Jeremy’s in love…

Zie fell in love at Target and it was infatuation at first sight. At least on Jeremy’s side, I’m pretty sure the toaster was indifferent.

It wasn’t just any toaster though, it was this…chevrons
… an expensive, chevron coated toaster. Jeremy stopped so suddenly, I almost walked into zir.

“Oh wow,” zie breathed. “Mom! Look at those!”

“Yes, that’s a lot of chevrons.” I blinked rapidly. The patterns were blinding.

“We have to get them! At the very least the toaster!”

I couldn’t manage to stifle my sigh. By this time we’d been through all of Dollarama and half of Target with Jeremy begging for “just this” every few steps. If I’d bought everything zie wanted, I’d need to rent a U-haul to take it home. Besides…

“I bought a toaster this summer,” I reminded zir. It was zir turn to sigh.

“Our toaster’s boring. You have no sense of style,” Jeremy retorted. Zie gave the toaster a longing glance. “This is fabulous. We need it. Look! It has a bagel button.”

“Our toaster already has one.” Which was pointless because we might have two or three bagels a year. “I’m not spending $40 on a toaster we don’t need.”

I snapped a quick picture than we left with Jeremy muttering under zir breath about my decorating skills. I ignored the comments. I also didn’t remind zir about how much zie liked our toaster when I bought it.

And if this is a taste of how Jeremy’s going to decorate when zie has a place of zir own, I’m going to need to stock up on sunglasses.

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School Identification Forms…

Ever since Emma started kindergarten I’ve been getting at least one school identification form home on the first day of school; the second at the very latest. I immediately read through, checking phone numbers and email addresses, ticking off permission for them to take neighbourhood walks, and pondering whether we actually live close enough to a nuclear power plant to tick the potassium iodine tablet section. I check it off just in case… better to be safe than sorry. Even if we’re all glowing, at least they’ll have less chance of cancer.

Jeremy came home on the first day of school this year and I promptly checked zir backpack. No form. Same with the second, third, and fourth day. I was just about to write a note to zir teacher asking if it had gone missing when zie got suspended. I got the form a few days after zie returned. By then I wasn’t worried about sitting right down to proofread it, figuring if they wanted it back promptly they’d have given it to me the first week.

I filled it at the end of September so you can imagine my surprise when Jeremy informed me zir teacher wanted me to look around the apartment for zir form.

“Wait, I gave that to you over a month ago,” I blurted. Zie sighed and shook zir head.

“I told my teacher ages ago that I lost it on the way to school but she won’t believe me. She keeps saying it’s an official school document and she can’t just go print out a new copy.”

“Well, it’s not around here,” I replied. “If it was we’d have found it. I’ll write a note saying I can’t find it and that you lost it in transit.”

Emma, Mark, and I were talking in the living room this evening when I looked down at a sheet of paper. It was Jeremy’s school identification form. I have no idea where it came from, at this point you could blame aliens and I’d almost believe you. My apartment isn’t the cleanest place on the planet but we’re far from candidates for an episode on Hoarders and it was sitting right there in the middle of the floor.

Also it’s a good thing I never wrote that letter to the teacher.

I gave the form a quick scan then looked once again at the gender marker. X was already typed into the male section, the only other option was female. I glanced over at Jeremy and wrote in another X…

School form

Emma peered over my shoulder. “Shouldn’t you write something down?” she asked. “What if they think you just marked it by accident?”

I thought about writing down bigender then circled male/female instead. She nodded her approval.

There’s a good chance the school board will have me fill in a new copy or simply change the marker back to M but it was worth it just to see the expression on Jeremy’s face when zie saw what I’d done.

The hard times…

It was almost the end of my shift when one of my coworkers walked in. I expected her to go in the back to talk to a manager but she came to my till instead. While she’s a coworker, she’s someone I don’t know well as we work opposite shifts. The most we ever work together is a half hour and, even then, most of that time is spent with her outside finishing up chores.

She ordered soup while I tried not to stare at her face. Her skin was red and puffy from her eyes down with scabby, eczema-like patches across her nose and upper lip. She commented that it was hard for her to swallow. I eyed the reddish mask and patches across her nose.

“Do you have lupus?” I asked bluntly. The mask wasn’t like what I’d read about but she seemed open to talking and I figured pretending I hadn’t noticed anything different would be worse than asking what was wrong.

“I have cancer,” she said. She looked like she wanted to say more but picked up her dish instead and headed to a nearby table.

