Read by the sleep deprived author.
Sunday, May 12, 2013
Test…1…2…test…Is this thing on?
Eight months ago I started this blog. I put my pencil down for more than a decade and had just picked it up again. A blog sounded like a cool idea. I could share my voice with the interwebs. Maybe someone would stumble across my words and actually read them.
I’ve always had this secret dream of publishing my stories. With my blog I can type anything I want and press a little orange PUBLISH button. It’s not the same as holding a book with my name on the spine, but hey I’m writing. I’m happy.
I made a deal with myself (this always gets me into trouble, I might want to rethink the internal handshake.) If I get -insert impossible number- of views on my blog by Memorial Day 2013, I’ll find someone to publish my stories. I’ll hold a book in my hands with my name printed on the spine.
Novel. Children’s Book. Memoir. Short Stories. All of the above. Doesn’t matter.
I have this thing about me. When I set my mind on a goal, I get it done. Sometimes with finesse. Mostly with long hours, lots of grunting and sweat, and tremendous effort. Usually against all odds.
Memorial Day is coming quickly. I’ll achieve my impossible number goal, maybe even before I press the orange PUBLISH button for this post.
My friend said in her blog the other day “I’m a writer. Writers write.”
She’s right. I’m a writer too, and I write.
Now it’s time to find a publisher.
If you have enjoyed any of my stories please share them. If you know anyone who can publish me, please pass me along.
Molly Ringwald told my Mom I am a powerful writer…and handsome. I’ve been so excited about being handsome I kind of missed the first part.
She’s right. I am a handsome, powerful writer. I’ve always been in the business of helping people manifest dreams. Now it’s time to ask for help manifesting my own dreams.
Wednesday, May 8, 2013
I sat on the bench with my hands in the pocket of my hoodie. It was my favorite one from my sister-MAD CITY- with a picture of the capital building from Madison, Wisconsin. My Rockies cap was pulled low on my head, yet another sunny day in Denver. Mesh basketball shorts and tennis shoes rounded out the outfit.
I was out walking in my favorite park. It was early afternoon on a weekday. I hadn’t been out much lately. The ongoing medical concerns kept me in my home. I’d taken the bus the few miles to the park so I could walk. I wanted to be with the trees and the air. Take some time to feel like a normal guy. Away from the doctor offices and hospital tests. Away from the piles of “yes, I’ve hit my deductible…yes, that test was expensive…yes, I’m glad to be alive…yes, you may put me on hold.” Don’t get me wrong, health insurance is a blessing, it just likes to disguise itself as a pain in the ass.
I was enjoying the park. I’d been walking about an hour, drinking up the sunshine. I met some dogs. Got hissed at by geese. Watched dogs chase geese and geese hiss at dogs. Crossed paths with a handful of joggers, some cyclists, and even a guy on rollerblades. Every time I see a guy on rollerblades I think of my brother’s best joke.
“What’s the hardest part about learning how to rollerblade?”
“Telling your Dad you’re gay.”
It’s not funny, but it’s funny.
I was thinking about boxes and how we get put in them and how we get stuck in them. How the labels we wear influence how we move through the world. I tried to think of all the guys I know with rollerblades. Yep, all gay. Maybe I don’t have enough straight guy friends. Or maybe all the straight guys with rollerblades keep them in the closet. I chuckled to myself, it was so nice to take an afternoon to relax and ponder these important questions.
The bench I was sitting on was near the playground. The play structure was massive. Kids were running and giggling. What is it about kids that when they’re outside with other kids they make unhuman sounds. Shrieks, screeches, screams, and squeals. I was glad I’d stopped here to rest. The kid sounds were music to my heart. Being around their energy and their joy instantly boosted my energy and my joy. I closed my eyes and tilted my head back letting the sun drench my skin as a healthy smile spread across my face.
This was a life worth living.
I couldn’t have kids of my own. My ex and I attempted fertility. Adoption didn’t pan out. Our foster son was dumped back in the system. My heart carried these wounds.
My nephew and nieces live far away. I spend time with my friend’s kids whenever I can. On that bench I was so soothed. I could come here any time and fuel my open heart.
