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November 4th, 2009

A Letter I Will Not Send

Dear Cousin S,

I haven't talked to you in a long time. I was pleased when you accepted my friend request on Facebook, even more so when you asked for news and offered me your work number so I could call you. I wanted to call you. As you know, I didn't. There are a few reasons for this. Most of them have to do with family politics, and how for me, reaching out to one family member can cause unpleasant repercussions from another. But that's a topic for another letter. What I want to explain now is the other reason, the one that has to do with you alone.

You remember, of course, how close we were from the time we were tiny. Visiting with your family, for me, was a wonderful event for the sole reason that I would get to spend time with you. It was never enough time, either. We had a lot of fun together. You have always been my favourite cousin, and I liked you as much as I liked my closest friends.

So why on Earth would I let myself fall out of touch with you? Intimacy is based on sharing. And one day I shared something with you that you couldn't handle.

I was in love. Serious love - I was engaged to be married. And I showed you a picture of the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. The woman I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Not my first girlfriend. I hadn't let my family know about my previous relationships with women. But the seriousness of this relationship meant that I would not be able to keep it secret any more. And I told you, personally, because it was important and I wanted to share.

You didn't speak for a long time. And then you said you had to ask a question. I feared that question. I knew you so well that I knew what that question would be, and I silently begged you not to ask it. But you did. You asked "does this mean that you're attracted to me?" And it was my turn to be silent, because something had died inside me.

You didn't need to ask that question. We grew up together. We played and occasionally argued like sisters. We were certainly family, with all that entails. And so the answer I gave you, when I could speak, heavy-hearted and cold with disappointment, was "you're my cousin." It meant "no". "No" to your question, "no" to your statement that you had to ask it, "no" to your assumption that it was a reasonable thing to ask. And I also wanted to remind you who I was.

Because when you asked your question, you seemed to forget that I was your cousin, the one you'd known all your life. Instead, I became a lesbian. One of them. And you seemed to think that sexual attraction might not work in a normal way for me, that I might not discriminate in my attractions, might not even be subject to the incest taboo. I told you I was in love with and committed to one woman, and you took my revelation and bound it to some vile stereotypes I hadn't wanted to know you held. Your question took our whole previous experience with each other and shut me out of it. You made me into an other. And it hurt.

You didn't leave it like that. You met my partner, you were friendly to her. You were warm to me. You would still like contact. But you never talked about your question, or some other remarks you made later that also made me feel like an outsider, separated from you by your lack of understanding. And your words still echo in my ears. What else would you not understand? What else about me is foreign to you? What fear or distaste will you hold against me, deep in your heart?

So I didn't call you. Because when I thought about calling, I thought about topics of conversation, about words. I would like to believe that I would hear no more words from you that wwould chill my heart. But I can't be sure. So I don't call, and the words do not get said. Your question made me separate from you, and now I find I am stuck in that separation. I want to find my way back. But the destination may no longer exist.

Your loving cousin, as I always have been,

October 11th, 2009

Quote Of The Day

Brix the kitten
"I can be changed by what happens to me. I am not reduced by it." -- Maya Angelou.

I love this - it's very useful for a number of things.

In other news, today is not one of my good days. Not even one of my okay days.

Product Alert

Bat jammies!

I am liking.

October 9th, 2009

The Witch Goes Vroom

Regular readers know the Witch has mobility problems. Many people also know that the Witch does not drive. Almost nobody, before this post, have known the Witch's terrible secret: the Witch does not drive, in part, because the idea terrifies her.

The Octopookit wishes to help address this phobia by taking the Witch to a go-cart track (the Witch is, of course, terrified by this idea). However, in the meantime, the Witch has driven a motorized vehicle for the very first time (and it was only moderately terrifying). Read on:

We went shopping for groceries and other items in the Big City, namely Renfrew, yesterday. Shopping is hard on me, as it tends to entail a lot of standing. So I decided that, for once, I'd request the use of one of those motorized carts. It took a while for two cashiers to locate the key and figure out how to start the thing. And then - I was off!

I admit I crashed into a couple of things, mostly because nobody told me you can't steer while in reverse. And I did muster up quite a lot of adrenaline. But I didn't break anything, and I didn't run anybody over. And my body felt better than it would if I'd used the cane the whole time. I'll be doing it again, and they'll probably even let me do it again in that store. But I still think I shouldn't be allowed behind the wheel of a car.

October 8th, 2009

Today's Fibro Fun Fact

Brix the kitten
Fibro sucks and its brother sucks and its car sucks and its college lacrosse team sucks and the horse it rode in on sucks.

I'm just sayin'.

