It has been a very long time.

I have moved to New York with my wife and my girlfriend, still working for Google. I'm on the Chrome team now, working on Chrome for Mac and iOS. I don't really know what to write but I want to get back into using Dreamwidth, so hopefully you'll see more of me :)


Feb. 19th, 2011 05:32 pm
(This is re: this post).

1. Written a large (>1000 lines) program in Factor.

Nada. I don't even know Factor yet.

2. Written an optimizing C0 compiler in Scheme.

Started! I have a git repo and everything :)

3. Written a jitting C0 bytecode VM in C.


4. Read twenty new books.

"The Caryatids" by Bruce Sterling
"DMZ" by Brian Wood
"Zodiac" by Neal Stephenson
"Radical Priorities" by Noam Chomsky
"Nothing to Envy" by Barbara Demick
"It's A Jungle Out There: The Feminist Survival Guide To Politically Inhospitable Environments" by Amanda Marcotte

I feel like there are more of these, but guessing is complicated by the fact that I buy a lot of my books on dead trees these days. I'm currently 2/3 of the way through "Wireless" by Charles Stross, after which I will read "The Queue" by Vladimir Sorokin.

5. Volunteered for something that matters to me.


6. Met five new people.

One so far - a coworker. Not sure if this even counts.

7. Gotten rid of everything I can't fit into a duffel bag and a backpack (possessions that can walk and take care of themselves exempted.)

Not really. I'm hoping this mostly happens incidentally when I move out of my apartment.
23:12 <%elly> I have been laughing uncontrollably
23:12 <%elly> I think it is liz's fault because she is so beautiful and I love her and the world is ablaze with light and the infinite glory of humanity


I'm lying in bed with the woman I love most in the world. I am so happy right now that words are really quite insufficient for containing the involved feelings; I feel like this and this and this and I really can't stop myself from laughing and smiling at how absurd it all is.

Now she is curled up next to me with her hand resting on my thigh and her head resting on my hip and I am so very in love.

It's nights like these when I can really, truly believe that it is everyone else.

One year from today (December 7, 2011), I will have:

1. Written a large (>1000 lines) program in Factor.
2. Written an optimizing C0 compiler in Scheme.
3. Written a jitting C0 bytecode VM in C.
4. Read twenty new books.
5. Volunteered for something that matters to me.
6. Met five new people.
7. Gotten rid of everything I can't fit into a duffel bag and a backpack (possessions that can walk and take care of themselves exempted.)

I'll get back to you all in a year.
I have a pet. I can't even really describe how this makes me feel, so I'm going to try fumbling around with words for a bit and see if anything coherent emerges.

People who are kink-aware might want to skip over the next bit

Liz and I, like many people, have a relationship that incorporates the giving and taking of power as an important component. In our relationship the transfer of power is somewhat overt - I am the dominant partner and Liz is the submissive partner (usually!) and this is the way we both enjoy it. Liz enjoys being... well, dominated, for want of a better term - having a partner that is more confident and powerful than she is. I enjoy being that partner. This isn't an (emotionally or physically) abusive relationship - the key difference is that we decided (with full knowledge and consent of both of us) that this was what we wanted, and Liz and I both always retain the power to drop that aspect of our relationship and talk as equal partners any time we like.

Start reading here, if you skipped

Recently, we... formalized that aspect of our relationship. The only useful analogy I can think of is of getting married; of intentionally creating a long-term commitment to a partner one cares deeply about. I gave Liz a collar (shown in the picture I linked to above); the collar marks her as my pet and property, and makes me her owner. I can't really think of how to describe how this makes me feel except to say that I love her very deeply and now I get to hold her and protect her in a much more profound way than I ever did before. There is something gut-wrenchingly powerful about waking up next to a sleeping person who relies on you to put order and structure and safety into her world, and seeing that she is wearing the symbol of that relationship on her neck as a way of honoring it.

I've been grinning like an idiot constantly since.

