When the spiders sang…

TW/CW: Holy fuck racism!!!

Colin and Savannah campingWhen I was a little girl I had a friend who lived across the street from me. He was about my age and he had a bright green coat. He also claimed that the spiders in his front garden sang to him every morning. I tried to tell my Mom about him but she couldn’t figure out who I was talking about as there were a lot of kids on our street. I was frustrated because I knew I had a very easy way to describe him as he was quite black. But, while I was young, I also had eyes and ears and knew that describing someone by any colour other than white meant that they disappeared and only their colour remained and I didn’t want to do that. So I went with the second best description, his bright green coat. It took a while to pin down her friend’s son as my friend with the green coat. Both my Mom and his got a bit of a chuckle that I apparently didn’t find his skin colour relevant enough to mention. They didn’t live there for very long and, after he moved, my sister and I went over one morning to listen for ourselves but the spiders never sang. Maybe he took them with him.

Obviously I was quite privileged as a young blue eyed, blonde haired girl in white suburbia and, even with him, I could count the number of BIPOC I knew on one hand growing up. Even so, I learned and realized that people are people. That we all have hopes and dreams… thoughts and fears. And that skin colour does not tell you what a person is like. Some people missed that memo. Some never even saw it go by.

I follow a page by Ally Henny and she posted yesterday about a woman named Sharon Lee Davies-Tight who is, hands down, the most batshit crazy racist person I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. If there’s an award for self entitlement and ignorance she’s up there on the podium smiling and waving, oblivious, to the crowd. Her shitty post that was shared said, and I quote, “All animals have the capacity to love, including black people – The Animal-Free Chef”. Because, of course, that five pounds of shit, triple dipped in crazy is vegan. And I speak for almost the entire vegan community when I say we don’t want her, can someone (anyone) take her?

At first I told myself that I did not want to go down that rabbit hole and I went and did something else. But the rabbit hole stayed and the search bar is a thing that exists and holy hell!!! This woman starts talking about multi-ethnic people and how much more diverse and open minded they were than single ethnic people. At first I had no idea what the hell she was talking about but it soon became apparent that she considered white people to be multi ethnic and black to be single ethnic. Yes, there are multiple white ethnicities but Africa is not a monolith, there are many ethnicities there. Australia, New Zealand, and Tasmania have black aboriginal people and there are the people of the West Indies as well. Black people are far from being a single ethnicity.

She mentioned several times how black people don’t call the police, not because they’re worried about harassment and/or harm, but because of their own criminal involvement. That black people all call themselves the n-word in bars just in case there’s an undercover police officer. That white women call the police while black women scream and fight, the latter because they didn’t want to get the police involved and their criminal misdeeds uncovered. I don’t know where this woman’s lived but I’ve encountered plenty of white women who screamed louder than angry opera singers and a few who wouldn’t contact the police because of criminal issues. Like my daughter’s friend whose Mom had a grow op in the living room. The plants were lovely and green by the way, just not legal at the time. As for calling the police, as Colin pointed out, that’s an act of force in itself. That’s “I want to get you but I don’t want to get my hands dirty so I’ll let someone get you for me and they have a gun”. And that’s just plain shitty.

There were reams of posts and she had pages of external links listed but I couldn’t bring myself to read any farther so I just backed on out and wrote here instead. In bits because my brain can only handle so much vile at a time. If I was a kinder person… a more understanding person… I’d wish those singing spiders would rest under her window and sing her songs of empathy and humanity. As it is I just hope they crawl up her fucking nose and bite her!

Another spin around the sun…

oldI was brushing my teeth last night then could feel a wave of doom hovering over me. I snuggled Smudge, who purred and drooled all over my hand, read a good book, ate vegan ice cream, chatted with my Mom and Colin on the phone, and listened to quiet music. The wave stayed, crested and silent, and once in bed, I slowly slipped into an exhausted slumber only to wake again at midnight. The wave crashed as I got up, drowning me in terror barely before my feet hit the floor. This time breathing and quiet music were not going to cut it, not on their own. So I took some Ativan, listened to some tunes, and finally crashed. It wasn’t until morning that I realized today’s the first anniversary of me moving into this apartment.