I slowly lowered my face and opened my eyes to look back at the playground. Something had changed. The moms at the picnic table were glaring at me. One was talking to her kids and pointing at me. I looked over my shoulder to see if someone was behind me. Had one of the homeless men that called this park home snuck up behind me? They usually stayed away from this part of the park. Away from the kids.
My heart came to a screeching halt as I figured it out. Oh shit.
I was being put in the bad guy box. Those moms were telling their kids I was Stranger Danger. But... Me.... How... What…? I added it up. Weekday afternoon. Walking, not exercising. Alone. No dogs. Sitting on a bench. Looking at kids. Smiling…oh shit. The moms labeled me.
I was sitting there healing the wounds in my heart. Bathing in sunlight all the loss around my own attempts at being a parent. I was feeling the joy in the laughter as it carried across the park. I was happy.
The moms were not happy. They stares became daggers. The message: “Get out. Stay away from our kids. You are not welcome here.” My heart sank as I got up off the bench and made my way to the bus stop. No amount of sunshine could warm the coldness of those stares.
When I transitioned into my male body I knew my world would change. I knew I’d experience growth. I knew I’d experience loss. I knew I’d be seen differently. I was socialized female and that wouldn’t change. That would inform how I interacted with the world. It’s just the rest of the world wouldn’t know I was so new to this guy thing.
A female body sitting on the bench alone smiling at the kids and the sky would not have put those moms on alert. I talked to some of my girlfriends that have kids. They said “Oh yeah, they totally thought you were a creeper.” “They probably took your picture just in case.” “What were you thinking sitting on a bench there? Do you want your ass kicked?”
Out of all the things I’ve lost in my transition this is by far the worst.
I was shopping at Target and stumbled across a little boy, maybe 3 years old, standing alone between racks of clothes. My instincts, the maternal part of me that no beard will ever cover, wanted to approach the little guy. His face clearly showed he was lost and afraid. The little tears brimming, not quite yet spilling over. He wasn’t calling for Mom or making a sound. I started a step toward him and froze. It wasn’t safe for me to crouch down to his level and talk to him. As scared as he was, I was terrified of someone finding me talking to a lost little boy. I told him, from a distance, “don’t worry, you’ll be okay, we’ll find help.” It was the best I could offer. I looked around. The store was empty. I could see a few other shoppers kind of far away. No mom for the little guy in sight. I didn’t see any store employees in their red shirts.
I didn’t want to let him out of my sight. I’m just as concerned about a scared lost little kid as the next…guy? girl? Dad? Mom?
I finally flagged down a red shirt employee. I was able to get her to help the little guy.
I didn’t even finish shopping. I drove home in a daze. What kind of world prevents me from helping a lost kid? I couldn’t even take his hand to guide him to safety.
Later my friends told me I did the right thing. If they’d seen me talking to their kid they’d automatically assume I was a bad guy. “No offense, you’re a great guy. You don’t even look like a bad guy. You’re just…well…a guy.” Shoot first, ask questions later applies when it’s your kid.
When I have kids with me, my nephew or nieces, it’s okay to talk to other kids. If I’m in the company of a female friend, it’s okay to talk to kids. When I’m on my own, don’t even think about it.
Not even when I’m at the zoo watching in awe as an elephant swims completely underwater. I can’t turn to the kid next to me and say “can you believe it!” without him being rushed away to stand by someone else. Someone not so single, not so alone, not so guy.
I don’t like this label. I don’t like this box I’ve been put it. I don’t know how to get out.
Sunday, May 5, 2013
Approaching the tree lined lane I saw the stoplight turn green. Before my mind could register what my eyes took in my foot floored the accelerator. The no extra charge double upgrade because my “smile was so irresistible” rental car bulleted across the pavement. As I flew through the intersection and rocketed down the quarter mile stretch the song “Just a Girl” shuffled out of my iPod and pounded into the speakers. I skidded through the tight right turn at the end of the lane, my heart alive with laughter. It was great to be home.
The trip down the lane and past the 120 year old school building had flooded me with memories of my four years at the Academy. Stepping into the gym raised the flood so high that no number of sand bags could hold back the memories from washing me away.
Pep Band. Calling on the payphone. Practices. Rolling out the tarp. Jumping on boxes. Homecoming dances. Running Suicides. Getting kicked out of a dance by a parent chaperone for using the ‘wrong’ restroom. Rummage Sale. Game days.
