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Jan. 18th, 2012 @ 04:34 pm Discount deal for Fabric Place
This is an online deal for $30 worth of fabric for $15. I know some of you sew...

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Jan. 17th, 2012 @ 01:13 am Arisia 2012
The party's over... well, the dead dog party is probably still going but I'm not there.

I had a good Arisia this year. I earned my 2013 membership by Thursday evening (truck unload and con suite setup), attended an unusually high number of panels for me (including two interesting ones on gender, a cosplay panel, a costuming panel on dressing for one's body type (got some useful advice there), a burlesque panel, and one on cohousing), spent a bit of time at the Transcending Boundaries table, gave blood on Saturday, danced at the contra dance, the techno contra (!) dance, the Girl Genius dance, and the all-night Saturday club dance, heard the Sassafras and Stranger Ways concert, ordered a corset from Pendragon (and now that I know what their clasps look like I suddenly noticed a LOT of their corsets being worn!), and bought a pretty red skirt from Cloak and Dagger. And lots of good conversations with friends old and new, and hugs and more hugs.

The party scene seemed low-energy and poorly attended this year; I did get info about the Spokane in 2015 Worldcon bid which sounded promising. (The competing 2015 bid is Orlando; unlike the last Orlando Worldcon, this one is evidently on Disney property. I'm still skeptical about going to Florida in August. So far as I can tell, London is the only serious bid for 2014.) I didn't go to the Rocky Horror, Buffy, or Dr Horrible live shows this year; I had a quick peek in at the Repo (A Genetic Opera) live show and decided it wasn't for me. (Horror mostly isn't my genre.) As usual, I skipped the Masquerade; it's too long sitting in one place for my taste. And I somehow never got around to visiting the art show, which I regret. (I doubt I would have been buying anything but it's always fun to look.)

What didn't happen: anything bad. A few people wanted to talk about my transition, and their questions were intelligent and respectful. A lot more just accepted my new self, complimented me on my outfits and jewelry, or said it's good to see me so happy. I think I'm now officially a recovered (rather than recovering) shy person; transitioning seems to have taken care of the remaining remnants of it. My virtual self was always very outgoing because she was confident that OF COURSE everybody would want to talk to a charming and beautiful woman like her, and bringing that confidence out into the real world seems to be working well. (I'm certainly not as beautiful as my avatar but I do my best at being charming and gracious.)

Thursday was another example of something I already knew: I'm transitioning to being a woman, but I am very much NOT transitioning to being a helpless twit. Helpless twits don't unload trucks or move around heavy cases of soda. I have had many excellent role models for being a woman who is not helpless, most notably Marian.
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Dec. 28th, 2011 @ 04:37 pm The SCA and finances

The SCA is about to make another financially-driven change; moving away from print newsletters. On the whole I think it's a good one; I'm still waiting for some details to come out. Will they eliminate the categories of Sustaining and International memberships (as the only meaningful difference between those and Associate is receiving a kingdom newsletter) or will they charge extra just to get access to the electronic publications? (We know that they plan to offer print subscriptions to the newsletters; their current estimate is that they will cost around $30/year.)

Whenever the SCA cries poor, though, I can't help wondering where all the money goes. The organization isn't quite as bad about keeping financial secrets as back in the days when some people sued them for information (and to the best of my knowledge, the organization never really delivered the data that the settlement required) but it isn't exactly forthcoming about expenditures.

My personal bit of paranoia is that non-disclosed legal settlements have been a drain on our finances. That one bothers me because I oppose such settlements on principle, and in the case of the SCA I believe they would negate our fundamental values. If I were running the SCA I would have a statement like this in our corporate charter:

"The SCA, Inc. will not make any non-disclosed legal or financial settlements under any circumstances. To make such an agreement would negate our ideals of chivalry and courtesy to our members. It would end our dream just as surely as shutting down the lists would.

If you are our legal counsel, do not suggest nthat we offer such a settlement; we will not. If you are opposing legal counsel, do not offer us such a settlement; we will not accept it. All settlements made by the SCA, Inc. will be fully disclosed to our members and the public. There are no exceptions."

