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Destiny’s Child

And she stood above them on the ledge looking down
Dropping petals from marigolds and Pansies and a rose
Watching them drift and twist slowly round
With fragile wings reaching for their destiny far below

And when we got there she was already on the ground
Staring up at us with a smile
As though she found the answer to her tears
There on her journey down

The one that evaded her all those years
And stood there still and leaning over the rail did I
Waiting for a sign that all was well
Long and hard and cold watching her lie

And among those broken blossoms where she fell
She did not stir nor waver once nor even sigh
Lying among the flowers that i gave her
when i said farewell

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America is Great.

Where there is fear there is hope, where there is darkness there is light, where there is suffering there is kindness, and where there is hate there is love. These are our weapons to counter oppression and bigotry. Be steadfast in your faith. America is great.

National Harbor 2
Destiny

 

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I’m an American

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Some of us know too well the test of adversity and hardship and live in fear every day but still manage to put on a happy face and walk out the door. We have done it most of our lives. Having felt a little sunshine these past 8 years it is only natural to want more when storm clouds threaten to disrupt our picnic. However remember when the rain cometh this time things are different. If we have learned one thing in all of those early years of struggle, we are not alone. Women and men, straight and not so straight of every color, ethnicity and religion have banded together as Americans to build a new future. We have sanged and danced in the streets like children, laughed and even cried over tragedies that have honed our multifaceted  character into one unified people for justice and principles that we claim unilaterally are: American. We have faced civil unrest, the enslavement of a people, bombing of churches, wars to end all wars, the unfair internment of some of our friends and neighbors of oriental decent, Stonewall, McCarthyism, the atrocities of Viet Nam, Watergate scandals, infidelities from our trusted officials too numerous to mention, and the fall of the twin towers which led to the erosion of our most treasured right to privacy from government intrusion, and we have endured. Friends let the rain fall if it must. I am not afraid. I am an American.

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Love is not so much overrated as it is misunderstood. It is perhaps the most complex emotion in the human experience. My father loved me. I know he did. Not because he ever told me so but because he never uttered the words. He kept it inside to show me how men survive. He, like most men of his generation was honed to be stoic. He was not unfeeling or emotionally challenged. Growing up in the 1930s, a man becomes a man by burying all of the compassion that would make him vulnerable. I doubt that his father ever said aloud that he loved him. I can only recall two times he ever embraced me. The first was when I told him that his son was going to die, not in the physical sence but that he would never see him in the same way again. The last time he hugged me was when he was dying. When I said goodby to my wife and children on a colorless January morning in 1994, I never shed a tear. I simply drove away. If I felt anything at all it was exhileration and a fear of the unknown. It would be years later that I would break apart releasing all of that emotional energy that had been locked away and understand completely that sometimes -as Eric Segal had observed in his debut novel, love sometimes means having to say goodby.

Excerpt From: The XX Club – a memoir

I’ve come to hate my body and all that it requires of me in this world …

Lou Reed, Candy Says – 1969 (The Velvet Underground)

Cindy was the speaker that first day I walked into the basement of Christ’s church. She sat cross-legged in the overstuffed chair at the corner of our circle looking like she got into a bout with a pit bull. Her lip was split, and her eyes blackened and purple, separated by a narrow white bandage across the bridge of her nose. Everyone was listening intently to what appeared to be a young woman in the “hot seat”, a box of tissue in her lap, sputtering in a little-girl voice about her boyfriend.

 “After I informed him about my upcoming operation in Montreal, he made it abundantly clear he did not want to ever see me again. He broke my nose. It wasn’t pretty,” she said and dabbed a dry eye with a tissue.

“He knocked out two of my front teeth. I had to scramble around on the floor after he had gone, looking for them so the dentist could put them back in.”

I had pictured a bunch of middle-aged men trying to dress like the woman of their dreams. Lost souls trying to reinvent themselves into some idyllic embodiment of femininity that they imagined when they were teenagers, before puberty rubbed them the wrong way. Instead, there was Cindy with her long brown hair tucked behind each ear, in her too-long sweater and a pair of thread-bare stirrups looking like a rebellious adolescent. When I found out she was a mechanic for a Sears Auto Center, there was a connection. I was not just surprised but ecstatic. I felt there may be hope for me yet.