The memories came in rapid succession, each one in full detail. The sights, sounds, smells and emotions formed layer upon layer upon layer as I remembered high school.
The sound of the ball bouncing on the hardwood brought me out of the memories and into the now. I needed to get on the court. I grabbed a ball. As soon as the leather hit my hands everything else melted away. A lot had changed but it was all the same. I was home on the court. The Bearded Lady Bruin.
Eight months ago an announcement was made that St. Bede would be celebrating 30 years of Lady Bruin Basketball with an alumni game. All former players were welcome to join in the fun. The program had had two primary coaches over 30 years and each would coach their former players in the showdown. The announcement spread over Facebook like wild fire. I was tagged in a post and quickly received a private message “I hope it was okay to include you.” I was so excited to get to play on my home court again with my teammates that I forgot for a minute I wasn’t a Lady anymore.
I’d only been back to the Academy a few times since I graduated. The last was in 2011 for my 15 year class reunion. Thanks to the power of Facebook, the modern day grapevine, no one was surprised that I was now a guy. Many of my former classmates told me they weren’t surprised when they first found out, because well…and they’d try to find a nice way to say I sucked at being a girl.
Fair enough, I tried my best but failed time and again at fitting in my girl skin.
I was still nervous. I never know how people from my past will react when they meet me as I am now. I sent an email to the almost sixty women participating telling them a bit about my “gender journey” and inviting them to ask questions. I promised that nothing had really changed, my jump shot was still sweet and my trash talk was as annoying as ever. I was just much happier in this skin, it fit me better.
I quickly found I had nothing to worry about. Drama leading up to the event about letting the Bearded Lady Bruin play had taken place. I wasn’t even made aware of it. My teammates and supporters took care of any and all concerns and complaints. Once a Lady Bruin, always a Lady Bruin.
The game wasn’t until the following evening. We were the “experienced” team. Classes of 1983-1998. We were getting together to shoot around, figure out how to fasten our knee/ankle/hip braces, work on a game plan, look at old photos, and share memories of our playing days. I hadn’t met many of these women, they had played before I was a student. I only had names from the email list. I’m sure they could all figure out who I was. The beard was a dead giveaway.
I had posted on Facebook about “Just a Girl” playing on my trip down the lane. As I grabbed a ball bouncing off the rim a voice behind me said “I saw your post. My radio had ‘Dude looks like a Lady.’”
I turned to see who was giving me attitude and recognized her from her Facebook photo. I stopped and stroked my beard. “I went to prom with your little brother.”
Our laughter dissolved what was left of my nervousness and I knew that we were going to have fun.
I arrived early for the game the next evening. I had to change in the men’s restroom, no boys in the girls locker room, I’d heard that a lot even when I was still a girl. As soon as my teammates were all dressed I joined them for pregame locker room antics and pep talks. A lot of chatter centered around how much older our bodies were and how young the other team was. “Some of their players graduated high school just last year. What did we sign up for!”
We took the court and started warm up drills. The gym was packed. The crowd was buzzing with excitement. It could have been a Super Sectional tournament game.
The bleachers were full of familiar faces. The parents of my teammates sporting green and white Bruins gear. As much as their attention was on their daughters taking the court once again they were also with their grandkids. I don’t know many women fortunate enough to suit up with their former team while their kids are shouting from the stands “Go MOM!” That was a gift to hear.
Parents, kids, partners, friends. My sister and her husband drove four hours from Wisconsin just to watch me play. It seemed that everyone who had been a part of Lady Bruins Basketball history had made their way to the gym that evening.
The atmosphere was electric. It’s wasn’t about the score or the winners, it was a celebration of our basketball lineage. That is until the whistle blew and the jump ball was tossed into the air. If anyone had expected the playful “we don’t care who wins” friendly competition attitude to remain with the 10 on the court, they were mistaken.
The gym was packed with 30 years of Ladies, and one Bearded Lady, who loved this game, who loved playing for this school, who brought their family and friends to cheer as they played out their dreams once more.
On the hardwood when the whistle blows and the clock is running there is no such thing as “it’s only a game.” Save that for the sidelines and the after party.
The rules were a bit relaxed. The referees were strict with the younger team, they let us get away with a lot more. They blew the whistle for infractions like off sides and delay of game on the younger team. They would substitute an oversized ball or football for free throws or a weighted ball for their trips down the court. They kept it fun and kept the score competitive.