Yes, I really mean NO exceptions. I would rather see the organization shut down than make such a deal with the devil.

Note to the lawyers out there: although I am currently an officer of an SCA group (secretary of the Barony of Carolingia, East Kingdom), I am not speaking in any official capacity. The opinion offered above is my own. YIS, Shirley Márquez Dúlcey / Mark J Dulcey / Lord Pryder mab Aurddolen.

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Nov. 20th, 2011 @ 03:38 am Writer's Block: It's payday!
What would you do if you had a million dollars?
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Nov. 14th, 2011 @ 01:51 am Transcending Boundaries
Current Mood: contentcontent
It was a good conference. This year wasn't quite the insanely great experience that last year was, but it's not TBC's fault in any way; it's that last year was the first time (and only my second major event as a woman; SLCC was the first) and first times are always special.

I got to a lot of talks and they were all good. Highlights: hearing Kate Bornstein (no surprise there, I've been a fan of her work for years), Lorelei's Gender Improv workshops, and the Friday night comedy thing with Lorelei and Widow Centauri. I met lots of fabulous people; both famous and less so.

People loved my outfits, especially the purple Ed Hardy boots. Those were an amazing find at Second Time Around; I didn't think that punking out was a look I'd be embracing but I couldn't resist them. And of course I've had to wear short skirts to show them off properly, another bit of fun.

In Second Life, I've always been in a space of just knowing that people would like me and want to spend time with me - after all, I'm charming, sexy, intelligent, and drop-dead gorgeous. That kind of feeling could drift into arrogance all too easily (feeling like people are privileged to be able to spend time with me) but I think I've managed to stay on the right side of the line between confident and arrogant. In non-virtual space I'm not there yet; I have too many years of recovering from being that odd nerdy misfit. But I'm getting closer; the confidence that I learned in Second Life is starting to transfer.
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Sep. 22nd, 2011 @ 12:48 am Back to life, back to reality...
I returned from Star Island yesterday and jumped right into city life. After a measly couple of hours of relaxing at home I headed out to catch Shava at the Ethos Roundtable, then a bit of dinner at the 501 Tech Club gathering and after that morris practice. Today I spent a quieter day at home doing laundry.

The final week hasn't changed my basic impressions of the Star Island experience, though the final week of work was rather tedious. One of our responsibilities in Conference Services was cleaning up the two children's barns, and part of what that means is cleaning every toy and book. The barns have a LOT of toys and it took days to completely clean those spaces. Cleaning the rest of our spaces was a small job by comparison.

Sometimes I felt like there was a secret society of Pelicans on the island who were doing all the cool stuff, and I was on the outside looking in. A big part of that was being new, and being older than the majority of the Pelicans added to it. I was accepted more quickly by the older Pelicans and volunteers; I had some very pleasant meals with the bookstore and gift shop ladies, and with an old couple (they were both around 80) who had come out to volunteer. I went to one party that had been openly announced, and a majority of the conversation was about what people had done and who they had met and how things were different last year and three years ago and so forth; I didn't have anything to add to that.

Being away from the usual cares of the city was relaxing. Commuting was never an issue; it was just a matter of going down a few flights of stairs. Figuring out what and where and when to eat wasn't something to worry about. I didn't think about the house and bills and life schedule; I pretty much deferred all those concerns until my return to Boston. And there is something naturally relaxing about being in a space where you can look out the window and see the ocean and waves, hear the surf and the gulls and the clanging buoy and the foghorn.

It was refreshing to spend three weeks in a space where being transgender was almost never an issue. I was surrounded by people who were meeting Shirley for the first time, not people for whom I am "Shirley who used to be somebody else". Housing me in Gosport Heights may have been in part an accommodation of my transgender status because it's the only housing area with a single occupant shower, but aside from that I didn't get any special treatment. I was out to the island administration and signed all the legal documents with my male name because it's still on all my government ID, but everyone else just saw who they saw and drew their own conclusions, whatever they might have been.

