Thank you Mom…

Thank you for teaching me not to eat funny, melted looking ice cream
Thank you for my gold Sea Wee mermaid and my Mandy doll
Thank you for building me a cool “college student” bookcase out of cinder blocks
Thank you for teaching me about centrifugal force, in the basement, with a bucket of water and a rope.
Thank you for teaching me the times tables, especially nine. I understand nine thanks to your tips. Seven still eludes me.
Thank you for bedtime stories. Even if you had to read The Pokey Little Puppy way too many times.
Thank you for reading The Secret Garden, complete with accents.
Thank you for understanding about the worms… and the spiders… especially the spiders.
Thank you for tree climbing, and fence climbing, and goal post climbing. And for understanding my need to climb.
Thank you for taking us camping and letting us run wild in the woods. Thank you for marshmallow roasting and teaching us not to fling the burning ones with gay abandon (and mild terror).
Thank you for hours of campfire songs.
Thank you for showing us the stars at night and pointing out the big and little dipper and Orion’s belt. I still have no clue who Orion was but I know his belt when I see it.
Thanks for showing me how to hold a baby, raise a child, and sew a button.
Thanks for teaching me that sometimes things will go wrong and you just do what you can to fix it as best you can.
Thanks for teaching me the earth revolves around the sun and all the planets, including Pluto.
Thank you for trips to look for tadpoles and walks to look for fossils. I may not know any others but I’ll always recognize a trilobite.
Thank you for summer bike rides and winter toboggan runs.
Thank you for trips across Canada and many repeats of our favourite songs.
Thank you for all the repetitions and variations of “car games”
Thanks for huge batches of chocolate chip cookies, perfect both warm from the oven and frozen
Thank you for home made Barbie outfits
Thank you for all the little playdough figures that magically appeared at night and for the shells that magically appeared in our garden
Thank you for home made spaghetti sauce, which took all day to simmer and taunted us at lunch.
Thank you for not strangling Dad when he brought home a kitten while we all had the chicken pox
Thanks for teaching me how to swim and dive
Thanks for giving me a camera and a microscope so I could explore my world
Thank you for being there when I need an ear and when I need advice
Thank you for being you. I love you Mom

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Mother’s Day 2016

A tapestry of support…

I hear a lot about support and lack thereof. Reading posts by people who have cut family off entirely for not supporting their trans child. And, depending on the family, I get it. But what’s support?

Julie (Jeremy) informed me a few days ago that her Nana is supportive of her transitioning but that Grandad walked past and told her that he will never see her as female, she will always be male to him. That’s not supportive. And yet…

We see them every single week and talk to them daily. They bought us a tent as a very early joint birthday present for our family camping trip and are going to drive us there and back. They listen to Julie’s talk about computers and support her dream of going into robotics. They have been there for Julie her whole life.

Transitioning is a big thing but it’s not the only part of Julie’s life and, thankfully, Julie knows this. Her response to my Dad’s comment? A smile and the remark, “he’ll look silly saying I’m a man once I have breasts” followed by, “it’s no big deal though, he’ll change his mind when I start looking more like a girl.”

Every change takes time to get used to and this one is no exception. My Dad will get used to Julie’s transition eventually. Until then he’ll continue to be as supportive as he can.

It’s the most wonderful time…

When I was very little, my parents used to ask me what I wanted for Christmas and my answer was always the same. A pretty tree with lots of sparkling lights. Things haven’t changed. Christmas is my absolute favourite time of the year. I love it all. The lights, the decorations, the glitter, the music, time with family and friends, pretty cards, baking, presents, and an ever present feeling of hope and goodwill. This holiday is me.

This is also the time of year I started writing this blog… three years ago. So much has changed since then. Back then Jeremy identified as a femme, bisexual male (who felt a bit like a girl on the inside) and I was completely and totally straight (and deep enough in the closet I could hang out with the lion in Narnia). Now Jeremy’s straight, agender and alternates between masculine and femme while I’m a demi-romantic, pan-romantic asexual. So the fabulous has broadened to include both of us.

