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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Is Thomas A Man Or A Woman?

I read a news story today about the 2nd pregnant man who will give birth in February 2010. He's a transgendered male who is married to another transgendered male. His name escapes me, but it's not really important. The 1st pregnant man, pregnant now for the 2nd time, is Thomas Beatie. He's also a transgendered male. I remember his name because I'm more familiar with his story. Because I'm more familiar with his story and he comes across as a likable person, I have some empathy for him, though I still sometimes want to call "him" a "her".

Is Thomas Beatie a man or a woman?

I've heard Thomas Beatie speak. He's intelligent. He articulates his thoughts well. He was once a very beautiful woman and now he's not a bad-looking man.

As I listened to him speak I kept asking myself, Is he mentally right? Could he have actually been born the wrong sex? Is changing what we were at birth wrong? Is altering our looks with surgery wrong? Is wearing makeup wrong? Having our tubes tied? Having a vasectomy? Are you automatically crazy if you want to be the opposite sex?

Thomas Beatie is a person. Let's just assume he's sane - he sounded sane during TV and magazine interviews. I actually liked some of the thoughts he shared. He's thoughtful, sensitive. If he were my neighbor or someone I dealt with frequently, I think I would grow to care about him. I would protect him if I loved him - love is definitely the simplest way to bypass prejudice. I would be partial to his wants and needs, to whatever made him happy as long as no one got hurt. I don't really care what sex he is or was. It doesn't matter to me.

Is it wrong for him to bring children into the world? Will the children be taunted? Tormented? Confused? Traumatized?

Will they need some sort of therapy one day to help them cope with having a daddy that was also their mommy?

Well, MOST kids are taunted, tormented, confused, traumatized from one thing or another. Will the children of Thomas Beatie suffer any more than you or I did as a children? I dealt with some pretty awful stuff. Many of us did. And my parents were in no way as intelligent or articulate as Thomas Beatie appears to be. Thomas Beatie may turn out to be a better parent than most.

Just another thing we can't be certain about.

People these days can get a hand transplant, or a heart, lung, liver, face. Yes, a face. That would disturb me much more than a sex change, but still, I could get used to it. We can also grow a baby in a test tube or clone our favorite pets. Is this stuff wrong?

So back to the original question: Is Thomas a man or a woman?

I don't know either.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


I've always tried to avoid "communities". They're impersonal, too varied to be stable, and so full of those struggling to stand out that personality wars happen.

I've kept my friend base small for a good reason: quality. Quality comes in teeny tiny bunches.

I recently decided to branch out, join some online writing groups, see what the rest of the world looks like. I very much enjoyed feeling like I belonged to something again since I've stayed home for almost five years now raising small children. But it didn't take long before the "community" atmosphere grew hostile. Arguments and hurt feelings arose, secrets and lies were tossed around like confetti, email whispers were passed from one reader to the next like the juiciest snacks. There were mutinies.

I kept quiet. Then I tried to publicly raise my hand today and speak out for an unfortunate mutineer; I got cornered and told to watch myself. Not a friendly bunch after all. And I'm not comfortable with being the center of negative attention. A little cyber brawl can leave me feeling like celebrities when magazines publish their "fat" pictures, like Jessica Simpson when Tony broke up with her "publicly", or like a sumo wrestler with his "pants" down.

I've seen this in the workplace many times. Put a large group of people in the same room and factions occur, sides are taken, differences arise and hands get dirty. It's the nature of the human animal. There will always be those little kids who want to gather around to watch a "friend" get her butt beat. I've never understood it. I've always kept my mouth shut, stayed out of it. Until today.

My remarks regarding the mutineer? I wanted to stand up in her defense. My words were benign to me, but maybe not for those who don't have a clean conscience. It's not a pretty sight - the argument or "discussion" glowing before you in pixels. It's there for everyone to see. One lad who felt insulted tends to write blogs about cutting the fingertips off the women he hates - that and worse before he finally kills them. Hmmm.... I'd like to keep my fingertips please. We don't really know WHO we're dealing with in cyber world. I apologized for not being more ambiguous, or for being too ambiguous. I'm not sure which anymore.

I'm not fond of the lack of intimacy in a large group, especially online. In my personal life I tend to branch off to a tiny nest out of the way, hidden as well as possible in a dense fold of leaves among like minds. There aren't many birds like me, and sometimes it gets lonely in our remote part of the tree, but I tell you what, we don't sing just to hear the sound of our own voices. And when the economy gets rough, we share our worms.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mount Ennui

I used to notice when I went to the mall without money, there were millions of beckoning options. Everything fit, everything was attractive. I wanted it all. But unfortunately, without the funds I had to simply touch the pretty things and go home.

When I did have money to spend, I found nothing I wanted. Especially when I had an event to attend and needed a specific item, that narrow field made it even more unlikely that I would go home with a purchase.

This phenomenon made me think about where it appears in other areas of life. Money, time, children love, jobs, CATS - these things seem to appear or become active when we're not paying so much attention to them.

