Monday, March 18, 2019

Girl Power! (Or how I realized that I'm still craving strong female representation in superheroes at my age)

Chris and I went to see Captain Marvel in the theater over the weekend.  So....SPOILER ALERT!  I will be talking about parts of the movie.  You've been warned!!

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I found myself tearing up at moments, like when Carol Danvers was thinking back to all the times in her life that she was told she couldn't do something, she should give up, or she wasn't good enough.  Then there's a line that she says that made me fully sob out loud:  "I've been fighting with one arm tied behind my back, but what happens when I'm finally set free?"

OH. BOY.

Captain Marvel: Carol Danvers with glowing eyes from trailer

Talk about the lives of women all over the world and throughout time!  This is the moment when Carol realizes in the movie that she's been held back from her full potential by her circumstances and by a lot of people around her (who happened to be male), and that all of that messed with her head.  Once she realizes this and sheds her past baggage, she lets loose and KICKS. ASS.

You hear a lot about people wanting and needing to be represented in the media.  Whether that is defined by gender, sexuality, or culture, it's becoming more important to have diversity in TV and movies so that many different people can identify with characters and stories.  But I'll be honest, I never thought that I needed that.

Until recently.

Wonder Woman really hit that point home for me.  When I was a kid, I LOVED that show when it starred Linda Carter.  But when I saw it in the theater, I started crying in the middle.  When Diana Prince was being strong, being feminine, showing compassion and empathy.  When she was questioning why things were the way they were.  But especially when she was being a leader - as Wonder Woman, she decided not to wait but to lead the charge across No Man's Land in that epic battle scene (well, one of the epic battles scenes - that whole movie was epic to me).

And then again during Captain Marvel - all those flashback scenes of Carol being held down or held back by men from childhood and throughout her life.  It hit me again.  I don't feel as though I've been held back quite like that in my life, because I have the most amazingly supportive father ever and I married a man who has rarely ever said no to me.  But it hit me (again) that our world is built to be systematically punishing to anyone who is not white and male.

I'll be 47 years old this year.  And I guess I'm still starving for strong kick-ass women in movies and TV.  I think there are more in TV than in movies, but there is something to be said for a female SUPERHERO headlining a blockbuster movie.  Or, as Carol Danvers says in the movie, "Heroes. Noble warrior heroes."  We need more Wonder Women.  We need more Captain Marvels.  We need more Black Panthers too.  We need more diversity on the big screen.  Our reality is so diverse that it's crazy that our media world is so homogenous.

And, if anything, the fact that all three of those movies I just referenced had ginormous opening box office weekends supports the desire for more representation.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

What's the big deal about Political Correctness?

What does being "Politically Correct" mean?  According to Merriam-Webster Online, it means "conforming to a belief that language and practices which could offend political sensibilities (as in matters of sex or race) should be eliminated"

I got into an argument with a "friend" on Facebook a few days ago and it didn't end well.  He was livid about having to be politically correct about the word "fag".  In his view, it used to mean "asshole" and why can't it still be used that way.

Guess what?  Times change.  People are living more authentically and out loud, regardless of who knows, and minorities are not just sitting down and shutting up.  They are learning that their place is no longer in silence or in the back of the bus or in the closet.  Those in power (and as a generalization that was straight, white, and male) could do and say whatever they wanted with very little regard to consequence.  They were allowed to also dole out consequences to people who would do and say things they didn't like.

Now, while there are still plenty of consequences for minorities and other groups to do and say what they want, but there is also more expectation that there be consequences for the previously-in-power when they say or do something that violates another person's well-being.  And they don't like that.  Hence their anger towards what they call Political Correctness.  Apparently we (liberals, minorities) are "snowflakes" when we want to be treated equality or with kindness or to have our very existence simply accepted.

