today in chat: learning lessons in managing

What I wanted to communicate:

Scenarios are not necessary at this time. We will write those in the next iteration of this document.

What I actually said:

No no no!
No scenarios!

What I would think if my manager said this to me:

OMG she thinks I’m stupid, and I did it wrong, and I never do anything right, and I will fail at this document, and it has to be delivered today, and it won’t make that timeline, and [Client] will fire us and [Employer] will go out of business and I will live in a box in an alley and eat rats raw until I starve to death, and it’s all because I started working on scenarios!

What my peep thought instead of “I will live in a box in an alley”:

And if I have no money, I can’t get hookers and blow.

How I felt after inadvertently shouting at my peep in chat:

77% lower.

Was a lesson learned?

Yes. Apparently the missing filter between brain and mouth is also missing between brain and fingers.  Slow the fuck down, hedwyg, and THINK!

a moment of panic, a moment of grace

I had the freakiest, scariest experience this morning.

I woke and prepared for my day. My partner and I discussed plans and schedules, and I headed out the door for my commute.  It was a fairly smooth drive, and I earned points on Waze for updating gas prices and adding a marker for active police.  (I have my shield now! Yay!)

I exited the interstate at my typical off-ramp, noticing that the “faster” route was actually blocked due to a crash and being glad that I had established this routine. I yawned and confirmed an earlier decision: I needed coffee.  I turned on my blinker and moved into the left lane.

I checked the time.  7:48.  Plenty of time to get through the crowded drive-through before my 8:30 meeting.

I turned left at the stoplight, and decided I would pick up a cup of coffee for my boss as well.  Pike Place. Black, no room. Venti.

I turned right into the shopping center. The time was 7:49. As I crossed through the parking lot, I took a deep breath. It’s the 1st of the month: payday. This drive-through is almost always full and slow. I prepared myself to drive around the parking lot so that I could establish The Line in a way that doesn’t block the entrance.

I approached the stop sign.  Something was wrong.  The view ahead looked awfully sparse. I wasn’t sure what this meant. I wouldn’t have to drive around the parking lot, so that was good.

I crossed the street, into the parking lot. I looked to my right and saw…

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moodnudges – worth a moment today

A few weeks ago, I stumbled on MoodNudges and WellBee.  Here’s the little nudge I received in my email this morning:

Are you a better friend to others than you are to yourself?

Let’s just imagine for one moment that a good friend is having a hard time. How might you help her?

For a start, you’d probably be kind. You’d encourage and support her, and try to help her see that you empathise with her.  …

It’s a lovely reminder that we need to be kind to ourselves – at least as kind to ourselves as we are to others.  Two or three of these brief reflections arrive in my email each week, just the right number to not be overwhelming.  You can read them on the MoodNudges website, which I recommend most heartily.

While you’re there, check out WellBee, too.  I received my cards (very quickly!), but I haven’t worked with them yet.  I need to dig them out of the mail pile and bring them to my desk. I can say that the cards are lovely, and the little tin is supercute.  And it was personally signed by Alex and Jon.  :-)

today, in american healthcare

… hedwyg is reminded that while we have a marginally acceptable system to take care of acute injuries and illness, neither our health insurers nor our medical practices really understand what it means to be chronically ill.  I have several diagnoses for chronic illness: Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, Interstitial Cystitis, Chronic Pain Syndrome, Mood Disorder NOS (probably Bipolar Type II).

Two weeks ago, my pharmacy provider sent an electronic refill approval request to my primary care doctor, who has been managing my meds for most of those things for four years now.

UPDATE: FML. But I’m mean, and make you go to the full post and scroll to the bottom.

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Morning in the Atrium

Today the regular catechist for our Creation Atrium for infants to three-year-olds is away, so I took her place. We had three little ones, C and E and A. They worked well, with only a few minor upsets. They are sweet girls, loving and joyful, and it is a privilege to work with them.

