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My answer to Pulse

I have only been dancing for a few months. My first real experience on the dance floor was November 5, 2021. That night I was so nervous, I had no idea what I was doing. I felt so out of place.

I had been to a dance club a couple times in my youth. Both of those times I barely managed to get on the dance floor at all. I quickly got off before even one song was done. I felt I was making a fool out of myself. Both times were with friends that were trying to encourage me to dance. But I was a very awkward introvert and the whole experience just reinforced all of that for me.

But this past November was so different. It wasn’t my friends encouraging me to do something I wasn’t really up to, it was the whole universe telling me this is what I needed. I felt like every fiber of my being was saying I needed to do this. So scared and nervous I finally got up on the dance floor around 10:30 pm. At first, I was somewhat self-conscious about what others were seeing. But very quickly I became enraptured in it all, yes this was what my soul needed. I stopped being nervous, there was no room in me for that, I was so overwhelmed by the joy of it all.

Shortly after I initially got on the dance floor I realized this was so very much more than just moving my body to music. It was part of me. It was/is something my soul needs. Dancing feeds my soul like nothing else does. I now go dancing two or three times every week. I don’t hesitate to get on the dance floor, I leap at the opportunity.

But last year a few nights into my new found love a problem occurred to me. I was only dancing at queer bars and queer bars are sometimes targets. I recall that night getting a bit nervous, is this safe? Then I started pondering what could happen.

I recalled the story about Pulse, a hater could come in with a gun. I looked around for a bit where would I go? Where could I hide? Being very analytical and knowing a little bit about firearms I quickly came to the conclusion, no. There wasn’t much of anywhere to go. The place was commonly very crowded and I was most commonly in the most crowded space with only a few small exits.

If some one came in with a gun in that space there would be very little hope of surviving. Maybe if you were toward the back you might be able to get out before the bullets hit you. But as likely you would get tripped up in the panic and not make it. For a few moments, I was terrorised. Is this a safe place to be, I could die.

But in that thought was my answer. I could die, if such an event happened. But I will die some day, I hope that is a long way off. In that moment while I was scared about the possibility, but also enraptured in the joy of it all. Not just the dancing but being with my friends and the place and the pure beauty of it all. In that moment I had my answer. I would die in ecstasy with my friends, doing that which feeds my soul liken nothing else does.

In that moment I realized if such a thing was to happen it would only be the end of this phase of my existence. For at no other time am I more alive than when I am dancing and everything is right. And at no other time am I more certain of the fact that there is something more than this thing we call reality. And at no other time am I more certain that I will continue on in some form.

And in all of that, I found the strength to say NO to hate. I will not let others’ hate control me. I will not let those that might choose to do us harm control me. I will live the life I have been blessed with. I will live it to the fullest, with my friends and family and the beautiful queer community I so love. And if some day such an event happens I will continue on, and in the moment of the change, I will know that I didn’t let hate control me. That I stayed strong with the queer community. I stayed strong in love.

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Beautiful People

person holding multi colored heart shaped ornament
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Pexels.com

For me, if the Pride Weekend had a motto it would be Beautiful People. Above all else, that is what made it so very special, like a slice of heaven on earth.  

I had considered trying to share everything I did at Pride, but that was a lot, and I think the message would get lost in the details.  So instead I am going to share the things that touched my heart and made my first Pride, out as the true me, an exceptionally special one.  

Pride started Friday night as I walked to the capital to join the rally & march. Along the way, I saw a number of others headed to the capital or just relaxing at home as they clearly celebrated Pride in their own way. I wished all of them a Happy Pride and got smiles and responses back. The joy in their voices and faces was so beautiful.

When I got to the capital I just wandered around enjoying all of the beauty. Then I found my spot, a pedestal next to one of the sets of stairs. The music had started and this was, to me, a great place to dance. I had a great view of everything; the podium where the speeches would be, the lawn where so many beautiful people were relaxing, the grand stairs heading up to the capital that were still filling with more and more people. So I danced to the music as I enjoyed the sights.

Somehow after the speeches I ended up being one of the dozens of people who helped carry the Pride Centers’ huge Pride Flag. I never mind helping and it kind of felt like an honor to get to help carry it. The march started, but we didn’t. After a bit, it became obvious that we were to be the last group moving.

