A place for random thoughts, ideas, and fun!
What really goes on in Amy's brain? I'll use this space to share more about myself and my interests, journal some of the more exciting goings-on in my life, and work through some of the writing ideas and dilemmas I'm wrestling with. Enjoy!|
Movie Review Mondays . . . if you watch a film after reading a review, please come back and let me know what you thought!
|Here's a snippet of the project I've been working on for ... ohhhhh 5 years now? It's nearly finished!
Contemporary YA retelling of As You Like It
(Background to scene: earlier that day their melancholy philosopher of an English teacher had initiated a discussion of determinism vs. free will)
Gabe sat, warming his hands on his latte mug and staring at the milky leaf design. “But seriously, was it really free will?” he asked, picking up the thread of Touchstone’s earlier exchange with Jaques. The debate had shifted focus and they’d never quite finished it, but it hadn’t been far from his mind since leaving class.
It wasn’t something he’d ever thought about. He hadn’t been raised with any sort of religious background, so the idea of a deity determining his fate was unfamiliar and even uncomfortable. Now, he’d spent the whole day thinking about gender and determinism versus free will, like some kind of teenage philosopher.
“What do you mean? Didn’t we already do this?” A raindrop fell from Touchstone’s hair and plopped onto the tabletop. Huffing, he swiped at it with his sweatshirt sleeve.
“I mean, how could it be, if it was predetermined? We talked about sexuality in class, but you know I was thinking about gender identity. Maybe it’s free will that leads us to act on our feelings, but think about it. Genes may have caused my body to grow this way. I can’t change anything on a genetic level, I know that much. But the rest of it? Was it predetermined that I’d be trans? Is there something in my DNA that said, ‘we gave you this body, but it’s not who you really are’?”
“Pffft, don’t get me started with the whole ‘God doesn’t make mistakes’ bulls***,” Touchstone said just a bit too loudly. A pair of young moms with squirmy toddlers turned and glared at them.
“I’m not sure that’s what he meant—” Orlando started.
Touchstone leaned in and whisper-yelled, “Oh, come on! That’s exactly where that argument stems from. God gave you the DNA, the DNA made you who you are, end of story, you blasphemer!”
Gabe kicked him under the table. “Calm down, Señor Quixote.”
“Well let’s say God didn’t make a mistake, and you were meant to be trans all along?” Orlando added.
“And that’s where the question of determinism versus free will comes in,” Gabe reminded them.
“Nope!” Touchstone chirped, popping the p sound. “Because choosing to hide or act is still free will.” The dregs of Touchstone’s Frappuccino rattled through his straw as he slurped.
With deft fingers, Orlando flicked a chocolate chip across the tabletop. “Getting dizzy from the circles over here, guys,” he said.
Touchstone picked up the rogue chip, which had skimmed across the table and bounced off his knuckles. He inspected it, then popped it in his mouth, chewing thoughtfully. “But isn’t that the whole purpose of philosophical conversations?” Touchstone asked.
“Gross.” Gabe cringed. “Not if you’re trying to actually find an answer.” He leaned closer to Orlando in their booth, letting their shoulders brush together.
“Awwww. So cute! Uncle Touchstone is so proud.”
“Shut up.” He kicked Touchstone under the table again.
“Ow! Don’t bruise the merch!” Touchstone pouted.
“What I really want to know is how many other kids sit around after school talking about f***ing philosophy?” Orlando rolled his eyes, but he was laughing.
“Only the elite, my friend. Only the elite.” Touchstone blew him a kiss.
|I've been AWOL from writing.com for several months. Life, writing, and work have all exploded for me ... mostly in a good way! I was hard at work, editing Like It or Not, when a Facebook friend posted that her independent author services company was looking for proofreaders and beta readers. Wait ... what!? Get paid for doing what I love? So I applied, and was asked to complete two samples--one for proofreading, and one for beta reading. After looking at the samples, she offered me a job doing developmental editing, which is like a dream come true for me! They don't get too many dev edit projects, so I've been doing beta reading in between dev edits, but I'm absolutely LOVING my work! My editing has taken a bit of a back seat, as I have a tough time balancing everything. I'm between jobs right now, and I've been trying to get Like It or Not finished, after getting a beta read from my friend who co-owns the company I work for.
Soooo ... LesCourt Author Services specializes in gay romance, so that's how I've been spending my days.
In my personal life, I passed a milestone birthday that left me feeling off-kilter. It was mitigated somewhat by the sense of accomplishment I feel from my work, but it brought up a lot of anxiety. So I let it pass without marking it in any way. I've become very involved with our local Shakespeare Festival. Not on stage, though I did have a cameo in The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) [revised] this summer. That has been amazing for building community, and is just a ton of fun.