Our Atrium runs for 90 minutes, and the girls just joined their parents for Eucharist (having skipped the boring parts). I straightened the works on their shelves and now sit alone in this quiet, holy space, hallowed by the Good Shepherd who gives all of himself for these little ones.

As the air conditioner runs and the fishtank burbles, I pray silently for all the little ones who do not have words to talk about holy or numinous or the Good Shepherd who watches over them with all of his time and attention and patience.

I pray also for all the bigger ones who do not feel the Shepherd’s protective, attentive, perfect love, and do not know how to find it again.

May the Shepherd bless you and keep you. The Good Shepherd make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you. The Shepherd lift the light of his countenance on you, and give you peace.

in today’s installment of crap…

… came yet one more post from my father on facebook, being a jerk to transgender people. As I am married to a trans woman, it comes as a personal insult.  So I said it straight out: if you are going to keep saying these things in public, then you will lose a daughter.  I doubt it will change anything, unless he decides to filter me out of people who see his posts, and that is just sad.

Dad hates on anything left of center

Jesus tells us to love and pray for our enemies, so I will continue to love and pray for my father. I just wish he would consider that his public online behavior might have negative effects on people he loves.

reflection in community space

This weekend finds me at the Philadelphia Trans Health Conference.  I arrived with my wife, who is a trans woman, yesterday afternoon.  We attended one workshop yesterday before we checked in to our hotel to rest. Today we plan to spend the day here, participating in workshops and exploring the exhibits, before we start heading south again in the evening.

Ironically, I sit in the Community Space to write this, and I am the only person in the room.  Kristin and I split up for our workshops today, she to explore her journey and options, and I to learn more about what it is to be married to a trans person and to be a trans ally.  I know that these will teach us a lot, and I look forward to sharing experiences during our return trip.

We arrived this morning, about 15 minutes before the workshops were scheduled to begin, and I picked up a healthy breakfast – ha! – from Cake Life: a bottle of water and a peanut butter stripe brownie.  Hey! It has plenty of protein! And it tasted AMAZING.  Then I headed to my first choice, which was a Shabbos… but I was unable to find it, and I found myself relieved.  I realized, as I sat in the hallway, that I needed some time to process even the little I had taken in already.  So here I sit, alone in the quiet Community Space, and this is exactly what I needed.

The experience so far has been fascinating.  It started at the registration table, where everyone is asked to make a name tag: first name only, with your preferred pronouns.  Pronouns trip me up ALL the time, and I often feel defensive when I have unknowingly used the non-preferred pronoun and offended them inadvertently.  And honestly, do we really need gendered pronouns? Does it matter that “Jack placed HIS books in HIS backpack” or is it more important that “JACK PLACED the BOOKS IN jack’s BACKPACK”?  I’m not saying that pronouns aren’t a good and important thing, just that a person is a person – what is the point of differentiating gender?  I have not done a study, but I would bet money that the occurrence of sentences that require gender for clarity are less than 5% of everything we say or write.

The demographic form at registration asked a number of questions.  What is your trans identity (or are you a cisgender person)?  How do you describe your sexual orientation?  What is your race?  I kept circling the option just above “Other.”  I’m cis. I’m straight. I’m white. I’m a spouse.

I had feared having reactions and responses to people here, betraying with facial expression or looking at someone just a little too long.  I don’t want to cause hurt, distress, or offense to the participants here, each of whom is infinitely precious, infinitely beloved, God’s child, Christ’s sibling, made in the image and likeness of God.  Most of us have learned from birth that boys are boys and girls are girls, and that is just the way it is.  We don’t learn that there is a spectrum between macho-men and girly-girls, a range of gender identity that encompasses some who are labeled non-binary and others who prefer to choose no gender at all.  We are taught that boys have penises and girls have vaginas, and that’s the way God made us, and that’s just the way it is.  Unless we have some experience with a person who is somehow “other,” we have no idea that it’s even possible for “others” to exist.

