Some days are interesting…

I dozed this morning and wondered what Jeremy’s speaker was trying to tell me. Underneath my sleep music ran a repeated loop of “beep beep beep beeeep” over and over. It sounded like Morse code but the only code I know, even vaguely, is SOS. Even then I’m not sure which is the dot and which is the dash.

I admitted defeat around four am, ate breakfast around five, and we were at Wal-Mart by eight. I’d planned on shopping today but at a more decent hour. Insomnia didn’t seem to care.

Jeremy wanted to buy potting soil with our grocery money. We don’t eat potting soil but I didn’t want an argument at Wal-Mart, I’m sure the employees have seen enough already, so I told zir to get a small bag and meet me in the grocery section.

“But why can’t you come with me?” zie asked plaintively.

Because I was tired, didn’t want to walk that far and, more importantly, wanted to sneak off and buy part of zir Christmas present. Jeremy doesn’t read here so I can spill the beans (so to speak). I bought zir a strand of lights for zir bedroom. But not just any lights, mirrored disco lights. Zie’s going to be so excited on Christmas morning.

“Because you can walk there on your own and I can get a head start on groceries.”

Jeremy huffed off and I hurried to the back of the store to buy zir present as quickly as I could. That part was a success at least, I got the last one.

I’d got our cashew milk and was musing over the fake meat when my phone buzzed. I put down the fishless filets and pulled it out. I’d forgotten to close Pokemon Go and, for some weird reason, the vegetarian section of Wal-Mart was teeming with Pokemon. I caught three then turned to grab the veggie ground when I heard a ri-iii-ip.

My capris were originally my Mom’s, who’d worn them for years before losing weight and passing them along to me. Fine, beige linen, which had now become too fine and more like shredded tissue paper. So there I was, catching Pokemon in the frozen aisle, with a huge rip in my pants from my crotch to my knee. I don’t think I could look any more mature than that.

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The epitome of maturity

This was when Jeremy showed up, dragging along a shopping cart full of soil. A small pot of ivy dangled off the side. Apparently zie translated one small bag to mean three small bags and a plant… and zie needed them all.

“It’s only $10 Mom,” zie assured me. “They’re three dollars each.”

Either zir math skills are worse than I thought or zie thinks mine are atrocious.

“One bag and the plant or two bags and no plant,” I replied. “That’s it.”

I turned to see if I’d picked up everything and felt, more than heard, another rip. This one was across my right butt cheek.

“I need to get new pants now,” I said as I wheeled my buggy toward the woman’s section.

“They better not be over ten dollars,” Jeremy muttered. “It’s not fair that you get new pants and I can’t have the soil I need!”

I walked through the store, pants flapping in the breeze, with Jeremy grumbling loudly behind me. I felt like the Pied Piper of snotty teens. Luckily the store was nearly empty so zie was the only one I gathered.

The first pair I tried were an extra large and too small. The fine print said that brand’s XL was size 13. Alrighty then. My button fell off between the second and third pair. Note, it didn’t pop off, that whole patch of fabric just fell to the ground. My capris were disintegrating as I shopped. Luckily my fifth try was a success, a pair of teal shorts that will thankfully match just about every shirt I have (except for the one I was wearing).

We picked up a new brand of kitty litter at Superstore then headed home. Well the brand was new to the kittens, the older cats have seen it before. Poor Lara looked about ready to burst when I changed the litter then she stared at the box in horror. It wasn’t her litter.

She cowered in the corner, looking miserable, and I remembered my Mom saying years ago that kittens learn how to use the litter from their mother. I undid my pants. This was so not what she meant. It was harder to stop peeing than it was to start. Lara stared at me the whole time.

“See,” I said reassuringly as I lifted her into the litter box. Each paw spread wide as she attempted to escape in mid-air, then she smelt the litter and stared at me in astonishment. A few seconds later she was pawing the litter herself and, seconds after that using it. Phew! One down… one to go. Hopefully Smudge will simply follow Lara’s example.

I changed that litter so fast!

Yesterday we bought new to us armchairs from Value Village…

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… today my parents came over so we could take our old futon to the dump.

I needed to pick up my scrapbooking pages, which I’d forgotten at Superstore so we got a quick ride to there too. We were standing in the check out lane when Jeremy started talking about speakers and I remembered zir speaker’s Morse code. Luckily Google came to the rescue. Three dots and a dash means V, commonly used as “victory” in the resistance.

