Relying on New Years as my catalyst, we stopped in at our local phone store yesterday with the idea of upgrading Rick’s cell phone. Remember land lines? No disrespect to Fred Flintstone, but technology has come a long way since tubes and transistors. As my grandpa used to say, “Oh sweet luxury, don’t you cry. You’ll be a necessity by and by”. And there we were.
During our conversation with a genuinely cool phone guy, I brought up the subject of combusting phones. “Isn’t this the same brand that…”
As if he were reading my mind, Juan cut me off mid-sentence, “…I know what you’re going to ask. All those phones have been recalled. But it’s funny, the other day a guy came in looking for a new phone and asked me the same question. When I told him all those phones had been recalled, he said, ‘Too bad. I was looking for a new phone for my wife’.”
Funny? Yes. Dark? That too, but the way Juan told it, I felt like I had been granted just a glimmer of insight into a couple that loved each other long enough to know they could rib the other with a dash of macabre humor. Having someone who knows when to not take me too seriously has been an essential element to navigating the rushing white water that comes with any long term love affair like mine. It may not be fancy, but I think getting down River Love without getting wet means I would not have really taken the adventure. Put another way, why travel to Spain and eat every meal during your visit at a McDonald’s or KFC? I can just hear the guy who comes back to work and proudly tells everyone in earshot that he’s been to Spain. No sir. You haven’t.
‘Trans’ is an important of a first syllable as ever there was – transparent, transform, transport, transition and the ever seductive transfix. Consider the humble ‘trans’ for a moment. Every use of the prefix speaks to motion, a move from one place or condition to another; a new status quo. New starts. Isn’t all of that wrapped up in what New Years represents once all the silliness has been swept up after the revelry? It is for me.
Some transformations are easy. Like getting jeans for Christmas or my new tennis shoes. Gaining new cushioned memory foam insoles and a spring-loaded bounce in my step was as easy as prying open the dusty vault that is my wallet and buying them – on sale. Transaction completed, I got home and put them on to go out last night. The difference was as remarkable as it was instantaneous. Old shoes? Thank you for your service. You’ve served me well, but it’s time. God rest your soles. Good-bye.
Other transformations are more operational and not nearly as sexy.
Doing dishes? As I’ve written before, I love doing them. One of the reasons is my grease-cutting ally, Dawn. Cutting through the residue at the bottom of the baking sheet is easy for my super duper dish soap. But it is equally true I can’t bear cluttered counters. So for years, the bottle of Dawn has been relegated to living under the counter until I call for her grime-busting gifts.
Doing dishes a few weeks ago, I was looking at the two pump bottles who have been permitted to live above ground at the sink when I asked myself, “Do we really need hand sanitizer AND hand-soap both?”
Bending down below to reach for the Dawn, it hit me. In two shakes of a soap bubble, I rinsed out the nearly empty sanitizer bottle and filled it with my trusted dishwashing liquid. Now, when I want to do a dish or a whole counter full of them, I simply reach for the re-purposed bottle and give it a pump. Voila! Always there. Same trusted insides – out from underneath the sink and living in a new container with a new address.
Transformational? Maybe not in the grand scheme of things, but doing dishes is a little more streamlined than before. Doing what I can with what I have, where I’m at. Baby steps.
All of which brings this opening ramble of the new year to a story I read about 8-year old Joe Maldonado. To hear his mother, Joe was pumped to have joined his local Boy Scout Troop. Some of his best friends were there. It was common knowledge to nearly everyone that Joe had been coming into an awareness of what we adults call being transgendered. As a national organization, the Boy Scouts of America has since seen fit to throw him out of the membership. I wonder if there was a “one of those people” conversation at BSA HQ?
Kaitlin Jenner notwithstanding and with the much earlier work of Dr. Alfred Kinsey (See SOURCES for more on both), both hint to all of us the human brain (and sexuality) may hold as many mysteries as the deep sea or outer space. What sets me down with a ‘thump’ is marveling to think all of that is being carried around in a brain perched atop each of our necks! Scary. But then again, nothing less than remarkable. I wonder if it’s the same drive that sent Chris Columbus to see if he’d fall off the edge of a flat earth? And how about John Glenn? Strapping himself to a rocket (aka one big explosive device) and choosing to leave our atmosphere? We all applaud him as a hero. But who of us would do the same?
The answer might surprise you if you were another reader. But you’re not. Answer: Every one of us, every day.
Just like Joe Maldonado and his family.
