2017: Entre Nous


For many of us, the year behind us was one of the shittiest we’ve had. The year ahead will probably suck, too. If you haven’t already figured that out, then consider yourself forewarned.

For most of my life, I have eschewed resolutions. I basically felt that making resolutions was just a way of setting myself up for failure. Then I saw Woody Guthrie’s  New Years Rulins and I thought: “Hey, there are ways I can improve my life that are not insurmountable!” (I mean, I can change my socks.)

So for the past couple of years, I’ve tried to embrace the simplified Woody Guthrie approach. Happy to report that I’ve had moderate success.

But here we are on the forefront of 2017 and I feel I need to simplify even more. Because 2016 was complex as hell.

So here you have them. My resolutions for 2017:

  1. Whenever possible, only do things and spend time with people that bring joy.
  2. Just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should.
  3. If you say you are going to do it, do it. Don’t disappoint the people that bring you joy.
  4. Read more. Write more. Do more jigsaw puzzles.

I mean really. At the end of the day you just need to be happy. And I think this is the formula that will work for me.

Y is for Yesterday: Blogging from A to Z Challenge


There are three types of people in this world. People that long for yesterday, the ones that eagerly anticipate tomorrow and those that live in the moment. Which one are you?

I admit it. I’m a person that spends a lot of time thinking about yesterdays. When I speak about yesterdays, it is with a very broad scope. There are the yesterdays when I was a child growing up in rural Pennsylvania. And there are the yesterdays spent without my mom. There are also the yesterdays when I was a rebellious teenager largely perceived as a good girl. But let’s not forget the yesterdays of my college years, of my dating years, of my married years or of my parenting years. I also think about yesterday in the literal sense. Today’s yesterday marked one year since the passing of a friend who was very special to me. The point is, I think about yesterdays a lot. Most of those thoughts are about what I would do differently. I am always trying to inch out pangs of regret with the promise of what is possible. Let me tell you, regret is a serious bitch to be reckoned with.

My husband, being the yin to my yang, is the person that looks to tomorrow. He is, without doubt, the optimist in our family. When our usual summer vacation to our favorite spot in Maine was usurped by circumstance, we found ourselves, instead, planning around our limited timeshare and summertime availability. When our destination and calendars were in flux, my husband was unsettled. Every night he would come home to see what exchanges became available, almost lost without something to look forward to. As soon as a destination was booked, there was light on the horizon: maps to plan, restaurants to visit, tourist traps to ensnare us. There is now peace and balance in the world. I think that is why my husband loves Christmas so much. What could me more exciting than six (or more) weeks of planning as a means to a spectacular end?

Obviously (or maybe not so much), it is optimal to live in the moment. To appreciate what is happening now without trying to overcome the past or outdo it with the future is the true zen of life, isn’t it? I valiantly try to appreciate the here and now, I do. But remember, I am a dweller on yesterdays and I understand how crippling that can be to the appreciation of today. My big roadblock, sadly, is that I fear what tomorrow holds more than I look forward to it. I’m still working on that.

I am, always, a work in progress. But I haven’t given up yet.

G is for Gender Variant: Blogging from A to Z Challenge


This post is a little delayed and for a good reason. It was a post that I wanted to take my time with, not dash off in some hurried manner just to meet a deadline.

Over the past couple of years, there have been several stories that people shared with me about parents who accept and support their children from a very early age as it pertains to their sexual preference and/or gender identity. The most notable stories were the woman whose son was in love with Darren Criss, the family who raised their daughter as a boy and Brangelina’s willingness to call their daughter Shiloh by her preferred name: John. When people share these posts with me or my husband, they usually say something like, “I saw this and it made me think of you guys!” The reason why is because we have a daughter who shares similarities with each of the children in these stories and my husband and I share similarities with their parents. Every time someone shares one of these viral stories, I tell myself that I want to write about my daughter.


My husband and I have three girls, a fifteen-year-old and twelve-year-old fraternal twins who are as different as night and day. From a very early age, I’m guessing around four, one of my twin daughters began to show signs of gender noncomformity. One morning, as were getting ready for day care, Izzy peered at me from atop the toilet and asked, “When am I getting my peanuts?” Mind you, the male genitalia is not something we generally talked about at the dinner table. Assuming it was because of the shared bathroom experiences in her potty training years at day care, I went with it and said something snarky like, “Why would you want one of those? They cause nothing but trouble.” To which she responded, most assuredly, “Because then I could pull it and tug it like the boys!” She also wanted one because, like every other woman on Earth, she wanted to pee standing up.