Victory. Against whom? Is there a electronic rebellion? Who won? Should I be sleeping beside this speaker at night? Jeremy was already making me a new set of speakers. I’m not sure whether to give zir this one back or just give it a cigar and it’s freedom.

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Some days parenting is less “I love my kid so much” and more “I cannot strangle my sprog. I’m too weird for prison”. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jeremy but that love gets buried when I walk in the door after a 9 hour shift to discover zie’s done nothing around the house (again). Especially when Jeremy’s excuse is that zie was too tired followed by a retort that zie doesn’t see me at work so zie doesn’t count it as me doing anything. Seriously, this kid is 18 years old and still thinks I disappear out of zir life and do nothing until I appear again.

The excuses I hear for the lack of help are varied. Basically zie’s much too tired/dizzy/overheating/headachy to wash dishes, pick up zir stuff, or take the recycling downstairs to the blue recycling bins. However Jeremy has more than enough energy to rearrange zir room, shuffle around computers/monitors, and rearrange zir plant stand (including moving the entire 6ft shelving unit). As you can imagine, my patience for zir varying issues has faded appreciably.

To make life that much more complicated, I do think zie is struggling with serious issues on top of zir drama queen attitude (zie rocks a tiara for a reason). Jeremy’s sleeping is chaotic at best. Zie’ll spend several weeks going to bed early and sleeping all night then several more weeks will pass where zie sleeps in brief patches, often staying awake for 24 to 36 hours at a time. Some days zie’s chattering and happy, talking non-stop to anyone and pretty much anything.

“Who are you talking to hon?”
“Oh no one, just my laptop.”
“Okay hon. Umm, please let me know if your laptop starts talking back.”

While others will have zir staying in zir room almost constantly, playing video games and watching videos with headphones on.

Then there’s the days zie gets angry. Jeremy’s whole personality changes to the point where zie reminds me of zir father. Zie’ll barrage me with questions, give me no time to answer, then claim I can’t answer them because I’m a) too stupid and b) obviously lying. Zie’ll bring up purchases I made years ago to prove that I’m incompetent at buying things. After all, I bought a computer in 2013 that doesn’t have nearly enough speed for zir current video games. Plus zie knows zie could have fixed our old computer now. Zie’ll swear, call me names, and…

“Mom, I just want you to know I’m not rational when I’m angry,” Jeremy explained in an abashed voice. “It’s scary because I don’t even remember a bunch of the time I’m angry. There’s gaps in my memory.”

I asked my doctor for a referral to a psychiatrist back in September for both Jeremy and myself then double-checked that one was sent. Last Tuesday I decided to call the psychiatrist’s office myself to see where we were on the waiting list. His receptionist called me back while I was looking at coconut milk in the grocery store.

“I always call people within a month of their referral,” she assured me. “Oh yes, I see you now. I called you back in October and left a message.”

October. I tried to remember when I changed my cellphone. Was it October or November? I stayed with the same carrier but maybe the call happened when the phone were being switched. Could she have called right at that time? Did the voicemail disappear during the transfer?

“I have you down as number 905-240…” she listed off a number while I listened in disbelief.

“That’s not my number,” I replied. I changed my number with the doctor when I got rid of our home phone over a year ago. He’s called my on my cellphone to return test results.

We set up a phone interview date for me for the end of June, which I have to call and confirm because a) I was standing in the grocery store holding a tin can and no pen and b) the next batch of information knocked it right out of my mind. I asked her about Jeremy and it quickly became apparent they had no record of zir being referred even though the referrals were sent at the same time. Our doctor is great. He’s patient, friendly, a good listener, and willing to take time to discuss issues with his patients. He’s also really close to retiring. I have no idea where Jeremy’s referral went. The receptionist is going to check with the psychiatrist to see what they can do and call me back. She’s got the right number now.

As of this week I’m not arguing with Jeremy over chores. Zie knows what needs to get done and zie has the choice of doing them or not. The flip side is zie now has a sheet of financial responsibilities that come from zir disability cheque. Once the bills are paid, zie has exactly $100 to spend on zirself. Zie can buy junk food, computer parts, or save it. Meanwhile I have my money. If zie helps out around the house, I will buy zir treats (soft drinks, video games at Dollarama, yet another RC car from Value Village). If zie does nothing, zie gets the bare minimum. Basic healthy food, clean clothes, medication, and a home to live in.