My kids are ... whew! Growing up! Dr B has a wonderful boyfriend and is making plans to move with him sometime in the next several months. Goldilocks is at our local community college, studying early childhood development. She's matured so much over the last few years. Her explosive emotional meltdowns are gone, though emotional moments and anxiety still bubble up. She's finally driving (yesssss!) and also has a part-time job at a frozen yogurt shop. Her goal is to transfer to a 4 year school in another year or so. Slow going, but she needed to get her feet under her, get her emotions under control, and learn how to be a successful student. Monkey has his driver's permit!!! He's so freaking grown up I can't stand it! He's a sophomore in high school, goes to the gym regularly, and is thinking about doing pre-med in college. His first choice is MIT (not aiming too high!) and then UCLA. He needs to get his own social/emotional drama under control if he wants to have any chance at that, but we'll see. I honestly was NOT expecting the social drama from him but ... wheeeeeew! I think he's been worse (or at least more consistently emotionally wrought) than Dr B or Goldi ever were!
What else? Oh! We got a cat. We were not getting a cat. But last summer a mama cat had kittens under a bush in our friends' yard. I took the kids over to see them, because Monkey is cat crazy. And I fell in love. I was having anxiety attacks over not seeing this kitten again. His name is Oliver (he came to us with the name Speedy) and he's a partially long-haired tabby. I don't know why the photo I tried to upload keeps uploading upside down, so no photo for now because I'm out of time!
And Dareng has been living with us since November. He moved back out here for a job, and is still working on getting his feet under him. We love having him here. Of course!
|I belong to a book club. A WONDERFUL group of women, each of whom I enjoy VERY much. I happen to be the youngest in the group by AT LEAST 10 years (I can't imagine that Christy is more than 10 years older than I am . . . though she may be, with 3 married, adult children and several grandchildren). I don't, however, often enjoy the books we read. I stay with the group because of the women.
On Sunday evening, Bob went to an Oscars party at our local cinema. Because we never did get a digital antenna up and working, and a week or so before the Oscars, he started to PANIC that he wouldn't be able to watch them. I had suggested we go to the Oscars party a few years ago, and he said no. So then we talked about it when we ditched cable, and he waffled. By the time he reached his panic state, there were a few tickets left in the front rows. Hands twisting together, he asked if I would mind if he went. Knowing full well that I CANNOT sit in the front rows of a movie theater. I panic. Here's the story behind THAT: I have this memory . . . that may be an actual memory, or may be a dream from my childhood. But I was sitting in the multipurpose room in my elementary school, right in the front row, on the floor, watching a movie on a pull down screen (which we did on occasion - that's where I was introduced to Pippi Longstocking) ANYWAY! I'm definitely rambling here. So my memory is that after the movie ended, my head had been tipped back for so long, watching, that I had trouble tilting it back down again. I've actually been known to stand in the back of the theater to watch a movie, when the only option was front row. I ALWAYS get to a theater early, or I start to get panicky. So he knew better than to ask if I wanted to do THAT. When he actually purchased his ticket, he found out that there were some single seats, further back, so he chose one of those. It's a fancy event . . . he was disappointed that he doesn't have a tux, but got dressed up in a suit and tie.
When he got there, he discovered something that had not occurred to him - the audience was mostly women, and mostly quite a bit older than him. So he was wandering around, and saw 2 of my book group friends (yes, there's a connection here . . . I did not just randomly switch topics). One of the women who was supposed to join them had canceled, and they asked if he wanted to sit with them. So Bob sat in the middle of a big group of Red Hat Society ladies! Which ended up being wonderful, because otherwise he would have been sitting alone (well, alone in a packed theater).
So at some point, Betty asked "is Amy home reading the book?" And Alberta laughed and said "she's not going to read it." No, really . . . it was said endearingly. But when Bob came home and told me that . . . well, I hadn't started the book. That was Sunday night at bedtime.
So yesterday, I read the book! I had a dentist appointment at 10. Came home at 11. Sat down, and started reading. Skimmed over a few bits . . . kept looking at the clock . . . skimmed over some more (truly, there were parts that were very skimmable - we discussed that at book group, actually). I was chatting with Dr B in the afternoon, and they asked if I could talk on the phone sometime 6 PM or later. Yes, I said. I could do 6. But I had book group at 7, so would need to leave at 6:30ish.
So this is the true story of a young man in depression era Washington, who puts himself through college, and decides to try out for the rowing team. And the story of how this rowing team makes it to the 1936 Olympics in Germany. And there's some Nazi Germany pieces, which I skipped for the most part. But . . . picture this . . . the story is about rowing to win these races. And those parts are described in such a way that the reader feels as if they're in the boat. Pushing forward, racing for the win . . . racing, pushing . . . skimming . . . looking at the clock . . . eating dinner . . . pushing forward . . . racing . . . I finished the epilogue, closed the book, looked up. The clock said 6:00! *fistpump* YESSSSSSSSSSSS!
Gold Medal for Mumsy!
|I live with enough guilt in my life. It overwhelms me sometimes. I'd like to turn back the clock and see whether I could become a different person, given the right knowledge and motivation. But here I am, and I can only move forward. What I will NOT do: allow this guilt to crush me.
I am an introvert. I have always BEEN an introvert. It took me many years to understand that the things I struggled with were not character flaws, but simply my character. This made it difficult for me as a child, because despite being an introvert, not having a strong sense of how to connect with others, not having the faintest notion of how to successfully insert myself into a group conversation, I DESPERATELY wanted to be liked. I wanted friends. Being an introvert is NOT the same as not wanting to have friends.
