The Stranger in the Picture Is Me Redux
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The Stranger in the Picture Is Me Redux
Memoirs by ELA 302 and ELA 402, 2012
Curated by Anna Bean
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Battleship

Battleship | The Stranger in the Picture Is Me Redux | Scoop.it

Before I left for BART my entire sixth grade class had one more adventure, a three- or four-day trip to Cape Cod. We went on a coach bus. We would stayed in cabins that were a hundred feet from the beach. There was a floor hockey arena up the hill where my friends and I would go and play floor hockey which was very fun. We went on a boat for a whale watch and fishing. Only one person--my friend Matt--caught a fish. People caught sharks; they were not huge but they were good size. I got seasick so I sat on the top deck on a bench and watched the sky. When I felt well enough I went down a level and watched them reel in the sharks. It was cool.

 

When we got back to shore I felt normal again we went back to our cabins and did what we want. My friends and I went up to the floor hockey arena and we played for a long while. We got a little violent and started pushing each other to get the ball and score which made it even more fun. At night we went down to the beach and walked around and when we got back I noticed that there was blood the floor. I looked at my foot and there was glass sticking out of the bottom. I had to pull it out of my foot and keep it from bleeding which kind of sucked.

 

On the final day of being in Cape Cod we went to Battleship Cove. There were battleships there of course and a submarine and some smaller patrol boats. When we got off a ship we went through a little museum that had an old wooden boat with a face on the front. The face kind of looked like a shark and it was fierce looking. In the gift shop, we looked around for a while and I had a little money left and at the time I liked to build models of cars and stuff. I looked around for a while then I found a model of the battleship that we were just on. I bought that at the gift shop. I am holding the battleship model in the photo that they took of us in the World War II boat that brought soldiers ashore.

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Storm

Storm | The Stranger in the Picture Is Me Redux | Scoop.it

When a bad storm rushed through the valley and wreaked havoc upon our small town, I would see that beginning storm and run outside. Clad in only the dresses my mom always had me wear and not wearing the shoes that I hated restricting my feet, I spun and spun until my dad yelled to get inside. I felt that sensation of the wind combined with the rain, both falling upon my skin in perfect unison, the mud squishing between my toes, and my face slightly aching from the smile that broke so far across my face when my mouth was wide open for the rain to fall in. I never felt the cold from the rain or wind seep in as long as I kept spinning, as long as I let my mind wander far and wide imagining so many things at once. I can’t do that now. I don’t have enough skirts to get all dirty. There are two things that haven’t changed though. I still hate shoes and I love storms.

 

I was always an independent child. When I wanted to do things on my own I’d do it, but, people would always get mad and yell at me. Tell me to be more social or at least talk a little more. Tell me to conform to the rules of our society. My reply, “Would it really make a difference if I obeyed all your orders to follow the rules when I’m not bothering anyone?” Mom told me it really made them shut up.

 

I don’t really like authorities--they bug me. Oh, I still listen but to a point. I was always to type to act out when I was little, a troublemaker that ended up always getting what she wanted in the first place. A first class manipulator as my family once called it (still do actually). Conforming to society was never my thing, neither was standing out or being average or normal. What was important to me was what I was always taught. I just wanted to be me.

 

Being me ended up not going over so well with other kids. You see I had never talked to or played with another kid who was my age until I was three. I had grown up around adults who spoke their minds, who drank some type of wine or beer as often as they ate, who took a young girl to an drunk Irish bar every year to see her uncle’s band play from seven to midnight, who were sometimes really bad influences on a child’s behavior. Because of those experiences I was very... awkward around kids my age. Many kids took advantage, turning me into a lackey and punching bag, someone to get their frustrations out on. Thus I went through eight straight years of hell at school and dance class. But I go too far ahead.

 

Back at the time of the picture I had a certain innocence about my peers, now not so much. I’ve been told that I haven’t lost that innocence I used to have. I’ve lost more than adults thought I have. They can’t see through those barriers I spent eight years to erect. Now there are points where the feelings I express are actually real. There is one piece of innocence I don’t think I’ll ever lose sight of and that’s freedom. Because of the certain feelings I have towards it, I’ll never stop from striving for it. No one will take it away. Ever. This naivety is something that I can’t afford to have any longer and yet is still a dream I try to reach for with all of my might.

 

Freedom. The one feeling where you feel like a butterfly fluttering its wings to cut the air and fly higher through the sky. The animal I watched and loved from afar with my father’s mother, Nama. The feeling of exploring this wondrous and colorful world without any restrictions. That is the feeling I remember the most from when I was a small child. That feeling is accompanied by the memories of spinning, spinning and never stopping but I would always come back to Earth to find my family catching me from my fall with open arms. The life of no worries, no cares. The brain racing to catch up to something made up, thinking about everything in a hazy jumble yet as I fall everything I think becomes clear. My line of thought then is something I can follow once again. Three year old me was so different, yet so similar.

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Chevelle

Chevelle | The Stranger in the Picture Is Me Redux | Scoop.it

Before we started talked about the picture, here is some of the background knowledge. My mother had the title “mother” and “mom” but was not a mother nor a mom. She could not take care of her children. I bring that up because the guys she dated treated not only her like crap, but us as well. Which is not what a good mother would allow to happen. We were always in and out of foster homes, so we wanted to be away from her and her scummy boyfriends. She was always with scummy guys, because we did not have a father. Ours was the biggest scumbag in the world.