Back in 2012 I picked out an apartment for Colin and I to live in. I fully figured that he’d need to stay living with me so I picked an apartment that seemed perfect for us. Two bedrooms, two balconies, lots of closets, two storage lockers (one en suite), gym, indoor and outdoor pool, nearby library, and lots of shopping. We had three grocery stores plus a Giant Tiger (with a good size grocery area) all within a 10 minute walk plus a Dollarama, Value Village, and three drug stores. It was convenient and, between the two of us, affordable. I just hadn’t factored in one thing. I couldn’t handle living with Colin.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Colin dearly. He’s an amazing person with great insights into a lot of topics but we often disagree (especially over politics). And I’m not interested in Reddit. I’m really not interested in hearing about the Men’s Rights Forums on Reddit. And I completely, absolutely, do not want to hear about their topic of the day at 3:30am. Colin knows he’s only supposed to wake me in case of emergency. Unfortunately he seems to thinks that big feelings are an emergency and will do anything, up to and including flicking on and off my lights and yelling at me, to keep me up to hear why he has big feelings. I have explained the difference between emotions and the apartment burning down more than once, he simply doesn’t see the difference. To him they’re both BIG. We also have completely different standards on clutter, where I prefer none and he prefers decidedly more. Which is why, when I was offered this apartment back in the beginning of 2019, I hesitated for a moment and then took it. The town was farther away from my family and I’d never set foot in it but the unit was subsidized and it would just be the cats and I. Saying “yes” felt awfully like jumping off a cliff but I still did it. And, with that, I changed our lives.

Moving here was such a huge change for me. Not only had I left Colin behind in a half empty apartment, I’d also left behind close friends and supportive groups. Our closest grocery store and Dollarama were a five minute walk away before; I could see Metro from our windows. Now they were between 20 minutes to a half hour away. We were supposed to have groups and activities start in my new building then covid hit a month later and everything got canceled. We had exactly one card night. Thankfully I became friends with my neighbour because the options for making friends were very small. And just as thankfully, groups reopened on Zoom so I could still see my old friends and discuss new topics. I even joined a zoom exercise group with my parents and began singing karaoke with friends via Facebook chat.

Getting used to the size of my apartment was another issue. I joke that it’s my tiny apartment but it really is just that. More than one person has described it as “a one bedroom but it’s kind of like a bachelor”. It’s open concept but has a separate bathroom and bedroom. I’m used to it now, and moving the kitchen table from in front of the hutch to right in the centre of the kitchen helped, but there have been several times the smallness of the apartment has triggered a panic attack. I’ve spent quite a bit of time this year buying relaxing decor. It wasn’t just out of some need to shop. Thankfully time and feeling soothed have made a difference. Every corner I look at holds something I love and the apartment has slowly become home.

Covid curtailed a lot of exploration too. My new town has quite an expansive old downtown with lots of small shops and little cafes. In pre-covid times my Mom and I planned on doing quite a bit of window shopping and ambling until we found a place to eat. Hard to do when everything’s closed. There’s a Thai restaurant I’ve been planning on ordering from for over a year now but they don’t do delivery and have fairly odd hours. Maybe this summer?

newAs for now, I’ve got an online grocery store to shop through, I’ve sorted out the bus system, I’ve found several nearby walking paths, I’ve got a dentist, doctor, and optometrist, and I’ve got three local Dollaramas and a Winners for happy shopping. Life is starting to settle and, thankfully, it’s settling well.

I have no idea what’s going to have happened by the time February 5, 2022 arrives but I hope I have some amazing things to write about and a whole lot less covid outside my door!

Today was socks…

money for blogToday, well, today was something all right. Today reminds me of the saying, “If every day is a gift then today was socks” and not the fun and funky ones either, just those horrid scratchy “sport socks” with ragged toe seams.

I guess things really started on Thursday when I found out that online grocery shopping (with home delivery) is finally a thing in my area. We’ve joined the 90’s!!! So I got online in my fuzzy slippers and cozy nightie and went grocery shopping. It was great! I found almost everything I needed, picked a delivery time on Saturday, and hit “submit”. It almost immediately showed up in my bank account as a pending order. Pending orders just seem to sit there until the order ships then they plop down to the actual balance. They don’t show up in the balance before then so I’m regularly calculating my “real” balance but that isn’t a hardship.

Saturday rolled around and so did my order. Everything arrived except for my vegan black garlic nut cheese, it got substituted for artichoke and fine herb nut cheese… and I got credited for it. I was all excited about my $10 credit. The new charge went through but my original pending charge was still there, just chilling and pending. I called the grocery store yesterday and was informed that charge had been cancelled and it takes between three to five business days to disappear. I didn’t like seeing it there but it wasn’t causing any problems. Right? Right???

Then came this morning. I was having a great day. I got all my chores done before breakfast. I even brought my handful of Valentine’s Day decorations up from storage and put them up. I sat down at the computer with my cinnamon toast and mug of hot chocolate while I chatted with Colin… then I opened my bank account.

