Tired of this already. I realize that forcing myself to write and inflicting it on others who may want to read something informative or at least interesting is ridiculous. I've decided to continue my writing practice but keep it private. The idea to blog daily was not such a good one. I've now had the practice of logging-in and following the format so that, in the future, if I have something that I deem worthwhile, I'll know how to go about it. If you're reading this, just give me a like. Thanks!
Today I'm sharing a short play that I wrote last summer during a rather extraordinary weekend called "Writing on Golden Pond." www.ernestthompson.us/workshops With seven other aspiring playwrights, I spent Friday evening until Sunday afternoon at the beautiful, pastoral New Hampshire home of Ernest Thompson. Each participant created a five-minute play from scratch, to be read by actors in front of a live audience that Sunday evening.
In his twenties, Ernest Thompson wrote "On Golden Pond," the award-winning 1979 play which appeared as a film in 1981. This amazing playwright coached us throughout the weekend and, amazingly, there were eight brand new plays read in his barn on Sunday. The results were positively incredible and I found the weekend to be an exhilarating and productive exercise. I hope you'll enjoy reading my offering. My friends from Insight Seminars www.insightseminars.org should find it particularly amusing!
COMMON GROUND by Leslie Hilburn Fabian
Early fall. Mid-morning. A bench on the grounds of a New England retreat center. 7-8 minutes remain of a 20-minute break from The Inside-Out Seminar for personal growth. On the break, participants were to make "an essential connection” with someone they’d not normally approach.
Alexandra Prescott is sitting on the bench. She is 37, beautiful, smoking a cigarette, looking pissed-off and impatient. Her clothing is provocative. She sits with one leg tucked under her, the other swinging rapidly.
Jacqueline Stewart gradually approaches Alexandra. Jacqueline is 61, a bit overweight, elegant, dressed in colorful, flowing attire. She’s warm, friendly, up-beat, chatty.
Hi! Mind if I sit down?
ALEXANDRA (shrugging one shoulder, somewhat sarcastically)
JACQUELINE (waving a hand and attempting to ignore the smoke)
We haven’t met yet. You’re Alexandra, aren’t you? I’m Jacqueline. They told us to connect with somebody we’d usually avoid and I wouldn’t normally approach someone who’s smoking, so this is perfect!
Yeah, well, I wouldn’t have asked you to sit here, so I guess it is perfect. And just so you know, nobody but my mother calls me “Alexandra.” I go by “Alex.” I don’t know why they put that on my name tag.
Oh, believe me, I get it. I was “Jackie” for years. I loved it when I was a little girl and the Kennedys were in office, but I’ve been “Jacqueline” for years now. I can’t stand it when people automatically shorten my name.
(There’s a pause as both gaze around at the grounds.)
JACQUELINE (attempting to engage Alex)
You know, it’s interesting. You remind me of my daughter, Elizabeth. She was lovely, like you. That’s another reason I sat down here.
ALEX (resigned to making small talk)
Well, that’s good, I guess. What was your daughter like?
[A middle-aged man, James, bustles by. He’s dressed professionally; glancing down at a stop-watch dangling from a cord around his neck, ringing a little bell.]
Five minutes, Ladies. Come on, Jacqueline, you’ve done this a zillion times. You know the routine. Don’t make Alex late!
Jacqueline gives a thumbs-up sign as James bustles on shouting, “FIVE MINUTES!” to other participants on the grounds.
Ohh, my Elizabeth was tall and beautiful, like you. She had the same coloring. I bet she’d have looked a lot like you at this age. What are you, in your mid-thirties?
I’m thirty-seven. (pause) And what do you mean, “She was”?
Well, she died almost ten years ago. Believe me, it’s a compliment when I say you remind me of her. She was a stunning woman, just like you.
ALEX (sarcastically, then softening a little)
Well, I’m sorry for your loss. It must be hard for you to look at me.
No, not hard, really. It just makes me sad. But you have your life ahead of you!
She’d be right about your age now, but we lost her. Her boyfriend murdered her, that ass-hole, and she was only twenty-eight, our only child. Her life was just getting started, really. She was opening a yoga studio and…
God, that’s awful! But lady…
JACQUELINE (interrupting, though polite)
ALEX (getting annoyed)
Yeah, whatever. Look, why are you telling me all this? I’m not your daughter and I have a mother—not much of a mother, but I’ve got one. And she’s nothing at all like you!