Caught up in the euphoria, I asked her to lunch. I wanted to know more. We went to a small deli on the outskirts of town. No one gave us a second look. Two girlfriends out to lunch.

Afterward, I let her drive my sporty 5-speed Honda Civic at top speed through the rolling hills of West Hartford to an apartment she shared with Laura. The two of them plied me with whiskey and wine, dressed me up like a prostitute and took me out to a gay bar near Amherst.

I woke up naked between them in an unfamiliar bed that smelled like sweat and vomit. I dressed quickly and drove back to Vermont. I barely glanced in her direction since that first meeting. It wasn’t long into my transition that I realized not every member of my support group was the same kind of crazy as me.

 Traci was one of the first like me that I had met. At five feet four inches tall with diminutive features and a lovely face, she was that hot new model everyone at the XX Club aspired to be—no matter what variety of fruit they were. Traci almost a half-million before coming into the XX Club. She and I were more financially stable than most of the others. It gave us some perks. Joe, the person I would eventually move in with, was more scrutinized by the gatekeepers. The clinic made him get his wife to sign off on his hormone shots, but he was undaunted.

“They pay more attention to me than you guys,” he laughed.

Canon Clinton Jones, the club’s co-founder and social worker, usually sat in one of the chairs facing the door and smiled at me and the others as we came in. Traci compared him to Saint Peter thinning out the flock of lost souls as they came up to the pearly gates. He seldom spoke unless someone had a question for him. He sat quietly, small white hands folded neatly on his lap, legs crossed at the knee and observed while Jennifer, our club president, ran the meeting. Canon Jones was there, he reminded us, to help us help ourselves. Our job was not so much to learn how to become women, but to unlearn all the years of living behind a mask of masculinity.

Jennifer described it as peeling an onion, one layer at a time. It would bring tears, but it was necessary before you could find that tender heart. Jennifer loved metaphors. She usually misquoted or mixed them up in an endearing sort of way. She was soft-spoken and plain and didn’t wear much makeup. Her graying blond hair was tied up in a bun or stuck under some frumpy hat, and she always showed up in a long skirt and loose knit sweater like some old hippie chick. She looked like the grown-up version of Annie Hall.

Jennifer was one of the oldest members of the club and the main topic of conversation during our breaks. No one was certain whether she had had SRS or not, but everyone held her in high esteem. We all knew her intentions were good. Besides, Canon Jones, and one of the former members who presided over my first meeting before leaving to parts unknown, she was one of the few people that appeared to care about our progress and tried to be comforting.

She used to be an engineer at a big firm in Manhattan until she walked into the office one day with her thinning blond hair tied back in a bun behind her head and in a long, knit skirt and cowl-neck sweater. Her partners called her into the boardroom and offered her an early retirement package she could not refuse.

When she was not running our meetings or arguing with her live-in girlfriend Julie, she stayed home by a phone in her anteroom waiting for a call from her son. Gossip had it, when Jennifer’s ex-wife informed the boy what was going on with his father, he never returned home from Penn State.

The greatest part of the gossip however was Julie, an ex-priest. She was a bit disconcerting to be around. It was bad enough for most to descend into the bowels of a church dressed in ways that could get you arrested in the 1990’s and share intimate secrets with complete strangers but she made it even more uncomfortable.

Julie was that nun from Hell, the one who dragged you out of your seat by the ear and stood you in front of the entire class telling you that your zipper was open and forbade you to look down to see if it really was. Not only did her outfit resemble the Carmelite nuns that taught me for the first eight years of my academic life, her mannerisms reminded me of my Seventh-grade teacher, Sister Aloysius, right down to the nervous tic of her mouth whenever she scolded you for slouching in your chair.

With the exception of Julie’s starched blouse that was usually petrified-white, she wore black like a second skin. Black dress, black sweater, black-framed glasses, and her black hair tied back with a black ribbon. She wore black nun-shoes—the kind with a thick heel and blunt toe. Julie and Jennifer lived together in Jennifer’s large stately home off King’s Highway in an old established neighborhood in Bridgeport.

Julie was still on the books as the club vice president but seldom showed for meetings. When someone inquired, Jennifer would say, “Busy bees must make honey while they can,” or “busy is, busy does.” It didn’t really answer the question but stifled any further inquiry.

