Monday, December 28, 2009

The End of a Chapter...

Like a lot of people, maybe most people, I've worked a number of different jobs in my life. I was a programmer/analyst for a small airplane manufacturing company based in Seattle [Boeing]. I was laid off after 9/11 and wasna unhappy to no longer be working there. I never woulda quit but I wasna happy, either. My next job was working as a Certified [yes, I am certifiable :-P ] Nursing Assistant for Providence Hospital in Everett. I started as a nursing assistant and expected it to be temporary because I thought I wanted to be an RN. I worked 32 hours a week with 8 to 10 patients. I found that I loved it! I got a lot of face-to-face contact with the patients and the greatest group of people I've ever worked with! I brought my offbeat sense of humor to my job. [Patch Adams is one of my favorite movies!] The patients enjoyed my humor and it would make their day a bit easier. One of my favorite memories of the job involved a woman who'd recently received very serious diagnosis. She was crying softly in her bed and I came in and sat down with her and we started to talk about things and after a bit, she was laughing with me and felt much better. Her nurse never said anything to me but wrote up an Angel of the Month nomination for me because she was amazed at what had happened. There was another patient with respiratory failure who'd been in and out of the hospital on our floor. I was frequently her aide. The last time she was in, she came to understand she was not going to get better and in fact was only alive because of her respirator. She and her family decided it was time for her to go on to meet her Savior. They called their pastor and the family gathered in the room for prayer and communion. Both her nurse and I were not going to interrupt them. They held off their service until they found us. They very much wanted us to be a part of it. This was a really humbling moment for me to be honored that way. You never know how much the little things you might do for somebody will touch them and their families.

I was a nursing assistant for four years. The last few months, they'd changed the staffing and we almost always had 11-12 patients. That's a lot for any floor but the people on our floor required more care than the average patient, so it was real load. In August of '08, my life had come to a point where I knew I was going to transition soon, so I told my supervisor that I am transsexual. She replied, "You're a nice man. You're just confused." Wrong answer! About a month later, they [management] put together a trumped up, bogus story and fired me. They sent a complaint to the State. It was all hearsay and they couldn't prove it was true but I couldn't prove it wasn't true. The State takes its own sweet time investigating things. Today, I received legal mail from the state. I am to turn in my credentials and I will never be a nursing assistant in Washington state again. There's a little more to it all than that but that's the bottom line.

It hurts... I was a very good aide. My patients loved me and I loved my patients. I learned how much I enjoy helping people, particularly face-to-face. I don't know what field to go into next because I know I want to continue to help other people.

The end of a chapter, but not the end of my calling.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Shannon's First Christmas

It wasn’t a joy but it wasn’t a tragedy, either.

I had planned for Christmas Eve. I was going to go to dinner at First Congregational Church, and then to the Christmas Eve service they were going to have. After that I was planning to go to a Candlelight Service at Cedar Cross Methodist. I went casual most of the day; running a few chores and surfing at my Tully’s. I went home, got showered, shaved and ready for the evening. And then I got really nauseous and dinna feel well at all. I crawled into my bed and just lay there. I had a very difficult time getting to sleep. The nausea and the dreading of Christmas Day would not let me relax and get to sleep.

Sleep finally came and so did Christmas morning. The apartment felt incredibly empty. It was painful to be so alone on Christmas morning. It felt like someone had cut my heart out. I took my meds and after a bit, I started my breakfast. It wasna very different from any of our Christmas Breakfasts before except there wasna anyone to share it with. When I was done eating, about a quarter to 10AM, I decided it was late enough in the morning that I could call my family and wish them Merry Christmas! I called my wife, got no answer and left a message. I called my daughter, got her voice mail and left her a greeting. I called my son next and it was the same story. It was a little disappointing but it was early yet. Called my baby brother, no answer and left a message. Called my other brother and he was home. I had a good long chat with him. When I finished, my daughter had left a message on my voice mail. That was good.