$45 NSF charge

What??? I had only one thing coming out of my account currently and that was my rent and I had over $100 on top of my rent still in my account. How could it bounce with that much money padding it? Meanwhile all that money was accounted for so the $45 was literally money I didn’t have. Cue a quick goodbye to Colin and a 45-minute long hold for my bank. The rep I spoke to was terrific. It turned out that the pending charge was the issue. Even though it does not show up in my balance on my end, it shows up in my balance on their end. So while I really did have enough money in my account, I ended up “short” by $7. They credited back the NSF fee then I called my landlord to ask them to hold off on taking my rent out again until the pending charge is gone. I’m hoping that worked. My landlord is a big mental health organization so I have to call my care team then they call me back and then they have to message the housing department and wait for a response. I’m going with no news is good news.

So, there I am, anxious and tired with my mind worrying about money issues but not entirely sure where to land, and I decided my best bet was to get myself a bowl of chips and a book and curl up in my swing chair to read. Pour the chips, go to grab my tablet, and the doorbell rings on my phone. It was the drug store delivery person dropping off a prescription. Picture me with ??? above my head. I hadn’t ordered anything. Turns out my psychiatrist sent in a prescription for lorazepam yesterday, which is great, and they filled it, good, and immediately delivered it, okay. I get all my other prescriptions delivered so that makes sense. It costs $17. Wait. What? And it’s non-refundable once it leaves the store. And now you’ve got to be fucking kidding me! So I called and now the fee is postponed until the end of the month when I actually have money and they’re going to call me from now on if something costs money instead of automatically sending it.

Come to think of it, it’s likely a good thing I’ve got that lorazepam prescription now because after today I really could use a couple! Or maybe I’ll just make curry and console myself with curry and a brownie (not simultaneously).

Freeze Peach and covid…

There are some things that really annoy me. That pull tab companies place on the jars’ protective covers. You know, the one that never actually helps open the jar and just gets in the way? People who sniffle on the bus… for the whole ride (especially when they refuse an offered kleenex). People who blast their music at 1am in an apartment building (my dresser decor should not be dancing to your music).

Then we get into the people who think it’s their god-given right to harass other people because it’s “free speech”. Seriously? How are you any more freer by telling queer people that you hate them than when you kept your mouth shut? What happened other than hurting people you don’t know (and often people you do)? The answer to both questions would be nothing. You’re not really looking for free speech, you’re looking for carte blanche to bully.

Free speech is about freeing yourself. It’s being allowed to speak your truth. It’s being allowed to say what’s wrong with the government without reprisal. It’s the ability to criticise the police without getting arrested. It’s the right to stand up for yourself and others and say “we are here and we deserve a place in society where we can be safe and equal”. If you’re wanting a space to stand and say “I am better than this group. I don’t think they should have the same rights as me. I want their rights removed”, that’s the exact opposite of free speech. But time after time there are assholes who declare they want to claim that Black people cause their own problems because [insert weak excuse here] or First Nations people are “stealing” government money or trans women are transitioning solely to sneak into women’s washrooms. Explaining to them that they’re wrong is, in their opinion, “going after their free speech”. Telling them they have to stop a) telling lies and b) discriminating against these people results in huge flailing tantrums because their rights are being challenged. Nevermind that they were the ones trampling on someone else’s rights, their right to incite anywhere from dislike to outright hatred of another group has been put into question and that’s not “fair”.

We as a society need to stop listening to false logic and start focusing on what hurts people and what doesn’t. Does a trans woman changing in the corner of the change room hurt anyone? No. Does a group of people harassing her outside the change room door while telling everyone in the vicinity (and online) that she’s a pervert who’s there only to prey on their little girls hurt anyone? Hell yes! These two sides are not equal, hatred or damage wise and I’m so tired of people acting like they’re the same.

And then there’s covid-19 and the dreaded masks. My first three masks were handmade by my Mom, two strawberry patterned and one plain cream. Then I got one with maple leaves while camping this summer… following up with three more pretty ones (plus a Christmas one I’ll hopefully never need again). The hook beside my door is full and there’s often a mask or two on my bathroom counter ready to be washed. They’re a bit of an annoyance. They can suck into my mouth and nose when I breath at times and they fog up my glasses, plus blowing my nose or getting a quick sip of water is a challenge. But they’re comfortable enough. They’re soft and don’t pull anywhere.  Meanwhile anti-maskers act like they’re the anti-Christ. I don’t get it, they’re a piece of fabric and a bit of elastic. They’re not dangerous, or painful, or difficult to wear. But anti-maskers talk about people breathing in a stew of their own wet germs as if they’ve never worn a scarf before. I have one friend who saw a man slip into the grocery store with a mask on then take it off so he could come up behind people and yell “baa” in their ear. Like a sheep, right? Because they were all “sheep” for wearing masks 🙄

