I think it's important to recognized how you got someplace to truly appreciate where you are. And, at this point in my life, I'm in a place where I never ever imagined.
My entry from Oct. 28, 1999 is the letter I received from a friend in response to coming out to him. Those early days were filled with coming out to people in my life, and although it has certainly gotten easier over the years I still don't know that it's ever easy. But that's a whole longer discussion than I intend to have here now.
I met this friend through my need for wedding videographers. I had a company that taped 3 or more weddings on most every weekend spring thru fall so I approached the local colleges for creative kids who might be be interested in doing some weekend work. Mark was a fun-loving tall guy - very handsome and smart. He had a great smile, and I remember a time when I joked about his orange skin from drinking too much carrot juice.
Anyway, his letter to me was a pretty deep one:
I have been completely immobilized by your e-mail. I appreciate the opportunity to process this offline. I don’t think I could have had a dialogue without thinking about this first. My friends know that I am more of a "think out loud" thinker. For me to think BEFORE I speak requires a lot of effort and quiet time to sort out my thoughts- I’ve needed a lot of quiet time the last day. This is one of the hardest letters I've ever written.
I have to start by saying I respect you for being upfront with me. I have been trying to define what I feel- Its been very challenging and very difficult. In a book I read a while ago, I wrote down a quote in my dayplanner "...there is no formal difference between the inability to define and stupidity" - I feel really stupid right now. I realized a way of understanding others by having empathy for them. Not the I-feel-sorry-for-them empathy, but to put myself in that persons shoes and try to feel what they feel & understand their situation, not to rush to judgment. The bible says: " ...restore one another in fear and meekness, considering oneself" . I have learned and grown with this advice. It has been extremely helpful in personal and professional life.
I have to say I am so grieved for the pain you, your wife, son family must have (and still are) going through. I can’t say I understand your choice- but I’m a long way from your shoes.
I keep on rewinding to the times we’ve worked together and I see someone who is intelligent, funny, considerate, has integrity, respect, creativity, sincerity and someone who was patient enough to work with a goofy college kid who needed a job. Whether you realize it or not, you affected my life in a great way.
I have a list of attributes that I collect that describes what I value- you had many of the qualities that I value today. What I keep asking myself is what do I value in people. What is the essence or spirit of a person that I value and how does sexuality fit in? Simply, I think a person’s essence is not in their physical heart, but in their brain.
The most important part of what I wanted to share in this is that last paragraph - recognition that the essence of who we are isn't the skin that covers our skeleton but the spirit that resides within. Our essence is spiritual, not physical. I've never been more sure of that.
One news story that caught my attention is a trans college student who was expelled from school because of "fraud". The university says that the student identified as female although identifying as biologically male on an MTV Reality show...
This highlights a couple of things. First - be careful about where you share stuff about yourself. Reality TV, FB, blogs, anything Google-able - it all reaches far beyond what you'd expect so if you're going to do it at least be aware of the risks. But secondly - I would have done the exact same thing (except for the Reality TV part). When I fill out an employment form or something that has a question similar to "List any other names you've been known as" - I leave that question blank. There is always talk about whether or not that's appropriate as it could provide grounds for termination but, really, I don't care. It's nobody's business and I'm not going to share that. Sometimes, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't and this situation seems to be one of those.
There's another recent story about the implications of putting yourself too far out there (read it here). And, another friend deals with implications of appearing in a documentary that seems to get broadcast two or three times a year. Altough she has moved on in her life, it never seems to want to go away...
Oh - On the Girl Scout front, the story made national news (ABC News story here).
Someone I've come to know thru email and on FB competed in a bodybuilding competition in San Diego this weekend, and it's another one of those flashpoints where trans intersects competitive athletics (read about it here).
Today is Halloween. It doesn't really "feel" like Halloween here in the desert - it's supposed to get up to 90 sunny degrees here today. My memories of taking my son trick or treating back in upstate NY involve cold, wet, slush, and lots of yuck. One house along our route had a special "Parent's Aid Station" in their garage where they provided warm apple cider mixed with an adult beverage that warmed you from the inside out.
Speaking of yuck, the northeast got smacked by a freak pre-winter snowstorm this weekend. I saw scenes of it these last couple of days and it made me cringe. We attended Fantasia Fair the weekend before - it would have been an unGodly mess if we had gotten stuck in it. I suppose it's one instance where the timing was just right.
This was a wonderfully chill weekend - my first in a long, long, long time. Between packing, driving across country, traveling for a conference, and other "stuff" I haven't had a weekend to just do whatever in a long time. I enjoyed every minute of it.
Saturday involved washing and trimming all 5 pups, and attending a wrestling event here. I had originally planned to compete in it, but after further consideration I'm saving myself for the US Women's Sr. National Championships to be held in Arlington TX in mid-December. I very much enjoy watching the women compete and yesterday was no different - the national teams from Japan and Canada were there so the level of competition was high. In fact, there was only one US Champion in the entire women's event which is telling given that past world champions and Olympic team members competed.
Yesterday we were at the fitness center for spin class by 9am, and the afternoon was spent watching football and relaxing with friends (Maggie fell into the pool!). The Bills won, and thanks to a New England loss are again in the lead in the division. I saw one "analyst" who suggested that the Bills won't make the playoffs this year because of the difficult patch coming up in their schedule. But one of the reasons that they continue to surprise (which is something I feel about me, as well) is that people continue to underestimate them.
Today we're going to spend the night in a haunted building in a picturesque old ghost town here in Arizona. It seems like the perfect way to spend Halloween. :)
I've been a victim of auto-correct myself a time or two but nothing this serious.
Anyway, if you're in a cranky mood, visit the website and look at the "Best of" lists for the last few months...