Creeping out of hibernation…

The kittens were wild things all morning. I had to lift them out of the storage container cupboard, pull them off the hutch, and coax them out of the fine china. After that Smudge went on a major grooming spree while Lara chased her tail in the bathtub. Then they proceeded to chase each other all around the apartment and over the other cats. My senior cats were decidedly confused.

Colin stayed in his room offering commentary on different videos, interspersed with his braying laughter. I miss the giggle he used to have. Meanwhile I made vegetable soup then retreated to my room to chat with friends on Facebook and to try and calm down. It’s been two weeks since my schedule changed for Christmas break and I’ve come to realize I really need one. A schedule, not Christmas, although I could use another of those too. My anxiety has been revving up and it’s hard to concentrate or get anything done.

If you want an idea what anxiety is like, picture yourself in a car driving down the road. You go around a corner and there’s a transport truck right there in your lane! The crash is imminent and you can’t stop yourself from saying “holy hell, we’re going to die”. Except there’s no car, no road, and no transport truck. There’s just that “holy hell, we’re all going to die” feeling. And it keeps coming as waves washing over you. It’s been like that for me pretty much all day. And, yes, I’ve done my breathing.

It’s been much too cold to go out for any length of time. The temperature has ranged from the -20’s to -30s. We went next door on Thursday to help a friend and, on the way over, I thought my eyeballs were going to freeze. I didn’t even know your eyes could get cold. It felt really weird. The weather is rapidly rising today and it’s supposed to be 2C tomorrow, which is a decent temperature for a winter walk. Emma’s school starts tomorrow too and my groups start up again this week. I even see my psychiatrist and I’m planning on showing him my list of questions.

Up until Christmas break I’d been either walking to or from my groups. Thanks to the weather this week, I should be able to continue with the walks, hopefully indefinitely, although I wouldn’t be surprised if we have another cold spell. Disappointed but not surprised.

I was too anxious to go outside today but Colin had some things to buy and went out instead. He needed a battery for starters as our smoke detector’s battery failed last night. Why do they only fail at three am? I don’t think I’ve ever, in my whole life, had a detector start beeping at 8pm. Colin needs a box of envelopes too because it looks like he’s getting reimbursed for the money he was scammed out of. Which is amazing.

And now the sun is slowly setting and Colin’s back home, bubbling over about his purchases and how he got a Steve Jobs movie just to see what they got wrong. And it’s time for me to make dinner. Tomorrow’s another day and, hopefully, a warmer and better one.

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Christmas chaos…

I had three days off in a row mid November and decided that would be the perfect time to decorate for Christmas. I just needed to take down our Hallowe’en decorations and convince Jeremy to move all zir RC car bits and computer parts to somewhere more inconspicuous than our couch and dining room table.

“Jeremy, we really need to clean up…”

“That’s a great idea!” zie interrupted enthusiastically. “I really need to give my room a thorough cleaning. It’ll probably be easier if the bed wasn’t in the way…”

This was so not what I had in mind!

This was so not what I had in mind!

And off zie went, dragging even more stuff into the living room while pushing the Hallowe’en decorations to, well just about anywhere (including under the couch). Luckily zie did clean up fairly quickly and we were able to bring up the decorations from storage the following evening.

Last year I figured I’d make decorating easier by leaving the tree set up with the lights and garland already in place. That way all we needed to do was put on the decorations. What could go wrong? That question was answered almost as soon as we opened the locker door.

“Mom? Did you notice the tree?” Jeremy asked.

At first I thought zie was talking about the two loose branches dangling from the side. No big deal, they’d be easy to fix. Then I looked down. The tree went to the storage locker with four plastic feet. Now it only had three. It leaned against the wall as if it had snuck into the eggnog and rum a month too early. I have no idea where it could have found alcohol but where ever that was, it had apparently left a foot. It was nowhere to be found in the locker; we even got on our hands and knees to look under the baseboard heater. And there was no way I could put our ornaments up unless I wanted to replace them all next year. I’ve been carefully collecting ornaments for the past thirty years so that would be a distinct no.

so many bins

Jeremy insisted on taking all the bins up at once while I carried up our tree. When we got back to our apartment I hurried to put the tree into the living room then came back down our front hall to let Jeremy in. Zie let zirself inside instead.

