Mom, You Could Have Said Your Son Has A Vagina

My son Archie is comfortable with the fact that he’s rockin a vagina.

I told Archie about a conversation I recently had with a stranger. She made a comment that teens will blame their parents for their problems and hate them etc…etc….

My response was, “I have 4 boys, and am pretty close to all of them.”

That spurred her on to rant about how it’s only because I have boys I’m close to them and they have to individuate. If my children were all girls they’d dislike me, so on and so forth.

Archie’s response, “Mom, you should have fucked with her head and told her one of your sons has a vagina.”

There’s a million and one reasons to love Archie. He’s a trans man fully comfortable in his own skin. Embracing the journey as testosterone deepens his voice, thins his hair, and catapults him simultaneously through menopause and puberty. Gone are the days of wearing a binder to flatten his breasts. The grace with which he evolves humbles me.

He’s the bravest fucking person I know.

How did I get the privilege of being his mom? I swear he popped out of my vag wise beyond his years. I feel like I barely had to parent him. He came with inherent goodness oozing out of his soul.

No, I am not biased because I’m his mother.

I remember meeting his 5th grade teacher for the first time. In tears I told her “this child is special. I know every mother believes this, but this one, this one is truly special.”

A few months later I received an email telling me how incredibly off the charts this kid was.

In 3rd grade he said “Mom, I want to the play the oboe”

Me on the inside “Holy fuck, what’s an oboe.” ………..on the outside “sure, you can play the oboe.”

I’ve now been to Carnegie Hall twice to see the kid play. Seriously.

He plays other instruments and sings. This is one of my favorites. His voice is even deeper now

He’s in school for music therapy. Yes, to help people. You see this kid has ginormous amounts of anxiety and depression. Does that stop him, no. He makes all his own therapy appointments and takes the medication bull by the horns.

In fact I didn’t know what anxiety was. He is the one who came to me one day after he sought treatment for his and said “Mom, I figured all these years you just chose to live with your anxiety untreated.”

Talk about feeling like a fuck up as a parent.

The top photo was taken yesterday before his flight back out. I knew the hike and then the drive to the airport would land me in bed today, but it was well worth it.

What could be better than laying in bed, drinking a milk stout, blogging about one of your kids while Jase entertains the rest of the brood at the climbing gym?

Sure my muscles and joints feel like they’re fresh off the grill, I’m slurring my speech from exhaustion and thoughts feel furry like my teeth after too much sugar, but you do what you can.

I’m thankful for the distraction of blogging and that Archie’s comfortable with his vagina.

Cricket Cracks The Code For 2020

Cricket doesn’t give a rat’s ass that one decade is ending and another is beginning.

She doesn’t give a flying fuck that its a new year.

On January 1st she will wake up to her daily routine. Life as she knows it will be unchanged.

She’s not anxious about getting in shape, eating less meat, making money, being mindful, reading more books, writing a book, obtaining more followers, being green, helping others, getting out of debt, sticking to a budget, saving for a dream vacation, getting more organized, eating more vegetables, making better use of her time, using her smartphone less, learning the ukulele, or purging from social media.

She lives her life unencumbered.

She might stop and wonder what all the fuss is about. 2020……….it’s a number, a moment in time.

If she could talk she may ask you to recall 1998. Do you remember it? Was it good, bad, indifferent? What did you learn? Did you reach your so called goals? How about the year 2009? How was that year for ya? Were you still fat, in debt, hating your job and eating Cheetos at midnight while reading a trashy novel? Was that the year you finally “got it”? Really changed your life around? Or maybe it was 2015, that was a good year, right? You got out of debt, stopped drinking alcohol and learned to whittle. So which was it? What was the year of “magic”? Will 2020 be your year???????

Cricket doesn’t place her value in timelines. She takes each moment as it unfolds and lives in it.

While she’s laying in the sun licking her butthole, she doesn’t think to herself “I better clean this shit hole fast so I can get to reading another book. Mother fucker I have 11 months to get in 1,238 books. Last year I missed it by one! ONE, can you believe it?”

