I would like to wish all of my readers a very Happy New Year! Thanks very much, as always, for stopping by. Best wishes to all of you in 2016! Love, Vanessa
Thursday, 24 December 2015
It's been a while since my last post, but such is the nature of an eventful year that flies by.
I want to wish all of my readers and their loved ones and very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Also, best of the season to those celebrating winter solstice, Kwanzaa, other festivities and nothing in particular. You could be gathering with family, biological and/or chosen, friends, intimates and you could be alone and doing compassionate service or emergency work of some kind. Best seasonal wishes to you as well. Reach out to those who have no family or friends to celebrate with this time of year. Keep each other in your hearts.
Merry Christmas To All!
Sunday, 6 September 2015
And the irreplaceable wealth of friends, family, colleagues and others.
I am touched by all the birthday messages today on FB and by the words of congratulation from those of you I met today as I fulfilled my birthday plan of taking it easy.
Thanks so much! I love you all!
Sunday, 30 August 2015
Time, when your daily routine is the same, passes without little or no notice; then, one day, you realize not just days or weeks, but months, have passed. At the end of this summer of recuperation, I am gradually getting my energy and stamina back, but it has been an uphill climb. On shortened hours, half my day is back at work with the other half being at home sleeping, dilating, eating ... functioning. I am fulfilling my one and only resolution for this year, to get through surgery and recovery, to do radical self-care. Physically, it has meant listening to my body and knowing my limits, prioritizing my post-op aftercare and exerting only as much energy as I can, regardless of what anyone may say about it. This is also true emotionally. I have learned not to take on other people's issues, absorbing their anxieties. There are energy suckers around who want your attention, your energy and all the rest. To them, I have been staunch about not letting them have it.
More than ever, I have lived on my own terms and needs.
And my cat's. Tatum became ill with pancreatitis in late May/early June while I was still off work. A few vet visits, an x-ray, an ultrasound and several medications later, he had made a full recovery, but it had been a tense few weeks. It had reminded me of how vital a friend he had been in all the years since I had adopted him, years ago when we were both shipwrecked in life. Since then, he had watched me through some very dark times and many changes. I was not ready to let him go just yet.
Last Monday, August 24, was my twentieth anniversary in Vancouver. Once long ago, I arrived with only two pieces of luggage (although six boxes arrived a couple of days later), but much baggage. Devastated by grief and terrified of disease and mortality, I sought to make a radical departure from the life I had led up until then, to overthrow old habits, learn new things, to live the healthiest life that I could. Every day was a brave new world. I still have a few souvenirs from those days: my meditation cushion and various shrine ornaments, supplemented by two of my late mother's brass candle holders, a second-hand Cowichan sweater, my first new item of clothing that I bought at a bazaar in the old UBC student union building. The future was completely open, the world seemed friendly. I miss those days, but I am glad I had the privilege to experience them.
I turned out that the student union building would have more in store for me then just clothing bazaars. During that first year of graduate school, I did the volunteer orientation for CITR FM, but I would not have time for volunteering until over a decade later. It then became the setting for my nightlife as a radio DJ. Some of the swing dances I went to, and DJ'd, were upstairs in the party and ballrooms. I grew with both of these. Eventually the dances there faded and I left the show. At the end of this past June, CITR moved into the new student union building, called the Nest. I went to the on-air continuous wake on the last Friday evening of that month. An alumni from the 1990s had me on as a guest for about ten minutes. I played two songs and then talked about how great the new studios looked, then made my way. I missed those days as well. Adding this to my reflecting on my transition this past spring and summer has made this year more melancholy and nostalgic than I anticipated. Music will always be a deep part of my life.
Part of coming into one's own is taking your place in the world, becoming aware of it's state and finding where you can be a service.
The world is in dire shape and I feel the need to be a part of the solution. I know it will be a world of tough choices and sacrifices and I am steeling myself for it. My personal goals of the past twenty years have led to this point. The decisions I make on how best to live, be activist and contribute to a newer world will be built on top of them. We now head into the thick fog we call the future.
Thursday, 25 June 2015
Spending a lot of time reflecting these days, I've realized many things. It's been a mixed journey this past year, coming of age (yet again) in a darkening, chaotic world. My story is one thing, but the world I've reentered feels foreboding and not without good reason.
