Category Archives: Homebody

Aside

I’m making plans for a little adventure, and surprising even myself with how suddenly and easily it’s coming together:  On Monday, I’m taking the day off work, driving out to the ferry with the dog in tow, and riding the … Continue reading

Update on the grand scheme of things

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How could I choose to move away from this...?

An update on the grand scheme of things: We’re no longer planning on moving to someplace cheaper, and Oats is no longer applying to graduate school for her MFA. I like to think that both of these  goals will again be on the table in the future, but for now neither of them are the focus of our life plan. Instead, we’re staying here and having a baby.

When I write it like that, it makes it sound so easy and tidy, so maybe I’ll rephrase: We’re staying here and trying to make a kid in a biological fashion of some sort, though also thinking that our kid(s) may potentially come to us through other legal means instead, and we’re not certain how any of this will happen, only that we’re committing to working on it.

Oats and I have been discussing this change-in-focus for the past couple months, and our decision was so gradual, that I’ve been forgetting to tell my friends… Until they ask for an update on Oats’ university applications, and I’m all like: “Huh?”

Why the change?  It’s so pragmatic, it hurts.  I mean, I’m excited and eager and all that, but my romantic nature is still off in la-la land while big decisions are being made.  The main points are: We both have secure unionized jobs, we have a 3 bedroom apartment that is owned by our closest friends, and we have the family-style support of said closest friends plus Jag, who is also only a stone’s throw from our door, not to mention a bevy of other excellent friends and chosen family.  To top it off, I’m 30 years old and if my reproductive system is gonna do anything useful, now is a good time to start asking.

Anyway.  Yeah.  So that’s what’s been on my mind lately.  I don’t really have much else to say about it, except all the boring details: Any pregnancy would be carried by me, not Oats; we would use an anonymous donor via a sperm bank, not a known donor; we haven’t yet chosen a bank or donors, or looked into getting a home study for adoption, or consulted a lawyer, or really many of the other little tasks we’re going to take on.  And no, we don’t really have a spare $2000 each month, but are certainly closer to being financially stable than ever before. All we’ve actually *done* is read through the info from the local fertility clinic, a couple books, and researched a little in an attempt to understand the insanity of Health Canada regulations around sperm. (They consider it a drug.  I KID YOU NOT.)

Also, me being me, I’ve become addicted to lurking on a message board where baby-making queers from around the world are chatting about their current tries at conception.  And of course, I’m also charting my basal body temperature every day… Just like I used to years ago, when I had a male, sperm-producing partner, and was trying to avoid pregnancy!  Except back then it was crazy stressful, and now I’m just really stoked about the fun science-experiment-aspect of it.  I recently spat onto a scrap of glass, let it dry, then looked at it through my microscope and was able to predict my upcoming ovulation based on the crystalized patterns of my estrogen-enriched saliva… Science!

The main thing is, we’re off on a bit of an adventure here, different from what we’ve done in the past and from what we’d thought we might be doing.  It’s exciting, and a little crazy, and I guess that’s probably a totally excellent place to be.

‘Tis the season for therapy

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Coldframe in the winter rain, rows of tiny lettuces growing

Truth be told, I’m doing much much better with my mental health compared to how I usually feel this time of year.  And maybe that’s why I’ve started going to therapy: Yeah, I’m feeling shitty, but still have enough energy to try to get help.

I’ve gotten counselling in moments of crisis in the past, but this is the first time I’ve sought out some serious head shrinking as part of a general self-care regimen.  Which is scary.  When in crisis, it’s pretty easy for me to go into someone’s office and just wail about whatever specific trauma has me all fucked up.

But going in there when I’m holding it all together?  Tricky, tricky, tricky.

I found my therapist the usual way: Asked a lot of friends.  Fuck, I love the West Coast!  OF COURSE, everyone has several recommendations, because we heart therapy, hardcore.

I chose mine based on the fact that she’s a pagan, and also because she specifically made mention of respecting “all genders” several times throughout her website, which was a relief from the usual “we welcome clients of different sexualities” or whatever, that I read on other websites.  Just a little nod to those of us who don’t subscribe to the gender binary, but enough to make me feel like I could do this.

And I am, I am doing this:  I’ve only had two sessions, and I won’t pretend that it’s radically changed my life, but it’s… Nice.

Insipid, I know, but I’m not feeling terribly eloquent.

Okay, here’s one thing I will tell you about, that came from therapy:  I realized that I’m not that worried about my stepmom, despite her health scare… I mean, she’s getting the best healthcare in the country, and she’s youngish, and they caught the polyp early.  Selfish person that I am, what’s really stressing me about the whole situation is what it’s bringing up about my place in our family.

