Let’s Hear It For The Girls

We had logged a few hours of intense outlet shopping and already consumed a reasonably healthy lunch when we popped into the nearby McDonald’s for further sustenance and caffeine. I was beginning to fade and, for no good reason (particularly after the shopping scores I had made) was feeling a little down. When we walked in there was a table of women, mostly blonde, all notably attractive, with their Diet Cokes, McWraps and cell phones in hand, oozing of a connection to one another which was, somehow, ridiculously powerful. I made note and kept walking. Barry, my gregarious, never-shy fiancé, however, commented aloud about what a great photo it would make. All seven women laughed as one…not at him, but with him.

I chimed in that I, too, had noticed the beauty of the moment and we began to banter back and forth for a few moments, my need for caffeine still firmly in place. We said a tentative goodbye and headed for the counter to order with a promise (threat?) to return. I requested an iced coffee and hot fudge sundae and Barry (strongly, unrelentingly, vigorously) encouraged me to go back and chat. I resisted. I sometimes do that. I wondered if the moment had passed, if they had actually just given us a courtesy laugh and were now chatting about the crazy couple that just intruded on their otherwise lovely lunch of Mc-things. My confidence faltered. Reluctantly I returned to the table and was greeted by lovely, warm, funny women. Women I could sense had a story….and everyone knows how much I love a story.

Ramona, with the bright smile and quick wit commented that Barry and I were such a cute couple and asked what our status was. I told her we are engaged and she, like I would have, grabbed (in the best way possible) my left hand to inspect the goods. She held my hand, in a way that did not make me feel the least bit uncomfortable and kvelled about the design of the ring. Noticing the two young women (later to be known as Paige and Brynn) as well as the early teen (Amelia), I implored them to “marry a man who cherishes you” and Ramona, with a subtle sadness said, “I did”. I knew she had a story.

They enthusiastically inquired as to the when and where of our wedding plans. We don’t have any yet, but told them of the kids’ suggestion that we do it at Water Country . “That would be awesome!” they gushed but went on to joyously encourage us to do it right then and there, on the beach at nearby Kennebunkport and they would be our witnesses, bridesmaids and flower girls. We would then, they implored, post a picture on Facebook to tell the world. And, I might note, they were only half joking.

The conversation became funnier and even more animated every moment. At this point, I was seated next to Paige, a beautiful young lady with gorgeous thick hair in a (fantastic) mess on top of her head. At the table were her mother, her grandmother, her sister, her cousin, her aunt and a dear friend who, while not a part of the blood line, was clearly one of the girls. Earlier in the day, I had (lovingly) (and repeatedly) called Barry an asshat, an expression I see all over Facebook but wasn’t entirely sure what it meant, but just saying asshat is funny, so I did. Paige, being of a certain demographic, seemed like someone who might actually know what it meant, so I asked her and she did not know, which, in a way, made me happy. We asked Siri (who did know) and she told me it is “a dumb person”. “Ohhhh” we said collectively. “Better than calling someone a ball sack”, said Ramona. A nanosecond pause and we all busted out laughing: from Grandma down to 12 year old Amelia. And it felt great.

A good half an hour passed as Barry and I melted into the family, side bar conversations between us. We learned about one another, if only a little. Ramona, who is someone I would most definitely want to call my friend, touched my heart with her quick wit, irreverence (she said ball sack in from of the kids…and her mother!) and honesty when she elaborated on having been cherished by her husband. The same husband (and father, and uncle, and son- and brother-in-law) who had, just in June, lost what I am sure was a hard fought and vicious fight with brain cancer. We instinctively and tightly hugged at her saying the words. She’s a strong, beautiful woman who is wise, lucky and blessed to be surrounded by the same.

It was fun. It felt natural. I wanted to know these women. These women I had not wanted to bother while they were “dining”. The ones that Barry forced me to go back to, coffee and sundae in hand, and integrate myself into their conclave. I used to be better at that. Before I felt broken and worried for my children. Before I felt challenged beyond what I thought I could handle. Before I began to lose confidence in my ability to connect. Barry made me do it (he makes me do a lot of things I never thought I would do…and I love him for it.)

