Happy birthday to me!!!

birthday Doctor Who 10th

Since the 10th Doctor never actually showed up, I’m taking Jeremy camping instead. Plus I made myself chocolate peanut butter cupcakes :) The first year I became vegan, my Mom made a bowl of fresh fruit because she doesn’t know how to make a cake without milk and eggs. I’ve made my own cake ever since. This year’s will be the best so far.

Jeremy tried to convince me that today’s opposite day, which means I’m supposed to give zir a present instead of vice versa. I’d say it was a nice try on zir part but zie woke me an hour early then started begging for video games so zie’d have something to do in the car. In essence, since my Mom bought the present and I bought zir three (four?) games, I did buy zir a present. The kidlet’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer but just as effective.

And we’re heading off for five days of swimming, hiking, and exploring. All I know is there’s a large pond (which Jeremy says is at least as big as a football field… or three even), two beaches, caves, hiking trails, and trees. Jeremy assures me there’s lots of trees. I’ve never been there and can’t find any pictures so all my mind is picturing is lots of ????? and a gravely, muddy beach with lots of weeds. Jeremy didn’t mention either so my mental image is probably (hopefully) off.

See you in August!!!!!

p.s. Depending on cellphone service, I might stick a picture or two up on Instagram :)

What defines a woman?

An open letter to women and a rebuttal to Emilee Danielson

Emilee, your story is simply one single thread in a tapestry of women. It is not the whole cloth. Living for almost 50 years does not give you a magical ability to tell other women they’re wrong about themselves; all it does is allow you to identify yourself.

We are women from the moment we first heard the word girl and felt it click inside us… whether the word was aimed at us or not. We are a women from the moment we looked into a mirror and recognized the girl within… whether we could see her face or not.

A woman isn’t defined by breasts. You’re a woman whether you’re flat or have breasts that go on for days. Neither is it defined by the ability to carry an infant to term. It most certainly isn’t defined by being a martyr.

Being a woman isn’t defined by horrendous cramps or your ability to fake it through them. It isn’t defined by the size of the baby or the amount of medication you received. You’re still a woman and a mother if you adopted your child or if your partner gave birth. You’re still a woman if you’re child-free.

Emilee, you are a privileged woman in the United States. Unlike friends of mine, you have never been chased down dark streets by strangers while having slurs shouted at you simply for daring to be yourself. You have never had store clerks look you in the eye and misgender you repeatedly and on purpose because they don’t like that you exist. You have never looked at yourself in the mirror and wished you were dead when faced with the stranger staring back. You have children but you don’t have my child. You don’t stand beside your child and have strangers stare… turning so they can continue to stare as you walk past. You worry about strange men on the side of the road while being blissfully unaware of the dangers that trans women face every single day. Unaware that their risks of violence and death from strange men are staggeringly higher than yours.

No, Emilee there is more to being a woman than you could ever experience or even imagine. I find your claim to know and speak of womanhood on behalf of us all to be insulting. A real woman is defined, not by beauty or dirt under her nails, but by herself.

Ms Jenner is a woman, I am a woman, and you are a woman. Tapestries are nothing if every thread is identical. We need our differences in order to make life vibrant.

The people we leave behind…

Meme from the blog early mama

Sometimes I wonder if they think I’m blind; if they think I don’t notice their absence on Facebook… the empty space in my like and comment sections. Sometimes I wonder if they even see my posts or if they’ve quietly unfollowed me. They’re there… but at the same time they aren’t.

I grew up in a wide spread family. My grandparents lived four hours away by car. My great-grandmother four hours away by plane. The rest were scattered across the country (and now the globe). When we all got together, we were a close-knit group and our visits were full of laughter and hugs. While we were apart I was assured our family was always together in spirit.

Our last big family reunion was almost a decade ago; combining both a wedding and a memorial service. It was nearly two weeks of family bliss. Everywhere we turned there was family. We took up huge tables at restaurants and booked half a motel. I loved introducing Emma and Jeremy to cousins, uncles and aunts… showing them the family they belonged to. We went to the town my mother, grandparents, and several great-grandparents were born and spent a glorious afternoon on a nearby island, simply sharing time together. I collected several chunks of sea-worn beach rocks from there, along with shells and driftwood, that I’ve kept on my fireplace mantle ever since; a visible reminder of family and our time together.

Newcastle beach

The first one to disappear off my statuses and updates was my sister Amy. We’ve never had a close, sisterly relationship. Our relationship could be described as tumultuous at best; when we meet, we tend to clash. The closest we’ve ever gotten is online. Then this thread happened last year, when I shared an article on Facebook discussing gender neutral washrooms in Vancouver BC.

screenshots

Click to embiggen. If Amy ever wonders why Jeremy’s not all that fond of her, this is the reason. Zie’s rarely on Facebook but did read this whole thread.