Of course I want to go visit during the couple months that my stepmom will be recuperating, but then I really don’t, because I don’t want to set a precedent.  I don’t want them to rely on me, to be that sort of daughter who’ll fly in at a moment’s notice and take care of them. Because this is only the beginning, the start of my four parents’ decline in health… And I love them so much, but I also love my life here on the other side of the country.  If I go, it’s giving fuel to the idea that that’s where I belong, that I’m supposed to spend my life with this family-of-origin as opposed to my family-of-choice. (An idea, I might add, that is most vocally supported by my father and my older sister, and more quietly by others in Ontario.)

Le sigh.

How has therapy changed my experience of this revelation?  Well, in the past I’d get really anxious about such things, so full of angst that I’d get insomnia, fretting over my choices late into the night.  Instead, I just feel sad.  There’s a lot of grief in my heart, grief for the things my family and I haven’t shared since I moved away over ten years ago.

And yet I’m so damn confident that I’m where I need to be, that I spent those ten years doing what I needed to do, that I can’t really get all ramped up and stressed about it.  Instead, I kinda just want to cry.  Which is actually a huge improvement, because crying is something I can do, and afterwards I feel better.

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View inside the coldframe: Tiny little lettuces, so far surviving the nightly frosts

6 weeks, or sooner if a spot opens up

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Ladder to a roof, which I've climbed too many times to count.

After a short week of looooooooong shifts, I got today off from work. So far I’ve spent most of it cooking and cleaning: Things that get neglected when I’m working a lot. Okay, to be honest, Oats does most of the cleaning around here, so I really was more organizing. The cooking was much needed though, because we’ve been quickly eating through all the stuff I made and froze in the summer. Local carrots and leeks are crazy cheap this week, so soup it is!

My dad texted me at work on Wednesday, asking me to call. Since I was on lunch, I called right away, and learned that my stepmom needs surgery to have some polyps removed from her colon. We barely had any time to talk and it was so loud where I was… When I got home that night, it was too late to call them again, so instead I spent an hour on the internet researching colon polyps.

You know what’s a bad idea? Consulting Dr. Google when you’re trying not to freak out over a health issue.

Anyway, I called my parents last night, when it was only a little past their bedtime, and got the full story. I’m actually glad I’d done some research, because I knew more than a little about everything my stepmom mentioned. The polyp is too big to be removed via colonoscopy, and though an initial biopsy revealed it to be benign, they could only sample a small portion of it so it’s still a concern. Especially since her grandmother died from colon cancer. So, in 6 weeks, or sooner if a spot opens up, the surgeon will remove my stepmom’s polyp laparoscopicly. It’s looking good, all things considered.

I’m trying very hard to remain calm and logical about this.

My dad’s pretty upset, though… And my older sister is being too blase about it all for my taste. I’ll be talking with my younger sister this evening, and have no idea how she’s coping: This is her mother, my stepmom is I mean, and they’re very close.

Le sigh. We’ve been so lucky, my family, to have been relatively untouched by disease and disaster. I try not to take it for granted.

Funny, that this should happen, just when Oats and I have decided we’re definitely not moving to Ontario anytime soon and are most likely staying here for the next year at least… In part due to how damn trying Oats found it, to be visiting her own family there last week.

In other news, I found a dead mouse in the (empty) washing machine this morning. This did not upset me nearly as much as did the second dead mouse, which I found later amidst my clean laundry. It was in bad shape, and my laundry no longer seemed so… Clean. Fuck, I hate vermin.*

* I had a pet mouse as a kid, who was simply lovely… And a pet rat later on in high school, who was also sweet and friendly.  But since then I have lived in waaaaaay too many rodent-infested shitholes, and I draw a firm line between the sort that are pets and the sort that eat my stuff, shit and piss all over everything, and then die messy deaths in bad places. Ick ick ick.

Self-sufficient in greens! (I hope).

Earlier this week, I had an unexpected (and unpaid) day off, and I immediately threw myself into garden tasks.  You’d think I’d have relaxed and found a friend to hang out with or treated myself to a cafe visit or something else more frivilous, yet none of that appealed to me.  I just really wanted to get shit done, and lose myself in something satisfying, something useful, something for me.