Just after I woke up that morning I had three very nice text messages from friends of mine. I really, really appreciated them. My morning rolled on. I got a very quick, impersonal, “Merry Christmas” text from my wife. Nothing at all special. I waited and waited for her to call me. She never did. After noon sometime, I had a good cry. I deserve better than that from her! I finally got a call from my daughter and I thanked her very much for calling me back. I think she picked up on my feelings because my son called me about a half hour later. I didna catch the call but he did leave a message.

Debra invited me to her house for dinner Christmas Day. I had told her I’d be there. I also told her I’d bring a casserole. I’ve been trying recipes from This was an opportunity to try out one that sounded really good to me. Called creamy corn casserole, I was anxious to try it out. I love corn; so much so that it comes out in my humor . I put it together and it was really easy [three-four stars.... was a little bland]. Timed it to be ready just before I left and I got myself ready. Popped it out of the oven, covered it with foil, wrapped in a large towel and then headed to Debra’s place. Debra had several people there I had not met so it was going to be an interesting night. Debra and Corina [a woman I had not met] were doing most of the cooking. Debra was being Martha Stewart for the evening. It was a good dinner and a nice evening. I really enjoyed Corina a lot and look forward to meeting her again. Sophia was there and a couple of other women I dinna know before. Sophia seemed to have a very good time. I’m glad I went. So my first Christmas ended on a good note.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

What does it mean to be "Feminine"

I have been reading Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. It is slow going for me. It is written well, I just always have a problem soaking up academic-type writings other than histories. My take on how Julia Serano describes our culture? is along these lines:

Masculine Men more important than masculine women who are more important than feminine women who are more important than feminine men who are more important than feminine trans-women.

This is gross oversimplification. I am not real comfortable with my use of the word "important." And I'm not really certain where trans-men fit in the hierarchy.

I see myself as a feminine woman. And I realize that I really haven't identified for myself what I mean by "feminine." I am wondering what it means to be feminine. It is not the same as what it means to be a woman, though there is probably overlap. I am still exploring what it means to me. Wiki is of small help. Being more or less feminine seems to be made up of and presentations generally described by culture as "feminine." How much do I want to respond to what the culture dictates?

I have appropriated for myself some of my culture's definition of feminine. For myself, I like my hair to be long and in a style women would wear, but I've met very feminine women with short hairstyles. For myself, I want a bosom and I want it to be large enough to be appropriate for a woman my size. To tell my culture that I am a woman I wear feminine eyeglasses; for myself I think they make my face look more like the woman I am. Again, to tell my culture I am a woman, I have long painted nails; for myself I think they improve the look of my hands and fingers. A fair fraction of the aspects of my presentations are both for culture and for myself and I think I would do them for myself if not encouraged by my culture. I like being pretty. Well... I like not being hard on another person's eyes. It's harder to be "pretty" as the years go by.

I'd like to think that some of the behavioral facets of femininity that my culture recognizes are part of who I am naturally. I like to think that I am gentle in spirit, patient[where the H*** is that latte' I ordered!?], and kind. I am not as soft-spoken as I'd like to be and my voice, while a bit higher than most men, is not as feminine as I'd like. A lot of that is cadence and inflection. And practice. I've had women tell me they thought I was GG [Genetic Girl as opposed to trans] so I'm doin' something right.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Getting used to "Shannon"

My name will be legally changed to Shannon Michael Tucker on January 5th, when the divorce is finalized in court. "Shannon" is a new name for me. For years I used to go by a derivative of my boy-name of "Michael." It has only been since about June? that I started to go by Shannon. To tell the truth, I still am not completely natural with my new name. Those moments of self-talk, "You're late, Shannon!" or "That was stupid, Shannon!" or "Nice job, Shannon." are not completely natural yet. Yet... It is getting a lot closer. What I have caught myself doing a lot more is to use "baby" or "sweetheart" or "hon." And almost always in an affectionate or nurturing tone of voice to a feminine self. Thinking about that tone, that attitude toward myself, I am surprised. I have always, ALWAYS, been very hard on myself. I have had very high expectations for myself. But since I started my transition, I have found myself a little kinder, a little more gentle with myself. This is VERY different and I like it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

More ramblings on Forgiveness...

