6/20/2010

Eight years ago today, June 20, 2010 at 1:37 AM in the morning I posted the following on my Facebook page.

“I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I’m done! I … AM … DONE!!!!! HALLELUJAH! THANK GOD ALMIGHTY!! I … AM … DONE!!”

After 3 years of remembering, researching my own past and writing down the results, I had written the final sentence in “Dear Mom and Dad.” Had it been published in that original form it would have been in excess of 700 pages long. Thankfully, the person I’d been dealing with at iUniverse advised me that unless I was James Michener it was entirely too long. Following that advice, I began a slash and burn editing process. Well, I didn’t actually burn anything. I still have the original hard copy script in a 2” black binder on a shelf in my bedroom along with all the notes I used creating my original outline. In addition to that, I have several flash drives with the various edits in my desk drawer.

When I think about writing another book I find the prospect daunting. After all I had an accumulated 60 plus years of events and people to make writing easy. All I had to do was write about those people and events as they were, though not accurately  remembered in the first draft. Accurate memories came only when I realized that the people written about would actually be reading what I wrote. Now with a mere 8 years accumulation of people and events I wonder if it would be of any value.

I also wonder if I could add anything to the dialogue engaged in by the majority of the transgendered activists and their accomplices in the LGBT (I refuse to use the “Q” since that is a term earlier used to describe gay men) community. I have, since the publication of “Dear Mom and Dad”, written about issues that are near and dear to my heart with respect to the trans community and I have written about issues unrelated to gender identity; faith and politics in particular. My opinions on the latter have met with approval and with disdain. Writing another book is somewhat immaterial it seems. What is material to me is that whatever I do in the future be of consequence. It that includes the inspiration to write another book so-be-it.

My involvement in the lgbT community has left me with a few impressions which have had a lasting effect on my attitudes regarding “activism”. The most significant of those is the impression that the demands of the community to be treated equally are accompanied by demands for laws that in essence require not equal treatment but special treatment. It seems to me that the demand for special treatment trumps the request for equal treatment. It’s an attitude adapted from the racial equality movement which approaches their situation in the same manner. In both cases, it seems to me that the demands are equally exclusionary. Granny would have said something like, “Make up your mind. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.” To me, demanding equality is the equivalent of admitting that one does not feel equal or at least doesn’t see one’s self as equal.

I am firmly convinced that what our community needs are more people like Dr. Marci Bowers who has gone about her life without wearing her gender transition status on her sleeve, helping make the lives of innumerable people more enjoyable and complete.

Another person that I see as an example of getting on with life and using her abilities and education without wearing her gender status on her sleeve is Amanda Renae Simpson. While I acknowledge that her liberal political activity was largely influenced by her gender affiliation, I am not by any means going to discount her contribution to our community by using her training, education and experience to move about the halls of government in both Arizona and Washington DC exposing those realms to the notion that gender identity does not exclude one from making a significant contribution to society by productive use of their training and abilities.

These two people are not the only ones in our community who have made the transition and gone on with their lives using the training and abilities they possess for the good of society, but they are 2 that I have a personal connection with and knowledge of. They have made life more livable and enjoyable for the rest of us by virtue of their willingness to take personal risks without making demands on society for special concessions for them; at least none that I’m aware of. That’s what “people” do. They don’t make an issue of their gender; they simply apply their extensive training for the betterment of society.

For myself, I realized long ago that getting on with life without making a stink about my gender identity made life so much easier. I freely admit that I have been extremely fortunate in my physical make-up but I have also made it part of my attitudinal make-up to not expect special treatment. The expectation of special treatment generally leads to disappointments and there are enough of those already. For me, being treated as if there were nothing special about me is the highest compliment I can receive as a transgender person. The only thing I want special recognition for is the application of my skills and training in my field and the application of my talent in my writing.

“Dear Mom and Dad” finally hit the market July of 2012 and my first blog entry was posted by the publisher the same month. Since then I have posted nearly 120 more. Altogether they could equal another book I suppose. But it would be rather disjointed since my subject matter has varied so much. All in all, I will continue writing one way or another. It might be another book …it might be a more blog. It might even be some of what “ended up on the cutting room floor” as the saying goes, in that original draft..

Stay tuned …

Where does the responsibility really lie?

It’s all a blame game. In the wake of the tragedy that unfolded in the halls and classrooms of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School two weeks ago we have witnessed the same rhetoric that has become the mantra again and again. It’s nothing but a blame game because no one has yet to actually get to the root cause of such horrific incidents … at least in my humble opinion.

The very first thing to be blamed, of course, is the instrument of destruction, the weapon; with the liberal left leading the way accompanied by some of the RINOs. The mere fact that so called intelligent, thoughtful people would immediately jump to the conclusion that an inanimate tool was to blame is absurd on it’s very face.

That is followed, naturally by the equally absurd idea that there is no reason for a common citizen to need such a destructive weapon. The notion that only the military should need such a weapon is fostered by the naïve idea that when our forefathers passed the second amendment to our constitution they were only thinking of securing the ability of the citizens to put meat on the table. While that was a consideration it was only a small consideration. A reading of the accompanying documents shows that the basis for that amendment was to forever create a fear in those who govern of the governed. That idea was totally new to mankind. Historically it had always been the governed who feared those who governed.