“I could have opened that for you,” I blurted as the door banged against zir skateboard.

“I’m a strong, independent woman,” Jeremy retorted.

Jeremy tossed zir hair back and placed a hand on zir hip, holding the bins steady with the other. “I can do it myself,” zie added cockily. Alrighty then.

I propped the tree up against the bookcase and informed Jeremy we were eating before doing anything about the tree. I don’t think well when I’m hungry. Theoretically we could run across the street to Value Village. It was early enough for them to be open and they might have a tree. But we’d only had this one for a couple of years and it was still good, aside from that damn foot. Maybe I could make a foot but it would have to not only be strong enough to support the tree but also bend to fit into the groove on the base of the trunk. If only we had a metal coat hanger… I got up and hurried to the closet. We didn’t but I found a sturdy plastic hanger and Jeremy’s wire cutters.

our recycled leg

As the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. At least the tree skirt covers it.

tree and living room

I’d say that the decorating fiasco is over except Jeremy’s now decided to rearrange all zir bins in the hallway closet, which means zie’s dragged half the contents of the closet into the living room and, for some bizarre reason, placed a bentwood rocker onto my bed. Blackie’s enjoying sleeping under it. There’s no way on earth I’d fit.

Then there’s the chaos of shopping.

I don’t like shopping. I don’t like crowds or noise and shopping seems to involve an abundance of both. One of my coworkers introduced me to an online China based website where I could order all sorts of items, which means shopping in my pjs at bedtime with no crowds (other than my cats). I immediately ordered a bunch of Jeremy’s presents including a wall art sticker which looks like a window into the Minecraft realm, a Five Nights at Freddy’s brass game token, and a small RC forklift (something Jeremy’s wanted for years). I also ordered a small purple RC car which fits into a soft drink can. This was back on the first day of September. It has yet to arrive. Neither has Jeremy’s light up gaming headphones. My new strand of glimmer lights haven’t arrived either. The good news is I have enough presents for Jeremy without them. I still want zir to have them though and not just because I’ve paid for them.

The presents which did arrive here promptly were the ones I bought for my nieces. I ordered them on a Saturday and had them show up that Monday, which would have been amazing if they were supposed to arrive here and not the other side of the country. Luckily my Mom shipped them with her gifts, reasoning that three little books wouldn’t cost anything to add in.

At least our Christmas outfits are sorted out. I have decent black jeans and several sparkly sweaters while Jeremy has teal leggings and my black velvet, glitter spangled top. I get the feeling sometimes that family thinks I’m pushing zir into feminine clothes. Meanwhile I gave zir the choice of three coats yesterday at Value Village and zie went immediately for a very feminine 50’s style coat in vivid purple with a double row of gold buttons. It sadly didn’t fit but zir next choice, a soft plum, did. It looks fabulous on zir.

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I booked a day off next week to shop for stocking stuffers and one last spontaneous gift. We were at the check out on Sunday when Jeremy spotted a stuffed animal zie absolutely had to have.

“OMG Mom… I need it! Look at how cute it is! Please!!! It’s only eight dollars and it’s adorable!”

“Ask for it for Christmas,” I replied idly as I flipped over the tag. It’s a phrase I say at least once a day for three months of the year. An orange Beanie Boo cat named Muffin, it wouldn’t be that hard to find again. Right?

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This is Tabitha…

This is Muffin

This is Muffin

I’m sensing a bit more chaos ahead.

The shopping blues…

“Mom, I can’t find a clean shirt to wear,” Jeremy said ten minutes before we needed to leave for the bus.

I got rid of all my larger shirts a month ago but that didn’t stop me from frantically pawing through my shirt drawer and closet just in case I missed something, anything. I hadn’t.

Jeremy liked my black velour holiday shirt with glitter across the front but it was too small. It was also a little over dressed for Wal-Mart but if pjs are appropriate than fancy attire should be too. Jeremy finally declared my very last t-shirt to be “okay”. Zie also took my sweater, one I’d long outgrown but loved too much to give away.