When I say I must forgive, it comes from my heart and I am not ashamed to say it. But if it did not come from my heart and I felt I must forgive, even if I have some reluctance, I may not be living in all the Power and Grace that God has for me, but I am living in obedience.

In my thinking and what passes for my meditations, forgiveness is an essential element of being
Meek. To be forgiving requires the strength and the humility to truly give your perceived right to hold responsible for the hurt, to truly give that away.

If it is possible to change the environment that is the source of the hurt or wrong, I will do so. I am not compelled by scripture to be a doormat. Having said that, Peter, that whiny, I'm-better-than-you-are disciple asked if forgiving his brother [Andrew?] 7 times was enough. And Jesus said,
"I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." I take that to mean there are times when Jesus would have me be a doormat. I don't know that I can do that myself. If it gets that bad I'd probably try real hard to take myself out of that situation. [and I know what Peter means... I know what a pain in the butt, little mom-always-liked-him-best, brother can be like --- I don't think he reads my blog ;)]

Transition or Die...

I am not sure whether I've posted this before but I canna find it so...

With respect to "transition or die." I have been considering transition, living my life as myself a woman, for almost 20 years. I have only recently started to live my life full time. Somedays my life feels wonderful and others aren't so good. But my new life is still finding its paths.

I have always been uncomfortable when people comment on how "brave" I am to make this change, to live an authentic life. I appreciate the comment and what they mean behind it, but I don't feel brave. I always think and sometimes say, "It's not bravery or courage when you are faced with transition or die." I have not been in danger of physical death, but emotional and spiritual death have always been choices. I am an addict. Medication to make the pain go away, to numb myself has always been a part of my life. I KNOW I am capable of self-medicating to the point that who I am at the core becomes comatose and dies. And before living full-time my greatest pain was because I was not living authentically as myself.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Good News

I might not have to pay for an orchiectomy!!! If it stays cold like this I’ll just freeze my cojones off!

Can you believe this! Damn! It’s cold! Have thermostats set to 70 and can’t actually get the heat in the room past 67. At night when I’m trying to sleep if I roll over from one spot in the bed to another; it’s like going from the toaster to the freezer! Like a pop tart in reverse! [note to self: No, I don' wanna move back to Minnesota.]

It is so dry here, the buzzards are booking flights to Death Valley. If I walk out of my apartment without a half-pound of product on my hair [like I've done the last two days] I get hit with this instant frizz bomb.

Well, Tuesday was … interesting. I had an appointment with the people who are monitoring how fast my blood clots. The nurse who was working with me took my vitals and got real concerned. My pulse was running 130 beats a minute, what they call tachycardia. He took it again and it was 140. He really wasn't that good looking. So he wheeled me over to the walk-in clinic to so they could run an EKG and have a doc check me over. This is getting' to be fun…not! A new RN ran the EKG on me took the strip and as she was leaving the room to find the doc she mumbled, "This is interesting…" Now, you ned to understand that I was not feeling any symptoms of anything 'cept this damn toothache. And the possibility of going back to the hospital kinda jumped to the front of my head. I wasna happy about this but wasna anxious either. The doc comes in and he says, "Well, the good news is you're already on coumadin." He goes on to explain that I have something called Atrial Fibrillation, what the medical community calls AFib. He explains to me how AFib can cause to strokes. When the atrium is shaking like jello (fibrillating), the blood just sits there and doesn't get pushed on to its next destination. Blood that just sits around makes clots. When the heart finally gets its act together again and pumps blood properly, out go these lovely little clots. To the brain or to the heart muscle. Apparently, the first line of defense agains the AFib generated clots is to make the blood clot much more slowly. In comes Coumadin, which I'm already on because of the clots in my legs and the clots in my lungs. I get to follow up with a cardiologist next week who will run more tests and probably hone my medications a bit. The doc on Tuesday gave me a blood pressure medicine and I'm not sure why. My blood pressure could run low because of the bp meeds I'm already on and the doc was aware of those meds when he prescribed this other med. Yesterday, with the new med, I felt a lot of weakness in my arms and legs. I don't know if that's the AFib or the new med.

