Excerpt from the Novel

Lost in TRANSition Diary Entry

The Other Parent (OP)

“It’s a delicate art.” She said.

That was my former spouse’s response to my indelicate question about how he/she hid her junk in the bikini he/she was wearing. It was the moment I realized that she was no longer ever going to be he again.  Nor could I even cling to the hope of ever seeing the man I once loved reappear. I don’t know if I had hoped to see my husband again or if I was just hoping that my husband wouldn’t become a woman.

I didn’t react. I just looked at my daughter who still called the other parent “Daddy” with a little more pity than usual!  That’s probably the wrong reaction, but I wish the other parent (OP) had respected my wishes before O was born to find a suitable name for themselves as to save my child some confusion.

We were having a lazy afternoon with OP’s mom at her hotel pool.  It was awkward. I wanted to tell her how uncomfortable I felt about being around OP, but she’s OP’s mom, not my own.  I wanted to tell her that I missed our family.  The family that she was a part of until I ran away from the train wreck that was coming as a result of me being pregnant and OP coming out.  I hoped that this weekend would reunify what was now broken, but it did not.

Instead, I was left feeling wholly broken.  I had a blast hanging with OP and Mom, but it wasn’t the same.  He was missing.  And all I could think about was how I wished my father-in-law hadn’t died.  That the world hadn’t crashed down around me and that my daughter was calling her dad “daddy” and not OP.

It’s hard to be a mom of a child who’s having to deal with something she doesn’t quite comprehend yet. From time to time, she takes her confusion up with me.  She will tell me that I want to be a boy.  It hurts me in two ways:

1: She believes “Daddy” means a man

She’s seen Calliou’s daddy and his daddy looks nothing like her own.  Still, Calliou sets a model of family that she desires to have.  So, she will call OP daddy because it fills a picture of family she’s got in her head, but her picture is slightly different.

2. I have no desire to be a boy.

I don’t like her questioning my femininity even if she means nothing by it. i love being a women.  I love being a mom.  I love that she was grown inside my belly. I love my boobs, butt and my stretch marks that I got because they are mine and all-natural.

Yes, there is still a lot of anger in my heart toward OP.  I feel betrayed, abandoned and as though nothing will ever be right again. I pray time heals these wounds, but it’s been three years and it only seems to be getting worse.

Kindergarten Diary 9.6.17

Yesterday, I was home sick so it gave me an opportunity to see what my daughter’s morning routine was.  When it came time to do playground drop off, my fearless kid who faced the first day of school without a single tear, turned into a stage 5 clinging toddler-like preschooler. Even after I showed her that her friend D from her preschool was already on the playground, she didn’t want to surrender my arm.  She didn’t utter a word.  My mom brain said be stern.  Make her go inside. My heart was breaking because I couldn’t understand why she didn’t want to go inside.  Everything seemed to be going so well.

Something most people don’t know about me is that I am painfully shy and social awkward.  I have spent many years perfecting my social face.  Being a military brat, social face was a part of my DNA.  I moved often. I had to learn to adapt to new friends and the lack of “friends”.

I tried to explain this to O last night. Hoping it would give her some comfort, but I doubt my words penetrated.  She kept repeating she only had made 3 friends. All I heard was a tiny breaking heart wanting everyone to like her like they did back at her preschool.

When she looks at her mom, I am sure she doesn’t see me as I really am. She doesn’t know how uncomfortable I am in new social situations.  She doesn’t know that I would rather be alone than introduce myself to someone new.  She doesn’t know I’d rather put up with my “friends” crap than confront them on it. I am socially insecure and I own it.

My mom texted me to tell me she cried this morning. Should I even broach the subject again? Do I leave it alone? I am just left to wonder what the answer is and if there is a magic bullet to make her feel okay with going to school.

 

 

About A Starbucks Food Wrapper

I’ve spent the month talking to a new guy.  I thought he was genuine and funny.  I couldn’t wait to meet him, but for whatever reason, our schedules didn’t really sync up until Father’s Day.  The precious free moment for both of us finally came. So, we decided to meet in the chill little island of Alameda.

