100% human…

“You’re Irish!”

I looked up in surprise. I’d only just opened the door to the office when the receptionist blurted those words. Maybe it’s the green hair… maybe it’s my features or skin colour. I’ll never know.

“I’m [insert my real and very Irish name here],” I said awkwardly. “I’m here for my bone density test.”

I could argue that I’m only a quarter Irish… but which quarter? That amount seems so much smaller than the great-grandmother I clearly remember. I sleep in the same bed she once did and curled up on her lap when I was small. Her croon comes out when I cuddle small children or animals.

“You sound Irish,” one of my fellow patients commented as I sang a lullaby one night.

“My Nana and Nanaimo Nana sang like that to me,” I replied simply.

I’m a mixture of English, Irish, and Scottish but how do you measure and by what? Are my eyes English? My hair Scottish? How do we divide ourselves into parts? Each ancestor is important, no matter how far back. Every one of them has value. They all have some part in my existence, just as I’ll have some part in every child who goes on beyond my children. If one of my ancestors didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here.

When I look at myself, I don’t see parts, I see me. I wasn’t born with national borders or clan colours or family crests imprinted on my DNA; each part of me is melded together, woven into blood, sinew, and flesh. A tapestry of various threads… all combining into one whole.

Yes, I’m Irish, and Canadian, and English, and Scottish (and likely a whole jumble of other cultures as well, right down to Neanderthal ancestors sharpening stone blades by firelight). I’m all of those at the same time, all in the same blood.

I remember my hand in my great-grandmother’s. How her skin was paper thin and soft. How her breath smelled like her favourite white peppermints. I am not a quarter of her ancestry. She is bigger than that. I am a part of her and she’s a part of me. I’m 100% part of every person who came before me. We are all canvases woven with the threads of family, blank slates waiting to be painted by time.

Nanaimo Nana and Nana

Nanaimo Nana and Nana

Trust

I sift pieces as fine and ephemeral as memories
I remember that fragment
It tumbles past as a glimpse of a smile
An impression of hope
Each piece disconnected.

The whole shimmers before me
Untouchable
Intangible
Impossible

My hand scoops and comes up empty
Trust, once shattered
Cannot be replaced.

On Trump and tiny dicks…

I’ve seen a lot of posts and comments over the last few months regarding Donald Trump and the size of his penis. Trump irritates the hell out of me for many reasons. He’s ignorant, rude, racist, sexist, and annoying as fuck. His crass comments about his daughter alone make him a walking sack of rotting dog turds. And I enjoy a good joke about him. The key here is “good”.

Making fun of his penis size isn’t a good joke. He chose to dye his hair butter yellow and style it to look like the top of an ear of corn. He did not chose his penis size. No one floats around, weeks after conception, and hand picks their genitals. Actually I’m not even sure we have hands at that point.

Our feminism needs to be intersectional. We can’t have equality, we can’t have fairness, if we put down people for the size of their genitals; no matter who they are. When we mock Trump for having a small dick, we’re indirectly mocking every male (cis and trans) who has a small or non-existent penis. This joke’s paintbrush leaves too wide a swathe to be considered funny.

There are many things we can laugh at Trump about. His wall, his bankruptcies, his bizarre statements, his backtracking. As soon as we make it about penis size, we veer off of funny and into bullying… and we’re better than that.

Trump

The grass is always greener…

When Jeremy first came out as non-binary, they trialed using they/them pronouns for just under a week before switching to zie/zir pronouns. I was pleased in one way because they’d chosen the same pronouns as my then best friend (now ex-boyfriend). The rest of me was disappointed because no one had ever heard of those pronouns before. If they weren’t mishearing zie for he and zir for her, I was getting “what did you just say?” and “how do you use that?” at the best and complete ignoring the pronouns at the worst. It tended to be me that got the comments simply because Jeremy doesn’t usually refer to themself in third person although they got an earful and a half at school.

Now, after two years of explaining to pretty much everyone what zie and zir are, how to use them, and why Jeremy’s using them in the first place (all of this with their permission), they’ve switched back to they and them. My first thought was ‘cool… easier pronouns’ and my second was ‘damn, I’ll need to reexplain to all my friends… but at least it’ll be easier’. Famous last words and all of that.

My Mom and sister’s first reactions were they is plural, which is true but not completely. The English language has plenty of wiggle room and people from Chaucer to Shakespeare to Austen have used singular they. It was fairly common in the 16th century too (according to the Oxford dictionary). And it’s not like the English language is static. You used to be only used as a plural pronoun, with thou as singular. I’m sure people can handle the transition to using singular they too.

Then I needed to talk to a mental health care professional. You know, someone who should have regular involvement with the LGBTQ community considering the depression statistics.

