Changes Coming

New Theme.  One of the most noticeable change over the next few days will be my switching to a new WordPress theme for the website.  FYI, I have been using the Atahualpa theme on this website since I started it.  For the most part, this has been the best theme that I’ve ever used, because it let’s me customize just about anything and everything.  But you know what, after awhile, I grew a bit tired of it.  Also, the latest version of the theme seems to have some slight problems with spacing my commas, as you can see quite clearly in my posts.  So I’ll be switching to another theme shortly.  I don’t want to spend money on buying a theme package, as I’ve already spent some money on getting the latest version of WPML, which used to be free.  (WPML is by far the best plugin for using multiple languages, so I was happy to give them a few bucks to keep their business going, but really, that’s all I’m willing to pay in terms of software for my websites.) But I’ll be looking for something that has  a reasonable amount of customization without requiring me to do any coding.  I code at work, I don’t want to code when I’m not at my office, even if it’s updating a PHP script.

Gallery is Up!  I used to have a gallery online.  I had all my pictures, including the ones already on Flickr, and a whole lot more that aren’t posted anywhere.  But I’ve been neglected it for almost half a year now, and when I tried to access it again, I found out that it didn’t work—it kept giving me a web server error that didn’t make sense.  I wasn’t sure what happened during those few months, but I’m not too impressed by the fact that it failed at all for no reason.  Anyway, I’ve installed a clean version of gallery3, and re-uploaded my pictures on there.  In fact, there are actually more pictures on my new gallery than on the old one.  I’m feverishly trying to re-post some of the captions and information about my pictures, but I’m sure that all the comments have been lost, unfortunately.  My new gallery has the same address as the old: gallery.katie-young.net.

Graphics Fixed? When I migrated to the new WordPress installation, the graphics didn’t quite migrate properly.  As a result, some of my older posts now have missing graphics in them.  I’ve started fixing them, and who knows, by the time you read this, may be all of them are fixed already…

Major Victory, Sort Of

My plans to modernize my blog got underway today, after coming back from the trip to Hawaii, I just didn’t feel like working hard on my research, especially when there is so much to think about before I can move on.  Anyway, it gave me the time I needed to upgrade my blog from WordPress 3.1 to WordPress 3.2, and to install a new (but unfortunately no longer free) version of WPML, the multi-lingual plug-in.  What you are reading is, in fact, a brand-new installation of the WordPress blog, and the old blog entries were imported from the old site.  A couple of things:

  • The old comments from my old posts on the Yahoo blog now appears properly
  • Going to www.katie-young.net or www.katke-young.net/blog now redirects you to this site, which has its own subdomain, at blog.katie-young.net.

Other than that, the new site should look and feel quite a lot  like the old one.  Regrettably, I had to use a new widget for ClustrMaps, and so the old history couldn’t be saved.  I’m not going to lose any sleep over it though.

Wandering Mind

A picture of a woman that I don’t know making love to a man that I don’t know. I download this picture somewhere on the Internet.

Travelling by myself is lonely.  I feel that loneliness every time a go to a conference, or even when I travel alone to friends’ weddings. As I have pretty much expected, this trip to Hawaii was no exception. Aside from the first night in Honolulu, when I was just completely exhausted from all the travelling, every night was a lonely night.

And so, on the second night—after the first full day of the conference, and after giving my own presentation earlier in the day—as I prepared myself to go to bed alone, I occurred to me about how depressing it was that I couldn’t share the excitements of the day with those closest to me. It was very lonely indeed. May be there was something on TV at that time, or may be I was already thinking about something, but my subconscious mind began wandering, and started a little fantasy all on its own. This fantasy of mine was quite simple, actually. Without going into any details, it went like this:

I imagine myself to be a young, beautiful, sexy woman, alone (and lonely) in a hotel room. No longer as a trans woman, I fantasize that I have always been a girl. And I wanted someone in bed with me. So, I imagine myself naked with a tall, handsome, athletic and powerful man. This imaginary man could be my husband, or a boyfriend, or even just a casual lover. He caresses every inch of my body, while kissing my lips, my neck and my shoulder and tummy, and gently teases my breasts with his fingers. And then he pins me down in bed, and I spread my legs open and wrap them around his waist. And we begin making love. From that, I imagine myself fucking wildly with him…

