51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past: Week 16: Van McCoy- The Hustle

I think I might have missed a week but I’m back with my song to share for Hugh’s 51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past. 

In 1975 Van McCoy and the Soul City Symphony released the disco hit- “The Hustle”.  The song was written after McCoy’s music partner watched people doing the dance by the same name in a New York City nightclub.

A few years ago, CJ who was four at the time, caught us off guard by humming this song. When we questioned where he heard it, he told us that his grandma listened to it all the time. Mystery solved. We showed him a video of what the dance that accompanied the song looked like and he was thoroughly entertained, asking us to play it over and over.

I admit to being a bit of a clutz, so I actually have never done “The Hustle” but if you are interested in learning, here is a video (although a little creepy because the guy’s head is chopped off—-watch it, you’ll see what I mean), it gives you the steps.

And if you haven’t gotten enough of the song yet, here’s an interesting video I came across while looking for one that showed the steps. It’s definitely the 70’s!!!

So, tell me- can you do The Hustle?

Here Goes

It’s been awhile but here is a “straight from my heart and unedited” post regarding last week’s episode of Survivor: Game Changers.

In case you are not familiar with this-

On last week’s reality show- Survivor- one contestant outed a fellow tribe member as transgender during tribal council. If you google it, I’m sure you will find videos and articles galore. I just can’t share a link or the video. I can’t.

Occasionally something comes up that I just need to say.  I need to let the words flow and I have to let them just land. As a writer, I tend to do a ton of editing and proof reading and re-reading……but when one of these posts comes up, well, I listen to my heart and I let them be. Of course, if I had shared the video, it might be easier to follow my ramblings but I really can’t do it. I went back and began watching the segment for a second time and I couldn’t finish.

As you may or may not know, outing a transgender person is wrong. It’s bad. You don’t do it. NEVER! There is absolutely no context in which it might be okay to do. The only person who has the right to share that very private thing is the person himself or herself.

As I sat watching Zeke’s reaction to being outed on national television by someone he might have trusted or at the very least thought he had formed a connection with, I recognized that look on his face. I have a trans kid. And although I have not been witness to them being outed unexpectedly, I watched my child at more social functions than I want to remember with a similar expression on their face. I recognized the tightness in his shoulders, the clench of his jaw, the checked out look in his eyes.

Zeke always knew that there was a chance he might be outed. Every transgender person who is just trying to live their life runs that risk. And I myself cannot imagine living with that- always wondering if today would be the day that someone would say something- and then how would people react. Because people always react- even when they don’t. I’ve witnessed that more times than I can count.

My heart aches for Zeke. It aches for anyone who is trying to live and finding themselves in a world that has all of these antiquated gender roles and stereotypes and expectations placed on them by society. I’m fairly certain that Zeke will be fine. I sincerely hope that he is fine and that this does not cause him to lose people in his life. I know- if he had people in his life that cannot be part of his life upon finding out that he is trans, then goodbye and good riddance. But the thing is, he will take a hit that won’t be easy to recover from. Once again, I can fall back on the experiences my kid has been faced with. The world can be an unfriendly place for transgender people. My kid is grown up so I have no control over the people they come into contact with or how they are treated. And as my child is in a different place than Zeke- being non-binary- their experience in more recent times is also very different than it was when they transitioned to male back 5 years ago.

But outing Zeke was not the only thing Jeff V did that night at Tribal Council. He made a conscious choice to use Zeke being transgender as evidence of Zeke’s deceitful nature- painting him as someone who could not be trusted because after all he was keeping his transition a secret. That was adding insult to injury. Each and every part of a transgender person’s transition is private and theirs to decide if they want to share. It does not imply that a person is deceitful. Quite frankly it’s no one’s business if a person is taking hormones or has had surgery.

There are many people who know little about what it means to be transgender. They don’t understand. Some are afraid of what they don’t understand and that fear drives them to act in some pretty cruel ways. They don’t realize how deeply their words or actions wound. (I want to think that they DON’T realize, because to willfully hurt someone like that- well, ask Jeff V how that worked for him right now?)