She cleans her butthole and then takes a nap.

While I do not intend to begin licking myself to get clean or shitting in a litter box, I do intend to live carefree like Cricket.

She seems to have things figured out.

If I Could Do Anything

If I could do anything.

I would drive a “happiness” van around the world

I would visit those with chronic illness in the hopes of interrupting their pain with joy.

It would be my own form of “distraction therapy” tailored to fit the interests of each individual.

I would take my pain and fatigue to the streets. I would meet others and we could share a belly laugh until we cry and there’s snot everywhere. Why not take our snot, sprinkle it with glitter, and use it as paint. There’s a distraction…….

I’d ask each person to describe what their body feels like. What it feels like to be them in just a few sentences. It would be a book written by thousands.

Yes, if I could do anything.

Sleep Time Lumpy

Emotions are messy. They blow up like the kitchen after a meal and a baked potato fight.

Yes, Jase and I had an Olympic potato toss with the kids last night. Pure impromptu impulsivity.

The best kind.

Fucked up emotions have a way of hitting you in the gut like a flying potato. Completely unexpected.

I’m doped up on Klonopin ready to sleep off the muck of the day. Yes, klonopin, the forbidden drug. Sadly the only drug that makes me feel human. They won’t give me a prescription. It’s too dangerous.

So sorry something works for you: takes away all the body pain, stops anxiety in it’s tracks, depression heads for the hills and you sleep like a fucking champ.

Nope.

Can’t have it.

I have a question for you. Say you have a child who is 20. They have tried at least 5 anti anxiety/depression meds to no avail. A wee bit of pot smoking eases all their symptoms. Would you buy it for them?

I sure would and I did. Why the needless suffering? Also we’ve seen too many kids who had to hide the fact that pot helped from their parents. Most are now dead or in jail………..what do you make of that?

I’m curious.

Troy, The Voice In The Ceiling and Other Gassy Tales

The sleep clinic didn’t know what hit them.

5 minutes before Jase had to leave he fucked up the sleep number bed, pushing it to the max of 100 and then quickly down to zero. Yes, zero, where no sleep number bed has gone before.

It looked like we were laying in a taco.

The deflated bed jacked up my anxiety to the point I was sweaty and nauseous. I could barely look Jase in the eyes for fear I’d pluck them out.

Jase had been with me for 2 hours to ensure I could handle my new identity as a circuit board. We we spent our time joking at a loud decibel. We are not sleep clinic material.

Once the bed was restored, the dismayed tech politely demanded it was time for Jase to head home.

I was alone with “Troy” as the voice in the ceiling, the camera at the foot of the bed and a costume of wires.

Ready. Set. Sleep.

I’ll spare you the stressful details. It was a long night.

I recall being startled awake by my passing gas. Yes, I let one rip in my sleep and felt like I should say “excuse me” to Troy, the voice in the ceiling.

No snoring, no holding my breath, no restless arms or legs. just farting.

At 5 am when Troy removed my costume he said, “You are very sleep deprived. When you actually do fall asleep, you go right into REM. The doctor will tell you the rest. “

“Is farting a sleep disorder?” was at the tip of my tongue. I held back.

I figured I’d spare us both the embarrassment and wait for the doctor to tell me……………

Perfectly Imperfect.

Our blended family founded on imperfection. Divorce, mental illness, physical illness, financial ruin, along with gobs of laughter, awareness and radical acceptance…….the only thing perfect here is we truly love one another and know we have nothing to hide in each others presence.

We’d like to extend warm holiday wishes to all and thank you for being a part of our lives.

We appreciate the stories and talents you are kind enough to share and for reading ours.

May we look toward the new decade embracing our difrences.

Peace and love xxxx

The Decorated Carcass In The Room

Meet Lucy.

Came with the house. Diamonds is on the other side of the room. Our landlord is a hunter.

Lucy stares at me from my corner on the couch. Comforting in a morbid sort of way.