I saw this online by Michael Bernard, a writer on HuffPost, Slate, and other such sites:
"Pro-tip: whenever someone is moaning about political correctness, ask them what it is they would like to say if they weren’t constrained. Then don’t be surprised if it is demeaning, derogatory or disrespectful to people who traditionally were considered inferior to the person."

Honestly, this is pretty spot on.  Political correctness isn't supposed to be about stifling freedom of expression.  It IS about acknowledging that there are others out there who are different from us and who deserve the same level of respect and acceptance as those who are traditionally allowed to simply live their life.

I think that a lot of opponents of political correctness don't quite understand it.  Here's a great example of this: 

It's not politically incorrect to say those things in a home and I don't believe that the majority of the left or politically correct crowd believes that any of these things are inherently wrong to say.  Someone said "Merry Christmas" to me the other day and I said it back, even though I am not Christian.  WHOA!  We celebrate it as a day to give gifts - not as a religious holiday.  But when someone said it to me, I said it back.  No big deal.  I say "Happy Holidays" because I acknowledge that there is more than one religion in the world and I live in a religiously-diverse city.  I don't say "God bless the USA" but I don't mind when someone else says - UNLESS it is to mean that no other country can also be blessed.  Tolerance is key - not necessarily acceptance.  There is a difference.

Getting back to the argument online I had, part of my response was that people who oppose using the word "fag" feel that way because of the derogatory nature in which that word is so often used.  The fact that he meant it to mean "asshole" about someone else proved my point right there.  But he didn't see that.  It was just a word, he claimed.  And that's what a lot of opponents of political correctness say - they are just words and people need to toughen up.

And yet:

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Thursday, June 7, 2018

A day of celebration and faith

It's June 7th and it's a momentous day for a few reasons. 

1. It's my parents' 48th wedding anniversary!
Happy 48th wedding anniversary to my parents, seen here
with Damian at Woodbury University.

2. Damian is graduating from high school!

I've already cried twice today and it's only 9:30am. 

A very sweet and dear teacher friend was telling me today about how she admired me and the ways in which I support my children.  Her own kids are grown up and she has grandkids so she said she has the gift of experience and wanted to tell me how she was so proud of me and Chris.  She sees that we will be reaping the rewards of our efforts today with our kids and she understands how hard it can be and empathized with me having to let Damian take a different path than what I had envisioned for him.  Mrs. B. totally made me cry in the middle of class. She and I have always had amazing conversations and I just love her so much.

A word that kept coming up over and over in my mind was FAITH.  I have a MyIntent bracelet with that word on it.  I chose that word because I sometimes have to remind myself that I need to keep faith that things will work out the way that is best for all involved, specifically my children.  Today, specifically for Damian. 

What a wild ride the last 4 years have been.  But with all those ups and downs, all those times I was worried about him and wondering how he would navigate this world which can be extremely cruel and unfair to the LGBTQ community and especially to the Transgender community, all those times of doubt about whether I was doing the right thing...it all lead up to this moment of him this morning before going off to his last day of school:

June 7, 2018 - Last Day of High School!
He's handsome, confident, and happy.  He's excited about his future at Woodbury University. As my teacher friend said, he is mental and emotional ready to take on this world.  What a gift his presence has been in our lives!  I can't imagine him any other way.  I feel as though I have really gotten to know him after his transition.  It's a blessing that he was so brave and felt safe enough to come out to us and live his authentic life.  

Damn I am just so PROUD of this kid!  More pics coming after tonight's graduation!

August 15, 2017 - First Day of Senior Year.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Hi, I'm Priya and I'm an Obliger.



I've been listening to a podcast called Happier by Gretchen Rubin.  There are days where it is so much better for my mind to listen to this podcast than listen to the other podcast that I tend to listen to in the mornings, The Daily by the New York Times.  Sometimes the news is just too overwhelming for me and I decide that I need Happier instead.