Amy hasn’t commented on a single post or picture since then. Birthdays, the death of two pets, Christmas, etc… all passed without a single like or comment from her. She also has yet to respond to my private message regarding Jeremy being trans.

Then came my big post, at Jeremy’s request, outing zir to our family and friends. The support we received was overwhelmingly positive and almost completely from friends. The solitary family member who responded on that post was my cousin’s uncle. And since then there’s been silence. The only family who likes and comments on my posts are Karen, her husband, and my Mom. To be fair, most of my relatives rarely go on Facebook but the ones who do make their absence felt. And it hurts. Ironically, I don’t think it’s because Jeremy’s trans. It’s because this should be private and I was uncouth enough to make it public. I’m being ignored because I’m socially inappropriate.

What they don’t seem to get is I’m not doing this for them. I’m not doing this for me either. I’m doing this for Jeremy, who is still floundering and still needs my emphatic and visible support. Jeremy still tries zir hardest not to think about gender or sexual orientation. Zie still isn’t sure what zie likes to wear (other than loose and comfortable). I don’t talk to Jeremy about sexual orientation at all as it’s a sure fire way to start a furious and hysterical argument on zir part because zie’s straight damn it! Even though zie tries zir hardest not to think about guys. Even though zir first reaction when they killed off the 9th Doctor in Doctor Who was “why did they have to kill the cute one?”. Even though when zie handed me the brochure that came with my camera, zir comment was “you should like this, it’s full of landscapes and cute guys”. I flipped through to discover the people pictures were split 50/50 with males and females; apparently zie never noticed. Even though zie stares at zirself in the mirror and wonders why zie looks so good in women’s clothing… before taking it off and pulling on an old t-shirt and baggy shorts.

I want Jeremy to be comfortable at home. I want zir to know this is a safe place… that I’m not only 100% behind zir but willing to step out and be in front of zir too, in the times zie’s too scared to walk alone. When zie briefly pondered wearing a dress outside, I assured zir that I’m like a pitbull, small and usually cuddly, but willing to cling on and rip out someone’s throat if zie’s threatened. Zie laughed. I wasn’t kidding.

“Mom! Guess what?”

Jeremy ran into my room, zir smile as wide as the sky and just as sunshiny.

“If I spend $6, I can subscribe to Cool Dude! I can go into his exclusive Steam group and play on Gary’s Mod with him. Oh and he’s gay.” I hadn’t thought Jeremy’s smile could get any wider, yet it did.

I will stand for Jeremy until zie’s able to stand on zir own and then I will continue to stand beside zir. If my family’s not willing to stand beside me, I’ll stand on my own. I’m grateful for the friends I have with me and the family who has stayed strong. Maybe someday the rest of the family will join them but I will not back down. I will not quiet myself for their comfort.

My child needs me. They can catch up if they want.

Saying goodbye…

“Mom! Mom! Something’s wrong with Ben!” Jeremy wailed. “Please, can you help me clean his cage? He needs to have a clean cage to die in!”

It was 2 o’clock on Saturday morning and the quickest I’d woke in years.

“Jeremy, give me your guinea pig and I’ll cuddle him in bed,” I said as reassuringly as I could. Zie handed me a freshly washed, sopping wet piggy and I tucked him under the covers and cradled him beside me. Ben snuffled my hair and started chewing. I’m his food lady but today I arrived empty handed. I guess he figured my hair would be good enough.

“Can you give me something to feed Ben?” I asked and Jeremy promptly handed me a carrot.

“Ben’s front leg isn’t working,” zie cried as Ben happily chewed on his favourite food. “And there’s something wrong with his left eye.” I could only see his right which looked fine to me.

I cuddled with Ben for about ten minutes then changed into a dry nightie and went back to sleep. Luckily Jeremy went to sleep as well. I snuck into the living room yesterday morning fully expecting to find a body. Instead I found a bright eyed piggy happily gnawing on his pepper; his full weight on both front legs. He’d eaten well the night before and looked perfectly fine now. I assured Jeremy all was well and zir geriatric piggy was on the mend. Then we went out for the day. Ben still looked fine when we got home.

I woke this morning and decided to start my day off with a morning hike. I had to pass the guinea pig cage to get my shoes. No squeaks greeted me. Anyone who’s ever had a piggy knows how unusual that is. Ben was curled oddly under some hay in the back corner of his cage and he bit me when I reached in. I grabbed him by the waist instead and lifted while Ben flailed… both right legs hung uselessly. His waist was tiny and his anus protruded alarmingly.

