Wow! Okays, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything down, so I figured I might as well tonight.
Life in Not-So-Sunny San Francisco
I’m still adjusting to being in the Bay Area. The cost of living here is really rough. I almost feel like I’m living paycheck to paycheck (I’m actually not, it just feels that way), which is a change. I need to buy a plane ticket in April for RCFM, and then once in June for MFM, and at this point, I’m not sure where the money is going to come from. (Not to mention the hotel bills. Ick.)
Thankfully there are nice tools like Mint out there that easily let me see the big picture. While I did take on some debt when I moved, overall, my debt is still going down. I’m almost to the half way point paying off my car. Once I get there things will get a heck of a lot easier as suddenly the cash flow numbers work out in my favor.
I don’t use credit unless I have to. I let my checking account get pretty low near the end of a pay period, but it’s because I refuse to use credit for everyday expenses. I would rather go without than do that. I buy things online with a credit card, but then pay it at the end of the month.
Other than getting used to the cost of living things are going okay! I’m loving commuting via ferry. We had a big storm this week and I got caught out in it and had to walk about a mile in rain that was coming down so hard it was sideways. When I finally got on the ferry they came on the speakers and told us to sit down because it was going to be a rough ride, and it sure as heck was. I’d never been on a boat ride like that… I’m glad I don’t get sea sick.
Since I commute via ferry I only fill up my car with fuel about once a month. In Texas I was doing it about once a week or so, sometimes more. I have a TDI Golf which runs on diesel and not gas, so it costs me $50-55 a fillup. I’m not doing that very often now, but I am having to pay about $50 a week in ferry costs, so it all evens out, thankfully.
I’ve been on call a lot at work lately which has kept me from doing a lot of exploring. I’ve been shadowing the on call for the last few weeks, and it’s been great training. My first on call for real is in a few weeks, and while I’m not super ready, I’m not scared, either. I’ll survive, I just feel sorry for the person that’s backing me up. 🙂
New Job Stuffs
Speaking of job stuffs, things are going very well!
They tell me I’m getting up to speed very quickly. It’s been just over three months and I feel like I’m doing okay, but I still get left in the dark at times. We’re in the middle of a giant project right now (we’re moving a data center, with a pretty good financial hit if we don’t make it out on time), and I’m doing my part by doing what I call “running interference” and jumping in and answering questions when people outside my team have them. It’s good practice for me anyhow – if I don’t know the answer I can go look it up or figure it out. Since I’m purposely putting myself on the front lines the other members of my team are able to focus much better.
Our primary means of communication at work is IRC. I enjoy my job so much that I actually log into IRC even when I’m not “at work” just so I can see what’s going on. This is SUCH a change from my last job… at the end of the day I’d just walk out of the building and not want to have to think about work again until the following morning.
I was so burned out at the last place that I was pondering changing careers. What I learned about myself is that I’m just not cut out for life in a large enterprise. There were more people on the eCommerce team at NI than there are in the entire company where I work now! We all know each other and since there aren’t all of the silos we’re able to actually get things done.
Turns out I actually do still love working in tech, I just needed to get back into an environment where I could actually work on tech things and not always have to deal with politics.
I was one of the top system engineers in IT at my last gig, but not so here. I’m just in the middle of the pack now. I work with a few folks that blow me out of the water in terms of raw tech skills and it’s a really humbling experience. I’m really out-geeked here, and that’s okay. I think I’ve hit a point where I don’t need to be the alpha geek, but I want to be respected and liked for my skills and who I am, and I think I’m gonna get there again.
I really don’t talk about this stuff much because, frankly, it’s a very personal and private thing, and I don’t like sharing it with the world unless there’s a reason… but here’s a few of the highlights that have happened in the last few months.
I got my letter giving me permission to start HRT from my therapist a few weeks ago. I have an appointment with my doctor next week to talk about this. I’ve been stuck in insurance company hell just trying to get that appointment, but I finally figured it out. I’ve never had an HMO before (we had a PPO in Texas), and I’ve had to learn how to work within it. The appointment next week is for an exam and then a referral to a transgender specialist to go from there. I’m guessing I still have a number of weeks to go before I’m actually able to start HRT because of the insurance company, but at least the ball has started to roll.