I am drained . . . horribly drained . . . by too much interaction. By too much noise, or chaos. Which came first? The sensory issues or the introversion? Are they related or are they not related? I do not know, but I DO know that they've both become amplified over time. Things that I used to be able to do are no longer comfortable for me. They give me anxiety. They drain me. They overwhelm me. Hence . . . my guilt.
What do I feel guilty for? For having a short temper when it comes to noise or chaos around me. This means my kids get the brunt of my frustration, most of the time. Do I wish I could be a different parent? Ohhhh yes. This was NOT the person I envisioned myself being, when I dreamed of having kids. For my memory, or lack thereof. Not necessarily introvert related, but hugely impactful in my life. I don't MEAN to forget that your dog went in for surgery yesterday . . . but unless something triggers my memory, it won't occur to me to ask about it. Not because I don't care. But because my brain is churning through all of this other stuff . . . the sensory stuff, the chronic earworms, the lists of things for which I feel guilt in my life . . . and my recall is not great as a result. If I don't write it down, I'm likely to forget it. Thank goodness for my smartphone calendar. I'm STILL not going to remember to tell the people who ought to know things like the fact that Monkey doesn't have his phone right now.
Which brings me (tangentially) to today's guilt trip, brought to you by the letter M.
I hate talking on the phone. HATE it with a passion. If there is another way for me to communicate, I will. If I could have a smarphone without the actual phone part, I would. When the phone rings . . . it is an intrusion. Not in the sense that I don't want to hear from someone, but in the sense that I have lost control of the sensory input in my life. I am not able to take a break when I need to, if the person on the other end decides they're not finished. And . . . when I talk to my mother, she's NEVER finished. She'll say "I should go" (hooray!) and half an hour she'll be onto another story. As a result, I don't call. Yes, yes. I'm a bad daughter. Guilt guilt. I call on her birthday, and I get guilted. "I never get to talk to you . . . " Well you're freaking talking to me RIGHT NOW! How does that make me feel? Even LESS inclined to pick up the phone and subject myself to another sensory hellish guilt trip.
So last night . . . during his Oscar speech apparently J.K. Simmons made some charming comment about if you have a living parent, pick up the phone and call them - don't text or email. Call. So she found a meme and posted it on Facebook. Mmhmm. I should also point out at this point that I am an only child. We KNOW why she posted this. I HATE this passive/aggressive bulls***! Would I EVER do that to you in a public forum? No, I would NOT! Have I EVER said to you all of the venting things that I want to say, about how I feel like the patterns I learned growing up have affected who I am as an adult, and as a parent? Have I ever told you that YOU are the reason I feel like I don't interact with my kids as much as I ought to? Because YOU taught me that. Meh, excuses. I was pissed off by the therapist who brought it to my attention, but in a lot of ways, I know it's true . . . we DO learn patterns of behavior from our parents. And she learned parenting from a woman with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, so there you go. I fought against it. But there it is. It's in my brain now. Stop making me feel guilty for who I am as a person - who I am as a person is fundamentally an evolution of who I was taught to be, as a child.
So don't make me feel guilty for that. I have enough in my life to feel guilt about.
|Today is Monkey's 11th birthday. He's been talking about wanting a bow and arrow for months . . . but I am strongly opposed to getting the child a weapon. My husband was like "oh, we'll just find a secluded park and set up a target." Nooooo . . . NO we won't do any such thing! It's a WEAPON! You don't just take a weapon you haven't been trained with to a presumed empty park and start shooting it! I looked into lessons, where he could at least get a chance to use one . . . closest one is half an hour without traffic (hahahaha!) and doesn't have weekend lessons. Only 7-8 PM during the week. Nope. Not happening. So I looked into other options. Merry Shanachie Christmas! suggested one with suction cup tips, so I looked into that. But I couldn't find one that really worked like a bow and arrow, and nothing that I could get in time for his birthday. I came up with what I thought (hoped) was a decent set of gifts that he would be happy with, including a Wii Sports set that you put ON the Wii-mote, one of which was a bow.
On Saturday, talking with my husband, I discovered . . . HE was the one who had suggested "oh, we should get you a REAL one" after Monkey had pointed out a rubber tipped one at a kiosk in the mall. You WHAT!?!?!? So we went to the mall . . . the kiosk was gone. *sigh*
We celebrated Monkey's birthday last night, since Goldi has evening rehearsal tonight. I made a cake - exactly what he had asked for. Chocolate cake, cream cheese (with no actually cream, since he's allergic to dairy) frosting, and sliced bananas in between the layers, with the frosting. I made homemade pizza, which he had asked for. Out came the gifts. He opened them, said "cool" and started playing with the juggling sticks. Told him it was get ready for bed time. He went into his room, and the evening struggle began. Which culminating in him telling me he hated his presents, there was only one thing he'd wanted and he didn't get it, and thanks for making his birthday "rubbish." So I told him I'd gladly get rid of them since he didn't want them, and picked up all of his presents and carried them to the garage. He came and got them. I was SO furious . . . ungrateful child! I made sure he'd taken his meds and brushed his teeth, and sent him to bed.