If weapons of the type used in Florida were banned, any individual determined to kill others would simply find another way to do it. The lesson of the Alfred P Murrah Building in Oklahoma City nearly 23 years ago should be required study for every politician, especially liberal democrats, and government bureaucrats. Timothy McVeigh didn’t need an AR-15. All he needed was a couple of hundred dollars’ worth of Ammonium Nitrate, a rented U-Haul and a cheap timer to kill 168 people, wound another 650 and damage all or parts of 300 buildings.

In light of that you would think that America’s farmers would have to find other sources of nitrogen to fertilize their crops but to my knowledge that is still readily available at any garden center or farm supply center in this country.

Even with all the fire power found in Stephen Paddocks room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino the number of people he killed or wounded pales in comparison to the destruction in Oklahoma City.

Have trucks or cars been banned after their use in the killing of innocent people in Europe? No, they haven’t. And while we’re at it let’s ban the use of all presser cookers. You remember don’t you, that pressure cookers were used in the Boston Marathon bombing a few years ago.

As history progressed so did the development of weapons and up until the invention of weapons like the AR-15 there was little concern with private ownership of certain weapons. I don’t know what was behind the reasoning for letting the ban on private ownership of the AR-15 expire, but it was the right thing to do in my opinion.

The citizens of our country should always have access to weaponry equivalent to the military. It is the only way to see to it that our government, people who serve in our government elected and unelected in particular, never have access to any means of overcoming the freedom of the governed. But that wouldn’t be an issue if the root cause of such tragedies was accurately identified.

The news is rife with politicians, celebrities, psychologists and pseudo-intellects blaming the inanimate weapon, people who own inanimate weapons, those who make inanimate weapons and society in general for the tragedy. But, not one of them has addressed the real root of the problem. True, background checks do help identify people who shouldn’t have access to guns, but that is like trying to stop a leak in a dam from the outside where the water has already breached the dam instead of on the inside where the leak begins.

So where is the inside of this dam? Not one person in any of these tragedies, with one exception that I know of, has placed the root blame where it really belongs.

I have always been a firm believer in the responsibility of parents to see to it that the children they bring in to the world are raised with a respect for the rights of other people and their own responsibility to conduct their affairs in a manner that does not interfere with the rights of other people. There is an old saying that goes like this: “Your right to swing your fist stops where my nose begins.”

When any parent fails in this responsibility to teach that concept to their children they bear equal responsibility for the acts of the children they turn loose on society. If an adult does such a lousy job of raising a child that the child becomes a blight on society and as we have seen in the recent events, a deadly blight, they are equally responsible for the acts of that child. It’s my firm belief that if the lives of the perpetrators of these tragedies were traced back far enough you will find an event, involving the parent directly or indirectly, which eventually led to the acts which ended in tragedy for the lives of other people.

That is the very seed of virtually every one of these tragic events and ignorant attention seeking persons of mediocre notoriety are racing to the microphones to blame the inanimate object or the NRA. Stupid corporate leaders are racing to the microphones to withdraw their support of the NRA. How shortsighted and ignorant can those executives be? Apparently extremely ignorant and shortsighted.

Once and for all … let’s get to the root of the problem. People who are ill equipped to raise responsible members of society and the society which chooses to turn a blind eye to them are the real root of the problem. Do I expect that to ever be addressed? No, I don’t.

We have created, at a minimum, two and possibly three generations of adults who have chosen to turn the responsibility for raising the children they bring into the world over to the school systems. Those systems are heavily staffed by teachers and administrators who are teaching our children that they bear no responsibility for their own actions. And that, I believe, is because those liberal educators don’t want to assume responsibility for the outcome of their own lives. They want society to take that responsibility off their shoulders.

Imagine a society that exacted the same penalty on the parents of children who harm others as the penalty imposed on the child. No doubt events such as we have just witnessed would be rare indeed.

One is Silver, the One is Gold … Re-Post

I posted this a year ago yesterday (Nov. 4 1916) and since then I have received dozens of comments, so many comments in fact that I have decided to re-post it for people who might have missed it.

I have been posting about friends recently. No particular reason that I can point to really. It’s just that friends have been on my mind a lot recently. Is it a natural progression because I am now ankle deep in my seventies? I assume that has something to do with it, but there’s more.

People who live relatively normal lives because they are born with bodies that match their gender identity are fortunate. They generally don’t know the feeling of rejection by the people in their lives due to something beyond their control. Before you go off on a rant about having control over the issue, bear this in mind; we all have control over our actions but control over emotions is a different matter. Emotions have a life of their own, and those are what cause the most grief in the life of anyone who is born with a body that doesn’t match their emotional set.

When I finally came face to face with that unorthodox set of emotions, I also came face to face with friends, and family too, who couldn’t see beyond the appearance to the spirit behind the screen. I soon found myself faced with a sorting process. Sorting out the relationships, both new and old became a painful exercise.

I have old friends that I’ve known, literally all my life. Jeanie and I were born in the same hospital room in the Texas Panhandle in 1944. Roger I’ve known since I was 4 years old. Vince and Connie since I was 9. Denny and Candy since high school. These friends are people who have stuck with me through all the chaos of redefining my person.