The one chore zie’s not ready to handle is zir daily medication. I gave Jeremy zir pill organizer last week and zie lost it after one day and still hasn’t found it. Then I told Jeremy twice on Saturday to take zir morning medication only to be informed zie’d forgotten while we were at the drug store. At least that explained zir sudden dizzy spells and headache. The down side to me controlling the medication is zir pill schedule is not at regular times. Some mornings Jeremy gets zir pills at 4:30am and other mornings it’s closer to 9:30am, but it’s better than not taking them at all.

Both yesterday and today Jeremy worked on cleaning up zir balcony (we have two) and zie also went on a long walk through our local conservation area with me. Jeremy brought zir laptop and put a webcam on a stick then took pictures from varying perspectives. Hopefully the warm, spring air and sunshine will provide some energy and optimism to zir… and the lure of Dollarama video games and potting supplies will convince zir to wash the dinner dishes!

Colin on zir laptop3

Jeremy taking a picture of the other side of the tree.

Monday musings…

Jeremy borrowed my phone a few days ago to listen to music. What I didn’t know is zie was listening to a podcast instead of the songs I’ve got downloaded. What zie didn’t know is I turn off my wifi while I’m at work because our lunch room only *just* gets wifi, enough to connect but not enough to actually load any pages, and I hadn’t bothered to turn it back on. I hadn’t been home for long and was using my netbook and not my phone. It wasn’t until zie started laughing that I realized what was going on and by then zie’d gone through about 300mb of my 750mb bandwidth allotment. I’d already used that much myself and still have half a month to go.

I usually go on Facebook while I’m on the bus to and from work but for the next two weeks I need to find an alternate form of entertainment. Today I listened to the bus voice. Our local transit company has modernized our buses. Each bus is fitted with a computerized sign on the front, which means half the time I catch The Pulse and the rest of the time I catch A1 Message. Inside there’s another sign which has text scrolling across the screen at the same time as a computerized voice announces the street name. The transit company decided the local companies were too expensive and outsourced to a German company, where they guessed at what our foreign street names might sound like. Gibbons has transformed into Gibbles, Garrard (which is locally pronounced as Juhrard) is Gare-red, and Athol is enunciated in a gleeful, sing-song voice. It doesn’t sound anything like Athol. Emma snickers every time she hears it.

I met two new coworkers and showed them each a recent picture of Jeremy. I show *everyone* pictures of my kids. Emma lucks out because she no longer lives at home so I don’t have nearly as many photos of her (everyone thinks Tiny Cat is adorable btw). The first coworker looked at Jeremy’s picture and proclaimed “her” to be beautiful.

“How old is she?” my coworker asked, smiling as she gave the picture a closer look.

“Zie’s 17 years old,” I replied.

The next coworker heard someone else refer to Jeremy as “my son” and automatically called zir “he”.

Then I sat down for lunch with one of my coworkers (the one who gave me potato curry). She started talking about a distant relative of hers who she knew in her old country.

“When we were little he always used to sit with the girls and wear all sorts of bracelets. I lost track of him when we moved and then my husband went to visit some relatives and he answered the door. He was wearing a dress. Can you believe that?” I could but she barely took a breath so I assumed she didn’t want an answer. “My husband asked him why and he said it was his bleeding time and that made him feel more comfortable. He really acts and looks like a woman now.”

I debated on bringing up pronouns again but I already had once in the conversation and figured that horse was well and truly dead. “I’m thinking she’s probably intersex,” I said instead. “Hormones can do a lot but they can’t give someone who was born looking male a working uterus.”

My coworker sat silently for a few seconds, probably translating what I’d just said, then she smiled. “So he’s like Jeremy,” she exclaimed cheerfully. “He looks like a boy on the outside but is a girl on the inside while Jeremy looks like a boy on the inside and like a girl on the outside.”

She was close enough so I agreed.

I got off work early today, which is good because Jeremy woke up at 3am last night. I was up then too. It’s hard to sleep while someone’s laughing at a video, opening and closing cupboard doors looking for a snack, and rummaging through the closet for clothes. You’d think looking for clothes would be quiet. Jeremy sounds like zie’s falling down a flight of stairs while juggling coat hangers.