In the few short years that followed, our daughter openly identified herself as being gay and would develop crushes on other girls in her elementary school classes. During that same time, she eschewed any feminine clothing, favored playing with her Nerf guns over dolls and eventually chopped off her long, blonde, curly locks in favor of a high and tight hairstyle. It was easy to support these choices for her because it made her happy. To the wait staff in the restaurants, she was always little buddy or dude. Initially, we would correct them but after she told us it didn’t bother her, we stopped.


The people that meet Izzy generally fall in love with her. She is energetic, funny, smart, kind and unique. She embraces who she is and so do the people that get to know her. Over the years, I’ve had conversations with people about Izzy and it is interesting what people will say. The most common thing I hear is that she is just a tomboy or probably going through a phase. Yes, it is entirely possible. We all go through phases in life. I have also been told that there is no way that an elementary school aged girl could possibly know whether or not she is gay. I’m sorry, when was it exactly that you knew you were attracted to the opposite sex? There have even been people who have suggested that because my husband and I allow her to make these choices we are encouraging her to be gay. Does that mean that I encouraged my other two girls to be straight?

When Izzy wanted to join scouting, she was disappointed that she couldn’t join the Boy Scouts. She didn’t want to do crafts and sell cookies, she wanted to play basketball and race cars in the Pinewood Derby. Fortunately, the scout leaders got wind of her disappointment and let her join as an honorary member. Those really were the best years for her because she was completely comfortable in her skin, got to do what she wanted to do and with friends who had been going to school with her for six years. They didn’t question her choices, they were just her friends. She got so comfortable that she even came out to a few close friends when she was in fifth grade.


As the middle school years approached, we were getting a little nervous and so was Izzy. Middle school, if you recall, is horrible. I know very few people who recollect their middle school/junior high years with great fondness. As Izzy’s elementary school career was ending, marriage equality and a string of teen suicides related to sexual identity were prominent in the media. Izzy developed a heightened sensitivity to issues related to bullying, diversity and acceptance. One afternoon in February, she created a Bob Dylan Subterranean Homesick Blues style video about the topic, in which she wrote:

Hello people.
I don’t have sound so I will write.
Don’t worry. Nothing will be sad.
People in my school are nice.
They would not if they found out if I was gay.
Get this. I’m a girl.
Thx for watching.

Six months later, Izzy was navigating the nasty terrain of middle school, the place where you desperately want to fit in but still want to be true to yourself. While she continues to remain true to herself, she is a little more quiet about it these days. She finds herself avoiding the bathroom so she doesn’t have to endure the eighth grade girls screaming at her to get out because she’s a boy. Thankfully there are understanding teachers that allow her to go during class time when the bathrooms aren’t filled with classmates asking her if she’s a girl or a boy. She even decided to wear a dress to the school dance after not wearing a dress for five years. This was followed by her requesting to go shopping for some more feminine clothes. Why? So she wouldn’t get questioned when she went to the girls’ room. Seriously, there should be some sort of universal law that mandates unisex bathroom in public places. Just ask Izzy. Or any woman who has stood in line at the theatre or a One Direction concert.


A couple of summers ago, my husband and I decided to give the girls the opportunity to go to sleepaway camp. Two of the girls opted to go to the more rustic 4H camp in Windham-Tolland while Izzy, due to an aversion to bugs and an affinity for basketball, when to an indoor Nike camp. Last year Izzy opted not to go to camp. We later discovered that the reason she didn’t want to go to camp was, once again, because of things like being split into boys vs. girls teams or having to decide where to go to the bathroom.

Last week I posted about Camp Aranu’tiq, the summer camp for transgender and gender variant youth located in beautiful New Hampshire. When my husband and I heard about it, we asked Izzy if she’d be interested. Right away she Googled it and soon thereafter gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up, proclaiming, “It’s a camp with people like me!” So now Izzy will get to fish, swim, kayak and play basketball without being concerned about having to dodge a million questions. As for the bugs, that’s another story.

If Izzy decides she would prefer to be called Zack, I’ll do it. If she asks us to switch to male pronouns, we will. If she someday desires to undergo hormone therapy, we will find the money to make it happen. As of today, she hasn’t asked for any of these things. And perhaps she never will. The thing that is most important to me is that my daughter is happy. I am no different from any other parent who strives to have children that are happy and healthy.

Now I don’t profess to be an expert on being transgender or gender variant. I have read a lot about gender variance in the last year or so and I still have much to learn. I can only imagine how it must feel to be in a body that you don’t feel comfortable inhabiting. But I don’t have to imagine what it is like to make every effort to ease any discomfort my daughter may experience by ensuring that she is loved, accepted and supported. Every day. No matter her choices.