Family on the other hand is an entirely different story. A sad story but true. The closer the relationship, it seems, the more difficult the process of coming to grips with who I have revealed myself to be. The 2 oldest children haven’t spoken to me since the publication of Dear Mom and Dad; each for their own reasons; misguided as I deem those reasons to be. One first cousin is understanding and accepting the other 2 have pretty much disapproved. My only brother and only sister have more or less, followed the lead of the 2 disapproving cousins. Again, each for their own reasons. So, what am I left with?

Friends! At the close of my last blog I quoted a little ditty that we used to sing at camp. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver the other gold.” If I could convert all the silver and gold I have in friendships to hard currency I could retire and live comfortably for the rest of my life. The older I get the more precious that currency becomes, and it is never more evident than when I lose one of those gold coins like I did earlier this week.

I spoke of Daryll in a Facebook entry earlier this week. Tuesday morning, last week I awoke and reached for my phone, still pretty much in a stupor, to check the time. I inadvertently dialed his number. When I realized what I’d done I immediately canceled the call. Within a minute he called me back.

We hadn’t spoken in months. I hadn’t bugged him because I assumed he was getting on with life and building his fabricating business. Over the course of our 10-year friendship, Daryll had bailed me out of trouble, mostly vehicle trouble any number of times, always coming to my rescue with a tow or a battery or tires. He even set up an online parts business for me to run at one point.

We talked for the better part of a half hour and through the conversation I learned that his health wasn’t the best; that the Arizona heat was beginning to wear him down. He talked about closing up shop here and moving to Boise Idaho next year. But, I didn’t realize how bad his condition was until first thing in the morning, the day before yesterday, when once again my phone rang and it was his name on the caller id. But it wasn’t him. It was his wife.

“Georgia, it’s Vonda. Daryll passed away on Sunday. I need your help.”

It was like a bugler blowing reveille 6 inches from my ear. Death or the reality of impending death never comes gently to any door. That is a hard reality for anyone, especially for me to face. Up to the time Marilyn died, I had never, not one single time, lost anyone close to me. Daryll was not what I would classify as close, though we shared things that few understand. But he was a solid 24 carat gold friend and his death has shaken me to the core.

His death has brought home to me the very fragile nature of life and how easily it can be shattered. It’s only been a few weeks since a member of our church family suddenly and unexplainably lost her 12-year-old son. He just became ill and died one day.

These circumstances always remind us of that fact, but how often do we awake each morning and treat everyone in our sphere with the tenderness that we would if we knew that would be the last time we would ever be together? From my own experience, I would surmise that the answer to that question would be … never. But it should be “every time” shouldn’t it?

Who is sitting next to you right this minute, on the phone with you, right this minute, that you have given the slightest thought to the possibility that it might be the very last time? Would you be saying, thinking, feeling what you are at this moment if you knew it was the last moment?

At this point in history, the radio and television ads for precious metals and the importance possessing them are as numerous as the ads for beer, maybe more numerous. So how about the next time you see or hear one of those ads, why don’t you give some thought to the silver and gold people in your life and what you need to do to make sure they know that they are safe in your heart? And, never take their presence for granted.

 

The 4th of July and what it means to me

Yes, it’s the 4th! The 4th of July! July 4th! July the 4th! Independence Day! For me it’s a day filled with memories and meanings. Great events have unfolded for me on July 4th. My most joyous and happiest 4th was the 4th of July 1952. I wrote about it in “Dear Mom and Dad.” That was the day that my old gray mare Ginger, presented me with a colt which I subsequently named Skyrocket. I think that from that day on I always expected great things to occur on July 4th. There were times when that did indeed happen.

In the early ‘50s do-gooders hadn’t yet stolen much of the excitement of American childhood by banning the stuff of a real 4th of July like real firecrackers, M-80’s, bottle rockets and the like. Of course that was supposed to protect the children, right? No, that was to absolve inattentive parents from the exercise of prudent judgement. But before that came to pass, there were battles along the shores of Kiddy Lake which involved small battlements of dirt and sand on which bottle necked bear cans were propped up. Then with the added assistance of small rocks and firecrackers those beer cans were converted to cannons. The battles would rage on for a couple of hours a day until that year’s supply of firecrackers was spent. From there we would move on to the latest model of sling shots or pea shooters.

The second greatest 4th of July event would of course happen 12 years later when I stopped for a midnight hamburger at the “Frostop” drive-in where I met the woman who would become the mother of my first 2 children. Although that memory does recall moments of joy it also recalls moments of hurt, betrayal and sadness.

Sadly, though the memories of 4ths of years past remain in vivid recall details, the meaning seems to have faded; not for me but for entirely too many of my fellow citizens. Without fail, there will be people like Jesse Watters of FOX news, interviewing what I can only classify as moronic products of an education system which has degenerated into a politically correct, though historically and educationally impotent production line which is aimed at determining time spent at a given level of education rather than lessons learned at a given level of education.

The question you might well be asking yourself is, why am I talking politics and education instead of gender identity issues? That’s a fair and reasonable question, especially on the subject of the 4th of July. I must admit that I think that answer should be fairly obvious. The independence declared on this date two hundred-forty years ago was a declaration of belief in the right of self-determination. Nowhere is the right of God given self-determination more infringed upon than the right of people like me, to determine to live lives that are congruent with our emotional and mental makeup as opposed to a life that is congruent with society’s norms based on the combination of 2 chromosomes.

