For the first few months of my life, I went unnamed; Baby Girl was what was officially put on my birth certificate. When it was finally decided it didn’t matter; my father always called me “Chuck.” He was intent on raising me like a boy. It worked. In fact, I now get mail addressed to “Mr. Alex.”
The name, “Alex the girl” came about when I was in class with another Alex. Because both our names was just ‘Alex’, to differentiate us, they called him “Alex, the boy” and I became “Alex, the girl.” To this day that’s what my mum and friends call me.
I was a complete tomboy. My first birthday present was a hammer and my favourite things to do were climb trees, build forts, stand up for picked on kids, play with trucks, collect worms for fishing and do sports. However, I wasn’t all boy. I had a complete adoration for dresses (along with Laura Ingalls) and did everything in them. I still do.
As a child I never had an allowance and had to cultivate my own money. I had my first job at eight. I looked after 3 children who were 6, 4 & 2. Sometimes I’d start looking after them at 4pm on a Friday until noon the next day while the parents were gone. I learned how to cook, organize a group, entertain, and cultivate a quiet moment. Came in handy when I became a grown-up.
On the side, I’d to make & sell things like newspapers and magazines. I’d write stories and do the drawings to go along with them. I’d make copies at my father’s office, collate them then go do to do in the country selling them. There were few sensationalised stories; most were about the simplicity of every day life. I suppose it was kind of like this site except offline and without digital photography. And less spelling mistakes.
About age 9, I started having severe pains in my ankle and stopped being able to walk. I went from doctor to doctor and they couldn’t figure out why. My mum took me to a special shoe store and the old owner there fitted and made a special pair of shoes that took some of the pain away and allowed me to walk a little for first time in over two months. He didn’t charge us extra for all that he did. He said seeing me walk was payment enough. Ten years later I went to thank him with some flowers and he remembered me and said he used my story to teach his workers about customer service. I wept when I found out he passed away a year later.
On my tenth birthday and six doctors later, I was told I had a rare bone problem that .03% of the population gets. Of that .05% get one of the 3 conditions I had. Its when you’re born with an extra bone in your ankle where there should be a hole, so you have instead a bone growing through it pushing your ankle apart. The doctors thought the first surgery would be the only one needed. They were wrong seven times.
I had my first boyfriend at 15. He was 19. I used to take the train late at night to the city to meet him. It sounds all badass but all we did was go bowling.
When I was around 18 and living in England, I used to sing all breathy-like these old swank jazz songs in a supper club. I was this little thing just belting out tunes or being all pouty. Then I’d walk off stage, sit with my friends and they’d wonder where all that came from.
I can sing almost any 50’s tune. Any. You think I’m kidding but I’m not.
Don’t ask me to do it, however, I get embarrassed from attention. If you don’t know I’m doing something, then it’s OK. As soon as someone makes a deal over it, I don’t want to do it. I’m not good with attention. I like to be part of the background which is hard to do when I love wearing colours and patterns. I understand the contradiction.
I’m an introvert who has brilliant extrovert skills. People have a hard time believing I’m shy. Especially when I was cruising the streets as a teenager with my best friend Emily every summer yelling out the window to cute boys “Hey are you fiiiiiiiiiiiiine!”
And yes we cruised to fifties music.
I never owned a car until 2009 though when Emily got her first one in 1991 I referred to it as “ours.” It was such a bad, broken down car that used to omit these poisonous gasses into the body. She couldn’t afford to fix it so we drove with the windows down during winter and wore gas masks. If that wasn’t dumb enough, we drew mouths on the gas masks and drove around in public.
That’s not the only stupid thing we did.
There are only two things I hate – waiting and cold.
I went to New Zealand when I was 19 without knowing anything other than it was warm. I was living in Lake Louise Alberta and it was -30C there. Not liking only two things, I didn’t wait to get out of the cold.
My favourite times of my life so far have been living in Banff Alberta in my twenties and Santa Monica, California in my thirties.
My favourite flat so far was in Vancouver. 400 sweet square feet by the beach. My favourite home was an 18th century stone home in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, despite the fact the basement rivaled that of the Amityville house.
The hardest thing in my life was moving to America in 1999, specifically Nashville. I was nannying to a really mean and abusive family, had no money or furniture couldn’t understand anyone’s accents and they couldn’t understand mine. Ordering a hamburger was a nightmare – they almost always gave me just water.
The biggest lesson in my life was immigrating to America. It taught me that I am stronger than I thought, more grounded than I thought, and was willing to really do what it took to survive. It also humbled the bejesus out of me and taught me that my hair doesn’t do well in humidity.
I’m half Danish, Half French but generally refer to myself as ‘foreign.’ I’ve lived all over the world and feel as though I don’t belong to any one country and, if you heard me speak, would totally agree. My accent is a mutt and I often think about getting voice lessons just so I’m not asked, “Where in Australia are you from?” anymore.
My motto in life is “whatever decision you make, it’s the right one” so I live without regrets and always move forward. I love life and all that it has to offer. I’m just so curious about everything and hope to not only do a lot, but share a lot.
It’s why I created a bucket list of 101 things I want to do before I die and am spending my days doing what I love so I can cross each and everyone one off.