One of the upshots of being on coumadin is that major elective surgery is probably out. What does _that_ mean? Well, I can probably get my augmentation done and, again, probably get my orchie done, but SRS is probably out. I will have to investigate this to be sure, but there are a lot of blood vessels in that area of the body and how I bleed and clot will probably be a concern to any reliable surgeon doing the operation.

Oh! The doc on Tuesday also gave me a prescription for amoxicillan for my jaw infection, too. This is a Good Thing.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Another grump day...

My jaw still hurts and I canna tell if it’s getting better. I haven’t slept well the last couple nights. But maybe being a grump helped me get a couple things done today.

I called Comcast and canceled my TV and internet with them. I let the internet in particular interfere with the way I want to live my life. Instead of getting up and getting things done, I sit at the ‘puter reading the ‘net for an hour or two [or 3...]. Nothing really wrong with that, I just don’t get outa the apartment. If I need to connect the the ‘net, I’ll just go to the library or to Tully’s and pick up free WIFI. The other thing that I let the ‘net interfere with is the reading and writing I think I want to do. I’m slowly moving thru Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. It's tough reading for me; it's not the science fiction I usually read. But I harken to the Internet Siren calling me to rocks of intellectual oblivion. The 'net is easier and I am basically lazy.

I had to go to the Alderwood Mall to pay for some new glasses I've picked out. While at the mall I went to the Apple store to pick up a copy of Quicken [I want to pretend I'm gonna stay on top of my finances for a change.] The young man who helped me find the Quicken and Aperture was pretty nice. But he called me "sir." I wasna looking my best as I was in grump-mode, but I had my hair combed out fairly nice. I have my nails [which need a fill badly]. I had my purse. And I have my "bumps". After the sale, I went around to the side of the cash register where the young man's trainer was standing and said, "We're gonna have a little education here." I then pointed out the visual cues [the guy did have the fact that I seem to have a grand-daddy bullfrog in my throat today in his favor] and hey immediately were in apology-mode. I was fine. So everything was good. But I've never stood up for myself like that in public before. Three cheers for grumpness!

On a totally different note, I used a recipe from for fried [or baked or grilled] fish. "Simple Ranchy Breaded Fish Fillets" was extremely easy and I LOVED it! [which is a good thing 'cus I got a big bag of frozen Mahi Mahi fillets and another big bag of frozen sockeye salmon fillets eating up all the space in my tiny freezer] I had to grow up with the "Give it to Mikey, he hates everything" commercial. I'm not Mikey anymore but "She likes it!!!"

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A day to Grump

Last night was a Hot Flash dance at Neighbors. I've been planning to go for two weeks. I dinna go to the dance. I had promised myself I would start and finish a few projects for my bathroom and the rest of the apartment that I had put off for 3 or 4 weeks. I got a late start on them and decided I was gonna finish for fear that I wouldn't get back to 'em. I am a great one for putting things off and not finishing things. That and I started on my laundry that I have put off. I still have a couple of loads to go.

I sent an email to an employment writer from the Seattle Times asking for ideas how to improve the reception I get from HR people. She has written articles about being gay and employed. She seemed a good source.

I have developed an infection around one of many crowns I have in my mouth. I've had it before and usually waiting trough it and using tylenol eventually takes care of it. I'd like the dentist to prescribe a STRONG antibiotic for more than 2 weeks, 'cus it seems that I never quite rid of it. And I don't want them diggin' in my teeth anymore. They'd hafta replace a crown; I don't have that kinda money. It gets to be painless but it comes back in the same place. I can deal with it but sometimes it gets annoying.

Today, I'm being a grump. The jaw hurts and the next door neighbor is playing rap music a little [a lot] loud. I'm not getting to my laundry.

I'll be better in a day or two.