Well, I love it.  There are so many little tips and tricks and I love the banter between Gretchen and her sister, Elizabeth.  They talk about so many things, and one of those things are Gretchen's books and her research into happiness.  One of her books is The Four Tendencies and it talks about the four personality tendencies of people: Obliger, Upholder, Questioner, and Rebel.  I'm an Obliger - I follow through on expectations of others, but rarely follow my own expectations or desires of myself. 

SO. TRUE.

Anyway, more on that later.  I'm going through a course about this and am really enjoying it so far.  But one of the quotes that I really love and really want to remember a lot in my life is the one above. 

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  Apparently it was first said by Voltaire. 

I do this a lot.  I don't start new things or I don't follow through on a project because I want it to be perfect.  So I research it to death and then get so overwhelmed and end up not starting it or quitting halfway.  Here's an example:

About a month or so ago, I discovered Bullet Journaling.  I posted about it on Facebook as a way to remember it and see if anyone else does it.  It's basically a personalized way to journal...a way that is supposed to be quick and easy. 

Well, I haven't started it yet.  I finally have a format I want to follow (after checking out dozens of other people's formats and templates), and I finally have a journal that I want to use (an A5 6-ring binder so that I can print out the templates I want for a truly customized journal).  Now, I'm waiting for a 6-ring hole punch so that I can finally put those pages in.

And yet, one of my friends saw my post, ordered the most recommended journal on Amazon, got herself a great pen, and just dove right in.

*hangs head in shame*

Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

Monday, April 23, 2018

FORWARD!

As is with all families who have a 12-grader, this time of year is one of chaos, deadlines, fretting about financial aid (unless you are very lucky), and looking back and anticipating the future.  Our family is no different.

Photo credits: Linda Bradley
Damian is a high school senior.  What a wild ride the last 4 years have been! If you had told me when he was in 9th grade of how different he would be by the time he graduated, there is no way I would have believed you.  Ninth grade was so stressful, so chaotic, so unhappy at times - and we had no idea why.  He was going through his journey alone then.  All I did was worry about how he would go to college.  How would he get in?  I didn't know that at the time I should have been worrying about him as a person, as a emotional being.  When Damian came out in 10th grade, so many questions were answered!

Tenth grade was all about transitioning.  And me coming around to fully accepting what was happening.  I admit I had a hard time.  I was sad and confused and worried...always worried.  Doesn't help a damn to worry but still I do it.  I can't help it.  I don't know how to stop.  Sometimes that can be debilitating.  But still I move on - FORWARD.

Anyway, so we started going to counseling, Damian by himself and us as a family.  I probably should have gone for myself too but I didn't.  I could probably still use some counseling.  Anyway, that really helped.  Hearing someone else tell me that I just need to get on board or risk losing my child was breathtaking.  The first time I heard that, it was like a punch to the gut.  Either get out of the way or get run over by the freight train.  No, that's not right...it was either get on board or get run over.

I got on board.


Once we made the transition in name and pronouns, and he started his T shots, it was like a dam had burst.  All this personality came rushing out!  This beautiful, smart, funny, sarcastic, OUTGOING, big personality came forward.  Smiles like I hadn't seen in years were flashing - laughter that I hadn't heard in years was ringing throughout the house.

Then we made the changes at school.  Went to his principal at the beginning of 11th grade and she was really supportive.  Changed the name (not officially at the time so only in the preferred name line) and told all his teachers.  For the most part, it was smooth.  There were a couple of teachers who didn't get the preferred name part and would use the old name during roll call.  But overall, it was smooth. Better than some horror stories that I have heard, that's for sure.

A huge turning point for us was our trip to Atlanta in November 2016 for a family wedding.  My extended family fully - FULLY - embraced Damian.  Again, so much better than other family stories I've heard.  That was a blessing and a big exhale for me and for Damian too.  That trip was one giant hug from start to finish.

I remember when we got home and we were just laying in bed tired from the plane ride and Damian said "I miss everyone".  It was reminiscent of when I would go to India for the summers when I was growing up.  Coming home was depressing because it was just so quiet.

