Social isolation stuff…

It’s hard being stuck inside day after day, only leaving occasionally for important chores like grocery shopping and picking up medicine. It’s been weeks already and they’re already talking about this taking months. Hopefully my birthday, at the end of July, won’t be just the cats and I. It’s my 50th birthday and I’d like to celebrate, preferably at the spa. Obviously health and safety take precedence but I’d like to unwind with family and celebrate.

Meanwhile we’re all scrambling to find things to do. I’ve been reading a fair bit. I just finished a book by Anne Bishop in her “The Others” series and am now reading a book by Patricia Briggs in her “Mercy Thompson” series. Both are so good. Colin’s lent me his Doctor Who CDs and I’m slowly rewatching the series. And I’ve been scrapbooking and cooking. Mmm… cooking…

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I’m having this tonight too

I’ve noticed that a few people have found my blog and are going through and reading a bunch of posts. Welcome and enjoy! We were using pseudonyms when I started writing back in 2013. Colin was Jeremy (which was the name Kait would have been if she was born male), Kait was Emma (which was the name Colin would have been if he was born female), and I was Michelle (a name Colin picked at random). Then, to make things confusing, Colin transitioned to female (not medically) and decided to go by Emma, meaning the blog has two people going by that name, albeit not at the same time. Hopefully that’s not too confusing. I’ve also updated the about section since it hadn’t been updated in a year.

There’s not too much more to say. I did my housework this morning and have alternated between a word game app, listening to music, going on Facebook, chatting with family, and reading. Now it’s time for a little more Facebook and some Doctor Who. I’m so glad I’m an introvert, I don’t know how all you extroverts are managing!

Stay healthy, stay safe, and take care!!!

Social distancing…

I lay down on my bed and Angel crept over from the other pillow, purring like a lawn mower. The first thing she did was try to stick her whole nostril, including nearby whiskers, into mine. Then she licked the inside of my left nostril and immediately licked my eyelid. I don’t think cats are good at this whole social distancing thing. That’s okay, I usually don’t want them to be good at it. I love waking up in the middle of the night to find five peacefully snoozing kitties around me. And I love having a cat curl in my lap. The whole nostril thing, not so much.

This social distancing means being social in another way. Online. I belong to a local group that lets people know where to find difficult items. There was a post this morning about Lysol wipes at Canadian Tire and Walmart. Of course I went to Canadian Tire first because it’s Canadian but, nope. I always bought them at Dollarama and they always had tonnes. Their stock can’t keep up with a pandemic. Walmart had both toilet paper and paper towel so I have paper towel now. I have disinfecting spray. That and paper towels will work. I have three senior cats. I need wipes. Love them dearly but they’re not always the cleanest.

So much has changed in the past few weeks. Plexiglass windows are being installed in front of cashiers and tape marks the safe distance to stand in line. No cash allowed either, even if it is washable. And there’s tables with hand sanitizer in the front of stores. People are staying farther apart than usual… usually. There are the people who decided to frolic in the 13C weather at Stanley Park last week, as if there wasn’t a pandemic.

I met the neighbour across the hall shortly after I moved in and we went for a nearby walk. Then the pandemic hit here and we’ve resorted to texting. I had a walking buddy too, the operative word being “had”. We keep in touch via Facebook messenger. It’s hard to keep 2m away from someone and walk with them at the same time. Sidewalks are not that wide.

20200324_154112-02My building is in lockdown. No visitors or guests and the superintendent is disinfecting five times a day. All the social rooms are closed too.

I want to see my parents. They left for the United States in February right after I moved in; I was still unpacking. They came home on March 10th and went right into social isolation. Then my Dad got tested for covid-19 (thankfully the results were negative). I want to make them a batch of curry and have them see my new place. I want to sit down and have a chat with them. And it hurts that I have no idea when I can. The virus hasn’t even peaked yet.

And it’s time to call my Mom then curl up and read my book… and we move one day closer to the end of this mess. Hopefully it’ll be soon.

What a difference a few weeks makes…

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My self isolation selfie

A few weeks ago I went back to the mall in Oshawa and met with two of my immunocompromised friends and my son. We did a bit of shopping, stopped off at the food court (mmm Good Karma’s chana masala) and bought our bus tickets and passes. Then we made plans to get together for karaoke yesterday and at the mall again on the 31st. You know, the usual stuff.