Finally, we started moving, but to the side instead of forward. There was a need to get us and the flag in the right spot before moving. There was some confusion about where we were supposed to be moving. We all moved to the left but then had to move a bit to the right. You know like getting that big couch in just the right spot. But after a little back and forth, we got the flag in the right spot and were moving down the steps.

It was so exhilarating. I felt so blessed to be part of it. We marched down the street in unity of heart. As we marched cars would honk to cheer us on and we would scream back cheers. It was one of those amazing moments where you feel if everyone could just experience this, we could end all wars and solve the world’s problems because we would all be focused on love.

Next on my list was the midtown block party, which I walked to. As I got closer I could hear the music and crowd. The line to get in was huge. It was nearly a city block long. My friends and I got in line and chatted as we waited. It took a while but it was well worth the wait.

The stage was huge and the dance area was packed, just the way I like it. What made it very special was that my favorite DJ, DJ Naomi, was DJing that night. The love in the crowd, the joy in the dancing, the beauty of it all was just overwelming at times. I was there until 1am dancing and occationally taking breaks to chat with friends. I walked back to my hotel with my little gay heart so very full and happy.

The next day it was time to check out the Pride Festival. There were so many venders and fun things to see, eat and check out. But again the thing I enjoyed the most was the people. Everyone expressing their individuality. Everyone saying Happy Pride in their own way. Everyone with such joy on their faces and in their hearts. As I wandered through the booths, I commonly stopped to comment on someone’s beautiful presentation or chat about some queer topic. It was so wonderful being in a place full of love and acceptance.

That night I got a very special treat. I am good friends with the people at Club Verse, and they allowed me to dance on their big stage for a bit before the next act. That was amazing and definitely one of the biggest highlights of the weekend. I still don’t entirely understand why I so like being on the stage. Most any bar or club I go to if they have an empty stage I am on it. But I have never been on a stage this big with this many people. It was fantastic. Dancing and abosorbing all of the joy in the crowd, with the beautiful Wasatch mountains in the background was such an amazing experience.

The next day was the Pride Parade of which I missed a lot of it. Unfortunately after being up very late dancing two days in a row, my body was saying it was time for a break. I ended up sleeping in that morning. But the time I got the the parade route it was mostly over. But what I did see was great!.

Then I got an unexpected treat. Since getting to SLC I hadn’t had any good coffee and by then that was becoming a need. Remember I am a former Seattleight, we take our coffee very seriously. So as the parade ended I got out my phone to look up a coffee places near by. To my suprise one option was Encircle Cafe. I had no idea Encircle had a cafe. Get coffee and support a great cause, wow!

So I headed to Encircle Cafe hoping they were open and had good coffee. I had never been there before so I had no idea what to expect. The place is wonderful, bright and welcoming. So I orded some coffee and wanted to see how it would be, it was great!. So yes great coffee that supports a great cause. In fact it was so good that I stopped by there again on my way home the next day.

My first out Pride was all I hoped for and more. I chatted with so many peoaple, my social butterfly wings enjoyed soaring. I met up with friends and met new friends and just love it all. I don’t know how many times I cried because I was so overwelmed by the love and joy of it all. Such beautiful people, such a wonderful experience. I feel so very blessed.

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My Life Motto

Do you have a life motto? I doubt it; I didn’t used to. I think most of us just make our way through life without such guiding perspectives. The fact is I didn’t choose a life motto, it found me. I have been living by this motto for a while now, but it was only the other day that it became clear to me when I verbalized it at a climbing class. Right before doing a somewhat scary task, I said to myself “Fuck it, I’m going for it!”. And there was a very clear thought behind that, “Because life is too amazing to let the small shit stop you from living“. But it didn’t start at the climbing gym.

The first time I can remember having this attitude was the first time I went dancing, only a few months ago. I had this huge list of reasons why I shouldn’t get on the dance floor. I was terrified. But I was more terrified of never even trying, of living a life of never knowing what if I had tried. So finally I thought to myself, “Fuck it, I’m going for it!”. That moment, that determination to not sweat the small shit: people looking, my poor dancing skills, etc., so changed my life. I now dance multiple times a week for hours and hours.

Some time later I was in a grocery store and they started playing one of my favorite songs. You are not supposed to dance in a grocery store, was the initial thought going through my head. But it was a great song and my soul so wanted to enjoy it, so finally I said “Fuck it, I’m going for it!”. I have no idea what people thought, and I don’t care at all. I had a blast shopping and dancing along the way. I have since then decided ‘the world is my dance floor’.

