Ghosting through my day…

I feel… odd. No other way to put it. Off center… off kilter… I feel like a ghost drifting through my own life. This is my room, with all my belongings, but they don’t feel like mine and I don’t particularly feel like me. I’m sure there’s a lovely, long, technical name for this. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.

I’ve got too much energy today to sit but not enough to do anything and not enough focus to read. I almost feel like clawing off my own skin, as if I were a cocoon and there’s a butterfly underneath. But there isn’t and I won’t. My skin itches and crawls nonetheless.

Last week I got a letter from ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) saying I’d been accepted. The next day I got a notice from EI (Employment Insurance) saying I’d reached the end of my 15 weeks of sickness benefits. At the time I figured that was good timing and gave my worker a call.

Just bring the paperwork in so we have it for our files.

Alrighty then. It was a beautiful day so I printed out the papers and we headed off. I brought a 15% off coupon for a nearby organic restaurant too, figuring we could get a snack. The two were near each other and Jeremy asked if we could walk. Sounds great. We had to pass a huge aquatic pet store, a place I’d take Jeremy and Emma when they were little… pretending it was an aquarium. Jeremy wanted to go in.

We left that store with four little frogs, two “on sale” tiny aquariums, and me wondering how such small purchases could add up so quickly. It seemed like a good idea at the time, I’ve wanted a pet frog for years, but the cost was staggering. I almost told the cashier to put it all back but I’d feel guilty for wasting their time and Jeremy was happy. At least the frogs were relatively long lived, with a life expectancy of five years.

The first frog to die was Jeremy’s that very night. Then one of mine. The last of mine died last night and Jeremy’s remaining frog doesn’t look healthy. It’s only a matter of time. It hasn’t even been a week. There is a return policy but you have to bring back the corpses and I’ve flushed them. I couldn’t picture keeping them “on ice” in the freezer beside the Gardein Porkless Bites and the frozen kale. Maybe I’ll get a Siamese fish so I’ve got something to go in the tank. What I really want is to go back in time and tell myself to walk past the store. Just walk on by… don’t go in. But time doesn’t work like that, even when you feel like a ghost.

And the paperwork wasn’t good enough, according to ODSP, so I had to go out on an almost freezing, pouring rain day to get more paperwork from EI and bring it in. The nice man in the office informed me that I could have printed everything out at home and that my worker should have known the paperwork was fine. ODSP says I can get more money from EI. EI says I’ve exhausted my claim. It would be nicer to get fought over if they both weren’t fighting over who’s not going to pay me.

Jeremy and I are going to walk a block to the store to buy pizza fixings. Maybe the fresh air will help reconnect me to my body.

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An Evening of Hope…

It was Spirit Day and, in our city, also An Evening of Hope; a yearly event centered around the LGBTQ community. Every year it rains, as if the earth itself is remembering the lives lost. And every year there’s laughter, as we remember the ones still here.

crowds

Soggy yet bright and cheerful

metis-drum-circle

The evening opened with a Metis drumming circle

cupcakes

And plenty of baked goods 🙂

liberated-washrooms

The bathrooms were liberated for the evening

remembering-orlando

And Orlando was remembered with a great deal of ceremony (and some shuffling)

colin-making-pinsJeremy was in their glory at our UU congregation’s button making machine. They cracked jokes and hammered down buttons for almost two hours… until the baked goods were gone and the pouring rain made everyone cold and tired. Then we headed home to warm blankets, hot drinks and, in my case, Pride Kitty…

pride-smudge

I’m sure she’d be a real party animal.

Until next year… *hugs* and stay safe!

My life as it is…

I woke up this morning to discover Jeremy had made me breakfast to eat in my room which is so not typical for them. And, even more surprising, they weren’t dropping hints for anything. Breakfast was edible too. Mega bonus!

I was going to head out to a group called “Bucket Lists and Life’s Adventures” but finished breakfast a bit too late and went for a bike ride with Jeremy instead. It was a beautiful day here in Ontario and absolutely incredible, colour wise…

autumn-leaves

So pretty!

“Can you hold my bike?” Jeremy asked when we got back to the front of the building. I nodded and held it steady while they ran inside.

“Only some jerk got mail,” Jeremy said with a laugh as they threw a letter into my bike basket. It was from the Ministry of Community and Social Services. Not to be confused with the Ministry of Magic.

I opened it as soon as we got inside our apartment and the words jumped out at me.

The Disability Adjudication Unit has reviewed your disability and found that you meet the program’s definition of disability.

In most ways this is good. I’ll have money to live off of, a drug card for my bucket of meds, and an discounted bus pass which will give me transportation through the region. But I have to admit that seeing the letter proclaiming I’m disabled was a shock. The word comes with a fair bit of baggage. I’m not sure my stuffed dragon and I can hold it all (it’s a very small dragon).