I was not feeling particularly pleasant this morning, but I tried not to be surly, in any case. Woke everyone up, got everyone into the car in time to take Goldi to the bowling alley for first period PE. Noticed she wasn't wearing her knee or ankle brace, and stopped the car. "I don't NEED them! I'm FINE!" She's NOT fine. She hasn't even started PT yet! They're supposed to keep her knee and ankle stable while they're not strong. So I was pretty furious with her when I dropped her off at the bowling alley.
Came home, finished getting Monkey ready for school (including packages of Oreos to share with his friends for his birthday, since we're not allowed to send homemade treats, and there are no store bought cupcakes that are okay for him). He apologized for what he'd said the night before, and I thanked him. I'm still feeling bitter, though.
Walked the $100 prescription over to the school . . . Oh. Got a call Friday. ALL of the meds I'd brought at the beginning of the school year were expiring or expired. The Auvi-Q (epinephrine injectors) had been BRAND NEW when I took them . . . expire in March. WHAT!? So I called the pediatrician, explained, and asked for more to be called in. Our HORRIBLE prescription insurance doesn't cover that injector (despite the fact that it's easier to use, smaller and more convenient to carry, TALKS you through the process, and is less scary and painful to administer). So we had a coupon . . . $0 . . . for up to 3 packages. Except in the fine print it said "up to $100." And they were $200 each. So today I need to call and ask for Epi-pen scrips to be called over, because I have TWO MORE SETS that are expiring next month.
So I was sitting here, trying to calm myself down, when I got a text from Goldi. "I don't have a ride back to school." WHAT!?!? Yeah . . . they asked for parent volunteers to do this. I did NOT volunteer. For more than one reason, but the main one being that I'm job hunting. What if I'd been working? What if I'd been at an interview? What if I'd been doing ANYTHING else that would have prevented me from dropping everything and going to pick her up and drive her to the school? As I pull up . . . there's a white van in front of me. Oh . . . that's the teacher. He usually doesn't come back for a 2nd load of students. Are you KIDDING me!?!? He didn't TELL you he was coming back? So . . . pretty much . . . he would have abandoned these kids at the school without a ride back. I don't know if he told OTHER kids he was coming back, but not Goldi. But the fact remains, he DROVE AWAY, seeing my daughter still standing there.
I'm now trying to calm down before I call the school and rip them a new one.
|So Bob and I went out for a very nice Valentine's Day . . . had an early lunch in town, and then drove to Walnut Creek to see Leonard Bernstein's Candide live. Long show. Fun, funny, a great afternoon. We decided to stop at the mall to look for a birthday pressie for Monkey, since he'd specifically mentioned something to Bob. The kiosk was gone, though. Then we stopped at the outlets, having promised Goldi that we'd pick up pizza on the way home.
We got home about half an hour ago . . . I let Bob off outside before pulling the car into the garage. The door from the garage to the house was locked. So I knocked. Monkey came and answered. "Why was it locked?" "I don't know."
Meanwhile, Bob was at the front door, where he was talking to Goldi, Monkey, and Goldi's friend Sam. Who was . . . NOT the friend Goldi had over earlier. Sam had apparently just finished explaining why she was there when I walked in the room.
Monkey had locked Goldi and her friend in Goldi's room, and would NOT unlock it. Probably partly due to the fact that Goldi said "I'm going to kill you if you don't let me out!" So then she went out the window, came in through the front door, and unlocked her bedroom door. He locked them in again. So she called Sam to come over and help. She handed her house key out through the window or something? I'm not even sure. And then I guess Mari left, having decided our family is all insane.
At some point when the door was open . . . or maybe it was the window? No, I think it was the window. Monkey was chucking things into her room through the open window. A pair of socks, some Pixie Sticks (hence my comment, PuppyTales ) . . . other candy . . . I don't even know.
So the window screen, which is barely a year old, is bent. And there are Nerds all over my living room floor.
And the pizzas are now in the fridge because no one has an appetite any longer.
|Well first . . . the vent about what happened yesterday, that I could have SWORN I posted about last night.
So I got a text from my dad (he and my stepmom are in Chile, so 6 hours ahead of us right now) asking if we wanted to Skype during Super Bowl halftime. I texted back saying we weren't home, and had no idea when that would be. He texted back commenting that he had thought maybe Bob and Monkey would be watching. So I replied no, we don't have tv service anymore.
So then a few hours later I got an email from my stepmom:
I don't often put my 2 cents in but I thought I would this time.
It may be that I am behind the times and anything that Bob or the kids want to see (ie sports or TV programs) can be watched on other devices.
My concern is that if the kids don't have access to TV, it will isolate them from their peers. Certainly, sports on TV will help keep up Jake's interest in sports.
I don't need to discuss this further. I am sure you have your reasons but I thought I would add my thoughts to the mix.
First of all . . . yes, yes you DO put your 2 cents in, and far more often than you should. Second of all, YOU don't need to discuss this further!? You're going to send me an email, criticizing and judging us, without even knowing the situation, but you don't need to discuss it further?