I’ve always been all about the sisterhood. I love women who support, love, laugh and encourage one another. This table of women define how women should interact and simpy be with the women in their lives. I detest bitches that make everything a competition, who are not willing to protect, support and share and, perhaps most egregiously, who reject the strangers who approach them at McDonalds.

ramona
Brynn, Paige and Amelia: While you are most definitely blessed with strong, fabulous women in your lives, allow me to chime in: Marry a (Jewish)* man who cherishes you, who encourages you to be the best version of you and who jostles you out of your comfort zone enough that you plop yourself down at a table of strangers and walk away with a new set of friends.

*These lovelies are not Jewish, but Ramona and I agree: they make the best husbands.  I trace it back to a (healthy, not at all creepy) fear, er, adoration of their mothers.

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Explain This

When George was two, my parents went to an afternoon movie after which they were going to come to my house to babysit. Around 6 that evening, my mother called to tell me that they were not “coming over” after all. “Um, you weren’t coming over, you were babysitting…” I said in a perhaps less charitable tone than I should have. It was then that she explained that my father had fallen asleep during the movie and she was unable to wake him. Huh? What does that even mean? Since he was a Type 2 Diabetic, she had tried, in vain, to feed him some of the Jr. Mints left over in his lap. (He must have “fallen asleep” early on…there was little that would keep my father from emptying a box of those little gems). Suddenly aware that something was quite wrong, I told her to meet me at the hospital.
When she arrived there with him he was, apparently, in such a frightening state (important visual: my father was 6’1”, my mother 5’1”…imagine her trying to “carry” him in) that they immediately bedded him and started to try to figure out what was wrong. It was a long night. By the end, we knew that he had had a stroke. That was the good news. The answer to the question following the routine chest x-ray of, “are you aware there is a large mass in your chest?” was “um, no”. That was the bad news.
At the time, I was a (mostly) happy stay at home mom. I had stopped working not too long before, in part because George was so wild and busily beating his own drum that the family day care sort of, kind of, might have thrown her hands in the air and cried uncle. So, the only help I had was for the one (okay, sometimes two) hours a day I would drop him off in the babysitting room at the JCC and (usually) work out. There was a lovely older woman named Alla there who was solidly unafraid of George. Perhaps it was the fact that she was Israeli and, as such, able to withstand more than most, but it doesn’t much matter. Not only could she handle him, she freakin’ adored him. The admiration was reciprocated and all was right, if only for one (okay, sometimes two) hours a day.
I was a no-show for several days following my father’s diagnosis. When I finally returned and told Alla what was going on she asked how she could help. She knew I had no other coverage and that the babysitting was only for when I was in the building (theoretically) working out. Without hesitation she offered to watch George at her home for as much time as I needed, for as long as I needed. At the moment, I hadn’t realized how desperate I was for help and after asking her about a hundred times if she was sure, accepted her offer.
George and Alla hung out together for the next several weeks. I would deliver George to her and know that he was safe and happy, even though it was evident that the world around me was crashing in. I still feel indebted to her and never will forget the kindness she showed me and George.
I’ve seen Alla many times over the years. I am even relatively certain that I have told her that George is now Jess. But, either I didn’t or she does not recall…because each and every time I bump into her, she asks for her “boy George”. Every. Single. Time.
Yesterday, I ran into Alla. Literally. I was coming around the corner at the market and our carts collided. We embraced. I told her, as I always do (because it is true) that she simply doesn’t age. She caught me up on her kids, two docs and one who is set to graduate next week from Harvard Law. And, as always, she asked about her “boy George”. I told her that “everyone” is great, getting older, keeping me on my toes. I mastered the ol’ sin of omission by not engaging in one single pronoun. She asked if I had any recent pictures and I, um, lied, and told her that my phone was in the car, hoping against hope that it didn’t ding, ping or ring right then and there. I was secretly relieved that Jess was not with me. Not because I am ashamed, but because it simply feels like it is too late/too exhausting/too old news/too overwhelming/too much a part of everyday life that I sometimes forget to have to explain it again.
This is not the first time I have skirted the issue of “explaining.” I have omitted the details to my elderly neighbor who moved away years ago, but with whom I still keep in touch – primarily by phone. I once skimmed over the details of the facts with two little kids who were too young and new to our family to tell. I was later accused of lying to them which stung a little, but I know I did the right thing by “explaining” only what they would understand. Things like this come up all the time. No, really: all.the.time. And, if I am being honest, I am getting tired of having to explain to every Tom, Dick and Harry that my daughter started off as my son.
Then, late yesterday afternoon, just hours after my encounter with Alla , “explanation time” came up again when I took Jess to Urgent Care for an ear infection. I checked her in, ponytail and pink-checked lounge pant-clad Jess who happens to have an insurance card that says George. I leaned in and asked the receptionist to please call her Jess and use female pronouns which, not surprisingly, caught her off guard. To her credit, she had a quick recovery, wrote it on the intake form and moments later, Jess was called. And then! Then, the doctor came back in with the prescription which was written for Jess, forcing me to tell her (kind of again) that the script had to say George. So many Ts to cross, so many Is to dot.
Jess is used to it. She heard me tell the folks at the new allergist’s office. And the blue-haired gal taking names at Super Cuts, and the on-call pediatrician, and the camp directors, and the gymnastics teacher… She’s corrected people who slip up and others who should know better than to, um, slip up. It happens.
Anyone who has ever read a word of this blog knows how I adored my father. What you might not know, however, is that I felt the same way about his father, my grandpa, who was named…yep, George. In 2001, most people were not naming little boys George. I even hesitated a little, worried that he wouldn’t be able to pull it off. But he could and did better than pull it off – he killed it. He was the man. He was Georgie, Georgieporgiepoopoo and “boy George”. On paper, she still is. Every so often, Jess will ask that we change her name legally, but never with an intense and desperate need. If and when that happens, it happens…but for now, it’s all cool.
So, I will continue to forewarn, correct, whisper, lean in and remind folks that the name George on the form is only the name on the form. I will share as necessary. I will keep my mouth shut when there is no purpose in telling our story. She is just my kid who doesn’t always need to be explained, but if she does, knows I’ve always got her back…just like my dad and Alla did.