Most were thankful she didn’t come. No one wanted to be reminded to keep their legs closed or crossed at the knee if you were wearing a dress or skirt or stopped at some penultimate moment at the climax of a personal story shared with the group for the first time. She would tell someone if she thought the subject matter was inappropriate even on breaks and no one wanted to be reminded again and again that this was not a place to make “new best friends” simply when you stopped to talk to someone after a meeting.   

Traci’s boots were on the floor under her chair. Her feet securely tucked up under her while she huddled under her parka with the collar pulled up to her chin. Her breath floated aimlessly up through the loose fabric. She caught me staring and gave me the thumbs up. She approved of my casual look—a pair of my daughter Jackie’s old jeans hugged my thighs and a long red sweater clung to my budding round bosom. If you could pass in androgynous clothing, you had made it.

Traci said no matter how good we look someone always sees who we once were. Our past creeps through. My eyes narrowed on her pretty face when she said it. I found it hard to tell the difference between her and any of my sisters. She was, without question, as cute as any teenage prom queen.

“Don’t worry, you’ll get there. Give them moaning whores time to do their magic.”

That’s what she called hormones. I was never quite sure whether she laughed at my insecurity or her little pundit.

It was Traci who convinced me to move in with Joe for my year of living in my chosen gender, as required by the program.

“You can cart each other around from place to place until all your surgeries are complete. No one can go through this alone.”

When I asked who assisted her, she just smiled.

Traci planned on going deep stealth. She stayed to herself at meetings and avoided interaction with anyone who might give her away. She barely talked to the others except cordially. Although not formally appointed, she was my mentor. By the time I moved from Vermont to Hartford, she was halfway through with her ‘year of living dangerously’ as she called that time when we strapped our sex up between our legs and put on a dress, usually for the first time.

I was fortunate she took me under her wing. I came dressed that first day in blue jeans and work boots looking more like gay Bruce Springsteen than a Lola. I had no experience dressing up as a girl except a few times on Halloween but that ended in the sixth grade, after my father told my mother I looked like a squirrel. All I dared wear was a dab of mascara for fear of getting seen by someone I knew.

I had a key to my friend, Frank’s, dental office in Brattleboro. He was never there on weekends and I would stop by to use the bathroom and lightly line my eyes with a black pencil and fluff out my curly hair with a pick, making my androgynous appearance a little more feminine. But it wasn’t long after the hormones kicked in that my friends and people that I have known for years began talking about me in those hushed whispers reserved for folks who claimed to be abducted by aliens.

“Look at those two idiots.”

Traci jerked her head in the direction of two newbies sitting across from us. She kept her voice low.

“The tall blonde calls herself Proud Mary. She showed up at the last meeting in a long red dress and a white sweater. A bloody mess.”

Traci had a euphemism for every regular in the club and labeled the newbies if they came back a second time. Whenever she called me Saint Evelyn my stomach knotted but when she used the epithets that she gave the regulars, I got more nervous.

Besides Joe, Jennifer and Scary Julie, the ex-priest, there was Sarah the eunuch and Laura the admirer. Cindy was the whiner of the group and Hawk-nose Kaitlyn was the youngest member to regularly attend our meetings. Both she and Cindy were in their late twenties and were rail thin. Traci called them Zeros. I didn’t know it referenced a dress size. I thought she was being derogatory, like all her other labels.

“Joe calls her Big Kathy,” I said referring to the tall blonde. Traci was unconcerned with what other people thought. I never realized how prejudiced she was towards our own kind. 

“Like most of these freaks she works in IT and is married. Isn’t that Barbie?”

Traci nodded in the direction of a newbie in a white dress.

“No, I don’t think so. She’s Hispanic. Her eyes are slanted. Barbie had big eyes like the doll, remember. That’s why we called her that.”

“Cripes! That’s right. It’s hard to keep track of all the freaks. Where do they all come from?”

Jennifer brought her finger up to her thin colorless lips. Petite Cindy was in the ‘hot seat’ blubbering something about stenosis and an opening the size of a pencil nub. She was always crying or feigning emotional trauma to draw sympathy. Her large dark eyes looked down into her empty lap. Cindy spoke in a monotone-droll-little-girl voice. Her eyes were wide-open and dry. There were no tears, but people around her, especially the newbies, feigned empathy as though it was expected of them.