Other stuff happened recently; I'll write about it when I'm more coherent.
'Nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff. Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like, jump-up-and-down-in-your-chair-can't-control-yourself love it. when people call people nerds, mostly what they're saying is "You like stuff," which is not a good insult at all. Like, "You are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness."' -- John Green

Life is strange lately. I broke up with one of my primary partners, and have become very close to Liz (my other primary partner). I've been almost living at her house lately, which is to say that the set of nights I've been at her house is the complement of the union of the nights either of us has another date. I'm enjoying being domestic with another person; I think I might be able to get used to this in the long term, which is weird, because...

I didn't really think I'd live this long. One of the ways I keep myself under control is to treat every day as if I might die afterward, which helps me act in the way that I should act instead of the way that I want to. It sort of rubs off eventually, though, and I find myself kind of calmly considering the possibility of my own death from time to time. I'm in a high-risk population for assault and murder, and I am more or less at peace with that - I've lived my life in a way I am proud of, and I will continue to do so. Still, it's sort of odd to think about - I was washing dishes when it occurred to me that a year ago I didn't think I'd make it to twenty-one, and so on.

Only recently did I become comfortable with playing male characters in games again; I wonder what this says about my internalized view of my own gender.

So tired. I'm exhausted all the way down to my bones now; I feel a strange and worrying tension across my chest when I breathe, like that odd feeling of a muscle that is too taut, but it never seems to go away. I haven't slept properly more than one night a week in months now, I think. The attacks of paranoia at night (and the corresponding need to sleep with the lights in my apartment on) are getting worse; thankfully they seem to be banished by sleeping with another person and a dog in the room.
Re: my having changed user IDs from my male name to my female name, thus invalidating some AFS credentials I had and making it impossible for me to get at some old files:

21:53 < sully> yeah, elly, what an asshole you are
21:54 < sully> working out your gender identity issues and having the courage to be who you actually are instead of what people assumed
21:54 < bblum> geez
21:54 < bblum> who *does* that
21:54 < sully> didn't you ever once think of the people who might be inconvenienced by your user id changing?

I love my friends :)
When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.
I wish I had a thousand words for love, but all that comes to mind is the way you move against me while you sleep, and there are no words for that.

Nine days until I have Liz in my arms again. The waiting is almost physically painful; I can't imagine what it's like to have one's partner away for an indeterminate time.


Aug. 22nd, 2010 01:00 pm
Life is so amazing right now.

I started work at Google (as I mentioned in my last entry); so far, it's been
going fantastically well. The work is placed almost entirely in the upper-right
quadrant of The
Flow chart
, since it's stuff in an area that I have a lot of practice in
(operating systems work) but still involves solving some new and interesting
problems. The work environment is fantastically trans-friendly and generally
accepting of my personal weirdness, and I really like all my team members. I'm
getting to the point where my social life is actually overscheduled, so I think
I'm going to have to duck out of the office MtG group.

I got class like a '57 Cadillac
And overdrive with a whole lotta boom in the back
You look like you can handle what's under my hood
You keep saying that you will; boy, I wish you would

I met a girl. A Girl, in fact. Maybe The Girl. I'm talking about Liz, one of my
primary partners, who has been teaching me how to cook and is generally a
wonderful human being, her threats to redecorate my apartment under the cover of
darkness or bondage notwithstanding. I've also been attending Mob meetings, which seems so
far like a great way to meet more interesting people; I met a person there who
gave me some useful advice about nutrition, which is important, because...

Since I last wrote, I've gone from being a vegetarian to being a vegan. This is
still proving quite difficult, and the error rate is much higher than when I was
vegetarian (it's a lot harder to ensure that something has no animal products at
all than just no meat). Still, I'm doing okay - I'm taking multivitamins, and
Liz is a marvelous vegan cook. She's been teaching me how to cook, which is a
useful confidence-builder.

Went out to dinner with my parents last night and invited them to Transcending Boundaries; Liz
and I are both going, so we thought we'd invite my parents as well, as they've
often asked for more information about transgender issues. We had a lovely time,
and I ended up going out for breakfast with Liz and her friend Nora this morning
as well.

There's a bookstore near my house which repeatedly takes my money in exchange
for books. I've gotten Zami:
A New Spelling Of My Name
, The
Well of Loneliness
, and Queer
Globalizations: Citizenship and the Afterlife of Colonialism
. These are all
really interesting and I wish I had more time to read them; I'm like 40 pages
into Zami and liking it a lot so far.