Images from the second half of last year, Ferguson, Cleveland, New York still haunt me. Senseless violence and murder from the unaccountable, flames, riot police and military gear under a season's greetings sign during the holiday season, marches in the snow and cold. Add to these this year's horrors, Baltimore, McKinney and Charleston. The rage and fear I felt, and still feel, is hard to articulate, but consuming nonetheless. I fear the quiet of night time, something that used to comfort me. I live in a tolerant, diverse neighbourhood, but it only takes one hateful individual to cause grave harm, even in Canada. Being black, being trans, being out: any or all could be used as reasons by a bigot on a rampage.
And there's more than that. The free spaciousness of our society is diminishing rapidly. Corporate culture is everywhere and feels like a noose tightening around our necks, inflicting both micro and macro aggressions, unleashing its malcontents in the form of gangs, racists, and "lone wolves" to scapegoat and attack at will. Maybe not today ...
Once, long ago as a bullied pre-teen, I suffered from what I now know was PTSD: nightmares and night terrors, stomach pains and vomiting, chest pains and coughing, anxiety. Growing past this, gaining independence, growing intellectually and creatively through college and university, moving out west (twenty years ago) gave me confidence. Coming out a few times since then, even more so. I had always felt that the world was moving forward as I was. But I wake up feeling that fear in the pit of my stomach that bullies past have returned with a vengeance on the world stage. I walk through the world, with autonomy, with agency, but for how long.
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
I have found a few people expecting me to be kicking my heals in delight at having finally had the surgery and being shocked by the fact that I've had ups and downs. Luckily, I've had no serious complications, only minor (although painful) ones. Below is my Facebook status from earlier today:
"Life Update: I'm currently in my latter stages of post-op recovery. My experience is one of decreasing, but still obvious, discomfort (and some pain sensations from healing and having a minor complication treated on a weekly basis). Also a lot of fatigue, my energy seems fine (during a stretch of gorgeous weather no less) then it drops out suddenly, making me tired enough to go to bed. My aftercare is still very time consuming, meaning I still spend most of waking hours at home. This, in turn, makes me quite melancholy, hence more fatigued. I also find myself looking back on four and a half years of transition, missing looking forward to the next milestone and the joy and exhilaration it gave me.
I miss looking forward to everything, especially earlier this year. I have no regrets, at all. But I really feel the physical and emotional drain of recovery; and watching my cat Tatum get sick and begin to recover has made me realize how fragile health can be. I've whispered at him that I love him many times over the past few weeks, I hope he understands.
And now, I want to extend my virtual arms out over FB to embrace all of you and tell you that I love you all, family and friends alike, very much! Thank you so much for your words, visits, gifts, meals and all kinds of support and assistance! It's meant a lot to me.
Now, together, let's create new things to look forward to in our interconnected lives! Onwards and upwards!"
That's right I've been having challenges, but also, I have no regrets. I'm having a human experience, and it's more of our human experiences as transpeople that need to get out there: the good ones, the bad ones and the dull ones. Let's keep telling them all!
Sunday, 17 May 2015
I found myself in 2009. I found Mad Men in early 2012. This blog is the direct result of the former, but has been generously flavoured with, actually inspired by the latter.
I had heard of the series since it premiered in 2007, my ex and I had seen some of the early promos for it on TV, but it was when a colleague, now retired, suggested I watch it that I started: first on DVDs to catch up, then on TV when its long delayed fifth season began. I followed its themes, music, casting in my blog posts.
At that point, I had been transitioning for a year, my life was accelerating; every month, every week, every day brought a new experience, a new milestone. I have always had a yen for things 60s and the music (I was still hosting my radio show at the time) of the series raised my spirits. I posted accordingly. Sometimes it was like my life and the series were having a conversation. The song "You Only Live Twice" closed out season five mere days before I flew home for my father and stepmother's wedding. Living twice was my theme, in that I had not come out to my folks yet, I led a double life. For them, living twice was each of them marrying for a second time.
When season six started, in 2013, I went full-time. I took my fashion queues from the show's year, 1968, my favourite fashion year. It was an exhilarating year, albeit with some sadness. Season six ended with the song "Both Sides Now"; I now knew both sides now, pre-transition and transitioned. "The Best Things In Life Are Free" ended the half-way mark of the seventh season (2014), and I was realizing with an unburdened mind and pierced heart how true that was. I had just come out to my folks. The best things in my life were/are the people in it, friends and family, and the joy of realizing it was so strong it hurt. This feeling carried over to when my folks came to visit later that summer.