Those 2 chromosomes are necessary for one simple reason … procreation. That’s it. They are not a determining factor in political outlook, who you love, where you live and who you associate with … and at the time the founding fathers stepped up to the plate and signed, what in many cases was the equivalent of their own death warrants, no one even knew how our anatomies would be determined. Furthermore, I don’t think they even cared. They simply wanted the freedom to determine the course of their own lives and the course of the lives of generations to follow.

The next question that’s asked of me is why would I choose to align myself with a political opinion which, on the surface is the very antithesis of the decision I’ve made about how to live my life? Another good question. The answer is just as good.

I’m not aligning myself with personalities. I’m aligning myself with a set of principles. It’s personalities not principles which condemn my choices. The principles of self-determination and personal freedom don’t give a damn what’s under my skirt. The principles of self-determination and freedom dictate that I make a careful examination of who in the government, established as a result of the declaration of July 4th, 1776 is going to best defend my right to self-determination and freedom.

It’s been my experience that while a certain segment of our political spectrum relies on a few biblical verses to restrict my freedoms, the other end of that spectrum demands laws which purport to defending me, i.e. hate crimes bills which are totally unnecessary if existing laws would just be enforced. In general, with each and every law passed another of the freedoms envisioned by the founding fathers all those years ago is eroded just a little bit further. And with each of those laws passed under the guise of helping the less fortunate, the people who are willing to work to achieve the results alluded to in “the right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness”, another chunk of our freedoms is taken away.

For me … what I fear is that the same freedom eroding efforts of the people we elect to protect those freedoms; those efforts will eventually be turned against my community when our votes are no longer needed. Those same people who seem to not care what goes on in my bedroom want total control over everything that goes on in my life the minute I step out of my bedroom to, oh say to buy firecrackers, bottle rockets and M-80s. That is not what our founding fathers had in mind … at all.

What the 4th of July has come to represent for me is a time to re-commit to the principles which allow me the freedom to be … me.

Before The Blue Magnet

All the emotions aside, The Blue Magnet, our feelings for one another and the way our lives are being played out at this time has brought about changes. There are changes in the way my daily life is lived; changes in the way I budget my time; changes in the way I view the future; changes in the way we communicate. In other words, nothing is the same.

BTBM (Before The Blue Magnet) I really didn’t care much about what hours I was assigned at work as long as I could work Sunday afternoons after church. For the last 16 years I have hated Sunday afternoons … alone Now I work a straight 8:00am to 5:00pm shift, Tuesday through Saturday. I work those hours and days because I requested the change and  the management at Home Depot 469 granted the request.

BTBM I ate a hasty lunch in the lunch room and then spent the remainder of my lunch hour napping in my car. Now I dash out the door, head for my car and make a beeline for The Blue Magnet’s condo just 8 minutes away. I dash up the stairs, open the door, grab the leash, a couple of baggies, then out the door, down the stairs with Bella the dog for a not so quick stroll to let her relieve herself. Then it’s back up the stairs, for a short nap before grabbing the lunch I haven’t eaten and back to work.

BTBM I didn’t worry too much about the clock at work. I worked until I had accomplished what I felt I needed to have accomplished by the end of the day. Now, I work with one eye on the clock, impatient to get back to the condo where I will find The Blue Magnet studying and as often as not Bella waiting to go for another stroll; this time not so quick. Then most evenings during the week I head for home sometime between 8:00 and 8:30.

BTBM my television was always on and generally tuned to FOX News. Now it’s still on most of the time, but it’s usually on Phoenix Channel 3. The Blue Magnet doesn’t have cable or satellite while she is in school so that’s what she likes to watch even when she’s at Casa Standage. (That’s what she’s dubbed my townhouse)

And speaking of Casa Standage. BTBM things were a bit cluttered. After all, I had been alone for sixteen years, except for the occasional short term roommate. My “stuff” was all there, scattered about, sometimes randomly, but generally strategically placed. At least I thought it was strategically placed. The Blue Magnet frequently makes not-so-subtle alterations in the various arrangements.

For instance, … she not-so-subtly bought me a set of Pyrex food storage containers, not-so-subtly suggesting that my collection of 20+ year old tupper ware type containers had to go. And then there was the poly-whatever cutting board, also 20+ years old, that was unceremoniously replaced by a new one and taken out the back door headed for the neighborhood dumpster.

These are just a few of the not-so-subtle changes The Blue Magnet has made, and is making in my life. But the real changes she’s making are in the way I view my personal world … the way I view my “space”.

BTBM I had made few changes in the way my possessions were arranged. The TV in my bedroom was an ancient tube type that I had scrounged out of a church I had attended when it was closing down. She didn’t have to say anything or make any indication that she thought it rather obsolete. I don’t even think she had ever set foot in my bedroom at the time I decided it was time to modernize.

BTBM I had not disposed of any possessions since leaving the house in Chandler. Now I think about the likely fact that we will soon be sharing a home and realize that I can’t hang on to all the inconsequential “stuff” of my life. And that is the crux of the most daunting part of sharing a home and a life with The Blue Magnet.