Jeremy expressing zir

Jeremy expressing zir “inner cat lady”.

Both Jeremy and I approach clothes shopping with a sense of despair coupled by a frantic desire to flee, which is why we both need new shirts badly. It’s not that either of us hate clothes particularly, we simply hate what’s out there. Why on earth would a t-shirt need pleats on the back? Or a stripe of completely different fabric along the bottom (but just on the front)? Or an entire front panel that’s a different material? Rips up the side? Ties *and* rips up the side? See through material? Jeremy abandoned me halfway through the shirt section with a promise zie’d meet me at the dressing room if I found anything. Zir “if” sounded dubious. I didn’t blame zir.

I eventually found four shirts for me to try and three shirts for Jeremy before calling zir out of the electronic department. Zie dismissed all three as being too tight and too weird; I had similar complaints. Zie finished first and raced back to the electronic department, asking me to meet zir there.

The sales associate looked up from Jeremy’s pile of shirts as I walked over with mine. She leaned close, obviously concerned.

“Did you know all these shirts are from the ladies department?” she whispered.

I leaned close as well. “Yes, I know,” I whispered back. Then I walked away and collected Jeremy for grocery shopping.

I tried not to glare at the old man blatantly staring at Jeremy when I found zir by the cellphones, although, to be honest, he was so focused on Jeremy I don’t think he’d have noticed if I even stuck my tongue out at him.

I vented to Jeremy about shirts on our way home.

“All I want is a plain, simple t-shirt with maybe a picture or a saying on it. Preferably Doctor Who. That’s it!” I exclaimed. Jeremy nodded.

“All I want is a shirt that’s not too tight and pants that have pockets. Oh and both have to be purple.”

After our last round of shopping I’m thinking we might as well ask for the moon.

Shopping with Jeremy…

I was making pancakes this morning when my phone rang. It was my friend P. He and his husband were dropping off groceries at home then he was heading out. Did I want to hang out this afternoon? Was I interested in hanging out in arts and craft shops? Most definitely. So a half hour later Jeremy and I were off.

Shopping with Jeremy is interesting. It always has been. Jeremy has an incessant need to buy something… anything. From the time zie’s been old enough to speak I’ve been tucking zir under my arm while zie wailed, “But Mommy I need… I need…” It didn’t matter what it was. A car battery, a tin of peas, a dented can of anchovies on clearance… Jeremy needed it desperately.

Now at least zie’s more selective with zir needs but they’re all still desperate and burning (while we’re in the store at least). We started at Dollarama where I picked up a couple of stocking stuffers for Emma (did you know they have inflatable elephants there hon?). I found a package of purple glittery pumpkins for our table then Jeremy asked for a purple glittery bow for zir bedroom door. It was $1.25 so I stuck it in the cart. Then zie wanted headphones with a built in microphone. Okay. Then a Lost computer video game. I just bought zir a video game this week so no. I also said no to the USB key to replace the other Dollarama USB key which zie got to replace the previous Dollarama USB key (that could go on forever). I figure I averaged about four “no’s” an aisle.

We went to Subway next, which was a break because everything was food and there wasn’t an option other than a sandwich, a side, and a drink. After that was Wal-Mart, where I said yes to a new pair of jeans and a Doctor Who poster and no to everything else including a $40 suitcase that Jeremy wanted for the sole reason it was purple. The same reason zie gave for wanting a $45 backpack at the nearby art store. I just bought zir a backpack last month. I thought the art store would be a bit of a reprieve but Jeremy started begging for artist’s brushes even though zie doesn’t paint. There are a lot of brushes in art stores.

Michaels Arts and Crafts was our final stop. Jeremy started that store off by asking for a $25 Christmas ornament. We didn’t buy it. Then zie begged zir way up and down every single aisle. The purple glittery scrapbooking paper was tempting. Jeremy doesn’t scrapbook but I do and I’m a sucker for glitter. I’ve been digiscrapping for a decade now though so I resisted. Jeremy pouted.

“Jeremy. I spent thirty-six dollars at Dollarama,” I hissed when we were alone in an aisle. “I’m broke. I can’t afford to spend anymore.”