Three years ago Jeremy wanted a hair straightener and Jaffa cakes. This year I got them a strand of light up mirrored disco balls and a big stuffed Freddy Fazbear from Five Nights at Freddys. Meanwhile this is what I want for Christmas…

  1. Self-cleaning kitty litter boxes
  2. Self-washing dishes
  3. Magic refilling fridge
  4. Copious amounts of writing time
  5. A huge green space beside my building
  6. Endless supply of free books on my e-reader from my favourite authors
  7. Winning lottery ticket for $15 million dollars
  8. A stay at a tropical resort

Pretty much the only one that can fit under the tree is the lottery ticket. I’m looking forward to seeing it on Christmas morning 🙂

This year we’re staying overnight at my parents’ house, which is new for us considering we live a 15 minute drive from their place. It means we can hang out on Christmas Eve and open stockings with them on Christmas morning. Plus it’s more like the Christmas I was used to growing up, when we stayed at my grandparents’ house with a bunch of relatives. I’m looking forward to hanging out with them, Karen and her family, and my cousin and his fiance.

Three years ago Jeremy and I would be watching Doctor Who on Netflix but they’ve taken it off the Canadian line up. I did promise them that I’d watch Supergirl with them as soon as they finish the dishes. I hope the show’s good.

100% human…

“You’re Irish!”

I looked up in surprise. I’d only just opened the door to the office when the receptionist blurted those words. Maybe it’s the green hair… maybe it’s my features or skin colour. I’ll never know.

“I’m [insert my real and very Irish name here],” I said awkwardly. “I’m here for my bone density test.”

I could argue that I’m only a quarter Irish… but which quarter? That amount seems so much smaller than the great-grandmother I clearly remember. I sleep in the same bed she once did and curled up on her lap when I was small. Her croon comes out when I cuddle small children or animals.

“You sound Irish,” one of my fellow patients commented as I sang a lullaby one night.

“My Nana and Nanaimo Nana sang like that to me,” I replied simply.

I’m a mixture of English, Irish, and Scottish but how do you measure and by what? Are my eyes English? My hair Scottish? How do we divide ourselves into parts? Each ancestor is important, no matter how far back. Every one of them has value. They all have some part in my existence, just as I’ll have some part in every child who goes on beyond my children. If one of my ancestors didn’t exist, I wouldn’t be here.

When I look at myself, I don’t see parts, I see me. I wasn’t born with national borders or clan colours or family crests imprinted on my DNA; each part of me is melded together, woven into blood, sinew, and flesh. A tapestry of various threads… all combining into one whole.

Yes, I’m Irish, and Canadian, and English, and Scottish (and likely a whole jumble of other cultures as well, right down to Neanderthal ancestors sharpening stone blades by firelight). I’m all of those at the same time, all in the same blood.

I remember my hand in my great-grandmother’s. How her skin was paper thin and soft. How her breath smelled like her favourite white peppermints. I am not a quarter of her ancestry. She is bigger than that. I am a part of her and she’s a part of me. I’m 100% part of every person who came before me. We are all canvases woven with the threads of family, blank slates waiting to be painted by time.

Nanaimo Nana and Nana

Nanaimo Nana and Nana

Baby steps…

I had my breakfast on my balcony today, while Jeremy slept in. The sun streamed down on me while I read a book on my phone and sipped my hot chocolate.

balcony bliss

Yesterday I went for a walk with my friend J and her dog to the local dog park. I warned her that I looked like hell and was not very chatty. She didn’t mind and told me I could come in my pjs if I wanted. Which was actually tempting until I lifted my shirt to put on deodorant and took a good whiff.

She sent an old computer home for Jeremy too and zie went into raptures over it.

“Oh wow! Mom! This thing has a molex connector. I can’t believe it!! And the power box is dead but I can fix that. I’ll just have to set it externally because it’s a Dell.”

I got the Dell part, I already knew they can’t be modified or upgraded without certified Dell parts; although Jeremy apparently had a work around for that. But molex?

“It’s the connector that came right before the sata connector,” Jeremy explained patiently.

I still didn’t understand but I know when I’m out of my depth so I just smiled and nodded. Soon the computer was not only set up but online and connected to our network. Well, Jeremy’s network. Zie has it set up, modifies it regularly, and looks at a wave graph to make sure our connection is set up to a barely used frequency so it can go faster.

The only computer class this kid has ever taken was a basic keyboarding class. I fought the school board for years to allow zir to take computer classes but they insisted it would be too hard for zir. Meanwhile zie’s already planning that the next computer zie gets will run DOS “because that would be fun to learn”. I was a teen in the 80’s. Fun and DOS are not words I’d ever used in the same sentence before.

