“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.”
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron.”
― Dwight D. Eisenhower
by Michael Ann Dobbs / io9.com
There have been plenty of young-adult novels about young people searching for their identity — literally or figuratively. But few have taken the concept as far as Every Day, the new young-adult novel from David Levithan, the co-author of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. This is a coming-of-age story that manages to pack some age-old philosophical questions about selfhood and the body into an unconventional love story.
In Every Day, A is an identity without a body. Each day, A wakes up in a new body of another 16 year-old. A has almost none of the usual markers of identity: A is genderless, sexless, without race or eye color, neither attractive nor unattractive. A takes these qualities from the bodies A inhabits. While A has access to the bodies’ memories, A experiences the world differently from the individuals he or she inhabits. And A has no control over whose body he or she will end up in tomorrow. A has, over the years, developed a sort of moral code built primarily around a strict non-interference policy. Which all comes crashing down when A wakes up in the body of Justin and falls in love with Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon.
A tries to stay in touch with Rhiannon, which is difficult when A is different person each day. Eventually A tells Rhiannon the truth about his or her existence. From there, the book focuses on the young couple’s struggles to establish a relationship, when A is never sure who he or she will be tomorrow. A’s experiences as all these different people could have been nothing more than vignettes, but A’s love for Rhiannon and desire to see her again is in the background of each of these lives, complicating everything A does.
There are plenty of signs that the book could have turned into a more run-of-the-mill thriller about a unique supernatural being discovering its race or some other ridiculous plot. Luckily, Levithan stuck to the love story. He also uses the first person — thus avoiding the unfortunate “he or she” that I’ve used above. The book has an overall dreamy, fantastic quality that fits A’s wise beyond his or her years personality. While many of the daily episodes and interactions are very grounded, together they add up to something poetic. A’s life is, necessarily, deeply internal and this is reflected in the language.
One of the things I loved about the book was it defies easy labels just as much as A does. It’s a contemporary YA romance, but it’s also not just a romance book. It’s a fantasy book, in that there is no technology or rational scientific explanation for A’s existence or ability to move between bodies, but it’s not like any other fantasy books. It’s like a science-fiction book, to the extent that it’s about big difficult-to-answer questions, explored through an incredible narrative, but again there’s no tech or science. It’s just a unique lovely book about young love and identity, wrapped up in the impossible.
This isn’t necessarily Levithan’s first venture into speculative fiction — his poetic novel Boy Meets Boy takes place in what could only be described as an alternate or near future universe in which the school’s popular, quarterback is also a drag queen — but he is better known for his co-authoring of realistic teen fiction like the aforementioned Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. He was also involved in editing The Hunger Games. In fact, he’s probably the busiest person in YA fiction. Aside from writing and editing, he also organizes readings and teaches in the Writing for Children program at The New School (where, full disclosure, I had him as a professor).
“Anything that lives were it would seem that nothing could live, enduring extremes of heat and cold, sunlight and storm, parching aridity and sudden cloudbursts, among burnt rocks and shifting sands, any such creature, beast, bird, or flower, testifies to the grandeur and heroism inherent in all forms of life. Including the human. Even in us.”–Edward Abbey
I was in Boston and had opportunity to shoot some video of the veterans memorial in the Boston Commons…
by Helen Hill MFT
The holidays can be a very lonely time of year for anyone who, because of their uniqueness, finds himself or herself without family, and sometimes, friends. Sharing the time with others can be a salve for those who are tolerated or accepted. But for those of us who are unique, whether transsexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or suffering from some physical malady, and we find ourselves alone, it can be a challenge to just get through the holidays.
Families are defined by blood. Often, that is a mistake. Sometimes there are those relatives (by blood) whose views and outlooks would be offensive and cruel to any outsider — to any kind and compassionate soul. The challenge is to surround ourselves with a family we choose, who love us and accept us for who we are, rather than for what we are not.
If family during the holidays is defined by accepting only those people like themselves, then we have learned nothing about tolerance, acceptance, and compassion. Let us not make the same mistakes as those poor souls who live in fear of what they do not understand, and the resulting cruelty that manifests itself in the name of “family.”
What I would emphasize to all gender-variant individuals is that the holidays are NO TIME to be making major decisions about one’s life, one’s circumstances, one’s issues, or one’s family. Suicide is never good any time. But the holidays have a way of making us, what I like to call, “temporarily isolated” or “temporarily inconsolable.” The emphasis, though, should be on the word TEMPORARY.
During this tough economic time, many are suffering. And even in good economic times, during the holidays, there are so many people who find themselves spending the holiday alone, whether transgendered or not. And then there are those who do spend the holidays with their relatives and come back even more depressed and/or vulnerable than before they left.
Family and holidays can be very difficult even in the best of times. No matter what, whether spending holidays with friends and family, or spending them alone, I would recommend that no one make major life changing, irreversible decisions.
For those who find themselves depressed or alone during the holidays, the secret to success is to just get through them!
Survival is success!
The sun will come out tomorrow. There will be a chance for a new day and new beginnings. And hope does not take a raincheck during holidays. It is still there, even if it seems harder to grasp.
As you have doubtless heard many times before, even if you don’t feel like doing something, DO SOMETHING! A walk, a movie, reading a good book, or an activity. Invite another friend over for tea, or meet for a lunch or dinner. Some online support forums can be quite helpful during these times as well.
Solution Focused Therapy provides three very simple, yet effective, suggestions:
- If it is not broken, don’t fix it
- It it is working, do more of it
- If it is NOT working, change it
Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask for help. It is not a character flaw or a weakness to ask for help. On the contrary, it is one of the healthiest things a person can learn to do – knowing when to ask for help. This link http://gendersanctuary.com/resourceshelp.htm lists a number of resources that can be helpful during difficult times.
Make the time less about the holiday, and more about self-care.
But most of all, never use a temporary situation to make a permanent, unalterable decision. Never.
Hope and peace are always in season.