As these thoughts went along, my imagination became more vivid, more explicit and more detailed. I have, of course, left out most of those explicit details. Afterall, this isn’t a pornographic blog! Anyway, I was on the verge of an orgasm when suddenly I realize how completely absurd this is. Here I am, a trans-woman, thinking of myself as another woman that I am not, having an imaginary intercourse with a man that I don’t know, doing things that are physically impossible. Nevermind that there isn’t a single man on earth that I’d actually want to have sex with. It was alarming that all this started merely because I wasn’t patient enough to wait a few hours before calling my wife in Toronto, and all this crazy stuff in my mind snowballed all in a matter of minutes.

I went to the bathroom, and took a cold shower.

I guess this is why the Gideons put Bibles in hotel rooms. I reckon these crazy fantasies happen to more people than just me. Anyway, I was able to pull myself out of thinking about these…things, and it really didn’t take me long to fall asleep. I called home to share the good news of my successful presentation; the time difference made it impossible for me to be asleep after 5am.

Mahalo for the Memories

I am now safely back in the comforts of my own home in Toronto, although I don’t believe my home can ever be as “comfortable” as my super-luxurious room at the Sheraton Waikiki (albeit the decor was a bit dated).  But while coming home means coming back to all my responsibilities here, it’s good to be back to my routine.  So Home sweet home indeed.  It was a successful trip afterall.  I gave a great ½-hour talk, and it was very well attended by some of the most famous researchers in my area.  I even made an all-day appearance as Kate at the conference, quite inconspicuously too.

Anyway, my day spent as “Kaitlyn Young from the University of British Columbia” at the conference was more exhausting than I anticipated. Luckily, there were no relevant talks in the morning on the following day, and I spent some time relaxing on the beach…as Kate of course.  It also gave me some time to have my pictures taken.  That morning, I got up and and went to Waikiki Beach, and spent the morning watching the waves rolling in, and of course, the gorgeously athletic guys and gals surfing on the waves.  The nice thing about going there in the morning is that the bulk of the crowd has yet to arrive, and it is actually possible to have some quiet time.

Not that I did…

A man came up to me not long after I sat down, and started chatting up with me.  This used to happen more often when I was younger, but now that I am a married (trans-)woman, I have been quite shy about letting people flirt with me.  Anyway, he clearly knew that I was transgender—he started the conversation by saying, “you must be the most gorgeous trans lady I have seen all morning!”—but we managed to have a reasonably good chat.  He offered to take some pictures for me with my camera, and while most of them turned out poorly—I was always out of focus—a few did turn out well. Continue reading “Mahalo for the Memories”

With Love From Hawai’i. Aloha!

Exactly 2 months after going to the research conference in Montréal, here I am again, on the road, presenting another paper of the same research topic, this time in the very pretty city of Honolulu.  Of course, like all the conference I go to, Kate comes along too.  During the Montréal conference, I had this crazy idea of showing up to the seminars as Kate.  At the end, I didn’t go through with it, because there were only ~100 conference attendees, and any woman showing up would have drawn too much attention.  (It is an engineering conference, afterall.)  The Hawaii conference, on the other hand, has more than 1200 attendees.  Suddenly, the idea seems much more do-able, and last night, I decided to give it a try.

And it was much easier than I thought.

As I have said before, modifying my name tag to have the name “Kaitlyn Young” is trivial.  It only took me a few minutes at the hotel’s business centre.  I purposely changed the name of my affiliation to my alma mater, just for the fun of it.  So since 8 o’clock this morning, I had been hopping from one half-hour talk to another; the last one just finished a few hours ago.  I didn’t have any problems getting up early this morning to make myself presentable either: Hawaii is 6 hours behind Toronto, and of course I haven’t adjusted to the new time zone yet, so waking at 5am is like waking up at 11am in Toronto…

My modified badge.