There’s a decorated carcass in the room.

So many directions to run with this idea……..the things in life we need to let go of but refuse to ……… the masks we wear…..the addictions we have “under control”……..etc….etc…etc….

Get’s me wondering how many decorated carcasses are showing up at holiday parties across the globe.

“Honey, please put a different tie/dress on your carcass so it blends in better, Uncle Frank will be there, you know how he gets.”

No matter how you cut it or slice it and pare life down to a minimum, there’s a carcass in the room.

I’ve got my own this year. I have one gift a piece for each of my 4 children. Had to use my credit card so I can pay rent. I can’t shake the fucking carcass of Holiday’s past, even though I have changed, my beliefs have changed, and my children have changed.

They are so excited to be here, all TOGETHER. Here for each other and for us. My 2 oldest live an hour from us and they asked to spend the night X-mas eve.

Excited to meet Jase’s girls for the first time. Our first blended family Christmas. All 9 of us.

News flash Mare, they don’t give a rip about gifts or that you didn’t bake cookies.

Let go of the carcass. Put both feet in the present. Show up as your vulnerable authentic self. Lucy is there reminding you to be free…………

Shouldering The Pain

Jase the blog jacker here again.

I always want to write funny stuff. I know it comes from writing when I was traveling around the world. I used to fill my brain up with beautiful landscapes and funny adventures. I now realize I was filling a pot. The pot was my brain and it had tons of vivid material to draw from when sending correspondence to people on over five continents.

The last few years have been exciting. I moved to Colorado, started a new life and met a wonderful girl. We’ve had tons of adventures together. When we first met we were traveling every weekend camping and staying at ritzy resorts while spending on a shoestring during the offseason.

Over time Mare’s energy level has plummeted. Pain has spread across her body like wildfire. Her sleep has become broken and patchy. She gets constant headaches, numbness and tingling in her extremities. Anxiety and depression can hold her hostage at times for days.

I have experienced much of what Mare is feeling currently. I had comparable symptoms while being disabled from Bipolar depression and Fibromyalgia. In my own way, I felt the similar mental, emotional, physical and spiritual pain she feels right now.

What distresses me now is that I thought that my experiences would have better prepared me to handle what she’s going through. The fact is they haven’t.

It’s one thing to journey through difficult times yourself. It’s another to compassionately sit on the sidelines cheering someone to better health. What I see is that no matter how much shit you go through, it doesn’t take away the sadness you feel for when your lover has to go through it. I am not a great spectator. I want to take this pain off her shoulders. I want to carry it for her.

The Icy Truth

photo by me

Here’s the skinny: this is a strange time of the year. I just read a post by stormsoutside reminding me of this fact.

The holiday’s are not a jolly time for everyone. It’s a time of the year that’s questionable at best.

For those of you that read this blog regularly, you know I clean homes and work retail. You also know I’m navigating mystery health issues that a team of doctors are guessing at. The recent brain scan had 2 professionals saying “oh, this is not good” and a third saying “Your brain is good, lets get an MRI of your neck and lower back”……….ok??????? I suppose I’ll gather all my “scans” and get a second opinion, blah fucking blah……..blood work, sleep studies, x-rays……. Long story short:

I FEEL LIKE CRAP.

I HAVE NO ANSWERS

Add to that the laundry list of other worries, kids, finances, bankruptcy, homelessness etc…..

I was punched in the gut with the icy truth.

I don’t know when I will feel better. I may never feel better.

So who am I and who do I want to be? This is my life, like it or not.

Only I can find a way to be ridiculously, genuinely happy. To smile kindly and keep my energy in check while working with the public.

TO REMEMBER:

I AM NOT THE ONLY PERSON STRUGGLING.

Every single person is worried or struggling with something. Their outside may look polished and put together. I assure you, it’s not.

We are gifted with the freedom to choose our perspective. No one can take that away from you. You choose how you act and which lens you look though.