For practically all of my life, it has seemed as though when I have decided that I don’t need something anymore, and either give it away or throw it away, in less time than it took to dispose of whatever it was I didn’t think I needed anymore … a need for that item appeared. Add to that fact, that as a history buff I like to keep all of my “history” intact, and the result is a whole lot of “stuff”.

I have a storage shed, 2 walk-in closets and every crack and cranny in my home filled with “stuff”. Admittedly I do realize the uselessness of much of it, but I hate, absolutely hate, the prospect of simply throwing that “stuff” away.  Anyone want a George Foreman Griller … one large and/or one small, used only once? For the first time in recent memory I actually do want to dispose of a lot of “stuff” because it means making room for something far more important to me … the “stuff” of the life of The Blue Magnet.

The Blue Magnet

For much of my life I have lived with an absurd notion. It goes like this … all the bad things, the unpleasant things, have always happened without warning. The good things that I dreamed of happening never seemed to materialize. The absurd notion that grew out of these two opposing yet symbiotic trains of thought was that since all the bad things that happened to me were things I hadn’t thought about and all the good things that I dreamed about never did come to pass, I needed to reverse the psychology. In other words, I put all the dreams and hopes out of my mind and instead spent my time thinking about all the bad things that could happen so they wouldn’t happen.

Of course, that silly notion didn’t do anything but make me unhappy. That psychological train wreck simply made me a miserable human being. Think about it. If I found myself dreaming of pleasant, happy events I immediately tried to wipe the thought away and began worrying about what evil event I needed to be thwarting by conjuring one up … so it wouldn’t happen.

Then somewhere in my early sobriety I began get the idea that maybe, just maybe, I had been wasting a whole lot of time, but trying to undo years of negative thought processing wasn’t easy, even sober. And then the worst of all unforeseen, never considered events occurred. The woman I had thought would bury me, died after more than twenty months of battling brain cancer. See, I was right. The bad stuff is always what you didn’t see coming.

That was sixteen years ago, and in the meantime, I have learned a lot … about expectations. The most important thing to know about expectations is that for the most part they are an exercise in futility.

When Marilyn died, I thought that I would immediately fall in love again, but with a few momentary exceptions, like the spur of the moment trip to Korea to see my number two, high school senior year sweetheart, nothing romantic materialized. Not infrequently people would ask me when or if I was going to start dating. To keep from appearing needy and/or desperate I generally replied that after all I was a bit of a bitter pill to swallow, which wasn’t all that far from the truth. Then I generally added that it would take someone extremely special to fall in love with me.

I remembered Aunt Helen’s advice following my divorce when she told me that I wouldn’t find the woman God intended me to spend my life with until I was content to live alone. After trying to force contentment on myself for the better part of a year I gave up. Then within moments of finding total contentment in the alone state of being, Marilyn appeared.

After she died it took some time of course but again I found myself content to be alone and to be honest, after 16 years of being alone, I wasn’t really looking for another relationship … when it happened.

There I was, minding my own business, doing what I was paid to do for Home Depot 469 when she sat down across the desk from me and announced that she was thinking about remodeling her kitchen. How did she go about getting that done? For reasons unrelated to me or my performance as a kitchen designer she ultimately went to the competition for her kitchen. But, in the meantime, she had become something of an increasingly consistent presence in my thoughts.

On hearing the message she left on my voicemail at work, telling me that she had decided to go to the competition for her kitchen, I was first dismayed, then unsettled. I was dismayed because I had already told my boss that I was closing the sale that day and then unsettled because I soon realized that there was more to it than just losing a sale. I had been looking forward to spending more time with her. Experience in similar situations over the years had proven that when a customer chooses a competitor over you, they will generally stop answering the phone. Nevertheless, as soon as I heard the message I called her. Of course, she didn’t answer.

The message I left was that I understood her decision completely and didn’t blame her for her decision, which is the same one I would have made under similar circumstances. I then asked if she would call my manager and explain why she made that decision. I had told him that she was coming in that day to make the purchase. Roughly a half hour later he sat down at my desk and told me that she had called him and explained her decision. In the interim, the reality of most likely not seeing her again was the unsettling part.

You see, I had come to look forward to our visits. I wasn’t thinking about any more than spending time with someone whose company I totally enjoyed. When I thought about her I could hear her laugh and that made me smile. I thought “I could really enjoy doing things with her; taking a trip with her, going to a show with her, watching a sunset with her. That’s all. I had no romantic notions about her at all. I just saw her as a potential best friend.

So, a couple of weeks went by. I can’t tell you why I made no attempt to contact her. Maybe it was a lingering fear that in spite of the fact that she had told my manager that I had nothing to do with her decision to go elsewhere for her new kitchen, she would reject any attempt to establish a friendship. But, after a couple of weeks of beating myself up over it, I picked up the phone … and she actually answered.

When I asked if she would like to have lunch sometime she said yes. Two weeks later we met for lunch between my church and work at 3:00. (As I sit here writing this she is on the couch next to me correcting everything I say about our early meeting.) We made future plans for coffee but some unforeseen circumstance on her end precluded that. Instead we went to Mimi’s for lunch. (Now she tells me she hated Mimi’s but because she had picked Culver’s she agreed to Mimi’s) I have absolutely no memory of what we talked about. I just remember watching her walk to her car. I asked her what her memory of our parting was and for once it was the same. Amazing!