It didn’t matter.
I could see the fire in the eyes of the women on the court. All the hours of practice they put in while high school students to be the best player they could be was in that fire. The women that came home to play were the women that loved this game.
The young team would rotate by bringing five new girls on the court each time. One of our players came back to the bench and remarked “I can’t even tell them apart. They move so fast, just white shirts and pony tails.”
The trash talk was fun too, I always loved to run my mouth. One of our players made a nice move and scored on one of the younger girls. I turned and said “and she’s old enough to be your mama” before sprinting up the court.
We ran and jumped and shot and passed and yelled and competed like we were kids. We knew it would hurt later (it did) but didn’t let that slow us down.
Sharing the court with my guard, we played side by side for four years if you count junior high, was awesome. Knowing when and where her pass would be without having to think was pure amazement. I guess some memories stay with us no matter what. I was very excited when at the final buzzer she pulled up behind the line to hit a 4 pointer (I told you the refs were bending rules) to end the game in a tie.
I loved the community coming together to support us taking the court. I think it was a special evening for everyone in attendance.
I walked away with a trophy and some great new and old memories. I keep the trophy on a shelf next to a sign that says
No matter how far…
No matter where you are…
You will ALWAYS be a BRUIN!
I am proud of my teammates, my school, our fans and our St. Bede community. I was welcomed home into open arms as a Lady Bruin. As a teenager the basketball court was my sacred space. On the hardwood all my struggles with my identity could melt away. I was simply a basketball player.
Seventeen years later I was able to take the court as a (Bearded) Lady Bruin and enjoy that sacred space once again.
It took a leap of faith to return to a place where Trans visibility isn’t visible. I was able to take that leap knowing St. Bede is home. Once a Lady Bruin, always a Lady Bruin.
I hope that going home to play my favorite game with my team will make life better for someone else. By showing up and being my same self, only happier, maybe Trans won’t be so scary or different for others. I hope if someone else in our St. Bede community meets someone who is Trans they remember the Bearded Lady Bruin and how he’s a person just like them. And that his jump shot is as sweet as ever.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I just got my ass kicked in a fight.
I wish I could declare in a booming voice “You should see the other guy!” Not in this situation.
The fight was against my greatest opponent, some might even pronounce us arch enemies. The battle was against myself. And I came away bruised and bloody.
My optimistic voice wants to say “but if you fought yourself and lost, you also won, right?”
We all know no one wins in a fight.
The play by play of the fight isn’t that interesting. One of those he said, she said, family feud ordeals. What are we fighting about? What are we fighting for? Are we fighting just to fight? Are we really just hangry (the point where you get so hungry that if you don’t get a sandwich or a cheese stick soon you’re going to blow up angry)? No one wins in a fight.
Life is full of pain. My level of suffering is a direct result of how I interact with that pain. The pain is physical, mental, emotional, whatever. If I cling or fixate or obsess or ruminate about the pain the suffering gets worse. Putting my pain on a self rejection tape leads to greater suffering.
Wait, it gets better. Once I get the self rejection tape playing I have the opportunity to add a whole new layer of suffering. I can bring in guilt and shame and blame.
It’s amazing how a simple “wow, that sucked” can turn into a “wow, that sucked and it will always suck and never stop sucking and everything else sucks now and it’s all my fault and I brought the suckiness on myself because I deserve the suckiness and no one-notevenme-will ever be able to forgive me for the suckiness.”
I work hard every day to notice when things suck and let them just be sucky. I train my mind so I don’t slide into the self rejection tape and the next layer of self defeat. I am still somewhat human and have not reached perfection in my training…yet. My fight with myself was a prime example.
I’ve been dealing with memory loss and migraine headaches on a daily basis for while. The confusion sucks. The physical pain sucks. The not knowing if I’ll be able to work again sucks. The unclear treatment options suck. The unknowns around supporting myself and living a sustainable life suck. The constant changes and modifications to my understanding of who I am and how I live in this world are challenging. I’m exhausted.
My brainstorms the last few days have been mild. My skies a bit clearer. I don’t like to waste a minute when I’m feeling like myself so I tackled some spring cleaning. I was dancing and singing as I scrubbed and organized. The sunshine and breeze poured into the house. My heart was light, joyful, and vibrantly alive.