Safe. Secure. Free.

I just never know what it going to send me reeling.  It could have been the fact that Jess had one side of her head shaved[1] and then, just to shake things up, dyed the fuzzy spot bright pink.  Or perhaps it might have been the conditions of the Frat house that I helped Harrison move into last month which no self-respecting mother would ever have agreed to had she seen it prior to the signing of the lease.  It might even have been the accumulating snow and resulting days of cancelled classes which will likely propel us into the depths of July before school lets out for the summer.  Nah, it was none of those things.  Instead, it was a parking spot.  Well, sort of.

This is not the first time I have bitched, moaned, complained and, yes, cried, over such a predicament.  Nor, I suspect, will it be the last.  With the disclaimer of fully acknowledging that it is a first world problem and one that I should be a little bit ashamed of fixating on, I will share.  And, yes, I know, again, that it isn’t about the parking spot.

For twenty years I lived in a single family home not three minutes from where I am living now.  While there, I had three housemates: my husband (now my ex), my son (now at college) and my daughter (who sleeps til noon on those blasted snow days).  Between the husband and eldest son, the driveway plowing was taken care of while I was in the house lovingly baking cookies and preparing hot cocoa for when they were done. [2] It was often a long, protracted event for them but once it was done it was done, save for whatever “plow pile” might crop up throughout the storm.  We were dug out, free to move about the world and armed with the comforting knowledge that the driveway would be open and available when we arrived home.  Man, I miss that.

