October musings…

Yesterday was weird… just weird enough to keep me off kilter. First came the cancellation of my Nordic Pole walking class, five minutes before I had to leave. Then I got a call during the walk to my Social Recreation group from my psychiatrist’s secretary. The doctor was going to be on-call the day of my next appointment, could I switch to having an appointment at 4pm that day? Sure, that was fine.

The group went well then I got to the psychiatrist’s office and he asked me if I’d done the blood work for my lithium levels. I hadn’t because my lithium and clonazepam stopped coming last week, the day before I was going in for the blood work. I’d called the drug store and they told me they’d been faxing my prescription to the office and hadn’t got a reply. The psychiatrist’s receptionist said nothing had arrived and to get them to send it again. The doctor was furious. He checked his faxes every single day, several times a day, and nothing had come in for me.

That was when Colin called to say my IUD had arrived but my blister pack of meds hadn’t. I was now completely out of medication with no warning. The psychiatrist immediately called the drug store who, as far as I could tell, didn’t have much to say. He then wrote me a prescription with 30 refills, which he said should last me a while.

I got home and checked the mail. Colin’s disability pay stub arrived but mine hadn’t. Of course my mind went to the worst case scenario. What if I’d been kicked off disability with no warning whatsoever? Never mind that I’d been assured by my case manager that never happens. But what if it did? It was too late to call the office, I just had to wait until morning and see if the money got deposited into my account.

Of  course we had to drop off the prescriptions at the drug store, which is when I was informed that I hadn’t run out of the rest of my pills, they were merely on hold while I was in the hospital. Umm… what? There was a bit of confusion but they finally understood that I hadn’t been in the hospital at all and the hold got removed from my file. Thankfully the pharmacist was willing to make a new blister pack for me although it would take two hours. We wandered around stores for as long as we could and had just got home when I got the call to get my blister pack. Luckily that went smoothly and I was soon back home and ready for bed.

I woke up this morning and my disability hadn’t been cancelled (phew). I chatted with Kait for a while, got Colin up, then Colin and I headed out for a big shopping trip. We were aiming for over $200 in groceries so Colin could get a gift pack of Knorr products. We got $300 of groceries instead, which was super fun for Colin to pull home (not). He was thrilled though because he earned 6,000 PC points ($6) toward free groceries.

Colin walking the wagon home

It might not look like much but there’s a huge bag of kitty litter, a 48 pack of canned cat food, and a big bag of cat food. Plus all our food in various places including in two baskets.

I got the groceries stuffed away then went back out for our bus passes. Thankfully a friend told me they were still accepting October’s disability stubs so I was able to get mine too. Darn mail strike!

Two young men, college students, got on the bus home right after me and sat across from me. They didn’t go far and, as they left, I noticed one of them had lost his bus pass/student card. The driver stopped when I asked and, I asked if he’d wait for me while I gave the young man his pass back. The driver informed me that, no, he wouldn’t wait. He was on a schedule. Which meant I’d have to wait another half hour for the next bus if I got off. So I settled for leaning out the door and yelling at the students while waving the pass. They ran over to get it while the driver grumbled that he guessed he had to wait after all. Yeah, and I guess he’d never had to retrieve something from the bus depot on the other side of town, especially something as necessary as a bus pass. The student was grateful at least and I was glad I noticed it in time for him to get it back.

And now it’s time to snuggle up in bed. Tomorrow’s a new day and a new month and another fresh start.

born to be awesome

I’m in love…

He’s short, bald, toothless, and well under half my age but I’m blissfully, happily in love. He’s my 7 week old grandson and he’s an absolute doll.

I watched him last night while my daughter and her boyfriend went out for the evening and got to spend hours snuggling him and watching him sleep, while taking short cat naps of my own. He was wired and ready to party at 1am and his Mommy and I didn’t get to bed until 4:30am but it was still wonderful.

I forgot how magical those first gummy smiles are. How they stretch with their whole body. How they belly breathe… their little tummies expanding to Buddha belly size. How absolutely tiny their little toes and fingers are. Their dimpled knuckles. That first faint scatter of new hair.

He’s perfect, like all babies are, perfection in miniature, and I can see glimpses in him of the toddler and child he’s going to be. Soon he’ll be eager to go. To crawl and walk and explore. But for now he’s content to be snuggled and I am more than content to do the snuggling.

Everything’s coming up aces…

This whole week is Asexuality Awareness Week, which is so needed because most people have absolutely no idea what asexuality is… and quite a few who think they do actually don’t know either.