People didn’t normally cry at meetings. Most of our tears were used up long ago as children. Self-pity is unusual for a tranny who survived past puberty. It succumbed to an emotional cancer that spread quietly into the trauma of our teen years when we noticed the developing bodies of the girls born in the right body. Pity was replaced by an emptiness and self-loathing before we became adults.

Some had a chip on their shoulder, but when most first came to the club and realized they were not alone they were elated or relieved. No one cried in a meeting unless it was a story about them. How she was molested by a family member or sitting in a warm bath at the age of six contemplating how to cut off the male genitals that did not belong on her body without bleeding to death. 

Jennifer liked Cindy for some reason. She often sat in the hot seat. Cindy retold her story about her botched operation by an incompetent Montreal surgeon at almost every meeting. We were the experimental people. Dr. Menard had tried a new spiral grafting procedure to improve on the healing process of the neo-vagina. However, something went horribly wrong, if you believed Cindy.

“Cindy is a drama queen,” Traci said. She thought Cindy failed to follow directions and insert the prosthetic device into the raw wound twice a day to keep it open until it healed. I pictured the little girl in The Exorcist stabbing her crotch when she said it and winced. Physical pain to pacify our emotional trauma.

 Sarah’s hair was cut short like a boy’s but he looked and sounded like a woman because he never went through puberty. He contracted syphilis when he was 9. That’s when his mother’s boyfriend moved into their trailer. Sarah told me he used to sneak into her room at night when her mother passed out from the drugs that he gave her.

“He was a sick man.”

She almost sounded sorry for him.

I felt sorry for Sarah. She didn’t talk much. When she did, it was usually to certain people like me or Laura, who she moved in with when she came up from the New York City. Laura and Sarah were not real members of the XX Club. Neither were candidates for sexual reassignment, but Canon Jones let them join the support group whenever they felt like killing themselves. 

Sarah didn’t make eye contact. She usually looked down at her feet when she spoke or at her lap if she was sitting. Her voice was low, and you’d have to strain to hear it. She didn’t talk much to the others, but for some reason, she did talk to me.

Everyone seemed to confide in me and tell me things I did not want to hear, especially Joe. Sometimes people told me too much—those dirty little secrets that should be locked in a box in the back of a closet or swept under a bed. I kept a smile pressed to my lips and listened and tried not to think about how it would affect me.

From meeting to meeting, I barely remembered the ones I saw from the previous month. A handful of newbies came and went from time to time, but no one noticed when they didn’t show up again. We were keenly aware that only a handful would make it out alive and were relieved when we were still sitting in that imperfect circle of chairs.

One week several newbies appeared at once. A Konstanz with a “Z” she said, then a Bronwyn, and our hawk-nosed Katlyn paraded in wearing heels and heavy makeup probably for the first time. The more flamboyant monikers revealed a change in attitude among the community as if they were no longer ashamed of being born odd. They reinvented themselves like children playing in a make-believe world pretending to be something different than they were born—not quite a white knight, a soldier, or cowboy but almost always a damsel in distress.

I didn’t know why anyone would want to be a victim but some of the newbies tended to revel in it like it was their destiny. They came in to challenge the gatekeepers, who tried without success to screen them out. The clinic staff found the majority of the support group were these new gender-warriors, many also in need of services. They did not want to change their sex. They disappeared at an alarming rate when they or Canon Jones realized the program was not designed to accommodate them.

We turned off reality. When someone was missing at the next meeting, we did not ask questions. They could be dead or just decided to revert back to the real world and hang up their heels for a while. We never knew. We’d see a newbie sitting in a chair where the recently deceased should be and we’d go on acting as though they showed up again—transformed.

I attended several meetings, twice a month, while still living at home in Vermont. But as the hormonal therapy progressed, and I began to look and feel differently, I knew I had to leave the safety of my home and family if I was to ever become the person, I knew I was meant to be.   #

The Poet

Speak to me dear poet,
let me hear your gentle voice before the dawn and regret seeps in through the tattered curtains of my life.
Let your words pour through my weary bones, refresh my soul with your divine,
I am, for these fine moments before the light, your instrument,
play hard until comes the day with all its revelry and spite.
Leave your mark upon me so all will know that I was yours and you were mine this last beloved night.