September 26th, 2009

Cliffs Notes Update Post

Elthelda flying
I've been wanting to make a nice chatty post or ten catching everyone up with what's been going on. The main problem is that "what's been going on" covers so much ground that I won't ever be up to filling in all the backstory like a good blogger before I give you the latest. So here's a quick outline:

1. I have a new wheelchair. A secondhand manual. Its name is Rustbucket.

2. I got really sick. It lasted a long time. A virus mutated into a sinus infection that felt like pneumonia and sounded like tuberculosis.

3. Just as I started to get better, I needed to buckle down and start preparing for the wedding of TG and the Caitiecat. For this event, I was in the wedding party, and was also making The Cake. The prep involved a whirlwind trip to Ottawa to gather items, stash my little girls with the Ferty Godmother, and have my handmaiden gown made by krynne - by sewing two blue sarongs together in such a way that they can be easily detached and returned to their existence as altar cloths. Incidentally, while the two sarongs are almost identical, the front one is patterned with dolphins, while the back one has turtles on it. But the turtles and dolphins were more watery than turquoise Celtic knotwork would have been.

4. After the trip, came a week in which I prepared the cake layers and most of the decorations, learned my lines, helped customize my wheelchair to hold my cane and a few other things. I was pretty beat the whole week. The weekend had been a very hard one, and I was trying to recover AND gear up for an event. Some of my former symptoms reappeared, which was worrying.

5. I went and did the wedding thing, it was great but very tiring. It is a long way from Granolatown to K-W, and the way back was longer due to a large and rather crucial stretch of highway being closed. We got home a good bit later than intended, after having forged our way through twisty, hilly country roads in search of the way home - oh yeah, and I get carsick on twisty, hilly country roads. Also, my throat began to get sore again on the Sunday, and it got worse.

6. I have been resting a lot. My throat is starting to ease up, but is still sore in the tonsils, from which the problem emanates. I would like to have them removed, have wanted to have it done for years, but the medical community has been resistant. I shall have to have another try at convincing the doctors that repeated flare-ups coming from my permanently engorged tonsils suggests they are no longer protecting me from anything, but are in fact a liability.

7. I have just had a shower. I was very much in need of one, and it feels great to be clean. There will be clean sheets on the bed, too.

September 18th, 2009

Oh Crap, It's ME Again!

Ganked from kaninchenzero because I'm avoiding baking more cake which I now have to because one layer bit the dust nastily #&(&^$%*&#.

I skipped some questions. Nyer. 70 points if you spotted the pun in the title of this post.

For Invisible Illness Week

1. The illnesses I live with are: Fibromyalgia, CFIDS, depression, hypothyroidism, possible PCOS.

2. I was diagnosed with [them] in the year(s): Fibro/CFIDS: 2006, depression: 2001, thyroid: 2003.

3. But I've had symptoms since: probably lifelong for all of them, although the fibro/CFIDS got serious in 1998.

4. The biggest adjustment I've had to make is: Having to say "I can't" when my mantra used to be "No problem".

6. The hardest part about mornings is: Getting up, if I have to. Or wanting to, but needing more sleep, and not being able to get it. Also needing to turn over - my back hurts so severely when I wake up that the slightest movement hurts - but continuing to lie there will make it worse.

8. A gadget I couldn't live without is: The phone. I love to talk to people, and this way I can do it while lying down at home.

9. The hardest part about nights is: Not being able to sleep, and being in so much pain that I contemplate suicide.

10. Each day I take: Celexa and Synthroid or Eltroxin, plus painkillers as necessary. I use minimal painkillers because they increase my fatigue levels, and I don't have much life to spare.

11. Regarding alternative treatments, I: Would like to do more of them, if I had the time, money and energy to try them out.

13. Regarding working and career: I deeply miss my lost life in which I would have had a satisfying job to work at, which would also get me my own money and respect from other people. I became seriously ill so young I don't even have memories of what I had, because I hadn't gotten there yet.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality is: I will likely never be better.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed: Moving without hurting. Dancing, walking, swimming, bending over, reaching - those kinds of things.

19. It was really hard to give up: Everything?

20. A new hobby I've taken up since my diagnosis is: Playing an on-line game - something I would have considered a waste of time when I had the brainpower and body for more creative and active choices.

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again, I would: Get some housework done, then go outside and run around.

22. My illness has taught me: It's possible to live with pretty much anything, but a sense of humour is deeply valuable. And happiness is a choice.

23. One thing people say (about my illness) that gets under my skin is: "That's caused by X", or "what you do for that is...". You have not a fucking clue, please go away and shut up.

24. But I love it when people: Accept me as I am without wanting to theorize/fix/cross-examine, but do take into account my special needs, and don't act like there's anything unusual or unreasonable about them.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: I ain't dead yet.