Now, despite the fact that I have engaged in the solitary (and thankless) exercise[3] of  digging out my car not once, not twice, but three times from this past storm alone I am literally fearful of ever relinquishing the spot.  While I was painstakingly removing the snow and carting it by the (crazy heavy) shovelful three spaces down to respectfully deposit it onto a pile[4] away from neighboring cars, no one else seemed to be doing the same.  On either side of my humble little Honda are two cars which have, by all accounts, been abandoned.  That is not even taking into account the countless other spaces which are going to be occupied til May.  So….when I have to leave to, oh, I don’t know…go to work…I will, in all likelihood, arrive home to find that some asshole has taken over MY spot.  And today, that was enough to make me cry.

What surrounds me. And, makes me cry.

What surrounds me. And, makes me cry.

car3

Exemplary shoveling job, am I right?

Exemplary shoveling job, am I right?

I tried to be logical and pragmatic.  Really, I did.  I tried to be optimistic.  That didn’t work, either.  I tried to be open-minded.  Yeah, no go.  So, I cried.

I’ve thought a lot about this.  Yes, I get that there is a practical side to this; a “move your meat lose your seat” kind of thing.  But, more to the point, it is a matter of feeling safe, feeling secure and feeling free.  I don’t feel safe: I am going to take my life in my hands maneuvering out of my perfectly shoveled spot to hit the open road.  I don’t feel secure: Someone is, most definitely, going to snag that spot that very second I leave it. [5] I don’t feel free: See all of the above.  And, at the end (and frankly, the beginning) of the day, that is really all anyone really wants…to feel safe, secure and free.

And, yes, I will bring this back to my last blog post which took a lot of (expected and appropriate) criticism.  I do not care what Bruce, Maura, Jess or Harrison’s Frat house look like.  I care that they that they feel safe, secure and free, because, in whatever iteration and for whatever reason one does not feel those three things it sucks. Trust me, I know.

Today I don’t feel safe, secure and free because of a parking spot.  On any given day, Bruce, Maura or Jess my not feel  SSF[6] because they are not accepted, or understood.  In fact, any one of us is at risk of finding themselves in that situation, and, perhaps this is my momma bear coming through: I don’t like that.  Not one little bit.

I know that the snow will (eventually) melt.  I know that I will, someday soon, be able to find safety, security and freedom not encumbered by a parking spot.  But today I ain’t feelin’ it.  So I cried.

[1] With not quite my blessing, but my approval

[2] Okay, I didn’t do that.

[3] You bet your ass I am considering it exercise.

[4] Which had a good six inches on me..and I am 5’6”

[5] I would.  It is prime real estate, beautifully cleared, nary a sign of snow.

[6] Safe, secure and free

Love The Kid Whose Name is Left Out for Privacy

The following arrived in my in blog comments this morning.  I saw it when I first woke up, have been thinking about ever since and am thrilled to finally have a second to share it.

Hi! I go to (name of school left out for privacy) school and in Jessie’s grade. She is an amazing girl with a true heart! I know some people are mean to her, but let her know that (name left out for privacy) really does like her.

heart

Wow.  Just wow.

I showed it to Jess and it is safe to say she is pretty much the happiest kid on the planet right now.

She has told me that she is going to give (name left out for privacy) a hug when she sees her.  So, too, am I.

Not so happy about the people being mean to her, however…

Shall We Dance?

Hey!  Remember me?  I used to blog fairly regularly, but then came Christmas vacation, and a trip to Vegas during which I managed to get sick (with, thankfully the cold thing and not the stomach thing) (and I can pinpoint exactly the not cute enough child who managed to cough and wheeze all over me for five hours) and then had work and life and, well…my apologies for the long absence.

The town we live in has a fantastic program called R.A.F. T.: Recreational Activities For Teens.  It is a brilliant idea: hold events for kids in grades 6-8 who live in town (no guests) as a way to develop new friendships and relationships as they near the time that the nine K-8 schools in town merge together into the single high school.   Among the most popular events are, not surprisingly, the dances.  Held at the high school (how cool is that when you are a 6th, 7th or 8th grader?) they are highly anticipated and attended.  Friday night was the first one for 6th graders and Jess was all over it.