Later when the brainstorm rolled in I didn’t take it in stride. I didn’t sit under the umbrella and wait it out. I fought it. No one wins in a fight.
I’ve been getting better at watching the pain roll in and letting it do its thing. Getting back to my joyful heart when the storm blows over.
Today I got up in its face and told it to get out of my life. “Leave me alone brainstorm, you are not welcome here.”
As you might imagine that didn’t go over well. The storm stormed a little harder. I got pissed off. I didn’t back down. The storm stormed a little harder. I became livid. What did this storm think it was doing? Blowing into my life and making a giant mess. Leaving me day after day to pick up the pieces left after the destruction only to blow in again the next day or sometimes even later that same day. I fought back with anger now. The storm stormed harder a little harder.
We wrestled until the storm was done. It blew out and left me in a heap. I was curled up in a ball crying and shaking. Feeling sorry for myself for losing the fight with the brainstorm. I stayed there with my tears and snot and pain. Wallowing in the giant suffering I created out of the little pain that was sent my way.
“Pity, party of one, your table is ready. It’s the worst table in the place, it should suit you just fine. Follow me this way.”
Wait, I’m not going to follow that hostess. Stop being such a Drama Queen.
Wow, I’d done a number on myself this time. I thought I was exhausted before, now I was exhausted and so much more. I had managed to crank the self rejection tape so loud and blame myself for all of the pain. The guilt and shame I was feeling for simply existing were enough to crush someone twice my size. The suffering was defining everything about my being right then. I could have simply let the pain be. Rode out the storm. Practiced patience. Taken some deep breaths. Resumed life after the storm passed. I really got hooked this time. No one wins in a fight.
I sat myself up. Turned on a light. Moved slowly as the room came back into focus.
I know that I’m strong. My greatest strength is my strength. I let my frustration take over and tell me to flex my muscles. To use my strength to fight. No one wins in a fight.
My strength is getting up after getting knocked down. Lifting my face out of the fire or the mud or whatever it’s planted in and picking myself up. My strength is waiting out the storms with patience. My strength is in training my mind between storms so it is better equipped to weather the elements. My strength is never giving up.
As long as I’m breathing the storms will come and go. The nature of the storms will change as my life continues. I will never be immune to pain. That much I can count on. I can only grow in how I relate to the pain. I can decide what suffering I create out of the pain. I can train my heart and mind to get stronger and stronger.
When the room came back into focus I knew I had a choice. I could keep on the path of self defeat. Keep telling myself I sucked. I brought on the suckiness. I deserved the suckiness. The suckiness would never go away. I could keep fighting. Or I could stop fighting.
I stopped fighting and opened my heart to myself. I talked kindly to myself. “Jules, the fight is over. Time to unclench your fists and let the frustration go. Time to get up and keep moving forward.”
I turned off the self rejection tape. Got myself into a hot shower. Watched as the frustration and anger followed the water down the drain.
Sitting here with a cup of hot tea I keep reminding myself that no one wins in a fight.
I hope I can remember that when the next brainstorm fills my sky with clouds and pain.
I don’t want to get my ass kicked again. My face is too pretty for fighting.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
I walked out of the restroom not sure where I was. As I walked by the cute woman behind the counter said, "Jules, I have your short decaf Americano." She pointed to a small cup of coffee on the counter. I smiled and took the coffee. She smiled back. Jules was my nickname, not many people called me by it. The size of her smile made me think maybe I knew her. I thought it best to keep my mouth shut. I didn't want to get myself in trouble with yet another cute girl. My mouth always got me in trouble with cute girls.
Decaf I could understand. I looked at my watch. It wasn't digital, it had hands. I couldn't figure out what time it was and didn't want to spend all day trying to count the minute hand. I looked out the window and saw it was an afternoon sky.
What was a short Americano? I'd take my chances. I took it over to the counter with all the milk and sugar. I popped it open to take a look. It was coffee under the lid alright, hot dark strong smelling coffee. I dumped in 3 sugar packets. I was craving something sweet.
I took a seat in the corner to try to figure out what was going on. As soon as I had stepped out of the restroom I lost all knowledge of where I was. It was such a weird feeling. I thought about going back in there to see if I could find my way. Maybe I'd get unlost in the bathroom. If I couldn't figure it out by the time I finished my coffee, that's what I'd do.