It was midafternoon before I realized that I was wretchedly hungry, not to mention even more sweaty and tired than if I’d been at work.  But the garlic was all planted, rotting seaweed was layered into the beds that’ll lay fallow until spring, the bamboo stakes were all pulled up and tidied into a corner, most of the seeds were harvested, peas and chard and beet starts were finally in the ground proper instead of their tiny pots, a lot of the beds got mulched with straw, and all the over-wintering veggies were given a bit of attention. I even found an old window that fits neatly over the raised bed (actually a bookcase laying on its back), and planted some lettuce seeds inside this impromptu cold frame.  Who knows if or when they’ll sprout, but it’s my own mix of seeds from last year’s crop and I have tons of it, so figured I might as well.

My only goal with creating this garden this year, aside from keeping myself entertained, was to get our house self-sufficient in greens.  We all like brassicas and chenopods and their ilk, and could easily eat them every day, so it seemed like a good plan.  Also, this climate:  Rumour has it that kale and chard will become weeds if you let them, and I’m keen to test this theory.

Considering that I totally ditched the entire care and maintenance of the garden when I got a job (and to be honest was very negligent of it even before then), I’m surprised to find that it’s worked out.  There’s enough cabbage and kohlrabi  heads for a few dinners in the sooner-rather-than-later category, the broccoli and karam and chard are excellent, and even all the kale that got hit with both a blight and grey aphids seems to be doing great now.

Plus, ignoring the garden at the end of the season meant that a lot of stuff went to seed and for the first time, I’ve been saving it.  Crazy, to have been gardening since I was a little kid, and never even thought to do this before now!  More proof that doing something for a long time can mean very little in terms of skills and knowledge.

Mo was stoked to have me at home, but completely nonplussed about my choice of activity.

 

The doing of what I do

It’s Sunday evening.  Oats is shut away in her studio, making art, and I’m settling down on the couch in the living room, with the laptop, about to take an online course in fall protection.  Kinda ridiculous to learn about safely working at heights while lying on my back, but also rather nice.  I’ve been very sick these past few days, and am glad for any chance to stay in a resting position.

Guess what I did earlier this morning?  Applied for an apprenticeship with the provincial electrical company, again!  That’s the third time, my friends… The first one went nowhere, the second resulted in an interview and amazingly intense “boot camp” but no job offer, and so this time I’m thinking might be the charm.  Of course,  I’m feeling more ambivalent than ever about the entire thing:  Working for them would require me to leave town, and I’m oh-so-full of love for my home at the moment.  Somehow, it’s easier to contemplate leaving for Oats to go to school, than it is for my own career advancement.

Speaking of my career, I got a job:  Am working as an apprentice with the largest electrical contractor in the city.  It’s only been three weeks, but pretty good so far.  They have a lot of job sites, and I’ve now worked at three of them.  The current one is a mall, the same one where my dentist is, and 20 minutes by bike from my house.  I started there on Thursday morning, then missed Friday due to being completely out of commission with a wretched cold, but from that limited experience it seems that I’ll like it.  Only two or three other guys working, and I think I enjoy them.

It has occurred to me that becoming an electrician may be the most significant thing in my life.  Strange, isn’t it?  I don’t mean to put down my other achievements, whatever they may be… I’ve been proud to be myself long before I entered the trade.  What I mean is, it’s the thing that people seem to find most interesting about my life.  It’s what new acquaintances ask about most, and even strangers have questions when they find out it’s what I’m doing.  Then within the trade as well, I’m asked all the time: “Why?”  Add that to all the varied Hows and Whats I get from everyone else, and I’ve come to realize that I’m a lot more engaged with my role and identity in my chosen career, than I ever thought possible.  Maybe this isn’t actually strange at all, maybe on some level that’s why I selected this path:  To be challenged not just by what I do, but also by the doing of what I do.

It’s different from doubt, though.  When I was an academic, I questioned my choices constantly and felt filled with anxiety over whether or not I ought to be spending so much time on research that didn’t seem to matter.  In the trade, it’s so obvious that the work matters, because that lighting system isn’t going to install itself, and without it, this section of the building will be dark.  (In the larger scheme, of course, I can totally get into questioning the use of resources that go into building consumerist-focused crap like malls, but that’s a different topic). Instead, I (along with many others!) am questioning my own role, why I in particular have chosen to be here, installing the lighting.  Why me?  Why electrical?  Why?

Tattoo progress shot... Not the final version!

In other news, I had a bunch of tattooing done during my last few weeks of unemployment.  The redwinged blackbird on my arm now has a chickadee to keep it company, around on the back of my shoulder, and also now has a proper Pacific dogwood branch to hold onto.  It’s pretty great.

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