20161018_192318

Jeremy and I took a break after we got home then my Mom and I took a whole big load of stuff to our local Value Village (pronounced Value Vill-aghe with a slight nose tilt and a bad accent). I had five ficus trees on my balcony but the kittens kept climbing them so I now have two. Plus we got rid of my wicker rocking chair (I can rock well enough without it) and Jeremy’s too small elliptical. We suddenly have living room space!

Today was supposed to be my trip to downtown London, England to ride the London Eye and see Wicked with my ex boyfriend. I’d like to lie and say that the stuff I did today more than made up for the missed trip, but seriously? Today was supposed to be the highlight of what I thought would be an amazing trip and a ride through woods I’ve seen a hundred times and a run to a second hand store doesn’t compare. But, sigh, that was then… another lifetime ago… and this is now. And today was pretty damn good (and came with a delivery of breakfast).

On dinner guests and why my cat is purple…

I was heading out the door for a (futile) look for bike locks at Dollarama when my phone rang. It was my friend A letting me know her fiance’s birthday was today, the day of our dinner party. He was turning 16 (with a few decades experience… and a year to grow on). I promised I’d make a cake to go with dinner and mentally decided to run into Metro for a cake mix. I have an amazing from scratch recipe but it’s better for cupcakes than layer cakes.

I got home at the four hours until company mark and did a quick clean and sweep of our place before placing one scented candle in the middle of our table and the other on the fireplace mantle. The candles were a gift from A and S so I figured they’d be appreciated.

Just over an hour later I stepped over Jeremy’s HotWheels track (asking them, once again, to put it away) and took two aromatic pans out of the oven. Fifteen minutes later I looked at an irreparable mess. I joke that frosting is an amazing glue but there’s a limit to what it can do.

crumbled-cake

Almost recognizable as cake

I frantically messaged several of my friends and one (thankfully) suggested making cake balls. I can do that! Smushing cake bits into frosting then rolling it into balls is in my skill set.

My hands closely resembled mud mitts when Jeremy exclaimed something unprintable. I turned to see our dining room and half of Smudge coated in purple wax… the scented candle still rocking in the corner. Thankfully no one (and nothing) was burned but this was two hours until company time, we had exactly two cake balls and a room that looked like it was decorated by Jackson Pollock.

candle-wax

The cat was pretty well decorated too

A frantic call to vet gave me the instructions to a) put some ice on the wax and b) when informed the cat was now one third wax, to wait for time to take its course. At that point Smudge was trying to moon walk out of the wax and Jeremy was scraping the floor with my good metal spatula.

“Leave the wax for now,” I asked them. “It’s time to take Angel to the vet for her shot.”

I was giving Jeremy an extra 15 minutes to get ready, knowing they’d need it.

“I’ll need a harness,” they announced five minutes later.

“Umm why? She doesn’t need a harness in her carry box.”

“But I’m anxious and want to carry her,” Jeremy announced.

“And you have to walk across a busy road,” I protested.

I was up to five misshapen blobs and our company was coming in just over an hour. The cat was still purple, there was a coated spatula on the dining room floor, and I hadn’t even started dinner.

“But the carry box is breaking,” Jeremy informed me frantically. “I can’t put her in there!”

“Why didn’t you tell me before now,” I blurted.

MELTDOWN

Once Jeremy calmed down, they left with Angel in their arms at three minutes to her appointment and I settled in to making the rest of the cake balls. I declared enough at 15 balls… if anyone wants cake-ball batter, I have half a bowl sitting in the fridge complete with a teaspoon.

Time to make dinner and, I realized with dawning horror, I had nothing but a jar of marinara sauce and noodles. I was going to make fresh rolls but that time got taken up with purple wax and exploding cake. And I had been planning on buying fresh veggies for the sauce and a bottle of frizzante but I was so pleased to remember the cake that I forgot.

Jeremy walked in with Angel and almost immediately right back out again with a list of exactly three items. Pop, leaf lettuce, and four nice soft dinner rolls. There wasn’t any point in adding veggies at this point. I didn’t have time to cook them.

“That’s not fair,” Jeremy blurted. “I just got home.”

“Do you want to wash the baking dishes and set the table instead?”

“Fine, I’ll go,” they sighed at fifteen minutes to company.

The grocery store is a five minute walk away. Five minutes later I could still hear Jeremy chatting with a random stranger… eight floors below. They got home one minute before our company arrived with a container of mixed greens, four bottles of pop, and four bags of potato chips.

“Umm, Jeremy, where are the buns?” I asked as I looked (again) through the bags.

They sighed. “Buns are boring Mom! That’s why I got chips. Only boring parties serve bread.”

“And what are we going to sop the leftover sauce up with?” I asked and they stared at me blankly.