I set my bag of groceries on the chair next to me and reached into my jacket pocket fished out some receipts and a sticky note. The small receipt was for the short americano. $2.05 after tax. Expensive little cup of coffee. It was so flavorful. Worth every penny. It had the cute girl’s name printed on the receipt. I'd have to remember her name. The longer receipt was for the groceries. Food coloring, cake mix, frosting, veggie bouillon cubes, and gatorade. The sticky note must have been my shopping list. 4 items. Veggie bouillon cubes, cupcakes, potatoes, and bread. The reverse side had a four digit number. Maybe my PIN number? It looked like it had been added later, not written against a hard surface, written like I was holding the sticky note in my hand. I looked around for another shopping bag. Where were the potatoes and bread?
Back to the receipts. God, the coffee was amazing. Even without all the sugar I don't think it would have been bitter. I needed to figure out this short Americano thing. Was it the beans? Was it the brew? Was it the cute girl behind the counter?
I looked up to see if I could figure out the name of the store and saw "Starbucks Coffee" on the sign. How had I missed that? Was this one of the Starbucks I'd heard about? I read this company was going to be everywhere someday. Starbucks was going to take over the world. I took another sip and understood why. This coffee was amazing. This Starbucks was operating inside a grocery store. They were on their way.
I reached in my pocket for my wallet. In the first slot was a card with ICE written across the top. I took it out and saw the name Sarah written in my handwriting along with an address and phone number. Maybe she'd know what I was doing here. It hit me. ICE, in case of emergency. Yep, I'd call her.
I looked around at the other customers enjoying their delicious Starbucks coffee. One was talking into a device like the one I had pulled out of my pocket. Was it a car phone of some sort? Mine had a rubbery purple cover. I messed with it until the screen lit up. I touched the flashing key in the center and it showed four pictures. One was a phone with the word phone. Simple enough. The screen was so clear and brilliant.
Was I in the future?
I dialed the number on the card. This Sarah person might have the answers. I typed the number and Sarah BFF along with a picture appeared on the screen. I giggled. Did this Sarah person and I have silly heart necklaces with Best Friends Forever on them? I waited and nothing happened. My old car phone had a send button, I tapped the green arrow on the screen and a moment later heard the ringing.
A voice answered "Hi."
"Hello, are you Sarah?"
Before she could say more, I jumped in. "Hi, I have a card in my wallet with your name and number. Do you know me?"
"Yes, I'm your best friend. You're staying at my house." I told her I was at a Starbucks in a grocery store. "I'll be there in three minutes."
We hung up and I settled back with my coffee. The card listed her address as Boulder, Colorado. I studied the receipts again. They both said Boulder, Colorado. Just like my favorite Stephen King story, The Stand. I'd always wanted to visit Colorado, see the mountains. Was I really in Colorado?
Then I saw the date on the receipt. March 2013. That didn't make sense. 2013? 2013? This Sarah person must be into practical jokes. How did she get it printed on both receipts? I bet a lot went into planning this one. I couldn't wait to hear all about it. March 2013 in Boulder Colorado. Wow.
But, how did she get me to lose my memory in the bathroom? What a show. I sat back and sipped my coffee. And how did she manifest such amazing coffee?
I had a notebook with me and started to read some of what I had written. It was a story about memory loss. A first person account of memory loss. Was it fiction or a story like what was happening right now? I was engrossed in the thought and was startled by the "Hi" a pause as I looked up and then "I'm Sarah."
I motioned for her to take the chair across from mine. She sat down. We looked at each other for a moment. She had a kindness and warmth about her. She spoke pausing after each sentence to measure the reaction on my face. "Hi, I'm Sarah. I'm your best friend. You have memory loss. Don't worry, it comes back. You're staying with me and my family until we get it figured out." Her kindness never wavered. The words sounded practiced. How many times had she had to give this speech? How many times did she tell me this story? What the fuck was going on?
Even with her kind, gentle, reassuring speech, I was thrown for a loop. Reeling actually. This was real? Not some big prank. I was expecting a prankster to come walking in with a big "gotcha." As she gently put her hands on mine my heart sank a little. I wasn't sure what to make of it all. It couldn't be good.