A couple months later, I was at a dance club and felt the stage calling me. I kept thinking the stage is for performers. I am a decent dancer now but certainly nowhere close to professional. But for some reason my soul wanted to be there, I still don’t totally understand why. So finally that night I said, “Fuck it, I’m going for it!”. It felt so right. Now I just jump up onto the stage as soon as I get to the club. If there aren’t actual performers on it, I will own it.

Back to where I started. I wanted to join a climbing group because I knew it wasn’t safe to climb solo. But I also wanted to join a group I felt accepted and safe in which for me meant it needed to be a queer goup. The one I found is filled with people far younger than me. I could have let that stop me. But for the most part I believe you are as old as you let yourself be. So rather quickly the conclusion was, you know, ‘Fuck it, I’m going for it!’. The group is great. Now I am out climbing two or three times a week, and loving it.

There are many other times where this motto has enboldened me to move past my comfort zone and live my life. To jump out and do that which others are still pondering. Becasue to me, we are here to live, not just exist.

So don’t let the small shit stop you from living. For sure we all have our limits. I am not going to try to pick up a 200 lb barbell because I know that is way beyond my ability. If you have anxiety or other issues, you need to honor that part of yourself and take care of yourself. But don’t let the small shit keep you from enjoying life, from living.

  • Does it really matter what others think, or do?
  • Does it really matter if you are good at it or not?
  • Does it really matter if it is the ‘normal’ way?
  • Does it really matter ….

The list goes on. We play these excuses in our heads all the time and in so doing we cheat ourselves out of the life we could be living. If it is a real serious issue consider it, but if not.

Fuck it, I’m going for it!.
Because life is too amazing to let the small shit stop you from living 

PS: any one interested in some t-shirts?

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Six Amazing Days

Realizing you are trans later in life is a mixed bag.  On one hand, I already have an established career and a loving supportive family.  On the other hand, there is this feeling of needing to make up for lost time.  I always knew I didn’t fit, that my life was a round peg in a square hole, but I never knew why.  Until a couple years ago. Once I knew, I wanted to get everything fixed as fast as I could.  I had spent so many decades in the wrong body, I wanted to spend the rest of my life being the real me.  Which is where University of Utah Transgender Health Program comes in.

So many said I was moving fast, yet to me, all I could see was that I had waited my whole life to be me.  When I first contacted the university about having a vaginoplasty, I was told I would have to meet WPATH standards which meant waiting till November of 2020, it was spring.  That felt like a long time to wait for something I had waited for my whole life.  But I was also told to start preparing; there was hair to remove and weight to lose.

So for the next few months I focused on the things that I could do while I waited for time to tick by.  In late October I contacted the university to make sure all of my paperwork was ready to go.  It was and as soon as I was past that one year mark we submitted my request for a pre-auth for the operations.  

Weeks went by with no response.  Finally, in December I found out that my insurance company had messed up some paperwork and my request was denied.  I cried so hard, I felt so helpless.  All I could do was to have it resubmitted and wait again.  A few weeks later I got a notice that it had again been declined.

At this point, I decided to take a more active part in the process.  I started contacting my insurance constantly.  At least once a week I would be calling or texting someone about this.  It felt like they were intentionally messing up and I wasn’t going to let them do that.

After weeks of fighting with them I finally got a call from the university trans program coordinator.  Everything was approved I could set a date.  When I was told I could have my surgery in late April, this was early March, I cried agin, this time for joy.  Finally it was happening.

The next few weeks were so full and so amazing.  There was a lot to do to be ready.  I still had some hair to deal with and an endless list of medical appointments to go to.  I had to meet with both of my surgeons, they were great. They went over the procedure with me in detail and answered all of my questions. Then there were therapy appointments and others to fit in. Although my life was quite busy it was also very exciting.  Every appointment ended with my feeling I was that much closer.

I was counting down the weeks, then the days, and finally the hours.  The night before my surgery I hardly slept at all, I was so excited.  I had to be at the hospital at 5:45 AM for check in.  What I lacked in sleep I more than made up for in excitement.  I felt like dancing in the halls of the hospital, it was finally my day, it was going to really happen.