“Chips are still cool!” they retorted, waving a bag of jalapeno chips in the air.

The guests were great and everyone enjoyed the cake balls (thanks K!) but, much to Jeremy’s disappointment, it’ll be a while before I invite guests over for dinner again. Smudge and I need to recover.

It’s been eighteen years…

CN: murder, suicide

Eighteen years ago I sat on my couch and cried inconsolably, newspaper on my lap, while Jeremy and their sister played. A young college student, Matthew Shepard, had just been brutally murdered by his peers, solely for being gay. They considered him a threat over who he loved.

I looked at my sweet toddler and wondered about their future. They were so loving, affectionate, and feminine and I worried for them. Were they going to end up gay? What would their future be like?

jeremy-in-1998

Jeremy ~ February 1998

Tears poured down my face while I hoped Matthew had woken up a little near the end, just enough to know he’d been rescued… that people had cared. Enough that he hadn’t died alone. I couldn’t bear the thought that he’d died alone. I could barely bear that he’d died at all. In that moment he wasn’t a stranger’s son but my own child’s future.

Jeremy cynically commented that they were surprised his murderers got charged way back then and I assured them that of course they did. They were charged and convicted. But I had to admit that their cynicism wasn’t out of place. I poured through the papers over those next few months, reading all the articles and hoping for charges… hoping the plea of “gay panic” wouldn’t be accepted. That love wouldn’t be used as an excuse to kill. And it wasn’t… but only barely.

Today my news feed seems to alternate between pictures of Matthew and a story by a young man who survived conversion therapy, despite several suicide attempts. He’d been told 50% of his class would kill themselves and admits that number ended up being correct. The youngest was 13 years old. Those children were placed in that camp by parents who couldn’t accept their children for who they are and were willing to accept a 50% survival rate as long as their child came home straight. They seem to feel it’s better to bury a dead queer than love a live one.

jeremy-in-2010

Jeremy ~ February 2010

A young trans friend of mine attempted suicide a couple of days ago. Another is contemplating it over top surgery. There were the Orlando shootings in June and, in Canada, the young artist Sophie Labelle gets death threats daily for daring to draw queer issues (mostly regarding the T in LGBTQIA). And if I hadn’t been a bit on the delusional side on how high you can jump and live, I wouldn’t be here either. I didn’t want to risk living through a seven storey drop (eight considering we live over the basement drop off) so, ironically, I’m still here too.

Eighteen years ago I’d hoped that our society would have changed dramatically for the better. It’s changed but not enough, not nearly enough. Today is beautiful, warm, and sunny but in my heart it’s raining. I am so tired of the deaths. Please help make it stop.

Falling into autumn…

I walked home from the hospital under a canopy of new leaves. Now those leaves are reawakening in hues of scarlet and gold and I’m finding myself curiously adrift. I’d never planned on being alive this long and am at a loss on what to do next.

If my life was a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces would be in mid air, falling out of a featureless box. Each piece an unknown, tumbling down to who knows where.

I’ve applied for disability and have been told they routinely turn people down. But Canadian Mental Health Association will help me appeal when (if) that happens. Jeremy and I are on waiting lists for subsidized apartments… that we’ll get some year. Maybe two years… maybe four? And I’m writing away at novels with no real idea of how to get published.

two-years

I’m watching Jeremy transform into someone I love but don’t always know. They alternate between endearingly sweet and incredibly annoying and lately act traditionally masculine.

“I don’t want to go to PFLAG tonight. As a straight, white male I don’t feel comfortable there.” Jeremy informed me.

It doesn’t happen much but they left me speechless.

“Umm, I thought you were agender,” I commented after a few seconds. Jeremy snorted.

“Mo-om… that was three weeks ago!”

We have potatoes older than that and besides…

“It was yesterday,” I pointed out and they sighed.

“Well I don’t believe in gender and don’t feel like I’m a gender but if I had to choose between male and female I’d pick male.”

Clear as mud?

“You acted and felt more female than male not that long ago.”

Jeremy nodded. “I know. I felt like that then and maybe I’ll change again. I just don’t know.”

“And straight? What happened to ‘hearts instead of parts'” I asked.

Jeremy looked incredibly uncomfortable. “Don’t worry about it,” I said honestly. “Sexual orientation is hard.” They nodded and dropped the conversation so fast.

The ironic part is we actually talked about equal rights that night at PFLAG and how men’s rights need to be worked on too, which they would have loved. I reminded Jeremy that I missed a meeting on relieving anxiety because I was too anxious to go. Stuff happens and sometimes it’s as ironic as fuck.

The pieces of me changed this spring and they haven’t finished falling yet. So far all I know is that I’m different and there’s going to be a heck of a lot more glitter. Jeremy will have to sort themselves out on their own. I’m willing to bet on a fair bit of glitter and strands of coloured lights there too.