I've wondered a lot about the job category lately because I want to switch careers and move forward with my life again but alas! I have too much time. I can move in any direction I want which are too many directions. My husband can support us so we have too much money. See the pattern here? There's not enough obvious need. Not enough tension. My life is a big pile of SLACK. The universe sees the economy, the people out of work. It's not at all concerned about a stay-at-home mom in a midlife crisis who needs a job to "play" in.

"Oh, so you want a creative outlet? Maybe a cartoonist/writing combo to fall out of the sky? Dream on, Momma. Keeping sucking on that Unicorn Milkshake and your fairy godmother will certainly appear. Save the damn sob story."

I once lived in a small fishing town, worked two jobs, raised two teenagers and two cats - alone. I was busy all the time, always on the go, always in motion, needed, in the midst of all the action.

Now I'm in a larger well-groomed area, married, not working outside the home, two adorable toddlers underfoot. Three days a week the toddlers go to a 9a-3p program so I'm on my own. And you know what? It sucks.

All my old friends work and live fifty miles away in the small fishing town I left behind. I don't miss the work I did, but I certainly miss the camaraderie, the sense of purpose, the job title to help define who I was.

What we do defines us. And if we do, um, nothing, who are we?

I do some volunteer work at a church. I blog, keep a journal, visit friends and my older children on occasion. Once in a while I go to the gym, promising myself I'll make it a life habit. Three weeks later, I'm realizing it's been a couple of weeks since I worked out. Then I eat another cookie.

I'm basically living the life of a 90 yr old. And this is the life some women aspire to? Getting married, not having to "work", shopping or lunching or whatever ad infinitum? Let me tell you something. It's no life at all. It's an overdose of TiMe.

Keep your day job, girls. The work force feeds you with much more than a paycheck. You need that definition, that sense of purpose. Stay hungry for free time and relish it when it finally happens, just like the outfit you suddenly have the money to buy; anything in short supply means so much more.

What a difference a few years and some big life-changing decisions can make. I'm wringing my brain now to find a way to feel hungry again, to ache for something elusive, something out of reach. I need more pain, more tension, a work-out for the soul without all the destructive loss. I'm on a search for the perfect imaginary illness so I can work to cure it.

Maybe the illness is that huge stale mountain called ennui, and I'll have to be still just long enough so that it thinks I'm no longer trying to move it out of my way, no longer paying so much attention to it.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Friends & Neighbors

It's that time of year again when I hunker down and sort my receipts. All of 2009 will be filed away and stored upstairs in a dark closet, making way for our 2010 spending.

I have two accordion file folders, one for corporate and one for personal receipts. I add up all the tax on my personal receipts, file these and their corporate cousins in their appropriate slots - auto, meals, medical, clothes, entertainment, home improvements, postage, utilities, etc.

I can't help but notice where each receipt is from, the dates, who I was with, all in varying detail. It's a walk down memory lane.

There was the birthday dinner at P.F. Changs for my neighbor. I was invited along with all her "friends". I hadn't made it to that level of distinguishment yet; I was introduced to her 25 or more "true friends", her friends of several or more years as, "my neighbor".

At the end of the evening after lots of laughs and drinks, I noticed no one had bothered to pick up the birthday girl's tab. It was ignored until it couldn't be ignored anymore. I paid it - $55.00 or so. Lowly me. The "neighbor".

I found a receipt for the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Houston, TX. It was me and my neighbor again, having lunch with our young children before heading over to the Aquarium across the street to ride the colorful carousel and check out a bored white tiger. We had a good time, laughing at sophomoric humor while waiting in line for a train ride that wasn't worth the wait. As we waited she advised me on how to blow dry my hair to make it lie down better in the front, and that wasn't the first time she actually improved my looks with her girly "know-how". There was a $255 receipt that was testimony to this, her hairdresser "to the stars" that she'd introduced me to, and I've been ravishing ever since.

She taught me to shop for myself, put myself first, dress more beautifully, be more current. I lost the 30 lbs gained during my last pregnancy with more focus on my appearance. I felt prettier. No receipt for that last one.

There are other receipts for several years' worth of gifts bought for her or her young son's birthdays, Christmases, Halloween Boo packages; there are receipts for the several casual lunches enjoyed at various Sugar Land eateries or at the Bounce-U where our children romped together for hours while we talked about nothing and everything. There was the receipt for the outfit I bought to wear out for a night of dinner and dancing on my sixth wedding anniversary, a celebration shared with my neighbor and her own husband.

There are cell phone statements showing the many hours we, or rather she, spent talking. She always had a strong need to talk and I always wondered where her other 25 "true friends" were while she was spending so many hours on the phone with just, me.

Besides the receipts there are other reminders of my "neighbor", like her empty house across the street. She moved away two weeks ago to a happening part of Houston, closer to the action, nearer the cool crowd. She calls these people "cute, fun". But will they pay her birthday tab when her "true friends" choose to ignore it? Hard to say.

I suppose the people in our lives are like our receipts, different value amounts, memories attached, filed away in their appropriate places. I'm still trying to decide where to put the neighbor who isn't my neighbor anymore. If she wasn't and isn't my "friend", I'm afraid I don't have an appropriate slot for her, unless she wouldn't mind being filed away in the "entertainment" section of my "personal" accordion file folder. It may get very lonely upstairs in the dark closet.