Jul. 9th, 2010 02:17 am
A lot has happened to me in the past week, and I've felt like writing for some time. This is basically a lifelog entry dealing with Google orientation and the effect of sickness on my gender presentation.

July 1: Left home, and theoretically ended my dependence on my parents altogether. They're in Australia for a while, which has helped to make the separation cleaner somehow. Moved into my new apartment properly; got a really awesome Tempurpedic mattress, which is one of the most comfortable things ever. Got a library card - the Cambridge public library is really quite something, and has its own cafe and free wifi access. Found an excellent grocery store, and provisioned myself with vegetarian food. Got dinner at Border Cafe in Cambridge with two of my partners; they helped calm me down quite a bit.

July 2: Actually got my bed assembled and stuff. Went out to dinner at Fire and Ice in Cambridge, which is this incredible build-your-own-stirfry restaurant; very highly recommended if ever you're in the area.

July 3: joshua_ took me flying in a little four-seater Piper Warrior. We did a circle around Boston's airspace, although they wouldn't let us fly over the city proper because there was a game going on at Fenway. Still very cool, and the views were unmatched; the photos I took with his camera are lying around somewhere. Unfortunately, just after we landed, I got a call from American Airlines (I bet you can guess how this goes...) informing me that my flight to Mountain View for training had been moved from July 4 11am to July 4 6am, meaning I wouldn't have time to sleep before leaving for Logan Airport. I ended up rushing my packing job and not leaving my apartment as clean as I'd like, which means I will probably find bugs of some kind when I return.

July 4: Got to the airport, etc etc etc. 11 hours in the air. At the beginning of this dance, I noticed that the back of my throat was feeling somewhat raw, but failed to interpret this as a sign of what was actually to come. Fortunately, I also found out on this day that my orientation didn't begin until the 7th, due to the Independence Day celebrations. This was good, because...

July 5 & 6: Completely flattened by the worst case of strep throat I've ever had. An interaction with the doctor: "Well, the rapid test came back negative, so let's get a look at that thr-oh, wow!" I was literally reduced to lying flat on my back in bed, trying to avoid swallowing because it made me nearly double up in pain. Fortunately, ttuttle showed up to be completely and totally helpful; his support, along with a timely delivery of medicine by thebaron, have kept me sane and together through being sick. I also got some fairly strong antibiotics at a clinic near my hotel, which have been helping.

July 7 & 8: Orientation. I'm not actually flattened any more, but the sickness saps my energy and willpower, which are things I need to maintain my expressed femininity (i.e.: if I'm really tired, or don't have the time to put into maintaining my appearance, my externalized femininity takes a nosedive, which is a really unfortunate time to meet people). To make matters worse, my voice was all messed up (specifically, sounded like I was talking through a mouthful of glue), and I couldn't swallow any solid food.

What I find kind of striking is that none of this diminished the awesome. Google is just an incredible place; the entire organization seems to be exceptional from top to bottom. The internal stuff is mostly just as polished as the external stuff, and it's all used so well. I'm really excited about my project, and very much looking forward to starting work proper at Google Cambridge.

Ongoing annoyance: my Google badge has my legal name on it, and people keep reading the name off it to introduce themselves to me. Hopefully less of a problem once I'm out of the orientation phase of my life.

Ongoing annoyance 2: lingering symptoms from this strep attack. Throat still hurts; nose still blocked. At least it's getting better.
Trying to get a job as a transgender person is one of the most difficult things one can do, so I feel like it's important to highlight the exceptions from my own life. These are a few of the places I applied to and the way I (and they) handled my gender identity.

Google: Did a fantastic job. I more or less explicitly outed myself to my Google recruiter partway through the hiring process, and they have been nothing but respectful and helpful. During the orientation process, one visits the mothership (Google Mountain View) for a week to become orientated; during this time, it is apparently traditional to share an apartment with other Google people for a while. The form I got about this was rather upfront about gender, asking me to identify myself as either male or female so I could be housed appropriately. I didn't know what to do, since I didn't want to live with men and didn't think women would be comfortable living with me, so I asked my recruiter for help, and he got approval for me to just have a hotel room during this part. I still haven't asked him what to do about bathrooms at the Google office; I'll wait and see what the situation is first, but I have my fingers crossed for genderless bathrooms.