“My offspring’s name is Jeremy. They’re 19 years old,” I explained with Jeremy standing beside me.

The woman proceeded to glance, bewildered, around the room for an extra offspring. “They?” she asked hesitantly.

Because this isn’t 2016 and no one’s heard of singular they before. Although, considering she wasn’t the first or last person confused over this, maybe most people haven’t.

I think the weirdest and funniest thing is there seems to be a subset of people who think I’m forcing Jeremy to pretend to be trans for some unknown reason. I don’t get any money for this blog (or for spouting my mouth on Facebook for that matter) and Jeremy’s not meek and laid back; they are tenacious with strongly held views. To be fair, their mildest view, in one way, is regarding gender as they don’t particularly care what pronouns they’re called… as long as it’s not incessantly “he/him”. But that’s because Jeremy doesn’t hold firmly to any gender and think all genders should be abolished. And that’s *cough* a strongly held view on their part. I’ve explained to them multiple times that many other people like having a gender and identify strongly with their gender (myself included). It whooshes right over their head. According to them, gender is the root of societal evil and that’s that. Alrighty then.

If Jeremy was male, there would be no way anyone could miss it because they’d be telling everyone within ear shot that I’d lost my mind and couldn’t handle them being he. It would be their only topic and one everyone under the sun would know about. But they aren’t and they don’t. If the people who think I’m forcing them would try using female pronouns even once, and saw their smile, they’d know this for themselves.

I have one quirk regarding the pronoun and that’s treating singular they the same, grammatically, as plural they. “They’re going to the store” sounds so much better than “they’s going to the store” and it makes me sound so much less like I stumbled into a sitcom about the deep south (which would even more farther south than Oshawa or even Sarnia). If Jeremy felt strongly about grammar, I’d swallow my mild discomfort and singular they every contraction, but they don’t.

So, after two years of thinking they/them would be so much easier to explain, I’ve discovered it’s not. The good part is I’ve at least got Jane Austen on my side.

Happiness is…

Happiness is… spending time with Jeremy, either playing Mario Kart or swimming, and just having fun. We’ve been going to a different pool lately, one owned by the same landlord but in a nearby building. Jeremy loves it and I love that it’s warmer than ours.

1221 pool

“I’ll race you Mom!”

Happiness is… picking out the perfect presents for Jeremy for Christmas. Yes, I know I shop early. Yes, I know there’s still 130 more days left and it’s still only August. It’s just that Christmas is my favourite holiday of the year and they really will love  all of them.

Happiness is… watching Jeremy’s happiness at finally buying the laptop they’ve been wanting for years. And seeing their confidence bloom again. I’ve watched for several years as Jeremy hid much of their feminine side and today they casually bought a pink and white laptop bag because it’s “perfect” and a hot pink keyfinder button for their keychain.

new laptop

“I am smiling!”

Happiness is… needing to work on a suicide prevention plan and asking friends permission to add them to a contact sheet… then getting so many friends volunteer it might turn into a contact booklet. I don’t know if my friends realize how much this means to me, how much it feels like I’ve been wrapped up in their caring.

Happiness is… going for a whirlwind vacation in just under two weeks and listening to Jeremy chatter about it several times a day. We have so much planned from the butterfly conservatory, to the waterpark, to the antique aerial car over the Niagara whirlpool; I’m not sure how we’re going to fit in sleep.

fallsview waterpark

“I can’t wait until we get there Mom. What do you think we should do first?”

Happiness is… waking up to two adorable kittens snuggled beside me. Their antics amuse me and warm my heart every single day.

Smudge relaxing small

So much adorable in such a small package!

Happiness is having so many things to be happy about🙂

How do you let go?

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I settled down for bed tonight with an Ativan, dim lights, and some quiet surfing on Facebook until I was drowsy. Then I snuggled into bed with BunBun, one of the kittens, and some quiet music; hoping this time I’d drift off peacefully. It’s been a busy day filled with grocery shopping, swimming, taking the kittens for a walk, writing, and phone calls… by all rights I should be tired. My eyes fluttered shut and I thought, “L never found out about the kittens and now he’ll never know. I won’t ever be able to tell him how sweet Jeremy is with Lara… how Smudge tries to nurse off my stuffed animals as she goes to sleep.”

No one ever taught me how to go on living around the empty space in my heart. No one ever explained how to encourage it to close. There’s surgery for physical holes, what do you do for the emotional ones?

L and I talked every day… all day… for years. Every time messenger chimes, I think it’s him. We talked about everything from meals to philosophy to his hopes and fears about transitioning to my hopes and fears about writing. And we weren’t scared to get downright weird with each other. We were each other’s soul dragons… and then we weren’t. And it hurts so much.