The very short definition of asexuality is a lack of sexual attraction. That’s pretty much it. There is more though. Asexuality is an umbrella term with several kinds of asexuality under that one definition. There are people who experience romantic attraction (hugging, kissing, snuggling, holding hands) and there are people who don’t. The people who don’t are called aromantic. And there are people who experience sexual attraction only rarely and they have to be friends first. They’re called demiromantic.

There are also sexual orientations that fall under the definition. People can be pan-romantic (like me) and experience a romantic attraction to people of all genders. Or they can be bi-romantic, hetero-romantic, or homo-romantic. And some people are attracted to intelligence (sapio-romantic). This last one is controversial with people claiming it’s ableist. I personally think it should be your own choice who you’re attracted to. A relationship is going to tank if you’re only together to be politically correct.

Then there’s sex repulsed, sex indifferent, and sex favourable asexuals. Sex repulsed can’t stand even the thought of sex. Sex indifferent will have sex, usually to please a partner but would just as happily not have it. And sex favourable asexuals like sex and enjoy having it. They don’t experience sexual attraction but it doesn’t stop them from having fun with sex. And, yes, asexuals can and do masturbate. That has nothing to do with attraction of any sort.

Asexual’s often are referred to as ace or aces (aromantics are known as aros) and there’s a running joke that asexuals want cake instead of sex. It’s probably lasted so long because it’s 99% true (I’d like chocolate salted caramel please). Aces will sometimes wear a black ring on their right middle finger but this isn’t very well known and the couple of people I saw wearing one weren’t asexual at all (and were really confused to be asked).

When you see the A in LGBTQIA, that stands for asexual, aromantic, and agender. There is no ally in the LGBTQIA panoply. It’s not an acronym for straight people.

If you have a question I haven’t covered, please feel free to ask me!

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The asexual flag

 

 

Dreaming of spring…

I had a relatively quiet day today. A trip to the gynecologist, a walk home netting me my 10 thousand steps, a long chat with my daughter, plus we voted in the municipal election this evening. Now it’s time to relax with a mug of hot chocolate and let my mind drift. And, as usual lately, it drifted towards our trip this spring.

The resort we’re staying at has a variety of excursions and activities. I’ve fallen in love with one excursion. This is how they describe it:

Discover the Damajagua Falls carved out by Mother Nature deep in the heart of the Northern Mountain Range, Cordillera Septentrional. We’ll spend more than two hours exploring the 27 natural pools and fascinating waterfalls carved into limestone by the crystal mountain waters, sliding down natural slides, and simply enjoying the beautiful landscapes. After a delicious, local buffet style lunch we’ll visit a traditional market to explore before our adventure comes to an end.

They had me at waterfalls and waterslides! That sounds absolutely incredible. I can hardly believe I’m going. It’s my Mom’s favourite excursion too. It’s going to be one week of bliss with the excursion, swimming in the ocean, relaxing by the pool, watching all the little lizards, singing at the karaoke bar, and enjoying the food.

One thing I talked about with my gynecologist was how to avoid my period while I’m on the trip. She agreed with me that tampons would not work but sadly that meant the diva cup wouldn’t work as well. And she was really hesitant about prescribing birth control pills considering how much medication I’m already on. So that left the IUD, which could potentially stop my periods for five years. I’m okay with that.

And now it’s time to put aside the trip and join Colin in watching the latest episode of Doctor Who. I’m low key in love with the 13th Doctor. I think she’s doing an amazing job.

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One of the waterfalls I’ll be visiting on the excursion

Gender questions…

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Well not really but I do have almost all of my presents bought, including the ones for Colin. They’re tucked away in my dresser drawer and in the closet, just waiting to be sorted a bit more and eventually wrapped.

Yesterday Colin came up to me and asked, “Mom? Did you buy me a feminine present?”

His voice hovered halfway between longing and worry, as if he wasn’t quite sure which he wanted.

“No, I didn’t,” I replied then watched as disappointment spread across his face. “The presents I bought you are gender neutral.”

That brought out a wide grin. Neutral is safe. Neutral means no disappointment for traditionally male presents and no reminder that he isn’t transitioning to female.

Then came today. I had my group this morning then I walked halfway home on a local trail. By the time I got home I was starving and Colin wasn’t there. He called me from the gym and asked me to meet him at the front door. He also wanted me to guess what he fixed in our apartment.

I had no clue what he’d fixed and no idea even where to start, so I just guessed weird things.

“You fixed your messy habits”

He snorted. “Have you seen my room?” he asked.

“You’ve fixed your gender,” I continued.

That one got a chuckle. “I’m in the male gym so that should answer your question,” he replied.