Neither one of us remembers exactly how long it was before I asked her to dinner. She had a gift certificate to Red Robin and there was one nearer to me, so that’s where we decided to go … she insisted on driving. That, in and of itself, was a new experience for me. I don’t remember what either of us ate, but I do remember that she paid for dinner … another new experience.

She drove me home and I asked if she wanted to come in for a minute. Simple truth is I just didn’t want the evening to end. I was totally enjoying her company without a romantic notion in my head … seriously! We must have talked for at least an hour and a half before she said it was time for her to head for home. It was just a hug. A parting hug between friends. She says that I kissed her on the forehead. As the lyrics in the KISS version of The Crystals original hit from 1963 go … “And then she kissed me.”

Aside from surprise, I can’t begin to put into words the overwhelming rush of emotion I experienced at that moment. I was instantly transported from simple attraction to a world of emotions I have no memory of ever experiencing in my life. To say that I was befuddled is a mild approximation of what I felt at that moment. The simple fact is that I felt my heart being snatched away in a sense that left me feeling as though I never wanted it back.

In the past sixteen years, I have on three occasions briefly fallen in love, but nothing to compare to this. Laughter has never been a big part of my life, until now. She makes me laugh. I don’t remember ever laughing on such a consistent and joyful level in my life.

All the dreams and aspirations for my dotage years simply evaporated. The desperation that I had begun to feel about Dear Mom and Dad never being more than a vanity project, vanished without so much as an emotional whimper. God, in his infinite wisdom, placed in my life the very last person I envisioned being the answer to all my prayers. And yet, I simply cannot imagine being in love with anyone but her. She is, what I can only describe, as reverently irreverent. Everything in her life is precision, orderly disorder. What I first thought was random placement of her cherished possessions in her home is actually a very well orchestrated arrangement … which precisely describes her and her essence.

Trying to describe here what she means to my life and the feelings I have for her is terribly inadequate to the reality. Simply put, I am now and I believe for the remainder of my life, totally and completely in love with God’s perfect selection of the perfect woman for me. We have laughed over the thought that we are like the opposite ends of a bar magnet; one end north the other end south. She is a lifelong east coast democrat and I’m … well the other end of that magnet. That was the thought behind a small Christmas present I gave her; two bar magnets painted red on one end with a “G” on it, and blue on the other end with a “B” on it.

She is a very private person and not given to publicity (another aspect of our “magnet” like attraction for one another).  For that reason, I am not publicizing her name. Those of you who know me well, know who she is and that is enough. Just think of her as “The Blue Magnet!” because she is a veritable people magnet. She draws people to her wherever she goes and I’m reasonably certain that when it happens that those people will never forget the encounter. I have seen her strike up conversations with absolute strangers in the grocery store and the next thing I know she’s helping them find something they need but can’t locate.

She is, in the words of my favorite Nat King Cole song which was a duet with his daughter, Natalie “Unfortgetable” … that’s what you are.

Bishop Eric … and My Mud Hut in Africa

What I’m about to discuss you may have seen before but I’m revisiting the subject with a definite purpose in mind. In my early high school years, I began to actually examine how, what I was learning and studying in what we used to call Sunday School (don’t have a clue what they call it now) was going to affect my life. I was affected deeply enough that for a time I actually considered becoming a Congregational minister. It seemed a rather easy life to me; listening to people’s woes and complaints, then giving sage advice on how to fix their lives. Then for one hour on Sunday, wearing a black robe and telling people how God expected them to conduct their affairs.

But then somewhere along the line I was exposed to the life of a missionary in Africa and that exposure changed my entire outlook. You see, my understanding of the two roles in Christendom, that of the stateside minister and that of a missionary in deepest darkest Africa were worlds apart in more than the geographical sense. What I saw in the life of the Congregational minister was a life of relative ease. What I saw in the life of a missionary to Africa was a life of tremendous sacrifice and commitment. The effect that had on me was not one of encouragement but rather one of discouragement.

In short … I came to believe that if I really turned my life over to Christ, became totally committed to being a full-fledged Christian, that I would be relegating my future to a mud hut in Africa … and that is not what I wanted to do with my future. I wanted to be pig farmer who happened to be a Christian … most of the time. It wasn’t until I was in my third month of sobriety that I received a piece of advice that I wish I’d had years before.

When I came face-t0-face with the third step of Alcoholics Anonymous, “Made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood Him” my mind went back to the mud hut in Africa notion. Thankfully, a perceptive Larry B, my sponsor, did as Granny would have said, jerked a not in my tail. He said, “That takes someone exceptional to do that. And besides He (God) probably has something else in mind for you.” Nevertheless, I have remained in awe of anyone, accustomed to the luxuries people in this country take for granted, who could give it all up for the equivalent of today’s mud hut in Africa. And that finally brings me to the point of this message.

There is a man I have come to know as Bishop Eric. He has devoted his life to “The Good News” and has affected lives all over the world. He has traveled the world planting the seeds of salvation and forgiveness for most of his adult life all the while maintaining a full time “civilian” job. A year and a half ago Bishop Eric gave up that lucrative “civilian” job and moved to “a mud hut in Africa” to found The Hope Center in Nigeria.