The Poet

Speak to me dear poet,
let me hear your gentle voice before the dawn and regret seeps in through the tattered curtains of my life.
Let your words pour through my weary bones, refresh my soul with your divine,
I am, for these fine moments before the light, your instrument,
play hard until comes the day with all its revelry and spite.
Leave your mark upon me so all will know that I was yours and you were mine this last beloved night.

THE SEVENTH DAUGHTER

A Daughter is a rose without thorns . . . – Emily Michelle McNamee

___________

When he died, Da was only forty-five. They lied to Ma and said he fell off his horse. I knew it was not the fall that killed him. Not that a games-keeper for the Kings’ estate in County Cork could not fall off his horse. I’d seen Da do it after a visit to Killian’s Pub but I’d seen the leaves on the morn of his death and knew. The lord of the manor had come all the way from England for the annual hunt. He come into the kitchen and had me do his reading when Da was outside hitching up the wagon. I curtsied and told him: “Nah, Sir, I am forbade to read the leaves. If Father McGinnis finds out, there’d be the devil to pay.” Lord Kensington laughed.

“It’s not for real, Lass. It’s for entertainment.” Although I was barely eleven, my skills with alchemy and other gifts were legendary among the Baile. “Come now. Let’s see what ya can do. You are the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter, are you not?”

I nodded and fetched the pot from the stove and prepared his cup. I no sooner poured the water over the dried leaves and the chill fell upon me. I shuddered. He laughed and helped me steady the pot back onto the stove. His hands stayed on my shoulders and slid down to cover my hands. They were soft for a man. Not a callous or scar on them. he twirled me around as if to study me. Then of a sudden he let go and sat back down. His eyes bade me to go on. 

When he was through his breakfast including the tea I poured him he put his cup on the table, sat back and bade me to sit upon his lap. My sisters stood in the corner staring at their shoes. As lord of the manor our whole family were his servants. None dare deny his command. I stared into the bottom of the empty cup staring at the pattern the leaves had formed. when they all had seemed to settle into place, it presented itself in Olde English, a language of his ancestors that I was least familiar. As a daughter of the head games-keeper, I had learned all manner of things beyond my station to assist the ladies of the men who came to the manor for the hunt. From the various guests I learned French, Welch, Gaelic, and some Olde English. It was the hardest to learn, taught me by the Lord’s spinster sister, Cecile, who used to accompany him in the years when she could ride.

“Well, girl, hurry up. I don’t have all day. We got game to catch.” My sisters snickered nervously from the corner by the stove and his man, Charles, who tended to his personal needs, stood somberly to one side holding his boots.

“It’s hard, Sir. It’s in a difficult tongue. I have to wait for the images to form in me brain. You have a different linage. I—” I stopped suddenly when it came to me as if spoken into my ear by some faerie passing through. “A man will die on the hunt this day,” I cried in a voice much too old for me and that vibrated as if more than one person was speaking from far away. I pulled away from his grasp. Startled by my outburst, he let go of me and I landed on the floor on the pads of my feet. He held the table to steady himself as he stood. Perhaps he thought I meant him.

“Nonsense, girl.” He shouted. “You disappoint me.” I saw his blue eyes widen before he ran out the back door in his stocking feet with Charles chasing after him. I ran out the front where I knew Da was waiting with the wagon. It was his job to show the Lord and his party where the beasts would be hiding and carry back the prizes of the day in his wagon.

“Da, don’t go!” I screamed. Dark clouds were already forming on the horizon above the gables. 

“Katie, calm down. We’ll be back ‘afore the sun falls. Tell your mother to prepare stock for venison.” He was laughing at me. I nearly took a fall. “It’s a fine day. Cernunnos smiles upon the McNamee. A big white on the mountain goin’ a fall. I know—”

“The stag is in the heather, not on the hill and ’tis an omen, Da.” I finish for him. It got his attention. I’d broke my promise. He knew. His face turned ashen then red.

“Katie, go back inside. I’ll deal with ya when I return.”

“No, don’t go.”  

“Katie!” He raised the whip in his hand then clutched his chest with the other. I ran back inside to tell Ma. But it was too late. Pa was already chasing his big white stag in the heather.

