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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Talking with Christie Frandsen

November 21, 2012|By Joe Puglia

I hate to admit it: I’m a recovering male chauvinist. When throwing down shooters and smoking cigars with the boys I have momentary relapses, but “I is what I is and I ain’t what I ain’t.”

My proclivity toward chauvinism came to a pinnacle in 1970. Maybe by making this confession, I’ll be a better person. That’s reaching, I know.

I was part of a B.L.T. bobbing in the South China Sea. B.L.T. isn’t an acronym for bacon, lettuce and tomato. It stands for Battalion Landing Team. On returning from a grueling mission, I was first off the chopper. Naval tradition mandates that when boarding a ship, the officer in charge salutes the naval officer of the day and “requests permission to come aboard.”

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The officer of the day was a woman. I walked right past her.

The captain of the ship could not take a joke, especially after my Marines threw the ice cream machine overboard.

Eventually, an angel would show me the light. I would undergo a Herculean challenge by navigating a series of serendipitous events. I would have two daughters, I would become a Girl Scout leader, and I would meet Christie Frandsen.

I am captivated by the remarkable and compelled to write about remarkable people. Let me tell you about Christie Frandsen, whom many locals know because she has been very active in the local Scouting program for many years now.

Christie’s father worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs. She lived an isolated life on Indian reservations in Montana, North Dakota, Nevada and Arizona. Her only friends were books, so she turned inward, struggling for acceptance, esteem and fighting the demons of social isolation. Christie never saw the outside world. She explained, “I became ‘old school’ and believed in the ancient values of the elders whose wisdom is foundational to life.”

She went to school with Native American children whose education was regressive. “So I got the idea that I was smart; academics came easy to me,” she said.

Christie had a severe speech impediment; she was a stutterer. The impact of stuttering was debilitating, causing fear, anxiety, shame, stress and isolation. “It made me tough,” she said. “But it also broke my heart. Communication is life. I had so many things to say, and I couldn’t say them.”

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