I am by no means telling you to ignore you negative emotions. What good would that do? Acknowledge and work through them. This is not a fake it till you make it plea. It’s a realization that we are all going though “stuff.”We can go though it and be happy at the same time. Our emotions can learn to live side by side.

I am skilled at setting up my own private pity party camp, building a fire and wallowing in my slop. After a few day’s it gets very uncomfortable, I tear down camp, and chuck it in the fuck it bucket.

Rather than being overwhelmingly burdened, try being annoyingly happy. I’m talking crazy town happy……….I just might wear a santa hat to my retail job today…..I just might.

…when you lose yourself you find the key to paradise.

Jase again.

A key idea in religions is the idea of finding yourself by losing yourself. Christ said it. I think the Buddha hinted at it. Even Jimmy Buffet makes light of it with Zac Brown in the reggae-ish jam “Knee Deep”. This paradoxical enigma is one theme i have encountered in my life multiple times.

I grew up an athletic and scholarly nerd who finished at the top of his class in high school with a ton of varsity letters, plenty of friends, a chip on his shoulder and big fat silver spoon in his mouth. See, I was an only child with a dad who was a college professor and a mom who was an operating room nurse. We had a decent amount of money, a house in town and a ski chalet a half hour away where we spent winter weekends.

I never wanted to go to college. Instead, I wanted to continue my climbing and snowboarding somewhere out west because I grew up in small hills of Pennsyl-tucky. I fondly call it that because i lived on the Appalachian trail. Never too far from the sound of banjos as joked about in the movie Deliverance. Having a father who was an academic, I was strongly encouraged to attend a university. In fact, I was pretty much bribed to pursue a bachelor’s degree by being given a fat bank account, a credit card and a brand new car. My only stipulation was that since i grew up inland, I wanted to go the ocean so i could learn to surf and dive. I chose the University of Rhode Island. In fact, that school picked me. Because i had a pretty good GPA, I received an academic scholarship in the school of ocean engineering. I liked ocean engineering because it was challenging. Lots of math, physics, laboratories on boats…. and I figured I might be the next Robert Ballard or Jacque Cousteau. The next great adventurer to find another Titanic or Lusitana.

College life was great in the beginning. I got accepted onto the crew team. I became a founding father of a fraternity. I was on the deans list. I went to tons of raves during the early techno scene and I became a whitewater boater traveling every weekend between regattas to paddle class V rivers.

Then BAM!!! I joined a religous group at school. I don’t know why really. Maybe because i was feeling empty. Perhaps I was looking for the meaning of life. Anyhoo, this decision changed the course of my life for years. The group turned out to be a cult and I went from being a super duper happy and fun person to someone who felt he was alway wrong in the eyes of God. I felt like a constant sinner and disappointment.

Long story short, I declined in mental health for the next four years. My genes expressed themselves in a way where i became bipolar. I was in and out of mental institutions for years. It took a psychiatric cocktail of mood stabilizers, antipsychotics and antidepressants to get me back. Two years after hospitalization and seventy pounds heavier i got my life back. It was me. Just a new me. I little more compassionate with a lot more understanding of what people go through in life and a shit ton of stretch marks.

Five years after recovering i dropped my 46 inch waist back to a 32. I was training for triathlons and was in great spirits. I decided to leave the corporate world as an engineer to help a friend open a snowboard shop. It was uber successful and we had a great season. In the spring, I embarked on a sixth month road trip to visit all of our lower 48 states. I decked out my Subaru to live out of and bought a one man tent to sleep in when i didn’t feel like crashing in the car.

My expedition went well. I dove, climbed, snowboarded, ran, biked, camped and everything you can imagine from Maine to Oregon. Unfortunately however, i also picked up six parasites, Lyme disease and an intense reaction to steroids used to suppress a wicked case of poison oak i contracted in Glacier National Park.