This year was monumental for both myself and Mad Men. The series was now set in 1970, the year I was born; 2015 has been my year of being reborn, in the city I was originally born in. I was born in the fall which is also when the series ended this evening. A character is losing her mother as I once did, just after my twenty-fourth birthday. The fathers on the show, like mine, are softening as they reach the autumn of their lives.
But this time it wasn't the final song that resonated with me, but instead the song used in the promo "End of an Era: A Final Toast". Originally used in a Kodak commercial in 1975, Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka recorded a hit version soon afterwards. The promo, with its montage of highs and lows and intimate moments from the series cut my heart open, not only because I will miss the show, but also because I will miss these past few years, the end of two eras.
There have also been many highs and lows and intimate moments in this past chapter of my life: many hugs, tears, first steps, goodbyes, reconciliations, I will miss those times dearly and my heart breaks open wide for all of you, all of us. Remember this please. The times of out lives have ended. They have also begun.
Monday, 27 April 2015
Monday, April 27. Six weeks after surgery. I'm back at home and continuing my recovery. I'm still dealing with swelling and a constant low level ache with frequent bolts of electric pain as nerve endings repair themselves. Advil helps. The embrace of a hypothetical boyfriend would help more. The best, though, is the support of my friends with whom I've been planning visits and meals and best of all company.
I'm going through a post-surgery depression of sorts; the rush, fear and adrenaline of heading up to surgery now past, I'm sometimes left with "what now?" feeling. But, I know the future gets brighter from here. Little things like no more tucking and wearing bikinis and big things like looking in the mirror and finally seeing a body that fits.
Thursday, 16 April 2015
The full effect will hit me when I'm back out west, probably with an emotional dip. I will embrace my friends. I will love and cherish my family and their support. I will never forget this time ... in Montreal, where I was born early almost forty-five years ago and where you could say I was born again, learned to eat and walk again, and grew up for real.
Thursday, 2 April 2015
I knew from the first of January that this would be a monumental year, and it was. After all of the paperwork and preparation of last year, I was ready to move forward. The New Year's festivities had barely ended, and I had just gone back to work, and it was full steam ahead. Yet as the days and weeks passed, as I took my medical tests, bought provisions for my trip back home and to surgery and as I trained my temporary replacement at work, my mind was elsewhere. At times it seemed I had split apart from myself and watching myself from above or on a television screen. My concentration at work became scattered. I thought of the healing work with my family that would continue with my family when I landed in Montreal.
Then on Sunday evening in late January, I waited for my father's regular bi-weekly phone call at 7:30. The time passed and no call came: very unusual. When I called, another relative answered: my folks were in the hospital ... with pneumonia. My heart stopped. I tried to reach them by their cell phones. No answer. That night, for me, was sleepless. I took the following day off from work, my mind filled with images of the worst. So many had passed on over the years. I did almost nothing the entire day. Tuesday morning, a late work day for me, my father called from his hospital room. They were going to be okay. Relieved, but eyes tearing up, I managed to utter "Oh, good!" Within a couple of weeks they both indeed had gotten better and were back at home, but the incident and how it had played out had shaken me. I felt my own vulnerability and mortality and that of those closest to me vividly.
Another strange event began right after that and into February. What I thought was a cold, nasal congestion persisted for a few weeks. Given the unseasonably warm winter, even by Pacific coast standards, I thought that maybe the allergens and molds had never really gone away. I used antihistamines to keep my nose clear. But soon, they were not working either. On the first Sunday night of March, I became so congested that I could scarcely breathe, sleeping was impossible. My room seemed to cave in around me. It took everything I had to keep from running out my front door and screaming in terror. Somehow, I made it to sunrise. With an incredible burst of energy, I began packing my bags for Montreal and cleaning up the kitchen and dining rooms. Then I went to the local walk-in clinic. It was so busy that I decided to come back the following day.
The next day, the doctor suggested getting a humidifier and using a regimen of steam and hot lemony drinks to moisten my sinuses. Over the next few days, doing just that helped immensely. I had feared that any health problems would derail my surgery plans, but happily they had not.