I cradled him in my arm and gently fed him a carrot, which he took eagerly, whimpering for more. Then he stopped wanting the carrot but continued to whimper helplessly. I called the local vet clinic only to find out they were closed. One more day… one last day with Ben.

Of course I needed to tell Jeremy and woke zir as gently as I could. This is zir very own pet, one we’ve had since zie was 10 years old, I knew it wouldn’t go well. I handed the piggy over and headed out for apple sauce and baby asprin. I wasn’t going to have his last day full of pain.

Thankfully I bought a mortar and pestle from Dollarama last month so I was able to grind the tablet down to a fine powder to mix with apple sauce. I found orange flavoured ones too so the bitter taste wouldn’t deter him and managed to spoon feed him the whole pill (after checking weight and dosage for cavies). Twenty minutes later he was groggy and ready to lie down. So was I.

“Mom! Mom! Ben’s doing so much better! His legs are working again and he can walk… see!” Jeremy announced eagerly.

I blinked and rolled over in time to see Jeremy place Ben on the ground. The piggy stood trembling for a second then attempted to take a step with legs that no longer worked properly. He collapsed onto his side, legs twitching frantically in his panic to get back up.

“Hon, pick him up now. Please!” I implored. Jeremy immediately complied.

“See, he’s doing even better than before,” Jeremy said happily. “Once he gets more food in him he’ll be even stronger.”

Zir words felt like a blow. Ben’s unable to walk and can no longer lap water from his water bottle. Instead I’m feeding him water from a dropper. He can’t walk and he’s having massive issues with pooping. And he’s eight years old! His brother and cage mate died on my birthday almost a full year ago. He’s an elderly pig and it’s his time to go.

After dinner I’m bundling Ben up in a dish towel and taking him out for a walk in the woods. He’s enjoying being held and, while in our arms, he can feel the wind and smell the grass, trees, and flowers. Then I’ll dose him up with more pain medication so he can have a pain free night before we say goodbye to him tomorrow.

Hopefully Jeremy will be able to forgive me for letting Ben go.

Ben2

The wrong way to teach sex ed…

Jeremy and I were having one of those conversations about the silly things zie and zir sister said when they were younger. I told Jeremy about zir unusual conclusion regarding anal sex then, to give the conversation a bit of balance, brought up the time Emma asked me how lesbians had sex… on our way into the local mall.

“There wasn’t much I could say,” I concluded. “I don’t actually know how lesbians have sex. I told her if she was that interested, she could Google it herself when she got older or try it for herself.”

Jeremy gave me a look that said zie was not only concerned about my intelligence but that zie was obviously more knowledgeable than I was.

“Oh Mom,” zie sighed. “Everyone knows how lesbians have sex.” Zie held up zir hand then opened and closed two fingers, bringing them closer to me for emphasis.

“Yes, hon, I have heard the term scissoring before. I just don’t know what it means and have never been interested enough to look it up for myself.”

“Well I know what it means,” zie announced.

I gazed at Jeremy expectantly and waited for zir to continue. I could tell when zie realized why I was silent because that was when the expression on zir face changed from “worldly wise” to “deer in headlights”.

“Oh… well… you see…” Jeremy stammered. “They, umm, put their legs around each other’s necks then open and close them as fast as they can.”

I’d been trying to keep a serious expression but lost it then. That had to be the most unlikely scenario I could come up with and, as usual, unlikely was Jeremy’s first choice.

“Hon, I think you’re confusing lesbians with black widow spiders. No one gets decapitated during sex.”

“But you said you don’t know what scissoring is,” zie protested.

“Seriously Jeremy,” I blurted. “I’m reasonably sure I’d notice if my friends were losing their heads. That’s not how scissoring works.”

“Okay, I guess…” Zir tone was pure reluctance. Jeremy has a really hard time admitting zie’s wrong and that’s the closest zie gets to admitting it.

It wasn’t the best sex ed talk I’ve had with either of my kids but at least Jeremy’s no long confusing lesbians with spiders (seriously, zie will never live that down). All I got out of the conversation was a few laughs and the realization that if Jeremy’s watching porn, there’s a good chance it’s not of the lesbian variety.

The shopping blues…

“Mom, I can’t find a clean shirt to wear,” Jeremy said ten minutes before we needed to leave for the bus.

I got rid of all my larger shirts a month ago but that didn’t stop me from frantically pawing through my shirt drawer and closet just in case I missed something, anything. I hadn’t.