“We spent that much?!” Jeremy replied. Zie looked shocked.

“Yes.”

“So you can’t afford to buy me anything else?” zie asked and I sighed with relief. Maybe it was going to be that simple.

“No, I can’t,” I agreed. “We’re going to have to window shop.”

We turned the corner into a new aisle. P was standing halfway down the aisle, contemplating a display.

“Ooo… brushes,” Jeremy said excitedly. “Mom, can you buy me a brush?”

it wasn’t that simple. I just barely managed to resist banging my head against the wall.

Jeremy continued begging down every single aisle. My pat answer of “ask for it for Christmas” grew weary. No wonder Jeremy likes the TARDIS so much. Zie’d need one just to hold all the stuff zie wants. And a lot bigger family to buy it all.

Finally we reached the check out and Jeremy grew more frantic. Zie hadn’t gotten anything in the last two stores and zir need to buy had reached a fevered pitch.

“Mom, I’m starving. I need something to eat,” zie pleaded after I turned down a request for candies stuffed inside the plastic bomb from Super Mario. Almost four dollars for 25 cents worth of candy.

“You have a butter tart waiting for you at home,” I replied. This was the fourth time I’d used that line.

“But that’s at home,” he snapped. “I’m starving.”

“You just ate a 12 inch sub and two rainbow chip cookies,” I pointed out.

“But I’m still starving. How about one of those Lindor chocolates?”

It was 89 cents. I grabbed it from the bin and zie sighed with relief.

“Thank you Mom.”

Zie forgot about the chocolate until I pulled it out of the bag at home and obviously didn’t starve. The poster is still rolled inside its wrap and the jeans still folded in the bag. Zie’s done nothing with the purple plastic bin zie needed at Dollarama and the glittery bow is tucked away in a closet because zie’s waiting until closer to Christmas to put it up. Actually, the only one who’s done anything with the stuff we bought today is me.

And now I’ve got a bit of a reprieve… until the next time we go shopping at least.

We went shopping…

I hate shopping. More specifically I hate crowds. The last time I went shopping near Christmas, I muttered to Emma that the trip would be so much better if everyone else disappeared. She thought that was hysterical. I wasn’t joking.

Jeremy and I got off the bus and I stared at the parking lot in dismay. It looked like the week before Christmas instead of a weekday in August. The whole lot was full. If the bus hadn’t already left, I’d have turned around and climbed back on.

The first thing Jeremy did was drag me into Icing, a jewelry store chain, because he needed earrings. We ended up buying a package with nine sets of purple rhinestone earrings. He was thrilled. He was also thrilled when we took a trip into Purdys so he could have an ice cream bar with two kinds of chocolate dip and rainbow sprinkles. The cashier helpfully informed me that, while they have chocolate with no milk ingredients, all their sugar is filtered through bone char. Damn. Oh well, I can make treats at home.

Then we took a detour into Old Navy to look at their backpacks. It was a very brief detour. Years ago I bought Jeremy a backpack from there; it was plain brown but made out of a silky, shiny material and it came with a matching lunch bag. This year… well it was very gendered. I couldn’t see him wanting a backpack covered in glitter hearts or one with a giant shark face. I promised him we’d go to Electronic Boutique next, which turned out to be a surprise disappointment. I hadn’t realized he didn’t know the EB in EB Games stood for “Electronic Boutique”. He thought we were going to a store with all sorts of computer parts; not a game store.

And then it got interesting. I’d taken a quick peek at the pictures in Icing as I’m a sucker for both glitter and word art. Icing often combines the two…

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This is my favourite picture (and yes, I have silver mirror butterflies on my walls). Icing didn’t have any more pictures that I liked this time but Claires is run by the same company and often has similar products so I wandered in. Jeremy was horrified and left immediately, claiming it was too crowded. Whatever. If anything Icing had been more crowded. Two stores down was H&M. I had never been in there before but read it was a good place to shop, especially if you have a gender nonconforming kid. I figured they might have backpacks. I was wrong. And, once again Jeremy was horrified. Loudly and obnoxiously horrified. Then he disappeared while I was looking for a clerk. I found him in the mall a store away, pointedly looking anywhere but H&M. After the scene he’d pulled there and at Claires, I was briefly tempted to turn and walk the other direction.