Jeremy complained that I was keeping zir up this evening when I said I wanted to watch an episode of Doctor Who with zir. To be fair I was. It was only 5:30pm at the time and there was no way zie was going to bed that early. Zie stayed awake through most of the episode and headed off as soon as it was done. Hopefully zie’ll sleep through the night. A few more sleepless nights and I’ll be going for the rubber mallet sleep training approach. Not really but it’s tempting at 4am.

*tiptoeing off to bed so I don’t wake Jeremy*

The insomnia continues…

I had choir practice last night, which didn’t finish until 9pm. Which was fine except I needed to be up at 4:45am. I got home, read a couple of quick posts on Facebook, and headed off to bed.

Then I got out of bed to get my cat away from the closet doors… twice. She likes finding dark corners to pee. I’ve got Christmas presents at the back of my closet.

Then Jeremy came in to tell me zie couldn’t sleep because zir heart was pounding too much to sleep. This was around 1am. Back to school anxiety had settled in.

I woke shortly after 3am to use the washroom. I was just drifting back to sleep when I realized it was very quiet. That was when Jeremy started yelling for a light because it was really dark… way too dark and zie couldn’t find the emergency light in the living room. I crawled out of bed and handed zir mine. I was in the process of turning on my cellphone so I could set an alarm for work when the power came back on. Jeremy immediately followed. Zie excitedly explained that all the lights went out, even the ones behind our building. There are flood lights on the building behind ours… which means our apartment is never dark. Except for last night. Jeremy informed me zie was not going to sleep at all. This wasn’t a surprise.

I was dozing off again when Jeremy came back nearly in tears. Zie’d made a mug of tea in zir Tassimo and had forgotten it. Somehow the tea ended up spilling all over zir netbook. I thought back to that brief power failure. Jeremy had said something about the power light being off. I told zir to take the battery out and leave the netbook propped up for 24 hours so it could dry. Zie came back in 10 minutes later and stuck the netbook under my nose so I could smell how burnt it smelled. That was not a hopeful smell.

Twenty minutes later I turned off my alarm clock and got out of bed. It was set to go off in five minutes anyways.

Five hours into my shift, my manager asked if I wanted to go home early. Oh yes!!! I’ve taken an hour and a half long nap and am finally awake and 99% sure I’ve got legs. Or it might be I have legs and am 99% sure I’m awake. At least I don’t have to walk anywhere yet…

We’re going to an Evening of Hope tonight, which is a local event against homophobia and transphobia. Our UU congregation has a button making machine so we’ll be helping people make buttons. Now I just need to find something purple to wear. I’m assuming the purple circles under my eyes don’t count.

Ironically I think Jeremy’s more awake than I am.

I hate writing titles…

There… got that one out of the way. I’ve been staring at the screen for five minutes trying to think of a title that I haven’t used yet but  came up with nothing. I hate writing them.

The last time I wrote was on Monday after getting a call from the school official and had been quite hopeful. Then I got the call from the VP and suddenly became less optimistic. She referred to Jeremy as he and him again through the whole short phone call and had a meeting set for Wednesday afternoon… as in that very next day. I work and can’t just call my manager and say, “Whoops, I won’t be there tomorrow. Sorry about that.” They’re already fairly lenient about me taking 10 and 15 minute long phone calls from the school as it is. Luckily the VP was able to make a second meeting for today. I have no idea what they discussed on Wednesday but as far as I know they didn’t cancel it since I was informed Jeremy could go back to school on Thursday after their meeting. I felt better waiting until after mine.

I was going to write a blog post on Wednesday. Jeremy wants me to be the one to tell family about zir being transgender as zie doesn’t want to face their first reactions. I’d hoped to get some letter writing ideas and resources. But Jeremy slept a grand total of seven hours over two days and zie’s not a quiet child. I got woken up by Jeremy tripping over one of the cats as zie stumbled down the hallway. Then zie decided to get a bite to eat. Then checked every single cupboard twice to see what we have and checked a third time just in case anything magically appeared. Then hovered in front of the fridge before finally microwaving the leftover pizza. I know all this because I could hear the doors opening and closing from the other side of the apartment, with my bedroom door nearly completely closed and a fan on. I didn’t sleep much more than seven hours over two nights either. All this meant I was much too tired to write. I ended up pestering Lenny instead.