I must admit that I didn’t do a tonne of research but what little I did showed a 70% reduction rate in transmitting covid-19 using social distancing and wearing a fabric mask. That’s a hell of a lot of a reduction. With odds like that, what’s the harm in putting on a piece of fabric? There’s a good chance you could be saving someone’s life, maybe even your own. And there’s no downside other than a bit more laundry and some foggy glasses. But on the anti-maskers side they get a tiny bit less laundry, clear glasses (at least until the scarves get pulled out), and an upswing on the chance of killing Granny. I know which side I stand (and it’s not the side yelling “baa” at unsuspecting strangers while they pick out cereal). I mean who sits there and thinks, “I don’t like being told what to do. I mean I follow road safety guidelines, wear my seatbelt, pay for my purchases, cross at crosswalks, put my garbage at the curb on the designated day, and keep my lawn neatly mown but I’m damned if I’m going to put a strip of fabric across my mouth to keep myself, my friends, and my loved ones alive. That’s government interference and I don’t do what the government tells me to do. I’m not a sheep!”

And while refusing to wear a mask while vulnerable people are dying irritates the hell out of me, there’s one thing that really bloody, fucking pisses me off. And that’s ignorant nazi analogies!

absolute fucking outrage

There is a black and white photo taken after one of Hitler’s speeches and, in it, there’s one solitary man standing in a sea of other men. He’s easily noticeable because he’s the only one who’s not saluting, in fact he’s crossing his arms. There is no record of who his is. Two families claim him. One paints him as a man with a Jewish fiance (who he could not marry due to German law) and two little girls. The other as a man who refused to salute in every situation due to religious reasons. For whatever reason, humanitarian or religious, he stood alone. He’s seen as a symbol of defiance. But this complete and utter walking lack of intelligence did a horrible photoshop on the picture as if to claim he was the sole person fighting against the tyranny of… wearing a mask to save your neighbour. Around eleven million people died during the Holocaust. Eleven million!!! That’s six million Jews and five million assorted people from neighbouring countries (like Poland and Serbia), people from the LGBTQIA community, people from the Roma community, autistic and developmentally delayed people, and prisoners of conscience (like Unitarian Universalists). So many people murdered, starved, tortured, and worked to death and this shit for brains person wants to compare standing up against all that, at the risk of death, to refusing to wear a mask while going in to pick up a Pepsi, at the risk of not being allowed in the store.

DO THEY NOT SEE THE DIFFERENCE???

How can they not see the difference between standing up against a totalitarian regime who’s taking your neighbours away and loading them into cattle cars and a bored 20 year old saying, “You have to wear a mask. There’s a box by the sanitizer.” How deep is their need to feel oppressed… to feel like the lead in their own exciting adventure story… that they’ll make up stories like this? They think the government, “big pharma”, and scientists are all working together to microchip them by covid-19 vaccine while they carry around a phone that has their entire Amazon shopping history, credit card information, and can pinpoint their location within a few metres. They’re worried the vaccine will make them sick while walking around maskless during a pandemic. Have they ever met common sense? Even waved at logic from a distance?

Dear anti-maskers (and anti-vaxxers for that matter). No matter what Barney and/or your mother told you, you are not special. You are not one of the chosen few who are smart enough or daring enough to peek behind the curtain and see the truth for what it is. You have not discovered the secrets that scientists, big pharma, the government, Monsanto, the illuminati, etc don’t want you to know and you certainly didn’t find it via YouTube, a personal blog, or a blog pretending to be a news site. The government is not one big political entity. It’s multiple governments over multiple countries and those countries have multiple governments as well. In Canada we have our federal, provincial, and municipal governments and they can all be from opposing parties. So, no, they are not all working together in one huge formation. Some are barely tolerating each other. Some aren’t even tolerating each other at all (written as bombs detonate somewhere in the Middle East). And big Pharma isn’t a thing (which is why we have umpteen dozen competing covid vaccines). Yes, there are big companies. Yes, they’re out to make money. But, no, they’re not working together. And there’s no way every single health care worker around the globe is keeping major secrets. Multiple someones would tell a spouse or family member or friend and the secret would soon be out. Same goes for scientists. They aren’t mysterious people who live in labs, they’re your neighbour with two kids and a pet bunny. I’m sure conspiracy theories makes you feel special and important and quite intelligent, like you’re playing spy except for real, but don’t you think it’s time to be special, important, and intelligent on your own merit and not because you’re believing someone else’s fantasy tale? It will feel even better, I promise. And, seriously, don’t you ever, ever compare yourself to a resistor in WWII Germany. You’re risking, at the worst, getting banned from Loblaws if you’re mouthy enough. That is nowhere near the same category as “starved and forced to dig your own grave”. Don’t be that person.

The cancel culture…

Cis white vegans are the worst!