When i returned to Pennsylvania, I planned to sell my car and move to Asia to teach english. Instead, I fell bedridden. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. For the next 19 months I was chained to my mattress. The infections I sustained caused my body to shut down. My hormones plummeted. I couldn’t sleep. I was constantly in a state of fight or flight with panic attacks daily. For nearly the next two years I was a guinea pig. Bioidentical thyroid, adrenal, and testosterone hormones. Months of different antiparasitic drugs like Yodoxin and Flagyl. Six months of Azithromycin, 30 days of Doxycyline. I took Klonopin for anxiety. Xyrem, Soma, Lunesta, Ambien, Trazodone, Doxepine, and a million other drugs for sleep. None worked. Instead, I went from being an athlete and adventurer to a raving addict.

I craved alcohol and drugs instead of sports. I got three DUIs in a short period of time. I lost my driver’s license for 13 years. I was sentenced to 2 years in prison with the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections. I’m not talking county jail. This was big boy prison. By the end, I would be housed in Five of PA’s state correctional facilities.

In the duration between being charged with 3 DUI’s and going to the Big House, I recovered from Fibromyalgia. I found the drug Seroquel. It was an antipsychotic medication with a heavy sedation that helped me finally get sleep. I also found the drug Lyrica. It was a nerve pain killing godsend which allowed me to move. Six months after these drugs came on board I was finishing Ironman triathlons. I was also maintaining a blog and a Facebook presence where I was helping people like me and giving them hope for recovery.

You see, Fibromyalgia was my second loss. Bipolar was my first. Bipolar robbed me of my mind. I lost it. Fully and completely. I always said going “crazy” is like going behind a waterfall. You finally reach a place of peace with everything mentally crashing down around you. You can hear the “crazy”, but you’re behind it. One with it. No longer resisting the intrusive and painful thoughts sinking daggers into your stomach 10 times per minute.

Fibromyalgia was losing my body. I could no longer do. No longer train. No longer walk. No longer be mobile. Everything I prided myself on being able to accomplish up to that point…the ability to be mentally sharp. The ability to move my body quickly, for long durations with lots of skill…..it was all gone. I had nothing left to establish my ego on.

The very last thing i lost was my freedom. I was imprisoned. Sometimes in a box so small I could reach across it’s dimensions with both hands and touch its cold gray walls. Walls filled with the grafitti of other inmates before me who struggled to make sense of what they had done and how they would spend the rest of their lives.

I was petrified of being cattle in a stall, a pig in a pen, or chicken in a coup. I went from spreading my wings over 3000 miles of our beautiful American landscape to being confined to a twin mattress for two years to conquering 140.6 miles of swimming, biking and running to eventually landing in the Department of Corrections.

As frightening as my anticipation of being incarcerated was, it taught me a lot. I will be ever grateful for it. Many of my cellmates will never be able to walk the ground i do now as a free man. They will forever be bound and confined. It makes me sad. Some of these men had big hearts, but unfortunately got caught up in the web after injuries in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other men deserve their fates for what they have done to other innocent people. For me, I walked out a different person. An individual grateful for every breath he can take in the free world.

I came to Colorado because this state offered me a new life. It is the only state in the nation which will look at a persons criminal record and loss of license and evaluate if they believe someone is worthy of having their drivers license reinstated early. Colorado ruled in my favor. The DMV reinstated my license 6 years early. The state also provided me with medical and food assistance so that i could get back on my feet and and have a second chance.

…and isn’t that what this whole blog post and all of the lessons we read in our in our religious texts about. A second chance. What is that second chance? It’s the opportunity of receiving back and incorporating what we have once lost in a way that our Egos no longer measure itself by. For me it is using my mind, my body and my freedom in a way that i will be eternally grateful for what i have; never forgetting where i’ve come from. Also, it means to not forget all those who are still stuck in those holes I have been lucky enough to climb out of. To shine a light back down into that darkness for them to see and extend them a hand or ladder to help them climb out themselves.

The cherry on the top of my loss was that within a few month of moving to Colorado I met Mare. The love of my life and my sexy little hippy monkey. If I had never gone through the hell that i did, I would never have been in the right place at the right time to meet her. She is one precious gift i have no intention of losing.