While it’s a bit of a stretch to call where he is living and conducting the affairs of The Hope Center a mud hut in Africa, it’s not much of a stretch. The accommodations were primitive in the beginning and much of what he has accomplished has been a true labor of love. The thing you, my readers, need to realize is that in countries like Nigeria in central Africa, being gay is not generally acceptable. Many families, upon learning of their child’s sexuality will disown them, shun them and in extreme cases murder them to avoid public humiliation. So, it shouldn’t take much imagination to realize what a burden Bishop Eric has taken upon his shoulders.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am in total awe of the man. He embodies everything that I felt I would never have the courage or the will to be. I don’t agree with him on all things, but what I don’t agree with him on pale in comparison to the respect and admiration I have for him.

So how does he manage the day to day operations of his “mud hut in Africa”? It isn’t easy and he needs financial support desperately. His needs aren’t overwhelming by our standards, but by Nigerian standards they are mountainous. I have in my possession a copy of his monthly budget and budgets for the projects he dreams of implementing. They are next to nothing by our standards but in Nigeria they are a lot.

My purpose in sharing this is to inspire you, my readers, to consider contributing to the financial requirements and investments needed to aid Bishop Eric in his mission to give hope and a future to the people of Nigeria who are most often overlooked at best or shunned and persecuted at worst because of their emotional make up.

Check out his website at www.TheHopeCenterNigeria.org  You can donate through the web site and if you want to know more about their financial need and plans please contact me and I will send you a detailed list of monthly expenses as well as proposed improvements. You can reach me through Facebook or at georgialeemcgowen@cox.net .

 

What the Heck Just Happened

I have been silent for a while … Again!! But no longer. A week ago our nation went to the polls to elect a successor to President Obama. I went to the polls before work and cast my ballot. I didn’t hear any reports during the day but before I went I was discouraged based on what all the reports up to that time were telling me that HRC was going to be the next president.
When I arrived home I turned on the television expecting to hear that it was all over and that our country had elected its first female president. And that, to me, was a dismal and depressing thought. Not because I was against a woman for president any more than I had been against an African American for president eight years earlier. It was a dismal and depressing thought because of the character flaws I saw in Hillary Rodham Clinton, and even more dismal and depressing because so many of my fellow Americans seemed to be so oblivious to the flawed character of the woman.
Before you get carried away with a litany of flaws in Donald Trump, in particular, the accusations of sexual predator, I want to remind you that the only verifiable accusation was in the Hollywood Tonight hot mic conversation with the show’s host. And might I also remind you that the only “character” flaws in those accusations were of a nature that hardly rose to the level of HRC’s malfeasance in office and corruption that was becoming more and more evident every day.
But that isn’t my main concern here, or to my intended point. I suggest that for a real and definitive understanding of the basis for my political point of view, you start by looking at the demonstrations that have been occurring around the country since the election. I have watched the interviews of demonstrators and what I am left with is an image of ignorant and self-centered mobs of people who are the result of two-plus generations that have been educated by a largely socialistic education system. They have no clue to what our history really is.
The history (when taught) they have been fed is one of a cruel and unjust people who have acquired what they have by taking it from others. The reason the people who feed that line to poorly educated, morally void “young skulls full of mush” is due their own failure to take advantage of what has been laid before them. They have devoted their lives to telling others how they think the world should be rather than how it is. In other words, the education system in our country has been taken over by a socialistic group known as the NEA … National Education Association. The NEA is nothing more than a labor union which unfortunately has actually become the most dangerous and the most powerful labor union in our country.
Regardless of what the NEA publicizes as their goal, the result is that now two, going on three, generations of people who have been fed a steady diet of what I call “non-responsibility.” In other words, whatever happens to you in life is never your fault. It is always the fault of someone else, generally the fault of people who expect you to eventually grow up and in rather crude but to the point words … grow a set.
Parents who have actually taken stock of what their children are being fed in school are the ones who are either home schooling their children or the reason that charter schools have become so popular in large segments of our society. It’s called taking control of your own life and as Granny would have said … “use your head for something besides a hat rack!”
The American people, as a whole, are a generous and compassionate people, but their generosity and compassion has reached its limits. The education system which has taught that the government is the arbiter of where that generosity and compassion should be applied has finally been exposed for what it is … the support system of a different kind of slavery. Slavery means that one group or segment of a society controls every aspect of the lives of another for the sole benefit of the slave owners.
When our own civil war ended, hundreds of thousands of slaves were suddenly freed to live and direct their own lives. What gets overlooked is the fact that thousands of them didn’t want to leave their bondage. They had never been taught and therefore had no idea how to cope for themselves; how to take responsibility for their own lives. Again in my opinion, the demonstrators marching in the streets of our cities are the result of all those years of the NEA indoctrinating our young people to the notion that they are not responsible for their own lives, and now they are afraid that Donald Trump is going to make them assume that responsibility.
The agitators are accomplishing what they want by an age-old tactic of repeating a lie often enough that it becomes the truth. In this case, the lies are that Donald Trump is a bigot, which he isn’t; a misogynist which he isn’t; a sexist, which he definitely isn’t. What he is, is a threat to the “plantation owners” and their overseers because he is telling the slaves “we are going to free you to pursue your own futures in the manner that you decide is best for you. And, we are going to do that by providing an environment free of the restraints of the past which have kept you down on the plantation.”
Alexis de Tocqueville wrote soon after the war of independence, and I paraphrase; “The great American experiment will last until a majority of the population realizes they can vote themselves an income from the national treasury.”
That is exactly what the “Plantation owners” have convinced the general population of. Last week the rest of the population stripped the “Plantation owners” of their power by using the basis of our constitutional foundation, the electoral college, to do so.
Thankfully, our founding fathers realized the dangers of pure democracy, which is nothing more than mob rule by ballot, and created a democratic representative republic.
As a result, the people who know how to work for a living, who want to work for a living, who want to direct their own lives, who want the government to do only what it was intended to do, which is to provide the safe environment for them to do so, and the people who are tired of things the way they have become … those people have spoken.