Who knows... maybe I'll be an inspiration to one of the children who was on the island during my stay. I like to imagine that someday one of them will think "She was transgender, and she was a Pelican. She didn't make a fuss about who she was but she didn't hide it. Maybe I can do that too, and be a part of the world and not hide who I am." I have no idea whether I was the first transgender Pelican; I know I'm not the first one to lie somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. There were a couple of guys who triggered my gaydar this year; I didn't see any obvious lesbians but they're usually not as easy to spot.

When you leave Star Island people chant at you "You will come back! You will come back! You will come back!" I have no idea whether the stars will align again to let me to a similar working stay in the future; I might have work obligations that would make it impossible. But I know that I want to go back someday in some way. I can't really imagine working there for an entire season - I'd miss my house and my friends and all the things that happen here in Boston too much - but I can totally imagine doing it again for a few weeks if I can.
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Sep. 11th, 2011 @ 08:31 am Star Island!
I've been out here for most of two weeks now, and for me it's been a good experience. I'm seeing my time here as a kind of working retreat: I do some work (sometimes hard, sometimes not), keep to a more normal schedule than usual, get to spend time in this beautiful place, and as a bonus even get paid for it!

The first few days I was a "rounder", which means an all-around person who can get assigned to do whatever needs doing. That made packing difficult because I had to be prepared to do every job on the island, though some of it turned out to be unnecessary for my actual assignments. (I was never assigned to waitrae or kitchen crew.) My very first assignment was typing in data from conference evaluations; I also spent time cleaning the candle lanterns that are used for the evening walks to chapel, pulling weeds and clearing out hedges on the grounds crew, and spending a day bringing food to and cleaning the staff dining hall.

After that I was assigned to conference services. That means keeping the conference areas (the places where people have meetings) supplied with snacks and beverages, setting up furniture, and keeping them clean. In theory it could also involve A/V setup; so far the more senior people have done all of that but I have experience with that stuff so I can handle it if needed. (That might have been a deciding factor in being assigned to that job.)

There is usually plenty of food, though really popular items sometimes run out. (For example, yesterday at lunch we got a vaguely fajita-like dish with steak, a meat that us downstairs people rarely see, but it ran out halfway through lunch and the kitchen did not have any more because it had been made with leftover steak from the previous night's dinner for the conferees.) The cooking has gotten more erratic in recent days, probably because the kitchen and bakery have lost some experienced people. (Lots of staff people have been leaving because they are students and school is starting.) There have also been a couple of odd dishes that appear to be inspired by the kitchen's desire to use up food before season end.

I got a single room in the relatively quiet space in Gosport Heights. I'm told that they put most of the older Pelicans (ie, seasonal help) there, rather than in the noisier and more crowded space in Oceanic. The room has oddly slanted floors (the entire Gosport building is like that) but is otherwise pleasant.

Mostly people just accept me as Shirley. A couple have been curious and asked a few questions, but that isn't the norm. Life is good.

Susan came up this weekend to visit. She likes the island but finds the vagaries of the food and service harder to deal with than I do. I thought about that a bit... I find dysfunctional computer software utterly infuriating but I don't get mad at the vagaries of people nearly as quickly.
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Aug. 26th, 2011 @ 08:56 pm The California Trip - how it felt
I promised my faithful readers (or is that faithful reader singular?) another post about the trip. The first one told all the places I went and stuff I did but it was just a travelogue.

Overall, I was happy. Aside from getting to do a bunch of fun stuff and see pretty sights, I was pleased with the acceptance that I experienced as a woman. There weren't a lot of awkward moments along the way, though there was the occasional confused server who wasn't sure how to address me. The short answer: address me as a woman because that's how I'm presenting. The long answer: if we're actually talking, rather than you just being my server or something, ask if you're not sure.

SLCC being cool was no surprise as I had been to it last year. Oakland wasn't much of a surprise; it's not San Fransicso proper but it's still part of the Bay Area, and LGBT people and issues are part of the atmosphere. I was less confident about how things would go in Tahoe and Reno (I wasn't worried about the science fiction fans in Reno, just the city around them) but it was all good.