Most of us are innocently ignorant, learning from our culture that boys are boys and girls are girls, that penis-bearers must be masculine and non-penis-bearer must be feminine, and that we cross those lines at our peril. And, to be quite honest, the first questions we have about a trans person are those very basic ones: “What, you’re a woman? But you have a penis! Wait, are you going to have The Surgery?”  (It’s always The Surgery – even for me – as if there were only one procedure that magically assigns penis-appropriate-genitals, gives or takes breasts, and sculpts the face and body into a form that Women Look Like or Men Look Like.)  So we end up blurting out these offensive questions about people’s private parts, because we are ignorant of what it means to be transgender or non-binary. And if you’ve blurted out one of these when a trans person is just having a bad day, you’re likely to get an earful of exactly why that is an offensive question and that it isn’t their job to educate the entire damned world what “trans” means.

The workshop we attended yesterday afternoon was a presentation from a surgeon in North Carolina who specializes in procedures for trans persons.  She spoke very frankly about body parts, even showing photos, and repeated a number of times: it is your body; it is your choice; it’s all about how you want to look and feel; it is not my place to prevent you from making these choices, unless you want something that is medically problematic.  Near the end of the workshop, one participant asked about the possibility of procedures that aren’t typical for trans persons, who are generally interested in breast reduction or augmentation, genital reassignment surgery, and other cosmetic procedures to feminize or masculize (is that a word?).  The person gave an example: what if someone wants to remove just one breast?  Would the doctor be willing to do this? Would there be legal or insurance implications?  I wanted to applaud when the surgeon responded that there is absolutely no medical reason, and probably no legal reason, that such a procedure should not be performed. It’s your body, she repeated, your choice. It’s what you want to achieve.

So I have seen quite a variety of shapes and sizes.  I have seen men of short stature, who have rounder hips than you might expect on a man.  I have seen greatly tall women, with muscular limbs and small breasts.  I have seen one very tall person who looks like an older gentleman with mustache and beard, who walks with a long, strong, masculine stride… who wears flowing skirts and dresses, and who looks completely comfortable and confident in their appearance and presentation.  It makes me smile to see him, and I’d like to meet him and shake hands, but I fear that would be creepy and inappropriate.  And I don’t want to offend anyone here, because the trans family has become my family.  The trans community has become my community, even though I have only the Significant Other Membership and not the Full Trans Person Membership.  :-)

I have seen a gorgeous array of hair colors, including blue and green and pink and teal and purple.  I’ve seen all sorts of tattoos and piercings.  I think that these become a form of self-expression — especially for young persons? — where perhaps it is unsafe to express oneself through clothing and hairstyle and other qualities we use to distinguish each other by gender.  And I’ve noticed some who (I believe) fall closer to the middle of that range, those who are non-binary trans.  Remember Pat on Saturday Night Live?  This character is probably non-binary trans – having some aspects of both genders, but not embracing either completely.

Now I sit in the Community Space, and four other people have joined the room, having separate conversations.  It’s almost time for the next workshops, so I will find my next room and head that way soon…. until I next need some quiet space to process.

I invite you to pray today for all whose perception of identify and self fall outside the norms of their culture. Pray for trans men and for trans women.  Pray for non-binary trans persons.  Pray for those who feel awkward and uncomfortable, not knowing whether they are trans or gay or autistic or whatever kind of “other” they might be.  Pray for those who support and care for the “others” among us, for surgeons and doctors, for counselors of every kind, for clergy persons, for spouses and significant others, for parents and siblings, for friends.  And pray for all of us who—in innocent ignorance or in appalling hate and indifference—anger and offend the “others” around us.  And pray that every person, male or female or non-binary, know in the deepest part of their self that they are loved, infinitely and perfectly, that they are a child of the God who made all that is, made with great affection to bear God’s image and likeness to the world.