Some might say I shouldn’t take it seriously but it’s hard not to when every. single. word. is aimed at a part of you. It’s even harder when it comes from a friend, someone who knows I fall under each of those categories. I responded with, “Umm gee thanks. Stereotype much?” then got back a series of rapid fire responses, sent so fast that I received them all at once, explaining it was exactly one person they were mad at and that one person was racist and I “obviously” agreed with her so must be racist too so they’d be happy to yeet me off their page (phew). I’d already been unfriended before I even read the last comment and they never even found out if I agreed with her or not.

The very next day, another friend wrote a post that said, in part, that white women are white first and then women. I took it literally, thought it meant we were born white first then female, and jokingly replied that I was pretty sure both happened at conception. I went on to agree that white women have far more privileges than black women. That was taken to be white supremacy (if it helps I think that having black skin and being a woman also both happen at conception). The friend proceeded to unfriend me and then message me to have me explain what I’d posted. I believe that’s called putting the cart before the horse. They haven’t replied since. They had been Facebook friends with me for years, followed my posts, and knew what the content of my post and my views were like, enough to know this was out of character for me (remember they did message me to ask why I said what I did), yet they still unfriended me because they didn’t like how I phrased one reply in five years.

internet and real youThe hard part is this isn’t the first time I’ve fallen into a situation like this. I’m finding an increasing and uncomfortable amount of inflexibility these days, especially in younger adults. For some reason people seem to feel as if their friends need to have all the same beliefs and opinions as them and, if you differ, you must be wrong and out you go; you’re yeeted to the curb like yesterday’s garbage. Often it’s incredibly fast, the person’s made up their mind and decided you need to go before finding out what you even meant. Heck, like I said above, both friends removed me before I even had a chance to speak. Why? Where is the friendship in that? Friendship involves mutual respect and understanding, it’s not hair trigger and walking on eggshells in case you say something wrong. You’re supposed to look for common ground and mutual interests, not nitpick over minor details and search for reasons to uncheck the friend box.

I know there are times you have to get rid of a friend. I had an online friend several years ago, then I posted a benign, “Axial tilt is the reason for the season” meme and she became frothing at the mouth mad and devolved into a series of incredibly racist comments. There was no misunderstanding, she made it extremely clear. She might as well have worn a t-shirt saying “I’m racist and I’m proud of it”. The friendship ended immediately with no regrets. Another was an IRL friend I knew from a couple of community groups. We got along fine until she realized who my ex was… and I realized she was a friend of his. Even that would have been fine except she suddenly decided that I a) had to realize what an incredibly great guy he is and b) needed to get back together with him immediately even though we haven’t been together in twenty years. I told her several times that he had been emotionally and financially abusive to me and had treated both myself and my two kids terribly for years and that I didn’t want to get back with him or even speak about him. She ignored my wishes and continued to badger me on reconciling with her “great guy”. By that time we weren’t living near each other so I simply blocked her. Again no regrets. But this is different.

These days it’s like there’s a socially acceptable checklist of words and phrases to use and say, a culturally acceptable clique of White people and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) who decide what’s correct.  I see it time and time again where someone’s trying their best and has the best of intentions but gets lambasted because it wasn’t done or said exactly how things are getting done right now. No room for recognizing good intentions (remembering these are good intentions that caused no harm), no honest constructive criticism, just how dare you!!! I’ve seen people post on multiple occasions, “Is it safe to ask this here? I really want to know but don’t want to get yelled at…” And, yes, I know that BIPOC people have been dealing with crap for years but it’s not right for anyone to feel like that no matter who they are.

Back around nine years ago I joined a forum called Regretsy and made friends with a poster who used neopronouns. I had never, ever known anyone who used anything other than him or her, it was completely new to me. I asked a bunch of questions, got answers, then settled down with a sheet of paper and a few practise sentences. I worked hard to make sure I got those pronouns right. If he (the pronouns have changed) got mad at my initial fumbling questions, well I wouldn’t be transphobic but I’d be a lot more cautious and wary. I definitely would have been hesitant to ask any similar questions to anyone and there’s a lot that I wouldn’t have learned, a lot which Colin needed me to learn.

We pride ourselves, or at least we used to pride ourselves, on our compassion and on our understanding that we’re all equal. Equal rights… equal love… equity… we were trying to make the world kinder and a whole lot more fair. But more and more I’m seeing a “throw the whole man out” attitude. That person has “problematic” views? Just don’t speak to them anymore. Doesn’t matter if they’re your grandmother or a close family friend, they’re garbage now. Yeet them out with the trash.

When Colin changed his pronouns back in, umm, I think sometime around 2014, my parents couldn’t grasp it at all and refused to use them. They refused again when he changed his name to Emma for a year-ish and switched to she/her. By today’s standards he shouldn’t be speaking to them, ignoring the fact that they still loved him dearly and spent time with him and that he wanted to keep them in his life. Life isn’t black and white. They weren’t simply “problematic”. They’re his much loved grandparents. Not everyone has to (or should be) tossed to the curb like yesterday’s paper.