Or how about the families of the 762 people who were murdered in Chicago last year? (which if you’ll remember, was as recent as yesterday). How do they go on and transition back into the gritty business of living?
In a larger view, this morning Chicago Police reported 3,550 shooting incidents responsible for 4,331 shooting victims in 2016. This marks the past year as one of the worst years of violence in the last 20.
Yesterday, St. Sabina’s feisty priest Fr. Michael Pfleger, led a silent demonstration down famed Michigan Avenue with marchers carrying more than 700 crosses representing each life lost due to violence in the city. We are a lesser city for having lost so many citizens. We are a greater city for actively remembering them in an ongoing effort to transform where we live and how we go about the messy business of living here.
There’s another “T” I’ve been percolating on lately. It dawned on me that when it comes to the “T” in LBGT, I don’t know any transgendered people on a first-name basis. But I recently learned a friend of ours is dating Susanne. I didn’t see it coming when Steve told me Susanne, being born a man, is now well along in the process of her transition into whom she was meant to be. Can I solve society’s pre-conceptions about living as a transgendered person? Nope. Not a chance.
But what I can do is invite them to our place for dinner this month. We know Steve, but I want to know her and what she’s all about. Sharing a home-cooked meal with them is what little I can do with what I have, where I’m at. But it’s precisely those baby steps that are helping me to turn a corner in my own understanding. In kind, I’ve included a few links in SOURCES at this conclusion if you want to read more about it…also you’ll see a cool index of support resources for anyone thinking they may be transgendered…my small part in paying it forward.
Let’s face it. Each of us likes to think we’re unique…special in the eyes of whomever we credit as our Creator. But when it comes to being different, people, as a herd, can be blindingly cruel beyond measure. The good news in that sobering news-flash is individuals who come together can just as easily be transformative for the good. That’s a choice each of us has as ‘human’. MLK knew it…so did Bobby Kennedy. I liked when I heard Wayne Dyer talking about the Universe being perfect, including our attempts to improve it. How’s that for a mind-bend while you have your morning coffee?
It’s good to be back in the writing saddle as the new year begins. With no idea of where we’ll be at the end of this new year, I’m glad I’ll be getting there with each of you. I wouldn’t trade the privilege of the trip for love nor money. So no matter your faith, creed, size, shape or color, I think Charles Dickens did us a favor when a little crippled boy captured the essence of any worthy transformation:
“God bless us. Every one.”
For me, his tiny sentiment is as good place to start as any.
From my House to Yours, I wish you a height of happiness whose shadow more than offsets the distance of any pain or trouble that finds you wanting in the coming year. Pain is over-rated as a punishment and the martyr thing has been so overdone. Instead, hire the hardships as your instructor and go from there.
Transformers. Like you, there’s always more than meets the eye.
One good use of my time off was watching “Pete’s Dragon”. A very good story, extraordinarily well told. Fun to think you could meet a dragon…
Transgender Reading List for Young Adults
Transgender advice: the best resources online
Live Transgender Support Chat: https://www.transgender.support/
or you can call: 1-877-565-8860 – www.translifeline.org
Banner Coastal Redwood Forest by Eric E Photography is used with permission.
Samsung GS7: http://www.giga.de/smartphones/samsung-galaxy-s7/; 8-year-old Joe Maldonado (Photo: Gannett/Getty Images) and news story: 8-Year-Old Trans Boy Perfectly Sums Up Why He Wants to Be a Boy Scout – http://nymag.com/thecut/2016/12/trans-boy-perfectly-sums-up-why-he-wants-to-be-a-boy-scout.html?mid=full-rss-thecut; ; Kaitlin Jenner: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caitlyn_Jenner; Dr. Alfred Kinsey and the Kinsey Reports: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caitlyn_Jenner; Michigan Avenue March of Remembrance 123116: http://abcnews.go.com/US/silent-march-downtown-chicago-marks-citys-deadliest-year/story?id=44487870 – Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images; Chicago Crime: http://abc7chicago.com/news/762-murdered-in-chicago-in-2016/1681356/; LGBT graphic: http://www.cathnewsusa.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/lgbt-inclusion.jpg; Closing Pic: What a glorious feeling. I’m happy again – Carrie Fisher and Mother Debbie Reynolds Twiiter tafish (Todd Fisher). All rights reserved – https://www.rollingstone.de/carrie-fisher-debbie-reynolds-beerdigung-1176187/
Carrie and Debbie
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