I decided to tell my Mom about Jeremy during our planned Friday shopping trip, figuring in person would be better than on the phone. I kept that plan right until this morning. That was when I realized our only talking time would be either while my Mom was driving down a busy road or while we were walking through stores. Neither seemed a viable option. Jeremy went off to have a shower and I made my call.

My Mom’s voice got colder when I broached the subject. She figured something was up with all the transgender stuff I’ve been posting lately. I actually haven’t posting anything. A friend of mine, who knows about Jeremy posted this on my page…

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I really liked it and in fact shared it with Jeremy but it very clearly says that it was posted by someone else, although my Mom might not have noticed that. The only other things I can come up with is that I’ve joined two groups for parents of transgender children recently; one’s secret but the other is simply closed. My first thought was it might have shown up on my page, something like “Michelle I’m-Not-Coming-Up-With-A-Fake-Last-Name just joined [insert fabulous group name here]” but I checked my page and nothing showed up. Actually I viewed my page as it would look to my Mom and none of my closed groups are even visible. I was, however, warned that it might show up as a suggestion to friends so maybe that’s what happened.

The flip side is that while I’m sure there are kids who totally blindside people, Jeremy’s not one of them. I showed zir picture to a coworker a couple of days ago, announcing that “this is my child Jeremy”. The coworker gave the phone a good long look then peered at me intently.

“Did you know your son also looks like a girl?”

I couldn’t come up with anything sarcastic on the fly so simply assured her that, yes, I knew my child looked like both a boy and a girl. I’m sure my Mom hasn’t missed this either.

The phone call did not go well. She didn’t want to know anything about it. At all. She loves Jeremy but these things needed to be kept private. I just needed to explain to Jeremy that all sorts of men really do like feminine things too; like my Dad enjoys rug hooking. You know, just in case that information had slipped my mind. And then she told me how confrontational I was and how I go out of my way to make things difficult and throw things in people’s faces. Like being vegan and that whole agnostic thing. Agnostic translating to being an atheist for the past 30 years… which is obviously something I’ve done to be super edgy.

I retaliated that I didn’t want to be confrontational or difficult, I simply wanted to be myself and didn’t feel I had to be exactly the same as everyone else in the family. And that Jeremy was the same; that zie had the right to be zirself without being accused of being confrontational or trying to be different. Or trendy, because my Mom tried to claim that too.

I got off the phone with my Mom, cried a little and messaged Lenny. Then Jeremy got out off the shower and we headed off for the meeting. We walked into the school and I sarcastically quipped that we were going to go inside, they’d use all the proper pronouns, everything would be sorted out, and then we’d ride home on our unicorns. I was partly right.

I got Jeremy’s safety plan when we got inside and immediately noticed they’d written ze and zir down for pronouns. Not exactly right but a decent attempt, and a slight misspelling was definitely not the hill I was willing to die on. The poor principal looked panicked every time he was reminded about pronouns. He’d frantically use Jeremy’s name and struggle to loop sentences to avoid any pronouns whatsoever… then he’d lapse back into he and him a minute or so later. Everyone did make an effort though and Jeremy seemed happy with it.

We got everything reasonably sorted out and I went home only to get a phone call. Jeremy was refusing to read a list of words aloud. Granted, zie has language based issues and reads silently a lot better than reading out loud but this was a reading assessment and needed to be done. They offered to do the reading one on one. The VP even offered to write the whole list out on index cards in case zie was finding the list hard to read but Jeremy refused saying the list was pointless. So zie did zir spelling in the office.

My shopping trip with my Mom went well. We browsed around the first couple of stores then Mom broached the subject of transgender in the car on the way to the third store. She wanted me to tell Jeremy that she loves “him” but that zie’ll always be a “he” because of genitals. I told her that I’d tell Jeremy that she loves zir but there was no way I was saying the rest. She continued to argue about genitals and how society’s changed and now people are way too interested in labeling everything instead of simply letting people be humans. I retaliated with commenting that some societies have up to five genders (thanks for that information Charlie) and that Native Canadians traditionally had two spirited people who didn’t identify as male or female and were considered quite highly. Then I brought up studies showing actual differences in the brain where FtM trans people resembled biological men and MtF trans people resembled biological females. She seemed to listen and assured me she considers Jeremy to be honest, intelligent, thoughtful, friendly, and fun to be around… that “he’s” a good kid.