I told him to meet me at the Starbucks, and we could choose a lunch spot. So we strolled the main street for twenty minutes, where I let him dominate the conversation.  (Not to mention the oppressive heat was scrambling my brain.)  I let him choose the spot and as he was opening the door, I was hit by a flying Starbucks food wrapper.  The force behind it didn’t feel accidental.  I swung around to see a couple and a man.  They didn’t look guilty. I just told my date and we both shrugged it off, and went into the establishment for lunch.

As we sat there, he dominated the conversation, but somehow, I felt the connection we’d had in chats wasn’t there. At least, not from him.  I spent a lot of time listening and trying to decide if he liked me even a little bit.  I was consumed with the fact that I was sweaty and the food was mediocre.  When I did talk, I tried to be charming and funny, but he wasn’t laughing. We even got a lot of conversation in about his ex. (I thought ex talk wasn’t for the first date.)

About midway through the conversation, he said, “I went out on Thursday and had a great time with a skinny white chick.  Not my normal type, but it was a good date.”  I was taken back.  Why would he tell me about his date? I guess I was boring him.  I wasn’t trying but in the 100+ degree heat choices for continuing the date were slim.

Post date, I didn’t feel good about it, but I thought I’d ask if I’d bored him.  He didn’t answer the question.  But a few hours later he was texting up a storm with me.  They weren’t flirtatious like the other texts.  I didn’t know what to do with it, but somehow I feel like that balled up Starbucks food wrapper may have been a sign.

Live Your Life!

My dearest daughter,

I am writing you again just after another coward felt emboldened to take the lives of innocent concert goers.   I could care less who did it because in the end, this person is a coward and does not deserve to be remembered.

It hurts me to know a mommy like me may never see her beautiful child’s face again. But this is the world we live in.  This place we inhabit is a place of intolerance at times.  History is ripe with examples of intolerance and murder for “superior” beliefs.  One day, it’s going to be very hard for you to understand how people could be so careless,and cruel about other humans’ lives.  You will try to understand and likely fail, but there are lessons to be learned from all of this.

  1.  Do not be afraid.  Fear is a powerful drug.  It will cause anxiety and panic when you least expect.  Fear has it’s place, but don’t let it keep you from living life to its fullest potential.
  2. Respect.  Hold your beliefs close to your heart.  Do not let anyone turn you away from those beliefs that give you peace and a moral compass.  But respect that often people will not agree.  If you have the patience, try to hear their side of the argument.  If you can’t, let them know you agree to disagree.
  3. Safety is a perfect illusion.  You will be taught that one neighborhood is safer than another.  You will learn that we are are “safer” than other nations.  You will learn to value safety.  Nothing is wrong with caution, but safe only exist for moments in time.  At any moment, anywhere can be dangerous.

I am writing about these three lessons to tell you one huge thing.  DO NOT LET THE FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN DETER YOU.  You must live.  Go to the movies, concerts and foreign lands.  Enjoy living because life is more glorious when you drink it in.

With all my love always,

Mom

Fractured Fairy tale

 

It was a typical Saturday morning. I was running with O to Target to buy yet another birthday present for one of her friends. Target is my shop of choice for birthday gifts.

Walking into the store, I saw him and his smile met mine. It’s unusual for me to even notice anyone in a store but he was different. He was tall, dark and handsome. I mean strikingly so. I glanced down at O and realized I had no time to fantasize about this guy. So, we headed for the toy aisle. Picked out an appropriate toy for her friend and headed for the checkout. I gathered our purchases. O and I walked toward the exit hand in hand.

As I turned to look at her beautiful face, I saw him out of the corner of my eye. I thought nothing of it. But I could swear he was smiling at me again. I didn’t mind. It made me feel confident that someone I found attractive seemed to be attracted to me.

As I loaded O and our purchases in the car, he drove by. As I rounded the car to get in the drivers seat, he backed up. His car was as good looking as he was. He stopped behind may car and said, “Excuse me, but I think I know you.”

“Maybe,” I said.