Sarah asked if I was ready to go home. I said I needed a minute. I was afraid that if I tried to stand my legs wouldn't be under me.
She noticed the cup and asked if it was indeed coffee in my cup. I lit up explaining it was from Starbucks. I told her I'd read about Starbucks and was so excited and couldn't believe how good the coffee was. Did she want to try it?
She seemed unimpressed with being at Starbucks.
She asked me to hand it over. She wasn't going to drink it. She was going to take it. Apparently I had told her I wasn't allowed to have caffeine. Told her it kept me up for days. "But it's decaf." She gave a little sigh as she looked at me. "You have asked me not to let you have any caffeine, not even decaf." I clung a little tighter to my cup.
"What year is it anyway?" she asked me. I mumbled that I didn't know. What year was it? What year did Sarah live in? 2013? The Starbucks. The fancy phone. I was at a loss. I didn't know what to say.
"Who won the last World Series?" she asked. "The 1999 World Series? Who cares about the Yankees or the Braves?"
The look on Sarah's face said it all. It was not 1999. Not anymore, anyway.
I started to hand over my cup of coffee, hesitated, took one more giant gulp and slid it across the table.
Her kind gentle voice said "Jules, it's 2013." Her eyes never left mine as she spoke. Her gaze was very steady. Watching. Wondering what her friend would do when she realized 14 years had passed and she didn't remember them. I handed her the receipt and said "I know. It says it right here" as I pointed to 3/17/2013 on the receipts. "I just... I just wasn't sure."
I was a bit scared. 14 years. That's a long time to lose. She said it'd come back. I was glad she was so calm. Her calm eased the fear quite a lot.
My head fell into my hands as I tried to wrap my brain around the situation. The questions were bubbling to the surface. My hands moved from my beard to my face as I tried to determine what question to ask first. I had so many, what was most important? I stopped suddenly as my hands hit my cheeks. What the hell? It felt like a beard. Did I have a beard? A lot can change in 14 years, but growing a beard? I mean, I was a tough girl, but how did I grow a beard?
“Oh yeah,” Sarah said, “a lot has changed.”
I looked up and met her eyes again. She opened her mouth to speak and hesitated. Behind her eyes she was searching for words. What the hell was she going to tell me? How did she not have words for what she was going to tell me? Whatever it was, could it be more difficult than losing 14 years of memory?
“Okay, you’re transgendered. You had the transition in 2004 or 2005. Or was that the surgery. I looked down at my chest. Felt it. My breasts were gone. My chest was flat. And I was in my sweats, out in public. “Oh, like that book my cousin told me to read?”
“What book?” she asked.
“Stone Butch Blues, about that guy that was a girl and then a guy.”
“I don’t know that book, but yes.”
I asked if she had a mirror. I wanted to see what I looked like. See the beard. Before she could say no I remembered the phone. It showed my reflection. How did I not notice this beard before? I noticed the phone showed a reflection.
The beard looked good. I looked good. I could stand to lose a few pounds but overall I looked okay. So far the future was good to me.
Sarah watched closely as I studied my face in the mirror. Could she see in my eyes that I was trying to figure it all out? Could she see my wheels turning? Was she afraid they’d start spinning out of control?
“I know you have a lot of questions. Let’s go home and you can ask them all.”
“Okay, let me ask one more real quick.”
I took my baseball cap off my head and pointed to the CR. Colorado Rockies, one of the newest expansion teams. “Sarah, am I a fan? What does my Dad think about this?” She smiled and laughed as she said, “You are a big Rockies fan. Don’t worry, you’re still a White Sox fan. Your Dad still loves you.”
“Good, I’m glad to hear that, let’s go home.”
Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Time travel is tricky.
I’m not talking about the physics and mechanics of getting from one place and time to another place and time, I call them spacetimes. I don’t have difficulty with that. It’s tricky to figure out what needs to be accomplished or learned in each space time I visit without getting caught up in the technology of where I’m at.
Let me explain.
I often travel using the blink back mind method. I’m working out the bugs for traveling to the future and haven’t made any significant trips that way yet. The blink back mind works like this: I close my eyes as I go through a portal, often a simple doorway, and with the blink of the mind get transported to a different spacetime. My environment doesn’t change, I’m still moving through Colorado 2013. My mind is what is transported to another spacetime.