Meanwhile my parents were on a bus tour in the southern States and had been for a couple of weeks. They got to see such scenery as the Painted Desert and the Grand Canyon and weren’t due back until the 10th. We figured we’d see each other the weekend after they got home.

Then everything escalated. My parents are in quarantine. My Dad’s being tested for covid 19. He’s 76 years old. Karaoke switched to Facebook Karaoke because it’s not worth the risk. The mall is pretty much closed. I’m not sure if I even need to buy a bus pass because where am I going to go? And it’s so hard to believe I was hanging out with friends a mere double handful of days ago.

But it’s worth it. It’s worth only going out for essentials if it helps keep our seniors and immunocompromised friends safe. It’s worth washing our hands dry (skin cream is a life saver) if it helps slow the spread of the virus. Remember, we need to slow the rate of infection down enough to give medical professionals time and space to do their jobs. All we need to do is look at Italy to see what an unchecked rate of infection looks like. Basically no beds and no ventilators.

I wish I could see into the future and see when this is over so I could reassure my family and friends but I don’t have that gift. I do know it will come to an end. All pandemics do. We just need to ride out the storm and hope the ones we love stay safe.

As for me, I’m going to sit and sip a mug of hot chocolate in my swing chair before making lunch. Mmm homemade soup.

All of you, please stay safe!

Safety…

I still don’t know why I clicked play. It was several years ago, when Russia was hosting the Winter Olympics and people wanted to get the word out on how bad Russia was to it’s LGBTQ citizens. Someone made a video compiled of the videos homophobic people made. LGBTQ people had no protections so abusers felt they could do anything and record it for further “enjoyment”. One young man was handed a bottle and told to insert it into his anus. He begged for mercy. It was denied. I can still hear his screams.

Then videos surfaced, in the Middle East, of gay men being thrown off buildings. And the public hangings continued in Saudi Arabia. And a friend of mine is gender fluid but she can’t let anyone know in her country.

I’ve watched the battle for equal marriage in the States become a success… and the struggle for trans rights stagnate. Some wins… some losses. The transphobic side is downright scary. When an elementary school girl wanted to use the girl’s bathroom the school chatroom quickly devolved with people calling her a “half baked maggot”  and “it” then bragging over which one of their sons was going to beat her up. Her family quickly moved.

Then there’s Uganda with it’s virulent homophobic atmosphere. It’s pretty much illegal to be LGBTQ, as if people have control over their sexual orientation.

Poland has declared 1/3 of the country to be LGBTQ free. Of course everyone knows that’s not the case. It’s not like the LGBTQ community dissolves when a law like that is passed, we’re simply forced into hiding. What’s going to happen to all the LGBTQ adults? What’s going to happen to the kids who are slowly realizing they’re not straight or cis? I’m betting Poland’s going to see a spike in their suicide rates soon. The question is will they care?

The States pretty much said “hold my beer” as Greenville County, South Carolina tried to remove a resolution passed in 1996 with the opposers stating ‘that lifestyles advocated by the gay community should not be endorsed by government policy makers, because they are incompatible with the standards to which this community subscribes’. They didn’t have enough people there to pass the vote so it’s been moved. Now one of the councilors wants the whole county to vote on it in a resolution in November. Nothing like having your human rights put to a vote while people debate on whether you’re harmful to children.

Closer to home there’s the Alberta premier, Jason Kenney, who wanted parents to be aware if their child joined the Gay-Straight Alliance, despite the fact that 40% of homeless youths are part of the LGBTQ community, a hugely disproportionate amount. What he proposed wasn’t safe for the children in those groups but he plowed on with it anyway. It passed.

When Kathleen Wynne was the premier of Ontario, she decided sex education needed a huge overhaul and worked with parents and educators to create a plan more suited for today’s society. It also included age appropriate discussions on LGBTQ people and people freaked out. They acted like their kindergarteners were going to learn about gay sex when all they were doing was learning the names of body parts and reading books like Heather Has Two Mommies. There were protests but Wynne refused to budge. All children needed comprehensive sex ed. Then there was an election and Doug Ford won. One of the first things he did when he entered the office was reverse the sex ed programme back to the 90’s version. Back to the one which had no mention of the LGBTQ community or sexting or the internet. Anything to keep children from hearing about the queers.