This was a weekend that she was with her dad, and I will admit to being (not so) secretly relieved that I was off the hook when it came to getting her dressed, ready and to the ball.  The whole thing made me nervous, anxious, and a little bit more than slightly queasy.  I plied her with what I considered an appropriate number of queries leading up to the big day (Are you excited? Are other friends going? Did you want to go with a group of kids?) But no, she was cool and also as blasé as a kid vegging in front of the tv.  She amazes me.

I dropped her at Rich’s late in the afternoon and went home to make cookies: I was, apparently, desperately seeking comfort.  Around the time she was getting dropped off (alone, without a group of girls, or boys or, for that matter, anyone) I texted Rich to see how she seemed.  He responded that she was as cool as a cucumber, looked pretty with her light application of lip gloss and blush and was her trademark ballsy self.  He had asked her if she was feeling at all nervous to which she replied, “No…why would I be nervous” (as though it was the stupidest question ever asked) and proceeded to get out of the car, walk into the high school gym all by herself and, much like she did that first day of her transition at school, never look back.  He and I joked of the many reasons we thought she could/should/would be nervous.  None of them, it seems, occurred to her.  G-d bless that kid.

An hour or so into the dance, I texted Rich again: “Was everything okay? Had he heard anything from her?  Think she is okay?”  His response: Not a call, a text, a tweet, nothing.  Wow.  Impressive. (Aside: I remember how anxiety-producing those dances were for me back in the day…oh how I wish I had her confidence.)  And then, around the time I figured the dance would be letting out, I texted yet again.  She, I learned, had a great time, walked out with a gaggle of girls and cannot wait for high school.  Phew. Big sigh.  Huge relief.

I feel a little bit guilty for not being an active participant in her dance preparation.  I feel a little bit badly that I was relieved to have been “off the hook”.  I also feel, however, more than a little bit proud of her for having such confidence and strength and courage while I was wimping out in the corner.  Drinking wine.

So here, well into our third year of Jess being Jess I continue to marvel at what she is willing and capable of doing.  I still do not know how things are going to flush out, where she will land and how we will get there…but I do know that if anyone can handle this, it is Jess who is, perhaps, the ballsiest girl ever.

Harrison the Accidental Blogger

Toward the end of the school year Harrison was asked to be among a select few students who would speak to their peers about what made them different.  His speech now appears on the home page of TeenBeing.com:  A magazine published by Scholastic and dedicated to the health and well-being of middle and high school students.

He gets way less space on this blog than his sister (and I think he likes it that way), but his adventure is no less intense.  And, despite the fact that he was a little unpleasant (I am being kind) in the weeks leading up to his departure for his freshman year of college, I still think he is the bomb.

http://teenbeing.com/relationships/this-weeks-teen-flaunt-harrison/

Quick Camp Update

  1. With the exception of one (really, I swear, there was only one) call from the director…all’s great.
  2. With the exception of two lost lunch bags….all’s great.
  3. With the exception of the fact that camp is done for the season…all’s great.

Yep, you read that right: Camp.Is.Done.For.The.Season.  (As in: they close their doors til next year, no option to add another week or five, done, over, finished.)

She had a great time.  She made friends.  She wants to go back next summer.  But now I have until September 9th (yes, September 9th) when she goes back to school to try to keep her at least equally happy.

No, I did not sign her up for any other camps.  No, I do not have any real plans in place.  No, I do not know what I was thinking.  Oh, wait…all one needs to do it review the epic fail of last summer and it will all make sense.

Yes, I have poked around for programs here and there, but have come up with nothin’.  Yes, I am in denial that things could turn torturous over these next several hours, I mean days, er, weeks.  Yes, I am more than a little concerned.

But.

She did have five great weeks with only one minor transgression which I have chosen to forget about.  I am going to quit while I’m ahead.

That said: if at any time over the next several weeks you have the urge to spend some quality time with an artistic, funny, quirky, energetic and extraordinarily complicated child (particularly during the hours that I have to, um, go to work) just let me know…I am sure we can work something out.

p.s. You stand forewarned: any and all joyous postings regarding children at camp, trips abroad or the like will not be welcome around these parts.  What? I am nothing if not honest.