I had been anticipating my last week at work before surgery for years as had my co-workers, and now it was here. My evening book club presented me with a gift basket packed with books, socks and boxes of tea. Library patrons wished me well as did a co-worker who was retiring that very week. On my last day, there were tears, not only my own. And then, for the last time for a few months, I gathered my things (my cubicle was among those being relocated to our newer library branch) said my "goodbye, see you in a few months" to each and all, and left.
I spent the weekend shopping for anything I further I needed for my trip, a bathrobe, some pygamas, slippers, and food for when I returned in mid-April. I made sure my cat had enough food and litter; my landlady and her partner would be looking after Tatum while I was gone. I finished packing and cleaning the house. I spoke to many friends and they wished me well. On the Monday of my red eye flight, I got ready, put my make-up on and left just after dinner time to head to the airport by Skytrain. I was accompanying a friend on a standby flight leaving at 11:30 pm. I met him at YVR and we boarded. We lifted off in fog and flew east.
I don't sleep well on flights, so I was awake when we descended towards Montreal as the sky began to lighten. I had been watching movies and documentaries the whole way and was now, drowsily, watching an old NFB animated film called Sandcastles. Right after the fifteen minute film finished, we descended through the clouds, banked to the right and I could see the east end of my home town beneath me. We landed just after seven in the morning. It was -8C outside. After leaving the plane, I parted ways with my friend and went to the baggage area. After getting my luggage, I called my father (who was at a nearby restaurant with my stepmother waiting for my arrival); they picked me up outside about five minutes later.
We drove to over to the east end and had breakfast and then headed back to their apartment where I took a shower, changed into something loose and colllapsed from jet lag (and Daylight Savings time which had just begun two days earlier). Getting over jet lag took the next few days. Over those same few days, friends and relatives called to wish me well. My folks and I went out to pick up some last minute things that I would need after surgery. We also had a chance to go to a local Italian bakery/cafe to have some hot chocolate and zeppole (St. Joseph's Day pastry), apparently the best in town. The last time I had been at that cafe was nearly four years ago when my father and stepmother were getting married, at the beginning of summer. I thought of how much and how fast things had changed since then. It boggled the mind.
On Saturday, March 14, my folks drove me to a place called Le Marigot in the city of Laval. The clinic and recovery centre had an arrangement with this bed and breakfast to put up anyone who could not be accommodated the first night due to overflow. Normally, I would have gone to the recovery centre but there was no space lef that night. I brought some pygamas and some comfortable clothing with me as well as books and other essentials. I hugged my folks goodbye, all of us nervous about the coming days. After they left, I went to my room upstairs. A wonderful place run by very warm, friendly family, it was furnished with rustic furniture and very comfortable sheets and pillows. Meals were downstairs in the dining room with the family and other guests, most just there for a rest or vacation.
The following afternoon, before I left for the clinic, I took the first of two enemas, an unforgettable experience. Nearly three hours later, a taxi (expenses covered) brought me to the clinic in Montreal's north end. After a lengthy admission process, I got my wristband, my hospital gowns, some disinfectant soap and a hospital gown and robe. Then came my second enema. After that and my shower, I changed into my gown. I was sharing a room with another woman, quite a bit younger, who was also named Vanessa. When I went to bed, I tried my best to sleep, but kept waking up intermittently. When awoke, I got up, showered and got back in bed. The surgeons came in, introduced themselves and examined me. Then came the anesthesiologist who explained that I would be getting a spinal injection rather than general anesthetic. Then, the other Vanessa was taken upstairs to the operating room for the first surgery of the day. Close to ten that morning, I was summoned and accompanied a doctor into the elevator upstairs to a waiting room. There was another patient, a transman, also waiting there.
The suspense was overwhelming. I could hear my pulse in my head. The out of body experiences I had been having earlier in the year came back. Scenes from my life flashed in front of my eyes. At some point the other patient was brought to a different room. I suddenly had to use the washroom and did so quickly before coming back in and sitting down. After an indeterminable amount of time, a nurse came in and motioned for me to follow her. I got up and followed her into a supply room where there was a basket of surgical hair nets. She eyed my dishevelled afro and said, "This will be the challenge of the day." I couldn't help but laugh as we both struggled to fit, not one, but two caps over my hair. She then turned to the door at the far end of the room and opened it. It opened directly into the operating room with its respirators, heart monitors, lights and other devices.