We don't watch tv. The kids don't ask to watch tv. Monkey basically stopped watching sports when Bob would have them on (which was rarely) about a year ago. We canceled our service after discovering that the rate we had been given a little over a year ago had been a "promotional rate" and that for the past 2 months we'd basically been paying DOUBLE what we had expected. No thank you.
So maybe it's more important to you, dear stepmother, to spend money on things that nobody uses for the sake of having them, but quite frankly we have less than zero disposable income to be throwing away every month on something we don't use. And in fact, we'd looked into getting a digital antenna, but Bob could not get it to work, so we returned it.
The more I think about it, the angrier I get.
And now, the reason why I came online to blog.
I've been updating my resume, as I mentioned. So today was "begin the job hunt day." I sat down a few hours ago to start looking at the first website that was recommended to me . . . and promptly had a panic attack. I don't know what I'm looking for, which makes it harder to put in keywords, and when I DO put in keywords, the stuff that comes back to me scares the crap out of me. Oh, I found a few things that sound intriguing . . . if I want to commute to Hayward or San Jose. I've already decided I cannot do a long commute, for more than one reason. I see how Bob is when he comes home after a long commute, and I know I wouldn't be able to handle it. I don't take the freeway EVER, if I can avoid it. EVER. If there's a surface street that will get me there, I take it. I get panicky in traffic, and there is ALWAYS traffic at commute times. And full time, on TOP of a commute? I would spend every evening in tears. Also, someone needs to be closer to home, in case one of the kids needs us. And the kids. What the heck would happen if neither of us was getting home until 7 PM every day? So I really need part time, and close to home. Uh huh, yeah right.
So I was already in panic mode after looking at the website, and shut down the computer to focus on something else for a while. Not that my brain had gotten the message, because it was still worrying over job stuff. And then I realized . . . the last time I was hired for a job without the benefit of any prior connection was TWENTY THREE YEARS AGO. That's when the full blown major panic attack, complete with tears, started.
I can't text my husband . . . he's dealing with his own stress at work, and what the heck is he going to do for me anyway? He'll just get frustrated with me for bothering him, the same way I got frustrated with Dr. B for only getting in touch with me when they NEED something, and they're PANICKING about it (which happened when I turned on the computer to come blog).
So I came online to blog, and of course discovered that last night's post was AWOL. Which didn't make me happy.
I've calmed down, now. (Thank you, Xanax). I don't know how I'm going to do this.
|I'm sitting here having an unwelcome pity party ( ) so I thought maybe if I blogged and got it out, I could figure out a way to work through it and past it all.
College . . . why the hell does college have to be so BLASTED expensive!? Okay, I know it doesn't. But of course my kiddo decides THE one and only college worth going to is Drexel. A year and a half in, and dealing with undiagnosed chronic illness that was making everything more difficult, they decided that they hated computer game design, they were dropping out of the computer game design program, and they want to be an English teacher. Which in and of itself will be a challenge, because of their gender identity. Meanwhile, we have a fibromyalgia diagnosis finally . . . but they haven't had the energy, motivation, whatever it is they need to GET A FREAKING APPOINTMENT with the fibro specialist. So here goes school . . . this stinks, that stinks, I don't feel well enough to do this, that professor is horrible, I don't think I'll be able to even work as a teacher with my current GPA . . . GAAAAAH I can't DO it for you! You need to make the appointments to get the help you need. I live 3,000 miles away! Meanwhile, their college fund is empty. The college fund my dad and stepmom had for them is now empty. And last night we found out that ALL of the jobs they're applying for, for their upcoming 6 month internship are UNPAID. We were REALLY counting on them bringing in at least SOME money to help pay for their living accomodations during the internship. So there goes the tax refund that we were very happy to see coming.
The bottom line there is that I need to get a job. Like . . . yesterday. I've been working on my resume, trying to figure out WHAT I should be putting on there, and what I should be leaving off. I've gotten a TON of help from Brandiwyn🎶 on getting the thing into shape, and I've been tweaking my LinkedIn account, but I'm no closer to even figuring out what sort of jobs I can/should even apply for. And the very idea of it sends me into a panic attack.
And . . . apropos of nothing except that it HURTS, my best friend from DE, who pretty much told me a few years ago "I didn't communicate because I was too upset over you leaving" . . . STILL isn't communicating with me. TWICE he talked about coming out to visit. Never happened. He comments on and likes Dr B's and Goldi's FB posts . . . and not mine. I don't feel like I have the sort of friends out here that I did back east, although I have made some friends. I just feel really lonely for the sort of friendships I had. The connections I had. I know that getting a job will help me make more connections. I know that rationally. But right now I'm just feeling overwhelmed by my own lack of . . . LIFE.
** Image ID #960978 Unavailable **
|**note - this was written for Facebook, and not edited for my WDC blog.
On Friday evening, November 28, 2014, Ari received a new Hebrew name at a ceremony held at our synagogue in Media, PA. It was such a beautiful evening, being surrounded by friends and family, and the community that had been our home for so many years.
I hardly know where to begin. The service itself was unique – Shabbat Around the Table, with 6 rectangular tables placed in a semi-circle, and one table jutting in toward the center of the semi-circle, from the open end.
