Category Archives: Friend

Coming out at work, this time ’round.

You would NOT BELIEVE how much time I spent in washrooms, or rather in the ceilings of washrooms, where it always seems that the wiring I'm working on is right above a toilet. Out of the closet, and into a stall...

The first crew I worked with when I started my electrical apprenticeship job back in September was a bit odd.  At the time, I thought my two coworkers were typical of what I’d be experiencing in the company, but after being moved to a few different crews, I realize now that they are exceptions:  Silent, reserved, and socially-awkward, whereas the other dozen or so folks I’ve met are friendly, engaging, and interesting.  So, I didn’t come out as queer, with those first guys.  There simply wasn’t an opportunity, because they didn’t talk much.

From there, I was sent to a giant condo development for a day, where a large crew was working on the initial construction wiring.  Two old classmates from tradeschool were there, and it was great to catch up.  They, of course, know I’m queer, because I was pretty vocal in calling-out the rampant homophobia in our classroom.  No one mentioned it that day, but the journeyman I worked with implied that he knew, with some funny (and otherwise completely non-sequitur!) comments making it clear that he was cool with “teh gays”.  I really liked him, and was sad that we only got so brief a time together.

After that, I was sent to the mall construction site where I was for two weeks.  On my second day, I arrived to find that the foreman, the other apprentice and myself had been joined by another worker:  My buddy Astro.  We bear-hugged, and then just grinned at each other.  The other guys thought we were nuts, because we just couldn’t stop smiling.

Astro is the brother of my friend Starling, who is pretty much the QUEEREST PERSON EVER.  Well, in my life, anyway.  Starling is genderqueer, polyqueer, sexqueer, foodqueer, litqueer, cuddlequeer, bikequeer, lifequeer, just so so so queer.  We first met at the womens’ centre at the university many years ago, then both worked at the organic farm, and just generally have had overlapping lives for a long time.

Astro was actually at the hospital construction site where I first worked two and half years ago, but we never talked until we both got laid off and happened to be at the union hall on the same day.  I mentioned working at the farm, and Astro said that his sibling worked at an organic farm, and we quickly realized it was Starling.  We became friends on a social networking site, and he ended up coming to my birthday party a couple months later. That’s when I found out he’s an artist, a painter with a Fine Arts degree… He and Oats spent a part of the evening talking about her paintings, which cover the walls of our apartment.  I soon found out that Astro also shares my love of post-apocalyptic daydreaming, food preservation, dumpster-diving, and traveling, and has a similar push/pull relationship with academia.  He is soft-spoken and a little nerdy-looking, and more than a little weird and spacey, in all the best ways.

So anyway, to suddenly be working with Astro was an amazing gift.  Not only because he’s hilarious, but because I felt so safe.  I hadn’t been consciously tense about my situation before, but just knowing that I had a solid ally was a huge relief.  Also, it provided the perfect opening to come out to the other two guys, because it was natural that Astro and I would talk about Oats and her dreams of doing an MFA.

As easy as that:  At break one day, sitting in the food court, Astro and I started discussing the challenge of getting a gallery show, and so I told him about the small art gallery that Oats and I booked for our wedding last spring.  He laughed about how the owner confessed she wasn’t too into the paintings of spring flowers that happened to be on display during our rental, but thought that at least they’d be nice, non-complicated backgrounds for our wedding photos… Like Oats and I, Astro is not a fan of “nice, non-complicated” art.  Our other coworkers listened and ate their snacks and eventually when the conversation turned to a broader topic, they joined in.  No big deal, really… But enough of one, to make me feel better.

With my next crew, the one I’m with now, I came out to my primary coworker within five minutes of meeting him:  He commented on how professional my flashlight looked, and I told him that it had been my partner’s, from when she was a security guard many years ago.  Apparently, I told him, it’s the heaviest flashlight allowed without being classified as an actual weapon.  “Wow,” he smiled, amused, and asked to hold it, then it gave some swings through the air like a club before handing it back.

Again, no big deal… But enough of one.

After this, I’m sure word will travel fast.  Apprentices move from crew to crew throughout the company on a pretty regular basis, and everyone always asks who you know, who you’ve worked with, what you think about them… And I’m guessing my being queer will be a little factoid tacked-on to the things people say about me.  Of course, I’m hoping that they’ll also say I’m a fast learner and an easy-going, friendly co-worker, with a good sense of humour.  And they probably will, because I seem to be well-liked.  But I’m pretty certain that as one of very few women in a large trades company, my sexuality will be of interest.  Whatever, I’m over it.  I’m just glad to be out.