Senior year was all about big changes and getting ready to go out into the world.  I'm very thankful that Damian is not trying to hide his transition.  He is out to the world.  And on September 8, 2017, he officially became Damian Blaine Bradfield.










After that, the next step was top surgery.  That happened in a whirlwind fashion as well.  We got insurance approval in mid-January 2018 and on February 11, 2018, it happened.  Damian's journey was all leading up to that moment and when he woke up from anesthesia, in a very quiet and groggy voice, he said, "I can't believe it finally happened."  Recovery was pretty smooth and quick.  And when he saw his chest the first time after unwrapping the bandages, we both shed tears.  He was just so happy.  Tears of joy.

Prom 2018
And now we're in the home stretch.  Couple of weeks ago, he went to Prom with a friend at another school.  He's going to his Prom and Grad Night soon.  He has been accepted to Woodbury University and plans to major in Animation and maybe minor in business or marketing.  He turned his grades around in 10th, 11th, and 12th grades, enough to earn a merit scholarships totalling $20,000 from Woodbury.  He's transferring enough credits from AP classes and community college to be ahead by a full semester of credits.

Photo credits: Linda Bradley
Photo credits: Linda Bradley

I am so incredibly humbled by this amazing journey that Damian has taken me on.  I've grown as a person in the last 4 years in ways I never could have imagined.  I thought our family was complete before - but we really were missing a part of it.  NOW, it is full and complete and I can't imagine not having him in our family.  

Photo credits: Linda Bradley


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

First quarter 2018

Well, so much for posting more.  In my last post on December 29th 2017, I talked about posting more.  What the heck!  It's April.  Guess the joke's on me!

A lot has happened in the first three months of 2018.

Damian:
January 18 - We received approval from Damian's health insurance for his top surgery!
January 20 - Damian and I marched in the Women's March and Damian registered to vote!
February 8 - Damian turned 18!
February 11 - Damian had his top surgery! (More on this in a different post!)
February 26 - After two weeks home recovering, Damian was cleared to go back to school.
March 6 - Damian got accepted to his top college choice, Woodbury University!
March 13 - We found out that he was awarded $20,000 in a merit scholarship for Woodbury!!

Nadia:

January 13 - Nadia auditioned for Ballet West summer intensive.
January 17 - She found out that she got in!
February 4 - Nadia competed in Round 2 of The Music Center's Spotlight Awards
February 9 - Nadia competed in YAGP semi-finals in Las Vegas
February 17 - Nadia competed in California Dance Classics (and got Honorable Mention for her solo!)
February 18 - Nadia competed with her class in California Dance Classics (and got 2nd place for their ensemble!)
Week of February 21-26 - Performed in her first musical theater show with CHAMPS.
March 10 - Nadia competed with her class in YAGP semi-finals in Los Angeles
March 11 - Nadia competed in YAGP semi-finals in Los Angeles
March 11 - We found out that her class got 3rd place for their ensemble at YAGP LA!
March 19 - We found out that her class was invited to compete in NYC in the YAGP finals!  They will be going the weekend of April 13-16.

It is now April 1st, and the tail end of spring break...all the aforementioned has been great news.  And yet, looking back, I have been a ball of stress for the first three months of this year.  I have come to realize that I should post more, if only to remind myself of all the good things in my life and be learn to be grateful more often (I AM grateful, but it seems to always be overshadowed in my mind with the things that I am worried about (more about what that is in my next post).

One more thing that happened on January 4 - since I was not happy with any of Damian's senior pictures, I asked a friend of mine through Girl Scouts to do a photo shoot for Damian.  It ended up being a session for both Damian and Nadia.  The pictures are amazing and I'm thrilled with them.  If you're looking for a family photographer, and want to meet a wonderfully kind and caring woman to boot, I highly recommend my friend Linda Bradley