Speaking of the conference, it is much better than in Montréal: the talks are better, the research done is of higher quality, and all the well-known names in my area of research all came.  In Montréal, a few small companies presented their “technical papers” that are really glorified advertisements of their products, and that was annoying.  No such thing at this big-bad-American conference; the technical committee had done a great job filtering all those things out.  As for my own presentation on Monday (given in boy mode, of course), I had some technical difficulties with my laptop: my VGA port for the computer would reset after every slide.  At the end though, I stayed calm and everything worked out. I think I’d give myself an A- for the research work, B- for the presentation.

For now, I haven’t had any pictures of myself taken yet, as I have spent the whole day learning, and there is a lot to digest.  I’ll be working late into the night reviewing the papers that were presented today.  If I get around to take some pictures though, I’ll post them on my blog, eventually.

Minor Victory

Once upon a time, I used to have a blog Yahoo 360, but then Yahoo decided to discontinue the service, and moved all the blogs to their new experiment called Yahoo Pulse. I didn’t much care for that, so I started a new blog on Blogger, and then eventually imported it to this WordPress site. One of the things I have always wanted to do was to download all the blog entries and comments from Yahoo 360, and then import them into a WordPress blog. At the end, the importing script didn’t work, and I was never able to re-post my original Yahoo blog entries elsewhere. But the file has always been saved on my hard drive somewhere.

Recently, Yahoo decided to shutdown Pulse as well, and this time, I’m not so sure what they will do with the blogs. So I tried downloading it from Yahoo one last time. When I unzipped the file, I realized that it had the extension -Moveable-Type.txt; and the only difference in formatting between this and the one I downloaded a few years ago—when 360 was shutdown—is that the new file doesn’t contain any of the comments people left me.

But an aha-moment nonetheless! So Yahoo had always downloaded their blogs in the Moveable Type format! As it turns out, both my WordPress-hosted (i.e. on wordpress.com) blog and this WordPress (hosted by my own ISP) blog both have an import function for Moveable Type files. So I tried both. Both did a poor job of importing the graphics, and while the blog on wordpress.com correctly imported all the comments, it didn’t quite work on this blog.

But it’s a minor victory nonetheless. I now have all my old blog entries. I plan to clean up the HTML code a little bit, re-insert all the graphics, do some quick proofreading, and re-post everything.

Montréal, again?

Yes, I’m going to Montréal.  Again.  This trip will happen at some point in July.  In fact, there’s quite a lot to says about this.

My reason for going to Montréal this time will be a little bit different: I am participating in a charity bike ride called Friends for Life Bike Rally.  I’m joining a group of 400 riders and volunteers in downtown Toronto on July 24, and over 6 days, we’ll make our way to Montréal, travelling a total distance of more than 600km.  All of this to raise funds and awareness for people coping with HIV/AIDS.  As a transgender woman, over the years, I myself have been acquainted with a number people living with HIV/AIDS, and while I often don’t agree with the decisions they made that led to them contracting the disease, I feel that it’s important to be in solidarity with them, and help with their suffering.

When I first registered for the ride online, I had to write down my gender.  This is the first time in my life that “transwoman” was listed as an option.  At first I was overjoyed: finally, I can sign up for a cycling event as Kate! But then, I remembered that, regrettably, most people I in my circle of friends, and also in the church still don’t know about Kate, and most people who are sponsoring me will probably not do so had they known I was a trans woman.  And even if they would, I feel that this isn’t quite the appropriate time and place to “come out” to my friends.  It was disappointing, but at the end, I listed myself as “male”, and signed up with my male name.  As of this morning, I’ve raised just over $700, but I need to raise $2200 before June 30.

I have to admit that it saddens me to know that—other than a few exceptions, like my wife and a few close friends—most of my friends aren’t ready to deal with transgender issues, let alone knowing that one of their closest friend is transgendered.  In that sense, I decided that I’m still very much in the closet.  And as much as I can live (or at least pretend to live) a normal as a young man, I know that in my heart, I too live on the fringe of society.  Not all transgender people have the luxury that I have.