Oh, Sweetie, I didn’t mean to upset you. You know what? I’ve been making this all about me. Please, Alexan—uh, Alex—tell me something about you.
Ok, sure. I’m just fine, actually! Like they said in the seminar, F-I-N-E—fucked-up, insecure, not enough! That’s me! Well, let me tell you (then counting-off with her fingers): I’m here because my shrink told me to do this. I’m getting divorced ‘cause my husband cheated on me with some bitch at work. And I’m losing my kid, since they think I’m not a good enough mother. I’d like to be anywhere else, right now, and I really don’t want to talk about it! That’s why I was sitting here by myself. Can’t you people just leave me alone?
[James bustles by, stop watch in hand, bell ringing.]
FOUR MINUTES! Better get moving! Alex, Jacqueline can tell you they’re serious in there about being on time. Come on, Jacqueline. Four Minutes!
JACQUELINE (waving James on; speaks soothingly to Alex; still cheerful)
Oh, Alex; you’re really angry! You know, I watched other people approach you and thought maybe I could be the one to help you. It can be so healing to open up in the seminar.
I’ve done this training five times, and it’s always been so good for me. The facilitators are helpful, and I guarantee we’ll all be cheering for…
Look, I have a shrink and she knows everything about me. I told her I’d come, but that’s it! I’m NOT going to be airing my dirty laundry in there! And seriously? You’ve done this fucking workshop five times? When do you think you’re gonna get it right?
Oh, yes! And every time I’ve done it, I get more out of it, because I share my feelings…and my thoughts and concerns and, yes, my pain. The way you and I are sharing now and relating to each other, getting into the nitty-gritty of our lives…
It’s Jacqueline, remember?
JACQUELINE (interrupting, still cheerful)
No! It’s Jacqueline! But, you know what? It’s okay; if you’re more comfortable calling me Jackie, you go ahead. I want you to feel comfortable…
ALEX (interrupting and hopping up)
Look, Lady, whatever your name is, as far as I’m concerned, this whole thing is fucked! It’s a big waste of time and money. My life sucks—always has, always will. Some of us are just meant to have crappy lives and I’m one of ‘em.
JACQUELINE (head drops back; breathing deeply—exaggerated—with eyes closed)
[James comes by again with his stop watch and bell.]
I’m here to tell you, Ladies, you have THREE MINUTES. Come on, Jackie—oops, Jacqueline--time to get back in the room!
[He scuttles onward shouting, THREE MINUTES, EVERYONE!
THE DOORS ARE CLOSING SOON!]
Look, Jacqueline, I don’t mean to be a bitch, and I’m really sorry about your daughter. I’m tired of living this way, but nothing I do ever goes right. Maybe your daughter is better-off out of this world. Maybe her life would have been like mine…all fucked up. Think about it!
JACQUELINE (resuming her calm demeanor, nodding, peaceful)
What I think is that I’ve spent enough time with you, that’s what I think! I’d really hoped something useful would come of this connection, but there’s really just no connection! Nothing helpful, nothing enlightening, not even a little kindness. I feel sorry for you.
ALEX (pacing, stops to speak)
Sorry for me? What about you, you pathetic, old bitch? Your daughter’s been dead for ten years and all you can do is whine about it! That’s all you did in the seminar room—whine! Maybe it’s time for you to move on; do something else with your life!
JACQUELINE (still peaceful. resigned)
Yeah, well that’s what my husband said, too, when he walked out on me. Elizabeth was gone and my heart was broken. And a year later, he said he was sick of living in the past, and he was gone, too!
Okay; so, there’s some common ground—we’re both crappy at picking men. But you know what? I think your life sucks, too, lady. You wrap yours up in a pretty package, so nobody will know that you’re oozing on the inside. I’ll take my reality. My life is crap and nothing’s ever gonna change that. But at least I’m living in the present!
LADIES! Two minutes ‘til you’re late. Jacqueline, you know how they treat late-comers. Do you really want to make a newbie go through that? (Moving-on, shouts) TWO MINUTES!
[Alex begins bustling along beside him, away from Jacqueline.]