This wasn’t my usual abrasive response. Guess I wanted to know if we knew each other even though I felt it was highly unlikely.

So he asked where I worked. No connection. He asked my name. No connection. I asked his and when he told me a light went off.

“We met at the Mexican place downtown.” I said

“Yes, that’s it. You were with your mom. I gave you my card. You never called.” He said.

“No, but are you still personal training?” I asked.

He told me no but explained he was in his last year running track professionally. I was infatuated instantly.

He broke my thought with, “You got you number for me yet.”

I did in fact give him my number and felt elated doing so. I am not used to that kind of attention anymore. And he was just “everything” in my head.

We spent the next two days furiously texting about everything we could think of and decided to meet up again Monday.

Monday came and for some reason I shared his photo with my co-worker. Something I never do. Her reaction was priceless.

“I know him. He’s my sons best friend. And he’s married and she’s amazing.”

My illusions were immediately shattered. He was no longer “everything”. He became every man I’d ever known. He was a liar and a cheat. And this time the disappointment hurt. I was into everything about him. All of it felt so real.

Sounds silly that I was so hurt, but I was. He convinced me to meet him anyway that Monday. He said he wasn’t married but peacefully co-parenting with his ex. I guess it was curiosity to figure out who he was. Give him the benefit of the doubt. But that was what I shouldn’t have done. He further destroyed the illusion by making me realize he was just interested in what was in my pants and not creating some kind of relationship. The result is loss of my faith in serendipity.

The Bloom is Off the Flower

Dating over 40 is an interesting mine field I don’t think I was prepared to deal with.

I am now attracting men younger than myself on a consistent basis. It’s a baffling game of cat and mouse where I am convinced I am losing. The boys aren’t necessarily outsmarting me, they just have more energy to be complicated and brooding.

Let’s take “neighbor boy” for instance.  He’s what I believe is described as “lumbersexual”.  He’s tall, smells good, brushes his teeth and is a good kisser.  We have had fun make out sessions in the car.  He does it for me physically, but mentally I just can’t get there.

We will compliment me and for me, it raises a red flag. I don’t feel complimented. I am immediately searching for his angle.  And his repeated claims I “ghost” him just make me angry and confused.  I swear I was the last to call or text? Maybe he was being sincere, but I just don’t feel it.

This week, I had lunch with my co-worker to chat offline about a project that we are working on. We went to my usual lunch spot where a young bartender, Greg, is my waiter.

Greg has always been bartender flirty. On slower days, he and I have chatted about the usual bar banter; work, beer and kids. But on this day, I begun to to question if he was bartender bantering or something more.  He seemed bummed that I wasn’t sitting in my usual bar stool at the bar chatting him up. He shoved as much conversation as he could into our two minute exchange.  So when I went to pay, he said, “You already paid.”  I knew darn well I didn’t pay yet.  I had transfer money between accounts to cover lunch.  He “looked” for my check, but said he couldn’t find it.  But it was a computerized check and he was looking at the reciepts.  He ended his search with, “I guess I bought you lunch.” Followed by, “Come back after work, we’re tapping a new keg.”

So did he ever put lunch in to the computer? Was the bartender flirting? That’s when it hit me, the energy I used to expend on gaining romantic relationships was no longer a part of my DNA. A few years ago, I would have spent days analyzing what he said, wondering if he liked me. I could believe how unimportant it was to me. When I was 30, I would have said this was due to the “Bloom being off the flower”. In other words, my steadfast belief hitting 35 would make me unattractive. I’d have to cover all the mirrors in my house. But what it really means is as a mature flower, there is no extra energy for silly games you play while dating.

Letter to My Daughter #3: Politics

My dearest daughter,

It’s election season and your mom is stuck in her election spin cycle. It’s a time when I pay attention to a bunch of people who tell me they know what’s best for me.  These people don’t know me or my particular issues, but this is part of democracy in action.  I have to pick someone who represents a sliver of who I am and hope they don’t screw up my life too badly.  Despite that grim description of democracy, I believe in it whole-heartedly.  I am one of those people who loves politics.

