Thursday, August 23, 2012

Lost & Found

Unfortunately one thing that comes with getting older is that we lose the people around us much more often. Just one of the lousy parts of life.

The longest running employee at the printing company I work at, had a fatal heart attack while camping. though I've been there for twenty five years, I don't believe we ever said twenty five words to each other, combined. Within a week, a recently retired co-worker past away from complications from surgery. Tom I knew quite well. I worked in his department for a short time before defecting to sales. Tom even remained in my Patriots pool after his retirement. a real nice man that will be missed.

While looking for Tom's obituary, I stumbled upon an obituary for a co-worker from my days at Caldor in the mid 80's. Ken was a year younger than me but passed away from cancer. A real nice kid, kinda geeky and goofy at times, but definitely a bit of the different sort. A shame to see him go so young. People could be a bit rough on him back in the day, I'm very glad I always treated him with respect.

Within days, I found out a good racing friend developed an aneurysm in the brain. He had an attack and it left him in a non-induced coma. He did come to, two days later, but he was blind. The tumor was in an inoperable area. The hope was to control it with medicine. Three days later I was doing cat care for the animal shelter and the text messages started arriving. Mike had passed way. Again another young man, a year younger than I.

I had known Mike since 1981, but really got to know him well in the later 80's and especially when I went to work for ISMA in the mid 90's. As nice a guy as you could ever meet. Everyone knew Mike and I've never heard a person say a bad word about Mike at all. A true good guy. Mike was one person I always sought out at any super modified race and was always happy when he checked in at the Douglas 23 modified when he had a free evening.

When I was working for ISMA, I didn't have to work at Sandusky, OH one year, so i went out to spectate and consume large quantities of adult beverages. I left an out door gathering late one night, only to find out the cops showed up much later and of all people, Mike was detained by the local friendly officers. I highly doubt Mike did anything wrong other than having an open container on the side walk. But the entire pits were in disbelief, that it was Mike of all people.

ISMA also had a hastily added race in Concord North Carolina. Mike rode down with me and shared the driving. Despite the fourteen hour trip each way, Mike is probably the only person that didn't drive me crazy. He could travel with me anytime, anywhere. The plan was to leave the race, drive as far as we could and find a hotel and finish the trip in the morning. Sounds like a great plan, till the further we got along, we drove square into the heart of an area with a big NA$CAR Winston Cup race the next day. No rooms available. Anywhere. We parked at the next rest area on the Virginia border and slept for the evening in my Lumina. Only to wake in the morning daylight to see we were camped directly underneath a sign that said "No Overnight Parking" Opppps.

I found out this story in hindsight. In the summer of 2006, nine months after I started my transition, very, very few people knew and almost no one in the racing circles. No one. But at Stafford, Mike and the Vic Miller/Chris Perley crew saw me heading to the grandstand after a NEMA race, and Mike noticed something no one else had. Mike remarked to his crew "Is it just me, or is John Tebbetts getting breasts?" LOL Mike, always the observant one. I love that story and I'm glad it came from Mike.

I'll miss him forever. The world has lost a true gentleman. R.I.P. Mike

In this time, my favorite high school teacher, Mr Maynard passed away from cancer. he was better known for being the leader of the chorus, but I had him for a Jazz/Rock class. He always wanted me to come back to West High School to give his class a lecture on the Beatles. Sadly we were never able to put it together. Another really good, kind man gone.

But here the sadness ends and finally some, AWESOME news came my way.

The Mod Chick Mafia finally reunited. All ten of us, in one location, at one time. for the first time in three years. We're ten ladies from different backgrounds, with different personalities, different needs, but we all are bounded by our love and/or involvement in auto racing. I never would have survived my transition with out the other nine girls. But between us all as a group, in out short time together we've survived a job loss and  out of state move, marriages, births, divorces, a sex change, near divorces, problem children, nasty break ups with psycho guys, you name it. But unfortunately like any other all female group, there was an internal clash between a few members and the group semi-fell apart. We still got together in smaller groups, but not like the glory days where it was all ten united.

But mention of a reunion came up and I set a date and place. Much to my pleasure all agreed and it went off without a hitch. We all got along and we all had an amazing time. I'm so happy to this group back together. I really love these girls and love having all ten together. I believe all past issues have been put aside and we will be getting back together like in the "good ol' days" again.

 I didn't think I could be happier, but I was soon proven wrong. It didn't even take a week.

The GLAD NH Transgender Storybook mentioned in my last blog, was finally released to the public and hit with a small media blitz. But a lot of GLAD supporters took to social media and plastered stories and links all over Face Book and Twitter. One local college professor posted it and it caught the eye of a woman in Virginia. This lady may know someone questioning about transitioning, so she read through some of the articles. Coming across a rare name "Tebbetts". This intrigued her so she opened the article which immediately opens with a discussion on my love for the Beatles and quickly turned to auto racing. Could it possibly be???

Wednesday, in the mid afternoon, my phone buzzes and I see it's a Friend Request from Face Book. Knowing my high school class is organizing a reunion, I dreaded looking to see whom it was. But I checked any ways. It was Diane B.