Jeremy’s off at zir youth group meeting and hopefully having a good time. I just got off the phone with Emma but I’ll need to save what’s going on with her for a different post because I’ve rambled way too much now.

Insomnia…

Once again Jeremy did not sleep last night and he slept for four hours the night before last. I’d have fallen over unconscious by now if that were me (or curled in a ball somewhere with a raging headache), meanwhile Jeremy’s having a bath with my peony rose bath salts and some Deadmau5. Hopefully the bath will help him sleep and the music won’t wake him too much.

It’s weird, he was the kid who slept easily and well. I can remember finding him crawling up the stairs one night, awkwardly dragging along his stuffed bunny.

“Where are you going sweetie?” I asked. He was still young enough to worry about him coming back down on his own.

“Bye bye,” he replied, complete with a tiny wave. “Beh.” The latter translates to “bed”.

And he continued his trek upstairs, or at least attempted to because I ended up scooping him up and tucking him in.

I guess all those missed opportunities to watch the sun rising to the east, almost as red as Mommy’s eyes, have finally caught up to him. I go to bed before him but he still manages to trip over the air in front of my bedroom door at least once a night. And I definitely woke when he came in at 3am to say his thoughts were racing too much for him to sleep. He’s since told me he was thinking about horror movies. I told him to find something more peaceful to watch tonight and threatened to dig out his old childhood favourite, “The Pokey Little Puppy’s book of Colours”. I even started to recite it from memory (I might have read it once or twice or five thousand times over the years). Judging by his reaction, it might be worth digging out as an incentive for him to go to bed. He’d probably do just about anything to stop me from reading it.

We went grocery shopping this afternoon after I got home from work. By that time I figured he’d been awake for thirty hours. I was trying to think of food I could cook while half asleep; Jeremy chattered non-stop about why video games need to have 60 frames a second instead of 30 frames and how they should be fixed… and how Nintendo’s better than Sony… and my train of thought derailed about there. I really don’t get how he can be so awake with that little sleep.

Pretend I’ve got an amazing conclusion for this post because I’m way too tired to come up with one. Also, hopefully Jeremy will sleep tonight. Going by his energy levels, he’d probably be fine, but I don’t think I could manage him being up for another night.

So I talked to Jeremy earlier…

I’ve read him the comments, he liked them but other than saying he figured I liked the comment about me being a good mother, he didn’t have much to say. Which makes for boring replies.

He’s not sure what clothes he would wear, just that they’d be different if he wasn’t worried about what people would say or do. Not dresses, because he says they aren’t comfortable, and not a beanie cap with a propeller, or lime green skinny jeans, or an orange fuzzy crop top (I might have gotten a tad silly). But if he sees something he’ll point it out to me. I did assure him that home’s a safe place, where he can wear whatever makes him feel comfortable. Presumably he already knew this since he’s currently wandering around in ladies pyjamas and orchid scented body lotion but I figure a reminder doesn’t hurt.

It’s funny. Jeremy came out as bisexual about a year ago but is now straight (after months of waffling and uncertainty). I was making dinner tonight and pictured posting in another year, “Whoops, Jeremy’s now identifying as straight and 100% male. Anyone want to see some cat pictures?”

Which is possible. While he’s never had a firm grasp on gender, this is also the same kid who had crushes on boys since primary school. I guess we’ll all just have to wait and see.

The plus side is I’ve got three cats and copious amounts of pictures 🙂

This blog post is a tad short but Jeremy didn’t sleep last night. At all. Which means I’m running really short on sleep too and my words just aren’t connecting the way they should. But I did want people to know the replies had been read and appreciated.

Also, this is Jeremy’s current favourite song (the words start after about a minute). Enjoy 🙂

Edited to add: I wandered into the living room to share my thoughts with Jeremy regarding the blog and how in another year, if he came out as 100% male I’d have nothing to write here.

He stared at me in astonishment (I get that look regularly). “Umm, no. I’m sure you’ll always have something interesting to blog about.”

As I was heading back to my room he called, “And don’t blog about the cats!”