The Complicated Geography of Alice
November 25, 2012 7:15 AM   Subscribe

“I stole this book from the library ages ago…”
“Fourth grade” I say, watching them huddled together in the mirror.
“…one of those Marvin K. Redpost books. He kisses his elbow one day and when he wakes up the next morning he's a girl.”
“I meant to make you take it back but I bet we still have it.”
“My mom's cataloging fifteen years of gender-bending in one week.” She says, rolling her eyes.... “Seriously Mom, how did you NOT know?”
She will ask me this a hundred times. I will ask myself a hundred more and still never I didn't have a good answer then and I don't now. Perhaps we simply see what we expect to see and write off anything that doesn't fit into the little boxes we put people into. Or perhaps she'd learned to mask and over-correct, to hide so well that by the time those distinctions matter, I could not see her until she tore down that wall. I wish I'd known sooner.
Behind the Curtain (AKA OMG Marvin K. Redpost is a girl!) is one of the funnier excerpts from The Complicated Geography of Alice, a memoir in progress.
posted by carsonb (16 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Hat-tip to nebulawindphone, who graciously allowed me to re-work their post.
posted by carsonb at 7:19 AM on November 25, 2012

You stopped the excerpt just before the best part.

“My little book thief.” I fluff the hair at the nape of her neck.

“I learned it by watching you.” she says, swiping my hand away.

posted by Egg Shen at 7:23 AM on November 25, 2012

Also, wisdom in the comments:

I don't think there's any point during parenting that isn't a crap shoot. Oh you can avoid the big stuff if you yourself aren't super damaged…you know, don't beat them, don't fill them full of hate, don't starve them, etc. But in the end every parent struggles to truly see their kids and eventually the kids struggle to truly see their parents.
posted by Egg Shen at 7:31 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Well fuck. The finish was something of a kick in the guts. Life doesn't always deliver the happy ending you'd hoped for :(
posted by pharm at 7:36 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

These are being written by Alice/Jory's mom. Fair warning: Later entries make it clear that Alice/Jory has died as a teenager, possibly as a result of suicide or accidental overdose.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:38 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Thanks for the clarification LobsterMitten. Yes, this is a tragic story, and yes, the starting point is that Alice/Jory has committed suicide. The other parts of the memoir (second link) make this crystal clear, and are still worth a read.
posted by carsonb at 7:41 AM on November 25, 2012

Ah, somehow I hadn't looked at the first entry in the series.
But yes - be warned, contains suicide, self-harm.
posted by LobsterMitten at 7:49 AM on November 25, 2012

The author actually posted a clarification in which she makes it clear that Alice died of an overdose of Oxycontin: "She died because someone knowingly or unknowingly made available to her their prescription medication and she chose to take it, feeling (I suspect) as invincible as every other sixteen year-old does."

So while this death is tragic, an accidental overdose is not a suicide and I don't think any of us knows what actually happened.

Additionally, the child referred to herself as Alice and her mother referred to her as Alice and it's respectful of both Alice and her family's heroically accepting efforts to support her to call her Alice because that's who she was.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2012 [8 favorites]

I mentioned the two names only because I was uncertain at first whether those were two separate people (Alice and her brother?), or two names for one person at different times.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:14 AM on November 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

Thank you for the further clarification, DarlingBri. This story... it's... complicated.
posted by carsonb at 8:22 AM on November 25, 2012

I read this earlier this week: The Beautiful Daughter: How My Korean Mother Gave Me the Courage to Transition
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:48 AM on November 25

Oh man, it's way too early in the morning to be crying like this. What a beautiful beautiful story.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:28 AM on November 25, 2012

Very clear back story here for anyone confused.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:49 AM on November 25, 2012 [2 favorites]

I read the deleted post last night; it was heartbreaking. I did read the "Boy Suit," but for some reason, I thought the reference to "leaving the boy suit behind" was Alice undergoing surgery or something, and was confused by why the author would be "grieving." (in my defence, it was 2am, and reading comprehension was out the window.) So, the death came as a shock to me. This is a tragic story, which is beautifully told.
posted by tickingclock at 11:42 AM on November 25, 2012

Thanks, DarlingBri! The Marvin K Redpost link was.... very confusing, and now it starts to make sense.
posted by Mars Saxman at 11:54 AM on November 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was prompted after reading the linked entry and then coming back here to read the confused posts to go find the entries in the mother's usual blog from when the loss actually occurred.

My heart was already with a mama who had lost her little one a year ago, then I started reading this and...whew, this is a hard world, even for those of us in the alleged First World with so-called problems of privilege.

This specific memoir makes me even more resentful that there is so much hate directed toward people who usually undergo vast stress to become themselves, even when they are in families and communities that accept them.

And Alice/Ashlie's story specifically made me furious about our healthcare system. Burning with anger, really.

I just want to hold onto those lost and those who lost them and see if any of the love in my heart can flow into them to help them hold on or fight harder or overcome sadness or...anything. Just anything.
posted by batmonkey at 3:04 PM on November 26, 2012

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