Hey, could I talk to you for a minute? You can’t believe what that lady just…
JAMES (interrupting, sarcastic)
Oh, yeah I can. That’s “Don’t call me ‘Jackie’ Jacqueline!” She’s done this training at least a dozen times. Listen, I’m not supposed to say anything, but let me guess (shouts, aside) TWO MINUTES, PEOPLE! ...you remind her of her daughter, right?
[Alex gasps; her hand goes over her mouth.]
That’s her shtick. She finds young women who remind her of her dead daughter, thinking she can help ‘em solve all their problems. She’s a nut case (snickers)—that’s a clinical term, of course! (shouts) TWO MINUTES, FOLKS! The facilitators can’t stand her; she never gets anywhere. But she keeps on coming back. Listen, I’ve got to get going.
JAMES bustles off, shouting
ONE MINUTE! DOORS CLOSE IN ONE MINUTE!
[Alex, shaking her head, wanders slowly back into the seminar room.]
[Jacqueline, gracefully rises from the bench, muttering to herself as she approaches the seminar room.]
I’m a good person; I love myself no matter what; people love me in return. I’m a good person; I love myself; people love me…
[Disappears into the seminar room.]
I realize that one of the reasons I've not blogged regularly or frequently is the frustration I've experienced when attempting to blog. I am finally comfortable logging-in and going to the right place to write my piece. I'm determined to write daily for the month of January. But I've just written my day four blog, told it to publish (I thought) and LOST IT! So I'm finding that this is definitely a surrender exercise, somehow designed to teach me to relax and let go. This is my blog, now, for day four; just this. Please keep reading; I'll keep writing. Eventually, something worthwhile may emerge!
I recall my parents telling me when I was a girl, "Stop frittering-away your time." Well, it just so happens that I've crowned myself the "Queen of Frittering!"
Of course, living in the deep south, I suppose this might take on new meaning, i.e., Corn Fritters, Peach Fritters, etc. Now that we English-speakers can, apparently, turn any noun into a verb, I guess that "frittering" might allude to a deep-frying, kitchen experience. But, no; I'm talking about frittering my time away into oblivion, having accomplished practically nothing, or at least not what I'd hoped to do in a specified period of time.
I laugh about this now, but there've been earlier years when I've soundly lambasted myself, thinking I was, at best, a low-life slug. After all, don't we all ingest what our parents tell us and proceed to use the negative to blast ourselves for years beyond childhood? Our parents were Gods, you know, always knowing what's right, what's wrong, and never failing to let us know it.
Speaking of frittering-away my time, I've managed to do so, once again, with the time I'd set aside for my daily blogging! Now it's time to dress for an afternoon date with my honey, planned over breakfast this morning. And, if you've read my last blog, you know that I'm not always the best at stopping what I'm doing to dress and go out. So, at the risk of this being read as drivel, of your losing interest in reading any of my future blogs, I'm stopping! I will have met my resolution for today (won't I?) and I'll still have my date to enjoy. I'm off to Festina Lente (a new, favorite motto: MAKE HASTE SLOWLY)!
Well, having just spent about an hour composing today's blog post, I hit the back arrow and lost it all. It's a surrender exercise I suppose (to carelessness? Ignorance? Speed?). So this will be very brief. I'm not reconstructing the whole thing, dammit!
I'd written about how I broke my chocolate resolution last night, having pulled a Zone bar out of the cupboard and unwrapping it, before I realized what I've always known...the mint bar is swathed in chocolate! Bottom line, with regard to that resolution not to consume chocolate during January: I ate it.
This may seem like a simple little slip, but I'm examining it to check-out my level of commitment to myself. After all, it was my resolution; my choice to do this, to build self-discipline and see how I feel without consuming chocolate. I let myself down.
I've struggled with this in the past, especially with timing. I have a tendency to run late. (Family members are chuckling as they read this; I'm notorious in this realm!) There's always one more thing I want to handle before I start dressing to go out or walk out the door; one more little thing that will cause me to be late. And it's sabotage, pure and simple.
So, this is my observation of day one: I broke my commitment to me on the very first day of the new year. Yes, I can forgive myself; I can let myself off the hook and start over again, just as I've done today. I can also renegotiate with myself and even change my plan. There's been no chocolate today and this is my daily blog post. I'm back on track already!