T.S.G.

The scene: you have a situation, an issue, a problem, a dilemma.  A choice has to be made as to how you are going to manage it with, hopefully, the least amount of drama and the greatest amount of success.  What to do?

Recently a friend* was sharing with me a difficult personal situation which he had faced.  He told me that it became very clear to him that he had one of three choices: tread water, swim wildly and to the point of exhaustion or get out of the fucking pool.  It struck me as an excellent set of choices to consider, no matter the issue. And then I realized that in approaching the issue of Jessie’s transition, I had actually exercised the option of, well, exercising all the options.

When she first came to me with her declaration, the pool into which I was thrown (without, I might add, much warning) felt as though it was a thousand feet deep, with a strong undercurrent and a malfunctioning filter that would, instead of cleaning the debris, suck me into a sinkhole from which it would be impossible to free myself.  I instinctively knew that I had to figure out a way to manage the scenario and, without the T.S.G. (tread, swim or get out) philosophy articulated, I now realize I did it all.

Installing-an-Above-Ground-Swimming-Pools-Overlap-Liner

While the “public” announcement was made in early December, I had known since the beginning of September.  I will never forget her tear drenched cheeks as she told me that she, (or, more accurately, he) had always wanted to be a girl.  From that day forward, until December 12, when she shared her “secret” with a teacher, I was treading water like nobody’s business.  I had my full Esther Williams going on: my head was above water, my hair and make-up were in place and I was furiously flapping my feet hoping for nothing more than to stay afloat.

That worked for some time, actually.  Everything was under wraps and magnificently controlled.  There was no explaining to do to anyone…nothing external had changed.  The community was none the wiser and maintaining the status quo made perfect sense…but it was not sustainable.  Treading water never is.  It is fine (excellent, even) for the short-term, but eventually you are going to peter out and sink to the bottom of the pool.  And then you are screwed.

Upon coming to this realization, I began to swim crazily.  I met with the school.  I shared with friends.  I fielded well-meaning inquiries from people I hardly knew.  I talked with press.  I wrote articles.  I even joined a support group.  In time, I perfected my stroke and continued circling the lap lane, wondering if and I when I would be allowed to stop.  Each day brought new challenges, questions and concerns.  My arms and legs were growing tired and my skin was growing tight from the unnatural “stuff” in the water.  My hair was no longer manageable from the saturation.  I couldn’t rotate my arms one more time.  I had to get out of the fucking pool.

It has been a year and a half since George transitioned to Jessie.  In some ways, it seems that it was just yesterday that I was frantically swinging my legs, secretly hoping someone would toss me a life-preserver.  It seems merely days ago that I had perfected my stroke and was impressively maneuvering the water, fighting the urge to sink to the bottom of the pool.  And now, here I am, settled in with my transgender child to the point that I can comfortably sit poolside and enjoy a cold drink with a little umbrella in it.  I got out of the fucking pool.

But I will never be able to leave the deck.  There will always be another situation, issue, problem or dilemma that arises related or not to transgender-unique issues.  Since hearing about the T.S.G. phenomenon, I wonder if next time I will go through all the paces or skip to the exit.  I wonder if it is better to “T”, then “S” then “G” or if skipping one or two is preferable.  I wonder if TSG is a process or a choice.  I am mulling it over and over in my head.  I guess you could say I am treading water with it all.

So next time you either jump or are thrown into the deep end, think about TSG and see where it takes you.

*Creds to BTS

Never Stop Pushing

Last week, Harrison’s guidance counselor asked him if he would speak at the annual “My Story” assembly which is held for seniors at the end of the school year.  The subject matter, I assume, is self-explanatory.  Both flattered and anxious (about the speaking in front of 500 people part, not the content) he, after the hemming and hawing typical of an eighteen year-old,  somewhat reluctantly agreed.  The assembly was scheduled for today.  This morning, as he was heading out the door, he voiced his public speaking concerns to me (and I, in a proud moment, resisted the urge to offer him a Xanax to “take the edge off”) and I confidently assured him that he would be fine.  He left the house with nerves appropriate to the task,  a reminder to not read it too quickly (memories of his Bar Mitzvah speech racing through my head) and assurances from me that “he could do this”.