 

The only guy that was not scummy that she dated was Dana. Dana acted as we were his kids, even before I had been adopted. He did the best he could; he worked jobs all day and sometimes all night. When he had no work, he made sure he was always with us. Dana had new cars all the time because he was an auto mechanic. I can remember a lot about this picture. We were in a 1969 Chevelle. We were “driving” when Dana was home. We knew the 1969 white Chevelle with red pinstripes was loud and really fast. Sometimes Dana let us play in the 1967 blue convertible chevelle, not often though because Dana was always working on it. So when we played, we made a race car noise. We always loved playing in the cars, we spent as much time as possible in them.

 

At the time of the picture, Dana came over and said “ Hey... whatcha doing?” in his weird voice, which made us laugh and then Stephen and I said “playing race car with Travis. Travis needs to get to his crib in time before he falls asleep. So we are racing to get him there!”

 

We played for about another half hour, we were having so much fun. We never went this long without fighting in some way. We seemed the happiest kids in the world, as long as we were in the cars.

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Launched

Launched | The Stranger in the Picture Is Me Redux | Scoop.it

When my dad, my brother and I went to a science museum in Ithaca, there was a large mirror in the middle of the room. My brother and I couldn't stop ourselves and assembled a gravity-defying skit. The mirror was designed so that it looked like a thin panel in the middle of the room, and if you position yourself right, it gives the illusion that you're levitating.

 

I positioned myself so that I looked like I was being launched towards one direction. My brother tried to engineer the same look but on the side of the mirror. It would’ve worked but the angle that the picture was taken made it look a bit lame.

 

When I first heard about Carl Sagan from my father I've always wanted to go to space and fly around. Space just looked so fun to be in. An infinite amount of space for me to explore and and have fun. I was always goofy with the way I thought about things and how I performed them. When given the opportunity I will run off, mess around and make people laugh. Imagine all the performances I can do in space.

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Tutu

Tutu | The Stranger in the Picture Is Me Redux | Scoop.it

Before I get started I need to tell you, I’m tough as nails, I swear. Okay, with that out of the way I can get on with this.

 

Since when does how you dress define who you are? Just because you buy your clothes from Walmart doesn’t make you any different from the kid wearing $80 jeans from Pac-Sun. What it does mean: you have common sense because you realized Walmart sells the same style of jeans for $65 less. If you spend too much time worrying about what people think, you aren’t going to have enough time left to enjoy your life. Accepting yourself is the only way to have fun. Being able to laugh at yourself is a huge step towards true happiness.

 

Take this picture for example. This was taken back in September of 2000. I was only seven at the time. My mother had my sister, little brother, and me in daycare. My little brother stayed there all day, while my sister and I were only there early in the morning and for the afternoon due to school. Our daycare lady’s name was Karen.

 

There wasn’t much to do at Karen’s which is probably what lead to this photo being taken. She had a playroom with a bunch of Legos and oddball toys. The years I spent there exhausted the fun out of those toys, which only left me with two choices. Watch reruns of SpongeBob or play dress up with my older sister.

 

Since you have read the beginning of this memoir you can probably tell where this is going.

 

Yes, in the picture I’m in a tutu. I don’t care; I’m not even slightly ashamed.

 

Embarrassed, yes, but that’s what makes it funny.

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Notebook

Notebook | The Stranger in the Picture Is Me Redux | Scoop.it

It was a hot summer night. One of those nights where the humidity sticks your shirt to your back, and you can hardly see through your own sweat dripping down your forehead. Yeah, one of those nights. That’s the way it was the night I came out. I crept silently through my house, gripping a college-ruled notebook tightly. The hallway was only about twenty feet long, but that night it felt like miles. I finally reached my destination, the stairs going up to my parents’ bedroom. I paused, trying to pluck up the courage to do the thing I’d wanted to do for months... No, not months. Years. I closed my eyes and tried to steady my breathing... Then, in a sudden burst of courage (or perhaps it was blind insanity), I threw the notebook down on the stairs and ran back to my room. I didn’t sleep at all that night. I was too scared.

 

The contents of this notebook, this simple blue notebook, would change my life forever. Inside, there was an explanation of my entire life: who I am, who I’m not, and who I want to be.

 

If you looked through my family photos, you probably wouldn’t be able to identify me. Sometimes, even I have a hard time. You would, however, find a stranger who’s not around anymore. No, she isn’t dead... Just gone. Replaced by the significantly taller --but still red-haired and pale-skinned-- boy you see before you. Yes, it’s me. Quite a change, right?

 

Now you’re probably confused. Well, that’s to be expected. How did the little girl in the photograph grow into the handsome young man we all know and love? It’s a story I’m not sure I’m ready to tell, but here goes nothing.

 

It all started on February 15th, 1996. The doctor slapped my ass and said “It’s a girl!” but he was mistaken. Sure, the screaming infant in his arms was female, but it sure wasn’t a girl. I could go on and on about the difference between sex and gender, but now is not the time. This isn’t going to be one of those cliche trans*kid stories. This is an honest-to-god memoir, dammit!

 

I’m not sure there was really a fixed point in time when I realized that I wasn’t actually the little girl everyone kept saying I was. I guess I always just sort of knew. I know, I know, they ALL say that. Maybe they all say it because it’s true. Anyway, back to the story. When I was little, people liked to dress me up in the frilliest, girliest dresses they could find. I hated every moment of it. Sure, I liked dressing up. Most small children do. I just wanted to be the fireman instead of the princess.

 

I don’t remember much of my childhood, though. I think it’s because I wasn’t yet comfortable with who I was. The bits and pieces I do remember are my more masculine moments: taking my top off in the pool to be just like the other guys, always playing the male roles in theatre, trying to pee standing up... that sort of thing.

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