Writing in my journal this morning, I was naturally inclined toward resolutions. What's a new year without them? I pondered...What do I want to change, exorcise, or add to my life as I begin this new year? Surely something needs adjustment or overhauling.
As I thought, it was gratifying to realize that I truly love my life as it is. I've now spent several decades on a spiritual-self-awareness path of introspection and personal growth. This realization led to the resolution to continue with my life as it is. What a fabulous feeling!
Of course, since the commitment to myself and my life dictates that I grow and expand in awareness and in all good things, I soon realized that there might just be something with which I could challenge myself. How about a year of adding something positive to my life, while deleting something not-so-desirable, changing those things every month? The surge of enthusiasm I felt as I shared my thoughts with Deb told me that this idea was "right-on." I immediately decided that, for January, it's OUT WITH THE CHOCOLATE and IN WITH THE BLOGGING EVERY DAY!
How "right-on" is this for me? Well, while I don't consume excessive amounts of chocolate (forty years of Weight Watchers have taught me moderation!), I do notice that my stomach is slightly uncomfortable after consuming it. So why not experiment with this and see how I feel without it for a month? I can always resume eating this favorite treat on February 1st, if I think I want to, as I eliminate something else from my repertoire for that month.
And the blogging? Just take a gander at the date of my last blog! Two people to whom I mentioned my idea actually scoffed at the notion of my commitment to regular blogging! ("Yeah, right; I'll believe it when I see it!" said one. The other just laughed.) Always loving a challenge, not to mention the joy of proving others wrong, I knew for sure that I simply had to do this one.
The challenges to frequent blogging? My desire for perfection (I've been practicing overcoming this one for years); that old nagging habit of making everything else more important than being creative; and, worst of all, my excessive pondering why anyone cares what Leslie Fabian thinks! Since Facebook first appeared, I've wondered about the ego aspect of sharing everything with everyone, believing one's thoughts/feelings/photos are worth spreading far and wide. In actuality, I've frequently found great pleasure in what others have to say, so what's this about? Why not write what I have to write, whether others like it or not? Still, it feels Narcissistic to me...and it's a challenge.
There is a Zen saying, Today's enlightenment becomes tomorrow's delusion. Perhaps after a day or two without chocolate, a week of daily blogging, I will find myself feeling deluded. Meanwhile, please indulge me as I eschew my favorite indulgence and wallow in Narcissistic expression. There's always more to learn!
Last spring I fancied myself a blogger...and my last entry was in April! Well, we moved again; fourth time in three years. A reasonable excuse, I reckon.
In 2011, we sold our Ashburnham house, just before David came-out as Deborah. When we'd put the house on the market, there was a new orthopedic job in Connecticut as a hospitalist awaiting Dr. Fabian. Ten days per month in the hospital, handling emergencies and surgeries
We spent this past weekend in New Hampshire. Deb is on-call there once a month for Huggins Hospital, and it's generally a restful get-away, with pay! This weekend was no exception; we relaxed, played games, walked around Wolfeboro, and ate way too much. Deb stopped by the hospital twice to check on patients; otherwise, there was no orthopedic work to be done.
I noticed something this weekend that I'm still unaccustomed to: when we go out together away from home, such as to the movies, one of us begins to pay and is asked, "Is this for both of you?"
Deb enjoys this experience, as it means someone has assumed that we're two women friends. But it bugs me; she's my mate. When we were a "regular" heterosexual couple, people never asked whether one of us was paying for both of us.
Granted, we generally held hands much of the time when David and I went out. I guess it was obvious that we were a couple. We don't touch much in public now-so that leaves people guessing, I suppose. But, after nearly 23 years of marriage, it's very odd to me that people do not perceive of us as a couple. They would if we touched, I guess; but we're not comfortable now with public displays of affection. Perhaps we need to look more closely at our resistance, our self-consciousness.
We're 2-1/2 years into this new configuration of our relationship, and we're clearly staying together. When we're alone, our pleasure in being together, our communication, the way we get along-all are what we love about our marriage. We love each other deeply; our commitment is solid. It's going "out into the world" that still throws me! (How ironic, when it was always David, dressed as Deborah, who struggled with this.)