But this election season has been different.  I don’t like the two people vying for the presidency.  They’re not all that likable.  But the campaigning tactics have been full of negativity, but what’s most troubling to me,as your mother, is that this election shows that to some people the worth and dignity of a woman ain’t much.

I am writing this not to bash one candidate over another, but to talk about women and being a woman. What concerns me is how women have been portrayed. We have been used as weapons.  We have been demeaned and belittled.  And worse, potential victims of sexual predatory behavior have been called liars, whores and ugly just for telling their stories.

Maybe it’s because a woman is running for president.  Historically, we have been portrayed as damsels in distress needing a big strong man to save them.  We have been seen as ornaments to adorn our men.  This is all sexist nonsense but it’s so persistent throughout our culture. 

Women are often told they are too emotional, too evil, too nasty, too stand offish.too bossy, too slutty., too pure and even too stupid to have real value. And very often we hear that we don’t know our place. I thought that these narratives were subsiding. But as I watch these politician play “I want your vote” , I realize that these narratives are alive, well and extremely toxic.

Years from know, when you hear about this election.  There will be stories about #repealthe19th.  A hashtag to call for a repeal women’s right to vote, because it would benefit one candidate over another.  But it would also silence a large part of our country. Giving the voice back to only men would  dishonor those women who fought to get  the right to vote for you and me.

When you get older, I will tell you to vote and to never miss an election.  I will tell you that even when your candidate loses, there will be another election to “throw the bums out”. And most of all, I will to tell you to cherish democracy  and to always make sure your voice is heard. Democracy only works when those whom it is meant to represent take an active role in participating in it.

With all my love,

Your ever hopeful Mom

What’s so great about the National Aquarium?

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National Aquarium Architecture

Well, firstly, I was told by a local never go to the Baltimore zoo but the National Aquarium was a must see. As you enter, you’re greeted by a rainforest habitat complete with a waterfall. It was so impressive that it got me so excited to see the rest.

The first floor features an IMAX theater where you can take in a 4D sea adventure. We skipped it because my daughter still isn’t a fan of in your face movies. The second floor features a delicious view of the inner harbor. You can take in the breadth of the view and decide what to hit after your visit to the aquarium.

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The moon jelly pool.

Ever wanted to touch a moon jelly? You can do it! What about a horseshoe crab? They have a few of those. The touch pools are fun and feature built-in stairs so my preschooler was able to touch a stingray. The stingrays seem to crave attention and swim towards all the hands in the water instead of swim away. When she got her fill of touching the stingray, we touched moon jellyfish!  They’re so squishy!!!

The aquarium is filled with fun interactive explorations like the seashore. The aquarium staff is wonderful. After taking in the reef tank on the second floor, we took some time to get educated on preserving the ocean’s coral reef.  They discussed the conservation efforts of the coral reef and what we as individuals can do to help. In the rainforest, I spent 10 minutes bugging img_4031one employee to help me find the sloth.  Those buggers move so slow that I never found him.  Plus, I didn’t have to go to Greenland to see an actual puffin.

The National Aquarium is a national treasure filled with wonders of the seven seas.  It’s in a prime location at Baltimore’s Inner harbor.  It’s architecture is modern, clean and interesting.  I reminds me of the interior of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. I love that the coral reef on the 2nd floor is in view at every level of the aquarium with the exception of the rainforest level.  This aquarium is educational wrapped up in a whole lot of fun.  If you’re ever in Baltimore, I recommend this be one of your first stops.

Gotta Catch ‘Em All

Yes, I succumbed to the nebulous peer pressure of the digital age and downloaded Pokemon Go five days after it’s release. I don’t even know what possessed me. I’m usually resistant to digital peer pressure but this seemed like fun.

When I initially downloaded it, I had made a promise to myself to not let the 20 pound weight loss I experienced from bronchitis go to waste. I was going to get out there and walk. The silly Pokemon app gave me a little incentive to get out there.

Here are some tips from one Pokemon Go mom to any others who haven’t yet succumbed to the craze.

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