I was motioned to recline on the raised operating table as the anesthetics team reiterated how they were going to proceed. They spent a lot of time trying to find a suitable vein for my IV. This kept me distracted from the needle in between my spinal vertebrae. Idle chit chat, about what I can't remember, and then, the lights went out.
A muffled woman's voice, like I was hearing it under water, above me to my right. It became clearer as I opened my eyes and saw that there was a nurse standing next to where I was lying down. She asked how I was doing, I felt as if I were asleep and asked if I was dreaming this or if it was real. She assured me it was real. She said that the surgery had gone very well. I was now in the recovery room next to the operating room. My folks were downstairs waiting for me to be brought back down. Relieved, I zoned out for what seemed like a moment before I realized I was being wheeled into the elevator to be taken down to my room. I joked (about what I can't remember) with the other nurse with me in the elevator.
The doors opened and I caught sight of my folks as I was taken through the halls back to my room. I said hi to the other Vanessa who was back from her surgery. At my bed, two staff hoisted me up on sheets and lifted me onto my bed in smooth flowing motion. The sheets were then pulled up and the bed raised so that I could see forward. I was numb from my navel down. My father and stepmother came in and sat near the foot of the bed. We spoke for a short while before I started to fade. I said that it had gone fine and asked my stepmother to post on Facebook that the surgery had gone well and that I was recovering nicely. My folks left saying that they would be back the next day. After saying goodbye, I fell asleep.
When I awoke again, it was evening. I could move legs and feet, but they were still somewhat numb. The other Vanessa and I chatted for a bit and then a clinic staff member came in with a menu for dinner. My appetite was almost non-existent. I ended up having some chicken broth followed by strawberry jell-o. Over night, my IV drip was checked as were my drain and catheter. My dressing was changed; I was shocked by the sopping wet red gauze being removed and felt a phantom pain down there. The sensation made me queezy. I was injected with a pain killer which burned as it entered my bloodstream and made me dizzy. But, it helped me sleep.
The following day after a light breakfast of oatmeal and tea, one of the staff came in to help me get on to my feet and take a few steps. This was necessary to get the blood flowing again. I took one step, then another, then felt everything spin, the staff member and another led me back to bed and placed a cool cloth on my forehead: I would try again later.
My folks came by again, this time with an aunt, and spent about a half hour. During their stay, the other Vanessa began having severe pain and summoned the nurse. My folks decided it would be best to leave and come back the following day when we were moved over to the recovery centre next door. After the other Vanessa's situation was under control, a nurse came in to help me to my feet. This time I made it to the door of our room and back to bed. I was proud. Later in the evening, I made it out into the hall, around the reception desk and back to my room and bed. Mission accomplished.
That night, however, I had severe gas pains, and it was suggested I walk around. I did not make it very far that time nor could I sleep. It took until mid-morning, when I was moved over to the recovery house in a wheelchair, to finally feel relief although much to my personal embarrassment .
By coincidence, the other Vanessa and myself also shared our recovery house room. Over the next several days, all of us who were convalescing there got to know each other quite well. There was another woman there from Vancouver whose Calgary-based parents had flown into Montreal to be with her. There was a young woman from the prairies and another from Miami. There were also a few men recuperating from top and/or bottom surgery. Rich, nutritious meals were served three times a day by a sous-chef who was joy incarnate. Our medication was given to us four times a day. Our visitors, including my folks and some extended family, sat in the lounge and talked and laughed amongst themselves. Meanwhile, outside, winter refused to give up; it snowed, went down to -20 C, it snowed again. But, inside it was always, in more ways than one, warm.
The Friday after surgery, two days after being wheeled over the recovery centre, our dressings came off and I got a look at myself for the first time. Save for some severe swelling (nothing to worry about) everything appeared normal. Also, I began walking at close to my regular pace, although with a penguin-like shuffle. Sitting, even with the aid of the inflatable rings to sit on, was very uncomfortable, so often I ate standing up.
Pain killers got my through the night, but after a few days, they were no longer necessary for me.
On Saturday, the nurse removed my stent (vaginal mould) and I felt a great relief. Later that afternoon, all of us women were given instructions in how to dilate. I found it excruciating, but gradually got used to it. It needed to be done for twenty-five minutes, four times a day. Douching, using a saline solution, had to be done twice, once in the morning and once at night. Also, we had to take a sitz bath (a lightly soapy shallow bath) twice a day, once each in the afternoon and evening. A daunting schedule to be sure, but an absolute must; over time we would only be required to do these tasks fewer and fewer times.