We began the service with a few of the traditional Friday night prayers – favorites that never fail to bring a smile to my face. Watching Sophie as she recalled some of them and sang along was wonderful. Watching Jake and seeing that he did not remember most of them made me a little sad. I need to find a way to bring that into our lives in a meaningful way, since we are not part of a community in California.
The ceremony itself was absolutely amazing. I was so moved, that I’m having a tough time remembering specifics about what Rabbi Linda said, but I will do my best. Hopefully some of the people who were in attendance will jump in and fill in any gaps I’ve missed. She began by welcoming us back, and talking about how this had been our community from the time Ari was very small, and how wonderful it was that Ari was taking this step within the community.
Ari gave their speech, which was beautiful, full of personal introspection on the topic of names, and gender, and an attempt to describe to others with no common frame of reference what it feels like to not have a gender. They talked about Judaism, and being a part of the community as their true self, and asked for the gift of the use of correct name and pronouns.
My own speech, which I will post as well, spoke of unconditional love, and teaching, and a shared view of the place of Judaism in our lives, as well as my gratitude for being a part of such an important moment, and my blessing for Ari’s shining future.
My mom, and dad, and stepmom all gave beautiful speeches expressing love, and pride, and the powerful sense that their support will never waver. I am not doing justice to their speeches, but each one brought me to tears.
My sister-in-law, Meg, read a poem that I had found, called Extract from “Education of the Affect,” which I will also post. I am so grateful that she and my brother-in-law, Josh, were both there to celebrate with us!
Then Sophie and Jake read a poem. Sophie was so excited when Ari asked her to say something during the ceremony, but she was having a tough time writing a speech, so I suggested a poem. She found one online, and adapted it. The original was called “Three Sisters,” but she changed it to “Three Siblings.” I’m not sure there was a dry eye in the house after that!
The service continued with Rabbi Linda’s blessing, conveying Ari their new Hebrew name, and then talking a little bit about being an ally. An imperfect ally, because that’s what we are – as humans, we are imperfect, and we make mistakes, but the fact that we are allies means that we are trying, and that we are learning. It was powerful and amazing. We sang joyfully to Ari to celebrate!
During the remainder of the service, my dad read an alternate reading for Ma’ariv. It is called Twilight People, and I found it posted here: https://www.facebook.com/TheJewishMindfulnessNetwork/posts/690389664361199?fref=...
After the service was over, Ari’s friends presented them with a gift . . . a beautiful, vintage pirate hat, with rainbow feathers pinned in place with a vintage pin. It was gorgeous, and it was perfect!
And then there was the cake. There was some hesitation over cutting into it, so I finally grabbed the knife and began cutting, only to hear “wait, wait!” I turned around . . . and there was a sword. Yes, a sword. One of Ari’s friends, who had come to the service in kilt and sword, had presented the sword for cutting the cake. So Ari cut their cake with a sword! My mom got it on video. I’m hoping it gets posted!
Rabbi Linda was so amazing, I cannot even express in words how truly moving it was to be there, to have her perform this wonderful ceremony, and to really go above and beyond to make the entire evening special for everyone. Some of Ari’s friends were asking questions, and at one point I turned around and they were standing on the bima, and Rabbi Linda had a Torah out of the ark and was showing it to them. Talking, answering questions, showing them the different elements.
It’s difficult to convey just how remarkable the evening was.
The overwhelming feeling that I had was of deep, profound love, acceptance, and the support of family, friends, and community.
**Edited after all, because I wanted to add this . . . the pirate hat? It was a decoy. The real gift, which has not yet been given to Ari, is a laptop that their friends got together to purchase for them! Because once again, their laptop is not functioning. I was so overwhelmed when the frriend with the kilt pulled me aside to tell me!
|Disclaimer - I wrote this for another group, and I'm not taking the time to change the names to protect the innocent. Just know that the 3 kiddos mentioned are Dr B, Goldilocks, and Monkey. Now you know their names, if you did not already.
Warning - long-winded, chaotic rant, some trans-related, some life related. Bonus - if you make it to the end, I promise there's a wacky twist. First . . . a little more about my cast of characters. Most of you have heard me talk about Ari, my 20 year old agender kiddult, college junior. I've also mentioned my 15 year old, Sophie, a time or 2. She's a sophomore in high school, and Ari's biggest supporter and fan from the time she was aware of her older sibling. And I also have Jake - my 10 year old, sports crazy Monkey.
This autumn has been insane. As of last night, I'm almost thoroughly convinced that someone is playing an elaborate practical joke on me.
I've been spending October prepping for the next story I'm writing, this November. Every day there is an assignment that helps me with my story, my characters, my settings, etc. Plus a bonus assignment that helps even further. Now imagine me trying to accomplish that . . .
