hope I've been there more for my friends.  I think 2013 will be a bigger year with more reaching out.

Career focus.  I think a big plus on this one.  A new job at an awesome company.  Lots of growth potential.  Some additional volunteer commitments in this space too.  No negative here.

New clothes - one article a month.   Well, I started the year well but haven't kept to my promise.  Let's see if I can turn it around again in 2013.

Purge, reinvent, learn.  I moved, therefore I purged.  I spent weekends purging.  I am still purging.  This is an easy win for me.  Reinvention, well not so much.  But I am focusing on what I like and what I want to do to be the person I want to be.  I think that's good enough.  Learning - always.

Okay, now that I've checked in on my year of growth, here are a few of my favorite pics from the year. I'll take you month-by-month through some of the best memories.

February - just being silly with Henry and Sam up in Tahoe.

But who loves their mama?

March - getting in a few pow-pow runs - Mott Canyon for those of you wondering.

I also got to meet George Thorogood courtesy of Roland!

And the big boy, all grow'd up.

Vegas in May, of course!

June held Danny's 8th grade graduation.

and a trip to Hawaii,

including our first luau....

July I saw a baseball game.  Um, why yes, that would be the San Francisco Giants (aka World Series Champs!)...

And we also lost a very special family member.

In August - a typical meet-up for drinks with dear friends.

It also was when someone got his first car!

The big move in September.

October was my first "race".  Okay, not really a race, it was the Dirty Girl Mud Run and it was fun!

And November showed me why early morning runs are the best.

December meant dinner with friends and co-workers.

And Christmas parties...

with MC Hammer as special DJ!

Not a bad year.  And remember ...

Monday, November 12, 2012


It started on Monday.  Just an ordinary day eating an ordinary dinner, but the conversation triggered it.  Danny asked whose house they were going to be at for Christmas to which I replied it'd be mine.  Henry immediately declared that he was sad about this.  He was very matter-of-fact.  He wanted us all to be together.

Ouch.  Ouch for him.  Ouch for me.

Out of nowhere that little nugget became an avalanche of emotion.  Completely caught off guard, I found myself buried thinking only of the death of my forever dreams.  And it was an incredibly hard couple of days.

At some point I realized it was exactly a year ago that Mike decided he was done and called it quits.  I remember the timing exactly because it was the Friday before the Eukel dinner, a charity event we had been attending together since 1995.  But last year I attended alone.  It was both sad and surprisingly enjoyable.

And of course everything is all about Thanksgiving (now that the election is over - yay!).  Last year we celebrated Thanksgiving as a family, minus one very important person.  It was awkward.  It also was very sad.

And here I am today.  Thinking about all this.  Realizing how completely altered my world is now.  Imagine if you will, the house that was your home destroyed by forces of nature - wild fire, hurricane, earthquake - whatever disaster comes to mind.  Luckily you lived through it, but all that remained was a huge mess.  Even though you were overwhelmed by the loss, you still managed to put one foot in front of the other and eventually had a tidy pile of rubble.  And then it was time to rebuild.

Here I am.  My new house is framed.  The walls are up, but bare.  There is a smattering of furniture, the minimum really.  It's rather nondescript inside and feels hollow.  It doesn't feel like home.  Not yet.

Somehow I managed to get through last week.  I mustered up the energy to do dinner with great girl friends Friday night.  Saturday morning I did my first race in what feels like forever, and then basically spent the rest of the day in bed watching a bad movie.  It was awesome.  Sunday was golf and I cooked a dinner enjoyed by all, something that always makes me happy.

But what I did that mattered most was writing this post.  I didn't hit publish on Friday night.  I was too exhausted.  The post was too raw and full of the emotion engulfing me.   But writing those emotions out, making them make sense on "paper", it helped me process.

By the time I was done spilling my "whoa is me" I was done with being "whoa is me" and instead could see things differently.  Yes my life is completely altered from what it was, but look at where I am today compared with a year ago!  I'm not in limbo.  I am not on the precipice of destruction and the unknown.  I am no longer waiting for the hurricane to hit and instead I'm rebuilding.  It's okay.  I'm okay.  I think I'm better than okay.

And also, now I know why I write.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

a little bit boring

Time keeps slipping away and this space remains stale.  It's not that I don't have the time - I can find the time to do what I want.  It's not that I don't want to write - I just can't figure out what to write.  The divorce is done.  The moves are done.  Life is moving on.   Kind of boring actually compared with all the heavy stuff in the months (okay years) prior.

So, to keep things boring, let me share with you the top ten discoveries of my new life.

1.) Keeping the house clean is really easy when there aren't kids around.  Ridiculously easy.
2.) I can go an entire week without washing a single dish when the boys are at their dad's.  In fact, I can go an entire week without even filling the sink with my dirty dishes.
3.) Laundry can now be done in three loads (or less) per week.  Kind of boggles my mind but it's true.  And that includes all the towels.
4.) I tend to feel like I'm forgetting something when it's not my week with the boys.
5.) Not having the boys every other week does not correlate to increased exercise, reading or writing.  Ahem.
6.) I actually don't mind making the boys' beds when they leave for the week.  Makes me feel good that their rooms look tidy and they're nice for when they return.
7.) Garbage and recyclables need to go out whether or not the boys are around to do it.  :/
8.) The cat is far more sociable when the boys are not around.
9.)  Every other week the TV belongs exclusively to me.  I can watch whatever I want exactly whenever I want.
10.) I really miss the boys when they're not here but also manage to occupy my time in a fulfilling way.

Anyway, like I said, a little bit boring.  But it's my new life.  And I'm settling in.

P.S. - bonus points if you can find something a little different about this page.