On Sunday, the nurse removed my catheter, again to great relief. The crucial moment was after that, I needed to urinate otherwise they would need to put the catheter back in. Much to my joy, I urinated. The following night, the last before we all left for home, the other Vanessa asked the nurse what the word Asclepiade, the name of the recovery centre, meant. She said it was the name (in French) of a flower that butterflies love to nourish from. The image of butterflies (us) in all of their vulnerability happily finding nourishment and care from this flower (the centre) touched me, and I began to tear up. I will carry that image in my mind forever.
The following day, Tuesday, March 24, my folks came to pick me up. I would spend the next few weeks back at the apartment recovering. I felt a melancholy at leaving the clinic and centre, but cherished my experiences there and looked forward to the rest of my life and gradually getting back on my feet, figuratively speaking.
I have been back at my folks for almost ten days, and have been healing well. My days are consumed with my recovery tasks, but so far so good. I have also read alot and written (as you can see) alot. I will head back to Vancouver mid-April and continue my recovery there. My journey continues.
Sunday, 8 March 2015
In just over twenty-four hours, I will be flying east to the city where I was born, in order to be reborn. Over the past few weeks, with my travel and surgery dates getting closer, I have felt virtually everything: joy, exhilaration, fear, anxiety, hope, sad and happy. All of the above.
I will over the next few weeks post update, so do stay tuned. Until then:
Monday, 23 February 2015
Also known as the year of Yui Wei or the 32nd year of the Green Wooden Ram according to the traditional Chinese astrological calendar or year of the Female Wood Sheep according to the Tibetan calendar. Lunar New Year is also celebrated in Korea, Japan and Vietnam; this year, all were on February 19. According to the Chinese calendar, it's also a leap year with thirteen months instead of twelve.
In any event, for me this time of the year (late January to late February) starts the real new year as most of the feeling of the old year is gone by now. And of course, my hopes are high and my fingers crossed for this year in particular.
Best wishes and luck this year to all!
Friday, 13 February 2015
Behold, my first annual anti-Valentine post.
Me and relationships never really got on well. In fact, my track record for them is so poor that I've come to the conclusion that they just aren't my thing, they are not what I'm in this world to do. To add to that, I have lost my enthusiasm for them. I believe I'm here on Earth for some other purpose, the energy that would normally go into intimate relationships is destined to go somewhere else. My life from this point on will move away from them and into what I was destined to channel my passion, compassion and focus into ... writing and contemplative practice.
From this point on, I will have no truck with intimate relationships. I will concentrate on friendships, family and community. I will now live celibate, and much lighter and freer as a result. Good riddance, St Valentine!
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
Sunday, 8 February 2015
If anything, the two years since my last "About Me" post have brought clarity ... maybe too much.
As I've grown into myself, I see more, more of how I am, how others are, and how the world is. A mixed blessing, perhaps. As I finally come of age, the world collapses. In just over a month, my transition will be complete. I will re-enter a world nearing collapse. Where will the rest of my life lead? Will my new beginning happen just in time for the world's end? My life expands, the world closes in. I see too much.
2014 brought many resolutions in my life. I came out to my family and, happily, they accept me. Enough water had passed under the bridge with a couple of my exes that we became friends. Years worth of tension blew away and suddenly my past no longer mattered so much, I sped towards my future. Time sped up. My SRS was approved in the spring, my surgery date was confirmed in the fall. I wrote, blogged, but it was difficult to keep up. The "About Me" section already seemed very out of date.
I've become conscious of growing older, aware of there being less and less time to do the things in life that I need to do. The old things, some social activities, began last year to fall away. I had already ended my radio program in late 2013. Gradually, I stopped dancing and live DJ'ing as well. Community gardening didn't fall away completely, but became less frequent. My role in the world seemed to be shifting.
But the clearer my sight, the foggier the road ahead became. My poetry idealized a simple life on a farm with a guy, a guy who could hold me as the world around us fell apart. I saw the violence, warfare, disease and environmental catastrophe in the news, all of our futures are in danger. It was too much to digest. I took fantasy refuge in a rustic life. But fantasy fades eventually and by the end of summer, it was gone.