(If you want to read about me coming out a little at my first trades job, click here!)

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Pickling while high

Yesterday, which was around four weeks after the initial surgery on my final impacted wisdom tooth, I woke up to find that my jaw was oddly hot, and rapidly swelling.  Seriously?  After so long, it suddenly got infected?  For fuck’s sake!  I ended up back at the oral surgeon’s office, getting the socket cut open and drained.  The friend I’d been planning on hanging out with was surprisingly okay with the fact that I was having a medical emergency, and came along for the ride.  So fun!  No, really, it was.  The only problem was we were laughing too much, and that really hurt.

The surgeon gave me a selection of syringes with which I’m to do “forceful” saline rinses for the next several days.  Luckily I still have some of those excellent painkillers left over.  What to do when drifting along in a drugged haze on a summer evening…?  Pickling wouldn’t have been my first choice, but the cukes were ready to go.  A farmer friend had too many to deal with, and asked if I’d take care of them; I agreed before I knew I had an abscess in my mouth.  But abscess or not, the pickles had to be made, so I muddled my way through.

Oats was very concerned about my ability to cope with sharp knives and boiling water while so very high, which was sweet though I ignored her.  I actually managed to turn out 17 litre jars of garlic dill pickles without any mishaps!  Usually I forget little things like adding key ingredients, or timing the processing.  Obviously, I need to do more canning while completely blitzed.

Euphoria and memory loss

Feral sweet peas, growing on the cliffsides next to the beach near my house.

DentalFest 2011 ended a couple days ago with a real bang of a grand finale:  The extraction of an impacted wisdom tooth by an oral surgeon, for which I was put under general anaesthetic.  Awesome!  It only took 20 minutes, and I woke up to find myself  mid-conversation with a lovely assistant type person who removed my IV and nodded sweetly as I prattled on and on about all the reasons why I love my partner.  Said partner was in the waiting room, ready to pick up my prescription and drive me home to bed (and oblivious to the fact that I was waxing poetic about our relationship to a complete stranger…. Awwwww!).

I wasn’t going to take the prescription at first, thinking it’d be for Tylen0l 3, which turns my stomach.  Then Oats told me it was for Perc0set, and I was stoked:  Hurrah for euphoria and memory loss!  That beats the bloated nausea I get from the T3s, hands down.  The pain has been a lot worse with this latest removal compared to my other recent ones, and I’ve been glad for the relief provided by the pills, even if they also make me gap out a lot.  Sadly, I think the drugs can also be blamed for my writing this blog post at 3 a.m… Sometimes, it really zonks me into oblivion, but apparently can also have the opposite effect.

The shitty thing about being awake this late at night is that I’ve actually got to get up early tomorrow, in sharp contrast to my usual unemployed-haus-frau routine:  Some friends are going camping on a small island several hours north of here, and as their route takes them across another small island where my friend O has just bought a place, I’m catching a ride to visit her.  It’s the sort of sudden opportunity that makes me really love my current freedom… I can’t really make too many plans more than a week or two in advance, in case I get a job offer, but I can leap at lucky connections like these.

I asked O if I could bring anything:  I know that she and her partner are in need of a lot of stuff to get their sweet little homestead going, and though I’m not really able to toss a freezer or tractor into my backpack, I figured there oughta be something I could help with.  Surprisingly, their number one request was PROTEIN.  Ha!  Turns out they’ve had a lot of visitors since moving in a couple weeks ago, and have already blown through their month’s food budget.  They’ve got ample fruit and veg coming in, but with no grocery store on the island, meat-type things are a little lacking.

I totally remember this from when I was a kid, living my parents in northern Ontario:  City folks would turn up for multi-day visits completely out of the blue, bringing only a bottle of wine or two, like they would at any urban get together… Not realizing that the closest supermarket was actually a significant drive away, and one could not simply skip down to the corner store for a last minute block of butter.  It used to drive my mom completely bonkers!