Below is the text of his speech.  He read it to me last night and I made no changes.  It is from the heart, almost unbearably honest, powerful, memorable, heartbreaking and meaningful.  I would be remiss if I did not mention that it also made me ridiculously proud.

When you look at someone, you think you know their character. When you look at me

you see a somewhat tall, brown-haired kid with a huge nose. You think you know what you

want about me. You see my Warriors Swimming and Diving jacket – immediately you know that

I shave my legs, idolize Michel Phelps, bathe in chlorine and am likely to miss a shot on a 4 foot

hoop. Except, all of those things are false – except for the last one at least. We see the way

people look and think we know everything about them. But this is far from the truth.

We all have stories. Memories of these stories, I believe are the most important thing

we have as people. Some stories are filled with joy, others with grief and sorrow. We all have

faced, continue to face and always will face hurdles. I appreciate these hurdles because the

ones I have cleared and stumbled over thus far make me the person I am today, and who I am

proud to be.

High school, much like life is a rollercoaster. I am confident a huge majority of you have

heard this analogy before. In 7th and 8th grade I could not wait to get out of Baker. I was

officially a man, well, kinda, and couldn’t wait to experience what BHS had to offer. I had some

hiccups, however. I would say, one of my biggest challenges was my younger sibling. George

had been well known. With his bright yellow curls and sky blue eyes, he was anything but

ordinary in appearance. As he grew older, he developed a personality to match. George was

notorious for his rambunctious disposition in our close-knit community. Having been diagnosed

with a mood disorder, ADHD and severe dyslexia to top it all off, George was very difficult to be

around. People have commented to me time and time again about my incredible patience with

younger children, but George knew how to push my buttons and then some. Granted, his

diagnoses played a part; I couldn’t help but believe that little one had it out for me. I found

myself isolating, well, myself, from the family in order to diffuse any issues that arose – to the

point that I can’t even remember the last family vacation we could all be together in the same

room. But before I knew what had happened I lost my brother – and I woke up the very next

day to a little girl in the room adjacent to mine.

George had always had a preference for typically feminine things. I didn’t care, nor did

my parents. Slightly a-typical for a little boy to yank dolls from the shelf at the store over a

truck, sure, but hey – what does that matter. As not if by chance, on her 10th birthday, she woke

up, announced she was a girl and skipped off to school to tell the world. She had spent years (if

it was longer or shorter, we will never know) keeping this inside, and this is her story. Did I

struggle at first coming to terms with a major life event not far from a death and birth? Yes. Have things gone back to normal? Of course – yet she is still a very tough person to be around

due to her behavior.

Look – this is just one little anecdote of my time in high school. I spent two years

benched from sports due to bilateral shoulder injuries. My mother spent months stuck in bed

with a horrible back injury. My parents split up just this year, thankfully not due to my sister,

but their own things.

But this is no contest. So many other people have and will speak today with things that

we all cannot fathom. We all have unique stories – this is why we are all unique people. We all

have memories we hold dear, and memories we try to shed away. I can tell you, not that I am

older and wiser, because I am certainly not – but I have learned that these challenges have

made me who I am. My story is not the easiest, but it is also not the hardest by a long shot. We

are all out of here in a very few short weeks. We do not know what each other face in the

upcoming weeks, months and years. We do not know what everyone else has overcome to

make it this far. What is the most important is that we have our stories and we stick to them.

Be honest with yourself, and never stop pushing. Thank you very much.

 20120907_072411 HJR Swim pic

Wow, right?  (Indulge me in my kvelling…things have been so challenging for so long that I grab and hold onto the good stuff a little bit harder and tighter than I might otherwise.)

Perhaps most touching is the outpouring of supportive comments, texts and messages Harrison has been receiving from both classmates and teachers since he spoke.  His has not been an easy adventure (remember, I dislike the word journey) for him or, for that matter,  anyone in the family; siblings, cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles and family friends alike.  The fact that he was willing to put himself out there, take a risk and share his story is, to  me, anyway, impressive.  Not sure I could have done it when I was his age.

