Sunday, October 12, 2014

The HAZARDS of Facebook

I just sat down with my morning coffee, and checked my email to note that another friend from another part of the world had noticed that DJ had deleted her Facebook (FB) account.  Juliet and I had just brought that up with DJ the night before.

Interestingly, a mom of a transgender son, with whom I correspond, also wrote about FB this week sharing how a "friend" had posted some mean-spirited and exclusive drudgery that applied to this woman's son, but indirectly.

I, too, have been struggling with the negative drag that FB often causes....

DJ, Juliet and I have all been struggling recently with the nastiness that FB now regularly includes. People actually spend their precious time looking for obscure "data" that supports their (usually exclusive) agenda, create a meme and then post it, inviting others to "share."  What a terrible misuse of the word "share," now that I think of it. I just don't get it.  Spreading the word of injustice is important but that isn't what's occurring here.  What is occurring?  We all know what it is-complaining, whining, bitching, pissing, moaning.  That's ok-I can piss and moan with the best of 'em.  The issue is that they do it at someone else's expense!!!

The other aspect of FB that I think is alienating is the "social" aspect-especially when people don't make efforts to be "social"-or choose to be "social" to a few people and disregard others.  It's like being in grade school, and seeing that nearly everyone in class has received an invitation to a birthday party, except you, and a handful of others.  Being excluded is hard enough; when it becomes public, it's just plain humiliating. No one denies a person's right to "like", or "share" or "comment" or even invite whomever she wishes-but is it necessary to make it public?  Do people not care about the impressions they leave?

If I were at a party, and I made a point of talking to nearly everyone except a friend who was certainly within earshot  multiple times through the night, and I didn't even make eye contact with her, that would certainly send a message to her. We hide behind the impersonal nature of FB, while pretending to be personal, and it allows us to be rude and hurtful, anonymously.  While we think we're being social, we're actually being socially lazy. We pretend that by clicking the "like" button we're actually doing something meaningful.  And maybe that simple acknowledgement is meaningful, sometimes.  But it's not like we're going to raise money for cancer treatment by clicking the "like" button.  The "like" button can really only go so far in maintaining a "friendship."

But maybe we don't want to really maintain friendships so much as give the appearance of doing so so that our "friends list" is really impressive looking.....hmmm.  That's worth pondering.

Bulldog said something to me many years ago that has been replaying in my head recently.  I'd just come out of a rough bout of drama with a friend of mine, who despite promising to cater my wedding, dropped out at the last minute when I wouldn't lend her $7000, despite the fact that I'd already lent her $1000 and paid her kid's tuition to a private school.  Needless to say, she is no longer my "friend" and perhaps never was in the way that I had thought.  But that's another, probably boring, story!!  Bulldog and I had just gotten married, moved thirty miles away to a new town, into a new house and he said to me, "We have a new start and I think we should surround ourselves with people that we deserve to be around."  Or something to that effect....

So, I took a hard look at my FB "friends" and realized that I needed to clean house.  I didn't want to delete them and give the appearance of rudely snubbing them, I just didn't want to see their regularly occurring alarmist, unfounded, often mean-spirited, and exclusive posts.  So, I blocked them and I feel better.

The other issue with FB is there is quite a bit that's disingenuous.  People are staging their lives to appear interesting for FB.  People are missing out on the here and now so they can take the time to upload their photos of their fabulous lives to FB.  Don't get me wrong, some photos and comments make my day.  When my sister posted a photo of one of her daughters with her second and third fingers in both of her nostrils, I laughed out loud and re-viewed that photo multiple times throughout the day.  But the disingenuous nature is obvious to some of us and bothersome.  All the more reason to consider blocking those "friends" too.

DJ didn't go into detail as to why she deleted her FB account but confirmed her reasons were related to what I've shared here.  Juliet and I sympathized with her.  DJ is way ahead of her mother on this issue.  She doesn't "need" FB like many of us do.  We can pretend we don't "need" it, but giving it up is like going without your morning cup of coffee, or your glass of wine in the evening when your kid is throwing the fifth temper tantrum of the day.

Put it this way-if your dog had a run-in with a skunk and smelled of skunk, would you let him in your living room?  No.  You wouldn't get rid of your dog, but you might have him live in the garage, or the basement, until you can get the smell out of his fur.  So, I've put a bunch of FB friends in the garage.  I know where they are; (for all I know, I might be in someone's garage, as well!!); I can still send a message if I choose.  I can let them back into the living room whenever I want....or not. In the meantime, my house doesn't stink.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Hoping for "L"

DJ had to give a presentation in her communications class last night and she came home on cloud nine.  She decided to talk about the concept of universal consciousness and used the double slit experiment to demonstrate her thoughts.  You can check out the double slit experiment at:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DfPeprQ7oGc

Then, last week, she and I took a short little road trip to visit a Buddhist temple, complete with a Zen garden.  It was her idea, not mine, and she invited me along.