Anyone, except for the trolls, will realize that if being in the male gym meant he wasn’t fixed, he’d only be fixed if he was in the female gym and therefore female.

The thing he’d ended up fixing was our sticky door latch, which is great. I also would have never guessed it. But the rest just makes me sigh. I know he’s female (because he’s told me multiple times). He knows he’s female. He admits it and still keeps putting up road blocks for transition.

I wish he could be happy in his own skin, whether that involves transitioning or not. It’s like watching someone hit their foot with a hammer and complain it hurts. Then don’t do it! But they keep on going. Colin talks about transitioning, talks about gender dysphoria, but he just won’t transition even though it keeps on hurting. Hopefully someday he’ll let himself be Emma again. Hopefully it’ll be soon.

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Kathleen and Colin on an autumn walk

“I won’t transition unless…”

I’d just got home from my group and a long walk and was enjoying my lunch when Colin asked me to come out of my room and go into the living room to watch a video. It was a long video and so to summarize, it talked about turning blood cells into immature eggs. So far they’re only immature but if this technology works, it means that male couples could have a baby that’s biologically both of theirs.

I watched the video in silence then Colin suddenly blurted, “What are the things scientists are doing that are good for trans people?”

“Well, those egg cells you just showed me and womb transplants into someone without a womb.” He seemed agitated so I tried to stay as calm as possible. Apparently that was the wrong choice.

Colin got very silent then yelled, “Can’t you see why this is important to me?”

“Of course I can,” I replied. “You want to have a baby of your own and grow it inside you like most women.”

He immediately calmed down then said, “I won’t transition unless I can have a womb to carry my baby.” And, with that, he left the living room.

I stood there for a few extra minutes. Obviously Colin’s still thinking of transitioning and, because he’s Colin, he’s thinking of the hardest choice possible instead of taking the easy route. It would be easy for him to stop HRT for half a year and produce his own sperm. He’s interested in women so there would already be a womb and egg in the equation.

Next step would be to use donor sperm. The baby wouldn’t be biologically his but he’d be there from conception. Those options are too easy though and, well, he wouldn’t be Colin if he didn’t pick the hardest path possible.

This conversation has long passed for him, even though it was only two days ago. Now he’s on to more important things like ordering his favourite noodle soup from Amazon. He got them this morning and is so excited. He thinks they’re being discontinued (the evidence backs him up) so finding them on Amazon made him happy.

I wish, for once, that he’d pick the easy route. I know he struggles with gender dysphoria, he’s mentioned it in passing a few times, and I know he was happy being Emma… the name he was going by just a year ago. I know he’s worried (legitimately) about being too tall and big boned but, as I’ve told him, there are cis women who are 6+ feet tall. He’d stand out but not like a clown at a funeral. And it’s okay to stand out. As the saying goes, you were born to stand out… not to fit in.

Even if womb transplants became available to the general public any time soon, they wouldn’t be immediately covered under provincial health care, they’d be an elective surgery and way out of our price range. I didn’t get into that with Colin, there’s no point yet and I have no reason to discourage him any farther.

Maybe someday I’ll have my daughter Emma back again but it won’t be today. And so I’m going to redye my hair and let Colin sort himself out. While he eats his soup of course.

The best Christmas present ever…

“You’re coming. You’re not being left behind this year.”

I’d been sitting at my parents’ dining room table, listening to the discussion about the next tropical vacation and where it should be held. Mexico? Cuba? Dominican Republic? The discussion was quite lively. I listened with one ear, knowing this was yet another trip I couldn’t afford. In the past two years my family’s been to Sri Lanka, Cuba, a Caribbean cruise, and the Dominican Republic so I’ve gotten used to listening. And then my Mom made her comment to me. It was going to be my Christmas present. Wow! What a present!

It’s a hot October day here, like shorts weather hot, so it feels weird to be discussing Christmas, let alone a holiday that won’t take place until March. But I’ve never been to the Caribbean before so I’m pretty excited. I can’t believe I’m going to be here in five short months…

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Of course I’ve got worries, I wouldn’t have anxiety if I didn’t. The two realistic ones are, will I get my period on the vacation and will they have vegan food. The period one will have to wait until I see my gynecologist at the end of the month. I want to see if I can take the birth control pill for a couple of months to stop my period. Because there’s not much more that could wreck the vacation except for a “you can’t go into the water” period. And I’ll have to contact the resort closer to March about the vegan foods. Their site says they accommodate “special diets” so that looks promising.

And meanwhile I look at the pictures and can’t wait to swim in the ocean. There’s got to be so many fish by those reefs! And I have to find this waterfall…

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And now to wait. Hopefully five months won’t go by too slowly!