The Saturday of Labour Day weekend, I was on my way to work on the Skytrain. It was a sunny, warm late summer morning. I had received a birthday card in the mail from my folks who had been out in Vancouver for week in August, a couple of weeks earlier. I opened the envelope and pulled out the baby blue and pink card. It was addressed to "a wonderful daughter".
Today, in the midst
of your busy life,
may you have
at least one moment
to sit back and relax -
when you don't have to do anything
or be anywhere
in particular ...
May you have a moment
to reflect on the past year
and all you've accomplished
and to look forward
to all that may be waiting
for you in the year ahead ...
in that moment,
may you realize here and now
what a gift your life is -
not just to you
but to everyone who knows you -
and how wonderful it is
to have you for a daughter.
I finished reading the card and wept with joy.
With autumn came the onset of seasonal affective disorder, much worse than in previous years. With it came a fatigue that was hard to shake, even with doubling my anti-depressant dosage. I had also been seeing a counsellor for several months. With the rain and less daylight came a desire to hide out at home. I dealt with both insomnia and oversleeping. At the end of October and early November, I took two weeks vacation as a mental health break.
Meanwhile, people had begun to say that I had finally found my look. For starters, I had reverted to natural hair after two years as a blonde. The bleach and toner had made my hair brittle, so my return to dark hair had been practical, but by the summer I had taken to sporting an afro. My inner retro calendar had advanced to 1969, my tastes moving onto hippie and bohemian fashion. I was determined to move forward with it regardless of what year it actually was.
Work was busy, the weather got much cooler. It snowed for one weekend, but warmed up in December. I got some more correspondence and paperwork together in preparation for surgery. Time was accelerating towards some unseen point in the near future. The new year seemed at once promising and foreboding. The holidays were unusually quiet, but I saw them as one last break before the rush.
So with the new year came much busyness, medical tests in preparation for surgery. Trying to stay healthy has been a full-time occupation. That and fending off feelings of dread about the future. What would my future be like? Would I be happier? Would I be lonely? And the world? What of all of us?
Monday, 12 January 2015
Thursday, 1 January 2015
So now it's 2015! Time sure flies. Last year went by very fast. The goals I set a year ago were as follows:
"1. Get my assessment process completed, or as close to it (given the waiting lists) as possible
2. Work on my book, getting a query package together for the publishers
3. Post more on this blog and my new one
4. Continue to get both my finances and living quarters in order
5. Invite more people into my home, welcome them into my life, show them how much I love them
6. Become more active in my community in two areas; sustainability and trans* issues
7. Treat myself with utmost kindness and compassion
8. Begin dating again"
Goal 1, I am proud to say, was completed by the end of last March; my surgery date, this March, was confirmed at the end of last October. Number 4 is being achieved; I am in a much better situation now with more stable finances (thanks to my folks) and cleaner, less cluttered home and life. I began to work on Number 5 in the latter part of last year. My family visited in August, and beginning in November, I began to have friends over more regularly culminating in a post-Christmas get together on December 27. And yes, friends and family brought good energy into my home, there will be more to come this year.
Number 6 was something I had mixed results with, but where I could, I showed up and got involved. I became a member of my community garden's board. I participated in last years' trans march. Regarding number 7, personal boundaries were a must, particularly in my work life and socially. It became much clearer that there was my stuff and there was other people's stuff (there is also our collective stuff, but that's for another post), and I refused to take on other people's stuff and try to process it for them. This was part of how I showed compassion for myself last year. I also rested when I needed to, including taking mental health breaks.
Numbers 2, 3 and 8 were the problematic goals. Work on my book did not happen. I did post on this blog, but my second one never really got off the ground. And dating was a non-issue.
And now, here I am at 2015's doorstep.
I have but one goal ... to uncompromisingly care for myself as I go through and recover from gender confirmation surgery this March. It will take months and I will make recovery priority number 1. Between now and then, I will prepare and get everything lined up. During recovery, I will take utmost care of myself. I will be stepping back from most of my activities, only doing administrative tasks for the community garden, no physical work. There will also be time and space to write about my experience.
So that's it, one very important goal! Best of luck with whatever goals you may set for yourself!
Another quiet New Year's Eve led to a another quiet New Year's Day. I'm fine with both. I needed the rest; 2014 was fast year, draining at times and 2015 has more in store for me (more in my next post).
In the meantime, Happy New Year to all my readers, best wishes this year and beyond!