Dear L,

It’s been almost two months since we talked. It seems like almost a lifetime. I’ve bought new (to us) living room furniture and two adorable kittens. You’d love the kittens. Not so much the furniture but, then again, they aren’t really my style either. They are comfy though.

I’ve worked on my novel, scrapbooked, camped, and organized a trip to Niagara Falls for Jeremy and myself. Just 18 more days until we leave. It’s a trip you would love, complete with a tour behind the falls and a trip to a butterfly conservatory. I remember how you talked about your trip to Ontario. If we were still talking, I’d buy you a surprise from the Hershey’s chocolate store. I still have stamps left over for all the cards I knew I’d write to you.

Jeremy’s furious with you but they’re the one who got to see the aftermath of us breaking up and me being blocked. I don’t know what they did with the stuffed cat you gave me. I’m pretty sure they simply hid it but I haven’t asked. They’ve changed pronouns too, which makes a kind of sense since they were your pronouns first. You were the first man they’d trusted in a long time so I guess their anger is understandable. I know you were happy when they put you down as stepfather on Facebook. It was a huge step for them. You were mad at me in June. Did you think of them? I guess they were probably just collateral damage in a war none of us wanted.

It’s so hot these days here. You’d hate it. Forty degrees with the humidex and 30 degrees before that. It’s humid enough that I was carrying cold drinks home in a plastic bag and condensation was forming on the outside of the bag to drip on the ground. Kind of like my own personal rain cloud but smaller and less pretty. Everything feels sticky and uncomfortable. I have to peel myself off chairs and I’m pretty sure falling outside on the pavement would result in 3rd degree burns.

Jeremy’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which explains their rages and depressions. Their medication is helping so much. Jeremy bought me the laptop I’m typing on and we’ve both applied for subsidized one bedroom apartments. It will take a few years before we each move and they’re hoping we move into the same building so we can hang out regularly. They talk about it every day.

I don’t know how you could promise to love me forever and change your mind. I don’t know how you could promise to be my friend then block me for asking for the friendship back. I guess I’ll never know and that’s one of the hard things. There’s no closure, no way to say goodbye.

I wish our friendship could have gone on forever. That I could be there to listen to your voice deepen and watch as you grow your first beard. That we could joke about trash pandas and dream about a trip under the northern lights. That we were still swapping good night pictures and counting down for a visit this October. I found the perfect birthday card for you too. The reminder’s off my phone to get you a double chocolate doughnut before I leave.

I hope you’re doing well and have finally gotten reimbursed for your travel expenses. I hope your kitties are treating you kindly and your back is doing better. I hope you’re happy.

Love always, me

p.s. How do I learn how to let go, especially since you’ve already walked away

Perfect people…

Every time I hear about a my life is better than everyone else’s person, I remember Stacey and I smile. She taught me a lot, although it likely wasn’t what she wanted to teach.

Stacey was the perfect person in the parenting forum I belonged to when Jeremy was young. She had the perfect job as an educational assistant, the perfect husband, and the perfect two children. Her house was always perfect (and spotless). Her children never misbehaved. She never disagreed with her husband. As far as I could tell, she was only on the forum to lead us lesser beings to the light by way of her superior knowledge.

Any time someone had a problem, Stacey was there to let her know that she’d faced the same problem but had succeeded because she was smart, educated, worked, and had a perfect husband who loved her dearly and took her out every single Friday night.

It was because of her perfect Friday night dates that she missed the troll. Every week a troll would show up on the forum and wreak havoc. It would mimic the names of regular posters; at one point it pretended to be me, asking if I could feed my kids dog food because I was supposedly too lazy to work full time. Why I’d feed my kids dog food while owning cats was a mystery. Another time it took a regular’s name and proceeded to tease and taunt that person’s friends. Then it discovered how to bypass post titles and write rude messages in the name section. Post after post with only a name section would flood the page in bold, stark profanity. No one could keep up. By the time a post was written, the troll had flooded the whole page with nonsense.

The next day everything would be back to normal, except for people gossiping about the worst of the troll’s messages, and Stacey would ruefully comment she’d missed all the excitement again, it was too bad the troll didn’t pick another night to hang out.

And then Stacey disappeared. It turned out she was the troll all along. There were no Friday night dates; those marvels that Stacey claimed help preserve her perfect marriage. Instead, every single Friday, she’d sit down at the computer and spend four hours bashing the same people she claimed to be friends with for the rest of the week.

No one has ever claimed I’m perfect. My house is currently a mess thanks to Jeremy taking apart a spare computer. My hair looks like I chased a kitten through brush (which I did… the kitten was leashed). I rock and hand flap in public, I’ve been known to sing in the produce department, and I almost never remember names. But I remember Stacey’s lesson. I’d rather be real than perfect.

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