Another issue with this black and white, that person doesn’t count because they’re problematic/racist/transphobic thinking is people forget the person is still, just that, a person. You can disagree 125% with someone’s views and opinions and still recognize their basic humanity. I read an article today from British Columbia where a Native Canadian reserve has a covid-19 outbreak and the surrounding area has had a racist outbreak. Okay, I get it, racism is horrible but racists are not literal trash (like the garbage you put at the curb). They are still people. Debate them if you want (I do), explain why they’re wrong (I do this too), but back off before it gets personal. One person that was interviewed was one of the racists, who now realizes he was wrong, which is great except people were wishing death on his children (like multiple people) and he’s ended up suicidal. We’re supposed to be the good guys here. We’re not supposed to be driving people to the point of killing themselves. And we’re certainly not supposed to be hoping that innocent children die of covid to teach a stranger a lesson.

The thing is, sometimes people won’t agree with you 95% of the time. Or even 80% or 75%. That doesn’t make them bad people. It just makes them not you, and that’s okay. People are allowed to be different. And, as long as they’re causing no harm, it’s fine to live and let live. Not every opinion needs to be a battleground. Not every view has to be an “agree with me or you’re yeeted” perspective. Sometimes it’s fine to just discuss the things you have in common and back off on the other stuff. So your aunt thinks aliens built Stonehenge and that Elvis is still alive. Alrighty then, moving right along. You disagree over politics… okay, unless they’re raging asstwats and/or racist, maybe just take a deep breath and change the subject when T-Rumplestiltskin rears his ugly head. It doesn’t make them Satan’s cousin.

I can’t speak for anyone else but I want to leave this world a better place than when I arrived. Standing up for human rights is amazing but if we end up so narrow sighted that we ignore the simple fact that we’re all human, we’re not going to accomplish anything. Take the time to listen.

Doing acts of self-kindness…

I’d planned on going out earlier except I was exhausted after lunch, the kind of exhaustion that muddles words and drags down your eyelids, so I lay down for an hour. I needed to go to Walmart to pick up my printed scrapbooking pages and a 32 can carton of wet cat food; Walmart’s a half hour away by foot. I also needed to stop off at Dollarama which is on the way. I looked at the time and realized it was going to be dinnertime by the time I walked over, shopped, and walked home. Then I thought about “future me”. Would she rather I left right now, leaving her to tackle everything when she was cold, tired, and hungry or would she rather I did some prep work while I was fresh from a nap and ready to go? The answer seemed obvious. When I headed out, all that was left to do was chop the veggies and the actual cooking. I’d even put water in the pasta pot and premeasured the penne.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “future me” lately. It’s the one resolution that’s really stuck. It’s one huge way to treat myself kindly and with respect and it’s making life run so much more smoothly as well. I can’t do anything for “past me” except think kindly of her and assure her that she did the best she could but I can do a lot for “future me”. It’s so easy to procrastinate and put everything imaginable off until later but, when you get right down to it, you’re still going to be the same person. It’s not like you’re going to wake up tomorrow and say, “Oh wow! I love day old crusty dishes!” So I stop and ask myself if “future me” is going to handle the situation any better than “present me”. The vast majority of the time the answer is no. Sometimes it’s yes and I leave “future me” to handle it while I take Tylenol and head off to bed.

Love yourself firstIt’s just plain nice to treat myself. To prep breakfast at night so all I have to do is put the oatmilk in the microwave and pop the already cut english muffin in the toaster. To look into the kitchen area as I turn off the lights and see clean counters and an empty sink. To realize that everything for my zoom class is all ready and waiting for me at the table. It not only feels good but it’s making life run a hell of a lot smoother too. Not much makes your day run smoother than always being a step or two ahead of yourself. And, like I said, a clean kitchen. Damn, that’s a good feeling!

I find that New Year’s resolutions tend to last about a week before I discard them and go back to normal but I definitely think I picked a winner this time around. I highly recommend giving it a try. Feel free to let me know how it goes!

Finding joy…

There is a country store both my Mom and I like to visit. It truly is a country store, surrounded by farms. They’re easily spotted by the white chicken pickup truck parked on a large mound, complete with a giant egg in the back. There’s an old tractor resting beside the gravel parking lot for the kids to play on and the porch always has decor for sale. Inside is utter chaos. The front contains shelves and bins of food topped by decor (and a cafe to the side) while the back contains so very much decor… and some bins of food and a clothing area. It is a veritable labyrinth filled with everything from cute magnets to wooden baskets. Amidst all this is always a lit birch tree. I am drawn to it every time we shop there then repelled by the seventy dollar price tag. Each time I tell myself “next visit” but that next visit with money and determination never occurs.