Let's see . . . where to begin? Ari decided this past summer that computer game design (their college major) is not for them. We'd more or less convinced them to continue the program and at least finish the degree, given the time and funds put into it, to this point. Well, within a week of returning, they decided NO WAY, they can't do it. High school English teacher. That's what they're going to be. That's not really what they WANT to be . . . but it's what they know they're good at. And they are. They've been working part time in the writing center, and really love it. I also had the opportunity to see their work - we both helped a friend of theirs edit a school paper last week, and through Google docs I was able to see their comments - they really pulled out some deep themes, and asked really important questions that never would have occurred to me. In any case . . . the biggest issue with switching majors is this - we're now talking about an additional 6 months of school. Which really means a full year, because there was supposed to be a 6 month internship during which there was no tuition, AND they would have been getting paid. We budgeted . . . barely . . . for the program they've been working on. The school is crazy expensive. Their college fund has been suckd dry. And if they switch majors, we have no idea what will happen to their scholarship money.They're also still struggling MAJORLY with anxiety, and pain from undiagnosed (probably) fibromyalgia. We managed to get them an appt with a Dr in Philly in NOVEMBER. Oh! And their hard drive crashed during finals week of summer session, so they have like 3 incompletes, and we had to get a computer magician to try and help. It took a while, but this guy knew exactly what the problem was, and just needed to find the right board to put on the thing, to be able to access their information.
Moving on . . . Jake's been having increasing headaches since the summer. We thought they might have been from his new allergy/asthma meds, and with the allergist's permission, weaned him off of them. Headaches continued, so he went back on these important meds, and we went to see the pediatrician. Who said we should get an MRI done. YIKES! He was such a trooper . . . I probably would have been panicking the whole way through. His head was immobilized because it was a scan of his brain/skull. The good news is that the scan was fine, and the Dr determined he had a sinus headache. The bad news is that he gave him these horse pills that my kiddo couldn't swallow, so I called and asked to have it changed to liquid . . . which led to fits of drama 3 times a day because you'd think it was poison the way he reacted. Then my husband left it out of the fridge overnight, so I had to get it refilled AGAIN (and pay out of pocket this time) . . . but I got it flavored, so that all worked out in the end. He still gets the headaches, though. Then he came home from school at some point during that time with an injured finger. Hugely swollen around the knuckle, big bruise. Back to the Dr. X-ray. Not broken. Finger splint. His teacher decided he was faking, and pretty much broke his heart (he's always been a kid that teachers adore, so having a teacher say something like that was crushing).
Sophie had sprained her ankle back in May, and reinjured it the day before school started. We treated it as we'd been told to treat after the first injury. After a week or so it wasn't getting better, so I took her to the Dr. We were sent to an orthopedist, who gave her a more substantial ankle brace and sent her to PT. Modified PE until she was cleared. So we've been going to PT twice a week for the past month. MEANWHILE, last week I get a call from school . . . she's doubled over in pain, her side hurts. Can I pick her up? Okay. Don't know what's going on. Send her back to school the next day, but get another call. Doubled over in pain again, please pick her up. I'm still in jammies, writing. I drop everything, try to call the Dr. I am literally on hold from the time I call (as soon as I hang up with the school), until I've thrown on some clothes, DRIVEN to the school, and am walking up the path to the office. Get her an appointment. Dr says it could be ovarian cysts, could be a few things. Let's do an ultrasound. First appointment - a week and a day later (that was yesterday, but hang on, I'm not there yet). So I go to put it on my calendar . . . it interferes with my scheduled fall conference with Jake's teacher, AND Sophie's voice lesson. I email both teachers about rescheduling. Wednesday is early release day, so I've figuring out the timing and we should be good, with all the prep she needs to do beforehand.
Sunday night . . . "Hello Sunset families! This is just a reminder that there will be early release for conferences FOR THE NEXT WEEK AND A HALF." Ummm . . . it would be SO nice if this stuff was on the school calendar. It never is. Monday night . . . "hello Granada families. This is just a reminder about PSATs on Wednesday. There will be NO early release this Wednesday." Are you freaking KIDDING me!?!? The one Wednesday all year . . . I've rescheduled TWO appointment for this test . . . and now I have to reschedule it? So it's NEXT Wednesday.
Tuesday was Sophie's follow up with the orthopedist. She was given the go ahead to go back to regular PE - WOOHOOO!
Tuesday evening we're at a friend's house (45 minutes away), having dinner in her sukkah. It's lovely, and awesome, and Jake sleeps through the entire thing because he had to be up at 6 AM for a field trip. I napped for 2 hours in the morning because my MO is to spend half the night worrying about having to get up earlier than usual. Anyway, we met another family . . . wonderful people, with a trans daughter in 6th grade, and another Jacob a few years younger than my own. Sophie gets up from the table . . . and her knee pops. Pain, swelling. My friend is a pediatric PT, so she takes a look. We need to get her to a Dr. All rightie. She gives us ice for the ride home . . . and I get a call when we're 20 minutes out . . . Sophie left her English books at the house. PSATs are the next morning, she won't need the books until after 12. We make plans to meet halfway in the late morning, so I can get the books.