Microsoft: Also awesome. I didn't out myself explicitly, but word worked its way somehow from the Microsoft employee hosting me during my interviews to a general manager (!) who transitioned in full view at Microsoft. This general manager contacted me personally to ask if I had any questions about being transgendered at Microsoft, which was an amazingly useful personal touch, and very thoughtful of them. From em I found out that their health plan covers the entire transition process, including some absurd amount of cover for cosmetic surgeries involved in transition like FFS, which is completely awesome. (I believe Google's cover is also really good, but not as amazing as Microsoft's.)

Apple: Huh. I showed up at their offices in Cupertino. While I was idling in the lobby, I noticed that their transgender nondiscrimination policy - specifically and only that particular policy - was posted on the wall of their lobby, which was very, very weird and not a little unsettling. At this point I was using resumes with my legal name on them, since my transcript from my university would have that name on them. I had not told HR explicitly that I was transgendered, but I had expressed that I preferred to be addressed as 'Elly' whenever possible. No luck here. I had eight interviews on my first day; every single interviewer decided that "Hey, I notice you introduced yourself as 'Elly', but your resume says '<my legal name>' on it. What's up with that?" would be a fantastic icebreaker, so I got to out myself to every person I interviewed with in succession, which made the ensuing interviews about as awkward as you'd think.

Factset: Outed myself explicitly to the director of HR after interviewing all day. He didn't seem surprised, but didn't know whether they had a nondiscrimination policy or not (!) or whether their health plan had any coverage for transition-related things. In general, they handled it like I'd expect a finance company to, not a software company. I shouldn't have even interviewed here; I was a terrible fit and wouldn't have worked there even if I'd had no other options.

In general, I consider myself phenomenally lucky to be a programmer. The software industry seems to be almost uniquely accepting of weirdness among its practitioners; I have never heard so much as an unkind word from a coworker or recruiter or anyone. When I was undergoing active therapy, one of the things I did was a 'group education' session, during which a bunch of people in or about to be in transition had a bunch of people who had transitioned come in and talk to us about the effect on their careers. I'll always remember, I think, hearing about a thirty-year partner of a law firm who was fired out of hand the day she came out, and I'll always be eternally grateful that I'm not in law or business because of that.

a new life

Jun. 19th, 2010 10:35 pm
My parents and I visited Cambridge together, and for the first time we took a walk around. The weather and timing were both cooperative - 2100 on a Saturday night, about 75F and clear. Totally perfect outside conditions. We went for a brief stroll around Harvard Square (our hotel, the Charles Hotel, is right near it), and we accidentally wandered into a psytrance concert on our way to look at some parts of Harvard. On the way out they were playing some catchy-but-lyric-free drum-and-bassy stuff which I will never be able to place, and on the way back in they were playing a song that I eventually recognized as a really strange and awesome remix of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance. We must've wandered past 40 or 50 separate restaurants during a 20-minute walk; we found one completely-pedestrian road (awesome), five bookstores, including one specializing in foreign books, two art galleries, and one church. I don't think I've ever been so excited to move somewhere in my life. If I'd remembered to bring a bra with me, or a top that didn't hang like a sack (I've only brought my old clothes for moving purposes, grumble), I'd have gone back to hang out and perhaps try to pick someone up, although I doubt my parents would've been amused.

I really, really like the feel of being in a living city. I spent the last four years of my life in Pittsburgh, which is slowly bleeding itself to death by way of not having a culture that attracts or keeps young people once they finish university. Cambridge feels vibrant and alive; the night places are full of people laughing and smiling. I live one block from a public library! How crazy is that?
I decided today that I should be a bit more of a 'real person' as far as the internet is concerned - that I should have some kind of presence or existence outside of IRC. I've decided to get a dreamwidth journal (I used to be a livejournal user, but they've gotten pretty sketchy lately on the privacy and advertising fronts). I also have a website here which tells you some other ways to get in touch with me if you'd like to talk. In general, I'm fairly private about myself, but mostly open and friendly with well-meaning strangers person-to-person, so most of the public entries here won't be too personal.

August 2015

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