My court date to get my name legally changed is at the end of March. This has been a really long process. I got it started the day after I moved here (I think it was Jan 3rd), and I’ve had to wait almost four months for my court date. In the middle there I had to run an ad in the paper saying I was doing so, etc. This is a very expensive and long process, but it’ll be here before I know it.
It’s so weird knowing that four weeks or so the name I’ve been calling myself for quite some time (and go by at work) will actually be my name. And no, I’m not changing my name to Bunny. 🙂
The State of California allows you to get the gender marker on your ID changed by basically just asking for it, so when I go to get a new driver’s license after my name change I’ll be sure and turn in the form to get that changed as well. In CA there are two options for gender marker changes. One is the permanent one you’re most likely thinking of, which requires “medically appropriate treatment,” and a form by a doctor stating this has been done. (It’s purposely left vague. What is considered appropriate is not up to the court to decide, it’s up to your doctor.)
The second option, and the one I will be going after, is a temporary change. To get this one you have to have your therapist fill out a form stating that your identify and your demeanor match the gender marker you wish to have, and that’s it. There is no medical treatment required. This change is good for five years. At the end of the five years you can either reapply and get it again, or if you’ve had medically appropriate treatment, get it switched to perm. When it’s in the temp state the only way you can tell that it’s not a perm change is by looking at the DMV computers. The license you’re handed at the DMV looks the same either way, only the DMV knows the difference.
I’ve come as far as I can go with the laser on my facial hair, so I’ve switched to electrolysis to clean up what’s left. I found a lady that’s very trans friendly to work with. She’s a throwback to the 1980s. She doesn’t use computers, has fairly old equipment… but…. she’s been doing this for 30+ years and is really good at it. I’m not the first trans client she’s had and I’m sure I won’t be the last. That’s exactly what I wanted. The cool part, for me, is that she still charges 1980s prices. (But she’s cash or check only, no credit cards!)
In case you’re wondering, electrolysis hurts. OMG does it hurt. It’s not as bad as the laser, but my face swells up for a few days afterwards, and I go once a week. I had a lot of blonde and white hairs left that the laser won’t touch, so she’s cleaning me up. It’s working, it’s just gonna take a while.
I’m an emotional wreck some days. (Most days.) You can see a little bit of that here on LJ and some on Twitter. This is a really difficult time for me, and I’m doing to best I can to deal with it alone. I’ve only told a very small handful of people at work that I’m about to start HRT, and they’re totally sympathetic. I hope it stays that way. I joked with one of them yesterday that “there are gonna be a few days when all I want is chocolate and stuffed animals. If you don’t mind me just checking out those days that’d be great,” to which she said “of course.” Outside of the two people I’ve told I am keeping my mouth shut. This is a deeply personal thing for me and I’m just keeping it to myself, but I do like having a few people that understand and can cover for me when I need it.
One last thing to wrap it all up. 🙂
This morning I Tweeted that one thing I really like about my job is that my quirkiness doesn’t make me a weirdo. It makes me unique and valuable to the team. I really do mean that.
A few weeks ago my entire team was here in San Francisco. (Most of them work remote, I’m the only one that’s full time in the San Francisco office.) They were so nice to me the whole week. One night when we were at dinner together as a team I told them “Thank you for being so understanding. This is a really awkward time in my life and y’all are making it so easy on me and I really, really appreciate it. I know you got more than you bargained for with me, but you’ve all taken it with grace and it just means a lot to me.” (When I interviewed I was presenting MOSTLY as male and had my male name on my resume, but only because I didn’t want them calling my employer and getting “Uh? There’s no one here by that name??” I *DID*, however, have a cute purple bow in my hair and used my normal rabbit icon in Skype when they called.)
I am extremely grateful to be working where I am. It’s very easy to be a weirdo when you work for a company full of them. 🙂
Till next time!