Matthew Shepard revisited…

The evening started out like usual. Kait and Colin played with their toys on the living room floor, my ex sat on the computer playing video games, and I read the paper. I started with the comics, moved on to the Life section, and then mosied on over to the Front section. And that’s where I dissolved into tears. Twenty-one year old Matthew Shepard, a student at the University of Wyoming, accepted a ride home from two men he thought were friends. Instead they drove him to a rural road, tied him to a fence, and beat him nearly to death with their rifles. He died of severe head trauma six days later.

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Photo from GBMNews

I cried while I read his article. Ugly cried to the point where my ex asked why I continued to read. But I couldn’t stop. At the time I told myself that I was crying for Matthew and for Colin, who was a sweet and gentle one year old at the time. I was also crying for me although I wouldn’t admit it. I clung to the label of “straight” like it was a lifeline although, to be fair, panromantic asexual wasn’t in my vocabulary in 1998. And it hadn’t been that long since I’d been a college student myself.

Now Colin’s 21 years old and part of the LGBTQIA community. He’s in continuing education, getting the education he couldn’t receive in high school, and planning on taking robotics. He’s young and bright with his whole future ahead of him. I worried for him every day when he was Emma and I still worry for him, albeit much less.

Matthew Shepard was also young and bright. A well travelled young man who loved politics and was studying it in university. He’d have been 40 years old now. What would he have accomplished as a gay HIV positive man to help the LGBTQIA community? What would he have fought for? What dreams did he have? What goals? What potential did we, as a society, lose when we lost him?

I still cry. I don’t think there’s a day when I read about him that I won’t.

 

Summer mischief…

It was a steaming hot weekday, the kind of day where I seriously wondered if I’d burn to death if I tripped while crossing the street. We had no air conditioning but I had a fan wafting tepid air through the living room and our patio doors were open.

Kait and Colin were sprawled in front of the television, lazily watching some children’s show while I scrolled through a parenting forum and kept my eye on the time. The kids were signed up for a library program and I was looking forward to the air conditioning.

That’s when it happened.

“Mooommmm… Colin has his finger stuck in my trinket box,” Kait informed me.

This was immediately followed by a thin, whining wail from Colin when he realized that, yes, his finger really was stuck.

I couldn’t figure out how he could have gotten anything stuck. The trinket box in question was a pretty gold filigreed box with velvet pillows inside and a cute little lid (complete with tassel). That question was answered quickly. Colin had removed the pillows, discovered a rubber stopper underneath, removed that, and then squished his finger through.

I gave his finger a gentle tug and realized it was quite thoroughly stuck. Even soap did nothing. I gave mental thanks that his three year old self hadn’t stuck his penis through and then moved back to figuring out how to get the box off. His finger was already swollen and a reddish purple.

The nearest hospital was the next town over, which meant two bus rides each way with sticky, hot children. But we did have a fire department diagonally across the street from us. Maybe they could help.

Sandals were slipped on quickly then I helped Colin blow his nose, thus answering where the rubber stopper went. We headed out the door, Colin snuggled into my arms, while staring at the box, and Kait skipped along beside me, holding my elbow.

“Don’t worry Colin,” she crooned. “The box will be fine, they’re just going to cut your finger off.”

Colin immediately burst into chest heaving sobs. Kait promptly followed when I explained that, no, they were going to cut off the box and not the finger.

I stood at the front of the building and had no idea where to go next. The big doors were open but I couldn’t see anyone inside. There was a smaller door but it was locked and the desk inside was empty.

“Hello?” I called hesitantly as I entered the big doors. Almost immediately someone popped out of a room. He was about my age, so not that old.

“What do you want?” he asked. I explained the situation and he decided it was a case for the chief. Within 3 minutes we had a crowd in a relatively small room, all looking to see what the chief was going to do. Half of them were immediately shooed out, with a stern, “Don’t you have anything else to do?” Apparently half didn’t because they stayed.

It was obvious to everyone except Kait that the box needed to be cut, the question was how. Colin’s finger had swollen over the edge of the hole which meant the scissors were going to have to go under his finger without cutting him. Eventually chief decided on making two angled cuts toward the finger and then hope he could bend the last remaining bits until they broke.

Colin cried the whole time the box was cut, while the chief told him how brave he was and how good he was for keeping his hand so still. The final cuts were made and the metal snapped off perfectly. Then one of the fire fighters gave them each a goodie bag with a fire safety colouring book and crayons. The box was quietly disposed.

Kait missed that box for years. Colin’s very happy with his finger.

Colin and Kait at McRae Point