And then there was last night. Jeremy laughed and talked to zir new computer for several hours while setting it up. Zie laughed while I made dinner, giggled and ate dinner while watching The Young Turks, ran to the bathroom to vomit, and continued laughing.

Jeremy settled back down with TYT while I checked my dinner post on Facebook to see when I’d served zir (technology is wonderful sometimes). A half hour earlier. Was that long enough for zir to have absorbed the medication? I quickly called the pharmacy and headed to Google “how long does it take effexor to get into your system”. What popped up was more relevant to zir than me…

“How long does it take for Effexor to work? Sleep, energy, or appetite may show some improvement within the first 1-2 weeks. Improvement in these physical symptoms can be an important early signal that the medication is working. Depressed mood and lack of interest in activities may need up to 6-8 weeks to fully improve.”

This would have been so nice for the doctor to tell me. I’ve heard the two week line before but I’d gone into the hospital feeling between 0 and 1 on a scale of 0 to 10 and went up to 4 by my first appointment. I knew I was still having problems. I knew things weren’t right. I wish someone had told me it would take over a month to reach anything close to “normal”. I honestly thought I was losing my mind.

I sat on hold, singing along with the Everly Brothers. The pharmacist interrupted the second song to tell me zie’s fine. It’s absorbed within 20 minutes.

I’m trying to take things one day at a time and break everything into manageable pieces. Some days are easier than others. This month I don’t qualify for any sort of assistance so I’m sitting here grateful for my obsession with stockpiling food. I have a list of papers I need to obtain (along with some lovely phone anxiety). My application for disability is timed, which means I have to start filling that out on top of applying for Employment Insurance (which I qualify for).

*deep breath* it will get done.

I’m grateful for the friends who message me, visit, and call (even from California). I’m not the best conversationalist these days but I try. I’m grateful for my family who I’m seeing tomorrow. We’re going to the garden centre and I’m going to plant a fairy garden (complete with fountain). Last, but not least, I’m grateful for my kidlet Jeremy who can be annoying as hell some days and almost certainly has Pathological Demand Avoidance (a diagnosis I found when sent a link by accident). But zie also is funny, kind, and supportive… offering me hugs when needed and suggesting I go sit in the rocking chair and rock if I seem overwhelmed.

My next baby step is a walk to the lake with Jeremy where we’re going to try to get photos of the almost full moon rising over the water. It will be fabulous.

Battling depression…

Today has been one of the hardest days of my life. I told the truth. It’s not that I’m a chronic liar, it’s just that I don’t tell people anything. Telling people things hurts, it makes me feel exposed, and I’d rather just curl up in a ball and hide. But depression doesn’t wander off, it hides right along beside me, whispering in my ears… telling me how worthless I am and how everyone would be better off without me.

L convinced me to tell people and I sat at my computer this morning, still crying, and wrote a heartfelt message about how I felt. It was messy, ugly, and the truth. I figured people would think I was whining for attention. So many people have it worse. But people listened.

Karen listened. She called me from work and drove me to the hospital, where she sat beside me for hours, while I told the truth and explained over and over, how badly I’m eating and sleeping and exactly how I was planning to die. Then my Mom took over because I wasn’t supposed to be left alone and she held my hand while we waited more. I finally saw a psychiatrist, who’s taking me as an emergency patient, and I’m staying with my parents for a few days. I don’t fly. No one wants me near the balcony. I don’t want me near my balcony either, at least not until my meds increase.

Depression lies. I thought my family didn’t want me around. The truth is I get overwhelmed in crowds and scroll on Facebook or talk to Lenny to calm down. They saw me hiding in the corner on my phone and figured I didn’t want to be around them.

I’ve had a headache for several days and am not at my best. I’m fuzzy headed and forgetful and exhausted. But I’m here and I’m safe for a few days and hopefully I’ll get better. I’m so tired of grey.

Life… and all that stuff…

Jeremy’s off visiting zir sister Emma for the day, leaving the apartment quiet… almost overwhelmingly so. Jeremy is not a quiet person. Zie putters all day, long building elaborate water systems for zir plants, upgrading zir computer, and rebuilding zir remote control cars.

plant watering system

This is only half of zir plant watering system.

Jeremy is not quiet during any of this. Zie either has zir music on, a video, or both and zie talks to zirself the whole time. Zie answers zirself too… holding complete conversations. The only time there’s silence is when zie puts on headphones, at least until zie laughs.