I glanced around. It was early afternoon and we had no other customers plus there was one other person at cash so I followed her over to the table. She talked briefly about her cancer, explaining the radiation was working and her face was a lot less puffy now than it had been.

“Put down your spoon,” I said once she was finished speaking. “I’m going to give you a hug.” I smiled at her look of alarm. “I hug everyone,” I assured her. I gave her a quick hug and felt her relax against me like it was the first hug she’d had in a while.

“Do you have family nearby?” I asked worriedly. My worry increased as she shook her head. “How about friends?” I continued.

She looked away. “I have the people here,” she said quietly.

I work the day shift which means I routinely spend time with about ten other people. She worked nights, which meant she ordinarily worked with one.

She coughed then explained rapidly that there’s a medication she can’t afford that had to do with mucus. I suggested talking to her doctor to see if he had samples. My mind raced as I tried to think of something I could do to help.

My evening supervisor peeked out from the back room when I walked back. “Is she still there?” she asked nervously. She looked like she expected my sick, tired coworker to jump down from the ceiling like some sort of ninja spider. “I can’t handle seeing her,” she continued then disappeared back into her office.

I went to my till and my younger supervisor took a deep breath. “I’m going to talk to [coworker] now,” she said solemnly.

I watched as she walked over and sat down for a casual conversation.

I’ve already talked to the store owner. My next move is to talk to the store manager to see if we can fund raise to help her. After all, it’s Christmas in another month and we’re all she has. Talk about difficult times.

A friend of mine had a psychotic break at the beginning of last week and attempted suicide. I just found out this morning that another friend has been contemplating suicide, saying the only thing keeping him alive is the love of his husband. Meanwhile the day to day life goes by as normal. A former neighbour just had her 90th birthday party. We went grocery shopping and Jeremy’s chocolate almond milk was 50 cents off. Jeremy’s washing the dishes while grumbling that it’s not fair and I never make anything for dinner that zie likes. I’m thinking about making zir favourite hot and sour soup tonight instead of the curry I planned; saving that for when Emma and Mark come over on Tuesday. No matter what happens, no matter whose heart is breaking,  life somehow ends up going on like usual.

Today I found myself incongruously thinking of a neighbour I had when Emma was a baby. We lived in a fairly run down and rather transient neighbourhood. We only lived there for a year and a half and by the time we moved we were considered one of the old timers on the block. Some of the neighbouring apartments might as well have had revolving doors considering how quickly the tenants moved.

It was a lovely sunny afternoon and I’d noticed a new tenant had moved in behind us. She had a baby around the same age as Emma so I wandered over to introduce myself. This was 20 years ago and I’ve long since forgotten her name. I have not forgotten the baby’s name though.

“This is Dakota,” she said cheerfully once we’d settled down in her living room. I looked from her to the baby and then back again.

“Did you name him after the state or the tribe?” I asked. She jolted with surprise and stared at me wide eyed.

“You know I’m Native Canadian?” she asked. Her astonishment was obvious. As for me, I was definitely surprised.

“Umm… well… yes. You look Native,” I stammered.

“I was adopted and raised by a white family,” she explained. “I only just found out I’m Native recently and none of my friends believe me.”

“Are they blind?” I blurted. I have never been known for tact. It made her smile though.

She moved a month later, which is likely why I can’t remember her name. I didn’t know her for very long. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget her reaction when I proved I had honestly seen her.

Take the time this week to notice the people around you. Take the time to see them for who they really are. Be honest and open. And if you don’t know what to do, opt for kindness.

Monday musings…

Jeremy borrowed my phone a few days ago to listen to music. What I didn’t know is zie was listening to a podcast instead of the songs I’ve got downloaded. What zie didn’t know is I turn off my wifi while I’m at work because our lunch room only *just* gets wifi, enough to connect but not enough to actually load any pages, and I hadn’t bothered to turn it back on. I hadn’t been home for long and was using my netbook and not my phone. It wasn’t until zie started laughing that I realized what was going on and by then zie’d gone through about 300mb of my 750mb bandwidth allotment. I’d already used that much myself and still have half a month to go.