This evening she walked in the door talking about a long-term goal of opening a school that offers an enlightened form of education where a person either passes, or needs improvement.  Her ideas were much more detailed than that, but her point was the importance of emphasizing the journey of learning.

I like how her brain works.  I love how she's willing to stretch herself.  I love her bravery.

Which reminds me of the bravery of a woman I've been in contact with who resides in the UK.  She transitioned fairly recently, as an adult in her 40's.  In our most recent correspondence, she wonders whether her decision to transition is too late.  I tell her it's not and I believe it, but how can I possibly speak to this?  How can I comfort her while she experiences her (rightful) experiences of loss? I can imagine that I might entertain the same thoughts and feelings, especially as this gradually more accepting world allows people like DJ to be who they are, at all, or decades earlier than people like this lovely woman.   Like so many women that I have been fortunate to hear from, who transitioned later in life compared to DJ, she cheers for young people who transition early while she simultaneously is reminded of the time she's lost.

I want to cheer for her and remind her that she has so much life left ahead of her, but she has complications that only an adult who transitions in adulthood can fully understand which might make my reassurance ring false in her ears.  It took DJ over four years to feel more comfortable in her skin and I hope that my friend just needs more time in her new life to feel more at peace with her previous life not being all she hoped for, and frankly, deserved.  I'd like to know that she has moments of revelry in being a woman like I've been blessed to witness in DJ.  I shall hope for her. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Darling and Sprite

It's been a long time since I've written and I'm not sure why I feel compelled today.  Listening to my gut is something I've learned to value in my increasing age, however, so I will listen once again this morning.

There's a new show on Amazon called "Transparent." I watched the pilot and it seems like it might be a good show.  I came to know about this show because Romeo and Juliet's good friend from college came to visit and shared this with me.  (Romeo and Julie live with us for the time being as they attempt to find decent jobs and save some money.) This good friend, who I will refer to as Darling because he is both physically and soulfully such, is gay.  He has not come out officially to his parents, although he thinks they suspect.  Their solution to his homosexuality was therapy, initially, so you can imagine that he will never share that some of this theatrical pursuits have included roles in drag.  Darling is one of those men who is not transgender, nor transexual, but does seem to enjoy the aspects of cross-dressing when he plays the role of a woman.  Frustratingly, to this woman, he looks better than most women when he is in drag!!!!

Darling shared this with me as he is a staunch supporter of DJ, naturally.  I say "naturally" not so much because he is gay and therefore more accepting of other marginalized people, although that's true, but more because Darling is naturally more accepting of anyone because that seems to be who he is.  He and I have had some remarkable conversations, some of which pertain to the topic of the transgender subject, and DJ specifically.

As a result of my sharing some of our story with Darling, I am reminded of what a remarkable journey it's been, and still is, with DJ.  The first few years were pretty rough and I frankly am concerned that my blog may have made light of our struggles.  The last thing I would want to do is paint a glossy picture so that other parents who might read this would worry that their child isn't doing as well as DJ seemed to be in my blogs.

There were so many days that I felt hopeful and I wrote prolifically on those days.  There were many, many, many days where Bulldog and I were full of despair as we watched our darling girl struggle, hurt, self-destruct, only to try again and not give up.  Some days were very dark indeed and in desperation, I acted out on more than one occasion; to his credit, Bulldog never did, however.

The worry that parents experience is double what they normally experience with their children whose insides and outsides match.  Parents whose children have other significant challenges may understand this dynamic, as well.  Raising children who are pretty much the norm is hard enough; raising children with special attributes is harder.  To be a "good enough" parent for most kids is simply "good enough."  To be a "good enough" parent to a child with special attributes or special needs requires the parent to be more than "good enough" and it's not easy.

It's important for parents to know that when you falter, and you will, as long as you continue to love and accept your child, you have not failed.  If you failed to love and accept your child well, you are permitted another chance to try again, in most cases.  Most kids (even adult kids) just want their parents to love and accept them.

DJ is doing quite well but it took four and half years to get here.  She recently came off of her mood-stabilizing medications and is doing well.  She actually took a road trip to see a friend at college and had a great time. We will call this friend "Sprite" as she is a tiny little person with a joyful personality despite some devastating personal losses.  Sprite has been a wonderful friend to DJ and we were worried about her leaving for her college which was three hours away.  But it doesn't seem to deter their friendship and it's provided DJ with an impetus to strike out on her own a bit more.

She continues to love physics and loves learning. This has sustained her in many of her dark and lonely moments.  Music, learning, physics were her friends many times, when her other friends deserted her.   It sounds sad, and in some ways, is sad; but her resilience was in finding solace in these friends, for which Bulldog and I are grateful.