There are people who look through transgender people. It’s like they don’t exist, as if by being transgender, they have lost their right to be recognized as a person. Once again, I’ve watched it happen to my child. It might be worse than those hurtful words or cold stares- I don’t know. I just know it chills me to my bones, makes my blood boil and causes me to not be able to sit still and do nothing. And yet, I have had to do nothing when it happens to my child. Why? Because if I was to confront any of these people for looking through my child, as if they don’t exist anymore, I would probably do bodily harm. Unfortunately my kid has grown used to it and shrugs it off. I can’t. And now because Jeff V was willing to do anything to stay in a game, Zeke runs the risk of becoming invisible to people he thought he knew.

And since I brought him up again- Jeff V- the villain. Did he mean to hurt Zeke as terribly as he did? I don’t know. Did he know that what he was doing was wrong? I believe so. Did he realize that he had crossed a line? Maybe, maybe not. But he did think his strategy through so at some point, I find it hard to believe that it did not occur to him that what he was planning on doing was VERY BAD.

Enough about him

I would like to talk about Zeke’s tribe mates. How incredible were they! Their outrage, cries of anger and distress, support of Zeke…. all of it. I studied all of them as the scene played out. Tai and Andrea were immediately upset, crying out and calling Jeff V out for his actions. Debbie and Sarah were slower to speak but also expressed their feelings. And then there was Ozzy. See, my husband and I have been watching old seasons of Survivor and we recently watched Ozzy’s first time on the show. He’s grown up a lot over the years and I was curious about his reaction. He tends to be pretty calm and cool, and as he was not reacting, I was wondering…. Ozzy is a quiet guy so as is the case with most quiet people (see me raising my hand), others make assumptions based on absolutely nothing instead of just asking. I wasn’t sure what he was thinking. And then I heard his voice and he weighed in. Zeke’s entire tribe was on his side.

If the real world can be an unfriendly place for transgender people at times , the internet can be merciless. Small people get very brave hiding behind a computer screen. I read people accusing Survivor of staging it- that the entire thing was a carefully scripted ratings grabber. These people aren’t actors. And that chaos at Tribal Council was genuine. There are some things you can’t fake. Zeke’s shell-shocked expression, Jeff Probst’s face (and if you are a Survivor fan- you know that he’s Mr. Cool- even he was shocked and appalled at Jeff V’s words).

This episode shook me to my core. It dredged up emotions that I hadn’t felt since the early days of Kris coming out. It woke the protective mom in me and I wanted to hug Zeke and do battle with Jeff V.

But it also did something else- we are a long way from late summer of 2011 when Kris came out to us. We have gone through so many highs and lows. We have lost people and gained people. To some people who  might not have been present for the past nearly 6 years, we might appear to be only slightly changed by time and nothing more. I realize that 2017 Kris looks very much like what 1993-2011 Kerri might look today and nothing like 2011-2015 Kris did. And yet watching that episode brought all that we have been through with Kris back to the surface. It reminded me of how many people I have had the pleasure of meeting and adding to that special list I call friends. It showed me how much I have changed personally- how I came into my own as a person through Kris’s journey.

And it made me the Kat that I am today who is going to add a few tags and a category to this post and press that Publish button without looking back.

#AtoZChallenge M is for Music

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“Virtually every writer I know would rather be a musician.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

I’m not sure I agree with this statement. I know that although I love music, I would rather write while listening to music than make the music. My youngest child, Andy, is blessed to be both a gifted writer and musician. His eloquence with words, innate humor and endless imagination could have easily led him to a career in writing.

In middle school he took part in a solo competition, where he played his trombone accompanied by a pianist in a room where he was judged by a music teacher he did not know. He was around 12 years old at the time. The only people in the room besides the judge were my husband and me. As always, my husband was video taping.

His solo began without incident but as he went to turn the first page, we saw a look of panic cross his face. While the pianist was playing, he mouthed to us, ‘Missing a page!’ I bent down to search through his belongings, not even sure what I was looking for. He completed the song without the missing music and with my husband whispering, “Does he have it memorized?” I kept my facial expression positive and supportive as I hissed back, “No clue.”

Afterward while the judge worked on the score, Andy spoke briefly with his pianist, we thanked her and then we awaited his results. Andy shared with us that he had improvised a good part of the song, making sure he was back in place when he reached the part where he had the music once more.

That day Andrew received the highest rating, with impressive comments from the judge. We never knew if he realized that Andy had been winging it. His ability to think quickly on his feet and improvise served him well. If he had been giving a speech and that happened, I’m not sure if the words would have come that quickly.

But he chose music. And that’s where he should be.

You can read the rest of my A to Z posts- HERE.