So yesterday I'm driving Sophie to school. You have everything you need for testing? Yes. Okay. Drop her off. I'm barely back in the door when I get a text. "I don't have my ID, I can't get into the room." Okay . . . where is it? I find it, text her that I'm on my way and to meet me at the front, and jump in the car. Halfway there, I hear the sound of a text. Pull over. "She let me in the room. I can't get out. I don't have a pencil." "I don't have a pencil with me. What would you like me to do?" No reply . . . so I go back home. This was yesterday. If you're counting, before 8 AM, I have THREE crises that I need to solve for her. I have yet to call the Dr because they're not open yet, but I'm hoping I can get her in in the afternoon, so I can still go get her English books. Writing prep? Who has time? Okay, I make an appointment for 2:30. Great. We should be home by 3:30 for her Skype voice lesson. My friend texts: do you want to go indoor rock climbing before we meet? HAAAAAH! No . . . for ALL the reasons. I squeeze in some outlining, and jump in the shower. Meet my friend, having an uber early lunch, and drop Soph's books off at the school.
I come home to reply to a text I'd gotten from Ari while I was out. A young family friend of ours has been chatting with Ari about coming out and asking someone out and (without identifying the friend) do I have any advice. Eventually I ask whether the kid would be willing to talk with me, the answer is yes, she tells me who it is . . . and I chat with him via FB for a while. I didn't have time in my day for it, but it really was THE BEST part of my day. He's a fantastic kid, I adore him. He's exactly Sophie's age, and our families have been friends since his mom and I were pregnant with them.
Okay, so I wait for Jake to get home (he likes to hang around the school, which is just across the street, and help the teacher clean after school) and we go pick up Sophie, take her directly to her appointment. We have 1 hour. The office is 5 minutes from the house. I've emailed her voice teacher that timing may be tight. We wait . . . and wait. 20 minutes later we're still in the waiting room. 25 minutes before her lesson the Dr finally comes in. Soph can't straighten her knee all the way, nor can she bend it. She needs to see an orthopedist. All rightie! Thanks, can we have a PE note, and let's run! We make it back to the house 5 minutes before her lesson. I text the teacher to let her know we're home and I'm booting up the comput . . . what? NOW you want to install updates!?!? NOW??? She does her Skype voice lesson on my phone. Which means I can't call the orthopedist to make an appointment until she's done. This is when I decide someone's playing an elaborate prank on me.
First available appointment at orthopedist is Friday. Okay, we'll take it. She'll miss school, but oh well.
Oh . . . we've been stressing about money because my husband was out of work for a few months last year, and the debt piled up. So I've been trying to find 2 minutes in a row to think about getting a job. At this point I'm thinking "Hahahahhaaaa! Right. Like I'd ever be able to SHOW UP if I had a job!"
And last week 2 things in our kitchen broke. Well, the faucet gave out the week before. But last week the stove burner decided, for the THIRD time in the less than 4 years we've had it, to stop working. Hello repair people and trying to juggle everything else around when they're coming to work.
Last night my husband and I went out. A friend and her company host a free movie night at a local movie theater. Yay! Ummm . . . The Skeleton Twins? Not uplifting.
I missed 2 calls during the movie. One was the expected reminder of Sophie's PT appointment for her ankle, the following day (I'd called to ask what we should do, since she's now injured again, and they said they could focus on some pain relief). The other was from our computer guru from the beginning of this post, with a used laptop in Sophie's price range. Woohoo! I call him back and leave a message, text Sophie that we're on our way home, and Kyle found her a computer.
I get a text back. From Sophie: I feel a lot better texting this to you rather than saying it to you. I want to be gender neutral. I've been trying to say this for day but haven't been able to.
Are you FREAKING KIDDING ME!?!? *deep breath* It's official. Elaborate joke. Has to be. This kid is the girliest of the girly girls. Always has been. And while she has always looked up to and admired her older sibling . . . I just don't see this. But of course I'm going to be supportive. Something else is going on though. She's a kid who spins stuff WAAAAAAY out of control. I kid you not - a fight over brushing her teeth (within the past year) led to "you don't love me, you wish I'd never been born!" So we get home, Kyle calls about the computer, we set a time for him to come over this afternoon, and then I go talk to Soph.
"I'm tired of being judged." Hmmm . . . okay, we can work with this. Do you think Ari is not judged? Because I can guarantee you that they are, and that it does NOT feel good. You will be judged regardless of who you are; we all are. Do you feel like a girl? "No. I don't know." *Light bulb moment* There's this boy, who was her "boyfriend" in 8th grade, and who is a total jerky creep. Last year he tortured her by talking ABOUT her, but not TO her. This year he's been doing worse . . . taking photos of her with his phone without her permission, taking VIDEOS of her . . . and her friend said she saw him in the park across the street, asking where she was. I had asked her if she wanted me to go with her, this past Monday morning, to the office (not for the first time) to deal with this. Then I remembered that I had to be home for the GE repair guy. Go to the office, have them call me if they need to.
So . . . I asked "do you think Jaren would stop bugging you if you weren't a girl?" Yes, maybe.
So I pretty much said . . . you should never have to try and be someone who you're not. Take some time to really think about this. We will always support you, no matter what.
My head is swimming. I have no idea where this will end up going. I truly don't think that Sophie is even remotely genderfluid, but I'm not going to stop her from exploring that if she needs to. But my husband and I are ready to call the cops on the little twerp who's torturing her.
Wait! I forgot . . . while Sophie was sobbing in bed last night during our chat, Jake came in complaining that his foot hurt. I told him to rub it, and sent him back to bed.