And now there are evangelical Christians blaming the LGBTQ community for the coronavirus. Pastors such as Steven Andrew are saying things like:

“God’s love shows it is urgent to repent because the Bible teaches homosexuals lose their souls and God destroys LGBT societies,” the minister said in a video posted to YouTube.

“Our safety is at stake since national disobedience of God’s laws brings danger and diseases, such as coronavirus, but obeying God brings covenant protection… God protects the USA from danger as the country repents of LGBT, false gods, abortion and other sins.”

My son Colin backed away from being trans and transitioning a couple of years ago ostensibly because of fertility reasons, the hormones are more likely than not going to cause sterility and he wants biological children. So Emma and the she/her pronouns went back in the closet. But that wasn’t the only reason. Every single time we headed out Colin/Emma fretted about what clothes to wear… terrified of being attacked at the bus stop. I promised I’d fight the attackers but he didn’t have much faith in my middle aged 5ft 3in self.

Where is our safety? These laws are supposedly for protection from the LGBTQ community, even though we aren’t harming anything and only ask for equal rights. That apparently doesn’t matter. And, for every win, such as equal marriage and repeals of conversion therapy, there’s a loss, a rollback of rights. I wear a rainbow scarf given to me by my ex Lenny and a rainbow cat pin from my friend Jen and wear both with pride. I still worry about attracting negative attention although thankfully I haven’t received any.

Maybe someday we’ll all be considered equal but not today. Not tomorrow either.

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Me with my rainbow pin and scarf

 

Dear Dr. K

I’m writing because it’s so much easier than talking. If I leave this to talking I’ll be so anxious I lose half of what I planned on saying and will have misworded another quarter. Chances are you’re too busy to read this on your own time but I’ll have it up on my phone at the next appointment.

Zoloft sounded like a great idea and it’s dropped my anxiety a bit but it’s also doing almost nothing for my depression. I’m back to plotting out my death and coming up with reasons for why none of them would work, mostly because it would be unfair for the person who finds me (or in the case of the train, the person who hit me). And then it struck me. What would happen to my cats? I love them dearly and want them to have the best lives possible but none are kittens. Even the ones I call kittens are almost four years old and the rest are seniors. Angel needs a step up to climb onto my bed, where she spends most of her time sleeping. And I just watched Blackie slowly settle herself on the floor, gently easing each joint down. My family won’t take them which means they’d end up languishing for months in a shelter, if not years. So suicide is out of the question.

I feel like I’m hollow inside and that hollowness is filled with pain, like I’m a person suit filled with broken glass. I’m counting down the days until I die… until the pain goes away. Wishing for death and then, once again I think of my cats and gingerly back away from those thoughts.

I planned on going to the gym today. It would have been my third day in a row. I took a nap instead. I crave sleep like a person with a heroin addict craves their next hit. I’m never sure if I want to sleep because it gets me out of life for one more hour or if it’s because I’m really freaking tired. Maybe it’s both.

I have to force myself to finish my food lately and, even then I end up throwing things away… like half an apple. Ironically I’m not losing any weight. My scale and I currently have a hate-hate relationship.

Meanwhile I’m doing everything I possibly can. My home is spotless. The dishes are washed, laundry done, bed made, kitty litter scooped, and garbages emptied. I’ve been going to the gym regularly although I just started. I made an attempt to join a group. Sadly it was really triggering and I had to leave but CMHA is setting up groups for this building, so I’ll be in a group soon. I’m listening to music daily and will be singing karaoke with friends in two more weeks. And still I find myself wishing I would just die. I don’t know what else I can do to make things better.

And I help my 14 year old cat onto my bed and give her forehead scritches then head into the living room to listen to music. Hopefully you’ll have some ideas for what to do because I’m lost.

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Me snuggling Smudge on my swing chair. You can’t see it but she’s drooling with happiness

Invisibly disabled…

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Me at the mall yesterday

I was talking to a relative when she said, “I don’t understand how you’re so disabled you can’t work but you can go to the mall and Canada’s Wonderland (amusement park). You can do things that are fun but not when it’s work…” She changed the topic right after that so I didn’t have a rebuttal but her comment made me think.