I did worry about the bathroom issue in the airports, but I was able to find single-occupant facilities (usually meant for handicapped people or family groups) and avoid that confrontation. Airports are a particular concern because the people there come from all over. Even if I'm in a location where I can expect acceptance, some of the other airport patrons might not come from such a place. I'm legally protected in California and Colorado and in the city of Boston, but probably not at DFW airport which is not within the city limits of Dallas TX. But the law isn't always the only thing that matters; not ruining the experience of my fellow travelers is important also.

My new Aravon shoes that I bought just a couple of days before the trip worked out really well. They're comfortable; I did a lot of walking in them, and even managed to climb the rocks at Eagle Falls though my sneakers would have been a better choice for that day if I had known how much climbing was ahead. They have just the right amount of heel (about 1.5 inches) for everyday wear: high enough to remind me not to walk like a man, low enough to be wearable for an entire day. And they're cute but not fancy, and a neutral black, so I can wear them with nearly anything.

The really pleasant surprise was Susan's reunion. Going into a social situation like that (where everybody knows most of the other people, and you don't know anybody other than the one who brought you) can be awkward, but I was able to charm people right away and get involved in conversations. Sometimes I was a bit lost in the conversations, as people talked about people and places I didn't know, but I expected that going in. When Susan got too hot and heavy doing the "where are they now" thing with someone, I would wander off and find other people to talk to; one guy even came up and introduced himself to me. I didn't meet any future best friends forever there but I suspect there are people who would recognize and welcome me if I ever show up again.

The girl's day with Amelia was another highlight of the trip. First, she's totally awesome and really easy to talk to. Second, San Francisco is a beautiful city. And we were in tune about how to spend the day, including the rest after the day of walking followed by a simple home dinner.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm finding it easier to be out in the world as a woman than I did as a man. I don't scare people so much; I can introduce myself and engage in small talk effectively. I'm not at all sure why I ever DID scare people as a man; maybe I was tarred with the brush of the entire gender, maybe the fact that I wasn't sufficiently in alignment with the expectations for my gender bothered people on some level. I think I was usually a nice person, maybe sometimes too nice for my own good, but people didn't always get past the surface to even find that out.
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Aug. 24th, 2011 @ 08:28 am Taking that California trip...
No, I didn't get any kicks, or even Kix, on Route 66. Not that you really can anymore, the old Route 66 was decommissioned years ago though some pieces of it have been revived as Historic Route 66. Other parts, especially through mountain passes, are permanently gone because interstate highways were built on the right of way. I didn't go to southern California anyway; that will have to await some future trip. I DO want to visit LA someday, but it didn't happen this time.

So what DID I do? I'll start at the beginning, go on until I reach the end, and then stop.

Wednesday two weeks ago (August 10) I headed to Logan three hours before my flight time. (Why so early? The American Airlines web site had refused to give me a boarding pass for my first flight leg to Dallas-Fort Worth and so I was concerned that there would be a shortage of seats. When I got there the agent told me that their web site refuses to give out some of the seats (including most of the middle ones) forcing you to talk to an agent -- stupid on their part. (Even if they're reserving those for the last minute, they could have allowed me to select one on the day of the flight; I tried just before leaving home, and from the airport on my phone just before getting in line to talk to a human.) Even after wasting half an hour to talk to somebody and some more time clearing security I had a lot of time left, so I consoled myself with a hefeweisen from the Cisco Bay brewpub in Terminal B. I had a two hour layover in DFW so I had time for a Tex-Mex dinner at Pappasito's (not at all bad for a restaurant in an airport), then on to San Jose arriving late in the evening. Susan retrieved me; we spent the night at a motel in Hayward, where we had a nice snuggle.

After a day running around doing various things, including a visit to the Botanic Garden at Tilden Park, she delivered me to SLCC on Thursday, just in time for me to catch the dinner for the board and staff. We went to Pacific Coast Brewing and discussed the upcoming convention over dinner and beer; I had a nice stout and some slightly overdone fish and chips there. At least they had malt vinegar.