I was sent up to the waiting area for the operating rooms.  I was the second one up there, but I was told to wait till I was called back.  I waited as others came up and the list of people kept growing.  I waited as others were called in before me.  I was a bit impatient, but mostly still just excited I knew this was my day.

When they finally did call me back I was in such a bubble of excitement I missed it. They had to call me again, to which I danced over to the doors.   I was taken back to a pre-op room to be prepared for surgery.  I changed into a hospital gown and was put under this special heated air blanket.  

Next was a stream of people.  Many I had already met at one of my previous appointments but some were new.  They mostly were doing a last-minute review of all that we had discussed in the weeks prior.  They seemed to want to make sure I knew what to expect and how things would go.

Next, the anesthesiologist came in and put an IV in my hand.  He started telling me how he was going to give me some medicine that would keep me from worrying.  I was in the middle of explaining to him that I wasn’t worried, just excited.  The next thing I know I am in the recovery room. 

The surgery was over and I never knew when it started.  My brilliant surgeons, other doctors, and other medical people did all of their magic while I slept. I know for them it is science and well-developed skills. But to me, it is magic or a miracle to be able to wake up to the body I should have always had. It is a dream that has been nestled inside me for so many many years.

I was barely conscious in the recovery room.  I don’t remember much from this period.  I know I asked for my phone so that I could contact my wife.  The nurses kept saying I was “drunk texting”.  Later looking back at what I texted, they were right.  I’m glad I only tried to contact my wife.

A few minutes later they were wheeling me out of the recovery room and up to my hospital room.  They got me to my room and started hooking things up.  All of that was very foggy, I have no idea how many tubes and wires were connected to me.

A few hours later I was feeling a bit more awake.  There were nurses and other medical people coming and going as they continued to get me set up and take care of me.  The next few days were amazing.

My room had a beautiful view of the city and as I noticed the sun setting I concluded it was time to go to sleep, or so I thought.  I barely fell asleep when I was woken up a few hours later.  That was when I started to learn you don’t sleep in a hospital you take a lot of cat naps in between taking your medication and people checking your vitals and other such things going on.

By the next morning, I felt fully alert, despite not being prepared to catnap my way through the night.  It was then that I think I first started appreciating all that the staff was doing for me.  It wasn’t just that they were doing their job, they were doing so much more than that.  

Every time a nurse or CNA or someone else would come in they did all that they did with the most tender care.  They would focus on what they knew I needed, from a medical perspective, but they never stopped there.  They would always look for any other way they could make me more comfortable, or in any way assist me.

As the days went by I slowly learned the routine.  The doctors almost always came at 6:30 AM sharp to check on me.  They would check my surgical site, ask a few questions and then offer to answer any questions I had.

Breakfast was usually shortly after the doctors left.  The hospital menu wasn’t huge but the food was filling and they were fairly prompt at serving the meals.  Shortly after I finished breakfast they would find out what I wanted for my other two meals.

Multiple times every day the CNA would come in to take my vitals and see what else I needed.  Several times a day the nurse would come in to check on me and give me my medications.  And every day with every interaction there was such loving kindness in all that they did.

I slowly got to know some of them a bit.  Sometimes in the middle of the night when I couldn’t sleep and they were checking on me we would have a chat.  In those late-night chats, we often discussed issues of common interest.  I got to share my thoughts and hear theirs.  As my body healed from the surgery these tender conversations touched my heart in a way I will never forget.

I was in the middle of being reborn, into the body I always should have had.  Although there was pain and discomfort, I don’t remember that much.  I’m sure that is in part due to the medication I was given.  But I think it was mostly due to the loving environment I was in.  I felt like I was wrapped up in love, as I slowly healed up to be ready for the big day.

The night before I was released I hardly slept at all.  I spend a lot of time looking out my window at the city lights.  I spent a lot of time contemplating the wonder of it all and how fortunate I was.  And I spent a bit of time talking with the people that took care of me that night.  

The next morning came too slowly, but it eventually got there.  It started with the doctors coming in and taking off all of my bandages.  That was a bit painful but they did it as softly as they could.  We chatted for a bit and then they went on to see their next patient.  

The rest of the morning was a bit of a whirlwind.  I had a variety of medical people coming and going.  When I was all disconnected from all of the tubes and wires a physical therapist came in to make sure I was able to walk ok, after having mostly been in bed for the past few days.