The other day I stopped at Starbucks in the grocery store. I went into the restroom while they were preparing my coffee. When I walked out of the restroom, through the portal, Captain Starbuck’s Time Machine took me back to 1999.
My physical body was still at Starbucks, Boulder, Colorado 2013. My blink back trip through Captain Starbuck’s Time Machine landed my mind and its understanding of the world in 1999. I don’t know the exact date, sometime between October and the end of December. Once I was past the initial shock and confusion the fun began.
One of the bugs in my blink back function is that when I arrive in the other space time I don’t know how I got there or what I need to do there. I hate to drop the McFly bomb, but maybe I don’t remember what I haven’t invented yet. I’ll have to ask Doc Brown how that works next time I see his Delorean.
My friend Sarah picked me up from Starbucks to take me to her house. I’d spent the night on her couch and was the grocery getting a few things to make cupcakes with her kids. I got to spend about four hours in 2013 looking through my blink back 1999 eyes.
My world exploded when we stepped into the parking lot. I was surrounded by Sport Utility Vehicles. They were so much sleeker and fancier than the ones I knew, the ones from before the turn of the century. In 1999 I was working with my Dad in the family business, a car dealership. Sarah isn’t that interested in cars, she’s a saint to put up with my enthusiasm. I couldn’t contain my excitement explaining the concept vehicles I’d seen at the last auto show at McCormick Place in Chicago and how they looked in real life on the road. A lot changes in 14 years. A lot.
I was so distracted by the cars it took a few minutes to notice the mountains. I stood in silent awe as I looked at the Flatirons less than 5 miles away from where I stood. The silence didn’t last long before I was firing off questions about the mountains. 1999 me had never seen the Rocky Mountains before.
I had a lot of questions about Y2K. How bad was the computer blow up? How long did it take to restore order after the chaos? How many people died?
I didn’t really believe Sarah and her husband Bill when they told me nothing went awry. All that hype and no problems? Before I could get too caught up Sarah distracted me with my ipod touch.
This little device held so many CDs! She showed me the basics and I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use. How could Macintosh make such an amazing product? I had apparently made a playlist featuring music from the late 90s and was so excited to have all my favorites filling the speakers. With every new song they’d laugh as I’d say “what a great song, I love this song!”
Sarah started to ask me about my life. I shared with her my dreams and aspirations. I was playing with the idea of running for mayor in my small town in Illinois. I was working on a business plan for a coffee shop I wanted to open in that same small town. I had the name and logo already designed. I could visualize the sign and smell the coffee and pie. I was putting together numbers and working to make it viable. It even had a great story to go with it. Strong Coffee. I talked the entire time Sarah prepared dinner.
What happened to that girl from 14 years ago? Where are her dreams? How is she going to change the world?
The conversation over dinner centered around smart phones. I was stunned that I carried in my pocket more computing power than NASA had for the moon missions. My car phone in 1999 made calls. This car phone made calls AND had enough power to tackle all the world problems. With the invisible connection to the interwebs impossible became an antiquated term.
Bill explained, as best he could to someone from 1999, how smart phones work, apps, tablets, no more roaming charges and even a little about laptops. I was flooded with ideas. The potential for world changing was unlimited! Massive amounts of information and the ease of sharing it…where did people even start?
I understood that not every human had access to these phones, invisible wires connecting information and service. The ones that did…wow.
We could discover ways to help every person facing poverty and hunger. Find strategies to keep elderly people connected with their families and communities, help them live more independently longer. Learn, discover, explore. How did people decide where to start?
Sarah and Bill are techy, nerdy, geeks. They loved this conversation. Stepping back to realize the power we all held. What would they do if 14 years ago they woke up with access to this technology?
I think it was difficult for them to break the news to me. All my friends also have smart phones with all this computing power.
We use them to send each other funny pictures of cats.
I eventually got a migraine headache and passed out on the couch. I woke up not remembering any part of my blink back to 1999. Over the next weeks the memory of the journey slowly came back. I’m still working out all the bugs in the blink back function. I’m optimistic.
I learned so much about the last 14 years. We talk about how fast technology changes, and it does. To skip 14 years I got to experience how much it really had changed, and how much we take for granted.
How do we not forget?