Then there’s Marshalls, a store both Colin and I love. They get so many beautiful items and, at Christmas, also have lit birch trees. I check the Boxing Day sales every year but haven’t had any luck. They sell out before I get there. I bought a small silver battery operated tree for my bedside table but that’s just not the same.

This year is different. Sadly Marshalls and Winners are closed due to lockdown; really sadly because I have gift cards for them. They don’t have an online store either. Amazon’s trees were okay but they didn’t qualify for free shipping (even over $35) and the shipping was $22. But Chapters… now that was a different story. Their tree was 33% off and the shipping was only $10. My finances could handle it, the bills were paid, so I clicked the order button and waited until today when it arrived.

my viewI can’t think of much else to get for this tiny apartment. My walls are decorated, I have my furniture, I have my tree ♥, and I’m good for decor. The tree was, as they put it, the icing on the cake. Now I get to focus on filling my life with the less tangible things. Writing in here, chatting with friends, reading, petting the cats, talking to family, cooking yummy food (really… I made the most delicious carrot orange ginger soup tonight and added fresh dill to it). That’s one of my, well I’d call it a resolution but it’s more of a suggestion to myself. It basically sums up to being patient with myself and treating myself with kindness and grace. I do that with everyone else so why don’t I do it with me?

The birch tree is one of those kindnesses. It’s been years coming and years postponed. It might just be a material thing but it’s something that brings me joy and leaves a smile on my face. And on a gloomy day in January, that’s worth a lot.

Changes…

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It started drizzling and just didn’t let up. Meanwhile the temperature hovered around the freezing point. I made sure we had several big bottles of water, put spaghetti sauce in the crockpot (thanks Facebook memories for reminding me), and checked our flashlights and candles. Colin, who’s usually planning worst case scenarios for every storm, was scornful.

“Nothing’s going to happen Mom,” he muttered… more than once.

And he was right, kind of. Nothing happened to us at all. Our lights didn’t even flicker. But our block was the only one with power for at least an eight block radius; a tiny dab of light in a sea of black. And, during all that drizzle and wondering what was going to happen, I began to write.

I had thought about writing a blog for a while at that point. I knew Colin was questioning his sexual orientation and gender presentation but everything I could find was about children, there was nothing talking about raising a gender creative teen. That definitely was a niche that needed filling.

I got busy and set up the whole blog then wrote the first post, all without telling Colin. At first he did not want me to write the blog at all then I read him the post and he immediately changed his mind. He thought the blog sounded good but no face shots and no real names. We used artfully posed shots and pseudonyms for years.

And now it’s been seven years exactly. I can’t believe how much has changed since then. We’d only been living in North Oshawa for a year when I started. Now I’m living east of Oshawa and Colin’s north of Toronto… and we have been for almost a year. Colin was in grade 10 and he’s been out of high school with his “certificate of completion” for several years now. I was working at Tim Hortons but then became suicidal and crashed in 2016. I’ve since been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, severe anxiety, autism, ADD, and agoraphobia. I’m on disability. Colin went from being gender non-binary to female for two years. Then he found out he’d lose his fertility on hormones (and we couldn’t afford a sperm bank) so he went back to being male. Well as male as you can be when you only detransitioned for fertility reasons. And I’ve since discovered that I’m asexual and this close to being aromantic by being demiromantic. I’m finding I’m way more interested in women than men but that could simply be because I only have female friends at the moment.

Colin and I croppedWe’re heading into the 8th year of the blog. Instead of being a working single Mom I’m a disabled Granny. My visits with Colin are via Facebook video chats and are as pleasantly mundane as could be. I’ve seen his freshly shoveled deck and watched him scramble eggs. This year I’m hoping to focus more on helping me thrive… or at the very least to stop rating 7 and 8 out of 10 on the depression and anxiety scales. Small attainable goals. I’m sure I’ll succeed.

I won’t be writing again until after Christmas so I’d like to take this time to hope you have the best holiday ever, whether it’s in the past or yet to come, and that 2021 is peaceful, kind, and joyous!

Self help coming out my ears…

The first time I saw a therapist was in college. She was a nice lady and I felt so bad for her because all I did was sob through each session, I couldn’t manage to say anything. She suggested Prozac, in fact she might have been qualified enough to prescribe it, it’s been a long time since I saw her. But my Mom worked at the drug store and the pharmacist terrified her with the side effects. It was another decade before I took that medication.

Years later my marriage was rapidly dissolving. My ex haughtily informed me that I was being too hasty and he wanted to try counselling. Except he didn’t want to look and he’d only go if it was free. So I asked my doctor about that and about counselling for myself only to be told that both were expensive and free would be years… probably close to a decade. I left feeling defeated about the counselling for me and relieved I could guilt-free yeet my husband out of the apartment. No way was I putting up with ten more years of his bullshit!