This Diane was my old boss at Caldor. I in turn, took her position when when she got married and moved half way across the country about a year later.I loved working for Diane. I loved working with Diane. I loved just talking with Diane. Thankfully we remained friends. A group of four of us drove out to see her in Indiana. including an ex I just had a recent nasty break up with, LOL. Less than a year later Diane moved to Virginia and one of us from the Indiana trip and I flew down to spend a few days with Diane and her husband. I spoke to Diane again that fall or summer but we had lost all contact after that, much to my dismay. I really liked Diane. She's a true genuine good person.

But in less than a year, I had found a new girlfriend (Elaina), changed jobs and moved, so I was easily lost. But I always missed Diane and thought of her often, if not weekly. I tried searching for her on Face Back on more occasions than I could count. As recently as a week or two ago. Turns out, I had been spelling her married name wrong.

But thanks to the GLAD article and a mystery person to me sharing the link. I'm back in touch with a dear friend. I swear I will never lose her again. Ever.

We spoke for two hours on the phone that night. It felt like five minutes. We picked up right where we left off. Any one who knows me, knows after five minutes on the phone, I'm ready to smash it. I could have talked to Diane all night. As interesting as my changes and experiences have been in 25 years, Diane's experiences were more fascinating.

I lost a dear friend for over two decades and yet I'm still on cloud nine about reconnecting to her. Yes I value her and her friendship in that high of regard.

I was beating dealt a sadness rainbow but at the end of the rainbow, the Mod Chick Mafia and Diane showered me with a pot of gold.

Diane summed it up better than I ever could. the below are her words, but I couldn't agree more

there is saying I hold dear which is “Surround yourself with the people who make you happy, those that make you laugh and who genuinely care, as for all the others they are just passing through" and I never considered you to be just one of those passing through, guess that is why I did keep looking, but don't think I can take the credit for this find....a higher power helped to lead me in your direction and you did not hesitate to welcome me back into your life. Our friendship will just grow from here....for those 26 years ...they were just on pause


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Items That Have Been 'Foster'ing

About three years ago, I was contacted by the Boston office of GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders). They had become aware of my existence when I spoke at the NH House Judiciary hearing in April 2009. They asked if they could use a me as a reference and resource in the future. I was only to honored and gladly accepted. I knew I wanted to pay my good fortune forward, but I really like educating the general public more the mentoring. 

Within a week or two, I was contacted and did a twenty to thirty minute phone interview. Basically covering my life, work, hobbies, transition and friends.

I hadn't heard  much from GLAD since, only when they were having transgender vigils, usually in November. A vigil is not my thing, especially since they were always in conjunction with a church, definitely took my participation out of the picture. but the night before my birthday I was contacted again. they were putting together a booklet of transgender people for the New Hampshire Coalition for Transgender Equality, and would I be willing to share my story again. This booklet is being targeted for politicians, lawmakers and business people for education purposes. I gladly accepted.

They were going to use the basics from my previous interview, which I was able to make some minor alterations to, like removing Newbury Comics, as I was no longer working part time there. We trade e-mails until we found mutually agreeable photos to accompany the article. Much to my chagrin, they preferred a photo from when I worked with NEMA (North Eastern Midget Association). Though I admit it is one of my favorite photos of me and is one of the two I have on file at Dr Brassard's office in Montreal.

I didn't hear from them for a few weeks but then I received notice that the online version was up and a week later I received the print version.

In that time, NEMA was coming to Star Speedway, and I had a free night. I had alternative plans, but a friend, Terri,  that I met on FaceBook via other friends, asked if I was going to Star that Saturday. We had been talking for over a year but had never met face to face. But I felt like I had known her for years. We have a lot in common and she actually enjoys my offbeat humor.

In turn, we have a mutual friend. This friend, Debbie Dore, is the mom of one of the Douglas #23 modified competitors and another really great lady. So I changed my plans and I'm so glad I did. I didn't even want anyone from NEMA to know I was on the premises, excluding Deb Marvuglio, whom I didn't even notify in advance. Upon my arrival I immediately bumped into Debbie Dore and we chatted for a bit and I was offered to sit with her and Terri.

I must say, it was one of the best times I have had at a race track in years. we talked, laughed, watched the races and just plain got to relax and have good time. No working on running to the pit area. It was everything I imagined your typical non-racing work involved female fans do at the track. Had fun. Actually it was even better than I imagined. Debbie and Terri both made me really happy that night and other than my giving some of my old racing official stories, my past was never an issue. Debbie and Terri are both wonderful and keepers. I hope I'm friends with them forever.

But it was the next day that one key thing hit me. This was the first time since my surgery that I was involved with a "Girls Night Out" type event, excluding dinners with Karyn & Diane, that involved absolutely no one that knew John personally, only that he existed. And it was never an issue. I was made to feel exactly like any other girl in the group would have felt, which is nothing. Simply 'one of us". Which is godsend  and in hindsight, on top of gaining two new friends, all I ever wanted. To be me and to belong, without the baggage of the past.

Thank you Debbie & Terri.