It was dusk when the horn sounded and the hunt was over. I sat stone still on the swing on the back porch. I hovered, bare feet dangling over the edge, looking out over the heather, a Norse wind teasing the ends of my skirts then it lifted me. I am on the wagon beside my Da. We sit in silence looking down across the spotted back of Martha, feeling the warmth of the late afternoon sun on our faces as she trots down the lane toward home. He looks happy to see me. All my witchery forgotten. He looks to the sea toward Neamh. His old eyes smiling. He squeezes me hand and together we begin: “And I’d give the world if she could sing, that song to me this day.” 

 

Jen Rose

Her name is Jen Rose. She is my daughter and I have learned a lot from her on how to be an  empowered woman in an ever-changing world. Even as a child her inner strength and compassion radiated to everyone around her. Somehow she managed to rise up from being a petite introverted girl to become the hero others, boys and girls alike, admired and strove to emulate. Granted, her ubringing was not conventional. The Airforce moved us around the country when she was small but prior to starting school we settled down in a small town in Central Vermont where they had a progressive school system. She began playing sports,  particularly soccer, since she was first able to walk. I coached her and her younger sister, Jaq, and dozens of other children in a youth sports program designed to introduce, the then foreign sport, to a city that prided itself on it’s hockey, football and baseball championship teams. By the time Jen Rose was in seventh grade she was playing softball, basketball, bowling, track and soccer nearly year round along with her baby sister and began to gain regional attention. When she broke her leg in a soccer match shortly before basketball season she asked the doctor for a walking cast so she could keep active. I don’t think the doctor anticipated she would be clip-clipping up and down a court in front of cheering crowds to help her team to victory. A week after the cast came off she called me on the telephone and told me had assembled the first ever girls’s team to compete in a summer soccer league and then informed me that I was the coach. That summer both Jaq and Jen Rose were scouted and picked up by an international girls youth soccer team from the state’s largest city. We traveled to Canada where both Jen Rose and Jaq distinguished themselves as two of the state’s premiere players to contend with. Jen at midfield and Jaq, who had shot up to be the tallest girl in her class, as goalie. The area newspapers adored Jen Rose and covered her extensively as she progressed. She was hailed as the best female athlete to hit Central Vermont and filled a scrap book of clippings more than an inch thick. Despite all of the adoration she never let it go to head and always praised the other players on her teams. She managed to keep up her grades to remain in the top third academically in her class and in her senior year she wrote, directed, acted and choreographed the Senior school production of Let’s Put on a Play with her sister, Jaq,  in the lead role. That same year she and her sisters bowling team won the state finals. Immediately after the last ball rolled down the lane, we drove 2 hours to Smith College in Massachusetts so that she could compete in the regional track meet. She took third in the 440 meter race.  The day that Coach Ventriglia called to inform her that she had a position on the Lady Knights, West Points’ prestigious women’s soccer team, Jen Rose, and her little sister, Jaq, played in a match that would culminate their illustrious athletic careers at Spalding Regional High school. With several broken meta tarsals in both feet, in double over time and with one player down, Jen  came out of sweeper position to rush down the field to score the winning goal against a team that hadn’t lost a game in three consequetive seasons. The papers credited the win to her and “Jen’s little sister”. Jaq earned the title of “spider woman” for the countless spectacular saves in net. That Spring, Jaq, requested she play on a separate softball team citing she as tired of being referred to as: Jen’s Little sister.  As fate would have it the two teams were pitted against each other in the softball state finals with the winner representing Vermont in the regional at Amherst. Jen’s team went to the regional tournament. She weathered her Parents divorce the breakup of her family and the trials and tribulations of being one of the few female cadets at USMA at West Point during a difficult period and graduated in 1997. She went onto play soccer for the Army winning a gold medal before she hung up her cleats. She served along side her little sister, in many overseas campaigns including Bosnia, Kuwait,  and took over a command in Baghdad before leaving the service to raise her own family.  Although, her athletic and military careers were impressive and as her parent made me proud of her accomplishments. The one thing that will for her stand out in my mind was the time we took her and some of her friends to Ben & Jerry’s for ice cream. When we were ordering at the counter we discovered she was missing. We frantically ran outside and spotted her across the street assisting an elderly man with his groceries. I am so very proud and grateful to God, she is my daughter. She now has two daughters of her own she raises with her military husband. She put away her scrap book, medals and trophys. Keeping them out of sight, in some drawer of an old dresser and on a shelf collecting dust in the back of her closet, where they can do no harm. She is trying not to influence her daughters or make them feel they must compete or follow in her wake. When I tell them their mother was a superstar they look at me and smile as though I’ve told them some fairy tale. To them, she is a Wonder Woman because she’s: Mom. 