And in the end, isn’t that what we all want? Well, that and more unisex bathrooms. And the ability to pee standing up.

On The Importance of Stuff

Welcome, January, you cruel month you. For the past six weeks most of us have stuffed ourselves with turkey, attended decadent holiday parties, unwrapped gifts galore and rang in the New Year with perhaps a little too much to drink. Now we are perched at the top of 2015 preparing to traverse the road before us, no matter how smooth or rough it may be. We are at the point now when we face the burgeoning debt accumulated over the last few months, start setting our alarm clocks for the daily grind that now seems to grind harder and begin the hibernation forced upon us by winter’s chill.

Yesterday, I was looking for a Phillips screwdriver to fix a chair that had gone wonky. For weeks that screwdriver had been in a certain drawer. Naturally, when I went to get it, it wasn’t there. Was it in the Elf Kit? Was it misplaced after Izzy put batteries in her RC quad-copter? The only thing I knew was that I couldn’t find it when I needed it. So that got me to thinking about the things which I will, for want of a better label, call “my stuff.” I spent a good deal of time this year filling two 10-yard dumpsters with “stuff” that we no longer used or that was damaged beyond repair. There were many moments during that process that the word “stuff” made me think of this infamous George Carlin skit.

Every year, shortly after Thanksgiving, my husband and I get requests for lists of what we want for Christmas. I try throughout the year to add things to my wish list and to my children’s so that when I am asked it is only a matter of sending a hyperlink. As I speed toward my 50th year on this Earth, I find that I am less concerned with tangible objects and more with experiences which, again, leads me think about stuff. So, I’ve come up a timeline, of sorts, about stuff.

Infancy to 3 Years: “I am so glad that there are people that make sure I get all of the stuff I need. Food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a warm place to sleep at night and people to love me because I can’t do that stuff for myself.”

3-10 Years: “I still like the food, the clothes and being warm but now I could really use some stuff to entertain me because, let’s be honest, hanging out with grown-ups is boring unless they are playing with me and my stuff.”

11-15 Years: “I really need more stuff. Stuff that will keep me out of my parents’ hair. Stuff that will make me popular and attractive and stuff that will make people want to be my friend. Also, I wish my siblings would stop touching my stuff.”

15-18 Years: “So you’re telling me that in order to get more stuff I need to get a job and pay for my own stuff? Oh, by the way, thanks for the food, clothing and shelter. Or not. Because I’m a teenager and I’m entitled to all that stuff.”

18-21 Years: “Oh. My. God. My roommate is touching my stuff. Also, can you please send me money and stuff like laundry detergent, Ramen noodles and spending money because they don’t have the same stuff here in the dorm as they do at home?”

21-25 Years: “Wow! I have a credit card and I can buy a lot of stuff for my new apartment and pay for stuff at the bar (and I won’t realize how much it will cost until I am in my thirties). Also, I look amazing in all of the stuff I bought at the mall yesterday. I’ll make my school loan payment tomorrow.”

25-30 Years: “So I can’t buy any more stuff because I have to save money for my wedding and/or down payment on a house/apartment. Once I have the house, though, I will need to fill it with stuff.”

30-35 Years: “Wait! My stuff is now our stuff? WTF? And, Oh. My. God. People are coming over so we need to move “our” stuff out of the way so that people think we live life according to Martha Stewart Living.”

35-45 Years: “After I have spent most of my money on a mortgage and paying bills, anything I have left is spent on buying stuff for my kids. Also, it would appear that my stuff is now their stuff. WTF? I need a drink. So the stuff I need has to be 80 proof or higher.”

45-55 Years: “We can’t afford any stuff. We are paying off a legacy of debt and sending three kids to college. Also, we are having a lot of tag sales to sell our stuff.”

55-65 Years: “This house is really big and there isn’t as much stuff in it anymore because we threw it in a dumpster or sold it at a tag sale. Time to move to a smaller place where we intend to only bring the special stuff with us.”

65-75 Years: “Now that we’ve retired and live in a smaller house, we don’t need any more stuff. We will gladly buy stuff for our children and grandchildren but we have everything we need. Also, we’re on a Social Security budget. So there’s that.”

75+ Years: “The stuff we want can’t be shipped via Amazon. The stuff that is most important is the memories we made, the traditions we established and the people that we share our time with. We are so glad that there are people in our lives that make sure we get all of the stuff we need. Food to eat, clean clothes to wear, a warm place to sleep at night and people to love us. Because we can’t do that ourselves.”