Interestingly, my friends who would be most offended by a transgender people—and people with AIDS—are devout Christians, and boy, Jesus had a lot to say about how we should show love to them.  Over the past few months, I had been more vocal in discussions about transender issues (another post for another day), and I have noticed that this new knowledge is slightly changing the way their see the Gospel and how transgender issues fits into that.

In any case, training for the ride has already began: a 70km ride last Saturday on my own, and a 63km ride this coming Saturday with other riders on the rally.  I have some hopes that the rides will shave off some weight off my belly, but so far it hasn’t happened yet.

Montréal: Day 4.5

Whispers
Sitting by the sculpture Les chuchoteuses (“Whispers”) by Rose-Aimée Belanger at the intersection of Rue Saint Paul and Rue Saint Dizier.

So the conference is over…and not a minute too soon. In fact, the last keynote lecture ended a full 30 minutes behind schedule. It seemed to be the theme of the whole conference that most people aren’t very keen on keeping track of time properly. Nevertheless, I’m glad that it’s all over now, and that I’m back safely in Toronto.

Kate Ruins
Picture taken at the remnants of the old Montreal General Hospital on Rue Saint Pierre.

Finally a bit of good news too: as the conference ended, the sky also cleared, which gave me a chance to change into some nice (i.e. more feminine!) clothes and roam around Vieux Montréal (that’s “Old Montreal” for those who do not speak French).  Vieux Montréal is, in my opinion, the most beautiful part of town, and I always enjoy walking along the quay.  I also had pictures of myself taken while I was there too.  Since I have never been to Montréal en femme before, I thought I’d keep it low key, and go around town with my purple sweater that I’ve worn so many times before.  I managed to get a few nice pictures taken, but in the afternoon, the temperature got up to a balmy 23°C, and after awhile, the sweater was too warm.  I made it back to my car at the hotel, and got a nice flower dress out of my suitcase instead.

Continue reading “Montréal: Day 4.5”

Montréal: Day 4

Yesterday all thoughts of being a girl had to be put aside. I had to give a presentation (obviously not giving the presentation as a girl) of my work. It went quite well, although my session was in the biggest room and the microphone I had to used made me nervous. I was also in discussion with some people from a few companies who are hiring. I spent the evening watching one hockey game (Montréal vs. Boston) with my colleagues, and then another game (Vancouver vs. Chicago) with another group of potential colleagues, and there was no time to be a girl.  By the way, Vancouver won, but Montréal lost.

Which brings me to this morning. I had planned to go out for a morning jog around town–I even had my tank top and sports bra and running pants ready, but as it turned out, it was still pouring rain all morning. So the plan was scrapped, and I still haven’t had the chance to walk outside. Fortunately, the weather forecast for the afternoon is much more favourable… Continue reading “Montréal: Day 4”

Montréal: Day 2

The elevator lobby of the 26th floor of the hotel.
From the 26th floor of L’hôtel Delta centre-ville in downtown Montreal. This blue dress is actually very very comfortable, and it’s quickly becoming one of my favourites!
From the convention level of L’Hotel Delta centre-ville.

My second day in Montréal (the first full day really) is also the first day of the conference. I’m glad that I haven’t tried to attend the conference en femme, and to alter my name tag, because out of the more than 200 conference attendees, there were no more than 15 women. Everyone would have noticed if one more woman showed up, especially if “she looks a lot like that guy from that university, and how come they’re never seen them together? Oh.” So I dispensed with the whole notion of boy-mode trading place with Kate at the conference, and was happy with just stay being a boy until my free time in the evening. The talks at the conference on the first day had very little to do with my own research and interests, so it was rather boring being there.

Just before I left Toronto, I stopped by the post office to pick up a package: two dresses I bought from eBay. So amidst the heavy rain in Montreal in the evening–no chance to go outside, I tried on the dresses in the comfort of my hotel room. The dresses were of the party/prom/formal/bridesmaid variety by Alfred Sung, and they’re really beautiful. It’s also nice to know that I can wear them without alterations. I got some pictures taken, and also roamed around the hotel with them, taking more pictures. Again, when I have some time to edit the pictures, I’ll post them here. After spending some time editing them, here they are!