The first thing she didn’t realize is I always have a plan. When I shop at the mall I know which stores I’m going to and where they are. I select three or four maximum. I shop in the morning and on a weekday so it’s quieter. And I leave when I get overwhelmed. I was at the mall yesterday and I left a half hour early for the bus. We’d been in the food court and the noise was too much. Could you imagine a job letting me sort through my duties and pick which ones I did, choosing the time I worked for quietness, and letting me leave after a couple of hours when I got overwhelmed? Oh and I probably wouldn’t make it to work the following day as I’d need a day to recuperate.

Canada’s Wonderland is more tricky but I still work out plans. The first thing I get is a disability pass so I don’t have to wait in line. I also scout out a quiet patch of lawn so that if I get too overwhelmed I can find an empty corner there and rest. I can assure you that spot gets used. And I only go once a year, if that. Of course the next day or two is spent recovering.

Everything I do is planned out in advance, from buying groceries to making dinner. I have to time things so I don’t get overwhelmed. Overwhelmed with dinner tends to mean I need to microwave a frozen dinner because I waited too long to start cooking. Overwhelmed at the store means a lot of patience with myself and several skipped products when I just can’t stand it anymore and cannot make it one more aisle. Along with lots of reminders that I will be home soon.

I feel badly sometimes because I get my medication delivered instead of going to pick it up, especially since I go past the drug store to get to my grocery store and the gym. The thing is, it’s because I have to get the medicine and there’s a time limit. The pressure of both those things mounts with every day, ironically causing me to be unable to go there. Neither the gym or the grocery store have that pressure. If I don’t go today, I can go tomorrow or the day after. Which makes it a lot easier.

All these steps and routines I make are invisible to the people around me. All they see is me being able to handle activities like two hour long groups and fun trips. They don’t notice the spaces between those activities or how short the time is. Seriously, where would I find a job that lets me work up to two hours a day for one or two days a week?

If I was missing a leg, people would see that and know I was disabled. Instead I’m missing crucial chemicals in my brain. No one can see those. I just wish people would look deeper and try to understand instead of simply assuming. I’m more than willing to explain if people give me a try.

Moving with brain fog…

This is not the first time I’ve moved or even the second. I used to have it down pat. I’d pack like with like, starting with infrequently used items, then moving on to the things more commonly used. Food gets packed last.

I honestly thought I was following the same rules as every other time. Box after box piled up in my room and I remained confident that when the movers showed up on the 5th, I would be totally ready.

My first day here found me panicking at lunch time. I wanted to make a bowl of soup and had finally unearthed the pot but couldn’t find the can opener. Was it in a box still? Did I leave it behind in Oshawa? I called Colin and, sure enough, I had left it there. I knocked on the door across the hall and thankfully the neighbour had already unpacked his can opener and was willing to lend it to me.

I went to bed that night and suddenly realized I had left all my corningware in the shelves above the fridge at the old place. No problem. I was going to Oshawa the next day anyway and sleeping over at a friends’ apartment. I’d take my bundle buggy and put the corningware on the bottom and my clothes and pillow on the top. Except by the time I found everything, my buggy was full to the brim and my sleepover stuff was in two garbage bags. Luckily my Mom drove me home the next day because there was no way I could carry everything.

Colin called me this morning to inform me I left the blade of my blender back at the apartment. The freaking blade! I bought that blender two years ago when I came into some unexpected money. The blender was $200! So I’m going back tomorrow to do a bit more painting and to collect yet more stuff.

I’m making curry for dinner tonight. The recipe calls for white wine vinegar which, whoops is also in Oshawa, and it’s served over rice. I decided to skip the vinegar but the rice was needed. So I went to the next door neighbour this time instead of across the hall and thankfully he had rice.

When I’m in Oshawa tomorrow I need to remember the  blender blade and the handful of groceries I bought last time I was there. Yep, I forgot them too.

I am so glad that Colin’s moving out after me because I would have lost so much… so many things I’d either forgotten about entirely or thought I’d already packed.

This place has senior subsidies, hopefully I’ll never have to move again. I don’t think my nerves could handle it!

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My curry tonight, sans white wine vinegar but plus the borrowed rice