Another Internship, a NYC Adventure, and More Ground Covered

Work’s been keeping me from writing and that’s a good thing, but now I have a lot to tell you. First off, MJ will be starting another internship next week and Pathways helped her line up some possible freelance graphic design work. In the meantime, she made her way to New York City for a concert. She also emailed Whitman Walker to make an appointment… AND we celebrated her birthday. As she’s getting older, I’m noticing more maturity and am encouraged by the growth she’s had this summer.

The Pathways team set up this second internship with a publishing company and I think they’ve found a good match. MJ felt comfortable with the employees she was introduced to at the meet and greet. She’ll mostly be putting magazine ads together, but I believe there will be opportunity to do some photography too. Unfortunately it will be more layout and less design but a good environment to practice discipline and develop healthy work habits. There will be a lot more structure and more clearly defined tasks and deliverables than in her previous internship. It also seems that this time there may be an opportunity for employment after 10 weeks. The main concern MJ has is that they work on Macs and she prefers PCs. It will be an adjustment and I just pray she isn’t going to be to obstinate about it.

At this point they’ve suggested a schedule of 12-4pm, which suits her fine. It’s a little bit of a drive – about 1/2 hour. So, for the first few weeks, I’m going to drive her there and let her drive home. It will take a big chunk out of my work schedule. Hopefully she’ll feel confident enough to drive herself after a couple weeks. If that finally gets her driving, it will be a huge step towards her independence and we are excited for her to get started.

Speaking of independence, MJ’S favorite Japanese band (Perfume!) is touring the US for the 2nd time and she took a bus – by herself – up to NYC to see them. For someone with Asperger’s Syndrome and anxiety, this was a really big deal. She purchased her concert ticket months ago and planned to meet her cousin and one of her friends. Last year she went with the same girls, but that time we dropped her off at the theater. This time she was on her own. She originally planned to stay with her cousin, who for some reason had a change in plans and couldn’t make it. Luckily her other friend, who I’ll refer to as Suzi, was able to accommodate her.

We put MJ on the bus in Virginia and it dropped her off just around the corner from the theater in NYC. She walked over and Suzi met her there. After the concert they took a subway to Brooklyn. Suzi, a friend from high school, attends Pratt as a fashion design major and they’ve really connected over the similarities in their fields. MJ brought her camera and helped her set up the shoot for photos she’ll use in her portfolio. She was even able to model for her! She felt good about being able to help in such a tangible way. To get herself home, we set her up with an Uber account so she could take the car service directly to the bus stop. She was nervous, but she made it there and home safely and had a great experience! We are so proud of her for being brave and going on a NYC adventure alone.

During her birthday dinner we had a conversation about her laptop and the fact that it is getting old. We wanted to help her replace it as a birthday gift but had a hard time finding a suitable replacement. The trend is to make laptops more like phones, where they become outdated and need to be completely replaced. But MJ has taken her laptop apart and fixed it and added to it many times. She wants one that she can open up like the one she has now. It is one that has a stylus and she uses it to draw on. She ordered a new battery and has been prolonging its life for as long as she can. Last night, she sent me an email titled, “The One.” I guess she found something she’s excited about.

We’ve been encouraging her to get involved somewhere that she can voice her concerns and possibly have an impact on the computing industry. One day recently, she was in the Microsoft Store and a young kid heard her talking her usual geek speak and asked her if she was a blogger. She isn’t, but she should be! I think she’s feeling like no one would listen to her. We’ll have to keep working on her to try that. She certainly has a lot to say and is immensely knowledgeable.

This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you. For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
– 2 Timothy 1:6-7

MJ has kept herself busy with photography and her computers. She also spent more time socializing and has been watching more movies than she had in the past. And lately she’s been talking a lot about privacy issues and her disgust for the way Facebook collects and uses information. So she’s trying to find another more secure and convenient way of keeping in touch. Her friends exist all over the world and most of them, she’s never met in person. Which I think is great, by the way. They give her different perspectives and challenge her beliefs. A couple of days ago she had dinner with some local friends, including the transgender friend I’ve mentioned previously. I think it’s incredibly helpful for her to share the experience of being transgender and to have someone she can talk with who is already transitioning.

That brings me to the email MJ sent to Whitman Walker. She never followed up. I’ve always maintained that if she wants to transition medically, she has to be the one to lead the way. I’ll help her if she asks for help, but I’m not about to take her by the hand and say, “let’s go.” I believe I’m leaving the space for God to show up and direct her. God works things out in His way and time. Having MJ take the initiative will be a sign of maturity and her commitment to going through with it. And maybe she isn’t making the move yet because she’s not ready and it’s not God’s timing. But we no longer fight about this and if she asks for my help, I will give it to her. That alone has made a huge difference in our relationship. She knows that I’ll always love her and she can come and talk to me anytime and that’s the way it should be.

The next time I write, MJ will have started working again. And hopefully she’ll have gotten some freelance work too. Pathways introduced us to another graphic designer who has a team that works virtually. She’s agreed to send over a subcontractor contract and some suitable projects as they come up. MJ has covered a lot of ground this summer and it will be exciting to see how this and other things in the fall continue to develop.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.
–Jeremiah 17.7-8


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