Thanks for stopping by!

-Kat

 

 

#AtoZChallenge K is for Kindness

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“Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change. Kindness that catches us by surprise brings out the best in our natures.” -Bob Kerrey

In the fall of 1995, my oldest child, Michael was five years old, just beginning kindergarten. Middle kid, Kris, was two and a half and baby Andrew was freshly born. Michael was in the afternoon class which meant that I was dropping him off right after lunch- at the very time I would normally be putting Kris down for a nap. Drop off at his school was not as simple as pulling up in front of the building and letting him out of the van. No. Parents were required to park their cars in the lot and walk up to the front of the school and stand there with their child until they let them in and the children had to be in line before they could enter. Because Kris’s nap time was delayed that meant that when it was time to pick up Michael, I had to wake up a cranky toddler. And then I had to add a very miserable newborn baby into the equation. And Andrew was quite miserable- crying most of the time, when I wasn’t holding him.

One day stands out in my mind as clearly as if it were yesterday. It was the day Michael needed to bring a pumpkin to school to decorate. Michael unbuckled himself and climbed out of the van. I unbuckled Kris, bringing my energetic two year old around to the other side of the van, reminding Michael to stay by the side of the van and got a red-faced screaming 3 week old Andrew out of his car seat. (This was during the transition time when infant car seats were just coming out with handles and being baby #3, Andy used his older siblings’ “old fashioned” car seat.)

We slowly crossed the parking lot,  me carrying Andrew in one arm, holding Kris’s hand in my free hand, Michael walking closely to my other side, struggling to keep hold of his pumpkin, which wasn’t that big but still a challenge for a five year old. Within minutes of reaching the line, Michael dropped his pumpkin which rolled away, causing him to have to lose his place in line. As he chased the runaway pumpkin, I turned to find Kris had vanished. Andrew, who had been quiet for the moment, let out his finest baby caterwauling. I was near tears as I called out for Kris, looking around, while trying to help Michael gather his folder and snack which had fallen out of his book bag when he bent to pick up the pumpkin.

And then a calm voice came from just behind me. “Here, let me help you,” my life saver said, as she bent down to help Michael. “Your little one is right there in the bushes.” And she pointed out Kris, whose head popped up from behind the bushes.

Once the kindergartners had filed in, she introduced herself, “I’m Denise. I have three kids too so I know how it is.”

I never forgot Denise’s kindness, even nearly 22 years later. She didn’t know that this kindergarten schedule was disrupting our daily schedule or how hard it was for my routine oriented kids to adjust, in addition to the new baby. She didn’t know that my recovery from Andrew’s birth was moving very slowly. She didn’t know that Andy cried a lot- more than my other two children combined. She could have stood by silently, like the rest of the moms out there.

All she knew was that she saw someone who needed help. That one moment- something that she most likely forgot by the time she got home, stayed with me. And I have tried to pass on the same kindness to others.

“Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

You can read the rest of my A to Z posts- HERE.

Have a good one!

-Kat

#AtoZChallenge J is for Joy

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“Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.” – Marianne Williamson

I don’t talk about my mother here on my blog. There is only one reason-  she is part of an elite group- the people I don’t discuss here. I can tell you that she is still alive. She lives nearby me. She is still part of my life. And she loves me with a fierceness that is not easily expressed but never doubted. She is a strong person who is quite private. What most people might not realize is that she is a fighter, with determination that could rival the toughest in town. She cares very deeply, but rarely lets those emotions bubble to the surface. Although I know she loves us all, we take it on faith, not expecting her to say those words out loud. beej gg

And it is because of all this that I have absolutely savored the time I get to spend with my mom when Beej, my little grandson is around. More than once my mother has expressed how much of joy he brings to her life. It fills my heart with joy to watch great-grandson and great-grandmother together. It brings back memories of the days when my firstborn, Michael, was young and all of the special times we spent with my mom then.

I know that this time is fleeting and I love being a part of the happiness Beej brings to her life.

You can read the rest of my A to Z posts- HERE.

TTFN

-Kat

#AtoZChallenge H is for Happiness

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  • “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.” – Omar Khayyam
  • “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.” – John Barrymore
  • “When what we are is what we want to be, that’s happiness.” -Malcolm Forbes
  • “If you want to be happy, be.” -Leo Tolstoy

You can read the rest of my A to Z posts- HERE.

Have a great week!

-Kat