I usually go on Facebook while I’m on the bus to and from work but for the next two weeks I need to find an alternate form of entertainment. Today I listened to the bus voice. Our local transit company has modernized our buses. Each bus is fitted with a computerized sign on the front, which means half the time I catch The Pulse and the rest of the time I catch A1 Message. Inside there’s another sign which has text scrolling across the screen at the same time as a computerized voice announces the street name. The transit company decided the local companies were too expensive and outsourced to a German company, where they guessed at what our foreign street names might sound like. Gibbons has transformed into Gibbles, Garrard (which is locally pronounced as Juhrard) is Gare-red, and Athol is enunciated in a gleeful, sing-song voice. It doesn’t sound anything like Athol. Emma snickers every time she hears it.

I met two new coworkers and showed them each a recent picture of Jeremy. I show *everyone* pictures of my kids. Emma lucks out because she no longer lives at home so I don’t have nearly as many photos of her (everyone thinks Tiny Cat is adorable btw). The first coworker looked at Jeremy’s picture and proclaimed “her” to be beautiful.

“How old is she?” my coworker asked, smiling as she gave the picture a closer look.

“Zie’s 17 years old,” I replied.

The next coworker heard someone else refer to Jeremy as “my son” and automatically called zir “he”.

Then I sat down for lunch with one of my coworkers (the one who gave me potato curry). She started talking about a distant relative of hers who she knew in her old country.

“When we were little he always used to sit with the girls and wear all sorts of bracelets. I lost track of him when we moved and then my husband went to visit some relatives and he answered the door. He was wearing a dress. Can you believe that?” I could but she barely took a breath so I assumed she didn’t want an answer. “My husband asked him why and he said it was his bleeding time and that made him feel more comfortable. He really acts and looks like a woman now.”

I debated on bringing up pronouns again but I already had once in the conversation and figured that horse was well and truly dead. “I’m thinking she’s probably intersex,” I said instead. “Hormones can do a lot but they can’t give someone who was born looking male a working uterus.”

My coworker sat silently for a few seconds, probably translating what I’d just said, then she smiled. “So he’s like Jeremy,” she exclaimed cheerfully. “He looks like a boy on the outside but is a girl on the inside while Jeremy looks like a boy on the inside and like a girl on the outside.”

She was close enough so I agreed.

I got off work early today, which is good because Jeremy woke up at 3am last night. I was up then too. It’s hard to sleep while someone’s laughing at a video, opening and closing cupboard doors looking for a snack, and rummaging through the closet for clothes. You’d think looking for clothes would be quiet. Jeremy sounds like zie’s falling down a flight of stairs while juggling coat hangers.

Jeremy complained that I was keeping zir up this evening when I said I wanted to watch an episode of Doctor Who with zir. To be fair I was. It was only 5:30pm at the time and there was no way zie was going to bed that early. Zie stayed awake through most of the episode and headed off as soon as it was done. Hopefully zie’ll sleep through the night. A few more sleepless nights and I’ll be going for the rubber mallet sleep training approach. Not really but it’s tempting at 4am.

*tiptoeing off to bed so I don’t wake Jeremy*

You are so beautiful…

It was almost dinner time and Jeremy and I were on my parents’ couch. I was chatting on Facebook messenger with my friend Lenny while Jeremy played around with the panoramic setting on zir new phone. Light streamed through the living room window, highlighting Jeremy’s hair. Zie looked lovely. I quickly snapped a picture before we got up to make our plates.

“You look beautiful,” I said as I stood on tiptoe to kiss zir cheek. Jeremy usually smiles at that but today zie didn’t.

“What’s wrong?” I asked. “Don’t you like being called beautiful?” Zie shook zir head.

“Would you rather be called handsome?” I was surprised when zie nodded.

“Oh, okay,” I replied. “I’ll start calling you handsome.”

I was going to say more but zie’d walked into the kitchen with the rest of the family and I didn’t want to embarrass zir. Discussing gender and terms of affection in front of family would be embarrassing for everyone but I’m more concerned about Jeremy. I figured the conversation could wait until later.

Later didn’t come until we got back home.

“Do you remember the conversation we had about beautiful and handsome last month?” I asked almost as soon as we walked in our door.

Jeremy finished pulling off zir shoes then shook zir head.

Jeremy’s face had been cheerful and animated that autumn afternoon as zie gestured, describing something I can no longer recall. I’d watched for a minute then said zie looked handsome. Jeremy’s hands stilled and zie winced.

“I asked you if you’d rather be called handsome or beautiful and you told me you’d like to be called beautiful.”

Jeremy squirmed with embarrassment. “I’m allowed to change my mind sometimes,” zie pointed out. “I’m still sorting stuff out.”

“That’s fine,” I replied gently.

Maybe I’ll just call zir cute and fabulous.