Then there was waiting.  I couldn’t leave until I got my final discharge papers.  Everything else had been done, but it seemed the staff was quite busy.  I was some what impatient, I wanted to head home, but I also knew this was the day I would be going home, so I sat there and chatted with my wife as we passed the time. 

Finally, one of the nurses came in with the paperwork and started working through it with us.  She made sure we knew what medicine to take, when and what I could and couldn’t do when my next appointments were, and who to call if there were any problems.  After double checking on all of that, a lady with a wheelchair came in to take me downstairs and out of the hospital.

This isn’t the end of my story.  It takes weeks to complete the healing and some things take months before they are all the way done.  But this was the end of my surgery & hospital stay.  I left the hospital that day with great joy and a bit of sadness.  The kind of sadness you have when leaving a secluded bit of beach or a mountain retreat.  I don’t think I have ever felt so calm and safe, it was a warm snuggly feeling.  I will always remember the loving care everyone showed me while I was there.  

I am home now and recovering a bit more each day, but I will always look back on those six amazing days in the hospital with great fondness and appreciation for all they did.

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Magic Wand

Have you ever wished you had a magic wand to fix something? I sure have, a lot. Being transgender sometimes feels impossible. So many many things don’t fit, and fixing them always seems to take forever. I have cried so hard about this so many times. Such an immense feeling of dispair, will I ever get there.

But I don’t want a magic wand anymore. No, I have not found the end to my transgender journey; I don’t know if that will ever happen. Nor have I lost my intense need to be me, or the pain of not fitting in. I always wanted a magic wand before because everything, every little step toward becoming me was a long, often a very long, process. I would cry “Why?”, “Why does it have to take so long?”

I finally got an answer to that painful cry when I recently went to the University of Utah Hospital for gender affirmation surgery. I knew this was going to be one more lengthy process. Hours of surgery followed by, days in the hospital, followed by weeks and months of slow healing. But there is no other way to fix that problem. There is no pill I can swallow. There is no magic wand.

I spent months preparing, trying to lose some weight, and get in better general health. I had appointment after appointment before the surgery, each one a step closer. And now that the surgery is over I have a long list of post-op appointments. Will it ever end, NO.

And I don’t want it to. You see I learned something that has so changed my perspective, if not something deeper. I had not been overnight in a hospital before, other than a few hours a long time ago. I have absolutely no memory of the surgery, my anesthesiologist did a great job. But I do have many beautiful intense memories of my stay in the hospital.

Before my surgery I hadn’t thought much about what it would be like being in the hospital for several days, I was far too busy getting ready. When I woke up in the recovery room there were several nurses looking over me. I don’t remember much of what they said other than that I was “drunk texting” my wife after they gave me my cell phone. They were busy taking care of me.

A few minutes later I am being moved to my hospital room. They were right about the “drunk texting” the whole way to the room is very foggy I think I was only about half there. But after a few hours, I slowly woke up. I woke up to something I never expected.

I knew there would be medical people, doctors, nurses, etc. checking on me, giving me medicine and all that. But I didn’t expect the treatment I got. Nearly everyone who came through my door did everything they did with such loving care. They constantly sought to see how they could help me more.

It seemed never more than two or three hours at best between door swings. I constantly had people looking after me. Not just taking care of my medical needs but going so beyond that. During many of these visits, I was awake and we would chat. I got to share my story with many of them and they shared some of themselves with me.

Toward the end of my stay in the hospital I realized their sharing and loving care, did as much to heal me as all of the medicine and equipment. And somewhere in that moment I realized why there isn’t a magic wand. If there was we would go to the wizard, they would say their incantation wave the wand and that would be it. That would be the end of the relationship. There would be no talking, no caring, no giving.

There is no magic wand, and I am now glad of that. It is a process, often very long. Yet as much as it hurts sometimes I am glad of that too. We were not put on this planet to be instantly zapped into perfection, we were put here to live, to be part of each other’s lives. Those days in the hospital showed me that doesn’t require knowing someone well, or for a long time. It just requires a deep desire to give, to be part of humanity.

I don’t remember most of their names, but I will never forget them. They took care of my body and helped me recover, but they also touched my heart and showed me that it is a process so that we can touch others. For that little bit of wisdom, I will ever be ever grateful.