“What was that all about?” I snapped. “Why the hell did you just turn around and leave?”

“That was a girls clothing store,” he retorted, visibly angry. “People were going to think we were shopping for me.”

It took me a moment to reply because his reply was not what I expected. Had he not noticed the entire mens section? Plus why would he assume people would think we were shopping for ladies wear for him, especially with me right there. My first thought was he was being very oversensitive. But he’s seventeen, that goes with the territory. I simply pointed out that the store was unisex. I was right, he hadn’t noticed the mens section.

We browsed at Dollarama next, which calmed Jeremy right down (he loves that store) then we found a sonic screwdriver keychain in another store (plus a stocking stuffer for Jeremy but he didn’t see me buy it). And then we went home.

We went to the mall to buy a new cellphone for Jeremy and a backpack. We left with earrings, a cellphone case for me, a sonic screwdriver keychain, and a small silver lamp for the living room (with tree cut outs in the shade). Then we got off the bus into a torrential downpour and came home completely soaked. The trip was not what I planned but was pretty typical for us.

His backpack from last year should be fine.

 

The Pyjama Chronicles…

We had a marvelous dinner on Friday then immediately went out pyjama shopping. I had high hopes for Superstore, apparently too high.

We entered the men’s department and there were the pjs, right in front of us. Jeremy’s scowl deepened.

“I don’t like any of those,” he stated, giving the whole rack a look of disdain.

I felt one and silently agreed. They were a rough textured cotton and fairly stiff. Shrugging, I turned around toward the ladies department.

“Where are we going?” Jeremy asked in confusion.

“The ladies department,” I replied, feeling confused as well. We’d already discussed this. “I, umm, need to look at pyjamas too.”

That set Jeremy right off. He ranted the whole time we were in there about how unfair it was that we’d gone shopping for him but were now shopping for me. I showed him a few pairs of pjs, all of which he disliked, and he continued to rant.

“We never finished looking in the men’s department,” he snapped.

I shrugged again, there wasn’t anything I could see in the ladies department. The pyjamas were also stiff, rough cotton and many were covered in gaudy flowers. Then I turned and went back to the men’s department.

I found another rack of pyjamas which Jeremy intensely disliked…

“They’re plaid Mom!” He almost turned plaid into a swear word.

… and ended up buying him a couple more t-shirts instead. We left the clothing department with Jeremy still complaining about how we’d been mostly shopping for me, even though it was his trip. Finally we reached a section with no customers.

“Jeremy, we talked about this on Thursday,” I said with some exasperation. “I do need a pair of pyjamas but we were mainly in there for you. That’s why I kept asking if you’d seen anything you liked.”

“Oh,” Jeremy said, looking faintly embarrassed. “No, I didn’t see anything.”

“We’re going to Wal-Mart next. If you see anything you like, you can say they’re for me.”

“Or I can say I like them for myself,” he retorted.

“Yes,” I agreed. “That works too.”

The Wal-Mart men’s department was a bust. Like Target, they didn’t actually have a pyjama section, just a handful of t-shirts and boxers. I did find a hanger with three pairs of lounge pants attached. They all were plaid. Jeremy stayed silent, but his expression spoke volumes.

Then we wandered over to the ladies department. I found a long nightie for me to wear on hot summer nights but couldn’t see anything for Jeremy at all.

“I don’t see anything for you,” Jeremy said urgently. This would have worked better if I wasn’t carrying a nightie.

“I’m saying this for me,” he hissed. “I don’t see anything for me.”

“Not even that Duck Dynasty nightie,” I replied cheerfully, pointing to a rack. Jeremy snorted.

The actual successful shopping trip was anticlimactic.

I needed to head out this afternoon and asked Jeremy if he wanted to go shopping. He was busy watching a video and didn’t. I stopped by Target and discovered their ladies nightwear section is huge. Most of the pjs were cotton but I found a pair that were soft and navy blue. I immediately snatched them up.

The best part? They were $16.99 on the rack and rang in at $5.07! I might just pick him up another pair. The only thing that would make them better is if they came in purple.