With that in mind, I visited the local wholesaler this afternoon and bought a housewarming gift that I hope will do the trick:  A couple dozen Spicy Italian sausages, 4 cans of tuna, 3 blocks of tofu, 2 kg of dried black eyed peas, 350 g of blue cheese, and a pork butt roast (all for $40!   I love the wholesaler).  I’m also going to throw in a batch of yoghourt and bread that I made today.  Hey, I should put it all in a nice basket, add some jars of pickles and jams, and tie it all up with fancy ribbons!  Oh, the excellent ideas I get in the middle of the night… In reality, I’ll be so friggin tired tomorrow morning that I’ll be lucky if I remember it all. Making it look pretty it out of the question.

What else do I have to tell you?  Not much, really… I submitted a resume today to a local company that isn’t union but was advertising their need for electrical apprentices.  I’d prefer to work union, of course, but at this point I just want to log hours.  I also submitted a general application to another provincial utility, one that is much smaller than hydr0 and located mostly in the southern interior of BC.  They didn’t have any current job postings relevant to my work, but do hire electrical apprentices each year, and I figure that it’s good to try to get noticed.  I’m also watching the hydr0 job board like a hawk, ready to pounce on the next chance to apply for the apprenticeship (again).

To be honest, it would be kinda strange, to suddenly get a job somewhere else in the province just as Oats is figuring out her grad school stuff and we’re making plans to move our  little family across the country.  On the other hand, the utility jobs pay so well that it’d be a fantastic way of funding this big life change!  Even if I couldn’t stay in the position, out of desperate desire to be nearer to Oats as she embarks on her studies, it’d be worth it for just a short while.

On that note, I’m going to try out sleeping now, and see if it catches on.  Wish me luck.

I turned 30 years old last week

I turned 30 years old last week!

Oats woke me at 7 am with breakfast in bed, and in the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should tell you that I did not react well. I wanted to sleep, and told her so rather meanly, then realized that I was being completely horrible.

Which made me cry.

Then it occurred to me that starting off my thirties by wallowing in self-hatred was the kind of thing one might eventually regret… So I mustered some hidden reserves of happy energy, and insisted on driving Oats to work, which she initially declined but then finally accepted, no doubt because I was threatening more tears if she didn’t let me at least try to make amends.  Somehow, it all worked out: Oats forgave my earlier meanness, I felt better about myself, she got to work on time, and I eventually reheated my lovingly-prepared breakfast and enjoyed every bite.  Yay for being an adult!  Or at least trying to change up the script of the little emotional traps that sometimes suck me under.

After I dropped Oats off, I went to a nearby beach.  It was pouring rain, but I didn’t mind.  Summers here are generally very sunny and dry, which makes the odd rainy day into a bit of a treat.  I wore gumboots and my raincoat, threw the ball for Mo, and took in deep breaths of salty sea air.  The tide was way out, and the seaweed was quietly rotting on the sand, stinking in a way that I now realize signifies home to me.  How would I cope with life on the prairies?  I take it for granted, the ocean at my feet and the mountains on the horizon… Which isn’t reason enough to stay here, just a useful thing to realize.

Mo is at times a rather goat-like animal, especially when he climbs things.

One of the reasons I was so tired on the morning of my birthday was that I’d been out at the bar the night before, drinking whiskey with a couple good folks to commemorate the year that had gone by since our mutual friend’s death.  As I’ve written before, I was no longer close with this person at the time of her sudden passing, but she was a big part of my early life in this city.  I think about her a lot, and about all that’s changed since she’s been gone.  Not to be terribly morbid, but it was really good to spend some quality time reminiscing, on the eve of turning 30.

For the past several years, I’ve hosted big parties for my birthdays.  Not this year, though… It just sort of snuck up on me, and I found myself more in the mood for being alone.  Most of the day itself, I spent at home, sewing a dress, which was pretty great.  The day after my birthday was a Friday, when I usually host pizza dinner for my housemates plus a rotating cast of regulars, and so that became my birthday event.  All I had to do was make the pizza ingredients: Oats and Sum and Captain Pestou and Jag did all the cooking, and Oats made an amazing cake!  That’s Mo, sculpted from crispy rice treats and covered in chocolate. In case you can’t tell, he’s sitting in a boat.

Timtams + chopsticks = Oars!

Speaking of Mo, he’ll be having his own birthday this Saturday… Two years, which seems so amazing.  Forget me still feeling like I’m 20:  I feel like Mo’s still a tiny puppy.

Mo at 8 weeks old

Bleeding-heart tree-hugging queer.