Friday morning I had some time off; I had promised to spend some time working at registration but not until afternoon. First I wanted a bit of breakfast and some cash; Chinatown was nearby and had a bank with a SUM ATM (one that I could get money from without paying fees) so I went over there and got some amazingly cheap things from a take-out bakery and dim sum place. I had a new-to-me leather jacket with me that I found a couple of days earlier at Boomerang's, but it had a broken zipper (but it wouldn't have been such a bargain otherwise), so I found a place in Oakland that could repair it. The repair place was a couple of miles from the convention but I had plenty of time, so I put on my walking shoes and hiked over to the Lakeshore area. I got to look around some of the stores while I waited for the repair, had a cup of tea at Peet's courtesy of Avacon (they gave us staff people gift cards as a thank you), and walked back in time to take my shift at the desk. It turned out to be a good thing I had that jacket along; there was quite a bit of cool weather during my stay (the high temperatures in Oakland during the convention were only in the low 60s) and the air conditioning in the hotel was overly aggressive. In the evening I went to Sitearm's dinner for presenters and track leaders.

Saturday was the first full day of the convention. It started at 8am with Rik's keynote speech; fortunately my body was still accustomed to east coast time at that point so it felt like 11am and it wasn't difficult to be up in time! After that I spent most of the day in my track's room, making sure my presenters were happy and that they had at least one enthusiastic audience member. I missed the presentations on mesh, though I did take a peek at the one on photographic lighting in SL. The lunch break featured Rob Humble's (CEO of Linden Lab) keynote speech, which was a bit of a mixed bag; Rod hit the important points and seemed to understand what is special about SL (unlike Mark Kingdon, who never did) but he was not a very charismatic speaker.

I had scheduled a social event for the dinner break to discuss virtual gender and real gender. The gathering time was 5:30, but by 5:45 only two people had shown up and they weren't really that interested in the topic (they had just come to have someone to be social with) so I let them go off by themselves and checked out the roller derby instead. (Besides SLCC, there was a roller derby tournament in the hotel that weekend. The Bay Area Derby Girls (B.A.D. Girls for short) were hosting three other teams: Windy CIty (from Chicago), Motor City (from Detroit) and the Texanators.) The first bout was from 6-8 (the dinner break time) between Windy City and Motor City; the girls from Chicago dominated it. After that was over I went back to the hotel to change into my gown and high-heel pumps for the Avatar Ball and hung out there for a while, but things were really slow so I went over to catch a bit of the second bout (between the B.A.D. Girls and the Texanators - the locals won big) while dressed totally inappropriately for the derby. After that I put on my OTHER outfit for Saturday night (black crinoline and red lace miniskirt and purple PVC crop top!) and returned to the ball for a while, but it never really got social critical mass so I also ended up hanging out at the Artathon for a while. (This year that was the main social space of SLCC; the lounge next door didn't see much use except late at night when the Artathon was closed.) Late at night some of us went up to the Woodbury party (supposedly a bunch of griefers who come to SLCC every year to wreak havoc, but this year they seemed to be on their best behavior aside from partying too late into the night and too loudly); I gave up at 2:30 but I gather it didn't shut down until 5:30.

It was a challenge to drag myself out of bed the next morning in time for Aliza's keynote but I managed it somehow. I didn't really have the mental presence to follow morning talks after that though, so I just checked in on my track to make sure everything was well and mostly hung out with Winter and Filthy at the Artathon instead. Lunch and the final keynote (by a panel of Linden Lab developers) revived me a bit so I was actually able to pay attention to the afternoon sessions; I skipped out of my track to catch Zinnia Zauber's talk on Authentic Avatar Brand, which was my favorite of the SLCC talks I attended this year. Achilles and his college professor took me out to a light dinner (we weren't up for a heavy meal after all the stuff the convention had been feeding us all weekend!) and then caught the evening screening of My Avatar And Me. Susan collected me and took me off to her friend Steward's house, where we had another nice night.