The View

A wealthy merchant bought land in a village so he could build a house overlooking a great mountain. He hired a magic elf to construct his home and gave him the plans. When it was finished the man noticed the elf had followed his plans perfectly except there were only two windows both placed side by side facing the mountain. The man confronted the elf and demanded an explanation. “Why did you only put in two windows when I told you I wanted to see the world in all its grandeur!” The elf said: “I followed your instructions. One window is when you wish to see the world as it is. The other is for those days you wake up and see the world as you wish it to be.” Still furious when the elf left he decided to see which window gave him the best view. There were no markings to indicate which was the wishing view. They looked identical and when he looked out he saw the same view of the mountain.

A week later he saw the elf again on the street and the elf asked him how he liked his view.

The man retorted: “Each morning I wake up and go to the window on the left and look out and then the one on the right and see the same mountain. There is no difference.”

“You’re not wishing hard enough. Go home and give it another try. This time think about the way you would like it to look before openning the curtains,” the elf said then disappeared into the crowded market.

So the man went home and this time he thought about the wild flowers he used to see growing on the side of the mountain when he was a boy but when he opened his eyes he saw only the same stark view of the mountain from both windows. Still angry with the elf he went back to the town and when he couldn’t find him he bought a ton of wildflower seeds from a farmer and hired workers to plant them on the side of the mountain.

In the Spring he marveled at the sight of the mountain with its splendid colors from all of the wildflowers he had planted but when he looked out of the window on the right the view was the same.

When the man saw the elf on the street that morning he confronted him. “Elf, I did as you instructed but the views from each window are the same.”

“Tell me, my friend, is the view the same as when I constructed your house?”

The wealthy man smiled.

Transcendence

Each and every night, without fail
I breach the inky darkness lunging dripping wet,
I fall beneath the fragile surface of a dream, transcending space and time, without regret,
Searching and soaring mile after scathing mile, beneath a scarlet moon,

Falling and melding into the endless void

to find you …

Candy Surprise

MOM: Here you can have these chocolate covered nuts if you like.
Me: “What are they?” I ask, as she pours me a handful.

Mom: IT’S some kind of gormet candy I picked up at the store. supposed to be chocolate covered nuts but taste like coffee.

Me: I thought you liked candy. Save it for the movies.
Mom: Well, I don’t like them.
Me: Why not? What’s wrong with them? And why are you giving them to me?
Mom: They taste good but they make me diggity.
Me: Diggity?!
Mom: Yeah, I.must be allergic to these nuts bc after I ate some I felt irritable and couldn’t stop movin around. I walked up to the kitchen four times last night. Only slept a half hour. Couldn’t sleep.
Me: They’re not nuts, Mom. They’re coffee beans. Full of caffeine. If I had one, I’d be awake till midnight.
Mom: Oh …
Me: Where’s the rest of them? There’s only a few left in this bag.
Mom: That explains why I only slept a half hour all night.
Me: Give them to me. No more gormet chocolate covered coffee beans for you. You’re 86, lucky your heart didnt give out.
Mom: maybe you can give the candy to April and Jim …
Me: oh, boy!

When Darkness Comes …

Dark days are merely days with less sunshine in them. We all have them. Some more than others. Addiction, neglect, self-loathing, fears and maladies of all types. They creep into our lives when we least suspect, sometimes right after having a baby and no one fully understand why. Everyone deals with it differently. I use prayer, meditation and exercise to stimulate endorphins in the brain to feel better. Writing or some other form of artistic expression also helps particularly in those darker days with less light. We used to live with layers of generations in one home or close by and the frequent contact of our social circle often made one feel less alone. But alone is how you must face your problem in the final scheme of things bc even those you feel comfort and cherish advice from cannot live your life for you. You have to choose if you want to feel better. No one can do that for you. Find solace in knowing that you have already accomplished much more in your lifetime than many and have friends and family who love you dearly. Take that love and stop feeling you can’t give back a hundredfold of what they give you. A doctor once told me after my first suicide attempt at thirteen, to run and not stop until you can’t. As long as you can keep running, you’ll find something in life worth running to. GOOD luck. Feel better soon.

All my love and encouragement,

Fyrecurl

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