I’ve made the most of my quiet day. So far I’ve taken a nap, made myself chocolate pudding, and done some scrapbooking; including a layout of one of my favourite pictures of Jeremy. It’s a selfie zie took last September at the beach.

Colin

And now I’m finally settling down to write before zie gets home. I’ve been meaning to write here for a while but life got hectic. The biggest change is my job; I transferred to a closer location. This is amazing for us because the store is a five minute walk from home instead of an hour long bus ride. At the same time, it’s a huge change for me.

I don’t handle change well *huge understatement*. I left a store where I’d worked for six years. I knew the rules, the location of everything, and all the people. I had coworkers who would hug me as soon as I got to work and coworkers who waved and said “bye” when I left. I knew most of our regulars (and we had regulars that treated the store like their second home).

I’ve lived here for three years and had previously been in the new store four times. Once to drop off a resume, once to pick up tickets to Canada’s Wonderland, and twice to order food. I was so not a regular. I didn’t know a single person who worked there either. I spent just over a week fretting that I made the worst decision of my life. Then I went to leave work one afternoon and several of my coworkers smiled and said “bye” while my supervisor looked sad and said, “you’re leaving already?”. I think it’ll be okay.

The part that’s better than okay is Jeremy. This job means that I wake up at the time I previously had to leave and am home before I used to get on my first bus back. Jeremy sees me for almost two additional hours a day and knows, if zie’s really lonely, zie can meet me at work. Zir mood has perked up dramatically. Zir sleeping is still horrible but a pleasant mood makes up for a lot!

I’m moving forward in other ways too. I got my passport and bought a plane ticket so I can visit L in 201 more days (and 1 hour and 30 minutes)!!! Plus I’ve filed for a divorce from my emotionally abusive ex-husband. As expected, he did not take this well. Since Jeremy is the one who served him, zie got stuck listening to him rant about how much he hates me and how he wants to buy me a one way ticket to London.

Jeremy rolled zir eyes when zie told me this. “I don’t think Dad understands how immigration works,” zie said dryly.

My ex called a short time later wanting to know how he can file a counter claim… for a simple divorce. We’ve been separated for fifteen years, I have no idea what he could want to counter claim about. Child support has long been hashed out and he’s 15 years behind in that. Custody has been dealt with as well. Besides, Jeremy’s almost nineteen years old, I’m reasonably sure any judge would laugh in his face if he wants to renegotiate custody.

Then the call moved back to Jeremy.

“He’s my son!” my ex retorted.

That’s when I lost it.

“Zie is not your son!” I snapped back. “Zie is your teen.”

“What?” his tone was both angry and confused, not a good combination with him. But it was too late to back down now even if I wanted to. Which I didn’t.

“Jeremy isn’t male so zie isn’t your son. And zie doesn’t use he or him for pronouns.”

“Jeremy has never told me this,” my ex replied haughtily. “Until he tells me himself that he doesn’t want me to call him my son, I’m going to continue to use male pronouns.”

That was it. I held the phone out to Jeremy, who’d been sitting beside me the whole time.

“What pronouns do you want your Dad to use?” I asked. I’d expected a quiet zie and zir.

“I am not male!” Jeremy said forcefully. “I don’t want to be called he and him. I want you to use zie and zir.”

I put the phone back against my ear. “Did you hear zir?”

I’ve never heard anyone splutter before but that’s definitely what he was doing. “That doesn’t count! It doesn’t count until I feel like asking him what pronouns he wants me to use. Until then I’m going to keep on using he and him.”

If you ever wanted to know what Jeremy’s father is like, this conversation sums him up completely. Along with the fact that he’s been arguing with Jeremy for weeks now, telling zir that we need to carpet bomb the entire Middle East. That “we” is presumably North America and not the two of them, but with my ex it’s hard to tell. The good thing is, he has nothing more flammable than his own flatulence and a cigarette lighter. Jeremy keeps trying to explain to him that there are millions of innocent people there but zir Dad isn’t overly concerned about things like morality and ethics. Unsurprisingly Jeremy has been cutting zir visits short and they weren’t exactly long to begin with.

With any luck, in another month I can start planning my divorce party. I’ll post pictures of the cake once it’s made.

I should have some sort of conclusion to put here but we’ve got thunderstorms rolling in and I just took a couple of Advil so you’ll have to settle for “The End” and a picture of Jeremy posing with zir Easter dinner.

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Happy spring!

The End!