After a somewhat late start, we headed up to Napa where we had a lunch and a wine tasting, made a brief stop at Davis to say hello to her son, and drove off to Tahoe where her family owns a condo. The high point, as it were, of the drive to Tahoe was Echo Summit - 7,382 feet, the highest point on land that I have ever visited. (Before that it had been changing planes at Denver many years ago, trailed slightly by the visit to the top of Mt Washington. The highest place I had actually spent any significant amount of time was Salt Lake City, a mere 4,226 feet.) Tuesday we headed off to Reno; she had made a reservation to attend the Klingon Language Institute and get a beginning lesson in the language, and I tagged along and crashed it. We had lunch at the Manhattan Deli inside the Atlantis (the hotel and casino next door to the convention center), which turned out to be surprisingly good; the rye bread was disappointing (not enough rye flavor and it fell apart) but the meat was tasty and plentiful (one sandwich was enough for the two of us) and the half-sour pickles were pretty good (not up to Rein's standards but so few are). At dinnertime we went along with a bunch of the Klingon fans to Toucan Charlie's, a buffet inside the Atlantis, which had an amazing variety of food (Chinese, Mongolian barbecue, Mexican, a deli section, a full salad bar, and a few other things -- and a huge selection of desserts to finish it off) - none of it was outstanding but the selection made it a good value.

We decided to stay in Reno for a night and catch the first actual day of Renovation (this year's World Science Fiction Convention). I saw what is perhaps the least faithful film adaptation of Alice in Wonderland ever made (a Hanna-Barbera TV special from 1966), checked out the dealer's room, and saw Dr Demento's presentation. We went out to Sushi Pier for a filling meal of all-you-can-eat sushi; the place was surprisingly generous, they didn't try to make the sushi with tiny pieces of fish and lots of rice, and even the fancy maki were included in the deal. After dinner we returned briefly to the convention to stop in at the parties (I was especially curious about the Boston in 2020 party, which appears not to be a serious Worldcon bid but rather an excuse to have fun Christmas-themed parties, and then back to Tahoe.

The next day neither of us was feeling very energetic after all those busy days, so we hung out in the condo most of the day. I did laundry and caught up with my online life. Late in the afternoon we went to Taylor Creek for a walk through the woods, and then up to the top of Eagle Falls. By the time we got there it was too late to do the walk to the bottom; by the time we got back up it would have been well past dark. Afterward we had dinner at the Lake Tahoe Pizza Company, dining on a somewhat untraditional but very tasty pie called Acapulco Gold which is made on a corn-wheat blend crust. Besides our own leftovers we had more courtesy of a nearby table of Germans (according to Susan they just don't do leftovers) so we had pizza for both breakfast and lunch the next day.

On Friday it was time to return west. We did the long drive back to Palo Alto with no notable stops along the way, went to an English country dance that evening with a short visit to the Palo Alto Creamery afterward, and stayed at her old house that night. Saturday we went to a reunion of people from her high school (an informal one at a burger joint, not the big formal every-five-years kind), which was surprisingly fun for me considering that I didn't know anybody other than Susan when I arrived.

Sunday morning, her friend Stan was having a brunch in San Francisco. The logistics of that day were complicated because she was picking up two people at SFO airport (Jean and Anita) and Anita's flight was delayed. We picked up Jean and went to Stan's brunch, then I volunteered to return to SFO to pick up Anita so Susan could have more time with her friends. The pickup got a bit complicated by the fact that Anita and I didn't know each other and the overly obsessive guards at SFO wouldn't let me stop long enough to call Anita on my cell phone, so I had to drive miles away from the terminals to the cell phone lot so we could figure out how to identify each other and then return, all of which delayed the pickup by at least twenty minutes. We returned to the brunch, Anita had a crepe, then Susan delivered me to Amelia's house and the other three continued up the coast to English dance camp. Amelia wasn't going to be home until late, so I spent the rest of the afternoon on my own checking out her neighborhood and catching a movie (One Day) at the Balboa (a neighborhood theater).