Know that this parent of a transgender young adult is always thinking of other transgender kids, and their families, as well as transgender adults who are finding a way to conduct their lives and be true to themselves.  All of you folks are an as yet undiscovered wealth of strength and information that others would be lucky to embody.  Peace to you all and I will be in touch again.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Networking

Folks,

I've been blessed, yup, that's right, BLESSED, with forming pen pal relationships with two moms because of this blog.  One fantastic mom lives in Australia.  Her daughter came out to her family in the last couple of years and they are definitely plugging along well.  The other fantastic mom lives here in America, I believe somewhere along the east coast, and her son came out somewhat recently and they too are sticking together as family.  I am so lucky that these women are sharing their stories with me, and that I get to share mine with them, all because of our remarkable children. Maybe someday, the three of us can all meet up someday….and perhaps include a fourth English woman who is remarkable, as well, having transitioned in her 40s, quite bravely and, it seems to me, elegantly. I hope she knows who she is :)

In the interest of helping other transgender teens, adults and family of transgender folk, the American mom forward me a couple of links that are definitely worth sharing.  The first is a "Ted Talk"-I'm not sure if these are popular in other parts of the world, but they are fairly popular here in America.  Remarkable people share their stories…..  

https://www.ted.com/talks/norman_spack_how_i_help_transgender_teens_become_who_they_want_to_be


The other is more distinctly American:  it's a petition requesting that we get away from the binary gender identification requirements.  I gotta tell ya, unless you're trying to sell something, why do you need to know my gender?  Really?  It's just another way of attempting to label folks or put them in a box.


https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/legally-recognize-non-binary-genders/j5KvDVvh

It's spring here in America.  Many religions have significant holidays this time of year, and with good reason as it is a season of birth and rebirth.  And for many folks, often the rebirth is more significant than the birth itself…..Peace to you all.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Love > Hate

Folks,

The following doesn't address transgender folks specifically, but does address that families come in all shapes and sizes.  The members of the family do, as well.

Love is always at least ten times greater than hate.


http://www.bilerico.com/2014/04/watch_honey_maids_response_to_anti-gay_haters_is_a.php

Saturday, March 22, 2014

007

DJ is always tweaking her fashion style.  This is usually a reflection of how she is feeling any given day.  She is nearly 19 years old-her birthday is less than two months away-and can now wear certain items of clothing that Bulldog would have frowned on previously. (He is still not thrilled, but acquieces to her choices.)  A few weeks ago, on getting new glasses, she decided to don clothing to match her new look-sort of;  she normally wears contacts, but keeps a pair of glasses to give her eyes a break.  Typically, she doesn't care to wear her glasses to class or out in public.  But this time, she had chosen frames that gave her a studious look.  So, she donned a black bustier, which she wore over a white collared shirt, and added the studious looking glasses. She posted a picture on FB stating a friend christened her look the "sexy librarian."  (Yes, Bulldog was elated…..not.)

This morning, on returning from grocery shopping, I walk in to see her wearing the following:  a black turtleneck that is normally meant as cold-weather athletic attire, black leggings and black shorts over the  leggings.

"Is this your 'secret spy' look?", I asked.

"Yeah….(self conscious giggle) I guess so.  It's so beautiful out I took Keira (our German Shepherd) out for a walk and then did some yoga out on the deck,"  she replied.  This, to explain her attire, I suppose.

She's entering a "battle of the bands" at college in the next few weeks and is fretting about which song to choose.  She looks at me as if I have the answer...

"Don't ask me-you've written tons of stuff and I can't remember which is which."

DJ says, "Well, I've only written a few really good songs."

"Well, then, that should narrow it down for you, right?"

Not the answer she wanted to hear, I guess.

While she continues to scour through her prolific creations, I will begin our vegetarian dinner.  Wait, why isn't she cooking?  She's the vegetarian!!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Another one bites the dust

And another one falls…..


Here in America, despite our Constitution clearly stating that no state can pass a law that inhibits the rights or privileges of any of its citizens, we still have many states that are attempting to pass laws that prohibit gay and lesbian people from marrying.  Kentucky attempted to do just that, somewhat recently.  However, the Kentucky Supreme court struck it down;  a Kentucky citizen wanted to appeal the decision….this was the Attorney General's response:







For those folks not familiar with this part of America, Kentucky is in the "Bible Belt" and oftentimes, those states would prefer laws that were more in keeping with their Christian religion, even if those laws violate the Constitution.  Often, the argument in defense of this is that our "founding fathers were Christian" which is true;  however, those same founding fathers deliberately separated the powers of the church from the powers of the state when they agreed to the wording of the First Amendment of the Constitution.  The fact that this separation was part of the first amendment speaks to its importance.  

Discrimination is a losing battle.  It's not dead in the water yet, but it's certainly gasping for air.  Take heart and remember  Martin Luther King, Jr.'s words:  We shall overcome.