The old furniture shop on the corner shut down this past winter, and at our weekly household dinners we all speculated as to what would next fill the store front. Instead of the hipster/yuppie cafe we were hoping for (as an alternative to the bucky’s in the plaza!), the New Democratic Party rented it and set up their candidacy office for this riding.

After walking and riding past the office a couple times a day, I finally went in and asked for a lawn sign. I’d never done that before, having generally snubbed federal politics as being too far removed from my daily existence to be worth the energy. I’d vote, and rant, but that’s about it. This time, though, I’ve been seeing far too many Conservative lawn signs during my commute out to the trade school, and it’s been making me feel ill. Besides which, I was raised by rather fervent NDP supporters, and have a nostalgic affection for neon orange.

“I grew up in Toronto,” I told the staffer at the desk as she wrote down my address for their records. “When he was still a local city councillor, Jack Layton rollerbladed to my high school to give a presentation on civic responsibility.”

“Did he bring his guitar and play you some songs, too?” She asked. I couldn’t tell if she was mocking Jack for his folkiness or me for my misty-eyed reminiscence, but it was pretty funny either way.

“He might as well have,” I told her. “But all the other politicians who spoke to us were stiff suits, so he got a surprisingly friendly reception, considering we were a bunch of bored teenagers.”

How do you decide how to vote? Do you go for personality, or party? Or is it more complicated than that? I haven’t actually committed to throwing my lot in with the NDP. My other leanings are with the Greens, because I’m a bleeding-heart tree-hugging queer*. I’ve requested a lawn sign from them too, which should arrive this afternoon. There’s an all-candidates forum next week that I’m hoping to attend, but really I’ll probably make my decision based on the party platforms. As I see it, the individual candidates are a hell of a lot less important than the larger institutions they represent: This country is just too huge and diverse. Having said that, my friend Jag is encouraging everyone to vote NDP simply because of all the options, Layton would be the sexiest prime minister. Personally, I’m not really into mustaches, but I’d be glad for a reprieve from Harper’s creepy fake smile.

*A dude I worked with many, many years ago called me this… Well, actually he called me a “fucking bleeding-heart tree-hugging bitch”, but close enough. Luckily he was pretty easy to write off as an odd duck, with larger issues than I’d ever understand: Despite coming from an extremely wealthy family, he took to stealing from the cafe’s cash register in order to impress the brothers at a fraternity he’d joined, and he actually did this in full view of the other staff. I’m fairly certain drugs were involved… It’s hard to be offended when someone is that out of it, so I’ve enjoyed holding onto that little nickname he bestowed upon me.

A brief note from here

I’m exhausted. Am sitting in class, listening to the instructor explain the significance of counter-electromotive force, drinking coffee, and wishing I were in bed. Or, perhaps, just somewhere quiet and solitary.

Will post wedding photos shortly. My sister and her partner are still staying with us, and all my parents are still in town, and everything’s still rather overwhelming. That aside, I had an amazing weekend, and am very happy.

I’m going back to trade school.

I’m going back to trade school. Because it was so fun the last time, right, Dear Readers?

For those of you new to this game, I spent a lot of the 6 months of my entry level electrical trades course kicking up a stink about the casual homophobia, sexism, and racism among my peers. Ah, nostalgia.

This time won’t be like that. At least, that’s my story at the moment. I’m only there for 10 weeks, after all, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past year, it’s to appreciate the art of choosing battles. A careful word choice in that last sentence, in case I once again find myself in multiple meetings with the campus ombudsman and crying in the office of the one instructor who really supported me. I appreciate the art, but I sure as hell haven’t mastered it.

So it’s the second level of electrical training, ten weeks of mostly classroom learning, though maybe there are some hands-on lab assignments. I don’t really know, and I can’t say that I care too much. I’m just glad that I’ve got something useful to do, to further my “career”. It’s a lot easier to shop myself around to electrical companies, asking for an apprenticeship position, when I’m currently engaged in the trade. Besides that fact, one of my favourite people will be starting the carpentry program at the same school at the start of April. In fact, it was her enrollment at the school that made me think again about doing my Year 2 course.

Yay, lunch buddies!

And also, washroom buddies, because there’s only one women’s washroom in the whole trades building, with only three stalls: Despite being in different programs, we may bump into each other fairly often on that basis alone.