It was again another decade before I found out about free therapy in my neighbourhood and I called immediately. I went on my own then I went jointly with my daughter and then Colin went on his own. Sadly there was a cap on the number of sessions we could take but it was definitely a help. Since then I’ve had another short term therapist who was really kind and friendly. Unfortunately he wanted me to carry a clipboard with me everywhere I went and fill out an 8.5×11 inch chart during every anxiety and panic attack. Because there’s nothing I want to do more when I feel like I’m going to die than fill out a chart! Needless to say my clipboard stays at home. Then I got a therapist, a friendly elderly man who immediately became severely ill and is on indefinite sick leave.

This would have ordinarily left me at loose ends but, thanks to covid (and I’m floored to say that), I’m doing fine. Because of covid there are zoom classes available from every organization and I signed up to every single one I could find. Which means that I joined four 1 1/2 hour long self-help classes this fall. This is on top of the three zoom exercises classes a week I’m already taking. And all the self-help classes had reading and homework.

It definitely wasn’t easy. My memory is awful so I’d forget which instructor said what plus three of the four classes were very similar, two of them even had “self compassion” in the name. I have noticed a difference in how I treat myself though. I treat myself kinder, forgive myself easier. I try to grant myself patience, especially during those times when I’m in a whirlwind of panic, positive I’ve screwed up everything… even though absolutely. nothing. is. going. on.

Would I ever do it again? I’d say no, it was too busy except… I saw the information for the winter groups and quite a few of them sound interesting. I’m going to have to take a closer look and make a few calls on Monday.

so many groups

Best laid plans…

Anyone searching for Facebook Notes tips, they’re a few paragraphs down

tardis ornament bokehI woke this morning to a cat nibbling on my fingers. That’s not out of the ordinary, not with Lara in the apartment. She’s a lovely cat, just lacking a bit with social skills (with cats too). I wasn’t in a rush so I stayed in my cosy nightgown while I brushed my teeth and fed the cats and chatted with my Mom and made my breakfast. I’d just settled down at the computer when I decided to open my email and see if there was an update on my Amazon order. It wasn’t due until Tuesday but sometimes they come a bit early… like now when the package was two towns away… clicks refresh… and out for delivery.

This was 10am and I had plans to go shopping with a friend of mine in the late morning to early afternoon (we were kind of winging it). Obviously that needed to be delayed. But how long could it take? And so I waited… and waited… and waited… while my parcel information just sat there doing nothing.

At 3:30pm I’d long since changed my plans to shopping tomorrow instead and cancelled our afternoon walk. But I had three very ripe bananas in my fruit bowl and a good banana bread recipe in my Facebook notes. I got out one bowl and the loaf pan then decided to call up the recipe before going any further. Notes has gotten harder to find recently so I went to my profile page and down to my about section then started scrolling… and it wasn’t there. I checked again and again, still nothing. I searched all over my page on both my tablet and computer and it just. wasn’t. there. A Facebook search called up a group of people who like notes and some notes apps but not my specific notes. And I wanted those notes. My Nana’s buttercream frosting recipe was in there and she died in 2003 so it’s not like I can ask her to rewrite it. My favourite pancake recipe which the long forgotten site removed. My hot and sour soup recipe which was modified from a product recipe. They’re irreplaceable.

Finally I did a Google search and struck paydirt. After a few false starts I found this link which lets you click on “my notes”. I was overjoyed until I realized I could only read the first couple of lines; the “see more” link wasn’t working. There’s a save option but that really only worked two or three times. But if you click on “comment” it will open up the link so you can see the whole post.

My first attempt at saving was to directly copy and paste to OpenOffice. This led to a weirdly formatted document chock full of lines. So I opened WordPress and pasted in there, thus removing the formatting, then copied and pasted into Open Office. I had to add the correct formatting but at least it was legible.

It was over an hour later by the time I got all the recipes copied to my computer and I no longer wanted to bake anything. Actually I no longer wanted to even cook anything, which is why I had half an English muffin for dinner tonight. Mmm… dinner of champions!

And, while I was eating my dinner, I was messaging another friend and telling her that my package wasn’t here yet but they still had another hour left in their estimate. I flipped over to the parcel information just in time to see the page update to “delivered”. And there it was on my doormat, much too late for me to do anything today.

But tomorrow’s another day, the stores will still be there, the trail ready to be walked, the bananas waiting to be smushed. And maybe I’ll have helped someone retrieve their Facebook notes… helped save a memory. As for now, my tardis ornament is safely on the tree, I have a stack of scrapbooking pages waiting and new photo sleeves to place them in, and I’m all ready to relax.