One is silver and the other gold

I have been posting about friends recently. No particular reason that I can point to really. It’s just that friends have been on my mind a lot recently. Is it a natural progression because I am now ankle deep in my seventies? I assume that has something to do with it, but there’s more.

People who live relatively normal lives because they are born with bodies that match their gender identity are fortunate. They generally don’t know the feeling of rejection by the people in their lives due to something beyond their control. Before you go off on a rant about having control over the issue, bear this in mind; we all have control over our actions but control over emotions is a different matter. Emotions have a life of their own, and those are what cause the most grief in the life of anyone who is born with a body that doesn’t match their emotional set.

When I finally came face to face with that unorthodox set of emotions, I also came face to face with friends, and family too, who couldn’t see beyond the appearance to the spirit behind the screen. I soon found myself faced with a sorting process. Sorting out the relationships, both new and old became a painful exercise.

I have old friends that I’ve known, literally all my life. Jeanie and I were born in the same hospital room in the Texas Panhandle in 1944. Roger I’ve known since I was 4 years old. Vince and Connie since I was 9. Denny and Candy since high school. These friends are people who have stuck with me through all the chaos of redefining my person.

Family on the other hand is an entirely different story. A sad story but true. The closer the relationship, it seems, the more difficult the process of coming to grips with who I have revealed myself to be. The 2 oldest children haven’t spoken to me since the publication of Dear Mom and Dad; each for their own reasons; misguided as I deem those reasons to be. One first cousin is understanding and accepting the other 2 have pretty much disapproved. My only brother and only sister have more or less, followed the lead of the 2 disapproving cousins. Again, each for their own reasons. So, what am I left with?

Friends! At the close of my last blog I quoted a little ditty that we used to sing at camp. “Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver the other gold.” If I could convert all the silver and gold I have in friendships to hard currency I could retire and live comfortably for the rest of my life. The older I get the more precious that currency becomes, and it is never more evident than when I lose one of those gold coins like I did earlier this week.

I spoke of Daryll in a Facebook entry earlier this week. Tuesday morning, last week I awoke and reached for my phone, still pretty much in a stupor, to check the time. I inadvertently dialed his number. When I realized what I’d done I immediately canceled the call. Within a minute he called me back.
We hadn’t spoken in months. I hadn’t bugged him because I assumed he was getting on with life and building his fabricating business. Over the course of our 10-year friendship, Daryll had bailed me out of trouble, mostly vehicle trouble any number of times, always coming to my rescue with a tow or a battery or tires. He even set up an online parts business for me to run at one point.

We talked for the better part of a half hour and through the conversation I learned that his health wasn’t the best; that the Arizona heat was beginning to wear him down. He talked about closing up shop here and moving to Boise Idaho next year. But, I didn’t realize how bad his condition was until first thing in the morning, the day before yesterday, when once again my phone rang and it was his name on the caller id. But it wasn’t him. It was his wife.

“Georgia, it’s Vonda. Daryll passed away on Sunday. I need your help.”

It was like a bugler blowing reveille 6 inches from my ear. Death or the reality of impending death never comes gently to any door. That is a hard reality for anyone, especially for me to face. Up to the time Marilyn died, I had never, not one single time, lost anyone close to me. Daryll was not what I would classify as close, though we shared things that few understand. But he was a solid 24 carat gold friend and his death has shaken me to the core.

His death has brought home to me the very fragile nature of life and how easily it can be shattered. It’s only been a few weeks since a member of our church family suddenly and unexplainably lost her 12-year-old son. He just became ill and died one day.

These circumstances always remind us of that fact, but how often do we awake each morning and treat everyone in our sphere with the tenderness that we would if we knew that would be the last time we would ever be together? From my own experience, I would surmise that the answer to that question would be … never. But it should be “every time” shouldn’t it?

Who is sitting next to you right this minute, on the phone with you, right this minute, that you have given the slightest thought to the possibility that it might be the very last time? Would you be saying, thinking, feeling what you are at this moment if you knew it was the last moment?

At this point in history, the radio and television ads for precious metals and the importance possessing them are as numerous as the ads for beer, maybe more numerous. So how about the next time you see or hear one of those ads, why don’t you give some thought to the silver and gold people in your life and what you need to do to make sure they know that they are safe in your heart? And, never take their presence for granted.