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: It can be interesting, and even inspirational. Not in the Hallmark sense, but in the creative sense.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn't feeling well was: Turn up at my door with a hot lemon drink, enough homemade mac and cheese for two nights and some sweet treats as well. That was done by someone who now hates me with a passion. Kind of funny when you think about it.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: I'm really pleased if anyone read the whole thing.

June 22nd, 2009

Solstice Party

I went to a Solstice party today (or yesterday, really) held at an organic farm near Granolatown. It was wonderful. I commented that I felt like I was at a family reunion, I just didn't know all my family members yet.

There was a potluck. There was a clothing swap, to which I brought a brown cloak with gold trim which was snatched up by the owner of the farm, my lovely hostess. I got for myself a green and purple tye-died top which everyone agreed looked great on me - it just needs a little work to accommodate my boobs. I'd like to try putting in ribbon-tie insets on the sides. I also scored a purple tank top with a fairy painted on it, a black broomstick skirt, and a pair of black canvas shoes, which I think I'm also going to have a try at customizing.

There was an area set aside for the kids with soap mixture and bubble wands - I had fun helping the kids make bubbles, and making a lot myself! A woman was doing henna and facepainting - she did a henna dragonfly motif on my right foot, and I helped keep the kids settled while she painted faces. I also applied some temporary tattoos to the kids.

There was music and dancing - I did some drumming, and later danced, not as much as I would have liked of either - it does make me sore very fast! I talked to people who had been waiting to meet me, knowing that there were "two new Pagan ladies in Granolatown, up from Ottawa". I went up to one woman to compliment her on her necklace, and found myself grabbed in a tight hug by someone I hadn't seen in a long time, but who was thrilled to see me! I'm afraid I still can't remember who she is, though!

The Octopal found a new friend - a 19-year-old who is very bright, and into gaming. They talked together almost the whole time. Unfortunately the girl is leaving for the States in two days - but her family is local, so she surely will return. I commented that it's a good thing I'm secure in my wife's love for me...

I am very happy, also very tired and sore. On getting home, I took a bath to wash off a mixture of sunscreen, bubble soap, watermelon juice, insect repellent, woodsmoke and a lot of plain old sweat. Than I took a strong dose of painkillers.

A slightly belated Happy Solstice and a fond goodnight to you all.

May 1st, 2009

Step It Up, Wimp!

This is my post for Blogging Against Disablism Day 2009.

Renee, of Womanist Musings, has a post called Walking Away: The Luxury Of An Ally. It's based on two posts by vriane, available here and here. Astute readers who know what the word ally means will instantly note a problem with using these two posts as the base for an article about the privilege of allies: the issue at hand is transphobia, and Vriane is a trans woman. She is, therefore, not an ally in this situation, despite her action, which Renee criticizes as coming from "extreme privilege".

Here's some of Renee's words about vriane:

Isn’t this lovely. S/he finds the stress of dealing with the real life issues of transwomen to difficult and therefore s/he is going to withdraw. I wonder if Monica or Lisa Harney would like to spend one day of their existence not having to deal with transphobia? Do you think that either of them could declare that trans issues are just to stressful and bow the hell out of it all because they felt like it?

Can you hear the dripping sarcasm and scorn? I can. The Monica referred to is Monica Roberts of TransGriot, who links to Vriane's post in this post, via a dismissive reference to someone being "stressed". The quotation marks are Monica's, and in context they imply either that Vriane is not really stressed, or that there is something invalid about being stressed out.

Vriane's two posts do indicate a high degree of stress. She's experiencing high anxiety levels "that can be crippling and distort one's perception", along with nervousness, fear and anxiety. She also cites personal reasons for why she is choosing "to limit [her] following of current events by not following anymore, at the moment, both TransGriot and Questioning Transphobia". Vriane mentions several times that this is not necessarily a permanent course of action, but one made for the time being.

When I read Vriane's posts, I see some indications that she might have an anxiety disorder. I don't know whether she does or not, or what other issues may or may not be going on in her life. She is discussing a personal decision, made not as the privileged luxury that both Renee and Monica think it is; but with regret, and out of need. And I will not judge whether her need is "real" or not. I cannot possibly know. But I can grant Vriane the dignity of accepting her word for it, of letting her be the arbiter of what she does and does not need, of allowing her to be the expert on her own limitations.

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April 15th, 2009

Stop The Presses!

Someone just said something genuinely funny in a YouTube comment!

I was just watching an Eddie Izzard clip, and trying not to choke and/or wet myself. Casting an eye over the comments, I found this exchange:

He's like from the Great Britain, isn't he. Like the really big Britain?

Nah, just from one of the small Britains. One of the travel ones with magnets on all the pieces for when you go over bumps.
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