I don't think there's anything to be done; it's just one more of those adjustments I need to make. Yet, I'm still taken aback when it occurs. I guess I'm just not used to being seen as Debby's girlfriend, when I had this amazing husband whom I adored for twenty years!
I've just finished reading Andrew Solomon's incredible 900-page book, Far From the Tree. (I mention its length only because it doesn't usually take me six months to read a book!) He spent ten years interviewing families who have children born with unexpected circumstances, including transgenderism, then writing about them with sensitivity and clarity. Down syndrome, autism, and prodigies are a few of the others he includes.
This book gave me a great deal to ponder, including what it might be like for new parents, appearing in public early-on, with a child who has an unusual appearance. I suppose there are many other situations akin to this, such as victims of accidents and illnesses, with debilitating or disfiguring manifestations, resuming their public lives.
If you've read my book, you're aware that my mother had polio in 1952, at the age of 29. For me, it was "normal" to have a mom in a wheelchair. I can't help but wonder, though, what it was like for her to endure the pain she did, the difficulties of her recovery, then accept that she'd never move her legs again. She'd needed to adjust to appearing in public as a paraplegic, with my father pushing her, instead of walking beside her, hand-in-hand.
Could I be "overthinking" this? I have that tendency! Yet, my discomfort this weekend fuels my contemplation of a subject many may simply never consider. Perhaps it's a gift, never to need to deal with appearing different...but I'll take my life any day. I never lack for something to ponder!
Hallelujah! Awake at 3:30 this morning, I tossed and turned, thinking about starting this blog. Finally, I popped out of bed around 4:30 and set about learning to do this!
My wonderful web-designer, Amy Richard, created this beautiful site and has been attempting to guide me into the role of blogger since fall, 2013. But I've been so focused on completing my book, My Husband's a Woman Now, perfecting it, getting it to my publisher (Virtual Bookworm), reperfecting it, and now, marketing it, I've resisted delving into blogging.
Recently, however, a friend read and enjoyed my book [you can, too; purchase on-line at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Virtual Bookworm] and asked, "When are you going to start your blog?" Ah, the incentive! And now I have the satisfaction of discovering how to work on my site and be a blogger, too. It's good for the middle-aged brain (even at 5am)!
This new friend, who lives in a distant state, wonders what's currently happening in the lives of Leslie & Deborah Fabian, two-and-a-half years after David's transition to female. This was the idea for creating the blog in the first place, so HERE I GO!!
Yes, we are still together, with our twenty-third wedding anniversary coming up in May. As with all changes, this one has become easier to handle as time has passed (thank God)! People ask me whether I'm happy~whether we're happy~and I no longer hesitate; the uncertainty and angst have passed. There are still odd moments, still times when I miss my husband; but I'm used to having Deb full-time now.
The descrimination lawsuit continues. It's against the Connecticut hospital that rescinded a job contract, after being told by David that he'd be starting the job as a woman. This occurred in summer 2011, so we're up to almost three years of haggling. Two attempts at mediation failed, and we're now in the deposition stage, with the hospital desposing me next. I will relish the opportunity to put in my two cents! (Those of you who know me are thinking, Two cents? Leslie?! No way will she stop at two cents!) We can hardly believe this will go to trial, though we're prepared to endure that, if necessary. And we are ever so grateful that we can, as it's not just for us; it's also for all the transgendered folks who've lost jobs (and spouses and families and homes and friends, etc.).
Thankfully, Deborah's orthopedic practice has continued to thrive in this community of Gardner, MA. We feel truly blessed by the miracle of acceptance and kindness from the medical staff and patients. This is a gift, really; there have been over forty jobs that first David and, since the transition , Deborah, has investigated~each of which evaporates, once it's discovered that Dr. Deb was once Dr. Dave.
It continues to astound us that potential employers can allow the fact of the transition to supersede the value of hiring this outstanding surgeon, but it's clear to us that this is where our society currently sits...in fear and judgment and resistance. Again, we celebrate the open hearts and minds of the people of the Gardner area!
That's it for now. The blogging floodgate has opened and there's much more to come!
We should tackle reality in a slightly jokey way, otherwise we miss its point." –Lawrence Durrell