Jeremy liked my black velour holiday shirt with glitter across the front but it was too small. It was also a little over dressed for Wal-Mart but if pjs are appropriate than fancy attire should be too. Jeremy finally declared my very last t-shirt to be “okay”. Zie also took my sweater, one I’d long outgrown but loved too much to give away.

Jeremy expressing zir

Jeremy expressing zir “inner cat lady”.

Both Jeremy and I approach clothes shopping with a sense of despair coupled by a frantic desire to flee, which is why we both need new shirts badly. It’s not that either of us hate clothes particularly, we simply hate what’s out there. Why on earth would a t-shirt need pleats on the back? Or a stripe of completely different fabric along the bottom (but just on the front)? Or an entire front panel that’s a different material? Rips up the side? Ties *and* rips up the side? See through material? Jeremy abandoned me halfway through the shirt section with a promise zie’d meet me at the dressing room if I found anything. Zir “if” sounded dubious. I didn’t blame zir.

I eventually found four shirts for me to try and three shirts for Jeremy before calling zir out of the electronic department. Zie dismissed all three as being too tight and too weird; I had similar complaints. Zie finished first and raced back to the electronic department, asking me to meet zir there.

The sales associate looked up from Jeremy’s pile of shirts as I walked over with mine. She leaned close, obviously concerned.

“Did you know all these shirts are from the ladies department?” she whispered.

I leaned close as well. “Yes, I know,” I whispered back. Then I walked away and collected Jeremy for grocery shopping.

I tried not to glare at the old man blatantly staring at Jeremy when I found zir by the cellphones, although, to be honest, he was so focused on Jeremy I don’t think he’d have noticed if I even stuck my tongue out at him.

I vented to Jeremy about shirts on our way home.

“All I want is a plain, simple t-shirt with maybe a picture or a saying on it. Preferably Doctor Who. That’s it!” I exclaimed. Jeremy nodded.

“All I want is a shirt that’s not too tight and pants that have pockets. Oh and both have to be purple.”

After our last round of shopping I’m thinking we might as well ask for the moon.

It’s not natural…

My alarm went off at 5:45am this morning and Jeremy bounced out of zir bed a few seconds later. Zie was awake all night again and had been watching videos on zir smart phone. I turned off my alarm then synched my Fitbit with my phone. Jeremy surprised me by making my breakfast. Hot chocolate (made with cocoa beans farmed halfway across the world) and an english muffin topped with peanut butter… all previously delivered to our 24 hour supermarket by train, plane, and truck.

I had a quick shower, using our wonderful indoor plumbing, then pulled on my work uniform before running out the door to catch the first of my two buses. The sun was just peeking over the nearby mall, bathing the field beside me with light, causing the dew to glisten. My bus hadn’t arrived so I set my phone’s camera onto macro, turned on the flash, and snapped a couple of shots… sending the best one to Instagram before messaging my best friend Lenny and Jeremy. I also chucked it onto Facebook for my friends to see. Karen and my Mom have already liked it.

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I chatted with Lenny while I was on the bus. Zie lives halfway across the world but, thanks to Facebook Messenger and our smart phones, we can chat instantaneously. Then, when I got to work, I reversed the camera on my phone and took a photo of my coworkers and I waving good morning to Jeremy, who was in another city entirely. Zie saw it a few seconds later.

Okay, my life’s boring. It’s also not natural. I live in a freaking high rise, looking off my balcony to see the tops of the nearby trees, our local mall, and a collection of big box stores. Oh and a lot of little airplanes. I’m typing this on a netbook which I can unplug and carry just about anywhere. We have hot and cold running water in the kitchen and the bathroom, even though we live nowhere near the ground, and I currently have vegan “meat” in my freezer (so yummy and so not natural).

You know what’s natural? Love. Love is natural. Look at animals collecting in groups all over the world to cuddle and groom each other. Look at them separating into pairs… some of them with the same sex. I’m reasonably sure they didn’t pick the idea up from liberal sex education programs.

Gender roles aren’t natural. Some animals have sex specific instincts for mating rituals and child rearing but they vary from species to species. Blackie doesn’t worry about her tummy fat. Angel doesn’t worry that she spreads her legs too wide while grooming. Oreo doesn’t worry that his voice is a bit high pitched. And I have yet to see any of them express concern about Jeremy in a dress. They really don’t care as long as zie feeds them (and scratches their neck in that spot just below the ear).

Pizza rolls aren’t natural either but they’re pizza and gooey. Mmm… pizza!

But seriously, if someone wants to complain about love and gender being unnatural, I don’t think they should be using anything unnatural to share that information. They need to go somewhere completely natural and scratch their message out in dirt with a stick. That will get their point across nicely.

Love Wins