And remember:  Be honest with yourself and never stop pushing.

p.s. As we speak, Harrison is at the high school Athletic Banquet at which he is being given an award for “Most Improved”…a true testament to his successfully facing that damned bilateral shoulder injury and having not stopped pushing. 

p.p.s. Why am I not at said banquet you ask?  Because he insisted it would be boring and that I not attend so had I suddenly announced that I was going it would have been too obvious that something was up.  I want him to experience the thrill of hearing his name called which, I am quite sure, will surprise him. 

p.p.p.s. Yes, I did consider sneaking in the back so that I could watch.

p.p.p.p.s  With visions of him skipping out before he is awarded, I texted the friend he is driving with to not allow him to leave early. Good thinking, right? 

I think today will prove to be one that makes his “never stop pushing” mantra worthwhile.

#thingsthatmakemecranky

I am cranky.  Wanna know why?  If you don’t, you had best stop reading now.  You were warned.

  1. I’ve “written” (and I use the term loosely) and trashed about seven blog posts this week.  Some were several paragraphs long when I clicked, highlighted and deleted them.  There were actually some halfway decent sentences among them, a couple of interesting trains of thought and even a few clever witticisms, but nothing came together in any meaningful way.* It was irritating, frustrating and even a little bit thought-provoking; the main thought being: what’s my problem?  #thingsthatmakemecranky
  2. Sleep (or, more to the point, a lack of sleep) is mocking, torturing and berating me.  Falling asleep is not an issue.  In fact, I can (and do) fall asleep remarkably quickly.  I feel my eyes getting heavy and my brain shutting down and within a nanosecond of assuming the on-my-stomach-leg-bent-out-to-the-side stance I am out cold.  If only I could stay that way for longer than four freakin’ hours.  And those of you who are ready to espouse the virtue of any number of sleep aids (prescription and OTC alike) can save your breath.  I’ve tried them all.  It is, I am convinced, a conspiracy.  #thingsthatmakemecranky
  3. Mental overload.  I, like everyone else, always have a lot on my plate.  Most days I handle it with grace or at least have mastered the art of fooling everyone into thinking such.  Others days, like, well, today, however: not so much.   There is a definite correlation between how much is rattling around in my head, how I sleep (see #2) and how well I cope (and write).  Crappy thinking begets crappy sleep begets crappy writing oh, and crappy mood.* #thingsthatmakesmecranky
  4. I have cried on four separate occasions today.  None were particularly meaningful bawls, rather quick drops spontaneously erupting from my eyes (and, I might note, smearing my mascara in the process which, if I am being honest, could be a line item all its own).  While I can think of any number of reasons for the tears, none of the episodes rendered much in the way of relief.*  File under: yet another irritant, oh, and #thingsthatmakemecranky
  5. I’m not eating much. I am exercising regularly.  Yet, for some obnoxious reason, all my jeans feel snug.  Not tight, just snug.  Enough to make me crankier.  #thingsthatmakemecranky
  6. The cat who, admittedly, served his purpose by ridding us of the rodents who had taken up residence in our walls (where they also chose to die), has overstayed his welcome.  #thingsthatmakemecranky
  7. I settled into bed last night, inordinately excited to catch up on the “Modern Family” and “Real Housewives” episodes that I so carefully recorded only to discover that someone in the house (naming no names, it was the 18-year-old) watched and, I can only assume, enjoyed MF and then deleted it.  Said 18-year-old did not touch the “RH”, though.  I do take comfort in that.  However, #thingsthatmakemecranky
  8. I did a massive load of Jessie’s laundry two days ago.  It is all still in the dryer.  Gonna look like shit.*  #thingsthatmakemecranky

Okay, I feel a little bit better.  Now you, however, are probably all agitated and constructing your own list of that which makes you cranky.  Have at it and feel free to lift the hashtag.

*Much like this blog post.