Monday, girl's day out! Amelia and I went shopping and people watching on Haight Street (I got a couple of nice dancing skirts), had lunch at Toast in the Noe Valley neighborhood (she wanted to take me to Lovejoy's teahouse but sadly it's closed on Mondays, so we had to find a plan B), then visited the Japanese Tea Garden and the Botanical Garden. After all that walking she was a bit tired so we headed back to her place for a nap, then made a simple dinner of Rice-A-Roni (the San Francisco treat!) and asparagus, with cardamom ice cream for dessert.. I'm such a good house guest, I took charge of cooking the rice while she did the asparagus. Along the way we got in lots of conversation and some good hugs.

All good things must come to an end, and that time was Tuesday. She drove me to SFO in the morning. I had two packed but uneventful flights on Southwest - SFO to Denver and DEN to Boston, this time with a two and a half hour layover - plenty of time for a late lunch/early dinner at Rock Bottom (a nice Kölsch and a merely OK Reuben - the Manhattan Deli in Reno had better sandwiches). The flight to Boston took off a bit late but they managed to make it up in the air, so we arrived right around 11:30 as scheduled. I had my checked bag and was on the Silver Line by midnight, and arrived at The Buttery around 12:30.

OK... that's the outline! I'll make another post about the emotional highs and lows later.
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Jul. 12th, 2011 @ 09:10 pm The past year.
SLCC is exactly a month away now, and we're also approaching the anniversary of my first time out as Shirley (July 17 for an SL meetup and TraniWreck; see shirleymarquez for more). Reaching milestones (or millstones?) always makes me stop and reflect on where I have gone and where I am going.

First, the various significant dates: May 28 when I decided to attend SLCC as Shirley, July 17 when I first went out, August 12-15 were SLCC, There was lots of stuff in the fall, notable Transgender Pride in Northampton in October and Transcending Boundaries in November. Winter brought the two Shirley Weeks (February 2-9 and March 13-19), and I went to living as a woman full time (with the slight exception of dancing with the Black Jokers and going to the 40th anniversary event for Carolingia as my male SCA persona) on the first day of spring, March 20. Life since then has been a series of comings out: doing the things I've been doing for years like NEFFA, May Morning, Lilac Sunday, the Dog Days Ale, and Lobstercon are all changed by my transition. I'll have more to say about that last one in another post.

So... how is it going so far? First, I continue to be pleased by the amount of acceptance that I have experienced. Some communities were no surprise at all; the Susboids, for example; they've seen it all before. Some were a slight surprise, like the morris community; I knew the local dancers would be fine but was less certain about the ones from other places who I don't know as well. The ham radio community at Lobstercon was a concern -- they're more conservative than most of the people I hang out with most of the time -- but it mostly went well.

I've also been happy with the way things have been going in other settings. I had a great time helping make the Dyke March happen this year; I wasn't merely a marcher, I was in the organizing committee. (As I put it, they were happy to get an extra pair of hands even if they are too large to get most bracelets around.) Stepping in as Shirley and helping make things happen started with SLCC, and I see it as part of the definition of the kind of woman I want to be.

Casual encounters with people have been a pleasure; people smile at me more in stores and in the subway, and I've run into new people in various places and had pleasant conversations. I've been to Queeraoke a number of times and it's almost always fun. Once I went and it wasn't fun, but I think that just meant I was in the wrong mood that night.

What I'm maybe less thrilled with is my inability to move things along more quickly. I have now passed my self-imposed deadline of one year after Marian's death before doing anything permanent physically, but financial limitations now stand in the way and probably will for some time to come. (I've got quite a way to go just to get to broke!) I'd like to have some hair removal done and start taking hormones, both of which would make me feel more like a woman and make it easier to pass, but neither is going to happen soon.

But... I won't let that stop me. As Lady Gaga sang, "I'm on the right track baby, I was born to be brave." All along I've just gone out and did things and not worried about perfection (though I talk them to death among my Second Life friends first so I can't chicken out!) and I'm not going to stop living that way.
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